How You Can Help During the COVID-19 Pandemic By Supporting Small Business.

Right now, unless you are working in an essential service (Thank you to everyone who is), you are likely sitting at home unsure how you can help.

First, staying home and following social distancing orders and practicing good hygiene is the most helpful thing you can possibly do.

But, as you may also know, many small businesses are suffering financially right now. Many stores have had to close store fronts and all local markets have been postponed or cancelled. With there being no timeline of when things will go back to normal, it’s a very difficult time for all small business owners. Some businesses might never be able to financially recover.

Many of these small businesses do have websites and the option for ordering products online. I’m a big fan of supporting local so, I want to share with you some of my local favourite companies that I’m choosing to support.

Houndana – Adorable hand made bow ties and bandanas.

Safe & Hound – Beautiful collars, bow ties, harnesses and dog beds.

Hungry Mutts – The freshest dog treats you will ever find.

DogDogGoose – The most amazing and durable collars and leashes.

UpTown Pup Co. – Really cute harnesses, bandanas, leashes and collars.

Darling Dear Co. – The most beautiful collars that are perfect for any and all special occasions.

Mimio & Co. – The most adorable and really fun bandanas.

Take It N’ Leave It – T-shirts, sweatshirts and accessories for all the pet parents.

While I do understand not everyone is in the financial position to make purchases at this time, you can still support these businesses by liking them on social media. Share their work. You might not be able to purchase anything, but someone you know might. A little can go a long way.

Protecting Your Dog’s Paws In Winter

Whether you like it or not, winter is here. One of the biggest challenges of winter in Edmonton is all of the snow and ice on walkways and streets.

Because of this, many people will use a lot of sand and salt to help melt the ice or make it easier for people to walk. The downside is that not everyone uses pet friendly salt meaning that when your dog walks on it, it can burn their paw pads. So, what do you do to protect their paws besides pick them up and carry them or not walk them at all?

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Despite their constant protesting of wearing them, all of my dogs wear booties every time they go for a walk. While it can be quite the chaotic scene and time consuming to put booties on all three dogs, it’s worth it if their paws are protected from cold and salt. Freckles has such small and sensitive paws so she wears them any time there’s snow or the temperature is below freezing.

You can purchase a pair at any pet store and they are very easy to take on and off your dog’s paws. I will say if your dogs are anything like Max, you have to make sure the velcro on them in tight so they don’t fall off mid walk (which has happened). Also, some booties can be irritating to your dog’s dew claws so if you find that, try wrapping them in a bandage prior to putting on their booties.

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There are going to be dogs that will refuse to wear booties no matter what. Dolly was that dog until recently as she had no choice but wear them as she had a flare up of her allergies and her paws are too irritated for them not to be covered.

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If you find that is the case, try using a paw protector such as a paw wax to put on their paws prior to going outside. It helps create a bit of a base layer to help protect their paws from salt and sand. I personally like use the Paw Saver from our friend Lauren at DogDogGoose. I have used this many times with Dolly and it works great.

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If you do use a paw wax or nothing at all on your dog’s paws, something that will also help reduce any irraitaion after their walk is wiping down all of their paws with hypoallergenic wipes.

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If you are concerend about slipping on the ice, go purchase a pair of slip on spikes for your shoes. You you purchase them at any Running Room, Costco or Canadian Tire. As we have had a lot of freezing rain in the past couple of weeks, I have multiple pairs of spikes on multiple pairs of shoes, because my dogs still need to go for their regular walks.

So don’t let a little snow and ice deter you from going out with your dog. None of us enjoy in my household but when it does come, we are always ready for it.

Managing Dolly’s Seasonal Allergies

A few months ago, I wrote a post talking about how I manage Dolly’s allergies. Today, I wanted to do another post how I manage her seasonal allergies as the first post talked primarily about her food allergies.

Over the winter, Dolly’s allergies were finally under control and she was off her Apoquel and only getting baths once a week. We were even finally able to use a regular shampoo instead of her medicated one from her vet. This was a huge step and we were so happy to not have to go to the vet every month for refills and skin check-ups. We found that feeding her kangaroo as well as adding in some raw venison was working for her (as I like adding raw to her diet as much as possible and recently discovered raw kangaroo in the city). We also started adding an Omega Oil to her food and her skin and coat were the best they’ve ever been.

Then the snow melted, the grass and pollen came back and so did her allergies in a really big way. We would wipe her paws anytime she came in from outside using hypoallergenic wipes and it seemed to work, but only for a bit.

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As the weather got nicer, I was finally able to take the dogs for longer walks, so one day I took them for close to an hour. Multiple times during that walk Dolly stopped, sat down and start scratching. I knew something was up as she never does that. The scratching was more intense as the walk went on so when we got home, I took a look at her skin and she was covered in hot spots everywhere. So I grabbed her and gave her a medicated bath right away as I knew she was having a major reaction to something outside. After her bath, I gave her a ½ tablet of Apoquel an called the vet to get her checked out. I had a feeling all the progress we made with her would take a few steps backwards.

I took Dolly in and I could see her poor paws had hot spots everywhere and she would not stop licking and chewing them. The vet did some skin swabs on her paws and in her ears (as I had a feeling they were a bit of a mess as well) and sure enough, along with hot spots, she had yeast and small amounts of bacteria in her ears and paws and was the result of seasonal allergies as the vet said we were the fourth patient that week that came in with a flare up.

We came up with an action plan and to help put the fire out as my vet would say, Dolly would have to go back on her steroids for a week to help calm things down. She would also have to back on regular doses of Apoquel to help manage her itchiness. She was also given a medicated ear drops and a home ear cleaning solution for us to use with her. We would have to go back to bathing Dolly twice a week using her really strong medicated shampoo and on days where she didn’t get a full bath, we would have to bath her paws every day (something that will have to continue until the snow falls sadly).

I did however recently start using a natural solution to clean and moisturize her paws called Reliq. The great thing about this line is they use all natural minerals instead of harsh chemicals like alcohol to clean and sooth skin and paws. There is nothing I hated more than putting something on Dolly’s paws all the time that hurt (and only like to use it if things get really bad).

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I also found an all natural hot spot spray that is also free of alcohol and instead uses Aloe Vera as an ingredient so it soothes rather than burns. I find this great not only her paws, but her belly, neck and a spot on her tail that irritates her once in a while.

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I really love my vet because she would rather treat topically through bathing than medication and only use it when things are bad. She agrees with me that Dolly being on a lot of medication (like steroids) are not good for her long-term health and are only a band aide solution. She prefers to take a natural approach as much as possible and actually likes that we do our research on natural solutions (as I know not all vets sadly feel that way).

As I knew I wanted something that would be more of a long-term solution, I started to do some research on dogs and seasonal allergies. It was incredibly interesting some of the things that I was able to find out. I recently discovered Holistic Pet Radio on Instagram and they recently did a podcast regarding seasonal allergies and your pets. I actually was able to learn a fair bit from it and highly recommend you check it out (along with many other great topics they cover).

One of the biggest take always I got was regarding how gut health plays a huge factor in things like seasonal allergies. So, I have recently started adding a probiotic to her food, coconut oil and on occasion, small amounts of kelp to her raw venison (I only use about ¼ of a teaspoon as I don’t want to feed her too much of it as I know it can cause issues if you do).

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A really good piece of advice I got from the podcast was giving your dog bromelain and quercetin as they act as natural anti-inflammatory and anti-histamines. Some people have even referred to it them as “Nature’s Benadryl”. I was fortunate enough to find treats that contain both and give one to Dolly two or three times a day (there is a listing of how much to give your dog based on their weight).

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I can say that since starting a more holistic approach to dealing with Dolly’s allergies, she has been doing amazing. The biggest thing that I am finding is if I go more than two days without bathing her paws, she does start to lick them (even though she just chews her claws for whatever reason but there is a difference from when she does that compared to when her paws are irritated). Dolly’s allergies are finally under control and she is the healthiest she’s ever been. I can’t do anything to stop seasonal allergies, but I’m happy that there is a plan in place to manage them.

I want to add that I am not an expert no and highly recommend speaking to your vet about things. And if you are not happy with what they recommend, seek another opinion as you are your pet’s caregiver.

Holiday Gift Giving Guide For Your Pets – Companies That Give Back

The holidays are fast approaching which means it’s time to finish up your shopping.  Are you still not sure what to get your pet or the dog mom or dad in your life?  How about purchasing items that directly give back to animal rescue initiatives?  Here are some of my favourites:

Found My Animal

Last year when I was in LA for a track cycling training camp, I went for a walk in a mall and discovered a store that had some adorable pet accessories and saw leashes that caught my attention.  They were made of a rope material and were in a variety of bright colours.  Not only did they look cool, but I saw that the mission of Found My Animal was to promote animal adoption.  Obviously, this resonated with me so I decided to purchase a leash.

All of their leashes are hand made and the coolest part is that the individually stamped stags on each leash represents the uniqueness of each animal and the number of animals they have helped so far.

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I got the pink leash to match Freckles pink harness

Pack Leashes

I personally believe that as a dog owner, you can never have too many leashes.  Pack Leashes are leashes made of climbing rope and have a sturdy locking carabiner.  These leashes are built to last and can withstand the strongest of dogs.  The leashes come a variety of colours and you can purchase them in three different lengths with two different sizes of carabiners.

What I love about Pack Leashes is that for every sale, they donate 2 pounds of dog food to a variety different no kill shelters and Humane Societies across the United States.

Rescued Wine

Do you know someone on your shopping list who’s a wine lover?  Do they love candles?  Then look no further than Rescued Wine soy waxed candles.  Their candles come in a variety of lovely smelling scents such as Merlot and Champagne

A portion of their sales proceeds are donated directly back to a variety of animal rescue organizations.  Rescued Wine is also environmentally conscious by using repurposed wine bottles to hold their candles in.

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Green Trout Outfitters

I discovered Green Trout Outfitters through Instagram a few months ago.  They are a small United States based business that focuses on creating one of a kind accessories for you pets.  They believe in supporting local and they support animal welfare by donating and fundraising for various shelters and animal rescue organizations.

I ordered Halloween bandanas through them and they looked amazing on my dogs. Dolly’s even glowed in he dark.  How cool is that?  If you are looking at getting one of a kind accessories for your pets, they can do that.  All you need to do is send them a request for a customized item.

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The dogs were ready to greet Trick or Treaters this year in their bandanas

Rag + Hound

Rag + Hound is a company based out of Seattle that specializes in making handcrafted dog bandanas and blankets (for any dog moms and dads on your shopping list).  If you live anywhere where the temperature drops below freezing, these bandanas are sure to keep you fur baby warm as they have bandanas that are 100% merino wool and they offer options to have vegan labels on their products instead of leather.

For every bandana sold, they donate $1 directly to Homeward Pet, which is a non-profit, no kill animal shelter in Woodinville, WA.

Rescue Dogma

Have someone on your list who is a pet parent or an animal lover?  Then look no further than purchasing something from Rescue Dogma.  All their clothing products are designed and printed in California.  They use the softest, most comfortable, eco-friendly and humane materials possible.  They make advocacy wear for animal rescuers by animal rescuers.

Every month, Rescue Dogma selects an animal rescue organization that focuses on rescue, rehabilitating and rehoming animals.  They then donate 10% of sales that month to that organization.  During that time, they will also share stories about that rescue with all of their followers.  They are not just a clothing brand, they are lifestyle brand.

Wags & Weights

Have a pet parent or animal lover on your list who loves to work out?  Then something Wags & Weights would make the perfect gift.  They have a variety of great workout gear for the pet lover in your life and also have just released their own blend of coffee.  Not only are they big into fitness, they are big into giving back.  With every item purchased, a portion of that sale goes directly to a local animal shelter and will even make the donation to the city you live in.

Along with purchasing from any of these amazing companies, please consider donating to a local animal organization in your area. That truly is the gift that keeps on giving. Happy shopping and happy holidays!

Holiday Gift Guide For Your Pets – Supporting Local

It’s that time of year again.  The lights are up, the music of the season is everywhere and eggnog is being consumed like water.  It’s also the season of gift giving, and for those pet parents who want to spoil their fur babies, I’m here to help you out.

I’m a big fan of supporting local small businesses as much as possible.  I believe that supporting your local small business is good for everyone.  So today, I want let you know of some amazing local vendors and stores in Edmonton and Alberta that have some great gift idea for your pets. If you’re not in the Edmonton area, many of them do ship all over Canada and even internationally.

Mutt Much Dog Treats

Mutt Munch is a great way to spoil your fur baby by giving them treats that are hand made with all natural ingredients.  The owners cater to a variety of dietary needs and sensitivities.  To ensure the highest quality, they make all of their treats in small batches. My dogs are particularly fond of the peanut butter pumpkin biscuits.

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Max gets his crazy eyes any time I give him a Mutt Munch Treat

The WoofGang Shop

Looking for some holiday bandanas for your pets? Then look no further than the WoofGang Shop.  All bandanas are hand made and customized to the size of your dog’s neck.  All the bandanas are snap up in the back and work great if you have a dog that wears a harness instead of a collar.  The materials are so soft that even Dolly, who has very sensitive skin, can wear her bandana for hours and have no irritation.

Not only are the bandanas adorable (and many of them reversible), the owner Nithya Reddy, even created a matching bandana and scarf set so you can match your dogs.

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The dogs and I in our holiday bandanas and matching infinity scarf

DogDog Goose

DogDog Goose make handmade pet accessories and specialize in working with leather and biothane. Their collars and leashes are not only built to look good, they are built to last.  Their products are waterproof, stink proof and fade resistant.

A product that they make and I decided to try this year was their Paw Saver wax.  I normally have the dogs wear booties when out for a walk, but I noticed that one of Max’s dew claws became irritated whenever we put his on.  I knew he needed something to protect his paws from the harsh salt and sand that people put down, so that’s when I decided to order the paw wax to give it a try.  I can honestly say that this product works.  Not once since using it has Max lifted his paws or limped because they have been irritated.  The best part is that I also use it with Dolly (who is allergic to basically everything) and have had no issues.  If anything, it’s probably helped her skin allergies.

Darling Dear Co

Looking to dress up your dog or cat for the holidays?  Then why not get them an adorable bow tie to wear from Darling Dear Co?  All their bow ties are hand made and can be slipped on to any collar.  Plus, there is nothing more adorable than a pet wearing a bow tie.

Rayna Dog Collars

I have a special place in my heart for Rayna Dog Collars.  One of the very first photos of Dolly that I saw was her wearing a collar with a flower on it.  When we adopted her, we got the collar.  I was even more happy to find out that the collar is locally made by someone who also happens to a volunteer with Zoe’s Animal Rescue.  Not only does Bonnie make adorable collars and accessories, she also makes leashes as well.

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Dolly wearing her Rayna Collar and one of her many flower accessories

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The dogs Rayna Collar leashes and Dolly’s flower accessories

The Woofery

The Woofery makes healthy and eco friendly treats that your dog will love.  Their treats are single ingredient and dehydrated to ensure that they receiving the highest quality treats without any added preservatives that most store bought treats have.  I honestly don’t know a dog that doesn’t love dehydrated meat treats.

Along side the treats, they also make adorable matching scarf and bananas for you and your dogs.  I recently bought the green scarf and love how warm and cozy it is.  It’s perfect to wear while walking your dog on a cold winter day.

Fox & Tux Pet Boutique

A lot of the products listed above can be purchased at my favourite pet store, Fox & Tux Pet Boutique.  They offer a variety of quality items for your pets including food, treats, accessories and even do customized boxes for you to spoil your fur babies.  They carry a variety of local and Canadian vendors as they have a strong passion for supporting local.

Along with carrying amazing local and high quality products, the people are Fox & Tux are what really make the store special.  If you are in Edmonton, go visit them at their location on High Street.

Happy shopping everyone!