7 Tips for Pet-Proofing Your Yard That Can Be Done Today

It’s hard to match our level of excitement for summer, but there’s somebody who always does!

Our pets!

Dogs love to sprint across green lawns — with tails wagging and eyes set on a prize. Cats are known to bask in the summer sun all day long, too. Our furry friends love lounging on the lawn just as much as we do — which is why pet proofing the great outdoors is so important.

Pet proofing everything from patios and porches to lawns and gardens and your yard damage-free. And, with summer in full swing, the timing couldn’t be better.

Great Dane Puppy playing in the Grass

First thing’s first: the lawn. Pets run through the lawn, roll in it and often eat it. As you well know, any trouble pets can get into, they do.

But, many lawn products contain harmful chemicals. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates some 90 million pounds of pesticides are applied to lawns each year. These chemicals are not safe to use around pets, children or anyone for that matter. Pets ingest those dangerous herbicides when they lick their coats and paws while cleaning. This can make them sick.

The ASPCA explains that most exposure to harmful chemicals occurred because products were within reach of pets, or pets were allowed onto lawns before treatments were completely dry.

According to the National Canine Cancer Foundation (NCCF), one in three dogs will experience cancer during their lifetime. Cancer is not as common in cats, but tends to be more aggressive.

Let’s reduce that statistic — together.

Keep pets safe this season by using only organic lawn and garden products. Feeding a lawn a healthy diet of natural ingredients offers benefits not just for your grass, but for you, your family, pets and the environment, too.

The  from and the ASPCA both offer tips for keeping pets safe from hidden dangers as well as long-term exposure to toxins that might cause cancer.

Here are 7 tips for pet proofing your yard that can be done today:

  1. Out of Paws Reach. Store hazardous products such as insecticides, paint, car parts and gasoline in sealed containers on upper shelves.
  2. A close cut. Since fleas and ticks lurk in tall grasses, keep your lawns mowed at 3 – 3.5”.
  3. Begin with the Bin. Food and garden waste make excellent additions to garden soil. But you should compost in closed containers or keep pets out of the compost pile. According to the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center, coffee grounds, moldy food and certain types of fruit and vegetables are toxic to dogs and cats.
  4. Go Bare. Using an , as well as organic mulch will eliminate the hazards that chemical fertilizers, pesticides and synthetic mulches present. At first, it may require some new thinking and some investments in soil improvement. But then you won’t have to worry about exposing kids or pets to dangerous chemicals.
  5. Use your Eyes. Look around the patio and yard. Standing water, exposed wires, unattended garden tools or objects in the ground may cause a hazard. Remove standing water by replacing it with a rain garden or drainage system.
  6. Paw-Approved Plants. We’ve found that pets love munching on new things in the yard, especially plants and grasses. Before buying new plants, check if they’re nontoxic. See the .
  7. The Great Escape. Fence pets out of risky areas and ensure there are no gaps that your pet could escape through.

The safest, most effective way to reduce canine cancer and help pets live long, healthy lives is to avoid harmful chemicals altogether. Get the full scoop on how works to keep pets healthy.


Jamie Brunner, part of the fourth generation to join The Espoma Company, is an animal lover, dog owner and equestrian. To help keep pets safe in lawns and gardens, Espoma launched the Safe Paws initiative in the Spring of 2015. A family-owned business, Espoma has been the pioneer in organic gardening since 1929, developing products that work in harmony with nature, preserve natural resources and make a greener world for future generations. Espoma offers a complete selection of natural plant foods, lawn foods, control products, and potting mixes available nationwide. For additional information, visit .

Quick Ways to Get Your Dog’s Coat Ready for the Fall

Fall is finally here! But from cracked paw pads to pollen to sun-bleached fur, your pet might need a post-summer TLC.

Quick Ways to Get Your Dog’s Coat Ready for the Fall

Scorched Paw Pads

Hot sand, steamy pool decks, sticky asphalt, and scorching sidewalks—your dog’s paws may have come into contact with all of these summer heat hazards, leaving him to start off autumn with paw pads that are dry, chapped, cracked, or even injured. To repair, slick on some petroleum jelly, then give your dog a chew toy to distract him until it soaks in. Paw pad balm, available at most pet stores, is a more expensive but less greasy option, and it provides protection so you can use it next summer before hitting the sand or sidewalk, not to mention for winter weather protection. If your dog’s paw pads have actual cracks, try some antibiotic ointment or gel. In the case of bleeding, red streaks, or pus, let your veterinarian treat the injury.


Quick Ways to Get Your Dog’s Coat Ready for the Fall

Pollen Residue

If your allergies seem to be lasting longer than usual, pollen might be piggybacking into the house on your dog’s coat. Many dogs also have pollen allergies, which typically manifest as skin rashes. Give your dog a good bath to help minimize pollen in the house and its effects on both you and your dog. Use a gentle, hypoallergenic shampoo and rinse well.


Quick Ways to Get Your Dog’s Coat Ready for the Fall

Sun-Bleached Coat

If your dog’s jet-black, rich red, or deep brown coat looks as faded and fried as your 1980s hair did after a summer using Sun-In spray, don’t worry, the damage isn’t permanent. Those bleached hairs will eventually fall out and your dog’s deep, rich color will grow back in (just like yours did). However, there are a few ways to hurry the process along:

A major grooming session Brush, brush, brush to get all the dead hair out of the coat. If your dog has a double, long, or curly coat, use a slicker brush or shedding comb. In the fall, dogs tend to shed more heavily to get rid of the summer coat and make room for a winter coat anyway, so take advantage of this time to banish the discolored hair. Frequent brushing will also distribute coat oils, making the hair look healthier and shinier.

Color shampoo Shampoos made for dogs with black, red, or brown coats can enhance those colors, restoring some of the lost luster.

Oil-based conditioner and coat spray Even if you didn’t use it during the summer, a good conditioner and/or coat spray can add a sheen that can make the hair look darker and richer.

Fish-oil supplements made for dogs There is some anecdotal evidence that fish-oil capsules can improve not just the quality but also the color of the coat.

High-quality premium dog food You already know that there are several reasons to feed your dog the good stuff. Better coat quality is one of them—and balanced nutrition may help restore it more quickly. So now is a perfect time to consider upgrading.

What’s REALLY Hiding Behind Your Dog’s Bad Breath?


Do you love your dog but HATE his bad breath? When you find out what’s hiding behind that canine halitosis, you’re going to hate it even more.

According to the , “Periodontal disease is the most common clinical condition occurring in adult dogs and cats, and is entirely preventable.“ They go on to explain that most often, BAD BREATH is the only sign of periodontal disease in dogs until the disease progresses to where it becomes a serious health concern.

Hiding behind that seemingly harmless stinky puppy breath lurks a disease that can lead to pain, tooth loss, organ damage and even death.

In nature, dog’s would naturally be protected from periodontal disease by their diets. Wild dogs would rely on catching and eating prey animals as the main ingredient in their diet, and the act of catching and eating raw food would naturally clean any plaque on their teeth- warding off periodontal disease.

But today’s dogs don’t hunt their meals and the majority don’t even eat a raw diet- they eat dog kibble. And if you REALLY knew what was in that commercial dog kibble, you’d not only be disgusted, you’d probably be very, very angry.

Loving Pet Parent Prepares Wholesome Food for Beloved Dog

Imagine this:

You put on your apron and step over your dog sleeping in a warm ray of sunshine coming in your kitchen window as you gather the ingredients to make him a nice nutritious meal.

You’ve purchased organic vegetables and free-ranging, organic, meats and organs specially for this meal.

But when you read the fine print, you discover the meat is not only non-organic, it’s not even from the right animal.

You thought you purchased bison and salmon, but you’re really getting chicken- and something called chicken meal at that. It doesn’t look like meat and it surely doesn’t taste like meat.

There’s also a sticker that says, “This meat-like product has been stored in an unsanitary warehouse infested with rats and birds, and is likely to contain ‘droppings’.” The labeling goes on to explain that in order to get the meat-like substance to stick together in a “pleasing patty shape” it’s been injected with various chemicals and a few preservatives to extend its shelf life.

The final insult is when you see this bonus instruction, “For best results, feed with packaging included for added flavor and freshness.”

Disgusted, you turn to those organic wholesome vegetables you bought for your pup. But you tear into those packages expecting to reveal ripe organic veggies, but only succeed in flinging a strange powdery substance all over your kitchen. It turns out you actually bought powdered vegetables, not real veggies.

Outraged that you wasted good money on “top-dollar” organic foods for your dog, you can’t believe such a deceptive market exists. But it does. It’s called the commercial pet food industry- and they deceive pet parents everyday with commercial dog kibbles.

The More You Know...

You wouldn’t knowingly put all those disgusting and non-nutritive substances into a big pot and feed it to your dog every day of his life- but you do exactly that when you feed your dog commercial dry kibble.

Not only do those disgusting and non-nutritious ingredients put your dog’s health at risk by depriving him of essential nutrients and infusing his body with known cancer-causing substances, it adversely affects his dental health.

Remember that article from the that explains periodontal disease in dogs? It goes on to describe how periodontitis occurs:

“Periodontal disease begins when bacteria in the mouth form a substance called plaque that sticks to the surface of the teeth. Subsequently, minerals in the saliva harden the plaque into dental calculus (tartar), which is firmly attached to the teeth. Tartar above the gum line is obvious to many owners, but is not of itself the cause of disease.

The real problem develops as plaque and calculus spread under the gum line. Bacteria in this ‘sub-gingival’ plaque set in motion a cycle of damage to the supporting tissues around the tooth, eventually leading to loss of the tooth. Bacteria under the gum line secrete toxins, which contribute to the tissue damage if untreated. These bacteria also stimulate the animal’s immune system. The initial changes cause white blood cells and inflammatory chemical signals to move into the periodontal space (between the gum or bone and the tooth). The function of the white blood cells is to destroy the bacterial invaders, but chemicals released by the overwhelmed white blood cells cause damage to the supporting tissues of the tooth. Instead of helping the problem, the patient’s own protective system actually worsens the disease when there is severe build-up of plaque and tartar.”

Plaque builds up on your dog’s teeth, spreads below the gum line, and breeds bacteria until your dog’s own immune system destroys his gums and teeth in an effort to get rid of the hard, sticky substance.

Have you figured out where all that plaque comes from? You guessed it- .

Have you ever noticed how thirsty your dog is during and after mealtimes? When you feed him kibble, he instinctively knows he needs to wash it down and rinse his mouth to help rid it of gunky processed dog food. Pour a little water on some kibble as an experiment to simulate saliva and watch what happens to it. Imagine trying to swallow that sticky paste. I get a lump in my throat just thinking about it!

If you brushed your dog’s teeth after every kibble meal, his teeth would probably be mostly plaque-free, but I’m betting most people don’t brush their dog’s teeth everyday, or even every week, right? Instead, that sticky kibble-paste clings to your dog’s teeth and leads to excessive amounts of plaque.

Making a Change for the Better

But now that you know what’s really going on with your dog’s mouth, you can make a few changes starting today for a healthier, happier fur-baby.

  1. STOP feeding him commercial kibble
  2. Feed him a raw foods, species appropriate diet, like nature intended
  3. Make regular dental care a part of your dog’s grooming routine

Even if you decide a raw diet isn’t right for you and commit to cooking meals for you dog instead of feeding him kibble, . You can research raw dog food recipes or purchase a . Freeze-dried raw dog food provides convenience and nutrition without the mess and hassle.

When you feed your dog a raw diet, you’ll notice significantly less plaque buildup in your dog’s mouth. Have your veterinarian check your dog’s mouth at his yearly check-up to see if a dental cleaning is necessary. Regular professional cleanings will keep your dog’s mouth free of periodontal disease.

You can also extend the amount of time between required professional cleanings by using . This natural, pleasant tasting spray binds with your dog’s saliva to help remove plaque in between teeth and in those hard-to-reach places. It’s also a great way to freshen up your dog’s breath any time. We use it every day after meals with an extra spray when she picks up something gross (like the cat box treasures) or when she’s going out to socialize with people- because no one likes to be greeted by nasty puppy breath.


Bug Off: Tips on Keeping Critters Away from Your Dog

Spring is here and warmer weather and longer days are on their way.  Unfortunately, so are pesky bugs.  Critters like fleas, ticks and mosquitos are not only irritating for your dog but they can be harmful too.  Fleas are itchy and can cause your dog’s skin to become irritated or damaged.  Ticks can cause Lyme Disease.  Heartworm, spread by mosquitos can cause major heart damage to your pup.  To keep these creepy crawlers away from your dog, the American Kennel Club offers the following tips:

  • Prevention:  There are a variety of preventative products that you can use on your dog to ward off ticks and fleas.  Spot-on treatments are a popular choice and typically only require just one application a month between the dog’s shoulders. Be sure to read the product instructions before using. If you are using spot-on treatments on your dog, be sure to bathe him less frequently.  The product spreads through skin oils.  It will be less effective if skin is dried and damaged by shampoo.

  • Coat check: It’s important to check your dog’s coat regularly for ticks and fleas.  You can run your hands through your dog’s coat or use a flea comb.  A flea comb has tightly spaced teeth and is great for trapping and removing fleas from your dog’s coat.  Examine your dog for ticks and fleas including his ears, belly, armpits and tail.  If you find a tick, you can remove it yourself.  It’s best to use tweezers or tick-removal devices to grab the tick then pull out straight and slow to get both the body and head.

  • Keeping your home bug free: Be sure that your home is dry.  Mosquitoes are attracted to stagnant water that can be found around the house such as in flower pots.  Be sure to routinely wash your dog’s bed.  Vacuuming your carpets often, at least once a week will reduce critters.  If your dog or home does get a flea infestation, you can spray carpets with an insecticide.  Be sure to read the instructions carefully, especially with pets and children in the house.  If the problem persists, hire an exterminator or pest control to come in to your home to get rid of infestations.

  • Outdoor bug control: Minimizing bugs in your yard is very important in helping to keep bugs away from your dog.  Mowing grass and getting rid of weeds in your yard helps minimize fleas and ticks.

Why a Senior Dog Should Be Your New Best Friend


When thinking about dog adoption, many people imagine bringing home a furry, spanking new little pooch to grow up with their kids. Indeed, it’s a cute picture; however, most dog owners fail to realize the loads of work that actually come with raising a new puppy. Because younger dogs need plenty of exercise, training, and constant activity, rearing one is a whopping commitment. Consider, instead, giving a senior dog a second chance at living out his life with a loving, happy home.

Benefits of Opening your Heart to an Older Dog

Like puppies, adult and senior dogs also need a family. If you’re thinking about bringing home a new dog but you don’t have a ton of time to train them, then maybe getting a grown-up canine is the answer. Here are just a few of the reasons why bringing home an older dog could be just the answer!

1. Adult dogs already have good manners. More often than not, senior dogs have already spent years living and finding their feet with humans. Most of them have already been socialized, house trained, and given obedience training; thus, saving you from the hassles of teaching them how to behave properly.

2. They tend to be less destructive. Because most adult canines have already moved past the frustrating search and destroy puppyhood stage, you won’t find your much loved pair of sandals ripped to shreds or have to fix the couch leg your pooch has awfully chewed on.

3. Adult dogs are easier to care for. Since grown-up dogs no longer hold the wonder as to how large they might grow to be, what particular color their adult fur would be, or whether or not their physical condition will be healthy and hearty, caring for them often becomes stress-free. Unlike puppies, the older dogs’ predictability takes away the mystery of their growth and development.

4. Old dogs CAN learn new tricks. Adult dogs are still capable of focusing on any task at hand. In fact, they tend to be more attentive and have more eagerness to please their masters as compared to their younger counterparts.

5. Older dogs are ideal for elderly people. Lots of senior citizens find the calm and gentle presence of an adult canine companion rather comforting. They appreciate the unruffled friendship of a grownup pet that is just as content as them to hear the same old stories over and over again and happily move through life without haste.

6. You can become a hero. Most people who adopt senior dogs feel that priceless sense of pride and purposefulness in welcoming lost and lonely animals into their life. Saving these hard-to-place dogs from misfortune can surely give you unparalleled delight.

Pet Allergies, Anyone?

Top Five Pet Allergy Culprits Is your dog itching and scratching? He could have an allergy. that somewhere between 95 and 98 percent of cases will fall into five categories:

  1. Atopy, an allergic reaction to normal environmental proteins, such as pollen
  2. Food allergy
  3. Parasite hypersensitivity
  4. Yeast infection, such as Malassezia dermatitis
  5. Bacterial infections, such as staphylococcal pyoderma

Landscape Barkitecture: How to Create a Pet-Safe Yard

From endless games of fetch to long afternoons spent lazing in the sun, your lawn has endured lots of activity this summer. While you’re prepping your outdoor space for the cooler season ahead, use these tips to make sure it’s also pet-safe.

8 Tips for a Pet-Safe Fall Landscape:

  1. Munching on Mulch. Many gardeners mulch in the fall to protect plants’ roots from the cold. Since dogs often eat mulch, choose one that’s non-toxic and pet-safe. Avoid cocoa mulch, and any mulch that has essential oils, resins or chemical insecticides. Apply it like .
  2. Mend the Fence. Whether you choose electric or wooden, a fence prevents dogs from running away and keeps them safe. Before it gets too cold, check for holes, gaps, breaks or broken latches. Fence off pools, ponds and fire pits to prevent injuries.  
  3. Things Falling from the Sky. Even though we may try our best to make sure our lawns are 100 percent pet safe, objects seem to fall out of the sky! Clear the yard of broken branches, pine cones and fungi, like mushrooms, that can be harmful to our furry friends.
  4. Fido First. Use to promote growth, help lawn recover from drought and increase winter hardiness. Harsher, chemical lawn products can be eaten, ingested or passed on to your dog. Keep your dog alive longer by making sure .
  5. Let Them Play! Pets love to play, especially in piles of leaves. Ensure safe play by removing all sticks, debris and making sure the rake is put away. Also make sure to check your dog’s coat after play as leaf piles can be nesting environments for fleas and ticks.
  6. Dig It. If your dog is frequently digging up your favorite flowers, create a dog-friendly dig spot. Pick a spot and put a border around it using rocks or bricks. Then, fill with loose dirt or sand. Bury a few toys and bones here to introduce the area. Reward your pup with treats when they dig here.
  7. Plant Fall Color. Fountain grass, Giant aster, Globe thistle and yarrow are show stopping fall favorites for gardeners. But more importantly, they are also known to be safe for most pets. However, if a pet eats too much of anything they may experience a stomach ache. Be sure to always keep an eye on them when they’re outside.
  8. Safe Paws, Safe Pets. The chemicals used in many garden fertilizers and products aren’t safe for pets or people for that matter. , happy and healthy by opting for a . Follow all label instructions and water thoroughly after applying fertilizers. Store these out of pets reach.

Do you hear that? It’s the distant, but unmistakable sound of your dog’s tail wagging! Congrats, your dog officially has the safest yard in the neighborhood.


Jaime Brunner, part of the fourth generation to join The Espoma Company, is an animal lover, dog owner and equestrian. To help keep pets safe in lawns and gardens, Espoma launched the Safe Paws initiative in the Spring of 2015. A family-owned business, Espoma has been the pioneer in organic gardening since 1929, developing products that work in harmony with nature, preserve natural resources and make a greener world for future generations. Espoma offers a complete selection of natural plant foods, lawn foods, control products, and potting mixes available nationwide. For additional information, visit .

Puppy Growing Pains: Tips On Helping Your Puppy Through Teething

When you’re playing with your puppy and she starts chewing on your hand, chances are she is teething.  Puppies that are teething have a developmental issue, not a behavioral issue.  It’s the same as when human babies teethe.  Tiny needlelike teeth begin to appear when puppies are two to four weeks old.  Then, when they’re about three months old, puppies start getting their permanent teeth. This process continues until the puppy is about eight months old. AKC's Canine Good Citizen® Director Mary Burch, Ph.D. offers the following tips on getting your puppy through the teething stage.

  • Control the environment. Make sure that you aren’t the only readily available chewable object and puppy-proof your home. Provide a rich assortment of acceptable toys for your puppy to chew on.

  • Have an acceptable alternative close by. Keep the toys in places where you can easily reach them so you can quickly offer an acceptable alternative when the puppy feels a need to chew. If your puppy chews you or an inappropriate object (your shoes), give him one of the acceptable toys to chew on.

  • Teach your puppy that nipping and biting hard are not okay. If your puppy nips and bites too hard, teach the puppy that this is not okay by ending the interaction. You can pull your hand away, say, “OW!” and leave the puppy for a few minutes. Then try again so your puppy has a chance to act appropriately.

Your Sugar-Free Treats Are Deadly to Your Dog

If you eat sugar-free chewing gum, candy, or cookies/brownies/cakes marketed as sugarless, chances are you’ve got xylitol in your purse or kitchen pantry.

Xylitol is a sugar-like substance that is widely categorized as a carbohydrate on food labels. This white crystal material, which appears and tastes like sugar, has been approved as a safe food additive for human consumption. In fact, xylitol is said to be the best sweetener for human teeth since it is not only natural, safe, and convenient, but effective in preventing tooth decay. Nevertheless, while this tasty nourishing substance is acceptable for humans, it is lethal for dogs.

What Makes Xylitol Deadly for Dogs?

When dogs ingest xylitol, it becomes a sugar alcohol that results in a remarkable spike in their blood sugar levels. The ensuing insulin rush in dogs leads to a very dangerous drop of their glucose levels, triggering symptoms such as lethargy, weakness, loss of coordination, collapse, and even seizures. Because these alarming symptoms can occur within just 30 minutes of ingestion, it is important that you immediately bring your pet to the vet for emergency treatment. If the dog survives for long, the xylitol substance can also result in liver damage within only 24 hours.

Xylitol is proven to be deadly to a 65-pound dog with just a mere amount of three grams of the substance. Depending on the brand, this particular amount can be found in eight to ten sticks of chewing gum. Of course, with this basic estimate in mind, only a smaller amount of xylitol, maybe a couple of  gum sticks, can easily claim the life of a small to average-sized toy breed.

How to Keep your Pooch from Getting Poisoned

1. Because of the benefits that xylitol offers to people, a rising number of “sugar free” human foodstuffs are being manufactured with it. For this reason, you have to be diligent when it comes to reading food labels.
2. Play it safe and never share even just a bit of your sugar-free grub with Fido. Also, always see to it that you keep your sugar-free candies, gums, mints, chewable vitamins, and throat lozenges in dog-proof containers.
3. Remember that dogs naturally possess a sweet-tooth. They can easily sniff out, find, and get into sweet foods, so stay alert as your pooch can be a brilliant “pickpocket”.
4. Keep food items stored out of and beyond your dog’s reach. You’ll also need to stay cautious when you visit other people’s homes or have guests at home. An unsuspecting guest may set her purse on the floor, not realizing your dog can sniff out her sugarless gum and help himself to it!

Summertime Safety: Tips to Keep Your Canine Cool this Summer

As the weather warms up and the days get longer, most dog owners take the opportunity to spend more time outdoors with their four-legged friends.  The summer, however, poses certain dangers to Fido.  To help owners have a happy and safe season with their dogs, the American Kennel Club offers the following tips to avoid summertime hazards.

  • No hot cars!  Never leave your dog alone inside of a hot car.  When it’s 80 degrees outside, the inside of a car can reach 125 degrees very quickly, even with the windows left open.

  • Paw pads are not shoes.  Some people think that the pads on a dog’s paws are like shoes, but they’re not.  Sidewalks and streets become extremely hot in the summer, and while dog’s paws are tougher than human feet, they still can get burned by hot pavement.  Keep your dog on the grass in extreme heat to keep his paws intact.  Also remember that sand can burn too, so try taking your long beach walks with your dog early in the morning or evening when it’s cooler.

  • Keep cool and hydrated.  If the hot weather is making you uncomfortable, chances are your dog is too.  Dogs can end up becoming overheated and suffering from heat stroke when the temperatures rise.  Don’t leave your dog outside in the heat unsupervised.  Make sure there is always fresh water indoors and outside. If your dog does appear to be overheated, apply cool, wet cloths to his pads, head and belly.  Make sure that your dog has access to shade

  • Prevent sunburn.  Believe it or not, dogs can get sunburned too.  Hairless and light-skinned dogs have a greater chance of getting burnt.  Make sure to put dog-safe sunscreen on your pup if he’s going to be outside in the sun.