Monday, October 24, 2011

Halloween can mean Howl-o-Ween for You & Your Pets

So picture it through a dog's eyes.  The doorbell going off every five minutes for hours on end.  Crazy looking creatures and people crowding around the door. Shouts of "Trick or Treat" screaming from tiny mouths.  And nobody.....not one person comes in to stay and visit.  Besides, maybe, just maybe, your owner whom you love and only want to please, has dressed you up as a butterfly, pumpkin, loaf of Wonder bread, or strapped a horse costume on you complete with a stuffed human being in a saddle on your back.  Seriously???  If your people wanted a horse instead of a dog, they should have gone to the stable....

It makes perfect sense that your dog might be a bit overwhelmed by Halloween and all its festivities.  So this little blog has been written to give you some tips to make sure that you and your dog stay safe through the holiday. 

1) Leave candy and other people food for the kids - most of us know that chocolate can be dangerous to a dog.  If it's ingested in sufficient quantities it can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, racing heartbeats, panting and even convulsions.  Other Halloween goodies that might tempt your dog are sugarless gum that contains a dangerous chemical called xylitol that can lead to dangerous drops in blood sugar levels causing vomiting, lethargy and seizures.  Another no-no on the people food list is raisins.  Don't be fooled by the thought that raisins are "healthy".  They can severely damage a dog's kidneys.  Just keep in mind that foods safe for people, aren't always safe for your dog.

2) Disarm the doorbell.  If your dog goes "Cujo" at the sound of a ringing doorbell, think about shutting out the lights and leaving for the evening.  Put your dog in a secure quiet area such as his crate or the laundry room or a bathroom.  Leave relaxing music playing to distract him from noise outside.  Hang out at a neighbor's house to distribute candy or leave a bowl on the front porch with a sign that says, "Take one, please".  Take your kids trick or treating instead and leave your pup in the security and safety of his own home. It is not recommended to leave him/her outside where scary sights and sounds could entice him to try to escape.

3) Use caution with costumes - If you want to dress up your dog in some Halloween finery, be sure the costume is safe for your pet.  Make sure it fits properly and doesn't restrict his breathing or vision.  Make sure that the costume is well constructed and doesn't have loose pieces or little parts that may prove to be a tempting treat for your pup.  If you must use chemical products on your dog, make sure they are organic, non-toxic and easy to wash out.  Bathe your dog immediately after your Halloween celebration has ended.

4) Decoration detours - Spooky Halloween decorations help to set the mood but also could prove dangerous to your pet.  Many decorations may resemble pet toys that your dog has been allowed to play with in the past.  Additionally, candles and lanterns could cause serious injury to your pet if they were to get too close.  Make sure your decorations are out of the way and off limits to your pet.  Keep a careful eye on your pup to make sure he doesn't get into trouble.  If you do have a Halloween themed dog toy appropriate for your dog, be sure to always supervise while he/she plays to make sure they stay safe.

Here a few links to additional tips for pet safety for dogs and cats this Halloween. 

Follow these recommendations and tips to make sure your Halloween holiday does not turn into a Halloween nightmare.... 

The author would like to thank HOTLR alum Susie for once again modeling for this blog and entertaining her owner by wearing this ridiculous witch's hat.....I love ya Susie Q!!!  For all the HOTLR rescues currently available for adoption, please click here.

Monday, October 17, 2011

HOTLR Needs You for Dogtoberfest at the Domain

Okay, all you hot weather warriors out there, it looks like we just might get our break.  I am fresh from checking the KVUE weather forecast and it looks to me like there are no 90 degree days in the forecast for the next 7 days!!!  Wahoo, we survived....even though sadly, our yards may not have.

With such magnificent weather on the way, I can't think of a better way to celebrate then to spend the day outside on Saturday October, 22 from 10am - 4pm attending the 2011 Dogtoberfest at the Domain.  Events include a doggy costume contest, agility demonstrations, wiener dog races, raffles, a silent auction, a pet photo booth, food, drinks and locally-owned business booths with great products and more.

Dogtoberfest is an Austin based, non-profit organization, created for the purpose of instilling awareness about Dog rescue, as well as raising much needed moneys for local dog rescue organizations. Named "Most Awesome-ist Pet Related Event" in the 2010 Austin Pets Directory Annual Readers Poll, the annual event brings thousands of dog lovers together at the  Domain for fun, food and dog related events such as a costume contest, pet demonstrations and more throughout the day. Last year approximately 2,500 people and their canine companions attended this one day event and we expect many more in 2011!!

Heart of Texas Lab Rescue is one of the 8 chosen rescue groups to benefit from this year's event.  That's why it is so important that we have a good showing of Lab fans, volunteers, HOTLR alumni, and HOTLR fosters currently available for adoption.  Don't worry, you won't have to stay all day.  Go to the HOTLR website and sign up for a 1-2 hour time slot.  Show off your beautiful adopted Lab or gorgeous foster dog.  Don't be shy!!!  We want HOTLR to have the best booth at the event!  Bring the whole family, schmooze for an hour, show off your dog and enjoy the event.  Maybe your husband will even agree to hold the leash while you sneak off to do a little shopping?  What better way to spend the day with your dog and family??

Monday, October 10, 2011

Trailer Food Trailer Parks Cater to Dogs Too

So looks like the weather has finally broken.  What better time of year to think about dining out with your pooch?  Austin's Food Trailers make dining with your dog especially easy.  Check out this article from guest blogger  Tiffany Harelik (above with daughter Callie and HOTLR Alum Bogey), HOTLR Adopter, Foster,  and Volunteer and Author.  Don't forget to check out Tiffany's tribute to Austin's Trailer Food Parks, the Trailer Food Diaries Cookbook.  Buy a cookbook, email and 10% of the cookbook's proceeds go to HOTLR!!  Tiffany will be appearing Wednesday, October 12th at Book People from 7pm until 9pm to sign autographed copies.  Every real Austin "foodie" could use one of these cookbooks, and I can't think of a better holiday gift. So go down to Book People, buy a few copies.  Support your local bookstore, local small food businesses, a local author and your favorite  rescue group all in one night!!!!

Dining Out with your Dog: Trailer Food Parks

Austin is one of many cities that have supported ‘trailer food’ during it’s growing pains.  Gourmet chefs have been serving their creative cuisine out of mobile trailers peppered throughout the city since 2006.  If you haven’t been to eat trailer food yet, allow me to persuade you to give them a try (with your dog).

Trailer food parks are great dog-friendly destinations.  Most food trailers offer dog treats and provide water bowls filled for dogs.  Eating at the trailer parks is fun because they allow you to dine al fresco and be served by the chef themself. Because different vendors are parked next to each other in groups of 2-8 trailers, it gives you multiple choices of what to eat in one location.  The prices are normally very reasonable, and many vendors offer seasonal menus.  Plus, it just feels good to support a local business while sporting man’s best friend.

Suggested manners for taking your dog to the food trailers:
1.       Keep your dog leashed at all times.
a.       Don’t let your dog chase squirrels and/or birds in the trailer park.
b.      Don’t let your dog mix and mingle freely with other dogs or people.
2.       Bring your own bag to clean up any mess (and please no peeing on the trailers).
3.       Be courteous of others who are dining – they don’t necessarily want a tail wagging in their plate or to listen to ongoing barking.
4.       Don’t feed your dog ‘people food’ in the park – it encourages begging others.
5.       Although most trailers provide water bowls, bring your own water bowl, just in case.

******Special trailer food offer to support HOTLR********

Buy the Trailer Food Diaries Cookbook for yourself or holiday gifts and 10% of sales will be donated to HOTLR! 
1. Buy online at
2. drop Marcy and email ( to let her know to count your purchase toward the HOTLR cookbook gifting program.

Check out the list below for some great choices!! 

Ok, they aren’t quite dog parks, but they are dog-friendly.  Before you head out, double check with each trailer’s social media page for updates on locations and hours.  Do not rely on Yelp, blogs, or other commentary.  Here are a few pockets of trailers to put on your radar.  These lists are not comprehensive:

East 6th
1.       The East Side Drive In (East sixth between San Marcos St. and Medina)
·         Pig Vicious: pork inspired grub
·         the Local Yolk: egg sandwiches
·         Bits and Druthers: fish and chips
·         Pueblo Viejo: tacos

2.       6th and Waller
·         Lucky J’s: Chicken and Waffles
·         Rockin Rolls: sandwiches, but in rolls
·         Spartan Pizza: pizza
·         Way South Philly: cheesesteaks
South First
1.       Bouldin Creek Food Court (1st & Gibson)
·         Soco to Go: home cooking
·         Kat’s: Ice Cream
·         Thai Trailer: Thai
2.       South Austin Trailer Park and Eatery (1st & Elizabeth)
·         Torchy’s Tacos: Tacos
·         Holy Cacao: Cakeballs
·         Coming soon to this park: Conscious Cravings
·         Note: This park has a unique barn for special events which you can book for parties
3.       SoFi Food Court (1st and Live Oak)
·         Azafran: Venezuelan cuisine
·         Arancini: Italian comfort food
·         Grill Haven: Sandwiches and Wraps
·         Heads Up Tacos: tacos
South Lamar
1.       1200 block:
·         Gourdoughs: big fat doughnuts
·         Odd Duck: Farm to Trailer
·         Trey’s Cuisine: kabobs and more
2.       between the Saxon Pub and the Highball:
·         La Boite CafĂ©: local, bistro
·         Texas Cuban: Cuban sandwiches
3.       Hitched up to the Gibson bar:
·         Luke’s Inside Out: Creative gourmet sandwiches
Downtown area
1.       2nd and Congress
·         Patika: Coffee
·         Turf n Surf: Poboys
·         Kebablicious: Kebabs
·         Sushi Box: Sushi
2.       Longhorn Food Court (MLK and Rio Grande)
·         Cajun food at Lee’s Hurricane Party,
·         vegetarian cuisine at Conscious Cravings, or some
·         Asian fusion options at Yummy Bowl.
3.       South Congress (1800 block)
·         Wurst Tex: gourmet sausages
·         Hey Cupcake!: cupcakes
·         Mighty Cone: their slant on tacos

Barton Springs, East Caesar Chavez, and the Rainey District all have notable trailers and food trailer parks.  A list of Austin trailers along with stories and recipes can be found online at  

From your HOTLR family we thank you, Tiffany!!!! HOTLR volunteers are the very best!!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Canine Influenza Virus H3N8

Hello Lab Fans,

This is a follow up to a Facebook post that we sent out last night.  This notification is not meant to send you into a panic, but is simply to introduce awareness.   There is currently a "new" canine influenza virus that has been introduced to the dog population.  Originally discovered in 2004, this virus known as Canine Influenza Virus H3N8 first showed up at a Greyhound racetrack in Florida.  Because both horses and greyhounds shared the track, the virus is thought to have mutated from an equine virus.  Since 2004, the virus has been positively identified in 38 states including Texas.  Outbreaks have been recorded most recently in San Antonio, Texas, however positive cases have been identified in Austin as well.

Dogs that frequent dog parks, boarding facilities, dog shows, pet stores, humane societies/shelters, veterinary clinics, and doggy daycare centers are the most at risk, as well as older, infirm and those dogs with immune system deficiencies.  Because this is a "new" virus, nearly all exposed animals will develop systems.  There are two forms of the virus.  The milder form is similar to the bordetella or kennel cough virus, however with the sever form some dogs develop a hemorrhagic pneumonia that often leads to death.  The percentage of death that occurs with the virus is 8%.  Further, it is impossible to predict whether a dog will develop hemorrhagic symptoms.  

Symptoms include coughing, ocular and nasal discharge, fevers, lethargy, unwillingness to eat and sneezing.  The disease can be transmitted via sneezing, coughing, toy sharing and also by people who carry the disease on their clothing from interacting with a positive patient.  The most contagious period of the disease occurs in the first 48-72 hours prior to noticeable symptoms.  Symptoms begin to manifest Day 3 - Day 7 and can last two to three weeks.  Unfortunately, there is no distinguishing characteristic that sets this virus apart from other canine respiratory infections making it nearly impossible for a positive diagnoses without laboratory testing of a nasal swab.  If your pet comes down with the virus, treatment is largely supportive as there is no antibiotic that will "cure" a virus.  However, your vet may prescribe an antibiotic to combat secondary bacterial infections that may develop or accompany the virus.

The pharmaceutical company Pfizer has developed a vaccine against this virus.  Much like human flu vaccines, this vaccine does not necessarily prevent the disease but decreases the contagion time and lessens the severity of symptoms.  Currently, some veterinarians in the Austin area are recommending that your dog be vaccinated if it meets that of a high risk candidate.  The vaccine is given under the skin (not in the muscle) and must be followed with a booster three weeks after the initial dose.  After the initial dose and booster are given, annual vaccines are recommended.

To read more about Canine Influenza Virus H3N8 please click here.

Heart of Texas Lab Rescue encourages all dog owners to discuss this Canine Influenza Virus with their veterinarian and decide whether the vaccine is right for your dog. (Cats are not affected.)