Entries from: August 2009

How to Make Your Dog Vomit

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This article is not as sadistic as the title implies.  Knowing how to make your dog vomit could save his or her life.

Dogs are natural scavengers.  Unfortunately this may mean that will scavenge for food in your kitchen or garbage which could lead to deadly consequences.  There are many foods which are safe for humans that are highly toxic to dogs.  If your dog eats these items, it will be imperative that you are able to induce vomiting in a timely manner in order to avoid poisoning or harm.

Foods to avoid (below is a partial list of foods that are poisonous or harmful if ingested by your dog):

  • Grapes / Raisins (contain a toxin that can lead to kidney failure)
  • Onions (a large amount consumed at one time or over several days can lead to anemia as well as gastrointestinal problems)
  • Corn Cobs (can cause intestinal blockage)
  • Fruit Pits (can cause intestinal blockage)
  • Uncooked bread dough (the years can continue to rise in the dog’s intestine causing blockage or rupture)
  • Xylitol (in many gums and candies and can cause liver damage with extended or large quantity ingestion)
  • Macadamia Nuts (can cause locomotion difficulties)
  • Avocado (contain Persin which can cause vomiting, diarrhea or heart congestion)
  • Salmon / Trout (can contain parasites that are harmful to dogs)
  • Chicken Bones (can cause intestinal blockage)
  • Prescription and over-the-counter medicines (most medicines are harmful to your dog)
  • Chocolate (contains Theobromine which can cause seizures, irregular hearbeats, and difficulty breathing)
  • Coffee / Caffeine (similar in chemical make-up to Theobromine, can cause seizures, irregular heartbeats, difficulty breathing)

If your dogs ingests one of these items, you should induce vomiting.  Time is of the essence, so it is important that you induce vomiting immediately after consumption of the dangerous item.

Ways to induce vomiting in your dog (you should do this outside or in a tub for easier clean-up):

Hydrogen Peroxide: this inexpensive solution is available at most pharmacies and grocery stores.  A bottle can cost between 50 cents and a dollar.  To induce vomiting, pour 2-3 Tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide into your dog’s mouth, coaxing him or her to swallow it.  After about 5 minutes, your dog will begin to vomit and will continue to vomit until his or her stomach is empty.  Depending on the size of your dog, this can take anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes.

Salt: 1 Tablespoon of salt can also make your dog vomit.  This is a little messier than hydrogen peroxide as it is sometimes more difficult to force your dog to swallow a tablespoon of dry salt.  You can try mixing it with 2 Tablespoons of water in order to pour it more easily into your dog’s mouth. Vomiting will occur within about 5 minutes and will last 5 to 15 minutes.

Syrup of Ipecac: This was previously a common household item for people with small children, but new guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics are no longer recommending every household keep a stock of Ipecac.  Regardless, this remedy works for dogs.  Syrup of Ipecac can be purchased from most drug stores and is slightly more expensive than Hydrogen Peroxide (about $3 for a bottle).  Follow the directions on the bottle for dosages.  Pour the syrup into your dog’s mouth to induce vomiting.  Wait several minutes for it to take effect.  Your dog will vomit the contents of his or her stomach in a span of 5 to 15 minutes.

Of course, NEVER induce vomiting if your dog has ingested a caustic substance, seek immediate medical help from your veterinarian.

If your dog is showing signs of poisoning such as lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, blood in stool or vomit, shortness of breath, irregular heartbeats, difficulty urinating, lack of thirst or hunger, etc. seek IMMEDIATE medical treatment from your veterinarian.

Keep a stock of Hydrogen Peroxide, Salt, and/or Syrup of Ipecac on hand for emergencies should they arise and always contact your veterinarian with any health questions.

You can also check out this video here.

Recycling Rundown

Nowadays you can recycle just about anything from yard waste to paper products to plastics.  Figuring out what materials your local curbside pick-up will accept is fairly easy with the help of the internet.

You can find your local recycling center by using this handy tool: Find a Recycling Center.

You can find out what items are picked up curb-side by using this handy tool: Who Picks Up My Recycling?

Once you establish what you can put out front on garbage day, remember to check every item before you toss in in with the trash.

Recycling Symbols:

Plastic containers are clearly labeled with  numbers 1-7.  Below find a brief overview of what each of these symbols mean.  Most curb-side recycling will collect all numbers except  6.

PETE 1 (Polyethylene Terephthalate)

Found in most single-use soft-drink and water bottles.  Also found in other household containers.

Recycled into fiber, carpet, and paneling.

HDPE 2 (High Density Polyethelene)

Found in motor-oil bottles, juice jugs, detergent bottles, and cereal box liners.

Recycled into other bottles, lumber, fencing, drain pipes, and floor tile.

PVC 3 (Poly Vinyl Carbonate)

Found in cleaning solution bottles, shampoo bottles, clear food containers, and sometimes windows and piping.

Recycled into lumber, mats, and highway fixtures.

LDPE 4 (Low Density Polyethelene)

Found in squeezable bottles, plastic bags, and carpets.

Recycled into garbage bags, bins, package padding, and floor tiles.

PP 5 (Polypropylene)

Found in medicine containers, some syrup or ketchup bottles, sipping straws.

Recycled into trays, pallets, and other plastic goods such as bins, wire covers, ice scrapers, etc.

PS 6 (Polystyrene)

Found in Styrofoam containers, Styrofoam cups, and other Styrofoam-like materials.

Difficult to recycle and non-biodegradable.  Avoid using PS 6 until better recycling programs are available.

7 (Miscellaneous Plastics)

Found in plastic items such as computer parts, 5-gallon jugs, and nylon.

Recycled into end-use products such as lumber and highway materials.

Number 7 plastics contain the group of plastics so often in the news for containing Bisphenal-A or BPA a type of Polycarbonate, or hard plastic.  Studies have shown that these types of plastics can leech hormones and other carcinogens into the environment making them dangerous for use around small chidren.  Many sites now list items that are specifically manufactured without the use of BPA.  One example of BPA-free children’s products can be found here.

10 Ways to be More Green

This Earth Day try some of these easy tips to be more eco-friendly in your daily life.

  • Eat More Vegetables! The Union of Concerned Scientists cites eating meat as the most eco-destructive activity in which humans take part.  The United Nations states that cattle-rearing generates more green-house gases than transportation.  If all Americans replaced just one meal per week with vegetarian food, the impact on the environment would be equivalent to taking more than a half-million cars off the road.
  • Eat Locally! As well as eating more vegetables, it’s important to eat locally.  An average dinner travels more than 1,500 miles from farm to your table. The environmental impact of this transportation is significant.  Check labels at the grocery store and opt for items that are grown close to where you live and choose items that are in season in your area.  Another option is to purchase fruits and vegetables from local farmers markets or co-ops.  Not sure where to go?  LocalHarvest.org has a list of local farmers markets across the US.

Find your Farmers Market

  • Ditch those plastic bottles! Using re-usable water bottles filled with tap or filtered water eliminates thousands of bottles that would otherwise end up in a landfill.  Sigg makes a sturdy and user friendly reusable water bottle.
  • Ditch those paper cups! Most coffee shops now offer reusable options for your morning latte.  Buy a reusable travel mug and refill it when you get coffee.  According to statistics from Starbucks, if just 50 customers at each Starbucks location used a reusable mug, it would save over 150,000 paper cups per day which translates to over 1.7 million pounds of paper waste each year.  At the very least don’t take a sleeve or allow your Barista to double-cup your beverage!
  • Use reusable take-out containers.  If your favorite restaurant gives you your doggie bag in Styrofoam, consider bringing a reusable container with you and bringing home your leftovers in your own ware.
  • Reusable Lunch Containers.  Ditch that brown-bag and opt for a reusable lunch container. Try Lock & Lock containers they are BPA free and they give back to the community via treeplanting campaigns, senior citizen  events, clean water actions, etc.
  • Bring Your Own Bag to the Store.  The easiest approach is to buy a reusable bag at the grocery store, they usually sell for around 99 cents.  Get one!  If you would like something a little more fashionable, try Environsax reusable bags.  They fold up into small pouches that can be easily stored in your purse/bag for use at the grocery store/mall/skate shop/etc.  I always carry one with me in my purse and use it every time I make a purchase.
  • Use a cloth hand towel in your kitchen/bathroom.  Replace your use of paper towels with a cloth towel.  Worried about germs?  Buy 7 of them and put out a new one each day.  This will save you money and reduce the amount of paper waste headed to the landfill.
  • Carpool/Walk/Ride a Bike. Think about where you need to go and how you can get there in the most efficient manner.  Carpool to work, arrange your errands so that they are completed in one day or in a small number of places.  Take public transportation where you can.  If your destination is within a mile from your home, consider walking or riding a bike.  Unsure how to get to your destination via the bus/bike/walking?  Use Google Maps – they have options for driving, walking, and public transportation!
  • Recycle. This seems so obvious, but only about 32% of waste was recycled in 2006.  Cities are constantly expanding recycling programs.  For example, my city recently spread their program to include all plastic types except PET#6.  That means that I can recycle PET#1,2,3,4,5,7,8,&9 in my curb-side pick-up.  Check with your local recycling program to see what types of plastic you can recycle each week!

Replacing your current habits with only one of these can significantly improve your impact on the environment.  Try it out and I am sure you can find ways to decrease the amount of resources that you consume each day.

Price is Right Goes Green

I am sure you’ve heard it, Bob Barker signing off The Price is Right by telling folks to be sure to spay and neuter their dogs and cats.  When Drew Carey took over, he continued the tradition, and this Wednesday he is taking his ecological message a few steps further.

With Ed Begley Jr. guest starring, the Price is Right will feature Earth-Friendly products such as a Toyota Prius, an electric cart, cell phones made out of recycled materials, solar charging equipment, an electric bike, and a recycling cabinet.  The trips given away will be paired with carbon-emissions credits to offset the ecological impact of traveling.

While this is all, of course, in recognition of Earth Day, I hope that the producers see the benefit of being green and incorporate more eco-friendly products into future episodes as well!

5 Misconceptions About Veganism

I have been Vegan for over ten years but some stereotypes/misconceptions still get under my skin.  For me, choosing not to consume animals or animal products (such as meat, dairy, eggs, leather, etc.) was an easy choice.  Once I became aware of the cruelty inflicted upon animals in factory farms, the devastating environmental impact of eating meat, and the health concerns over meat consumption, the choice was obvious.

I love being Vegan.  I feel healthier, I feel like I am very aware of the food that I eat and how it affects my body, I have a greater sense of where my food comes from and how it got to my plate, I have no fear of things like Mad Cow Disease, Salmonella, or high cholesterol/heart disease, and I have a clear conscious about the ethical consequences of my food choices.

However, whenever I tell someone new that I am Vegan, I am often hit with a number of misconceptions and stereotypes.  I would like to take this opportunity to address some of the most popular misconceptions.

  • Vegans are crunchy-granola-loving hippies. I cannot tell you how many times someone has said to me, “You don’t look like you’re vegan.”  I assume that is because I do not look like a hippie.  There are a number of stylish, hip, trendy vegans as evidenced by some of the more popular vegan websites such as
  • Vegans eat ‘twigs and branches.’ Okay, this stereotype tends to get under my skin.  I pride myself on being a bit of a foodie so for someone to assume I eat bland, tasteless leaf vegetables for sustenance irks me.  I eat interesting, delicious food.  I eat out at fancy restaurants such as the Candle Cafe in New York City and I can assure you, they do not serve twigs or branches.
  • Vegans cannot eat chocolate or dessert. Again, I LOVE food.  I love dessert even more.  There are a ton of vegan chocolates including just about any brand of dark chocolate and a number of specialty chocolate brands such as Terra Nostra chocolates, Sjaaks chocolates, and Rose City Chocolatiers.  True, Vegans do not eat “milk chocolate” but many chocolates (especially high end/gourmet chocolates) do not contain milk.  As for desserts, I can assure you, I eat delicious desserts, either that I make at home or that I purchase from upscale vegan bakeries such as Vegan Treats.  My sweet tooth is always satisfied!
  • Vegans are terrorists. Lately there has been a lot of press about so-called animal rights activists partaking in “ecological terrorism,” “domestic terrorism,” etc.  This has gone as far as FBI agents ‘infiltrating’ vegan potlucks to do reconnaissance.  Puh-lease.  I just don’t see Gweneth Paltrow, Jason Schwatzman, or Ed Begley, Jr. as terrorists.  This particular misconception reeks of right-wing fear-mongering.
  • Vegans cannot get enough protein/B12/D/etc. It is very easy to eat a well-balanced, healthy vegan diet.  In fact, studies show that eating a vegan diet can lower cholesterol and reduce the risk for heart disease.  The American Dietetic Association has officially stated that a vegan diet is healthy.  Still not convinced? Check out the Vegan Food Pyramid.

These misconceptions have been the most common reactions that I have gotten from people in my own experiences.  While of course there is always a small grain of truth hidden somewhere behind some of these stereotypes, overwhelmingly, they do not describe the vast majoity of vegans and certainly do not describe me!

Fast Food Information

I follow @Veganism on Twitter and today they posted a link to a list of vegan options at most any popular fast-food restaurant (you can find it here). The list seems pretty up-to-date, noting Burger King’s recent change to non-vegan Morning Star burgers from their previous use of Vegan Boca Burgers and other updates.

While I am not necessarily a proponent of financially supporting places that are responsible for so much enviornmental damage nor am I a fan of the Standard American Diet, sometimes when you’re on the road or need something to eat late at night, it’s nice to know what options are available.

Oh, and check out the URL for the Fast Food List, clearly the list must be infallible.

5 Must-Have Cleaning Aids for Pet Owners

I am a die-hard pet lover living with a fastidious neat-freak.  It sometimes causes trouble.  The following 5 products have allowed us to continue in our living arrangement in peace and tidy harmony.

  • Furminator. I am a huge believer in being proactive.  The Furminator allows me to be proactive in my method of cleaning up after my pets.  The Furminator is much much more than just a ‘brush.’  It rakes your pet’s fur (cats or dogs) taking out loose hairs in the top and under coats.  Using this weekly noticeably reduced the amount of fur that ended up on my carpets.  I could not live without it. $30
  • Woolite OxyClean POD. This handy cleaning device is an all-in-one spot remover.  The “POD” contains an oxy-based cleaning fluid as well as a sponge and cleaning brush.  You simply spray the cleaner on the stain, brush it in, and then sponge it up.  It works on most any pet stain including blood.  $5
  • Bissell Spot Bot. If you want to invest a little more money into your spot removal, the Bissell Spot Bot is a perfect solution.  It’s a hands-free carpet shampooer that is incredibly easy to use.  You simply place the Spot Bot on top of the stain and select either “surface stain” or “set-in stain.”  The Bot goes to work to remove the stain in about 3-5 minutes.  Larger area to clean?  You can use the removable hose to clean larger areas, upholstery, or stairs.  $120
  • Dyson Animal. The Dyson Animal is the Ferrari of the vacuum world.  Because of it’s expense, I initially put of purchasing one thinking that it could not possibly be worth the investment.  I can personally attest that it is absolutely worth every cent.  It is the only vacuum I have ever used that truly does not lose suction; in fact, retains such a high power that it completely removes all the fur in my carpets and on my upholstery.  My house has never been so clean!  It also lasts very well even after heavy use.  I have had mine for over 3 years and it still works just as well as the day I brought it home.  $550

Regardless of your budget, utilizing one or all of these tools will significantly improve the cleanliness of your life.  Having pets can be dirty business, but with the right tools you can make your home appear pet-free with ease!

The Obama Dog.

I am more than disappointed that the First Family did not opt for a shelter/rescue dog to join them in the Whitehouse.

According to the Associated Press, the Obamas are in a “gray area” because the dog they adopted was returned to its breeder before finding its way to the Whitehouse.  In my opinion, that area is not gray.  They were given a dog as a gift from the Kennedys and the Kennedys got the dog from a breeder.

The press is arguing that it was from a reputable breeder (as opposed to a puppy mill) which is true, but I would argue that even reputable breeders are creating an excess of animals.  There are around 3 million dogs euthanized in shelters every year.  3 Million!  Out of those 25% are purebred, single-breed dogs.

Right now on Petfinder there are a number of purebred Portuguese Water Dogs listed in DC shelters.  Those are just the dogs listed on the site.  Rescue groups and other animal welfare organizations have more dogs ready to be adopted.

I find it unacceptable that the Obamas chose to use their daughter’s allergy as their excuse for not adopting from a shelter.  I feel that it sets a bad example for the rest of the public and uses a weak excuse as a reason not to act responsibly. It is absolutely possible to find not only a hypo-allergenic, but a purebred dog in a shelter or from a rescue organization.

Oprah was able to find her companion in a Chicago-area shelter, it’s a shame the Obamas could not follow suit.

Looking for a dog or other pet?  Try Petfinder.com, the largest online listing of shelter/rescued animals.

Want more information on adopting a dog?  Try The Humane Society of the United States for material.

What’s Up With Water Bottles?

I’m sure you’ve seen it, the crunchy-looking thirty-something coming back from yoga sipping on an aluminum water bottle as she gets into her Prius.

Pretentious? Perhaps. Trendy? Sure. Necessary? Absolutely.

According to the Chicago Sun Times, it takes over 1.5 million barrels of oil to manufacture the plastic bottles that supply Americans with bottled water for just one year. That amount of oil is equivalent to the amount needed to fuel 100,000 cars.

Making matters worse, out of the billions of bottles consumed, only about 20% are recycled, with the rest making their way to landfills or even worse, to the world’s oceans.

Earth 911 makes an interesting argument by pointing out that if everyone in New York City alone gave up water bottles for just one week, they would reduce the number of bottles headed to a landfill by 24 million. Giving up plastic water bottles for a year would reduce the number of water bottles headed to a landfill by over 1.3 billion bottles.

But water in bottles is so much better/healthier/cleaner than my local tap water, isn’t it?

Probably not. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC),  out of more than 100 brands of bottled water tested, the overall quality was “spotty” with a third containing contaminants. Tap water, on the other hand is a tightly regulated alternative. If you don’t like the ‘taste’ of your tap water, you can easily use a filter.

Water bottles have become such a source of wasted resources that some stores have refused to stock them.  Food Fight Grocery, an all-vegan grocery store in Portland, Oregon, recently stopped carrying bottled water.  Instead, the owners opted for a more eco-friendly alternative, Food Fight Aluminum Water Bottles.  They allow customers to refill them in the store at any time.

Purchasing a reusable water bottle such as the trendy Sigg bottles available here, is a great alternative to consuming water in disposable plastic bottles. You can refill it with tap or filtered water and can drink with a clear conscience, knowing that you did not contribute to the wasted energy or resources that go into the plastic water bottle industry.