Petmate Indigo Dog House Review

As a South Floridian by birth, our veins are pumping saltwater, and we have 4 seasons; summer, snow-bird, spring break, and love bug. So, the first time we moved out of state wasn’t small scale. Nope, we moved clear across the country.

Not just halfway – all the way.

North to snow country

I learned all about something called “lake effect snow“.

So here we are in this frozen wasteland – er, winter wonderland, and the dog is having an absolute blast.

He also learned a new game: going out every 5 minutes.

Oh, don’t get me wrong, it was cute – the first dozen times.

And I certainly understood that it was my fault for calling him in when he clearly wanted to hang out in the snow. But being new to the weather – and not sure how prepared the dog was (him being a Floridian canine and all) to handle the harsher climate, I didn’t want him to be too cold.

Basically, he wanted to be outside and I wanted him inside, cozy and warm.

So the hunt was on for an outdoor dog house/mutt-cave that was large enough for the dog to actually use as a shelter, and would be a warm haven away from the elements.

Oh, and it had to look cool, too.

Come on, Watson – the game is afoot!


The Indigo by Petmate® is an igloo-shaped outdoor doghouse designed to keep your pets warm in the winter, cool in the summer, and dry all year long.igloo shaped dog house

Unlike other resin-type, provisional structures, the Indigo dog house is designed for all weather conditions and situations.

The heavy duty, structural foam dome design keeps snow from piling up on top of the shelter and both the dome and base have Microban® incorporated into the material, which works to repel odor-causing bacteria, as well as mold and mildew – and even helps to resist the pesky stains that pop up from time to time.

Structural foam is basically an insulated plastic; it’s lightweight, has insulative properties, and additional mixtures – like antimicrobials – can be added to the process.

This makes the final product extremely durable while being surprisingly lightweight.

The base of the interior is designed to move any interior moisture away from your pet and to the outer edges.

Like any canine structure, venting is required to maintain airflow for a number of reasons, most importantly to keep the air inside the dome fresh. It also keeps your pup comfortable by not overheating.

The assembled Indigo dog house is available in three dog-friendly sizes:

  • Medium: (37.5″ L x 30.5″ W x 22.8″ H) for dogs 25-50 lbs.
  • Large: (43.8″ L x 34″ W x 25.8″ H) for dogs 50-90 lbs.
  • Extra-Large: (51.5″ L x 39.3″ W x 30″ H) for dogs 90-125 lbs

When choosing a size, consider the overall size and not just your pup’s weight.

How to choose the right size dog house

In this corner …

The biggest surprise was the dome top ventilation. I expected a cheesy ridge-type vent, fully open to the interior. You know – a leak waiting for the first rainfall to convert the shelter into an enclosed pool.

vented dog house

The Dome-Top ventilation

Impressively, the vent is tucked under a rain cover, and the gently sloped downward to encourage water movement away from the shelter vent. Also, the adjustable vent can be tipped up or down, for severe wind or rain conditions.

Those little details really can make a difference.

One of our favorite features of the Indigo dog house is the entryway. Unlike other dome-type doghouses that have their opening flush across the front, Petmate’s Igloo features a unique offset entrance.

This extended entry allows your pup to go in and out of the structure at will, all the while keeping the weather outside where it belongs – and Fido tucked inside warm and dry.

The overall domed design is, as expected, the most practical design for the snowier climates.

There’s no need to be concerned about build-up covering the vent, or causing any structural damage. It turns out that snow can be quite heavy – who knew?

And in that corner …

easy to assemble dog house

Snaps together easily, without tools

When purchased online, this doghouse ships in two pieces; the top and base. When received, you simply snap together the domed top and flat bottom to complete the Indigo Igloo. No tools needed.

While it is weather resistant because how the top snaps on the base, we would prefer to see a better seal where the two pieces meet.

Of course, this can easily be remedied with a bead of silicone post-assembly… as long as you don’t plan on separating the top and bottom. Ever.

Although the generous size of the extra-large sized igloo can house the largest dog, the dimensions of the opening may make it difficult for taller dogs to enter and exit.

The entranceway is a generous length, which adds to keeping the interior protected from the elements, but can be difficult for the taller dogs to manage.

The door is better suited in the workshop as a dustpan. Or a Frisbee.

Just skip the door and rig up a couple small pieces of screen across entranceway to the dogloo with the split overlapping in the center – the kids can easily go in and out and it will keep some of the elements out.

But, most importantly, they will go through it – which is more than I can say for the stock door.

The base is the base. Yes, I know – dogs can sleep on just about any surface but if you plan on placing the dog house directly in the ground, you might want to take that into consideration and add padding or extra insulation.

It should be obvious, but this isn’t exactly a portable shelter. At all. If you’re looking for something that will fold up and tuck into the trunk between the cooler and duffel bag, keep on looking.

Don’t Forget …

sleeping pad for Petmate IndigoDuring a rain or snow storm, you need more than a dry spot to be comfy – you need a cozy spot to snuggle into.

Petmate offers an optional custom-fitted pad that is designed to fit inside the Indigo perfectly – and no dogloo is complete without it.

This pad is water-resistant, with a quilted cover constructed from a durable water resistant vinyl and replaceable foam padding core.

Should you?

While keeping in mind the sizes available, this is a well constructed shelter that will offer your dog protection against the elements.

When ordering, consider the size of your dog, rather than matching the weight listed, to ensure they can make it through the opening and have enough room to move around inside (see above for help choosing the right size).

On the other hand, if the Igloo is too large then Rover won’t stay warm enough.

Once assembled, we would remind you of the aforementioned bead of silicone to weather-seal where the top snaps over the base.

Also, we would recommend raising the structure a couple of inches above grade level; a few four-inch blocks and a cut sheet of plywood will add some height above the snow or rain.


This igloo-style dog house has numerous benefits with very few drawbacks; for a premade outdoor shelter, you can’t do much better.

If you’re considering this for a primary outside dog (not judging!), then you would be better off investing in a permanent, long-lasting shelter – a structure that is designed for all the seasons and weather types in your area, and can protect your pup from the elements year around.

In Our Opinion

Between the overall design, quality of material, and construction the Petmate Indigo Igloo Dog House makes it a good part-time outdoor shelter for your pup who insists on hanging out in the snow or cold – or the heat of the summer – and made in the USA is another big plus for us.

Or if your four-legged kid insists on being let in and out of the house every 5 minutes.

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How to Get Rid of Fleas Naturally

According to a report released by the Environmental Protection Agency, in 2008 there were 44,000 “adverse incidents” and 600 deaths to our four-legged family members, all linked to a single type source.

Forty-four thousand.

That’s 120 “adverse incidents” and 2 deaths per day for an entire year.

Yeah, let those number sink in for a minute.

Now ask yourself how easily your family member could have been a part of that statistic – or if they still might.

You might be wondering what heinous cause could have resulted in so many families being devastated by the injury and loss.

What caused so many “adverse reactions” – from skin irritation to seizures to debilitating illness – that even the EPA researched it and released their findings in an official report.

Can you handle the truth?

Chemicals in flea and tick treatments.


Bites, don’t it? (no pun intended)

The Great Flea Conspiracy?

Flea treatment conspiracySo, before we scare you into next week – any more than we already have – it’s important to point out that not every manufacturer of pest treatment is out to harm Fido (probably none, in fact).

It’s really not a conspiracy or population control or any of a zillion other scenarios running through your head.


Frankly, most of these companies are earnestly looking for the best solutions to ensure your pup has a high quality of life – and hey, can you fault them for that?

It’s true that the facts don’t lie … and you can bet what’s left in your retirement account that if these were human statistics involving a human medication it would have been pulled from the shelves amidst the crushing weight of lawsuits.

Are our furry kids worth any less?

But let’s put these statistics it in perspective for just one minute; in 2017 there were 144 million licensed dogs and cats in the united states. That means 1 in 3,200 has the chance of an adverse reaction.

For you fancy math folks – that’s less than 0.03% of the registered dogs and cats in the US.

By way of comparison, that’s one-twelfth the USFDA reporting of adverse reactions from aspirin!

So if we are going to condemn strictly according to the numbers, you are twelve times more likely to have an adverse reaction to aspirin than Fluffy having a reaction to a chemical treatment.

Are you going to throw away that bottle of aspirin?

I didn’t think so. Me neither.

So where does that leave us?

Natural Flea Control Remedies

So, here we are.

You need flea prevention but the idea using some of the chemical options have you second-guessing what to do.

If you’re leaning against the man-made options – and you’re reading this – then you’re probably considering looking into natural ways to kill fleas.

Here are the top home remedies for preventing, repelling, and killing fleas on your dog and in your house:

A Rosemary By Any Other Name

One of the most popular herbs for homeopathic flea control, rosemary is a natural flea repellant.Rosemary for flea prevention

Although it is ineffective on full infestations, rosemary is effective when used for maintaining a flea-free environment, or if your canine has been exposed to another pooch who may have been carrying the unwanted guests.

Rosemary can be used in any of a number of forms;

  • Once brewed, the rosemary tea can be used as a rinse or a wash for not only your pup, but for their bedding as well.
  • Rosemary powder can be sprinkled anywhere. Seriously – anywhere.
  • Rosemary oil is too strong and irritating to be applied directly on your dog; however, it can be dabbed directly onto your pet’s collar or dropped around their bedding.

One of the safer treatments, and as a bonus – everything smells nice!

The Anti-Bug Citronella

Ah, the smell of citronella in the air – summer is here! We all know it’s effect on the little terrorists we call mosquitos but what about fleas? This one is a little tricky, because it really can work as a repellant – but it depends on a few factors.

Mainly, it depends on your geographical region. Just like living near an airport makes you deaf to the sound of airplanes taking off and landing, the same is true with citronella.Citronella oil flea repellant

If you live in an area where you’re burning citronella twelve months of the year to keep those kamikaze insects from taking off with your small children, than citronella is much less effective. Practically ineffective. Okay, it won’t work – because the fleas are already used to it.

Another consideration is the manner of delivery. Burning candles in or near the house is so much less effective than drops of the oil near the bedding or around entranceways. Mixing a solution to spray on your pet and his bedding is the best delivery method but even that can be improved upon.

With citronella, the most effective delivery method is by mixing several drops the citronella oil in a spray bottle with some purified water and other essential oils to kill fleas – like lemon oil, peppermint oil, and eucalyptus oil.

By mixing the oils, citronella is definitely an effective and natural way to get rid of fleas – but understand it is a repellant and not a killer, so it is not a viable option for infestation.

Tales of Boric Acid

Alright, let me be completely honest here – this one scares me. I’ve read too many horror stories of well meaning – but short-sighted – homeowners using boric acid for fleas with devastating results.

The word “acid” in the name should be a dead giveaway that this might need a lot of care and consideration before diving headfirst into the deep end of this pool. Also, there’s a difference between boric acid and Borax that many pet owners don’t quite grasp.

Using boric acid for fleas is almost a science when you look at the list of potentially harmful side effects for improper treatment of your pet, exposure to other two and four legged household members, and storage.

On the other hand, boric acid does work for fleas and infestations on carpets and other soft surfaces. But those are the only surfaces that this product should be used on.boric acid a natural flea killer

Additionally, this treatment needs to be done carefully – paying special attention to following the instructions exactly as they are laid out on the product. Make sure the house is empty of any critters (kids included!) and well ventilated before starting treatment, and the treated items are thoroughly laundered before returning them for your pet’s use.

And for the love of God – wear a mask!

Does boric acid kill fleas? Sure does. But, it’s an effective treatment for infestations only – there are far more safer options for maintenance to put this option at the top of the list.

Want Salt on Them Fleas?

I’m surprised by how often I get asked, “Does salt kill fleas?”. Before I spill the beans on this one, it’s important to lay the foundation so you understand how this method would work.

Salt is a desiccant; its hypertonic nature preserves meat by destroying bacteria through dehydration.

So, the old-school theory goes in the same way – by liberally sprinkling ground salt over your dog’s bedding and the rest of the soft areas of the home and letting it set for a few days before vacuuming it up, the dehydration process destroys the fleas and eggs.

Yeah – and I have a bridge for sale on the West coast.

Basically, not only is this an ineffective treatment for controlling fleas in any stage of their life cycle, but laying on bedding coated with finely powdered salt could be seriously harmful to your pooch’s skin. Google up a few images of what salting does to meat.

Please, don’t try this at home, folks.

Vinegar for Flea Control

Here’s another one from the “If it smells bad it’s gotta work” archive. If you’re looking for the short answer, here it is: vinegar is a good flea repellant. But like any other treatment or repellant, it ain’t that simple.

First you need to navigate the types of vinegar. Apple cider or wine – and which wine? Distilled white or balsamic? Cooking vinegar or the stuff from the cleaning aisle?

To start with, you should avoid the cleaning aisle, since those vinegars may actually have other ingredients mixed in, and focus on the food-grade variety. Besides – if it’s safe to eat, it should be safe for your pet, right?

Well … Not exactly.

Think about that last salad you had. Remember the delicious dressing? Yeah, that lip-puckering power is because the vinegar is an acid. Yes, acid. And while our palates and taste buds are accustomed to it – our pet’s skin is not.

So, it’s important to properly dilute the vinegar and to not use it more than once a day. A fine mist over your pets coat is best; don’t use the vinegar mix as a dip or wash until you ascertain how sensitive your dog’s skin is to it.

Vinegar can be an effective flea repellant when properly mixed and sprayed on your pet before he ventures to somewhere that he may be exposed to fleas. Properly mixed is a 50/50 blend of white or apple cider vinegar with water.

The diluted vinegar works a couple ways; first by being an unpleasant odor that repels the fleas. Secondly, it’s a pretty bad taste to the little bloodsuckers. And lastly, it irritates the bodies of fleas, causing them to seek a more hospitable environment.

Vinegar works as a repellant and is not effective as a flea killer, or once fleas have made their home in your home. Treating Rover with vinegar will keep the fleas off him – and on you and your family.

Using Essential Oils to Kill Fleas Naturally

These days, it seems like essential oils are used for everything from cleaning personal care to holistic medicine – and now insect control. Aside from the fancy new uses, essential oils have been used for hundreds of years for more than just the trendy aromatherapy of fancy water.

This is in no way an all-inclusive list, but some of the more popular oils that you might likely find already in your cupboards.

  • Lavender: This essential oil is used less for flea control and repelling, and more for it’s benefits to skin and hair. We all know how miserable our fur babies can feel when they’ve been scratching those flea bites; when combined with other oils or treatments, lavender can help calm the inflamed skin and promote healing.home remedies for fleas: essential oils
  • Lemon: Lemon oil is probably the most versatile of the essential oils, and can be used in several ways when dealing with fleas. The most powerful weapon in lemon’s arsenal – as far as fleas are concerned – is the aroma. While humans, as well as canines, enjoy the scent most aphids are repelled by it. In addition, lemon soothes irritated skin as well as nourishing skin.
  • Cedar: Cedarwood oil is a less-used oil, but has a surprising number of benefits that are often overlooked. The most popular use of cedar is in chip or plank form, in closets and clothes storage. This is because of the aromatic properties repel moths. And it’s the same with fleas. Alongside of the scent, cedar oil has antiseptic and antifungal properties, which works hand in hand with the aromatic to enhance flea repelling effect.
  • Peppermint: Another widely used oil, peppermint has a unique use in the arsenal of flea control. First, the aroma helps to repel the fleas before they even jump on. Secondly, the itch relief aids in the healing of any hot spots that Rover might have developing. Lastly, the antimicrobial properties aid in the healing of irritations, and prevent infection.
  • Eucalyptus: Similar to cedar, eucalyptus oil is primarily used as a scent deterrent and skin nourishment. Not only will eucalyptus nourish the hair and skin, but aids in healing of the irritation caused by flea bites.

The key to using essential oils is is blending the various oils according to your needs and diluting them in water before applying with a spray bottle to your pets coat.

Alternatively, you can try dabbing the oils onto a bandana that is easy to remove to test for any sensitivities.

Pass the Lemons

Possibly the most important thing to remember about lemons is that there is a significant difference between fresh squeezed lemon juice and lemon oil.

Lemon flea killer

Lemon juice is simply a lemon squeezed, and catching whatever juice comes out.

Depending on how carried away you get, you certainly may squeeze out some of the oil at the same time – but you’re getting primarily juice.

That’s not really what you want to use on your puppy.

And if you even think about asking “why not”, go suck on a slice of lemon. If you still don’t get it, have another one.

By way of comparison, the lemon oil is pressed from the peel; pure oil without the acid.

In other words – if you’re considering trying lemon for flea control, avoid the fruit aisle at the grocery store and go for the oil.

Dishwashing Liquid to Trap Fleas

Okay, if you’re familiar with these traps, then just shush so we can get down to business. If you’ve never heard of them before, all I ask is for you to keep an open mind.

Dishwater traps are just that – flea traps.

Think of it like a mousetrap – you need a place that has mice, a bait, and a way to contain / kill the mice.

Apply the same theory to the dishwashing liquid traps: there’s an area of your home that fleas are lurking in, you have a bait to bring them out into the open, and you have a trap that contains and kills them.

Making a liquid soap trap is about the easiest – and cheapest – thing you will do all day.

  1. Stake out an area that has fleas. Not your dog, and not your dog’s bed – the trap needs to be out in the open.
  2. Fill a shallow dish about halfway up with water. Something along the lines of a saucer or pie dish works perfect. Add several drops of dishwashing liquid. Some people use liquid hand soap or liquid laundry soap, but whichever your choice, simply stir it in without making bubbles. We can make bubbles later.
  3. Set the dish on the floor of the aforementioned staked out area.
  4. Set a light (lamp, flashlight, tea light, whatever) several inches to a couple feet above the trap, shining down onto the soap mixture.
  5. Turn all the lights in the house off, and go to bed.

The trap works in this way: At night, the fleas are attracted to the light. As they jump up to investigate the light, they fall into the soap-water mix. Because the liquid soap lowers the surface tension of the water, the fleas cannot bounce off the surface, and thus drown.

Just remember to keep Fido away from the trap – drinking the soapy water is definitely not good for your dog.

And let’s skip the tea light, okay? Never leave the room with an open flame – no matter how small. Or that it’s over a dish of water.

If you’ve caught even one flea, this trap is considered a success. If not, add about a tablespoon more dish soap and blow bubbles with the four-legged kids.

That’s All Folks

As you consider a natural alternative to chemical flea treatment, please keep in mind that no treatment is perfect, and the primary use of the natural remedies is for repelling the buggers, not treating an active infestation.

But once you serve the eviction notice to the squatters, your pup will thank you for these gentle methods to keep the fleas from coming back.

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Are Antlers Bad for Dogs? (And How to Make Your Own)

I sip my coffee as I look at the growing pile on the table, and smile.

I know what he’s doing, he knows what he is doing – and of course he knows that I know what he’s doing. But hey, we do the little dance anyway cuz it’s how we roll.

“Whatcha doing?” I ask innocently, while eying the bright orange vest in his hand.

“I thought I’d head out early tomorrow morning and get some power chews for the dogs.” He pins waterproof ID holder containing the newly-issued license to the back of the vest.

I look at the hunting gear carefully placed out on the table. “Uh huh.”

Back up a sec, and let me explain …

It’s that time of the year; muzzleloading season. For the last few years – ever since I started keeping the antlers for our four-legged kids – rather that saying he’s “going hunting”, he calls it “collecting chews for the dogs.”

So by the end of the weekend I can look forward to a fresh stock of venison in the deep freeze chest, and a renewed supply of antlers for my pups, as well as a few friends.

But surprisingly, many dog owners aren’t familiar with giving antlers to dogs.

We’re here to clear up a few misconceptions – and maybe even encourage you to head out and forage for your own antlers.

What to Know Before Giving Your Dog Antlers

Just about any brick-and-mortar pet or feed store, or your favorite online retailer, sells antler chews for dogs. In and of themselves, antlers are neither good nor bad for your dog. Like any other power chew, it’s primarily about the quality of the product.small dog chewing on antler

When purchasing from a retailer, make sure the antlers are NATURAL ANTLERS – cuz we all know how manufacturers like to play the bait-n-switch game.

I promise not to mention or compare it to vegetarian chicken breast again.

Also, avoid antlers that are bright white. Don’t misunderstand me – it’s entirely possible for antlers to be a very light grey or even whitish.

But if an antler is whiter than your gym socks, then that’s a problem – cuz it’s seen more bleach than your laundry.

Since we’re identifying genuine products, another sure sign of a natural antler is the variegation of the coloring. You should see a difference from the outside to the inside, and this is much easier to identify if the antler has been cross-sectioned.

The easiest way to avoid the confusion at the stores is to avoid the store altogether. Simply grab a pair of hiking shoes and your faithful companion and head out to the woods and hunt down your own naturally shed antlers.

Also, you could hit up your favorite hunter or contact your local game processor.

Unless you live in the big city – in that case shopping could be compared to getting lost in the woods and fending off wild animals.

The most popular antlers available in North America are;Dog chewing on moose antlers

  • Deer: Generally lighter in color than elk or reindeer, white or mule deer antlers are harder than other antlers. Also, due to the availability of these antlers in the wild and through hunting, they are the most popular and least expensive.
  • Moose: As you’d expect moose antlers are big. I mean HUGE. These are usually cut into squares or rectangles when sold through retailers – which, quite frankly, is probably just as well when you consider that the sheer size of moose antlers.
  • Elk: Elk antlers tend to be larger than deer antlers, and softer as well. They also have a tendency to to be rougher in texture, and overall darker in color.
  • Reindeer: Reindeer antlers are heavier and tougher than standard deer antlers, and a little less commonly available through retailers – probably because no one wants to give Rover a chew toy that used to be Rudolph. These antlers can be available through game processors or hunters, or hiking through the forest.

ARE Antlers Safe for Dogs?

Because antlers are primarily made up of cartilage that mineralize into a bone-like substance – let’s just call it bone, and make it easier on us all, eh? – the most serious safety issue for your power chewer is the possibility of tooth breakage.

A major possibility.

As in about 20% chance.

And that’s just in healthy dogs.

For puppies and older dogs, the risk to their dentition simply isn’t worth it.

Just say, “no” to antlers.

Hey – you wanted honesty.

So, once (if) you determine that your dog isn’t at obvious risk for tooth breakage, ask yourself about any other bad chewing habits he may have.

To preserve Fido’s pearly whites, there’s a couple thigs you can do to give him the most enjoyable experience with his chew, while maintaining safety; Deer antlers for chewing

  • Choose the freshest, best quality antler. This is easiest if you know a hunter or processor – you could have an antler that’s only a few weeks old. Now that’s fresh! With practice, you can identify the approximate age of a forest-found antler; this year, a couple years old, or really old. Leave the ones that are a couple years old; they may have a splintering personality.
  • Know your dog’s chew habits. If your dog does an impression of a pelican and gulps down treats and food – then antlers (and other edible chews) probably aren’t the best choice.
  • Know and recognize the difference between biting and chewing; if he’s biting the antler then take it away, Chewing, obviously, is a good thing.
  • It’s worth repeating again; use your head before giving an antler to your dog. Antlers are hard. Seriously. So if you have a puppy, an older canine, or a dog with dental problems then antlers should not be an option as a chew or play. Not. At. All.

How to Make Your Own Deer Antler Chews

Now that you’ve trekked through the wilds to acquire your treasure, or bartered with the locals, there’s a little prep work that needs to be done before the antlers are ready for your canine’s canines.

And what better way to accomplish this than with power tools?

First, the antlers need to be cut down into manageable sizes. Not bite-sized pieces, mind you – but a good size so that your pup can hold the antler while chewing, and carry it around.

Eight to ten inches long is about average – and if you are going to leave the antler branched, make sure there’s no chance of poking eyes out while chewing.

Enter your choice of power cutting tools. Secure the antler in a table vice and cut it down into lengths with a hacksaw (boring), cutting wheel on a grinder, or a reciprocating saw.

Personally, I haven’t encountered a job that a Sawzall and a pack of Milwaukee blades couldn’t handle.

Deer antlers good for dogs

But I digress …

The second important part of preparing antlers before distribution to impatiently waiting pups is to make sure you eliminate any sharp edges.

It might seem surprising if you’ve only experienced the store-bought antler pieces, but when you’re hiking through the woods in search of your treasure, or have received a gift bag from a hunter, you might be surprised to discover that the points can be quite, well, pointy – as well as nubs and buds along the branches of the antler.

So, the easiest way to take care of that little problem is a sander. Or a dremel. Lock it back down in the vice and have at it.

Don’t forget to bevel off the edges where you cut the antler. Ridges are fine – and can even aid in keeping teeth clean – but you want to make sure you get rid of any sharp edges.

PSA: Don’t forget to wear a facemask and goggles.

Into the Cauldron They Go

You’ve got your found or fresh antler and it’s trimmed and sanded – now what?

Well, like any mineralized product, or any product you picked up off the ground or freshly harvested from its previous owner, there’s a lot of debate about boiling the antlers before allowing your dogs to have them.are antlers good for dogs

We take the position – like most veterinarians – that boiled bone products should be avoided, due to the fact that they develop a tendency to be much more brittle. Brittle bone-type products tend to splinter rather than break or chip. Splintered bone in your four-legged fur baby’s mouth and stomach should be avoided at all costs.

Just – no boiling the antlers, okay?

Blanching … Well that’s another bowl of kibble altogether. Blanching fresh antlers is a good way to sanitize them without actually cooking them.

Unless you’re dealing with shorter pieces, it’s best to have the antlers cut to size before blanching them. Then, just like those summer vegetables, drop them in boiling water for a few moments, then right into ice water.

Alternatively, if you’re just a wee bit germaphobic, you can put them in simmering water for about thirty minutes. Simmering, folks – not boiling. Boiling them what we just suggested you not do.

You can also soak the antlers in broth to add some flavor if your mutt isn’t all that interested at first.

Chew On This

Antlers are an incredibly popular chew – and become more so with every passing year. One of the reasons for their popularity is that they can be humanely harvested from local or commercial processers, acquired from hunters you know, or pack up the kids and spouse and scavenged for in the forest.

And let’s be honest – dogs love ‘em.

But they certainly aren’t always the best option.

Remember that choosing a chew for your dog and you should consider your dog’s needs before purchase. Puppies and young dogs, senior dogs, and those with dental problems – as well as those with bad chewing habits – should seek alternatives to antlers.

The post Are Antlers Bad for Dogs? (And How to Make Your Own) appeared first on Central Park Paws.


Are Pig Ears Bad for Dogs?

“What’s a Pig Ear?”

It was a warm Sunday afternoon – one of the last good days before the seasons change – and we hadn’t gotten more than three feet into the store when the voice rang out.

“No shoplifting.”

It’s the typical, good-natured welcome I receive from the store manager whenever I take my German Shepherd, Amber, into this particular pet store.

Although his words sound harsh, it’s delivered with a smile and all things considered, I think the manager has as much fun as Amber does … But that could just be my take on it.

Let me just point out, for the record, that Amber does not shoplift. She just, well – stealthily acquires and covertly relocates a sample of specific merchandise, for later tracking and inspection.

So, more to the point, at some point during our wandering through the store, Amber snags a pig ear and hides it somewhere else in the store.

It’s a game with the stock boy for him to find where Amber hid it before her next trip in, where she will head right to the last hiding spot to check on it.

Hey, I figure it makes everyone’s day a little bit more interesting in a fun way, and they seem to enjoy it as well. No harm, no foul.

Since I got a sideways look from my bestie that asked, “what did she do?” and I’m trying to explain all this to my shopping companion to make us not all seem a few fries short of a happy meal, she quite seriously asked me – I kid you not – what a pig’s ear was.

Yes, she is blonde.

What Are Pig Ears

Frankly speaking, pig ears – that is, natural pig ears – are the dried auditory appendages from processed swine.pig ear dog chews

In other words – the pig’s ear.

I know, I know – it sounds so simple it’s almost silly, right?

But before you get your leash all tied up in a knot – the truth is that it’s really not as simple as that.

Like anything else you can buy from a store or the internet, just because something is called or labeled one thing, doesn’t necessarily mean that’s what it really is.

Ever wonder what the heck ‘vegetarian chicken breast’ is? – cuz I can guarantee you there’s not a bit of chicken in it.

Just because a chew is labeled as a pig’s ear doesn’t really mean it is a pig ear.

So … What it comes down to is understanding that it’s really more important to know what a pig ear isn’t as much as what it is.

Natural Pigs Ears Are …

Like you would expect, natural pig ears should be just that – specifically and uniquely processed and dried ears from a pig.

Now before you get all wiggly and jiggly, remember that no matter the animal, ears are formed from cartilage – and when processed and dehydrated this makes them quite tasty, enjoyably chewy, and easily digestible. The perfect treat for our pups.

A natural pig ear chew

A natural pig ear chew

Pig ears are also a natural source for several essential minerals, and simple fats – plus the naturally dehydrated texture helps keep their teeth clean!

Like any other animal product (like bully sticks), ears are humanely acquired during the processing of the rest of the pork for everything from bacon to rump roast, and every other delicious morsel in between.

The fresh ears are blanched – that is, they go through the flash process of water boiling for about 30 seconds then into ice water – and dried, then dehydrated. Simple as that.

Some manufacturers may add flavoring, but it’s not really needed because of their inherent flavor and consistency of the natural product. Some ears may also be smoked for a slightly different flavor and texture, but it’s still all the same in the end.

Pet stores most commonly sell pig ears as a whole ear; this makes them easily recognizable and easier for retailers to manage. However, they may be trimmed into small strips for little dogs.

As a side note, pig ear treats are also easily made at home – blanch then follow any homemade strip meat jerky recipe.

… And Are Not

If that treat in your hand is not labeled specifically that it is a naturally occurring pig ear – then it’s probably not. At this point, there are several options of what the chew may be.

all natural pig ears for dogs

This is what you’re looking for

And sometimes it’s best not to think about what it might be …

Probably the most common faux form is rawhide. Swine hide can be labeled “natural pig ear treats” under the guise that the ear-shaped chew is, in fact, made from pig – and rawhide is natural.

Yeah it’s a play on words and probably more of a bait-n-switch then we’d be comfortable with – but that’s not to be surprising when you can but a product called “vegetarian chicken breast”. Yuck.

Basically, anything that is from a pig can be remarketed as a “natural pig ear treat”.

On the other hand, if it looks like an ear but isn’t labeled as anything other than a dog chew, it’s probably best to just put it back and move on.

My Picks for the Best Natural Pig Ears

These are the two pig ear products that I’ve tried (well, my dogs have tried) and I can recommend.

  • Raw Paws Jumbo Pig Ears – These guys make quality products with an emphasis on using natural ingredients with no hormones, antibiotics, or preservatives
  • Brutus & Barnaby Whole Pig Ears – No added colorings, chemicals, or hormones in these and they are cheaper than the Raw Paws chews

Safety First

Mom is right: Safety first.

Pigs ears are a natural chewing alternative to rawhide or your favorite easy chair. But, like with any chew, they are not without risks;

As when introducing any new chew or treat, always observe your pup to see how he reacts to the new chew. Naturally delicious and fun to chew, some dogs that do not regularly exhibit ‘sharing issues’ may become territorial with their treats at first.

  • Give them space and a chance to adapt.
  • Pig ears tend to have a higher fat content – so share sparingly with your overweight pup. Also, if Fido has a delicate digestive tract, the increased fat may cause, uh, tummy trouble. You know what I’m talking about.
  • Similar to other chews, pig ears should be chewed, and not swallowed in large chunks. If your canine companion tends to wolf down his meals and treats, there may be risk for choking or intestinal blockage. If this is the case, then perhaps pig ears – and most chews – are not for them. Always try to be on hand to monitor them for the initial ‘new chew excitement’ until they settle down for a chewing spell.
  • Although very rare, pig ears from unscrupulous distributors can contain trace amounts of salmonella bacteria. You can avoid this by only purchasing chews from trusted pet stores – or contact a local butcher and make your own treats at home.

Are They OK for Puppies?

Short answer: For the most part, yes.

Like I mentioned earlier, pig ears are high in fat content, can cause diarrhea, and carry a choking hazard risk. Is it safe to let them gnaw on some swine cartilage? Probably.

But there are better options available for your fur baby. At least during the puppy phase.

Pig Ear Alternatives for Puppies

  • If you’re into the raw food diet, carrots make a good chew toy, though they don’t last nearly as long as pig ears
  • A Kong toy filled with peanut butter will keep your pooch happy and busy for a while.
  • Bully sticks are another natural animal product that a lot of people like (we recommend these).
  • I’ve heard really good things about these Himalayan Dog Chews. They’re made from “yak and cow milk, salt, and lime juice”, are high in protein, and low in fat. I (or my dogs) haven’t tried them but I’m thinking of giving them a shot.

I plan on going over more chew toys and treats in future posts like antlers, cow hoofs, and Nylabones.

Listen Up

The bottom line is not all natural pigs ears are actually natural pig’s ears. But, once you find a reliable source for the real thing, you may find the pig’s ears quickly become a favorite treat for your pet.

Natural, healthy, nutritious – and a whole lotta fun – your dog will agree that pig’s ears are quite possibly the best chew treat on earth.

The pig, on the other hand, might have a different opinion …

The post Are Pig Ears Bad for Dogs? appeared first on Central Park Paws.


How to Keep a Dog House Warm in the Winter

Winter is Coming

Well, that escalated quickly.

Just a couple days ago it was bright and sunny, albeit slightly on the cool side, and I was raking the leaves into a pile for the four-legged kids to play in.

Now I’m standing here with a cup of coffee warming my hands, staring out at about 3 inches of snow on the ground while listening to a weatherman drone on about an overnight low expected to be around 24°.

With the change in weather comes the most-asked – and often delivered in a panicked way – question this time of the year, “How do I keep my dog house warm?”

dog outside in winter

It’s snowing!

Okay, before we get started, let me set out a few ground rules (yes – I’m setting ground rules).

We are not starting a debate on whether or not dogs should stay inside or outside during the winter – or for how long; sufficed to say if you’re not 100% sure your dog has the coat to maintain then in a cold environment, then keep them inside.

We are not discussing how canines generate their body heat – or how they disperse it.

And we’re certainly not going to discuss doggie sweaters and jackets.

We are simply discussing the best ways to insulate (or improve the insulation of) an existing dog shelter or choose a new dog house that is in an unconditioned space – specifically outside.

If ya’ll can agree to the ground rules, then lets jump in …

(Dog) Home Improvement

At the risk of stating the obvious, the first order of business is to determine if the existing structure – whatever it may be – is adequate to provide the required protection. Basically, how good is it?

Keep in mind that protection is completely dependent on your location, and the expected temperatures, so a dog house in Florida or Texas will have different requirements than one in, say, Colorado.

Because we’re pushing into the cold months, we will concentrate on protection from the cold – and not with sweaters.

A few basics for your pooch palace to take into consideration:

  • The house should be large enough to allow your dog – or dogs – to move around inside. The height should allow them to keep their heads up and not hunch over. The height should allow them access to their bed without bumping their head. They should be able to stretch out without cramping. The more dogs, the more room is required.
  • Without exception, the roof should be waterproof and extend over the opening to keep any rain from going into the house. Also, make sure the structure is set in a manner that the opening is away from the prevailing direction of incoming rain.
  • The opening should be large enough for your dog to comfortably enter and exit, without being excessive – or solid.
  • Without question, there should be some type of bed for your dog. Make sure it’s on a platform of some sort, raised up about 6″ from the floor of the house.
  • The walls, roof, and floor should be completely insulated.
  • The house needs to be windproof, period. Insulation and waterproofing are important, but wind chill can be a killer – literally.

If you find your dog house meets most of the requirements – then let’s see how we can improve it!

A homebuilt doghouse can easily be modified, and alterations should be straightforward enough to tackle in an afternoon with some help from your favorite DIY store.

Leaky roof? Start by removing all the old shingles and sub-roofing. Add a layer of insulation, lay down some water-resistant membrane, and then re-shingle. If the height isn’t quite what it needs to be, now is the perfect time to add height – before finishing off the in snow

If the walls or floors have no insulation – or if the insulation is not what it should be – then you have the option to add the insulation and another layer on the outside of the structure, or the same on the inside.

Insulation materials can be standard fiberglass, filler, insulation board, or even bubble-wrap. In a pinch, even stuffing old blankets or towels between the layers will be better than nothing.

If your dog is a chewer, make sure that he can’t get to the insulation.

For some additional protection at the entryway, try hanging a light section of screening or plastic sheeting up to cover the opening; this will allow easy access for your pups and keep some of the outside elements where they belong – outside.

If there isn’t one, make a simple platform for a bed – and make sure the bed is able to withstand the elements. Some 2×4 legs and a plywood top are perfect, the key is to get your pup up off the ground.

If for some reason there’s no room for a platform – or you’re not able to construct one – consider purchasing a raised dog bed frame, or even a pile of straw. The key is to get your kid up off the floor.

Let There Be Heat

The danger with dog houses comes in with the northern half of the continent and snow – and the owner that gets the bright idea to add heat to the new quarters.

Now don’t get me wrong – I’m not against heat at all. I like toasty toes on a snowy night. Personally, I leave the house open to the yard for the pups so they can go in and out of the garage and the house  as they please, with a couple of those nifty “as seen on tv” screens up over the doorway to keep the cool weather out – you’d be amazed how much cold block they provide. But I digress …cold dog in snow

Heat’s not a bad thing. Heat’s good – especially if it’s snowing like it was last night. But where there’s heat, there’s usually electricity. And that’s where the trouble starts.

If you’re thinking about grabbing the space heater that usually camps out under your desk keeping your toes warm, you need to set it back down and back away – now.

Heating a space for your canine isn’t like heating a small area in a house, for humans. For starters, the smaller the area, the quicker the area heats up – then proceeds to quickly overheat. And that’s when we start throwing around words like “fire hazard” and “flammable”.

And don’t forget, the area also contains your dog so it’s a lot smaller once they’re in there – and the last thing you need is for that wagging tail to knock a heater over. Or burn their tail.

So where does that leave us? Well – like anything in life, it’s all about the right product for the application.

House Warming

You’ve got a few options to keep your furry friend toasty this winter. First you need to decide if you’re going to do it yourself or just buy something premade.


If you’re in the do-it-yourself kind (or know someone handy around the toolbox) then building a doghouse should be right up your alley. It’s really not much different from a treehouse or kids playhouse, and there are tons of plans on the internet.

And you can paint it to match your house.

But if, like the rest of us, you’re less of a builder and more of a buyer, then a little research and shopping is in your foreseeable future.

Insulated Dog Houses

When shopping for a new dog house, the most important thing to keep in mind is that you’re shopping for Fido – and not for a lawn accessory. Try not to fall for the lure of “it’s so cute” or “it matches the garage”. The overall look of the structure is really on the bottom of the list of requirements.

  1. Make sure the overall interior is large enough for your dog to move around.
    insulated dog house

    This one comes with a floor heater

  2. Ensure that it is fully insulated. If it doesn’t state fully insulated – then it’s not.
  3. You will need to set the house on blocks to get it up off the ground, so the base should be sturdy enough to handle it.
  4. Windows look nice, but are not for all climates so try not to fall for them. Windows, at best, allow for air leaks in colder climates. At worst – they let in the rain as well.
  5. Go for rain and wind proof. Not resistant – remember that resistant can resist to some degree, but that’s it. A wind proof and rainproof structure will block the wind and rain completely.
  6. Something should cover the opening – if there’s not an easy access then make sure you can hang a screen or vertical plastic strips to protect the opening and allow easy in and out. Avoid solid or doggie-doors; snowfall can block these and trap your pet inside or outside.
  7. Let’s be honest – porches are nice. You like ’em, I like ’em, and we know the dogs like to lounge on ’em. So, feel free to splurge on a house with a porch – just make sure it’s a covered porch.

Finding an appropriate doghouse basically comes down to one test; if you and a sleeping bag can handle it overnight and be relatively comfortable (well – except for the whole size thing…) then it’s going to be warm enough for your four-legged kid.

Check out more insulated dog houses

Dog House Heaters

dog house heaterThat’s right, there are heaters specifically designed for heating dog houses. You might also hear them called “dog house furnaces”. As my mother would say, “six of one, half a dozen of another”.

At around 100 bucks, they aren’t cheap but these, obviously, are the best option to heat your dog house since they are made to do just that.

There is a bit of installation so get ready to pull out your toolbox or call your neighbor.

Some benefits of using a dog house heater are;

  • There is generally some protection or guard to keep your pup from getting his nose into the heating element
  • Since they are designed to heat small areas, you won’t risk overheating the space
  • The cords are wrapped, protected, and usually “chew proof
  • They are compact and easy to install

More dog house heaters

Heated Kennel Pads

Heated kennel pads are probably the most popular heating option for tempering the inside of a dog house.

heated kennel pad

These are placed directly under the bedding, but more often are tucked into the space between the floor and the bed (cuz you raised it a few inches off the floor, right?) to warm the overall space while avoiding overheating your pup.

There are numerous benefits to these mats;

  • The temperature is moderate, which will eliminate overheating of the space – and your pet
  • While not completely waterproof, higher quality mats are weatherproof and will withstand light moisture.
  • Most cords are PVC and steel-wrapped to eliminate chewing tendencies.
  • They are about 1/5 the price of a dog house heater

There’s even one that’s made specifically to fit inside igloo shaped dog houses! (It’s this one)

More heated kennel pads

heated dog bed

Heated Dog Beds

Try not to confuse the heated kennel pads with heated dog beds; they might sound alike but while the kennel pads are made for, well, kennels – the heated dog beds are strictly for indoor use.

These would be good if your dog’s crate or current bed is currently in a drafty room or one with tile floors. If it’s too cold for you to walk on without socks, Rover probably won’t enjoy it either.

Think of them as a fluffy electric blanket.

More heated dog beds

Heater Boxes

Heater boxes are popular because they are less expensive than a high-quality heated mat, and maintain a lower heating temperature.

The drawback of heater boxes is that there is a smaller, concentrated source of heat in the form of a bulb – which can be broken and scatter glass in the dog house.

Professional HVAC System

If you’ve got a few hundred bucks burning a hole in your pocket, call up your HVAC guy and consider a small package unit that’s designed to heat – and even cool – very small spaces, like sheds and dog houses.

They’re not for the very small houses, so if you’re considering one – or if you have multiple dogs sharing the structure – you might want to look into it. Besides – it will add value to your house!

Heated Dog Bowls

This may seem like a luxury item to most. I know when I saw it, I thought, “really? This is getting a bit ridiculous.”

heated dog bowl

But then I thought about people in much colder climates whose dog’s water bowl may actually freeze.

Which leaves Fido licking an ice cube when he gets thirsty.

I guess you could use it as a food bowl too if your dog’s chow gets rock hard in the winter. Not sure how common of an issue that is.

So for those of you facing that problem, or if you just think it’s cruel to make a dog drink ice cold water when he’s already cold, there is a solution.

And don’t worry, these babies are temperature controlled so you won’t have to worry about scalding your dog’s tongue on boiling water.

More heated dog bowls

Do It Yourself – Outside The Box

If you’ve jumped into the whole DIY scene with both feet and no snorkel, or simply refuse to spend a weekend shopping, there are options that don’t include a massive building project or breaking the budget;

  • If you’re pinched for time – or pennies – consider wrapping the existing doghouse in a good tarp. You can pick one up for only a few dollars, but they can make a huge difference by keeping the rain and wind at bay. If you cross wrap the front flap, you can fashion a sort of ‘door’ for extra protection – just make sure your pooch can easily go in and out.warm house with snowy window
  • Save all your dollars by keeping Fido inside during the winter. Allow them to go in and out, but make them primarily inside dogs during severe weather. Problem solved for free!
  • Ready for some real fun? Grab a sheet of plywood, two sheetmetal “C” collars, and a dryer vent kit from your favorite DIY warehouse. Cut the plywood to fit into one of your windows, cut a hole in the center, and affix one of the “C” collars. Cut the other collar into the side of the dog house, and run the flex from the window to the shelter. Make sure that you have the backflow flap going the right direction and presto! Free heat for the kennel. Of course, this only works if the dog house is close to your house and you don’t mind covering up a window…

Hot Dogs

Whether you’re looking to make improvements to your current dog house, or upgrade to a new one, it’s important to remember that our canine kids aren’t wild wolves; they are domesticated companion animals that need to be sheltered from extreme weather.

Try to pay attention to them – they will let you know if they’re too cold.

The post How to Keep a Dog House Warm in the Winter appeared first on Central Park Paws.


Raw Paws Bully Sticks Review

Disclaimer: We were sent this product in return for a review.

With Fall fast approaching, and the cold winter months fast on it’s heels, our canines will tend to spend more time inside than out – which lead to restlessness and the potential for destructive behavior.

So, it seemed like the perfect time to do a review of specific chew products – so we chose to focus on the Raw Paws® Pet Food bully sticks.

Who are Raw Paws?

Since they exploded onto the scene in 2014, Raw Paws® has quickly become a premier supplier of high quality and affordable raw and natural pet foods, which include freeze dried and refrigerated raw products, nutritional supplements, treats and chews.

Raw Paws all natural pizzle sticksWith experts available, they can advise their clients on the benefits of raw or partially raw diets, as well as transitioning diets so as not to cause any digestive upset to your four-legged kids. Trust me – no one wants digestive upset in their canines!

When it comes to choosing, preparation, and feeding, Raw Paws® certainly doesn’t leave you blowing in the wind.

Their highly detailed website impressively covers all the basics from understanding the benefits of this dietary style, to choosing and incorporating the change – and the customer service was top of the line for answering questions fully and factually.

Personally, I was introduced to Raw Paws® back in 2016, through a friend of the family – so I have some experience with their company and products, although I had not previously purchased these particular chews.

I believe that bully sticks should be chosen over commercially processed rawhide for a number of reasons (let’s not open that can of worms here!), however I do not to allow my personal preferences to cloud our reviews.

We have a simple formula; the dogs do the testing, and I do the writing.

As an added bonus to our readers, Raw Paws is offering $25 off chews orders of $100+ with code RAWCHEWS25

What are Bully Sticks?

Bully Sticks. Also called pizzle, these sticks are a natural, healthy option over commercially processed rawhide aimed at hours of chewing enjoyment for canines of all shapes and sizes.

But what exactly are bully sticks? Experienced dog owners choose them over other forms of chewing treats without a second thought – but always hide a knowing smile when they overhear a novice owners ask what they are made from. If you’re not sure what bully sticks are, we could tell you – but what fun would that be?

Unlike traditional rawhide chews, bully sticks are highly digestible. Because they break down easily in your dog’s stomach, there is less chance of intestinal blockage – unless they swallow large chunks.

Unlike bones, bully sticks do not splinter – another benefit for your pup’s tummy.

Available in 3 different sizes (6″ standard, 6″ jumbo, and 12″ jumbo), Raw Paws® Pet Food sources their bully sticks directly from Brazil, under strict guidelines of grass-fed, antibiotic free beef. Like all of their products, these bully sticks are excess additive and preservative free – containing one simple ingredient: 100% beef.

For this review, we chose the 6″ standard size bully sticks, and enlisted the professional chewing services of three canines who enjoy bully chews; one German shepherd, one Rottweiler, and one American Staffordshire Terrier.

To Chew, or Not to Chew?

Bully sticks are for chewing enjoyment – nothing more, nothing less. They may have several specific uses, but they still remain a chew treat. Like any other treat, they should not be fed in place of any base nutrition (like, in place of meals) and should not be fed so often that the dog cannot eat their meals.Best bully sticks for dogs

Bully sticks – like other chews – are NOT recommended for dogs that tend to swallow large pieces of treats or gulp their food when eating.

While these sticks are one of the safest treat and chew options on the market, when a dog insists on swallowing large chunks of anything, the potential of choking is still there.

Monitor your dog carefully to determine if they have any bad chewing habits before allowing them to wander off with their prize.

Uses for Bully Sticks

So you’ve got your bully sticks – now what?

Some uses for bully sticks can include;


Rewards can be part of training, or generically used because they’ve been a good boy. Whatever you choose, try to be consistent in the rewarding – and never reward bad behavior!

Creating distractions

healthy chews for dogs

Bully sticks are also good for your dog’s teeth

Lets be honest, sometimes dogs need distractions. They’re bored, or the weather outside is frightful, and they’re underfoot to the point of banishment. Sometimes it’s the doggie parent that needs the break from throwing the ball for the ten millionth time.

Bully sticks are perfect to occupy your furbaby for long chunks of time, but never give a chew or treat because YOU are frustrated or need to occupy them somewhere else. Rewarding what you consider bad behavior is a recipe for future disaster.

If you need to distract your pup while you finish that report or project, take a breath and an extra few minutes to send your dog to their spot or the couch – and then present them with the chew.


Training can be made easier for dogs that love to chew, and can easily fall into a training pattern by withholding and returning their chews. From incorporating chews while teaching “stay” and “place”, to rewarding them for a job well done, bully sticks are more than just a chew toy.

Staying busy

Occupying their mind – and mouth – with a chew is a win-win for human and canine alike. We all feel the effects of boredom, and when our canine kids can’t get out and stretch their legs, that pent up energy still needs to be spent. These rugged chews will keep Rover’s jaw moving for hours, a perfect way to use up that energy!

Is Raw Paws® a Better Product?

Hmmm …. There’s no easy answer to this. If you were to ask me if Raw Paws® produces a quality product, and would I feed it to my own canine kids – I would answer with a resounding “yes”.

The value for product is above industry standard – more than fair, and the company has clearly combined ethically sourced quality ingredients with a focus on high nutritional value, and are then proportionally packaged for easy feeding and freshness.Raw Paws Bully Sticks

Are they better than everybody else? I can’t answer that since I haven’t reviewed everyone else, BUT you don’t necessarily have to do a full-throttle review to get a feel for a product, to know whether it’s above average – or below average.

Strictly from an ingredient point of view on a website, a curious consumer can learn a lot about a product.

Are they 100% natural? Do they contain additives and preservatives? Are they flavored? Remember – added flavoring is added chemicals.

Websites of quality product will tackle these questions head on with openness and honesty.

Still not sure? Then remember this simple rule of thumb – if a company or manufacturer doesn’t come right out and state it, than they aren’t. Is the “preservative free” label missing? Then it’s got preservatives. It’s as simple as that.

A few minutes of investigation on your own – including reading reviews by non-biased companies and consumers – can avoid a lot of hassle and bellyaches for your pup, and less heartache for your wallet down the road.

Specs on the Sticks

For this review, we tested the standard 6″ bully sticks. Also available are 10-count pack of 6″ standard, 2- or 5-count packs of 6″ jumbo, and 3-count pack of 12″ jumbo.

Sourced from Brazil, the beef is grass fed and free from industry-standard antibiotics. The bully sticks themselves are crafted from 100% beef, without any added preservatives, additives, or chemical flavoring. Nothing but 100% natural beef … uh, just google it.

all natural bully sticks

Pencil for scale

This product is noted as “low odor”. Unfortunately, such a claim is completely subjective; that being said, it is my opinion that Raw Paws® bully sticks are definitely lower in odor than most, although they are not odor-free – from either end of the dog!

The resealable bag really was that – resealable. It might seem like such a little thing, but we’ve all been there with “resealable” bags that weren’t. And that’s just a big ‘ole pain in the bully stick, if you know what I mean. Because the product is a dried natural product, refrigeration was not required – and that was appreciated as well.

Don’t forget; like any pure beef product, bully sticks contain amino acids – a nutritional requirement for any healthy canine.

Although they contain multiple nutrients and minerals, bully sticks are not to be considered part of your dog’s diet; they need a consistently balanced diet with the proper nutrients fed in a reasonable manner and quantity for your individual canine’s needs.

Treats are meant to be just that – treats. If your dog is filling up on chews, cut down the amount he gets.

What we liked

As a natural option for chewing, bully sticks are at the top of the pecking order, so to speak.

For over a century, rawhide has been the traditional go-to for dog owners. Unfortunately, as modern manufacturing techniques, contamination concerns, and the pursuit of cheaper products are brought out into the light of day, an alternative for chewing treats was chewing on bully stick

Bully sticks have gone from an exotic treat to surging forward as a primary chewing option to not only satisfy a canine’s natural desire to chew, but to combat boredom – and control plaque and tartar between professional cleanings.

Raw Paws ® uses only specifically selected, natural product. For us – and this review – that’s a big thing. As you would expect from the base product, there is wide variation from one stick to the next, in formation and coloration.

This is a hallmark of a truly pure, natural product. Only a manufacturing plant can make something perfectly uniform – and how natural can that be?

The bully sticks we tested left no stain or residue on the carpeting or the beds, and I credit this back to the lack of ancillary ingredients and fillers.

If a product is truly made from 100% beef (or chicken, or what-have-you) like this one is, you don’t need to add to add extra chemical-created flavors to make it taste like what it is. Right?

The two of the three dogs involved in the review – the American Staffordshire Terrier and the Rottweiler – both enjoyed the sticks in their own way.

The Pittie engaged in recreational aggression with the stick before conquering it. His jumping and running around in circles as he tossed it about showed his clear enjoyment of the play – and stick. Once settled in chewing mode, he ate about half, before wandering off. A few hours later he polished it off.

The Rottie took her prize to her bed, and curled up for an afternoon of delicate surgery as she slowly disassembled and ingested the stick in one sitting.

What we didn’t like

Traditionally, the primary drawbacks of bully sticks has been their odor. While the commercially processed sticks have managed to eliminate the natural odor with the numerous additives and preservatives, as well as over processing the sub-quality ingredients, the trade-off simply isn’t worth it.

By using only higher quality, natural ingredients, Raw Paws® has reduced the odor – but it’s still there.

Although keeping the product in a sealed container and using before the expiration date (yeah, that’s important when feeding fresh or high quality food and treats) when feeding bully sticks, it’s important to remember that there is odor both before eating, and after eating, if you know what I mean…What are bully sticks made of?

The concerning issue with the bully sticks we sampled from Raw Paws® was the reaction from the GSD.

Not only did she refuse the bully stick, she made her opinion quite clear as she barked at it.

And I don’t mean the playful barking at treats that’s exhibited by some of the breeds, like GSDs and huskies – but barking at it. “Get back or I’ll tear you a new one” kind of barking.

Outside of the downright hostile reaction – that was clearly dislike rather than fear or aggression – she had no interest in the stick, and calmed down when I took it away. Reintroduction of the stick after she watched her companions enjoying themselves made no difference.

She clearly – and uncharacteristically – wanted nothing to do with that treat.

Our two cents

When considering natural chews for your four legged companions, remember that it’s not all about the price – or how cute or fancy the product looks. Your furball isn’t going to care what it looks like, but what it tastes like.

Bully sticks are a natural chew, and definitely should be chosen over commercially processed rawhide.

As with any other chew, toy, or new food, you should pay attention to your canine while they are engaged with the sticks – especially when first introduced.

Chewies are a great way to occupy your pup, but you should always pay attention to their chewing habits, especially when introducing them to bully sticks for the first time.

Summing it up

One of my favorite things about being associated with Central Park Paws is participating in consumer product reviews.

We have the freedom not only to review products through our affiliate programs, but we will often respond to concerned emails from readers with reviews of questionable products.

We give honest reviews of all the products we test – the good, the bad, and the ugly.

But with great reviews comes great responsibility.

We strive to keep our reviews neutral – focusing solely on the product at hand – rather than engage in the ‘politically correct’ arguments of food preferences, dietary styles, or the pink elephant in the room – raw food versus kibble.

It is our opinion that Raw Paws® bully sticks are not only a premium bully stick, but the overall company ethics and commitment to superior products allows us to put our stamp of approval on this product.

Happy chewing!

As an added bonus to our readers, Raw Paws is offering $25 off chews orders of $100+ with code RAWCHEWS25

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What Does It Mean When a Dog Eats Grass?×200.jpg

Why Do Dogs Eat Grass?

“This is Shasta. She’s a vegan”

That was the simple introduction made by my hubby as he placed the little blue-eyed husky mix – cleverly disguised as a ball of fur with giant ears and a pink tongue – into my open arms.  Through the “getting to know you” puppy kisses, I waited for the punchline.

The look on his face told me he was dead serious.Dog eating grass

After having the new fluff ball at home for a few hours I knew he was right – and I was about to embark on an adventure through the twilight zone that I had never expected with a dog.

Shasta ate grass. I’m not kidding – she ate it.

I’m not talking about the occasional nibble as if she had a bellyache – you know, the old wives’ tale about dogs and grass.

Nope, the puppy was out there chowing down my lush green lawn like a kid with an after school snack of chocolate chip cookies and no homework. All day, every day. Grazing away like the cow she wasn’t.

Was there something wrong with her? Was she sick? Was she hungry?

Or worse – was my puppy really a vegetarian?

So, the hunt was on for an explanation to solve the canine mystery we’ve all encountered – why does our dog eat grass?

Are Dogs Carnivores or Herbivores?

Actually, our four-legged furbabies are both.

The correct term is omnivore, and this is an unpopular fact that has been proven through various phases of scientific study, as well as genetic markers in the domesticated Canis Lupus Familiaris, as well as Canis Lupus – the wild wolf.

So, although they commonly considered steadfast carnivores, studies are more and more supporting that both dogs and wolves alike are omnivores.

Clearly, canines are preferential carnivores. Heck, if given the choice between a thick, juicy steak or a grilled chicken breast, and a bowl full of boring field greens – which would you choose?

Dog chewing on a stick

Getting his “roughage”

It’s the same with dogs. They go for the meat every time.

A cursory look inside the mouth of the beast shows dentition perfectly designed to rip and tear – trademarks of a carnivorous bend. But that doesn’t mean there is no need for vegetation in their diets.

A closer inspection shows the intestinal design supports an omnivorous diet.

Heck, studies show that even wolves have been known to seek out and ingest the various berries that their dinner from the previous days had snacking on. This fact, that seeking vegetation of various kinds to supplement their diets, in itself is proof of the omnivorous nature of the beast.

Unfortunately, another problem with identifying canines as omnivores is that it goes against the current fad of “grain free” diets that are becoming more and more popular – as well as the resurgence in “raw food diets“.

Rather than go into the benefits or evils of grains – and other so-called “fillers” –  or open the Pandora’s box of debating raw versus kibble in our dog’s daily nutritional plans, we’re going to focus on the vegetation en masse.

So one scientific – and practical – reason about why dogs eat grass and other leafy greens, fruits, and vegetables, in addition to their chicken and beef, is that it’s in their DNA.

Vegetation, along with quality meat products, are both components of a balanced diet. And besides – they like it!

But we’re still left with a question – is grass bad for my dog?

Should I Let My Dog Eat Grass?

Okay, since we’ve established that eating grass isn’t the end of the world – it still doesn’t answer why my beautiful little husky is cross-dressing as a billy goat. So let’s take a look at some of the why’s that could be rational explanations;

Just like you and I get food cravings that can be indicative of a missing nutrient from our daily diet, the same can be said for our canine companions. And while we can grab a handful of potato chips to get a little sodium boost, it’s different for Fido.

We do the best we can to make sure they have a balanced diet – and that includes the occasional yummy treats – but every now and then they need a little extra. And since it’s programmed into them, they know just where to look.

Grasses not only add roughage to aid in digestion (dogs can’t process the grass), they can add various other minerals – as well as quick rehydration on hot days or after rough and tumble play.

Why does my dog eat grass?

The common explanation for dogs eating grass is because they’re sick and need help to get whatever is ailing them out of their system.

But in reality, it’s been proven that only a small percentage of dogs vomit after eating grass, and even then the general consensus of research veterinarians can’t agree if it is a driving force to seek out and eat grass for the gastrointestinal relief, or a learned pattern of behavior – or simply a coincidence.

If your dog is sick, he’s gonna be sick – grass or no grass. And like every other dog owner on the planet, nothing can rouse me from a dead sleep in the middle of the night like one of my dogs about to get sick on the carpet.

Speaking of things that go burp in the night … I don’t mean to gross you out here – but are you sure your little angel is eating grass?

Stop and think of the potential nasties that could be hiding there, enticing Fido. Another dog’s scent. A parting gift leftover from a rabbit passing through. Remnants from last night’s chow that still smells so yummy.

The term pica refers to the eating of non-food items – and trust me, there are plenty of non-food items out there to be discovered and ingested.

What Can You Do About Your Grass-Eating Pooch?

Well … Just like in every other realm of life, you’ve got options available.

First things first, identify what’s getting eaten – and why.

Yeah, we just covered why dogs might be eating grass or other leafy stuff, but have you done your homework? Do you know why your pup is eating the grass? Or should we say – do you know what your dog is actually eating?

That’s a pretty big key to deciding what to do about it.

Figuring out the what in the equation is key, and then the answer why will be pretty obvious. Just open your eyes and watch. Look at where he stops and watch what he does.Is grass bad for dogs?

Nonchalantly walk around the yard while your dog is sniffing out a spot to make a deposit, and pay attention to his actions and reactions.

Is he looking for specific grass or leaves to eat? Is he sniffing and gently licking? Is he uncovering a dainty morsel to devour? Is he heading directly to the previously digested dinner for a second helping?

If it’s traces of scents your pup is going after, say from a neighborhood dog remarking territory, that’s easy enough to handle.

A short conversation explaining the problem and asking the dog’s owner to walk across the street, or not allowing them to stop along your property line should suffice; most dog owners understand some of the quirkiness that comes with the leash and collar.

Rinsing the spot on a daily basis works as well – especially if you can catch it as soon as the offender completes his rounds. You can also try a soap-suds rinse; it will eliminate not only the offending odor but discourage remarking.

“Tootsie rolls” are a common delicacy – and the fresh ones even more so. Again, this takes a respectable amount of vigilance on your part to identify and eliminate (no pun intended) the temptations. The first step could be keeping a close eye of Fido as he wanders the yard to identify the offender.

If it’s from a rabbit or other wildlife, then consider rabbit fencing to reinforce any areas that the bunny might be slipping through, or even wildlife sprays. A few nights of the offending fragrance will curtail the wildlife from crossing into your territory.

If you find that your dog is recycling his own “tootsie rolls”, that will take a little more effort to correct. Dogs re-ingest food for three primary reasons:

1. The food is still yummy. That means there’s undigested goodness in abundance. If this is the case – and your dog is not absorbing all the available nutrition from his meal – then it’s time to look at a change in food.

2. There’s a nutritional need. Just like we crave what our bodies need, there might be nutrients in the waste – whether his own or another animal’s – that he needs. This takes more consideration, and perhaps a trip to the vet to ensure his nutrition is where it should be.

3. Compulsions occur in our four-legged friends just as easily as they do in us. If there is no rational explanation – or you find that your little bundle of joy is eating poo indiscriminately, then it is time for a serious intervention.

dog in high grassTraining, as well as physical aids such as muzzles can eliminate eating the non-food items. Proper dog training can also be very effective. If it’s serious, your veterinarian can add a medicinal component to change the behavior.

If you discover it’s really just about the sweet, succulent grass or plants, you can simply let nature take its course and let your dog continue to eat grass. It really won’t hurt anything.

One small caveat: if you use any weed or pest control chemicals, you will want to discontinue them – these chemicals can be dangerous when ingested.

Also, get a book – or scour the internet – and eliminate any potentially toxic plants and weeds.

Lastly, you can take steps to eliminate the draw of the offending vegetation altogether.

Don’t Want Your Dog to Eat Grass?

Okay, so you’ve decided that you’re taking grass off the canine menu. No more vegetarian diet for you. Now you need a plan. And patience – lots and lots and lots of patience.

Basically, if you don’t want your dog to eat the grass – you eliminate the grass.

See how easy that was?

  • Consider a pea-gravel run. With some proper preparation, and special emphasis on drainage, you can create an area for your dog that’s both grass-free and healthy – and easy to clean up.
  • Keeping to leashed walks is another way to ensure your pup isn’t stopping for a quick meal while out and about. Just remember to pay attention when they stop and sniff – a bit of solid leash training can go a long way.
  • Do a little recon work – does Bruiser like to eat grass in the morning? After he’s had his nightly meal? Is there only a certain area that he eats the grass?

Information is knowledge – and knowledge is power. Filling in the blanks can not only help you understand what he is eating – it can help you avoid it.

Another way to deal with eating grass without turning your backyard into a rock garden is with discouraging sprays and scents. These chemical-based sprays can be either bitter tasting, or an acrid odor that repels dogs altogether.

Although they can be quite effective, they can be expensive between initial purchase and reapplication after the rain washes them away – or they can be more dangerous because of their caustic make-up that repels or gives a bad taste.

The truth is that while eliminating grass from their diet is possible – it really might not be all that practical once you’ve weighed out the options.

Should I Let My Dog Eat Grass? Probably

When it comes right down to it, our pups are pretty smart. If they pick up a strange new habit, it’s a good idea to look into it and ask why – but if it’s not hurting anything, maybe the best action is to just let it run its course.

Shasta? Yeah, she still eats grass. I’ve made sure that we no longer treat for weeds and grubs in the yard, and I’ve even taken to planting some of her favorites in a small area just for her. She rolls all through them and munches away to her heart’s content.

But she is also getting a good, solid diet rich in meat, minerals, and vitamins.

My puppy is not going to be a vegan.

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