This post is going to get real. Why? Because dogs are better than people to me. And one dog, in particular, has taken over my life and I have no problem with that.
(As always, I am not an expert about dog health. This is based on what I’ve researched and what works for the little man.)
TIP #1- ADOPT, DON’T SHOP.
He was saved from a high-kill shelter in Fresno by an organization in San Francisco, Copper’s Dream Rescue . Let’s talk about Copper’s Dream for a second. I could do a whole post on how incredible Copper’s Dream is. To sum it up — They rescue dogs from various shelters in Northern California and find foster homes for all of them until they get adopted. Sometimes, there are multiple dogs in each foster home because they genuinely care about finding a LOVING, FOREVER home for every dog.
I fostered about a dozen dogs during the year I was with Copper’s Dream. After seeing how appreciative, loving, and loyal these dogs were towards me after only a month of caring for them, I knew I wanted to adopt from Copper’s Dream. 3 years later, Kodak’s photo on the website was my equivalent of “love at first sight.” BEST DECISION EVER.
tip #2- invest in your dog’s food
Just like humans, what your dog eats is important to their health, lifespan, mood, EVERYTHING. Kodak eats better than we do because I want him to live forever. Plus, I turned batshit crazy when we adopted him and researched everything I needed to know about raising a dog right.
Are you ready to get scared away from cheap, commercial dog food?
- Commercial brands use feed-grade ingredients, meaning they are much lower quality than human-grade ingredients. (nope.)
- Commercial brands use meats from the rendering process. Meaning they contain ROAD KILL, EUTHANIZED ANIMALS FROM SHELTERS, BARNS AND RANCHES, or DISEASED ANIMALS. (ARE YOU F-ING KIDDING ME?!) (source)
- Because of the diseased animals, there’s a big possibility that there’s pentobarbital in the food (the anesthetic they use to euthanize animals).
- There are countless preservatives and chemicals in commercial dog foods that are illegal for human food but not illegal in the pet industry. Many of them cause liver and kidney problems.
- Rendered animal fat is used to enhance flavor in dry dog food which includes microorganism (Salmonella, etc) and toxins (heavy metals). If moisture gets into the dry dog food, harmful bacteria and mold will flourish their butts off in there.
- These dry food brands cook the “ingredients” twice to kill off bacteria. Because of this, nutrients burn off.
- Because of the high-heat, potent carcinogens are created. (Hello, cancer).
The worst part? They disguise these “ingredients” by saying things like “bone meal” “meat meal” and “by-products.” Some of the chemicals and preservatives aren’t required to be listed on the ingredients. .
Say good-bye to Beneful, Pedigree, IAMS, Purina, Kibbles N Bits, & anything that’s cheap, convenient and contains ingredients that you can’t pronounce. It’s sick what can be considered “legal” in the pet industry.
*Blue Buffalo had a big lawsuit for lying about the ingredients in their dog food – so, I’d be careful with them, too!
We’ve used Orijen since we got Kodak and he’s obsessed with it. All the ingredients are fresh, cage-free, range-free, whole-food & nutrient-filled. There are no chemicals, preservatives, rendered fats, & it’s grain-free. It has 6 different flavors & being the psycho mom I am, I switch up the bags every time we buy so he never gets bored. Sue me.
Other amazing dog food brands are Taste of the Wild, Hill’s Science Diet, and Nature’s Instinct (to name a few). If you care about your dog, care about what they’re eating. Not only for the obvious reasons I said above, but you’ll end up spending a fortune trying to save their life at the vet when they develop health issues.
tip #3- not all human food is safe for dogs.
There are debates out there about giving human food to dogs for various reasons. Some say it isn’t good for them, some say it leads to excessive begging. Blah, blah, blah. I’m all for it because it’s an incredible way to give Kodak nutrients and he behaves so much better when we have human food treats for him. Fill a kong with yogurt or peanut butter. Both are good sources of protein, plus it keeps him busy forever. Cooked & deli meats are perfect training/general treats. Avoid meats high in fat, like bacon (ugh, I know). Find a good list of dog-approved human foods, here.
Some human food can be deadly to your little pup & should be avoided at all cost. Such as:
- Caffeine, alcohol, chocolate (duh, but I had to state the obvious).
- Onions, garlic.
- Grapes, raisins (can cause rapid kidney failure, scary!)
- Macadamia nuts (like raisins & grapes, most nuts are extremely toxic to dogs).
- Raw/undercooked meat, eggs and bones. (Both raw and cooked bones could cause choking AND could splinter post-swallow).
- Marijuana. (As funny as it may seem, it’s not. This could slow your dog’s heart rate and cause organs to shut down).
Find a full list here.
tip #4- exercise, attention, and socialization are more important than you think.
Luckily, my boyfriend and I work from home the majority of the time. This means Kodak gets a ton of attention & is outside often.
As I know people have lives and can’t dedicate as much time as we do into Kodak, here’s some tips and reasons why it’s important.
- Our trainer told us socialization with other dogs is the best way to build the skills to react to new situations in a positive way. Properly socialized dogs are more happy, friendly, stress-free, and more predictable in social situations.
- Unsocialized dogs tend to be shy, fearful, unpredictable, anxious, & often times lash-out with aggressive behaviors.
- I know some people have work/school full-time meaning their dog is locked at home alone all day. But often times, this can have negative effects on their mood and physical health.
- As it may seem like a good idea, don’t leave your dog in the yard while you’re gone for several hours. This puts them at risk for injury (by wild/stray animals, dangerous weather conditions, etc.), they could run away or someone can easily steal them.
- As an alternative to leaving your dog at home for longer than 7 hours a day, try doggy daycares or dog walkers. This gives your dog some playtime and exercise and causes positive changes in their mental health. *Research and find someone that you TRUST.
- If daycare isn’t an option, make sure to leave kong treats filled with peanut butter, big beefy bones, & slow-dispenser food toys for your dog while your gone. It’ll give him/her a nice mental and physical workout so they’ll be worn out.
- Exercise with your dog for AT LEAST an hour a day. For Kodak, this mean he needs to sprint after his favorite thing in the whole world (his ball) plus a post-fetch frolic through Central Park.
- Lastly, goddamnit, give your dog as much love and attention as you can. ESPECIALLY if you leave them for hours at a time. I read an article about how direct eye contact can release endorphins in yourself and your pooch. Try it.
tip #5- give your fur baby a damn good massage
This last tip will make me sound like I’ve gone off the rocker. But yes, I massage Kodak. It relieves stress for the both of us and it lowers his blood pressure and makes him the happiest boy.
- I like to put on my cotton gloves (or grab a towel) and go from Kodak’s tail to his head, brushing the fur of his entire body the opposite way.
- Give your dog a nice foot massage by gently squeezing each paw. (Yes, I’m crazy.)
- Behind a dog’s ears, neck, and in between the eyes (along the top of the nose) are places to rub/massage that release endorphins and feel extra good for your dog.
- Our vet emphasized the importance of touching your dog’s ears, paws, mouths, and face. This is important so they’re comfortable in situations with little kids and other dogs. It also decreases stressful situations such as grooming.
- As you know I’m all about lymphatic drainage and releasing toxins, as per my jade roller post, I found out you can do the same to your dog with a boar bristle brush. Just lie your dog on it’s stomach and brush their stomach (going in the direction towards the face). It’s like a belly rub with (health) benefits.
Phew, that was a lot of info. But these are super, simple tips to have the happiest, healthiest pup around. Don’t forget to brush their teeth and bathe them (we bathe Kodak once a week because of all the nasty shit he’s exposed to outside). Your dog’s health and happiness should be a priority of yours.
I mean, I treat Kodak as if I birthed him myself. & Yes, he does sleep in our bed every night. Under the covers. Because he rules everything.
if you or anyone you know has a dog who isn’t living the happiest life, please consider finding a home that can give him/her the life they deserve. do not surrender your dog to your local shelter. there are rescues everywhere that will find a foster home until they’re adopted. send me an email if you need help finding a rescue.