Four Perfect Dog Staycations

dog-vacation

If you’re like the rest of us working stiffs, you want to take a break sometimes from thinking so hard to just veg out. But maybe you don’t have a lot of time to go away, or you don’t want to spend much money, and plus you have a dog that you really don’t want to leave behind, because how much fun would a vacation be if you didn’t have your best friend with you?

Doggy Clothing Swap

Break out your dog’s inner fashionista for a stay-cation clothing swap. Invite friends and their dogs to your house, and ask them to bring clothing, accessories, and dog gear they no longer want. Once the party is assembled, everyone can choose fab “new” gear for themselves and their pet! Not only will you and your dog end up dressed to the nines, but you can end the day with a trip to your local shelter to donate what’s left!

Just be sure to check that any safety-related gear, such as harnesses and leashes, are in good working order before wearing or donating.

A Spa Day for You and Your Dog

Pamper yourself and your dog this stay-cation with a mani/pedi session. Not only will this be a true bonding experience, but both of you will have freshly trimmed nails when you both go back to your normal routines. Just like humans, nail trimming is an essential part of a dog’s grooming routine. However, it’s important to remember that your dog’s nails can be one of his or her most sensitive areas, so try offering reassurance by gently massaging the area before trimming. After the mani/pedi session, follow up with treats for both of you at a dog friendly cafe! There’s nothing wrong with a little TLC on your stay-cation.

A Healthy Retreat

You don’t have to be a yoga expert to enjoy Doga, it’s a perfect way for both you and your dog to exercise and spend time together. Offered at many traditional yoga studios, Doga classes are fun and are a great bonding experience. Try calling your local studio to find out if classes are offered.

Have a Dog Movie Marathon!

If all you have is one day to do whatever you want, make it a movie day — watch movies that feature dogs as the main characters! Your movie choices will depend on the audience, whether you have kids, or you’ll be inviting some friends and their dogs over for a dog-movie party. Some great choices for kids are Beethoven, Lady and the Tramp, Bolt, Space Buddies, and Air Bud. Or you can watch movies that have dogs as supporting cast: There’s Something About Mary,Turner & Hooch, Marley & Me and Hachi: A Dog’s Tale.

 

November 13, 2013 at 7:33 pm Leave a comment

Five Winter Essentials for Short Haired Dogs

dog-coat

Not all dogs are blessed with thick, double layered winter coats or fur around the pads of their feet. For those poor souls that must live in freezing (or just cold) climates, they are left with only one solution … well, two solutions: never go out during winter and pee on the floor, or wear dog clothing. We’re betting that you, as the home and pet caretaker, will choose the latter. At the minimum, these are the items you should have for your lightly haired, thin skinned dog.

1. Sweaters

Whether you make them yourself, as in the previous image, or buy them, sweaters are essential for keeping a lightly furred dog comfortable. Make sure the material is durable and that it ends above the elimination area. Otherwise you will have very stinky sweaters.

2. Boots

Did you know that the pads on a dog’s feet can get frostbitten? While some breeds from cold climates evolved to grow heavy fur on their feet that helps to cover the pads, many dogs do not have that. If you live in an area where snow and ice are a part of the winter landscape, do your dog a favor and get her some dog booties. She will be forever grateful for them.

3. Winter Coat

Sweaters are fine for indoors and for when it is above freezing outside, for most dogs, but once it starts snowing that’s when things get really uncomfortable. A nice, thick, insulated winter jacket can make the difference between your dog hiding behind the sofa when it’s time for walkies, or eagerly allowing you to wrap his coat around him so that he can enjoy the weather without too much shivering. Make sure the coat is also rain resistant. Remember, snow is just powdery rain and can get a dog wet, too.

4. Snowsuit

And then there are other dogs that are so lightly furred, so thin skinned, and so lacking in insulating body fat that only a full body snow suit will do to get them outside. Don’t forget the dog boots if there is snow on the ground.

5. Heated Blanket or Pad for Bed

If you don’t want your dog jumping into bed with you or demanding to be held to stay warm (and maybe you do like those things, but within reason), an electric or self-warming bed pad is your best preemptive move.

And this goes for cats as well, since they love small warm spots, but probably not so much the sweaters and booties. We’re betting that unlike dogs, who appreciate the things that keep them wamr and comfy, the cats will lose those items fast.

November 11, 2013 at 6:28 pm Leave a comment

5 Dangerous Foods for Cats

cat-on-table

While we may consider cats to be members of our family, treating them as such at mealtimes can cause more injury to them than just spoiling their dinners. Here’s a look at the five most dangerous foods for your cat, how they affect their bodies, and what to do in case of an emergency.

1. Onions/Garlic

Onions and garlic can cause the destruction of red blood cells and lead to anemia in cats, Dr. Tina Wismer, medical director at the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center says. “Cats tend to be much pickier eaters as opposed to dogs, but we’ve seen cats eat an entire cup of caramelized onions.”

Although the size of the dose determines the level of poisoning, lethargy and a reduced appetite can be symptoms of a toxic reaction. The sooner you diagnose potential poisoning in cats the better, so if they’re acting strangely don’t hesitate to call your veterinarian.

2. Raw Eggs

Similarly to people, consumption of raw eggs can lead to salmonella in cats, according to Dr. Wismer. Symptoms of the disease will vary but can include vomiting, diarrhea and lethargy. Salmonella can also be transmitted to humans from animals, making it even more important to keep your cat away from eggs and to properly wash your hands after baking or cooking with raw eggs.

3. Alcohol

Cats tend to be attracted to drinks with milk or cream in them, Dr. Wismer says, making your holiday White Russian a potentially toxic substance if consumed by your pet. Cocktails aside, alcohol can also be found in desserts and can be created in your cat’s stomach if they ingest homemade or store bought yeast dough used in making bread, rolls, and pizza. Even small amount of alcohol (both ingested through alcoholic beverages and produced in the stomach) can be life threatening, making it important to call your vet before you notice any serious poisoning symptoms like seizures.

4. Raw Fish

Like raw eggs, raw meat and fish can cause food poisoning in cats. Additionally, raw fish contains a compound that breaks down thiamine, an important B1 vitamin for cats that, when missing, can cause serious neurological problems in your cat, Dr. Wismer says.

“Pets aren’t just small, fluffy humans,” says Dr. Wismer. “They have different dietary requirements and metabolize things differently [than people]. Talk to your vet about the things you should or shouldn’t feed your pets.”

5. Tuna

A diet rich in tuna can not only cause mercury poisoning in your cat (just like people) but can also leave them malnourished because it doesn’t contain all of the important vitamins and minerals your cat needs, Dr. Wismer says. A bite now and then won’t hurt them, but it’s best to steer clear of tuna as a main source of your cat’s diet.

If you believe you pet has ingested a toxic substance, call the ASPCA animal poison control center at 888-426-4435 or the Pet Poison Hotline at 855-213-6680. Both phone lines are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

November 7, 2013 at 5:18 pm Leave a comment

10 Toys for Senior Dogs

old-dog

Playtime is essential for your senior dog. Not only does he enjoy fun and games, he needs them to keep mentally and physically fit. An active dog is a happy dog. If your pup loved catching Frisbees or playing with dog chew toys as a youngster, he still finds it enjoyable in his later years so long as he has the right toys. Try out the following 10 toys and games which are specifically designed to cater to your elderly canine’s needs.

1. Booda Tail-Spin Flyer Dog Frisbee

Playing Frisbee is a lot of fun for dogs. It could also be hard on your elderly dog’s arthritic joints and weak teeth and gums. Any toys thrown to dogs to catch should not be hard or heavy as they can cause damage to front teeth. Booda Tail-Spin Flyer Frisbee is flexible, lightweight and is designed to avoid injury. Jumping and running involved in playing Frisbee and fetch can be too strenuous for your dog. Make sure to monitor his behavior during play. If he is showing signs of fatigue, take frequent breaks.

2. SPOT Skinneeez Stuffing Free Plush Skunk Dog Toy

Plush toys with no stuffing make good snuggly companions for your furry friends. SPOT Skinneeez Stuffing Free Plush Skunk Dog Toy can be used as a retriever or for gentle tug play. The toy, which has realistic features, brings out your dog’s natural hunting instinct. It comes with two squeakers inside, one in the head and another in the tail, so older dogs with diminished hearing can enjoy the sounds.

3. Kong Rubber Dog Chew Toy

Just because your dog is old doesn’t mean he wants to snooze on the couch all day. KONG toys help reestablish play and exercise in your senior pet and make him feel like a puppy again. These toys are made with gentle rubber formula, which doesn’t get sharp when chewed and is easy on their teeth and jaw muscles. Stuff the Kong Rubber Dog Chew Toy with treats to keep your dog busy for prolonged periods. Kong toys are mentally and physically stimulating puzzles that help prevent boredom, separation anxiety and other behavioral issues in your pet.

4. Eco Owl Stuffed Pillow

Dogs love soft pillows to play with and rest their heads on. Eco Owl Buddy from Honest Pet Products is made from 100% natural materials, and not just recycled plastics or synthetics. When you purchase an Honest Pet Products toy, you are helping enrich the lives of those who make the toys such as the hardworking people with cognitive and developmental disabilities that make wool dog toys in Green Bay, WI. Now, that’s a win-win for both the dog and the people making them.

5. Bird Bell Ball

If your senior dog loves to fetch but has trouble because of poor eyesight, get him the Bird Ball. When thrown, the Bird Bell, true to its name, whistles like a bird. There are 12 wind-powered whistles that chirp when the ball is thrown, which the dog can follow as it flies away. The ball is made of durable, flexible non-toxic materials. Purchasing this toy benefits the United Dogs of America Foundation.

6. Dogswell Veggie Life Happy Hips

Keep your elderly dog occupied while you are away by hiding treats for him around the house (as long as it doesn’t involve climbing stairs). The healthier and softer the treat, the better it is for your senior dog. Dogswell Veggie Life Happy Hips Chicken and fruit are 100% all natural treats containing Glucosamine and Chondroitin and Vitamin E supplement that help promote healthy hips and joints.

7. Chuckit! Soft Indoor Ball Dog

If your dog is young at heart and likes chasing balls, get him the Soft Indoor ball, which is easier on his teeth and wouldn’t break lamps or mess up your walls or hurt his teeth. The Chuckit! Soft Indoor Ball has no squeaker, so you can let your dog play with the ball as much as he prefers.

8. Zogoflex Hurley Dog Bone

While regular dental checkups for your senior dog are important, bones are more definitely more fun for them. Hard bones and hooves are responsible for many broken teeth. To go easy on your older pet’s teeth and jaws, give him the Zogoflex Dog Toy from West Paw Design. Made from extremely pliable Zogoflex material in the USA, the Hurley is 100% recyclable and buoyant. It comes in three sizes – mini, small and large- and bright colors.

9. Old Soul Slobber-Wick Squeaky Buddy

For the elder droolers, Old Soul Slobber-Wick Squeak Buddy from Planet Dog provides an exciting way to spend time. These durable toys come in hi-def contrasting colors of sliver and blue, making it easier on an older dog’s eyes. Each toy is filled with 100% poly-fleece and a double-bellow squeaker for the comfort and amusement of your canine. These are fast-drying and easy to clean.

10. SPOT Seek-A-Treat Shuffle Bone Dog IQ Puzzle

All those years under his belt makes your dog a very smart one. Providing mental stimulation for your senior dog is key to keeping him entertained in his later years. Puzzles and interactive toys that store treats inside are ideal for dogs that cannot do more strenuous exercise. The SPOT Seek-A-Treat Shuffle Bone Dog IQ Puzzle is a bone shaped puzzle made of press board wood, with holes for treats big enough for the dog to get the treats out, making it an enjoyable experience.

November 4, 2013 at 5:33 pm Leave a comment

Five Tips to Prevent Winter Weight Gain in Pets

winter-dog

It is not uncommon for pets — like humans — to struggle with winter weight gain. Whether the struggle is in preventing it, or losing the weight after the fact, seasonal weight gain can be a problem. Here are five things to help your pet.

1. Monitor Your Pet

If you are concerned about your pet gaining weight during the winter, schedule a visit with your veterinarian before the start of the winter season. Your doctor will record your pet’s weight so that it can be gauged with any further gains or losses.

2. Create a Weight Loss Plan

Often this will include a combination of dietary changes and exercise routines. If your pet is already overweight, a bit more work is going to be required, since you will most likely need to maintain the current weight, even as it is over the ideal.

3. Consult Your Veterinarian

Before embarking on any exercise plan (or weight loss plan) it is important to have your pet checked for underlying conditions that may contribute to health issues — even weight gain. Only then can you and your veterinarian construct a sensible diet and structured, achievement oriented exercise program.

4. Use Treats Sparingly (or Not At All)

Many veterinarians will recommend cutting out treats from a pet’s diet entirely during the winter, especially if the pet is overweight. However, if your vet doesn’t think treats will negatively impact a weight loss plan there is a good reason. You may be able to use healthy treats as an effective way to entice your pet to exercise and burn excess pounds. Of course, treats should be used sparingly and for only a short period until your pet learns to exercise without a food-based reward.

5. Play Prevent Defense

Cutting back on calories and maintaining a regular exercise routine to compensate for the lowered physical and metabolic activity may be difficult during the winter, but it’s also the best way for your pet to stay in shape. If it’s already too late for that — well, then you have steps 1-4 to get you back on the right track again.

November 1, 2013 at 5:45 pm Leave a comment

3 Common Types of Pet Heartworm Meds

vet-dog

The American Heartworm Society recommends that animals living in all parts of the U.S. be given heartworm preventive medications on a year-round basis. But which are the best heartworm meds for dogs and cats? While there isn’t necessarily a “best heartworm medication” there are certain types of meds that may be more convenient for you and effective for your pet (if given in the proper dose on a regular schedule). Here are three of most common types of heartworm preventive medications to discuss with your veterinarian.

1. Oral Monthly Heartworm Medications

The heartworm preventives you are probably most familiar with are the once-a-month tablets or chewables. Many of the various oral heartworm medications available today contain either ivermectin or milbemycin as the active ingredient and many serve more than one function— not only killing heartworm larvae but also eliminating internal parasites such as roundworms and hookworms. You do, however, need to watch your dog or cat to be sure he/she chews the entire piece or tablet and doesn’t spit any of it out. Otherwise, the heartworm medication loses its effectiveness.

2. Topical (Spot-on) Heartworm Medications

These heartworm medications are applied monthly to the back of the dog or cat’s neck, or between the shoulder blades on the skin. Not only do these preventives protect against heartworms but there are some with active ingredients that work to eliminate such things as fleas, ticks, mange mites, and roundworms. These heartworm preventives are toxic if ingested, so be sure to isolate your pet for a time after application — both to prevent your pet from coming in contact with children or other animals and to prevent them from rubbing the medication off on furniture, carpet, etc.

3. Injectable Heartworm Medication

Along with being used in other forms of heartworm preventives, Moxidectin can be administered as an injection for up to six months protection from heartworms. The injectable heartworm medication does come with restrictions on its use. Veterinarians must administer this heartworm medication to their patients, and this is only after intensive training in its proper use. Your veterinarian is also required to record the lot number of the product used for your pet and must report any adverse effects that may arise.

Follow Instructions and Consult Your Vet

No matter which medication you choose for your dog or cat, read the medication’s label closely and follow its instructions. Additionally, tell your veterinarian if your pet shows signs of illness after administration and be sure to have your dog or cat tested yearly for heartworms.

October 30, 2013 at 5:18 pm Leave a comment

Why Do Cats Knead?

Kneading is the motion cats make by rhythmically alternating their paws, pushing in and out against a pliable, soft object (such as a lap). Not all cats knead in the same way; some never push out their claws at all, and some even use all four paws. While not all cats knead, it is a common behavior for young and adult felines alike, so it’s likely your cat does it. Have you ever wondered why cats knead at all?

There are a few different ideas out there as to why. Some cats knead (and purr contentedly) when they’re being petted, but they may also do it for no clear reason. Let’s take a look at some of the more popular theories.

Kid at Heart

Cats start to knead as kittens, before they’re even able to get around on their own, while nursing from their mother. A nursing kitten instinctually kneads to help stimulate the mother’s milk production. Why do they continue to knead past nursing age? Even though kneading a soft surface doesn’t yield milk, adult cats forever associate the motion of kneading with the rewarding comfort of nursing.

Love Hurts

If your cat is curled up and kneading your lap while you’re petting him, he’s returning the affection and telling you he loves you right back. Unfortunately, this can be quite painful, since the happier he is, the harder he’ll dig in with his sharp nails. Try placing a thick, soft barrier between the cat and your lap, or gently place him on his back and pet his belly if it gets too intense. However, do not punish your cat for this behavior — he doesn’t relaize it hurts. To better ensure the comfort of both you and your cat, make a habit of keeping his nails trimmed, or invest in nail guards to cover your cat’s nails.

Stre-e-e-tch

Cats are natural yoga masters and love to work out all the kinks left over from napping. Think about it — if you have sore shoulders, it feels good to grab onto a surface and pull against it. Kneading is one of the many ways cats keep themselves limber … until the next nap.

Bedding Down

The wild ancestors of domestic cats liked to lay down on soft, comfortable surfaces to either sleep or give birth to their young. By kneading down tall grass or leaves, cats were able to fashion a comfy spot to lay down in, and also possibly to check the ground for unwelcome visitors lurking under the foliage.

Paws Off — That’s Mine!

Cats are territorial creatures, and one of the ways they safeguard their turf is to scent-mark their belongings. By kneading their paws onto the surface of an area (yes, including you), they’re activating the scent glands located inside the soft pads on the bottom of their paws, thereby marking that item as theirs.

Is It Hot In Here?

Female cats have an additional reason for kneading: they’re known to knead their paws just before going into estrus — commonly known as “going into heat.” Kneading acts as a display to male cats that she wants and is able to mate.

***

Cats have many unique and amusing behavioral traits, and kneading is just one of them. So even though these are some of the more popular ideas for why cats are thought to knead, it certainly doesn’t provide all of the possible reasons. For example, some cats knead just before they’re about to take a nap. Whatever reason your cat kneads, the one thing all these ideas have in common is that kneading is natural, instinctual, and common cat behavior.

October 29, 2013 at 4:33 pm Leave a comment

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