Keep your pets safe over the New Year holiday

The New Year holiday is just around the corner, and many Americans will celebrate the birth of the new year with fireworks, firecrackers, and even gunshots. While you and your neighbors celebrate, keep your pets in mind.

Cats, dogs, and other pets generally don’t like these loud noises, and the bright flashes of fireworks can add to their terror. Even dogs and cats that are normally calm can panic and run in an attempt to find safety from the perceived threat.

Keep your pets inside. If they choose to seek out a dark corner or hide under the bed, let them be. Never underestimate a frightened pet’s ability to flee. If you have visitors coming and going it’s a good idea to keep the pets separated so they can’t get out the front door.

If your family falls into the category that fires actual guns to celebrate the new year – fire into the ground, never up in the air. What goes up must come down, and bullets fired up in the air have been known to cause injury and even death on their return to the ground.

Make sure your pets have ID badges on their collars, and that they’re microchipped. Naturally, if you go to watch a fireworks display, leave your pets at home. Don’t leave them in the car.

Have a happy and safe New Year’s holiday!

Five New Year’s Resolutions for your pets

A Coton de Tulear needs a medium PlexiDor dog doorMany use the new year holiday to reflect on the year that has passed, and to look forward on what they want to change. Top new year’s resolutions for humans often include to exercise more, lose weight, and stop smoking. The new year can be a fresh start for your pets too. Here are five ideas for New Year’s Resolutions for your pet.

1. Measure your pet’s food. Every time

Over half of pets living in the USA are overweight. Measure your pet’s  food every meal to make sure you’re not overfeeding your furry friends. Keeping a healthy weight can decrease the risk of serious diseases and increase the pet’s life span.

2. Do something new together

It’s easy to get stuck in a rut. Try something new – go hiking, take your dog to dogs, or try a dog sport. This is fun, a great way to bond, gives your pet important socialization, and you both get some exercise.

3. Groom your pet and brush their teeth

A daily session does more than help your pet look great – it builds the bond between you. Brushing your pet can help alleviate your stress, and show him or her that you love them. Brushing teeth can be more of an ordeal until you both get used to it, but keeping pets’ teeth clean is important to their overall health. Use a toothbrush and toothpaste meant for pets.

4. Teach your dog some new tricks

Mental stimulation helps keep your pets healthy and happy. Practice tricks your dog already knows, and learn something new. Puzzle feeders and toys are also great to help keep your pet entertained and alert.

5. Check your pet’s tags and microchip information

When something changes – be it a phone number, an address, or even your name – there’s a lot to think about, and the pet’s information is often forgotten. If any of your information has changed, update your pet’s tags and microchip information.

Don’t give pets as surprise gifts

KittensChristmas is a holiday of giving, but if you’re considering giving away a puppy, kitten, hamster, rabbit, ferret, guinea pig, or other animal, pause and think about it some more.

Pets give immense joy, but they require commitment too, and once the holiday is over shelters all around the country will overflow with abandoned animals.

If you really want a pet and everyone in the family is onboard with the idea, you can go to a shelter and adopt one once the holidays are over. For Christmas morning, you can give the kids a stuffed toy as a promise you’ll go to the shelter and look.

Every pet deserves a good home where they are loved and receive proper care.

If you want to surprise your own children with a pet, be aware that you as an adult will have the final responsibility to care for it. This includes ensuring the children respect it and aren’t too rough with it. If you want to surprise someone else’s child with a pet, discuss with the adults in the family and make sure everyone’s on the same page.

Christmas morning isn’t a good time for new pets

Even if all the adults in the family are on the same page, Christmas morning isn’t the best time a year to get a new pet. Everyone’s tearing into gifts, there are loud toys, potentially dangerous ribbons everywhere, chocolate, and general chaos.

A new pet needs to land in calm environment where he or she can feel safe. You don’t want a frightened, cowering animal that is overwhelmed by all the sudden attention, children squealing with excitement, and almost battling each other to hold it.

Important things to consider before getting a pet:

Different animals have different tempers and needs. Research the type of pet you’re considering, and make sure the animal is right for your family. If you’re getting a dog, research breeds and get a breed that fits your lifestyle.

  • Do you have enough space? Enough money to get the equipment you need?
  • Are you prepared for a lifetime commitment? Even small pets like guinea pigs can live for five years. Dogs can live for fifteen years, and some other types of pets live for decades. If you can’t deal with someone being dependent on you every day for that amount of time, don’t get a pet.
  • All pets require attention, care, and training. Discuss the pet’s schedule with the family.
  • If you’re getting a dog, he or she will need walks every day. Puppies need to go out every time they eat, sleep, or play – even if it’s raining or in the middle of your favorite TV show.
  • Make a budget. Include food, toys, treats, vet costs, kitty litter, straw, and whatever else your new pet will need.
  • Plan for emergencies. Who can care for your pet if everyone in your family needs to travel somewhere?
  • Create an emergency fund in case something happens and your pet needs urgent care.
  • A child should not be sole caretaker of a pet. As an adult, the pet is your responsibility.

Holiday decoration safety tips for pets

Puppy santaHoliday decorations are a big part of the season, and lights and cheerful colors spread joy in the winter darkness. Everything new in the house brings new dangers to pets as well, and here are some safety tips for little things that can make a big difference.

The tree

Whether you use an artificial tree or a reason, make sure it’s securely anchored so your pets can’t knock it over. Especially cats are tempted to climb into the tree. Also clean up any tree needles regularly – they’re sharp and can get stuck in your pet’s throat or paws.

Tinsel

Pets love to play with and eat tinsel and ribbons. These can cause a lot of damage if swallowed, and even require surgery. Keep tinsel and ribbons off the floor.

Baubles

Many pets, particularly cats, see baubles as irresistible play things. Try to use decorations that won’t shatter if they hit the floor, and that aren’t too small. You don’t want your pet to accidentally swallow a decoration.

Power cords

Protect cords so your pet can’t play with them or chew on them.

New house plants

Many of the season’s house plants are poisonous. Most people think the poinsettia is very dangerous, but it is only mildly toxic to cats and dogs. Pets shouldn’t be encouraged to eat it of course, but the poinsettia’s reputation is quite exaggerated. Mistletoe, rosemary, and holly can be dangerous to cats and dogs. Keep them out of reach, and contact a veterinarian if you think your pet has ingested any type of holly.

What pet owners really want to do for the holidays

The holiday season is great for visiting with friends and family, but vetiq.com made a survey to find out what pet owners really want to do for the holidays. The results are both thought-worthy and amusing.

A vast majority – 96 percent – answer that they would prefer to spend the holidays at home alone with their pet instead of leaving their pet at home to celebrate with in-laws.

85 percent of pet owners think a kiss under the mistletoe is okay for pets too. 85 percent also think their pets have been nice during the year. The survey doesn’t report whether the 15 percent of naughty pets are the same 15 percent that won’t get kisses…

Only 24 percent of pet owners plan to travel with their pets during the holiday, and 97 percent of those who do will go by car.

54 percent say Santa Claus best describes their pet’s holiday personality. 32 percent say Frosty, and 14 percent The Grinch.

 

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Dogs can be veterans too

It is Veterans’ Day, and many in the USA take a moment out of everyday life to think about and thank military veterans. This year, six military dogs will be honored on a float in the Veterans’ Day parade.

Many dogs work in the military. They perform dangerous tasks, and are often not even transported back home after duty overseas – their handlers return home, but the dogs are left abroad.

The dogs and their handlers have often worked side by side for years, and many veteran advocates lobby for all four-legged defenders to be returned to the USA. The American Humane Association helps retired military dogs to be reunited with their human veterans.

The AHA writes, “With an estimated 2,500 military working dogs and contract working dogs working side by side with soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, the need has never been greater to bring each dog home. The dogs have noses that are 100,000 times more sensitive than humans’, giving them an unparalleled ability to sniff out and detect weapons caches and Improvised Explosive Devices. It is estimated that each military working dog saves the lives of between 150-200 service members.”

Read more about the initiative here.

 

Make your own dog cookies

This is a baking time a year for many, and holidays line up. It’s tempting to give the pets some of our treats, but human foods and cookies aren’t all that good for them. Better to make them something of their own.

To make this recipe, you need:
2 cups wheat germ
3 jars of chicken baby food (check so it doesn’t have onion)
1 tbsp water

To make the cookies, you need to strain the baby food and mix it with wheat germ and water. Make balls of the dough, flatten the balls with a fork, and bake in 350 F in 20-25 minutes.

Super easy, and dogs love them!

 

Will you celebrate cat day?

Cats have personalities just like peopleToday is cat day – a day dedicated to the celebration, worship, and adoration of cats. If you have a cat, today is a great day to spend some extra time with your feline friends. If you don’t have a cat, there are many waiting for adoption in shelters and rescues around the country, and cat day might be a good excuse to welcome a kitty home.

The Cat Fancier’s Association has made a list of most popular cat breeds. The number one spot has been held by the Persian cat for over 30 years! Here is the top five:

1. Persian

This breed is named after its home country – Persia. (Today’s Iran.) They are known for being friendly and calm, and make great indoor cats.

2. Exotic Shorthair

These cats almost look like teddy bears. They are easy-going, affectionate, and generally get along well with other pets.

3. Maine Coon

This is one of the oldest breeds from the USA and it is known for its fantastic hunting abilities. It was bred as a working cat able to withstand harsh wether. Main Coons are generally friendly, love children, and love water.

4. Ragdoll

The Ragdoll was developed to be a companion, and these cats love being near their humans. They are large, sturdy, and have bright blue eyes.

5. British Shorthair

The British Shorthair are calm and affectionate. They generally go along well with other pets, but they dislike being carried.

Happy Labor Day, for everyone!

As summer draws to an end, an extra day off might be a great opportunity to do something fun with your dog. Here are some ideas that require little preparation, so you can get right to the fun part!

If you live near the ocean, a lake, or a river, there might be a doggie beach nearby.  A beach offers many opportunities to smell new things and make new friends. Some dogs are a bit intimidated by large bodies of water, but they usually get over it quickly. If your dog likes to swim, it will be a marvelous time. If your dog doesn’t like to swim he or she can still have a great time frolicking on the beach.

If you have a house with a fenced-in back yard, consider throwing a party for dogs. This is a great way to get to know other dog lovers, and the pooches can play. If your neighbors have dogs they might want to come over, invite the people you bump into over and over when you walk your dog, and your friends and family who love dogs.

Another fun idea is to drive to an area where you don’t normally walk your dog and go for a hike. Smelling, seeing, and hearing new things will make it a true holiday for your four-legged friend.

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International Cat Day

CatToday is a good day to take some extra time to play with your cat – August 8th is International Cat Day, celebrating our feline friends. The day was first celebrated in 2002, and has become a yearly festivity.

Around the world, an estimated 500 million cats frolic in homes and gardens, regardless of country and climate. In the USA, there’s almost 100 million owned cats. Around 46 percent of US kitty-households have one cat, 31 percent share their home with two cats, and 24 percent have three or more cats.

Having a cat in the household has been proven to relieve stress, depression, and anxiety. Cats are particularly good for the heart – over a ten year period a cat owner is 30 percent less likely to die of a heart attack or stroke than a person without a cat. They may even lower the risk of cancer.

If you don’t already have a cat but you’ve been thinking of getting one, celebrate International Cat Day with going down to your local shelter and giving one a new home.

Keep your pets safe during the holiday celebrations

Girl and dogHappy 4th of July! This is a wonderful holiday, and here are some tips to keep your family together. Everyone should be happy and safe, right!

With 4th of July comes celebrations, fireworks, and firecrackers. While all this can be great fun for humans, pets are generally less impressed. They don’t associate the flashes, noise, and smell of fireworks with something happy; most pets are very afraid of fireworks and many panic and run.

Every year on July 5th, animal shelters drown in pets that panicked and fled. They can’t find their way home, many are injured, and some die.

During holidays such as 4th of July, keep your pets inside, and keep an eye on them every time someone opens a door to the outside.

They might bolt through a crack in the door. Even if your dog is used to hanging out in the yard on their own, keep them indoors. They can hurt themselves, break restraints, and jump fences in an attempt to find safety from the scary bangs.

Naturally, don’t leave your pet in the car, and don’t bring them the fireworks displays.

Make sure your pet has proper ID. They should carry a tag with their name and your phone number, and they should be microchipped.

Desensitize your dog to fireworks

Many pets fear fireworksMany dogs suffer a fear of fireworks, and with the upcoming holiday it’s extra important to know about this, protect the dogs, and prepare them the best we can. Even a confident dog can be terrified by the loud and unpredictable noises and bright lights.

Pets should be kept indoors during 4th of July and other firework-holidays. There are some things we can do to help them manage the fireworks. The fear might never disappear completely, but we can make it easier.

Find a video of fireworks and play it on lowest possible volume a few times during the day. While you play it, give your dogs treats, cuddle, and play. You want doggie to connect the sound with positive things.

During the course of a few days, increase the volume slowly. Keep doing fun stuff every time you play it.

If your dog shows fear at any time when you play the video, turn the volume back down and keep the positive reinforcement with play and treats.

It might take time, but eventually your dog should be able to hear the sound at a fairly loud volume without being afraid.

Desensitizing takes time, and it doesn’t always make the fear go away. Keep your pets inside. Try to drown out the sound the best you can, and allow him or her to hide. Pulling them out or trying to coax them can reinforce the fear. Also, don’t coddle the dogs when they show fear; acting naturally shows there’s no danger.

Some dogs have severe firework phobia, and in these cases you should discuss the problem with your veterinarian. There are anti-anxiety medications that can help your pet get through the holiday.

Bring your dog to work day

Bonnie inspects sliding tracks on a PlexiDor and points out that they should be white and not silver when mounted on a white frame.

June 20, 2014 is Bring your dog to work day. The event started in 1999 and was founded by Pet Sitters International as a means to promote pet adoptions. Participation has exploded; the first year less than 300 businesses took part, and this year over 300,000 visitors have looked at the website.

Bringing a pet along isn’t always possible. Some workplaces are poorly suited for four-footed friends, and in other places allergies might make it unsuitable. When it is possible,  bringing a dog gives benefits. Pets lower stress and blood pressure, create a focal point for conversation, inspire walks and exercise, and cheer people up.

Some companies encourage bringing pets all around the year, and some larger corporations provide doggie daycare to employees.

What do you think? Would you bring a pet if you could?

 

Love Your Pet Day

February 20th is Love Your Pet Day. Hopefully all pets are loved on all days of the year, but this is a good reason to pamper them a little extra. When it comes to pets, spending time with them and giving them attention goes a long way.

If you have a dog, take them out for a longer walk. Take a new route and spend some time sniffing the trees and fire hydrants. Good for both humans and pooches.

Special treats are always good. All pets appreciate something new and tasty! A lot of human food is bad for animals, especially chocolate and onions, but there are many good treats available.

Giving and playing with a new toy is a great way to bond.

If you don’t have a pet, this might be a great time to adopt one at a local shelter or rescue, or give a donation. Many grocery stores have bins for local shelters where the public can drop off dog and cat food. Most pet rescues also need everyday items such as blankets and towels.