diy pup paw balm

pawbalm

Does your dog have dry, cracked pads? Does he need some protection from the heat of the sidewalk or asphalt or cold of the snow and ice? He needs paw balm! Simply apply a thin layer for relief or before heading out into the elements. Because it’s all-natural, it can be re-applied often!

And, bonus…I add essential oils to mine! Since the pads are an awesome application area for essential oils, this balm offers a great dual purpose. Choose essential oils that are beneficial for your dog and his needs. If you choose to add essential oils, be sure to use only certified pure therapeutic grade oils. I use and recommend doTERRA oils.

The recipe below will fill two 6-oz tins, so adjust accordingly. Not sure where to get the tins? Click here. I use a digital kitchen scale to measure the ingredients, but it doesn’t have to be perfect. Approximations are provided as well. Links to Amazon are also provided for the ingredients.

Ingredients:

  • 1 oz (approx. 2 tbsp) olive oil or sweet almond oil
  • 1 oz (approx. 2 tbsp) coconut oil
  • 1/2 oz (approx. 1 tbsp) shea butter
  • 2 tsp beeswax
  • 20-40 drops *essential oils of choice (optional)

Make It:

  1. Using a digital scale, measure oils, butter, and beeswax in a glass container. I like to use the Pyrex spouted, handled measuring cups.
  2. Melt oils, butter, and beeswax in the microwave or double boiler.
  3. Add essential oils if using, and whisk.
  4. Pour into tin, and allow to cool before capping.

*Essential oils have many benefits for dogs. I use this balm on my oldest dog, who has arthritis. His arthritis causes minor muscle tremors and weakness in his back legs. As a result, his back feet tend to slide a bit on hard floors. This balm not only provides a little traction for his pads, but it’s also a great way to get essential oils in his bloodstream to help (at least partially) alleviate the effects of arthritis. I use 25 drops lavender and 10 drops frankincense. Want to know more about essential oils for dogs? Click here.

Advertisements

all-natural soothing dog shampoo

dogshampoo

Did you know…many commercial pet shampoos contain drying agents to help the coat dry faster. These chemicals and artificial additives can also dry out the dog’s skin–resulting in itchy, dandruffy skin; excessive shedding; and a dull coat. Additionally, when the pet is bathed too often (more than once every 6-8 weeks) with these shampoos, those potential side effects become even worse!

When our oldest dog developed papillomavirus (a condition actually quite common among older dogs), I of course started to do my research. Papillomavirus causes wart-like growths on the skin. These growths are generally benign, but they can be itchy and will occasionally break open and bleed or ooze. Gross and ouch, right?? As an essential oil educator, I knew I could find something natural to help soothe him. I also knew using a natural shampoo meant I could bathe him more frequently! He now gets a bath about once every two weeks. The essential oils in the recipe are optional, but they are both great for soothing the skin and disinfecting. They also add a nice, subtle fragrance.

For this recipe, you’ll need an 8-oz glass pump bottle (cobalt or amber preferred). Not sure where to get one? Check out this post.

Ingredients:

Make It:

  1. Add all ingredients to bottle and shake well.
  2. Shake before each use.

Because this is an all-natural shampoo, it won’t get as sudsy as a commercial shampoo will. Rest assured, it’s still doing its job! Resist the urge to use more to make up for it. Also, as I mentioned earlier, this shampoo can be used more often since it’s made of all-natural ingredients. Bathe up to once per week if needed.

 

manage your pup’s arthritis, joint, and muscle pain with essential oils

puppain

Our oldest dog, Jake, is now 13+ years old. He’s a mix breed built like a dachshund or corgi–long body, short legs. We always knew that would cause stress on his back, hips, and joints, and it’s definitely showing now with his age. He has a tougher time jumping up on furniture, his back legs are weak and occasionally tremble, and he struggles to stand firmly on tile and other slippery surfaces.

We had tried some meds from the vet, but none of them helped much. Plus, they were expensive and came with potential long-term side effects. Being a family focused on natural remedies whenever possible, I started to research essential oils for arthritic dogs. I tried a couple different combinations and application methods (what might work great for one person or dog might not work at all for another) and found one that helped! I now use a roller bottle for him 2-3 times per day, and he gets the doTERRA Deep Blue® supplement once a day. I am amazed with the improvements in a short period of time!

The Roller Bottle:

Because he’s a small dog (and a dog in general), it’s important to use the right dilution when using essential oils for him. To mix up this roller bottle, you’ll need a 10-mL roller bottle (amber or cobalt preferred) and fractionated coconut oil in addition to the essential oils. Not sure where to get the roller bottle? Click here. *NOTE: be sure to use only certified pure therapeutic grade essential oils. I use and recommend doTERRA oils. Make it:

  1. Add 2 drops each of lavender and white fir essential oils to a 10-mL roller bottle.
  2. Add 1 drop each of frankincense, lemongrass, and peppermint to the bottle.
  3. Fill bottle with fractionated coconut oil.
  4. Shake to mix.

To use it, roll it under the dog’s “armpits” or along the spine. Be sure to get the oils on the skin rather than allowing them to just soak into the hair. Apply 2-3 times per day for ongoing maintenance or as needed for injuries.

The Deep Blue® Supplement:

There’s no better explanation of this awesome product than the one right from the doTERRA website:

“The brand name Deep Blue® is synonymous with relief for sore and tired muscles. The CPTG Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade® essential oil blend as well as the rub have provided comfort to many and are trusted among their users. It only makes sense that an ingestible supplement would complement the topical benefits of the Deep Blue product line.*

Deep Blue Polyphenol Complex delivers polyphenol extracts of frankincense, turmeric, green tea, ginger, pomegranate, and grape seed, and is designed to provide soothing support to aching muscles and to other occasional discomfort.* Take as needed when discomfort presents itself, or take it every day for long-lasting benefits.*”

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

For (human) adults, the dosage of this supplement is two capsules per day (one morning and one evening) with food. In addition to Jake (who is about 15 pounds), we also have a German shepherd dog mix weighing about 65 pounds. Since she has the typical GSD hips, we give her the Deep Blue® supplement as well. I split one capsule between the two of them, twice per day (with breakfast and dinner). I open the capsule and sprinkle about 2/3 of the powder onto Bergen’s (the GSD) food and the rest onto Jake’s.

Since we started the roller bottle and Deep Blue® supplement, Jake is getting around much better, and we were able to stop giving Bergen her daily dose of Deramaxx®. It’s empowering knowing I’m helping manage their mobility with all-natural supplements!

Want to learn more about essential oils for pets? Check out this post!

intro to essential oils and pets

oils-pets-2.png

The aromatherapy benefits of essential oils for humans is no secret. It shouldn’t be a surprise, then, that they can have similar benefits for pets. It’s important to remember, though, that pets can and will respond to them in much different ways than we will. When using oils with your pets, always consult your veterinarian and an essential oil expert.

What are Essential Oils?

Essential oils are naturally occurring compounds found in the seeds, roots, bark, flowers, and other parts of plants. They give plants their distinctive smells, and they play a role in pollination. Essential oils have long been used for food preparation, beauty treatment, and healthcare.

Think of it this way–plants can’t run away to escape predators or environmental threats. Instead, they rely on the oils they produce for protection. Those oils can neutralize and repel pests and pathogens.

Not All Oils are Created Equal

Have you shopped for essential oils? You’ve probably noticed there are LOTS out there! They are not all created equal. Many of them have added ingredients that at best take away from the effectiveness of the oil and at worst result in adverse effects. When using essential oils (for yourself and for your pets), be sure to only choose therapeutic grade oils that go through rigorous testing. I personally use and recommend doTERRA oils.

doTERRA oils are certified pure therapeutic grade. They go through eight tests to verify purity. What does that mean? It means you know you’re getting pure, quality oils, free of additives and artificial ingredients. Read more here.

A Few of My Favorite Oils to Consider

We use essential oils for our dogs for a number of things including flea/tick repellent, deodorizing, calming, and arthritis relief. Because animals tend to have a much stronger sense of smell than humans, always dilute oils for pets in a carrier oil. The following oils are safe for use with pets:

  • Cedarwood: Cedarwood is a great all-purpose oil. It has calming effects and is a good bug repellent.
  • Fennel: Fennel helps break up toxins and fluid in tissue. It balances pituitary, thyroid, and pineal glands.
  • Frankincense: Frankincense is my second go-to oil for pets. It also has anti-inflammatory properties, making it great for aches and pains associated with injuries or arthritis.
  • Geranium: This one is a key ingredient in our flea/tick repellent collars. It is an excellent bug repellent.
  • Lavender: Often referred to as the all-purpose oil, lavender has a wide variety of benefits and uses. It is great for calming for the nervous dog and when introducing new things. It may also help with allergies, burns, ulcers, insomnia, car sickness, and more. When in doubt, lavender is often the oil I recommend trying first.
  • Spearmint: This oil can help to reduce weight. It is good for colic, diarrhea, and nausea, and it helps balance metabolism.
  • Wild Orange: The citrus aroma of wild orange is uplifting and calms the mind and stomach. I use it with lavender in my calming spray.

Specific Oils to Avoid

Because pets have a much stronger sense of smell and are typically much smaller than we are, some oils should be avoided completely. I never recommend use of the following oils with pets:

  • Basil; also present in doTERRA proprietary blend AromaTouch
  • Cassia
  • Cinnamon; also present in doTERRA proprietary blends Cheer, OnGuard, and Passion
  • Clove
  • Melaleuca (aka tea tree); also present in doTERRA proprietary blends Breathe and Purify
  • Oregano
  • Pine; also present in doTERRA proprietary blend Purify
  • Thyme; also present in doTERRA proprietary blend Forgive
  • Wintergreen; also present in doTERRA proprietary blend Deep Blue (only found in oil; supplement is safe)

Cautions

Dilution is essential. Essential oils should always be diluted in a carrier oil when using them with pets. I use fractionated coconut oil as a carrier. Dilution percentages vary based on the size of the dog:

  • X-small breeds (up to 10 pounds): 2%, approx. 10-12 drops per ounce of carrier oil
  • Small breeds (11-25 pounds): 3%, approx. 15-18 drops per ounce of carrier oil
  • Medium breeds (26-50 pounds): 4%, approx. 20-24 drops per ounce of carrier oil
  • Large breeds (51-90 pounds): 5%, approx. 27-31 drops per ounce of carrier oil
  • X-large breeds (91+ pounds): 6%, approx. 32-37 drops per ounce of carrier oil

Cats, birds, and rodents are much more sensitive to oils than dogs. Personally, I don’t use any oils directly on my cats for this reason. Additionally, if oils are diffused near cats, birds, or rodents, they should be heavily diluted.

When diffusing oils, always ensure all pets (but especially cats, birds, and rodents) have an exit if needed. If the smell becomes too much for them, it’s important they can get to an area free of the aroma.

Allow pets to smell the oils by simply opening the bottle in their presence before using the oils on them. If the pet is bothered by the smell, put the oil away and try again the next day. Only use oils that are not bothersome to the pet.

Melaleuca is especially toxic to pets and should not be used on dogs or cats. I won’t even diffuse melaleuca in their presence. Some folks may disagree, but I tend to err on the side of caution; better safe than sorry.

So-called “hot” oils should be avoided for both dogs and cats. They get their nickname because they can cause a warming sensation. This sensation tends to be too intense for pets. Hot oils include cinnamon, clove, oregano, and thyme. On the flip side, peppermint is known for its cooling sensation. It should be used with caution, as the cooling sensation may also be a bit intense for pets.

Never use essential oils around the eyes, nose, mouth, or genitals, and never put essential oils into the pet’s ears.

For best absorption, oils should be applied on the skin of the armpits, between pads, or on the spine. If applying to the spine, be sure to part the hair and get the oils onto the skin.

Need Some Help?

If you want to get started with essential oils for your pets, please contact me. I’m happy to arrange a wellness consult to discuss the benefits and cautions with you.

 

in-ground doggie waste disposal system

When we installed our in-ground waste disposal system, we had three dogs. One is large (about 65 pounds), one is small (about 15 pounds), and one was medium (she has since passed away) and had some digestive issues that resulted in what seemed like non-stop pooping! As you can imagine, backyard cleanup was a daily task. We filled a bucket to go in the garbage can pretty quickly. That’s when we decided to look into an in-ground system. *I should probably note that dog and cat waste cannot be added to your regular compost and cannot be used in your garden. Installing an in-ground system is actually pretty easy. The worst part is digging the hole!

Step #1: Choose your location and dig your hole.

We put ours in the back of our yard behind our shed. While the smell is somewhat contained, you’ll definitely be able to smell it if you’re close to it, so choose wisely. Most of the systems recommend digging three feet deep. That’s probably a great plan if you have just one little dog. If you have big dogs or multiple dogs, though, I would recommend going at least six feet deep. The good news is the hole doesn’t have to be wide, so don’t let a six foot dig scare you away! A post hole digger actually works really well.

Step #2: Add pea rock to the bottom of the hole.

The key to the system working is drainage (or lack thereof). The addition of the water and enzymes is what breaks down the waste. If you have sandy, looser soil, the water may drain too quickly to adequately break down the waste, so you’ll want to add water more frequently. If you have clay or harder soil, you may have a bit better luck since the water won’t drain as quickly. In any case, a layer of rock at the bottom of your hole will help to maintain the hole and regulate drainage. Pea rock is great, but any type of smaller rock will do.

Step #3: Place your lid.

There are plenty brands out there that make this “system.” All you’re really buying, though, is a lid. The hole does all the work; you just need something to cover it. If you’re handy, you could certainly make your own. The one we bought at the time isn’t actually made anymore, but this Four Paws one is pretty similar. When you place the lid over your hole, I recommend digging it into the ground a bit to keep it in place. Then pack your dirt back around it for security.

Now You’re Ready to Use It:

  1. Add waste to system as it’s picked up. (Resist the urge to fill it with everything that’s been sitting around for the last month! It will never catch up and break down.)
  2. Add water to the system daily. This often isn’t part of the actual instructions, but the moisture will help break down the waste more quickly. I add enough water to fill to the top once a day. This is an especially important step if you have looser soil that drains quickly.
  3. Add enzymes to the system weekly. I like the Four Paws Waste Manager tablets available here. You just add one tablet per dog per week with water.

Unfortunately, in-ground systems will only work in warm weather. If you live in a northern state like we do, you won’t be able to use the system over the winter. We typically stop using ours in late fall and begin using the system again in the spring.

20170409_122145.jpg

 

coconut oil dog treats

coconutoiltreats.png

If you’ve read any of my other posts about homemade dog treats, you know how much I LOVE coconut oil for dogs! It provides many benefits for their skin, coat, hips, and joints. I use it in all of my baked treats. Many people mix some right in with their dogs’ food. If you’re looking for a simple, beneficial treat for your pups, look no further!

There’s just one ingredient: coconut oil. And, you can make as many or as few as you want! Simply melt the coconut oil, pour it into molds, and freeze them until solid. Once they set, pop them out of the molds, and store them in an airtight container or freezer bag in the freezer.

20170402_123958

I like to fill a spouted, glass Pyrex measuring cup with the coconut oil and microwave it. I use the one cup size and fill it to the top. It takes about two minutes in the microwave to melt to liquid. Then I pour the oil into the molds (I got these on Amazon). *TIP: Place the molds on cookie sheets before filling them, or you’ll have a heck of a time moving them when they’re full of liquid! Set the cookie sheets in the freezer, and allow the treats to set. I get about 48 small treats out of this much coconut oil.

 

diy flea/tick repellent collar (for dogs only)

fleatickcollar.png

My family has had dogs forever, and we’ve always used either Frontline or K9 Advantix for flea/tick repellent. Luckily, we’ve never had any negative side effects, and for the most part, we’ve never had any problems with fleas or ticks. All that said, though, I know plenty people who have had problems, and I know plenty more who haven’t had a ton of success with those products. When our family got on the “natural kick” a while back, we of course brought the dogs on board as well. One of the first questions people asked was if I knew of any natural, DIY flea and tick repellents. After a great deal of research, I’ve come up with a recipe that is easy, inexpensive, and effective.

You can use a regular nylon or other cloth collar, or you can use a bandana or scrap of fabric like I did. I actually like to visit the fabric sections of craft stores whenever possible to see what they have available for swatches. Often, they have small little pieces that are plenty big to make dog bandanas or collars from, and you can get them for just a couple bucks.

As always, be sure to use only pure, therapeutic-grade essential oils, and NEVER use essential oils on cats. I use and recommend doTERRA oils. The recipe will make enough solution to soak two collars or bandanas. Simply half it if you only have one dog.

*Note: depending on the type and size of material used, you may need to increase the solution. The collar should be fully soaked with enough to wring out a little before hanging to dry. If it’s not wet enough. Add equal amounts of water and oils to ensure saturation.

Ingredients:

  • 4 drops geranium essential oil
  • 4 drops lavender essential oil
  • 4 drops cedarwood essential oil
  • 4 drops peppermint essential oil
  • 1/2 cup filtered water

Make It:

  1. Whisk all ingredients together in a flat, shallow bowl.
  2. Submerge collar/bandana/fabric in liquid; let sit for 5-10 minutes.
  3. Remove collar from liquid, and wring out excess.
  4. Hang to dry.

Use It:

  • When the collar is completely dry, simply tie around the dog’s neck. Be sure to get it snug enough so as to not come off or catch on things but loose enough to be comfortable. Use the two-finger rule: you should be able to comfortably get two fingers between the collar and your dog’s neck.
  • Replace the collar every 2-4 weeks depending on insect population, weather, etc. I have a number of fabric swatches in a cabinet for the dogs. When I need a new one, I simply throw the one they’re wearing in the wash and start with a clean one.

The oils I use are great at repelling all sorts of bugs, not just fleas and ticks. This collar should help repel mosquitoes, flies, and other insects too!

 

homemade, all-natural peanut butter dog treats (grain free)

pbdogtreats

I should start by saying I am not a baker. I don’t mind cooking, but baking is definitely not my thing. However, I like knowing exactly what goes into my dogs’ treats and food, so I make an exception when it comes to them.

Due to some health issues, one of our dogs has to have grain-free food and treats. These biscuits use coconut flour and coconut oil. Coconut oil is really good for us, and it’s also good for our dogs! It has anti-inflammatory benefits, and it’s good for the skin and coat. I also include turmeric in this recipe because it, too, is anti-inflammatory (our oldest dog has arthritis).

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup coconut flour
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric (optional)

Make Them:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Measure coconut oil in its solid form. Melt in the microwave, approx. 1.5 minutes.
  3. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl.
  4. Roll out dough, and cut using a cookie cutter of your choice, OR press into silicone molds, OR form into discs using your hands (by far the easiest option!).
  5. Bake molds directly on a cookie sheet if using molds, OR bake on parchment paper-lined cookie sheet, approx. 13 minutes or until edges brown slightly.
  6. Allow to cool fully before storing.
  7. Store in an airtight container or bag in the refrigerator.
  8. Yield: approx. 65 mini bones using the molds I purchased here.

Notes:

  • Try these with pumpkin puree or mashed sweet potato (or any combination of all three)!
  • I made these in the mold because they’re super cute. However, pressing the dough into the molds is tedious and time consuming. Most of the time, I like to just form the dough into discs with my hands and bake them that way. If your dogs are anything like mine, they probably don’t care what shape they are anyway! I bought the molds on Amazon; get them here.
  • Because these have no preservatives, they will keep best in the refrigerator. They can be kept in an airtight container or bag at room temperature if you’ll be using them within 3-4 days.

apple pumpkin dog treats (grain free)

applepumpkintreats.png

If you’re anything like us, your dogs are your kids, and you want to give them the best. While you can absolutely find some great store-bought treats, sometimes it’s nice to make them yourself. By making them, you can control the ingredients, and they tend to be cheaper!

Many of my homemade dog treats include coconut oil and turmeric. Coconut oil is fantastic for dogs on so many levels. It’s great for the skin and coat, which means it helps alleviate dry skin, shedding, and cracked pads. It’s also great for the hips and joints, helping to lubricate joints and ultimately making movement a bit easier. Turmeric is an optional ingredient, but I always include it because it also is great for the skin, coat, hips, and joints.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree (or mashed cooked sweet potato)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric (optional)
  • 6 tbsp coconut flour
  • Pinch sea salt

Make Them:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Melt coconut oil in the microwave, approx. 1.5 minutes.
  4. Add pumpkin, eggs, applesauce, coconut oil, and turmeric to a food processor and mix.
  5. Gradually add coconut flour to the processor and mix.
  6. Transfer mixture to papered pan, and spread out to approx. 1/4 inch thickness (I just use my hands for this). Try to keep the edges as smooth as possible.
  7. Sprinkle with sea salt.
  8. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes.
  9. Remove pan from oven, and cut into bite-size pieces using a pizza cutter.
  10. Return pan to oven and bake an additional 18-20 minutes, or until edges begin to brown slightly.
  11. Allow to cool on the pan before transferring to a storage container.
  12. Store in an airtight container (for extra shelf life, store in the refrigerator).

doggie breath busters (grain free)

doggiebreathbusters.png

Few dogs exist that don’t have bad breath. The best defense to bad breath is regular vet visits and an annual dental cleaning. Bad breath is not something to be ignored because it can be indicative of any number of medical issues from plaque and tartar buildup to tooth decay to something far more serious. Assuming you take excellent care of your fur babies like I do, they still can knock you out with their kisses. This recipe is easy to make, and my dogs love the resulting treat. And the most important part of course – they really do help with the nasty breath!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • Small handful fresh mint
  • Small handful fresh parsley
  • 1-2 tbsp filtered water

Make It:

  1. Add all ingredients to a blender cup and puree.
  2. Pour into ice cube tray to desired size – half full for small to medium dogs and full for larger dogs.
  3. Freeze until solid.
  4. Pop out of trays and store in the freezer in a freezer-safe container or freezer storage bag.
  5. Feed 1-2 treats daily.

Yield: approx. 24 half-cube treats

This would also make a great puree to pour into a Kong and freeze!