Sunday, December 21, 2014

Safe Toys and Gifts for Pets

There are still a few more Christmas shopping days to get that perfect gift for your furry family members.  There is such a big selection, I know it's hard to choose.  You want to get your dog or cat - or other pet - a toy they will love.  But you also want to be sure that what you get them is safe.

Not all toys and treats are created equal.  Some are healthier than others.  Some are downright dangerous!  So to help you choose the right gift for your pet, here is a list of healthy and safe toys and treats for dogs and cats.

Treats make excellent gifts!  None of us hear at Oak Valley will turn down a treat.  Mom makes most of ours.  I shared some of our favorite recipes in an earlier post (Recipe Greetings For Christmas  But if your Mom or Dad doesn't have time to make them, there this wonderful thing in the store called "Greenies"!  Greenies are delicious!  And they help keep our teeth clean.  They have Greenies chews for me and the other dogs.  And they have Greenies cat treats too!  The cats love these almost as much as Mom's tuna balls.  And they are easy to find.  Mom just buys them at the grocery store or sometimes she will get them at the pet store.

If Greenies don't appeal to you or your cats, then make sure the treats are healthy and safe.  Make sure they are sourced and made in the U.S.  Remember the jerky-treat scare a few years ago?  Lots of dogs died.  Well that jerky was definitely NOT made in the U.S! 

Make sure they are high quality treats.  High quality treats will not contain grains or unnecessary fillers, rendered animal by products, added sugar (sometimes hidden in ingredients like molasses and honey), chemicals, artificial preservatives, or ingredients known to be highly allergenic to pets.  Unfortunately, this means most of the treats on the market.  Which is why we get Greenies! 

Toys are always fun.  We like toys that are interactive and make us move.  They also need to be durable.  Nothing that we can chew up and swallow pieces of.  Think Kong - for both cats and dogs.  My favorite is the  Extreme Treat-Dispensing Dog Toy!  It gives treats when you play with it!  And they make a toy that cats love called a Kickaroo.  It has catnip in it which makes our cats wild.  They will try to sneak up on it and attack it like it is alive.  Maybe they think it is since it does have a sort of tail.  They sure are fun to watch!

Be careful of plush squeaky toys.  I can disembowel one of those in no time!  But we certainly don't want me to eat any of that stuff.  And the squeeker-thing inside can get caught in my throat and choke me.  Mom does let me have my plush weenie-dog, but only when she is able to keep an eye on me.  And when the cats have their catnip mice, she watches to make sure I don't try to eat any of them either.

Whatever you decide to get your pets for Christmas, take the time to be sure it is safe and healthy.  For more suggestions for gifts for your cat or dog - and even your bird or rodent, check out the list of Holiday Gift Ideas for your Pets from College Manor Veterinary Hospital.


Saturday, December 6, 2014

Recipe Greetings For Christmas

It's that time of year!  The time of year that Bob loved so much.  The time of year that I wait for patiently - okay, not so patiently.  It's CHRISTMAS GOODIES TIME!!  Every year Mom spends a day or two (sometimes even three!) making holiday good stuff for everyone.  There's chocolate covered pretzels for Dad, an assortment of cookies for grandkids and friends, things in jars (she calls them mixes) for friends farther away.  And yes - there are homemade treats for us! 

Mom says that most of her recipes are family secrets and she doesn't share them with too many people.  But the homemade Austin and Bob treats are different.  She said they were shared with her and so I can share them with others.  So here are some recipes for our favorite Christmas goodies.  Why not make a batch for your favorite furry family member?

Bob's Favorite Christmas Cake

2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup wheat germ
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup molasses
1/2 cup canola oil
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup water
1 cup chopped apple

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease and flour a 12-cup bundt pan or spray with cooking spray.  Beat together molasses, oil, and eggs until well blended.  Add vanilla and water and mix well.  Add dry ingredients and beat until smooth.  Fold in chopped apple.  Pour into pan.  Bake approx. 35 minutes or until done.  Cool completely before serving.

Austin's Favorite Homemade Dog Biscuits
Mom said she got this recipe from someone named Martha Stewart.  Martha, I love you!!

 1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup brewer's yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 cup low-sodium canned chicken stock, plus more for brushing

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, wheat germ, yeast, and salt; set aside
2. Place oil in a large bowl. Add stock and flour mixture in three alternating batches, beginning and ending with stock. Mix well.
3. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough to about 3/8-inch thick. Shape biscuits using a dog-bone-shaped cookie cutter or by cutting around a store-bought dog bone with a butter knife.(Make biscuits that are appropriate for your dog's size.)
4. If desired, you can spell out your dog's name or a holiday message in the dough with a toothpick (wet the toothpick first so it won't stick).
5. Transfer to parchment-lined baking sheets. Repeat with remaining dough.
6. Bake biscuits 10 minutes. Brush with stock; rotate baking sheets, and bake 10 minutes more. Turn off oven, leaving door closed. Let dog biscuits stand in oven to dry completely, about 1 1/2 hours. Wrap as a gift, or store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Tuna Balls
Yes, even the cats get a treat

1 can chunk light tuna, drained
1/2 cup chopped turkey or chicken
2/3 cup dry cat food

Mix all ingredients until well-blended.  Roll into small balls.  Chill in refrigerator for approx. 1 hour.  Roll in bread crumbs.  Serve.

Mom serves our treats with a special Christmas drink.  She gets eggnog.  We get a Bow-Wow Martini.  It was created just for us by Bob's friend The Martini Diva.  It's yummy!  It's called a BOW-WOW Martini which means it's just for us dogs.  But I have caught a cat stealing a sip!  Maybe she needs to make a special Kitty Christmas drink.