Dog Mom Talk: Dogs & Allergies with Shed Happens
On this week’s Dog Mom Talk we chat with experienced (and fellow Canadian!) blogger Britt Kascjak, creator of the pet resource blog, Shed Happens! If there is anything you need to know about your pet—dogs, cats, birds, small animals, fish and reptiles!—Shed Happens definitely has a blog post about it! The blog covers a variety of topics like life as a pet owner, pet care tips, some funny pet humour and so much more.
From Windsor/Essex, Ontario, Britt is pet-mom to Daviana (German Shepherd mix), Indiana (Flat-Coated Retriever mix), Pippen (Long-Haired Tortoiseshell Cat) and Jinx (Short-Haired Tortoiseshell Cat). She is a boss-blogger who runs her own business as a digital/social media marketer and freelance writer. When she’s not blogging, you can catch her teaching music with the Kingsville Essex Associated Band, performing with her saxophone quartet, camping and hiking with her family and dogs!
On this week’s Dog Mom Talk, Britt shares with us the story behind her blog, Shed Happens, and tips for taking care of a dog with allergies!
Let’s have a Dog Mom Talk!
How did you get started? What is the story behind Shed Happens?
I first got started blogging on a craft/crochet blog called Lovingly Hooked. Life happened, I got busy and it fell to the wayside. I realized that blogging was something I loved and came back to it in 2017 with the launch of my alternative lifestyle and outdoor travel blog Alternatively Speaking. Occasionally, I would post about pets on that blog, because they’re clearly an important part of my life, and it wasn’t long before I noticed 2 things: 1. I LOVED writing pet-related content and 2. my pet-related posts were performing really well!
Knowing this, I decided that it was time to branch out and start a blog that was completely dedicated to one of the most important things in my life – pets! This was the start of Shed Happens.
I settled on a name and purchased the domain a few years ago, but nothing more came of it. It was always in the back of my mind, but life was busy. At the start of 2020, I decided that enough was enough, and launched the blog in February 2020, just in time for the lockdown to hit!
Luckily, that meant that I had even more time to focus on building and growing the brand. I couldn’t be happier with this move! Spending my days sharing pet-related tips and connecting with other pet owners and lovers has definitely brought so much joy into my life.
How did you know this was your niche?
Someone told me early on in my blogging career that the secret was to find a niche that you were truly passionate about. In other words, you need to choose something that you truly connect with and would be willing to write about every day, even if you weren’t making a dime.
It took me a little while to find that, but I knew as soon as I started writing about pets that it was the right fit. It just felt right.
Do your dogs have any allergies? What’s it like taking care of them?
My girl Daviana is allergic to a long list of different things. This includes all protein sources (so chicken, beef, lamb, etc.), with the exception of seafood and vegetable, as well as wheat. To complicate things further, she suffers from food-trigger atopic dermatitis. This means that her skin reacts as a result of eating foods that she is allergic to. She develops a horrible rash and starts losing fur in large patches.
This was incredibly difficult early on. As many pet owners dealing with allergies know, the best way to find what your pet can or can’t eat is through the process of elimination, with limited ingredient diets. Unfortunately, that meant that we were dealing with skin issues throughout the entire process. And this was being treated using a topical steroid treatment as well as a prescription steroid shampoo.
I discuss food allergies and what we feed our pets a lot on my social media accounts to shed light on the struggles. I also hope that it will assist anyone else frustrated with the process as well. We definitely didn’t solve the issue overnight. It took time. However, we now know what we can feed Daviana to keep her happy and healthy. After 11 years of managing her allergies, we are FAR more comfortable with the whole process!
Do you make homemade treats for your dogs? What’s your favourite recipe?
Given her allergies, one of the best ways that I have found to ensure that my dogs’ treats are ‘Dav-friendly’ is to make them myself. This allows me to manage every ingredient that goes into her treats, selecting only items that I know won’t trigger a reaction.
Our favourite treats in this house are the 3 Ingredient Peanut Butter Banana treats that I shared on the blog. They are low-cost, easy to make and the dogs go WILD over them!
What advice would you give fellow dog moms?
Trust your gut. When I first brought the Dav girl home and started working through her allergies, I saw 3 different veterinarians. I knew, in my gut, that there were issues with the foods that she was eating.
Unfortunately, the first couple vets we saw tried to tell me that it couldn’t possibly be caused by food, because food-trigger atopic dermatitis is rare. Instead, they tried to push additional testing, medications, etc., blaming different health conditions that just didn’t add up for me.
The third vet was willing to listen to my concerns and it was with his assistance that we narrowed down her allergies. She is now a happy, healthy 12-year-old dog with no skin issues (unless she gets into something that she shouldn’t). I am SO happy that I trusted my gut and kept advocating for her.
What do you love most about the online dog community?
Everyone in the online dog community has been so encouraging and supportive. We come together with a shared passion and love for our dogs, and that creates a special connection.
I love that I can pop on my social media accounts and share my latest experiences without worrying about being judged or looked down on. We laugh together, cry together, celebrate our wins and support one another through the struggles. What more could someone want from their community?
Thank you so much Britt! I’d heard a lot about Shed Happens, so it was lovely to meet the human behind the pet blog. I wish you and your blog lots of success; you’re helping so many pet parents!
Stay tuned for our next interview on Dog Mom Talk! Follow us on Instagram to find out who’ll be our next guest!
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