Friday, October 9, 2020

How to Make a DIY Dog Sling Pet Carrier from an Old Shirt (No Sewing!)

When our Chihuahua was diagnosed with congestive heart failure, I needed a way to keep him close so I could help him if he ran into breathing problems, and also a way to keep him from dangerously overexerting himself or getting into something that would be bad for his condition. After all, if left to his own devices, a CHF diagnosis wasn't going to keep him from doing things like chasing the cat or licking spilled salt off the kitchen floor.

In short, I needed a dog sling. We had an old baby carrier that we sometimes used for hands-free carrying, and it worked in a pinch, but it wasn't ideal. After all, it was made for babies and toddlers, and at four pounds our little old pup was often in danger of falling through a leg hole, even when we lined it with his dog blanket.

One day, fed up with having to constantly catch him and stuff him back inside the carrier, I decided to get creative. After an hour or so of Googling and YouTubing and not finding anything quite right, and another hour or so brainstorming and mulling it over, the solution occurred to me: I could DIY a dog-sling out of an old long-sleeved t-shirt.

How to DIY a No-Sew Dog Sling from an Old Shirt

DIY No-Sew Dog Sling from Old Shirt

DIY No-Sew Dog Sling from Old Shirt

DIY No-Sew Dog Sling from Old Shirt

DIY No-Sew Dog Sling from Old Shirt

These slings are great for tiny dogs with health or mobility issues requiring them to be carried a lot, for hands-free carrying in public places where it's not safe to let them walk, or for little dogs who simply like to be held a lot.

What You Need:

  • A long-sleeved shirt*
  • Scissors
  • A tiny dog (a cat will work in a pinch)
*A long-sleeved t-shirt or some kind of knit shirt works best. You can use a button-down, but in my experiments, stretchy fabric has proven to be the most comfortable for my pup and also works best to keep him safely contained. An old cardigan could also work. If you don't have something buried in your closet, you can usually pick one up at a thrift store for a few bucks.
 
Also, it really doesn't matter whether you use a v-neck or a crew-neck. I've used both, and both work fine.

I'm all out of old shirts myself, so for the illustrations below I had to use one that's already been converted. The cutting's already done and it's pretty stretched out. But still, you should get the idea.

Step One*:

*You can skip this step if you're using a button-down or cardigan that's already open on the front.

Lay the t-shirt out with the front facing up. Using your scissors, cut a straight line all the way down the center of the front of the shirt.

DIY No-Sew Dog Sling from Old Shirt
In case you can't tell, my "assistant" is standing over the center cut, wondering what I'm doing with his carrier and why he's not in it.

Step Two:

With the front of the shirt facing you, tie the sleeves over your left shoulder, making the knot nice and tight. When you're done, it should hang like a cross-body purse.
 
DIY No-Sew Dog Sling from Old Shirt


Step Three:

Now you've got two tails hanging down on each side. Grab the right-hand tail and pull it up through the space between you and the shirt/sling and let it hang down in front.
 
DIY No-Sew Dog Sling from Old Shirt

Step Four:

Take the bottom of the shirt and fold it up toward you, creating a large pocket.
 
DIY No-Sew Dog Sling from Old Shirt

 

Step Five:

Wrap the right-hand tail around the back of your waist and tie it and the left-hand tale together over your right hip. Tie a good, tight double knot.
 
DIY No-Sew Dog Sling from Old Shirt

 

Step Six:

Insert your dog. I do this by holding my little guy against my chest with my right hand and sliding him down into the sling while holding it open with my left hand. Be careful to make sure that the back of your sling--the part against your body--is high enough to keep your pup from falling out, and that he's not sliding down between the back of the sling and your body.
 

 

Once the dog is in, you might need to make some adjustments to make it comfortable for you both. Don't worry if it feels a little tight -- as long as you used a shirt with stretchy fabric, it will stretch out pretty quickly.

If your dog is anything like mine, they'll intuit what the sling is for and won't be able to contain their excitement to get inside it. (Your cat might be significantly less enthusiastic, but will no doubt learn to love it eventually. Maybe. Who really knows with cats.)

This DIY no-sew dog sling has been a lifesaver, and it's 100% Pete approved. The only drawback, if you can call it that, is that your dog might get addicted to being kept snug up against you and expect to be worn all the time. So maybe think twice if you're not prepared to become a full-time dog wearer.

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DIY No-Sew Dog Sling

Monday, October 5, 2020

Dog & Cat Shedding Seasons

When is shedding season for dogs and cats?
Photo by Chika Watanabe on Flickr - Creative Commons 2.0
 

It's that magical time of year -- that time when pet hair explodes all over your house and clothing. But isn't it fall? Shouldn't your dog or cat be growing hair for the winter instead of shedding it? What gives?

While many pets shed year round, some dog breeds, and cat breeds as well, have blowouts in both the spring and fall. If you're wondering when do dogs (or cats) shed the worst, and why, I break it all down for you in this recent Hill's Pet article: Dog & Cat Shedding Seasons and Cycles

Friday, October 2, 2020

October Chewy Finds - Halloween Edition

 Welcome to a new monthly feature on this blog called Chewy Finds -- fun and useful products and good deals I come across while perusing Chewy.com. These aren't reviews and recommendations or product endorsements so much as just me saying, "Hey, this looks neat!"

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you place an order through any of these links as a new Chewy customer, I'll get a small referral bonus, at no extra cost to you.

Planning to dress your pet up for tricks or treats? All of these pet Halloween costumes are great, but for some reason this Yoda dog costume cracks me up more than all the rest. This would be perfect for my Chihuahua. He's already got the ears for it.

Yoda dog costume

These Halloween Print dog and cat pajamas are seriously the cutest.


But they have a lot of competition from this Halloween pet hoodie:


If your dog needs something a little warmer, this ugly Halloween dog sweater might fit the bill:

My dog has a Halloween squeaky dog toy similar to this and he loses his mind over it every year.


Halloween candy's not safe for your dog, but this plush Halloween candy puzzle toy will help distract him from pouting and betting while the kids unwrap their treats.


These Nightmare Before Christmas dental dog treats are setting my NBC-loving heart all a-flutter.


So is this plush Zero dog toy. Can I have one for myself?


For a healthier dog treat, these Zuke's Mini Naturals Pumpkins treats look like a delicious option for your pup's trick-or-treat bag.


Help the neighborhood cats stay warm on chilly October nights by adding this Haunted Heated Cat House to your outdoor Halloween decorations.


Finally, cover all the bases with this Halloween Goody Box that's loaded with all kinds of treats that will make your dog sit up and do tricks.


Got a favorite? Tell us which one in the comments!

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How to Tell if Your Dog is Upset

Is my dog mad at me?
Image by LauraTara from Pixabay

Is your dog mad at you? Do you have a sneaking suspicion that they've chewed up your favorite pair of shoes or peed on your furniture out of spite?

The truth is that dogs don't feel anger or assign blame the way we do, and it would never even occur to your dog to get revenge. Dog emotions are much simpler and their response is much more straightforward--but that doesn't mean they aren't capable of getting upset.

In this recent article for Hill's Pet, I explain how to tell if your dog is upset, why that might be, and what you can do to make things better. Read it here: Is My Dog Mad at Me?

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Congestive Heart Failure in Dogs: Spironolactone is a Life Saver

(Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links to Chewy.com. We save quite a bit of money by ordering our pet meds through them, whenever possible. If you purchase anything through these links as a new customer, we'll earn a small referral fee at no extra cost to you.)

 

Our Chihuahua, Pete, was diagnosed with the terminal combination of congestive heart failure and pulmonary hypertension in fall of 2017. Since I was already knee-deep in research about both of these conditions, and as a way to cope, I pitched and eventually wrote articles for Hill’s Pet about both of these conditions. Between my writing and research and managing these conditions in my own dog, I thought I knew everything there was to know about how to treat them -- but it turns out, I’d missed something. 

Spironolactone for chronic heart failure in dogs
Comfortable on a good day

 

While dogs with congestive heart failure can live for years with this disease if it’s well-managed, typically the prognosis for pets with both of these conditions is a few months at best. When we took our little guy in, he was struggling so badly to breathe that he had to be hospitalized and spent several days enclosed in an oxygen chamber. For my husband and I, who dote on this pup like he’s our furry surrogate son, it was a complete nightmare. We were given a 50-50 chance that he’d survive the weekend, and told that even if he did, he probably had “weeks to months” to live after that.

Thankfully, he did survive that hellish weekend, and we were able to take him home. From then on he was on a cocktail of medications that included the typical CHF treatments Enalapril and Vetmedin, the diuretic furosemide (brand name Lasix) to flush the excess fluid from his heart and lungs, and sildenafil (brand name Viagra, and let me tell you how much fun it’s been for my husband to call in that prescription) for the PH, to improve circulation in his lungs.

I’m extremely happy to tell you that his “weeks to months” prognosis stretched into many months, and then into years. We’re coming up on three years since Pete’s diagnosis, and thankfully, he’s still with us. Not only did the medications and lifestyle changes we made for him add years to his life, but he improved so much in those first months that we were able to discontinue the Lasix before it could start wearing on his kidneys.

Everything was fine, until about a year ago. He’d gone two years without any noticeable breathing problems, but last year he started having the occasional episode of labored breathing. We still had Lasix on hand from before, so under the direction of his vet, we’d administer a brief regimen until he got over the eposide, and then he would be fine. For a while, these episodes were so far apart that we would almost forget they’d even happened before he had another one. 

Spironolactone for chronic heart failure in dogs
Listening for fluid buildup

 

The thing about congestive heart failure, though, is that it’s a progressive disease. The medications can slow it down, but they can’t stop it completely.

This summer, the episodes started becoming more and more frequent, and more and more severe. We started keeping him on Lasix, but it wasn’t helping. We’d increase the dosage, and that would help for a few days, but even as it helped we could hear the fluid rapidly building back up in his chest. His vet gently and lovingly advised us to do what we could to keep him comfortable and prepare to say goodbye.

One of my coping mechanisms when faced with something like this is to do research. I wanted to know what to expect when the end came for our baby boy. By the grace of God, I came across an article on the end stages of congestive heart failure in dogs that mentioned spironolactone, another type of diuretic drug that works on the kidneys in a different area than Lasix, and can sometimes compensate when Lasix begins to lose its effectiveness -- which was exactly what was happening with our little pup.

We immediately asked Pete’s vet about it, whose opinion was, basically: can’t hurt, might help. So she called in a prescription and we added it to his regimen ASAP.

It’s been about a month now, and so far, so good. Other than some mild bouts of wheezing here and there, Pete’s been breathing easy and back to enjoying life. 

Still full of life and love

 

I’m not under any illusions that this is a cure, or even a long-lasting solution. But for now, spironolactone for congestive heart failure in dogs has saved our little guy’s life, and given us more time to enjoy our best little buddy. I’m sharing this so that if you’re in the same boat we were in a month ago, you’ll know that there’s one more thing you can try before giving up on your fur-kid. Believe me, even if it only gives them “weeks to months” of extended life, the extra time with them is worth it.


 




Thursday, September 17, 2020

Thinking of Adopting a Three-Legged Pet?


Adding a dog or cat to your family is a major responsibility, and taking in a pet with special needs is nothing short of heroic. If an animal who's missing a limb or two captures your attention, never mind your heart, you might be hesitant to take the plunge. Will you be able to meet their needs? Will caring for them require added expense, or extra time and attention you might not be able to spare?

It might set your mind at ease to know that three-legged pets are capable of living perfectly normal lives and often don't require much more than cats or dogs who have all their parts intact. In this recent Hill's Pet article, I guide you through everything you need to know about adopting a three-legged pet, so you can be sure you're the best pet parent this new fur kid could ask for.

Read it here: What to Expect When Adopting a Three-Legged Pet

[Image by Kadres from Pixabay]

Why is My Dog Shaking?

 As a Chihuahua mom, I'm no stranger to the sight of a shivering pupper. Over twelve years of learning to discern between cold shivers, hungry shivers, not-getting-what-I-want shivers and scared shivers, I've learned how to read my tiny dog's shaking like a book.

Why is my dog shivering?
With colder weather right around the corner, you might think your dog's shakes are a sign that it's time to break out the doggie sweaters. But you should be aware that dogs communicate a lot of different things through shivering--my little Pete being a case in point. In my article for Hill's Pet on "Why is My Dog Shaking?" you'll learn what your doggo's shivering is attempting to tell you, and whether you should ignore it or take action -- which might even include getting your pup to the vet.

Check it out here: Why is My Dog Shaking? Six Common Causes for the Shivers

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Jean Marie Bauhaus: Freelance Pet Writer and SEO Content Marketing Specialist

Hello, and welcome to my blog!

My name is Jean Marie Bauhaus, but you can call me Jean. You might know me from some of my articles on Hill's Pet or AKC.org. Although I've been a freelance writer since about 2012, I've been writing primarily in the pet health and lifestyle niche since 2015. In addition to Hill's and AKC, my freelance pet writing clients have also included Bayer Pet Health, Care.com, and Big Heart Pet -- they make Milkbone Dog Biscuits and 9Lives cat food, among other prominent pet food brands (I even got to be the "voice" of Morris the Cat!).

I currently make my home in the Arkansas Ozarks, where I'm surrounded by woods and wildlife and loving every bit of it. I share my home with my husband of 14 years and our little clan of four-legged dependents: Pete, a 12-year-old Chihuahua who is the delight of our lives; Boudicca, a senior tabby cat who is as sassy as her name implies; and Matilda and Penny, two box turtles who constantly surprise us with their unique personalities. When I'm not working as a freelance pet writer, I'm usually doing the work of a fiction author. When I get tired of herding words I can usually be found either reading, or listening to a podcast or audiobook while working on a knitting or crochet project.

On this blog I'll be sharing some of my favorite freelance articles, as well as personal stories about life with our little menagerie and lessons they've taught me. I'll also share pet care tips and probably the occasional pet-related craft. If you love pets and care about their health and well-being as much as I do, hit subscribe so you'll never miss a post!