'Tis the Season

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Holiday preparations can be stressful. A quick break for petting, playing with, or just snuggling your pet can be really restorative! 

It's fun to shop for them, too. There is such a variety of toys available for cats, dogs, birds and small animals. For those who like to get creative, baking dog treats, making stuffed catnip toys, and even spreading peanut butter on a pine cone, rolling it in birdseed and hanging it in the yard for feathered friends will delight the critters and boost your holiday spirits.

Dogs really enjoy tearing into wrapped gifts, and of course kitties are some of the best gift-wrapping assistants we know!

In addition to presents, everyday gifts abound. Strolling with the pup to see neighborhood holiday displays will give you both a breath of fresh air and a welcome energy boost, nicely breaking up the most frenzied days of holiday preparations.

If you’ll be away for a few hours some days, give the dog a walk so she’ll be happy to nap while you’re away. Then when you return, you both can snuggle into that new throw, reveling in knowing the true meaning of “comfort and joy.”

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A Grateful Time

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That time of year is here when we give thanks for all we have and certainly our pets deserve our special thanks for giving us laughs and affection daily.  Their carefree spirits make every day fun and they us from taking ourselves too seriously.

Are they included in an event for Thanksgiving?  Sometimes they may feel left out after smelling something luscious. While it may be tempting to feed them a scrap or two, rich foods or anything out of the ordinary can cause stomach upset, diarrhea or even worse - an inflammatory condition of the pancreas known as pancreatitis. It’s best to keep pets on their regular diet during the holiday season.

Absolutely, never, ever, under any circumstance feed them bones.

Better ideas to include them and make them feel special:

  • Fill a Kong with some extra kibble mixed with peanut butter (check out these ultimate Kong stuffing recipes: buff.ly/2hIV98F via Rover.com)
  • Mix steamed green beans or carrots in with their regular kibble
  • Take them to visit a friend or relative who may need the company
  • Engage in a long play session
  • Give them a good brushing
  • Snuggle under a blankie together

Sunny autumn days are great to get outside and exercise with your pup.  Jump in a pile of leaves, throw a ball or frisbee.  Walk slowly so they can sniff more.  Even a rainy day can be fun!  Jump in puddles and get all soaking wet so when you get home, a long, you can get a long, inviting rubdown awaits.

There are numerous ways to make them feel included and say a special thank you for being such loyal companions.

How do you show your pet you are thankful for them?

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To Crate or Not

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Just as a child views their bedroom as a private and safe haven, a crate for a dog can give them a sense of security.  Dogs have a natural instinct to be in a den and if properly trained, they will find their crate is the perfect destination to go if they are tired and don’t want to be bothered or are feeling nervous. 

Crates provide training and safety benefits for dog and owner alike.  Crating on a humane schedule teaches puppies bladder and bowel control and limits teething to his/her own property. A dog crated in a car has a better chance of surviving and auto accident and little chance of causing one.

The type of crate should be large enough for your pup to stretch out, turn around and stand up. Provide a soft mat and a chew toy inside. Remove the collar if there is metal grating that may catch.  Place the kennel in a quiet area, preferably in the bedroom.

To acclimate your dog to the crate leave it open so they can go inside anytime. Don't ever use it for discipline so your dog doesn’t associate it with something bad.  

Dependent on age and breed every dog has different needs. If you must keep them inside while you are away at work, have someone give them potty breaks, playtime and food or water. You should never crate for lengthy periods of time as your pup will begin to negatively associate the crate with being left alone. Ideally, you will not have to crate your dog except for travel and vet visits. Always strive to make it a cozy experience.

With Halloween soon be here, a crate is an idyllic place for a dog during trick or treat time. They won't be frightened and stay safe from escaping through open doors.

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Changes

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Summer has flown by!  School is back in, changing daily routines and schedules — for family members and pets!

Our fur family needs time to adjust to more time alone, which sometimes can bring on separation anxiety and/or acting out.

Tips for coping:

  • Provide interactive toys, chews when they’re alone to ease boredom.
  • Take the dog along for kid drop-offs and pickups. The routine, and knowing they’ll return can help.
  • If possible, try and ease your pet into the new schedule before it actually happens.
  • Be sure all gates and fences are secure.
  • TV or music on low provides a little background "noise" that can help them relax.
  • Keep small objects like crayons, scissors, markers and glue out of reach to prevent chewing, choking or ingestion.
  • Morning exercise can tire a pup, leaving him calm and relaxed. 

Fall is a magical time.  We hope these tips help make it great for everyone in the family!

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Beat the Heat!

Our concerns this month should definitely include our furry friends when the temps are reaching triple digits and it's just plain hot!

  • Keep your dogs and cats indoors during the heat of the day.
  • Run your AC or at least keep air circling with fans. 
  • Always keep fresh water handy and change it frequently adding a few ice cubes. 
  • If, for any reason, your dog must remain outside during the day always make sure he is in a shady area with plenty of water to drink. Place a kiddie pool nearby in case he wants to take a dip to cool off. 
  • If you let your children run under the sprinkler, let your dog join them!  It's best not to do this during the hottest part of day.
  • NEVER leave a pet in a car even if parked in the shade with the windows down when the outside temperature is anything over 70 degrees. 

The Humane Society of the United States advises being aware of stressful signs like heavy panting, glazed eyes, rapid heartbeat, lethargy, lack of coordination and seizures indicating severe dehydration and heatstroke.  Move your pet to a shady area or air-conditioned area. Apply a cold wet towel to their head, neck or chest or run cool (not cold) water over their body.  Offer a small amount of water or lick ice cubes and keep them calm. Take directly to your veterinarian.

Walking your dog should only be done in early morning or late evening and be sure to carry water with you.  Walk on grass if possible. Concrete areas can burn your dog’s pads severely.

Be mindful of other animals too. Birds need fresh water daily.  Remember the homeless animals and keep a bowl of water under a bush or the edge of your property.

Got a tip or great photo of your pet beating the heat?  Like Spot on Facebook, post a photo, and tell us your tips!

Safe Hiking = Happy T(r)ails!

Hiking with your dog is a great way to spend a sunny day.  Getting out, a little exercise and fresh air is even more fun with your best friend.

Before you go:

  • Is your dog’s fitness level suitable for the hike ahead?
  • What are the weather conditions?
  • Is your dog well-behaved and socialized around other people and dogs?

Gear up!

It’s important to bring the right gear. 

  • A strong leash is very important.  Dogs are lost each year after chasing critters, and many have fallen over cliffs. Keep him/her on a leash at all times.
  • A well-fitting collar with tags containing all vital info in case of emergency. 
  • Water – a quart for every 3 miles is recommended.
  • Collapsible water dish, snacks, poop bags, and a doggie first aid kit.
  • A whistle in case you are out of cell range.

Be prepared for the unexpected and let someone know when you will be back. Most of all enjoy!!

Got a hiking tip or a fun pic?  Like Spot on Facebook, post a photo, and tell us your tips!

BEWARE!

The great American holiday, July 4, is coming up fast.  It's great for family picnics and BBQ's.  

For many pets and their owners it’s also a stressful time.  Fireworks begin days before, making anxious pets miserable.

Tips to help:

  • Keep pets indoors, especially in the evening.  Close windows, turn the TV on low or put on some soothing music to buffer the concussions.
  • Distract them with a new game that involves treats.
  • Snuggle in.  Being with their beloved person is the best antidote during this scary time.

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Zap the Buggers!

We welcome spring with warmer weather and sunshine.  Sometimes, it is not so good for our furry friends because flea and tick season is here too.

If your pet is restless/anxious and scratches and chews a lot, check for fleas.  It's easy to spot them with a flea comb. Or part the fur on their back and if there are black specks that look like dirt – it’s fleas. Use a flea preventative along with regular bathing and grooming to fend off these pesky critters.  

If your pet spends a lot of time outdoors, make it a habit to check for ticks. Run your hands down your dog’s back, between legs and toes, behind ears and tail area.  If you feel a bump the size of a small pea you may see a tick has attached itself.  Remove the entire tick gently with a tweezers and completely disinfect the area.

A lot of treatment options on the market are for both fleas and ticks. Ask your veterinarian.

These parasites can cause many and serious problems and illness. Do all you can to keep your best friends happy and free from those "buggers."

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Tweet Tweet!

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!

Like Spot on Facebook, post a photo, and tell us what special treats you feed your pets to keep them happy and healthy.                           

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!

Like Spot on Facebook, post a photo, and tell us how you keep your pets snug and cozy during the winter months! 

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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