How Does Healthy Dog Poop Look Like?

Why must inspiration always strike in the wee hours of the morning? Perhaps it's because we have had a dearth of calls regarding unusually colored stool and, let’s just say it, diarrhea.  Perhaps it's because I am dreading the dog waste to be revealed after the great snow melt this weekend. 

Regardless, let’s get to the heart, or colon, of this article.  Dog poop.  What does healthy dog poop look like? How do you know if your pet is in distress and needs medical attention? What are some common causes of loose or hard stools in dogs and what can you do to help? Is color of a dog’s poop related to their overall health and well-being?

Fecal consistency is primarily a function of the amount of moisture in the stool and can be used to identify changes in colonic health as well as other medical problems. Ideally, in a healthy animal, stools should be firm but not hard, pliable, segmented, and easy to pick up. One to two bowel movements daily are ideal. Identify poop based on a scoring system.  A healthy dog should have a Score of 2 on the dog poop scale. 

Assessing Dog Poop On a Scoring System


Score 1

• Stool very hard and dry 

• Much effort required to expel feces from body

• No residue left on the ground when feces picked up

• Often expelled as individual pellets

Score 2

• Stool firm but not hard

• Pliable and segmented in appearance

• Little or no residue left on ground when picked up

Score 3

• Stool log-like

• No segmentation visible

• Moist, shiny surface

• Leaves residue but remains firm when picked up

Score 4

• Feces very moist (soggy)

• Distinct log shape

• Leave residue and loses form when picked up

Score 5 

• Feces very moist

• Loses shape (piles rather than log shape) 

• Leaves residue and loses form when picked up

Score 6

• Feces has texture but no defined shape

• Occurs in piles or looks like spots 

• Leaves residue when picked up

Score 7

• Feces watery, flat, with no texture

• Occurs as a puddle 

• Leaves residue when picked up


Check out Purina Fecal Scoring Chart to see some visual images of the poops mentioned above.  

In general, a pet that has acute, chronic, or even intermittent diarrhea should be examined and some basic labwork run.  Especially concerning is the pet with diarrhea, weight loss, and/or lethargy; concurrent vomiting also necessitates a call in to your pet’s doctor.  Your vet (me) will want a detailed history of your pet’s activities, diet, stresses, frequency and consistency of stool, difficulty in passing stool, blood or mucous in the stool, and any other predisposing factors such as exposure to parasites or eating from the garbage can. Your vet asks for a fresh fecal sample, just a marble-sized amount will do. The causes of diarrhea are many and in deducing the reason for distress.


Two General Types of Diarrhea: Acute (sudden onset) and Chronic (long-term)

ACUTE DIARRHEA: diet change (eating part of a rope toy), drug or toxin induced diarrhea, parasites, viral or bacterial infection. Occasionally an extra-intestinal problem such as pancreatitis, bloat, or liver disease will lead to acute diarrhea.  

CHRONIC DIARRHEA: causes may include some of those mentioned above as well as a host of other diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease, fungal disease, pancreatic disease, food allergy, protozoal diseases (toxoplasmosis), bacterial overgrowth, cancer, liver and kidney disease, irritable bowel syndrome, many more.

These cases can be very challenging to diagnose and even more difficult to treat.  Chronic diarrhea is often managed, not cured, and relapses during times of physical or emotional stress, dietary indiscretion.

A color change in your dog’s poop can be indicative of a problem, even if the consistency is normal.  Light brown to dark brown is normal based on your dog’s diet.  Black and tarry poop may indicate the presence of digested blood in the stool, fresh blood with mucous is common with large bowel disease, and white stool can occur if there is a problem with bile excretion or liver disease.  Yellow or orange poop can also be present with liver disease or if the stool is moving too quickly through the GI tract. Certain antacids or medications can affect the color of the poop. Dogs that like to eat grass or have ingested certain toxic mouse baits can have green-blue colored stool. 

What do you do if your dog is constipated or has a poop problem?

Fiber is great!  It is the great poop regulator and is as close as the plain canned pumpkin at Trader Joe’s. Because it contains both soluble and insoluble fiber, it can bind some of the excess water in the intestinal tract, bulking up the stool and slowing digestion. The insoluble fiber in pumpkin can benefit those suffering from constipation, but it is best to avoid feeding too much insoluble fiber since it can act as a natural laxative.  Helpful if you are constipated, not if the stools are already loose.

Keep an accurate history of your dog’s habits including appetite, frequency and effort of bowel movements, and environmental changes such as boarding.  You should have a Pet Butler technician frequently scoop poop to minimize spread of disease and yard contamination as well as to monitor your pet’s poop for spaghetti or rice grain type parasites, color, or consistency change. For acute causes of diarrhea, we often recommend fasting for 24 hours with access to water only if your pet is not lethargic or vomiting.  Then, we gradually resume feeding limited amounts of a bland diet which can include boiled chicken or ground turkey, scrambled eggs or cottage cheese and a bland carbohydrate source like rice or pasta in a 1:4 ratio. To get the gut back on track, small frequent meals are best with a gradual return to the pet’s normal diet. 

Hopefully this helps clear up some of the deeper, darker mysteries of your pet’s gastrointestinal system. Keep that yard clean and dog poop-free! 

What Is My Dog Trying To Tell Me? Understanding Dog Body Language

It's not all that challenging to determine what your dog is trying to tell you when he sits longing next to the table, a rope of saliva trailing the floor, staring at the juicy burger you are bringing to your lips. But how about when he yawns while you are vacuuming? Does housekeeping bore him? How about when he bows down on his front legs, rear end in the air, when you get home from yoga class? Is he showing off his own downward facing dog pose?

As a veterinarian, I can’t tell you how helpful it would be if dogs (and especially cats) could talk; I know my pediatrician feels the same about his youngest charges.  The good news for vets, pets, and their owners is that years of research on dog behavior and body language has given us plenty of insight into what those eyebrow raises, tail flicks, and curled lips might mean.  Deciphering behavior using body language cues helps me determine if a pet is in pain, anxious, happy to see me, or stressed, and it can help you bond with your dog and possibly head off an altercation between animals or know when your canine has discovered a new best friend.

What Does it Mean When Dogs Bark, Howl, or Whine?

First, it helps to remember that dog DNA is closely related to that of its ancestors, wild dogs and wolves. As pack animals, there is a hierarchy in the group that is determined by social cues such as verbal sounds, body stance, tail position and facial expression.

Canine vocal sounds are usually the simplest of the clues humans can utilize to decide what a dog is trying to tell you. Whining: a high pitched soft sound can be heard from a dog that is in pain, anxious, frustrated or seeking attention when a bark has been discouraged. A whine and a whimper can sound similar.  A bark, depending on the frequency, volume, and duration, can be used as an alert (read: the evil UPS man is coming to the door), to express excitement (accompanied by a tail wag and a grin), and as a sign of aggression when it is low pitched. Howling dogs may be anxious (think separation anxiety), attention-seeking, or trying to locate their “pack”. How about the dog that howls at the tv or a police siren? Those dogs may be telling the tv canine “hey, I’m here!” and possibly to back off their territory.

We can use body language along with vocalizations to best determine a dog’s emotional state.  When in doubt, approach an unfamiliar dog slowly and from the side, avoiding eye contact which is threatening.  Likewise, don’t reach over a dog’s head when first physically interacting.  Some fearful or reactive dogs may see this as a scary gesture and reactive aggressively or back away, even if your pat was well intentioned.

Dog Body Language Is Relaxed and Approachable

So, what does a relaxed, happy, and approachable dog look like? In its most comfortable, unthreatened state, a dog may be lying on its belly, back legs splayed like a frog, on its back with the belly exposed and tail loose, or on the side with the eyes closed and legs extended. The dog’s ears are also relaxed and limp. In this position, the dog would be vulnerable to another animal or human and its reaction time would be delayed if attacked.  Clearly, this is a dog that has no fear of an enemy! When standing, a content dog has its ears up but not forward, may have its tongue hanging out of a partially open mouth, a loose body with weight placed evenly on all four feet, head held high, and the tail down and relaxed.  If approached, this dog may give a wag and a wiggle and come closer to be stroked.

Now picture this same dog who has detected the movement of a chipmunk.  Alert and interested, the dog may close his mouth and tip his ears forward. His body weight may also shift to the front feet, ready to move if necessary.  The tail will be held horizontally to the ground, possibly with a slight twitch, and the eyes will be wide open.

Understanding Dog Behavior With Other Canines

Let’s bring our pet to the dog park, where a particularly dominant dog is chasing our pup relentlessly and aggressively, possibly biting at his ears, and rolling him to the ground.  Afraid? You bet! The fearful, submissive dog may roll on his back, tail pulled between his legs and may urinate.  He will roll his head to the side but keep his eyelids open to watch for trouble, though any eye contact will be brief and indirect.  His lips will be back, and mouth closed, or he may lick at the air or the dominant dog.  The ears are generally flat and pulled back as well.  Fido is scared and wants to head off further confrontation and attention! Yawning is also a sign of stress and anxiety in dogs.  If we had been observant, we may have noticed this cue as well as a tucked tail as soon as Bruiser showed up.

And what about Bruiser? How can you tell a dog who is playing from a dog who is an aggressive bully?  A dog bowing forward on its front legs, wagging its tail like a flag, with the ears erect and lips curved into a grin with the tongue out is giving the signal, “game on!” Usually, the dog remains in this position for just a few seconds before breaking into a “catch me if you can” type run.  A play bow is distinctly different from the dog that approaches another dog with his hackles raised, a penetrating, unbreaking stare, body position forward, nose wrinkled, a stiff tail, and teeth partially visible. Back off without making eye contact and alert Bruiser’s owner that things are about to get ugly.

I hope these tips give you a little better idea what your dog may be trying to say. Be watchful of your body language as well as to those canines around you. Maybe even try a play bow next time you are home and watch your dog bounce with joy!

Dog Overweight? Ways to Help Maintain and Control Your Dog's Weight!

dog overweight

Now that it's 2018, we wearily rub the sleep out of eyes and take a tentative step back into reality. Our pants are a little more snug from the holidays and it's time to get moving and regroup! After we purge the last bit of fruitcake and eggnog from the fridge, we owe it to our pets to take charge of their health and well-being. That starts with weight assessment and management, and it doesn't have to be difficult.  The trick is knowing where to start and being consistent. And the payoff is huge; a landmark study published in 2002 by Nestlé Purina's showed that maintaining a dog's lean body condition extended their median life span by 15 percent. For the Labrador Retrievers in the study, the statistic translates into two years. 

What To Do If Your Dog Is Overweight

Placing a call to your veterinarian is the first thing you should do if you're wondering if your dog is overweight. At the appointment, it helps to bring your pet's food, treats, and measuring cup; taking it one step further, an accurate log of your pet's food intake over a week or two is ideal. By having all family members write down what is fed, your vet gets an accurate picture of nutritional intake. Don't stop there! Record any activity your dog has engaged in during that same time period. We aren't necessarily counting calories expended, but gauging a rough level of activity. A pug on a couch doesn't use the same amount of energy (calories) as a border collie who chases a frisbee 2 hours a day. 

Your veterinarian is going to weigh your dog. You can monitor weight at home by weighing yourself, then weighing yourself holding your dog, and subtract your weight to get your pet's LBS/pounds.  Make a note of it on your food and activity log. If you have a large breed dog, many vet clinics and pet stores will happily let you walk in and get a weight on their oversized scale.  Because of variability in breeds and body types within the breed, charts will list a healthy weight range for each breed. Taking a look at the AKC guide to breed weights, we see that a Boston Terrier may weigh anywhere from 12-25 pounds. That's a HUGE degree of variability and isn't particularly helpful, especially if you have  a mixed breed dog. Veterinarians and knowledgeable pet owners are more likely to rely on a body condition scoring chart to assess weight. 

Determine Your Dog's Ideal Weight

One of the most popular is the Purina Dog Condition Scoring Chart. This chart allows pet owners and medical professionals to  evaluate a dog based on three criteria and assign them a value from 1 (emaciated) to grossly obese (9): feeling the fat pad over the ribs and determining if the ribs are able to be easily visualized, evaluating a dog's waist profile and thickness from above, and assessing their abdominal tuck. A dog at its ideal weight should be about a 4-5/9.  Anything above or below, and you've got a problem! Each point on the scale correlates 10% over or under their ideal weight.  For example, a golden retriever that is an 8/9, is roughly 30% overweight. Instead of weighing 100 pounds, he should weigh 70. (100 pounds x 0.30 = 30 pounds overweight). 4

Armed with your dog's body condition score, food intake, activity level, diet fed, his rough weight in pounds vs. ideal weight, you can start to make some adjustments in how you feed and exercise your pet. It's estimated that roughly 45% of dogs in the U.S. are overweight or obese. 2 These staggering numbers contribute to their overall quality of life in a number of ways: overweight pets are more likely to develop diabetes, arthritis, respiratory illnesses, skin infections, and cancer in addition to the relative immobility obesity fosters.  

How Much Food To Feed Your Dog

Dogs are physiologically built to thrive on 2-4 small meals a day. Free choice feeding can lead to overeating when bored. The choice of what to feed can be a complex one.  Again, enlist the help of your veterinarian who will likely recommend a food or foods based on your dog's size, breed, health status (pre-screening for diseases like hypothyroidism, heart disease, Cushing's disease, arthritis, and others to make sure there are no other medical issues contributing to your pet's weight gain), activity level, and age. Just reducing your dog's caloric intake of his regular diet and treats could also deprive him of essential nutrients. In general, a diet higher in protein and lower in fat and calories per 8 ounce cup can help your pet achieve 1-2% loss in pounds per week. Canned foods, though more expensive, tend to be more filling and also contain a higher percentage of protein as fed.

Dog Food Advisor has a handy calculator that can aid you in determining the amount of calories to feed. Be careful; the labels on the back of dog food bags and cans are the estimated amounts to feed a dog at their healthy weight. We are looking to lose! Also, recall that treats count. Ice cubes, carrots, apple slices and green beans can be an appealing substitute to high calorie bones and chews. BalanceIT is a company that will develop a home cooked recipe and supplements exclusively for your dog to meet their individual needs. Started by a board-certified veterinary nutritionist, professional recommendations can aid even a finicky dog or one with food allergies to lose weight.

Exercises and Activities For Dogs

If your dog is cleared to resume exercising, start with a 5-10 minute walk several times a day.  If you are able, incorporate some hills and swimming which help to build muscle and increase your dog's metabolism. When the weather is chilly, play "find the kibble" in the house after hiding individual pieces under rugs, on chair rungs, and in plastic water bottles or boxes. The mental stimulation is a good replacement for physical exercise on cold days, and the dogs don't realize they are expending as many calories as they are eating! Keeping a weight loss and activity log can assist in tracking the weekly weigh-in and fine tuning your dog's program to achieve optimal results. Measure, measure, measure (even keep a baggie of food for your dog's daily ration if needed). Who knows, you may find that by increasing your awareness of calories in, calories out, you may reach your own weight loss goals!

How to Keep Dogs Active in the Winter Season!

For many of us, cabin fever sets in at the thrill of the holidays. With our mushy, sometimes muddy, cloudy and generally unpredictable weather, even activities like skiing and sledding can be limited. We are bound to spend more time indoors and that means our pets do too. In the house, boredom = TROUBLE with a capital T.  The dog tears around the house with a lone sock, a leggo brick, or something straight out of the garbage can. So how do we beat winter boredom for our dogs? With a little creativity and exploration, you can find lots of ways to bond with your dog, increase their social skills, and work on training through playful activities.  Best of all, when you get their mental gears turning, that expended energy results in a pooped pooch by day’s end!

Indoor Games to Play With Your Dog

A great indoor game to play with your dog in the winter is “Hide and Seek”.  This game also helps reinforce the command “Come”.  Start by having your dog “Stay” in a room or have another person restrain them.  Hide behind a door, under a blanket, or if outside, behind a tree.  Tell your dog to “Come” or “Find Me”.  When your hiding place is discovered, enthusiastically praise your dog, offer an awesome treat (beef jerky… mmmm), or reward them with their favorite toy.  By repeating the game in different surroundings and intermittently, the recall command can be consistently reinforced.  

You can also play “hide the treat” or kibble.  This game is fun for young kids who can be tasked with hiding bits of kibble or even the full meal in areas accessible to your dog while the dog is restrained in another room. By using their strongest sense, their nose, they can “hunt” for food after all the bits are hidden. You can make the most out of snowy weather by hiding treats in empty water bottles and then planting them in the snow so just the tops are exposed.  Your dog will love finding the bottles filled with delicious bites!  Chasing laser pointers isn’t just for cats; stop by an office supply store and see if you dog like to “hunt” the elusive beam.  If you have an unfinished basement, some dogs like catching bubbles.  This is another fun activity to keep kids and pets busy in the winter! 

Training Classes and Other Activities For Dogs

Now may be a good time to explore classes outside of your home. Keeping your dog active in winter can be as simple as signing up for a park district obedience class to refresh some skills!  Not only are you bonding with your dog, but they get a chance to engage with other canines and do a little rear-sniffing meet and greet.  Other classes that can be a ton of fun are agility which involves fast-paced running over A-frames, diving through tunnels, and jumping over poles.  If your canine doesn’t like other companions or is easily distracted, set up an obstacle course in the basement and lure them with a treat or a ball.  

Nose work courses are suitable for every breed and age dog; while your pup isn’t likely to get on the TSA payroll, they can learn to find a scent hidden among boxes or containers.  Dogs love jobs whether it be retrieving a ball or digging up a buried treasure in the yard!  You can start teaching basic nose work at home if you can identify a smell your dog LOVES.  I hide the treat in a plastic container with holes poked through the lid.  Find 4-6 identical boxes (shoeboxes, postal mailing boxes) and place the plastic container with holes poked through the lid in one.  Now it’s time for the shell game!  Mix up the boxes without your dog present then casually stroll the room with your friend.  You can casually investigate the boxes, avoiding the loaded box, and reward your dog with a treat or praise at the box when they show an interest in the correct container.  This mentally stimulating and confidence building exercise should be FUN. Limit obedience commands and enjoy your dog’s enthusiasm and success.  Because your dog’s nose goes wherever they go, you can take this game to the park, the car, or to Grandma’s house. 

Activities for Social Dogs

Enrolling in dog day care, heading to a dog park, or finding an indoor swimming pool may be options if you have a social dog who likes to exercise with others.  It’s important to receive a behind-the-scenes tour of any facility where you are considering taking your dog to play.  Cleanliness, supervision, and careful screening of canine companions is vital for safety.  The dog park during is best when it's less crowded like on the weekdays, and if you've interacted with like-minded owners there. The dogs can stroll off-leash and investigate every shrub and divot.

Clearly, there are lots of ways to keep your pet entertained during the winter months.  If all else fails, throw on a warm coat, some boots (for your dog too), and take a walk. Spring will be here before we know it!

How to Take Care and Protect Dogs This Winter Season!

Baby, it’s cold outside! If we are feeling the early chill of winter, you can bet our pets are too.  While we can turn up the heat, throw on some extra layers, and break out our waterproof boots, our dogs don’t have that same luxury. Certain northern breeds such as the Akita, Husky, Alaskan Malamute, and Keeshond have dense coats and furry feet that help to insulate them from the cold as well as allow them to navigate icy terrain.  A tiny chihuahua or dacshund with their short coats and reduced muscle mass may suffer from exposure much more quickly. How should we care for our dogs, great and small, in cold weather? Let’s start with the outer layers.

Keeping Dogs Warm in Cold Winter Weather

Some dogs can use an extra layer of fluff, just like people. Thin-skinned, delicate breeds such as the Italian Greyhound can use a coat or sweater that protects the belly and torso.  Excessive hair between a dog’s toes can be trimmed to avoid slipping on surfaces and to limit the snowballs that form on the feet.  A well-groomed pooch can also be outfitted with booties for insulation and to provide traction on slippery surfaces. Most dog booties are elastic or have Velcro fasteners and can be laundered. 

If your dog can’t bear to wear boots, consider a paw wax or petroleum jelly massaged into the pads to provide protection from the elements and to prevent cracking.  Pets are more likely to sustain injury walking on ice or salt; to protect your pet in cold weather, always rinse, dry, and carefully examine their feet after returning from the great outdoors. And a good belly rub to remove ice and debris is always appreciated!

Acclimating our dogs to the colder temperatures is best done by limiting outdoor playtime to 5-10 minutes and extending that period gradually.  Caring for senior or young pets when the weather is cold may mean keeping them indoors or providing a warm, padded shelter.  Just like humans, these dogs are less able to regulate body temperature and may suffer from frostbite more easily.  Dogs are more likely to develop frostbite on delicate skin such as the ear tips and tail.  The most noticeable change in affected areas is a color change from pink to white or blue-grey. A good rule of thumb when it comes to dog winter safety is if you are uncomfortable outdoors, so is your pet!  

Remember These Winter Care Tips For Dogs 

Additional winter care tips include being aware of some toxins that may be particularly accessible during the season. Antifreeze ingestion can be lethal and cause a drunken appearance, kidney damage, vomiting, and seizures.  Clean up any spills immediately as it has a sweet taste that is appealing to dogs.  Ethylene glycol is the ingredient that will lead to poisoning; it is possible to buy antifreeze that has propylene glycol as the active ingredient and is less toxic.   Poinsettias, holly, and mistletoe are common plants we may use for winter decorations and will lead to oral irritation, drooling, vomiting or abdominal pain if ingested.  

Leaving a pet in a car that is running increases the likelihood of carbon monoxide poisoning; while it may seem tempting to run one last errand with your companion, drop them at home first! Likewise, space heaters and electrical cords can cause fire or electrical burns if your dog decides to make them chew toys or knocks them over while playing.  Unlike their cat counterparts, most dogs stay away from the Christmas tree.  BUT, the tree water or edible ornaments can be a great temptation and lead to injury.  Keep the tree, needles, glass decorations, and edibles inaccessible to all your pets. 

Lastly, nutrition and hydration should be carefully considered when the weather is cold.  If your dog is active in the snow or spends time outdoors, they utilize more calories to maintain their body temperature.  To care for your dog in the winter, you might find additional kibble is necessary to maintain body weight and optimal health.  Dehydration is a concern in winter time just as it is in the summer.  Some dogs may drink more water to offset the lack of humidity in the air. Provide ample fresh water, ice cubes to snack on, and heated water bowls if necessary. 

DIY Paw Balm to Protect Dog Paws This Winter

Here is a favorite paw balm recipe to help moisturize and condition your dog’s pads in the winter time. Happy holidays!

21-24 standard lip balm tubes OR 6 1-oz. tins

a small digital kitchen scale, optional

small pot or double boiler



2 oz. (approx. 2 tbsp.) olive, sunflower, or sweet almond oil

2 oz. (approx. 2 tbsp.) coconut oil 

1 oz. (approx. 1 tbsp.) shea butter

4 tsp. beeswax 



In a small pot or double boiler over low heat melt the oils, shea butter, and beeswax. Stir continuously until all is melted and well blended.

Carefully pour the mixture into lip balm tubes and/or tins. (buy on amazon)

Let them cool on the counter until hard.

Cap and label.

Keep away from extreme heat.

Apply the balm as a preventive treatment or to help soften dry paw pads or noses. Use within 1 to 2 years.

Pet Safety: Safe Foods Dogs Can Eat On Thanksgiving

Next time you are the pet store picking up a bag of kibble, check out the ingredients in some popular brands of dog food.  The lists read like a veritable Thanksgiving Day menu: sweet potatoes, turkey, peas, white potatoes, carrots, pumpkin and cranberries.  As the lines blur between pet food diets and what we feed our human holiday guests, it is a good idea to clear up some common misconceptions about safe and dangerous Thanksgiving meals for dogs, so they can join the party!

Thanksgiving Table Decorations To Watch Out For

During the holiday preparations, we may overlook the dog in the corner munching on a mum or an amaryllis.  Both plants, as well as macadamia nuts, holly, English ivy, cyclamen, and Christmas rose are all found on the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center’s list of toxic plants.  Ingesting modest quantities will generally cause vomiting, diarrhea, depression, and excessive salivation so it’s best to keep any plants high out of reach of a rogue canine. 

The kitchen! Home to all varieties of delicious smells, tastes, and frenzied activity.  Dough rising in the corner for dinner rolls? Should your dog eat raw dough, be prepared for a host of potential problems including bowel obstruction and bloat as the dough continues to rise and release gases INSIDE your dog’s belly.  As the yeast ferments, ethanol is produced. 

Think an over-served relative is bad news? A drunk dog is no laughing matter; watch for signs of drooling, difficulty walking, weakness, low blood pressure, body temperature, vomiting, and seizures in an intoxicated pet. Raw or under-cooked meat waiting for the deep fryer can also be dangerous to your dog.  In addition to bones which can puncture the esophagus, stomach, intestines, or become lodged in the mouth, Salmonella and E.coli love to live on raw turkey.  Ingesting these bacteria may cause vomiting and diarrhea in your dog which may lead to secondary exposure by unsuspecting guests.

Safe Thanksgiving Foods For Dogs


Can your dog eat cooked turkey? For most otherwise healthy dogs with no food allergies or intolerances, the answer is yes! A good rule of thumb is to feed your dog no more than 10% of his daily calories in treat form or suffer the consequences (read: diarrhea).

Skinless, boneless white meat is low in fat and calories and is easy to digest for most dogs.  Likewise, canned or cooked pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling with sugar and spices) is a great source of fiber and Vitamin A; 1-2 Tablespoons can be added to your dog’s dish without leading to excessive gas or loose stools. 

Mashed or cooked white potatoes or sweet potatoes are also a delicious treat; set aside some safe starches before you add butter, salt, milk, cheese, gravy, and especially garlic or onions (both on the naughty list and can cause red blood cell damage!).  And please, no gravy!

Traditional Thanksgiving foods like cranberries can be eaten in very small amounts before being doctored with sugar and other goodness.  And while they may look similar, grapes and raisins are known to cause kidney disease in dogs and are to be avoided.  Plain green beans and peas are tasty and healthy! Add a few to your dog’s Thanksgiving plate.

Sweet Treats Dogs Can and Cannot Eat 


No meal is complete without dessert. Chocolate is a definite no-no; the caffeine and theobromine cause nervous system stimulation, gastrointestinal upset, and even death in high enough doses.  All chocolate is not created equal; dark chocolate and baking chocolate, i.e. the “good stuff”, contains more of the “bad stuff” and will cause toxicity in smaller quantities.  Size does matter.  A smaller dog will become ill eating the same amount of chocolate as a larger pet.

Those of you trying to minimize the calorie load in your Thanksgiving meal need to be sure sweeteners containing xylitol aren’t accessible to dogs. The no-calorie sweetener can be found in some peanut butters, gum, mints, pudding snacks, and some baked goods.  Unlike humans, dogs consuming xylitol experience a massive release of insulin which can cause low blood sugar, weakness, seizures, and liver failure.  If you like to spoil your pet, apples, carob chips, and frozen banana bites are safe Thanksgiving indulgences for your dog.  

Most of all, make sure your guests are on the same page when it comes to sharing their Thanksgiving food.  If everyone gives your dog a “tiny” bit of turkey, tummy troubles or even a serious case of pancreatitis could send you to the vet. It’s also important to remember to feed your dog his Thanksgiving dish IN his dish and not from your hand or the table.  Bad behavior can begin or be reinforced during the frenetic holidays. 

Be mindful of these tips and you can be thankful you avoided a Thanksgiving trip to the Animal ER!

10 Christmas Gift Ideas For The Special Pets In Your Life

It's that time of year. What do you get the pet that has everything?  Are you racking your brain trying to figure out what to get Fido or Bella this year?  We have come up with 10 gift ideas that are sure to please your pet!


10. Bake-A-Bone Dog Treat Maker


The original dog treat maker makes healthy, delicious preservative-free treats in minutes. Perfect for small, medium and large dogs. Bake-A-Bone features allergy-sensitive recipes including wheat-free, corn-free, low-glucose, lactose-free, gluten-free and soy-free. Recipes for every taste: chicken, beef, liver, peanut butter, cheese, vegetarian, vegan organic and much more. Make fun specialty treats also snicker poodles, banana biscotti bones, birthday bones, puppy pot-roast bones. You can also decorate your treats with fun, pet-friendly homemade icings.


9. Indoor/Outdoor Heated Bed


This one’s water resistant, so your furry friend can use it inside or out.
Small indoor/outdoor heated bed,


8. Cat Nap Fleece Hammock

And when it gets to be summer, just flip the hammock over for a lighter cotton side.
Cat hammock with wood stand,



7. Pez Dog Treat Dispenser

Giant PEZ Dog Treat Dispenser with 6 Treats and 1 Pack of PEZ Refill Dog Treats (1 Set)


6. DIY Dog Treats

These might be the best dog biscuits your dog will ever snack on. 

source: Rachel Ray


5. Log Bowls

Log Bowls combine the beauty of a tree in its natural state with a high-gloss, vibrant finish. Each bowl is handmade using locally reclaimed trees of all varieties (fallen or cut down due to infrastructure or inclement weather). The trees are hand selected, gathered, turned and finished by Loyal Loot Collective and local artisans. Log Bowls come in a wide variety of colors and are refined by hand with a water-based, furniture grade finish.



4. iFetch

It's playtime. Whether you're at work, at home or on vacation, the iFetch makes everyone happy by bringing a fun, new twist to the familiar game of fetch. Perfect for indoor and outdoor play, the award-winning iFetch launches miniature tennis balls 10, 20, or 30 feet, saving the day (and your arm) when you're too tired (or too busy) to keep playing. Invented by the Hamill family in Austin, Texas, the idea for the iFetch was born when their toy poodle, Prancer, turned out to be a fetching fanatic. After a few prototypes and an incredibly successful Kickstarter campaign, the iFetch is now a global phenomenon, giving dogs around the world the opportunity to play fetch to their hearts' content. With the iFetch by your side, your fetch-loving dog will never be bored again.


3. Cat Dreams DVD


It’s an hour and a half of cat awesomeness, basically. (Think mice running through a house, birds chirping, etc.)



2. Litey Leash

Litey Leash in Radical Red is the perfect for pups in the mood for a cool sophisticated nighttime stroll.



1. Hyper Tennis Ball Launcher





slingshot designed to shoot a tennis ball over 200 feet, hands-free pick up, no more touching slimy balls or throwing your shoulder out


We at Pet Butler wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

sources: 27 Wonderful Christmas Gifts To Give Your Cat, 25 howliday gift ideas for your dog

Give a Pet a Gift in Hard Times



Recently there seems to be an abundance of weather-related catastrophes.  So many of us know someone who has lost their home and/or belongings. We all want to help and sending money, providing meals or clothing is all great ways to meet a need.

Here is another idea that we can provide for our loved one's beloved pets and take some of the stress away. is just one company who will send pet-friendly care packages. You can order a delivery of pet food, treats, and even a toy. Imagine the smile and relief when a box arrives with much-needed supplies and the joy of seeing Fido with a full belly lying by their side gnawing a chew toy. 

Remember, pets feel the pain of the situation too and knowing Fido is taken care of relieves some of the stress in life's unpredictable events.



By Carol Curtin

Keeping Your Pets Safe in the Summer Heat


Summer time can be dangerous and uncomfortable for your pets. With humidity,  high temperatures and summer storms, your pets can be stressed and become sick. Or even die!

Here are some helpful tools and tips to help your fur babies safe and cool during the hot summer months.

Practice basic summer safety:

NEVER leave your pet in a parked car, EVER.

Even with the windows cracked, temperatures can reach as high as 120°, in 30 minutes, on an 85° day. Your pet may suffer irreversible organ damage, or die. Not even for a minute should you leave your pets in the car. The pet will suffer terribly if left in a hot car unattended, no one wants that.


Humidity is as dangerous for your pet as it is for you. Your pet “pants” to help evaporate moisture from their lungs, which takes heat away from their body. With high humidity levels, they will be unable to cool themselves and their body temperature will soar to dangerous levels, very quickly.

Signs of heatstroke

Signs of heatstroke include are heavy panting, glazed eyes, rapid heart beat, difficulty breathing, lethargy, vomiting, deep red or purple tongue, and becoming unconscious. Young or older animals are more susceptible to heatstroke, and some breeds with short muzzles will have a harder time breathing in hot weather.

If heat stroke happens, move your pet into the shade or an air conditioned area. Run cool, not cold, water over her/him, and apply ice packs to the neck, head and chest area. Let the pet drink small amounts of water, or lick ice cubes. Take the pet to a veterinarian as soon as possible.

Prevention is the best medicine

Always provide ample cold, fresh water and shade for your pets, and the ability for them to get out of the sun if you can’t be home with them. Try and keep them in an air conditioned room if at all possible. Dogs do not respond to fans the same way as humans, because dogs mainly sweat through the paws, so it is not as effective.

Limit exercise on hot days, to early morning or late evening when it is cooler. Try to have a leisurely walk instead of a strenuous work out. Always carry water with you to keep your dog from getting dehydrated.

Just a few commons sense items will keep your fur babies happy, healthy, and cool!

Enjoy the summer!

**The Humane Society of the United States newsletter,




5 Benefits of Giving Your Dog a Massage




After receiving a massage dogs can feel the same way as we can. The benefits are numerous for owner’s and pets alike. We can all use more relaxation in our lives. Here are some of the reasons you should be giving your dog a massage:

1. It Reduces Stress- Massage studies have proven this and everyone, even pets, can benefit from this. Since dogs pick up on our stress the can also use some de-stressing as well. If your dog is easily anxious this is a great way to help reduce some of that.

2. It will Improve Circulation- With increased circulation from massage the body can recover after exercise and also help with conditions, such as arthritis. The act of pressuring and releasing muscles creates blood flow which is very healing to the body.

3. It can Strengthen Your Relationship- A wonderful way to build your relationship is through touch. Be sure to ease your dog into it, as it may be new and uncomfortable to them at first. Once your dog realizes the benefits this will be something he will look forward to. It’s not hard to find a reason for your dog to want to be near you. This is one way that you can both feel connected.

4. You can Find Injuries or Problems- It is hard to tell if there is a lump, swelling or weight loss by looking at a dog through their fur. By touching your dog regularly you will be able to find these and also notice any changes that may have happened. This is not the most fun benefit of massaging your dog but it may be a crucial benefit.

5. It is also a way to Relieve Pain- Dogs are usually very active and in being that way sometimes can be in pain. Massage is an excellent pain reliever. Injuries or arthritis can be soothed with massage. Dogs do not enjoy pain any more that we do. To help them with this is part of being a great owner.

Massage is an easy and healthy way to take care of your dog. Your vet probably can show you some methods to use, especially if you are unfamiliar with massage. Continuing to find ways to take care of your pet is being a responsible owner!

Written by Paige Cerulli for