Monday, November 17, 2014

Keep your dog toasty warm with a homemade heating pad!

It's cold out there!

Now that we have puppy Rach with us, we're concerned about keeping him warm in the winter. It can get pretty cold in our cabin here on the mountain. and with his short coat, and being young, it's important that he stays warm whether he's outside wearing his coat, or inside snuggling in his bed or in his easy chair.

But many times, it's just not practical to turn up the heat just for Rach, since Gracie and I have heavier coats, are used to the cold and Mum can put on extra clothes.

So what do we do to help Rach? We made him a nice heating pad that can be placed within his bed or under a cover in his chair. Now he can stay toasty warm no matter where the temperature is set.

A homemade heating pad is really, really easy to make. Let's get started!
  • Grab some old fabric you have lying around, or an old flannel sheet, old sweatshirt or similar.
  • Cut the fabric in 12" squares, you'll need two.
  • Lay the fabric squares with the outside of the fabric facing each other.
  • If you have a sewing machine, sew one half inch in all around leaving about three inches on one side unfinished.
  • If you don't have a sewing machine you can join the fabric with fabric tape, again leaving about three inches on one side unfinished.
  • Now that you have a mini sack, turn it right side out and fill the inside of the pouch with white rice (it's the least expensive). Fill just enough to create a pad when flattened.
  • Then all you have to do is hand sew up the three inch opening and your done!

To use your heating pad:
  • Place it in the microwave for no longer than two minutes. 
  • Place the pad inside of your dogs bed, or under a blanket if they lie on the easy chair, couch or bed. It's important to remember not to place the pad directly so the dog has contact with it, it may be too warm for them; and keep an eye on your dog for any discomfort.
We'll bet that your dog, your puppy and even your kitties will love the warmth!

Thanks to Martha Stewart for more detailed instructions and ideas.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Help your dog face the Polar Vortex with these dog coats made from re-purposed materials!


I love this time of year, the winds pick up, the leaves fall, the birds are easier to see to herd (oops! wasn't supposed to talk about that #HerdingDogObsession).

It's a great time of year, but we've noticed that with this little chill that our little bro Rach (with his super slim fur coat) is already feeling the chilling effects.

And we know that those of you facing the Polar Vortex will be looking for ways to keep your pups warm!

So we went searching for a few great ideas to utilize items you have around your home to make your dog a warm little coat to keep the chill off and help them feel more comfortable when they are outside!

Here are our seven awesome dog coats created from re-purposed materials!

From Crafty Stylish comes this very cute sweater you can make for your dog (small to medium) with an old out of style sweater vest that may be taking up space in your closet.

Got some old jeans lying around? Here is a great little coat for small to large size dogs that will have your dog stylin' on their walks from Instructables.

Speaking of jeans, from Sew Doggie Style comes this uber cool fetching number just fit for the Fall and Winter runways. 

Another great idea utilizing an old sweater you have lying around. This one looks very warm courtesy of Resweater.

We love this one! Made from either an old sweater or sweatshirt, great for small to medium sized dogs who will surely be the envy of the neighborhood from Babbles by Brook.

Another great coat from Instructables for any size dog, it's the Canine Carhartt Coat made from an old hoodie for your best pal.

And last but certainly not least, this is a great idea to utilize an old sweater sleeve to make a terrific little warmer upper for your little dog, courtesy of VoKnits.

We hope you and your pup enjoy fall! Stay warm and have fun!

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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Some dishwashering detergents contain dangerous chemicals that can affect the health of your dog!

Dogs.....we lick and lick and lick!

We've learned before that eating out of safe, radioactive free, stainless steel bowls are the healthiest and safest way for us dogs to enjoy our food and water. But what about washing them?

You can do what we do and wash them out regularly with water and vinegar. But sometimes putting them in the dishwasher is faster and easier for the dog Moms and Dads out there.

So we wanted to be sure that you know all you can about healthier, safer dishwasher detergents on the market, and how you can make your own!

Did you know that some of those dishwashing detergents contain ingredients that can be very harmful to people and dogs, causing anything from skin irritations, to allergies, to respiratory issues, organ toxicity and even cancer. And many are not good for the environment either, contributing to acute aquatic toxicity and more.

These dishwashing detergents on the market can contain:
  • Zinc Carbonate that is of high concern for skin irritation/allergies/damage, chronic aquatic toxicity, acute aquatic toxicity; and some concern for general systemic/organ effects, damage to vision.
  • Colorings that are of high concern for general systemic/organ effects, damage to DNA, and cancer; moderate concern for chronic aquatic toxicity; and some concern for acute aquatic toxicity, skin irritation/allergies/damage.
  • Fragrances which have some concern for skin irritation/allergies/damage, acute aquatic toxicity, nervous system effects, respiratory effects, biodegradation.
  • Preservatives which have a high concerns for cancer; and a moderate concern for general systemic/organ effects, acute aquatic toxicity, respiratory effects.
  • Surfactants which have a high concern for acute aquatic toxicity; and a moderate concern for respiratory effects, general systemic/organ effects.
Sadly even some of the eco-friendly brands (like Seventh Generation) can contain some nasty chemicals like:
  • Sodium Borate which has a high concern for developmental/endocrine/reproductive effects; and some concern for skin irritation/allergies/damage, respiratory effects
  • Citrus Aurantifolia (Lime) Oil which has some concern for acute aquatic toxicity, respiratory effects, skin irritation/allergies/damage, cancer, general systemic/organ effects

So how do you know which dishwashing detergents are safer?

Our friends at the Environmental Working Group have tested and rated 100's of dishwashing products currently on the market. You can visit their site and search for your favorite brand to see if it contains any toxic chemicals that can be harmful to you and your dog. They rate the products from A (healthier and safer) to F (very, very dangerous to health).

Another idea to be sure that your dishwasher detergent is healthy is to make your own! Here's our favorite recipe that doesn't contain any borax, which has lately become one of those on our 'don't' list.

  • Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl with a spoon.
  • Just add a tablespoon to your washer dispenser and wash as usual and store in a glass airtight jar. 
  • If your powder starts to harden in jar, simply take a clean sock, fill it partially with rice and add it to the container to keep out the moisture and prevent hardening.
You can review 100's of dishwashing products on the market and gauge their level of health concern by ingredient via the Environmental Working Group's website.

Photos courtesy of Jeb and Chalon Handmade.

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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Wonderful, yummy, easy, homemade Pumpkin Apple Jerky treats for dogs!

With pumpkins and apples everywhere, Fall is a great time to make this super simple recipe for Pumpkin Apple Jerky for your dog!

Whether you have a dehydrator or just want to use your oven and add some warmth to your home at the same time, these easy treats will please any dog. And they are so easy you won't want to stop making them.

The best part? They are super healthy and very low in fat and calories to help keep your dog stay trim and slim.

Here's our recipe!
    • Mix together about one cup each equal parts of...
    • 1 can 8 oz. of organic pure plain pumpkin (remember it needs to be pure, not pumpkin for pies that includes spices and other ingredients) and...
    • 1 cup 8 oz. of organic apple sauce (or you can blend up organic apples in your blender.)
    • Lay out some parchment paper (which is healthier than foil) and spread the mixture about 1/8 to 1/4 inches thick) in stripes on the paper about 6 inches long and one inch wide.
    • Dehydrate in your oven at about 170 degrees for about eight hours, or dehydrate in your dehydrator at 130 degrees for about 10 hours.

    The resulting jerky should be firm, but not sticky or brittle, when fully cooked. As ovens and dehydrators vary greatly we recommend checking on your cooking jerky often during the process of cooking.

    That's it! Super easy and super yummy and healthy for your dog!

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    Sunday, October 26, 2014

    8 last minute Halloween DIY costumes for dogs made from re-purposed items!

    Halloween can be a fun time for pets if you make it stress-less and fun!

    Some dogs love dressing up in costumes, others not so much. If you have a dog that enjoys socializing, dressing up, and having a great time, or you have a dog that doesn't like costumes very much, here are some last minute ideas to make a unique and fun Halloween costume for your dog!

    Remember, try to re-use materials you have on hand to make your costume more green and eco-friendly!

    Try this super easy and less cumbersome bat costume for dogs who aren't as fond of wearing costumes, it's cute, easy and fun!

    Do you have a joker on your hands? Try this easy and cute court jester costume you can make from lots of re-purposed materials you have on hand.

    Is your pup all business? Try this easy, cute and non-restricting suit for your'll suit them fine!

    For party pups only! This cute pinata pup is no-sew, easy and fun! And you can customize to your liking!

    If your dog isn't fond of wearing full costumes, here's a fun, simple, and great looking way to add a little fun costume without all the fuss. A little Doggie Couture.

    Go punk! Here's a wonderful idea courtesy of Kathryn Dunlap. Just take a denim jacket, cut out the sleeves, add a little bandanna and a mohawk and your pup is stylin'!

    If you've got a small dog this little lightening bug will like up your life. Created with simple items around your home.

    Your dog will roar like a lion in this easy to make lion costume from our friends at Puppy in Training!

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    Tuesday, October 7, 2014

    An easy Fall plan to treat your lawn organically for the health of your dog!

    It's that time of year!

    The weather is cooler, some days have a nip in the air, some days are warm as toast, and the early leaves of Fall are dropping.

    This is the perfect time to get your lawn in great shape to take on the Winter weather, and come out looking fabulously green, healthy and lush come Spring.

    So let's get started!

    First let's talk about why you should plan, build and maintain an organic garden.

    Several organizations and groups have done studies that showcase the affects and dangers of commercial chemical lawn chemicals on dogs and children, including:
    Evidence is mounting. So why take a chance with your dog's health when it's very easy and ultimately a lot less time consuming and water wasting to have a healthy organic lawn?

    Fall is one of our favorite times to really work to get our lawn in shape, the weather is cooler and you can even grow new grass this time of year.

    Maybe you have several brown spots that need attention from the heat of summer, there may be areas where the lawn is thin and attracts weeds; you can take a little time now to treat your lawn without the use of dangerous commercial chemical pesticides, insecticides, herbicides and fertilizers and get your lawn back in great shape for an amazing showing next spring.

    Here are our favorite fall organic lawn gardening tips that you can implement, easily!

    Pull those weeds! Forget about spraying....the most effective way of getting rid of weeds is by pulling. And the fun part is that you get to be outside, spend time with your dog, and perhaps they can help you pull a few of those nasty weeds.

    Got leaves? A wonderful, healthy thing you can do for your lawn is to mow over many of the leaves that fall in your yard and create wonderful, organic mulch that increases the nutrients provided and creates healthy grass growth. If you have too many leaves, gather them up and add to your organic compost pile. Then come spring add the compost to your lawn, flower and vegetable garden.

    Re-seed! Another of the most important things for a great looking lawn is seeding, seeding and more seeding. Re-seeding fills in those gaps that weeds like, creating a wonderful, healthy, lush lawn. We reseed many times throughout the year, but Fall is the best time. Make sure that you purchase seed that doesn't have added growth hormone coatings and added chemical fertilizer.

    Fertilize the organic way! About four weeks after you've reseeded, add some great organic fertilizer to your lawn to create strong plantings. We like several types of organic fertilizers, from worm poo and fish emulsions (which are sprays) to pellet based fertilizers made from feather meal, bone meal, and/or soybean meal. Check with your local garden shop for organic recommendations.

    If you follow all of these organic and lawn building tips this fall, we know you'll have one of the most envied green, lush lawns in the neighborhood without the use of dangerous chemicals.

    Happy Fall!

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    Sunday, October 5, 2014

    Make your own homemade dog tug toy from repurposed clothing!

    On the day after adopting Rach (the newest puppy host for Raise A Green Dog), I drove with friends to South Carolina to meet him and take him home.

    It was a quick day trip, so when it was time to head home, I put a spare harness on him that I had with one of my favorite long-lasting leather leashes, and what did he do? He started tugging with the leather leash.

    For those of you who do agility, you know how much we love tuggers. It's a great way to play and reward your dog for having fun with you while practicing and before/after competition. And whether you do agility or not, it's a wonderful way to have fun with your dog.

    So now that I knew I had a tugger. I needed more tugs, and maybe even a leash tug to keep our leather leash for our upcoming hikes! So we did some searching online and found some great DIY ideas.

    Here is of our favorites:
    1. Cut up old t-shirts, old sweatshirts, old jeans, or any fleece that you may have lying around. Cut in 4" wide strips.
    2. Gather them up and from about 1-2 inches from the end tie off one of the ends of your group of strips.
    3. Group your strips in threes and begin braiding, just as you would your own hair.
    4. Once you have completed braiding, just tie off the other end the same length from the end as your other end.
    It's that easy!!! Here's one of the smaller tugs my dog YoYo received at a recent trial, made by the volunteers. Little brother, puppy Rach, loves this tug just as much as YoYo.

    For further instructions.

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    Thursday, September 25, 2014

    Just because it's fall doesn't mean ticks aren't a danger to your dog!

    It was nearly one year ago that our Gracie woke up one morning went out to do her business and collapsed in the yard.

    I picked her up and discovered that she was very, very warm. Immediately I took her temperature and found she had a dangerous fever of 106 degrees.

    Quickly we jumped in the car and rushed her to the vet. Mum instantly knew that it was a very good possibility that this was a dangerous tick disease, as we have American Dog Ticks here on our mountain that transmit Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.

    Gracie was immediately treated and her fever started to subside, but the neurological symptoms persisted for a few days. After about a week, she was back to her normal, wonderful, goofy Gracie self, but Mum was glad she didn't know at the time just how close Gracie was to death.

    Ticks can be very, very dangerous for dogs. If infected, they can transmit Lyme, Tick Paralysis, Ehrlichiosis, Anaplasmosis and more.

    Raise A Green Dog Partner, Earth Heart Inc., has put together a wonderful article on their blog outlining facts about ticks that are little known to most dog lovers. For example: before Gracie got sick, we had no idea that ticks infected with Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever can transmit the disease to your dog within 2-5 hours after a bite.

    During that time frame we never saw a tick on Gracie; and assumed that it bit her and fell off very soon after. Over the counter tick preventatives including spot ons, collars and sprays not only contain dangerous chemicals that can be harmful to your dog, but they state they may take up to 24-48 hours to kill ticks; concluding that none of these would have helped prevent Gracie from contracting RMSF.

    So what do we do now? We utilize products including essential oil sprays containing Neem sprayed on Mum's hands and rubbed into Gracie's (and YoYo's and Rach's) fur; we spread Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth to kill ticks in our yard and rub a little in our dog's fur, and occasionally we'll spray a garlic or cedar based spray just outside the fence area of our yard to further repel ticks from entering our yard.

    Why do we use these items? Because the only way to keep ticks from infecting Gracie, YoYo and Rach are to repel them and keep them away. And by using these products we are keeping our dogs healthier by not exposing them to dangerous chemicals that could affect their health, well being and immune system.

    Remember, fall is one of the best times to get out and enjoy nature with your dog! But also remember that ticks are prevalent and prolific this time of year, and well into winter in the southern states. So we encourage you to read more about ticks and learn how you can repel them from your dog!

    And if you'd like to try Earth Heart's Buzz Guard that contains Neem to help repel the ticks on your dog, enter our giveaway below (available to US and CAN dog lovers only, please). We are giving away one bottle to three winners on October 10th, so you have until midnight on that day to enter! Good luck!

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

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    Wednesday, September 24, 2014

    Our tips on finding safer and healthier products for your dog.

    Last week we outlined information about the safety of a wide variety of dog products from bowls, to beds, to toys and more.

    Before proceeding, we encourage you to learn more about the potential of dangerous chemicals contained in many dog products on the market by reading our post.

    Now for our tips to help you find healthier dog products, dog toys, beds, bowls and more for a healthier, happier dog:

    1. Whenever possible purchase toys and other dog products made in the USA. It's not to say that all toys in the US are made without dangerous chemicals as there are no regulations, but US made toys are more likely to have less chemicals than the mass produced and imported dog products from other countries, particularly China, where safety standards are less strict.

    2. Read the labels of your dog products, and check the manufacturer's website to determine if the product has been tested for toxic chemicals. If not, call them to ask for their product toxicity report. If they don't produce these reports then move to another manufacturer.

    3. Be sure and inspect all your newly purchased dog products for loose pieces and parts that may come off easily and become a chocking hazard.

    4. Please, please remember that no dog toy is indestructible. Heavy, strong chewers need stronger types of tough dog toys perhaps made of natural rubber. In addition, be sure that the size of toy is right for the size of your dog. Many good manufacturers have recommendations for the size of dog for which their particular toy is made.

    5. Supervise your dog at all times when playing with toys.

    6. Avoid toys with scrapeable surface coatings and printing, as these are more likely to contain heavy metals within the printing process. In addition, any dog product that has a strong chemical odor, probably contains chemicals. Avoid these products and move to another choice.

    7. Avoid toys with foam fillings as they may be more apt to contain flame retardant treated foam. To be sure check with the manufacturer.

    8. Steer clear of dog toys with air release holes as they can become a suction trap for tongues.

    9. Seek out toys that are made with natural rubber, hemp, and are organic in nature if you can. If you are worried about the stuffing there are a lot of wonderful USA made stuffing free toys on the market now which our dogs love!

    10. Check with the manufacturer's website that produces the dog bed your are looking to purchase. Many dog beds are filled with flame retardant materials that can have  health repercussions for your dog. Look for more natural materials like organic cotton and beds that are stuffed with safer materials.

    11. The same for collars....look for a manufacturer in the US. You can find manufacturers that produce wonderful strong and long lasting collars and harnesses of hemp and other non-toxic materials.

    12. When selecting a dog bowl for food or water, look to stainless steel (made in the US and radioactive free) made of the heaviest gauge stainless steel you can find. The heavier the stainless steel the less likely it is to be radioactive. In addition, some ceramic or pottery type bowls may contain lead that can leach into your dog's water or food. Unless they have been tested, it's best to avoid these types of bowls.

    Don't forget, all the products, including beds, bowls, collars, toys and more, listed on our website - Raise A Green Dog - have been pre-approved to not contain any toxins and are perfectly safe for your dog. Be sure and visit all of the RAGD partners on our site for more information.

    And if you'd like, you can made a wonderful array of dog toys and other products, from beds, to coats and more from natural materials around your home, just do a search for 'DIY' on our blog for great ideas!

    Photos courtesy of Kyle May, H. Michael Karshis,and Nate Steiner

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    Wednesday, September 17, 2014

    Sweet potato chews; a healthy, chewy treat for your dog!

    I love this time of year, the cooler air, the leaves, the hikes and agility!

    Another thing I really love are the sweet potato chews that Mum likes to make for us since sweet potatoes are a staple in our fall shopping bag.

    Today we sharing are favorite recipe that you can share with all your dog loving friends and family:

    • Wash a sweet potato (organic is best and we peel them).
    • Cut down the middle lengthwise.
    • Then cut long lengthwise slices about 1/4 of an inch wide (thick).
    • Place them in a single layer on a cookie sheet (use a stainless steel cookie sheet for healthier cooking).
    • Put in the oven at 250 degrees for about 3 hours. This leaves them kind of chewy, but you could also bake them a little longer to get them crunchy.
    Here are variations that we've enjoyed:

    Waffle cut them for more fun with a mandolin.
    Cut them in slices and they will cook more quickly.

    We like to keep them out in an opened bag and let the moisture dissipate a little, then we will store them in the fridge...we keep them for about 4-5 days or so, since we like to eat them up pretty quickly :)


    Photos courtesy of Steve Johnson and Leslie May.

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