writing for our local newspaper, The Horry Independent "Shopper." They began a great little column called
"All About Pets" and needed a guest writer until their ad spaces filled up with paying clients.
I also enjoy writing for blog-spots upon
request, especially for rescue programs and internet sites that promote excellent canine health and general care of all pets,
large & small!
please find articles that I received the most feedback from.
I consider “Nutrition”
the most important chapter in my book, Raising Dogs With Common Sense.
First, I encourage you to follow the advice
and instruction of your trusted veterinarian.
Some dogs require specific diets due to certain illnesses or
peculiarities associated with their breed.
While I am a bully-breed fan, I
love all dog breeds, and I have done much research into the ingredients
that seem to work best for most breeds.
Nutrition Rule: READ
LIST of anything you intend to feed your dog (dry kibble,
can food and even treats). If you find corn, wheat or glutens of any
type in the ingredient list, please search for a better product. Dogs are unable
to digest corn and corn
glutens; therefore, corn = filler = more poop in the yard. Wheat and wheat glutens
convert to sugar in
the body, and cause yeast to form on the dog’s skin. Yeast can also cause
stinky ears and “eye
boogers.” The wrong ingredients have
potential to irritate skin and coat.
Gluten is a sticky protein that can build up in the body and blood
stream, causing allergies and other health problems. I believe in prevention,
so I do not allow
“bad” ingredients in my dogs’ nutrition.
In my 20+ years of raising dogs and experimenting with various canine
formulas (I even cooked for my dogs at one point!), I discovered that I saved money
by spending more on the best
foods. My dogs actually eat less
because I provide them with
grain-free, meat-&-sweet- potato-based dry kibble. Please see my website
for preferred brands,
etc. Remember, in the wild, dogs are
carnivores (predominantly meat eaters).
Sure, I supplement my dogs’
diet now and then with meat and dark greens from our meals. I also throw a handful
of fish oil gel caps
into the yard each morning, as fish oil is excellent for humans AND dogs (more
info on supplements in my
book). The ONLY “treat” I purchase is
meat jerky – 100% meat, no fillers. I
break the strips into tiny pieces to make them go further, for training
As of 2014, I own five dogs that enjoy
running our fenced-in farm. None of them
are over-eaters even though they have an automatic feeder containing 100%
digestible, grain-free food. My
senior dog (“Cindy,” age 8yrs) has a few
health problems, but she still has loads of energy once she gets going in the
mornings. Her skin and coat are
beautiful, and she has clear eyes. My
other dogs range ages 5 months to 2 years, and they fall into the criteria of
what I feel a young, healthy dog should possess: excellent muscle tone, plenty
beautiful coats, healthy skin, great temperaments, wagging tails, clear eyes,
and clean teeth!
Angela T. Roberts, Author
Raising Dogs With Common
TREATS & CHEWS
my last article I discussed the importance of reading the ingredient list for
all edible products. My #1 rule is to avoid wheat, corn and glutens of
any type; these "bad" ingredients are potential hazards to Fido's
overall health. I believe in grain-free nutrition, but I also encourage
you follow the advice of your trusted veterinarian.
While treats are
necessary, most dog owners prefer using something different than dog food
kibble for training and reward purposes. The most
economical "treats" are tiny pieces of leftover meat from family
meals. NOTE: it is best to use grilled, boiled or baked meats, (not
breaded, spicy or fried), to protect Fido's intestines. Freshly cooked
meat should be stored in your refrigerator, no more than a few days for safe
use. If you prefer easy, nutritious training tools, I suggest 100% meat
jerky strips which store for a long time in room-temperature containers.
some treats resemble jerky, but consist of the "bad" ingredients.
Please read the labels - jerky should be meat only, and may include
vegetable glycerin and salt as preservatives. Jerky is expensive, so I
break the strips into small pieces to make them go further. I avoid all
typical dog treats, because most of them contain wheat, corn, flour and/or
gluten forms of those ingredients. You can seriously undo your efforts of
providing excellent daily nutrition by giving Fido the wrong treats.
dogs will chew on SOMETHING. Chewing is the only way for puppies to shed
their baby teeth. Chewing helps remove plaque and debris from nasty
mouths. Chewing relaxes Fido, and passes time for him when his humans are
unable to play. In my opinion, deer and elk antlers are the safest and
healthiest chew-bone sources available. Antlers do not splinter, they
last for a long time, and they are full of natural minerals. Hunters, you
have full access to free antlers, but please saw off the sharp points and boil
the antlers for about 10 minutes to kill any parasites, then let the antlers
air dry for a few days before gifting Fido with this awesome chew bone.
If you prefer the easier route, please see my website for my source of
ordering safe antlers, already sawed and sanded for safety. I have
large-breed dogs, so I order elk antlers... by the pound!
Rawhides become soggy as the dog's saliva breaks down the material. Left
unsupervised, this material can cause choking. Likewise, pig ears are
hard/crispy when purchased, but they become soggy as the dog's saliva break
them down. Anything that has potential to get soggy, splinter or break
off should be SUPERVISED while Fido is enjoying his chew time. The
more dangerous chews that I have described can be swallowed, build up in the
intestines, and turn into a life-threatening blockage. SOME natural bones
may be safe for a little while, but once the end pieces fall off, Fido is at
risk for choking and blockage. In addition, once you notice any jagged
edges on a bone, it is time to trash it. SAFETY RULE: Any chew-bone or
antler should be too large to fit inside Fido's mouth. He needs to
"work at it" in order to scrape his teeth along the chew bone/antler,
removing plaque in the process.
in this article are discussed in great detail in my book.
T. Roberts, Author
DOGS WITH COMMON SENSE
ADOPTION DAY STRESSORS
This article is an EXCERPT from my book, Raising
Dogs With Common Sense,
where I use the name “Odis” (my first bulldog) throughout
the entire book as a substitute for
repetitive words such as “the dog” or “your puppy,” etc.
Whether Odis is 6 weeks or 6 years old,
the day you bring him home (and even a few days into his adoption), will be
stressful. Even though he wags his tail
in your presence and seems to be totally at peace lying in your lap, he may be
stressing inside with no way to tell you about it. He is digesting a brand new
different sounds, scents, and appearances. He has new humans, a new place to
sleep, and quite often, an entirely new routine to adjust to. Try to put yourself
in Odis’ position.
Imagine that you are sitting in your living room watching your favorite
show. You hear the sounds of your loved
ones’ voices, you smell the yummy supper cooking in the kitchen, and you feel
the overall security of familiarity. You are feeling pretty good! But then a
complete stranger appears in your
home and picks you up. He loads you into a vehicle and drives you away from
everything and everyone you have known to date.
You try to accept the abrupt changes taking place, but you actually are
in a state of utter confusion. Then
imagine adjusting to a new meal schedule, being expected to “hold it” when you
need to potty, and being locked in a jail cell (crate) until the owner of this new
home has time to let you out in the yard to do your business. Oh, and add a
host of company (more
unfamiliar faces and smells) that want to see YOU! Family, friends, and neighbors
picking you up and carrying you around while breathing germs of every sort into
your face. A few of them even dangle you by your legs as you are lowered to the
floor. More noise fills the space you
now associate with “home.” There is no
place to hide. Nausea and other
tummy troubles have become real
possibilities now stemming from the overwhelming stress ball of chaos that your
adoptive family has allowed into your new environment. Enter one more surprise
… another dog! Not just any dog, but one that already lives
there. Before you realize it, he’s
sniffing at you, and you are expected play
nice with good ole’ Fido. Nobody
understands why you retreat to the nearest corner or dark space to hide from
the excitement building in the room.
Yay! It’s adoption day!
Just wait until tomorrow when the new family
hauls you to the big pet supply store to show you off to more strangers AND
The above scenario is a comical
culmination of adoption stories collected from my clients over the last 20+
years. This is a light-hearted way of
communicating a serious subject that adoption is very stressful to a puppy even
under the most controlled, quiet, and pre-planned conditions. If you like this
article, then you will love
my entire book!
Angela T. Roberts, Author
Dogs With Common Sense
Let’s stop and
think about our own comfort zones when it comes to meeting new people and being
exposed to places we are not familiar with.
How did we feel as children when we were forced to leave home that first
morning of elementary school – or even nursery school/daycare? Can you
remember the gaping hole in your
heart as your parents waved goodbye to you from the sidewalk while your teacher
gently steered you into that foreign environment called a classroom? Try to
remember the feeling of being forced
into making friends with a room full of strangers, and having to wait for
permission to go to the restroom! Recess
was a welcomed relief but you encountered several more strangers; you had the
choice of “dealing” with aggressive bullies or making friends with them.
Some of us were picked up by family at the
end of the school day. The rest of us
enjoyed riding a big, yellow bus full of more strangers. It’s safe to
say that we were tired from the
day and glad to be back in the comforts of home.
I compare the above
“spill” to taking Fido out for his first outing after adoption day. I
can only hope that this trip is a
well-puppy check-up for vaccines or a general health/maintenance vet visit for
adult Fido. You know by now that I
stress safety/health before entertainment.
Some diseases (Bordetella, Brucellosis, Parvo/Distemper & others)
are spread through saliva, mucus membranes (eyes/nose), and even from allowing
Fido to walk on or sniff the ground where a diseased dog has “been excused.”
Once Fido is
current on vaccines, it is understandable that you would want to take him for a
run on the beach, perhaps stop in at the local dog-friendly stores, or just
show him off in the passenger seat of your car.
Who doesn’t love an adorable doggie smiling from the car beside you at
red lights? But here’s where I caution
you that beyond his wagging tail lies potential for Fido to be stressed
out. Keep him leashed and close to you
when in public areas. Have a baggie with
tiny pieces of meat jerky treats so that new encounters with strangers are
pleasant experiences. Be very cautious
when socializing Fido with other dogs.
If both are leashed and allowed to slowly approach each other, owners
can facilitate these meetings with “good dog” phrases to encourage the dogs to
get along. Never force meetings with
other dogs or people. If Fido acts
nervous or you notice the hair standing up across his neck and/or back, say
“No” firmly, while immediately removing him from the problematic environment.
Reassure him with soothing voice tones while
petting him, as he may have just attempted to PROTECT YOU. Depending on Fido’s
age when you adopt him,
he may have had a bad experience with another dog. I suggest seeking out a trainer
aggressive or defensive behavior. On the
other paw, puppy Fido is more likely to run toward other dogs in hopes of
playtime, so you must be careful that older dogs are not aggressive toward
him. Not every adult dog will take
kindly to a puppy’s energetic introduction!
(I speak from experience in my own yard.) I encourage dog owners to sign
up for group
obedience classes for excellent social opportunities.
From the time you
leave home with Fido until the moment you return, there are numerous
opportunities to test his temperament. Socialization is a gradual process that
requires patience and diligence on your part as a responsible dog owner.
T. Roberts, Author
Raising Dogs With
ADOPTION: Frequently Asked Questions
How old should my puppy be when I bring
him home? Are you ADOPTING a puppy from the humane
society, a responsible breeder or even from a pet owner that responsibly raised
an accidental litter? If so, your puppy
should be around 8 weeks old. The
smaller the breed, the longer puppies need to stay with mamma dog, in my opinion. Even
with larger breed dogs, puppies should
not be taken away from mamma until they are eating and drinking independently,
no longer nursing on mamma, have been wormed on a regular schedule since age 2
weeks, have had a veterinarian check-up and a clear/negative stool check within
adoption week. Your puppy should also
have received his first set of vaccines, which normally happens at age 6
weeks. By leaving pups with mamma dog
for a while after receiving their first vaccines, the breeder will have time to
watch for adverse reactions from the vaccine, and puppies will continue to
socialize and develop personalities until adoption day.
Am I financially prepared for a dog? The expenses in this
paragraph do not include
emergency doctor visits for the occasional accident or illness encountered
while owning a dog. I suggest that you
obtain an “estimate” from your veterinarian regarding the cost to properly
immunize and protect your dog. Some vets
offer a wellness plan that covers all basic vaccines, stool checks, heartworm
testing, spay/neuter and more, for a low-cost monthly payment. I recommend researching
what is included in
these unique plans compared to paying “per visit” with a new puppy. Vaccines
are normally administered 3 to 4
weeks apart and most veterinarians require at least 3 to 4 sets of
immunizations plus the rabies vaccine
in order for your puppy to be protected against fatal diseases common to this
area. Regardless of who you adopt from,
you are still looking at several trips to the veterinarian within the first
year of pup’s life in order to keep him healthy, along with purchasing
heartworm prevention and flea/tick control as “monthly” health maintenance.
There are many products available – some are
all-in-one pills or topical liquids that prevent heartworms, fleas and ticks,
making life much easier on
the pet owner. Another expense to consider
is spay/neuter surgery while your dog is young; please consult with your
veterinarian on the proper age for your dog.
If you already own dogs and you do not have a trusted veterinarian,
please consider a spay/neuter clinic.
Most clinics keep surgical fees as low as possible and offer rabies
vaccines and a few other immunizations at reasonable prices. In addition to
health maintenance, don’t
forget about general supplies! The “basics”
include a crate, food/water bowls, containment options (fencing, tie-out lines,
leash/collar/leads for walking), and a continuous supply of high quality dog
food; nutrition is the key to raising a healthy dog.
Am I physically prepared for a dog? If your dog is an inside
pet, he will need
potty breaks quite often. Unless you
have a fenced yard with no gaps that allow for “escape,” you should be prepared
to leash-train and walk your dog frequently throughout the day for potty
breaks. If you plan on training your dog
with puppy pads in the house, this may save you some steps, but you will be
doing much more clean-up and odor control.
If you crate-train, you still have puppy pads or newspaper to deal with several
times per day; this involves bending down or sitting in the floor to maintain a
clean crate. New puppies scream through
the night unless you master the art of making them feel completely safe in
their kennel/crate (see my book, Chapters 3 & 12), so be ready for
sleepless nights. If a pup stresses out
from crying, I can guarantee a trip to the vet’s office to control stomach and
bowel issues resulting from stress.
Housetraining is physically demanding on the dog owner, requiring much
supervision, constant bending, clean-up, and walk-time outside.
rescued a dog in need of love and a
forever home. What should we do first? Whether you are adopting
from a shelter, a
rescue program, or you take in a stray, you’ve rescued a dog, and THANK YOU for
doing so! If Fido comes to you as an
older pup or as an adult, there are some things that should take priority in
your agenda: Most important is a trip to
your veterinarian to assess Fido’s health.
If immunization records did not accompany Fido, I suggest a Rabies
vaccine among other shots that will help to shield Fido from dangerous
diseases. Check his skin. If you
notice patches of hair missing or
sores in his coat, he may need a special nutrition plan along with medicated
baths. (I recommend Chlorhexidine washes
for “every” dog, for optimum skin/coat health, even if the skin is already flawless.) Schedule spay/neuter surgery within a short
period of time to prevent unwanted litters, and also to help extend Fido’s
lifespan. Discuss with your veterinarian
which heartworm/flea/tick prevention will be most effective and convenient for
Fido’s needs. While addressing the above
criteria, try to set aside quality time each day with Fido so that he learns
the personalities of you and your family members. Consult with trainers if you
temperament issue, and be consistent in your training of basic commands,
leash/lead walking, and housetraining, if applicable. Regardless of Fido’s
age, I advise keeping
him at home for the first few months other than necessary vet trips, in order
for Fido to feel secure in his new environment.
How can I prevent STRESS to my new
puppy/dog? It is very tempting to
“show off” your new puppy or even a new adult dog, because you’re proud of your
new canine kid! Please remember,
however, that changing environments puts stress on a dog’s entire system. Puppy
Fido (and often times, older/adult Fido) is leaving his mamma,
siblings and the only home he has known since birth. A wagging tail usually
means Fido is happy,
and, being a people-pleaser, he will naturally wag that tail when his humans
are within eyesight. What he cannot tell
you is that he really does not want to be taken to even more strange places to
meet new people or have a stranger dog approach him, at least for a little
while after adoption. Try to resist the
urge for field trips and socialization with other dogs until Fido has had time to
your family and the new routine. Above
all, be sure that Fido has had all puppy immunizations and a rabies vaccine
before exposure to public places; some diseases are contracted by walking
across the wrong dirt or even by letting Fido sniff the wrong dog’s
muzzle. Many puppies are sickly within a
few days of adoption due to exposure to the wrong environments. Take every precaution
to protect your new
What are symptoms of a sick puppy? The following
issues should be examined by
your trusted veterinarian ASAP: If Fido
will not eat and/or drink independently, that is the first red flag. Hand-feeding
may be required in order to get
him to eat. Keep a digital thermometer
handy to check Fido’s temperature if he acts sad or lethargic. Anything
over 102 is cause for alarm. If Fido has any difficulty “doing his
business” this is a serious problem; likewise, loose stool is the precursor to
several problems that can be diagnosed with a veterinary stool check. Excessive
whining/crying may accompany bloat
and/or fever. If Fido trembles or
wobbles upon standing up, he is weak and needs immediate attention. Many issues
are resolved with proper
treatment, excellent nutrition, regular
de-worming and other preventions. I
cannot stress enough the importance of having your veterinarian on call when
you plan to adopt a new dog. Puppies can
go downhill in a hurry. My vet has saved
many puppies for us because I knew when to get into his office with our little
Angela T. Roberts, Author
Dogs With Common Sense
I am humbled and thankful to be a part of
any effort to help dog owners everywhere! If you do not find answers to all of your questions in my book, I welcome your
calls & emails!