Thursday, November 29, 2012

Holiday Safety Tips

‘Tis the season for friends, family and holiday feasts—but also for possible distress for our animal companions. Pets won’t be so thankful if they munch on undercooked turkey or a pet-unfriendly floral arrangement, or if they stumble upon an unattended alcoholic drink.

Check out the following tips from ASPCA experts for a fulfilling holiday that your pets can enjoy, too.

Talkin’ Turkey

If you decide to feed your pet a little nibble of turkey, make sure it’s boneless and well-cooked. Don't offer her raw or undercooked turkey, which may contain salmonella bacteria.

Sage Advice

Sage can make your Thanksgiving stuffing taste delish, but it and many other herbs contain essential oils and resins that can cause gastrointestinal upset and central nervous system depression to pets if eaten in large quantities. Cats are especially sensitive to the effects of certain essential oils.

No Bread Dough

Don't spoil your pet’s holiday by giving him raw bread dough. According to ASPCA experts, when raw bread dough is ingested, an animal's body heat causes the dough to rise in his stomach. As it expands, the pet may experience vomiting, severe abdominal pain and bloating, which could become a life-threatening emergency, requiring surgery.

Don't Let Them Eat Cake

If you’re baking up Thanksgiving cakes, be sure your pets keep their noses out of the batter, especially if it includes raw eggs—they could contain salmonella bacteria that may lead to food poisoning.

Too Much of a Good Thing

A few small boneless pieces of cooked turkey, a taste of mashed potato or even a lick of pumpkin pie shouldn’t pose a problem. However, don't allow your pets to overindulge, as they could wind up with a case of stomach upset, diarrhea or even worse—an inflammatory condition of the pancreas known as pancreatitis. In fact, it’s best keep pets on their regular diets during the holidays.

A Feast Fit for a Kong

While the humans are chowing down, give your cat and dog their own little feast. Offer them Nylabones or made-for-pet chew bones. Or stuff their usual dinner—perhaps with a few added tidbits of turkey, vegetables (try sweet potato or green beans) and dribbles of gravy—inside a Kong toy. They’ll be happily occupied for awhile, working hard to extract their dinner from the toy.

Adapted from a post originally published by the ASPCA

Monday, September 17, 2012

11 Pet Dangers to Avoid During the Fall & Winter Months

The crisp chill of autumn is upon us, that means changing leaves, cozy sweaters, and lots of holidays. But along with all that excitement comes some dangers for your adorable pooch and kitty. Find out the top 11 fall pet dangers to avoid.
1. Antifreeze
Every year more than 10,000 dogs and cats are accidentally poisoned with automotive antifreeze. Pets are attracted to the sweet taste of ethylene glycol and one to two teaspoons will poison a cat and three tablespoons is enough to kill a medium size dog.
2. Allergies
Fall weather can bring about all whole new set of allergies. Ragweed and mold are two big aggravates, along with grass and dust. Look for signs like scratching, biting, chewing, sneezing, coughing, watery eyes, and hives and rashes.
3. Arthritis
Cold weather can lead to arthritis caused by inflamed joints. If your dog or cat is limping, having trouble moving, jumping, or sitting, moving slower than usual, or whimpering when he moves, he may be suffering from seasonal arthritis.
4. Mushrooms
All mushrooms are toxic to dogs. Always watch for mushrooms in areas where you walk your dogs or where they run and play. Be especially cautious of parasol-shaped mushrooms and all small brown mushrooms. Symptoms of mushroom poisoning can range from mild vomiting and diarrhea to severe digestive problems to complete liver failure.
5. Compost Pile
Your compost pile in your backyard is also dangerous to your pet. The decomposing organic material could contain mycotoxins that can cause hyperthermia, agitation, excessive panting or drooling, and even seizures.
6. Rodenticides
In fall and winter, mice and rats come flocking indoors to warmer surroundings. Putting out rodenticides will get rid of rodents but could also be fatal to your pooch and cat. There are four different types of poison and each has the potential to kill your pet: anticoagulants, cholecalciferol, bromethalin, and phosphides.
7. Candy
Everyone knows that chocolate is toxic to dogs, especially the baking variety, but so are raisins and the sugar-free sweetener xylitol. Be extra cautious on Halloween where pets can get into bags of candy. Wrappers and sticks from lollipops can also pose a threat causing intestinal blockages.
8. Thanksgiving
You may have the urge to share your yummy feast with your pet. This is ok in moderation. Just check the list of toxic foods for pets before you feed them. Avoid fat and fatty foods that can trigger pancreatitis in dogs and cats, and never feed your dog poultry bones. They easily splinter and break and can cause serious damage if swallowed.
9. Cold Weather
Chilly temps can also pose a threat to your pet. Indoor animals don’t develop a thick double coat like outdoor pets and should not be left outside unattended for any period of time. Consider buying a sweater for your dog for walks or booties to keep his paws safe from ice and rock salt. Also be cautious around ice – your pet could easily slip and rip a ligament or break a bone.
10. Decorations
Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas decorations can all be dangerous to your pet. Ornaments, tinsel, plants, costumes, and other decorations should all be kept out of your pet’s reach.
11. Plants
Although beautiful, some holiday plants are toxic to dogs. You should avoid holly, amaryllis, mistletoe, poinsettia, Christmas and Thanksgiving cactus, American and European bittersweet, chrysanthemum, Christmas rose, Jerusalem cherry, autumn crocus, and burning bush. They can cause vomiting, diarrhea, depression, lack of appetite, tremors, belly pain, difficulty breathing, shock, organ damage, slowed heart rate, collapse, and even death.

Originally published by Organic Authority.

Monday, September 10, 2012

How to Stimulate Your Puppy's Growing Brain

Puppies continue to explore and learn all their lives. Though we may think of our dogs as being mostly instinctual, their brains react to stimuli whether it's a cool Spring breeze or obedience training. Because they're so aware of their environments, their actions, even to a stimulus they've experienced before, can change. A puppy raised in isolation will wind up with an atrophied brain while a puppy raised with hyperstimulation is not overwhelmed but instead develops more than average.
An understimulated puppy will appear apathetic. He will overreact to small changes and his instincts start to get screwed up. For instance, an understimulated puppy when faced with something fearful, only reacts with fear or fear-aggression - he does not seem to know that flight is also an option. It is during this time of your puppy's life that his cognitive system is rapidly developing so it's a good time to make sure he has enough stimulation in his life.
Ways to Provide Stimulation for Your Puppy
  1. Take Him to New Places - This doesn't mean you have to attend an opera with your puppy or find something exciting like a carnival. Every new place you go is a myriad of new smells and sounds, a variable cornucopia of stimuli.
  2. Take Him to Old Places - Places change constantly. The park at 6:00 a.m. is nothing like the park at 10:00 a.m. to a puppy. People and dogs have come and gone and the wind blows from a different direction.
  3. Introduce Him to New People - This is a great time to socialize your puppy further and throw some new faces in the mix. This can be done as easily as walking him and allowing folks to meet him. You're bound to come across at least one dog person on your walk.
  4. Play Mind Stimulating Games with Him - From simple games such as hide and seek to mental twisters such as which cup is the treat under, there are many games you can play with your puppy. You can also make training a game.
  5. Hook Him on Brain Teasers - There are many mental exercise toys now available such as the Doggy Brain Train, Dog Activity Chess and Dog Activity Kicker (available here. These games really challenge your puppy once you have shown him how to play with enthusiasm. You can also give your dog simpler toys such as a Kong filled with peanut butter or a treat toy by Busy Buddy.
  6. Teach Him Well - Continue adding commands to your obedience training and teach him new tricks as we covered in a recent tip.
Any time spent with your puppy can be stimulating. Just chasing him around the yard or petting him offers stimulation. You can increase the mental stimulation in any activity by engaging your dog, from a simple "Watch me!" command to teaching him to track smells while hiking. Problem solving abilities are more than possible with dogs and they're something that can be nurtured and increased. You can see the possibilities at the growing number of Canine Cognitive Facilities around the U.S.
The more we stimulate our dogs' brains, the more we learn about them. They also learn more about their environment and gain confidence in handling new situations. Who knows, you might find that after a while, your puppy can even beat you at Scrabble.

Originally published on Dogster.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


Did you know that snakes often hide in underbrush around stream beds and fields? It’s important to keep an eye on your pet while they’re out exploring in the woods, fields, or even your backyard. Some snakes can be poisonous, causing injury, illness, or even paralysis or death, so it’s important to always thoroughly check your pet’s legs and body when they’ve been outside exploring, and bring them in for immediate treatment if you suspect your pet has incurred a snakebite. 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Foxtails, Briars, and Burrs

When your pet spends time out in the woods, fields, or grassy areas, they can pick up all sorts of unpleasant things. You may see burrs, briars, or foxtails—seed pods with sticky or hooked parts on them—stuck in your pet’s fur, but have you checked to make sure they aren’t stuck anywhere else, such as in foot pads, ears, or pierced through skin? It’s important to always give your pet a thorough check when they come in from an adventure outside. 

Monday, June 4, 2012

Top 10 Things To Do Before Bringing Your New Cat Home

Congratulations, the cat's out of the bag! You've just entered into a wonderful relationship that's bound to be filled with fun and affection. By starting off on the right foot—that is, by being well-prepared for your new arrival—you can move through that rocky adjustment period most new relationships go through and get right down to the lovin'!

1. Make Sure Everyone In The House Is Prepared To Have A Cat

Talk to your family members before bringing a new cat home. Make sure everyone knows that the fun begins only after kitty feels safe and her needs are met. Once you're sure everyone is ready for feeding, litter changing and grooming, you can divvy up chores among family members so everyone is prepared to care for kitty before she arrives.

2. Do You Know What Your Cat Is Trying To Tell You?

The average cat has a vocabulary of more than 16 different sounds, including purring, howling, hissing and meowing—not to mention a wide-range of playful and serious body language. Taking a glance at our Cat Care section will help you understand your cat's behavior before you're faced with her mysterious cat calls, pouncing and nocturnal romps.

3. Stock Up On Supplies Before Kitty Arrives

Have all of your cat's needs ready so she can get right down to the business of making herself at home. Kitty will need:
  • A litter box and the brand of litter she's been using
  • Food and water bowls and the food she's used to eating
  • A sturdy, rough-textured scratching post—at least three feet high—that allows her to stretch completely while scratching
  • Safe, stimulating toys. Hint: If you give her toys that make noises, you'll know when she's playing.
  • A bed lined with a soft, warm blanket or towel
  • Grooming tools: a high-quality brush and nail clipper are a good start

4. Identity Is Key

Proper identification is a necessity. If your kitty is indoors-only, an ID tag or implanted microchip will help ensure she'll be returned to you if she gets out and can't find her way home. A safety collar with an elastic panel will allow your cat to break loose if the collar gets caught on something. We caution against letting cats outdoors, but if you do—or if a window or door is left open—a safety collar and an ID tag may be what bring your missing cat home.

5. A Room Of One's Own

Choose a low-traffic room your kids and other pets don't frequent—this will be your cat's safe space to sniff, eat, scratch and play while she gets her bearings. Arrange her food and water bowls, bed and litter box—and scatter her toys around. You can even clean off a windowsill for her and have soft music playing. She'll appreciate the chance to feel out her new family from inside her haven.

6. Routine Behavior

Give your cat a little structure to lean on. For the first few weeks, provide him with the same kind of food and feeding schedule he had before living with you—and give him the same brand of litter, too, for a familiar scent and feel on his paws. Later on, if you wish to switch to different products, you can make a slow transition.

7. What's New, Pussycat?

With a whole new life in store for her, Kitty will need some time and space to check out her surroundings and all of her new play things. Give her time alone in her room to get comfortable before you come in to play with her. If you have other pets, it's a good idea to leave your new cat in her own room for a few days will allow the other animals in the house to get used to her sounds and scent. (Hint: Watch from the door to see how she leaves her carrier. Whether she pussyfoots into a dark corner or zooms out into the room, you'll know how she feels about her new surroundings.)

8. Introducing Kitty To The Pack

Go slow at first. A cat may need seven to fourteen days to relax into her new environment. If you have kids, let them introduce themselves one at a time. Hold up on the meet-and-greets with friends, neighbors and relatives until your kitty is eating and eliminating on a normal schedule. If you have other pets, don't let your new addition have free run of the house. This is the territory of the animals who have lived with you already. Allow all of your pets to meet in the new cat's territory—and make sure you're there to supervise.

9. Cat-Proof Your Home

When your cat is ready to explore the rest of her new home (for short excursions at first), be sure to get rid of stray items she might chew on or swallow, like toilet paper, tissues and paper towels. Pens and pencils may need to be kept in drawers. You may also have to tape wires to baseboards and put caps on outlets.
Put away harsh cleaning products, human medications and household poisons, and rehome any houseplants that might be toxic to her. Make sure foods that aren't healthy for a cat's tummy are placed securely out of reach.

10. Visit The Vet Within Her First Week

Last but not least, bring your new feline to a caring veterinarian for a wellness exam within one week after adoption. Make this appointment even before you bring your kitty home.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Pets & Potting Soil

If your indoor cat likes to play in potting soil – be sure to put them on a parasite preventative because 15% of potting soils harbor round worm! Roundworms can be a health risk for humans so bring in a fresh fecal sample to be tested and get your pet is on a parasite preventative today!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Heartworm & Pets

Warm weather means the return of mosquitoes and the heartworm disease that they carry. Because a single bite from a mosquito could transmit the deadly heartworm parasite to your pet, it’s important that your pet stay on a heartworm preventative at all times. We can’t prevent the mosquitoes from biting, but we can prevent their harmful effects. We would love to discuss heartworm prevention for your pet!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Mobilize the Earth for Earth Day 2012

The first Earth Day, on April 22, 1970, activated 20 million Americans from all walks of life to speak out against the deterioration of the environment and demand change. As a result, the Environmental Protection Agency was created, the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts were passed,and the modern environmental movement was born.

Today, more than 1 billion people in 192 countries participate in Earth Day activities each year, making it the largest civic observance in the world. This year, in the face of global inaction on pressing environmental problems, we must harness that power.

Earth Day Network is calling upon individuals, organizations, businesses and governments to Mobilize the Earth™ and demand that environmental issues become a top priority.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Pets & Easter Lilies

Lilies are a popular Easter flower, but did you know that they can actually be toxic to your pet? Like the Christmas poinsettias, lilies can attract the attention of your pet, especially cats, and then have a toxic effect when ingested. Keep those Easter lilies far from your pet's reach this season, or look into artificial options. The art of artificial flowers have gotten so advanced that your guests won't be able to tell the difference...and your pet will be safe.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Pets & Obesity

Did you know that more then 33 million dogs and cats in the U.S. are over weight or obese? Regular exercise is important, but dietary management is critical to maintaining an appropriate weight for your pet. This may include not only a high quality diet, but also measuring the amount of food each day. What are you doing to ensure your pet stays at a healthy weight?