Consider a Canine Massage

Few things in life feel as good as a massage, so your pooch would probably love one. And just as people can benefit from a massage's mind-body effects -- like stress reduction, better blood circulation, and improved muscle tone -- so may your furry friend.

If you think your dog would enjoy a massage, run the idea by your vet. It may not be appropriate for pets with health problems such as arthritis, fractures, cancer, or certain skin conditions.

Look for a certified massage therapist who has been trained in animal massage, or ask your vet if he or she has training in animal massage.

Another option is to learn how to do it yourself. Massage therapy schools in your area may offer animal massage classes. Not only will you gain a new skill, but also you'll get more bonding time with your buddy. A massage also provides an opportunity to check your pet for unusual growths and lumps.

Top 5 Travel Tips

1. Never leave your pet in a parked car. Pets can overheat much faster than people and even a few minutes in a hot vehicle can be fatal.

2. Always keep a collar with current tags, on your pet. If you’re away from home, make sure the tag includes your cell phone, or a contact number for the place you’ll be staying.

3. Take frequent potty breaks. Having to ‘hold it’ too long can cause health problems like urinary tract infections. Everyone will be more comfortable with frequent rest stops to empty bladders and stretch the legs.

4. Try to keep some creature comforts, the same. Even if you pup loves to travel, some journeys can be stressful especially if there are lots of different places to stay along the way. Keep beds, blankets, bowls and toys the same as they are at home, for a more relaxed journey. Keeping food consistent will help reduce the risk of tummy upsets, too.

5. Take along a first aid kit for you and your animal companion, just in case. Along with the usual essentials like bandages, wound cleanser, tweezers and a soft muzzle, take along some Rescue Remedy, along with the homeopathic remedies Apis (bites and stings) Arnica (bumps and bruises) Arsenicum (vomiting and diarrhea) all in the 30c potency pellets and Calendula cream for minor cuts and scrapes.

Cheesy Carrot Muffins

Cheesy Carrot Muffins
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 cup grated Cheddar cheese
1 cup grated carrot
2 large eggs
1 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a muffin tin or line it with paper baking cups.

Combine the flours and baking powder and mix well. Add the cheese and carrots, and use your fingers to mix them into the flour until they are well distributed.

In another bowl, beat the eggs. Then whisk in the milk and vegetable oil. Pour this over the flour mixture, and stir gently until just combined.

Fill the muffin cups three-quarters full with the mixture. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the muffins feel springy. Be sure to let the muffins cool before letting your dog do any taste-testing. If he's a medium to large dog, one muffin will be a great snack. Make it half a muffin for a toy or small dog.

We Share Because We Care: Dining with Your Dog or Cat

Home-made treats are a healthy and delicious option to processed products. And a wonderful side effect of making sure the food you share with your pet is healthy is that your health can benefit too! Nutritious treats and snacks can easily be made at home and you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing exactly what you’re giving your animal companion, and the other members of your family. If you have children in the house, then you know they are a magnet for hovering hounds and mooching mousers. By choosing treats wisely, you can rest assured that both the kids and pets are sharing food that is good for them. And children learn from the example set by adults, so preparing and enjoying healthy and delicious food is an invaluable habit to instill in them.

Here is a recipe that is super-easy to make and so delicious that everyone in your house will want some. And that’s okay; they’re good for everyone…you and your pets!

Almond Fudge Logs

  • 1 cup raw almond butter
  • 1/2 cup raw shelled almonds, chopped
  • 1/4 cup raw carob powder
  • 1/4 cup raw honey

Combine almond butter, carob, and honey until well blended. Form into “log” shapes (if they’re too sticky, add more carob) or roll into 1” balls. Roll in chopped nuts, chill until firm, and slice logs into pieces. Keep refrigerated. Makes about 1 1/2 cups, or three 7” logs.

The nutritional scoop: Cocoa and chocolate contain theobromine, an alkaloid that can be lethal for some animals, including dogs and cats. Hooray for carob, the chocolate alternative! Not only is it safe and delicious, but it’s nutritious as well, and contains 60 percent fewer calories than chocolate. Carob is a great source of calcium, with approximately 358 milligrams per cup. It also contains appreciable amounts of iron, potassium, magnesium, copper, selenium, B vitamins, and vitamin A. With 4.8 grams of protein per cup, it also contains many essential amino acids. Carob’s high pectin content makes it useful for digestive disorders, especially diarrhea, and it’s easy to digest. Carob is mentioned often in historical texts (including the Bible) as a food and medicine for both humans and nonhumans alike. In ancient times, almonds were also used as both food and medicine. Raw almonds are a good source of enzymes, calcium, magnesium, and vitamin E. Food-source vitamin E is an antioxidant that may provide important health benefits including the ability to inhibit lipid (fat) oxidation. Purchase nuts from a store that restocks regularly, as you’ll want the freshest ones possible. Store shelled almonds and almond butter in the refrigerator.

To get the most flavor and nutrients from your food, you’ll want to purchase organically grown food whenever possible. Organically grown food is the fastest-growing sector of agriculture today, and for good reason: It has higher levels of nutrients, including cancer-fighting compounds, than most conventionally grown food. Nutritionally, you get more for your money with organic food; plus, the Environmental Protection Agency warns that 60 percent of the herbicides, 90 percent of the fungicides, and 30 percent of the insecticides that may be used on non-organic crops are carcinogenic (cancer-causing). Plus, organically grown food usually tastes much better than conventionally grown food! If you cannot get organically grown food, don’t let it deter you from enjoying the great taste and nutrition of fresh whole foods. Buy the best quality that you can and be sure to wash all produce before using.

This recipe is a great alternative to unhealthy chocolate sweets. In fact, everyone in your family may love them so much that you’ll need to remind yourself that rich treats like these are best given in moderation. They should not replace regular meals of species-appropriate food. This simple recipe will allow you to share a treat with your pet and also treat yourself to peace of mind, knowing that it is actually good for both of you! Sharing healthy food is not “spoiling” a pet any more than it would be a child; in fact, when you choose recipes to prepare that are delicious and nutritious, you truly prove how much you value those you care about. And you’re in very good company: Famous physician, humanitarian, and philosopher Dr. Albert Schweitzer shared food and care with his animal friends and was moved to say “We must realize that all life is valuable and that we are united to all life. By ethical conduct toward all creatures, we enter into a spiritual relationship with the universe.” Bon app├ętite!

Credit: Kymythy

Tips in choosing a veterinarian

You understand the meaning of the phrase "man's best friend." Your dog is loyal, provides companionship and is there for you through good times and bad. So when your dog is injured or feeling under the weather, you want the best for it — though you'd like not to have to declare bankruptcy to get it.

Vetting the vets

  • You won't be able to measure all aspects of the technical skills of veterinarians. On the other hand, just as you can when choosing a physician, you can tell a lot about the performance of a vet.

    • Are they convenient? You'll want convenient hours, limited wait times, and a location close to your home. Most area vets have some evening or weekend hours for routine visits.
    • Can you make an appointment quickly? This is important to your peace of mind and to the comfort — and perhaps the survival — of your pet. You should ask what provisions a vet makes for covering emergencies outside of office hours.
    • Do they care? The first time you visit a vet you'll get a sense of whether he or she really cares about animals. Note how gentle the vet is and how interested he or she is in learning relevant facts about your pet. Note also how your pet responds to the vet.
    • Can you tour the facility? To make a reliable judgment about a veterinary practice, you have to see more than the front office. Find out how open the vet is to showing you treatment rooms and the cages and runs where animals are temporarily held or boarded. The facility's cleanliness, of course, is also important.
    • Do they give you advice on prevention and home care? For the health of your pet and for your wallet, you need advice on prevention, on how you can spot pet-health problems, and on how to take care of your pet when it is sick.
    • Can you easily communicate with them? Good communication includes listening, making you feel comfortable about asking questions and explaining what is wrong with your pet, what is being done, and what you can expect. A vet should frankly admit his or her limitations and the need for outside specialist consultation. The vet also should talk openly about costs. And the vet should let you make decisions based on your finances, your devotion to your pet and your informed understanding of the prognosis.
    • Are they competent and thorough? Does the vet give a thorough exam and take a thorough medical history to find out about previous medical problems, previous occurrences of the current problem, what treatments have worked and other matters? If your pet is referred to a specialist, does your primary vet follow up with the specialist and keep a record of what happened? If tests are done, does the vet keep a record of the results and share them with you?

    • Do they have reasonable fees? Unfortunately, this is an area where consumers are often dissatisfied. The most common complaints we received from surveyed vet customers were related to bills that seemed excessively or unexpectedly high.
    • Do they try to keep costs down? Low prices are not the only way a vet can save you money, of course. You also save if the vet is effective in showing you how to prevent disease and injuries and if the vet shows you how to care for your pet by yourself. Equally important, you want a vet that informs you about lower cost care alternatives and doesn't do more than necessary.
    • Does accreditation matter? Veterinary hospitals can become accredited by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) by meeting certain minimum standards: keeping adequate medical records and having complete diagnostic, pharmacy, anesthetic, surgical, nursing, dental, and emergency-service facilities.

Pet Theft on the Rise

Here is a note from the SPCA about the frightening Rise of Pet Theft:

" We have heard some disturbing news related to the slowing economy and your pets’ safety. Reports of pet theft have dramatically increased this year - in fact, reports have quadrupled since 2007.
SPCA International cannot explain this rise, but we do recognize that people get desperate in hard times. It is extremely unfortunate that the victims in this case are our pets.
Thieves see our animals as helpless victims for their gain in a number of ways. Purebred dogs and cats can often sell for thousands of dollars. On Web sites like and the thief can remain relatively anonymous while selling your missing animal for a retail price. Thieves may also scheme to take advantage of your desperation by stealing your pet and waiting for you to post a reward. Returning your dog or cat a few days later as a hero and collecting profit with little suspicion.
Reports indicate that animals are stolen from backyards while parents are out, from cars while parents run a quick errand and from dog parks while old friends chat. I urge you to take extra precaution for your pets’ safety this year, especially if your best friend may be viewed as an expensive breed. You being aware of this rising problem may be just the protection your companion needs. "

JD Winston

Executive Director
SPCA International