Easter arrives this coming Sunday and with it all those things that signal spring is truly here to stay. From daffodils and blooming trees and shrubs to pastel colors and sun bathing. Something else that’s also prominent in the springtime are baby bunny rabbits! These little balls of cuddly fur with perfect little ears make their appearance every spring – especially around Easter.
While in some places the admiration of baby bunnies, and chicks, and ducks are part of the Easter festivities, they are also encountered in the wild too. Do you or your children really know how to handle bunny rabbits though? They are A LOT more complex than they seem. We wanted to hit on a couple high points as you encounter these lovely creatures this season.
Bunny Rabbits 101
Don’t take one home as a pet on a whim. We can’t stress this enough. They require so much consideration and specialized care and can live up to ten years or more. If you plan on getting a bunny rabbit as a pet, it is so important you do your research. They are not a cat or dog and have very different needs.
Don’t let your children pick them up without adult training and supervision. If a rabbit has been handled enough that you can pick it up, you must do so in a specific way. Many bunny rabbit deaths occur from improper handling that result in broken backs.
NEVER pick a rabbit up by it’s ears.
If you find a nest in the wild, leave it alone. The babies have not been abandoned. Rabbit mothers spend most of their time away from the nest to keep from attracting predators. Leave the babies be or the mother may reject them.
If you find a lost baby bunny rabbit outside the nest, or your cat or dog bring one in, it’s important that you know how hard it can be for them to thrive. If it still has the little white mark on its head, it is likely still far too young to survive without its mother. If it doesn’t have the star, call your local vet to ask if there is a wild animal rehabilitation center or similar organization you can hand it over to.
This season, we really can’t stress enough how important it is that wild bunnies be left to be wild bunnies and tame bunnies are well thought out and planned for before they come home with you!
Pennsylvania has always been a pet loving state, with statistics indicating that over half a million of us seek the companionship of a dog, cat, or other furry, spiny, or ‘slimy but friendly’ creature in our homes. Around 400,000 households have at least one dog vs 244,000 households with at least one kitty. Statistics also show that we love our yards; even city dwelling millennials dream of having a large home in the suburbs with a backyard lawn on which to have barbecues, socialize with friends, and play fetch with Fido.
If you are lucky enough to have a beautiful, spacious backyard, are you sure it is safe for your dog or cat? If you already know how to puppy proof your home, why not ensure the yard is just as safe?
Picking the Right Plants
Many pet owners are surprised to find out that common flowers such as azaleas, rhododendrons, many types of lily or daffodils, are toxic to cats and dogs, so much so that ingestion of just a small amount can cause symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, excessive drooling, and sometimes, even death. If you have bought a new house and are not sure about which plants are in the yard, help from a trusted gardener will enable you to weed out potential culprits.
Fencing Fido In
Dogs have a natural digging instinct and some might try to escape to the Great Outdoors if they are bored or alone in the yard or backyard. To stop this from happening make sure your fence is sturdy and that it reaches all the way down; flexible dogs are often able to worm their way out of even the smallest gap.
Bury chicken wire deep into the soil beneath the fence or better yet, consider building a stone or paved path between the fence and the grass, so your dog has no soil to dig up when escape is on his mind.
Another unsuspected danger for dogs in the yard is a gate that is easy to open. A self-closing system will ensure your pooch can’t just slide the latch to the side and escape. If you prefer a manual latch, make sure it is too difficult for your dog to manoeuvre.
If your dog is a digger, build him a little play area in your yard by digging up soil and filling it with sand. Place his favorite toys under the sand and watch him go!
Also, ensure that your dog isn’t digging because of boredom. Make sure he is physically and mentally challenged through exercise and Kong style toys and puzzles, which will keep him interested in more useful pursuits. Walk him regularly, even if he is a yard dog, to ensure mental stimulation and exploration! Hire a pet nanny if you can’t find time regularly!
Ticks, Fleas, Insects (and Snakes!)
Dogs and cats love to roll around in the grass, which means they can be bitten by insects or infested by ticks and fleas. The first priority is to keep the grass shortly mowed and clear of clutter.
Make sure your pets are protected with a pet-friendly flea and tick repellent that is free of harsh toxins such as pyrethoids, which have sadly caused too many pet deaths. Go with what your vet recommends and talk to them about natural possibilities.
Many dog and cat owners use diluted essential oils such as eucalyptus or peppermint to repel parasites, but be very careful, since some essential oils can cause harm. For instance, geranium and citrus oils can be dangerous for cats, while some oils (such as cedar, citronella or pennyroyal) should never be used on pregnant animals.
The one oil cats seem to be okay with is neem oil, which can be added to shampoo (one teaspoon of oil per cup of pet shampoo is usually okay, according to passhealthfoods.com).
For dogs, typical solutions contain around five drops of essential oils like geranium, lemon, or lavender, with one teaspoon of carrier oil. When rubbing the oils onto your pets, avoid the eyes, nose, mouth, genitals and anal area.
Neem juice and citrus essential oils are also excellent to spray on plants to repel insects, but if you have cats, avoid anything but neem in most cases.
Beware of the Sun
Dogs can suffer from heatstroke if let out in the sun too long. Unless your backyard has tall trees that can provide plenty of shade, build your dog a wooden dog house where he can hide from the burning UV rays during peak hours of sun.
Make sure there is a fresh bowl of water out and place his house far away from his ‘potty spot’.
For most Americans, a pet is as much a member of the family as humans are. Make sure their favorite place to lounge contains no toxins that can harm their health, and keep them inside to avoid the risk of loss or injury. Finally, adapt your yard to the seasons, making sure Fido or Kitty always have a cool spot to chill out in.
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.
Did you know that pets are more likely to run away in the summer? Runaway may not always be the appropriate term. Many pets simply wander off or get lost. Un-neutered males will frequently run off looking for mates. Either way, do you know the best steps to take to ensure you get them back home FAST? These quick tips can help!
Bringing a Runaway Pet Home
Get your pet microchipped! Microchipping your pet ensures that if they become lost and are turned over to or picked up by an animal shelter, you’ll be notified! Have questions about what microchipping is and how it works? Check out our FAQ article about them here!
Get a tracking collar! There are numerous GPS collars now that can be invaluable for finding runaway pets. These collars will allow you to find your pet’s exact location. That is, provided the collar remains on the animal.
Check out PetFBI.org. This is a great national database of missing pets. It is used by individuals and pet shelters to post about animals they find. You can browse through it to see if your runaway pet is listed.
Walk the perimeter. Most pets won’t go further than 2 miles from home. Large dogs may roam as far as 5. Be sure to canvas your neighborhood and talk to people. Check the dog park or other areas you and your pet may frequent.
Don’t give up hope! Your pet may simply be being cared for by someone who found it, sans collar, and lovingly took it in. Be sure to let your neighborhood know what your pet looks like. Post photos in community pages, on poles and in the post office. Ask people at the dog park and notify your local vet’s offices. All places someone who may have picked your pet up will likely frequent.
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.
The term “wet dog smell” is so universally relatable it’s used to describe things other than a wet dog! No grooming, bath, conditioner or scented oils are powerful enough to make it go away entirely. Where does it come from? What can you do about it?
The Source of Wet Dog Smell
Dogs may be furry but their skin is very similar to ours. Underneath all that fluffiness their skin excretes oils (called sebum) that help to moisturize and protect it. When this oil builds up around the hair follicles of your dog’s fur bacteria can start to grow. This growth is spurred by the addition of water. The bacteria create the smell that we (not so fondly) refer to as “wet dog smell”.
Treatment & Prevention
That sounds a little dramatic. This isn’t a dangerous or life-threatening situation, but it is mighty unpleasant. Here are some ways you can deal with and prevent a return!
Humans have to wash regularly to keep sebum from building up and wash away dead skin cells. Your pup needs this service too! Regularly removing build up can be a big help! Don’t go overboard though – remember that oil serves a purpose. How often should “regular” washing occur? Try a couple times a month. You may reduce this down to once a month in the winter when skin tends to get drier.
Regular deep (but gentle) brushing can be helpful in between baths to loosen and remove buildup from the hair follicles. This may be more effective on short-coated pets than long ones.
Wash all their things regularly! Imagine if you never washed your bed sheets or clothes? You’d be pretty smelly too, no matter how many baths you took. Toss all things washable through a wash cycle every time you bathe your pet. If something’s not washable, spray it down with some white vinegar, wipe it down, and air it out in the sunshine regularly.
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!
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!
Pet paws, with their fuzzy and sometimes thick and leathery pads seem pretty tough to us. Our pets go tromping across terrain that we need a pair of hiking boots to even consider approaching! They might be tougher than our bare feet but they still need cared for properly. Do you know what threats, remedies, and precautions you need to take to protect your pet’s paws?
Caring For Your Pet’s Paws
Claws – Some people don’t realize how important keeping a pet’s claws trimmed is. It’s not just for your comfort or aesthetic reasons. In the wild, many animals claws will be worn down naturally by digging and making their way across rocks. In the domesticated world this natural “trimming” often doesn’t occur as often, or even at all. When trimming you have to be careful about trimming too short and cutting the “quick” in the nail. This can hurt your pet and cause bleeding. If you’re not comfortable regularly trimming your pet’s nails be sure to ask your vet at your next appointment!
Frostbite – Pets exposed to freezing temperatures for prolonged periods of time can experience frostbite, which is a damaging of the tissue, often leading to the tissues “death”. It can be very painful, and also very dangerous if left unrecognized and treated. Paws are a common place to see frostbite on pets since they are less insulated and in direct contact with ice, snow, or water. Check out the common symptoms and treatments here. If you’re taking your pet out in very cold weather, keep it brief and keep their paws dry – or consider a pair of booties!
Burns – Summertime can make your pet at risk for burns on the bottom of their paws. Asphalt that has baked in the summer sun all day and even rocks or sand can cause damage. When taking your pet for a walk ensure they have grass, dirt, or some other alternative to hot surfaces to walk. You can also plan your walks for early morning or late evening.
Thorns & Cuts – Never ignore your pet if they seem to be favoring a paw either by limping, or paying extra attention to it with their tongue. Outdoor adventures, even within an urban environment can lead to cuts, splinters, or even thorns. Left unattended these can fester and become a much bigger problem for your pet.
In Rabbits – Rabbits, especially those who have cages with wire bottoms or hop around on smooth surfaces frequently are prone to a special paw ailment – sore hocks. Sore hocks occur on the back feet of rabbits and can be very dangerous if left untreated. They begin as bald spots on the bottom of the foot that wear away to open sores and infections. Keep a sharp eye on your bunnies hind feet to spot the symptoms!
Neosporin is a great treatment for many mild foot ailments. It is safe for use on most pets (including rabbits). Remember to regularly pay attention to your pet’s paws and see your vet regularly!
Paws, what do we know about them? Aside from most pets having four of them, not much! Did you know that your pets paws are a big part of how they experience the world? Check out these awesome facts and cultivate a broader appreciation for your pets feet!
Facts About Pet Paws
The size and shape of your dog’s paw shows the type of climate they were made for. Large, wide paws are often found on breeds that come from cold climates with lots of snow. These large feet act like snowshoes! Furthermore, water breeds like Retrievers have webbed toes!
Did you know that cat claws grow from the bones in their foot, not a nailbed like the human fingernail? This is why declawing is bad for cats!
Both dogs and cats walk on their “toes” instead of their heels like humans do
Some agile dog breeds have “cat-like” feet, with high arches and a narrow width. This allows them a better range of quick movements. Dobermans and Greyhounds are two breeds with “cat feet”.
Cats have unique fingerprints too! Cat paws have unique grooves that leave unique prints. Did you know you can use your cat’s paw to unlock your iPhone?!
The thick foot pads which make up the “paw” are actually made of fatty tissue deposits. This acts as an insulator allowing your pet to run around on snow or warm surfaces that would burn our sensitive feet. Please note though – while pet paws are better insulated they can still get frost bitten or burnt from hot asphalt!
These thick foot pads also act as cushions and shock absorbers in cats, and help keep their steps quiet while hunting!
People often say dogs don’t have sweat glands. Not true! Dogs have sweat glands on their noses and paws!