Tag: pets

Vet Exam Etiquette: 5 Tips to Keep Pets Calm

 

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When taken out of their usual environment, driven to a new place, and then handled by a stranger, most creatures—even humans—may become a bit agitated or frightened. Because we don’t speak dog or cat well enough to explain to our fuzzy family members what’s happening, a trip to the veterinarian’s office for an exam can be quite a harrowing experience.

Fortunately, there are ways we can prepare our pets for vet visits that will take much of the stress out of the experience for them, making life easier for everyone involved. Below are 5 tips any pet owner can use to keep cats and dogs calmer during vet exams:

 

  1. Demystify the Pet Carrier—

For cats and smaller dogs that must ride in a carrier for car trips, much of the tension they’re feeling is because they’ve suddenly been placed into an unknown and highly restrictive new environment. For free-roaming animals, being shoved into a small cage can be a very scary experience.

To take the fear out of the crate, place the carrier inside the home for weeks before the vet exam with the door open. Place soft blankets, treats and favorite toys inside, and feed the pet in the crate once they realize nothing bad is going to happen.

Your goal is to make the pet crate a safe and friendly little room they will feel comforted by (rather than frightened of) when exam day arrives.

 

  1. Go to a Happy Place—

Once smaller animals are reassured enough by the carrier to be moved, take a trip to the vet with them on a day they don’t have an exam. (If you have a larger dog that doesn’t ride in a crate, but is comfortable in the car, take them to the vet on non-exam days as well.)

Go into the vet’s office and allow your cat or dog to become familiar with their surroundings. Reward them with treats and introduce them to staff members if they have a moment so they won’t be complete strangers the next time you visit.

By soothing your pets and giving them treats at these non-invasive visits, you will be creating positive associations for them that will make them less fearful during the actual exam.

 

  1. Don’t Book During Busy Times—

If you have the wiggle room in your life and work schedule to set up exams during slow periods at the vet’s office, this is highly recommended for those with anxious animals.

Booking during off-hours will ensure the office is as quiet as possible for your exam, and that your visit proceeds quickly and efficiently.

 

  1. Soft is Soothing—

Give your pet a soft blanket to lie on in the pet carrier to make them feel more relaxed and at-home. Pets have excellent senses of smell, and sometimes the scent of a familiar place can soothe.

Be sure to pull the blanket out during the exam and cover the hard surface of the table, as this will make dogs feel less like they are slipping, and give cats something to grab onto with their claws for security.

 

  1. Distractions are Delightful—

Your vet will really appreciate your assistance during the actual examination, so if you can bring things to distract your cat or dog while they’re being inspected and manipulated, this is highly recommended.

Dogs are often easily distracted by food, so consider bringing a treat or new toy to introduce that will really captivate them. Cats can be harder to distract, so treats will need to be novel enough to keep their interest. Favorite toys are also great choices for diverting attention, such as feathers and catnip mice.

If your cat likes to hide under blankets or feels safer inside the carrier, many vets will work around these minor obstructions if it keeps kitties calmer.

By helping your pet to remain relaxed at the vet, you are not only making sure they have a less anxious visit to the pet doctor; you are making the experience better for yourself, your veterinarian and staff, as well as for the other pet owners waiting in the reception area. Use the tips above to give your beloved cat or dog the most pleasant and fear-free trip possible during every vet visit.

5 Tips to Keep Pets Fit and Healthy

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We all love to spoil our beloved pets with toys and snacks, but sometimes we need to remember that too many treats can be detrimental to their health. If you’ve noticed your dog has developed a bit of a waddle when they walk, or that you can no longer feel ribs when you pet your cat’s sides, your furry little pal may have a weight problem.

And yes, it is a problem. Extra weight on pets is unhealthy, and can lead to joint problems, arthritis, respiratory issues, back and hip pain, cancer and even diabetes. Just as with people, it’s important for pets to exercise regularly and control their caloric intake to stay fit.

 

To help you keep your puppy or kitty healthy and happy from the very start, or to help an older pet find their way back to fitness, we’ve compiled a list of 5 useful tips for you.

 

  1. Start Young—

Watch your pet’s food intake and weigh them regularly from an early age. If you notice a weight problem early, it’s much easier to adjust diet and exercise to halt the progression of weight gain before it becomes a problem than it is to lose weight after the pet is already obese.

Read the labels on your pet’s food and do your research so you can give your particular size, age and breed of animal the correct amount.

 

  1. Watch the Treats—

They love the treats and you love to make them happy, so it feels like a win-win for everybody. But too much of this seemingly win-win situation can very quickly turn into the need to lose-lose for your pet.

Experts recommend that if you must give treats, pay attention to the amount of calories you’re giving, and remove that amount from your pet’s other food sources.

 

  1. People Food is for People—

Only humans should be eating human food: no exceptions. Giving pets people food will only cause obesity and bad manners for them.

Once they develop a taste for it, and realize they can get it from you, your very smart animals will plead, whine and intently stare every time you eat. What was once cute quickly becomes annoying, and you have nobody to blame but yourself for reinforcing the bad habit of begging.

It’s best to avoid this unhealthy headache from the beginning by never feeding them anything but pet food.

 

  1. Exercise is Excellent—

If you’ve adjusted your pet’s diet and want to speed up the weight loss process, or simply want to keep them glowing with good health, finding ways to get them more exercise will help them, and will be great for you as well. Bonus!

If you have a dog, this can mean taking them on extra walks, throwing a ball or chew toy, or finding a safely fenced-in dog park where they can run freely and be stimulated by others of their kind.

To get a cat more exercise, laser pointers can entice them to chase the red dot around, feathers dangling from a stick can stir them up, and adding a cat condo can entice them to climb around more.

 

  1. Utilize Your Veterinarian—

Veterinarians generally do what they do because they love animals, and are more than happy to help you figure out a plan to maximize the health of your pet.

Consult with your vet to determine your pet’s fitness level and figure out a weight management plan specific to your pet’s particular needs. An expert can evaluate exactly where your pet should be physically, and the best way to get there.

 

Studies estimate that 40-50% of pets in the United States are overweight, and this obesity puts them at risk for many health problems, as well as reducing the length and quality of their life.

Do your pets a favor by keeping them on a smart diet and exercise plan so they can feel good and be with you for a long, long time.

 

Press the Paws Button: 7 Top iPad Apps for Pet Owners

Cali Cat Photo Credit David Crider (2)

 

Having a pet requires responsibility and dedication, with weekly tasks like veterinarian and grooming appointments, finding safe places for exercise, and acquiring pet supplies being only a few of the necessary duties pet owners find themselves trying to manage.

Organization can play a key role in staying on top of all animal-related activities and errands, and fortunately for pet lovers, there are many apps available to keep safety or personal information and schedules straight.

 

Below are 7 top iPad apps for animal owners:  

 

1. Pet Phone—

Available for iPhone as well as iPad, the Pet Phone app allows owners to keep track of multiple pets, with the ability to store detailed information about each pet, with a matching pet image.

Weight, microchip number, pet insurance information, medications, allergies and anything else you need to remember about animal friends can be tracked and stored in this app, as well as veterinarian information.

 

2. Petcentric—

Available for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, Petcentric is exactly what it sounds like: an app for everything pet-related under the sun.

Petcentric Places gives users the ability to find pet-friendly restaurants, bars, stores and lodging, as well as locating animal shelters, dog parks, veterinarians, kennels, pet sitters and more.

This app also features pet videos, product recommendations, local events for pet owners and a photo gallery with interactive sharing, rating and comments.

 

3. Cat Doctor—

Created for iPhone and iPad by a cat doctor with over 30 years of experience, this app features extensive instructional HD videos that discuss issues and common procedures for cat owners.

The Cat Doctor app has 19 different topics including animal basics such as spaying, neutering, proper dental care, and grooming, as well as covering serious complications like parasites, arthritis and allergies.

If you have a cat and want to make sure to handle all medical maintenance matters, this app can help you keep your kitty healthy and happy.

 

4. The Pet Pal—

This app is a great addition to your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch if you’re seeking a way to efficiently organize all the details of your different pets and their schedules into one convenient place.

The Pet Pal app also offers alerts to remind you of appointments, walking and feeding schedule input, and allows for storage of photos so you can manage galleries to show off your cute pet pals wherever you go.

 

5. Off Leash—

Especially if you live in a city where it can be difficult to find places for pups to run free and get exercise, the Off Leash app for iPhone and iPad can be a wonderfully useful addition to your collection.

With a database that includes over 600 U.S. dog parks, this app can locate the 5 closest pet-friendly places using GPS technology, and even allows users to submit data upon discovering new information.

 

6. Pet First Aid—

Available for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, Pet First Aid is an important app for preparing animal owners to handle any medical emergencies that may arise. It’s unpleasant to think about any harm befalling our furry friends, but being prepared can give anyone peace.

With videos and illustrations to walk users through cat and dog injuries, as well as less urgent procedures like muzzling, giving medication, and proper bandaging or restraint techniques, the Pet First Aid app can help prevent animal injuries and illness, or tell owners what to when they are faced with such situations.

 

7. iKibble—

Although most animal experts recommend against giving animals human fare, there are actually many foods dogs can eat – as well as some that are surprisingly toxic.

With the iKibble app for iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch, pet owners can search particular foods to learn about the nutritional content, as well as making sure they’re safe.

 

Pets are worth every bit of the work, but with the assistance of the many apps available for pet owners, it’s easier than ever to handle the requirements of our animal pals. Give the apps above a try to make pet ownership a stress-free and fully enjoyable experience.

Flying with Furry Friends: 5 Top Tips for Traveling with Pets

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It can be difficult to find a pet-sitter for vacations, and sometimes we really want to take our animal friends along for the fun. When this involves traveling by airplane, it can be stressful, but there are plenty of ways to prepare for what lies ahead to make the trip easier for everyone.

Below are 5 tips to help pets travel fully prepared and in comfort.

 

1. Be Informed—

Knowledge is power, but it also gives us peace. Calling the airlines to learn about their pet policies, rules and requirements will keep you ahead of the game and fully prepared, eliminating last-minute stressors and surprises.

There are many helpful websites with information on pet-friendly airlines and hotels, such as pettravelcenter.com, airlines.org, pettravel.com and bringfido.com to allow you to do research before you finalize your plans.

If you are a Triple A member, you can also search for pet-friendly facilities on the aaa.com website, or talk to an agent by phone for recommendations.

 

2. Be Prepared—

You got the information from the airline; now it’s time to make sure you finish your homework. Having everything ready to go that you need will allow you and your pet to have a smooth traveling experience.

Most airlines require a health certificate for your pet, generally within 10 days before departure, and be sure to keep this paperwork with you at all times. While you’re at the vet, make certain your pet is current on vaccinations, such as rabies, and get certification of this as well.

It’s important to be aware that certain flat-faced breeds of cats and dogs can’t physically tolerate the reduced oxygen levels of the cargo area, so get your veterinarian’s approval if your pet will not be allowed in the cabin.

 

3. Be Vigilant—

Your little pet pal is counting on you to take care of them, so try to choose the most stress-free path to your final destination possible.

This means flying during non-peak hours to make sure there will be adequate room for them, and if they will be traveling in cargo, be sure to fly during mild weather so they won’t have to suffer through excessively hot or cold temperatures.

Notify airline personnel that you are traveling with a pet, and if they only allow pets in cargo, ask to watch as your pet is loaded below. Many employees have pets of their own and will understandably accommodate your need for reassurance.

 

4. Be Thorough—

It’s really scary to think about losing a pet during travel like so much luggage, and although it’s rare, it can happen, so label everything and bring a picture of them with you.

If your pet isn’t already fitted with a subcutaneous microchip containing your information, consider having this process done during your pre-flight vet visit. Anytime your animals leave the home, there is a chance for them to get lost.

Your pet should also be wearing a collar with an ID tag that has your name and cell phone number on it for a quick reunion should the airline lose track of them. Tape all of your information – name, address, flight number, cell phone number, and final destination phone number – to the carrier.

 

5. Be a Good Pet Parent—

Arrive early at the airport so you can stay calm and have a casual security and pre-boarding airport experience. If you’re stressed out, your pet will sense it and become fearful or agitated. Arriving early will also give you time to get them some exercise before being confined – and make sure the carrier you choose is big enough for them to stand up and turn around.

If possible, try not to feed your pet beyond the USDA requirement of 4 hours before travel so they won’t make a mess. Small sips of water are okay, but don’t overdo it.

Be aware when planning travel that the Animal Welfare Act disallows pets under 8-weeks-old from flying. Also: Most veterinarians don’t recommend animal tranquilizers during flight unless your pet is extremely high-strung, as sedatives can cause breathing issues.

 

If you follow the tips above to thoroughly plan and prepare, you can take the hassle and anxiety out of traveling, for both yourself and your animal pal. Make sure to book pet-friendly accommodations for your final destination, and have a great vacation!

Happy Hounds, Happy Humans: 7 Reasons to Adopt a Shelter Dog

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Most animal shelters in America are permanently packed full of dogs and cats in need of homes, due to irresponsible owners who don’t spay or neuter their pets, overpopulation, neglect and abuse.

Because there are so many pets looking for people to love them, anyone seeking a dog has a large selection from which to choose, with only a small adoption fee to pay that generally covers all shots, and sometimes even spay or neuter costs.

This means there is definitely a dog out there for everyone, and it is entirely possible to find the perfect pup to suit any lifestyle, family, work or living situation.

Below are 7 reasons to consider adopting from a shelter, and how to find the best pet for you.

 

1. Shelter Dogs May Be Potty Trained—

The frustrating housebreaking phase that has owners of new puppies cleaning up messes can be completely avoided by adopting an adult or “teenage” (older puppy) dog from the shelter.

Mature dogs often already know the rules and won’t make messes on your floors when you bring them home if they’ve been previously taught to go outside to do their business.

If you adopt a pre-trained dog, somebody else has already done the dirty work for you, and you get to take home your new pet knowing you won’t be needing to invest in extra carpet cleaner.

 

2. Shelter Dogs Are Grateful—

Purebred animals brought from a reputable breeder’s home have experienced socializing and bonding, which is great, but they will miss this family time when taken to a new home after purchase. This phenomenon can result in a puppy that cries at night, keeping the entire house awake, much like a new human baby.

Shelter dogs, on the other hand, have been living in less-than-stellar conditions, often alone in cages on concrete, and will repay you for the “lush” new environment by acting content and happy to finally be in a warm, comfortable place.

 

3. Shelter Dogs Can Be Purebreds—

In addition to rescue groups that focus on fostering and placing particular purebred pups with people who love a certain breed, it is estimated that 25-30% animals currently in shelters are purebreds. (Source: PetRescue.com.)

So if you have a certain type of dog you adore, consider saving a lot of money and rescuing an animal that may have not been lucky enough to find a home, all while getting exactly the breed you desire.

 

4. You Will Be a Hero—

When you adopt a shelter pet, you don’t just save one life, you save two: because not only will you be giving your new dog the home they’ve been hoping for, you’ll free up a spot for another animal.

Adopting a shelter pet is an extremely responsible and kind act you can feel good about as you help reduce the number of animals euthanized every year due to lack of space or funding.

 

5. Mutts Might Be Healthier—

Many purebred animals have certain health risks associated with their breeds, generally caused when unskilled breeders at some point in the breed’s lineage ignore weaknesses in bloodlines while trying to achieve particular physical qualities.

Because their DNA comes from a larger variety of animals, mixed-breed animals are statistically less likely to have many of the health issues present in certain purebreds, making them a hardy and potentially money-saving choice in the long run.

 

6. Shelter Pets Are Tested—

Animal shelters and rescue organizations generally have a vet on-call or on-site to test all animals brought in for diseases, internal and external parasites, hereditary or genetic problems, temperament or personality issues, and more.

Because they aren’t trying to make money off of the animals, you are more likely to get a thorough and honest assessment of any shelter animal you’re considering adding to your family.

Shelters will also often treat animals for any health problems before placing them up for adoption, saving you money.

 

7. You Can Choose a Perfect Fit—

Depending on your family size, living arrangements and lifestyle, there are many dogs in shelters that will likely work for you.

For example, if you live in a smaller home or apartment, you may want to consider a smaller, calmer dog that doesn’t need a lot of exercise. Or if you spend most of your days at home, you can adopt a higher-energy/higher-maintenance dog than someone who works outside of the home 8 hours a day.

 

No matter what personality type you require, there are so many different kinds of dogs waiting in shelters that you’ll be able to find exactly what you need—especially if you adopt an older dog to avoid the “personality surprises” puppies can develop as they age.

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), around 10 million pets wait in shelters ever year for rescue, and because there are so many animals, some of them never find their forever home. If you have decided to add a dog to your family, saving a pet from a shelter or recuse organization can be a wonderful way to make your life—and a potentially-forgotten dog’s life—much, much happier.