Quick Guides


Be Aware! - May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month

Spring is here and the ticks will soon be showing their heads. Since May is Lyme disease Awareness Month, take a minute to brush up on Lyme disease and tick removal.

Lyme disease is a very common tick-borne disease in North America that’s transmitted to humans and pets by Deer Tick bites. It’s commonly thought that a Deer Tick can be identified by a white speck on its back but rarely is that the case

Most look like this: Human symptoms are a red, circular skin rash accompanied by fever, headache, fatigue and depression. It can be treated with anti-biotics. Left untreated, it progresses to joints, heart and the central nervous system.

Symptoms in dogs include lack of appetite and depression. The joints swell and they experience lameness and develop into kidney disease. Other common symptoms are: walking with an arched back, being sensitive to touching, difficult breathing.

Safe, Non-Toxic Tick Removal

A School Nurse discovered this safe, non-toxic and very simple way to remove ticks. It’s great because it works in places that are difficult to get to with tweezers: between toes, in the middle of a head full of dark hair, etc.

If you use tweezers to pull a tick off, their jaws sometimes are left in the skin. This is much easier and less traumatic for kids and pets. Of course it’s also much safer than using a cigarette to burn them off.

Soak a cotton ball with liquid soap.
Cover the tick with the soap drenched cotton ball hold it on for 15-20 seconds.
This will suffocate the tick and it will release its grasp and be stuck to the cotton ball when you lift it away.

Check yourself, your family and your pets over good when you’ve been out in the woods or tall grass during Deer Tick season!

Quick Guide: Choosing a Collar

When I first adopted my dog, he was a little boy full of life and energy. He was a sweet little guy who fit perfect in my lap. And then, something happened…. he started growing up and suddenly my lap didn’t seem quite so big. On his Gotcha Day, my little man came with his collar and leash and I never thought about getting him a new one. So when his collar started getting too small, how was I supposed to know how to look for or buy another one?

After some quick research, I found that much of the process of choosing a collar is based on common sense rules and can go quickly if you know a few things beforehand.

  1. Material: A basic leather or nylon collar will work for most dogs. These types of collars can be found at grocery stores or superstores such as Target or Walmart, as well as pet supplies store. However, because these types of collars are fairly common, you won’t necessary need to make an additional trip to a pet supplies store.

  2. Sizing Rules: A collar should never be too tight or too loose. Basic rule of thumb is there should be enough room to slide two fingers between the collar and your dog’s neck. A collar shouldn’t cause any type of coughing or choking but also shouldn’t be able to slip off over a dog’s head.

  3. Sizing Tips: Many pet supply stores will allow you to try collars on your dogs to ensure fit, but if you are running short on time or do not want to make an extra trip, measuring the circumference of your dog’s neck and adding 1.5 to 2 inches will typically get you a properly sized collar.

  4. When More Is Needed: For older dogs or dogs that pull tightly when walking, a harness may be needed. Harnesses won’t necessarily need to be worn all of the time but especially when walking, it may be necessary. Choosing a harness should involve a trip to a specialty store so the correct type and size of harness is chosen for your dog.

If the above notes are taken into consideration when choosing a collar, it will save you both time and money and will ensure your dog has the proper collar for his or her size and needs.

Quick Guide: Choosing the Right Food Bowl

As you may know, I adopted my little guy, and although I did a lot of research before I got him, I still had some things to learn once he came home with me. Upon his arrival, I noticed that he ate very quickly and before I knew it, his bowl would be empty. I was concerned about what this could be doing to his little tummy, so I decided to explore my options for slowing him down.

Come to find out, different dogs have different needs when it comes to food and water bowls. From plastic and stainless steel to slow-feed and auto-feed, there is a bowl out there for everyone’s dog. To avoid spending too much time in the food and water bowl aisle, here are the basics on how to choose a bowl.

  1. Size: The size of your dog’s bowls should be directly proportionate to their size. A little dog does not need a bowl they can fit inside of and a big dog should have a bowl they don’t have to struggle to eat or drink out of.

  2. Bowl Material: A stainless steel dog bowl is considered the best option by pet experts because, compared to its plastic counterpart, it’s made with less chemicals, it’s easier to sanitize and bacteria doesn’t grow as easily in them. However, it’s important to note that any bowls you get should be washed and sanitized often.

  3. Elevated and Slow-Feeders: Large breeds, especially those prone to gastrointestinal issues, should be given an elevated feeder. These assist in proper digestion and reduce issues that eating at the incorrect posture can cause. If your dog is like mine and needs to slow down, a slow-feed bowl is a good option. These types of bowls have “obstacles” in them that make your dogs work harder for their food, causing them to slow down, in turn, reducing the risk of stomach problems and bloat.

Automatic Feeders and Gravity Feeders: For dogs whose moms and dads have busy lives, sometimes an auto or gravity feeder is a good option. Auto-feeders automatically dispense food at scheduled times throughout the day. These types of feeders are typically battery operated and can dispense anywhere from 3-5 meals. Gravity feeders on the other hand give your dog a continuous supply of food throughout the day, filling back up when the bowl has been emptied. The use of these bowls should be carefully considered, especially with those dogs who don’t know when to stop eating. Overeating can cause bloat and obesity in dogs.

Other Things Too Consider: A dog’s food and water bowl should not be any smaller than one quart for water and two cups for food and you should always have a separate water and food dish so that the dog food does not get wet. Additionally, clear, fresh water should be available at all times; some companies even make automatic waterers for dogs.

Typically your standard stainless steel and plastic bowls can be found at your grocery store or any non-pet specific store and will not require a special trip. For slow-feeds or auto-feeds, you may need to take the time to visit your local pet supplies store. If you have questions about what kind of bowl your dog may need, a pet supply store’s associate would be able to help you figure out what is best.

Quick Guide : Reading Dog Food Labels

Last week while running errands I remembered that I was low on dog food. I’d been planning to switch to a higher quality food anyway, and this seemed like the right time to transition into a new brand. As I rummaged through the dog food isle, trying to quickly sort through confusing labels, I realized that I had no idea how to find the right dog food. I knew some of the things to avoid (like grains and chemical preservatives), but didn’t know exactly what I wanted. 

After losing a half hour on a confusing task, I realized that I needed more info on reading dog food labels before making an informed decision. Here are some of the quick, basic tips discovered in my excursion.


  • Look for a brand with high quality protein as the first ingredient (like chicken or beef, NOT chicken meal or beef meal)

  • Check the guaranteed analysis to see what percentage of the food comes from high quality protein

  • Look for brands that use natural antioxidants like vitamins C and E as preservatives (labeled as tocopherol and ascorbate)

  • Find a food formulated to meet AAFCO Food Nutrient Profiles, or even better, one intended for ‘All Life Stages’ by AAFCO standards


  • Don’t choose a food high in fillers and low quality grains like corn

  • Avoid foods with misleading components listed as the top ingredient, like poultry by-product or beef meal, which are not the same as chicken and beef as a food ingredient

  • Watch out for common artificial preservatives like propylene glycol, ethoxyquin, Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), TBHQ and Propyl gallate