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Help In The Confusing World of Dog Information

Do you ever feel like there is just too much information in the world?  And when marketing sticks its ugly little hand into the mix, its enough to make your head spin.  So when it comes to getting good information regarding your best friend, where can you turn?  Well, of course, you can turn to Play All Day.  I may not have all the answers, but I definitely have many resources.  In this post, I will point you in the direction of one of my favorites.

When it comes to fact based, scientific information, you can’t go wrong with The Science Dog blog.  This is a blog dedicated to factual information on things such as contagious yawning in dogs, why do dogs eat grass, does music affect dog behavior, and many other interesting topics related to dogs.  Linda Case uses her extensive background in animal sciences and her love for science to bring you research based information regarding dogs. This, combined with her deep love for dogs, makes for great reading and reliable information.

And her most recent book, Dog Food Logic, is a fabulous resource on how to navigate the very confusing world on choosing the right dog food for your dog.  Put this one on your reading list.

Happy Reading!

My Dog Has Kennel Cough…What Should I Do?

Kennel cough is a very broad term  used to describe the cough that accompanies an upper respiratory infection in dogs.  It is usually a very contagious condition and is more likely to occur when dogs come together for daycare, boarding, dog parks, social events, etc.  It’s one of those unavoidable risks when you promote a social lifestyle for your dog.  Despite the best efforts of daycare and boarding facilities, germs get passed from one dog to another.  I like to believe that Play All Day’s diligent efforts to keep our facility clean, to manage the humidity levels within the facility, and to promote good air exchange within the building, all help to prevent breakouts of this pesky condition.  But the fact is that breakouts of contagious illness will occur.

So what should you do when your dog exhibits the hallmark cough?  Ultimately, as your dog’s caregiver, that decision is up to you.  But I will share what I do with my own dogs

  1. I keep them from other dogs in social situations, in an attempt to prevent the spread to others. My rule of thumb on when to socialize again is “cough free for 3 days”.
  2. I watch them a bit closer to make sure they are eating and drinking and determine if they are comfortable.
  3. I don’t take them in to the veterinarian’s office unless I determine one or more of the following:
  • Not eating for 24 hours
  • Not drinking
  • Are lethargic for more than a day
  • Are miserable from constant coughing (or keeping me awake all night with persistent coughing).
  • Dog is older or unhealthy for other reasons

If I do take my dog to the vet, I go armed with the knowledge that I need to treat symptoms and not the underlying disease.

Kennel cough, for the most part, will pass on its own and does not require antibiotics.  But your vet may be able to prescribe a steroid or cough medication if your dog is miserable.  But please understand that these treatments do not make the kennel cough go away any quicker…just treats the symptoms.  And the treatments for the symptoms often have side effects of their own.

Here is a link to more information from Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

I love my veterinarian team and am so grateful for the expertise and knowledge they provide for my dogs.  I am in no way promoting that you should avoid veterinary care.  When my dogs need a vet, I drop everything and get them in.  I’m just planting a seed of reason so that you don’t feel like a bad parent if you just wait it out and see if things get better on their own.  We, as humans, don’t run to the doctor every time we get a cold and your dog is really no different.  Just like a cold with us, kennel cough will most likely resolve on its own over a period of 1 week or so.

Yes, kennel cough is a pain in the rear.  If you have experienced it with your own dog, you may wonder if socializing your pooch is worth the potential headache if your dog does contract a contagious illness.  It’s all about risk vs. benefit in my opinion.  I would say that the benefits of daycare do outweigh the possibility of kennel cough.  After all, who wants to live their life in a bubble?

dog isolation

dog bubble

Morels, May Apples, and Mariam

Its early May and my thoughts (a lot of my thoughts) turn to hunting Morel Mushrooms. It’s a bit of an obsession and many people understand it as they also obsess about hunting Morels. They’re an ugly little fungi but the hunt for them is as sweet as the taste of them sautéed in butter. My husband Will doesn’t even like to eat them, but loves the hunt. There’s nothing quite like that very first sighting of Mr. Morel each spring. You walk for miles, looking for a “mushroomy” spot; your eyes scan the forest floor, searching….searching. I always think that I’m missing them and then you spot him. Without fail, I conjure up my best Barbra Streisand as Fanny Brice in Funny Girl and say, “Hello Gorgeous”.

So what do Morels have to do with dogs you ask? Not a whole lot actually, but they make me think of my Grandma Mariam, and my Grandma has a lot to do with my love for dogs. I get asked all the time about where my deep and abiding love for dogs originates. It comes partly from my mother, but probably more so from my Grandma. To me, my love and respect for nature and all things living is deeply tied to my love for dogs. And my love and respect for nature and all things living is tied to my Grandma. My fondest memories of my Grandma are of her working with plants and flowers, her with her dogs, and of time spent with her shelling in Florida. She owned a greenhouse for many years and her retirement job was working on a fishing/shelling boat in Sanibel, Florida. I remember being awestruck by her knowledge of the living shells and their habitat. And she had a really cool pet Pelican named Yankee who visited the boat and would let her pick him up and hold him. Now that’s a cool Grandma.

As a young adult, I invited my Grandma to come and visit Will and me in our home. I had just discovered Morel hunting and wanted to show her what I knew. Of course, she already knew about hunting Morels and schooled me. There are several species of forest plants that show up about the same time the Morels pop. I had my favorites and knew them by sight. I pointed them out to her, but didn’t know their names. Grandma did know their names and I discovered May Apples, Jack in the Pulpit, and Trillium. Now whenever I see those plants, I smile and think of that week together. We found some huge Morels too which was a bonus.

My Grandma passed away a few years ago. She lived a full and productive life and was surrounded by a family who loved her. My Grandma had a temper and when she was grouchy, you just gave her space. I think I inherited that from her too. We can’t all be perfect (wink). But grouchiness aside, I loved to spend time with her and hear her stories. And as an adult, I really do appreciate all I learned from her. And I treasure the impact she had on me by sharing her love of nature and all things living. There are many more things I loved about her but this is the greatest and I feel it is the best part of me.

Note: My Grandma also loved to read and write. I got that from her too and plan to put the writing part to better use in the future and stay current with my blog. Who knows, maybe I’ll even write something about dogs. 



May Apples

May apple colony BBG

Jack in the Pulpit

jack in the pulpit

April, Mom, and Grandma (1980??)

Grandma Mom April 1980 001

Grandma with one of her Shelling students.

He’s an iconic TV celebrity.  Do you recognize him?

Grandma and McLean Stevenson 001

What’s In A Daycare?

I remember the internal conflict I experienced when I had to choose a name for the daycare. I wanted it to be fun, yet also wanted it to reflect our philosophy of care and our mission. This was a difficult combination to achieve and in the end, I chose the “fun” and marketable name. Don’t get me wrong, I love our brand, but at times I feel it does not accurately reflect our mission completely. Those of you that know us well know that playing all day is only a part of what we do. Our mission is to provide a fun, safe, and enriching environment for the dogs in our care. Our goal is to send home a better dog at the end of the day. For this reason, our daycare is not for everyone. We enjoy working with families that are committed to providing an optimal daycare experience for their dog. This takes commitment on both sides, but the pay offs can be big.

The concept of daycare is growing in the Peoria area and this makes me very happy. My friends and family are often concerned when they hear of a new daycare opening in the area and worry about increased competition hurting our business. I don’t look at it that way. There are plenty of dogs in the Peoria area that can benefit from daycare. I’m just happy to see that the concept is catching on and that people are willing to commit the time and money on a worthwhile activity for their dog. But how do you tell if daycare is right for your dog and how do you know if you have chosen the right daycare for your dog? As with all things important, do your research. Not all daycares are created equal. And this is not because one is right and the other is wrong, its simply that they are different and may or may not fit your needs.

Here are a few of the reasons I am so proud of Play All Day:

• All of our dogs are screened prior to their first day of daycare
• Play groups are supervised 100% of the time.
• Our staff is trained in reading dog body language and in the management of play groups.
• Dogs in our care are trained throughout the day to be polite and mannerly in play group.
• Our dogs are looked at as individuals and we strive to enrich the experience of each dog.
• Parents are given an honest and thorough update on how their dog does each visit.
• Not all dogs are a good fit and we admit that.
• We separate our dogs into manageable groups based on size and temperament.
• We invest in our facility in dog friendly ways (climate control, flooring, turf, equipment).
• We educate our parents whenever possible.
• Status quo is never good enough…we are always looking for the next improvement to our dogs’ experiences.

Here is a link to a nice article by “The Bark” magazine.

I think they hit the most important aspects of how to find the daycare that is right for you. And while the name “Play All Day” may not accurately reflect all that we do as a daycare, I believe that the dogs that we send home at the end of each day do.

Doggie Etiquette

You may read this title and chuckle, but it is serious business.  Dog/dog greetings are serious business and a lot of information is exchanged in a very short period of time.  And dog/people greetings are even more serious and complex as they are inter species greetings.  You may be asking why are you making this so serious, April?  Why make such a big deal over something that has been going on for centuries?
The answer is Play All Day’s mission statement.  Our mission is to provide a fun, safe, and enriching environment for the dogs in our care.  Fulfilling that mission includes educating our dog parents on all things dog whether it be play styles, exercise, nutrition, or dog greetings.
Your dog’s play day with us starts the moment he wakes up on daycare day and starts to read all of the cues that this is the day….this is daycare day.  You have all seen it and wonder “how does he know that it’s daycare day?”  It continues as you drive to daycare and you turn the corner at Avanti’s and the whining and pacing begin in full force.  Hold on tight to the leash when you let him out of the car because he’s all wound up now.  And you hope April has put salt on the icy steps as your 70# dog drags you up the steps.  And when is April going to get a lighter door….this thing weighs a ton as you struggle to hold on to your very excited kiddo.  Uh oh….the reception area is full and one of the dogs is tiny and barking.  Etiquette, Shmetiqutte…I’ll be lucky to control him at all!
Of course, daycare is an extreme example because it’s like Disney Land to dogs.  But you may have similar experiences when you go to the park, the dog park, the vet, PetSmart, a friend’s house, or any other fun place with other dogs.  Is it really that important that your dog has good manners when greeting others (dog and human)?  The answer is a resounding yes.
You may know that your dog is friendly with people and other dogs.  But do you know that other dogs are friendly?  Do you know that other people are comfortable with strange dogs or big dogs or little dogs?  Unless you do, it is always wise and safe to keep your dog under control until it has been established that on leash greetings are appropriate.  Do you know that some of my best play group dogs are very leash reactive?  Happy and playful as can be in the play rooms, but very uncomfortable and growly when on leash with Mom and Dad.   And some dogs get very agitated when meeting dogs through a fence like the one in our reception area.  So it’s not always safe to assume that all daycare dogs are dog friendly when on leash, when Mom and Dad are around, and when space is tight.
So you may be asking yourself how you are supposed to keep your super excited 7 month old puppy under control in these types of situations.  Of course, the first and best answer is training.  Training your dog is like putting tools in a toolbox to use when you need them.  The second answer is being prepared.  Have the right collar or harness on your dog for best control (ask me about this anytime at all).  It is life changing to have the right collar/harness on your dog so that you can direct their energy.  Being prepared also may include having a toy or super good treat in your pocket to make yourself more interesting than the other dogs.  And sometimes the only option is management of the situation.  If you get yourself in a tight spot and you can’t control your dog, take yourself and your dog out of the situation temporarily.
Dr. Sophia Yin has put together a blog and some fun posters on Dog Park Etiquette and Human/Dog greetings.  This is good information given in a fun and graphic way.
Getting your dog out and about is great!  You are your kiddo’s guardian.  It is your responsibility to keep him safe.  Build your toolbox so that your outings remain fun and positive.  Respect the space of other dogs and people until you establish that greetings are appropriate.  When in doubt, go slow.
Tips for safe check-in at Play All Day:
1. Always bring your dog in on leash.
2. Do not let your dog bolt through the door.  Open the door slowly and survey who else is waiting.
3. Have a few food treats to keep your dog’s attention as you wait for them to go back to the play area.
4. Keep your dog on leash as you wait.
5. Avoid letting the dogs interact in the reception area.  They are pretty amped up.  They will have plenty of time to play together later.
6. If your dog becomes uncontrollable, walk back outside and wait on the ramp for a few minutes until it is less exciting inside.
7. Never hesitate to ask April for advice.


Dreary Day Diversion

It’s a dreary day today.  I was so hoping for a nice run in the woods or a hike with the boys, but it is not good for the trail system to be on trail within 24 hours of a rain.  So we are all inside and I am at risk of curling up on the couch and vegging out, watching Christmas movies all day long.  Love it while I’m doing it, but then I have this overwhelming sense of guilt and disappointment that I wasted the day.  There is always daycare work to be done, but you must step away regularly so that the batteries stay charged and there is still a sense of excitement about working in your own business.

With no outside time in sight for today, I have put my creative energies into cooking.  I made refrigerator bread for Will and me.  Before you think I’m “Suzy Homemaker”, know that the recipe is water, yeast, salt, and flour.  Combine, let rise, and refrigerate.  That is it.  But boy, is it good bread…and it keeps in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks (and actually improves the longer it sits).  My big fun was making Kale Fritattas for the boys.  I saw the recipe in “The Bark” a few months ago and have been wanting to try it.  They turned out great and the boys love them.  It was a very easy recipe to follow and the health benefits of kale are tremendous.

, from WebMD has the following to say about kale.  “Kale, also known as borecole, is one of the healthiest vegetables on the planet. A leafy green, kale is available in curly, ornamental, or dinosaur varieties. It belongs to the Brassica family that includes cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, collards, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts.

What makes kale so exceptional? Here is why it’s a superstar vegetable.

One cup of kale contains 36 calories, 5 grams of fiber, and 15% of the daily requirement of calcium and vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), 40% of magnesium, 180% of vitamin A, 200% of vitamin C, and 1,020% of vitamin K. It is also a good source of minerals copper, potassium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus.

Kale’s health benefits are primarily linked to the high concentration and excellent source of antioxidant vitamins A, C, and K — and sulphur-containing phytonutrients.

Carotenoids and flavonoids are the specific types of antioxidants associated with many of the anti-cancer health benefits. Kale is also rich in the eye-health promoting lutein and zeaxanthin compounds.

Beyond antioxidants, the fiber content of cruciferous kale binds bile acids and helps lower blood cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease, especially when kale is cooked instead of raw.”

Here is the link to the recipe.  Enjoy!