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MJ's Animal Blog

Monday, December 3, 2018

5 Dog Safety Tips For The Holidays

Photo credit: pixabay

You’re making a list and checking it twice. With festivities right around the bend, here are 5 things to put on your holiday dog safety list.

1. Holiday Food Safety Tips

Getting an extra special dog treat or sharing some of your meal with your dog can be especially tempting during the holidays. Some people foods are especially hazardous for pets, according to the American Veterinarian Medical Association. Chocolate contains caffeine and theobromine, a central nervous system stimulant that lead to seizures, excessive urination, and heart damage. Although the type of chocolate, the size of your dog, and the amount consumed affects each dog uniquely, veterinarians consider all chocolate off limits for pets. Other sweets and baked goods can affect the blood sugar of dogs whether it contains regular cane sugar or artificial sweeteners. The sweetener, xylitol, has been linked to liver failure and death in dogs. Yeast doughs can cause gas to accumulate in your dog’s digestive system causing the stomach to bloat and potentially twist.
Common table scraps can be potentially harmful as well. Poisonous foods to pets are onions, raisins, grapes, avocados and macadamia nuts. Extra rich foods such as gravies and meat fat and even some oils like coconut oil can be difficult for dogs to digest and can lead to pancreatitis. Dogs are generally lactose intolerant so dairy products should be avoided. Bones, especially turkey and chicken bones, are brittle and shards can get lodged into the esophagus or intestine causing internal bleeding.
If you desire to give your dog a special treat during the holidays, make your dog treat recipes that are safe or give your dog a tablespoon of pumpkin (a teaspoon for a small dog or puppy) that’s loaded with beta carotene and fiber to aid digestion. Whatever treat you decide, consider it part of your dog’s caloric needs for the day. It may be best to choose a chew toy instead to avoid messing with a dog’s digestive system.

photo credit: pixabay

2. Decorating with your dog in mind

Your dog’s new favorite toys may become the beautiful shiny ornaments and bright lights decorating your home. Unfortunately, consuming them may lead to internal gestational blockages or injury to the dog’s skin if an ornament breaks. Salt dough or other food based ornaments can be toxic as well. Your dog could be electrocuted or burned if he or she chews on the cord so unplug lights when you leave the home unsupervised. Set a boundary around your tree or other decorated areas. Be consistent in your commands - such as “no” - if you dog tries to play with them. A Christmas tree may have to be tied to the ceiling or doorframe with fishing line if your pet can not leave it alone to keep it from tipping over. Also, do not put water additives - such as aspirin, sugar, or fertilizers - to your live tree.
Holiday plants - amaryllis, mistletoe, balsam, pine, cedar, holly, and poisonettias - can be dangerous and even poisonous to your dog, among other plants. You may want to avoid bringing them into your home or keep them out of reach from your pet.
Extra noises can be alarming to your dog - everything from wrapping paper to fireworks. Be aware of stress signals your dog is giving to comfort them.

3. Inviting Guests Into Your Home

Depending on your dog’s previous situation, extra guests in your home may make your shelter dog have anxiety or become upset by houseguests. General noise and excitement from holiday get togethers can lead your dog to act more hyper. Create a safe, quiet place for your dog to relax if he or she needs to get away. If your guests want to bring pets along, decide whether you need to politely decline their request or allow supervised time for your pets to introduce themselves to each other. As a courtesy to your guests, you may want to inform them that you have a pet in case they have allergies.

Photo credit: Pixabay

4. Traveling with Your Dog

If you are crossing state lines or traveling internationally you may need to have a health certificate from your veterinarian, even when traveling in a car. Documentation may take months in advance so plan accordingly. Properly restrain your dog in a secure harness or carrier if traveling in a vehicle. Air travel can be risky; in fact, some short-nosed breeds of dogs including pugs, Boston Terriers, boxers, most mastiffs, Pekingese, Lhasa Apsos, Shih tzus and bulldogs are more likely to die on airplanes that normal-length muzzled dogs. Some airlines, such as United, has even banned air travel with them.
When traveling with your dog, bring along your dog’s food, medication, and identification information, but don’t forget medical information, first aid supplies, and a favorite toy. Plan extra time for stretching and bathroom breaks.
If you need to board your dog, investigate and ask the boarding facility questions ahead of time to make sure your dog will be safe and comfortable. Also ask about how the facility protects against canine flu and other contagious diseases. You may also consider hiring a trusted pet sitter to come into your home while you are away.

5. Keeping Routines with Your Dog

While you may be up early to open gifts or staying up late to watch fireworks, remember your dog doesn’t understand calendar days. Try to keep your walking and feeding routines the same time as normal. Giving a little extra affection will go a long way during the hustle and bustle of the holidays.

Regardless of your plans, these guidelines can be applied to your pet’s care at any time of the year. Make your holiday memorable without having to make a trip to the vet!

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

New Warnings For Flea and Tick Products Used On Dogs

Scratching behind a dog’s ear is easily one of a dog’s most favorite coveted places to be petted. A dog fighting off fleas and ticks with his back leg or rubbing against a post is an unfortunate event dog owners strive to avoid.
Menacing disease spreading fleas and ticks are pests sickening dogs with diseases such as dermatitis, tapeworm, or Lyme disease. Veterinarians and experts often recommend products containing some form of pesticide to prevent and kill these insects. Common products are Frontline Plus, K9 Advantix II, NexGard, and Seresto. To eliminate or minimize the risks, a dog owner can choose a flea and/or tick pill, a collar, a flavored chew, a shampoo, or a topical solution.    
A recent study by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, is alerting pet owners and veterinarians to the potential neurological adverse events in dogs (and cats) when treated with drugs in the isoxazoline class.
Adverse effects include muscle tremors, ataxia, and seizures. Although these drugs – Bravecto, Nexgard, Credeio, and Simparica – received FDA approval, dogs have experienced detrimental neurological effects. Currently, a new label alerting dog and pet owners to the potential risk using these medicines. The FDA recommends careful consultation between a pet owner and a veterinarian, examining the dog’s medical history to determine whether to administer these flea and tick drugs.
Besides this isoxazoline class, the active ingredient in flea and tick medicine is pesticide, namely pyrethroids. A pesticide’s job is to kill insects. According to the manufacturers, the pesticide is slow-releasing in small and considered to be safe for your dog. In 2009, the EPA alerted the public to an increase in pet incidents with spot-on pesticide products including flea sprays, powders, and collars. These disease fighting tools caused nausea, vomiting, and neurological side effects in the dogs they were striving to protect.
Here are some common flea and tick drugs and their active ingredients:
Frontline Plus: Frontline Plus has two ingredients called fipronil and (s)-methoprene. These chemicals are stored in the oil glands of the dog’s skin and self-distribute for one month in the hair and skin to kill the fleas and ticks. Fipronil is a broad-use insecticide belonging to the phenylpyrazole chemical family. Fipronil is white powder with a moldy odor, used to control ants, beetles, cockroaches, fleas, ticks, termites, mole crickets, thrips, rootworms, weevils, and other insects. (s)-methoprene affects the insects surviving exposure to the other pesticides. These drugs can cause swelling, itching, irritation, excessive salivation, diarrhea, and loss of appetite in your dog.
NexGard, a soft chew, contains afoxolaner, killing fleas and ticks for a whole month by overstimulating the nervous system. Reported side effects include vomiting, itching, diarrhea, lethargy, and lack of appetite (and is the drug the FDA is strongly warning against.
K9 Advantix II, kills adult fleas, flea eggs and larvae and repels these insects so they can’t bite or attach to transmit disease. The active ingredients are Imidacloprid, permethrin, and pyriproxyfen. Imidacloprid mimics nicotine to be toxic to insects. Permethrin is an insectide that is generally considered to be safe when administered properly but can be toxic or cause asthma. Pyriproxyfen is an insect growth regulator inhibiting the hatching of flea eggs and the development of flea larvae. It must applied directly to skin to be effective. Because insect growth regulators mimic insect hormones, which are unlike hormones in cats and dogs, they are considered to be safe. Dogs have experienced mild to severe skin irritation, vomiting, diarrhea, and patchy, red sores.
Seresto, a collar, can prevent fleas and ticks for 8 continuous months. The collar has two ingredients Imidacloprid to control flea infestations and Flumethrin to kill and repel ticks. Imidacloprid (also in K9 Advantix) mimics nicotine to be toxic to insects. Flumethrin cause insects to become paralyzed and die because the disruption of nervous impulses. Side effects have included local dermatitis (skin irritation) with pruritus (itching) and erythema (red skin).
Unfortunately, despite these side effects dog owners, who bring their dogs to a dog park, take their dogs on hikes, or live in wooded areas, these medicines can be an essential part of care to prevent flea and tick diseases. Without prevention, dogs can be plagued by a list of harmful illness from fleas and ticks (larger flea counterparts). A dog can develop dermatitis – skin irriation – leading to a hot spot, hair loss, hives, rash, or red bumps. With a large flea infestation, a dog can suffer from flea anemia due to the pests drinking enough blood causing anemia, leading to other medical complications. If your pet has around 70 fleason it, they would consume approximately 1 milliliters of blood in a matter of a few days. Due to fighting off fleas, dogs can ingest the fleas which can be carriers of tapeworms. A Bartonella infection can affect dogs, leading to a fever, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, and swelling of the lymph nodes. A dog with Lyme disease from a tick bite will develop a fever, body and joint pains, enlarged lymph nodes, have a lack of energy and appetite, and a cough. If left untreated, complications may affect the heart and kidneys of a dog.
           Dog owners should carefully discuss flea and tick prevent with their trusted veterinarian, examining labels on each and every product before administering. A dog’s age, health, and environmental conditions should be properly assessed as part of prevention measures.
Photo Credit: Pixabay

As a dog owner, one can take steps to protect your dog from flea and tick infestation. First and foremost, groom dogs regularly. Common soap and water will kill adult fleas and combing with a fine-tooth flea comb, will help rid the dog’s hair of these pests. Wash your dog’s bedding weekly in hot, soapy water and vacuum areas where you dog lies including couch cushions and behind and beneath furniture. You may also investigate natural options and essential oils including peppermint, cinnamon, lemongrass, cedarville, and rosemary oil. Monitor your dog’s potential reactions to these as well due to adverse allergic reactions.
           Fleas and ticks are unwelcomed pests in your home and on your dog. Carefully read any labels before administering drugs to your dog. If your dog experiences any of these adverse side effects, consult your veterinarian immediately.  

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Why Adopting a Dog Is Better Than Going to a Breeder

Adoption vs Breeder

They are cute, cuddly, and there for you in your time of need, but what should one do when they are thinking about where to get a dog? If you are asking yourself that question, then you have come to the right place because I am going to tell you why you should adopt a dog as opposed to buying one from a breeder.

First off, there are too many dogs in shelters to count, all of which need a loving owner and home that will take care of them. Someone to be their best friend. These dogs have had rough upbringings or traumatic experiences that may prevent them from doing basic activities and are in dire need of our help. For example, my dog Buddy won’t eat his food if there are other dogs in the room because we believe that when he was young, he was bulled away form food by other dogs and consequently, developed this mistrust and habit. To counter this, we take his food into another room to feed him. This is a habit that is so deeply ingrained into his mind that we can not break it. One can not help but feel sympathy for these dogs because they have been through so much and it is our duty as owners to try and save as many as we can to give them the best life possible.

Second, shelter dogs will understand and read emotion better than breeder dogs because they themselves have had similar emotions. While the experiences they may have had scared and hurt them, it also gave them the ability to recognize changes in emotion and react accordingly. My dog Coco, for example, can recognize when I am frustrated or in a bad mood. She can sense this and will find me no matter where I am at in the house to comfort me by poking her head under my armpit and lick my face in an attempt to make me feel better. Most of the time it works, and I have no one else to thank for it than Coco. Now I am not saying that a dog from a breeder can not sense emotion, and are perfectly capable of it, but it all goes back to the fact that there are countless shelter dogs that can do the same thing and are in desperate need of a home.

Now the choice is yours on whether you should adopt. If you don’t feel comfortable adopting and would rather go to a breeder, then you should do that as it is something you would be most comfortable with. One saying that I hold dear is, “Happy owners means a happy dog.” Whichever would make you the happiest is the option you should choose.

I hope you have found this article useful and have linked some popular nationwide shelters that you may want to check out if you are considering adoption.


Saturday, September 1, 2018

7 things to consider about YOURSELF before you adopt

You’re looking for a perfect canine companion, but have you spent time thinking about you? Are you ready to lead by example? Can you afford a dog? Before you choose a dog, you need to look at your lifestyle and resources. 

Dogs will become a reflection of you. According to a study published in the journal of PLOS, authors found owners were more likely to pass on their traits to dogs. 

Dogs will pick up on your stress levels and demeanor so it’s important to ask yourself these seven questions BEFORE you go shopping for your lovable pet. 

1. Are you the leader of the pack?

Dogs are pack animals. Every pack needs an alpha dog. When you decide to adopt a dog, you need to establish yourself as the pack leader. 

Watch those around you who own dogs. The pack leader – the dog owner – should walk through a door before the dog. A dog should not start eating his or her food until the owner tells him its ok. If the dog is a barker, he or she should stop when commanded to do so. 

You must establish yourself as the leader if you want the dog to have a healthy relationship with you and your family members and other dogs or pets.

2. What dog breed is for me?
All too often, dogs end up in shelters because the personality and breeding purpose of the dog does not match up with its owner. Owners see pictures on breeder’s sites or they visit a pet store – or even a shelter – and fall in love with those irresistible puppy eyes. The puppy matures and is ready to do the work it was bred to do. 

Can you imagine an Australian Shepherd who always has to be an inside when it was designed to herd, anything: birds, sheep, and kids? The last thing you want is your Aussie to be trapping your kids in the corner. Maybe you have a prestine garden, and you decide to adopt a Rat Terrier because in the store he had such cute ears and overall, they are known as happy go lucky and playful companions. Little did you consider the dog would dig and dig and dig through your carrots and tomatoes when he smelled a ground squirrel. Find a personality that would be perfect for you. 

The American Kennel Club at has a dog breed match to help find that perfect personality. If you love binge watching on NetFlix, a lap dog like a Bischon might be the perfect fit for you!

3. How much exercise can I give the dog daily?
One of the first things an instructor of a dog obedience class will tell you to do is exercise your dog before you try to train them. Exercise is crucial to the overall well-being of the dog. Larger dog breeds and working dog breeds will need more exercise than your toy dogs. Think of Marley from the movie Marley in Me– why did Marley tear up the house? He had a ton of energy! High energy, working dogs will need at least two 20-minute walks (or runs) a day. Make sure you can incorporate this amount of exercise into your daily routine.

4. Can I afford a dog?
Picking out a dog at the shelter for $50-$250 (maybe even free on special days) seems like such a bargain compared to purebred prices. But the adoption fee is such a small portion of the overall lifetime cost of a dog. Your dog may be spayed or neutered at the shelter so that will save a couple hundred dollars. 

Americans spend an average of $139.80 a month on their dogs, according to 2018 May survey by Opp Loans. You’ll be buying dog food, treats, a brush, a collar, and a leash. Man’s best friend may need a crate or a fenced in back yard. If you get a puppy, you might want to pick up some training pads and while you take him on a walk, you’ll want to bring along waste disposal bags. (Oh, and you may have to clean your carpets in case of accidents.) You’ll have veterinarian bills for vaccines, flea and tick medicine, and recommended heart medicine. 

In a Kiplinger article, published in 2011, the authors even suggested setting money aside in an emergency fund for the hidden and unexpected costs of owning a pet. “Owners will likely incur at least one $2,000 – $4,000 bill for emergency care at some point during their pet’s lifetime”, says Dr. Louise Murray, vice-president of the ASPCA’s Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital, in New York City. And your furry friend may need to go to a groomer too – and some people even bring them to puppy spas!

5. Do I want a puppy?
There is nothing more irresistible than a sweet, cuddly puppy. All your nurturing instincts surface, and you can’t wait to raise him into a trained adult. Until he chews on your leather shoes. Or digs a hole in the middle of your yard. Or jumps on your neighbor. Thinking about the specific training and care of the age of your dog will help you decide whether to get a puppy, an adolescent, or an adult dog. 

Puppies take hours and hours of training. A puppy will need to be taught basic commands and normally a dog obedience training course is appropriate for you and your dog. You could also hire someone to come to your house with training. 

An adolescent dog can still require lot of attention as he or she goes through teething and changing hormones. 

By adopting an adult dog, you may forgo the chewing, “curious” stage, but he or she may have developed habits of poor behavior requiring extra attention too.

6. Am I ready to spend extra time bonding with my shelter dog?

Depending on the life your dog had prior to coming to the shelter, a commitment to spending quality time with your dog will help you build a trust relationship. 

You’ll want interactive toys to play with whether it’s frisbee in the backyard or a squeaky toy in the living room. Your dog will bond quickest with the person it spends the most time with. 

Be careful about adopting more than one dog at a dog. Sometimes when you adopt two dogs at the same time, the dogs will bond to each other rather than you. This makes it more difficult for you to establish the alpha dog role.

7. What are my living and health conditions for my family?

A hypoallergic dog like a poodle might be the perfect fit for your family if you have someone who is allergic to dogs. If you don’t want a large dog but have allergies you may try to find a mixed breed dog such as a mini-golden doodle. Also consider the size of your apartment or house. A small dog like a mini Schnauzer may fit in more easily in a high-rise apartment than an Alaskan Malamute.

Adopting a dog can be such a great blessing for you and your new canine friend. 

Before you start shopping, make sure you do a full assessment of your needs and lifestyle.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Interview Susan Barnes (Owner of MyTDog)

The Dog Trainer

Susan Barnes Dock Dogs Champion

I recently had the privilege of interviewing Des Moines based dog trainer, Susan Barnes. She is the owner and head trainer of MyTDog (Mighty Dog).

Motivation to Train

During my talk with Sue Barnes, one of the primary was, "how do you keep dog training fresh over the years? How do you remain motivated and still enjoy getting up doing this every single day?" Her response made me smile and feel motivated. She said that, "Every case (she) takes is different and that is what keeps it fresh." She cannot approach every dog one way. She has to take into consideration the owner, their home life, how much time the owner spends with them, and many other factors that play a role in developing a dog’s behavior.

Communication with Pets and Humans

Susan comes up with the best course of action for how to adjust the dog’s behavior and help the family learn how to communication with their pet. With the goal being that the dog can interact in society and with their family within healthy boundaries. However, Sue doesn’t just train the dog, she trains the owner as well. She makes sure that the owner knows why the dog was acting the way it did and tells them how they can improve behavior going forward, aside from her help.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

About Me

Michael John Kulick

Michael John MJ Kulick

First I would like to take a moment to thank you for taking the time to visit my blog. Throughout my whole life I have been very passionate about animals and helping them get better. I have had pets since I can remember and I wouldn't regret any of it. I have had fish, snakes, cats, and dogs so i'm not a rookie when it comes to the animal scene. My goal with this venture is to give these pets a fighting chance in finding a good home for them and to let people know about the health benefits that come with owning a pet. I believe that every is unique and that each dog can cater to different people.

Napa Fire

A Call To Action

Building On Fire In Napa California

Photo credit:

What Happened

On October 12 2017, tragedy struck Northern California. A wildfire broke out and spread to populated areas and left many displaced. The primary locations that were affected were Napa County, Rohnert Park, Santa Rosa, Sonoma, and Petaluma. Those displaced include wildlife, pets, and people.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Dogs And Their Benefits To Humans

Man's Best Friend

Man With Dog

Photo credit: Pixabay

Have you ever felt like you are missing something in your life? Like there is a hole that needs to be filled? Where did this quote come from, “A dog is man’s best friend?" While not an exact science, it dates back thousands of years. The love and companionship I experience with my dogs is not unique. While this phrase is attributed to dogs, I feel that all pets can provide their owners a mutual, loving relationship and similar benefits.

Feeding Your Dog - Some Advice!

The Do's and Don't of Feeding Your Dog.

If there is one question that has been debated and scrutinized over the years, it would be: "What should you feed your dog and when?" I will briefly describe proper techniques and habits to avoid when feeding your dog.

puppies in front of food bowl

Photo credit: Max Pixel

Sunday, December 17, 2017


My name is Michael John Kulick and I thank you for taking the time to read this post. I have always been very passionate about animals and helping them get better. My family had pets since for as long as I can remember.

We've also lots pets, but I wouldn't change loving and living with them-I don't regret a moment of our time together. I have had fish, snakes, cats, and dogs so I'm not a rookie when it comes to the animal pet-owner scene. My goal with this blog is to explore the world of pet ownership and hopefully help rescue pets have a fighting chance in finding a good home. I'm hoping to let people know about the health benefits that come with owning a pet because I believe that every animal is unique and that each pet can cater to different people. Owning a pet can also teach children and teens about responsibilities that help them prepare for becoming responsible adults. I feel very luck that my parents taught me about the concept of responsibility and pet ownership.