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News and Information about Dogs, Cats, and Pet Products

Before the crowds, dropped food crumbs, and Holiday dinners and parties..stop and pick up some pumpkin for your pup! Why pumpkin you may ask, well pumpkin has three grams of fiber per one-cup serving and only 49 calories. It is loaded with antioxidant-rich Vitamin A and beta carotene, energizing potassium and iron, plus Vitamin C!

And while it is amazing for us, it is also amazing for our pets, I don’t mean the actual raw pumpkin that you dig out on Halloween, but the canned, natural unsweetened pumpkin; pumpkin seeds; and cooked fresh pumpkin have numerous benefits for our furry friends. The same goes for plain, pureed sweet potato. These powerhouse foods can help “squash” a variety of pet-related issues and ailments and support the following areas:

Digestive Health: Thanks to the fiber content, pureed pumpkin and sweet potato (again, not pie filling, but plain with no added sugar or spice, like the can from Fruitables) can help dogs and cats with bouts of constipation and diarrhea. Adding a tablespoon or two to their regular meal (in proportion of your pet’s size) has been proven to help keep them regular. Both is also very effective with it comes to calming upset stomachs in puppies and kitties.

Skin, Coat, and Urinary Health: Pumpkin seeds are high in essential fatty acids and antioxidants, so they help support overall healthy skin and fur. According to several vets that we have talked with, the oils in pumpkin and its seeds can help support urinary tract health over time as well.

Weight Management: If your dog has put on an extra unwanted pound or two, just simply reduce a portion of her breakfast and add in some plain canned pumpkin or sweet potato (such as Fruitables Sweet Potato SuperBlend). They will love the flavor and it will keep them full, all while helping she a couple of extra pounds (I wish it was this easy for us!!).

If you would like to learn more about the pet-related benefits of pumpkin or sweet potato, ask any of our team members and they can give you insights and suggestions specific to your dog and cat. We also have a range of treats, snacks and supplements that feature pumpkin and sweet potato.

 

 

This time of year you see pumpkin in everything: drinks, side-dishes, pasta, cookies, bread, and of course pie! For as much pumpkin we eat this time of year we can all be grateful that it  good for us!  You are probably wondering how eating pumpkin pie can be good for you…well it has three grams of fiber per one-cup serving and only 49 calories.  It is loaded with antioxidant-rich Vitamin A and beta carotene, energizing potassium and iron, plus Vitamin C.

gettyimages-492269311Guess what?!? Pumpkin is also good for your dogs and cats! It is probably best not to have them eat actual raw pumpkin but canned, natural, unsweetened pumpkin; pumpkin seeds; and cooked fresh pumpkin have numerous benefits for our furry friends.  The same goes for plain, pureed sweet potato.  These powerhouse foods can help “squash” a variety of pet-related issues and ailments and support the following areas:

Digestive Health: Thanks to their fiber content, pureed pumpkin and sweet potato (again, not pie filling, but plain with no added sugar or spice, like the canned variety made by Fruitables) can help dogs and cats with bouts of constipation and diarrhea.  Adding a tablespoon or two to their regular meal (in proportion of your pet’s size) has been proven to help keep them regular.  Both is also very effective when it comes to calming upset stomachs in pups and kitties.

fruitables-pumpkin-switch-canFood Transition: If you’re transitioning your dog to a different or healthier food, you definitely don’t want to risk upset tummies or messy stools.  Fruitables Pumpkin Switch is a great transition aid that provides a calming digestive “buffer.” It calms the stomach and eases digestion to make the transition much easier.  Simply add a spoonful or two to your pet’s bowl as you begin to include higher proportions of the new food.

Skin, Coat, and Urinary Health: Pumpkin seeds are high in essential fatty acids and antioxidants, so they help support overall healthy skin and fur.  According to several vets that we have talked with, the oils in pumpkin and its seeds can help support urinary tract health over time as well.

fruitables-sweet-potatoWeight Management: My dog has put on an extra pound or two over this past year because she has a toddler that likes to give her the food he doesn’t want…I have simply reduced a portion of her breakfast and added in some plain canned pumpkin or sweet potato (such as Fruitables Sweet Potato SuperBlend).  She loves the flavor, and it keeps her feeling full all while helping shed a couple extra pounds.

If you would like to learn more about the pet-related benefits of pumpkin or sweet potato, ask anyone of our Two Bostons team members.  They can give you their insights and suggestions specific to your dog and cat.  Don’t forget that you can also try a range of treats, snacks and supplements that feature pumpkin and sweet potato, like Fruitables.

MBB_Profile

Regular ear care can be one of the most overlooked areas of pet health. I’ve met a lot of pet parents who are a little nervous about cleaning their pet’s ears, because (understandably) they don’t want to hurt or stress their beloved pup or kitty. But routinely inspecting the ears is a great way to catch early signs of infection, allergy, or mite infestation that can be quickly addressed. Good routine ear care usually involves weekly inspection and some type of regular cleansing routine.

Some people like to use the Zymox products we blogged about recently; while others prefer manual ear cleaning. Either method can be effective, and most pets don’t mind ear cleaning once they get used to it. If you’d like to go the manual route, here are a few tips and tricks that can really help simplify the process:

Dog Ear Cleaning

Once your pet gets used to the process, ear inspection and cleaning can be stress-free … and with the right treats, even rewarding!

 

  • Make regular ear inspection and cleaning part of your routine. Once pets are used to having their ears handled, the entire experience becomes much less stressful.
  • Make sure it’s a very positive experience. We like to use grain-free, low-calorie treats like Fruitables both during and after, and heap on the praise.
  • Do the cleaning when your pet is otherwise unstressed. In other words, right after a bath or a nail clipping is probably not the best time.
  • If your pet is hard to handle (this can especially apply to cats), ask someone to help you. Use as little restraint as necessary, and keep petting and praising throughout.
  • To begin the cleaning process, wrap a small piece of gauze loosely around your pointer finger. This is a safer, gentler option than a Q-Tip.
  •  Moisten the gauze with a bit of liquid ear cleaner. The gauze should be damp, but not soaking wet.
  • Hold the very tip of your pet’s ear flap between your thumb and forefinger, and gently roll it up so you can see the inner part of the ear.
  •  Inspect this area for redness, sores, or discharge. Wax that is light brown in color is pretty normal — but black, red, white, or infected-looking discharge is a warning flag.
  • Gently swab the inner and outer ears. If your pet’s ears haven’t been cleaned for awhile, you may need to use several pieces of gauze. It’s fine to go toward the inner ear — just be very, very gentle. If your pet begins to squirm, stop immediately and praise.
  •  As an alternative, you can slowly squirt 5-7 drops of a “self-cleaning” enzyme-based product like Zymox into the ear. Then fold down the ear flap and gently massage the base of the ear for 15-20 seconds.
  •  It’s generally best to clean your pet’s ears every week or so. Dirt can accumulate rather quickly, and doing a visual check can help you catch an early infection before the area becomes painful and inflamed.

Do you have a special approach that works for you? Share with us below!

If you’ve been to our Naperville Downtown store, odds are good that you’ve already seen Anna in action! If you haven’t, please stop by soon to say “hi” and ask her about her sweet pup Dixie.  In the meantime, here’s our “Top Ten Team Member Tidbits” list to help you get acquainted:

Q: At which Two Bostons store do you work, and what type of role do you play?
A: I work at our Naperville Downtown store on the sales team. So you can normally find me out on the sales floor, helping customers find the best possible products for their furry friends!

Q: Do  you have any pets at home?
A: Yes, I have one dog named Dixie. She’s about 7 years old, and we think she’s a rat terrier/cattle dog mix — but since we rescued her, we aren’t completely sure. She loves to sit in the path of sun beams. She basically follows the sun beams coming in through our window all morning long, and sleeps in the rays of light. She also likes to explore outside when it’s nice, chasing voles in our yard. When it’s cold, she likes to play hide-and-seek inside. Dixie gives the best high-fives and is such a smart, fast learner. People are her favorite thing. When she sees anyone coming toward her, she gets so excited and has such a waggy tail and butt that her whole body moves!

 

Dixie Pictures

Meet Anna’s adorably photogenic pup, Dixie. Products Dixie digs include Charki-O’s, Carnivore Crunch Duck, Sam’s Yams sweet potato chews, and Bravo Duck Feet (which she’s enjoying above, right, as a Kong toy waits patiently in the background).

 

Q: What first got you interested in working at Two Bostons? How long have you been on the team?
A: When I first got Dixie, I came into Two Bostons and loved the atmosphere! I absolutely love dogs, so the idea of working in such a fun place – one that lets me help animals live the best lives possible — was really appealing. I started in November of 2013.

Q: If you had to pick one “top favorite” Two Bostons product, what would it be?
A: I love Bravo Duck Feet – Dixie cannot get enough of these! Like all Bravo treats, they’re made with natural ingredients … without preservatives, grain, or other additives. They’re easy to digest, and also provide calcium plus other key vitamins that dogs need. Plus, they keep Dixie busy and happy for several minutes while she’s chewing them! We also have several “runner-up” favorites: Charki-O’s, Carnivore Crunch Duck, Sam’s Yams, Go Dog dinosaur plush toys, any flavor of Fruitables, Texas Taffy, Hare Sausage, and Plato Farmers Market chicken and vegetable treats.

Q: What’s  your very favorite type of pet?
A: DOGS! It still amazes me how much love we can have for our dogs, and how much love they give us in return. They’re such great companions, and always there to provide comfort. I think it’s one of the greatest human/animal relationships there is … because while you’re taking care of your dog, your dog is taking care of you—sometimes more than you realize!

Q: What are some of your favorite petrelated activities and locations?
A: We love walking through Seager Park in Naperville — and we also like just sitting in our yard and enjoying the sun! We haven’t had Dixie through the really warm months yet, so I hope to explore some great local dog parks this spring and summer.

Q: What other things can you tell us about yourself? What are some common pet-related terms that describe your personality?
A: I was born and raised in Naperville, and I’ve always loved living here. I think downtown Naperville is the perfect place all year round! I’m currently attending Benedictine University in Lisle, majoring in Communication Arts. I love video editing, playing my ukulele or guitar, and baking. After a tea-tasting at Adagio Teas this past winter, I am a tea addict. I have one older sister who goes to college in town. Chicago is my favorite city, and I love taking the train downtown when the weather is nice! Pet terms that describe me would be loyal, stubborn, snack-loving, excitable, and friendly.

Q: If  you could be any breed of dog or cat, which one would you choose?
A: I would be a Collie. They are just so elegant and beautiful — not to mention smart and a great dog for any age group. I’ve loved Collies since I was a child.

Q:  Who  is your favorite famous /celebrity dog or cat (either living or historical)?
A: Mr. Winkle! Mr. Winkle was big when I was in school at Ellsworth Elementary in Naperville — he was an Internet sensation that came before Boo the Dog. He was so adorable, with his tongue always hanging out. One of my teachers and I would always discuss Mr. Winkle-related things and check his website for updates. I even had his calendar.

Q: What’s the most helpful petrelated piece of advice you ever received?
A: You need a dog.

AmberWalker_Profile

Just a month ago, there was a terrible storm that hit the Midwest and dropped tornadoes that devastated towns like Washington, IL. We were very lucky, and only lost a fence.

Hadley learned her boundaries nine years ago. One side is a security fence put in place by our homeowner’s association – the fence we lost in the storm – and the other three sides are simply learned boundaries of grass and tree lines. I can count on one hand the number of times Hadley has broken that boundary line! She’s a great dog who’s always stayed in her yard.

Since that fence is now gone, however, the boundaries of our yard have technically changed. Hadley viewed all four boundaries in relation to one another. So with one of the boundary lines removed, it became a whole new ball game! We wondered: Would she respect any yard boundaries now? That fence blocked one country road, plus miles and miles of corn (you may not know this, but we don’t live in the city!).

So now what would happen? Should I re-train the boundaries?  If you’ve been following Two Boston’s training blogs, you know that I have a newborn baby – so there’s not a chance in the dog park I’m going to have time to re-train. So … what became the solution?

MANAGEMENT! Management is the tool most of us use most of the time, because quite frankly, it’s easier and less time-consuming than formal training. That first week after the storm, we used a tether to take Hadley out and “test” her reactivity to the missing fence. So far, so good — she didn’t try to cross any lines.

Week two, we got a little braver and let her go off-leash into the yard (after a million times checking that there were no distractions passing on the back road, nor any deer in the fields). When Hadley came back to the house, we praised her like she was a two-month-old learning to potty outside! Treats everywhere, games, jumping up and down, excited applause … all designed to get her to want to come back to the house every time.

So, did we create a monster?  Of course we did!! Hadley now knows that she’s getting massive amounts of treats to come back to the house. Does she now go out, just to come back in with the anticipation of treats?  Of course she does!! But right now, I’d rather be over-reinforcing a dog than having her choose to explore the area beyond that missing fence line.

In the several weeks that have since gone by, we’ve begun variable reinforcements so Hadley doesn’t learn to completely abuse the system (which, as a food-motivated Labrador, is her specialty). So we’ve begun mixing up the rewards. Sometimes she gets a major party for returning to the house, and sometimes she gets a single cookie. Nonetheless, a reinforcer is always in place for returning — and the major party still happens frequently enough that she’s willing to gamble by always coming back to the house.

Variable Reinforcement

Variable reinforcement is an excellent way to shape and maintain behavior ~ because your pup knows that every so often, he or she will be enthusiastically rewarded with tasty treats! It’s the question of “when” that keeps ’em coming back. Fruit-based treats are an excellent choice when you’re concerned about calorie management.

Remember, Hadley hasn’t received a reinforcement for coming back to the house for nearly a decade! After the initial training, the routine was always go potty and come back in, no big reinforcement required. So it’s important to be aware that variable reinforcement can be a very powerful training tool.

I will end here with a self-indulged, shameless plug! I have added private training to our training services offered at Autumn Green Animal Hospital in Geneva (which is just a few minutes away from the Two Bostons Geneva store!). So forget about making the resolution — enroll in a training program today, and set you and your dog(s) up for New Year’s success!

Editor’s Note: If you’re using variable reinforcement with your own pup and want to control calorie intake, consider treating your well-behaved pooch to extra-yummy fruit-based treats like Fido Fruits, Grandma Lucy’s organic fruit treats, or Fruitables Skinny Minis. They come in a wide range of tasty flavors, they’re packed with nutritious vitamins, and they’re also low in calories. Quinci will tell us more about Fido Fruits in our very next blog post – and you can also ask anyone on the Two Bostons team for additional information.

Amber is a certified dog trainer with more than 12 years of training expertise. As owner and lead trainer at Animal Intuitions (A.I.), she has won numerous dog training awards and has also been featured on local news programs. Amber has a Bachelor’s Degree in Zoology from Southern Illinois University. To date, she has worked with a variety of animals including dolphins, walruses, otters, puffins, monkeys, and alligators at places like Brookfield Zoo, Alaska Sealife Center, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Visit the A.I. web site at www.aitrainers.com or call 630-53-PUPPY (630-537-8779).

MBB_Profile

Let’s just get this out of the way: I am a pumpkin fanatic. I’m not sure when this happened, because I don’t remember loving pumpkin as a kid – but these days, I try to sneak it into everything I possibly can: pies, quick breads, side dishes, casseroles, ravioli, risotto, muffins, cookies, even yogurt. For me, enjoying Thanksgiving dessert is one of the high points of the holiday season (okay, the year).

So you can imagine how grateful I am that pumpkin is actually good for you. It has three grams of fiber per one-cup serving, and only 49 calories. It’s loaded with antioxidant-rich Vitamin A and beta carotene, energizing potassium and iron, plus Vitamin C. But did you know that it’s also wonderful for your dogs and cats? YES! It’s probably best they don’t eat an actual raw pumpkin, but canned, natural, unsweetened pumpkin; pumpkin seeds; and cooked fresh pumpkin have numerous benefits for our furry friends. The same goes for plain, pureed sweet potato. Specifically, these powerhouse foods can help “squash” (heh) a variety of pet-related issues and ailments and support the areas listed below:

Pets and Pumpkin

Pets seem to love pumpkin and sweet potato … so it’s good news that pumpkin and sweet potato love them right back!

 

Digestive Health: Thanks to their fiber content, pureed pumpkin and sweet potato (again, not pie filling, but the plain kind with no added sugar or spice, liked the canned variety made by Fruitables) can help dogs and cats with bouts of constipation and diarrhea. Adding a tablespoon or two to their regular meal (in proportion to your pet’s size) has been proven to help keep them regular. I can also tell you from extensive personal experience that either choice is very effective when it comes to calming upset stomachs in pups and kitties.

Food Transition: If you’re transitioning your dog to a different or healthier food, you definitely don’t want to risk upset tummies and/or messy stools. Fruitables Pumpkin Switch is a great transition aid that provides a calming digestive “buffer.” It calms the stomach and eases digestion to make the transition much easier. Simply add a spoonful or two to your pet’s bowl as you begin to include higher proportions of the new food.

Skin, Coat, and Urinary Health: Pumpkin seeds are high in essential fatty acids and antioxidants, so they help support overall healthy skin and fur. But according to several vets I’ve talked with, the oils in pumpkin and its seeds can help support urinary tract health over time as well.

Weight Management: My dogs love pumpkin almost as much as I do. So if I notice anyone in our “pack” becoming a teeny bit too plump, I simply reduce a portion of their daily breakfast and add in some plain canned pumpkin or sweet potato (such as Fruitables Sweet Potato SuperBlend). They love the flavor, it keeps them feeling full, and it can really help them shed those couple extra pounds.

If you’d like to learn more about the pet-related benefits of pumpkin or sweet potato, ask anyone on our Two Bostons team for their insights and suggestions. Don’t forget, too, that Fruitables and other reputable brands make a range of treats, snacks, and supplements featuring pumpkin and sweet potato.

Fruitables Options

Fruitables (and other brands) make a range of pet products containing healthy helpings of pumpkin and sweet potato. Just ask our Two Bostons team!