Thursday, December 7, 2017

Happy Holidays!

Wishing You and Yours


Happy Holiday


Wonderful New Year!


Cozy Critters Pet Sitters

Friday, August 18, 2017

Beware of Coyotes

Just in the last few months I have received three separate reports of coyotes being spotted -- one in West University and two in Meyerland. One of them in Meyerland was caught on video killing the family's cat in their front yard. We lost a cat ourselves in 2012 to a coyote. They typically travel along train tracks, ditches and bayous, but have been seen wandering through neighborhoods. I've spotted one running along the ditch before and one of my clients (also in Bellaire) who lived two blocks from the railroad tracks on a corner lot saw a coyote laying in his front yard once.

Please be aware especially if you have cats or small dogs and keep them indoors at night.

Here's an article with tips on how to keep your pets safe from coyotes:

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Air Fresheners

Too many people do not realize (or just don't think about) that commercial air fresheners are full of toxic chemicals. When you use these in your home, you are literally spreading a myriad of toxic chemicals into the air you and your pets breathe. 

Whether an aerosol, solid, or plug-in, these air “fresheners” release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air. Aerosols disperse the chemicals as a fine mist. Once in the air the tiny particles may be inhaled and are able to penetrate deep into the lungs. VOCs, such as limonene and pinene are released from solid air fresheners and plug-ins. Studies show these chemicals, released in a gaseous state, mix with ground level ozone to create ultra-fine particulate matter, as well as formaldehyde, a known carcinogen.

Some of the most offensive VOCs like benzene and formaldehyde can cause headaches and nausea and aggravate asthma, and have been linked to neurological damage and cancer.

In a 2010 University of Washington study, they found "that eight unnamed, widely used U.S. air fresheners released an average of 18 chemicals into the air. On average, one in five of these chemicals were hazardous substances highlighted in federal and some state pollution standards. Fully half the air fresheners tested released acetaldehyde, a likely human carcinogen according to the EPA."

When Environmental Working Group ( conducted more sensitive testing of the air freshener Febreze Air Effects as part of a 2009 study of cleaning supplies used in California schools, they detected a total of 89 airborne contaminants, including acetaldehyde.

EWG also did the first study of its kind in 2008 testing companion animals for chemicals. In their report Polluted Pets, they concluded "The body burden testing conducted in this investigation is the most expansive ever published for companion animals. The study indicates that cats and dogs are exposed to complex mixtures of industrial chemicals, often at levels far in excess of those found in people. Our pets well may be serving as sentinels for our own health, as they breathe in, ingest or absorb the same chemicals that are in our environments. Exposures that pose risks for pets pose risks for human health as well. A new system of public health protections that required companies to prove chemicals are safe before they are sold would help protect all of us, including the pets we love." You can read the full report here.

Research from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences suggests that the
"fresh" smell of many air fresheners is a result of the ingredient 1,4 dichlorobenzene (1,4 DCB) which has been found to impair lung function.

Ingredients commonly used in fragrances in air fresheners include phthalates.Toxic phthalates found in air fresheners:

Di-ethyl Phthalate (DEP): Associated with changes in           hormone levels and genital development in humans.
• Di-n-butyl Phthalate (DBP): Recognized as a reproductive   toxicant by the National Toxicology Program and the State of California. It can lead to       changes in genital development.
• Di-isobutyl Phthalate (DIBP): Associated with changes in male genital development.
Di-methyl Phthalate (DMP): Inconclusive evidence has shown reproductive toxicity in     animal studies.
• Di-isohexyl Phthalate (DIHP): Limited toxicity testing has shown that DIHP is probably   a developmental and reproductive toxicant.

Fragrance: Diethyl phthalate (DEP) is often used as part of the "fragrance" in some products. Since DEP won't be listed separately, you're better off choosing personal care products, detergents, and cleansers that don't have the word "fragrance" on the ingredients list.

According to National Geographic’s The Green Guide, many air fresheners contain nerve-deadening chemicals that coat your nasal passages and temporarily block your sense of smell. So just imagine what happens when they are used continuously. I have noticed this about some people...they don't smell things like I do. Some people seem to have no sense of smell left at all. 

Case in point: I had a client -- a retired couple, who just had one pet, a Bichon Frise. Their dog was kept in the den and utility room area, which was tiled. The dog had been diagnosed with epilepsy some years ago and was on several medications which kept her pretty doped up. Sometimes she had accidents on the floor. To my horror, I discovered they had 8 to 10 automatic spray air fresheners in the house, mostly in the dog's room and adjoining rooms. They would spray me as I walked past. One was sitting right above the dog's bowls so that when it sprayed, it went directly in her food and water. For this and other reasons I got permission to keep this dog at my house whenever they were out of town, which I normally don't do. The smell of air fresheners was so strong in the house it was unbearable. It obviously didn't even bother them. (Imagine the amount of chemicals they are all breathing!) 

And once, when I was returning their dog home, I managed to show up right after their housekeeper had left. Just getting out of my car, I was standing in the driveway, a few feet away from the door, and I could smell Pine-Sol (another poison) so strong, it was knocking me out and I haven't even opened the door yet! I had to wear a mask to go inside and open up another door to let some fresh air in. This was in addition to the air fresheners! The indoor air my clients thought nothing of breathing, (or of their dog breathing) was enough to make me sick. They obviously had little to no sense of smell left and no wonder why! And is it any wonder their dog suffered from epilepsy? OMG. Even after I left them a note along with articles explaining what the air fresheners consist of and are doing to their dog and to them (and how it knocked me out), the next time I went back I noticed they had cut the air fresheners down to half of what they had.They just didn't get it.

My sense of smell is very sensitive. I don't use commercial air fresheners, dryer sheets or products that contain the ingredient "fragrance". I read the ingredients of all products I buy. I use "green" and natural products including essential oils. I also use unscented cat litters and my own litter box deodorizer made with baking soda and a blend of essential oils which I offer hereBeing a highly sensitive person, these and other smells are overwhelming to me and affect me physically. Even too many strong smelling candles can be too much for me. And just because someone else may not be as sensitive, it doesn't mean it's harming them any less.  

And considering that our pets' sense of smell is thousands of times stronger than ours, with dogs having 125 to 300 million smell receptors, cats having 45 to 80 million, compared to humans, who have 5 million, they are affected even more so. Not to mention our pets can be at nose level to plug-ins and they are always close to the ground where everything settles. Add the "fragrance" in scented cat litters and commercial litter box deodorizers to the air fresheners and cleaning products and you've got an enormous toxic soup for indoor air, which isn't healthy for animals (who come from nature where all these things don't exist!) or us humans.

The chemicals emitted from air fresheners (and other toxic products) accumulate in the fatty tissues over time, so the danger increases as they build up inside a body. 

In addition to using things like baking soda, vinegar, green products and products made with essential oils like my litter box deodorizer and the air freshener available on my shop page, another natural and safe deodorizer, Zeolite, is a mineral that absorbs odor even more efficiently than baking soda. Use powder form (such as Odorzout) as you would baking soda. Zeolite pebbles or stones (photo below) can be placed in problems areas and recharged in sunlight. They are available at various online stores as well as places like Walmart and Home Depot.


Monday, July 31, 2017

Rawhide Chews

Rawhide chews for dogs have been around forever so you may not think twice about giving them to your dog, but do you know how they are actually made? According to holistic veterinarian Dr. Karen Becker,  "...the name "rawhide" is technically incorrect. A more accurate term would be processed-hide, because there's nothing raw about these chews. Not only are rawhide chews often found on lists of pet poisons, they can be problematic in other ways as well."

One example of that is the recent recall of five brands of rawhide chews for dogs due to being contaminated with chemicals. Are you currently giving rawhide chews to your dog? Check this article for the brands and lot numbers involved in the recall and to learn more about it:

To learn more about rawhide manufacturing, check out this video created by Dr. Becker and Rodney Habib:

Another way in which rawhides are problematic is that they are a serious choking hazard. Never leave a dog unattended while chewing a rawhide. I've lost count the number of times over the last 15 years that we have saved a dog from choking to death on a rawhide by pulling them out of their throats. I wonder how many dogs are not so lucky because no one was there to help them.

Oddly enough, as I was writing this article I received an email about a dog who sadly just recently choked to death on a treat called "No Hide" that claimed to be an alternative to rawhide and that it was NOT rawhide, when in fact DNA testing showed them to be made with beef rawhide. Beef was not listed in the ingredients at all. These treats claimed to be chicken or salmon. It's unbelievable sometimes what these manufacturers are allowed to get away with. You can read the entire article here:

If you do currently give your dog rawhides, I hope after reading these articles and watching this video that you think twice about it going forward. Your pets count on you to do what's best for them. There are safer and healthier treats available.

UPDATE: Just hours after posting this I received notice that the No-Hide treats mentioned above were not made under USDA inspection, though the company's claims allude to they are. How sneaky. Read more about it here.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Jivara Structured Water Devices

Structured Water to the MAX!

For those who have the resources to afford the finest in water purification, we also offer the Jivara Structuring Devices. The composition of the devices varies, with the Jivara Maximus (left) made from brass with gemstones such as rose quartz, em ceramics, shungite, tiger's eye, agate and more. The Jivara 3 in 1 (right) and Under Sink Unit (center) are 24 karat gold plated inside and out and are filled with vials of highly charged water. Every measurement inside these devices is designed to evoke the energy of the cosmos with precise sacred geometric patterns. The water spins through the devices before exiting in the resonance of sacred geometry, vortexing and gemstones. The Jivara Maximus is the ultimate in energizing, neutralizing, and water structuring technology on Planet Earth. This European Water Structuring technology is made of the finest materials. Click the button below for more info:

Friday, July 7, 2017

More Pet Food Testing (Again)

As if multiple toxic heavy metals in all the pet foods or treats that contain fish or seafood ingredients isn't bad enough.....

And we know that it has been discovered that the high heat processing that occurs in the manufacturing of dry kibble actually creates two carcinogens -- acrylamide and heterocyclic amines. These won't be listed in the ingredients of the food of course, because they are created in the process itself and are not ingredients. We know that carcinogens cause cancer.

(And I'm not even mentioning a whole host of other problems with pet food ingredients that I've written about on numerous occasions.)

Now we have a report that just came out by The Ecology Center's Healthy Stuff about the testing they have done on the different toxic chemicals in the coatings of pet can foods. (They also did a larger test on can foods for people.) And as you can imagine, it's not good.

"We know that safer substitutes for BPA and PVC are widely available,” said Lauren Olson, science campaign director with the Ecology Center.  “Last year consumer pressure led to Campbell’s and Del Monte making a commitment to phasing out BPA from all their cans. We’re calling on pet food companies to follow their lead and remove these harmful chemicals from their products.” 
Their press release states "The Ecology Center will reach out to the major manufacturers of the canned pet food tested asking them to make a commitment to safer substitutes in their can linings." I hope they do. We need to put the consumer pressure on the pet food makers the same way. Your voice and your action is needed. Our pets are being poisoned. This is unacceptable -- whether it's the BPA or PVC in the can linings or the list of heavy metals, GMOs and other toxins (like phenobarbital) in the food itself.

The Ecology Center has created an easy way for you to take action in regards to the toxins found in the can food linings that includes a photo of your pet. Click here to find out how!  (See my example below with our cat Kilo.) We have to demand better quality foods for our pets!

There seems to be a few pet food manufacturers who are ahead of this issue and now offer or have been offering plastic tubs instead of cans. But what chemicals are in the plastic the tubs are made out of that may leach into the food? We know that different plastics leach different toxic chemicals into foods as well. (I stopped using plastic containers for food storage when I learned this.) Would the (possible) toxins from the plastic tubs of food be less toxic than the chemicals like BPA and PVC in the can linings? One can only hope so! (Until those are tested!)

It's pretty sad that we have to choose between which toxin is worse. And that we have to have everything not only tested, but we have to be sure it's tested by a laboratory that doesn't have any vested interest in the petfood business; but this is where we are. At least now there are more different types of pet food options available like frozen, refrigerated and freeze dried. Kilo still loves his homemade raw food in addition to wet foods.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

More Testing on Pet Foods

For some time now I have been warning people not to feed their pets any food or treats that contain seafoods, and for good reason -- they are loaded with heavy metals.You can read the previous articles where I wrote about pet food testing that was done back in  May 2017 and Jan 2015. I also gave 9 reasons to avoid seafood cat foods in April 2016 (as if heavy metals isn't enough).  But this isn't just about cat foods. This is about any pet food or treat that contains any seafood ingredient. More and more research and testing is being conducted on pet foods -- not by the pet food companies themselves of course, but by outside sources. 

After reading this very disturbing but not surprising article on the subject, just released by Karen Becker, DVM, I was looking at the Clean Label Project's list of product ratings of their scientific testing on 900 pet foods and treats. I was only looking at the section on cat wet foods, but with a little investigating I discovered my suspicions were true. All of the cat wet foods that were tested and showed having less than a 5 star rating on the list (the fewer stars, the more heavy metals in them) had a fish or seafood ingredient in them. All of them. Even the ones labeled beef or chicken and duck! They either had fish in the list of ingredients, some form of seafood, or fish oil or dried kelp.

It's worth mentioning here that when I have gone to a pet supply store to buy wet cat food and read the list of ingredients on different foods, I discovered that the pet food manufacturers are putting fish or other seafood ingredients in many of the foods without mentioning it at all on the front of the label. In fact, it's very misleading. You think you are getting a "chicken" only or a "beef" only food for example, because that's what it states on the front of the can, but if you actually read the list of ingredients, you will find fish in there! And usually it's one of the first 5 ingredients. So if you don't read ingredients, you could very well be feeding your pets seafoods or fish (and therefore heavy metals) without even knowing it.

So what does this mean? Unfortunately it means that you must read the ingredients of every pet food and treat you buy. And if there is any type of fish, fish oil, dried kelp or any other form or derivative of seafood in the list of ingredients, don't buy it! DON'T BUY IT! You will be slowly poisoning your pets with heavy metals such as lead, mercury, arsenic, cadmium, and others if you feed these types of foods and treats to your beloved pets. And if you are already feeding them these foods, stop! Please. And if you give your pets any type of supplement like fish oil or dried kelp and it's not certified organic with the seal of The Non-GMO Project Verified, then you can be sure that they contain toxic heavy metals. (USDA Certified Organic has no limits when it comes to heavy metals.) A safer alternative to generic fish oil or salmon oil is (sustainably harvested) krill oil.

I'm with Dr. Becker - the safe amount of any toxin or heavy metal should be 0 ppm.

Please read this article by Dr. Becker:

Busted: 55 Times Worse Than Giving Your Pet Water From Flint, Michigan

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Happy 4th of July

H A P P Y 4th of J U L Y!

Many pets are afraid of loud noises like fireworks which can cause stress, anxiety or fear aggression, so keep your pets inside during the evening of July 4th!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Is Your Garden Hose Safe for Drinking Water?

Do you keep a bowl of water outside for your pets that you fill up with the water hose?

In an ongoing effort to minimize the toxins we and our pets are exposed to as much as we can, something that is often overlooked is the garden hose. Is your garden hose "drinking water safe"? If so, it will be labeled as such. If it's not, it's likely the water will contain lead, bromine, phthalates and other toxins that are leached from the hose and/or the fittings on the hose into the water. 

Researchers at, a project of The Ecology Center, which is a Michigan-based nonprofit environmental organization, discovered that half of the vinyl (PVC) hoses they tested contained electronic waste (e-waste) vinyl contaminated with toxic chemicals.

In a study they did in 2016, 32 garden hoses from 6 national retailers (including The Home Depot, Lowe's, and Amazon) were tested for lead, cadmium, phthalates, bromine (associated with brominated flame retardants); PVC plastic, antimony, and tine. Water from select hoses was also tested. These chemicals have been linked to birth defects, impaired learning, liver toxicity, hormone disruption, premature births and early puberty in laboratory animals, among other serious health problems.

You can read about the study here and the test results can be found here. Do you see your garden hose on this list?
“The good news is that none of these chemicals are necessary in garden hoses, and a number of safe hoses are available,"  said Gillian Miller, Ph.D, a staff scientist at the Ecology Center.

They offer some helpful tips on buying safer garden hoses here. After learning about the toxins found in water hoses, I bought a safer drinking water hose, (the last one on this list) to use for filling up the pets' water bowls.
Structured Water Garden Unit

Even better, now we have structured water coming through the hose (and the rest of the house), which neutralizes all toxins by changing their molecular structure, rendering them harmless to us and our pets. This is the best defense against toxins yet! Learn more about this new technology and how it works in my book Structured Water: Nature's Gift, in this article, and also on our website - just click on the structured water tab.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Fleas Can Be Deadly

Kilo - "I'm not feeling well."
Fleas are not just pesky little blood suckers that make you itch. They can carry diseases and infect our pets with them -- things like tapeworms and Mycoplasma haemofelis and Mycoplasma haemocanis. These are diseases I have experienced with my own pets over the years. Mycoplasma causes anemia and if left untreated can cause death.

Just recently our 1-1/2 year old cat Kilo starting acting lethargic and didn't have his normal appetite. After taking him to the vet for an exam, nothing was found. It wasn't until we got an x-ray and bloodwork done that it was revealed that his spleen was inflamed and he was suffering from severe anemia -- on the borderline of needing a blood transfusion -- from Mycoplasma haemofelis (formerly known as Haemobartonella felis). Mycoplasma haemofelis attacks the red blood cells that carry oxygen throughout a cat’s body.

Even though Kilo gets his monthly flea treatments (especially since he is an inside/outside cat and we live in the Houston area), he managed to contract this flea (or tick) carrying disease. We comb him often and have never found any ticks on him. Could it have been due to the fact that the flea treatment I had been using on him (Revolution), seemed to have stopped working recently so I had to switch to something different (Advantage)? 

I really don't like putting chemicals on my animals at all, but the risk of them getting a disease like this (not to mention just fleas in general, which can cause allergic reactions in some pets) if I don't use some type of flea and tick control that works, is too great. Here in Houston, where it's hot and humid 9 to 10 months out of the year, is the perfect environment for fleas and mosquitoes. I wish there was a natural, safer flea treatment that really works but I just haven't found one yet. (Not that I haven't tried!)

Kilo is recovering nicely, feeling a little better every day while being treated with antibiotics, steroids and vitamin B12 (and lots of love!). After ten days he will get a blood test again to confirm he no longer has the Mycoplasma.

Ellie (1998 - 2013)
In 2011, our Australian Shepherd Ellie, who was 13 at the time, had to receive a blood transfusion after collapsing from what turned out to be immune-mediated hemolytic anemia, which was caused by Mycoplasma haemocanis, the same disease as Kilo got, only the canine version. We hadn't found any ticks on Ellie either, so we had to assume it was from a flea, even though she was treated with monthly flea and tick prevention. Ellie was at a disadvantage though, as she didn't have a spleen to help her deal with the Mycoplasma. She had her spleen removed a year prior due to a tumor that had ruptured. She was treated and recovered nicely. I wrote about her ordeal here.

In 2008 my husband rescued a tiny six week old kitten (now our 9 year old Dusty) from
getting run over on a busy street, only to have him pass out in my arms a short time after getting him home. He was so covered in fleas that they caused him to become anemic and he had to have a blood transfusion to save his life -- again. The fleas literally sucked the life out of his tiny body. 

So can fleas be deadly? They certainly can! This is why it's so important we protect our pets against these pests.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Accepting New Dog Walking Clients

We are currently looking to fill some open time slots for regular mid-day dog walks during the week. For many years we were unable to take on any more daily mid-day dog walks because our schedules were full of them -- many of whom we walked for their entire lives. Now, after 15 years, that generation has passed away and we are looking for a new generation of dogs that need walked to fill the open time slots we now have available.

Whether your dog(s) needs a walk two, three, four or five days a week, give us a call or send us an email. We're looking forward to making some new friends!

We service zip codes 77005, 77025, 77096 & 77401.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Food Forensics

We are fortunate to have organizations like the Cornucopia Institute, Consumers Lab, Association for Truth in Pet Food (ATPF) and Consumer Wellness Center (CWC) Labs, that are not associated or funded by companies or universities, and that test pet foods, treats and products so we the consumer can know what we are actually giving our pets and if there is anything to be concerned about or aware of.

I just finished reading Food Forensics (2016) by Mike Adams, founder and Science Director of the CWC Labs, and although the book primarily has to do with the toxins that were found via laboratory testing, and how to avoid them in human food, there was testing done on some pet treats that are worth mentioning.

  • High amounts of lead were found in popular pet treats made in China. A good reason to read the fine print on the back of packages to make sure it says "Made in the USA". (China has worse problems with heavy metals in the soil and foods than we do in the US, and it's pretty bad here. I warned about treats made in China back in 2012. Remember the largest pet food recall in 2007 that killed thousands of pets? Ingredients sourced from China!) 
  • Fish treats for cats contained large amounts of cadmium. Fish and other seafoods are known to contain toxic heavy metals. I wrote more extensively on this in 9 Reasons Why You Should Avoid Seafood Cat Foods. They also sell dog foods and treats with fish so the dangers apply to their foods and treats too (see herring strips for dogs below).
  • A high level of copper was found in a sea vegetable supplement for pets. Too much copper can have detrimental health effects.
  • Gourmet munchy rawhide as well as natural rawhide rings had  extremely high levels of lead.
  • Herring strips for dogs tested high of mercury. 
  • Munchy stix (for dogs) tested really high in lead.
  • Freeze dried ocean whitefish cat treats were found to be high in mercury.                                         
  • Although these items were not listed under pet foods or treats per se, they can be found in some of them or sold as pet treats by themselves: an extremely high amount of arsenic was found in dried shrimp, high levels of cadmium and lead in dried whole anchovy, and also a high amount of mercury in dried shaved bonito.
These heavy metal amounts were compared to the "allowable" or "safe" amounts as per the various government agencies (EPA, FDA, WHO, etc.) who determine these limits. Actual amounts of the metals found in each item are listed in the book.

Brand names are not shown for many products in the book for the simple reason that a book takes so long to publish and distribute that many products tested may have shifted in composition over that time. 

Another important point to mention here is that even when buying something that is certified USDA Organic -- whether for people or pets -- know that the USDA's organic standards have no limit whatsoever on heavy metals! This is not good. That means when it comes to toxic heavy metals, even if it's labeled USDA organic, it could be loaded with them!

I highly recommend reading this very informative and eye-opening book for your own benefit as well as for your pets. Awareness is the key.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Pet Food Quality Resources

Did you know there are some great resources available at your fingertips when it comes to figuring out or deciphering the best quality foods and treats to buy for your pets?

One of these resources is the Cornucopia Institute, founded in 2004. You can read more about this non-profit public interest group here. They research and investigate many things, not just pet foods.

In 2015, they put out a very informative and educational report called Decoding Pet Food, which is a great resource to assist pet owners in finding high quality pet foods. It also explains which ingredients you want to avoid feeding your pets. You can become a more educated and informed pet food consumer by reading their report here.

 For instance, do you know what carrageenan is? Did you know that extensive peer-reviewed and published research indicates that food-grade carrageenan does in fact contain the dangerous carcinogen poligeenan in varying amounts, usually around 5%? "The fact that food-grade carrageenan contains poligeenan in any amount should be enough to ban its use in both human and pet food, considering it's well-documented carcinogenic properties, even at small doses", says the report's author. Poligeenan is widely used in cancer research to give test animals inflammation cancer, for testing cancer treatments and anti-inflammatory drugs. It causes intestinal inflammation with the potential to lead to cancer, even in small doses. 

Also, studies funded by the American Diabetes Association have linked the consumption of food grade carrageenan to insulin resistance and glucose intolerance.

The Cornucopia Institute's research found that more than 70% of can foods contain this ingredient. Is it any wonder that inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in cats, the most common cause of vomiting and diarrhea, has become so commonplace? 

Even veterinarians agree that research reveals many references to ‘carrageenan-induced inflammation’. As one vet was quoted in the report:  “Animal studies have repeatedly shown that food-grade carrageenan causes gastrointestinal inflammation and cancer at lower doses than the average daily intake. Given the high rates of colon cancer in both dogs and cats, I highly recommend removing carrageenan from your pet’s diet.

The Cornucopia Institute also has an accompanying Pet Food Guide. Is the pet food you buy on this guide? Does it contain carrageenan? Does it contain other ingredients you want to avoid like rendering products or food dyes? Are there foods that don't contain these unwanted ingredients? Yes. Check out their handy guide here.