Pet Friendly Holidays

With the holiday season just around the corner, it’s time to take some simple steps to ensure that everyone in your family has a great holiday, and that includes your pets. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be discussing the best ways to keep your four-legged friends safe, happy and holiday ready.
Some of the subjects we’ll be discussing are foods, decorations, house guests and to round out all the serious talk, a few gift ideasallhailthedog for your pets and your pet loving friends and family.
Since we all like to enjoy and indulge a little more than usual this time of year, we’re going to cover some food safety tips first. First off,
Chocolate is probably the most commonly known hazard to dogs, so how on earth do they still get into it? Easy, it smells great and frankly, we’re just not paying as much attention to these things as they are. If you have any doubt and you’re not embarrassed to try something a little strange. Next time you have a gathering at your home, even just when the family is getting dinner ready, sit yourself down on the floor, be really quiet and just watch for a few minutes. Now do you see? Just seeing things the way our dogs and cats do opens up a whole new world of understanding. Parents are nodding their heads right now because toddlers do the same thing. Just a few precautions and a minute of paying attention can save you all a lot of grief. Place foods gifts, holiday treats and party food out of the easy access zone for you pets and keep an eye out for the agile and determined. Other foods to be careful with are raisins, grapes, garlic, onions, macadamia nuts, avocados, cinnamon, popcorn and anything seasoned and salty, just to be safe. I know a lot of animal experts advise to NEVER feed human food to your pets, and on the whole, we agree. That said, there are some very safe treats that can be enjoyed by dogs and cats if you do it in moderation. Cheese and turkey are 2 great examples, again, just make sure they’re plain and not seasoned.
More tips to follow, but if you have some fun holiday traditions that you share with your pets, please share them with us, we’d love to hear from you!

Cold Weather Pet Safety; A Responsibility, Not a Choice.

 

With cold weather sweeping a good part of our nation, it’s time for pet owners to step up to their responsibilities. But wait, I’m not done yet, it’s also time for neighbors, passers by and everyone else to step up as well.

Many of you may have read the tragic story from Indiana. During the last cold spell, a resident of North Preston Indiana recalls hearing a “weird howling” from a neighbors’ dog, shortly before it was found frozen to death.  The owner was charged with animal cruelty, which is appropriate. The neighbor got some attention from the media but no one asked him why he didn’t do something before the poor dog had suffered and died, which is inappropriate. We’re aware that a lot of Americans dislike government regulations, but if we can’t uphold common decency in our actions or make sure that our neighbors do so as well, then what we need is some government involvement. In fact, animal control agencies across the mid-west and east coast made considerable attempts to warn pet owners about the dangers of cold weather, unfortunately, not everyone paid attention. The skills needed for animal care aren’t rocket science, although they do require a working brain and soul, something very obviously lacking in a significant portion of our population. Dogs found frozen onto doghouse floors, horses dead of dehydration (hint, water freezes) and cat’s left to die in the elements. Every state has different animal cruelty laws; many of them are practically non-existent, (For more information on your state, check out the Humane Society’s report card), but humanity isn’t something we as a species, seem to have been able to master.  After perusing the ASPCA & Humane Society websites, I came up with a few good tips for animal cold weather care; I suggest that you check out those and other great information sources for your specific concerns or animals.

Keep pets indoors and warm.

Cold can be deadly, especially to the very young or old. If you have pets that can’t come inside, then you HAVE to provide safe, warm shelter. Look at it this way, if you couldn’t stay where they stay, then move them or fix up their shelter. For pets who are outside for the day, be sure to provide a dry, draft free shelter that’s big enough for them to lie down in, but small enough to not get so cold. Cover the floor with straw or wood shavings; add an inexpensive but well made pet bed. Make sure it’s insulated and cover the doorway with heavy burlap AND plastic. Then bring them inside at night.

Make sure they have water and food, a lot of both.

Being outside in the cold can dehydrate an animal and make them expend a lot more energy just staying warm. Check their food and water several times a day and makes sure the water isn’t frozen. Use plastic bowls, not metal.

Help strays, feral and “community” cats.

Easy to construct shelters made out of Styrofoam coolers with blankets in them and a small hole cut out for a door work well. Spend a little on some extra food and help them through the tough winter. If you are really motivated, trap them and take them to the shelter to get spayed and neutered and then release the un-adoptable (wild) ones back into their neighborhood. Most shelters have great deals for strays.

Make sure horses and other livestock have effective shelter and around the clock food and water. Also, be sure to check under your car’s hood for cats and wild animals.

Please pass on this information and be kind!

luxury pet beds

 

 

Wildlife and Dog LIfe

Best dog beds

I See You

 

How many of us can’t wait for the warmer weather to take our dogs on a hike or even just a quick walk in the sunshine? As much as we try in the winter, it just doesn’t happen as often. In my area, we’re lucky to have bike/ski trails where we can stroll in the winter; a nice and quick alternative to snowshoes and a lot of clothes.

Still, come spring, we’re all glad to get out and really stretch our legs. This can be very exhilarating for the dogs and we have to remember to be on the look out for seasonal dangers like wild animals and swift water.

I get such a kick out of seeing the abundant wildlife in my area and obviously my dogs do too, however I certainly don’t want them getting too up close and personal since this could be bad for all parties involved. No matter where you live, the chance of your pets coming into contact with wildlife is pretty high, even if that only means squirrels, mice and rabbits. My neighborhood has an abundance of elk, deer, raccoons, skunk, song birds, hawks, owls, eagles, fox, coyote, wolves, bear, moose and mountain lions. As you can probably figure; mixing up with any of these could be bad for either party, whether it’s my cats, dogs or chickens. And don’t think that it only matters one way or another, I have to disagree; we have a responsibility to our pets and our wildlife equally.

So how do we keep everyone safe and separate? Good question, start with some forethought. If I’m keeping chickens in a rural area, I have to be as prepared as possible for the animals that could eat them, so their fencing and housing have to be as raid-proof as possible. I have to keep bell collars (safety release of course) on my cats because the depredation of songbirds by domestic cats alone is devastating. And my dogs, well they have to be trained to recall on command, no matter what is running by and if they can’t be trusted, then they can’t be loose, period. Chasing deer and elk can stress out the herds as well as put them and the dogs in danger from vehicle traffic. Moose, mountain lions and coyotes can easily kill a dog, whether I’m out hiking or they’re passing through our yard, so again, I have to be careful. For instance, I never leave my dogs out in the yard unattended for more than a minute or two and I don’t let my cats out at night; they’re just not equipped to deal with the predators out there. I’ve heard of several pet owners in my community who acted very irresponsibly and left their pets out to fend for themselves, with tragic results. Not only for the pet, but also for the wild animal that was only doing what comes naturally as a way to survive and then was killed because of that. So you see how everyone was harmed by one person’s inattention? And anyway, who doesn’t sleep a little better at night knowing their beloved pets are right where they belong, snuggled in a cozy pet bed…… inside?

Spring Water Danger for Dogs

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So it’s almost spring or, it already is, depending on where you live. Additionally, like those of us in the northwest, it’s spring as we know it. And while that means more fun; more walks, agility OUTSIDE (woohoo), trail rides, dog soccer etc. it also means some increase in dangerous conditions. For my area, that means melting snow making rivers much, much faster with enough ice still around them to make them even more dangerous.

Many of us are well aware of the danger of frozen water; who hasn’t seen the news stories with the daring rescues or devastating losses of life, both animal and human? Only last year, a young woman from our area lost her life when she jumped in a rushing, springtime river to rescue her dog. The dog died as well, and I know full well, that even though I’m armed with all the facts and water rescue trained from my job on the fire department, I would jump in to save my dogs too. Kind of a bad thing all around, so what can we do?

Well I would have to say that prevention is the key action here; for all the training or swimming ability one might have, our best bet is to keep our dogs from getting into danger in the first place. You need to know your area, you have to have sufficiently trained your dogs and you need to be aware of the conditions near you at all times.

While we usually know our “spot” where we walk or hike with our dogs, we can also get a little complacent, especially if it’s an after work walk or you’re in a rush. Situational awareness is something we firefighters are always trying to maintain, but everyone can benefit from it; keep aware, read up on weather alerts, water levels and just pay attention.

The training issue is another matter entirely. I could, (and will, some other time), go on and on about how a trained dog is happier, has a better life and has happier owners. However, for the purpose of this article, let me just say that at the very least, a recall command is the simplest lifesavers around, literally. One of my training trademarks is the “this way” command. Accompanied with a wave of the arm, it’s such an easy command and can teach dogs to dramatically alter their course; sometimes all they need to stay out of trouble. “This way” is not a substitute for a recall command, but instead a quick alternative. It’s also very beneficial because when you’re teaching it, it’s incorporated into a fun activity; as in “hey, lets go up this path” or “look, I’m throwing a ball for you” vs. being put back on the leash (not always super enticing).

One more, oft repeated word; know your dog CPR.  To find a class near you, ask your vet or go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0AFrUiRIeVo  or any of the great site you can Google Any way you look at it, for us to stay safe and keep our pets safe, we need to take a little time to focus on safety, not just

cute dog accessories, dog treats and the latest toys. Have a happy spring day!