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Family Matters: Pets and Holiday Food

Pets and Holiday FoodI don’t know about you, but I’m pretty thankful for my dog, Astro. He’s sweet, loving, even-keeled, a great and loyal friend, and a great protector.

It’s so important, at this time of the year, to make sure you’re taking care of your pet and protecting their health, too. While you might think that you’re giving them treats, some things around the holidays we enjoy can be very, very bad for your pet!

First of all, no candy. At all. Especially not chocolate, which can be deadly for dogs.

The ASPCA offers these other tips:

  • A small bite of turkey is okay as long as it’s not on the bone and is well-cooked.
  • Sage is an essential component of most turkey seasonings and dressings, but it may contain small amounts of essential oils and resins that can cause gastrointestinal distress, especially in cats.
  • No cakes, pies or other sweets!
  • Watch the bread dough, too, especially if your pet likes to snatch things off of the kitchen counter. Bread dough can expand in their stomachs, causing them all kinds of problems.

Bottom line, pets don’t celebrate holidays with food the way we do. It’s perfectly fine to keep them on their regular feeding schedule with their regular food.

Family Matters: Shedding

pet sheddingDid you know that your pet requires some seasonal care, just like your lawn and yard might? They do!

In the fall, a lot of pets go through a period of shedding their fur, getting rid of damaged hair and old skin cells. This is perfectly normal unless you note it’s excessive, then it could be a sign of something else like illness, stress or poor diet. Like I said, a little shedding is completely normal, albeit kind of messy.

Shedding can be managed and minimized with a few easy tips and tricks.

First of all, buy a grooming tool. Your pet might actually LOVE being brushed, and it’s nice bonding time with you. Brushing removes excess hair, stimulates the skin and promotes a shiny, healthy, clean coat. If your dog has dense hair, this job might best be left to a professional groomer who can work out knots and kinks, and even shave your pet’s hair down if necessary.

If you’re doing it at home, groom your pet on a weekly basis so you control the hair loss, and it doesn’t end up all over your sofa and carpets.

Secondly, make sure they’re eating good, high-quality food. Diet can affect how much your pet sheds. Check labels for the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) nutritional adequacy statement to ensure the product offers balanced nutrition.

Next, during high-shed season, consider covering your furniture where your pet will be with a sheet or a slipcover to minimize hair on your furniture. Vacuum, dust and sweep as often as you can as well.

Bathing your pet during the summer months can also help reduce shedding during the fall.

The bottom line is that some shedding is normal, and it usually only lasts for a few weeks!

Family Matters: Doggie Ice Cream

Doggie Ice CreamMy pup, Astro, loves a good bowl of ice cream.

He discovered it when his person, Paul, brought him some Frosty Paws ice cream for dogs on one hot, early summer day. I can’t tell you how many cold, tasty “treats” Astro has had since.

He loves his person, and he loves his ice cream.

(Oh, the mischievous part of me was hoping that one day the boys would mistake the Frosty Paws for one of their ice cream treats…Yes, it’s safe for human consumption, but that would have made me laugh. Hard.)

Anyway, I decided to see how difficult it would be to make homemade doggie ice cream for Astro.

It’s so simple that I couldn’t NOT try it!

Basically, you combine yogurt with some dog-safe ingredients, freeze and voila! Homemade doggie ice cream.

This is Astro’s favorite.


1 ripe banana
1 cup peanut butter
2 cups natural plain yogurt
2 Tbs honey

Mash the banana and stir it into the yogurt, mixing well. Microwave the peanut butter for 30 seconds or until it’s easier to stir. Add the peanut butter to the banana-yogurt mixture, then stir in the honey and mix until well-combined. Pour the mixture into ice cube trays and freeze overnight. When your pooch needs a treat, pop out a cube and let him enjoy!

Family Matters: Getting a Pet-icure

Getting a Pet-icureMy 95-pound hunka hunka burning love, a.k.a my dog Astro, pretty much has one trick.

“Gimme paw,” we say, and he presents us with one massive doggie paw.

Whether or not he’s recently had a nail trim is the difference between the trick being cute and sweet or nearly lethal.

There are lots of good reasons to trim a dog’s nails. Dogs’ nails are constantly growing, just like those of humans. They don’t always wear them down walking on floors or concrete, either. Sometimes you have to take matters into your own paws, ‘er hands, that is. Left to their own devices, a pup’s nails could grow so long that they curl into your pet’s foot pads.


A good rule of thumb to follow is to trim your pet’s nails when they touch the floor when they are standing still. You’ll probably hear that little click, click, click before you see them.

To prepare him for a trim, hold his paws several times a day. He should be comfortable doing this because he’ll sense affection. Keep your attitude upbeat and give him a treat after the trim. You might want to enlist someone else the dog loves if you have a big pooch. When we trim Astro’s nails, I sit with him, hold his collar and talk puppy talk to him while Paul does the trimming.

Don’t trim them too short. Look at your pooch’s paws before you start, and you’ll notice that part of the nail is white and part is clearer. Stay away from the inner white part! That could hurt him and make him bleed.

There are a variety of tools you can use to trim your pal’s nails, but simple nail clippers should work just fine.

When you’re done, praise your doggie and get him a treat!

Family Matters: Thomas Moore Small Animal Food

Thomas Moore Small Animal FoodWhen my sister was in middle school, she begged my parents for a pet rabbit.

They refused.

She wheedled.




Stomped around.

Poured on the sweetness.


And begged some more.

I forget what finally tipped the scales because my parents aren’t the type to give in to a whiny kid, but my sister got her bunny. It was a fuzzy brown thing that she kept in a large bunny hutch on a stand my father built in the backyard. She’d bring the bunny inside to play, to hop around her bedroom and to cuddle. I think even my parents had to admit that the bunny was pretty cute.

Small animals need a special diet. Pets like rabbits, gerbils, guinea pigs and hamsters can benefit from carefully-formulated food designed for their unique needs.

Thomas Moore offers a line of small-animal foods that are available at Brookshire’s and perfect for your cuddly pet.

Thomas Moore Feed’s Bunny Cuisine Premium Feed is a source of omega-3 fatty acids that support rabbit’s heart, brain and visual functions.

The Guinea Pig Premium Feed is a timothy hay-based pellet that is rich in fiber to promote gastrointestinal health of your guinea pig.

Thomas Moore Feed’s Hamster & Gerbil Premium Feed has wholesome, palatable ingredients that help maintain proper weight, growth and dental health.

Thomas Moore’s foods will keep your pet in tip-top shape, so you can enjoy him for a long and healthy life.


Family Matters: Changing the Focus

Changing the FocusWe recently got a miniature puppy as a surprise for my mother. Even though she did not ask for a pet or know she was getting one, it was the best gift ever. My mom lost her youngest son a few months ago, and every day is a struggle and filled with tears. I know the pain from being his sister, but I can’t begin to imagine if it were my own child. I know the hurt will last a lifetime, but I wanted to find something that would make her smile and for just a moment take her mind off of her loss. She lives alone so there is a lot of alone time after work each day.

I can’t begin to tell you the joy this small puppy has given her these past few weeks. I get multiple calls a day to share what cute things it is doing and hear how sweet it is. She falls asleep with the puppy on her chest each night, and it follows her around the house, nipping at her heels. It has given her something new to focus on and keeps her from continually missing her son.

It is hard to believe that an animal that weighs 2 1/2 pounds can bring so much healing to a grown-up. What a blessing this tiny puppy has been to my mother and to our family! It warms my heart to see her smile and laugh again, and even though she still has tears, they seem a little lighter. As I listened to my voicemail one day this week, my mom said, “Thank you for giving me this sweet puppy. I did not know how much I needed something to love.”…that says it all for me.

Not only did this tiny puppy find a home, it has also found a place in my mom’s heart that so badly needed to be filled. Sit down and pet a puppy, and see how it affects you…I think you will be pleasantly surprised. It brings out a calming feeling and gives us something to focus on other than our everyday struggles. Count your blessings daily and give thanks for the time you share with your family!

Family Matters: PupSicle

PupSicleMy dog Astro is a digger of epic proportions.

I wouldn’t trade his big, goofy face and soulful eyes for all the tea in China, but seriously, he has to stop digging. I’ve tried almost everything. Everything that won’t hurt him, that is.

Yet, he digs. I’m pretty sure I could have a pool installed in my backyard before too long, given all his digging lately.

We made sure he can’t dig against the foundation of the house and the sprinkler system was a goner years ago, so I don’t worry about that, but sheesh! Why can’t he dig (if he HAS to dig) in the defunct garden area? What’s so hard about that?

Point being, I’ve read that dogs dig because they are bored. I have to give them that. I don’t have a doggie trampoline or swing set in the backyard for Astro. Sleeping and rearranging my wood pile all day has got to get monotonous.

So, I saw something on Pinterest I had to try.

It’s perfect for doggie distraction and for cooling them down on a hot summer day.

I think it occupied Astro for an hour, which is a near record.

Basically, you fill a large bowl with doggie snacks, toys and treats. Fill it with water and then freeze it. I filled mine with half chicken broth, half water.

When it was frozen and I let it loose in the backyard, Astro went crazy. He licked at that giant PupSicle until he had unearthed the toys and treats, staying hydrated and cool in the process.

Cost: Free with whatever you have on hand.

Payoff: Priceless. 17,000 fewer holes in your backyard.

Family Matters: Protecting Your Outside Pet from Fleas and Ticks

Protecting Your Outside Pet from Fleas and TicksMy dog, Astro, spends most of the day outside while I’m at work. Luckily, I have a large, covered patio that keeps him out of the direct sun when he wants to cool off and take a break. I’m toying with the idea of getting a hard plastic kiddie pool for him, but I’m afraid that would be a mosquito magnet.

Speaking of small, pesky insects, summer is prime time for fleas and ticks to hitch a ride on your outdoor pet.

Fleas and their eggs can live outside in grass, soil and even crevices in sidewalks, while inside they live in rugs and carpets, cracks in floors, bedding, etc. Ticks can thrive in trees, bushes, tall grasses and shrubs.

Comb your pet regularly with a flea comb, vacuum frequently and dispose of the bags immediately after use. Mow areas of the lawn where your dog spends time, wash pet bedding weekly and wash your pet with a pesticide-free pet shampoo.

Invest in shampoos, sprays, powders, monthly treatments and other products to control ticks and fleas; discuss these with your veterinarian first.

You can also have your yard treated by a pest control company to help reduce the incidence of fleas and ticks.

Healthy Living: Drink, Doggy, Drink!

Drink, Doggy, Drink!Summertime can be a prime time for dehydration in your outdoor pets.

You can tell when your pet is dehydrated if they become listless with a dry mouth or nose, sunken eyes and loss of appetite.

Don’t let your pets run out of steam this summer. Keep a water bowl filled at all times and keep it in the shade, if possible. Choose a plastic bowl, rather than a metal one, as it will keep the water cooler. Some pets love it when you fill their bowls with ice water because they like to chew on the ice as well.

Here are some other tips to keep your dog hydrated in the summertime:

  • Provide clean water at all times, and change it frequently to ensure freshness. Also, don’t forget to wash your pet’s water bowl every day to prevent bacteria from growing.
  • Monitor your dog’s water intake. Generally, a dog needs at least one ounce of water for each pound of body weight per day. If your dog is not drinking an adequate amount of water, seek veterinary advice. Monitoring water intake is especially important if he’s recovering from diarrhea, vomiting or other illnesses.
  • Purchase a water bowl with a weighted bottom to prevent your dog from knocking it over.
  • Bring extra water when you’re traveling or exercising with your dog.
  • If you notice your pet is drinking less than usual, check his mouth for sores or other foreign objects, such as burrs or sticks.
  • Avoid chaining a dog outside since he may get tangled up, preventing him from accessing his water bowl.
  • Keep your toilet lid closed to interrupt your dog’s efforts to turn the bowl, which can be a source of bacteria, into a water fountain.

Family Matters: Wild Birds

Wild BirdsOne of my favorite things, every spring, is to watch the birds come back to my yard.

Their migration always starts with the cardinals. I have two pairs who live in my big oak tree. Then, there are the robins, always the “first sign of spring,” but mine like living in Texas, I think, as I see them most of the year. The doves and the sparrows are next, then the mockingbirds (which drive my dog crazy), the finches and the hummingbirds.

Thomas Moore’s Texas Wild Bird Seed makes it easy to keep my feathered friends happy and well-fed.

The bird seed attracts cardinals, chickadees, blue jays and finches, adding color and variety to your backyard flock.

The seeds themselves come in many varieties, including black oil sunflower seeds, safflower seeds, shell-free no-mess mix and a songbird mix. (I’m trying that one next!)

It’s easy to feed the birds. Thomas Moore recommends replacing seeds every one to two days, emptying old seeds before replenishing the feeders. During slower seasons, don’t fill the feeder as often to prevent waste. Available at Brookshire’s, the wild bird seeds are a great way to attract birds to your backyard, and it might be the start of a new hobby for you and your family as you watch them!

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The products mentioned in “Share, the Brookshire’s Blog” are sold by Brookshire Grocery Company, DBA Brookshire’s . Some products may be mentioned as part of a relationship between its manufacturer and Brookshire’s.

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