Giving the discerning dog owner the "upper paw" on the best products, nutrition and training tips.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Fact or Fiction: Are coats and boots necessary for your dog?

No matter where you find yourself these days, chances are you are experiencing some cold and snowy weather.  You wouldn't dare go outside to brave the elements without your puff-pastry inspired, floor length coat and industrial-strength gloves (at least not if you live in Chicago).

But should you also bundle up your pooch?

I mean who doesn't love "Boo"?!
Many people see clothing for dogs as frivolous and eccentric, and if you are referring to a prom dress or a tuxedo...yes, those would not be a necessary garments.  However, when it comes to coats, sweaters and boots; it's a different story.  In extreme temperatures, there are cases where some dogs require protection from the elements.

If you have an Alaskan Malamute, Siberian Husky or other breed bred to thrive in extreme environments; coats and boots are not necessary.  In fact, these breeds could run the risk of overheating if covered up too much.

With that said, the majority of breeds would benefit from an additional layer of protection.  This extra layer can protect your dog against freezing temperatures and high winds that could drop your dog's body temperature to dangerous levels.

Dogs that require coats and sweaters are:

1. Toy breeds (Pugs, Chihuahuas, etc.)

2. Dogs with short or light hair

3. Senior dogs (typically age 7 and up)

4. Dogs with illnesses that weaken the immune system  (cancer, Cushing's Disease and hypothyroidism)

Lastly, we come to the necessity of boots.  There are many different opinions out there about whether boots should be worn to protect your dog's paws.  Our advice is to use only when necessary and not daily if possible.  Boots should be worn when your dog may come into contact with ice, salt, and related melting agents.  Ice and salt can cut the pads of your dogs paws, causing discomfort and possible infection.

We do Love these chocolate sued booties!

However, boots should not be worn unless truly needed.  Why?  Boots hinder your dog's natural ability to gain traction when walking; which could result in a slip or fall.  More importantly, keeping your dog's feet artificially warm can create an environment for bacteria; resulting in skin infections.

So there you go!  Coats, sweaters and booties are not just for fashion, but can serve a real function.  We hope you find this post helpful when it comes to deciding whether to bundle or not to bundle.

Stay Warm!


A & A

Check out our Facebook page for coats, sweaters and booties we love!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Gift Issue Part 2: Gifts for the Dog Lover

Welcome to this week's issue, where we unveil our top 5 list of best gifts for dog lovers.  Last week, we highlighted holiday gifts for your dog and this week we are focusing on the human aspect.


1. A sketch by Rosemary Franti

Rosemary Franti was featured in our "Dog Days of Winter" post a few weeks ago.  She is an amazingly talented illustrator and has experience painting many dog portraits.  Whether it's a live sketch or from your favorite photo; Rosemary is sure to capture the uniqueness of your dog.

Where can I buy?
Price: prices vary depending on size, scope and location

My boys...Jack and Joey Portrait by Rosemary Fanti

2. Pup Pop Art

Artist Laura Sotka can create your own "Warhol-inspired" Giclee print from your favorite photo.  This is a great way to personalize a gift, as well as, give a beautiful piece of art to the ultimate dog lover.

Where can I buy?
Price: $299 - $595

A custom Laura Sotka Design by

3. Hand Painted Dog Cookie Jar

Another great gift idea for the discerning dog lover is this hand painted ceramic cookie jar customized with the breed of your choice.  With over 100 breeds to choose from, you are sure to find the perfect gift.

Where can I buy? or
Price: $150 - $249

Over 100 breeds to choose from!

4.  Sleepypod Mobile Pet Bed

This is the ultimate "on-the-go" travel carrier.  Your dog can use this product as a comfortable bed at home or at the office, and when you are ready to travel, just zip on the safety mesh top to travel by car or air.  Be sure to check out the warmer kit technology, removable plush linings to keep your pet cooler during the hot months, and fun travel bowls.  This gift is versatile, fun and stylish!

Where can I buy?
Price: $179.99
Stylish Sleepypod for dogs 15lbs or less

5. ASPCA Mug from West Elm

This year modern home decor store, West Elm, is participating in Gifts that Give Back:  Mug Project.  There are 7 mugs featured, each from a different charity.  For every mug purchased, 50% of the profits will be donated to the designated charity.

Where can I buy?
Price: $10

ASPCA Mug from Gifts that Give Back:  Mug Project

We hope you love this list of "Must-haves" and one of these options will be the perfect holiday gift for yourself or a fellow dog lover!


A & A

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Gift Issue Part 1: Our Top 5 List of Gifts for your Dog

In this week's post, we are highlighting some of our favorite gift ideas for your dog.  Of course, there are a million amazing ideas out there and it was very difficult to narrow down the "It List" but these are this year's picks!

For the Dog Who has Everything:

1. Mackenzie-Childs Dog Sweater

This adorable sweater will not only keep your pet warm, but fashionable for the holiday season.  Be sure to check out the rest of the pet accessories by Mackenzie-Childs.  The whimsical look and craftsmanship are perfect for the discerning pooch.

Where can I buy? and
Price:  $42.50 - $59.50

Mackenzie-Childs Dog Sweater

2. Harry Barker Canines for Veteran's Gift Bucket

Not only is this goodie bucket full of wonderful toys for your pooch, but it also supports a wonderful cause;  This wonderful program focuses on saving shelter dogs and training them to serve wounded soldiers as service dogs.

Where can I buy?
Price: $36 - $42
Includes customized bucket, 'Good Dog' bone, knotted fish rope toy, tug and toss toys and tennis balls

3. Jonathan Adler Harness and Leash - Jonathan Adler is known for his fun and brightly-colored, retro-inspired decor and thankfully he has also translated his style into amazing dog accessories.  It was difficult for us to select just one item, but decided on this stylish basic.

Where can I buy?
Price: $16.00
Four A-mazing styles to choose from

4.  Holiday Biscuits from Bocce's Bakery

This NYC-based bakery has some of the most exciting flavors out there today.  We recommend stuffing your pup's stocking with their 'Holiday Feast' flavor featuring chicken, pumpkin, cranberries and cinnamon or 'Lumps of Coal' featuring blueberries, peanut butter and molasses.

Where can I buy?
Price:  $9.50

5.   Jax and Bones Custom Bedding

Every dog should have a Jax and Bones bed!  There are numerous patterns and styles to choose from, which allow you to truly tailor this gift for your dog...and don't forget to monogram with your pet's initials!

Where can I buy?
Price:  $100 - $300

Jax and Bones Bedding

It was extremely difficult to narrow down our choices to a top 5 list this year, but we are confident that your dog will love each and every one of these gifts!

Be sure to check us out on Facebook for more gift ideas and holiday events!  Also, don't miss next week's post when we give out our top 5 list for dog lovers!


A & A

Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Top 10 Travel Tips for Flying with your Pooch

For the Thanksgiving holiday this past week, Franklin and I flew to
Austin, Texas to visit our parents.  For many, travel can be stressful during the holiday season and traveling with a pet can add frustration.  This idea prompted me to write a few tips on traveling with your pet to make the travel experience more enjoyable for both you and your dog!

Top 10 Tips When Flying with your Pooch

1.)    Get to the airport early. Leave enough time in case the airline
has lost your reservation or needs additional information about your

2.)    Make a reservation for your pet. Some airlines only allow a
certain number of pets onboard a flight at one time and you want to
make sure yours is one of them.

3.)    Ask the airline what paperwork, if any, is needed for your pet.  

Some airlines require certain paperwork verifying your pet has
received required vaccinations and immunizations.

4.)    Bring a little water dish and treats. Just like humans, your
pet might get dehydrated and hungry.

5.)    Bring a few potty pads for your pet to use. If you are on a 

long flight or have a long layover your pet may need to use the bathroom.  
You can just lay one down on the restroom floor of a

6.)    Do not sedate your pet. Sedating pets can cause death. 

Only give your pet drugs if prescribed by a veterinarian. Try using
 other methods to calm your pet.

7.)    Be aware of the outside temperature.  This is especially important if you 

are traveling with a large dog that will have to fly as cargo. Pets are sensitive 
to extreme cold and extreme heat which can cause harm. Call ahead of your flight
 to talk with the airline about the temperature for your pet. 

8.)    Attach an identification tag to your pet. This is a precaution in case your 
pet gets away from you and allows someone to identify him/her and know how to reach you.

9.)    Bring a small towel or disposable wipes.  These can be quite handy in case your pet 
gets sick during flight. Your pet might be sensitive to flying or there could be turbulence 
which could upset your dog's stomach. 

10.)   Verify that your pet carrier is approved by the airline.  Not all carriers are airline approved and it is important to ensure yours is approved before arriving at the airport.,, and are good places to start.  Also, some airlines, such as Southwest, offer their own approved sherpas for sale.  

The Ultimate Sherpa Pet Carrier

We hope this list of tips helps the next time traveling with your pet a little easier!

Happy Traveling!


A & A

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Celebrate the Dog Days of Winter and Give Back!

The holiday season is officially underway.  Let the shopping, party planning and holiday merriment begin! 

Not only is it a time to celebrate, but it is also a time to give back!  What better way to give back than to combine your holiday shopping with a worthy cause.   

On Saturday, December 8th, Magnificent Milestones Paperie will be hosting the Dog Days of Winter event.  From 12-5pm, local artist, Rosemary Fanti will be on site to sketch your dog, cat or favorite photo.  This is an exciting opportunity to meet Rosemary, who is an incredibly talented live wedding and event illustrator.  She has an amazing ability to capture a moment and to tell a story through her art.  Her body of work spans weddings, celebrity events, fashion shows and personal moments.  Be sure to check out Rosemary’s works of art for yourself at  

What could make this event even better?!  For the Dog Days of Winter event, all of Rosemary’s sketches are $100 and the proceeds from the event will benefit PAWS Chicago.  Not only is this a great way to celebrate with your friends, but a unique and special way to commemorate your pooch while supporting an amazing organization.  

In order to secure your time with Rosemary Fanti, be sure to email Magnificent Milestones at  

A Rosemary Fanti sketch.  Check out her "People and Pets" section on her website.

In addition to the Dog Days of Winter event, be sure to take a moment and explore this fabulous River North boutique.  Kara Underwood Gordon and her team are masters at creating beautifully orchestrated invitations, custom stationary, and beyond.  The shop is also filled with unique gifts and local goodies perfect for wedding gift bags, hostess gifts, baby showers or that perfect little something for you.  Be sure to check out the boutique during the event or visit their website for future events and details at

Don't miss this amazing event and enjoy this holiday season!


A & A

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Thanksgiving for your Pooch: The Benefits of Pumpkin

Turkey, Stuffing and Pumpkin Pie!  It's that time of year again and we can't wait to partake in all of the delicious delights of this week's Thanksgiving holiday.

Along with the holiday gatherings, it's common for your dog to be slipped a few tasty morsels of the day's feast.  While we don't recommend feeding your dog many of the rich and indulgent foods associated with your Thanksgiving meal, there are benefits to feeding your dog some of the holiday's traditional foods...or at least a version of them.

Of the traditional items served at Thanksgiving, pumpkin pie is usually a staple.  Should you serve your dog a slice of pie with whipped cream on top?!...certainly not, but pumpkin has many nutritional benefits for your dog and many find the flavor irresistible!

Sliced Oven-Baked Pumpkin

Pumpkin is a highly nutritional and flavorful food to serve your dog.  Pumpkin is packed with essential vitamins and minerals; such as Vitamin-E, Vitamin-A, beta-carotene, magnesium, potassium and phosphorus.  It is also an excellent source of antioxidants, fiber, and fatty acids.  These qualities make it a great food option for your dog.

Because of its high fiber content and essential vitamins and minerals, pumpkin can help improve your dog's digestive system.  By adding just a tablespoon (or two for larger breeds) you can keep your dog's digestion consistently regular.  Aside from stabilizing digestion, pumpkin can also be used to combat bouts of constipation, diarrhea, as well as, ease upset stomachs.

The high content of antioxidants, fatty acids and natural oils can also aid in promoting healthy skin and fur.

Lastly, if your pooch is fighting the paunch, pumpkin is a way to reduce calories in your dog's diet.  Pumpkin is low in saturated fat, sodium and cholesterol.  By replacing a portion of your dog's kibble with some pumpkin you can better manage your dog's weight and offer some variety and flavor.

So, you may be asking how can I incorporate pumpkin into my dog's diet?

Pumpkin Puree

When feeding pumpkin to your dog be sure to only feed pumpkin from these sources:

  1. Canned natural pumpkin (un-sweetened)
  2. Pumpkin seeds
  3. Cooked fresh pumpkin
  4. Pumpkin-flavored treats containing real pumpkin (found on the ingredient display panel)
NEVER, feed your dog pumpkin from the following:
  1. Pumpkin Pie filling from the can
  2. A slice of pumpkin pie 
  3. Carved pumpkins that have been sitting out on your porch since Halloween
We hope you take some time and treat your dog to the wonderful benefits and flavors of pumpkin this holiday season.

Happy Turkey Day!!


A & A

Sunday, November 11, 2012

A Thanksgiving Treat for your Dog: Sweet Potato Chewies

As a nod to the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, we thought it would be a great idea to share one of our favorite treat recipes...Sweet Potato Chewies!  Sweet potatoes are perfectly in season during the Fall and are also a common staple at many Thanksgiving tables.

Not only are sweet potatoes in season during this time of year, but they are quite nutritious for you and your dog.  Sweet potatoes are packed full of antioxidants and important vitamins, such as Vitamin A and Vitamin E, promoting healthy skin, coat, eyes and strong teeth.  This recipe is quick and easy with only one ingredient and little to no clean up.  We hope your pups love these delightful treats as much as ours!

Sweet Potato Chewies Recipe:


  1. 1 medium to large sweet potato (*Yams can be substituted as well)

  • Thoroughly wash and rinse the sweet potato (or yam)
  • Cut into 1/4 in. slices

  • Place slices on a cookie sheet
    • (Optional) - drizzle a little olive oil over the top if desired
    • (Optional) - sprinkle a little cinnamon over the top if desired

  • Bake in the oven at 250 degrees for 3 hours

Key Note:

When slicing the sweet potato, remember that the thicker the slice the chewier and softer the treat will be for your pup.  In contrast, the thinner the slice, the crispier the treat will be.

In baking, we recommend checking the chewies each hour on the hour so as not to burn them. Smaller chewies will cook faster and need less time than larger chewies.

We are sure your dogs will love this simple and delicious treat as much as ours do!!


A & A

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Products We LOVE! The Blissful Dog

During this time of year, we all start to experience dry skin and runny noses and our dogs are no exception.  You may have already noticed that your dog is starting to have dry, cracked paw pads and crusty noses in particular.  These conditions are common, but should be managed and addressed to prevent discomfort and potential health risks to your beloved pooch.  If you are proactive about providing your dog with the appropriate moisturizing agents and protective garments, you should be able to drastically minimize or completely prevent your dog from acquiring these skin issues.

With two Japanese Chins and a French Bulldog, Amanda and I understand the challenges of not just dry paw pads from the harsh Chicago winters, but also the constant battle of preventing our brachycephalic breeds from developing "crusty-nose" syndrome, also known as Nasodigital Hyperkeratosis.  In fact, many breeds that develop Nasodigital Hyperkeratosis are flat-face (or brachycephalic) breeds that lick their noses constantly due to the natural shape of their face.  This "crusty-nose" syndrome can be worse during the winter, but is truly a problem year round.  The dry paw pad syndrome is known as Footpad Hyperkeratosis.  This type of dry paw pad issue can also be year round, but tends to be worse during the winter months when salt and snow are prevalent.

Dry Paw Pads (Footpad Hyperkeratosis)

"Crusty-Nose" Syndrome (Nasodigital Hyperkeratosis)

In order to combat these issues, we LOVE using products from The Blissful Dog and thought this would be a perfect product to highlight at this time of year!  We love the products from The Blissful Dog for many reasons.  First and foremost, all of their products are made with all organic products and are thoughtfully formulated to to be safe and effective for your dog...even if he/she happens to get ahold of the container and eat the contents, HAHA.  Most of the products are made with Shea butter, avocado oil, Vitamin E oil, Beeswax, Almond oil, Coconut oil and Calendula creating not only an uber-intensive moisturizer, but a product that smells amazing as well!

Products to Check Out!

Get a special Nose Butter with your breed on the front!  I buy "Chin Butter" for my boys.

I have used the Nose Butter product on both of my Japanese Chins and they not only love the smell and taste of the product.  I love how beautiful it makes their nose look.

The Paw Butter is great for all breeds and definitely a product we recommend putting into your medicine cabinet for the winter!

This product is great for larger breeds in particular.  Many large breeds, such as Mastiffs, Newfoundlands, Great Pyrenees and so forth tend to slide into a down position, which results in their elbows hitting the hard floor rather harshly.  Over time, your dog may develop calluses in these areas and this product can definitely minimize the development and dryness involved.

Lastly, we would like to highlight a unique product that The Blissful Dog offers for "Ouchies & Owies."  This product utilizes the healing properties of natural ingredients, such as medicinal herbs and botanicals.  This is a great products to use for everyday cuts and scratches, CLEARLY DO NOT USE on gaping wounds, infected areas, etc.  In the event of a serious cut or gash, contact your veterinarian immediately.

We hope you take a look at The Blissful Dog and sample their amazing products for yourself.  Products can be purchased on or online at and search for The Blissful Dog.  All of these products are around $5.50-$6.50 for a single container and the Boo Boo Butter runs around $9.50 per container.  Be sure to check out their website for other great products, such as aromatherapy oils, Elk antlers, and fun gift ideas. Also, take a moment to learn about the great work they are doing in their Rescue Support Program to help abandoned, abused and neglected animals at

We feel confident that both you and your dog with love everything The Blissful Dog has to offer!  


A & A

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Pawsitively Scarrrry!!....and FUN!!

With our first issue being so close to Halloween, we decided to dedicate our first post to this fabulous time of year!! 

On Sunday, Oct. 21st, we attended the Tails in the City Annual Halloween Pet of Chicago's most anticipated social events of the year!! least in the canine social world.  This year there was a huge turnout and lots of amazing goodies and creative costumes to enjoy.  In addition, all of this year's ticket proceeds were donated to PAW'S Chicago, the city's largest No Kill humane organization.  BRAVO!

Everyone met at the Tails in the City boutique around 11:00am and then proceeded to parade over to Washington Square Park for a costume contest, fun prizes and food by Downtown Dogs.  Each of the dogs received their own doggie swag bag complete with Apple&Carrot treats by WetNoses, an issue of LIFE + DOG Magazine, canned dog food covers and a $10 gift card to Dragon Ranch Moonshine & BBQ!

Joey getting into his swag bag

We absolutely love this event because it's a great way to meet fellow dog owners, and most importantly, spend time bonding with your dog.  It's also a great way to socialize younger dogs and to help ease their anxiety in loud, high energy circumstances.  We recommend looking into unique events like this in your communicy and taking advantage of these opportunities to have a great time with your dog and to support local humane organizations.

Below we have shared our photos from the event.  We hope you enjoy!!


A & A

Jack, Joey and Franklin had a BLAST getting to socialize and make some new friends.

Honey Boo Boo Child!!

Nun-thing but FUN!!

The Odd Couple