Category Archives: pet safety

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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Fun Facts About Cats and Dogs!

Did you know…

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While adult cats only have 30 teeth, dogs have 42.  The reason for this difference is their individual dietary needs.  Cats and dogs have the same number of incisors and canines, which are the teeth that are used for tearing meat.  However, dogs also require vegetation in their diets (your best kitty friend is strictly carnivorous).  Because of this difference, dogs have more molars and premolars, which are the teeth that are used for crushing and grinding plants.  Regardless of their diets, though, our pets need their teeth cleaned regularly… just like we do!

The Basenji is the only breed of dog that is unable to actually bark.  Instead, they make an unusual sound, often referred to as a “baroo”.  It sounds similar to a yodel… check out the video below!

Do you ever wonder why your cat can climb gracefully upward, but when it is time to come down, she is either stuck or forced to jump?  It’s a kitty paw design flaw! Because their claws are curved inward (like a hook), they are perfect for digging in to a surface so that she can then pull her body upward.  However, this doesn’t work quite so well on the way down.  Tell that to the neighborhood firemen the next time they need to rescue your cat from a tree.  It’s not kitty’s fault!

A common misconception about dogs is that they are colorblind.  This actually is not the case.  While they don’t have the pleasure of experiencing the same robust color spectrum that we do, they do see some hints of color.  Don’t worry that they are missing out on visual stimulation, however.  Dogs have superior peripheral vision and can see extremely well in the dark.

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Black cats have GOOD luck!  The same gene that causes their fur to hold such a rich dark color comes along with the added benefit of increased resistance to certain viruses and bacteria.  While this is certainly no reason to skimp on your best friend’s necessary preventative care, it’s still a fun fact to have on hand for the next time someone accused your adorable black feline of bringing bad luck.

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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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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.

Agility!

If you’ve never heard of dog agility or never considered having your dog participate, it’s definitely something that is worth a second thought and some internet research.

Dog agility is a sport that is enjoyable for both the pup and its owner.  It promotes socialization for your pet, encourages them to be more active, and gets the handler in on the action, too!  Agility is a fantastic first step toward a healthier lifestyle for your dog, and it’s even better if you can get your pooch started early.

One of the biggest advantages of agility is that it provides an outlet for dogs with a lot of pent up energy.  This way of using your dog’s vitality to his advantage is a great way to circumvent some of the more destructive behaviors that result from restlessness and lack of stimulation.  The best part?  Dogs of any age, size, or breed are able to participate in canine agility, as long as they are well-mannered (especially around other dogs).

Essentially, you can think of canine agility as an obstacle course of sorts.  There are different organizations for the sport, and each has its own regulations for the constructions of obstacles.  The general idea is the same across the board, however.

The most commonly used agility obstacles are the A-Frame (it looks exactly the way it sounds), tunnels, teeter-totters, hurdles, and the “dog-walk”.

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For many pet parents, the cost of building or purchasing the equipment is prohibitive.  This is the primary reason that most choose to join an agility class, rather than construct their own home training equipment.  As an added bonus, agility classes and clubs give your pooch the chance to make friends and interact with other dogs in a positive social environment.

If you don’t think that agility is right for you or your pet, we want to still encourage you to speak with your pup’s veterinarian about alternative steps that you can take toward a healthier, longer, happier life for your pet.  Just as it is with people, a healthy lifestyle is essential to your dog’s longevity and overall well-being.

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June 20th is National Take Your Dog to Work Day!

Today is Take Your Dog to Work Day!  If you’re fortunate enough to have an employer who is willing to let you and your pooch participate, definitely take advantage of such a fun occasion!

Before you do, though, be sure to keep your pup’s well-being in mind.  Check out this article, Puppies in the Workplacefrom Worms and Germs (a blog created to promote safe pet ownership).

After you do that, check out www.TakeYourDog.com to learn more about this exciting annual event!

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