Friday, May 19, 2017

Keep your Pets Safe During Tick Season

With tick season upon us it is very important for dog and cat owners to be aware of the signs/symptoms of tick-borne illnesses. There are a number of diseases that can be transmitted through tick bites. Some of these diseases can cause your pet to suffer. If your dog or cat is experiencing any of these symptoms, it would be wise to contact your veterinarian ASAP:

-Loss of Appetite
-Weight Loss
-Enlarged Lymph Nodes
-Difficulty Walking
-Excessive Clumsiness

            While antibiotics can help with certain cases, some tick-born illnesses can leave your dog or cat with long term health issues. Even if the antibiotic seems to have done the trick, symptoms can surface down the road.

            The cost of treating a tick-borne illness in your pet will be much higher than the cost of preventative treatment you can use to combat the blood-sucking insects. It is very important to talk to your veterinarian about what method of preventative care is the best for your pet. There are different options, but the two main methods are a topical medicine that goes on the fur, or a chewable pill that is ingested.

            No matter what form of medication you choose, it is important to realize that no method has a 100% success rate. The chances of your dog getting ticks throughout its life are very high, especially if you live near wooded areas. That is why it is so important for you to monitor your pets closely, especially when coming in from outdoors. Even if your dog doesn't spend much time outside there are ways for ticks to find their way onto them. Ticks can be transferred to your pet from other dogs, or even humans who don't check themselves before entering the house. Tick borne illnesses are not to be taken lightly and it is important for pet owners to check their animals regularly, especially this season after such a mild winter

Saturday, April 29, 2017

10 Things You Didn't Know About Cats!

 The population of cats in the US is estimated to be between 125 to 150 million. That number is quickly increasing by the day. Although we seem to be surrounded by cats, how much do we REALLY know about our feline friends? Here are 10 interesting facts about these cuddly creatures that you probably didn’t know:

1. Catnip isn't Just for domestic cats- If you own a cat, chances are that you know the effect catnip has on them. Well, this isn't limited to just house cats. Even lions and tigers can't resist this tempting treat!

2. Cats don't have collarbones- This is how your cat is able to fit into very tight spaces. Cats are able to squeeze into openings that are the same size as their heads. Next time you you find your cat in an unusual place you'll know why.

3. Its more than just a "cat nap"- It's perfectly normal for your cat to spend a majority of their time snoozing. On average, a domestic cat will "nap" for about 2/3 of their life.

4. Back it up!- Most people know that cats have amazing vision in low light. What most DON'T know is that cats are farsighted which means they have trouble focusing on things that are closer than a foot in front of their faces.

5. Cats tolerate heat very well despite all that fur- Thanks to traits handed down by their ancestors, cats can thrive in hot temperatures. One unique feature is their ability to sweat through the pads on the bottoms of their paws!

6. Felines dream much like humans- As long as a cat is in a deep enough sleep, they will produce the same brain waves found in humans during the REM stage of their slumber.

7. Certain breeds like water- Breeds such as the Maine Coon, American Bobtail and a handful of others actually enjoy swimming or wading in water.

8. Obesity is a serious epidemic among cats- As of 2011, 54% of US cats were considered overweight/obese. This is also try of US dogs and humans!

9. Cats are VERY clean animals- Felines will spend about 1/3 of the time they are awake grooming themselves.

10. Cats are FAST- In short distances, domestic cats can travel at speeds of up to 31 MPH. Some of their "big cat" relatives, such as the cheetah, can reach a top speed of 75 MPH!

It is important to thoroughly educate yourself before becoming a cat owner. If you fail to do so the results could be Catastrophic.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Why You Should Adopt a Senior Pet

Adopting a new pet is quite the exciting event, not only for children, but for people of all ages. While the majority of people can't resist a puppy/kitten, this may not be he most practical choice for everyone. There are many reasons why a senior pet may be the perfect addition to your family.

            Just like humans, the personality of an animal changes as they grow. Once a dog/cat reaches adulthood their temperaments become stable. Say you were to bring home a puppy or kitten. They may be cute and cuddly to begin with but that can change rather quickly. You don't want to risk having that animal become aggressive, hyperactive or even anxious. Most of the time, with a senior pet, what you see is what you get. This is especially important in families with children and/or other pets.

             One of the hardest and most time consuming parts of owning an animal is training them. When it comes to senior pets, the majority are already familiar with certain skills. Most older dogs know the basics which include sit, stay and down. Another advantage is that most adult pets are housebroken. Dogs are likely to let you know when they need to go out while cats are already accustomed to using a little box. Having a pet that is already familiar with these skills can greatly reduce the stress that comes along with training.

            Another highly important benefit of choosing a senior pet that is often overlooked is the fact that they are already full grown. This applies more to dogs than cats as they have the potential to become much larger. A first time dog owner may bring home a puppy and quickly become overwhelmed by the rate at which they grow. Not only is this a size issue but also a money issue. The bigger the animal, the more it costs to take care of them.

            There are MANY important factors to consider when choosing a new pet. Remember that cats/dogs quickly become members of the family. Be sure to explore all of your options before giving either of these animals a forever home.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Tips for Walking a Reactive Dog on a Leash

Does your dog have trouble taking a simple walk on a leash? You're not alone, in fact, a large percentage of dog owners experience the same issue. Luckily there are a number of things you can do to reverse this behavior.

Just like humans, dogs have their own unique personalities. Whether your pet gets excited, aggressive, or scared while on leash, these behaviors can be corrected. A majority of dog owners believe that in order to train their dog they must use force and try to dominate the animal. Usually this negative method of training leads to elevated stress levels in your pet. The most effective and humane way to train your 4-legged friend is called "choice training".

 As you may have guessed, "choice training" is all about giving your dog choices and using positive reinforcement. For this type of training you want to use positive behaviors that your dog already exhibits. Say you have a dog who lashes out aggressively at other animals/people while on leash. What you want to do is replace that behavior with a positive one. If you are on a walk and see another dog approaching you could have your dog sit and then reward them with treats and praise. Eventually your pup will be conditioned to use this behavior when approached by other animals/people without lashing out.

Another common issue is simply getting your dog to walk calmly without pulling. A simple correction for this is to reward the dog with treats each time they look back at you while on a walk. The reasoning behind this is that it is very hard for your animal to pull while looking back at you. Presenting them with a treat really helps to bring their focus back to you instead of trying to pull forward.

Positive reinforcement is truly the key to taking control of a reactive dog. The best part is that the dog doesn't see it as you dominating them. Instead, they see you as an equal and someone they can trust. These types of changes don't happen over night so be sure to be patient with your animal. With "choice training" your dog will be MUCH happier but more importantly, you will be too!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Learn to Pet-itate!

Pet-centered meditation (pet-itation) can help you to develop your relationship with your animals while simultaneously improving your own mindfulness. Anyone who has days where they allow their stress to come home to their family and pets can use the practice, and any pet who suffers from anxiety or behavioral issues will benefit.  Over time and with consistent routine, pet-itation will improve the behavior and emotional well-being of everyone involved.  

Below are some suggestions for getting started:

1.)    Pick a Time

It is best to “pet-itate” when everyone is already relatively calm. A good time would be when you and your animals are winding down for the evening. It would be difficult to successfully practice when they are hyper and excited about the day ahead, but you know your pets and everyone is different.

2.)    Pick a Place

Find a quiet and comfortable spot to relax with your pets. Meditation is most enjoyable when everyone is comfortable. Don’t try to control what your animals do once you begin, just let them move around and focus on your own breathing while they get comfortable. 

3.)    Develop a Routine 

Like anything, the more you practice, the more successful you become and the more you will notice results. The best thing you can do for yourself and your pets is to form a daily habit.

4.)    Start small

If you try to pet-itate for more than a few minutes at first, you and your pets might get frustrated or bored. You’ll get there eventually, but start small and build your way there. If it isn’t working, you shouldn’t force it. Walk away and try again the next day.
Think about the long-term benefits for you and your pet’s physical and emotional well-being. Doing this activity together will build an unbreakable bond between you and your pet and it will help with managing stress and anxiety for both parties. The most important thing is to have fun and appreciate the sense of calm and stability that this practice will bring into your pet's life.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

These Common Household Items are Positively Lethal to your Pets!

Warmer weather is coming & that means calls to the Animal Poison Control Center are going to spike to as many as 800 per day. Because of this, March 20-26th is National Animal Poison Prevention Week and we are raising awareness and educating pet owners as to avoid accidents this summer.

If you suspect that your pet has ingested a poisonous substance, you need to respond immediately. The effects of ingestion will not be instant; it depends on the substance, but for some it could take up to 20 minutes before you notice a reaction. 

Some tips to keep your pets safe:

1.      Make sure herbicides, fertilizers, and pesticides are kept away in a secure place. 

2.      If you spend time outdoors and your pet comes in contact with a plant that you cannot identify, take a photo and upload it to this Facebook group that identifies plants:

3.      Keep chocolate away in a drawer. Large amounts can be lethal to dogs and cats. Chocolate is the #1 reason for calls to the Animal Poison Control Center.

4.      Write the phone number for your veterinarian and the Animal Poison Control Center on a sticky note and put it on the refrigerator or another place that’s easy to access in case of emergency.

5.      Educate yourself on what foods could be toxic to your pets:

a        Alcoholic drinks, certain mushrooms, chocolates, grapes, raisons, star fruit, aspartame, chives, onions, coffee and caffeine.

Call your veterinarian immediately if you suspect anything, or if it’s after hours, call the Animal Poison Control Center. When it comes to your pet, you don’t want to take any chances. A professional can give you advice and direction as to whether or not you need to take action or if your pet is okay.

Stay safe, get smart, and don’t hesitate to call if you suspect! 

Friday, March 10, 2017

How to Stop your Pets from Destroying the Furniture

Here are a few helpful tips that might help you to regain some control of an out-of-control chewing situation with your dog or puppy.

1.      Understand Why
Puppies are like babies… They are discovering a whole new world & they explore with their mouths. Just like babies, they teethe & they chew because it gives them a sense of comfort and relief. It is your job to establish rules for what objects are appropriate for chewing. 

Adult dogs might be chewing for other reasons, and it is your responsibility to understand why & manage the situation until they have learned what objects in your home are not allowed to be chewed.  Maybe they never learned not to chew as a puppy, maybe they have anxiety or they are bored. They could be afraid, or just want attention.

2.      Teach & Supervise
Keep your personal belongings that you don’t want to be chewed in places where they are not accessible to your pet. Provide your dog with bright colored toys that are distinguishable from regular household objects. Supervise your dog & have a “safe place” in your home that is just for them where they have access to fresh water and all of the toys that are cleared for chewing. 

3.      Socialize your Dog

Make sure your dog is spending plenty of time with people and other dogs- if possible. They will never learn appropriate behavior if they are never given the opportunity. 

4.      Taste Deterrents & Incentives
You can spray and coat objects like your sofa with a taste deterrents that might make them unappealing to chew… Some dogs will chew right through a deterrent, but some will be put off by the bitter taste. On the other end of the spectrum, give them incentives to chew their toys by using them for feeding. Fill a Kong-type toy with kibble for meal times and occasionally treats. An infatuation will develop between them and their toys taking their attention away from your expensive furniture. 

At the end of the day, it is important to set boundaries, while understanding that things happen! Chewing is part of being a dog owner and occasionally your dog will inevitably chew something that’s important to you. And you’ll love them anyway!