TrevorfloatcoatWhen I tell people Trevor has a life jacket, the response usually is “what…a life jacket?”  Then the conversation usually degrades to some chuckles and a statement about how dogs don’t need them.  I politely remind them that Trevor is my child and you wouldn’t let your kid go splashing without one, right?  If the analogy of dog=kid doesn’t work, I usually come up with this… “Have you ever tried swimming in a wool sweater? That’s what it’s like for a Sheltie!”

Regardless of the breed (or coat on that breed), all dogs who swim should wear a life jacket.  It just makes it easier and safer for them.  I had bought the one you can get at your local pet store and it doesn’t work well.  How do I know? I put Trevor in the water wearing one and the coat floated on the surface, and he began to sink – opening up a gap between him and the vest.  (OK, he isn’t the best swimmer, but the vest clearly wasn’t comfortable and didn’t keep him up.) All the buoyant material was above his back, so his body weight was pushing down on those two belly straps.  Not a great design.

Enter the K9 Float Coat.

Brilliantly designed and ergonomic cut, much of the flotation cells are under and along the sides of the dog’s ribcage.  These buoyancy cells help keep your dog upright and level – making swimming easier.  The cut also allows complete shoulder freedom, but supports the dog’s head and neck.  Its made from brightly colored 1680-denier ballistic nylon to give visibility in low light situations – contrasting against neutral backgrounds and making sure your pup stands out.  High luminescence reflective trim is added to the sides as well as to the top.  It looks pretty darn cool.

Take note of some of the finer details: Side release buckles for easy on/off and helps keep that long Sheltie hair out of the clips.  A hidden D-ring attachment point for your leash.  A low profile assistance handle for help in getting your dog out of the water – very handy!

K-9 Float Coat by Ruffwear – A very enthusiastic four paws up!

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If your Sheltie is a “frisbee-holic” the Soft Bite Floppy Disc is worth your consideration. 

It comes in three size diameters, small 6.5″, large 10″, and an extra large “big daddy” 12″ size and folds up nicely to fit into your pocket or travel bag.  The colors on these floppy discs are very vibrant – making it hard to lose it.  It is lightweight, easy to throw & it floats.  The rubber tube rim is easy on your dog’s teeth, making it a much better choice than those rigid plastic versions.

It holds up well to repeated “tug-o-war” games between our two Shelties, but found that the stitching does begin to unravel easily.  This wouldn’t be an issue if it were not for the type of thread used.  The thread really isn’t a thread; it’s more like a heavy fishing line.  It is strong, but when an end starts to unravel, it can poke a dog in the mouth.  On occasion, our Shelties have caught the disc & then promptly dropped it – licking their lips, clearly unhappy.  But our Shelties are quick to forgive & pick it up again unless it happens one two many times in a row. 

The Soft Bite Floppy Disc isn’t as durable as the Hover Craft, but is a good choice.  Just be vigilant about frayed stitching to avoid discomfort by your pup.

Trevor & Toby give the Soft Bite Floppy Disc 3 paws out of 4.

MedianlI don’t know about your Shelties, but mine can be hard on toys.  Well, I take that back…until Toby came along, Trevor wasn’t hard on his toys.  Like any sibling rivalry, they are always fighting over the same one.  As a result, we have had many, many casualties.   

One item that has stood the test has been the Hover Craft  by Ruffwear.  Technically not designed to be a tug toy, it does however stand up to some hard abuse while being easy on your dogs teeth and gums.  Made from laminated ballistic nylon, it holds up to repeated high speed Sheltie catches…and it floats!

MedianlThe Hover Craft is lightweight and easy to clean, but it is not designed to be chewed upon. A dog can remove pieces of the laminate if they are so inclined.  In other words, if you dog likes to chew, this toy is best put on the shelf when not in use.

It comes in a 6″ or 9″ size and comes in two cool colors – an added bonus when trying to locate that “whoops” toss!  The reflective trim is constructed from a heavy nylon webbing – making it easy for your pooch to grab & hang on. 

(Trevor is shown with the 9″ older style that doesn’t have the neat new
features like the foam core, bright color & refective trim…but its still going strong!)

Trevor & Toby give the Hover Craft four paws up!

Dsc00053Trevor is such a joy, but as a puppy I discovered that he had severe food allergies. Around 6 months old he started throwing up after meals, so  I took him into our vet where he was allergy tested.  The results were shocking…he was “off the charts” for most basic commercial dog food ingredients.  Check this out…he can’t eat: beef, pork, lamb, venison, duck, rabbit, milk, rice, peanuts and yeast.  Ok, what does that leave me?  LOL…not a whole lot of options!  I learned that I had to read dog food labels…very, very carefully.

While learning about what goes into my dog’s food, I also discovered that federal regulations say it’s okay for pet food to contain some disturbing ingredients – like crushed bird beaks, chicken feathers and even brains.  Yuck!

How can you be sure you’re doing the right thing for your own Sheltie?  Watch out for by-products. Vets say consumers should look for wholesome, natural ingredients when choosing a pet food and should avoid by-products, synthetic chemicals, unnecessary additives and colorings.   Be sure to read the label.  For me, learning that “natural ingredients” or “animal by-products” meant it could contain just about any type or part of a animal (they don’t have to disclose what animal that is either) so it went back onto the shelf.

Landing_wellness_logoOne alternative is an all-natural pet food. Natural pet foods like the Wellness Brand go beyond government dictated standards – avoiding by-products – and instead focus on natural ingredients such as real meat, high quality grains and botanical extracts.

Their website is informative and clearly shows you what ingredients go into each variety.  They even have an “ingredients dictionary” that describes each ingredient they use.

Trevor and Toby eat the Fish & Sweet Potato formula.  Their coats look fabulous from the fish oil, but most importantly I don’t have to cook for my dogs!

Trevor & Toby give Wellness four paws up!

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Next: Tips for keeping your Sheltie safe

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Here is a great gift giving suggestion for the Sheltie lover in your life.

Equally appropriate for a little self indulgent gift giving too!  :)
Diane also has other great non-holiday artwork, t-shirts, sweatshirts & tote bags.  This new design is really sweet!
Ourhouse_smallSheltie Nation members should recognize Diane’s work – just look at our logo Sheltie!

Sheltie Art by Diane Troese