Munchy Monday: Life’s Abundance Ear Care Formula

Okay, so maybe this Munchy Monday post isn’t so “munchy,” but it’s still about a great Life’s Abundance product. 🙂

Say hello to Life’s Abundance Ear Care Formula!EarCare

This ear cleaner is gentle and soothing, and it helps to make ear cleaning a less traumatizing experience- for my dogs, anyway! It cleans the ears and eliminates odor without any painful stinging! It is also made in the USA. The two first ingredients are water and Aloe Vera, which helps show how gentle this cleaner is. There are also numerous plant extracts included in the formula to create a safe and soothing cleaner.

All of our dogs have floppy ears, which makes them more prone to ear infections. The two main ways to prevent ear infections is to, first, have a good diet to help their immune system; and secondly, keep the ears clean.

There are a lot of great ear cleaners out there. One of the brands I have used a lot in the past (and still do use some) is Epi-Otic. Epi-Otic is a great cleaner, and it certainly gets the job done! However, it is strong. My dogs HATE it. It smells strong; and based on their reaction, I think it stings. When I switched to the Life’s Abundance ear cleaner, I noticed that they didn’t give such a dramatic reaction. In fact, they hardly fight it at all. It obviously feels much better in their ears. And that’s what I love about it. It’s so gentle, but yet very effective.

Now, keep in mind, prevention is best when it comes to your dog’s ears. I like to use Life’s Abundance Ear Care Formula as my regular weekly ear cleaning solution. Whether or not my dogs’ ears look dirty, I try to clean them on a regular basis to prevent any build-up.

To properly clean your dog’s ears, begin by shaking the bottle well. Gently apply enough drops into the ear canal so that it is moistened. Massage the base of the ear canal to help loosen wax. Remove the liquid, dissolved wax, and dirt with cotton or facial tissue. Clean the applicator tip thoroughly after each use. Do not use cotton swabs or insert pointed objects into the ear.

If build-up has occurred or you’re suspicious an infection may be brewing, Life’s Abundance Ear Care Formula can be used twice a day for 4-5 days. However, if the ear still looks dirty or irritated, your dog may need something stronger or even some antibiotics to clear it up.

If your pup needs something to keep his or her ears clean, you may want to give Life’s Abundance Ear Care Formula a try. Here’s to happy ears and happy pups!

Interested in ordering?
 You can order from the Life’s Abundance site. When ordering through our page, you should see Kristen’s Happy Tails listed at the top of the page as the Field Rep. If I am not listed as your representative, please mention my ID number when you place your first order- 20552921. As your representative, I am able to help you determine what products are right for your pet and answer any questions you may have.

Duchess’s Puppies

What an exciting day! We are excited to announce the arrival of seven beautiful Irish Setter puppies! It’s a smaller litter than she had last time, but the puppies are significantly larger. In fact, the smallest puppy from this litter is the same size as the biggest puppy from the last litter. And the biggest puppy from this litter weighs over a pound! That’s a big puppy! (Mia’s puppies usually weigh around half a pound. Duchess puppies averaged 9-10 ounces last litter.)


Duchess was very kind to me and decided to have her puppies during the day, which was GREAT! With another delivery under my belt, I gained a few new experiences. With each litter, I seem to pick up valuable nuggets of information and experience. Sometimes those nuggets come from good experiences and some not so good. Every litter is different and presents its own unique challenges.

So here’s how my day went.

Yesterday (Thursday), I charted a temperature drop for Duchess, so I knew we would see puppies sometime in the next 24 hours. I checked on her a few times during the night, but she was pretty calm and relaxed.

Morning came, and with it, some encouraging signs. As the morning progressed, Duchess became more and more restless. Pacing, panting, digging, nesting, and frequent bathroom trips.

Her first puppy was born shortly before 11am. She quickly and steadily birthed five more by 12:30. Then things paused for a bit, which isn’t unusual. I was fairly certain she wasn’t finished, though.

Around 1:00 she began pushing. Typically, I see her push for just a few minutes and then a sac presents. Once I see can see the puppy, it’s usually out within seconds. Duchess doesn’t waste time. However, this time, Duchess kept pushing for almost half an hour with no signs of a puppy. (Thirty minutes is the textbook time frame for delivering a puppy. After thirty minutes of pushing, it’s time to call your vet.) I had given her a few doses of liquid calcium in the last two hours, which helps for strong contractions; but she was still struggling. She started to get very agitated. She left her puppies and began pacing and whining.

I was getting very nervous. I called my sister, who breeds Miniature Schnauzers, because I knew she has had some similar experiences. While on the phone, I saw back feet. The puppy was no longer in it’s sack. Both of these things are normal. Puppies are frequently born back feet first, and it’s not unusual for the sack to break before a puppy is totally born. But when those two things are combined, you need to be watchful. If a puppy is breech with a broken sack, it may drown before it’s born. Those puppies should be delivered quickly.

But this puppy, for some reason, was stuck. Duchess kept pushing, but the puppy wouldn’t budge. So far in this entire delivery, I had not done anything except watch. But this little pup was stuck, and mama was clearly distressed. The puppy was out almost up to its hips. I grabbed the legs and gently pulled during the next couple contractions. And just like that, the pup was out.

But Duchess was too agitated to care for her, and she was more concerned about getting back to her other puppies. This little one wasn’t breathing, which wasn’t a surprise considering her prolonged birth. I spent the next few minutes vigorously rubbing her with a towel and suctioning her airways clear of fluid. She began moving almost right away, and soon started some weak gasps. After a couple minutes, she began squealing- LOUDLY. She wanted to let the world know that she did not appreciate her traumatic arrival. I was so happy to hear those angry squeals.

Would have this puppy died without my intervention? Maybe not, but my help certainly increased her odds of survival. Sometimes, healthy puppies are lost in whelping, because of small problems like this. Duchess almost certainly would have eventually gotten this puppy out by herself, but it may not have been soon enough for the puppy. That’s just how nature works sometimes. But, fortunately, I was able to lend nature a hand. With just a little bit of extra help, this little pup seems to be doing well.

Things quieted down after that, and Duchess has been contentedly caring for her babies since.


We did have one more little blip, though. Once Duchess was calm and settled after whelping, I began weighing and identifying each of the puppies. As I did that, I noticed one of them had a torn, bloody ear!


The picture isn’t very clear, but she had a deep tear at the base of her ear. It was bad enough, I was afraid it may tear off completely if I just let it go. (Birth is tough for these little guys!) So off to the vet we went for a couple of stitches and a little glue. I’m hoping Duchess doesn’t bother the stitches! As long as the stitches stay in, the ear should heal nicely.


All in all, it was a good day, and we are praising God for our seven beautiful puppies! Have a good weekend, everyone!



Munchy Monday: Antioxidant Health Bars

Everyone loves a good snack, right? My go to snack is peanut butter and Ritz crackers and a glass of milk. Snacks are a good thing, whether it’s the mid-morning power snack or the late afternoon pick-me-up snack. Snacks can be a great part of your diet, as long as they are healthy snacks, anyway. When you dive in for the cookies or chips, snacks can be a hindrance to your health. It’s important to pick out healthy, nutritious snacks.

This same simple principle applies to our pups, too! A healthy dog food makes an excellent nutritional base, but everyone knows our dogs don’t just eat kibble. There’s always some treats and snacks around! It’s just as important that dogs get healthy treats that add to their diet, not take away from it.

Life’s Abundance Antioxidant Health Bars are a great place to start!


These healthy treats are loaded with vitamins and nutrients to help give your dog the perfect mid-morning power snack. Antioxidants, in the proper balance, are very beneficial for the body. Oxidation in the body creates “free radicals,” which can damage cells. “Anti”oxidants help prevent the oxidation and free radicals, thus promoting healthy cell function and immune system.

Here’s the list of ingredients:

Oatmeal, Heat-Stabilized Rice Bran, Brown Rice Flour, Ground Flaxseed, Dates, Rolled Oats, Peanut Butter, Oat Flour, Flaxseed Oil, Apples, Honey, Rye Flour, Eggs, Cranberries, Carrots, Citric Acid, Brewers Dried Yeast, Natural Vanilla Flavor, a-Tocopherol Acetate (a source of Vitamin E), Lecithin, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (a source of Vitamin C), Beta-Carotene

Honestly, it sounds like a really healthy granola bar that I would eat myself. These bars smell amazing! If it weren’t labeled as a dog treat, I would have taken a bite when I first opened a pack.

Included on the package is a feeding chart, with recommendations on how many treats a dog should get daily based on their weight. (Like most things, antioxidants are beneficial in the proper balance. There is such a thing as “over supplementing.”)

So if you’re looking for a healthy treat for your favorite pup, Antioxidant Health Bars are a great option!

Interested in ordering?
 You can order from the Life’s Abundance site. When ordering through our page, you should see Kristen’s Happy Tails listed at the top of the page as the Field Rep. If I am not listed as your representative, please mention my ID number when you place your first order- 20552921. As your representative, I am able to help you determine what products are right for your pet and answer any questions you may have.


Munchy Monday: Is a Grain-Free Diet Right for Your Dog?

After a longer break than I had planned, Munchy Mondays are back! Today, as suggested by the title, I am posting about Life’s Abundance Grain-Free dog food. I’ll also be touching a little bit on how to know if your dog should be on a grain-free diet.

Let’s begin with the latter.

There is a lot of conflicting information floating on the great world wide web about grain-free dog foods and if dogs should or shouldn’t have them. Proponents of grain-free diets point out that dogs’ ancestors, namely wolves, do not eat grains; so it’s more natural for dogs to eat grain-free food. Some sources also claim that dogs cannot digest grains and that grains can cause allergies. Those on the other side would argue that dogs can, in fact, digest certain grains and that grains can provide valuable fiber in a dog’s diet. According to some, grains can actually aid in the digestion and absorptions of other nutrients.

I am not a veterinarian or a schooled dog-nutritionalist, but here is what I have been able to sort from the muddled information.

-Dogs can digest SOME grain. Corn is an example of one that they can’t digest, but other properly prepared whole grains are digestible.

-Grains can be a source of fiber; although, grains are not the only good fiber source.

-Grain is not necessary to a dog’s diet, as long as their food is well-balanced and nutritionally sound.

-Grain can boost the protein in dog food; BUT it’s important to note that animal-based proteins are better for dogs. They can absorb the protein from plants and animal sources, but dogs need the amino-acids are that found in animal-based proteins. A proper balance of plant and animal proteins is important.

-Dogs can be allergic to grains. Dogs can also be allergic to beef, dairy, etc. The number of dogs allergic to grains is very small.

Basically, a diet consisting of grains is fine for most dogs, and even has some benefits. However, dogs don’t necessarily need grain, and a grain-free food may be gentler on the digestive system for some individuals. If a dog is showing signs of allergies (like itchy skin, rashes, vomiting, diarrhea, flatulence, excessive licking and chewing of feet or skin, frequent ear infections, etc.), a grain-free diet may provide relief. Be aware, though, that grains are certainly not the only food allergy a dog can have. In the end, it comes down to the preference of pet owners and the needs of individual dogs.

Life’s Abundance offers both standard and grain-free food options. Either is an excellent choice. The grains included in the original formula are healthy, whole grains that are digestible and beneficial to dogs. The grain-free formula is a great alternative, though, for the pet owners that prefer it or have dogs that specifically require it.


One thing I personally like about it is the higher protein and fat content. Our Irish Setters are highly active, and we have to be mindful of their weight. They maintain great muscle tone but sometimes struggle to keep a healthy amount of body fat, even when fed more than the recommended portions for their size. We have found that foods with a higher protein count go a long way in maintaining a healthy weight for our very active dogs.

Life’s Abundance Grain-Free food has high quality animal based proteins, including turkey meal, chicken meal, and eggs. There are Omega-3 fatty acids and other healthy sources of fat like chicken, eggs, flaxseed meal, and fish oil. It also contains an antioxidant system including guaranteed amounts of vitamins C and E. Fruits and vegetables provide valuable nutrients. You’ll find potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, celery, cranberries, blueberries, broccoli, beets, parsley, lettuce, watercress and spinach in Life’s Abundance Grain-free formula. Some of these like celery and carrots provide good sources of fiber and carbohydrates. Other sources are tomato pomace and field peas. In addition to all of that, it also contains a guaranteed amount of four different health-promoting probiotics.

Whew, that last paragraph is a mouthful; but it helps you to see just how much great stuff is packed into the food. If you feel like grain-free is best for your dog or if you would simply like to give it a try, Life’s Abundance Grain-Free is an excellent option.

Interested in ordering?
 You can order from the Life’s Abundance site. When ordering through our page, you should see Kristen’s Happy Tails listed at the top of the page as the Field Rep. If I am not listed as your representative, please mention my ID number when you place your first order- 20552921. As your representative, I am able to help you determine what products are right for your pet and answer any questions you may have.

Puppy Update: The First 48 Hours

We have passed the first huge milestone- the first 48 hours. These two days are such a critical time for puppies, and I always breathe a sigh of relief when we pass this point.

Overall, it’s been a very good start. Duchess is doing well as a first time mama. She’s diligently caring for her babies. She’s drinking the well dry, and eating us out of house and home, but those are good things. 🙂 Feeding ten babies requires a lot of calories!


Nine of the puppies seem to be doing well. They are gaining weight, nursing well, and are acting like healthy puppies. Some signs I like to see with puppies are round bellies, hydrated skin, a strong suck reflex, activated sleep (twitching while they sleep), the ability to crawl to their mom, the ability to stay close to their littermates for warmth, and steady weight gain. By those signs, we have a healthy, thriving litter.

The tenth puppy, the runt I’ve named Nova, isn’t thriving quite as well as her siblings, but the fact that she is still alive is huge! I’m honestly amazed that she has survived. I was pretty unsure about her when she was born. Some people say it’s possible for a few puppies from a litter to be conceived several days later than the others. This means when they are born, you’ll have a set of large, older puppies and a set of smaller, younger ones. With puppies, even just a few days in the womb makes a very significant difference. I have two puppies that are noticeably smaller than the others. This litter was born fairly early on the time table. If these two puppies were indeed conceived later, then that means they are a few days premature. Another possible explanation is that the placentas were attached at a place that didn’t have as much blood flow, limiting the nourishment that they received. Either way, Nova had nature working against her.

In comparison to her siblings, Nova is TEENY! It’s hard for pictures to show just how tiny she is. Currently, she is no bigger than an iPhone 7. I am a petite person, so my hands are very small in comparison to most.




However, she does have some things going for her. Besides being small and weak, she appears healthy. She was also able to nurse some from Duchess during the first 24 hours. This means that she got some of the antibody-rich colostrum which will be a great benefit and protection for her in the coming days.

When she was born, she weighed 5.5 ounces. I could pinch her skin and it stayed in a pinched ridge, meaning she was dehydrated. She kept getting pushed away by the other puppies, which meant she struggled to stay warm. She could hardly hold her head or crawl.


Zach put up a heat lamp to keep her warm. I gave her Nutri-stat regularly and helped her nurse. This helped to hydrate her. I also started bottle feeding her raw goat’s milk every few hours from a slow-flow baby bottle. A wonderful friend of mine gave me a recipe to pump up my goat’s milk. I added plain yogurt, Karo syrup, and a raw egg yolk. This makes a rich, creamy formula full of fat, sugar, and calories. I feed her one milliliter for each ounce of body weight at each feeding. Right now, she is guzzling about one teaspoon each time.


Nova’s weight dropped in the first 24 hours to 5.4 ounces. It’s not uncommon for puppies to lose a bit of weight in the first day, but little Nova doesn’t have any weight to spare. She held steady at 5.4 until last evening. This morning, Nova tipped the scale at a whopping 5.8 ounces!


Now, she has the strength to hold her head and crawl. She stays with the other puppies and doesn’t get pushed away. She can even latch on to nurse by herself sometimes. She takes a bottle well, but her suck is still weaker than that of the other puppies. But she is a fighter! She squeals now when other puppies try to push her away when she’s nursing. She has a bit of strength to compete with them. Based on how far she has come in the first two days, I’d say there is a reasonable chance she will pull through. I’ll be bottle feeding for a while yet, but I’m hoping to wean her back onto nursing from Duchess full-time as soon as possible. If that’s not possible, I’d like to at least back off bottle feeding so that it’s only a supplement and not her main source of nourishment.


I am hoping to get individual pictures of the puppies very soon, so check back in a day or two to check them out!

And Then There Were… Eleven?!

Instead of publishing a Munchy Monday post yesterday, I spent my day caring for Duchess as she delivered her very first litter. It was an exciting (and exhausting) 24 hours! Things didn’t go quite according to plan, but everything seems to have turned out well.

I was expecting the puppies to be born the end of this week, so I was a bit surprised when I started noticing some signs of labor Sunday, only 58 days from her first breeding. This is not unheard of, but often delivery happens closer to days 61-63, or if it’s Mia- 65. I was expecting 5-8 puppies, based on an ultrasound done at 4 weeks pregnant.

Duchess lost her appetite over the weekend, and I noticed that her belly dropped. Her waistline and hips were a bit more prominent, suggesting the puppies were getting in position to be born. This meant delivery was close, but not necessarily imminent. Things could still drag on a few more days. I hadn’t seen the temperature drop that indicates delivery within 24 hours, but I had also missed a few temperature readings, so I couldn’t be sure.

Then Sunday evening, I saw green discharge, which is usually not a good sign. Green means that a placenta is detaching. Premature detachment can mean a dead puppy, which can create labor complications. Usually, the only time there is green discharge is after the birth of puppy. If it’s before birth or, in this case, before labor even, it’s not a good sign. It’s not necessarily an emergency, but it’s definitely a red flag.

Sooooo, I stayed up most of the night Sunday, thinking that the puppies would be coming that night. Duchess was restless, but clearly not in active labor. I went to bed around 3am. I was extremely grateful for the small blessing that Reese decided to sleep in until 9! That gave me a few precious hours of rest.

Monday was a tiring day. One cup of coffee wasn’t really enough. Not only did Duchess need a lot of attention, Reese is currently teething. So I had two very needy companions for the day.

Monday morning brought a tough decision. It had been 12 hours since I saw green discharge, but we still didn’t have any puppies. I finally saw the temperature drop, though, letting me know that labor was definitely beginning. Should we take her to the vet for an ultrasound and x-ray to try to diagnose a problem or should we wait to see if nature would take care of things. Dead puppies aren’t all that uncommon, although they can cause problems. Many times, everything is fine. The dead puppy is delivered and causes no harm to mom or siblings. However, if the puppy dies too long before birth, it can create problems in utero. Also, dead puppies are harder for a mama to deliver, possibly resulting in a c-section and/or the death of other puppies due to stress.

Duchess didn’t seem to be stressed, so we decided to take the “wait and see” route. I don’t like to rush into things like c-sections or other interventions. If nature is allowed to take its course, it often does a fine job. I like to give it the chance, but I was prepared to make an emergency trip to the vet if things didn’t progress well.

During the day Monday, Duchess was restless and uncomfortable but not stressed. She wanted to go out to the bathroom frequently. She was nesting. She was clingy. I was desperately hoping for birth to happen during the day, so I could get a decent night of rest.

Around 6:30pm, active labor began. The first four puppies were born alive and healthy. The fifth puppy, however, was the trouble maker. This puppy had died before birth. Thankfully, it was recent. The puppy looked almost totally normal, indicating it hadn’t been dead very long. The longer a puppy is dead in the womb, the greater the chance of it creating other complications. I do think, though, that this puppy’s death triggered labor a few days early.

After the dead puppy was born, I could tell Duchess wasn’t finished. But I wasn’t prepared for just how many were still waiting to be born. They just kept coming and coming and coming until approximately 9:30pm. She had eleven puppies total, with ten of them surviving! This is going to be a busy place in a few weeks!

I have a couple of smaller puppies, with one in particular I am concerned about. The smallest puppy was born very weak. She kept getting pushed away, and she didn’t have the strength to try to nurse even with my help. She was dehydrated and fading quickly. Even in just two hours, she was becoming weaker, so I made an emergency trip to get Nurti-stat from a friend, a high-calorie liquid supplement. I gave her a small dose around 10pm, and she was soon able to nurse a bit. It was very weak, but it was better than not at all. By the time I gave her the next dose at 11pm, I could already tell a difference. Her body was warm, and her skin no longer looked dehydrated. Her sucking was significantly stronger. We will see what the next day or two holds for her. Runts in a large litter like this often struggle to survive.

This is one of those instances where intervention is necessary. I’ll be bottle feeding her and continuing with the Nutri-stat, but I am currently leaving her with Duchess and her littermates. I don’t want to bottle feed her full time. My goal is to give enough supplementation to give her the strength to nurse. Mama’s milk, especially the colostrum produced in the first 24 hours, is the best thing for puppy. Colostrum is what gives puppies immunity from diseases like parvo until the puppies’ own immune systems are developed. No other supplement or milk replacer can come close to mama’s milk. Even if this puppy only nurses half of the time, she is still getting some beneficial immunities from Duchess’s milk.

This is what breeding and raising puppies looks like. I am currently minus nearly two nights of sleep. I’ll be spending majority of the next few days hand-raising a weak puppy and weighing and monitoring the others. I’ll be carefully observing Duchess and tracking her temperature to make sure she recovers well. Breeding is not an easy business, but it’s definitely a rewarding one. I know there are a lot of people out there who criticize breeders, thinking that they only care about money. I really wish those critics could see behind the scenes. I know there are some bad breeders out there who do view their dogs and puppies only as a money source; but most of us really do care. Our dogs are our family. We pour an immeasurable amount of time and tears into each dog and each puppy. We lose sleep and sometimes sanity in an effort to help a puppy pull through. We spend hours each day caring for the daily needs of our adult dogs. We are always searching for ways to make our dogs happier and healthier. We are rewarded by the love of our dogs, by the warm snuggles of a puppy, and the by the happiness of the families who take our puppies. Yes, we depend on the income from our puppies to help support our own families, but it’s so much more than that. It’s a demanding job, but I love every step of way.

Here are some pictures from yesterday.


Duchess getting ready. She insisted on carrying around the stuffed puppy and having it in her nest.


First puppy!


Trying to help the runt nurse



All the babies! Can you count ten?


A very tired mama getting some well-deserved rest


That’s all for today, folks! I’ll post an update on the puppies in a few days! Have a happy week!


Munchy Monday: Tasty Rewards

Happy Monday! Did you all enjoy the beginning of your week? Things are quite a bit quieter in my home this evening. Today, Stanley left for his new home, so all of Mia’s babies are now with their new families. (I forgot to get a picture of Stanley with his family, so, unfortunately, I can’t post a final picture of him.)

I’m often asked if it’s hard for me to see the puppies go. It’s a difficult question to answer. Part of me does miss them, and it’s bittersweet to see them leave. I have spent the last several months preparing for them to be born and caring for them as they grew. But in all honesty, I always take a big sigh of relief once they’re gone. As sad as it is to see them go, I know everyone is better off. Once the puppies hit eight weeks old, I simply can not give them the time and attention that they need! They need individual attention and training. They need more space and stimulation and new experiences. I can’t meet all of their needs, but I know that their new families can. I know that they will be so much happier in a home where they can get the individual love and attention they need.

With these things in mind, I’ll be taking a brief look at Life’s Abundance Tasty Rewards for my Munchy Monday post. I picked this particular treat this week, since I’m sure each of my puppies’ families is beginning training.


Treats are a great motivator for most dogs when it comes to training. All of our dogs (except Timber) are very food-motivated. They can be on their worst behavior; and all I have to do is whip out some yummy treats, and I am suddenly surrounded by patient, eager angels.

When training, it’s best to have very small treats. Puppies especially will be consuming a fairly large number of treats with their training, so it’s important to watch that you don’t overfeed them with treats. It’s easy to allow puppies to get pudgy and overweight, so watching the calories consumed with treats is important.

Tasty Rewards are perfect for puppies. They are soft, making them very easy for puppies to eat. Also, this makes them easy to break apart into small pieces that are perfect for training.

The best part about these treats is the fact that they are healthy! Many other kinds of treats are simply empty calories, but Tasty Rewards are a yummy and nutritious snack! They’re loaded with proteins, minerals, vitamins, and essential fatty acids.

So to my puppies’ families, let the training begin! Happy treating!

Interested in ordering?
 You can order from the Life’s Abundance site. When ordering through our page, you should see Kristen’s Happy Tails listed at the top of the page as the Field Rep. If I am not listed as your representative, please mention my ID number when you place your first order- 20552921. As your representative, I am able to help you determine what products are right for your pet and answer any questions you may have.


Munchy Monday: What’s So Bad About Rawhide?

Rawhide bones and treats can bring our dogs so much joy. They can chew on them for hours! Surely something that is so widely used and marketed can’t be harmful, right?


Rawhide is dangerous and unhealthy on so many levels. Basically, rawhide is a chemically treated leather by-product. An online article from Dogs Naturally Magazine breaks down the process of how rawhide treats are made:

  1. Cattle hides are shipped from slaughterhouses to tanneries. They are chemically treated to preserve them during shipment.
  2. The tannery treats the hides with an ash-lye solution or sodium sulphide liming to strip the hairs and fat from the hide.
  3. Next is another chemical treatment to help split layers. The outer layer is then used for leather products like seats, and the inner portion is used for rawhide.
  4. Then comes a hydrogen peroxide or bleach to whiten.
  5. Then they are often given artificial colors and flavors to create the final product.
  6. When everything is said and done, here is what has been detected in rawhides when tested: lead, arsenic, mercury, chromium salts, formaldehyde and other toxic chemicals.

Eeek, nasty stuff! It’s no wonder that rawhide can cause irritation in a dog’s stomach and intestines. Not only that, if a dog swallows a large chunk of rawhide, it can become lodged in its digestive tract. Rawhide is not something a dog’s body can properly digest, so large pieces can’t be broken down once they are swallowed.

For those reasons, we don’t give our dogs rawhide. Yet, dogs still love to chew, and they need a healthy option to satisfy their chewing needs. Let me introduce you to Life’s Abundance Porky Puffs.


Here’s the list of ingredients: 

1. Pig nose

That’s it. One ingredient.

You will also not find any harsh preservatives in the Porky Puffs and no artificial flavors and colors. This treat is a MUCH safer and healthier alternative to rawhide! Without the harmful chemicals, it’s much gentler of their system. Your dog can happily chew without you having to worry about what they are consuming.

I tried giving one to the puppies, and they loved it! However, Mia sneaked into their pen and stole it. For the next couple of days, I found it hidden in various places around the house until she finally finished it off. 🙂

If you have a dog that likes to chew and you are interested in finding a healthy, satisfying treat for him, give Porky Puffs a try!

Interested in ordering?
If you are interested in ordering, please order from our Life’s Abundance site. When ordering through our page, you should see Kristen’s Happy Tails listed at the top of the page as the Field Rep. If I am not listed as your representative, please mention my ID number when you place your first order 20552921. As your representative, I am able to help you determine what products are right for your pet and answer any questions you may have.

Dewclaws: Do ‘Em or Lose ‘Em?

Dewclaws are those odd thumb-like nails found partway up a dog’s inner forelegs. You have probably heard that they are useless and that dogs don’t need them and shouldn’t even have them. But how much do you really know about dewclaws? Are they really as useless as you think?

Dewclaws: Should we do ’em or should we lose ’em?

In recent years in the United States, dewclaw removal has been pushed and recommended, because dewclaws were believed to be a “useless, vestigial” part of a dog’s anatomy. An attitude has even been developed by some people in this country that good breeders remove dewclaws, but irresponsible breeders try to cut corners and don’t remove them to save some money.

I want to shake up that idea a little bit. There have been some veterinarians and doctors making observations about dewclaws and how dogs use them that have begun to reshape our opinions on whether or not they should be removed.

As a side note, did you know that it is illegal in the UK to dock tails, dock ears, and remove dewclaws? In the UK, these are viewed as painful, cosmetic procedures with little to no medical benefit. Tail docking and dewclaw removal are usually done to puppies at only a few days old without anesthesia.

So today, I’d like you to put aside any biases and previous opinions about dewclaws, and let’s take a look at the pros and cons of dewclaws. As with any medical procedure, there are always risks and benefits. It is up to you as a dog owner and me as a breeder to wisely weigh these risks and benefits and decide which option is best for a particular breed or a particular dog.

Let’s begin with some of the reasons that dewclaws are removed. Dewclaws are usually removed when puppies are just days old. It is done to prevent dewclaw injury as an adult. Sometimes, adults with dewclaws have a serious injury or repeated minor injuries involving a dewclaw that makes it necessary for it to be removed.

Here are three problems that dewclaws can create:

  1. They can become overgrown or even ingrown if not properly maintained.
  2. Like any other toenail, they can become infected. However, because of their not as noticeable location, owners may not identify the infection as quickly.
  3. They can catch on something and be torn off. Obviously, this kind of injury is quite painful and will bleed.

The first two problems are easily prevented by proper care. The third problem is unpredictable. Some dogs will go a lifetime without experiencing any injury, while some may be subject to repeated injury. I will touch later on what can make a certain dog or certain breed more prone to injury than others.

Now let’s look at what purpose dewclaws serve and the benefits of keeping them. Most of the quotes and information presented here come from the article “Do the Dew(claws)?” by Christine Zink DVM, PhD, DACVSMR. She has worked for many years with sporting dogs used in hunting, agility competitions, and other athletic events. (You can download the PDF and read her full article on dewclaws here.)

First off, let’s debunk that widely-believed myth that dogs don’t use their dewclaws. Take a look at these two pictures.


In these pictures, you can clearly see how much of a dog’s foot actually touches the ground. When running, a dog’s dewclaw does touch the ground, especially when navigating a turn like in these pictures.


After a good romp, it’s not unusual to find grass or dirt on a dewclaw. This picture shows the points of a dog’s foot and leg that contact the ground when running. Notice the two distinct green patches- one at the dewclaw itself and one higher up on the leg at the pad.


Did you know some highly active dogs that spend a lot of time outdoors can wear down their dewclaws naturally?

This picture comes from Christine Zink’s article. It shows the anatomy of a dog’s foreleg.


There are five tendons that attach to the dewclaws. This means there are five muscles associated with the dewclaws. If the dewclaws are removed, these muscles will atrophy from disuse. Removing the dewclaws prevents the leg muscles and joints from fully functioning as they were designed to do.

Zink says, “Those muscles indicate that the dewclaws have a function. That function is to prevent torque on the leg. Each time the foot lands on the ground, particularly when the dog is cantering or galloping, the dewclaw is in touch with the ground. If the dog then needs to turn, the dewclaw digs into the ground to support the lower leg and prevent torque. If the dog doesn’t have a dewclaw, the leg twists. A lifetime of that and the result can be carpal arthritis, or perhaps injuries to other joints such as the elbow, shoulder and toes. Remember: the dog is doing the activity regardless, and the pressures on the leg have to go somewhere.”

“I have seen many dogs now, especially field trial/hunt test and agility dogs, that have had chronic carpal arthritis, frequently so severe that they have to be retired or at least carefully managed for the rest of their careers. Of the over 30 dogs I have seen with carpal arthritis, only one has had dewclaws (emphasis added).”

Dogs also use dewclaws to grab and hold things, much like we do with our thumbs.



Here is a link for a fascinating video about how dogs can use their dewclaws.

The video shows waterfowl hunting dogs retrieving birds on partially frozen lakes. (Don’t panic about the dogs in the icy water. Remember, these dogs are bred and trained for it. The hunters with them know how to properly care for their hunting dogs.) The dogs use their dewclaws as ice picks when they are pulling themselves out of the water and onto the ice. You see them turn their legs outward, dig their dewclaws into the ice, and use them to pull themselves out of the water. The dogs without dewclaws have a much greater struggle getting out of the water, as their legs continually slip on the ice. They have nothing with which they can grip the ice.

I’m going to guess that most of the people reading this don’t have dogs that regularly swim in frozen lakes, but it’s very interesting to note the way God has designed dewclaws to function. Useless and vestigial? I think not.

I’m sure you have already assumed from the tone of my post so far, that we have made the decision not to remove our dogs’ dewclaws. Is this the right decision for everyone? Not necessarily. Here is why we have decided it is best for our dogs and puppies to retain their dewclaws.

We have an Irish Setter, a Golden Retriever, and a Mini Goldendoodle. The setter and retriever are both sporting breeds. We regularly have these dogs out in the field hunting or hiking. Even though a goldendoodle isn’t a pure sporting breed, she is still very active and does well in high energy activities like hiking and agility. Our dogs spend much of their time outside running and playing. They get a lot of exercise. When out in the woods hiking or hunting, they are going through thick underbrush, brambles, and high grasses. They navigate steep banks. When swimming, they are on slippery river banks.

Because of the lifestyle our dogs lead, I firmly believe that they need their dewclaws. They use them! With the high activity level, they put a lot of stress on their legs, and it’s best for them if their muscles and joints are able to function properly to prevent unnecessary strain. (I especially think of this with Goldens. Because this breed is already genetically prone to bone and joint problems, I want to avoid any unnecessary strain and torque on her joints!)

We have also decided it is in our puppies’ best interest if they retain their dewclaws. The great thing about dewclaws is this: if need be, they can always be removed later in life. If you don’t agree with our stance on dewclaws and would prefer to have your puppy’s dewclaws removed, it can easily be done later. Many people spay or neuter their pets, and it can be convenient to remove dewclaws during that procedure if you chose to.

I do believe, though, that there are times when it is necessary for dewclaws to be removed. Some breeds are known to have dewclaws that are very loosely attached. These dogs may be prone to repeatedly catching their dewclaws and tearing them. It’s very important to keep dewclaws trimmed short. Because they get less wear than other nails, they will need to be trimmed more frequently. Less active dogs will not wear down the dewclaws at all. Some breeds even have dewclaws on their rear legs. Often these rear claws are loosely attached and more prone to injury. Sometimes, sporting or working dogs will tear their dewclaws in the normal nature of their work, simply because they are using their dewclaws a lot. In some cases, if the injury is severe, the dewclaw may need to be removed. Most times, this is not the case; but it can happen. Although many dogs go a lifetime with no injury, these injuries are very painful if they do happen.

Conclusion: It is important for pet owners to be aware of the risks and benefits of dewclaws. Do your research. Know your dog. Understand that dewclaws serve an important purpose in a dog’s leg and movement, but also know the potential problems to watch out for and work to prevent. Every medical decision regarding your dog has risks and benefits, and the decision that is right for one dog may not be the decision that is best for another. Be a responsible owner, and educate yourself!

For this household, though, we have decided to “do the dew.” 🙂

Wondercide: A Better Prevention?

*It’s a bit lengthy, but worth a read.* 🙂

With the addition of Jade to our canine family, I was reevaluating my dog budget. (Yes, I’m a budget-er!) I do this simply to track what supplies I need, and how much I am spending on each one. By doing this, I also see what areas I can possibly cut back on my costs.

Bunny Trail: For example, I use fendendazole to worm my dogs. (I plan to do a post some time about the variety of wormers and how to use them.) I had been buying the name brand Panacur C powder formula, which gets expensive- roughly $20 per dog. Since it is very effective, though, I was willing to pay for it. However, I was recently introduced to a liquid form of fenbendazole. Now, instead of paying $60 every few months to worm my girls, I paid $22 for a whole year’s supply! 🙂 That looks great on my budget.

Anyway, with three dogs now, my biggest monthly expense is food. As you can imagine, three dogs eat a lot of food. My second largest monthly expense is flea and tick prevention. As with any medications, I try to use ones that are safe for pregnant dogs. Frontline is one of the few flea and tick preventatives that is safe to use during pregnancy for dogs. Buying doses for three dogs each month costs me about $40.

I have had some concerns, though, about the harshness of Frontline. I don’t want to say that Frontline is a bad product, because it’s not. It’s effective and safe if used properly. However, you are supposed to separate the dog from children and other pets for 24 hours after applying Frontline. This tells me that there is a level of risk (albeit, probably a small risk) in using this product. I know with our dogs, having to keep them apart for a whole day (or even half a day) is a joke.

There were times I did some online research about other more “natural” flea and tick preventatives. Most of them seemed to be of questionable effectiveness; and if I am going to use something, I want it to WORK. I even tried one highly-lauded natural preventative with disastrous results. However, this terrible experiment was what led me to what I believe will be my solution.

I had read about Rose Geranium Oil, which is supposed to be a natural tick preventative. It was bragged up so very much that I decided to give it a try. I got my chance to test it out in March. It was a warm weekend and my husband and I and another couple decided to take our dogs for a hike on the State Game lands near our home. Zach and I took Duchess and Mia, and the other couple took their dog Nina. I knew from previous experience that this area had a booming tick population. I put the recommended two drops of Rose Geranium Oil on my dogs and on myself as well. My husband did not use any kind of repellent. (Foolish man, I thought!)

In talking to the other couple, they told me that they were using Wondercide, a product that repels fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes. (Sounds too good to be true, right?) This wonder spray is human food grade, making it completely safe around kids. Actually, you can use it on kids if you want. (Whoever heard of a food grade flea and tick preventative?) It can also be used on plants, lawns, and furniture. (Whaaaat?)

So we put Wondercide to the test against my Rose Geranium Oil. The results? Check it out.

Zach (human using no repellent)- 0 ticks

Jordan (human using no repellent)- 0 ticks

Sonya (human using Wondercide)- 0 ticks

Nina (canine using Wondercide)- 0 ticks

Kristen (human using Rose Geranium Oil)- 7 ticks

Duchess (canine using Rose Geranium Oil)- 2 ticks

Mia (canine using Rose Geranium Oil)- 11 ticks

I think the results speak for themselves. Even no protection was better than Rose Geranium Oil. I came home and promptly threw away my lousy bottle of oil. 😦 Then I looked up Wondercide, and I liked what I saw. (Here is their website.)

Here are the basics of how Wondercide works, and why I decided to try it. The flea, tick, and mosquito spray is cedar oil based. “Cedar oil affects octopamine, which is essential to life for pheromone-driven pests like fleas and ticks. Octopamine is responsible for regulating heart rate, movement and behavior in pests. Cedar oil blocks the octopamine neurotransmitter receptors in pests, causing pests to be repelled from the area. When contacted, pests suffocate and die. Mammals, birds, fish, amphibians and beneficial insects are not affected by cedar oil because they do not have octopamine neurotransmitters (copied from”

The budget-conscious part of my brain also kicked in as I looked at this product. Say one bottle of Wondercide, which costs around $20, lasts for one month. That will cut my flea and tick prevention cost in half! (Yay for the budget!)

I bought one bottle of Wondercide flea, tick, and mosquito spray, and I am trying it out for a month. I plan to do a follow up post with my final review and opinion in a few weeks. So far, this is a list of pros and cons I have accumulated.


  • It is natural and gentle.
  • It can be used on people (although it is not labeled as a human product).
  • It also repels mosquitoes (the first step in preventing heartworms!).
  • It has other uses beyond just pest control on pets.
  • It is 100% safe around children and other pets- no need to separate!
  • It is safe for use on pregnant and nursing dogs and even puppies.
  • It smells good! 🙂


  • It has to be applied very frequently- 2 or 3 times a week.
  • The smell is quite strong when first applied- think Grandma’s cedar chest!

Like I said, I will post about this again in a few weeks after giving it a tough trial run. In the meantime, have any of you had good or bad experiences with Wondercide or other flea and tick preventatives? I would love to hear about it!