By Katy Cable-TWR
A 4 min read
HAPPY NEW YEAR! -ALMOST! Is it just me or did 2020 seem like we lived it in dog years! Now that we’re finally down to the last few days of this extremely challenging year, most people start thinking about making a resolution of one kind or another. The top being: to get in shape, workout and lose weight. Those are great goals but how about adding something simple for your dog? This is a perfect time to do some: SPRING CLEANING! -In the dead of winter. With the end of the year, get rid of the old and bring in some NEW! Taking the best care of your furry family member means paying attention to things you might not even realize need to be cleaned, repaired, or just TOSSED! Here are some great tips on dog-supplies you should PITCH for the sake of your dog’s health and well-being (and ultimately yours!)
5 Things Dog Parents Need to Toss Right Now
1. The old, stinky and ill-fitting collar:
Your dog’s collar is like your underwear. They wear it all the time and it’s very close to their skin. And while most people wouldn’t think of wearing the same underwear day after day without ever washing them or getting a new pair, many dog collars never get replaced or even cleaned. I learned this, like EVERYTHING ELSE I blog about, THE HARD WAY when my first pug Raisin got a horrible yeasty, foul-smelling rash around his neck. After an expensive trip to the vet, followed by a heavy course of antibiotics and expensive RX creams, guess who also got a brand new, clean collar to wear!
It’s important to keep your pet’s collar clean to reduce the risk it will cause an infection or hot spot on their skin. Worn-out collars, those with an unpleasant odor and collars that have either grown too tight or too loose, need to go. Also check to make sure their tag with your contact info is still legible should they ever get lost. You may need to replace and update that as well.
Replace with this: New collar/ID tag
I found a clip for the ID tag and now change out collars all the time. I have an entire collection of cute festive collars I find on sale. Have fun with this! 😜
2. Plastic food and water bowls:
Plastic food and water bowls are inexpensive and convenient. Unfortunately, not only are they impossible to thoroughly sanitize, but as the plastic begins to break down, it can leak toxic chemicals into your dog’s food and water. In addition, I have seen many dogs (including my own) get blemishes on their chins and other skin irritations from bacteria and oils which get easily trapped in the peeling plastic. This was another expensive trip to the vet and medications I could’ve avoided! More sensitive dogs can develop allergies to the materials and dyes in plastic bowls, and get tear stains, rashes and other complications. In addition, aggressive chewers have been known to gnaw their bowls into small pieces and swallow them. Also avoid the cute pottery bowls since these can contain dangerous lead-based paint and other toxic materials. Again, I have learned everything the hard way and I hope to save you from the same mistakes.
Replace with this: stainless steel, porcelain or glass food and water bowls.
3. Broken or chewed up toys:
Many dogs are toy slaughterers. My pug Olive can tear off the head of a toy and devour the stuffing faster than I can open a jar of peanut butter. There have been many times I’ve left a dog alone with a stuffed toy, only to find they have a belly full of chemical-tainted cotton stuffing before I get to the first commercial break during Real Housewives! With any luck, (and a few spoonfuls of canned pumpkin purée) the stuffing will pass in their 💩. However, God forbid, they should swallow a squeaker or get a piece of the toy lodged in their GI tract. Suddenly that $5.00 chew toy can become a life-threatening situation requiring expensive surgery to remove. It’s a good idea to review the contents your dog’s toy basket on a regular basis and get rid of anything that could pose a choking hazard or GI obstruction.
Replace with this: Repaired or new non-toxic toys.
I love the un-stuffed flat, crinkle toys, non-toxic ropes, and Tugga Kongs filled with a premium pet food.
4. Dull nail trimmers:
Most dogs enjoy nail trims the way I enjoy a root canal. But one thing that can make a bad situation worse is a pair of dull clippers. After one too many bad experiences, I now leave nail trim to the pros. Plus, I’m as welcome as a rash when dogs see me come at them with nail clippers. (Talk about feeling unpopular!) With dull clippers, instead of a quick clean snip, the trimmers can crush and split the nail. Or, not cut at all! Not only is this extremely painful for your probably already anxious dog, but it tends to make you — the human at the other end of the clippers — tense up. Your dog, in turn, picks up on your stress, which doubles theirs. In a worst-case scenario, a nail trim botched by dull trimmers can FOREVER make your dog run like a pack of wolves every time they see them come out. Trust me on this one.
Replace with this: Freshly sharpened or new nail trimmers, or a battery-operated rotary tool (e.g., a Dremel). Or visit your vet’s office, PetSmart or a trusted local groomer and let a professional do it. For highly anxious dogs try giving CBD 2 hours before their mani/pedi👌
5. Retractable leash
“Leash” is probably not a good word to describe the thin cord or ribbon used in many retractable devices. The real purpose of using a leash is to keep the animal safe and under your control while out on walks. Retractable leashes often do just the opposite. They give the owner and the dog WAY TOO MUCH LEEWAY and then put you both at risk when you must quickly RETRACT. I never recommend these leashes as a good option for pet parents. I only recommend them for those who are working specifically with a trainer on commands but never for walking.
There are many reasons to avoid or reconsider use of a retractable leash, starting with the fact it's easy for your dog to get too far away from you to be safe. Suddenly a car, aggressive dog, or skateboard appears and if it's not too late already, quickly retracting can result in SERIOUS injuries. I personally have gotten deep, horrible cuts and burns and also know of young children needing extensive surgery from retractable leash injuries! In most cases, these devices are also completely counterproductive to training a dog to walk well on a leash. The very nature of retractables trains dogs to pull on the leash to extend the lead. The dog is out front and in-charge. Needless to say, this pulling behavior will be repeated whenever the dog is on a standard leash.
Replace with this: 4-6-foot flat leash and pull it in closely until your dog has learned to walk at your side without pulling. Practice daily by rewarding dog with small treats as they walk nicely at your side. By reinforcing the way you want them to walk, they will quickly get the hang of it!
In addition to tossing, losing, stopping, quitting. Why not TAKE ON, START, BEGIN, FIND a new thing or two for the new year. Set a few small goals that will be healthy for both you and your dog. Here's a few ideas:
1. If your pup is a bit pudgy, commit to a long walk, better food, smaller/healthier treats, and reduced portions to get them fit and trim.
2. Join a dog meet-up group and make a few new friends.
3. Check local events and do a dog hike, yappy-hour or another dog-friendly social activity with your pooch once a month. The EVENTS page on my site lists lots of fun activities.
4. Sign up for a training class together to refresh skills, strengthen your bond and work on socialization. If your dog has the basics down what about agility, tricks, or train them to be a therapy dog.
5. Grab your camera or phone and start a social media account for your pup. Connect with other pet owners and tap into your creativity in a positive way. Does your dog do something funny, unique, or useful? Do they have a disability? Have they overcome a hardship? Do they have a story behind them? Why not share this with others and connect.
Remember that $$$$ and time wisely invested in you dog will come back TEN-FOLD. I hope you will join me for fun, easy, healthy resolutions for you and your pup that you can do ALL YEAR LONG!
I hope 2021 is a wonderful year for you and your beloved pets! I look forward to getting to know you better and seeing you on social media or maybe even at an event in the new year! Thanks for reading and being an awesome pet parent! 🎉
Pugs and kisses and HAPPY NEW YEAR WISHES! Katy & Olive
🐾Katy Cable is a former actress appearing in “Back To The Future” and starring in the TV series: “Safe At Home” & “ Fired Up!” In addition to her dog health & lifestyle blog/vlog: The Weekly Runt, (https://www.weeklyrunt.com/) she’s a contributing writer to numerous publications including Thrive Global, & The Huffington Post. Cable lives at the beach with her husband, Rick and her rescue Pug, Olive.🐾