[Summer Pet Safety Infographic] Hot pavement alert! Protect paws from burns

Protect the Paw Infographic

I’ve made this sticky for now! :)

It’s summer! I know we haven’t posted in quite some time (got really busy, and paralyzed by the ever-growing number of days of no posts), but I’m going to try my best to bring back the countersurfing into full gear this year! In the meantime, here’s the summer pet safety poster again: “If it’s too hot for your hands, it’s too hot for the paw!” I’m always happy to provide printable files to vet clinics and pet-related businesses, too. This little poster has been to many places already—England, most recently. :) Please keep sharing!

* * *

It is HOT! I’ve been seeing a lot of dogs being walked around town despite the heat. Every dog is different, so I’m going to trust the owner to know what their dog can handle. However, lots and lots of people don’t realize how frickin’ hot the pavement is on a summer day. I, too, have been surprised at how hot the ground can get. The sidewalk may be shaded at the moment, but it could’ve been cooking up all day long. It doesn’t have to be black tar, either—sandy stuff and lighter-colored cement gets plenty hot! The safe thing to do is to not guess, and check often: really put down your hand or stand with bare feet. The rule is this: If it’s even a little hot for your hand or feet, it’s too hot for your dog’s paws. 

If you’re already out and about and are caught on a stretch of hot surface, try finding patches of grass or dirt and make your dog walk on that. You’d think they’d just choose cooler surfaces on their own, but not always. MP seems to prefer cement over dirt (despite the heat) and I really have to go out of my way to have her walk on the grassy parts—I go further into the grass (= people’s yards!) myself so she can’t reach the pavement, or I have her “heel” (quotes because she doesn’t know that’s what’s happening) into the grass. If all fails, pick up your damn dog. I’ve had to do that, too. I carried MP “scoop” style, like those warehouse crate mover things. You know, where you stick your extended arms under the arm pit and belly. I am so never getting a dog even an inch or a pound bigger than MP, because she is totally at my carry-able max!

I’ve also heard about people drenching towels and setting it down so that your dog can stand or sit on it. Do be careful after they’re wet, though, because wet paws can burn much worse than dry paws on scorching pavement. Tzzzzzzzzzz! So, really make sure the ground isn’t too hot before trekking away with wet paws after swims and dips in the water.

We all know that some dogs can be unbelievably stoic. They don’t always show you (like my picture) that they’re in pain—until their paws are severely injured. Be proactive and don’t just rely on your pup to tell you that it’s too hot, but definitely watch out for any signs of discomfort.

And, repeat after me, please: If it’s too hot for my hands, it’s too hot for dog paws.

Let’s use common sense, and protect our pets during this super fun season!

Please share my little Summer Pet Safety infographic with all your dog friends! :) Download it, if you like!

[Sunday Recipes] Crazy Easy Paw Balm Wax, plus lotion, lotion bar, & wood conditioner

Things I made

I don’t like weird things in anyone’s food, and the skin absorbs just like the belly, so the same goes for stuff we put on our skin! Although there a couple truly “clean” brands like Aubrey’s and Dr. Hauschka, it can get expensive and the choices are pretty limited if you’re picky. So, a frugal noodle thing to do is just make it yourself and use good ingredients from reputable sources! Even though it’s a pain to get all the supplies at first, now I can make whatever the hell I want. See? Totally same as food!

Beeswax and butters

Today, I’m making a light face lotion and lotion bars for humans, some butcher block conditioner, and reformulating MP’s paw wax that ended up too hard.

Other stuff

Other stuff

The paw wax is basically a harder balm. While balms get absorbed and wear off pretty quickly, waxes are supposed to create a barrier that repels monsters and Michele Bachmann (redundant). That, and prevent snow/iceballs from forming when you’re out doing stuff like skijoring slowjoring.

The first batch was on the harder side and didn’t seem to help keep Michele Bachmann snow between the toes, so I added more oil and a little dash of cornstarch for some slip. I haven’t tested it for snow yet, but it feels good.

For MP

For MP

Here’s the recipe:

MP’s Paw Wax

  • 4 Tbs beeswax
  • 2 Tbs shea butter
  • 1 Tbs cocoa butter
  • 1½ Tbs coconut oil
  • 1 Tbs sweet almond oil
  • ½ Tbs rice bran oil
  • 2 tsp lanolin
  • 1 tsp vitamin E
  • ½ tsp cornstarch


Melt, mix well and pour!

I used a double-boiler that I stole from Piz, but with no-water recipes like this one, you can totally just put it on super low heat on a normal pan. I use my 8″ All-Clad fry pan all the time. For blending, I used my cheap little battery-operated cappuccino foam maker thing ($2.99!!) I got from IKEA forever ago (precisely for this purpose) because the batch was too small for an emersion blender. It works really, really well! I poured it all into a slide-top tin and a couple chapstick tubes. It seems weird but the chapstick ones are actually really handy because I can use one hand and it’s less mess.



Next, I made a lotion bar for humans. Lotion bars are usually molded and kept in little tins. You use it by rubbing it on hot yourself (!). It’s convenient because you don’t get all gloppitydoo all over like regular lotion. I like it for hands and feet. It’s basically a paw wax for humans.

For humans

For humans

Here’s the recipe for a light lotion bar:

Lotion Bar for Humans

  • 2 Tbs beeswax
  • 1½ Tbs mango butter
  • ½ Tbs shea butter
  • 1 Tbs sweet almond oil
  • 1 Tbs rice bran oil
  • 1 tsp vitamin E
  • ½ tsp cornstarch
  • About 16 drops total of essential oils (optional)


Melt, mix and pour!

See? Very easy. If it weren’t I would so not do this. Add the essential oils at the end, after it’s cooled just a little bit. I used green mandarin, grapefruit, carrot seed, lavender, peppermint, ginger, and niauli. All organic. Go lighter on the citrus if you plan to be outside in the sun a lot, because most of them have photosensitizing properties. Grapefruit, however, is an exception! Its essential oil does oxidize more quickly than others, so keep an eye on the shelf-life and make sure you keep the little bottle in the fridge.

Now, on to the lotion. These are a little more tricky because of they contain water—which means you should make small batches and use up quickly to keep from spoiling if you want to keep it all natural. You’ll need a chemical preservative if you want it to last forever in the glove box even after repeatedly sticking your finger in the jar after you touch the ATM machine. I’ve actually had really good luck with some natural preservatives for keeping molds and germs at bay for a while. My go-to mix is a combo of essential oils and vitamin E, and sometimes potassium sorbate and/or NataPres during warmer months. I mention the GSE in the recipe, but I don’t use it so much anymore—some people swear by it but I’m not quite sure if it’s so good. Hence my going to NataPres or potassium sorbate. You can use whatever you feel comfortable.

Not whatcha think

Not whatcha think

Light Lotion for Humans

  • 2 Tbs emulsifying wax
  • 1 Tbs glycerin
  • 1 Tbs sweet almond oil
  • ½ Tbs mango butter
  • ½ Tbs shea butter
  • 1½ tsp cornstarch
  • 1 Tbs aloe vera gel
  • 200 ml distilled water or hydrosols, teas, etc.
  • About 25 drops of essential oils
  • Preservatives of your choice: 10 drops of GSE /or 10 drops of NataPres / or .5 tsp of potassium sorbate/ or a combo of NataPres and potassium sorbate for good measure


Melt and blend the waxes and oils together. Slowly add the cornstarch, aloe and water (or hydrosol or tea). Now, mix the shit out of it with an emersion blender or you can keep using the foam-maker thingee like I did, which will take infinitely longer. Let cool, and blend the essential oils and preservatives. Your lotion will seem rather loose, but it’ll set as it cools. If it’s really, truly too loose, you can warm it back up and dissolve a little more emulsifying wax or add a pinch of lecithin, and mix the shit out of it again.

Pour or spoon into a container.

I re/use pumps for my receptacle because I don’t want to stick my boogery fingers in tubbies of fresh lotion. I advise you do the same unless you use a badass preservative. I usually don’t always use the natural preservative mix I mentioned because I use up my stuff superquick, but since I made this for my BFF Colleen, I put in a little.

Essential oils

Essential oils

Since I want to get *something* out of my efforts other than just pretty smells, I always choose my essential oils for their skin healing properties and preserving power: geranium, lavender, niauli, carrot seed, blue chamomile, helichrysum, clary sage. It’s a little more variety than I usually mix, but it smelled nice and everything. You could also just choose by smell, too.

You do have to be careful with essential oils—both for finding high quality and reputable sources, and for choosing the right ones for the purpose. After lots of research and trying different places, my very favorite company is Anatolian Treasures. Their site isn’t pretty, but their oils and hydrosols are one of the best and reasonably priced. Bigger dealers (like the ones you’d find at co-ops and Whole Foods) have better distribution and packaging, but the quality is not even close to what AT offers. Their customer service totally rocks, too!

Lastly, I made some wood conditioner. I make it food safe and use it for my butcher block countertop.

Wood Conditioner

  • 4 Tbs beeswax
  • 2 Tbs lanolin
  • 1 Tbs castor oil
  • 14 drops total of sweet orange and lemon essential oils


Heat, mix, pour into container and scrape & rub later, or pour a little at a time on the countertop while warm. I rubbed it in with an old cloth. Hello repetitive motion injury!

The natural lanolin I use is a little barn-yardy (you can get deodorized ones if you like), but I don’t care. It probably distracts from other stinkus! Lanolin is a superduper moisturizer and water repellent. I use it on my hands sometimes and it’s like that RainX commercial. I actually think just lanolin may have worked just as well for MP’s paw wax, but it’s a little too sticky and soft by itself. She’d probably end up picking up too much gritty grimes.

OK! I hope you try making your own, too! I also make stuff like lip balm and deodorant—both also super Easy as Eff. (Again, otherwise I wouldn’t do it.) As I found out, it is far more difficult to talk about it than just doing it.

UPDATED 2/26/2012: Added a bit more info about the new options for natural preservatives that I like!

Big bird, little bird, medium dog

Fed on 6/29, Friday.

Turkey morning

First up, big bird! This is turkey with slippery elm and turmeric. Slippery elm because of the occasional softer poops, and turmeric because it’s good for everything. I’m 67% sure that the soft poops are from the heat, but I still have to submit a poop test to find out if there are bad bugs in the belly.

Breakfast face

Dinner is chicken with some soaked barley. I’m trying to slowly put weight back on MP and my friend Laura of Crooks and Crazies suggested barley in summer, oats in winter‹. I forgot to ask why, but figured I’ll give it a shot since I’ve been doing the kefired oats in kongs. :)

Chicken dinner

I soaked the barley in fresh whey for two days in the fridge and cooked it with turmeric. Despite all the soaking and cooking, it was still kinda on the firm/very “Imma whole grain!” side, so I would’ve ran it through the blender had mine not been busted up at the moment. :( I’m still waiting for Breville to replace my jar/blade system because my old one literally melted. I should’ve probably gotten the rolled barley in the meantime. It looked like it’d come out the butt the same way it went in. :S

Dinner bird face

Today’s dog food:

  • turkey
  • chicken
  • turkey breast
  • slippery elm
  • veggie mix
  • sweet potatoes
  • turmeric
  • ginger
  • kefir
  • fresh whey
  • banana