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Robin redbreast digging for worms in your lawn and new songs and birds at your feeders are a happy sign that our crazy winter is over.

Be sure to take down the old feeders and give them a good scrubbing in soap and warm water.  It may be time to get a new one to help brighten your yard too.

If you have a bird bath it needs a cleaning too to be sure it is algae free.  Otherwise, always keep a bowl of fresh water near the feeders for the birds to drink.

Now is the time birds will be building nests.  They'll think you're tops if you provide them with straw, grass clippings, even dog and cat fur for building material and will sing their little hearts out to thank you.

Keep cats indoors for their safety and the safety of wild birds - especially this time of year when baby birds are being born.

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Happy Easter!

Easter is a time of family, fun, goodies and egg hunts.  Pets love the fun too, but some Easter goodies can be harmful.  These quick tips can keep pets happy and healthy during the celebration. 

Chocolate is harmful to dogs and cats.  While some pet owners report their dog ingesting it without ill effect, its toxicity is cumulative – so while an incident may not cause apparent harm, it can cause damage over time or heighten the risk should your pet get into chocolate again. 

Shiny Easter grass, especially appealing to cats, can cause choking and intestinal obstruction.  And what would Easter be without an egg hunt?  Keep count of any PLASTIC EGGS you hide to ensure they're all collected.  Broken plastic can be harmful when chewed. 

Just like children, our pets need supervision.  Take care and enjoy a very happy holiday!

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Happy Cat - Happy You

When our kitty cats exhibit behavior that isn't normal we are naturally concerned. If your cat is usually friendly and playful but suddenly not, she may just be bored, but most likely it's a sign of illness or stress.

Cats are creatures of routine.  Is there a change in the household that could be a cause? 

Urinating outside the litter box or elsewhere is a sign of trouble.

Excessive grooming and scratching may also be a sign of stress.  If you have ruled out fleas, your kitty could be suffering from seasonal allergies.

If he/she has always been a sweet and passive cat but is exhibiting aggression toward other animals or humans – definitely a red flag something is wrong.

Hiding, being lethargic and sleeping more are all signs to be aware that all is not right in kitty’s world.

Don't ignore the problem.  A visit to the vet should be made to rule out illness.  Do all you can to have your sweet fur baby back to normal.

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Special Treats

Just as we feed our family, we use top quality dog food for our best furry friends to keep them healthy. 

Including a little something to the kibble bowl adds variety and livens things up. Treats don’t have to be of the unhealthy type. There are lots of natural, "people" foods that are actually good to share with your pet occasionally. 

  1. Cooked oatmeal (no added sweetener) is great for fiber in the diet. 
  2. Soft boiled eggs are easy on the tummy and have protein.
  3. Unseasoned, plain cooked white or brown rice eases upset tummies and is especially good for older dogs.
  4. A spoon of peanut butter is healthy and dogs love it added to home baked pet biscuits.
  5. Raw carrots are great for fur and nails.
  6. A slice of pineapple or apple (no seeds!) is a good source of potassium.
  7. Canned, unseasoned pumpkin added to wet food will be gobbled up and is good for digestive issues. 

Always stick to your dog's regular diet.  Use these foods as special treats so they don't become habit forming.

Your fur baby will be lovin' you all the more!

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Cold Nosies & Toesies

The winter has just begun and already we are experiencing freezing cold and snowy weather the likes of which we haven't seen in years.  Guarding the health and well-being of our pets should be on the top of our list.  Watch for stiff, achy joints, especially in our older furry friends.  The ASPCA recommends giving them a bone supplement daily.  Ask your veterinarian to recommend one.  

Be sure they have comfy blankets or provide heated beds or animal proof heating pads to keep them cuddly.  Sweaters or coats are good in inclement weather, especially on walks and especially for animals with shorter fur coats.  Always clean and wipe little feet when coming from outside.  Besides being cold, wet and muddy, de-icing solutions used on streets and sidewalks can irritate skin severely and cause major tummy upset when licked.  Paws can get frost bite easily so skip the walks when the weather is frightful and just snuggle in.  Your "best buds" will love you even more!

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A Merry Furry Christmas!

The holidays are in the air and our pets can catch the excitement from us if we don't get frazzled.  We need to be mindful of them at all times to keep them safe. 

When packages start arriving in the mail let the empty boxes become a new toy for your dog or cat.  Kitties, especially have great fun playing for hours. 

If you find the opportunity, plan one special day for your best furry friends with you just having fun and being together.  Buy them presents for your special day and watch them tear up the paper.  Dress them up in little Santa coats or antlers and catch some great photos. 

Take a long walk with your best bud and enjoy nature.  It will be refreshing for both of you.  Give them a good rubdown and brushing afterwards. 

Stay with their normal feeding routine.  No chocolate, spicy or fatty foods and definitely no bones.  Do give them a special treat while you have dinner. 

Buy a new, soft throw, curl up on the couch with your furry friends, watch a Christmas movie and cuddle.  What bliss!!  It will be the one special day you will always remember.

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ABC, Learn from Me!

You may have noticed just watching our pets interact with daily life is a learning experience. 

The ASPCA has a list that will help both you and your furry friend stay healthy and enjoy each day. 

  • Walk every day! (Even if just around the block when it rains.) 
  • Drink water!  LOTS! 
  • Groom yourself.  You feel so much better! 
  • Stretch often.  Help those stiff achy joints stay limber 
  • Live in the moment (put worry aside) but it helps to stick to a daily routine to give structure to the day. 
  • Cultivate friendship.  Wag! Smile! Play! 
  • Don't hold a grudge. (Notice our pets are way better at forgiveness.) 
  • If you love someone, show it!  The power of touch works wonders. 

Stay in tune and your pet can teach you many important life lessons!

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Pumpkin Time!

Autumn brings to mind pumpkin patches, jack-o-lanterns and pumpkin pie.  Did you know pumpkin is also very beneficial to your pet’s health?  It is high in fiber, low in fats and loaded with beta-carotene and other vitamins. 

The PetMD on-line says the natural canned pumpkin, (not the spicy kind used for pies), added to your pets wet food also improves digestion and they enjoy the taste too. Talk to your veterinarian about how much pumpkin to safely give your pet since it will vary depending on your pet’s size and current diet. It definitely is good for upset tummies and for preventing hairball formation that causes kitty much distress. It is also 90% water and even promotes shiny coats. 

It can be a great natural and healthy food additive for our furry friend's diet.  Have a pet-safe, pumpkin-filled season!

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Smile! September is Pet Smile Month!

As responsible pet owners we take good care of our furry friends; however, their teeth tend to be neglected because we don't know what to do.  It's never too late to start dental care. 

Using a toothpaste made specifically for pets (NEVER use human toothpaste), try brushing their teeth with a small, soft bristled brush, or even your finger. Even three days a week can make a difference. More important, have your vet examine teeth and provide info on a balanced diet. 

According to the ASPCA dogs can show gum disease before they are four years old.  Smelly breath is often the first sign that something is wrong.  Drooling and loss of appetite are other symptoms.  Without brushing, plaque builds up leading to other serious health issues.  Gums should be pink and firm, no loose teeth.  Good, non-toxic chew toys are good for massaging gums.  Kibble is good for kitties teeth. 

Most of us know the pain of a toothache or the yuckiness of unbrushed teeth.  Do all you can to keep your pet healthy and brush those toofers!

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Finicky Furballs

Got a fussy eater at your house?  Some breeds, like Yorkies or Siberian Huskies can be more finicky than others.

#1 – See your vet to rule out any health or dental problems.

#2 – A change in food may help.  With this approach, take care to follow guidelines — an abrupt dietary change can be harmful.

Otherwise, veterinary professionals offer these tips:

  • Make mealtime positive and quiet, away from kids and other animals.  Stay close if it helps.  Sometimes a bite offered from your hand will help get them started. 
  • Try smaller, more frequent portions at different times of day.
  • Mix a little wet food with kibble for more flavor. Warming wet food 6-9 seconds in the microwave can also help (many kitties like this).
  • Finally, EXERCISE! to help stimulate the appetite. Reduce treats, and do not give treats in place of food.

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A Forever Home

Thinking of adopting a dog or cat? A few things to consider…

-          Your household, new schedules and responsibilities. Routines will change.

-          If you have a pet now, research good mixes — shelters and rescues help with this too. Factor in future veterinary expenses.

-          Be prepared: provide a comfy bed, food, toys, food/water bowls, and a secure carrier. 

-          A litter box and scratching post for kitties are a must.

-          If possible, take everyone in the family to meet the pet, including pets already in the home.

-          Give your new pet time to acclimate to the his/her surroundings. The shelter/rescue will provide guidelines.

-          Most of all, give them time to adjust, and when they’re ready, provide them with lots of time, attention, quality food and exercise/play. They'll thank you with years of happy tails and purrs!

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Happy Tail Waggin' New Year!

You’ll probably make resolutions that you will struggle with after the first week. So, how about making some for your furry friends that will be a cinch to keep and they’ll be happy, healthy and safe throughout the year.  What is more important than that? The Humane Society of the United States has some good suggestions. 

  • Toss out those old toys with the stuffing hanging out and replace them with new ones.
  • Have you checked their treats lately?  Toss any that are over three months old.
  • Turn off the TV and get down and play more.  Good exercise for both of you.  Take more walks!
  • Take your dog on a day trip.  Just running on the beach or playing in the snow can be exhilarating.
  • Try new games.  Mental exercise like playing hide and seek can stimulate them to learn new things.
  • Have a heart-to-heart talk with your pet while snuggling.   Just hearing our voice is soothing and makes them feel good.
  • Socialize your dog. Meeting other dogs and people keeps their brain happy. If you have guests over, a dog that likes people is fun to be around.
  • Make sure vaccinations are up-to-date to prevent illness. And update identification on both tags and microchips to ensure a safe return should they become lost.

Most of all, spend more time with them.  This resolution should be number one on your list!

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Take the OH NO! out of your Holiday Ho-Ho-Ho!

The festivities of Christmas will be a happy time if we stay ever mindful of our pets.  They like getting in on the fun, but there are dangers lurking too.

The American Humane Assn. gives good advice for the season.  Make sure Christmas trees have sturdy stands and are anchored securely so they won't fall over if kitty decides to climb.  Pine needles are toxic if chewed or eaten and can cause choking.  Be sure to change tree water daily and don't let your pets drink from it.  There may still be chemicals from preservatives in it.  Don't put breakable ornaments on bottom branches and hide tree lights and wires.

Plants such as Poinsettias, Holly, Lilies and Mistletoe can cause tummy upset if chewed - or worse - a trip to the emergency vet.

With so many electronic gadgets requiring batteries, be sure your pet won't find any lying around to chew on. If punctured they can cause severe burns to mouth and throat.

It can be hard to resist a furry little begging face but resist giving pets anything from your holiday table.. Even in small doses, the rich, fatty foods that their digestive systems aren’t used to can cause severe stomach upset and pancreatitis. Keep them on their regular feeding schedule and just say NO to bones and chocolate.

Holidays can bring out the stress in all of us and your pets are no exception.  With all the hustle and bustle, keep pets indoors and provide a safe, quiet, escape-free room if you will be having guests over. Take your dog for an extra walk – it’ll help both of you relieve some holiday stress.  Most importantly, don’t forget the snuggles!  Give your furry best friends extra love and attention to let them know they are not forgotten during the busy season.  Have a woofy and meowy holiday Have a bark and meowy Christmas!

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Halloween

The spooks and goblins will be out soon.  Halloween is fun for children and adults, but we need to be aware it can be stressful and scary for pets.  Frequent knocking on the door and strange creatures in scary costumes may cause such fright your dog could bolt out the open door.  According to the North Shore Animal League, the two top hazards are escaping and being poisoned.  All the candy is enticing, but don't share with your dog.  Chocolate and even sugar free candy is toxic to pets.  Kitty may like the rustle of candy wrappers, but it could cause choking.  Keep lighted pumpkins outside and provide a safe, quiet room or area in your house for animals.  Practice safety and have a happy Halloween!

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Fall Changes

The warm days of summer are over and the cooler temps are back. As we prepare for winter we need to be ever mindful of our pets.

The ASPCA says beware of toxins like in compost piles, mushrooms and pesticides to get rid of rodents. And there can't be enough said about car engine coolant with it's sweet taste. Any spillage must be wiped up immediately or it is deadly to animals.

Cats seek shelter under car hoods or tops of tires when it's cold.  A knock on the hood should scare kitty away.  If you take Fido out for a walk after dark wear reflective gear -  both of you!  Stay safe and enjoy!

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Bird Alert!

During summer it’s important to remember the special needs of our indoor feathered friends. Birds like warmth, but cages shouldn’t be in direct sun, as they can suffer heatstroke. The National Audobon Society say symptoms of avian heatstroke include panting, loss of balance, holding wings outward, or sitting on the floor of the cage for extended periods.

Likewise, be cool about keeping them cool – keep birds away from direct AC airflow, as they can become chilled. If you let your friends roam, beware of open windows and fans  (especially ceiling fans) which can cause severe injury.

Use a plant mister to gently spray Tweetie several times daily. This protects their respiratory systems, and they like it!  Provide fresh, separate water for drinking and bathing, and a diet fresh in nuts, grains and fruit.

Please remember outdoor birds too! Provide fresh water daily, even if just a bowl set on a table. This can be a lifesaver!

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Toasty Temps!

This summer is a real toaster and for animals with fur coats it definitely can be a hazard.  Dehydration and even heat stroke can happen fast when temps are high.  Always be aware of your pets special needs.  Keep bowls of cold water handy inside and out and change them frequently. throughout the day.  Keep pets inside with the AC on or fans running.  If they must be outside, be sure they have a shady area all day, preferably with grass since it stays cooler.  Put out a kiddie size pool of water near for them to jump in and cool off.  Run a sprinkler and let them drink from a hose.  Wrap kitties in cool, wet towels to cool skin.  Forget walks until temps go down or in the early morning hours.  If you don't have an animal, leave bowls of water outside anyway.  The neighborhood wildlife or any strays will thank you.

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Those scary sky sounds

Most of the time our pets love summer, but a scary thing is a storm.  Loud claps of thunder send them into anxiety mode just like 4th of July firecrackers.  Dogs, especially, read us so well that if we're startled they tend to be more so.  Keep them indoors, turn the volume up on the TV or put on some music to soothe nerves.  Provide them a comfy place away from windows where they can go to feel safe. Besides staying calm yourself, try distracting them with highly valued chew toys or food.  Try out a new game or give an easy command to sit and stay and give them a meaty treat.  By being rewarded each time their association to storms may change to positive. 

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Get Gardening!

Spring is here!  Getting things in shape for the season is exciting, and keeping a few simple things in mind will help ensure a safe and enjoyable season for you and your furry best friends. 

Along with gardening come plant pests and certain risks for pets.  While controlling pests is a must for a lush, healthy lawn and garden, pet-friendly products are essential to protecting your pets.  Happily there are many from which to choose, just be sure to read the labels.  If you're still not sure, just ask a friendly Bi-Mart associate – they're knowledgeable and happy to help. 

When mowing or treating the lawn and garden, it's best to keep pets inside.  Safety first.  Here's to your best ever backyard season!

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Cord Hazard!

Who doesn't have numerous electrical cords within our pets’ reach in many rooms of our homes?  Our pets, especially puppies, kittens and bunnies, love to bite and chew, making risk of harm to our furry friends or fire is a real concern. 

Hiding cords behind furniture doesn't always work.  Binding them with twist-ties or encasing them in PVC pipe is recommended by Web Med.  Bitter sprays may also help.  

Window blinds are unsafe for playful cats and kittens, who can get tangled and choke, so keep cords short and out of reach. 

Keeping our furry friends busy with toys and play is also great prevention.

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