Archive for March, 2009

Toxic Mulch
March 27, 2009

Dear Liz, 

It’s about time to begin spring landscaping.  I know there are certain types of mulch that are dangerous to pets.  Can you tell me which ones to avoid?


Playing in the Dirt


Dear Playing in the Dirt – Well HAPPY SPRING!!!  You’re right to remember that certain mulch products can be very dangerous.  Coco mulch, although wonderfully aromatic, can be lethal to pets if eaten.  There is caffeine in those beans and that’s the dangerous part.  Best to keep away from that!

Other mulches and wood chips are best left away from pet areas as well and here’s why.  Pets, especially dogs, love to chew wood chips, sticks, bark, etc., and this can be very dangerous!  Sticks can get wedged in between teeth, bark or chips can be chewed and swallowed, causing stomach and intestinal irritation or even punctures if they’re pointed in any way. 

Running through wood chips can be an issue as well.  Sometimes sticks are not ground up enough and I’ve seen where dogs have run on the sticks and gotten one jammed up into a foot.  Very painful!

Lastly on the mulch or chip issue is the fact that we’ve had a very wet 2008.  Mushrooms love growing in damp conditions and mulch and wood chips hold moisture.  I’ve seen fungus grow on chips and we’ve even lost a dog to mushrooms growing on the chips.  Apparently there are some poisonous mushrooms that LOVE wood chips.

So while they’re pretty and can smell great, PLEASE keep ALL mulch and wood chips away from pet areas!

And remember this, too, while you’re sprucing up the yard.  Dogs LOVE plant bulbs!  Unfortunately, plant bulbs don’t like dogs and yes, some are poisonous. 

Want to check out more poisonous plants to avoid?  Go to the ASPCA’s web site and see what’s what – Click on this link…  Toxic and Non-Toxic Plants.





Dog Chasing Kids
March 21, 2009

The question is….

Dear Liz: My family got a 3 month old Border Collie for Christmas this past year. Scooter is a great dog but when the kids are outside with their friends and they’re running around, Scooter chases after them and bites them in their heels. What can I do to make it stop?

Signed, Standing Still

The answer:

Dear Standing Still:

Well, asking a herding dog to stop rounding up things is like asking a Bassett Hound to grow legs! It’s genetically impossible. The Border Collie has been around since the 1700’s and it’s been bred to do the work of rounding up livestock. This is a natural instinct and will never be able to be trained away completely, if at all. This letter brings to light something I’ve been trying to get folks to do for years. Look beyond the cuteness of a puppy and research the breed before purchasing one.

Too many times we’re just charmed to pieces by the cuteness of an animal. We think we can change that animal’s natural instincts (or we’re told we can) and it turns into a huge disaster for everyone – especially the dog.

The springtime is the time when people really start looking for puppies and they’re out there in number, pleading with us to take them home and snuggle them. Trust me, I’ve been there! But the best thing you can possibly do is to research BEFORE you go looking. And stand firm!

So to Standing Still I say this. Unfortunately your Scooter will never stop rounding up the kids. Perhaps, though, you could try getting the kids involved in training Scooter in sports like flyball or in competition through your local 4-H. Scooter needs a job to do. There are plenty of agility clubs out there that would love to have his attendance! Good luck to you!

Pooch Accidents
March 16, 2009

Question:  Dear Liz, 

My pooch is about 6 years ago… long out of puppy-hood, but on occasion he still “happy-pees”.

 What do to?


Needs a New Mop


Answer:  Dear Needs a New Mop.  Well, the first thing you need to do is to make sure there are no physical reasons for this – no bladder infections, etc., and for that you need to get a good check-up with your veterinarian.

If everything’s ok, try having friends and family ignore him when they first come into the home (or where ever he is).  This sounds odd but it does work.  Here’s why…

Many times, “happy peeing” occurs when the attention is focused ON the dog and the dog gets nervous, hence peeing out of nerves.  Sometimes it’s just a few drops and other times it’s a boat-load.  The dog feels a bit apprehensive (much like going to the vet’s office!) and lets loose.  The idea is to take the attention off the dog and let him adjust to the new people in his environment.

Have people coming into the house and seeing him for the first time ignore him.  This actually takes the pressure off him and he won’t feel so self conscious.  Once he settles in and realizes that no one is focusing on him, have your friends and family casually put out a hand, remembering to not make eye contact with him.  Let them offer him a treat, making “meeting time” a happy time instead of a time to be apprehensive.  Remember that eye contact can be very un-nerving for a dog so avoid it until he’s obviously comfortable.

Watch his body language – you may actually be able to see his tension leave once he’s comfortable.  Then enjoy his company!

This will take practice so be patient!




Little Stinker Needs a Bath!
March 5, 2009

The Question:


Dear Liz,
This weekend my dog decided to try a new perfume. “O’de Neighbors Garden Manure” was its name.  Over me years as a dog owner, I’ve heard and tried a variety of dog bath remedies.   None of them have ever quite done the trick.  What’s the best stuff to make a stinky dog smell new car fresh again?  And do have any helpful tips for giving a dog a good bath?
Stinkin’ to High Heaven


The Answer:


Dear Stinkin to High Heaven:  Well, welcome to the Spring Thaw!!!  Seems those little buggers will get into ANYTHING that smells awful!  So here’s what we’re gonna do…


Get Fido into the tub.  It would be GREAT if you have one of those extended shower heads as they work wonderfully when it’s time for that bath.  If not, don’t worry – we’ll getcha through this!


If you don’t have one of those shower heads, just start the water running.  Make it warm to the touch but not hot.  Get a gallon water container (milk jugs work well) and fill it with water.  Start getting Fido wet!  This usually takes two – one to hold Fido and the other to wet him down.

Now, take a dog shampoo (or in an emergency, a person shampoo).  Re-fill the jug HALF WAY after Fido is all wet and put in a good squeeze of shampoo.  Basically, you want to dilute the shampoo by about 50% as it will be easier to rinse out.  You can always re-wash but a thorough rinse is tough with concentrated shampoo.


So lather, rinse and repeat if necessary!  If Fido has longer hair, take some conditioner in the palm of your hands.  Rub your hands together and then rub Fido down, giving a good amount to armpits, the neck and the back of the legs (butt region).  This will help with detangling after shampooing.  Rinse.  Rinse again.


Towel dry, and comb out.  Thank your lucky stars it wasn’t a skunk.


Tomorrow, make an appointment at the groomers and get a GOOD washing done!  Why?  Because unless you DO have that extended shower head and can REALLY rinse well (under that chasse is MOST important!), most likely some shampoo residue has been left on Fido that will, when dry, make him itchy.


So what if it’s a skunk your pooch decided to play with?  Here’s a great recipe for THAT perfume!


1 quart 3% hydrogen peroxide

¼ cup baking soda

1 teaspoon liquid soap (believe it or not, Dawn works best!)


Double for bigger breeds…


Wet Fido down and work the mixture through his hair. 

Leave on for 3-4 minutes and rinse.


Be SURE to throw away any excess mixture.


It’s that easy!