Thursday, August 14, 2014

Dogs and PTSD: A Treatment Option that IS Working

"Darby" a Service Dog for Veterans

When I am not writing this blog, I teach in a Partial Hospitalization Program for teens with mental health issues. I regularly take my Labrador Retriever to work as a therapeutic dog and have seen first hand the impact a dog can make in helping adolescents suffering from depression, anxiety, abuse, and more. I have also seen my sister return from Iraq and Afghanistan and transition back into civilian life with the help of a dog.  My stories are not unique. More and more programs are showing that dogs and PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and depression go hand in paw. Although dogs may not be able to cure depression or prevent suicidal thoughts, they are helping people suffering from these diseases.
The power of a dog helping military PTSD suffers is gaining so much popularity that the United States government is currently doing a $5 million dollar study to evaluate the effects dogs have on helping people with PTSD. Dogs are now being considered as a real treatment option for veterans and other people suffering from mental health disorders. I recently had the opportunity to "virtually" meet a veteran who suffers from PTSD (and suicidal thoughts) and find out all about her experience with a program called paws4Vets. Here is Sarah's story of how a dog named Darby is making a huge impact in helping Sarah survive life after war.......

"Sarah, please stop playing around, and climb down from the edge of the balcony.  We're 17 stories up and it's not funny anymore."  While living in the Washington DC area in 2012, Sarah flirted with suicidal ideation continuously after returning from serving in Afghanistan, and Jack had to wrestle a .45 handgun out of her hand on numerous occasions.
Instead of continuing to reach for self destructive answers, Sarah will now be reaching for her furry Golden Retriever psychiatric service dog, DARBY. On August 22, 2014, after over a year and a half of intensive training for the two to become a functioning service dog team, Darby and Sarah will start their life together. This is all thanks to paws4vets, her medical team, and her wonderful husband, Jack.

Sarah, a 32 year old resident of Massachusetts, has come so far and battled the depths of depression, anxiety, hyper vigilance and flashbacks, which were all parts of a greater diagnosis of severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  Sarah had spent her career working for the Department of Defense as a roadside bomb expert, and during her last deployment to Afghanistan, she lost over two dozen compatriots, to include her best friend, callsign COWBOY.  When she first came home, she went through a Major Depressive event where she couldn't even leave her home for the first three months, (and was self medicating with alcohol for the first two months).  
Sarah, Jack and Darby

Her husband, Jack, has stood by her through every step of this journey, which began back in the Fall of 2012.  He helped her get to the doctor's office where she received her diagnosis of PTSD, and he watched her crumble from the formerly self confident, world traveling independent young woman, into her deep depression where she couldn't get out of bed, considered suicide and was incapable of the most basic daily activities, such as bathing on her own.  As she began treatment with two renowned experts in PTSD, she researched the wide variety of options available for veterans struggling to hold on, and came across paws4people, a foundation that has a branch called paws4vets, where one in 75 applicants are accepted.  She never thought she would be accepted, but she received an amazing phone call from paws4vets in the spring of 2013.

She was introduced to 10 different dogs, and one in particular took a shine to her.  A small Golden Retriever named DARBY, which was an amazing coincidence, as DARBY was born two days before Sarah's best friend COWBOY was murdered in a bombing, and DARBY is named after Camp Darby, located in Italy and named after the man that started the Army Rangers.  COWBOY was of Italian heritage and was an Army Ranger.  

The dogs from paws4vets go through some of the most rigorous training known to the service dog world.  As a psychiatric service dog, the dog must go through 6 weeks of puppy training with the mother and hands on certified trainers.  Afterwards,  the puppies are brought to the LionHeart school in Atlanta, specifically for children with Autism, where the puppies and students mutually benefit from socializing together during the puppies' early ages of 6 to 16 weeks. 
After this, the dogs help inmates through the paws4prisons program, where inmates meet rigorous standards to become trainers and work with dogs until the dogs reach the age of 12 months.  At this time, students from University of North Carolina-Wilmington, that have taken a year of classes with paws4people founder and professor Kyria Henry, are selected to train a service dog for an academic year.

As you can see, Sarah is getting to bring Darby home to live with her as a form of treatment for her PTSD. However, due to the rigorous training involved with this incredible Dogs and PTSD Program, donations are needed to help bring this treatment to more and more people. Right now only 1 in 75 people in need are able to get a mental health service dog. Please consider donating to paws4people in honor of all the work they have done to bring Sarah back from the brink, and all the work they hope to continue to do to help more and more people in need.  Please share this post to help raise awareness to this program and encourage friends to donate. "No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted." (Aesop)

(All photos used in this post were provided by Sarah to Pupcycled. Please do not re-distribute, copy, or share without crediting Sarah and

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

How to Clean Food and Water Bowls

Your dog's food and water bowl can get pretty disgusting and dirty, so it is important to know how to clean food and water bowls the eco-friendly way! Just like human dishes need to be cleaned and disinfected on a regular basis, so do pet bowls. If your dog eats dry food, you really should wipe or rinse out the bowl after every feeding. However, the bowls still need a good scrubbing and disinfecting frequently as well. If you can put your bowls in the dishwasher that is one option. However, if you are hand washing, this cleaner is great to use once a week to really get the grime and build up off. This eco-friendly cleaner works on all types of bowls as well; stainless steel, plastic, or ceramic.

All Natural Dog Bowl Cleaner Ingredients:

1 lemon
1 TBS baking soda
1 tsp salt

Directions on How to Clean Food and Water Bowls:
  • Put salt and baking soda into bowl
  • Cut lemon in half and squeeze lemon juice from the one half into the baking soda salt mixture
  • Dip other half of lemon into mixture and then spread and scrub all around the bowl
  • Rinse with warm water and repeat as needed or use scouring pad and lemon juice for tough spots
How do these all-natural products clean your dog's bowl? Well....the baking soda deodorizes, the lemon disinfects and the salt helps grind off the tough stains. This eco-friendly dog bowl cleaner also works well as a toilet bowl cleaner, too! ( a place my dog can often be found trying to get a sip of water). 

I have included pictures below of the cleaning process. I also used the cleaner on my dog food bowl holder....which I bought before I started living a more eco-conscious lifestyle......if you are looking for an ECO-FRIENDLY dog bowl holder check out this one made from an old crate that I featured on a previous post. 

Dirty bowl with baking soda and salt ...notice the grime on the sides...GROSS!
Squeezing lemon juice and getting some fizz with the baking soda

Getting mixture on the lemon and scrubbing the bowl with the lemon

Bowl looks much cleaner now....grime is gone!

Eco-friendly dog bowl cleaner works on all types of bowls and bowl holders and mats

Friday, August 8, 2014

Seven Simple DIY Dog Projects That Only Take a Few Hours

We all love finding and pinning DIY dog projects over at Pinterest, but many times those projects just never get done. Here are seven simple, earth friendly, upcycled, and easy to do projects that can be started and finished all in one day! You might even have most of these items in your home to upcycle into something spectacular for your dog.  Most of these ideas and instructions can be found by clicking on the upcycled crafts tab at the top of this page OR click on the photo next to the project description to be taken directly to the post that contains detailed instructions.

1. Treat Canister: 2-3 hours
Materials: old popcorn or cookie tin, spray paint (eco-friendly type), chalkboard paint
This project is not difficult, but does take some time to dry between painting. Get an old popcorn tin and and spray paint it and then use chalkboard paint to label the types of homemade treats you are storing in the canister. Consider gluing on ribbon for some extra bling!

2. Photo Keepsake Jar: 2-3 hours
Materials: Jar with lid, paint (spray or acrylic), photo of your dog, masking tape or vinyl shape

This DIY dog project is really nice if you have a pet that is no longer living. You can put their photo and old collar inside for a keepsake. It is cute for your current dog as well, especially for your desk, since it could hold items you need in a more decorative fashion. First, use masking tape to create a  paw print or bone shape on the outside of a jar. (You can also use sticky vinyl shapes). Next, spray paint or acrylic paint the outside of the glass. When the paint is dry, remove the tape/vinyl. Finally, stick a photo of your dog inside the jar and any other items you want in the jar.

3. Dog Leash: 1 hour
Materials: Old t-shirt, fabric glue, thread and needle, metal clip
This DIY dog leash is best for smaller dogs or when taking bigger dogs for quick trips. If using with a larger dog, and on a walk where a squirrel happens by, a t-shirt leash is going to only hold so much! I made a few of these and did donate them to my local humane society for newly adopted dogs to have a nice way to get home! Click on the photo for detailed directions.

4. Elevated Dog Bowls in Old Crate: 1 hour
Materials: old crate, drill, jigsaw, stainless steel bowls
This project is super simple, IF you have the right tools. Just take an old crate and turn it upside down. Next, cut holes in for your dog bowls and drop the bowls in place. It may also be a good idea to put a sealer of some sort on the wood to keep it in use longer. I found this idea on, be sure to check out their website for more fun DIY projects!

5. Rope Toy: 15-20 minutes
Materials: old jeans, scissors
This DIY dog rope toy was made from old worn out jeans. The  jeans are cut into strips and then braided and knotted at ends and middle for a very sturdy tug toy. I have three dogs and these last for several months with daily use!
6. Yoga Water Mat: 10 minutes
Materials: old yoga mat, scissors
This is one of the easiest DIY dog projects ever! Just take an old yoga mat and cut it in a shape or leave as is and place under dog's food and water bowls. It helps keep your floor protected and can easily be cleaned anytime with an all-natural cleaner. If keeping it in rectangle, consider stamping dog bone or paw prints onto it.

7. Outdoor Dog Bed: 3+ hours
Materials: Old dresser drawer, four furniture feet, dog bed materials, umbrella, sandpaper, paint, sealer
I found this project on and they have plenty more great DIY projects there as well. Be sure to check out their website for full instructions on how to make this awesome outdoor dog bed.

So, which simple DIY dog project are you going to attempt? Share your completed projects on the Pupcycled FB page!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Gardening Tips for Dog Owners

Having a garden and having a dog can seem like an impossible task. Believe me, I know! I attempted gardening with three dogs and two outdoor cats on five acres of land with a mix of open grass, woods, and nicely landscaped gardens, and keeping the dogs to one area is difficult at times. This year I completed an all new garden project in the front area of my house. After my husband spent hours shoveling a ton (literally it was a ton) of stone into place, two of my dogs were running through it (and the new bushes and lilies I planted) and sending rocks everywhere, instead of staying on the nice path next to it. Not to mention I noticed my backyard garden plants, (especially the bleeding heart plant), looking very sad and droopy. I came to discover why.......
Jake, my Lab/Collie mix has been hanging out in it when he got hot. After a few years of gardening with dogs I have developed some very simple rules to follow to keep your dogs from ruining your garden and landscaping.
Rule #1- Don't expect to have a nice garden while living with a young dog
Rule #2- If attempting to spend time and money on a garden, see rule #1

Now, that probably isn't the advice you want to hear, and as an earth friendly dog owner, you probably like plant and vegetable gardens as well as an outdoor compost pile (which by the way, attracts ALL kinds of animals).  So, if you don't want to follow the above rules, here are some ways you might be able to pull off owning a dog and the most beautiful garden on your block!

1. TRAINING: Like with anything else, if you don't want your dogs to do something, (like take naps in your bleeding heart plant), you have to train them. You have to work on showing them where they should and shouldn't go to the bathroom and what areas are off limits.
2. USE FENCING: Whether you fence in an area of your yard for a dog area, or you use small fencing around your plants and gardens, most dogs owners find using fencing while gardening with dogs is helpful.
3. DON'T LEAVE THE DOG ALONE: The more time your dog has outside alone the easier it is for him to get into trouble. Many dogs can get bored quickly and digging holes cures boredom, but also ruins your yard. So, be sure to be with your dog for the majority of the time he is outside.
4. BE CREATIVE: If creating a new garden, use barrier plants that discourage dogs. Planting some things in tall containers also helps add beauty and keep the dogs away at the same time.
5. HAVE TOYS AND WATER IN GARDEN: Having some toys and a water bowl in the area of the yard that you want your dog to stay in can be helpful. However, make sure you keep the water cool and clean and change up the toys regularly.

The younger your dog is the more time you will need to put in to keep them in the right areas, but in the long run it will be worth it! As your dog does enter his senior years, be sure to continue to help him around the yard, as his reduced hearing and eye sight abilities may lead to accidental trampling of flowers and plants.  Gardening with your dog is not impossible, but it does take some patience and perseverance.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Pros and Cons of Letting Your Dog Shop Online

As an eco-friendly dog owner, I always encourage people to shop local and buy handmade items from local merchants. However, I live in a rural area and unfortunately don't have access to eco-friendly dog items close by and I refuse to buy the Made In China stuff Walmart that leads me to online buying. Amazon is my go-to site for everything and since we have one computer in our house, I always worry about my kids "accidentally" ordering things with the push of a wrong button. More recently, it is the dog I have to be on alert for. Many times while shopping from my couch, a random dog paw or head seems to land on my keyboard. Although my dog (or kids) have not yet landed me into debt with accidental online orders (mostly because I have one-click ordering turned off), I decided it was a good time to explore the pros and cons of buying products for your dog online. For those of you that are in the same situation that I am in, and are not lucky enough to have a local place to shop WITH your dog, I hope this post is helpful (and a little humorous). 

Cons to Online Shopping With Your Pet:
  • When he sees all the neat collars that are out there, he may want a different one for every day of the week.
  • Suddenly that new toy he got yesterday will be destroyed in an instant so that he NEEDS a new one.
  • Shipping costs.....need I really say more?
  • No other dog butts to sniff while shopping.
  • Not burning any calories shopping from the couch.
  • Can be difficult to figure out correct sizes for collars and clothing.
Pros to Online Shopping With Your Pet:
  • A LOT of eco-friendly and earth conscious companies and products to choose from.
  • No stopping in every aisle to sniff things (or making attempts to mark territory).
  • Free AND fast shipping on many sites, (especially Amazon, if you are an Amazon Prime member).
  • If you see a product another dog owner has, you can order it right away online with your smartphone.
  • Less likely to buy other things you don't those fancy dog treats sitting at the register.
  • You get to see product reviews from real dog owners.
  • MOST sites offer hassle-free return options.
  • Get exactly what you want; correct size, color, and design.
  • Who doesn't love getting mail and seeing the mailman?
  • Get handmade, unique and personalized items from mom and pop companies that have an online presence. ( is a great place to start).
If you have been shopping online with your dog, what sites do you like? Leave comments below to help out other Pupcyled readers!
Also, as a part of the Amazon affiliates program, Pupcycled is pleased to now offer the ability to find our favorite products on Amazon directly through the Pucycled site (see right side of page). The Featured Fridays link at the top of the page will also help you find more websites for earth-friendly products. My opinions about Amazon and other websites (and the products they offer) are my own and come from years of shopping online and using the products myself. None of the suggestions are posted by paid promotions through vendors/companies. If there are more great earth-friendly products out there for dog owners, Pupcycled would love to know through your comments OR email us at

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

5 Ways to Exercise with Your Dog

Walks are great but, sometimes people need new ways to get active with their dog.  Could you be ready to think outside the walk? Do you want to exercise with your dog to wear him out so he is calmer in the house? Or are you looking for something to burn more calories for yourself? Check out these five eco-friendly exercise ideas and try one this week! They will definitely help you and your dog be more active and healthier.

  1. Backyard Obstacle Course. Get into your garage, basement and shed and find some items to create an obstacle course for you and your dog. From benches and cinder blocks to jump over, to hula hoops and pool noodles to climb through, or even cones to zig zag around, you and your dog can build muscle and boost your brain all at once. If your dog doesn't seem to want to do the course, don't give up or get discouraged;  I have found it has worked best for me to keep doing the course and eventually the dogs run around and join in. The arch in the video is made by putting two camping spikes into the ground and putting the pool noodle onto both spikes. If you have more obstacle course ideas, please leave comments below!!!! 
  2. Go on a Hike. For your first hike with you dog, be sure to go on a very clear and well-marked trail. Maintained State Parks are a great place to start. (Some parks even have areas your dog can go swimming). It is important to apply an all natural flea and tick repellent before the hike; (spraying dog with lemon juice and putting on some rose geranium oil works well). You should also have water for you and your dog. For water storage, consider using an eco-friendly travel bowl like the h2FidO system. Although it does not hold a lot of water, it is easy to carry and recyclable when it wears out. Another travel bowl option is the canvas collapsible bowl from Olive Green Dog. It is made with eco-friendly materials, can be composted if it ever wears out, and made in the USA. Finally, always keep your dog on a leash and clean up after them. (Check out the Featured Fridays link to find Earth friendly leashes and dog waste options). 
  3. Visit a Doggie Water Park. This is something I HAVE to try with one of my dogs soon since there is one about two hours away from me called Lucky Paws Resort in Pittsburgh, PA. It offers the perfect mix of land and water play, and more and more parks like it are popping up all over the United States and Canada, so search the internet for one near you. Or, if you are feeling really adventurous, create a water park in your own backyard. Consider a baby pool filled with water, or connect a 2-lier soda bottle to your hose and poke some holes in the bottle for a homemade sprinkler. Limit water play to a few minutes so that you don't waste too much water. 
  4. Play Tug of War. If you have an old pair of jeans, you can upcyle them into a sturdy tug of war rop toy for you and your dog to exercise with. Tug of war helps build muscle for both you and your dog and can help you both work up quite a sweat. Click here for directions to make the homemade rope toy from jeans.
  5. Doga/Yoga with your Dog. Some people think this is only for little dogs, but large dogs can do it, too. For more information on getting into a yoga routine with your dog check out Pupcycled's Doga post. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

DIY Dog Treat Container Ideas

For over a decade I had a ceramic dog treat container that I loved, and every time I took the lid off the dogs would come running to the kitchen for a treat. They knew that sound so well! Much to my disappointment, it recently broke. On the bright side, I now have the chance to upcycle something into a dog treat container. I also thought this would be a good time to make a few extra upcylced dog treat canisters for friends that have dogs. I figure if I start now, I can have them all done by Christmas and fill them with homemade dog treats. By putting chalkboard paint in the top and on front, I can put a dog's name, a message, or the type of treat, or even the recipe for the homemade treat, all on the canister. You could glue ribbon to the canister lid for extra decoration as well.

Here are the supplies you will need for an upcycled DIY dog treat container:
  • Old tin canister (Christmas popcorn tins can always be found at the thrift store)
  • Spray paint (try to get the most eco-friendly kind you can find)
  • Chalkboard paint 
  • Decorative ribbon (optional)
  • Chalk
  1. Spray paint the outside of the tin and the lid. (It is best to not paint where the lid and canister meet because it can make it difficult to open and close).
  2. Let the tin dry for several hours before painting on the chalkboard paint. 
  3. If doing a bone or paw print, draw the shape on the tin with a permanent marker to make painting easier.
  4. You will need to put 2-3 thin layers of chalkboard paint on the tin and be sure to have at least 30-60 minutes between application of layers. 
  5. Let the chalkboard paint dry for 24-48 hours before writing on it.
  6. Decorative ribbon can be glued on to the edge of the lid if desired.

Check out Pucycled's homemade dog treat recipes to make awesome treats to put in your upcycled canister!

If you are looking for more upcycled DIY dog treat container ideas, check out these:
Finally, don't forget to pin this project to Pinterest and follow Pupcycled's Pinterest board for more great DIY dog craft ideas!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Five Fun Activities to Try With Your Dog

Photo from Jordene Gates
One key aspect to keeping your dog healthy, both physically and mentally, is to provide adequate daily exercise and physical activity. Although dogs love routine, it is important to try new things once and awhile to keep them mentally sharp. Taking a walk in a new place or getting new toys are great,  but if you are looking for some completely NEW fun activities to try with your dog, here are five exciting adventures to explore.

  1. Visit a Nursing Home-If you have an older dog that is very calm and loves people, consider visiting a nursing home. Many nursing homes will allow pet visitors so call ahead to your local home and see about scheduling a visit. You can also look into visiting mentally ill children and adults as well. Patients with severe depression and anxiety sometimes find petting a dog soothing and relaxing. Again, this activity is best for older and very calm dogs. I have taken my 6 year old Lab/Collie mix as well as my 2 year old Lab/Collie mix to do these types of activities, although both listen to commands very well, my younger dog gets times where he starts to want to run around or at least move around the room and doesn't like to sit completely still for over 30 minutes. (NOTE: Taking your dog for a walk before doing the visit will also help them be calmer while visiting).
  2. Participate in a Pet Parade- Many parades allow pet participants, and some of the best ones are Halloween and St. Patty's Day Parades where you can dress your dog up. Whether you buy a costume or make one, you and your pet are sure to enjoy this fun activity!
  3. Go Camping With Your Dog-The first time you try this it may be best to do just one night and then the next time try two or three, until you can build up to a week. Try to camp at a location that has easy access to clean water and plenty of shade. While camping, take your dog with you on hikes, share some grilled chicken from your evening campfire, and even go for a swim in a lake. Just be sure to have identification on your dog just in case he gets loose!
  4. Attend a Doga Session Together-Learn how to exercise and relax with your dog through Doga or Doggie Yoga. Although yoga with your pets can be done at home, it really is fun to try this in a class setting so your dog can meet new people and dogs. Check out the Yoga With Your Pets post for information on starting this at home and progressing to a class. 
  5. Have a Birthday Party for Your Dog- Although other dog owners may be taken by surprise when they receive an invitation to a dog birthday party, this fun activity to try with your dog is getting more and more popular with pet owners. Be sure to have dog treats, water bowls, and plenty of toys all around for the dogs. Serve people food that is also safe for dogs, just in case the dogs get into the people area. You can also bake a dog birthday cake....there are lots of dog birthday cake recipes online; but skip the candle blowing!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Seven People Foods that are Safe and Healthy for Your Dog

There are a few things that dog owners are divided on; things like dogs sleeping in beds, allowing them on the furniture, and my dogs people food. I have to be honest and confess, I do all of the above. Our dogs are part of our family, and they likely think they are human at times, (considering I have found them sitting on my deck chairs). Although some foods can be deadly for canines, there are many people foods that are safe and healthy for dogs. So, if you are considering letting your dog have people food, or have been unsure about foods that are safe for your dogs, here is the Pupcycled list of seven great foods to share with your dog.

  1. Apple Chunks- Diced or sliced, apples are a nice crunchy treat for your dog. Try different varieties and see what he likes best.
  2. Bananas- Next time you eat a banana, give the two ends to your dog, or mix it with a little peanut butter and plain yogurt and put into ice cube trays in the freezer for a frozen treat during the dog days of summer! (Full recipe HERE).
  3. Peanut Butter-This can be added to bananas and apples, served plain, or mixed into homemade dog treats. (See the recipe section of this blog for more ideas).
  4. Popcorn- My dogs can hear a popcorn bag a mile away and this is absolutely their favorite people food snack! Try to stick with air popped or the healthiest microwave version you can find. Excessive butter and salt is just as dangerous for dogs as it is for humans. 
  5. Carrots-I usually feed my dogs baby carrots, but larger dogs may enjoy chewing on a full size carrot as well. You can also shred carrots and put over dog food or into homemade dog treats.
  6. Chicken-Make sure if you give your dogs chicken, it is thoroughly cooked and does not have any marinade or sauce on it. I also serve my chicken to the dogs in bite size pieces.
  7. Dinner on the deck anyone?
  8. Pretzels- The mini unsalted pretzels are perfect people food treats to take on the go. When I run out of homemade treats, pretzels are my back up training treat as well.
The next time you are enjoying one of these all-natural healthy human foods, feel free to give your dog a bite as well. All of these treats also work well added to dog food at meal time, or used in place of store-bought dog treats!

Friday, May 2, 2014

How to Deal with Dog Fur in Your Washer and Dryer
If you have a dog that sheds on everything, chances are you have a washer and dryer that gets loaded with dog hair. In order to keep your washer and dryer functioning well, here are some ways to deal with dog fur in your washer and dryer.

  • Clean your washer at least every other week. If you have a front loading washer, there is a drain at the bottom which you can open and clean out the filter. When I clean mine, I get a lot of dog hair and have to dig it out of the round filter. It is a little gross but helps keep my washer running properly. It is also important to clean the inside of your washer and any seals and rings where dog hair may get stuck. If you keep the lid open frequently, you can clean your washer with a damp rag and white vinegar, (not the chemical cleaners they sell in the stores). If you close your lid a lot you may need to use some bleach when cleaning inside, due to mild and mildew possibly building up inside of the washer.
  • Your dryer's lint trap should be cleaned after every load and the lint (filled with dog fur), can be put in compost pile. Every month you should also clean the outside vent and make sure the dryer hose is in good condition. 
  • You can reduce the amount of dog hair that gets stuck in your washer and dryer by brushing your dog every day and shaking blankets outside prior to putting them in washer.
  • In the spring you can hand laundry outside to reduce the amount of  times you use your dryer and reduce the amount of dog hair that gets trapped inside of it.
If you are collecting a lot of dog hair and fur from around your home and out of your washer and dryer, check out these 5 ways to dispose of dog hair!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Earth Friendly Non-toxic Cleaning Products for Homes with Pets

My journey to a more eco-friendly lifestyle started by eliminating commercial, chemical-filled cleaners and making my own cleaners. Not only were homemade cleaners cheaper and better for the environment, they were also safer to use around my children and pets. However, over the last few years, I went back to work full-time, and my kids are busier than ever, so finding time to make all my own cleaners is sometimes difficult. Not to mention, I live in a rural area which requires me to order many of my ingredients through All these things have led me to look into eco-friendly, non-toxic cleaning products that I can buy and have on hand for when life gets a little too busy. 
When looking for eco-friendly products, I have noticed a lot of misleading information on labels. For example, some products claim to be Earth friendly, but are made plant derived materials, which means harsh man made chemicals may be mixed in with the plant base. Then there are the plastic bottles and labels that are used, some of those are harmful to the environment, if not disposed of properly. Finally, there are the ones that have natural ingredients, but are not specific as to what those natural ingredients are, and contain 99% other ingredients. 
Fortunately, more and more smaller eco-friendly companies are emerging and finally giving us products we can fully rely on. If you are looking for already made eco-friendly non-toxic cleaning solutions to use around your pets, start looking local. Try your local farm markets or indoor flea market/craft fairs. Many times you will get products with clear labels, refillable or reusable bottles, and a real person to talk to about the product they are making. If you do not have places like this near you, the next best thing might be Etsy.  
I recently tried Karmalades cleaning products that are sold through Etsy. One thing I liked about this company is that they are located in Washington, D.C. and I know the products did not have to travel far to get to me. The product I tried was the all purpose lemon lavender spray. It came in a reusable and recyclable glass bottle with a clear label of all the ingredients used. I loved the small bottle because I could leave it in my bathroom for quick, daily, touch up cleaning of the sink, faucet and mirror. The smell was nice but not overwhelming and I knew my pets would be safe if they licked an area I cleaned. The Karmalade company is definitely a good place to start if you want pre-made eco-friendly non-toxic cleaning products. Even if you want to make some of your own cleaners, the all-purpose sprays they sell are great to keep for when you run out of time or materials to make your own products. 

If you know of other great eco-friendly non-toxic cleaners, please leave a comment below for other readers!!!

If you do have the time to make your some of your own cleaners, check out my ebook, Cleaning for a Cause. The book is filled with cleaning recipes and many of the recipes are also available on my Hubpages page.  (Proceeds from the book are donated to Alex's Lemonade Stand and other cancer prevention organizations). 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

First Aid For Pets

First Aid for
April is Pet Health and Pet First Aid Awareness Month, so here are some great tips and links to help you keep you pet healthy!

1. For minor cuts, bumps, and insect bites, a simple pet first aid kit is all you need to help your pet. It is a good idea to create a two pet first aid kits and keep one in your home and one in your car. Here is a basic list of what your kit should include. (Check out for other suggested first aid items for your pet).
  • Absorbent gauze pads
  • Self-cling bandage
  • Antiseptic wipes, lotion, powder, or spray
  • Cotton balls or pads
  • Gauze rolls
  • Hydrogen peroxide (to induce vomiting—do this only when directed by a veterinarian or a poison-control expert)
  • Ice pack
  • Non-latex disposable gloves
  • Petroleum jelly (to lubricate the thermometer)
  • Rectal thermometer (your pet's temperature should not rise above 103°F or fall below 100°F)
  • Scissors (with blunt ends)
  • Sterile non-stick gauze pads for bandages
  • Sterile saline solution 
  • Tweezers
  • Diphenhydramine (Benadryl®), if approved by a veterinarian for allergic reactions. A veterinarian must tell you the correct dosage for your pet's size.
  • Ear-cleaning solution
  • Expired credit card to scrape away insect stingers
  • Corn syrup (for diabetic dogs or those with low blood sugar)
  • Non-prescription antibiotic ointment
  • Penlight or flashlight
  • Rubbing alcohol (to clean/sterilize thermometer or tweezers)
  • Tongue depressors
  • Towels and/or old t-shirts 
Check out the American Veterinary Medical Association website for tips on how to administer basic first aid to your pet and how to handle pet emergencies.

2. To keep your pet safe and protected at all times, ID your pet. From micro-chipping, to personalized tags and collars, identification for your pet is crucial to keeping them safe. Be sure to keep a current picture of your dog on you at all times as well. If you have a smartphone, you can save a picture of your pet next to your veterinarian's contact information in your phone.

3. In addition to regular vet check ups and shots, take daily steps to protect your pet from fleas and ticks. Both fleas and ticks can cause long term health threats to your dog, so it is important to protect your pet all year long. For all natural ways to deal with fleas and ticks, check out the Pupcycled Recipes link.

It is a good idea to brush and pet your dog every day to keep on top of their health and detect any issues as early as possible. Although the Internet offers a wealth of information, it is always a good idea to check with your veterinarian whenever you notice something unusual on your pet, or notice a drastic change in your pet's behavior, eating habits, or sleep patterns.

Friday, April 18, 2014

7 Super Dog Toys for Active Dogs

If you are looking for unique dog toys for your active dog, consider ordering from! Not only do they offer a wide variety of eco-friendly toys, but EVERY purchase you make, helps a rescue dog in need. All orders come with a code that allows you to see which dog you have helped. Here is my top seven list of super products to try out. The first two I had the opportunity try out firsthand with my three dogs and they loved them!

  1. West Paw BumiThe WestPaw Bumi offers a unique design that my medium-sized Lab/Collie mix loves. He has enjoyed hooking his paw into the curve of one end while chewing on the other. After weeks of playing with this toy, he has only managed to chew off a small bit of it. The good news is that if he does ruin the toy, the pieces can be sent back to West Paw, (Montana based eco-friendly dog toy company), and they will recycle the remaining material into new toys! The Bumi is recyclable, dishwasher safe, and floats!
  2. The Hydro Ring is great for small dogs and puppies. It can absorb water and can even be frozen. This is a great toy for dogs that love water play. 
  3. Planet Dog Orbee-Tuff StrawberryFrom Planet Dog, (another Pupcycled favorite), comes a toy that hides treats. Although I have not tried this particular version, my dogs have a ball that hides treats and absolutely love it. Bartleys offers eggplant and artichoke models for larger dogs and a raspberry one for small breeds.
  4. For dogs that love a toy to snuggle with after a hard day of playing, Bartleys has a nice selection of organic and all natural stuffed dog toys.
  5. Jax & Bones SquirrelIf you dog prefers to play with his stuffed animals, consider the rope squirrel that is made with vegetable dyes. Your pup can have fun and you don't have to worry about him chewing on a chemical filled toy.
  6. Tired of the same old Frisbee? Try the Zisc Frisbee; it comes in various sizes and it's perfect for the park or the lake.
  7. CrinkitIf you have a dog that loves to steal empty water bottles and enjoys the crunch sound, consider the Crinkit water bottle toy. Keep your dog safe while enjoying the water bottle crunch with a toy that is recyclable, washable, and BPA-free.
Finally, while shopping at, don' forget to pick up some of their compostable poop bags that are made of corn-based material and use recycled packaging. So, after a long hard day of play at the park with their super toys, you can clean up after them in a more eco-friendly manner.

Before you fill your shopping cart, enter the Pupcycled gift card giveaway for your chance to win a $35 gift card to It can be used on anything in their online store!!! 
Contest runs from April 22, 2014 (Earth Day) and ends on May 11, 2014 (the last day of National Pet Week). 
All you have to do to be entered in the gift card giveaway is either comment below OR leave a comment on the Facebook Pupcycled page about which Bartley product you think your dog would like. The winner will be announced on the Pupcycled Facebook Page on May 12, be sure to like the page and check the "get notifications" so you don't miss out on all the fun!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Where to Find REAL Eco-friendly Products For Your Dog

Recently, I was shopping at TJ Maxx and they had a lot of cute dog stuff, and some of the tags said Eco-friendly and had a picture of the Earth on it. Once I turned the tag over and started reading the label, it was all synthetic materials, made in China, and the only part that was slightly eco-friendly was the eco-filler/stuffing made from recycled soda bottles. I dug through every dog bed and clothing item they had there, and none of them were my idea of eco-friendly. I did however find a ball made of natural rubber and fair trade certified and many organic and all-natural dog treats, so I did not leave empty handed, but I was a little frustrated with the way things are labeled.
When I look for Earth friendly items, I look at the whole process; I consider where it is produced, with what materials, and how it can be disposed of when finished. I live in a rural area and don't have many pet store options and even though I have found many eco-friendly products online, I try to order from places that are fairly close to me to avoid as much pollution as possible as it travels to me. Here are my top ten companies (in no particular order) for REAL eco-friendly pet products. All of these businesses consider the Earth from start to finish. Some of them do have their products for sale in Petco, on, and at other pet stores, but depending on where you live, it may be best to order directly from their site.

  1. Cycle Dog- Dog collars made from used bicycle tubes as well as other earth-friendly products
  2. West Paw Design-Eco-friendly dog bedding
  3. Olive Green Dog-Earth friendly clothing and accessories
  4. Muttropolis- All natural flea and tick products
  5. Barking It Up-Stainless steel dog tags
  6. Eco-Dogs-All-natural dog food and treats
  7. Better Buddies- Organic cotton and hemp dog beds and mats
  8. Hunt Ridge Ranch- Dog crates, gates, and beds
  9. Blue Ridge Dog Chews- All-natural dog chews and hemp rope toys
  10. Planet Dog- Toys, collars, and leashes

Friday, April 4, 2014

5 Reasons Your Dog Should Sleep in Your Bed

It is one of those things all new dog owners struggle about; should I let my dog sleep in my bed? This is definitely a topic that has dog owners, veterinarians, doctors, and trainers on both sides of the fence. According to various research from pet related businesses to mattress companies, anywhere from 35-55% of dog owners say they do allow their dog to sleep in their bed at night. Those owners that don't sleep with their pets often have strong arguments on why they don't. These can include things from allergies to power struggles, or owners just wanting to not have to sleep in weird positions around a large outstretched dog. However, other owners find sleeping with their dog reduces anxiety, gives them a sense of security and improves their overall relationship with their dog. Although there really seems to be no right or wrong answer to this question, there are a few reasons why allowing your dog to sleep in your bed could be beneficial. Here are five reasons why you should CONSIDER allowing your dog to sleep in your bed (or at least right next to it).

  1. Security- If you are a heavy sleeper or live in a place where burglaries are a problem, a dog offers security at night. If a dog hears a noise or senses a fire or other danger, he will quickly alert the person he is sleeping by. Many people have been saved by house fires and other potential tragedies due to a dog being right by them at night and waking them up in time to escape injury or death.
  2. Bonding- Although it may not be a good idea to let your dog sleep with you until she is properly trained, once trained, sleeping with your dog can improve your bond with her. Bonding at bedtime can help reduce anxiety and restlessness for both the dog owner and the dog.
  3. Routine- Dogs love routine and it doesn't take long at all for their biological clocks to know when it is time to eat, sleep, play, and so on. By allowing your dog to sleep with you, you may likely never need an alarm clock again. (Except for maybe when the time change happens). Dogs are great at signally to you when it is time to go to bed and when it is time to wake up!
  4. Medical Conditions- If you have certain medical conditions, sleeping with a trained dog can be a matter or life or death. Trained service dogs are available for people with Sleep Apnea, Alzheimer's, victims of rape, and many other conditions. These dogs are well trained to keep the person and those around them safe. Service dogs are also available for children with various disabilities and conditions, including seizures and hearing impairment. Both parents and children can sleep soundly knowing that their dog is trained to alert them to medical or other related dangers.
  5.  Reduce Stress and Loneliness- For some people that live alone, having a dog to snuggle with at night truly does make sleeping a lot easier. Even some happily married couples feel less stressed when snuggling with their dog (s) at night. I am one of them. My queen size bed sleeps my husband and I with our two Lab/Collie mixes and even though stretching my legs out completely at night only happens once and a while, I wouldn't change what a good thing we have going. We love our dogs and we love having them with us at night. 
Do you let your dogs sleep in your bed? Why or why not? Comment below or converse with Pupcycled on Facebook!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

13 Odd Places to Find a Sleeping Dog

Even if you buy a dog the best (and most eco-friendly) bed in the world, some dogs just love to find their own unique place to sleep. This week Pupcycled takes a look at thirteen odd places to find a sleeping dog.  Has your dog ever slept in one of these places?

Sleep behind the cushions and no one will ever know you were on the sofa....maybe.
(used by permission from Christine Sterling)

Beware the stairs! They offer a firm foundation for napping.
(used by permission from Joanne Bednall)

Some dogs take the Goldilock's approach and need to try all the beds in the house.
(used by permission from Tracey Shontz)

It doesn't get any more earth-friendly than this!
(used by permission from Phyllis Wise)

Sleep anywhere you want, but make sure your tongue is out!
(used by permission from

Flower pots make great beds, just be sure to dig out the flowers first.
(used by permission from Lynda Sokoloski)

Whenever possible, find clean laundry and snuggle in it!
(Kasey- used  by permission from Erick Seager)

Sadie loves her head rest under the dining room table.
(used by permission from Kerri Hanks)

When sleeping with other dogs, always strike the same pose like Ping and Benson.
(used by permission from Brooke Lee)

Harlow has a thing for sleeping against walls (when the sofa is unavailable).
(used by permission from Christine Sterling)

Is this what they mean by Downward Dog?
(used by permission from Garth Riley)
A warm lap is always a good place to sleep.
(Syd-used by permission from Ben Yokitis)

When in full nap mode, do not leave room for anyone else!
(used by permission from Christine Harr)

 Thank you to everyone that submitted photos of their dog sleeping in odd places. Let's keep it going....visit Pupcycled on Facebook to submit your sleeping dog photos.

Note: all photos for this post were used by permission and may not be used on any other websites, in any way, without written permission. Contact Pupcycled at for permission to use photos.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Featured Fridays- Ruffelstiltskin Upcycled Dog Toys

This week's Featured Fridays' company is one that truly knows how to upcycle! Ruffelstilskin's most popular product, the eco-friendly, upcycled jean pocket turtle, shouts cute and green all at the same time!
Ginger DePriest, founder of Ruffelstiltskin, says,"Our main goal is to make environmentally friendly pet products more available, so that buying eco-friendly stuff for your dog will not just be the right thing to do, but also the easy thing to do!" 
Ginger started her journey to a greener lifestyle for herself many years ago, and quickly realized the effects all her dog's products had on the environment. From plastic treat bags to one time use toys that ended up in the garbage can, Ginger decided to no longer purchase mass produced toys or treats for her dog. She began using old jean fabric to create toys her dog loved. Her toys are made from upcycled materials and are colorful and durable. 
As an avid supporter of dog-related  fundraising events, she continued to find ways to get more and more eco-friendly products out to other dog owners as well. Although she began selling her creations exclusively online through an Etsy store , they are now available in several places.  Subscribers to Big Licks Barkery monthly box, and attendees to a variety of dog-related events, can get the wonderful toys, all-natural treats, and eco-friendly cooling pads, that Ruffelstiltskin creates. Soon you may see the iconic pocket turtle even peeking out of your favorite local pet store. So, be sure to follow Ruffelstiltskin on Facebook to find out the next place they might pop up!

Ginger with her dog and husband