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.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Pet Food Ingredients To Avoid


When it comes to pet foods and what we should feed our pets, we (myself included) have put our trust in those outside of ourselves, like the pet food manufacturers and veterinarians, to know what the best foods are to feed our pets because we think they are the experts on the subject. At least that's what we are led to believe. However, this is not the case.

We are bombarded with marketing and advertising on mass media, a form of brainwashing, which the pet food industry has very deep pockets to pay for. If you see certain words, pictures, phrases or jingles enough times, you will go for the familiar. They know this. They know all the tricks.

Pet food Manufacturers are in the business of making money from their products. The pet food industry violates U.S. federal food safety laws and are allowed to get away with it.

Unfortunately, the amount of pet nutrition that is taught in veterinary schools is very minute. Hopefully this will change for our future veterinarians, if it's not already. So unless they take additional years of college to get a degree in nutrition or pursue the subject of pet nutrition on their own, the only education they have in regards to pet foods is from the pet food manufacturers themselves -- the same ones whose foods they sell. And as I've written about in more detail before: this is a little biased, don't you think?

The hard reality is that we have to take responsibility and educate ourselves about what it is that we are feeding our pets. We must be proactive to protect our pet's health. I've written about some excellent books available on the subject herehere and here.

For starters, it helps to know which ingredients to avoid in pet foods and why. This means reading the ingredient list on all the foods and treats you buy. Become an educated pet food consumer. And remember: every dollar you spend speaks volumes.Wouldn't you rather support the businesses who create healthier foods and products with your animals' health more of a concern than just making a buck?

Here's a great list already provided by our pet food consumer advocate, Susan Thixton, of the "deal breaker" pet food ingredients to look out for:

http://truthaboutpetfood.com/deal-breaker-pet-food-ingredients/

I have also written in more detail about the subject of pet food ingredients here.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Top 3 Pet Food Manufacturers


When only three companies own most of the pet foods, and then one of them buys up the majority of veterinary clinics and diagnostic labs...this is very scary.

Though these big companies want to own and control everything, we have to remember that We the People have the power! We are the ones who really have the power. We can send a clear message with every dollar we spend. We can become more educated and informed about the products we buy, especially when it comes to ours and our pets' foods. We can more carefully and consciously choose what to spend our money on and support those companies and products who are of higher quality, integrity and purpose. This will create more of what we want.

There are many smaller companies out there now and new ones starting up all the time that are offering healthier and better quality products, both for us and our pets. People just like you and I are creating these companies and products because there is a real need for it. It's time to look outside the box! (The organic food industry is growing by leaps and bounds!)

We are the ones we have been waiting for. It's time to remember your power and flex those spending muscles! 




Thursday, March 30, 2017

VitaJuwel Water Bottles



What would be the perfect water bottle for your Structured Water, or any water for that matter? A VitaJuwel Gem Water Bottle! These personal gem water bottles have an interchangeable gem pod, which infuses your water with the energy of your personally selected VitaJuwel Blend. 


VitaJuwel Gem Water Bottles are a part of a fascinating ancient tradition of using gemstone infused water for its healing attributes. The VitaJuwel experience is about helping people reconnect with their innate spiritual gifts and natural healing.
The VitaJuwel ViA is a glass bottle with two openings, one at the top and one at the bottom for easy cleaning. It’s made of high quality, premium lead-free glass and comes with an exchangeable bottom piece (“gem pod”), filled with a selection of hand-picked gemstones. The patented gem pod is manufactured by hand in the Austrian Alps.

VitaJuwel is your very personal piece of Jewelry for Water. There are 18 carefully selected gemstone blends available, suiting every preference and mood. Do you want to relax with your own Spa-To-Go? Have some smooth and balancing WELLNESS, filled with rose quartz, amethyst and clear quartz! (Top Photo) Care for a motivating drink of SUNNY MORNING with beaming bright Orange Calcite? Got a feeling for a little FITNESS with Magnesite and Red Jasper after a hard hour of workout at the gym? Or attract attention at the club with DIAMONDS?  Just screw off one gem pod and swap it with another. It’s easy as 1-2-3.

Click here to learn more about VitaJuwel Gem Water Bottles.


VitaJuwel Vials create the vitality of spring water in a natural way with hand selected high quality gemstones. Every single gemstone vial is handmade by master glassblowers in a patented, artisanal method with exclusively fairly-traded gems and lead-free Bohemian glass. Simply place your VitaJuwel gem vial in drinking water for 7-10 minutes and enjoy gemwater, the true elixir of life!
The VitaJuwel Vials have quickly become the symbol for the highest quality gem water. Hundreds of thousand of customers in more than 40 countries worldwide use VitaJuwel gem water and gem water accessories.
For a truly elegant and easy flowing water dispenser, pair your gem vial with a VitaJuwel Decanter Era. The lovely decanters are specially made to hold your gem vial making it easy to pour and serve energized living water.


Saturday, March 25, 2017

Retractable Leashes



As a professional pet sitter, my first and foremost concern of course are the pets -- their safety and well-being. When I'm walking someone else's dog(s), as well as my own, safety for the dog, others and myself is a priority. Having an enjoyable experience is also important for all involved!

Over the last fifteen years, I have either experienced or witnessed all kinds of situations and scenarios while walking dogs. I have had someone else's (otherwise friendly) unleashed dog attack and almost kill the dog I had on a leash. I've had dogs come charging out of an open door or gate while walking by with a dog so many times I can't begin to count them. I've had small children come running at me (with parent near by), wanting to pet the dog I'm walking, which is not friendly and doesn't like to be around children. There have been times I have turned around and run the other way with the dog to avoid situations. 

Not long ago I passed someone walking their dog on the other side of the street and she wanted to bring her dog over to say "hi" to the dog I was walking, which was 1) not my dog, 2) not dog friendly and 3) was barking and displaying aggressive body language that was obvious to me, but was not understood by her. She got mad or offended when I said it wasn't my dog and declined! 

 I've had dogs pull out of their collar. I even had a dog back out of her harness once (which was obviously fitted too loose). I've had collars break, leashes break. I mean, when you do something long enough, you will experience just about everything that can happen while doing it. And as you go along, you learn by experience what kinds of things or situations to avoid. So for safety's sake, my rule of thumb is stay away from all others -- people and other dogs.

Another thing that I have learned along the way to avoid are retractable leashes.They are anything but safe. If you want to use one while walking your own dog, that is your choice. But as a professional pet sitter in a big city, I don't use them walking other people's dogs and I don't use them to walk my own dogs either, for many reasons:


  • They are easily pulled out of your hand. A sturdy loop that is around your hand and wrist can't be beat for control -- and control of the dog is of the utmost importance.

  • They allow dogs to get too far away to have reasonable control if something occurs to warrant quick action. Six feet away is long enough. I have seen people use retractable leashes with prong choke collars, which is an oxymoron.

  • They can break or snap unlike a regular leash (that is the correct size and strength for your dog).

  • They can and have caused burns, cuts and worse -- amputations.

  • They are dangerous in that dogs can easily jerk their necks or cause spinal injuries while behaving like the animals they are, and charging after something full speed, or just running and not realizing when the end of the line is coming.
  • They actually teach dogs to pull. Dogs learn that to get a longer extension, or to go where they want, all they have to do is pull hard enough and they get it.
  • To have any dog, especially a large dog, essentially on a string/thin cord/thin ribbon is not a good means of control. When I see children walking their dogs on these, I just cringe. Not a safe idea.
  • They are just harder to manage, especially if walking more than one dog and picking up the poop, which in most places is the law.
  • They can malfunction and won't retract.
  • They can frighten dogs (especially fearful ones) if they are dropped, and then they are injured due to running to try and get away from the handle that is chasing them. (True story.)

  • I don't know of a good positive reinforcement dog trainer or a veterinarian that recommends them.
While I was in the process of writing this I had to take one of my pets to the veterinarian. While we were waiting to be seen, a young mother with two small children, a boy and a girl, and two small dogs came in. The dogs were on retractable leashes. The mother originally had the leashes but as she was standing at the counter filling out paperwork, her children kept asking to have the leashes. She gave in and I watched as these two small children under the age of five got themselves and the dogs all tangled up to the point that the little girl was totally wrapped up in the leash and couldn't move. After the mother got them untangled and took control of the leashes again (still filling out paperwork), she was oblivious to the fact that one of the dogs still had the thin cord of his leash wrapped around his front leg and he kept hopping around trying to pull his leg out of the loop, which he finally managed to do after several tries. 

This is a perfect example of why I cringe when children use them. I have either experienced, witnessed, read or heard about so many different instances in which people and/or pets have gotten injured or worse while using a retractable leash.

Even adults have trouble using them correctly. More recently, a man was walking his large dog down our street on a flexi-leash. Our three-legged cat was sitting in the driveway, up close to our house, far from the street, where they were walking. The dog saw our cat as he got close to our house and ran full speed after our cat, going to the end of his extended leash line in about a second, yanking the man up into our yard with him. As the dog ran around a tree and the man himself a few times -- all the while this man never uttering a word to try and control his dog or using the brake on the leash, this man ended up being all tied up and tangled in the flexi-leash, trying to get himself out of it. It took him a few minutes. (Our cat ran and got away to safety.) And this is a grown man!

So as a policy, we do not use retractable leashes. If you are a client and that is all you have, no worries -- we have our own preferred equipment that provides the control and safety that we require. And if someone walking a dog sees you and your dog coming towards them and they go the other way, don't be offended. We're just playing it safe and keeping it fun!

I want to thank Karen Becker, DVM, for writing a great article on this subject, which inspired me to finally write about it too. Read her article here: 

Dr. Becker: 10 Reasons Not to Use a Retractable Leash

And another more recent article on the subject by Dr. Becker:

 Pitch These Five Items in the Trash




Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Another Big Fan of Structured Water

You may know established TV host Tanya Memme, who spent thirteen seasons on A and E’s Emmy-nominated TV shows Sell This House, Sell This House Extreme and Move This House. She is the host of KTLA’s Best Vacations, where she takes viewers on fabulous journeys exploring top destinations around the world. Tanya is also a proud spokesperson for the non-profit organization Wells Of Hope. 

And now...she is a big fan of Structured Water and is excited to share the benefits and explain what it is. (Like yours truly! We can't help it -- it's amazing!) 

 
What is Structured Water? from Natural Action Technologies on Vimeo.


💧💙💧💙💧💙💧💙💧💙💧💙💧💙💧💙💧💙💧💙💧💙💧💙💧💙💧💙💧💙💧💙💧💙

In this video (below) she shares her own experience with Structured Water and interviews inventor Clayton Nolte asking the most common questions:




Get Your Structured Water Unit Today!


Friday, February 17, 2017

In Memory of Our Dog Duke


As we celebrate a special milestone of fifteen years in business this month, it's also a bittersweet milestone in that the last remaining mid-day dog walk we've had for the last fourteen years, Zinger (14), just passed away a couple of days ago, and now our own last remaining dog passed away as well.
Duke with sister Cali
Our beloved dog Duke passed away on Monday, February 13th, just a month and half away from his 15th birthday. He was doing really well up until just a few months ago when he started having some neurological type problem that was affecting his mobility, eventually leaving him unable to stand. His kidneys also had taken a sudden turn for the worse and were causing him discomfort.

We used Houston Mobile Vet for his last exam and bloodwork and they provided in home euthanasia also. (They are wonderful and I highly recommend them!) I am so grateful we now have the option of mobile vets who come to your home. Duke was able to be at home, in his comfy bed with us there petting him while he peacefully and painlessly passed away. 
Duke and Cali

Duke was the last of our four dogs and the sibling to Cali, who passed away from cancer four years ago. After living with three other dogs most of his life, and several cats, he ended up being the only dog for the last four years, of which I think he thoroughly enjoyed, though I'm sure he missed his sister and our other dogs. He had a friend that would come to stay with him on occasion that gave him some dog companionship which he enjoyed.

Our cats loved Duke, and he them. They are grieving and feeling his absence too.They would always run up to greet him before they would greet us. In fact, if Duke came in the room while they were getting pets from us, they would leave the pets to go rub on Duke. Often times I would hear our youngest cat Kilo in another room just talking away and when I looked, he would be talking to Duke, who was standing nearby. Duke was adored by his kitties!
Duke and Kilo

When Duke and his sister Cali first appeared on our ranch one cold January day in 2003, we thought he was a most unusual looking dog. We always got compliments on how pretty Duke was and were frequently asked what type of dog he was. In 2012, when they were ten years old, I had their DNA tested. They were found to be a mix of Chow Chow and Bluetick Coonhound. An interesting combination.You can see the resemblance of both breeds in them from the photos I shared here, especially Duke.

Each and every animal is unique and has certain qualities about them that make them special. Besides his physical appearance, one of Duke's unique characteristics was that he was a highly sensitive dog (HSD).

In the fields of biology, animal behavior and human psychology, research has found that a small percentage of the population -- about 20% -- of over one hundred different species of animals, as well as humans, have an innate characteristic which entails having a more sensitive nervous system than the rest of the population. They are labeled extra-sensitive, super sensitive or highly sensitive. Biologists say this has a survival advantage. Those that are highly sensitive are the first to sense danger and alert the rest of the group.

According to Dr. Elaine Aron, a psychologist who has been studying highly sensitive people (HSP) for over 20 years, there is now solid research from scientific studies done on the brain and genetic analysis showing that highly sensitive people have differences in their brain activity and process things differently, along with having a sensitive nervous system. HSPs process things more deeply, are easily overstimulated, have a sensitivity to subtleties and their environment, may be more sensitive to chemicals, as well as some other traits.
Duke with his friend Taz

This same innate characteristic has been studied extensively in rhesus monkeys at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in Maryland by Stephen Suomi, PhD. 

Research is being conducted on highly sensitive dogs in Switzerland by Dr. Maya Braem Dube, a veterinary behaviorist at the University of Bern, Switzerland. HSDs share many of the same traits as HSPs -- they can quickly read the mood in another animal or person, can pick up the scent of illness or the onset of a seizure before it occurs, heightened levels of awareness and sensitivity to sights, sounds, smells, emotions of others and is also more likely to suffer from allergies, to name a few.

Duke was much more sensitive than our other three dogs in many regards. He was known as a "screamer" at our vet clinic but I knew it wasn't just about being a dog that's scared or a big baby, he was a HSD. How did I know this and discover all this research on such a thing? Because I am a HSP myself.

Duke taught me a lot about HSDs and about myself. He also left us with many wonderful and funny memories that we will always cherish. We will miss him terribly.



Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Celebrating 15 Years in Business


This Valentine's Day we are celebrating Cozy Critters Pet Sitters' fifteenth anniversary! 

We are so grateful for all of our wonderful clients, both two and four-legged. We love meeting other animal-loving people in our area. We love getting to know each and every pet, caring for them and loving them as if they were our own. So many memories and funny stories are made over the years. But most of all, we love providing a great service to our community!  Looking forward to making more friends and memories....





Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Research Links Glyphosate to Liver Disease


There is a lot to be concerned about when it comes to pet foods as I have written about at length here -- especially GM (genetically modified) ingredients or better known as GMOs. Sadly, I still find that a lot of people have no idea what GMOs are or that they and their animals are consuming them on a daily basis and what this can do to their health. If you or your pets are consuming GMOs or (non-organic) wheat -- which when you think about it -- is in a lot of foods, you/your pets are consuming glyphosate, otherwise known as RoundUp, i.e. poison for our bodies. Sound crazy? I invite you to do the research for yourself. A good place to start is the most comprehensive source of GMO health information available on the web, which can be found at the Institute for Responsible Technology.  A great article listing the top 20 GMO foods and ingredients to avoid -- and why can be found here.

What we put into ours and our pets' bodies is one of the basic keys to well-being. For so long we have had a dis-connect as to the relationship between what we/they consume and our/their state of health. We must be proactive to protect our and our pets' health.

In this recently (2017) published study in the journal Nature, the lead author stated that their findings "are very worrying as they demonstrate for the first time a causative link between an environmentally relevant level of Roundup consumption over the long-term and a serious disease". 

This is some very concerning research that affects most pet food consumers (and human food consumers). Even at allowable levels (FDA and EU) this new study links the pesticide glyphosate to fatty liver disease. And should this come as a big surprise considering what glyphosate is and that it is put into our/their food supply?

In September of 2015, Dr. Anthony Samsel analyzed multiple pet foods for glyphosate and provided pet food consumers with the results, as shared in this article by Susan Thixton (TruthAboutPetFood.com):  http://truthaboutpetfood.com/more-concerning-news-linked-to-glyphosate/. Also in this article Susan shares some things you can do about it as a pet owner.






Monday, January 16, 2017

Ask Better Questions


In this video, the popular pet vlogger, artist and founder of PlanetPaws.ca, Rodney Habib, points out some of the differences between human medicine and veterinary medicine and how we need to ask better questions -- particularly in regards to processed foods and annual vaccines. So true!

Are you a Quintessential Pet Parent?




Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Pet Fooled - The Movie

I just finished watching the new documentary Pet Fooled, which is about pet foods. Great documentary! I highly recommend every pet parent watch it!


Pet Fooled is now available on most digital platforms (e.g., iTunes, Hulu, Vimeo, Xbox, etc.). It will also available on cable VOD providers like Dish Network, Cox, Charter On Demand and Verizon Fios, to name a few. For further information and to watch the film:



Tuesday, January 3, 2017

All About Structured Water


Have you seen the new Structured Water page on our website? We now have lots of information and resources on Structured Water for you, including testimonies from animal lovers like yourself. There are videos, links to testimonies, magazine articles, a YouTube channel, a documentary, interviews, special offers and more! I will be adding more in the future so please check back for updates.

Go to our website at www.cozycrittersofbellaire.com and click on the Structured Water tab to learn why we are so passionate about Structured Water.

Now it's easier than ever to experience the benefits of Structured Water for yourself, your pets and your plants! Can't afford to pay for a structuring device all at once? In an effort to make them more affordable for everyone, custom payment plans are now available. For information on a payment plan that can work for you, please call 857-254-9880 (TWE). Tell them Beth/Cozy Critters Pet Sitters referred you.


For those who really want to save money on Structured Water devices there are now used devices available. The used devices are fantastic because the quality of the products is always high and the discounts are more than enough to justify any small external blemishes. It’s no wonder these are hard to keep in stock! Check out the new Discount Structured Water Used Superstore for used devices.

And don't forget: we offer the best prices anywhere on Structured Water units and when you order ANY unit from us you will receive two free bonusesWater Magic and Infinity Wave (worth $600) AND free shipping to anywhere on the planet!

Join us on the free Teleclasses -- Clayton's Classroom -- every other Wednesday or listen to recordings of previous classes by clicking HERE.