It's All About the Products!

L.A. Based Beauty & Lifestyle Advisor, Dawn McCarthy bringing fabulous product tips and finds!


August is the Universal Birthday month for Shelter Dogs. The North Shore Animal League America, the world’s largest no-kill animal rescue https://www.animalleague.org/ and adoption organization, declared August 1st as a birthday for all the shelter animals whose birthdays are unknown. If you’ve ever visited a shelter, you know the heart-wrenching looks on their faces, and this is a special day where Shelters everywhere make an extra effort to facilitate pet adoptions, and celebrate these loving dogs. The good news- there was a lot to celebrate for many shelters this year due to Covid and many people looking for companionship during this isolated time.  My closest shelter is in Agoura Hills, and we always try to drop off food or  buy things from https://iheartdogs.com/ where every purchase helps shelter dogs. Just hoping that all these families now keep these new family members, and our shelters continue to place, and find homes for the ones still there.

Also in Dogust is National Dog Day.  As pet Pawrents, we know that every day offers us an opportunity to show our furry family members that our fondness for them is far from mere puppy love…it’s dogged devotion! Trust me-Josie gets way more workout time than I do. However, National Dog Day in particular has been set aside to give all dogs the recognition they so deserve. Every year August 26th is National Dog Day, and a day we all flood our social media channels with pictures of our fur kids. I personally love it as I get to see what kind of dogs friends have that I don’t get to see daily and get a glimpse into their home life. This special day focuses on many homeless dogs too out there waiting for homes and families of their own as well as the numerous working dogs-from law enforcement dogs to service dogs-that help so many. You could say that August is definitely one of the best months for celebrating our furry blessings.

Lastly-August is also sometimes referred to as RawGust- This is a celebration of feeding raw foods, one of the most biologically appropriate diets you can feed your cat or dog. I actually feed Josie Northwest Naturals https://nw-naturals.net/Turkey and Beef flavors and also give her The Real Meat Company https://www.realmeatpet.com/90-chicken-dog-food-5lb.html chicken flavor. Real Meat’s gentle air-drying process delivers a high-quality, high-meat-content food while maintaining the nutritional integrity of the natural raw materials. Each serving contains over 90% of nutricious air-dried free-range meat and organs, in a highly digestable form for optimum health. A complete balanced meat and organ food with added vitamins and minerals. It can be fed as sole diet or mixed with any other food for an extra-tasty meal! I also use this as treats sometimes since healthier.  I do give Josie a kibble as well, but stick pretty much to a raw diet. Josie is a picky eater, but these two staples seem to work for her. Just like us-it’s important that dogs eat food good for them. So on to September-we are ready for some cooler weather.

Continue to adopt when PAWsible,
Dawn McCarthy
IG- @firsttimefurmom


July is the National celebration of commemorating the Declaration of Independence of the United States (4th of July) and “National Pet Hydration Awareness Month<http://www.petsafe.net/learn/pet-hydration-awareness-month-why-now>.” So-let’s talk drinking…
In many parts of the U.S., July is the hottest month of the year and here in Agoura Hills, California where we live- it’s no different.  Because of this, Pet Parents need to be aware of the amount of water their pets drink. Most of us know how important it is for us to drink enough water, but it’s just as important for pets. As a matter of fact, your pet’s body is made up of 80% water<https://trello-attachments.s3.amazonaws.com/56cb7b631d61b0375b6e9ce3/5952921134648f0842886ac9/5643a90188fc5afb50fe019fe2d0b0e7/PHM_Info2.jpg>, compared to the 60% that makes up your body! What this means is that, especially when it gets hot, your pet is at just as great a risk for dehydration or heat exhaustion as you are.
There are many things you can do to keep your pet hydrated, and lots of good products.  We just got this Noah Pet fountain on Amazon- https://www.amazon.com/DOG-CARE-Cat-Water-Fountain/dp/B0888BTLFR/ref=sr_1_2?dchild=1&keywords=noah+water+fountain&qid=1596057784&sr=8-2 to make sure I always have water, and works for Cats too. Dogs love running water, and pets normal instinct is to avoid stagnant water. I personally bring a little pop up bowl when I am out at the park with Josie-but she prefers drinking it while I am pouring it in. Also, pet water that just sits absorbs odors and why many pets don’t drink as much as they should.  So-just remember as the heat rises-check your dogs water more frequently, and always make sure you have water for your fur kid too.

The 4th of July is typically not a dogs favorite holiday with all the loud noises and bangs. We were very thankful this year that due to Covid-many events were cancelled keeping our neighborhood semi quiet.  However, we did make some time to celebrate with some fun flowered collars, and with some friends at the park-just no fireworks.  Since we are celebrating the USA- This month-the charity I hope you all check out is https://patriotpaws.org/ The mission of Patriot PAWS is to train and provide service dogs of the highest quality at no cost to disabled American veterans and others with mobile disabilities in order to help restore their physical and emotional independence. Patriot PAWS intends to build partnerships with state and community organizations to help develop and support this goal. Serving those who served is their main goal.  In 2008, Patriot PAWS entered into an innovative partnership with a service dog training program inside Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ). Three TDCJ facilities participate in this program including the Lane Murray and Crain Women’s Correctional Units located in Gatesville, and the Boyd Men’s Correctional Unit in Fairfield. This partnership not only helps Patriot PAWS train more service dogs for disabled veterans, but creates career opportunities for inmates after their release and provides a way for them to give back to the community during their incarceration. The Patriot PAWS/TDCJ partnership has exceeded all expectations and is widely considered to be one of the most successful programs of its type in the country. This organization is out of Texas ( I know I normally feature organizations in California), but came across all they do and wanted to share.  So-if you have any extra money-I hope you check them out. So many men and women have fought to keep us safe-let’s support them.

Continue to adopt when PAWsible,

Dawn McCarthy
IG- @firsttimefurmom


Well Spring came and went and mom has not left on a plane since March.  This is the longest she has not traveled, and we have a new normal at home.  As a dog- I am loving not having to go back and forth and stay other places, and getting in pretty much daily double park days.  I know humans are having a problem with not going places-but for us dogs..having our pawrents around daily is the best!  Speaking of PAWrents…this month is Father’s Day or Fur Dad Day. I spend time with my Dad every week-mostly in the mornings since he works, and then my Opa has really become my go to guy lately.  When my mom is busy, or has to do things- we hang out, go on walks, and I can get him to give me my favorite treats from Trader Joes.  The power of dog eyes..

One thing I started this month was taking a joint supplement.  I am going to be 6 years old in December and have not been getting up as quick, and I do about 5 miles daily.  We looked into  glucosamine, MSM, and chondroitin. Together these nutrients support healthy joints by providing natural relief with improved flexibility, reduced inflammation and strengthened cartilage and joints. We are now adding Cosequine daily to my meals, and really behind the game as when my mom did research online it says that many dogs start at 12 months of age.  We have started off with one pill a day, and then go to 1/2 a pill after that.  So far-no problems. I will keep you updated in the next few months if I see a difference.

The charity I would like to bring attention to this month is
https://www.amandafoundation.org/   Here is information from their website and I love how they truly can take care of everything in one place. As the only non-profit animal charity in the LA area to own and operate a full-service veterinary practice, they can keep orphans under a doctor’s care from the moment they’re rescued. But they can also be your go-to vet. They offer ultrasound, dentistry, and both an outside reference lab and in-house lab tests. So when you bring your pet to our hospital, not only are you getting care from our talented doctors, you’re helping fund our rescue and Spaymobile. The highest number of impounded pets come from low-income, under-served neighborhoods, so they travel to these areas and offer free spay/neuter procedures and vaccines. Last year our Spaymobile performed over 5,000 spay/neuters. Even if these dogs and cats had only one litter of six, that’s over 30,000 animals we saved from and uncertain fate. Now that’s fixing the problem! However, my favorite part- When they rescue from LA City and County shelters, they don’t just choose the young and healthy, but also the older ones, the shy ones, the ones that break your heart the most. Why? Because in many cases, these animals turn out to be leash trained, housebroken and ready to love. At Amanda Foundation they give the young, the old, the ill and abused safe haven while waiting to be adopted. So-if you have any extra money-you can even just do a one time donation-I hope you check them out.

Continue to adopt when PAWsible,

Dawn McCarthy
IG- @firsttimefurmom

May 20 is National Rescue Dog day. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, about 3.3 million dogs enter shelters every year. To celebrate the special day, think about adopting or fostering some of them. If you’re not able to adopt right now, you can still get in the spirit by donating to your local animal shelter, or giving you’re time or items for pets.  

More than ever during this Covid crisis-I think many have found that fostering a pet has not only been beneficial for the animal, but themselves and to help with isolation.  I tell people all the time-Josie is truly my little blessing.  I believe last time I looked in April-fostering was up over 90% and with people not working or working from home-this has been a blessing in disguise.  I am truly hoping and praying that even when things start to go back to normal, people have already bonded and keep their foster, and make them a forever family member. 

I also have been trying every month to spotlight a rescue organization doing good things and this month-check out Operation Blankets of Love https://www.obol.info/pet-items-to-donate/  They have tons of drop off locations in L.A. county and Ventura County making it very easy to drop off towels, blankets, pet beds, toys, leashes etc. On a bed, blanket, or towel, shelter animals relax. Their ears perk up, and they become more affectionate. Additionally, comfort items keep shelter pets off the ground, insulate them from drafty, cold floors, cushion their joints, and provide each animal its own space. And as an extra bonus, your donations are green friendly. Recycled towels, bedding, and toys keep useful items out of landfills and help animals in need. I know just as I need to clean out my closet-this month, I will be cleaning out Josies- who is with me?

As you all know-Josie was an abandoned puppy and I was in No position to be a dog mom or a dog owner.  I travel at least three times a month, and really only have my brother and his family that live close. Lucky me though-they love dogs and the help I received and new friends I made was overwhelming.  If you are a dog owner-you get it- How having your dog out and about with you just opens doors to talk to people and communicate.  So-in celebrating Rescue dog month-a big Thank you to those who have stepped up. We just have to remember which is hard, if everyone just does one little thing-it does make a difference.

So, may is also Mother’s Day.  For many of us that don’t have two legged kids, our four legged ones are our kids.  We clean up their poop daily, feed them two to three times a day, make sure they have water daily, and get some sort of exercise with them and don’t even get me started on going out in the rain or cold when they decide to take forever to find the right spot.  I always wanted kids, so even when I am grumpy at getting up early-the unconditional love I receive back from her all day long is worth every minute.  I always make fun of Crazy Dog moms…now I am proud to be part of the group.

Continue to try and adopt when PAWsible,

Dawn McCarthy

IG- @firsttimefurmom

Well we have been officially ordered to Stay at Home and business are shut down. For Josie (being a dog), this is the best news and feels like Christmas with her cousins coming back from college, Opa staying with us, and Mom not traveling.  However, what will this mean when it comes to seeing my bestie-Gracie, friends at the park, or Fur Mom-(Picture attached) Ms. Bingley. Well the good news- we have found ways to social distance in all cases so the fur kids can all see each other, walk daily and play.  It’s also important to note that in writing this at the end of April-the CDC has no cases of Dogs being able to transfer the virus to humans.  Some dogs, who have had contracted it from positive family members-have had mild symptoms, and none have died.  This truly has been such a scary time, but I-like so many others are so grateful to have my pet during this stressful time.

Now-if everything is closed, how do I get groomed? I mean, let’s start with some of the important stuff-LOL. Well, the good news-PetSmart https://services.petsmart.com/grooming  is Open for business and grooming needs, so we placed a call immediately.  We were sad our normal girl (Angela) was not available, as she was home taking care of her kids and family, but knew we would be in good hands.  It was a different process for sure, but the Easter bunny was arriving this month and I needed to look my best.  Also, it was getting hot outside, and I needed a shave.

Speaking of the Easter bunny- I got a new stuffed chick and bow tie from my Opa. We had a family brunch in the backyard, and I made Edible Easter Baskets out of candy boxes for some kids we know. It was not the typical Easter celebration, but we are getting used to this norm and just happy to be socializing with family-safely of course.

I also want to mention that many Pets right now need homes and we have been overjoyed to hear the fact that so many people are fostering. This brings us so much happiness and hope many people become foster failures. I never thought I would be hoping people fail.  I also said from time to time I wanted to give a shout out to organizations doing good things for animals and this month it’s https://www.pawworks.org/   They stand for……We Shall Lead, Protect, Heal, Comfort and Shelter Those Who Cannot Speak for Themselves. By working together, we can end the senseless killing of healthy, adoptable animals through education that promotes responsible pet ownership. Paw Works is a nonprofit rescue organization that partners with county and city shelters to give abandoned animals a second chance at life. Through pet adoption and community programs, we focus on responsible pet ownership and solutions that address animal overpopulation and abandonment. They have great information on their website and of course-information on Fostering.

Continue to try to adopt or rescue when Pawsible.

Dawn McCarthy
IG- @firsttimefurmom

This month kicked off with lots of park visits, my Opa coming to stay with us from Spain, and time for rattlesnake aversion class and the yearly vaccine shot.  However, things did not go as planned.

First, I use two Vet offices- One for shots, and one for check-ups, and surgeries that is open 24 hours-as let’s face it, our pets like us don’t get sick just during normal 8-5pm hours. I headed out on the weekend before my Rattlesnake aversion class to get Josie her yearly shot which is required to take the class. This would be her 5th year getting the rattlesnake vaccine shot, and never had any problems. I also get her the shot since we hike all the time, and our mountains have tons of rattlesnakes.  However, a few days after getting her shot, Josie had a reaction (picture attached with her Opa holding a warm pack on her swollen area where the shot was administered) and a very big lump. I immediately took her to see my main Vet, Dr. Jason Sweitzer DVM at www.conejovet.com  He was kind enough to supply me with this information I wanted to share as going forward-I will not be getting her the vaccine any longer. He also told me to contact the other Vet’s office to let them know this happened, as some batches have issues-you just never know-not the luck I was hoping for this month.

Per Dr. Sweitzer, the rattlesnake vaccine is a unique vaccine designed to get the body to fight an inactivate the rattlesnake venom so it does less damage. Commonly it is believed that the vaccine will give your dog more time to seek help, or a better chance of survival. While it might be possible it could do those things, the only proven research, after over a decade on the market is that it shortens the hospital stay. A hospital stay that is usually about a day or less. That means you still need to rush to the vet, give anti-venom, lots of pain medications, and monitor bloodwork. Cost-wise it is not likely to save much money on care, and your dog has the same chance of survival. Actually a vast majority of dogs survive rattlesnake envenomations, but it is so incredibly painful, and the bleeding risks are so important, that you should still rush in and have your dog hospitalized.

However, it can’t hurt, right? Wrong. The vaccine has a much higher rate of reaction than the typical safety of your regular core vaccines like Rabies, DHPP, or even optional lifestyle vaccines like Bordetella, or Canine influenza. It’s not uncommon to see a lump form at the vaccine site several days to weeks later. If you don’t realize it, you could spend money figuring out what the lump is. or put your dog through surgery to remove it only to find out it was the vaccine and will go away in a couple months.

So bottom line, until they can prove something more, you still need to treat your dog the same with or without the vaccine, your dog has the same outcome, and your dog has a moderate chance of getting a lump for several months. I do not recommend this vaccine, or give it to my dogs.

This is one Vet’s opinion, and an opinion I value, but this is my blog-so just giving you points of views to consider.  I thought this was important to share and hoping Dr. Sweitzer will contribute from time to time, so let me know if you have any questions?

Now-some good news-we got very lucky to get my Dad out of Spain and back to the U.S. a few days before the U.S. shut down.  My Opa is now staying with us full time, and we are very happy to have him here with us.  As you can see from the other picture I chose to include-that’s me sitting on his lap. So, as crazy as this month was-we feel blessed to have him here with us.

Continue to try to adopt or rescue when Pawsible.  A huge Thank you to Dr. Jason Sweitzer https://conejovet.com/vets/jason-sweitzer-dvm/  for his input.

Dawn McCarthy
IG- @firsttimefurmom   

Well it’s a no brainer to guess what Josie loves on Valentine’s Day, and every day-The Ball. I love this picture of her included in this blog as she was so tired, but was not going to give up her ball. She often falls asleep with them, and was happy to capture this picture. We are also so blessed to have so many fun friends on Instagram who shared so many fun pictures this month, and even received some PAWmail on the 14th. We all love our fur kids, and if you have a dog-you always have a Valentine. I also included a picture of Josie and I getting some nose kisses on set. She is the best co-host. Dogs, as we know love us no matter what, and that is the ultimate love we could ask for this month and always.

February is also Pet Dental Month and National Walk your Pet Day. If you read my January blog-you will know we already checked Dental cleaning off our list. It truly is so important to take care of your dogs teeth and gums as so many diseases and illness can come from not getting check-ups, so add it to your calendar, or when you make your annual appointment-make one for your dog.

This month also combines two of the most happy-making things we have in this life: dogs and exercise. Humans love walking with our four-legged kids, and pooches love their strolls with their people. I do my very best to walk Josie every morning and night-as let’s face it, this is also a time for us to meet up with other fur friends, and of course get poop and pee. Walking is so good for our dogs, and I am not going to lie-it’s a great way for me to get in some steps when I work from home and not moving as much. I am lucky though as Josie loves to play fetch, so when I am in a time crunch-I know if I don’t have 45 minutes, we can still get in some out door fun time. Josie also loves to hike, which most people are surprised for a little dog that she can go so far with her little legs, but she loves it. She is also getting better walking through water, which is huge when you have to cross little areas of water-no more looks of carry me. Josie also climbed some trees this month that still have not come back from the fires we had, and we were out at the exact time a mountain over, when the horrible tragedy of Kobe Bryant’s helicopter crashed, and so many lives were forever changed.

I promised monthly to let you all know about a favorite product or organization or website that we love that does stuff with animals and this month its //iheartdogs.com/ They have donated over 17 million meals to shelter dogs and love that every product you buy-gives back. I have had the opportunity to work with this company on T.V. segments and their products are quality, fun and don’t even get me started on the jewelry and gift ideas for other dog lovers or if someone has lost their fur kid. When I spend money- I like to feel good about what I purchase-and this site does not disappoint. This month-I got dish towels for a friend that said “Every meal you make, Every bite you take, I’ll be watching you” with a cute picture of dogs…Just fun, cute, affordable gifts for the fur lovers in your life.

Please try to adopt or rescue when Pawsible,

Dawn McCarthy
IG- FirstTimeFurMom

The holidays were wonderful with family and friends, and Josie turned 5 on December 14th-It’s her BARKday and her Gotcha Day. Not knowing when sh was born since she is a resuce-I decided years ago the first night I took her home would be her and my Special day.

With Dental Health Month in February-I decided to get a jump on things and get Josie’s teeth deep cleaned on January 12th. My vet clinic of choice is Conejo Valley Veterinary Hospital in Thousand Oaks California conejovet.com. I like going here as it’s open 24 hours, and lets face it-problems with our pets, just like us never happen 8-5pm. I had in the past done the non-anesthetic dental cleaning procedure which is a dental cleaning completed without anesthesia where your pet is restrained using gentle, proprietary holds that ensure the pet’s safety throughout the dental procedure, but it was time for her to fully get checked.

If you are like me-you never want to opt to have your pet put out-but in doing my research many diseases are caused in the gum areas and like us, in order to really see what is happening you need X-rays etc. In addition, I opted for the outside blood test since we had time to make sure before Josie was going to be put out-everything was fine. This was an expensive test-I believe over $300 dollars, but I knew it would give us a baseline for the future and tested for more things than the less expensive in house test before going into surgery. I originally wanted Dr. Jason Sweitzer, DVM to do the surgery, but he was not available so Dr. Cris Fontes, DVM stepped in and was wonderful. He was kind enough knowing Josie and I do T.V. to take some pictures for me-see attached, and Wow you can see a difference. Josie was ready to come home later the same day, but really laid low for two days. All dogs react different, and I was glad to hear all was a success and he saw no issues. As a Dog Mom-one of the worst things I don’t do is brush her teeth enough, or consistently-which I am sure most of us are guilty of or am I alone? However, once the tarter builds up-it won’t brush away so I am trying my best to be more consistent. I have a few options, and truly depends on the day what I use, but liking the traditional finger brush I put toothpaste on or jaxandcali.com/toothbrush-wipes that also are easy to use and great. Anything I post here as well are products that I have personally tried, or purchased, and not being paid to promote.

The rest of January was pretty fun, and we did a fun photo shoot with a friend, and played or went to the park every day, or for a walk. Fetch is life for me, and almost forgot- my Opa left on a trip around the world. If you follow me on Instagram-@firsttimefurmom- I take lots of walks with my Opa (Grandpa) when he is in town and snuggle too. We have lots planned for February-and glad we can check off-Dental cleaning for this year.

g to promote a website we like to shop at, or a foundation doing good things- This month it’s lucypetfoundation.org Please check them out and support if you can. I seem them filming at my local park, have met many of their dogs who do T.V. and just love their mission.

Please try to adopt or rescue when Pawsible,

Dawn McCarthy
IG- FirstTimeFurMom