Tag: health

Microchipping – Frequently Asked Questions

May is National Chip Your Pet Month! Microchipping your pet can sound scary. Whether your pet is chipped or not you may have lots of questions concerning this process. We’re here to help!

How Does Microchipping Work?

A small (think rice size) microchip is inserted into under your pet’s skin. This microchip has a unique identifying code that registers once scanned. If your pet is found and turned into a shelter or other authority, they can scan this chip, obtain the number, and enter it into the national database to find out who the owner is and how to contact them. This isn’t a “pet tracker” and it won’t find your pet lost in the woods, but it will help someone who does find them get them back to you!

Why?

Did you know that the chances of being reunited with an unchipped lost pet are about 1 in 5? That’s a pretty big risk and a lot of heartache. Lost pets often end up in shelters, and with overpopulation problems, some may be euthanized. Even if you have a collar that contains up to date information about contacting you, collars can fall off, or even be removed by thieves.

How Much Can I Expect To Pay?

Usually less than $50. Sometimes animals come from shelters with microchips already implanted. If this is the case it is VERY important that you consult the shelter for assistance in updating the microchip database ensuring that you and not the previous owner are listed as the contact. Always make sure to keep this information up to date every time your address or phone number changes!

Are there side-effects?

According to the AVMA:

Since the database was started in 1996, over 4 million animals have been microchipped and only 391 adverse reactions have been reported. Of these reactions, migration of the microchip from its original implantation site is the most common problem reported. Other problems, such as failure of the microchip, hair loss, infection, swelling, and tumor formation, were reported in much lower numbers.

These are pretty low odds, but it’s always good to monitor the injection site, especially if your pet is sensitive. Also, be sure to have your vet scan it regularly during check-ups to ensure it has not migrated and is working properly.

Leash Training Your Dog 101

Using a leash with your dog may seem pretty intuitive. Clip it onto their collar or harness and you’re ready to go, right? Sure, that gets the job done, but did you know there are lots of tips and tricks you can use to leash train your dog? Holding it correctly to prevent injury and teaching your dog to stop pulling are two great benefits of  training!

Leash Training 101

  • The right collar. If you’re starting your leash training with a puppy, it’s pertinent to get a collar that fits. Since puppies grow, be aware that you need to check the collar sizing regularly and upgrade as needed. Check out this link for tips on measuring your dog’s collar size!
  • Learn how to hold the leash. Here is where some human training comes in. Knowing how to hold the leash properly will help you keep steady control of your pet, without risking injury to yourself. This is particularly important during the training process when your pet will be pulling and jerking the most. Proper technique, as described by Wikihow:

    “Slip your thumb through the loop at the end of the leash. If you hold your hand upwards in front of you (like you’re giving someone a high five), the leash should dangle off your thumb. Then close your hand around the loop. The rest of the leash should come out the bottom of your fist, beside your pinky finger.”

  • Start with a short range. Keeping your dog close to you can help them learn which side they should walk on and what an acceptable pace is. This also allows you more immediate, easier control during the early stages.

  • Trial and error. Now comes the training part! With a pocket full of treats head out the door! As your pet walks calmly beside you, praise them and offer a treat. If they pull or dart about erratically exercise patience and reward them when they stop this behavior and return to polite walking. If they remain walking with you, stop and reward them every so often.
  • Deal with pulling. If your dog is trying to pull you toward a goal, stop. Wait until your pet stops tugging and then slowly walk toward the object of their interest, rewarding them if they walk calmly with you. Your dog needs to understand that misbehaving will produce the opposite result of what they want. If their behavior persists, calmly walk away from their goal. Don’t ever jerk the leash, just apply enough steady pressure that they must follow you. And again with the training mantra, once he stops and begins following you at a normal pace, reward him!

Remember to always be patient and gentle with your dog. Use your stubbornness and leadership to command your pet. Dogs are smart and most pick up on leash training fast!

photo credit: Comfort via photopin (license)

April Is Pet First Aid Awareness Month!

Would you know how to administer first aid to your pet in an emergency? Do you even have emergency numbers quickly accessible? You don’t need to have an accident prone pet to realize it’s just good policy to make sure that you’ve got an action plan in case of an emergency! This April, take some time to brush up on what you need to have and know – your pet’s counting on you!

Pet First Aid Refresher Tips

  • Get the App! Did you know that the American Red Cross has a First Aid app just for pets? It provides helpful information for both dog and cat owners in emergency and disaster situations!
  • Update your Pet First Aid Kit! Don’t have one? Get/Make one now! You should check your pet first aid kit annually to ensure that all the supplies are still properly packaged, any medications are not out of date, and nothing has leaked. If you don’t have one, this needs to be on your must list! There are a wide array of pre-packaged kits out there for sale. Bump those store bought ones up against this list from the Humane Society to make sure it includes everything you need. Or, use that list to make your own! Be sure to include comfort items for your pet too!
  • Know the basics! It’s apt that April is pet first aid month since Spring means more time outdoors for everyone! It also means that pets are at a higher risk for being victims of the native flora and fauna. Know what plants to keep your pets away from, and what to do in case of snake bites, bee stings, etc.
  • Vaccinations! Check your vet records to ensure your pets vaccinations are all up to date! This includes wormers, flea and tick prevention, dog flu, and rabies!
  • Check those emergency numbers!  Maybe you’ve changed vets? Or moved to a new location? Make sure that the numbers for both your regular vet and the nearest animal hospital are still accurate and quickly accessible for the whole family!

Don’t forget to share your emergency contacts and details about your first aid kit with any pet sitters you hire!
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Doggie Dental Care – What You Need to Know!

Did you know that doggie dental care is just as important as human dental care? Just like with humans, poor oral hygiene can result in all sorts of other health issues throughout your pup’s body.

How much do you know about your pets teeth?

  • When fully grown, your dog should have ten more teeth than you! The average human has 32 teeth and the average dog has 42!
  • By age 3 (that’s about 25 in human years) most dogs show some signs of gum disease such as inflamed gums and tartar build up. Left untreated this can affect important organs in your pet’s body affecting their quality of life and longevity.
  • Outdoor pets are prone to broken teeth which can cause pain and should be treated by a vet.
  • Smaller breeds more prone to tartar build up since their teeth are usually more compact leaving lots of tight crevices for debris and bacteria to grow.
  • The average dog’s mouth can exert 150-200 lbs of pressure!

Dogs aren’t great at working a toothbrush around their mugs twice a day, so just how does one help their doggie maintain proper oral hygiene?

  • Brush those teeth for them of course! Doggie toothpaste can be purchased to help aid in this sometimes difficult task. Don’t use human toothpaste! See the below infographic to learn how to get your pet accustomed to regular brushings!
  • While it’s common to discourage pups from becoming chewers, chew toys can actually help prevent plaque build up. Make sure your pet knows what’s okay to chew and what’s not by giving them their own special toys.
  • Don’t forget to wipe your pet’s mouth too occasionally. Dogs can be messy eaters and bacteria builds up both inside and out. This is especially true if your pet eats a moist food.
    Make sure your vet is checking their oral health too at their annual check-up!

Save this awesome infographic as a reminder to take doggie dental care seriously!

 

Earth Day Tips for Your Pet!

With Earth Day still fresh on our minds (it was last Friday!), have you ever considered your pet’s carbon footprint? Or small changes you could make to be a greener pet owner?

Green Pets For Earth Day!

  • Green Pet Toys – While you may be tempted to treat your pet with a new toy each time you head out the pickup supplies, most pets don’t know the difference between a bought toy and a homemade one! Not to mention there is no telling what unhealthy chemicals are in/on the plastic and polyester toys commercially available. Dogs love sticks, bones, or even old shoes! Cats are suckers for balls of yarn, pens, and really anything they can swat around the house!
  • Spay and Neuter – Believe it or not, this may be the greenest thing you can do! Nearly 8 million pets are euthanized in animal shelters each year. The resources to house, feed, and eventually euthanize 8 million pets are huge. Spaying or neutering your pet can not only help the planet but prevent animal suffering if you are unable to care for all the potential offspring yourself!

  • Scoop or “Pickup” Cleaner – Whether you’re a cat, dog, or even bunny owner, resources are often used disposing of their waste… Consider trying out eco-friendly plastic bags in honor of Earth Day! Poopbags.com sells biodegradable baggies made just for your pet’s “business”.  Use it on walks, or place one in a small container with a lid next to your litterbox and scoop into it daily, then toss at weeks end! If you’ve got a bunny and space for composting, rabbit manure is praised by gardeners and most rabbit litter is compost friendly too!
  • Avoid Plastics – When possible opt for metal or ceramic pet accessories. They usually last longer, are more natural, and consume less resources to make! Next time you need to replace water and food dishes, litter boxes (yup, they make metal litterboxes!), bedding, toys, collars, etc., opt for the real thing, no plastics or polyesters need apply!

Do you have your own ways you “go green” with your pet(s)? Share them with us in honor of Earth Day 2016!

Infographic Courtesy Of Ultimate Home Life

 

photo credit: via photopin (license)

Gardening For Your Pet – Grow Your Own Treats!

As March creeps closer one can’t help but feel Spring fever take hold and the pull to do a little gardening! Whether you live in the city or out in the sticks there is a gardening style to suit both you and your pet! Each pet has their own personality so try a few options from your grocery store to find out their preferences and then get busy planting!

Gardening for your Pet

The Urban Gardner: Here you may be restrained to window or balcony boxes and indoor planters. That doesn’t mean you can’t grow pet-friendly treats and snacks! Catnip is a given. It’s easy to cultivate, pretty and green, and drives kitties crazy! Bunnies also like to give it a nibble. Lemongrass and any variety of mint are also favorites for cats, rabbits, and even some dogs! Trays of wheat grass are an attractive multi-pet friendly option for indoor gardening and can be found at most pet supply shops!

Gardening for your pets!

The Backyard Gardener: If you’ve got a little space like a fenced in courtyard or a full backyard garden your options expand a lot! Many of the indoor varieties listed above are also great options for outdoor gardening. Lavender is a lovely fragrant plant that some dogs enjoy chewing. Other common vegetable garden plants dogs enjoy include spinach, pumpkins, green beans, melons, carrots, blueberries, and even sweet potatoes!  Cats often love to nibble thyme and it’s a great culinary herb for cooking! Try broccoli and zucchini as well (just don’t place a cucumber behind them)! Got a bunny hopping around? Plant a nice patch of parsley and kale – two rabbit favorites!

Some precautions: If your pet is going to be playing in your potted or outdoor plants, make sure that the plant leaves and soil are free from pesticides or fertilizers Be sure to always do your research before you introduce your pet to vegetation. Lots of house and garden plants can be poisonous!

photo credit: SIMBA !!! You Promised !! via photopin (license)

Dog Flu – What You Need To Know

We’ve heard of swine flu and bird flu before, but this year all the news is about dog flu. With all the dramatic headlines flashing across the internet it’s important to know the facts and how this affects you. We’ve researched the answers for some of the questions that we were curious about, to help you weed through all the headlines and keep you and your pets protected!

The Dog Flu & You

  • What is the dog flu and why have I never heard of it before? The dog flu (H3N8) is a relatively new strain of the flu (think 2004) that evolved from a strain that was found in horses previously. Due to it’s relatively new appearance on the viral scene and this year being the first real epidemic, not too much is known about it.
  • What are the symptoms?  Symptoms in your pup are similar to the symptoms you might exhibit if you caught the human version. You’re going to notice a general malaise, sneezing, coughing, runny nose, and likely a lack of appetite. Try to stay in tune to your pet’s behavior and isolate them quickly if you notice any symptoms of dog flu.
  • What if I have other pets in the house? It’s important to note that your pet may be contagious to their peers before you notice signs of sickness. Try to stay in tune with your pet’s behavior and keep them isolated if you notice anything out of the usual. Don’t forget food and water bowls, toys, and bedding are also ways that pets can spread disease! Be sure to wash your hands and possibly change your clothes after contact with an infected pet.
  • How dangerous is it? Like with people, most pets will have a miserable week or so and then start to mend. About 5% of cases so far have been fatal. It’s a small figure but enough for pet owners to take note. Dogs with shorter or flat snouts have a harder time with dog flu due to the mucus build up in their respiratory tract.
  • Are there ways I can prevent it? Minimize your pets exposure to other dogs. Dog parks and kennels are two places where your pet may come into contact. Ask your vet if you should consider a canine flu shot. Dog flu shots don’t prevent the virus, but they can help to reduce the severity. If you frequently have your pet around others this may be a good route to go.

photo credit: Giving in via photopin (license)

Nutrition for Your Pet – Do You Know What They Need?

You might be familiar with the nutrition pyramid to maintain an active and healthy body, but do you know what the most important elements of your pet’s diet should be? Don’t just assume the pet food you buy is complete because it says so on the bag or can! Take your pets nutrition into your own hands by familiarizing yourself with their individual essential needs.

Top Pet Nutrition Needs

  • Dogs: Did you know dogs create their own Vitamin C? That doesn’t mean there still aren’t lots of other vitamins and minerals they need! Calcium, Iron, and Magnesium are three important ones. These can be found in fish, milk, and grains. Scientifically dogs are omnivores like us!  This means their nutritional needs are similar to ours. Their body’s require large amounts of proteins, fats, and fatty acids like omega-6 too. Poultry can be a great source of protein, fat, and omega-6 for dogs. If you prefer to take a vegetarian route just ensure that there is plenty of protein, amino acids, and vitamin B in their diet!
  • Cats: Cat nutritional needs have been greatly misanalyzed in the past.  Taurine is an essential nutrient for cats that was originally left out of commercially produced cat food until a deficiency in it led to a lot of pet deaths. While cats largely have the same nutritional needs as dogs, their systems have a harder time metabolizing plant base sourced nutrients. It’s important that cats receive their nutrition from fish, poultry, or other meats. Taurine is found in adequate quantities in a meat based diet.

  • Rabbits: Contrary to popular belief, a healthy rabbit diet isn’t composed of carrots! Where protein is primary for carnivores and omnivores, fiber is number one for herbivores! Feeding rabbit pellets alone is not recommended for a long and healthy life. An essential source of fiber for rabbits is timothy hay and should be provided in unlimited quantities at all times. 2-4 cups of fresh greens & veggies like kale, carrot tops (not carrots, too much sugar!), broccoli, or spinach per day should provide them with all their essential nutrients. Just remember not to rely on rabbit pellets as the primary source of nutrition – a healthy rabbit must have it’s food source fresh and varied!

Be sure to ask your vet if your pet has any further specific nutritional needs based on their breed, age, or existing conditions!

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Skincare For Your Pet This Winter

With all that cuddly fur it’s easy to forget that some pets need skincare too! Just when our pets think they can take a break from summer scratching, winter comes in with a whole different kind of itchiness! Dry skin doesn’t just affect humans. Some types of pets or specific pet breeds who are already prone to skin disorders suffer endlessly during the winter months. Don’t just leave your pet to scratching though! Check out these skincare tips and give your pet some relief!

Winter Skincare Tips For Your Pet!

  • Don’t stop brushing! – Just because the shedding season is over doesn’t mean that you can put the brush up! Brushing your pet helps to keep the fur free from matting and dandruff and helps allow your pets skin to breath easier. Your first step in pet skincare is to get in the habit of regular brushings!
  • Think before you bathe! – Because baths can be drying, it’s best to avoid bathing your pet unless you actually need to. Fortunately, since summer has gone, you should be able to set aside the flea and tick shampoos in favor of gentler options. There are many pet skincare lines out there and you can get as fancy as you want. We suggest you look for something sodium-laureth sulfate free (SLS free, or “sulfate free”) with skin conditioners.
  • Feed them healthy fats! – Just like with humans, good skincare starts from the inside out! Make sure that year round (especially if you have an older pet) they are getting plenty of healthy fats in their diet. Look for pet foods rich in omega-3 and omega-6, or consider supplementing your pet’s diet with a little canned fish.

Skincare for your pet!

  • Rinse their feet! – If you’re taking your pet out for walks in the winter time, consider rinsing their paws when you get back home. Salt and de-icers can become irritants and encourage your pet to lick/chew on the bottoms of their feet – in addition to allowing them to ingest potentially harmful chemicals. Got a dog walker or pet nanny? Be sure ask them to do foot rinses/wipings!
  • Deal with excessive scratching – If you notice your pet scratching or chewing on themselves more than usual. Nix it quickly and find the source of the problem. A little itchy dry skin can turn into a trip to the vet your pet gives themselves sores. Try putting an article of pet clothing on their body to shield their skin. If they already have inflamed looking spots, consider dabbing with some non-antibacterial, original Neosporin. For many pets this is same (even if licked) but check with your vet first if you have concerns!

Be sure to always let your pet nanny know if your pet is suffering

 

Sleeping With Your Pet – A Do or a Don’t?

 

The site of you sleeping in your bed or dozing on your couch often proves to be an irresistible temptation for many pets to try to sneak in some snuggles. Are you the kind of pet parent with strict rules about pets in the bed? Or are you more about “the more the merrier”? Letting your pets in the bed with you or your children has been a long tug of war with pros and cons on each side. We look at them both to help you decide what’s right for your family!

Should Your Pet Be Sleeping In Your Bed?

Con’s

  • Whether you have a diagnosed sleeping disorder or simply struggle with bouts of insomnia, pets in the bed can be a distraction. Most animals aren’t programmed to sleep the long eight hour night that humans need and restlessness or playfulness on their part can be unwelcome in the wee morning hours. Not to mention if you have a pet that snores!
  • Diseases that pets can pass on to their owners while sharing a bed occasionally make headlines resulting in some pets getting put on the couch. While there are risks involved here they are often minimal with a healthy well cared for animal. The risk is much smaller with full-time house pets than those who are prone to roam outdoors too. If you’re worried about your pet sleeping with your or your child, talk to your vet about the risks of MRSA, bubonic plague, staph, Chagas disease, and meningitis.
  • If you decide that sleeping with your pet is a must make sure that your sheets and blankets cleaned and shook out frequently to keep pet dander down. Even the cleanest kept pets will shed and leave behind dander that can cause respiratory issues or aggravate allergies.

 

Pro’s

  • With a few exceptions mentioned above, there really is little threat from letting your pet join you on the bed. Scientifically the cases of the diseases one can contract are very, very small. Furthermore, while some people may struggle with sleeping disorders, still more find that having a pet on the bed with them is soothing.
  • Pets have been shown to help soothe children and make them feel safer. This benefit isn’t limited to just kids, though! Lots of people say they feel calmer or safer with a pet on the bed with them. Especially if they live alone.
  • In the winter, no one is going to complain about the extra heat! Pets keep your bed cozy, give you something to snuggle, and can help keep that heating bill down!

photo credit: What? This Isn’t How You Get Out of Bed? via photopin (license)
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