Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Travel with Pets

Just this month, a Gilbert AZ "boarding kennel" came under investigation after 17 different pet owners were told that their pets had run away.  After several days of searching the area for their pets, these owners uncovered a most devastating reality - their pets had actually perished while the care of this facility and their bodies were tossed haphazardly in a shed at the back of the property.  The boarding facility owners are trying desperately to cover their tracks.  But one thing remains clear... they lied to these pet owners to get their business and subsequently lied to keep their money.  Be VERY careful when using boarding facilities...  check their licenses, seek referrals, visit the property, and don't believe it if it sounds too good to be true. 

Traveling Without Your Pet
Sometimes vacations are just not meant for our pets. In these cases there are two options.

In-home Pet Sitting

Your Home- A family member or friend can watch over your pet while you are away at your residence. This will keep your furry friend from having to leave the comfort of their own home. Pet sitters could also be hired to stay at your home while you are away.

Pet Sitter- Many pet sitters are available to watch your pet while you are away. Make sure to conduct thorough research and have a full tour of the pet sitter’s home before leaving your loved one. Online blogs are a great way to get an insight to the services offered.

** Make all sitters aware of your pet’s needs. Any medications, allergies, and special care instructions should be explained thoroughly.

Pet Boarding
Many businesses specialize in pet boarding.

Veterinarian Office- Your pet is already familiar with the staff at this location. Staff will have a record of your pet on file and will be able to assist if any health issues arise.

Pet Hotel - These are offered at pet stores throughout the country. These “hotels” serve as a boarding for your pet while away and offer food, water, and daily play time.

Luxury Pet Boarding- Luxury boarding for pets, also known as pet spas, offer a variety of amenities, such as steak dinners, private rooms, and pet massages. Your pooch can truly be pampered in these facilities while you are away. Also included are customized play packages and a variety of options to help meet your pet’s needs.

Traveling With Your Pet

Dog Bag To-Go
Preparation needs to be made for pets to go on trips. Make a to-go bag for your pet including necessary items. These items include but are not limited to:
-          Food
-          Water
-          Water Dish
-          Leash
-          Collar
-          Tags
-          Medication(s)
-          Treats
-          Items to clean up after your pet
-          First-aid kit

Car Ride
Back Seat - Don’t let your pet sit in the front seat. It puts them at risk of injury if the airbags deploy.

Safely Secured - Place your pet in a special seat, crate, or buckle them in. Some stores even sell pet seat belts. Make sure your dog is safely secured while traveling. This prevents them from distracting your driving and possible injury.

Keep Windows Rolled Up - Although pets love catching the breeze and smelling items outside, it is very dangerous to have the windows down. Debris from the road could fly by and hurt your pet. Glass, dirt, and rocks are just some of the hazardous items that could pose a threat if your dog is hanging out of the window.


In Cabin If flying is the desired means of travel, place your pet in the cabin with you if possible. Most airlines require pets to meet weight restrictions and be securely fastened in a crate for the duration of the flight.

No Tranquilizers - Do NOT give your pet tranquilizers for flying. This can impact their breathing and cause severe health issues at high altitudes.

Just like humans, pets need breaks as well. Plan accordingly to allow breaks for stretching, play time, and bathroom use. It’s better to have breaks frequently than a pet to urinate in the car.

Dog-Friendly Establishments

Lodging - Not many hotels allow pets. Be sure to verify pet policy before booking a room. If staying in an RV or with friends, be sure to arrange a sleeping area for your pet.

Restaurants - Some restaurants and shopping centers are pet friendly. These businesses allow pets and owners to eat outside on a patio. Be sure to locate a place you can take your pet. If you are not able to take your pet inside get food to go and take to a park or other facility. Never leave your pet unattended. is a great tool for locating restaurants, lodging, parks, trails, and attractions that are pet friendly. The site even separates establishments by city and state. It is a great resource when planning a long trip.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Dog Days of Summer

***DO NOT leave your pet unattended in the heat. All it takes is a matter of minutes for your furry friend to suffer serious health issues.

Cars, even when left in the shade with windows down, are usually 10-20 degrees *hotter* than it is outside.  Your pet can slip into heat stroke within 5 minutes.

Tips to survive the heat:
-         Keep plenty of water available for pets
-         Replace water to keep it cool every few hours
-         Only let pets outside for short periods of time
-         Do not leave pets unattended
-         Walk pets after the sun goes down
-         Give pets access to shade

Tips to keep pets cool:
1.     Use dog boots- Pets absorb heat through their feet. Wearing boots will help cool them off and prevent their feet from burning on hot pavement.
2.     Place a wet towel on the ground for your dog to lie on.
3.     If spraying the dog with cool water, make sure to get their stomach and paws as well.

Common Summer Time Issues:

Parasite and Pests- As pets spend more time outside, they are more prone to insect and snakebites. Carefully watch pets and make sure they avoid these incidents.

Drinking Lake/Salt Water- Do not allow pets to drink the water while swimming. It can cause your pet to become very ill.

Overheating- Know which breeds are not capable of being in the heat. Some breeds are very sensitive and can overheat in a matter of minutes. Be aware of your pet and their needs. Do not ever leave them unattended in the heat. And, do NOT leave them in your car, even to run a 'quick errand'.  

Signs of overheating
-         Excessive Drooling
-         Glazed or Bloodshot Eyes
-         Increased Pulse
-         Heavy Panting
-         Vomiting
-         Staggering

** If your pet is showing these signs, get them to a veterinarian right away. Try to provide the pet with fluids if possible. 

Have fun this summer, but remember to limit activity in the heat and keep your pet hydrated!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Who is the Expert?

Toffee & Beignet, Yin and Yang
written by Carol A. Smock, Founder

Something happened in my family recently that had me asking, "so who is the expert anyway?"  I was diagnosed with Valley Fever and worried that if I had contracted it, my dogs may also have been exposed and could be dealing with this horrible disease.  So, off to the Veterinarian we go...

I love my Clinic.  Dr. Tenney SAVED my Toffee Nut's life last year by amputating one of his toes that had a spindle cell carcinoma attached.  They suggested radiation afterward to be sure we got it all, but after careful consideration, I opted *not* to put him through it.  I met a new doctor on Saturday who would draw their blood - she's lovely too.  Well educated. Well spoken.  Kind and compassionate.

We talked at great length about the fact that I refuse to give Heartguard, Frontline or Vaccinations.  I explained that I've lost two already to cancer and I want to try this Holistic approach to see if it makes a difference.  I explained that while I don't pump their bodies full of poisons and toxins anymore, I still have them tested for Heartworms and other diseases on a regular basis, often performing a full panel of bloodwork annually.  I give essential oil supplements and feed the highest quality food I can buy.  I also explained how I've read extensively about this chosen lifestyle and I've consulted many who could be deemed experts in arriving at my decision.

She was respectful, although I could see she was cautious.  And, I DO respect that.  My dogs' bloodwork came back...  the 10 1/2 year old who just had a battle with cancer last  year - PERFECT!  And, while he showed exposure to Valley Fever, he does not have active infection.  The 4 year old was negative for Valley Fever.

So, this begs the question, just who is the expert when it comes to our pets?  While I would never suggest that Veterinarians are not the most educated and knowledgeable, sometimes, there are experts out there who didn't go to school for their degree.  Sometimes, an expert can be someone whose lifetime has been spent learning by doing (as John Lloyd Wright suggested is the best method of learning), taking chances and risks and studying the results.

I trust my doctors.  I really do.  But, they believe in Western Medicine and I'm learning that I believe in an Integrated Approach.  I'm thankful that they respect me enough as a pet owner to "learn by doing".  They are there to warn me of possible impending doom and to make sure we are testing my pets along the way to insure their safety.

I want to call your attention to a Special Newsprint Section that published in the Washington Post yesterday. It was titled Pet Wellness and the website is  I encourage you to take a look at what this special section has to offer - good information about nutrition, behavior and general health & wellness.  There are also some great articles on Rescue and Adoption.  A word of warning, it's not all written by veterinarians...  but there is great information in it for you to digest and discuss with your doctor.

Brown Dog Foundation LOVES pets.  We respect the doctors who study for years to save them.  But we also know that often times, "experts" walk among us.  And sometimes, the expert may be us.  After all, who knows your pets' behavior and patterns better than you?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Human Food for Pets

Is it Safe?

First, we wish to acknowledge that many people feed their pets human-grade food.  This post is not intended to be a conversation between feeding "raw" and feeding table-treats.  It's a light-hearted observation of human foods that can be harmful to your pet's life.

We all have had those moments where our pet wants to share in meal time. There is nothing wrong with giving our animal a treat as long as certain rules are followed. Similar to humans, there are foods that are healthy and unhealthy. Animals must be fed human food sparingly and certain foods are hazardous. See below for more info.

HAZARDOUS Foods for Pets
-         Chocolate
-         Alcohol
-         Avocado
-         Macadamia Nuts
-         Grapes/Raisins
-         Yeast Dough
-         Undercooked Meat
-         Onions/Garlic/Chives
-         Xylitol (Sweetener found in candy, gum, and toothpaste)
-         Milk
-         Salt

Many of these foods result in seizures and vomiting in pets. The risk of eating these items includes death. Pets have immune systems different than humans and are not able to properly digest these foods.

Foods Pets Can Eat
-         Peanut Butter (all natural, no salt)
-         Pears
-         Strawberries, Blueberries, and Raspberries
-         Bananas
-         Tuna
-         Plain Pasta (No Sauce)
-         Cheese
-         Eggs
-         Baby Carrots
-         Yogurt (No artificial sweetener)


Occasional Treats- Do not over feed your pet human food. These items should be treats and given very sparingly. The more human food a pet is fed, the higher a risk for serious complications including obesity.

Prepare Food Appropriately - Remove all seeds, wrappers, and other hazardous pieces before giving food to a pet. Also, properly cook all meat and items requiring proper heating (we acknowledge that many feed their pets Raw Diets...  when overseen by a professional, raw diet can be *very* effective.  Raw Diet is not to be confused with "table scraps").

Natural- Only give your pet food without salt, butter, or other seasonings. Plain items reduce the risk for allergic reactions or other health issues.

Your pet can participate in meal time with you on special occasions. However, it is crucial to remember that your pet is not capable of realizing the damage unhealthy food can cause. We are responsible for protecting their well being. While your furry-friend may tempt you into giving treats often, remember that you are protecting them by saying no. 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Protect Your Pet: Pet Insurance

by Ariel Morrison, Volunteer

What is it?
Pet insurance is very similar to human health insurance, except it is tailored to fit your pet’s needs. There are numerous plans available and coverage options that can be customized dependent upon the animal and prior health conditions. Below the three most common pet insurance plans are described:

Pet's Best Pet Insurance
Pet's Best Insurance offers four different types of pet insurance plans, plus a routine care option.  All levels of insurance cover accidents, illness and hereditary/congenital ailments.  The differentiators with Pet's Best Insurance are that you choose your annual deductible level ($0-$1000) as well as your reimbursement level, from 70-100%, and Holistic Care coverage exists with all plans. 

Pet's Best also offers three focused plans as defined below:

Feline Illness Plan:
-         Includes diagnosis and treatment of common feline chronic illnesses like diabetes and kidney failure
-         Excludes undiagnosed conditions, accidents, routine care, acupuncture and chiropractics
-         $4,000 annual limit/$10,000 lifetime limit

Accident Only:
-         Includes treatment of accidents including X-rays, surgeries, hospitalization and medications related
-         Excludes illnesses, routine care, acupuncture and chiropractics
-         $10,000 annual limit/$20,000 lifetime limit  

Cancer Only:
-         Includes diagnosis and treatment of cancer including bloodwork, surgeries, medication and chemotherapy
-         Excludes other illnesses, accidents, routine care, acupuncture and chiropractics
-         $8,000 annual limit/$30,000 lifetime limit  

Pet's Best offers a $0 deductible option and has no age limit for new or existing coverage.  Your pet will *not* be dropped as he/she ages.  Find more information at or contact Bill Smock Insurance, where a portion of your policy premium is donated to Brown Dog Foundation! 

VPI- Nationwide Pet Insurance
Injury Plan (Emergency)
Covers Accidents Only
-Pays for injuries such as broken bones
-Covers accidents such as poisonings
- Maximum benefit of $14,000/year

Medical Plan Economical
Covers Accidents and Illnesses
-         Covers everything in the injury plan + illnesses
-         Covers chronic illnesses
-         Maximum benefit of $7000/year

Major Medical Plan Comprehensive
Covers accidents, illnesses, and hereditary conditions
-         Covers everything in the medical plan economical
-         Includes benefits for limited hereditary coverage after the first year
-         Maximum benefit of $14000/year

-         Can be added to any of the above plans
-         Includes additional benefits related to pet welfare including (exams, vaccinations, heartworm preventative, and dental cleaning)
-         Ranges in price from $12-$22/month

** Please note that existing conditions are not covered if condition started prior to animal having insurance. Also, ligament injuries are only covered after having insurance for 1 year.

All of the above insurance policies agree to not drop any pet regardless of age or number of claims filed a year. There are flexible deductibles for each plan. Owners have the freedom to choose which vet or animal emergency services location for service. Benefits renew each year in full.

How Do I Apply
An online application can be completed at Select “get a quote” from the homepage. The process is very simple and takes about 5 minutes to complete. The quote will be based off of your area, dog breed, dog age, and deductible option.

Trupanion Pet Insurance
Trupanion only offers one all inclusive insurance plan. However, there are multiple add-on options that make this company unique from other pet insurance providers. Please see the below:

Additional Care Package:
-         Includes hydrotherapy, chiropractic, and acupuncture services
-         Includes several non-traditional services for dogs
-         Ranges from $9.95-$35/ month

Pet Owner Assistance Package:
-         Covers boarding fees
-         Pays for rewards and advertising costs up to $500 if pet is lost/stolen
-         Pays for damages up to $25000 due to property damage from your pet

Trupanion also offers a $0 deductible option. Find more information at

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Care Credit: Just in Case

What is it?
Care Credit is a healthcare spending account that can be used both for humans and pets. Whether it is for a basic doctor’s visit or an emergency situation, Care Credit can be used to help your beloved animal friend.

Care Credit offers special financing options for purchases over $200. These options include no interest for 6, 12, 18, or 24 months depending upon the amount of purchase. There is no catch to this special. It is included in the terms when signing up and as long as minimum monthly payments are on time and the account is paid in full by the end of the promotional period, there is $0 in interest.

How Do I Apply
An online application can be completed at The process is very simple and takes about 5 minutes to complete. If you don’t wish to apply at this time, Care Credit applications can also be processed at most animal clinic and hospital locations.  Phone applications can also be completed by calling (800) 677-0718.

-         Routine check-ups
-         Supplies purchased at veterinarian office
-         Unexpected doctor’s visit
-         Emergency procedure/ assistance
Care Credit Success Story
Feisty, a 4 month old English bulldog was attacked by another dog while playing outside. Immediately, she collapsed in a puddle of blood. Feisty’s owner rushed the small bulldog to a local animal hospital to receive assistance. They quickly took the dog to the back to analyze the damage. The owner was called to the front desk and advised that treatment would be over $800 a day. Desperate to save the dog’s life, the owner pleaded with the secretaries. Care credit was suggested as a way to finance the hospital stay. The owner filled out an application and was approved instantly (even at 11pm). The bulldog was able to get the necessary help and left the hospital 3 days later.

Without Care Credit, the owner would not have been able to finance the bulldog’s hospital admittance. In an emergency situation, there is not always time to get a loan or financial assistance. Care Credit makes it possible for pet owners to get the financial help they need now.       

This is a photo of Jake and his siblings.  Jake's life was in immediate danger, and while the family qualified for Care Credit, they fell short on the total cost of care.  Thanks to the generosity of Brown Dog Foundation donors, we were able to "bridge the gap" and save Jake's life and keep him alive and his family together!  Read Jake's story here:

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Be In Tune With Your Pet -- It Could Save Their Life!

The bond you share with your beloved animal is unlike any other you will experience in your lifetime. When it comes to your pet's well-being, you are literally their lifeline. You are their voice. Being in tune with your pet can mean life or death for them in certain situations.

You may initially feel frustrated with your pet if they have an "accident" inside the house or if he or she simply hasn't been listening to you like usual. Instead of getting frustrated, ask yourself if perhaps your pet may not be feeling well.

- Is she moving slower?
- Have her eating habits changed?
- Does she act as though she wants to be left alone more often?

Be careful not to dismiss certain behaviors as "no big deal." If your pet has started to lose his balance, for example, it may be time for a visit to your veterinarian. Niko, a Pekingese who Brown Dog Foundation assisted, started falling over and losing his balance shortly after a car accident. Unfortunately, he lost his life due to the injury being left untreated for too long. Because the family was short on cash, Niko lived with his injuries for 4 months. Time can play a crucial role in saving your pet's life.

When it comes to finding a veterinarian for your pet, it is essential to do your research first. In the age of the internet, research and reviews are right at your fingertips. Old-fashioned word-of-mouth referrals will always stand the test of time. Your pet absolutely depends on you to communicate precisely to the veterinarian what issues they are experiencing. Because pets cannot tell us what hurts, it is essential to be observant of any changes in their behavior and habits. If you feel that your veterinarian is dismissing some of the problems your pet is having or that something is left unresolved, you may need to push for other tests to be conducted or even locate a new veterinarian. But, realize, if you push for testing... you will need to pay for it or find assistance to do so.

It is important to keep in mind that doctors are still human and with that being said, they are not perfect. They can make mistakes just like the rest of us. Doctors simply cannot diagnose and treat an animal without proper testing being conducted. With this in mind, it is mandatory that you be prepared for emergencies your pet may face. Have a savings account set aside or invest in pet insurance. Veterinary care is relatively affordable but can feel astronomical when you are unprepared. In times of crises, the costs can certainly add up. Although veterinarians truly love animals, most are not in the position to write-off the expense of diagnostic tests and surgeries that may be necessary for your pet. This would put their business and their own livelihood in jeopardy.

Brown Dog Foundation personnel are committed to having a hand in saving the lives of animals in need, but note that they are not veterinarians. You must communicate with your veterinarian. Your pet's livelihood depends on YOU. Communication with your veterinarian is essential and plays a key role in ensuring your pet's well-being. Be sure not to leave out any details. If you feel that something is amiss, don't ignore your instincts. Most importantly, be in tune with your pet at home. Your quick response to their change in behavior could save their life!