1398184347 <![CDATA[Blog]]> en dlorrigan@zukes.com Copyright 2014 2014-04-22T14:00:26+00:00 <![CDATA[McAfee Knob, Virginia: Do-able Appalachian Trail with a Four-Legged Pal]]> http://www.zukes.com/site/mcafee-knob-virginia-hiking-with-dog http://www.zukes.com/site/mcafee-knob-virginia-hiking-with-dog#When:14:00:26Z Bill Bryson’s case) souls actually go through with it. Seven months off of work; just us, our dogs and the Appalachian Trail stretching 2,200 miles from Springer Mountain in northern Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine unfurling before us. Long days of hiking, delicious camp meals (anything is delicious after double digit mileage), the sounds and smells of nature, maybe even some friendships cultivated from shared time on the trail. (Sound of record needle scratching off vinyl). Then reality sets in -- bosses, deadlines, mortgages, family responsibilities. Who do we think we’re kidding?

Don’t despair. In just a weekend, you can get a bite-sized taste of the A.T. just outside of Roanoke, Virginia, and visit McAfee Knob, one of the most photogenic spots of the entire trail. This strategy, in addition to keeping you gainfully employed back home, has the added bonus of leaving plenty of time to explore even more of the fun that the Roanoke Valley and Blue Ridge Mountains have to offer.

Dive Right In
You came for the Appalachian Trail, and a classic hike is what you’re gonna find. McAfee Knob is a popular stop just off the Appalachian Trail, as it boasts not only an amazing photo opportunity, but stunning 270 degree views of the Catawba Valley, North Mountain, Tinker Cliffs and Roanoke Valley. All this, and your dog is welcome to sniff along right beside you!

The hike to McAfee Knob along the Appalachian Trail starts just west of Roanoke, Virginia, off of VA 311. A moderately strenuous hike, you gain about 1,200 feet in elevation over 3.5 miles, one-way. There is a lot of advice out there about when and how to hike to the Knob, but the following five tips will get you started on the right track:

  1. Pick a clear and sunny day. When the fog rolls in, you can’t see anything. Seriously. Hand in front of your face, maybe; past the edge of the cliff to the views, no way.

  2. Make friends. The Appalachian Trail draws people from all over the world and all walks of life, making this a great place to enjoy the company of fellow humans, as well as your dog. Whether day excursionists or A.T. thru-hikers, there are some seriously interesting people out there for you and your four-legged friends to meet.

  3. Practice responsible dog hiking. Especially during peak crowds, be aware of your dog’s impact on wildlife and on other hikers. We recommend keeping your pups on a leash, thus not allowing them to chase wildlife nor plooch in springs or other sources of drinking water. Remember, thru-hikers rely on this water for survival! And – do we really have to say this? – please clean up after your pet if they answer the call of nature along the way.

  4. Say woof! There is no better place to capture a picture of you and your best furry friend, so be sure to bring a camera (or smart phone). To get one of these quintessential McAfee Knob shots, you’ll need to bring a friend with opposable thumbs or a tripod. Any way you do it, you’ll be glad to have photographic evidence of your day at McAfee Knob. And, bonus -- you can also check off your Holiday Card photo from your to do list!

  5. Word to the Wise. When the leaves start to turn, throngs of people hit the trail to witness autumn in all of its glory. Still a worthwhile adventure, and even more spectacular for the foliage show, just be aware a crowded hike is in store.

Sniff Around Roanoke
There is so much for you and your dog to explore around Roanoke, a remarkably beautiful, clean and active city. People love their pets here, and it shows. Both Roanoake and the neighboring city of Salem built special spots just for the dogs them to strut their stuff. In Roanoake, the Highland Dog Park offers a full acre to its four-legged denizens for a safe, fenced, off-leash romp fest. The park has fenced areas for small and large dogs, trees for shade in the hot summer months, and hydration stations located throughout the park. Be careful to watch as your dog plays near the two retired fire hydrants, as they are very real and will really smart if your dog careens into one of them!

Not to be outdone, Salem built its own eponymous dog park. Less crowded than its counterpart, it also has a small and large dog section. Unlike Highland, it is covered in wood chips, which eliminates muddy paws. It also has large concrete pipes for dogs to crawl into and chill out; especially attractive in the summer!

Looking for a little more mutual exercise? Head for the Hanging Rock Battlefield Trail a retired railroad corridor, this trail is now the go to spot for dog walks in Salem. The trail follows Mason Creek, allowing our aquatically-oriented pals to splash around.

Eat, Stay, SleepSleepy time
After your hike to McAfee Knob, you’re likely to be famished and ready for a nap. Depending on what kind of food you’re hankering for, any of these restaurants have dog-friendly patios where you can refuel and your pooch can hang out and watch the world go by. The Village Grill, a neighborhood bar and grill in Gradin Village serves burgers, wraps and sandwiches. Or, in the Market Square area, Fork in the Market, a bar and restaurant features pizza, burgers, and hotdogs; and Awful Arthur's, features seafood and a raw bar.

Exercise and a full belly = nap time. Take your dog’s lead on this, a nap after fresh air and a meal makes you both feel amazing. Head to the Sheraton Roanoke Hotel and Conference Center, where two dogs up to 80 pounds stay for free (Hoorah for no pet fees!) in already reasonably priced rooms. This hotel groups dog lovers in an area that opens to a lovely garden area (aka pee spot); and thoughtfully provides doggie bags and trash receptacles, making necessary doodie duty easy. There are also several other grassy areas on the hotel property to stretch paws and take a nose-first exploration.

If you are into something a bit more off the beaten path and unique, check out the Oakdale Guest Cottage just under an hour from Roanoke located off the Blue Ridge Parkway near Floyd. This guest cottage was originally a cook house in the 1880s, and has been thoughtfully refurbished and appointed for you and your dog’s every comfort and need. This includes access to a secluded wooded swimming pond (retrievers rejoice!), 80 acres of land with several hiking trails, and even two bicycles for you to enjoy.

Shakin' it off!Rub a Dub Dog
With all the activity, swimming, and exploring, your loveable pooch might start smelling decidedly more doggy than one might like for a road trip home. Check out Biscuits and Bubbles in Salem for either a do it yourself, or please do it for me (aka grooming services), bath and brush. You can also pick up other forgotten or spent dog supplies (shameless plug) like treats!

Share your favorite Roanoke area doggie adventure or in-town hot spot below!]]>
2014-04-22T14:00:26+00:00
<![CDATA[Veggies Key to Canine Health]]> http://www.zukes.com/site/dogs-and-vegetables http://www.zukes.com/site/dogs-and-vegetables#When:16:20:03Z flavonoids, and carotenoids. Many studies have shown that a diet rich in vegetables reduces the risk of chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

Which veggies are good for my dog?
Vegetables should constitute about one-third of your adult pooch’s diet, or about one-quarter for your puppy (1). Which vegetables, you ask? The answer is many that you are already eating! Root vegetables such as beets, carrots and sweet potatoes are particularly rich in vitamins and minerals. Carrots and beets can be fed to dogs raw and finely shredded. In fact, the herbalist and holistic animal health specialist Juliette de Bairacli Levy used to feed to her prized hounds small amounts of shredded raw carrots to rid them of worms and other parasites (2). Carrots can also be fed in larger pieces for your dog to chew on. This is good for the teeth and gums, but be sure that your dog doesn’t swallow large carrot chunks. Beets and carrots are also good cooked, as well, and you should bake or boil sweet potatoes.

Don’t forget about regular potatoes, which are more nutritious than many folks may think. Potatoes are becoming more and more common in commercial dog foods. Like sweet potatoes, these should be baked or boiled before feeding them to your dog. Some dogs have reportedly experienced stomach upset from potatoes, so make sure your potatoes are fresh and not turning green. And, keep those nutritious potato skins on!

Okay, so you don’t like getting your hands dirty by digging up or handling root vegetables. No problem! For raw food options, just finely chop and feed to your dog any of the following: greens, alfalfa sprouts, summer squash, zucchini, and bell peppers. If you're feeling ambitious, or have cooked some for yourself, you can feed these cooked vegetables to your furry companion: spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, peas, green beans, and winter squash (including pumpkins!). D loves her greens!

Grow Your Own
Spring has sprung and it’s time to get the garden going! Growing your own vegetables avoids exposing you and your pet to the pesticides, waxes and other chemicals associated with non-organically grown, store-bought produce. If not garden-inclined, you can always hit up your local farmer’s market or natural grocer to get good quality, organically-grown produce. When, specifically, to start your vegetables depends on your particular climate. Usually, when a plant shows up at your local nursery, it’s time to put that plant in the ground. If you haven’t done much gardening, I recommend a good guide book. I’ve lived out west for quite a while now, so my go-to book is the Sunset Western Garden Book. Live in other parts of the country? No worries, Sunset does one for you, too.

The following are some of my dogs' (Milo and D.) favorites, and have the added benefit of being easy to grow. All like full sun with regular watering, and do well in most growing zones of North America.

  • Broccoli. Broccoli is a cool season plant. It will flower, but not fruit, in hot weather. You can sow seeds indoors; the seedlings being ready to plant in the garden 4 - 6 weeks later. They need plenty of room to grow, so space broccoli plants around 2 feet apart within a row, with rows 3 feet apart (3).

  • Carrots.Carrots are so much fun to dig up! There are many varieties, so which you choose to plant will depend on your soil. If your soil is heavy and rocky, you might want to stick with the short carrot varietals. If your soil is light and not rocky, you could grow the longer varietals. You can sow the seeds directly in your garden in rows a foot apart (minimum). Thin the seedlings to 1.5 inches apart when they reach about 2 inches in height (3). You can re-sow through the season so that you and your dog have carrots all season long.

  • Spinach. Popeye likes spinach and so does Milo. But Milo only likes it cooked and, indeed, this is the better way to feed spinach to your pets. Spinach is a cool season plant. It quickly goes to seed in late spring and summer, but will produce mature leaves in earlier spring, fall and -- depending on where you live -- maybe even winter. You can plant seeds weekly during early spring and fall to keep a steady supply of edible leaves. Seedlings should be thinned to about 3 inches apart (3).

  • Summer squash and zucchini. Like broccoli, spinach and carrots, summer squash and zucchini do best with regular water. But, be careful not to wet the leaves and stems too much, or disease can result. You need room in growing squash. Vines need 5 foot spacing when in rows (3).

Here's hoping you and your canine companion enjoy hours of happiness together both in cultivating your garden (dogs make excellent garden helpers!), and in eating your veggies!

References
  1. Wulff-Tilford, ML & GL Tilford (1999) All you ever wanted to know about herbs for pets. Bowtie Press, Irvine, CA.
  2. de Bairacli Levy, J (1992) The complete herbal handbook for the dog and cat. Faber and Faber Limited, Bloomsbury House, London.
  3. Sunset Editors. Sunset Western Garden Book. Sunset Publishing Co. Menlo Park, CA.

Anna-Marija Helt, PhD, is a research scientist-turned herbalist who practices and teaches at Osadha Herbal Wellness in Durango, Colorado. She is also Zeke and Milo’s human.
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2014-04-18T16:20:03+00:00
<![CDATA[Feeding Both Mind and Body: Challenging Mealtime Games for Dogs]]> http://www.zukes.com/site/food-games-for-dogs http://www.zukes.com/site/food-games-for-dogs#When:21:06:36Z ways to keep dogs active in the wintertime, including turning treat time into a mental and physical adventure. Seemingly simple things like hiding treats throughout the house for the dogs to find, or throwing a piece of kibble onto the floor and having them scamper after it, turned our placid office pups into wide-eyed, treat-seeking missiles. But what surprised us most was what followed -- exhaustion and deep, paw-twitching sleep. The dogs were tired, too!

It’s no wonder. In the wild dogs spend hours a day in pursuit of food, both hunting and scavenging. These activities involve much more mental and physical energy than that required for scarfing up kibble from a bowl at a prescribed hour. If you are just starting out, set your dog up for success and try these easier challenges first, building up the level of difficulty to the below games over time. If your dog is up to the task, here are more exciting ideas from Mikkel to stimulate our fuzzy friends’ minds while filling their bellies.

Sniff and Snarf
  • Instead of just tossing your dog’s kibble in the yard for her to find, use a tennis ball thrower or slingshot – get some distance between your dog and their dinner. (Be sure to have a lounge chair at the ready to relax in as you watch what ensues!)
  • For more advanced dogs, keep them inside while you hide their kibble in the yard.
  • For super-sniffers (you know who they are), put kibble in or under overturned buckets or cardboard boxes, or hide in tall grass for a harder search.

Tennis Balls: Beyond Fetch
Make a hole in a tennis balls big enough to get the kibble out, and hide the ball in the yard.

A Puzzle, Wrapped in an Riddle, Buried in an Enigma
If your pup has mastered her food puzzle, up the ante. Place kibble in the food puzzle, and hide it inside a t-shirt or dish towel. Place the wrapped puzzle in a cardboard box or bag, and then fill it with pieces of newspaper that have kibble treasures hidden inside. This multi-tiered puzzle will be a hide and seek bonanza for your pup!

If you have other food game suggestions, add them below or tell us on Facebook or Twitter!

A skilled dog-trainer, Mikkel Becker, CPDT, KA, CTC, is an honors graduate of the rigorous and prestigious Academy for Dog Trainers at the San Francisco SPCA. Mikkel is also a graduate of the Purdue University DOGS! course and the Karen Pryor Academy. She currently works as a training expert forVetstreet.com, a canine evaluator at The National Disaster Search Dog Foundation, a resident pet expert for Scholastic Magazine, and a contributing author to Parade Magazine, House and Home, and Cat Fancy Magazine. Mikkel also provides private behavior consultations and group classes for dog owners.]]>
2014-04-10T21:06:36+00:00
<![CDATA[How Nutrition Affects Genes: Links Between Nutrition and Optimal Health]]> http://www.zukes.com/site/nutrition-dogs-optimal-health http://www.zukes.com/site/nutrition-dogs-optimal-health#When:16:40:56Z
I can’t give you magic translation device to help determine what is legitimate and what is not, but I can direct you towards something worth looking for when reading the news. It’s called nutrigenomics, and is something very exciting on the horizon of nutrition.

Nutrigenomics
Nutrigenomics is the study of how what we eat affects our genes and how our individual genetic differences affect the way our bodies (and our pets’ bodies) respond to the foods we eat. Put simply, this field of study can unlock the keys to preventing and/or treating chronic diseases and certain cancers…all through changing what we eat!

How it Works
Certain nutrients can act on your genetic makeup to alter how your DNA works in your bodies. This varies from person to person, or dog to dog. A good example is charred meat. You may have heard that grilling meats can produce a substance that can be cancer-causing when consumed in moderate amounts. These compounds in the blackened part of your steak are called heterocyclic amines. Yes, they can cause cancer…more in some people than others, depending on their genetic makeup. So if we know that an individual is particularly susceptible to the cancer-causing properties of these chemicals, they can avoid charred meat entirely and greatly reduce their risk of disease down the road.

How do we know who is at risk?
This is the part scientists are still perfecting. In 2003, partnering scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the National Institute of Health completed the Human Genome Project, a mapping of the entire human genetic map, including over 1800 disease genes. This project gives researchers a sort of manual for the human body, making it possible to see how specific factors (nutrition, environment, etc.) directly affect health. The Canine Genome Project is underway, starting with a Boxer dog, and other breeds are currently being mapped as well. So, in the not-too-distant future, our family physician or veterinarian may be able to run some gene-specific tests and then prescribe a tailor made diet, potentially extending both the length of their life and the quality of it, as well.

In the Works
The entire field of Nutrigenomics is still in its infancy, but some practical applications are already hitting shelves. One of the major pet food companies has already released a weight loss food using nutrigenomic principles to help dogs prone to obesity lose weight more easily. It is only a matter of time before other manufacturers jump on board, as well. There are already breed-specific diets designed to maximize the health of dogs based on their specific needs. Soon we’ll likely see DNA-specific diets and treats, too!

Finding Out More
If this concept intrigues you, I encourage you to seek out available resources to learn more. The University of California at Davis has an excellent website, and a great printed resource is Kaput and Rodriguez’s book entitled, Nutritional Genomics: Discovering the Path to Personalized Nutrition.

Nutrigenomics really brings a 21st century twist to Hippocrates’ famous quote “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” It will be very interesting to see what new cutting edge nutritional discoveries will soon be made!

Jennifer Deming, DVM, is a practicing veterinarian and member of the American Academy of Veterinary Nutrition. She strives to improve her patients' wellness through nutrition counseling and preventative medicine. Dr. Deming lives, works, and plays in the beautiful community of Durango, Colorado.]]>
2014-04-03T16:40:56+00:00
<![CDATA[Keys to a Harmonious House: Positive Puppy Introductions]]> http://www.zukes.com/site/steps-to-introducing-a-puppy-to-dog http://www.zukes.com/site/steps-to-introducing-a-puppy-to-dog#When:15:07:47Z
Sometimes pet parents plan it right, or get downright lucky, and the puppy is the right harmonizing blend with dogs in the home, with instant bonds created like the dogs were long lost litter mates. Other times though, a new puppy turns what once was a home into a battle zone, with the puppy treated an invader rather than a friend.

As an animal trainer, I've been called in on numerous strained relationships between adult dogs and puppies. These forays have included: a French Bulldog who bullied a Bernese Mountain Dog puppy four times her size, a Heeler puppy who pestered the elder Heeler into ongoing fights, and a pug that retreated at full speed -- as if her life was in peril -- anytime the Golden Retriever puppy entered the room. To avoid these scenarios, let’s instead set ourselves, and our dogs, up for success from the beginning.

Finding The Best Fit
Under the right conditions and with the interweaving of compatible dogs, close bonds can be formed. For the best chance of long-term success, it's important to pre-screen canine candidates carefully before adoption. Then if a new puppy is green-lighted, we must manage the dogs’ integration to increase positive feelings from the onset.

Better off alone?
Before adopting a puppy, first consider if your established dog is an ideal candidate for a canine companion. As a dog ages, or if they become a single canine from the loss of another dog, a common solution to buffer loss is adopting a puppy. However, sometimes the already established dog doesn't welcome the company, preferring to be a single dog, or may fare best with mature, predictable dogs.

Adult vs. Puppy
In some cases, adopting an adult dog rather than a puppy is a better fit. Adult dogs are generally more laid back and their personalities already established, making it easier to pair them with an established dog of complimentary temperament.

Compatible Temperaments
It's important that the current dog has a history of positive encounters and friendly behavior with other dogs, as well as the proper social skills and energy to enjoy another dog. Many adoption agencies or breeders will pre-screen the compatibility of your preexisting pooch with the potential newcomer with a meet and greet to see how they respond to one another.

The energy, temperament and play style of both dogs should be similar. Putting a high intensity puppy with a shy or curmudgeonly senior is asking for conflict. Instead, if you have a grumpy older dog increase the chances of dogs meshing by finding a puppy that can readily settle. On the other hand, if the established dog is higher energy and needs a play buddy, look for a confident puppy with a playful personality who will readily take on the role of play partner. Pairing like with like will give you the best odds for a successful friendship.

Size Matters
In selecting the right puppy for your dog's companionship, seek out an individual with traits that mesh well with your current dog or dogs. Some consideration should be given to the size the puppy is estimated to reach as an adult. While some dogs do well with canines of all sizes, pint-sized pooches may be more likely to react defensively around larger dogs. Bigger dogs can also inadvertently hurt smaller dogs or put the smaller dog at risk by not recognizing the tiny pooch as a member of the same species. Though mixed sized dogs do well in many homes, the safest option is to match up dogs with somewhat similar size.

Beyond the Introduction
If you've decided puppy adoption is the ideal scenario for your home, and you've decided upon the right dog, then it's time for the introduction of the canines. Rather than just lugging the puppy through the front door, which may be a rather unwelcome surprise for dogs in the home, allow for a period of adjustment with a supervised, gradual introduction. For tips on how to do this, visit my previous blog post.

Remove Hot Items
After a proper introduction and puppy proofing the home, it's important to remove hot items that may trigger anxiety between dogs. The more conflict can be avoided, the better. Hot items include anything a dog may guard, such as chews, highly-guarded toys, food bowls or other of the established dog’s favorite items. Guarded resources can potentially trigger conflicts between dogs, especially if an overly curious puppy who is just learning the rules wanders onto such treasures. Only low value items should be given when dogs are near one another, while hot items should be given in separate areas.

It's important the puppy learns to heed cues to back off when asked, but this comes with time and comfort between the dogs. Hot items that potentially can be guarded should be gradually introduced as dogs demonstrate ability to communicate effectively with body language and without any physical fighting.

Enough to Go Around
Provide ample individual resting areas, toys and other lower value (but still desirable items) to each dog, thereby protecting against the need to compete for these items. Eventually, most of the time, dogs benevolently work out possession of cherished items, especially if major triggers are avoided in the beginning. However, in some cases, guarding can get severe, and guidance is needed. If you find yourself in this situation, start by contacting your veterinarian to find a positive reinforcement trainer for help.

Socialization
Puppies are almost like having a new baby in the home. They require a major time commitment to meet their full interaction, training, socialization and play needs. A puppy that is not exercised, socialized or interacted with enough will become overly rambunctious, and by default, rather obnoxious to your adult dog.

A puppy needs structured play sessions with other puppies; best delivered in a controlled puppy class or puppy playgroup. These classes promote socialization and foster confidence. Additionally, other puppies will teach your current pup when play is too rough and how hard to use teeth in play, which will prove helpful in bettering communication between dogs in your home. Remember that the effects of puppyhood learning last throughout the dog's entire life, so make sure to choose and provide good experiences early on.

Your Attention: A Sacred Resource
Just as with the potential hot items for guarding, your attention is another sacred resource to dogs to be doled out fairly. Be aware that all the attention given to the new puppy may potentially upset of your current dog. Lack of attention may trigger acting-out behavior by the established dog, and can spark conflict between dogs.

To help your adult dog adjust, spend special alone time together, such as private walks or cuddle sessions. Likewise, the puppy needs individual time with family to better bond with people in the home, rather than bonding primarily with the other dog.

Following the above advice is a great place to start to lay the foundation for a harmonious, balanced relationship between dogs. But, don’t be shy about bringing in professional help. Remember, what your dogs learn about each other early on will shape their lives together. If you have any concerns or issues, contact your veterinarian or a trusted trainer for guidance and instruction.]]>
2014-03-31T15:07:47+00:00
<![CDATA[Spring into Fitness: Interval Training Tips for Dogs from Mikkel Becker]]> http://www.zukes.com/site/interval-training-dogs http://www.zukes.com/site/interval-training-dogs#When:17:59:47Z
Mikkel Becker, trainer for VetStreet and behaviorist extraordinaire, discussed introducing interval training for your dog in her talk entitled, “Sharing a Long, Healthy Life with Your Dog” at the Zuke’s booth at Global Pet Expo in Orlando this month. There, she shared that dogs naturally move or exercise in intervals rather than a steady, sustained pace (think marathoner).

Adding intervals into your dog’s exercise routine is as easy as increasing and decreasing speed, incline, and difficulty of terrain. Best of all, you don’t need to be a long distance runner or an uber-athlete yourself to get your dog the type of exercise they need. Here are some great tips from Mikkel on how to get your pup fit and healthy, without hiring a doggie personal trainer!

  1. Weight. By adding a weighted vest or putting weight in a doggy backpack, you will increase the intensity of your pup’s efforts in their usual activity (i.e. walking, hiking, etc.). Be sure to talk to your vet before doing this to determine not only if your dog is healthy enough for the extra work, but how much weight to use for your dog’s size and energy-level.

  2. Sand. If you are near a beach, head that way! Actually, any terrain that makes it more difficult to move: sand, dirt, uneven terrain, or uphill will add challenge to your dog’s workout and help burn the calories.

  3. Chase. Tie a rope around your pup’s favorite stuffed animal and have him chase it. Swing it around, run, toss it out and pull it back mid-air…create your own variation that incorporates the incentive of chasing a beloved toy, and add to the fun!

  4. Fishing. Have a retractable leash with a light stuffed animal tied to the end of it. Cast the stuffed animal out and then retract it back, creating a lure for your dog. If you really want to up the ante, lace the stuffed animal with an animal smell, like deer or raccoon, from a hunting supply store. That’ll get ‘em going and provide a ton of motivation to catch that toy!

  5. Agility. Create a home agility course for your pup to maneuver. This will not only challenge the body, but the mind, as well. Some ideas: create a tunnel by putting a broom stick over two chair seats then draping a blanket over chairs to make a tunnel, or make weave “poles” with buckets or obstacle cones (you can find these at pet stores). What about holding a hula hoop upright for your dog to walk through, gradually lifting the hoop until your dog is leaping through the air? Be creative and have fun, and your dog will, too!

  6. Sprints. Put your dog in a stay and have an object or person a good distance away. Race your dog to get to the object. You are both sure to get in shape with this one!

  7. Biking. This is one of the best ways to get your dog extra exercise, even if you can’t physically keep up with your dog. Make sure to start with short jaunts with your dog and gradually build up the time/mileage. Pavement can be rough on a dog’s joints, and there may be traffic to contend with, so be sure to keep yourself and your dog safe!


A skilled dog-trainer, Mikkel Becker, CPDT, KA, CTC, is an honors graduate of the rigorous and prestigious Academy for Dog Trainers at the San Francisco SPCA. Mikkel is also a graduate of the Purdue University DOGS! course and the Karen Pryor Academy. She currently works as a training expert for Vetstreet.com, a canine evaluator at The National Disaster Search Dog Foundation, a resident pet expert for Scholastic Magazine, and a contributing author to Parade Magazine, House and Home, and Cat Fancy Magazine. Mikkel also provides private behavior consultations and group classes for dog owners.
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2014-03-25T17:59:47+00:00
<![CDATA[Roadtrip to the Rockies: the Grand Tetons]]> http://www.zukes.com/site/travel-with-dog-grand-tetons http://www.zukes.com/site/travel-with-dog-grand-tetons#When:17:46:43Z
There are few more breathtaking sights in America than the skyline of the Grand Teton Mountain Range in northwestern Wyoming. The sharp peaks and sheer escarpment of this range are awe-inspiring, and – fun, random fact – although the granite and gneiss composing the core of the Teton Range are some the oldest rocks in North America, the mountains are among the youngest in the world.

Jackson is the gateway to fun in this neck of the woods, and it exudes a dog-friendly vibe from the get-go. Dogs catching passing sniffs out car windows. Dogs enjoying the sunshine while walking downtown. Dogs in states of happy dog-dom everywhere. Why are they so happy? Let us tell you; or better yet, follow this itinerary and tell us yourself!

Oh, the Possibilities!
Doggie adventure is around every corner in Jackson, so start by picking out a few fun outings, and leave the rest of the time for joyous spontaneity (isn’t that part of why we love our dogs?) Sure, you can set out into the back country and get off the grid for a few days, but if you’re traveling with your family, or that type of trip sounds too daunting, let us suggest a few family-friendly options.

One unique opportunity – especially if you have kids of both the furry and non-furry varieties – is Amaze’n Jackson Hole. This gigantic outdoor giant maze allows leashed dog, and is a fun puzzle to figure out with your pooch.

Your dog still likes to see the sights and sniff the sniffs, but maybe is a bit on the older/less energy side of life? Maybe you’d like to get your bearings before taking your interspecies pack out to explore on your own? Consider Wild West Jeep Tours. Yes, I said Jeep Tours! These naturalist-guided, three-hour tours (… a three hour tour…) are a great way to learn about the local flora and fauna and enjoy spectacular Grand Teton views. And best of all, your pooch can make the trip if you have a group of four or more people.

Now that you have your Teton-legs (and learned a little about getting lost and found in the maze), it’s time for a hike with your dog … hey, it’s Zuke’s, you knew we were going to go there eventually! The Bridger-Teton National Forest encompasses over 3.4 million acres of land, with over 1,000 miles of trails to explore in the Jackson area. Try Cache Creek, a very dog-friendly canyon near Snow King Resort (see below). Not only is this a great, close-to-town hike, but a splash-able creek runs along the trail the entire way. This is a popular shared trail, so be sure to be on the lookout for speed demons on two wheels. Better yet, bring or rent a bike, and get into the fun!

Time to Skinny Dip … For Your Dog
All that hiking and biking means it’s time to grab lunch and head to a place to refuel , relax, and let your dog cool off as the sun climbs high on a beautiful summer day. Head to the dikes on the east or west side of Wilson Bridge (the Highway 22 bridge over the Snake River) for the perfect spot. Take a hike on the east side dike, then head over to the west side (aka The Beach) where you’ll find a dog-friendly local swimmin’ hole where your dog can splash around with his new best dog friends as you picnic.

Another great swim/picnic spot is Lower Slide Lake, just northeast of Jackson. Formed by a massive landslide in 1925 which blocked the Gros Ventre River, this five-mile long lake offers a giant canvas on which your dog can practice her doggie paddle. These lakes are a welcome respite from the surprisingly hot summers, and a wonderful place to canoe or kayak with your dog, if she is a sea-savvy canine. There is a beach area here but it is not well marked. While driving in, if you reach the dock, you've driven too far. After an afternoon spend swimming and sunning, you’ll be stunned by the drive out…a magnificent view of the Teton Range.

Fuel Gauge Reads Low
Not into the picnic thing? How about catching some rays and grabbing some grub at one of the several Jackson dining establishments where you can bring your pooch? Betty Rock (with sandwiches, pizzas and baked yummies – also gluten-free options!) and Bon Appe Thai (curries, noodles and soups) are great places to enjoy lunch or dinner with your pooch on the porch. We also like Café Genevieve which offers a dog-welcoming outdoor patio with cocktail and local beer options. Oh, and food, too! If you fall into the omnivore category, try the Pig Candy. Thick slices of bacon dredged in brown sugar, cayenne, salt, and spices and baked until crisp. This crunchy candied bacon may sound odd, but it is outrageous sweet, salty, crunchy deliciousness. Our dog by our side in the open air, local beer, Pig Candy…the perfect après-adventure combination.

Lay Me Down to Sleep
There are many places to stay in Jackson that welcome you and your dog, but a few stand out. Snow King Resort is within 6 blocks of Town Square, a fido-walkable distance to a lot the town has to offer. It is also adjacent to the Bridger-Teton National Forest, where your pal can go full-throttle on one of the many trails (ahem … keeping them under voice control, of course). This resort has many of onsite activities to choose from, a pool, and even a restaurant. You and your dog can have a front country and back country experience, and never even leave the resort!

Inn on the Creek is exactly that. An inn. On a creek. This bed and breakfast on the banks of Flat Creek is an ideal location for those of us with dogs that prefer a more aquatic lifestyle (i.e. wet dog). From lawn chairs overlooking the creek, you don’t even need to stand up to throw the stick in the creek for your swimmer! Only 9 rooms, this place is close to town, super quaint, and, therefore, in demand. Make reservations early.

If you are a more “I only sleep there so who needs a fancy hotel”- type of traveler, you might consider the Homewood Suites. Not only can you find pet-friendly accommodations at a reasonable price, Homewood Suites donates $5 for every pet that stays to a local Spay/Neuter Program through PAWS of Jackson Hole. Not only do you and your dog get to rest comfortably, your stay helps the resident animals to a better life.

A Word About Grand Teton National Park
Iconic, gorgeous, and without the hordes of traffic at Yellowstone; Grand Teton National Park is a exceptional retreat into nature. As part of the strategy to preserve this special place, the National Park System has guidelinesin place for visiting with pets. Dogs are allowed inside the park, but they must be restrained at all times and are not permitted on hiking trails, inside visitor centers or other facilities. So, although the rules don’t restrict entrance or accessibility, they definitely hinder our best pals’ favorite activities: romping, running, playing and exploring. We suggest a day of play at DogJax doggie daycare if visiting the National Park is a must. But, with so many outside-of-the-park dog-friendly options, your family summer road trip to the Grand Tetons area will surely be rich, fun, and full of adventure.

Share your favorite Jackson, WY doggie adventure or in-town hot spot below!]]>
2014-03-24T17:46:43+00:00
<![CDATA[Must-Have Gear for Adventurous Dogs]]> http://www.zukes.com/site/must-have-gear-for-adventurous-dogs http://www.zukes.com/site/must-have-gear-for-adventurous-dogs#When:14:00:12Z
Best Threads: Trailblazers
Although we have many purists among us who like to go au natural (fur only, collar just because they must), they may change their tune when they see the latest in outerwear from Dog Gone Smart. Trailblazers is a water-resistant outer shell that offers full belly coverage to keep your dog warm and dry. Not only does the high tech fabric repel stains, dirt and water, it also keeps these same mucky messes off of your dog’s fur!

Problem Solver: Kibble Kaddie
Ever see something that solves an ongoing issue that you didn’t know you had? The Ruffwear Kibble Kaddie is a dog food storage system that makes the hassle of packing, transporting, and feeding your traveling dog easy and stylish. This soon-to-be travel essential is durable (canvas), compact (reduces in size as the kibble goes into the belly), and clever (side-mounted, magnetic food dispensing chute makes feeding a cinch). Not only that, but for those of us with big dogs – meaning lots of food – this baby holds a whopping 42 cups!

So Clever: Bandana Bowls
Nothing like getting all the way out to the trailhead and realizing you forgot a dog bowl. Now you can have your pal wear it! The new Bandana Bowl from Pawabunga! Is a functional bandana collar that – abracadabra -- unfolds into a portable water bowl. Ta da!

More than Just a Toy: iFetch
Not gear per se, but a conditioning tool. Dogs, like humans, need to develop and maintain their fitness so they can be ready for long summer adventures. Lucky for them, they just think it’s fun to play. The iFetch is a ball launcher that allows your dog to deposit the retrieved ball themselves for yet another launch. Most dogs can be trained to get the hang of the device in a short amount of time, and at that point, they're free to play fetch for hours on end. Not only does this give your dog a nearly limitless supply of entertainment, but it also helps to wake up those sleeping winter muscles and gain the conditioning they’ll need. And the bonus, when you're out at work or running errands, your dog finally has a way to keep himself entertained and you are rewarded with a pooped out pooch. Win, win!

Metro-Savvy: Safe Spot Locking Leash
We like to think the best of people, but unfortunately not everybody is honest and kind. Over 2 million dogs are stolen every year, and we sure don’t want, “That would never happen to my dog,” to happen to our dogs. Safespot Locking Leash is a steel cable reinforced leash and collar that locks your pal safely to their parking spot when you have to run in and grab that morning espresso. It unlocks by key (so don’t lose it), and creates great peace of mind to know you’re buddy will be waiting for you!

Safety First: Deluxe Tubular Car Barrier
If getting there is half the fun, then it should be safe, as well. The Solvit Deluxe Tubular Car Barrier keeps your dog in the back of your vehicle, both reducing driver distraction and keeping them better contained in case of an accident. Special features include easy reach-through for quick petting access (dogs feel this is essential), clamps that allow you to easily remove sections, and adjustments that make the barrier rattle-free.

Playing Rough: Flatheads
Designed by JollyPets for dogs who like to shake, toss, tug and squeak their toys. Flatheads have a braided body designed to be tough enough for chew time, while the stretchy weave helps floss and clean teeth. Goofy looking, yes, but our product testers of the furry variety loved them!

De-stink-ification: Muck Collar
If you smell your dog before you see him, you may want to check out the new Kurgo Muck Collar. This collar is dishwasher-safe (yes!), waterproof, stink-proof, and durable. Now, we don’t want to out ourselves too much here, but there is a feature on this collar that we are extra excited about: the bottle opener. Yes, the bottle opener. Enough said. Available on the Kurgo website at the end of March.]]>
2014-03-22T14:00:12+00:00
<![CDATA[Finding the Fun in Functional Foods]]> http://www.zukes.com/site/dog-functional-foods http://www.zukes.com/site/dog-functional-foods#When:21:57:00Z “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” -- Hippocrates

All foods are not necessarily created equal. A functional food is one that provides health benefits beyond its content of macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates and fats) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). Beyond these nutrients, functional foods contain a variety of plant chemicals with health-promoting benefits. There’s even a research publication, The Journal of Functional Foods, dedicated entirely to functional foods research. Sometimes functional foods are defined as foods that have nutrients added to them (“fortified foods”), but I am talking about whole foods. Real, honest-to-goodness food.

Fantastic Flavonoids
One huge category of plant chemicals that are responsible for the benefits of functional foods are the flavonoids. Flavonoids are linked with cardiovascular health, as well as reduce incidences of cancer and other chronic diseases. Oxidation (rust, more or less) is an underlying component of many chronic disorders. Flavonoids were initially thought to exert health-promoting effects by acting as anti-oxidants (essentially, Rust-o-leum for the body). But newer research suggests that, among other actions, flavonoids may influence how cells communicate with each other.

Flavonoid-containing functional foods we use in Zuke’s dog treats include: dark berries,alfalfa, blackberries, greens, squash, sweet potatoes, and many others.

Crazy for Carotenoids
Like many of the flavonoids, carotenoids are plant pigments. The word “carotene”, like in beta-carotene, finds its origin in the word “carrot”, a vegetable that is particularly rich in carotenoids. Dietary carotenoids have been associated with multiple health benefits, including reduced cancer risk, improved cardiovascular health, healthy immune system function, fewer incidences of age-related eye degeneration and others (1). Zeke and squash

Most people have heard of beta-carotene, an orange pigment found in carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkins and many other fruits and vegetables. This vitamin A precursor and anti-oxidant is also found in leafy greens like spinach, but what you might not know is that the green chlorophyll covers up the orange color!

Beta-carotene is only one of about 600 known carotenoids. Its cousin alpha-carotene, a yellow pigment, is also found in carrots, as well as pumpkin, spinach and many other foods. Like beta-carotene, alpha-carotene is a vitamin A precursor and anti-oxidant. Lutein, a yellow pigment, is yet another carotenoid found at high levels in carrots and is associated with eye health (2). Carotenoids are found in Jerky Naturals, Lil’ Links, Power Bones, Skinny Bakes, Super Foods and Z-Bones.

Fabulous Fiber
Another key benefit of functional foods is a high fiber content. High fiber whole foods include whole grains, sweet potatoes, squash, broccoli, kale, berries, apples and many other fruits and vegetables. Fiber is an indigestible carbohydrate that may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and other blood sugar issues (3). Fiber is also important for digestive health and normal bowel function. Mini Bakes and Skinny Bakes are two high fiber Zuke’s treats.

Isothiocya-what?
Isothiocyanates are sulfur-containing chemicals from cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, kale and cabbage. These may have cancer preventative effects in part through supporting the liver’s ability to breakdown cancer causing chemicals as well as through effects on cellular proliferation (4). Folks at the Dog and Cat Cancer Fund are big broccoli fans. We at Zuke’s love cruciferous veggies so much that we included both broccoli and kale in Super Greens.

And So Much More…
The list of plant chemicals that define a functional food goes on and on. A few other examples are anti-inflammatory omega 3 fatty acids found in fish, cancer-preventing organosulfur compounds in garlic, and cancer-preventing monoterpenes in cherries, herbs and citrus fruits. If you want to nerd out, you can lose hours reading articles on this stuff in the Journal of Functional Foods. But, if you want to get to it and start feeding your dog functional foods, check out this Super Foods Table to find a comprehensive list of functional foods found in Zuke’s treats!

References
  1. Higdon, Jane, et al (2005, updated 2009) Oregon State University, Linus Pauling Institute: Micronutrient Research for Optimum Health.
  2. El-Sayed, M, et al (2013) Dietary sources of lutein and zeaxanthin carotenoids and their role in eye health. Nutrients. 5(4):1169-85.
  3. Harvard School of Public Health. (2014) The Nutrition Source. Fiber.
  4. Higdon, Jane, et al (2005, updated 2008) Oregon State University, Linus Pauling Institute: Micronutrient Research for Optimum Health.


Anna-Marija Helt, PhD, is a research scientist-turned herbalist who practices and teaches at Osadha Herbal Wellness in Durango, Colorado. She is also Zeke and Milo’s human.
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2014-03-13T21:57:00+00:00
<![CDATA[Back to Basics: Demystifying the Pet Food Label, Part 2]]> http://www.zukes.com/site/key-ingredients-pet-food-label http://www.zukes.com/site/key-ingredients-pet-food-label#When:14:00:38Z key things to look for on a pet food label, and specifically how to ensure a food was complete, balanced, and high-quality. In this follow up blog, I want to revisit the label, this time looking at the ingredient list to not only decipher the benefits of the ingredients, but more importantly to determine what specifically to look for when choosing a food or treat.

Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates, or “carbs,” are an important source of energy for pets. They can also be an important source of fiber for intestinal health. While no minimum requirement has been established for dogs, they are true omnivores and need a variety of carbohydrates to stay healthy. During exercise, carbs are converted to energy much faster than proteins and fats, so treats containing high-quality carbohydrates are excellent to have during periods of high activity. Look for fruits, vegetables, and starches such as potatoes or tapioca on the label. These ingredients provide more complex carbs that help your dog stay active for longer. Fruits and veggies are also excellent sources of antioxidants! Other good sources of carbohydrates include grains like corn, oats, and barley. Sweeteners like maple syrup, molasses, and fruit juices not only add flavor to a product but also add very digestible sources of simple carbs.

Fats
Fats are critical for cell membrane health. This means they are important for most cellular functions in the body, from the brain to the coat and most things in between. They are a dense source of nutrition that conveniently also makes things taste good! Keep in mind, just like in life, everything in moderation. Too much fat can cause intestinal distress, excessive inflammation especially in digestive organs (like the pancreas) and, of course, weight gain. Some dog breeds prone to pancreas problems can run into trouble with just a bite of bacon or piece of basted rawhide. I prefer fat sources such as olive and sunflower oils, avocados, cold-water fish/fish oil, and the fat in lean meats. These types of fat are higher in omega-3 fatty acids, which are natural anti-inflammatories and have been shown to help reduce the prevalence of some chronic diseases. Avoid fat sources like lard, tallow, and any hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil, especially if higher up on the ingredient label. Remember, ingredients are listed in order of quantity, so a food has more of something if it is listed in the first few items on the label. A relative newcomer to fat sources is coconut oil. This is a rich source of rapidly digestible fat that has been suggested to be converted to energy more rapidly than other fats, making it ideal for active dogs.

Proteins
Proteins are the workhorses of the nutrition world, and have gotten a lot of press lately. Diets with higher and higher protein contents are making their appearances on store shelves every day. Like carbs and fats, they are critical for optimal health in all animals. Amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, are responsible for cellular repair, reproduction, growth, hormone production, and enzyme synthesis. Sick, growing, pregnant, nursing, or working dogs require higher amounts of protein in their diets. Older animals require less protein, but the protein they do eat still needs to be very high quality so it can be easily digested and metabolized. Your veterinarian can help you determine the right amount of protein for your pet.

High-quality protein is generally a good thing, but too much can lead to problems in some animals. Also, it adds considerably to the expense of a food. Protein is by far the most expensive component of any diet, and there is no need in most cases to spend significantly more money on a product with more protein than your dog requires.

Higher protein diets are typically more calorie-dense (with higher protein often comes more fat as well). Weight gain is common on higher protein foods, so be sure to read the recommended serving size for your pet on this type of diet. The best sources of protein are beef, pork, poultry, lamb, fish, soy, venison, rabbit, and buffalo. Organ meats like liver may sound like a second-rate source of protein but are vitamin and mineral powerhouses. It is possible to have a healthy vegetarian diet for dogs, but always make sure it has the AAFCO seal of approval for being complete and balanced before feeding it to your dog. This ensures that the food supplies all of the needed amino acids that your pet needs.

Other Important Stuff: the Micronutrients
The rest of the label will list vitamins, minerals, and potentially other supplement additives. To be complete and balanced, every dog food has to have some source of vitamin and mineral supplementation. The rules for treats aren’t as stringent but many treat products will contain added supplements to complement the diet. Minerals such as calcium and magnesium; fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, and E; and water soluble vitamins like B vitamins and vitamin C are all crucial for a balanced diet. They may have complicated names (for example, vitamin E can be called alpha tocopherol) so just because a substance isn’t immediately recognizable doesn’t necessarily mean that it is unhealthy. Contact the manufacturer to find out about any specific ingredients that raise a question. Any reputable company will be happy to provide you with answers.

I encourage you to be choosy about what you feed your pet. There are a lot of great pet food choices out there!

Disclaimer: This information is educational in nature and is not intended as a substitute for professional medical prevention, diagnosis, or treatment.

Jennifer Deming, DVM, is a practicing veterinarian and member of the American Academy of Veterinary Nutrition. She strives to improve her patients' wellness through nutrition counseling and preventative medicine. Dr. Deming lives, works, and plays in the beautiful community of Durango, Colorado.
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2014-03-05T14:00:38+00:00