1. Keep pets warm
Just like us, your pet can be susceptible to the cold. That means your pet should be indoors as much as possible, and if they need to go outside, make sure they stay warm. If you think it’s cold outside, there is a good chance your pet does too.
Give your dog a warm jacket or sweater, and boots to help keep them warm when they go outside for walks or playtime. Yes, you read that correctly…invest in boots for your dog! Muttluks Snow Mushers protect your pet’s feet from the cold and also prevent them from coming into contact with salt and other de-icing chemicals. I like Muttluks Belted Dog Coats because they have three layers of protection to keep your pets warm and they are easy to get on and off your dog. I must add that they are also fashionable, so your pet will be envy of all the dogs in the neighborhood.
Also, be careful about the amount of time your pets spend outside during winter. Leaving your pet outside or even in a car on a cold winter day for long periods of time can be dangerous. Like us, pets can suffer from hypothermia and get frost bitten. When in doubt, leave your pet at home.
2. Wipe their paws
As every pet parent knows, your pet’s paws pick up all kinds of dirt, allergens and unfortunately even dangerous chemicals. During winter, it’s common to find salt, de-icing chemicals, and antifreeze on the ground. If your pets are not wearing booties when they go outside, be sure to wipe your pet’s paws immediately after they come inside to prevent them from licking and ingesting any dangerous chemicals and keep them from tracking these around the house. QuickBath® Dog Wipes, from International Veterinary Sciences (IVS), make wiping paws a breeze. No bathing required. Just grab one of these wipes to clean your pets’ paws and prevent them from licking dangerous chemicals off their feet or tracking them into your home.
3. Keep chemicals out of reach
Keep antifreeze, which contains ethylene glycol, out of reach of pets. Ethylene glycol has a sweet aroma and taste that can attract animals. Unfortunately, it can lead to kidney failure and can be fatal if ingested. Ideally use pet-friendly antifreeze. Pet-friendly anti-freeze is made from propylene glycol instead of ethylene glycol. This less toxic alternative is available online and at many automotive stores.
4. Provide Indoor Options
Let’s face it, who wants to go potty outside when it is freezing? Many pets refuse to go out when it is rainy, snowing or just plain cold. The Pet Loo, a portable indoor toilet for pets, is a great option for these pets. The Pet Loo brings the backyard inside, so your pets don’t have to go out and be miserable like the weather. And that means you do not have to go outside when it is freezing either! It is also great for pets whose parents work long hours…no more waiting with their legs and tail crossed!
Remember if you think it is cold outside chances are your pet will too! Keep these simple tips in mind to keep your pet safe and warm this Winter.
Each year, millions of pets become ill during the holidays, with intestinal obstructions, chocolate or other toxicities, and pancreatitis, being some of the most common reasons. In order to ensure that your Thanksgiving holidays are filled with happiness rather than long waits in a veterinary emergency room, follow these simple precautions to help keep your pets safe.
Besides leading to obesity, eating fatty holiday foods can also cause a life-threatening inflammation of the pancreas gland called pancreatitis. In pets, pancreatitis is usually caused by ingestion of fatty foods like turkey, ham, gravy, and chicken skins. If left untreated, it can be fatal.
Bones also pose a serious danger to pets. Poultry bones are dangerous because they can splinter and get lodged in the gastrointestinal tract and therefore should never be given to pets. Ham and beef bones can break teeth or can also cause intestinal obstructions. If you wish to give your pet a special holiday treat, instead of giving them bones, consider giving them a healthy dental treat specially intended for safe chewing and dental hygiene.
Chocolate: Most people know that chocolate is toxic to dogs and cats. Depending on the amount consumed, it causes vomiting, diarrhea, rapid breathing, increased heart rate, seizures, and even death. Never give your pets chocolate and of course keep this sweet treat out of reach of your pets.
Xylitol Flavored Sweet Treats: Candies, desserts and other foods that contain the artificial sweetener xylitol are very dangerous to pets. Xylitol causes insulin release leading to low blood sugar levels and can also cause liver failure. Be sure to keep all these sweet treats out of reach of hungry pets. If your pet manages to steal some candy or dessert containing xylitol, immediately call your veterinarian for help or take your pet to a veterinary emergency clinic.
Raisins and grapes: Many Thanksgiving dishes contain raisins or grapes which can be very dangerous for pets. Grapes and raisins have been reported to cause severe kidney damage.
Nuts: Many nut varieties are toxic to pets and can have a devastating effect on dogs’ nervous systems. Walnuts and macadamias are especially toxic and can cause vomiting, paralysis and even death.
Onions: Onions, chives, and garlic in any form are poisonous to pets. They cause lethargy, weakness, ataxia (lack of coordination), hyper-salivation, anemia, and even death.
With so many tasty dangers often at pet’s eye level, it is always best to keep pets out of the kitchen and away from the celebration. And while sharing is in keeping with the holiday spirit of goodwill, sharing leftovers with our pets can lead to serious health problems. Instead of giving your pet leftovers from your holiday meal, give your pet a pet-safe treat or a new toy.
You can even give them a Turkey Cranberry flavored treat in the spirit of the holidays. My dog loves these Vita Bone Artisan Inspired Turkey Stuffing & Cranberry Flavored Treats.
Although the holidays are usually joyous times, as anyone who has ever hosted a holiday party knows, they can also be stressful times. This can be especially true for our pets. The revolving door of visiting guests and the break from the routine can frighten our pets and cause them to run away. If your pet tends to easily get scared, nervous, or becomes protective, it is important to keep them confined safely inside your house. Many pets are lost during the holidays when they jump out of their yard or dart out of an open door. Remember all pets, even strictly indoor cats, should have collars with tags and microchips so that if they become lost they can be returned safely home.
Keep these important tips in mind during the holidays in order to keep your pets safe.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
Halloween is almost here! As you prepare for Halloween, keep these tips in mind, so that both you and your furry friend(s) have a safe and happy Halloween.
1. Keep Pets Inside
If your pet tends to easily get scared, nervous, or becomes protective, it is important to keep them confined safely inside your house during trick or treating hours. Sadly, there is also a disturbing increase in the disappearance of many animals, especially black cats, during Halloween. Keep your pets indoors so that they do not fall prey to pranksters or run away when frightened. Finally, if your pet doesn’t already have a collar with an ID tag and microchip, get these before Halloween in case they manage to escape during the spooky celebration.
2. Keep Pets away from candy
Halloween candy can be very dangerous for pets…especially chocolate and xylitol! As most people know chocolate is toxic to pets and can be fatal. Candy with xylitol, like sugar-free gum, is also vey dangerous to pets. Xylitol causes insulin release leading to low blood sugar levels and can also cause liver failure. Be sure to keep all Halloween candy away from your pets. If your pet manages to steal some candy, immediately call your veterinarian for help or take your pet to a veterinary emergency clinic.
3. Keep Pets away from candles
Jack o lanterns with flickering candles can attract curious pets. Besides possibly burning an inquisitive pet’s nose or paw, candles can start a house fire if accidentally knocked over. Never leave lit candles unattended and always place them out of reach of pets.
4. Watch out for decorations
Blinking lights, stringy webs, and other spooky decorations can be dangerous to your pets. To a curious pet, these decorations are simply irresistible. Strings of twinkling Halloween lights beckon mischievous felines, entangling them, or even electrocuting them if they are tempted to nibble on the cords. In addition, some animals will chew or swallow smaller decorations, which can also cause life-threatening intestinal blockages unless they are promptly removed surgically. To avoid these Halloween hazards, it is always best to keep decorations out of reach of pets.
5. Don’t leave pets in costumes alone
Some people, like me, love to dress their pet up for Halloween. Just be sure you use a costume made especially for pets and never leave them in a costume unattended. Pet costumes are designed to fit your pet comfortably and to come off easily. Even so, you should never leave your pet alone in a costume. Some animals may decide to take their costume off themselves and become entangled, while others may decide to eat the costume in order to ensure they won’t have to wear it again.
As you prepare for Halloween, keep these tips in mind, so that you both you and your pet friends have a safe and happy Halloween.
Unfortunately natural disasters like hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, and wild fires are an inevitable part of life. Though we cannot prevent them, we are not completely helpless. We can improve our chances for a safe outcome by becoming better prepared for these natural disasters.
When disasters strike, they leave no time for blunders. People forced to evacuate have little time to pack. Being ready at a moments notice is critical and having a disaster kit for you and your pets is essential.
Preparing for an emergency begins by making a disaster kit for your family and your pets. However, preparing your pets for a disaster begins even before you pack your first supply in your disaster kit. Your pet should already have a microchip implanted, and wear a collar with identification tags. Taking these precautions can avoid the heartache of a lost pet during these times of chaos. Even with the best precautions your pet can get lost in the turmoil. Having a microchip and ID tag will help reunite you with your lost pet.
As previously mentioned, pets should have their own disaster kit. These kits need to contain all the supplies your pet will need to survive for several days. Pre-made pet disaster kits can be purchased online or you can make your own.
What do you need to make your own grab-n-go kit?
1. A container to store all the supplies.
A duffel bag or backpack is ideal because they are easy to carry in case you need to evacuate. You should choose a brightly colored one because they will be easy to identify and find, even in the darkness of a power outage. Likewise, you should store your disaster kits in a location where they are easily accessible. Storing your emergency kit where you cannot find it or easily get to it negates its usefulness.
2. Food and water
You will need to include enough food in your kit to last for several days. Canned foods last longer than dry foods so these are a good choice for our pack. However, they are heavy and the amount of cans needed to sustain a large dog for several days is probably too bulky and impractical to pack in a disaster kit. Dry food can be packed instead but be sure to pack it in heavy-duty waterproof freezer bags. Be sure you include bowls as well as a can opener (if using canned food). I prefer to use collapsible bowls, like the Petmate Silicone Travel Bowl Duo, because they are light, and collapse to less than two inches so they don’t take up a lot of space. You should have enough water for your pet in their disaster kit, since it may be hard to carry days worth of water consider including a water-purifying filter or iodine tablets.
3. Toys & Treats
Although it may not seem necessary, you should also include your pet’s favorite treats and toys in your disaster kit. Many frightened animals will hide during a disaster and will not want to come out of their hiding place. Along with gentle coaxing, having your pet’s favorite toy on hand may be what you need to entice your fearful pet out of hiding and into safety. My dog comes running whenever he hears me squeak his Hero Dog Toy. Toys also come in handy if you need something to entertain your pet while you are waiting out the storm.
4. Leash and/or Pet Carrier
Be sure to include a leash (preferably one that is reflective) for dogs or a pet carrier for cats or small dogs so that you can safely secure and transport your pet without risking that they will run away and get lost. The Petmate 2-Door Top Load Kennel is great because the top loading feature provides simple, quick access, especially for stressed cats, and it allows you to easily place your disaster kit inside it, so everything is together, easy to locate and ready to go.
Be sure to store your disaster kit and carriers in a location where they are readily accessible. Storing these where you cannot find them or easily get to them negates their usefulness.
Be sure to include any medications that your pet is currently taking, such as arthritis, thyroid and blood pressure medications. You may not be able to go to your veterinarian during an emergency so have extra supplies available.
6. First aid kit
Include a pet first aid booklet and first aid supplies in case your pet gets injured and you cannot access a veterinarian. First aid kits should include antibacterial ointments, bandaging material, wound dressing, and antiseptic wound cleaners. Also pack a thermal blanket to keep your pet warm if it goes into shock. Finally, you can improve your first aid skills by enrolling in a basic pet first aid class often offered at your local animal shelter.
7. Important documents
Pack a copy of your pet’s important medical records, including vaccination history and microchip information. Include a recent photo of your pet and your adoption papers to show you are the owner. I also recommend including a document that has emergency contact information, your veterinarian’s number and any local boarding facilities so you have access to these important numbers.
Having taken the proper measures to prepare for an emergency, you have given yourself and your family the best chance for a safe outcome.
So what do you do during a disaster?
First and foremost, try to remain calm. Then put your plan of action into motion. Get your disaster kits, locate your animals, secure them using either a leash for dogs or a carrier for cats and small dogs, and then get yourself, your family, and your pets to a safe location. Remember take your pets with you! If you have a pet emergency don’t call 911 they do not handle pet emergencies. Instead call your veterinarian, the local veterinary emergency clinic or the local animal shelters. If your pets manage to get lost or you need a place for your pets, contact your local animal shelters for information.
While the area you live in may not be prone to Hurricanes or earthquakes disasters come in all forms. Natural disasters cannot be prevented, but being organized and preparing for them can make a lifesaving difference.
For more on disaster preparedness for your pets watch this video from the Weather Channel.
Labor Day marks the unofficial end of summer and is celebrated by many Americans at a barbecue with family, friends and lots of tasty food. As Labor Day approaches and we are getting ready for the big barbecue, it’s important people know we aren’t’ the only ones that find barbecues irresistible. Pets do too, especially when tasty food is sitting at eye-level. Unfortunately, barbecues can be dangerous for our pets. In order to avoid an unexpected trip to the emergency room during the Labor Day weekend, pet parents should consider some common barbecue dangers for pets:
With so many tasty dangers often at pet’s eye level, it is always best to keep pets away from the celebration. Keep them safely inside and give them a tasty treat or toy to keep them busy. And as always be sure all your pets have collars with ID tags and microchips because sadly many pets get outside and become lost during celebrations. Keep these things in mind this weekend so that you and your furry friends have a safe and fun Labor Day weekend.
Have a safe and fun Labor Day weekend everyone!
Your kids go to the pediatrician once a year, you see your dentist every 6 months, and even your car gets an oil change every 5000 miles; so why aren’t people taking their cats to the veterinarian for routine care? It seems hard to believe, but according to the American Humane Society, cats go the veterinarian half as often as dogs and many people only take their cat to the vet when their cat is sick.
The fact is cats get sick too! While they are masters at hiding illness, they also suffer from many of the same disease as their canine and human counterparts.
In case you didn’t mark your calendar, August 22nd is Take Your Cat to the Vet Day and it is a great time to remind everyone about the importance of preventative care. You wouldn’t dream of skipping your kids’ doctor appointments, why should your cat’s veterinary check-ups be any different?
So what does your vet do during these routine visits and why are they important?
Routine examinations allow veterinarians to check for signs of illness. In cats, these can be subtle and easy to overlook. Your vet will also do a head-to-tail exam to look for changes or abnormalities. The earlier medical issues are discovered and addressed the better the outcome.
Immunizations are an important way to protect pets from preventable infectious diseases. Your veterinarian will determine which vaccines your cat needs depending on their age, lifestyle and risk exposure.
Your veterinarian will also check your cat for external parasites like fleas, ticks and ear mites, and check a stool sample for internal parasites, like roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms and coccidia. They will also discuss products available to prevent internal and external parasites.
Depending on your cat’s age and physical exam findings, your veterinarian may recommend screening blood tests. Screening blood tests are an important way to detect diseases early, even before they become symptomatic. As cats age, diseases like diabetes, hyperthyroidism, and kidney disease become more common. Screening bloodwork is a great way to detect these diseases early so treatment can be started right away.
No one likes to go to the doctor and cats are no exception. In fact, many pet parents avoid taking their cat to the vet because their cat hates to go. If you find yourself chasing your cat all over the house, battling to get them into the carrier, listening to their non-stop meowing during the car ride to the vet, and dealing with a ticked off tiger at the vet, be sure to read my blog, “Tips for getting your tiny tiger to the vet.” It has lots of helpful tips on how to make the trip to the vet less stressful for you and your cat.
This August 22nd remember to make an appointment to bring your feline friend to the vet for a check-up! The goal of routine medical care is to prevent preventable illnesses and to detect diseases early while they are easiest to treat. Take advantage of the exceptional veterinary care available and bring your cat to the vet!
Halloween conjures up all kinds of scary images. From goblins, ghouls, witches, to ghosts, mummies and black cats? Black Cats! How did our beautiful and sleek feline friends ever end up being listed amongst the scariest and evilest of creatures? Though there are many theories, the most prevalent one suggests that black cats first became associated with evil and dark forces sometime in the seventeenth century. As Christianity rose in popularity, the Church denounced other religions. One such religion, witchcraft was forbidden by the Christian Church and deemed evil. During the Salem, Massachusets witch trials, witches were not the only ones persecuted. Many people believed that the witches’ feline companions were also evil. Some even believed that witches could actually take the form of a cat. Of course the cat’s ability to see and hunt well in the dark, didn’t help them shake their dark reputation. And so it is theorized that black cats, association with witchcraft and evil, coupled with a few of their natural abilities, led them to become a permanent part of our Halloween traditions.
The fact is black cats are not evil or a sign of bad luck but sadly this old reputation makes them the hardest cats to adopt out of shelters every year. Many people still think black cats are unlucky and look the other way. Help me break this silly reputation and spread the word that black cats are amazing!
August 16th is National Homeless Animal Day and a great time to remind everyone to consider adopting their next pet from a shelter. Unfortunately, some people are afraid to adopt from shelters because of common misconceptions. In order to shed light on this problem and help dispel these fallacies, I have listed the most common myths about shelter animals.
1. Don’t shelters only have mutts?
Many people believe that the only animals found at the shelter are mixed breeds. While mixed breed dogs and cats make-up a sizable portion of the shelter population, many are unaware that shelters have dogs and cats of all types. If you are looking for a purebred, you can find Chihuahuas, Beagles, Labradors, and my favorite, Boxers, to name a few. Of course, you can also find adorable mixes that span the colorful canine rainbow. The same is true for cats. You can find black, white, gray, tabby, calico mixed breeds, and even purebreds like Siamese, Persian, and others. For example, in the past year, my local shelter had 2 Devon Rex cats (in case you aren’t familiar with the breed, the Devon Rex is a rare English breed of curly-haired cats)! No matter what you are looking for, whether it is a purebred or an adorable mixed-breed, you can find the perfect companion at a shelter if you just look!
2. Aren’t there only adult animals at the shelter?
Another common belief is that shelters only have adult animals. The truth is that you can find dogs and cats of all ages, from puppies and kittens all the way to mature animals. While puppies and kittens are cute and playful, they are definitely not for everyone. People forget that puppies require a lot of training and socialization in order to become well-mannered adults. Adult and mature dogs, on the other hand, sometimes even come already housebroken and trained. The take home point is that shelters have animals of all ages so it should be easy to find the right animal for your family.
3. Don’t shelter animals have something wrong with them?
One of the most common misconceptions is that shelter animals have something wrong with them. People erroneously believe that shelter animals were relinquished because of behavior or medical problems. As a result, they’d rather get their pet from a pet store or breeder to avoid getting a “problem” animal. The fact is animals end up in shelters for a number of reasons. Sadly, many are there through no fault of their own. Countless numbers of dogs and cats end up in shelters because they were a mismatch with their adopting families or their families did not anticipate the level of responsibility needed to care for them. Others are given up because their owners have passed away or moved away. Some were given up because their owners were no longer able to physically or financially care for them. Still others end up in the shelter because they got lost and were found on the streets. Whatever the reason, the majority of animals at shelters do not have health, behavior, or temperament problems.
My own dog Oski is the perfect example of the kind of amazing dog you can get find at the shelter. He was about 6 months old when he ended up at the shelter. He was found running loose and had a small cut on his leg. No one came to claim him and even though two people put a “hold” on him, no one showed up to adopt him. It must have been fate for me to end up with him! Not only is he one of the cutest Boxers I have ever seen, but he is also one of the sweetest dogs. He is great with my kids and fabulous with my cats and various foster animals. Besides an “accident” he had in the house on his first night and a fetish for eating crayons, he is incredibly well behaved.
So the next time you’re ready to adopt an animal into your family, be sure to check out your local animal shelter. You’ll be surprised to find all the wonderful animals just waiting for someone to love them. You might even find your own “Oski.” Read more about Oski on my Pet of the Week Page.