Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Today is Earth Day! A great day to help your dog and the environment be more green and healthy.

Today is a very special day for us Green Dogs! It's Earth Day!

What is Earth Day?

"Earth Day is a day designed to inspire awareness and appreciation for the Earth's environment. It was founded by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson as an environmental teach-in in 1970 and is celebrated in many countries every year. Earth Day is celebrated in spring in the Northern Hemisphere and autumn in the Southern Hemisphere. Many communities celebrate Earth Week, an entire week of activities focused on environmental issues." ~ Wikipedia

We want to inspire you to take one Green Dog step toward a healthier, happier dog and environment today!

Here are some great ideas you may want to try in honor of Earth Day. And remember, it only takes one small Green Dog step at a time and before you know it your dog is living the Green Dog life!
  • Take your pup to one of the local Earth Day celebrations being held all over the country today and this week and learn from and meet wonderful, like-minded people that share your passion for keeping our Earth more friendly. And you can get in some fun socialization for your dog at the same time. Just do a quick Google search with Earth Day and your city or town.
  • Plant a tree in honor of your dog in your yard, or at your local dog park, or a place that's near and dear to you and your pup.
  • Visit your local animal shelter, and take a pup for a walk! Many pups in shelters are much more happy, healthy and likely to get adopted if they are properly socialized and exercised. We suggest you call first and arrange how you can help!
  • It's planting season so why not start an organic garden for you and your dog! Check out our recent blog post for lots of ideas to get started.
  • Appreciate our Earth! This may be one of our favorite ideas. Take some time today or over the weekend and get outdoors with your dog! Take a long walk in the park, or a nice hike. And remember after all that exercise, stop, look, listen, smell and take in all that our Earth has to offer. 
  • One of the most important things you can do for your dog and the environment is turn your lawn organic. Your dog spends most of their outdoor time in your yard, so why not make it a safe haven? Learn more.
  • Take the day and make your pup a toy from reused items around your home. You can make a great tug toy from old towels, interactive toys from used BPA free water bottles and much more! Visit the 'Learn to Be Green' section of our website for lots of ideas (scroll to the bottom).
  • Learn how you can reduce your dog's carbon pawprint by recycling their dog food bags, or by composting their doo. Learn how, it's a lot easier than you think.
  • Subscribe to Raise A Green Dog and get updates to help the environment and your pup live a healthier, happier life! Follow us on Facebook and Twitter too!
And remember, if you can't participate today, make your Earth Day one day this weekend. From then on...make Earth Day, every day!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

It's time for Spring cleaning for the health of your dog!

It's that time of year....warmer weather, lots more sunshine and more time outside having fun!

Inside, however, with more sun you'll notice more dust bunnies, nose prints on the windows, and maybe even a little spider web on the lampshades.

We all know what that means, right? It's time for spring cleaning!

But how do you clean your home well and still keep away the dangerous chemicals from cleaning products that can be harmful to your dog? It's easy, if you follow our spring cleaning routine. Let's explore!

The first thing you want to do is safely dispose of any chemical based cleaners and go natural for the health of your dog!

And don't be fooled by the 'green, eco-friendly, healthier' marketing hype of your potential cleaner; do your research to be certain that what you use to clean your home is really safe and healthy.

Why? Because many of the chemical based cleaners on the market can have dangerous consequences for you, your dog and the environment. Those chemical based drain, window, furniture, floor, carpet, laundry, dish washing products and more are reeking havoc on our health, not only from the exposure to the air our dog's breath when we use them, but the poisonous residue that they leave that may potentially be ingested by our dogs as they lick and are exposed to surfaces.

You can research virtually every cleaner on the market at Environmental Working Group to see if your products are safe for your dog.

The Organic Consumers Association shares that, 'cleaning ingredients vary in the type of health hazard they pose. Some cause acute, or immediate, hazards such as skin or respiratory irritation, watery eyes, or chemical burns, while others are associated with chronic, or long-term, effects such as cancer.' You can read more to be more informed on their website.

So let's get healthy cleaning!

Here is what is in our home cleaning kit:
  • White vinegar
  • Lemon juice
  • Baking soda
  • Washing soda
  • Glycerin bar soap
  • Duster
  • Liquid Castile soap
  • Lavender essential oils (only for surfaces not frequented by dogs and kitties)
  • Old towels
  • Swiffer dry mop
  • Squeegee Vacuum
And our new HAAN MultiforcePlus SS22A  that was graciously provided to us free of charge for review from the great folks at HAAN, our newest Raise A Green Dog Partner!

Dusting and vacuuming

With our kit in hand we start making our way through the cabin, starting with the duster. We start with the duster because many times dust, dirt and webs may fall on the floor, so we work top to bottom. We dust everything from the ceiling corners to the lampshades to the light bulbs to the table tops.

Once that's complete we get out the vacuum. We own a Dyson, which we love and has many attachments to get in all those crevices, and an attachment to get all the dog and kittie fur from the couches and easy chairs. We move the couch and the beds and sweep well under those too!

Floors, rugs and carpets

Now that we have the HAAN floor scrubbing steamer we're using it to steam clean all the floors and rugs that we have in the cabin. I have to say that they really needed it after the long Fall, Winter and early Spring mud and dirt that we drag in from our hikes. The HAAN digs in deep, sanitizing and cleaning all the surfaces on our floor with only one machine (more on this in another upcoming post).


If you don't have a steamer, we recommend after vacuuming that you clean your floors with a wonderful solution of water and vinegar. It's safe for wood, tile and more. We used to utilize an old Swiffer Duster and dip a wash cloth in the solution to wipe down the floors. The best part is you don't even need to rinse! And for those carpets and rugs? Start with just water for stains. If that doesn't work move on to adding a little vinegar to your water.

Windows

Once you've tackled the dust and the floors it's time to start on the windows. Our favorite way to clean any glass (windows, mirrors) and other surfaces in our home is utilizing are fallback solution of water and vinegar, making sure that the windows are very dry when finished to get any potential streaks.

Kitchen

Wipe down all kitchen surfaces utilizing our all purpose cleaning recipe including counters, appliances, cabinets and more. Utilize a good baking soda paste to scrub down the kitchen sink, then add more baking soda and white vinegar to keep your drain clean and clog free.

Bathroom

Once we've finished with the kitchen, we head on to the bathrooms. Many people believe that stronger cleaners are needed to disinfect the bathroom. But the reality is that simple solutions of water, vinegar and essential oils, like lavender have powerful disinfectant properties. For tougher toilet bowl stains, try adding some baking soda to the mix.

Check back next week for our upcoming post of our favorite cleaning recipes for the health of your dog!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Enjoy a naturally fun, healthy Easter egg hunt with your dog!

Easter is almost here! One of the most prolific symbols of Easter are eggs, so why not enjoy a little Easter egg hunt with your dog?

Egg shells are an excellent source of calcium and protein for your pet. And eggs themselves are a wonderful source of protein, too.

So for Easter why not make eggs a game and a healthy treat for your dog!

For this activity it's best to hard boil your eggs, because we are going to naturally dye them, hide them around the house and the yard, so your dog can enjoy a nice find it game with a pawsome egg treat as a reward! Much less messy that way.

Here's how:

Cooking:

Start by hard boiling your eggs. Hopefully you've purchased free range, free roaming, organically fed chicken eggs from your local farmer or healthy grocer.

Let the eggs cool while you whip up some natural dyes.

Dyeing:

Natural dye you make at home is much more healthy than the artificial dye you would purchase for egg dyeing at a store. Why? Because some egg dyeing products can be toxic. Naturally dyeing is chemical free, purely natural rather than artificial, and perfectly safe and healthy for your dog to bite into!

First gather your ingredients. We like to use what we have in our fridge or pantry like:

Turmeric or cumin = Bright yellow
Red beets = Pink to red
Red cabbage = Blue
Spinach = Green
Raspberries or blackberries = Pink to purple
Yellow or green apple peels = Yellow-green

To create the dyes, take 2 cups of chopped or mashed fruits and veggies, or 2 Tablespoons of your selected spice, and boil them in 2 cups of water and 1 Tablespoon of white vinegar (vinegar is important for adhesion of the dye to the egg). Let that simmer for 30 minutes. Then, strain out the bits of fruits or vegetables, and the remaining liquid is your dye.

Place the un-dyed eggs in the dye and place in your fridge overnight. You should wake up to some very natural looking dyed eggs that have a matte finish. You can add a little rubbing of olive oil to make them shiny, but be sure and wipe well after so you don't get any olive oil on your carpets, floors, etc. Olive oil will also make them a little more attractive for your dog to find, and it's healthier too!

The Game!

Within the next day or two, hold an Easter Egg Hunt for your dog! Here's how:

While your dog is inside or in another room, go outside or in another room and hide your recently dyed Easter eggs. Hide them behind couches, chairs, in corners of the room, under furniture that your dog can reach under, in baskets covered with wash cloths (well you get the idea!).

Then release your dog and tell them to find it! If your dog doesn't know the 'find it' game, play along with them and start searching around the yard or your home where you have placed the eggs. Dogs will instinctively help you search if they see that you are.

Once your dog has found the egg, break it and give them a treat!!!

Remember everything, including eggs, should be consumed in moderation for the size and appetite of your dog. You can always refrigerate unused eggs and use for later or even make a nice egg salad for yourself!

While you are here, enjoy one of our favorite Easter videos from the Busy Bee Dogs!


Happy Easter!

Source and egg photo courtesy of Organic Gardening
Other photos courtesy of kkinjo and Dave Fayram on flickr.com

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Welcome Tallgrass Animal Acupressure Institute to the RAGD Partner Pack!

Today we are very pleased to welcome Tallgrass Animal Acupressure Institute to the Raise A Green Dog Partner Pack!

Over the years, I've participated in many holistic treatments from chiropractic to acupuncture to massage and more! Acupressure has always fascinated me, and Mum has wanted to learn more about it and how it may be able to help me with my muscle soreness, especially as I get older. I want to run agility for as long as I absolutely can!

So when the nice folks at Tallgrass Animal Acupressure Institute decided to be one of our latest RAGD Partners we got very excited (I spin when I get excited, like most shelties do! Spin, spin, spin!).

Acupressure has many benefits for every age of your dog's life. It's great for canine athletes like me to keep in tip top shape, and it's great all the way to a dog's senior years to aid in strengthening the immune system, muscles, tendons and joints. It can help in alleviating inflammation and swelling, and aiding circulation. It can also help in improving digestion and in removing toxins from the canine body. And it's a wonderful way to further that wonderful bond with your dog.

Let's learn about Tallgrass! Over 20 years ago, Nancy Zidonis and Marie Soderberg began Equine Acupressure. They were offering acupressure to dressage riders. One day a rider asked if they could work on her horse since he needed it as much as she did. This was the beginning of research, study and the development of their first two handbooks on equine acupressure and later another on canine acupressure.

In 1998, Nancy Zidonis and Amy Snow joined forces with the intention of expanding Equine Acupressure and writing new books on equine, canine and feline acupressure.

Now they have a wealth of information relating to equine, canine and feline acupressure. From books to meridian charts to DVDs for horses and dogs!

The best part? These resources are available for everyone! If you are just looking into the practice and want to learn how to perform acupressure on your dog their resources are excellent. And if you are a practitioner, they have resources for you too!

Take for example their book 'Acu-Dog A Guide to Canine Acupressure.' It's a 188 page, 4-color book touted as the ultimate how-to canine acupressure book. It includes tons of charts and photos with detailed discussion of hands-on techniques, and, best of all includes 32 canine health & behavioral acupressure sessions. ACU-DOG is by Amy Snow & Nancy Zidonis with Foreword by Linda Tellington-Jones.

Head on over to their site to learn a lot more about their offerings relating to books, DVDs, online courses, charts and more!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Start your lawn off on a healthy paw this spring! Go organic for the health of your dog.

It's that time of year! Time to get that lawn in shape for fun outdoors with your dogs!

Over the years we've written a lot about the importance of organic lawn care for your dogs. Why?

Because many individuals and organizations are finally beginning to prove that those chemical lawn care products - including insecticides, fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides - are very bad for dogs and humans.

To learn more about the dangers of commercial chemical laden lawn care companies check out these links:
  • In January of 2012 year a published study was released (Abstract of Environmental Health 112(1): 171-6 (Jan. 2012), that shows a link between chemical exposures (including lawn chemicals) and the risk of canine malignant lymphoma.
  • A respected report and DVD "The Truth About Cats, Dogs and Lawn Chemicals," funded by the Newman’s Own Foundation, contains a lot of information for you to learn about the dangers and effects of lawn chemicals on your pets, including the use of herbicides, insecticides and other chemicals, and the resulting effects of seizures, tremors, vomiting, respiratory failure and more for dogs.
  • BeyondPesticides.org studies have found that dogs "exposed to herbicide-treated lawns and gardens can double their chance of developing canine lymphoma. And these dangerous chemicals may also increase the risk of bladder cancer in certain breeds by four to seven times."
  • You can read more about the dangers of lawn chemicals in our 2012 post, 'Is Your Lawn Killing Your Dog.'
  • new study, released in May of 2013 and published in the July 2013 issue of Science of the Total Environment, indicates that exposure to herbicide treated lawns has been associated with significantly higher bladder cancer risk in dogs.
So how do you get started and maintain a wonderful, lush, green, healthy organic lawn? Springtime is a great
time to set up your lawn for a wonderful year.

Here are our steps to take in the spring to help your lawn be stronger, healthier, greener and more weed free! Start by...
  • Cleaning up all the poo after the spring thaw.
  • Raking up any leaves and debris.
  • Mowing if needed.
  • Wait for a good rain, and then pull any unnecessary weeds, as this is the easiest time to get those weeds from the root so they won't come back again and again.
Once you've done the clean up:
  • Put down a good quality, organic, weed preventer that includes corn gluten before or during the blooming of the Forsythia. Distributing this type of product on your lawn before weed seeds begin to germinate is key to cutting back on crabgrass, dandelions and other unwanted weeds throughout the year. But remember corn gluten will prevent all seed from germinating so...
  • Wait approximately one month and then overseed your lawn with a good quality uncoated grass seed that's appropriate for your area. Uncoated seed is important as coated seed is many times treated with a non-organic fertilizer or other growth hormones that may be harmful for birds, rodents and other small bodied living things including your dog.
  • Wait a few days and then spread a good organic fertilizer, like spray Fish Emulsion, or Worm Poo (these fertilizers won't hamper the growth of new grass seed). We like sprays because they are not as attractive to dogs once they have been on the lawn for a few hours. You can also look into a good organic fertilizer that's pellet based, like Lawn Restore, or Espoma Brand organic foods. Even though these are perfectly safe for dogs, some dogs, like my sis Gracie, just can't help herself from sniffing the pellets prolifically which gives her a runny nose, so we use a spray organic fertilizer.
  • Continue to pull unwanted weeds after each good rain.
  • If your lawn is in very poor shape, continue to reseed until the hot parts of summer and fertilize with a safe organic fertilizer every 6-8 weeks. You can even fertilize with a healthy fertilizer during the summer months without worrying about it burning your lawn like those chemical-based products do.
That's it! Keep an eye on our blog for more information about how you can obtain a wonderful organic lawn throughout the year!
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