Category: Health and Safety

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)

Pet Insurance – What You Need To Know!

It’s no secret that vet bills can be costly. When deciding to get a pet many pet parents only consider the basics – spaying/neutering, shots, annual check-ups. What if your pet it injured though? Or if has special needs? Becomes elderly? All these examples can cause those vet bills to soar out of control and leave owners feeling like they are compromising the quality care a loved one needs. Enter pet insurance. We’ve dug up some of the quick facts about pet insurance to help you learn a little more about ensuring your pet’s health and keeping those medical bills at bay!

Pet Insurance 101

  • Why? – Everyone needs this. If you’re serious about your pet it’s your responsibility to be serious about their health. Even pet parent’s blessed with healthy pets run the risk of accidents (snake bite? accidental poisoning?) and the inevitability of aging. It’s the best way to protect yourself financially and make sure your pet always has the care they need!
  • How Does It Work? – Most Pet Insurance reimburses you. If you don’t feel like you can pay the upfront cost with savings, credit card, or other emergency funds, talk with your veterinarian first about payment plan options that will work with your insurance.
  • Cost? – Pet Insurance can cost anywhere from around $10/month up to $40/month. Just like with health insurance for yourself, be sure to look at how much is covered, deductibles, and if there are any add-on options you may need like dental. Check out this site for a nice comprehensive comparison between some of the leading pet insurance companies.

Be sure to ask your vet what their experiences are with insurance and if they think it would be a good idea for you and your pet!

photo credit: GregHounslow Puppy with Cast via photopin (license)

Gut Bacteria – Keeping Your Pet In Balance!

Do you know what “gut bacteria” is and how important of a role it plays in your pet’s health? Recent studies on the topic have pointed to the conclusion that maintaining a healthy level of good gut bacteria is a key factor for good overall health in both humans and their pets! So, what is gut bacteria and what does it do? What happens without it? What can you do to help your pet maintain the right levels? Let us teach you!

Bacteria? Good? Yup!

While stomach acid helps break down the foods you eat, thousands of tiny little microbes do the real work! These helpful little buggers neutralize toxins, kill off bad bacteria and yeasts that try to overgrow, and assist in vitamin absorption!

 “The gut is the largest immune organ in the body,” says Susan G. Wynn, DVM, a veterinary nutritionist in Atlanta

Low Population?

Several factors can affect your pet’s level of the good bacteria. The balance is frequently upset by consuming things they shouldn’t and/or picking up parasites from things they eat. Taking antibiotics can also upset the flora & fauna of their bellies. Be sure to talk to your vet about gut bacteria levels if your pet is prescribed an antibiotic. Some signs of an improper balance include vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation – though your pet can have moderately low levels for an extended period of time that will affect them in other ways like malnutrition, or low immunity.

Growing & Maintaining Your Pet’s Gut Bacteria

Maintaining your pet’s gut bacteria is the best option! You can do this by ensuring they aren’t eating a lot of human foods (especially processed ones!) and aren’t given the opportunity to consume things in the wild that may have parasites. If you’re laughing at the latter option there though, talk to your vet about temporarily introducing a probiotic specifically for your pet and breed. Probiotics can be given in the form of pills, powders, or a liquid that can be added to food. They work two ways – lowering the pH of the gut creating a healthier environment for good bacteria to flourish, and by replenishing said bacteria!
photo credit: ynaka29 Happy Laika on Bed at Taconic, Kimpton Hotel via photopin (license)

Warm Days Equal Hot Cars – Don’t Leave Pets Unattended!

Warmer temperatures are on the way and as the weather starts to warm up, many pet owners start to bring their pets out while running errands. Often times pet owners think they are doing the right thing by getting their pet out of the house, but it can be extremely harmful for the pets. Pet owners need to think twice before taking their pets on car rides, because of how dangerously hot the inside of a car gets. Within minutes, the heat inside the car can reach hazardous levels – even when it’s relatively cool outside. The following infographic displays information on keeping your pet safe during the warmer weather.

If your pet can’t come in with you on your errands, it’s best to leave them at home!

Pet Safety and Rising Temperatures created by FIGO Pet Insurance

Hairball Prevention – Because No One Wants To Clean Them Up!

Don’t be caught off-guard by an unwanted hairball being coughed up around your house this shedding season! Hairballs are likely just as unpleasant for your cat to hack up as they are for you to find. Hairball prevention day is just around the corner (April 24). Do you both a favor and prevent them before they form!

Hairball Prevention 101

  • Brush, Brush, and Brush – Cats tend to do a pretty good job of grooming themselves. We don’t think much about brushing them. While they’re shedding though a good daily brushing is a must! The more of that fur you remove with a brush, the less they ingest to hack up later! Once you’ve given them a good brushing, wipe them down with a moist cloth to pick up any extra loose fur! Heck, we’ve even used a lint roller before!
  • Medicines & Supplements – If you think your cat may already have a hairball brewing, pick up an over-the-counter “medicine” to help them pass it. These medicines are often mild laxatives and can help hair pass through your cat’s system normally. Adding extra fiber to your pet’s diet, through food or supplement, is a great preventative change you can make too!
  • Add some Olive Oil – Mix a small amount of olive oil in your cat’s food! The oil helps to lubricate their digestive system naturally. Consumption of it can also make their coat shiny! This is a short-term treatment though. Feed olive oil in moderation over short periods of time.

Hairball issues can be normal while shedding, but they shouldn’t be a regular occurrence. If you cat continually suffers from issues associated with vomiting, see your vet. There may be a more serious issue at play. Left untreated and attended too hairballs can form intestinal blockages that are very dangerous for a kitty!

photo credit: vanaddie Cats, 2003 via photopin (license)

Tips Caring For A Pregnant Pet

Congratulations! It’s a boy and a girl and a boy and a girl and… If you’ve got a furry expectant mother on your hands you’re likely to see some different and new behavior. A cat’s gestation period is between 64-67 days, a dog’s is 58-68 days, and a rabbit’s is only 31 days!  You might be wondering what your role is as a standby expectant pet parent? Are there steps you can take to help your pregnant pet? You bet!

Pregnant Pet Tips

  • Lower the Litter Box – If your cat or rabbit is expecting kittens (yup, baby bunnies are called kittens too!) you might need to amend their litter box. High litter boxes can be difficult to get in and out of with a big belly! Consider getting a plastic litter box and cutting one side out of it so they can simply step in and step out. Be sure to place it on a large mat to help with clean-up!
  • Gotta Dog? More Frequent Walks – If you have a dog that you take outside to use the bathroom you may need to make these trips more frequently. Especially if you can’t adapt them to using puppy pads. To maximize your pet’s comfort, you may even need to let them out in the middle of the night too. Unless you want to clean up accidents in the morning!
  • Increased Nutrition – Just like humans, pregnant and nursing pets will have increased nutritional needs. Do your research and talk to your vet about how you may need to change your specific pets food and feeding times to meet their new needs.
  • Provide Nest Material and a Safe Spot – Ultimately your pet will choose where their babies will be born, but you can “offer suggestions” by ensuring they have a comfy out-of-the-way spot with all the things they need to nest.
  • Know Your Pets Behavior – The better you know your pet, the better you’ll be able to address their specific needs and tell when their behavior might be signaling the time is near!

Be sure to find good homes for your new critters and get them fixed as soon as you can! Puppy’s  & kittens can be fixed at about 8 weeks, and rabbits are usually around 6 months.
photo credit: Sukanto Debnath One day old Mongrel pups via photopin (license)

Prep Your Pet – Spring Into Action Now!

That time of year we’ve all been eagerly waiting for – Spring! Throw those windows up and welcome the fresh air! As we roll back into motion after winter there is so much to do. Twice as much if you’re a proud pet parent! In addition to thinking about your tan and planning summer fun, there are important steps you need to take to prep your pet for the return of warm weather!

Spring Pet Prep

  • Vaccinations – Is your pet up to date? Warm weather can bring your pet into contact with risks you need strong vaccinations against. Digging in the dirt? Contact with wildlife? Ask your vet to ensure your pets rabies, parvo, and other vaccinations are all up to date!
  • Collar with Contact Info – Lost pet numbers always rise with the temperatures. Even if your pet is microchipped make sure they have a secure collar with your contact details clearly listed on it!
  • Heartworm Prevention – Prep your pet for the incoming mosquito season before it arrives! Whether you treat with oral medication or a shot, make sure your pet stays healthy by administering their spring dose!
  • Fleas and Ticks – These buggers always make it out earlier than you expect and then before you know it, you’re fighting an infestation instead of doing simple Spring Prep! Many pet owners keep up flea and tick prevention year round, but if you’re a pet parent that lets it lapse over the winter, prep now! If you’ve got a new puppy or kitten check with your vet first to determine dosing for their size and age!

Whew! Now take them for a treat after all those shots and medicine and make sure this spring they hit a few mud puddles with you! Happy Spring!

photo credit: The_Little_GSP 0230 Happy Spring Puppy via photopin (license)

Dental Care – The Do’s and Don’t’s For Your Pet!

While dental care may be a priority to you, sometimes our pets chompers can be overlooked. Do you need to get down on their level with a toothbrush daily? How about floss? Lots of pet owners can be a little confused or clueless when it comes to dental care for their pets. Let these do’s and don’t’s guide you along the right path!

Dental Care Do’s and Don’t’s!

  • DO talk to your vet regularly about your pet’s dental health! They will be your greatest source of information about how you should or shouldn’t care for your pet.
  • DO make sure your vet checks for broken or damaged teeth at regular check-ups. Sometimes there is no telling what our pets get up to without us and a broken (and painful) tooth may go unnoticed by pet parents.
  • DO brush your dog’s teeth!
  • DON’T use human toothpaste! Get a specially formulated toothpaste for animals.
  • DO consider teeth cleaning chew toys and treats. Just make sure they aren’t hard enough to cause tooth damage (i.e. some bones…) Never give your cat or dog something to chew on that you would find too hard for yourself. Their jaws may be stronger, but their teeth aren’t!
  • DON’T ignore bad breath. Yes, your pet’s breath may not always be minty fresh, but don’t just dismiss an unpleasant dental odor as “doggy breath” or “kitty breath”. It can be a sign of a more serious issue that can lead to kidney or heart disease if left unchecked.
  • DO feed small animals like rabbits, gerbils, and hamsters fresh timothy hay regularly. Not only does this keep their digestion on track, it also helps to wear down their ever growing teeth, which can be a real problem!
  • DO talk to your vet about periodic professional teeth cleaning – with anesthesia!
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Car Sickness & Your Dog – How You Can Help!

Some dogs hear those car keys and come running – nothing better than a trip! For those who suffer from car sickness though a ride is no treat and your interior may pay the price… To understand car sickness in dogs it’s important to understand the root cause. Just like children

To understand car sickness in dogs it’s important to understand the root cause. Just like children, young pups are more likely to experience it because the structure of the inner ear that helps us establish balance isn’t fully formed yet. As a result, many pups will outgrow it. What if it’s still a problem for your grown dog, though? Let us help!

Car Sickness in Dogs

  1. Car sickness in a grown dog can sometimes be caused by stress. Does your pet only go for a ride when you’re headed to the vet? Dogs are all about cause and effect. If everytime they get in the car it ends at the vets office they’re not going to be happy riders. If sometimes it ends at the dog park, river, or other fun destination then you’ve replaced that guaranteed stress with excitement!
  2. Help build up their tolerance! Don’t toss them in the car for the first time on a long road trip! Let them have a chance to get their “car legs” by taking quick 10 minute trips at a time to fun destinations. This helps them learn how to deal with the motion and that car rides end in fun! (see point 1)
  3. Roll that window down! …do it safely though! Be careful that it’s not so low that your pet can easily jump out. The fresh air can help alleviate symptoms of car sickness.
  4. Take them on an empty stomach. Try to time your dogs feeding schedule so that they haven’t just eaten when you go for car rides. This will help keep them from getting queasy and save you a mess!
  5. Consider bringing their crate for them to ride in. Being in a safe, familiar environment can help pets prone to nervousness. Toss in a favorite toy or two as well!

photo credit: cheesy42 366-163 Looking out the window via photopin (license)

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!

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