As the weather kicks it up a notch, the natural tendency can be to get everyone up and out of the house, pets included. While spending more time outdoors can be a great source of exercise and fun for all involved, it’s essential to be wary of heat exhaustion in your animals.
Beat the Sun
Pets are smarter than we give them credit for, and prefer staying at home and laying on cool surfaces (like your tiled kitchen floor) in the heat of the day. Save your outdoor time with your pet for early in the morning or in the evening once the sun has set. By taking your daily walk, run or visit to the park either before or after the sun is at its hottest, the air will be easier for your pet to breathe and the ground will be cooler on the pads of their paws.
Find Some Shade
If you do find yourself out in midday with your pet, make sure you keep them out of direct sunlight or give them a shady place to get out of the sun. Remember, your pets don’t wear shoes, so the pads of their paws can be burned walking across particularly hot sand or asphalt. If it’s extremely warm, keep them indoors as much as possible.
Leave Fluffy and Fido at Home
The classic mistake for owners is leaving a pet in a closed car on a sunny warm day when the temperature in your car can rapidly climb to over 140 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s solar heating that’s the culprit, so you can face serious risks even on a comfortable day.
The takeaway? As much as your pet may love riding in the car or spending time with you, if it’s hot out and there’s a chance they’ll be uncomfortable the best thing to do is leave them alone. Panting takes more exertion than sweating and can bring your pet to respiratory distress faster than you think. Avoid any potential issue by keeping them safe and cool at home.
Hydration, Hydration, Hydration
In addition to overheating, pets can get dehydrated quickly, so you’ll want to make plenty of fresh, clean water available to them. Panting is effective in allowing animals to cool down because it helps evaporate fluids from the respiratory tract. Help replace these fluids and prevent dehydration by leaving out water or water alternatives throughout the day, particularly when your pet has spent time outside in the heat. Water alternatives are especially great for pets since they replenish electrolytes and taste great.
Be Mindful of Certain Breeds, Conditions
If your pet is brachycephalic — or has a flat-shaped face — like Pugs, Pekingese, Boston terriers and Persian cats, they cannot pant as effectively and are more susceptible to heat stroke. Be especially careful with breeds like these in hot weather and keep plenty of water on hand. The ASPCA also advises that pets which are elderly, overweight and have heart or lung disease be kept in air-conditioned rooms as much as possible in the heat.
Getting a new kitten is one of the best things in the world. They’re cute, soft as down, and as cuddly as, well, kittens. Nearly irresistible, kittens melt even the toughest of hearts; even Attila the Hun was thought to have several dozen kittens around at any given time (never verified, but he was a soft-on-the-inside kind of guy, so who’s to say?).
It’s good to get things started off on the right paw, and the food and care you choose can make all the difference in the health and happiness of your growing kitten. Here are 10 starter tips for you and your “mew” companion.
1. Continue feeding your kitten its “normal” diet, but slowly introduce high quality kitten food (i.e., high in protein and taurine, and low in fillers and carbs) into the mix; consult your veterinarian as to what best serves your cat. After it has adjusted, feed it the high quality food exclusively.
2. Feed your kitten at least three times a day from a shallow plate. Remember, they’re tiny things and so they need easy access to their food. Snacks, especially during the growing stage, should also be included. Small amounts of high-protein foods like cooked egg yolk, boneless fish, and cooked or raw liver will be a great treat, and will help build strong bones.
3. That said, it’s alright to feed your kitten frequently while it is growing (under six months old), even several times a day. If your kitten prefers grazing or eats modestly, keep a small amount of dry kibble available in a dish for it throughout the day.
4. Dry or Wet? Many owners find a happy balance between the two. Perhaps wet food in the evening and dry in the day.
5. Always have fresh water available and check it throughout the day for cleanliness. Keep in mind that water is enough, no other liquid needs to be given. In fact, cow milk can cause quite a tummy ache and should be avoided. Yes, cats like the taste of milk and will drink it if you give it to them in a bowl. But that’s not saying much, seeing as they also like the taste of antifreeze. Leave cow milk to small calves — and people.
6. When you first bring your kitten home, it’s a good idea to keep your kitten in the same room with the litter box for a few days so that it may get used to it. Kittens don’t need much in the way of training. Often, just knowing where the box is is enough of an incentive to use it; cats naturally prefer to bury their waste.
7. Keep a close eye on your kitten. They’re small, curious, and can get into trouble. It is all too easy for a small animal to get
caught between furniture and appliances, fall into a toilet, or be stepped on. Until it learns self safety, you will be your kitten’s best line of defense.
8. Take your kitten for a checkup and all appropriate immunizations.
9. Getting your kitten spayed or neutered makes for a healthier and happier cat, and thus a happier you. Fixed cats don’t go into heat or get pregnant and are less likely to get into fights or spray urine. Neutering is usually done around six months, but most younger kittens handle this small surgery very well, and can have it done anytime after two months, but your vet will be the best judge of this. Make the appointment in advance, based on your vet’s advice.
10. Play with your kitten. A piece of string, crumpled paper, or a toy from pet store – almost anything can be a toy. Kittens (and cats) love to play. The bond you begin now, through play and unconditional love, will be unshakable for many years to come.
Love your kitten and treat it well. Soon, your kitten will grow into a beautiful, faithful, and loving cat.
There’s No Effective Natural Prevention
According to Dr. Gerald Wessner of the Holistic Veterinary Clinic in Summerfield, FL, holistic pet parents do have an alternative to traditional heartworm preventive drugs. He has documented success over an 8-year period using heartworm nosodes (a homeopathic vaccine) in conjunction with Paratox (a multi-remedy of homeopathics) and including diatomaceous earth in pets’ food.
People Can Get Heartworms from their Pets
Again, the only way to get heartworms is to be bitten by an infected mosquito. The parasite only affects dogs, cats, ferrets, and other mammals. According to the American Heartworm Society, humans can be infected (by mosquitoes) in very rare cases, but the heartworm cannot complete its life cycle in humans and only causes a benign lesion in the lung.
Heartworms are Contagious
Fortunately, this is untrue. The only way your pet can get heartworms is if he is bitten by an infected mosquito. Although that same mosquito can go on to bite another pet, it couldn’t transmit the heartworm from one animal to another. The incubation period of the heartworm in the mosquito makes it a one-bite deal.
Heartworm Disease is Rarely Fatal
Fact: Heartworm disease is a serious, life-threatening illness that mandates preventive measures and aggressive treatment. If left unchecked and untreated, heartworms can multiply to 50 or even 100 in severe infections, and can block blood flow and oxygen availability. Your pet cannot live without adequate blood supply and oxygen to breathe.
Pets Aren’t at Risk During the Winter
Although mosquitoes, like other insects, tend to die off in very cold weather, warm periods with rain can occur during the winter — even in northern states. Also, mosquito seasons can vary depending on the area and according to how much water is present. Don’t take the risk; get your pet year-round protection.
Mosquito Season Occurs the Same Time Every Year
According to the American Heartworm Society’s latest survey of veterinarians, unseasonably mild winters combined with early springs bring the perfect conditions for an early start to mosquito season. With the unpredictability of the weather in recent years, no particular months or seasons are guaranteed to be mosquito-free.
Choosing the proper diet is one of the most important ways owners can ensure their pet’s long term health, but it’s no substitute for medical care. If you suspect your pet may have a medical condition that would benefit from a new diet, be sure to have a checkup with your vet to make sure you’re on the right path before making any changes! Good food and good choices lead to a long, healthy, happy life.
Dull, Flaky Coat
Diets rich in essential fatty acids are a key component in keeping a pet’s skin healty, and therefore his or her coat, in tip top shape. Many pet foods are designed with skin and coat improvement in mind. Look for a diet containing both Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids to make your pet’s coat shiny and bright in no time.
If your pet had recently undergone a stressful event, illness, or surgery, he may understandably be a little worn out. Diets with high levels of antioxidants can help boost the immune response to accelerate your pet’s recovery and get them back on their feet in no time. Remember: a pet who is suddenly acting lethargic and weak should be evaluated by a veterinarian before making dietary changes.
Depending on the size of the animal, pets are considered middle-aged to senior around 5-7 years. And as our pets age, their nutrient requirements change too. Senior diets, for example, are generally lower in calories but higher in fiber, and often have supplements specific to this lifestage such as joint support and antioxidants. AAFCO does not have requirements for senior pets, however, so look for a food labeled for “adult maintenance.” This is because an “all life stage” food is formulated with kittens and puppies in mind. It will also deliver too much fat and nutrients your senior pet does not require. In fact, the pet food could even be harmful to a senior pet.
It doesn’t take much for a pet to wind up with some extra weight on their frame — and this is particularly noticeable with small pets. If your pet needs to lose a few inches, a diet specifically designated for weight loss will ensure that they still have the proper amount of essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals while ingesting fewer calories. These diets take advantage of the latest research in pet weight management to ensure your pet is on their way to a healthier weight in no time! If your pet is extremely overweight or obese, however, it’s best that you consult with your veterinarian for a therapeutic nutritional solution.
Chronic flatulence, loose stool, or rumbly stomachs can be the result of food intolerance or the low quality of food that you’re feeding your pet. Some pets simply don’t tolerate certain diets or ingredients as well as other ones. GI upset is an inconvenience to owners as well as being uncomfortable for your pet. If this is an ongoing problem for you, ask your health care professional to diagnose the problem. The solution may be as easy as switching to premium food or a sensitive stomach diet that’s right for your pet.
An Itch that Won’t Quit
Allergies are common in pets, and food is just one of several possible causes. Regardless of the cause, though, allergic pets may benefit from a low-allergen diet that reduces the amount of potential allergens they are exposed to. Your veterinarian can recommend either a prescription diet or an over the counter sensitive skin diet, depending on your pet’s particular needs.
1. Interview a Veterinarian
Not all vets are the same, and you want a veterinarian that best matches your needs. Read online reviews of the vets in your community (with a grain of salt), ask groomers in your area who they recommend, and make interview appointments with them. Our tip: Don’t rely entirely on a vet’s friendliness toward humans (i.e., you). A good veterinarian often has better skills relating to animals than to people. It is also your prerogative to ask the vet if she/he can provide a few references.
2. Pet-proof Your Home
Did you know that something as simple as chewing gum can be deadly for dogs, or that ibuprofen is toxic to cats? It is highly important to go through your home now, before you bring a new pet home, to search out hazards and get them out of the way or out of the house. This includes cabinets at pet level, counter tops, bottles of chemical on the floor, small toys, electric cords and curtain cords.
3. Choose an Age and Breed Appropriate Food
From the time they are young until the time they are seniors, your pet food choices should be guided by the pet’s specific needs, life stage, and lifestyle. You can do some cursory research to get a good idea of why it is important and what to look for, but for the best advice about the best food for your new dog or cat, consult your veterinarian.
4. Select Appropriate Cat and Dog Toys
Toys should be free of buttons, strings, and anything that can be bitten off and swallowed. Stick with rubber balls made for dogs (the harder to tear apart), nylon-bones, non-toxic stuffed toys, and ask other “pet parents” for advice on dog toys. For cats, feather wands are always popular, and a lot of cats are responsive to laser light devices. And don’t forget the old standbys: the catnip-stuffed mouse toy and the old boxes. Cats love treats too, so go with the same advices as above and treat sensibly.
5. Consider Spaying and Neutering
The best thing you can do for your pet’s health is to have him or her neutered, a term that can refer to spay or castration surgery. Yes, neutering does decrease aggression in most instances. And contrary to popular belief, it does not make a dog any less protective of his or her human family. Your new female pet, meanwhile, will not feel less-than for not giving birth. In fact, it would be worse for her to have her babies taken from her than to have never given birth at all. Still unsure? Ask your veterinarian for their recommendation.
Whether you make them yourself, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 warmer and comfy, the cats will lose those items fast.
1. Disorderly Feeding Area
What is the condition of your pet’s water bowl? Is it dirty, or worse, completely dried up? Even if the water bowl has run dry from an accident like your pet knocking it over, an attentive sitter should be checking the water level daily at a minimum, and twice a day if the weather is especially hot.
And don’t forget the food bowl. Are there bugs in it? Has dry food gotten wet and left to putrefy, or canned food gone crusty on the plate? A pet sitter who can’t stay on top of the minimal is someone who should be shown the door.
2. Evidence of ‘Accidents’
Do you see or smell any evidence of “accidents?” Not so obvious indications that your dog was taken out too late can include a scratched up door, suspicious carpet stains, or a lingering odor. On an extended basis, your dog can develop bladder infections from trying to hold his urine for too long, and possibly even behavioral issues regarding his potty practices. If you are a cat owner, does the litter box show signs of neglect? Too infrequent or inadequate cleanings may cause your kitty to seek out other places to relieve himself, or refuse to use his box at all.
3. Lack of Respect for Your Property
Is your once-full refrigerator now bare? Do you smell cigarette smoke? Are your items moved around, or do they show signs of tampering? Is anything, especially valuables, missing? Have your neighbors reported unacceptable behavior, such as strangers being admitted into your home? Even if your pet sitter is providing overnight visits, appropriate behavior includes respect for your property. A pet sitter who does not inherently know these things should not have the responsibility of caring for your pet.
4. Unexplained Injuries
While occasional injuries to outdoor pets are not that unusual, a sudden or unexplained injury may be a cause for alarm. Signs to look for include a limp, cuts, bleeding, swelling of the limbs or around the face, and a general malaise.
5. Fearful or Hostile Pet
Another indication of potential abuse is when your pet is afraid of the sitter. Uncharacteristic hostility and aggression towards the person means it’s time to find another pet sitter.