The Best Cat Food in the World: Does it exist and where can I find it?

thumb_img_2113_1024-2I feed a lot of cats.  A LOT.  I feed indoor and outdoor cats.  I feed kittens.  I feed cats with kidney problems.  I feed cats who live in vegans homes and cats that have failing kidneys.  They all eat something different.  Some different ratio of wet to dry.  So who is feeding their cat the best food?

Turns out – all cats are different.  Shocker!   There are so many different diatary and health needs in each individual feline, it is impossible to bestow the title of “Best Cat Food in the World” on just one bag of kibble or can of wet food.  (Imagine trying to choose “Best Food in the World” for all humankind!)

We should all be more aware of what we are feeding our cats (and dogs!), though.  That literally just means read the food label.  If there is something that you have no earthly idea what it is…Google it!  If there is a long list of somethings that you have no earthly idea what they are…it might be time to reconsider what you are serving up breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Reviews.com has a wonderful cheat sheet on what to consider when feeding Fluffy.

catfood_quickguidea2x1

I actually took the time to read the complete article The Best Cat Food: Safe and Healthy Formulas for your Feline Friend.  Lots of information here!  Here are a few random points that I found interesting:

—Reviews.com picked “10 of Our Favorite Cat Foods”.  Again – I think lists like these are so subjective.  Every cat is SO DIFFERENT.  But, I do think these lists are a good place to start your research.  What I found unique about this list is the fact that they took things like past recalls and customer complaints into account.  As someone who obsessively reads reviews for everything online…I found this awesome.  Let’s be real – I care more about what other cat lovers think about a particular food than details about where the grains were processed.

—Rendering facilities.  Y’all.  I was totally ignorant.  This particular article mentioned these plants acquiring “animal products” from other sources including slaughterhouses and ANIMAL SHELTERS.  I wanted to believe this was some sort of scare tactic designed to get me to shell out for pricier foods…so I turned to the world wide web to ease my fears.  After reading many, many things – including this and this – I realized all pet owners should be making a bigger issue out of these “rendering facilities”!!!

—Wet vs Dry?  The age old question…which should you be feeding your cat.  Spoiler – there is no right or wrong answer.  There are so many subjective qualities to be taken into account here.  Your furry family member’s needs are only really known by you.126dd58bc404966894be7f207810f5f3

At the end of the day, you…the wonderful, caring, blog-reading, Google-researching cat parent that you are…have to read labels and ask questions.  Simply being informed will ensure that you are doing all you can to provide the best life for that feline family member of yours!

 

 

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How to be a Blind Dogs Best Friend

For most of our clients, “in home” visits are what they are looking for.  There are, though, a few pups in our care that cannot be left alone for long stretches of time.  As long as the dogs our rigorous screening process (screening process = don’t bite any of my 2 or 4-legged kids!), I invite them to stay in my home.  While they physically outside their element, both pet and parent alike can relax knowing that myself, my mom, or my husband is usually around about 22 hours out of the day.  Surprisingly, we have never had any issues with having house guests.  Well, not until recently…

A few weeks ago, one of our “regular” house guests came to stay.  He is a sweet Pomeranian who is adored by my 3 year old and greatly ignored by Buffy & Amigo.  (As you dog lovers know – total disregard is the dog equivalent of BFF.)  And while this sweet man has stayed with us many times before – he recently had to have an eye removed. Then just months after that, he went blind in his other eye.  He is now completely blind.

Prince

I’m not going to lie to you – I was a bit nervous!  Dogs are smart, and I assumed something about my house would be familiar to him (the smell of our dogs, my voice, etc.), but I work with dogs enough to know you should NEVER assume ANYTHING!  (I think that’s true when dealing with us humans as well.)  By using common sense, though, we all actually enjoyed our tiny furry roommate.  Here are a few things to consider when dealing with a visually impaired pup:

Make sure everyone is aware of the situation – Obviously, my husband knew the dog was blind.  Informing and then explaining the circumstances to my 3 year old proved to be challenging…but he actually caught on pretty quickly.  Making sure everyone who came into contact with Mr. Pomeranian knew about his vision situation was imperative.  Not only so all humans were looking out for him…they were careful not to assume he would move from underfoot, be able to walk about the door for a potty break, etc.

Talk…a lot – This one is not hard for me.  I would literally narrate everything I was doing, trying to use familiar words (“crate”, “water”, “treat”).  Obviously, the dog didn’t understand what I was saying, but at least he some vague idea what was coming.  It also made it easier for him to keep tabs on where I was in the room.  Every time…and I do mean EVERY time I went to pick him up, I would say “I’m going to pick you up now!” I can’t imagine not being able to see and all of a sudden being lifted off the ground.   That goes right into my third point….

Put yourself in their shoes paws – So often when working with dogs, I find myself using those rules I was taught in kindergarten.  “Treat others the way you would want to be treated.”  If you were in a foreign place with your eyes shut…would you appreciate a loud movie with lots of dramatic explosions?  Someone rubbing on you when you were sound asleep?  NO!  By visualizing myself in Mr. Pomeranian’s paws…I hopefully was able to make things a little less scary for him.

Obviously, our house guest was only staying for a few weeks, so we didn’t run into the same obstacles we would if we were dealing with vision 24/7.  While the first day or two was a little rough on our little friend (I was unsuccessful in persuading my 4 month old to give up the crying…and Mr.Pomeranian had never been around a newborn.  I wonder what he thought was going on!), overall we all managed to co-exist in harmony.  I did do my homework, though, and learned some new facts about blind dogs:

Halo***Rugs are a great way to alert your dogs where doors, furniture, and other obstacles are located.

***Give them their own personal space.  (I heard some behaviorist refer to this as a “home base.”)  Basically – this is where all their stuff will live: crate, bowl, toys, bed. Decide on a layout and stick to it.  This way they can always come back to this familiar corner and reorientate themselves.

***Blind dogs can map out their surroundings in as little as one day!  (I was amazed to learn this!)  Try to avoid picking them up while they are playing mental cartographer.  A few bumps never hurt anyone!  (Obviously after ensuring stairs or any other dangers blocked.)

***Dog Halos!  (Muffin’s Halo is pictured above) Do you know about these?  They are so simple and so ingenuous at the same time.  Check them out here.  Basically a “halo” around the dog’s head to warn them when they are getting too close to bumping into something.  I love it!

Any readers with blind dogs…I would LOVE to hear from you!

Prince 2

 

New FDA Regulations Will (Finally!) Protect Our Pets

Pet_Food_Aisle

While many might not find it a big deal, I think it is surprising (crazy?  scary??) that there are currently no laws that hold pet food manufacturers to any kind of safety or quality standard.   The FDA is currently trying to change all that.  A new rule (proposed just last Friday) would require manufacturing facilities to uphold proper sanitation when producing pet food.

FDA

Click Logo for Official FDA Pet Food Policy

The regulations would work at keeping harmful bacteria and “other contaminants” (not exactly sure what those contaminants are…but it’s safe to say that currently there are a whole lot of them!) out of pet food and animal feed.  They also would outline requirements to prevent food-borne illness and ensure basic overall cleanliness.

Of course, this seems to be the result of the incredible outbreak of illness due to tainted jerky treats.  (For those of you who haven’t heard, read about it here.  For the official FDA Fact Sheet click here.)  With close to 4,000 dogs sickened – and 600 dead – it seems the government can no longer ignore the issue of who exactly is to be held responsible for what we feed our animals, To me, the most insane part of this story is the fact that NO ONE KNOWS why these pets are becoming so ill and what specifically is to blame.  Really?  How is it even possible that we can’t figure it out FOR SIX YEARS.  I must assume that  literally no one even knows what the heck is going on inside these facilities.  Wow.

Not only are our pets affected when we serve them bacteria laden edibles, things like Salmonella and dioxin (which have both been tied to massive pet food recalls) can make us humans sick as well.  I honestly don’t even want to think about this in terms of animal feed…what the heck has what we eat been eating.

Considering to what degree Americans consider their dogs and cats part of the family…I’m surprised this is just becoming an issue now.  I’m embarrassed to say that just assumed (and you know what they say about assuming!) that someone was checking in on these pet food companies from time to time.  (Although when the FDA estimates it will cost the industry $130 million to get this going…I understand why.)

A final formal ruling on the issue is still four months away.

recall

Mange – What the heck is it anyway? Is there a natural way to treat it?

Recently, a neighbor ask me “Is there a natural remedy for mange?”  I love being the go-to dog person…so imagine my horror when I had to admit I didn’t know!

Mange

Poor pup with sarcoptic mange!

First of all – let’s learn a little bit about mange.  Mange is a skin disease caused by tiny mites.  These parasitic mites embed themselves in the dog’s skin and hair follicles and cause infection.  Dogs and cats are susceptible to two types of mange: demodectic and sarcoptic.  Most pups and kitties are not affected by demodicosis…as long as they are healthy, the mites just chill on the skin and don’t cause any problems.  It’s really only pets who are already sick or elderly that are at risk for this kind of mange.  Isolating a dog with demodectic mange is not necessary.  Sarcoptic mange, on the other paw, is extremely contagious.  These mites dig into the skin and cause intense itching and crusting (which is where the infection begins.)  Of course the poor animal is going to scratch and bite…which only causes more infection and more damage.  Dogs that are living in poor conditions (whose immune systems are already weekend from hunger and disease) are even more likely to be affected with sarcoptic mange.

If you think your dog has mange…it is recommended you visit a vet Demodex Miteimmediately.  We all know what mange looks like – and we all know the symptom (intense, persistent itching!)

But, just for the sake of investigating a curious dog owner’s question, what are some natural ways to treat mange?  (Please note – I have not tested any of the remedies below.  I have either read about them, come across them in research, or learned about them from a third party.  And remember…while I do consider myself knowledgeable about dogs, I am not a vet!)  Some of these suggestions can also be used in less sever skin irritations:

***Lactobacillus acidophilus (Wow…didn’t know we were going to bust out with the Latin here, huh?  This means acid-loving milk-bacterium) is useful to eliminate mange from inside the ears. “Where do I find this?” you might be asking.  Well, let’s put it more simply – this is basically a fancy name for a probiotic used in commercial dairy products.  In other words – wash the inside of the ears with 2 tablespoons plain yogurt.

***Raw apple cider vinegar (Does anyone read Hint from Heloise?  She LOVES this stuff!) is good for fighting mange both when applied on the skin and mixed with a dog’s meal.  (Just one tablespoon in Fido’s food will be plenty!)

***As on our own skin, olive oil is great for soothing irritated skin.  It also works to kill the mites that are causing all the problems!

***Doing some online research – I came across this recipe on at least a dozen different sites and message boards: equal parts Listerine, baby oil, and warm water.  Mix it in a spray bottle and spray your pooch.  (This is one that seems to be popular for general itchiness as well!)

Borax mange remedy

***Another recipe I came across on several sites” 1 part 1% hydrogen peroxide (bottled is usually 3%, so you will need to dilute it), 1 part water, as much borax (laundry detergent) as will dissolve in the solution.  Wash your dog, rinse with solution, and allow solution to try on the pup’s coat.  (You can do this once a week…but don’t do it more than 8 weeks in a row.)

I would love to hear from anyone who has used one of the above natural mange remedies…or anyone that has a miracle product of their own.

Heartworm – What you need to know

On a recent visit to the S.P.C.A (much, much more about that in posts to come), I noticed quite a few of the poor pups up for adoption had “heartworm positive” stamped on their information sheet. As I heard other prospective parents inquiring just what that meant for them and their future furbaby, I realized that  – despite being the dog expert that I am – I knew relatively little about this common ailment in dogs.

Heartworm (or Dirofilaria immitis if we are going to get scientific about it) is a parasite that spreads through mosquito bites.  The insane thing is…the baby heartworms (microfilariae) cannot grow up to be adult heartworms without passing through a mosquito.  In other words – it doesn’t spread directly from dog to cat or cat to cat…there must be a mosquito buzzing between the two to spread the parasite.  Ironically, once they are finished incubating inside the mosquito and are transmitted to the host, they reside in the pulmonary arterial system (or “around the lungs” for those of us who didn’t do so well in anatomy & physiology class.)  So heartworms actually end up affecting lungs more often than the heart.

One of the scariest things about heartworm is it is virtually impossible to detect without a blood test.  As the worms grow and spread inside the poor animal, they will begin to crowd the heart and lungs and most dogs will develop a cough.  Dogs will become lethargic –  not being able to exercise and play like normal.  Left untreated, heartworms are almost always lethal.

Heartworm is less common, but not unheard of, it cats.  Symptoms of the parasite in kitties are the similar to dogs (lethargy) along with loss of appetite, weight loss, vomiting, and diarrhea.  There is no treatment for heartworm for cats in the United States, but somehow cats seem to be able to rid themselves of in infection on their own.

Treatment for dogs is a drug, adulticide.  This is an “organic arsenical compound” that is administered through a series of injections and commonly requires hospitalization.

As we all know, preventing heartworms are a lot easier (and WAY cheaper) than treating them.  While some people think that it’s ok to sporadically administer preventative pills (thinking mosquitos don’t buzz around in the cold) or skip the pills all together (thinking they are in a “safe zone”) – this just isn’t the way to go.  Why take a risk with your beloved pooch?  Plus those pills prevent a lot more than just heartowrm…they help keep other intestinal parasites away.  AND – here is the gross part – those intestinal parasites can easily infect people.  (3 to 6 million peeps every year – yuck!)  There is your motivation right there!

The good news?  (As if there is any when you are talking about disgusting worms living inside adorable pooches!)  The S.P.C.A. has already started treatment for all their pups testing heartworm positive.  AND, I heard one knowledgeable volunteer lecturing, they will continue to provide treatment for their pups once they have been adopted out FREE!

Check out the American Heartworm Society for more information.

Wags & Whiskers Wednesday (#18)

Happy first Wednesday in June!

Man-oh-man!  Summer is here!  (And before you lecture us, yes…we know that technically summer doesn’t start for another 2 weeks.)  I made the mistake of looking at my weather app yesterday while out with the dogs – 99 degree might as well be 119 degrees when you are out in the sun all day.  Thank goodness for my giant jug of ice water.

But how much water do dogs need on the daily?  It seems a good rule of thumb is 1/2 – 1 ounce of water per pound of dog.  (8 ounces = 1 cup)  In this insane heat, dehydration can often be a problem.  How the heck to you tell if your pup is dehydrated?  Two signs of dehydration are a dry nose and poor skin elasticity (pinch the skin on the back of the neck/between the shoulder blades – if it doesn’t snap back into place immediately that means your pooch is in serious need of some H2O) Of course, as with all animals (human or canine), the most important thing to be aware of is any major change in water consumption.  This could be a sign of any number if issues…and you should call your vet right away.

And that’s your pup health lesson of the day.  Enough with the education…let’s see some cute pictures!

Loki – poster girl for proper dog hydration!

Cal….I’m not sure you are supposed to DRINK that!

“How am I going to drink all of this?” –Buffy

Diabetes & Your Pet – Drop the Pounds, Fight the Disease

So, you know the basics about diabetes in your pets and how serious it is here in this country.  You also know that obesity plays a HUGE ugly role in the disease.  What is the best way to fight obesity??  EXERCISE!

Now, as a dog walker, I am obviously going to tell you the best, easiest, cheapest, fun-est way to exercise your dog is by simply taking him or her for a walk.  Not only are you going to see the pounds drop off your pooch, you are going to see the bond between the two of your strengthen.  (Oh, and it’s healthy for you too!)  But maybe you don’t like to do things the easy way!  Maybe you have money burning a hole in your pocket, and dog exercise equipment is what you really love to spend your hard-earned cash on.  No worries!  We’ve got some great suggestions for you:

Go Pet Treadwheelswww.gopetusa.com

Living in New York City, the only pets I had time (or money!) for were two mice.  Those two gals LOVED their wheel and had different, intricate games they would play together using it.  (It was really something to watch…and video of them on their wheel was used as a backdrop for a modern dance piece performed on Broadway…making their NYC performance career more successful than my own!)  Go Pet has taken this mouse-running-on-a-wheel-for-exercise concept and made it dog sized.  While this seems like a clever idea, I just can’t imagine dogs really using this.  (There is even video of a cat running in one of these things on their website! )  The site advertises this as a great way for dogs to exercise when their parents are away (would a pup or cat really do that??) or when the weather is bad, but $475-$1125 seems a lot to pay so that you can sit on your booty while your pet works up a sweat.  On the other hand, I bet it is adorably entertaining to see your dog running on a big hamster wheel!

Canine Fitness Camp – Morris Animal Innwww.morrisanimalinn.com

Reading about Morris Animal Inn’s Weight Loss and Fitness Camp made me wonder if I could go too!  For about $50/day, Fido enjoy swimming, nature hikes, healthy fruit smoothies….along with “pampering massages“, “Doga“, and “Pawlates“.  (Ok, seriously…I REALLY want to go!)  I think this is a GREAT idea.  I know how hard it can be to start a diet/exercise plan – and this seems like the perfect way to kickstart your pooch’s regime.  This camp is sure to get your dog excited about getting out and being active…and the excitement is sure to carry over once you take your pup back home.

Chase It Pet Productswww.chaseit.com

This is another familiar pet toy, super sized!  Cats love these string toys, but for some reason the dog sized version of this just seems ridiculous.  I just can’t see myself lugging this fishing-pole-like contraption to the park…when an old-fashioned ball seems like it would get my pup going just as well.  They retail for about $25 – which isn’t a crazy amount to spend on something for my pet – but seems a bit over priced for something that looks like a fifth grader made it for Invention Convention.  (Does anyone know what I’m talking about?)

So get your dog running on that wheel, send them to boot camp, or get them jumping for joy over a toy!  Go to the park, around the block, or just out in the backyard.  Exercising with a buddy is always more fun – and it will be good for you AND man’s best friend to get some daily cardio in.  By taking such a simple step, you will make a giant leap in preventing diabetes in your pup.

For more information on obesity in pets and how to prevent it – visit The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention’s website.  It’s a great resource!

Diabetes & Your Pets – Obesity

The fact that over a third of the adult population in the United States is obese is startling.  To hear that 45% of our dogs and 58% of our cats are overweight is nothing less than disturbing.

This picture of Sassy has been circulating around the internet for years, but this isn't funny! Overweight pets are a serious problem.

Our pets don’t look in mirrors, count calories, or step on scales, so pet parents are the only ones to blame for these ridiculous statistics.  The more I read about diabetes in our dogs and cats, the more I realized it was obesity rather than genetics that was to blame.  Some of the facts and statistics literally made me sick.

Every pound your cat is overweight is the equivalent of 13 pounds of extra weight on an adult woman (15 pounds on an adult man.)  Are you still not shocked?!  How about this analogy – if you have a lab that weighs 90 pounds…that is like being a 5’4” woman weighing 186 pounds.  Yikes!

Part of the problem is that most people with overweight pets consider them to be a normal weight.  It’s hard to make people address a problem that they don’t see as a problem!  Also, some people think that the extra poundage their poor puppy or kitty is carrying around is “cute”.  While they think the extra fat means more of their pet to love – they are actually taking years off their furbaby’s life.  (Up to 2 YEARS off!)  They are also taking dollars out of their wallet – American pet owners spend about $25 million a year to treat obesity related conditions.

The most ridiculous statistic?  Pet obesity is 100% preventable.  Just as in overweight humans, overweight dogs and cats are eating too much and not exercising enough.  This seems super obvious, right?  Yes and no.

Everyone knows that dogs need to go for walks (although just because people know this doesn’t necessarily mean that they walk their dogs every day.)  Did you know that cats need exercise too?  (Don’t worry…you don’t have to walk them!)  Most people assume cats are fine sleeping the day away, but just getting your cat to be active for 10-15 minutes a day can make a HUGE difference in their weight (and their happiness!)

Food and treats are two not-so-obvious causes of obesity in our pets.  There is no law requiring pet food companies to provide calorie information for their products (unless they are specifically marketing their food as “low calorie.”)  Also, a majority of people are simply feeding their dogs and cats too much.  Following the recommended portions on the bag isn’t always an accurate guideline – these are based on young, active pets that have not been spayed or neutered.  If your pet is older or isn’t being regularly exercised, but you are still following the printed serving sizes, you could be giving your four-legged friend 25% too much food.  Some of us (myself included!) cannot resist giving our little guy or gal a treat….sometimes for just being adorable! Giving your dog a small bone treat is the same as you eating two chocolate doughnuts.  A pig ear treat for your pup is the same as you drinking a six-pack of Coke.  Yuck!  Many treats today are simply loaded with sugar and fat (which is why our pets love them so!)  Am I saying you shouldn’t give your pup a treat for good behavior or for giving you those “puppy dog eyes”?  Of course not!!!  Just as in our own diets – they key word is moderation.

Our pets rely on us for everything.  They bring so much joy to our lives – the least we can do for them is keep them healthy.  Diabetes in dogs and cats is on the rise, and the main cause of this horrible disease is obesity.  They don’t know about cardio or portioning out their meals.  They are animals for Pete’s sake!  It is in their nature to eat whatever they can get their paws on.  It is up to us to make sure they aren’t getting their paws on too much!  This is going to sound harsh, but if you don’t have half an hour every day to devote to exercising your pet – you shouldn’t have gotten one in the first place!

Or maybe you should just call a fabulous dog walker….

Diabetes & Your Pets – Introduction

STOP Diabetes - in Humans and Pets!

Three days ago, this diabetic dog lover broke down and finally went on an insulin pump.  I have spent the last few weeks reading up on the disease and the various ways to treat it in humans.  As dogs are never far from my thoughts, it wasn’t too long before the idea of diabetes collided with the idea of pets in my brain.  How is diabetes in pets diagnosed?  What can you do for a pet with diabetes?  How do they even get diabetes in the first place?  These are all questions I asked myself when I was first diagnosed back in my last sugar-filled year (2005)….and they seemed valid questions now that diabetes in our pets is becoming more common place: about 1 in 500 dogs and 1 in 400 cats have the disease.

I was shocked to discover that human diabetes is extremely similar to diabetes found in dogs and cats.  When researching it in dogs, I swear I was reading word for word some of the passages I had just read in my pre-pump training.  The symptoms of the disease in pets are lethargy, excessive water consumption, increased urination, and unexplained weight loss or weight gain.  (The symptoms in humans are fatigue, increased thirst, frequent urination, increased hunger, and weight loss.)  There are two types of diabetes that can be found in people and pets – diabetes insipidus (dealing with kidneys and how they process water) and diabetes mellitus (dealing with insulin deficiency.)  These two diseases are completely different, but for now we are just going to be discussing diabetes mellitus – which is divided into Type 1 and Type 2 for humans, cats, and dogs.

Interestingly, Type 1 is more common than Type 2 in our pets…completely opposite of us humans.  Cats are more likely to develop Type 2 , though….while nearly all dogs have Type 1.  This means that dogs almost always have to be administered insulin shots while cats can often get off with a change of diet and other medications.  (Maybe we should change the expression to “You lucky cat!”)

Human using a glucose monitor

Dog using a glucose monitor (looks similar, doesn't it?)

What I found especially fascinating was the fact that you can use a human glucometer to test the blood sugar of dogs and cats.  Isn’t that crazy?!  You can also the same insulin (literally the exact same insulin that I use myself) on dogs and cats. (Heaven help you if you have to give your kitty insulin shots!)

Bigger dogs are more susceptible to developing diabetes…along with certain breeds (LabsPoodles, Miniature Schnauzer, Dachshunds to name a few) that seem prone to the disease.  Sometimes it is hereditary (just like humans.)

Sadly…obesity seems to play a HUGE part in diabetes developing in dogs and cats.  This has become an epidemic among American people and their pets.  In the next Diabetes & Your Pets post, I am going to post some startling statistics about how overweight our pets are.  Be sure to check back this week!

Introducing Your 2012 Life Coach – Your Dog

Ah, the dreaded new year’s resolutions.  We have all made them, and I would venture to say a majority of us never stick to them.  Over the past decade, I’ve pretty much given up making resolutions.  It’s not that I don’t want to better myself….it’s just that I really don’t have the time.  Ok. Ok.  I realize that is a horrible thing to say, but I think you understand what I mean.

While mulling over January ideas for the blog (and the inevitable “resolution” post I knew I was sure to make) I realized that it really wasn’t that I didn’t care or didn’t want to invest the time in creating a “New & Improved Jessica”.  It was that I cannot do things alone.  I am just not self motivated when it comes me.  I have no problem accomplishing tasks for work or doing things to help family and friends – but if it is something “Jessica related,” I’m in trouble!  My (somewhat) impressive weight loss last year can be 100% attributed to the fact that my (now) husband works out often and would drag me along.  (I would never go to the gym by myself!)  Any strides I have made in improving my health (I unfortunately struggle with Type 1 diabetes) are simply the result of a mom who guilts and nags me to the doctor and away from cookies.   Simply put – I need a buddy to help me out.

Don’t we all need a buddy to help us reach our goals?  (The last time I checked, the definition of “buddy” did not discriminate against four-legged friends!)

Let’s turn to our dogs for motivation!  We help them….now let’s let them help us!

Diet

What an ugly word,  But let us now use the word “diet” to describe what we eat….not the starvation plan we are attempting to master.  I know most of my readers do not make their own dog food, but that doesn’t mean that your dog has to eat straight from a bag all the time.  Mixing veggies into your dog’s meals is a great way to keep them healthy.  I don’t think I need to explain why (it’s for the same reason YOU need to eat veggies!)  Of course, not all vegetables are dog friendly (check out information on what/how to feed your dog here or here.)  The next time you think it’s a waste to buy or prepare all those green beans, think about your poor pooch.  He can only eat what you feed him!  (Yes, guilt is a powerful tool when it comes to new year’s resolutions.)

Exercise

Many people think the word “exercise” means hours at the gym or a personal trainer or running an insane distance.  Walking, though, is something that can be done by everyone.  Whether you are old, young, fat, thin, canine….everyone benefits from walking.  It is free.  It is painless.  It will not help you magically shed that extra 50 pounds you are looking to lose for bikini season, but it will make a real difference in your health.  Best of all, though, your dog will LOVE you for it.  People really underestimate how much dogs love to go for walks.  Most dogs will walk anywhere with you – and are extremely excited to do so.  As a species, they spent all their time outside roaming for hundreds of years…and we expect them to sit inside and wait for us all day and then sit inside and watch us watch TV at night.  As you start to sink into that chair after a hard day’s work – think of how happy and content your dog is when the two of you are outside.  (Motivation!)

Chill Out

I haven’t read over your resolutions, but I would  guess one  of them has to do with your mental state. (Not that I’m saying you are crazy!)  Maybe you have a hard time leaving things at work.  Maybe day-to-day issues tend to get under your skin.  (I stress about literally EVERYTHING…so one of my resolutions is simply to “chill out.” )  This is where your dog really will be your buddy.  Why did you get a dog?  Seriously….can you answer that question?  Has your pup become one more thing on your to do list?  (Gosh!  I have to feed the dog AGAIN today!?!)  I try to get goofy with my dog daily.  I wait until I’m alone, I make sure all the windows and curtains are shut, and I get nutty.  I run around, I jump over things, I sing, I dance, I kiss her, I make funny faces.  She LOVES it!  She gets just as silly…and we both end up laughing and panting.  Have you ever tried to be stressed out while playing with a dog?  IMPOSSIBLE!  Have you ever cried about your boss yelling at you while watching a puppy chase a ball?  You simply can NOT do it.  Let your pup help you deal with your life.  (They say smiles are contagious amongst us humans….well, I think happiness is contagious and can jump from species to species.)

Good luck achieving those 2012 resolutions.  To summarize this post…and life as I know it:  everything is easier, better, and more fun with a dog.