Category: Fun Articles

Classroom Pets – What You Need to Know!

The summer has blown by and back-to-school is just around the corner! Are you a teacher or a parent? Did you have a classroom pet when you went to school? Maybe you’re a student who’d like to have one?Classroom pets offer a variety of cool and interesting ways to learn and engage students. They are also an obligation though. Let us walk you through some of the ups and downs!

What sort of animal makes a good classroom pet?

Not a dog or a cat for sure! Low maintenance animals are best. Ideally, it’s not a critter that needs to be taken home every night, is small and doesn’t cause classroom disturbance.

  • Guinea Pigs – Small, relatively quiet. They require minimal care, are generally calm and easy to handle. You will need to have a pair though to prevent boredom and loneliness.
  • Hamsters – All the same features of a guinea pig, but smaller. They do tend to be nocturnal though, so students will see less of their prime activity hours.
  • Lizards – Iguanas, bearded dragons, and the like make super low maintenance classroom pets. Their needs will vary slightly depending on the type you get but they usually require less food, interaction, and are easy to handle.
  • Rats – Nice clean pet shop rats (not the ones from the alley!) are a super smart and active classroom pet. Students can spend time building mazes and test the rat’s brain power! They are also less likely to bite than hamsters or mice.
  • Fish – Probably the lowest maintenance pet, but also likely the one with the least amount of reward. They can add a nice, calming atmosphere to the classroom though and make good study subjects for aquatic science! Also, consider hermit crabs!

Classroom Pet Pro’s

Pets in the learning space can provide exciting new ways for students to engage with their curriculum. Animals can frequently be easily incorporated into math (animal weight, food measurements), science, and even history, social studies, and literature! They also instill a sense of responsibility and respect for life in children. They can also have a great calming effect on nervous or upset students. Plus, parents might appreciate seeing how their student interacts with a classroom pet before committing to one in the home!

Classroom Pet Con’s

Most of the cons have to do with the added responsibility on the teachers part. Teachers are, ultimately, responsible for the welfare of the pet. They need to ensure students are performing daily feedings and care properly and that the pet’s living space is kept clean. They are also responsible for vet visits (though some schools may foot the bill), shots, and spaying/neutering. It’s also important for the pet to have a place to go during vacations, or even the weekends depending on the animal.  It’s also suggested that parents give their expressed permission for their child to interact with the school pet, in the case of a rogue bite or scratch.

photo credit: Ukelens Guinea Pig Photoshooting Selection via photopin (license)

Cookout Pet Safety For Your Summer Vacation

Most schools have let out for the year by now – that means summer is about to get into full swing! A favorite family and community pass time for ages have been the summer cookout. Lawn chairs, cool drinks, colorful dresses, and lots of grilling! Do you know how to keep your pet safe?

Cookout Pet Threats

  • Hot grills and fire pits – Most cats and dogs know better than to sniff around too closely to something that’s on fire, but sometimes the smell of those unattended burgers can be too much for them to bear! All reason goes out the window as they decide it’s worth the risk. Make sure someone is keeping a close eye on the food at all times!
  • Hazardous foods – While most foods found at a cookout might not kill your pet, they could cause some serious stomach upset, especially if they aren’t used to such foods. Onions and avocados are two bellyachers as well as all those preservatives and salt found in chips and hot dogs. Let guests know you’d rather they not feed your pet, or better yet, keep your pets sequestered elsewhere while the bulk of the food is going around!
  • Lawn games – Sometimes cookouts include horseshoes, volleyball, badminton, or other yard sport. An over anxious pet can easily get in the way of participants injuring both them and the guests. Chewing on abandoned lawn toys can pose a choking hazard too.
  • Candles and torches – Keep your pets away from tables with candles or tiki torches to prevent a fire hazard.
  • Strange people – Pets that aren’t used to large groups can become over excited or nervous during cookouts. Especially if there are loud noises like music or fireworks involved too. If your pet is familiar with most of the guests or easily excitable leave them at home or put them inside somewhere with some water, food, and toys of their own. DO NOT LEAVE THEM IN A CAR.

photo credit: frankieleon Dogs and Cats via photopin (license)

Earth Day 2017 – Green Pet Tips for Wallet & Planet!

Happy April! Stuck inside due to April showers? Take some time to evaluate you and your pets carbon footprint. April 22nd is Earth Day – a great reminder to keep the planet in good shape for all the fuzzy (and not so fuzzy…) critters, including you! So what steps can you take in preparation for Earth Day? Find out below!

 Green Pet Tips in Honor of Earth Day

  • Spay & Neuter – Every new critter your critter produces is four more little carbon footprints! Prevent accidental litters by making sure your pet is spayed or neutered. Got that taken care of? Consider donating to a local animal shelter or charity that offers free or discounted spay & neuter clinics for shelter animals.
  • Buy Reusable – Often times it can be a bigger upfront investment, but over time reusable pet items not only help the environment, but they save you money too! Here are some often overlooked reusable options for pets:
    Replace cat litter with a Cat Genie!
    Instead of use-once puppy pads, consider switching to a washable version
    Get a pet bed with a removable cover that can be washed, or replaced
  • DIY Toys – While the toy aisle may be tempting, don’t waste your money! Most pets are happy with bags, boxes, or other household items! This awesome list from Barkpost will help you recycle your old clothes and water bottles into eco-friendly toys your pets will love! Make up several and gift them to friends for Earth Day!

Avoid Clay-based Litters – Clay-based cat litters are created by strip mining sodium bentonite out of the ground. Its acquisition leaves long-term damage to the environment. Grist.com has a great list of reviews for some of the top non-clay based cat litters out there. Find one that suits your needs and try it out!

  • Avoid Vinyl, Phthalates, and BPA – These are all potentially toxic and/or petroleum based products. Most plastics (food/water bowls) and leashes are made out of these materials. Consider investing in metal dishes and buy collars and leashes made from cotton or hemp!
  • Be A Minimalist – Every year we’re informed about the booming pet industry – 62 billion dollars in 2016. Our pets are frequently a lot lower maintenance than we make them out to be. Instead of doling out money on things they don’t need – be a minimalist. Take that money and invest it in services, training, a savings account, or pet charity!

photopin (license)photo credit: N’Grid Snif Snif via

Diet Changes For Your Pet? Read This First!

For most people feeding your dog is simply a matter of grabbing the dry kibble, putting some water in the bowl and hope that your pup loves it.

There is, however, a new movement of feeding dogs a raw diet or supplementing their diets with fresh fruit, vegetables, and meat. Of course, dogs evolved from wolves, and therefore they enjoy a diet high in protein, specifically meat based products.

For many of us, knowing what human food to feed a dog can be a challenge. A diet that’s high in fat, sugar, and fillers is bad for dogs – and us, so why should we feed them unhealthy food? Luckily Pet Gear Lab has produced a super handy chart which you can download, print out and stick on your fridge. It lists all the common foods which you can freely feed your pup and those which you should feed moderately, or avoid altogether. It’s handy for kids, elderly parents or even a pet nanny to refer to when they feel like giving your pets tit bits.

This is what it looks like:

Head on over to Pet Gear Lab to grab the download and let us know how you’re getting on with introducing human food into your dog’s diet!

Teach Your Kids To Respect Animals – Top Tips!

Animals all have their own unique “languages”. Just like learning to talk it’s important to teach children how to communicate with all the critters they may meet. Why is this important? Because animals are awesome and being good to them makes you pretty awesome too; among many other good reasons far too numerous to mention! So, how do you go about teaching your kid about the language of animals? Here are some top tips!

How to Teach Your Kids to Respect Animals

  • Teach them to be humble. Kids have a way of seeing something they want and just grabbing it for their own purpose and amusement. When around another living creature, encourage them to control that urge. Some animals are crazy and will bounce all around a kid scaring them, but sometimes it’s the kid doing the bouncing and grabbing. Teach your kid to be patient and let the animal approach them on their own terms.
  • Teach them to be gentle. Soft touching and no grabbing is key to animal respect. Sure, there will always be amazing pets out there that don’t mind your toddler dragging them around by their tail, but do they really enjoy it? Best to advise your child how to stroke them gently and carry them comfortably.
  • Teach them to be calm. Pets can be just as rambunctious as kids sometimes. It’s important that your kid learns not to lash if they get annoyed with them. No hitting, kicking, or biting!
  • Learn more! Find a full list of awesome ways to teach your child to respect animals here.  From visiting animals shelters to reading books about them there are a million (or at least 21) ways that you can increase your child’s empathy and ensure they have lots of happy relationships with pets in their future!

Your Personality Pet Match – Take the Test!

Have you ever taken or heard of the MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) test? It’s a test based on the idea that there are 16 personality types made up of combinations of different traits. We don’t know of any studies about how many types there are for dogs, but we do have a wonderful infographic from petdoors.com that tells you which breed best matches you!

Take the personality test!

You can take the test here, and read all the awesome things about who you are and how you work!

Match your breed!

Look below to match your results with the breed that best compliments you!

Chocolate, Candies, and Flowers – Keep Your Pet Safe!

Whether this Valentines Day finds you committed or single, your pet loves you unconditionally! The way they are always happy to see you, always up for snuggles, and the affectionate ways they bring you gifts or help you out with your grooming make up for not sending you chocolate once a year.  All the more reason to ensure your celebrations aren’t putting them at risk.

The Chocolate Factor and Others

  • If there is a holiday more associated with chocolate, we don’t know what it could be! You may know that chocolate can kill your dog, did you also know it’s bad for cats too? Chocolate causes abnormally high heart rates in animals. It’s super important to make sure your pet never has access to it! Since chocolate can cause cardiac arrest, make sure you know how to perform CPR!

 

  • How about those flowers delivered to your door? They look beautiful and smell great but could also be toxic to your pet! Lilies are especially toxic to cats and many other flower varieties can cause upset stomachs and vomiting. Even if the flower itself is not toxic to your pet, many floral arrangments are sprayed with chemicals to enhance their look and extend their life.
  • Sugar-free doesn’t mean pet-friendly. Xylitol is often found in sugar-free chocolate and candies (Gum too!). This ingredient is especially toxic to pets. It’s in you and your pets best interest to keep all sweets out of reach!
  • Ribbons, bows, and candles. You’ve done great making sure those chocolates are out of reach (or gone already…) but what about the box? Delicious smelling candy wrappers, bows, and ribbons can pose choking hazards for many pets, and potentially cause intestinal blockage if consumed. And how about those candles that set the mood for a romantic evening? Make sure their not where a pet can know them over!

photo credit: DaPuglet Valentine Pug via photopin (license)

Therapy With Your Dog? Find Out How!

Did you know that the first modern therapy dog was a Yorkshire Terrier named Smoky? An abandoned pup found in the midst of World War II, she stayed alongside her adopted owner throughout the war. She helped them accomplish incredible tasks and boosted morale with certain entertaining numbers she had learned. Therapy dogs didn’t become popular until 1976. A  nurse noticed the positive response patients had to the visiting Chaplain’s Golden Retriever. Since then, the ways that dogs (and cats!) have been proven to help people has done nothing but grow! While certain things like seeing-eye dogs are commonly thought of, here are a few more ways dogs are helping people out!

Therapy with your Dog!

  • Comfort – Never underestimate the amount of comfort your dog can provide during stressful and emotional situations. Just petting an animal lowers your blood pressure and helps people with anxiety feel calm. Dogs have begun being utilized in prison therapy programs, allowing inmates to talk about very emotional things that can lead to visible distress. The dogs are trained to approach the person and comfort them.
  • Emotional Support – College campuses across the nation have been employing therapy dogs to help students cope with tragic situations. Yale University has so much faith in the service that students can “check-out” therapy dogs as needed.
  • Bridging Communications – Therapists have found that in people who have trouble communicating or connecting, the presence of a dog can help them open up and feel more secure in social situations.
  • Increasing Confidence – Because dogs don’t judge, interacting with one can help grow children’s confidence. Children will often interact with pets like they might a human – by reading or singing to them, or even asking their “opinion” on something. These interactions have been shown to strengthen children socially and emotionally.

photo credit: rentmam1 Wir wünschen euch ein schönes Wochenende via photopin (license)

Whiskers – Your Pet’s Sixth Sense in Action!

Whiskers – just about every fuzzy creature around has them. They stick out of cheeks and snouts, hang off chins and even span out like exaggerated eyebrows. They are found in predators and prey alike, and cats even have them on the back of their front legs! What do these peculiar hairs do though and why are they so common? Here are some interesting facts about your pet’s whiskers!

All About Whiskers

  • They are much different from normal pet hair, or human hair! They are embedded much more deeply and send information about an animal’s surroundings straight to their sensory nerves. This helps animals have a clearer sense of their surroundings knowing how and when to react to them.
  • Did you know that whiskers will shed, just like fur? Don’t worry if you find one laying around. It’ll grow back!
  • Not all whiskers are straight! Some breeds of cats can curl!
  • Don’t trim them! Trimming can give an animal a distorted sense of their surrounds. Some critters, like rabbits, can’t see right in front of them and whiskers are pertinent to keep them from bumping into things!
  • They help gauge width. Ever wonder how your cat or rabbit just knows they can fit into a tight spot? Those long hairs help tell them the width of spaces without being able to see them. If the whiskers fit, the body can fit!
  • They are so sensitive, they respond to vibrations in the air!
  • The cat with the longest whiskers lives in Finland and is named “Missi”. In 2005 they were measured at 7.5 inches long!
  • Whisker Stress is a real thing! If your pet eats or drinks out of a narrow food or water dish they can develop this disorder. The constant stimulus every time they eat or drink can become uncomfortable. This may lead to your pet not eating or drinking enough, or attempting to drag their food out of their bowl before consumption.

photo credit: y_egan “Whiskers on kittens…” via photopin (license)

2017 Popular Pet Name Predictions from Pet Nanny!

Happy 2017! Each year claims a new style or trend to define it – and that includes popular pet names! If you’re looking to pick-up (or adopt!) a new furbaby this year check out our one-stop-shop for what are sure to be the most chosen names of 2017!

You got a name for me?

 Pet Names for 2017

  • Go Viking with strong names like Thor, Loki, or Asgard. Or their girl counterparts of Freya, Hilde, or Astrid.
  • How about your favorite pop culture icon? Living or recently passed are sure to be hot this year: Bruno, Bowie, Prince, Lou, Drake…
  • Are you a football fan? How about LeBron, Love, or Peyton?
  • With a remake of Beauty and Beast hitting the theaters this Spring, pick a Disney name! Belle, Beast, Gaston, Major, Pluto, Merryweather, Nala, Bambi…
  • We’re sure to see some names inspired by the latest Star Wars film from late 2016. Try out Ezra, Kylo, Hera, Mace, Rex, Rey… and of course the classic – Leia and Luke
  • Science Fiction will rule 2017 so don’t be afraid to break out your “nerdy” side! Nebula, Gamora, Gallifrey, Zelda, and Scully
  • It may be 2017, but some names are classic and timeless – Molly, Bear, Lucy, Duke, Max, Rex, Ruby, and Ali.
  • Politics may be a hot button issue, but expect to find pets whose names reflect the turbulent 2016 election year! Bo, Obama, Donald, Hillary, Bernie… Even Ken Bone!
  • Want something a little more unique than what trends have to offer? Consider some of these unusual pet names! Ox, Novac, Babs, Palto, Reese, Igor, Dagney, Elsie, or Evo?

Don’t forget to get your new pet a nice shiny new name tag for their collar and include your phone number! This helps differentiate a stray from a lost pet and can be the difference between a quick return home or a trip to the local animal shelter if found!

photo credit: Carly & Art “What? Go out in the snow? Are you nuts?” via photopin (license)

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