Pet Advice & Ideas

Can Dogs Eat Superfood Too?


dog looking up at owner

Dark leafy greens, purple skinned fruit, omega-rich fish - we always try to include superfoods in our diet. You may have originally thought that these foods can only help us humans. But, did you know they’re extremely beneficial to our furry friends too?

What exactly are superfoods?

Superfoods are nutrient packed, antioxidant rich foods. They give you those maximum nutritional benefits, and even better - with less calories. The high levels of antioxidants in these foods help to decrease and neutralize free radicals that are in our body. That means they can potentially lower your risk of heart disease, cancer, arthritis and more.

Some other boosts they can provide are:

  • Fiber, which can help in digestion and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.
  • Healthy fats, which give your body energy and improves your whole cardiovascular system.
  • Vitamins, which are great for your overall well being and maintaining bodily functions.
  • Phytochemicals, which, like antioxidants, can help reduce inflammation, keeping cells healthy.


owner giving dog a treat

Superfoods actually have the same benefits in our dogs too. With these foods built into their daily diet, you can give your pup that well-balanced meal and help them live their best lives!

Here are 5 superfoods that your furry friend can benefit from:

  1. Eggs: We already know how great eggs are for us, so it’s no surprise that they’re on the list. Often referred to as “the perfect protein,” they have all the good stuff for your pup - vitamins A, D, E and K.
  2. Blueberries: Not only are blueberries a great ingredient to include in their food, it’s also the perfect size for a quick, low-cal treat. They’re chock full of antioxidants and fiber, and as a bonus, they may support a youthful brain as dogs age.
  3. Fish oil: Hello omega-3 fatty acids! Fatty acids aren’t produced naturally by your dog, so including fish oil in their diet will support the health of basically every cell in their body. From heart health to skincare, fish oil gives them the whole healthy package.
  4. Sweet potatoes: Sweet potatoes carry tons of antioxidants! They’re also plentiful in vitamin A and vitamin C, which help maintain a healthy immune system, and fiber, which aids in their digestive system.
  5. Flaxseed: Flaxseed is another superfood that’s full of omega-3 fatty acids, plus omega-6 fatty acids. With so many beneficial properties, this little powerhouse can help support  immune health.

So, when looking at premium dog foods, take a quick scan through the ingredient list for some of these highly beneficial superfoods. Remember, when choosing your dog’s food, the true quality of a food is hard to gauge from the label alone. At Life’s Abundance we place emphasis on ensuring that each ingredient is beneficial. Art comes into science when those ingredients work together, synergistically, to support your dog’s health. Your dog’s food should make them feel good, both inside and out!


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How To Properly Clean Your Pet’s Ears

cat at vet getting ear cleaned

In the world of pet ownership, it only takes a couple of words to conjure up a visceral, sensory memory. “Dog breath.” “Wet dog.” “Cat pee.” Each compellingly icky in its own way, we spend billions of dollars a year trying to combat the lingering effects of these phenomena. So today, let’s delve deeper into the world of cavernous canals and explore how we deal with these two words: stinky ears. If you know, you know.
 
Ear cleanings are one of the most common requests we get at the vet clinic. From your vantage point as a pet owner peering into the ear, you really can’t assess the health of the ear with the tools you have. It can be hard to know whether you should be doing maintenance ear cleaning or trying to treat an ear infection without some professional guidance. So let’s start with the basics.

Anatomy Of An Ear

Most of us know at least one person who got sent to the ER because they stuck something (cotton swab, pencil, etc) too far into their ear canal and ended up injuring their eardrum. Dogs and cats have a different anatomy which makes this much harder to do - not that you should try! In fact, I’m about to explain why sticking a cotton swab in your pet’s ear isn’t something you probably need to do at all.

First things first: For our purposes, everything we can impact or treat as pet owners counts as the “External ear canal.” This starts at the outside of the ear (the pinna) all the way up to the eardrum. Both the middle ear and the inner ear are on the inside of the eardrum, and that’s where all the little bones and structures that are responsible for hearing and balance live. Unless the eardrum is ruptured due to trauma or disease, that’s not an area you can clean or medicate. So when you’re cleaning the ears or treating an ear infection with drops, you’re treating an infection of the external ear canal.

In dogs and cats, the external ear canal consists of three parts: the pinna, the vertical ear canal, and the horizontal ear canal. In people, the ear canal is one straight line from pinna to eardrum, but in dogs and cats the ear canal takes a 90 degree turn about halfway in. This means there’s a lot more opportunity for debris, fluid, and moisture to get trapped and build up around that bend.

It also means that if you put a cotton swab into the part you can access (the vertical canal), a very likely outcome is pushing ear gunk further into the horizontal canal, compounding any problems your pet may be experiencing, especially when that gunk is sticky.

dog getting ear cleaned

How To Clean Your Pet’s Ears The Right Way

The best way to clean a pet’s ears is with the right ear cleaner designed specifically for this purpose. Never use peroxide, which is highly irritating! By using a pet friendly ear cleaner, the liquid can get into both the horizontal and vertical ear canal, and dissolve or loosen up any sticky debris. 

I like to warm the ear cleaner bottle up by putting it in a bowl of warm (not hot!) water. Once you fill the ear up with the liquid, you give ‘em a nice squishy ear massage, breaking up all the dirt inside without actually having to put anything into the ear canal. Then step back because your pet will usually shake all the dissolved goo on you, your clothes, and your carpet. (Having a towel nearby or doing this in the tub is wise.) Then, you can use a cotton swab or cotton ball to clean up the parts of the ear you can see as the cleaner drains out. 

When To See The Vet

This routine ear cleaning is something you can do weekly, monthly, or in conjunction with bathing. This is best done as a maintenance routine to keep healthy ears looking and feeling their best.

If you think your pet has an ear infection, make sure you check with your vet before embarking on the cleaning process. Signs include:

  • Shaking their head
  • Pawing at their ears
  • Resisting any handling of the ears
  • Smelly discharge
  • Large amounts of discharge, ranging from dark brown to yellow or red
  • Reddened ear canal

Doing an otoscopic exam at the vet office is a quick and super important step in determining if your pet has a problem. It’s one of the most common reasons we see pets at the office, and very rewarding to help an uncomfortable pet feel so much better!

  • Your vet will want to examine the ear to see if there is an infection, foreign body, mass, or ruptured eardrum.
  • Ear infections require the right medication to treat yeast, bacteria, or both.
  • Medicated ear cleaners can make the process even easier.
  • For very dirty ears, it’s helpful to have the veterinary team do a “deep clean” first so the medication can penetrate more easily.
  • If the pet has very painful or ulcerated ears, you’re not going to be able to clean or medicate them- this may require sedation or oral medications to help get the ears to the point you can put in topical meds.
  • Sometimes ear infections are a part of a larger disease process, such as allergies.

For healthy ears, cleaning with a gentle ear cleaner is all you usually need to keep stinky ears at bay. Stick those cotton swabs back in the drawer and enjoy your snuggles!


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Pets’ Role in Online Learning

dog sitting next to laptop

Most of us are more than familiar with what last year’s pandemic brought. Working from home, a lot of time indoors, and for the kids - virtual schooling. Students transitioned from classroom settings to desks at home, which changed the game for many of them. Along with taking away the in-person time with their teachers and peers, kids also started having trouble focusing and performing well in their schoolwork. A new study by Mars Petcare shows that a specific member of the family helped students with this tough transition.

The study shows that those families with furry friends benefited greatly when it came to online learning. 52 percent of kids spent more time with their pets than before the pandemic. Now, they have been engaging in a range of activities including playing, talking, and reading to them. And it did them good!

When school went virtual, many students were left feeling lonely and even started having feelings of anxiety and depression. According to the study, having a pet around them significantly reduced those negative feelings. 87 percent of parents believed that their pets improved the children’s overall mood, not to mention decreased loneliness and stress.

Did someone say study buddy? You heard that right. Pets also helped students’ academic performance! 56 percent of parents reported that they saw improved concentration in their kids and 72 percent saw an increase in motivation. As mentioned above, students have been reading and talking to their pets more which resulted in a jump in their confidence levels when communicating with their teachers and peers.

kitten watching young girl do homework

Students may not have been able to run around the playground or socialize with their classmates as they once did, but pets have provided a great alternative for them. Now, kids have spent their breaks with their pets and 81 percent of parents reported that the interaction encouraged more physical activity. This promotes the exercise that they’ve been missing by sitting in front of their computers all day. It also gives their eyes and mind a rest from the screen. In addition, being around their pets more and taking care of them has taught more responsibility and patience.

As a bonus, not only did students benefit from having their pet home while being in virtual school, but vice versa too! Parents discovered that their furry members of the family seemed happier with the kids being home. 77 percent reported that the pets were actually more calm as well.

The role that pets play in online learning even extends to teachers. Many of them have started to incorporate their companion animals in their virtual classrooms as well, which has benefited students in similar ways. As they all return back to school, it’ll be no surprise when the idea of classroom pets once again becomes popular. Just another reason to love and appreciate our furry friends!


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L-Carnitine and Dog Weight Loss

dog sniffing owner's hand

When it comes to our furry friends, some of them have a little more to love. While we have to admit that a little pudge can be cute, extra weight on pets can come with some serious health risks, including heart disease, osteoarthritis and kidney disease. You may think that lessening their food intake will do the trick and solve the problem, but that can leave your dog hungry and begging for more with those sad puppy dog eyes. So instead of cutting back, there’s an important ingredient you can look for in their foods that allows you to give them the full serving size and still help them lose weight.

What is L-carnitine?

If you haven’t heard of L-carnitine, it’s probably because it hasn’t been talked about much in the pet food industry. However, it turns out that this nutrient can have a huge impact on your pet’s weight. This vitamin-like compound is made in the body from the amino acids lysine and methionine. It supports many systems, including their heart, brain, and muscles. It’s mainly found in red meat but it is also present in chicken and fish, or as a dietary supplement. There are some additional benefits to L-carnitine including increased exercise performance and higher lean mass - all the things you’d want for your furry friend.

How does it work?

Let’s talk science! L-carnitine turns fats into energy, rather than storing them in fat cells. It does this because it is water-soluble, meaning it has the ability to attach itself to fatty acids that are then taken to the mitochondria. In this powerhouse organelle, the compound is broken down and converted into energy which is then distributed throughout the body and primarily used in the brain and heart. This whole process eventually reduces the storage of fat in cells and therefore results in overall weight loss.

dog walking alongside owner outside

Weight health for dogs

It’s important for your pup to maintain a healthy weight because we want them to stick around for many years by our side. There are a few different routes you can take to help them lose weight, including the usual playing fetch outside and the right foods and healthy treats. Choosing a good diet is paramount to your companion’s health so they can continue to receive the nutrients needed while still shedding some weight. For most dogs, L-carnitine naturally occurs in the body. However, when our furry friends start to age, they could start to exhibit a deficiency. As a result, they can begin to gain those extra pounds and it can be beneficial to supplement their diet with additional L-carnitine to kickstart their metabolism.

L-carnitine in our Adult Weight Loss Dog Food

At Life’s Abundance, providing high-quality, premium foods have always been important to us. That’s why we created foods that are suitable for all kinds of dogs, including those that are on the pudgy side. Our Adult Weight Loss Dog Food is enhanced with a sufficient amount of L-carnitine to help them utilize fat and support a healthy metabolism. In addition, this dog food has higher protein levels to promote an energetic body (meaning you get all the zoomies) but less fat and calories to maintain a healthy weight. In other words, it is nourishing for a truly satisfied appetite; not just filling with empty calories. Plus, to give you that extra confidence in this kibble, it has been proven through a feeding trial as defined by Association of American Feed Control Officials. Now, you can give your beloved furry friend the nutritious, tasty meal they want and need, without the guilt.


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Bulletin: Dog Food Recall Due To Mold Concerns

dog at vet

Note: No Life’s Abundance products are involved in this or any other recall.

On July 29th, the parent company of Triumph, Evolve, Wild Harvest, Nurture Farms, Pure Being and Elm, Sunshine Mills, announced a recall on some of the brands’ dog foods. This recall was due to levels of aflatoxin, a by-product of mold, being above the acceptable limit.

What Pet Parents Should Know

Consumers who have purchased the recalled products should discontinue use of the product and may return the unused portion to the place of purchase for a full refund. As of this reporting, there have been no illnesses, however, aflatoxin can be harmful to dogs if consumed in large quantities.

Lots of the following dog food products have been recalled if the date includes an expiration date on “02/11/22”:

  • Triumph Wild Spirit Craft Dog Food Deboned Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe, 3.5 pounds
    Lot code: TD2 11/Feb/2021
  • Triumph Wild Spirit Craft Dog Food Deboned Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe, 30 pounds
    Lot code: TA2 11/Feb/2021
  • Evolve Classic Super Premium Food for Dogs Deboned Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe, 15 pounds
    Lot codes: T TA1 11/Feb/2021; A2 11/Feb/2021
  • Wild Harvest Premium Dog Food Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe, 14 pounds
    Lot code: TA2 11/Feb/2021
  • Nurture Farms Natural Dog Food Deboned Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe, 15 pounds
    Lot code: TA2 11/Feb/2021
  • Evolve Classic Super Premium Food for Dogs Deboned Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe, 30 pounds
    Lot code: TA2 11/Feb/2021
  • Heart to Tail Pure Being Natural Dog Food Deboned Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe, 5 pounds
    Lot code: TD2 11/Feb/2021
  • Elm Pet Foods Naturals Chicken & Rice Recipe Dog Food, 40 pounds
    Lot code: TA1 11/Feb/2021

More About Aflatoxin

Aflatoxin is a mold that is present on grains such as corn, which is commonly used in pet foods. At high levels this can become toxic and cause sluggishness, vomiting, jaundice, diarrhea, and prolonged liver damage. Severe cases may lead to death.

It is recommended that you contact your veterinarian, especially if your dog or cat is showing any of the symptoms listed above. 

A Safer Solution

At Life's Abundance, we have a much better and safer way of making pet foods and notifying consumers should a problem ever arise. As for consumer safety, we view the system of product recalls as problematic. That is because most consumers will never hear about a recall. Yet because of our direct relationship with consumers we know who received which product, down to the lot number. In the event there is ever an issue with a product, our proactive communications system allows us to reach thousands of people by phone in just one hour, ensuring that we can contact all affected customers quickly. We can also reach them by email and even through the mail.

We hope the information we shared with you will do two things. One, alert dog food consumers of this situation, and two, help you feel even more confident about Life's Abundance and our commitment to helping families, including our pets, live long, healthy lives!


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Keeping Your Pet Hydrated

Summertime means lots of outdoor activities for many families, and those with furry friends love to bring them along too! While we all love some fun in the sun, we know how tiring it can be in the heat. This applies to your pets too. See our tips for how to keep your pet hydrated!

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As a bonus, you can soothe any skin irritations and nourish their skin with our Soothing Mist! Your pet will appreciate it after a long day in the sun and you'll love the fresh scent left behind.


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All You Need To Know About Bathing Your Pet

cat getting a bath

“You smell like a wet dog” isn’t much of a compliment, is it? While most of us know the rush of warm fuzzies you get from snuggling up close with a clean, fresh pet, most pet owners are also aware of the opposite end of the spectrum: the stinky side.

Perhaps you’ve spent the past year closer than ever to your pet, so you may be more familiar than you’ve ever been with their particular…fragrance, shall we say. Questions about your pet’s skin and coat are some of the most common conversation topics in the vet clinic, so let’s tackle some of the most frequently asked questions about what’s normal, what may need a vet visit, and what are the best things you can do at home to help your pet look and feel their best.

How often should I bathe my pet?

If the thought of struggling to get your dog in the bath on a daily basis gives you hives, here’s the good news: daily bathing is rarely the answer. For a pet with good skin and coat health, a good monthly washing may be all they need in order to clean away accumulated dirt and oil and get them smelling nice. If you have a cat, the answer’s even better: since they groom themselves, healthy cats may not need baths from you at all (everyone cheer).

The actual answer is: wash your pet as often as they need. If your pet gets dirty all the time because they’re constantly getting in the mud, there’s no reason you can’t bathe them more frequently. It’s important to use the right shampoo to avoid over-drying the coat, stripping out oils, or causing flaking. More frequent bathing may also reduce the effectiveness of topical flea and tick products such as Advantage and Frontline.

Pets with medical conditions often require more frequent bathing as part of their treatment. Whether it’s a pet dealing with infection, a pet suffering from conditions like seborrhea (think of it like a form of doggie dandruff), or a pet with allergies who needs to remove environmental allergens from their coat, there are many reasons a pet may require bathing weekly, or even a few times a week. Make sure to follow your vet’s recommendations as to the type of shampoo and how to use it- it may seem like a lot of work, but topical treatments can be very effective and much nicer than needing to rely on a systemic treatment!

dog getting a bath

What’s the best type of shampoo to use?

If your pet has a medical condition, you may be prescribed a special shampoo. Think of it less as shampoo and more as skin medication. Keep in mind these tend to work very differently than your typical shampoo which is just there to gently clean, so be careful to follow the directions and don’t use it for other pets in the house. Many medicated pet shampoos may not even have any cleanser in them, so if you’re not sure, ask your vet if you need to first use an over the counter shampoo before using the medicated one. Some of the most common medications delivered via shampoo format are:

  • antibacterials: chlorhexidine for skin infection
  • antifungals: ketoconazole for yeast infection
  • antiseborrhea: coal tar, salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, or sulfur to combat dandruff-like conditions
  • anti-mite: lime sulfur dips for topical parasites such as demodectic mange
  • anti-itch: oatmeal, hydrocortisone

For everyone else, shampoos designated for pets are your best choice. These shampoos have much less stripping action than human shampoos and are much gentler on the skin, so never use a human shampoo on your pet. If your pet has particularly sensitive skin, you may need to look for one with no fragrance added. For the rest of the crew, look for a gentle formula with conditioning properties like our very own amazing-smelling Revitalizing Shampoo. I’ve sniffed a lot of dog shampoo over the years, and this one takes the cake in the “wow your dog smells delightful” department. If you’ve tried it, you know.

What are signs my pet may need a vet visit?

Regular doggie-smell should resolve with a good cleaning. If they still feel oily or greasy, or still have a strange odor after bathing, make an appointment as this may be a sign of a problem that goes below the surface of the skin. Even smells that aren’t necessarily “bad,” but just strange, can be a sign something’s off (ever heard someone talk about their dog’s Frito feet? Yes, it’s a thing, and often means infection). Any red or raw patches should be evaluated as well, as these can be signs of allergies or infection.

Bathing is a good time to check your pet’s ears as well. While you don’t want to put shampoo and water in their ears, I like to clean my pet’s ears with a dedicated ear cleaner right before their bath. If your pet is prone to ear infection, you may also want to put a cotton ball in their ear before bathing to keep water out (Be gentle if you do this! There’s no need to stuff their ears full of the fluff).

So there you have it! Smelling like a wet dog might not seem like a compliment, but with the proper shampoo there’s no reason it couldn’t be. Here’s to a pleasant, snuggly summer!


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Keep Your Pet From Melting Down When You Return To Work

person petting sad dog

Rewind back to March of 2020 when many of us started making the transition from working in the office full time to mostly working from home. This was quite the adjustment for those who were used to the commute to and from work every day. Along with working from home, some people took up some new hobbies. Maybe for you it was gardening or cooking, and others it was home workouts or painting. While you were filling your time with these activities, there was one member of the family that got used to you being home all the time. Your furry, cuddly companion. Whether you already had a dog or cat, or got a so-called ‘pandemic pet’, they definitely got accustomed to having you around from morning to night. 

Now, as it’s time to return to work, you should start thinking about how your absence will affect your pet. They won’t be used to seeing you every minute of the day anymore so some pets, especially those you got during the pandemic, could develop separation anxiety. Symptoms of this include excessive drooling, destruction around the house, or howling. Not only is this stressful for you, but it’s just as stressful for your pet too. There are some tips to help them ease into the transition and lower their stress while you’re away.

Tip 1:

If you know you’re going back out to work soon, come up with a plan to train your pet how to be alone. The best way to do this is by leaving your house for small increments of time and then working up to 1, 2, 3 hours and so on. By doing this, your furry friend starts to feel confident that you’ll come back.Then, once you leave for work for a bigger chunk of time, they will already be used to it and feel more comfortable on their own.

Studies have shown that an action as simple as petting your dog or cat before you leave actually decreases their anxiety while you’re gone. Generally, dogs get nervous when you leave and those negative feelings worsen as more time passes. So, giving them this love and affection as you say goodbye could help them stay calm and lower their heart rate.

woman holding dog in arms

Tip 2:

Sometimes, you can train your pet as much as you can to be without you but fact is, some just get bored. They want to play and be entertained but if you’re not home, they have no one to give them that attention. The result? Maybe some chewed on shoes, or even worse - walls. If your dog loves to chew, or chews to relieve stress, give them something that'll occupy them such as a chew stick. The flavor and activity will satisfy their urge and provide them with entertainment.

Tip 3:

When you come home after your workday, it’s important not to overreact when you see your dog. We understand - you miss them and they miss you too, so it’s hard not to excite them as soon as you open the door. However, this can lead to a bunch of bad habits over time. They could start to jump on you (and other guests) as you enter, knock down anything you’re carrying, or bark excessively. The best thing you can do is be as calm as possible while entering and teach them to greet you in the same manner. Always remember to reward this good behavior!

Going back to work in the office won’t be out of the norm for just you. It will be a huge change for your furry friends too. Try your best to be patient with them as they work through this adjustment. Once you’re back home after a long day, you’ll both appreciate all the cuddles and playtime just a little bit more.


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Alternatives to Feeding Canned Food

dog looking at food bowl

If you’re used to feeding your furry friend canned food, you might find it hard to steer away from it. While these foods are great for puppies and kittens, or pets with sensitive teeth, there are some alternatives that you can try. Here are our suggestions:

First, Consider Calorie Replacement

Whichever route you choose, be aware of the calories that you will need to make up when taking canned food out of the equation. 

For example: If you are currently feeding your 30 pound dog 1 1/2 c. of All Life Stage kibble per day and have been adding one can of Turkey & Shrimp daily (142 calories), you will need to make up the 142 calories another way. It may be just by adding more kibble, or you may choose a combination of kibble, a topper or mix-ins. The same applies to cats, as well.

Replacing Canned Food As a Mix-in or Topper

There are many alternatives to using canned food as a mix-in or topper. Our Turkey Hearts Freeze-Dried Treats are easy to crush into a powder that can be sprinkled over your dry food. Our Buffalo Lungs are also a big hit with dogs. Use a kitchen utensil to crush, scrape or cut small bits of this single-ingredient treat to sprinkle or mix into their kibble. 

These same tempting treats also work well to help with acceptance of supplements or medication.

You can also use baby food as a mix-in. It's highly regulated, so a jar of chicken baby food is only chicken and usually avoids extra salt. Moisten the kibble and mix it in as you would the canned food!

cat eating food out of bowl

Replacing Canned Food As a Primary Diet

Dry food is, by its nature, more nutritionally dense than canned food. This is why it is most often recommended as the primary diet for dogs and cats. However, we understand that some dogs and cats simply cannot eat dry food, whether the very young, or the elderly. 

As an alternative, you can soften our dry foods with a little water. This can provide a nice solution for weaning puppies and kittens, or pets with sensitive teeth. To do this, lightly moisten any of our kibbles to soften the consistency, per our feeding instructions. We do not recommend soaking. Because soaking is not how our food is intended to be used, soaking will not produce an ideal result.

We hope this has provided some additional options that you can implement into your furry friend’s diet so they can achieve and maintain their optimal health!


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Pet Safety While Traveling

woman holding cat near car trunk

The clouds are lifting - both literally and figuratively - as we head into summer. After what feels like a very, very long winter, people are chomping at the bit to get out of the house and back into the world. But what about your pets? Are you taking them with you?
 
Travel in 2021 won’t be entirely like it was before, but those very same travel trends set the stage for a dog-friendly trip. According to AirBnB, who experienced a 128% increase in customers looking for a home away from home during the pandemic, more than six out of ten people are looking to take a trip this year within driving distance from home. Paris and Rome, the darlings of 2019 travel, are out. Instead, people are eyeing the Great Smoky Mountains, Breckenridge, and Palm Springs.

Hotels are out, too. With more people working remotely than ever before, people aren’t looking for a spa-like indulgence nearly as much as they are a different view out of the front window. With rules and requirements changing from day to day, people are also waiting until the last minute to commit to a trip. That’s easier said than done when you’re also needing to plan for a pet.
 
Road trips with pets bring a whole different set of contingencies, but none more important than this: how do you keep dogs safe in the car?
 
For many people, the answer is: you don’t. And the results can be tragic. Here are three reasons you should consider a dog restraint, if you aren’t using one already:

  1. Injuries. According to BarkBuckleUp, a 60 pound dog traveling at 35 mph, which isn’t even freeway speed, becomes a 2700 pound missile during an accident. Not only is that catastrophic for the pet, they can also cause serious injury to other passengers.
  2. Distractions. A pet who panics and tries to get into your lap or under your feet can be a serious problem.
  3. Loss. The number one reason pets die in traffic accidents isn’t from injuries sustained in the incident. When first responders arrive at the scene of an accident and encounter a frantic, unrestrained animal, it is extremely common for them to escape and, sadly, run into traffic. I have seen this firsthand in the ER, and it’s horrible.

So now that we know “no restraint” is the worst option of all, what are our other choices?

"dog

BETTER. Keeping your pet in a crate in the car is better than nothing. I see this frequently, especially with larger dogs where seat belt restraints are more difficult to use. Although it may not be as good as other means of restraint in terms of preventing injury, a crated pet is much less likely to escape your car during an accident or even at a road stop. Ideally you will have your crate secured to the car to keep it stable.
 
BEST. Restraints and carriers specifically designated for dogs are the safest and most effective option for travel. If you have a small dog, you can buy a carrier with safety belt integration built in.
 
For larger dogs, you’re most likely looking at a harness that either connects to the car’s seat belt or hooks into a latch system. For my two large dogs, I find the harnesses a good compromise between safety and usability, as they often have a separate attachment for a regular leash to make it pretty quick to get them in and out for rest stops on a road trip.
 
So which choice is right for you? That can be a tricky one. Because pet harnesses and crates are not required to meet specific safety standards, you’d have no way to know as a consumer which harnesses actually keep the pet secured during an accident. The Center for Pet Safety, a non-profit dedicated to establishing safety standards for pet products, performed actual crash tests with a variety of harnesses and crates to designate those worthy of a CPS certification. Many restraints failed the test. You can find a list of approved products that received the CPS certification on the Center for Pet Safety.
 
But at the end of the day, the best option is going to be the one you actually use. Once you have that part squared away, you can get onto the fun part- deciding where to go!


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