The best dog books of summer

What is summer for if not for reading? That’s my opinion, anyway! I love spending summer nights on the patio, book in one hand, glass of wine in the other, with the herd lounging around. That, to me, is peace. Luckily, I happened to get a handful of books to review toward the beginning of the summer, and now that it’s coming to a close (seriously, HOW is tomorrow August?) I wanted to share four new books I’ve enjoyed.

A quick disclaimer

Without further ado: Four books to round out your summer reading list! And if you’ve read anything great lately (dog-related or not!), I’d LOVE to know in the comments. My “to read” list is never long enough!

For the kids

Lola and Tattletale Zeke

Lola is a five-pound Yorkshire Terrier and a certified therapy dog. Her little brother–though he’s bigger, he’s younger–tattles on her for making mistakes throughout this charming book. Zeke tells on his sister Lola throughout but learns his lesson toward the end. I love how the illustrations are photographs of the two siblings; it’s a cute and clever way to teach about tattling. Author Marcia Goldman has a master’s degree in special education, and she uses her expertise to add a ton of value to this story. The back pages include a curriculum guide with questions and activities to accompany the book. Even if you’re not using in a classroom but reading it at home with your kiddo, those questions and activities would be a really fun way to spark a discussion about tattling. Loved this sweet book! To buy Lola and Tattletale Zeke.

For the science lover

The Secret History of Kindness

I’m pretty obsessed with reading animal behavior books. It’s fascinating to learn how other animals learn. This book did not disappoint in that regard. It’s full of insights, data, case studies, and history on how dog training has evolved. I will say, though, that you have to be dedicated to excavating those gems as you read. The author is hugely fond of lengthy asides and footnotes that are often unrelated to the topic at hand. It actually took me ages to finish this, even though I’m a fast reader and it’s a passion subject for me. That said, I gained a ton of insights into human behavior from this. Toward the end of the book, she draws parallels between what we’ve learned in animal behavior and the flaws in how we “treat” human behavior (using schools and prisons as examples). I definitely recommend this one because there are tons of great insights, lots of valuable historical data, gobs of fascinating passages… but don’t take this one to the beach. I’d suggest dipping in and out to see what you glean. To buy The Secret History of Kindness: Learning from How Dogs Learn.

For the sense of humor

Dogs Know Best

Author Angie Salisbury’s two German Shorthaired Pointers narrate this cute little self-help-style book (Two Dog’s Training Guide for Humans is the subtitle!). It’s a super fast read–count on one or two sittings–filled with silly and sweet advice from her pups that she then translates at the bottom of each page. Some of my favorites include “There’s enough love to go around,” “Be silly for no reason,” and “Warm your belly in the sun.” Plus, pictures of the pups Bimmer and Bertram are sprinkled throughout, and they are seriously adorable dogs. This is definitely a book that will put a smile on dog-obsessed faces. To buy Dogs Know Best.

For everyone–absolutely everyone

 

All Dogs Go to Kevin

I am obsessed with narrative nonfiction. When it’s done well, when a true story reads like a novel, I’m riveted. It’s not an easy genre to write–I spent two years working on it in my master’s degree program–but when it’s done well, it’s captivating. This is one of those books. Dr. V, who you might know from Pawcurious, crafts her veterinary memoir to read like the perfect beach book. It’s equal parts tear-jerker and laugh-out-loud. Honestly, anyone whose life has ever been touched by a dog will be touched by this book. If you only have time to read one book for the rest of the summer, make it this one. To buy All Dogs Go to Kevin: Everything Three Dogs Taught Me (That I Didn’t Learn in Veterinary School).

And… guess what!!!

I have one of each of these four books to give away! Taa-daaa!

This is a Rafflecopter giveaway. The widget will load below (sometimes it takes a second). If you’re reading this via email or through a feed, you might have to click the link.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Emmett’s leg trembling and our new joint care regimen

This post is sponsored by GlycoFlex. We only share what we think is relevant, and all opinions are mine all mine. 

By our rough count, this handsome guy turned 12 this summer!

My handsome Emmett

I don’t know how it’s possible for time to move as quickly as it does.

Anyway, with his ongoing cancer treatments and checkups, sometimes it’s difficult for us to tell the difference between symptoms that indicate progression of disease or symptoms that are just a factor of him being a handsome old man. One of those things has been a bit of trembling in his legs.

At an oncology visit ages ago, the trembling was barely discernible, but the resident felt we should book a neurology consult because, though rare, hemangiosarcoma can metastasize in the brain. The neurologist took a quick look and felt that wasn’t the case. Relief, of course, but I worried that we could be seeing the first signs of some bigger problems. Right around that time, I headed off to BlogPaws, and I met the super nice folks at VetriScience Laboratories. They gave me some samples of Glyco Flex® Plus to try with Emmett and then sent along a couple more bags (plus some for one of you to win below…). The chews are designed for joint support but also include antioxidants, which I think are super important especially for senior pups.

I had the chance to ask Sara Phillips, the strategic brand manager at VetriScience Laboratories, a few questions about the line.

OMD: How were the chews formulated? What ingredients go into the product–and why those ingredients?

SP: Our products are formulated based on market analysis, input from field sales reps, and ideas from consumers and our employees. We utilize an Innovation Funnel which allows us to determine the feasibility of a product from market size to production capabilities to unique selling propositions.

Ingredients vary depending on the product. Our soft chews all start with an inactive matrix – this is what gives the chew its texture and taste. We have spent over a decade perfecting the matrix – and our R&D division continues to look for natural, functional ingredients to improve this matrix even more! The active ingredients – the ingredients that make the products work – are highly researched ingredients, often from exclusive suppliers. All ingredients must have safety data showing us that they are safe for use in pets. Our ingredients always go through a battery of tests before we will accept them. They must meet our standards from purity and label claim. Because FoodScience® Corporation has been in the industry for over 40 years, we have very deeply rooted relationships with suppliers around the world. This ensures that our ingredients are pure and safe.

OMD: What makes GlycoFlex Plus different from other similar products?

SP: Glyco Flex® Plus contains our most popular formula of Glyco Flex® 3, PLUS chondroitin. This is the most comprehensive joint support formula on the market. In addition to chondroitin, glucosamine, and antioxidants, our product contains GlycOmega® brand Perna canaliculus, from an exclusive supplier in New Zealand. Perna is a whole food, naturally containing essential fatty acids, amino acids and all 6 classes of GAG’s – the nutrients that are the building blocks for healthy joints. The Glyco Flex® 3 formula has been clinically proven to increase hind leg strength by 41% in just 4 weeks. No other joint supplement can make that claim.

OMD: What types of dogs–age, breed, fitness, etc.–is GlycoFlex Plus for? 

Glyco Flex® Plus is great for dogs of all ages, sizes, breeds, and fitness levels! VetriScience® strongly believes that proper veterinary care is an essential part of any wellness plan and we recommend all pets be seen by a veterinarian prior to adding any supplement to their regimen.

Emmett and Glyco Flex: Product review and giveaway

Emmett certainly likes the flavor of the chews (no surprise there). His legs continue to tremble, but his strength hasn’t decreased one tiny bit. I was worried about degeneration, but if you ask the vet tech he flew around the clinic like a kite, well, he’s still a beefcake. I’m definitely going to keep him on these chews indefinitely as we focus on keeping him as strong and healthy as possible. In hindsight, actually, I wish we had started him on this regimen as a preventative, rather than waiting until there was a problem. Lesson learned. In fact, I think that would be my advice: Talk to your vet about starting your dog on a Glyco Flex supplement before you start to notice any joint/mobility issues to hopefully stave them off.

If you’re interested in giving the chews a whirl, the brand very generously offered a giveaway of the same bags you see pictured with Emmett above! This is a Rafflecopter giveaway. The widget will load below (sometimes it takes a second). If you’re reading this via email or through a feed, you might have to click the link.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I’m happy to keep my old guy on this routine and will definitely report any changes we notice! Thank you, VetriScience, for so generously offering this review and giveaway!

Pet Hydration Month: Tips and products to keep your pets hydrated

July is Pet Hydration Month, so I’m squeaking in at the last second with helpful information, a product review, and a giveaway!

I keep this running list of questions and ideas for possible blog posts, and one that’s been on my list for far too long was: How much water does a dog need in a day? Turns out, an ounce of water per pound! Check out this awesome infographic from PetSafe about water consumption in dogs and cats:

PetSafe_Pet Hydration Month Infographic 2015

For a big dog like Lucas, that’s a lot of water in a day! Frankly, I don’t know that any of the herd drank enough each day, especially in the hot, muggy summer heat. One problem, I think, was that our two water dishes were side-by-side and sort of uninteresting. They aren’t in the most convenient location either. In the course of a normal day, they wouldn’t walk past them often (between the kitchen and back door so mostly when they go outside). But drinking enough water is critical for overall health, like flushing out the kidneys (SO important for cats).

We have two PetSafe fountains that they kindly sent us, so we set up one upstairs right outside my office door, which they walk past 987 times a day:

PetSafe Fountain upstairs

And we set up the other in the living room:

PetSafe fountain downstairs

The upstairs one is pretty small, and Lucas won’t drink from it. I’m not sure why. He passes by it a bunch. He knows it’s water. The other three drink from it. He won’t. Something to consider if you’re thinking about a fountain. The downstairs one is more like a normal stainless bowl, and everyone was comfortable with it right away. It’s also nearly silent, which is great for the living room. Occasionally Newt thinks it’s super fun to poke her paw in the fountain part, then she shakes it off all horrified about having a wet foot. Goofy girl.

Do they drink more water because of the fountains? Hard to say. Supposedly moving water and the fresh oxygenation are both more appealing to pets. I think if anyone is drinking more, it’s Newt. Or it could be that the bowls are in places I see her drinking more often? Regardless, I’m glad to see her drinking water throughout the day!

The ones we have are the Avalon (the red ceramic one) and Zen (the stainless one). For a while I was tempted to buy an outdoor fountain–it seems like such a great way to provide fresh, clean outdoor water versus a bowl that sits out collecting crud–but then I realized that the dogs never want to be outside without me, so I probably wouldn’t use it. While at SuperZoo, though, I did see their new fountain, the Sedona, which is really simple and could match any decor.

That said, PetSafe has very generously offered a fountain for me to give away to one of YOU lucky pups! This is a Rafflecopter giveaway. The widget will load below (sometimes it takes a second). If you’re reading this via email or through a feed, you might have to click the link.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks, PetSafe, for offering this giveaway! What do you guys think? Would your pets drink more filtered water? Do you currently have some kind of filter or fountain system in place? 

My brain is mush because Vegas

What a whirlwind!

After an exciting but chaotic week, I’m back home, unpacked, and… taking a sick Emmett to the vet this afternoon. Always something!

Because my brain is sizzled, I thought I’d do a few quick bullet points for ya then head off into the weekend. And naps.

    • Last chance to enter the 4Knines Cargo Cover. The giveaway closes today!
    • You guys asked that I search for lots of really smart pet products, in particular durable toys and harnesses. I found ’em! But… I totally forgot to take pictures of just about everything. I looked through my phone and only had 6 or 7. Clearly I’m no good at multi-tasking. Talking to people AND walking around AND taking pictures? Not gonna happen! But I wrote down company names, so I’ll be reaching out to them to get product info and images. Coming soon.
    • Oh, but I did get this Vegas skyline pic from the BH Pet Gear party on the top floor of the Four Seasons hotel:

A photo posted by Maggie Marton (@maggiemarton) on

  • Finally, well, I’ve gotten super far behind schedule. As soon as I got back in town, I had to go straight to Indianapolis for my next round of oncology appointments (all clear–wahooo!!) followed by Emmett’s unexplained illness and vet appointment. Both big dogs have their next Purdue days on Tuesday, too, so I’m trying to rearrange, reschedule, and remain calm. :) Anyway, I was supposed to have a review/giveaway today for you and another big roundup review/giveaway next Friday. Clearly it’s not happening today–oops–so I’ll do both next week. Look forward to two awesome giveaways to close out July!

Whew! Thank goodness it’s Friday, that’s for sure! Hoping you and your pups have a fun, safe, relaxing weekend ahead! I’ll see you Monday when I (fingers crossed) have had a chance to catch up!

SuperZoo bound!

I’m here in Las Vegas for the SuperZoo trade show! The event officially starts tomorrow, though there are some little things going on today. Here’s the gist: There are 2,170 booths of pet products (I packed comfy walking shoes) from 983 companies. Did you know there were even that many pet product manufacturers?! Holy moly. This is going to be a busy week!

My goal is to do some trend-spotting. I have writing assignments for a few freelance clients, but mostly I’m planning on gathering tons of fun info for the blog.

I don’t have much to report for day one, though! I got in last night and am still adjusting to the time zone (nearly fell asleep at 7 last night… definitely woke up at 4 this morning…) and all the Vegas craziness ($7 for a water…) but super excited for what’s ahead!

Missing these faces, though!

the herd

Although, I felt a bit like a traitor this morning when I happily woke up on my own rather than with a kitty chewing on my hair. It was kind of nice. :)

What do you guys want me to keep an eye out for? Any specific pet products, innovations, or trends you want me to try to spot? Or brilliant ideas for this year’s holiday gift guide?