Category Archives: keeping your pet comfortable

Chubby Pets are Cute!… Right?

In the United States, an estimated 57.6% of dogs and 52.6% of cats are obese, according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention.  The problem has reached epidemic proportions.

More than half of our furry loved ones are significantly overweight, and it’s time we give those statistics a second look.  Just as it does with humans, obesity severely affects our pets’ overall quality of life.  There are considerable consequences that come from ignoring this problem, and we owe it to our pets to understand exactly what those problems are.  Some of the risks associated with obesity in pets include:

  • Arthritis and general joint discomfort
  • Diabetes
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Kidney Disease
  • Increased Risk of Cancer

Do any of those issues sound familiar?  They should.  They are the same problems that humans experience as a result of poor body condition.

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Unfortunately, owners of obese pets suffer right alongside them, and it hits you where it really hurts: your wallet.  Pick any one of the secondary diseases that come about as a result of your pet’s obesity, and you will find that the cost to maintain their care is significant.  All of these diseases require ongoing monitoring, medications, and in some cases, life-saving procedures.

Financial impact aside, the biggest bummer of them all is watching your companion lose his or her ability to enjoy life.

If your pet is young, avoid these problems altogether by helping your pet maintain a healthy weight throughout his or her life.  It’s common sense, really.  Don’t overfeed, don’t feed junk food, and promote a playful and active daily routine.

If your pet is already obese and you want to stop the disease before it progresses further, the time to act is right now.  Start by speaking with your pet’s veterinarian about a healthier diet change.  There are oodles of high-quality, low-calorie diets available that are specifically formulated to help your pet shed some pounds.  Depending on the severity of your pet’s condition, it’s likely that your vet will recommend a few routine diagnostics (bloodwork, x-rays, etc.) before you begin the transition to a new food.  Once everything checks out fine, begin the transition.  Your vet will provide instructions for a gradual diet change, spread out over several days.

Once your pet has made the switch to a healthier diet, slowly begin to introduce more activity into his or her daily routine.  If you choose to go for walks, gradually increase the distance, speed, and frequency.  For cats, make exercise fun by introducing new toys.  Of course, if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, adopt a playful new friend for your pet.

If you have concerns about the diet you are currently feeding or your pet’s current body condition, speak with your veterinarian.  He or she knows your pet’s individual situation best and can provide invaluable advice for helping your pet live a long, happy, healthy life.

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Responsible Dog Ownership

When you think of a responsible dog owner, what key characteristics come to mind?

For some, it’s waking up at 5am to let Fido out and fill his food bowl.  Others feel that they are responsible pet owners because they feed only the most expensive dog food and go for walks at the same time of day every day.  However you choose to define responsible dog ownership, there are a few basic ideas that fall under the category of “common courtesy” that you should always bear in mind.

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Pick up after your dog!  This is one of the most basic responsibilities of owning a dog.  As a courtesy to your neighbors and other members of your community, always pick up pet waste during walks and off-leash play.  There a few things worse than walking in your front door and realizing that you’ve brought a nice smelly surprise home with you.   Don’t be the guy who left that mess behind for someone to step in.

Don’t let your pooch roam the neighborhood unattended.  Okay, so maybe this doesn’t happen so often anymore, but this version of irresponsible pet ownership still exists.  No matter how friendly or well socialized your pup may be, it’s not cool to let him or her wander through the neighborhood.  Our pets are the best version of themselves when we are with them.  In your absence, it’s very likely that he is begging for food from the neighbors, leaving “gifts” in their yards, digging in their trash, or any number of other naughty canine behaviors.  Keep your pets next to you – they’re happier that way, anyway.

Remind your dog to mind his manners.  Everybody loves dogs (right?), but nobody likes a dog who knocks them down every time they visit.  Try to discourage your dog from jumping on people, begging your dinner guests for table scraps, and licking them to death.  We understand that these are friendly behaviors that really aren’t harming anyone, but it’s still a nuisance to guests in your home, and they will definitely not earn you the “Responsible Dog Parent of the Year” award.

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September is Responsible Dog Ownership Month (not to be confused with Responsible PET Ownership Month, which occurs in February).  This month of recognition was created by the American Veterinary Association as a way of celebrating the efforts of the dog moms and dog dads who make the world a better place for our canine companions.

To learn more about the American Veterinary Medical Association’s definition of responsible dog ownership, visit the AVMA’s Guidelines for Responsible Pet Ownership.

 

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Include Your Pup in Your Labor Day Fun!

Most pet parents will probably agree that no holiday celebration is complete without their favorite furry sidekick, and Labor Day is no exception!  However, since most Labor Day celebrations don’t typically include many dog-friendly activities, you’ll need to employ a little creativity when choosing how you’ll spend today with your best friend.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Host your own last-minute dog-friendly grill out.  Since pets aren’t usually invited to the neighborhood barbeque, your friends and neighbors will probably be surprised when you call with an invitation specifically for their dog.  We think it’s a super fun idea, though, however unusual it may be.  Of course, it’s always a good idea to reserve the human food for the humans.  Instead, be prepared with a lot of treats, toys, and water stations.  Let the pups run and play together while you enjoy socializing with their owners.

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Visit a Dog Park or a Dog Beach.  Why not bring your pooch along while you’re out enjoying the last bit of summer?  Instead of going to a regular beach (where pets are usually not allowed), visit a dog beach instead.  Whether you choose a dog park or dog beach, pack a few snacks and bring enough fresh water for both you and Fido.

Take a Hike!  The majority of national parks and forests are pet-friendly, and taking a hike with your best friend is a great way to spend the day.  It’s fantastic exercise for both of you, and we guarantee that your dog will enjoy this activity as much (if not more) than you!  To make it even more fun, invite some friends, and encourage them to bring their dogs, as well.

Do a little digging.  If you’re looking for a specific dog-friendly event, whether it’s for this holiday or for any other day of the year, Bringfido.com is a fantastic resource.  This is a worldwide directory service, which lists dog-friendly resorts, parks, beaches, restaurants, events, and anything else you can think of.  Check online for events or play groups that you think may be fun for your pup.

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Whatever you plan to do this Labor Day, make sure you’re making the most of these last few weeks of summer.  Of course, we are also very interested in your pet’s safety, so we can’t resist reminding you to bring tons of water and keep him/her as cool as possible.  Although it is late in the season, heat stroke and heat exhaustion are still common this time of year.  Do your best to keep your beloved pooch safe from the harmful effects of extreme temperatures.

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Protect Your Pets from Back-to-School Hazards

Did you know that certain school supplies can be hazardous to your furry sidekick?  Whether it’s by choking or gastrointestinal foreign body, these items can absolutely be dangerous for pets.   Pet360 has compiled a list of some of the most common culprits in the back-to-school hazards for your best friend.

Check out “Top 10 Scary School Supplies”, courtesy of Pet360.com.

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The Joys of Adopting a Senior Pet

Veterinary medicine has made incredible strides over the last couple of decades, and as a result, our pets are living longer and fuller lives.  For those of us who have made a lifetime commitment to our furry family members, having them around longer is a joy and a blessing.

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However, there seems to be a significant number of families who have “outgrown” their aging pets.  At least, that’s the most logical conclusion that can be drawn from the growing trend of homelessness among senior pets.  Well, as the saying goes, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.  If yours is among the thousands of families who are interested in adopting a new pet, we’d like to urge you to consider a senior.

Still need some convincing?  We’ve come prepared.

  1. They’re a lot less messy.  If you’ve ever been the proud parent of a brand new puppy, you know that all that playful affection comes along with its fair share of chores.  While we love puppies just the same, this high level of energy can be absolutely exhausting.  When you adopt a senior pet, you will most often find that they have already been housebroken.  They are also a lot less prone to chewing your baseboards and your favorite pair of shoes.  Of course, anything is possible, but most of the time with a senior pet, your wardrobe and home will be safe from harm.
  2. What you see is what you get.  When you adopt a senior pet, there’s no guesswork involved.  You will never have to wonder how big they will get or what sort of demeanor they will have.  They are already grown, and you can get a feel for their personality right away.
  3. Speaking of personality… Senior pets are often some of the most gentle and loving creatures you will ever meet.  They love to take it easy, and they’re never short on cuddles.  Don’t mistake that gentle nature for laziness, however.  If you’re looking for a dog to jog alongside you or a kitty to play chase with, senior pets can keep up with the best of them!  However, they always recognize when playtime is over, and they will be the best couch-cruising copilot you could ever ask for.
  4. They are generally well-adjusted and acclimate easily.  Once you’ve brought that old gem home, you’ll wonder how your family ever survived without him or her.  Generally speaking, older pets settle into new environments with greater ease than their younger counterparts.  They’ve also already learned how to coexist and function as part of the group.  They’ll slide right into your house and your heart in no time flat.
  5. They need you.  When they make their way into a shelter, it’s a shock to the system.  Trust us when we tell you that the family who rescues a senior pet from an animal shelter will be rewarded ten-fold.  If you don’t believe that these animals recognize the incredible act of kindness that you have performed for them, give it a shot.  We don’t need to convince you.  Your future best friend will spend the rest of his or her life doing that.

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In many American animal shelters, senior pets are considered to be among the least adoptable pets, and they are often the first candidates for unnecessary euthanasia.  We would love for that to change.  If you’re in the market for a new pet, consider a senior.  We can say with absolute conviction that you’ll be so glad you did.

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August 15th is National Check the Chip Day!

If your pet is lost or stolen, how will you find him?

Few things are scarier than having a pet turn up missing.  Microchips are a great way to increase your chances of having your beloved family member returned to you safely.  They have become an integral part of pet ownership, and for those who have chosen to forego microchips for their pets, we’d like to urge you to reconsider.

In an effort to encourage pet parents everywhere to have their pets microchipped and keep their registration up to date, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has created National Check the Chip Day.  The AVMA provides the following data on their “Microchipping of Animals FAQ” page:

A study of more than 7,700 stray animals at animal shelters showed that dogs without microchips were returned to their owners 21.9% of the time, whereas microchipped dogs were returned to their owners 52.2% of the time. Cats without microchips were reunited with their owners only 1.8% of the time, whereas microchipped cats went back home 38.5% of the time. (Lord et al,JAVMA, July 15, 2009) For microchipped animals that weren’t returned to their owners, most of the time it was due to incorrect owner information (or no owner information) in the microchip registry database – so don’t forget to register and keep your information updated.

Essentially, what this means is that your pet is more than TWICE as likely to be returned to you if he or she is microchipped and the registration is current.  Those numbers really are significant!

The AVMA has created a FaceBook event for National Check the Chip Day.  Make sure you check it out!

If your pet is not already microchipped, today is a great day to schedule that appointment.  If you’ve already taken this very important step, take the time today to check in with the manufacturer of your pet’s microchip to make sure that his or her registration information is current and correct.  The database that is most frequently checked by shelters and veterinarians is the Universal Pet Microchip Lookup Tool, which was created by the American Animal Hospital Assocation as a way of combining all microchip information from the various manufacturers.  However, it’s also important that you check your registration with the manufacturer specifically.

Covering all of the bases will make sure that your pet’s information is accurate, which could mean all the difference in the world for your pet’s well-being.

For those overprotective pet parents who are nervous about the microchipping process, we get it!  While the concept can seem like a scary one, we want to reassure you that microchips will not harm your furry friend.  They are inserted using a hypodermic needle, which is no more painful than your pet’s annual vaccinations.  No sedation or anesthesia is necessary, and your pet will not require any pain medications afterward.

Check out this great video provided by the American Veterinary Medical Association, which provides all the information you need to know about the microchipping procedure and its benefits.

Keeping Your Indoor Cat Happy

It’s safe to say that almost all of our indoor feline friends lead carefree lives of luxury.  In our eyes, Fluffy’s typical day consists of hours of “cat napping,” eating anything she can get her paws on, and bathing in the rays of sunshine coming through the nearest window.  In the comfort of your home, your cats don’t have the responsibility of catching their own food and are blissfully unaware of the dangers of the outside world. Little do these spoiled kitties know, the protection and care you provide lets them live much longer lives than free-roaming cats.  Indoor cats can live well into their teens, while feral strays are lucky to reach 10 years old.  Your cat’s life is seemingly perfect and effortless, but the fact of the matter is that all cats have the same instinctive urges.  They want to hunt, explore, and scratch… (and scratch!)

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Most people don’t let their cats outside under any circumstances, and probably with the best of intentions in mind.  There is much debate about whether or not you should give your cat freedom to roam, and each individual has their own ways of kitty-parenting.  Keeping your cat indoors is the only way to ensure their safety and to prevent any problems with your neighbors.  However, it’s vital to your confined cat’s mental and physical well being to keep them stimulated.  When you bring a cat into your home, it’s your responsibility to offer the resources they need to be happy and healthy.  Aside from the necessities like food and water, the best thing you can give your beloved feline is the excitement they instinctively long for. By observing your cat’s unique needs and personality, you can easily create a very natural setting for him to thrive!

Each cat has their own personality, but every feline needs to engage in activities like running, jumping, hunting, and territorial exploration. Kittens are naturally super energetic and playful, but cats tend to slow down with age. Physical movement boosts the release of serotonin, so exercise is a large part of keeping your cat happy. You can find affordable cat furniture and scratching posts for your kitty to use, and a lot people even build their own. If you don’t have the room for a cat tree, a great idea is to install a system of padded shelves high along your walls to give your cat a change of perspective and a sense of territorial ownership. When it comes to your cat’s need to hunt and kill, the image that comes to mind is not a very pretty one. Luckily, you can easily replicate this activity by regularly using a laser pointer, rolling toys, and even food puzzles.

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By catering to your cat’s instinctual needs, you will find that everyone in the household will become much happier!  The most important thing to remember is that your cat doesn’t know that you “own” him, but in fact sees you as a provider, a roommate, and a friend.

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Tips for Giving Medications to Your Stubborn Cat or Dog

If you’ve ever had to give medications to your pet, you understand that it come sometimes be a pretty tricky process.  Even worse, they become wise to your antics and very quickly learn to outsmart you when they hear their pills rattle in the bottle.

It’s extremely important (for both you and your pet) that you avoid making this a traumatic experience.  Making medications part of a positive routine will make administration easier, and it will lend itself to the overall well-being of your pet.

Here are a few pointers for giving medications to your tricky cat or dog:

  • The most obvious choice is to give medications inside of treats.  Unfortunately, pets will often learn this process, and they will begin to eat around the pill.  Much to the dismay of many pet owners, pills are found on the floor hours later (after having been spit out by a very wise pooch).  As a way of avoiding this, try preparing multiple treats at once.  Give the treat containing the pill in between the “decoy” treats.  If you’re lucky, the pill will go down completely unnoticed by your cat or dog.
  • Give medications when your pet is distracted.  Try to sneak the medications in during play time or while going for walks.
  • Try to avoid becoming obviously irritated when you’re trying to get your pet to take his or her pills.  Always remember that your pet will respond to your posture, tone of voice, and overall attitude.  If you become visibly tense, it will condition your furry friend to become nervous when it’s time for future dosing.
  • Some pets will allow you to gently place the pill at the back of their throat.  In these cases, you should avoid jamming your hand into your pet’s mouth.  Simply hold it open and drop the pill as far back as possible.  Hold his or her mouth closed with the nose pointed upward, and gently massage the neck until your pet swallows.

If you find that you are still unable to administer your pet’s medications, speak with your veterinarian about possible alternatives before you decide to give up.  Many medications are also available in liquid form, making them easier for some pets to tolerate.

We know how important medications can be for our pets, especially with serious long-term conditions.  However, they are not able to understand what we are doing or why we are doing it.  Exercise compassion with your pets, and you will get the hang of giving medications eventually.

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Is That a Marsupial in Your Pocket?

Sugar gliders are peculiar little pets, indeed.  This pint-sized marsupial originates in Australia and shares its family tree with other loveable creatures, such as kangaroos, wallabies, and possums.  However, they are often mistaken for rodents.  Sugar gliders have a membrane that extends from their wrist to their ankles.  This membrane resembles wings, and it allows them to travel from one place to the next.  Although it appears that they are flying, they are actually only able to glide – hence, the name.Because they are so tiny, Sugar Gliders have been labelled a “pocket pet”.  When they are born, they are about the size of a grain of rice.  At their largest, sugar gliders will only grow to be around 12 to 17 centimeters.  It is said that they have the same intelligence as a dog, and they can be trained in the same manner (including tricks!).

Sugar gliders have become extremely popular in the United States, and most states and cities will allow them to be kept as pets.  Keep in mind, however, that there are some states which require sugar glider owners to obtain a permit to keep them.  Others, such as California, Hawaii, and Alaska, do not allow sugar gliders at all.  So, always remember to check local pet regulations before deciding to adopt one.

Also before adopting a sugar glider, consider these facts about how they live in the wild:

  • Sugar gliders can glide in excess of 150 feet.  They need room to move freely, so plan to provide them with a large enclosed habitat.
  • A baby sugar glider (called a “Joey”) is not able to survive away from its mother before approximately 4 months of age.  It’s best to avoid adopting a sugar glider younger than this.
  • In the wild, sugar gliders rarely (if ever) touch the ground.  Plan to provide them with plenty of places to perch and hide.  (Tip: In their natural habitat, trees are the obvious perch of choice.  Use natural elements to make your pet’s cage feel like home.)
  • Sugar gliders mark their territory with urine.  In the wild, this is most commonly seen in the nest.  As pets, it’s normal for this behavior to happen in the cage or even on you.
  • Sugar gliders naturally live in large groups, and many people will tell you to “get them a friend”.  While this is not a completely bad idea, you don’t want to perpetuate accidental breeding of ANY animal.  Female sugar gliders can give birth to 2-3 joeys at once, so take the necessary precautions.

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If you’re interested in adopting a sugar glider, speak with a veterinarian to make sure that they are a good fit for your situation.  You can also find more information HERE.

 
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Flea Facts!

Fleas are bothersome all year around, but this time of year, they are of special concern.  Check out this infographic to learn more about this itchy pest, courtesy of www.VetNetwork.com.