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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Monday, September 15, 2014

Bowls, beds, toys and more....are your dog's products safe and free from dangerous chemicals?

Dogs love toys! They love their beds, enjoy a good walk with their collar and harness. They wear coats, boots, drink and eat out of bowls; they are in contact with a wide variety of dog products throughout their daily life.

But are these products safe?

Let's explore...

Over the years a few wonderful organizations including Consumer Affairs, The Environmental Working Group, HealthyStuff.org, and several well respected universities have tested a variety of pet products on the market and have found some astounding and valuable information of which every dog lover needs to be aware.

Some products on the market that are being sold for dogs may be contaminated with everything from lead to cadmium to chromium, and bisphenol A , phthalates, polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs, also known as flame retardants, arsenic and more.

These dangerous chemicals can lead to a host of health problems for our dogs including allergies, asthma; bladder and lung cancer, gastrointestinal issues, blindness, renal dysfunction, reproductive issues, and a whole host of other health issues.

According to the EWG, 'under current federal law, chemical companies do not have to prove chemicals are safe before they are used in products, including pet toys and other products for our companion animals. For pets as for people, the result is a body burden of complex mixtures of industrial chemicals never tested for safety. Health problems in pets span high rates of cancer in dogs and skyrocketing incidence of hyperthyroidism in cats. Genetic changes can't explain the increases in certain health problems among pets, leaving scientists to believe that chemical exposures play a significant role.'

In addition, there are no regulations over the safety of dog products including, toys, bedding, collars, coats and more.

In 2009, HealthyStuff.org released results of the testing of 1000's of products including over 400 pet products. Their dbase can provide you with ratings information of contamination for a wide variety of pet products. During that year when testing these pet products, they found it wasn't surprising that toxic chemicals were found. 45% of the pet products they tested had detectable levels of one or more hazardous chemicals. And 7% of all the pet products they tested had lead levels greater than 300 ppm -- the current CPSC lead standard for lead in children's products.

In addition they found nearly half of the pet collars they tested had detectable levels of lead; with 27% exceeding 300 ppm -- the CPSC limit for lead in children's products; and one half (48%) of tennis balls tested had detectable levels of lead, sharing that tennis balls intended for pets were much more likely to contain lead, whereas sports tennis balls contained no lead.

Then in 2014, HealthyStuff.org set out to discover more evidence as they tested a variety of products in Walgreens. One product, a package of pet tennis balls, contained lead above 100 ppm, exceeding the CPSC limit set on children’s products.

In 2012, Kimberly Wooten, a master’s student using the project as her thesis, and Phil Smith, an associate professor of terrestrial ecotoxicology at The Institute of Environmental and Human Health at Texas Tech tested for chemicals by simulating dog saliva, then simulating chewing by squeezing the dog toy bumpers they were testing and with stainless steel salad tongs. They found the toys leached phthalates and bisphenol A (BPA), which are used to give elasticity to plastic and vinyl, and are known endocrine disruptors that mimic estrogen or act as anti-androgens and could lead to negative health effects.

And that's not all...

In 2007, two Chinese-made toys for pets sold at Wal-Mart stores were found to contain elevated levels of lead, chromium, and cadmium, according to a forensic toxicologist whose lab tested the products for ConsumerAffairs.com.

So what is a dog loving parent to do? Check back later this week for our steps to find healthier dog products, dog toys, beds, bowls and more for a healthier, happier dog.

Consumer Affairs
Texas Tech

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Friday, September 12, 2014

Want to know how our country's food makes it's way to our dog's dish?

If you've ever wondered how our food makes it to our table and into our dog's dish, you won't want to miss this Sunday's airing of Food Inc., on Pivot TV.

Listed as one of the 10 most important documentaries that may affect your dog's life (by Raise A Green Dog), Food Inc., is a educational look at our nation's food.

From information hidden from consumers about how our country's meat is raised, slaughtered and processed, to a better understanding of the handful of corporations that put profit ahead of consumer health when it comes to our food, to the impact of corporate farming practices on the American farmer, to the prolific use of dangerous chemicals including herbicides, pesticides, and insecticide, to the overuse of hormones and antibiotics, and the reasons for more recent toxins and bacteria found in foods; we know you will come away with a better understanding of the importance of good, healthy food for your, and your dog's future health.

Please watch, this coming Sunday (September 14) at 12PM ET. Check your local listings.

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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Make your own wool dryer balls and ditch the chemicals for the health of your dog!

Not too long ago, we wrote a series about safer and healthier laundry practices for the health of your dog.

You can see the first in the series here, and scroll down the post to see links to the other posts in the series.

One of the tips we mentioned in the series is how to reduce static cling so you can ditch those nasty chemicals in fabric softeners and dryer sheets.

Why? Because you may or may not know, those commercial dryer sheets with heavy duty fragrances, as well as those liquid fabric softeners are some of the most dangerous and toxic parts of your cleaning and laundry regimen!

Thanks to Mother Earth Living, here is a great video to help you learn how you can easily and quickly make your own wool dryer balls from wool yarn.


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Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Raise A Green Dog book is now available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble!

We are very excited to announce that you can now get the newly published Raise A Green Dog book from Amazon and Barnes & Noble!

Not to be missed, this comprehensive book includes over 80 articles to help you learn how your dog can be more green and healthy. It covers a wealth of information including:

- Organic lawn care.
- Cleaning your home the healthy way.
- Great DIY homemade treat recipes.
- Exploring healthier food options.
- How you can combat ticks and fleas naturally.
- Instructions on building your own doggie doo composting system
- Wonderful DIY projects for your dog, including games and gear.
- And lots, lots more.

The best part is you can keep it handy and use as a reference at home and on the go, with our completely searchable function including in the book,

Want to know the healthiest dog shampoo to purchase? Do a search for shampoo.
Want to know what safer and healthier dog toys to buy? Do a quick search for toys.
Want to know the safest products to purchase to combat fleas and ticks? Search for fleas/ticks!

Well you get the idea....

When visiting Amazon and Barnes & Noble you can also view sample chapters to help you decide if our book is right for you. And you can see the full table of contents here.

We hope our book becomes a staple in your dog healthcare library! Just click on the logos below to see and purchase our book on the Amazon and Barnes & Noble websites.


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Friday, September 5, 2014

The shelf of life of foods for you and your dog!

Apples, bananas, carrots, green beans, chicken and more. I love giving some of these wonderful, healthy fruits, vegetables and meats to YoYo, Gracie and Rach.

But how do you know how long these foods will fair on the counter, in the refrigerator and in the freezer? Here's a handy chart to help you along.

And remember, some of these foods are not safe for dogs! It's always a good idea to review the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals list of 'People Foods to Avoid Feeding Your Pet.'

Enjoy! And let us know what you think!

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