share. The Brookshire's Blog

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.

Ouch.

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.

Cajoled.

Needled.

Pouted.

Stomped around.

Poured on the sweetness.

Begged.

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!



Family Matters: Bathtime for Your Pets


Bathtime for Your PetsLast weekend, we gave my 95-pound rescue dog, Astro, his first bath. Well, at least the first time we’d bathed him since we got him in July.

Yes, it was long overdue.

The most difficult part was getting Astro into the bathtub. He didn’t like it, at all. He dodged and ran into my closet, which is an adventure in and of itself. (In the summer, we’ll bathe him outside, but it was too cold last weekend for an outside bath.) Then, he slipped through our grasps and got into the bedroom. He tried to hide under the bed, but a dog that stands hip height can’t quite make it. We finally got him into the bathroom and got the door closed, and two of us lifted him into the tub. Once in the tub, he didn’t mind at all, and I think he kind of enjoyed the warm spray from the shower head and the lather. (It took three times of lather, rinse and repeat to get him clean!)

According to the ASPCA, what we should have done was spend a few days slowly introducing him to the concept of bath time by bringing him into the bathroom, teaching him to step in and out of the tub by himself, using treats and rewards, and letting him hear the running water and get accustomed to it.

That would have helped.

Another way to give your pooch a good bath time memory is to give him treats AFTER the bath and to play with him. Trust me. I’ve filed all this information away for next time.



Family Matters – Leash Training Your Pets


Leash Training Your DogI took my dog, Astro, to the park last weekend. I’ve never walked Astro on a leash before, but for whatever reason (the beautiful weather must have given me a touch of spring fever), I decided that day would be a good day to try. At the park. With 9 million other dogs. Astro is about 95 pounds of pure muscle, and he’s about two years old. What I’m saying is, he’s big and he’s enthusiastic. Do you see where this is going? Walking Astro on a leash in a crowded park was not the best idea. Since then, I’ve gotten him a no-pull harness (which is gentler on his neck), and I’ve read up on teaching him how to walk on a leash. Here are some tips I’ve read from an article on BuzzFeed about getting started. I plan to try again this weekend.

  • Until your dog learns to walk without pulling, consider all walks as training sessions. Keep training sessions frequent, short and fun for your dog.
  • Since loose-leash training sessions will be too short and slow to provide adequate exercise, find other ways to exercise your dog until he’s mastered loose-leash walking. In fact, you’ll succeed more quickly if you find a way to tire your dog out before taking him on a training walk. Dogs pull, in part, because they’re full of excess energy. So, unless you can expend that energy, your dog will find it hard to control himself. Before you train, play fetch in a hallway or your backyard, play a vigorous game of tug or drive your dog to the park so that he can play with his buddies.
  • Teaching a dog to walk without pulling requires plenty of rewards. Use highly desirable treats that your dog doesn’t get at other times. Soft treats are best so your dog can eat them quickly and continue training. Most dogs love wieners, cheese, cooked chicken or ham, small jerky treats or freeze-dried liver. Chop all treats into small, peanut-sized cubes.
  • Walk at a quick pace. If your dog trots or runs, he’ll have fewer opportunities to catch a whiff of something enticing, and he’ll be less inclined to stop and eliminate every few steps. Additionally, you are far more interesting to your dog when you move quickly.
  • If you expect your dog to control himself while walking on a leash, you must also expect him to control himself before you go for a walk. If he gets wildly excited as you prepare for a walk, you need to focus on that first. Walk to the door and pick up the leash. If your dog races around, barks, whines, spins or jumps up, just stand completely still. Do and say absolutely nothing until your dog calms down a bit. As soon as he has all four paws on the floor, slowly reach toward him to clip on the leash. If he starts to bounce around or jump up on you, quickly bring your hands (and the leash) back toward your body. Wait until your dog has all four paws on the floor again. Then, slowly reach toward him again to attach his leash. Repeat this sequence until your dog can stand in front of you without jumping up or running around while you clip on his leash. This may seem like a tedious exercise at first, but if you’re consistent, your hard work will pay off. Eventually, your dog will learn to stand still while you attach his leash.


FAMILY MATTERS: PET ORAL HEALTH


Pet Oral HealthMy big, red dog, Astro, is kind of funny about some things.

He won’t touch a sausage link left on the kitchen counter, but he will sneak a slice of eggplant.

He likes the front yard better than the backyard, and he does NOT like to be outside if any of his people are inside.

He also doesn’t mind getting his nails clipped or his teeth brushed, which is practically unheard of in a dog of mine!

The first time I tried to brush his teeth, I was the one who was nervous. I mean, he was 85 pounds when I got him and has put on some weight since his adoption. He has a big mouth and big teeth! It’s just as important to take care of your pet’s oral health as it is your own. Periodontal disease is the most common clinical condition in cats and dogs even though it’s completely preventable. Many pets show signs of gum disease by the time they’re four years old because they aren’t provided with proper mouth care, and bad breath is often the first sign of a problem.

PetMD offers these tips for good oral health for your pets.

1. The Breath Test

Sniff your pet’s breath. Not a field of lilies? That’s okay-normal; pet breath isn’t particularly fresh-smelling. However, if his breath is especially offensive and is accompanied by a loss of appetite, vomiting, or excessive drinking or urinating, it’s a good idea to take your pet to the vet.

2. Lip Service

Once a week with your pet facing you, lift his lips and examine his gums and teeth. The gums should be pink, not white or red, and they should show no signs of swelling. His teeth should be clean without any brownish tartar.

3. Signs of Oral Disease

The following are signs that your pet may have a problem in his mouth or gastrointestinal system, and your pet should be checked by a veterinarian:

  • Bad breath
  • Excessive drooling
  • Inflamed gums
  • Tumors in the gums
  • Cysts under the tongue
  • Loose teeth

4. The Lowdown on Tooth Decay

Bacteria and plaque-forming foods can cause build-up on your pet’s teeth. This can harden into tartar, possibly causing gingivitis, receding gums and tooth loss. One solution? Regular teeth cleanings, of course.

5. Teeth-Brushing Kit

Get a toothbrush made especially for your pet or a clean piece of soft gauze to wrap around your finger. Ask your vet for toothpaste made especially for your pet or make a paste out of baking soda and water. Please do not use human toothpaste, which can irritate their stomach. Special mouthwash for dogs and cats is also available – ask your vet.



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