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.