The warmer winds of spring and summer are finally blowing in to our winter-weary area, but along with the comforting warmth of the season, uncomfortable fleas and ticks become a unwelcomed nuisance—and a health hazard, both for us and our treasured pets.
Traditional flea and tick collars and preparations are available to ward off these dangerous creepy crawlers, whose bites are not only uncomfortable for our dogs and cats, but can also carry dangerous diseases including Lyme’s Disease.
But as with all chemical preparations, there are pluses and minuses. Last Christmas I lost Ellie, a beloved member of my pack. She was diagnosed around Thanksgiving and quickly passed away from liver failure. Her health problems could have been caused by many thing, one of which was flea and tick preparations. Basically these collars and preparations are pesticides, similar to what you’d use on your lawns and in your gardens, but in the case of your pets, applied directly to their bodies.
Choosing flea and tick preparations is a very personal decision. But after doing some research, I have decided to go with a product that uses natural oils for protection. If you decide to go the natural route you will find there are many products available.
One of the biggest differences you’ll notice is that they probably don’t last as long as some of the other preparations, but they are also considerably less expensive. Some smell better than others…you need to try different brands to find the one you’re most comfortable with.
There are even recipes available online for making your own natural flea and tick preventative applications. Regardless of whether you go the natural way or use commercial, chemical-based preparations, I’d strongly suggest you avoid preparations with the following potentially hazardous ingredients: Tetrachlorvinphos, pyrethroids, and any ingredient that ends in “-thin,” such as permethrin, deltamethrin and flumethrin, as well as etofenprox.
I would also suggest you do the research and find the method you are most comfortable with. We all share the same goal of wanting to help our dogs…not hurt them. Enjoy the warmer weather with your pet, and have a safe and healthy season!
Your treasured pet will give you a lifetime of companionship, love and enjoyment. But just like humans, your dog’s health will inevitably be impacted by aging, and in dogs, this can happen as early as their sixth or seventh year. Illnesses and conditions like cancer, diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, and diseases associated with kidneys and the liver occur more frequently as your pet—and his or her immune system–ages. But with some changes in care, diet and screening, you can help assure that your pet ages as happy, comfortably and healthy as possible.
As your dog ages, it is wise to schedule a twice yearly exam versus a yearly exam. Your veterinarian can check more often for signs and symptoms of problems, such as stiffness and pain due to arthritis, dental problems and bloodwork to screen for conditions like diabetes and parasites. Dogs who have not been spayed or neutered are also more prone to reproductive cancers and should be screened accordingly.
Your dog should also be monitored more frequently for weight and nutritional problems as well. Your dog’s diet may have to be adjusted as his or her nutritional needs will change with aging, as well as his or her digestive abilities. And unfortunately, just like their human companions, weight gain increases with age, as well as health problems associated with weight. Mobility may decrease, contributing to this problem. You should talk with your vet regarding age-appropriate exercises for your pet.
Obviously, your dog’s vaccinations should be kept up to date, but talk to your veterinarian regarding any necessary changes associated with an older dog. You may also have to change your pet’s sleeping arrangements in an effort to avoid stairs and obstacles.
It doesn’t take a lot of adjusting to help make sure your pet ages as well as possible. It is a small price to pay for all the years of happiness your dog has provided you.
The holiday song tell you it’s the “most wonderful time of the year.” And the Christmas season can definitely bring delightful family gatherings and celebrations. But your pet might be facing a holiday nightmare if you’re not careful about some festive traditions that can prove harmful to your dog.
Gifts are an important part of the Christmas season. But as you’re wrapping the gifts make sure to do the wrapping in an area away from your pet. Wrapping paper, ribbon and other decorations can present problems if they’re ingested by your pet. Similarly, after the gifts are opened, make sure to clean up and properly dispose of the wrappings as soon as possible. Also, make sure the scissors is put up and away from your pet.
The tree is the focal point of any Christmas celebration. If you are buying a fresh Christmas tree, be aware that pine needles, when ingested, can puncture your pet’s intestines. Likewise, tinsel can be very dangerous if ingested. Decorations can be enticing to your pet, so make sure you place them out of doggy reach. Strings of lights can also provide a burning or electrical shock hazard as well as a way to bring down the tree if your pup should use grab onto them.
Consider a few things when dealing with a tree and your pet: an artificial tree may be safer, decorations should be used only on the upper branches and edible decorations like popcorn and cranberries should definitely be avoided.
Other decorations around the house can also prove hazardous to your pet. Holly, mistletoe and poinsettia plants are all poisonous to your pet. Candles are very dangerous and should be used with the utmost care, and always away from where your pet’s tail could inadvertently knock them over. And that cozy fire in the fireplace should be screened off from inquisitive pets.
What are the holidays without some indulgent food and treats? Be aware that many human foods are toxic to your pet. In particular, chocolates, the artificial sweeter xylitol, grapes and raisins and onions should be avoided at all costs. Don’t feed your dog “people” food, and ask your gifts to do the same. And make sure that the garbage can has a secure lid and is inaccessible to your pet.
With all the guests, gift giving and holiday cheer that accompany the holidays, your pet might find himself or herself overwhelmed. Make sure he or she has a safe, quiet and secure place to retreat to, such as a kennel, crate or quiet room.
Finally, a cute, cuddly puppy is an enticing gift option. In a word, don’t! Owning a pet is a lifetime commitment that comes with proper feeding, training, exercising and vet care. It is a decision that should be made with great thought and care, not as a whimsical choice at Christmas time.
With a little care, the holidays can prove delightful and safe for both you and your pet. Have a wonderful, safe holiday season from K-9 Perfection!
It’s that apple-crunching, pumpkin carving, leaf raking time of the year, culminating in that most fun and festive of holidays—Halloween! But while good treats and tricks can be fun for kids, the holiday can be downright scary for your pet, unless you take precautions to keep your pooch safe from hidden hazards.
While kids might be allowed to indulge in Halloween treats, your dog NEVER should. Chocolate in all its yummy glory is extremely toxic for your pet, and the sugar substitute xylitol can also cause serious issues for your dog. Rule of thumb, if you want to get your pooch involved in the holiday festivities, purchase a pet-approved treat from a pet store or in the pet department…not in the candy aisle!
What’s Halloween without a glowing, scary pumpkin or glow sticks and jewelry? Unfortunately, potential for problems for your pet. The pumpkin can inadvertently get tipped by your dog and become a fire hazard, and glow sticks and jewelry can be chewed and present difficulties for your dog. Keep the glowing, scary stuff away from your pet—and problems.
Strangers—and weirdly dressed strangers, at least in the eyes of your dog—can disrupt your pets’ sense of safety and home. If at all possible, keep your dog away from the door during the trick-or-treat phase of the evening. Provide a safe place for him or her, especially if he or she is wary of strangers. And don’t keep your pet tied out where marauding pirates and pretty princesses can’t “spook” your pet.
Taking your pet along while trick or treating and the constant open and closing of the door for little ghosts and goblins both provide an attractive escape possibility for your pet. Make sure your pet has proper ID in case he or she gets away from you. An up-to-date collar ID or chip could put the “treat” back into the day.
Be wary if you decide to disguise your dog as a cat or bird or any other animal or person by getting him or her into a Halloween costume. Make sure your pet is comfortable in a costume, trying it on prior to the big day. If your pet seems comfortable, make sure the costume is safe for your dog…can he or she see, breathe, bark and comfortably move around? Are there any small parts that could pose a choking hazard?
Dressing your pet is really not recommended by the ASPCA unless you know your pet is comfortable and happy doing so. Perhaps this Halloween—and every day—the best costume comes in the furry suit your dog was born in. Have a Happy and Safe Halloween!
August is a funny month. There’s still plenty of good weather ahead to enjoy summertime activities like swimming, picnics, biking and hiking. But…looming ahead is the thought of going back to school. Even if you haven’t been in school for a long time, you know the feeling. And if you have kids, or are a teacher, you know the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer are getting short, and back to school blues are on the horizon.
But…did you ever think that your pooch might have some adjustments in his or her future as well? Fido has become used to having his family around 24/7. All of a sudden the house is empty, and he finds himself at loose ends for the entire day. But with a little preparation and planning you can make the transition easier for your pet.
For starters, use these last few weeks before school starts to get back into a routine. Start getting up earlier and use that extra time to take your dog for a walk or letting him out at approximately the same times you’ll be leaving and arriving home. Do the same for your dog’s morning and evening meals. Start using their crates and leaving them alone for short periods of time so they get used to being on their own again.
Back-to-school might also mean less time for leisurely walks and extended play. This can lead to weight gain and destructive behavior. So it is very important to try to incorporate exercise into your dog’s day. Consider having your pet walk with you and your child in the morning and afternoon if you walk your kids to school. Or have your pup accompany you to the bus stop with your kids. It will make your dog feel like he is part of the back-to-school process. If you’re not able to walk your dog during the day, make sure you set aside some time before you leave, and after you return, for some quality doggy time. Get your kids involved…you’ll all benefit from the activity.
When your dog is home alone all day, consider leaving some slow and relaxing music on to soothe your dog. You might also leave some challenging toys for your dog to play with. There are toys that you can fill with peanut butter or cream cheese and they might prove interesting to your pet.
If you can afford it, and if your dog enjoys playing with other dogs, you might consider Doggy Daycare for a day or two during the week. Or consider hiring a qualified dog walker during the day to give your dog a little break and a little socialization.
Make the weekends a special time for your dog. Plan on longer walks, picnics, hikes or even a visit to a restaurant that allows dogs. After a hard week of work and school you all deserve a break!
Dog parks can be great places to give your dog much-needed exercise and socialization. But it is imperative that you know a few things before you “release the hound” on the dog park grounds.
How is your dog around other dogs? Do you know the difference between friendly dog behavior and aggressive behavior? Do you feel confident that you can intervene if playing turns from fun to trouble? If you’re not comfortable in the dog park environment, it is best to find other places to exercise your dog. And if you’re not sure how to distinguish between play and problems think about consulting your veterinarian or a dog professional.
Every dog park has rules that need to be followed. Some dog parks have age limits, but even if yours doesn’t, never take a puppy less than 12 weeks old to a dog park. And make sure your dog is vaccinated, because dog parks can be a breeding ground for illness. Some parks don’t allow treats or toys as both can be the source of a less-than-polite dog desiring what is not theirs. Avoid trouble and save the treats and toys for home. Always keep dogs in heat away from the dog park. And a universal rule, no matter what park, is to clean up after your dog.
Keeping your dog safe at a dog park should begin before even stepping on the dog park grounds. While it might sound counterintuitive, it is a good idea to give your dog a walk before getting to the park. A dog that hasn’t had the opportunity to blow off a little steam before getting to the park might be too energetic and that energy can swiftly change to aggression if not properly harnessed.
Make sure your pet is dressed for the occasion. Breakaway nylon or leather collars are the safest for your pet. Choke chains, harnesses and prong collars can cause problems and possible injury to the dogs.
Also, before bringing your dog into the park, take a look around. Is the park overly crowded? Are the dogs playing happily, or is there a bully in the bunch who is acting aggressively towards the other dogs? Are there a lot of children in the park? Does your dog do well with children?
Be extra careful with smaller dogs. Some dog parks actually have a place designated for both larger and smaller dogs. It is wise to adhere to the directives. If your park doesn’t make that distinction and there are a lot of larger dogs in the park, the larger dogs could view the smaller ones as prey. If your smaller dog is getting into trouble with a larger dog, don’t pick it up. This can actually make the problem worse. The best thing is to avoid that situation to begin with by bringing your smaller dog elsewhere. All these things should be considered before entering the park.
If you’ve determined the park is safe for your dog—and your dog will behave properly—let your dog feel his or her way around with the other dogs, always being aware of good manners. If any rude behaviors are displayed, such as rough play, charging, mounting or incessant sniffing, whether on the part of your dog or other dogs, remove your pet from the park.
Finally, pay attention! You are responsible both for your dog’s behavior and for getting your dog out of a dangerous situation. And most of all, have fun. If all the conditions are right, a dog park excursion can be wonderful for all involved.
Nothing says Fourth of July like parades, barbecues and fireworks. And while you might be looking forward to these celebrations, your pup could easily be dreading them, and in particular, the fireworks.
Many dogs are simply petrified by the lights and noise of fireworks. But with a little preparation and attention, your four-legged friend can get through the day without being traumatized.
If you know that your dog is particularly sensitive to fireworks, start planning ahead for the festivities by talking with your vet. There are some medications available that can reduce your pet’s anxiety. Your vet can tell you when and how much to start medicating your dog for optimum results.
On the Fourth, take time out from parades and barbecues to make sure your dog has been thoroughly exercised. A “pooped pet” tends to be a more relaxed pet. Even as you’re walking your dog, be aware that some people may be lighting fireworks, so make sure your dog is on a leash. Always have identification on your dog, or have him or her chipped so in case your dog does gets spooked and happens to get away, ownership can easily be determined.
Never take your pet to the fireworks, especially if you know loud noises and bright lights terrify him or her. Don’t tie your dog outside during the fireworks; rather keep your dog in the house with plenty of water available, as dogs drink more when they are stressed. Put your dog in a quiet, dark room, with favorite toys or blankets available. Sometimes “white noise” like a television or radio will provide comfort or reduce the sound of outside noise.
If you decide to forgo the firework festivities and stay home with your dog, be aware that they may still feel the reverberations of the celebration. Try to remain calm during the event, and reward your dog for staying calm as well. Try not to react adversely to your dogs’ possible distress; rather, help your dog relax with stroking and attention, if that is what your dog desires, or allow your pet to retreat to a safe place, like under the bed, in its kennel or in a corner.
Do not get agitated with your pet, instead be positive, and, of course, loving. If, despite all your efforts, you come home from the fireworks to an unhappy pet who has had an accident, torn up clothes or magazines or has been destructive, do not yell at your pet. It was probably the result of a once-a-year event, and tomorrow, with the quiet of the normal life returned, your pup will probably also return to good behavior and spirits. So enjoy the holiday… and help your pet enjoy it as much as possible as well. Happy Fourth of July!
After last month’s surprise snowstorm, I’m almost hesitant to say that spring has (finally) sprung! With hopefully many more weeks of warm weather ahead of us, thoughts turn to vacations. And whether you take your furry friend with you, or need to find “vacation” spots away from home and family for your pooch, there are some important things to consider in order to make your vacation as memorable—and safe– for both you and your pup.
When traveling by car with your dog, probably the most important thing you can do before you even buckle up and step on the gas is to exercise your pet. Burn off excess energy and make sure they’re “empty” before starting out. Also, don’t feed your dog a heavy meal before starting out; some dogs are prone to motion sickness. A long car ride is never made more pleasant with the after effects of a sick dog!
If you have used crate training throughout your dog’s life, he or she will know it’s a safe place…it’s also a safe way to travel! Make sure there are no items that can harm your dog, such as loose collars or leashes. If you haven’t been crate training your dog, spend some time before the trip getting your pet used to the crate, showing him or her it’s a good place, and getting your dog used to being confined.
If you’re not crating your dog for the trip, I recommend using a car harness. You will avoid being distracted by doggy antics like jumping around, and your dog will be protected from injury caused by short stops, or God forbid, accidents.
Take plenty of breaks along the way, both for exercise and bathroom issues. A small, high protein snack will keep your dog comfortable during the trip. Make sure your pet has plenty of water breaks as well, and, of course, never ever leave a dog in a hot car. Even with the windows cracked open, the car heats up quickly and can prove fatal to your pet.
If you are traveling by air with your pet, check with the airline to make sure what their policies are. There have been too many sad stories about pets coming to harm because pet parents didn’t know about the airline rules and guidelines, or because the airlines were not consistent in maintaining these guidelines. Many airlines require a health certificate; some allow pets in the main cabin with proper certification and some pets will have to be crated and travel in cargo. Do all you can to maintain the health and well-being of your pet, whether he’s occupying your lap, under the seat, or in cargo. A favorite toy or blankie can also provide immense comfort to your dog.
As with the airlines, if you’re planning on bringing your dog to a hotel, check beforehand concerning the hotel’s policies regarding pets. Some hotels welcome pets; others will not even consider allowing them to stay in the hotel.
Let’s assume you’ve found a pet-friendly hotel. First thing, take your dog on a long walk. Your dog will be in a more relaxed state of mind after some good exercise. New places can be frightening for your pet, so make sure you have him well under control. Upon entering the hotel, go first, don’t let him wander around. Be vigilant, and make sure your pet only moves around when you have given him permission. Be considerate of others.
It is not a good idea (and may possibly be against hotel policies) to leave your pet alone in a new place like a hotel. That can be challenging when it comes to dining out because, of course, you don’t want to leave your dog in the care. Fortunately, there are online sites that spell out dog friendly restaurants like www.bringfido.com. (In fact, this website not only outlines dog-friendly restaurants, you can also find recommendations for hotels that allow pets as well as activities like dog-friendly beaches, and dog events available in the area.) Another website www.petfriendlyrestaurants.com also has recommendations for places where you can dine with your doggy (some even have special doggy menus!). Always call first to make sure their pet policies haven’t changed.
Sometimes it is not possible to take your pet along. Make sure you find a reliable and trustworthy “dog sitter.” This might be an individual, a kennel or a trusted friend. This will be your pet’s new “pack” during the duration of your vacation. Find someone who will leave your pet engaged, and not mourning your absence.
With a little planning and training, your pet can share in your vacation experience, or experience positive time away from you. Have a safe and happy vacation!
As I look out my window at about a foot of snow, it’s hard to believe that it’s spring, and summer is right around the corner. As much as it doesn’t feel like it right now, warmer weather is in our future, and there’s no time like the present to remind ourselves that while the nicer weather brings more opportunities to get out with our pets–and possibly lose a couple of those pounds that both us and our pooches may have accumulated over the winter–warmer temperatures also bring some challenges and opportunities to keep our dogs safe, happy and healthy.
Warm weather can be dangerous for our pets. Number one, never leave a pet in a hot car. It just takes minutes for temperatures to get dangerously hot, leading to heat stroke and suffocation. If you’re traveling with your pet, pack water and a water dish, and take your dog with you when you leave the car. Better still, leave your dog at home when it’s hot. He or she will appreciate a nice air-conditioned home, just as much as you do!
Unfortunately, the warm weather also brings with it fleas, ticks and mosquitoes which can carry devastating diseases, like heartworm, Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain fever, and much more. Make sure your dog is protected from these bug-borne diseases, many of which can be dangerous for you too. Ask your veterinarian about proper protection.
While the warm rays of the sun feel good after months of cold weather, hot surfaces can be dangerous for your pup. Watch out for hot sidewalks and roads, as well as metal surfaces, like the bed of a truck. These hot surfaces can not only burn tender paws, they can also increase body temperature and lead to overheating.
Make sure your dog has plenty of water and shade during the warmer months. You may even want to get your dog his or her very own “kiddy pool’—or in your pooch’s case a “puppy pool!” Dogs love the water and getting wet will help keep them cool.
But if you take your dog to the beach, don’t assume he or she is a good swimmer. Dogs instinctively know how to swim, but that doesn’t mean they are necessarily good swimmers. And if your dog jumps into a swimming pool, make sure he or she can easily get out. Just like children, dogs shouldn’t be able to get into a pool or a body of water without adult supervision!
Dogs can get sunburned, especially those with short or light-colored coats. Sunburn can be painful, and overexposure could eventually lead to skin cancer. Talk to your veterinarian about sunscreens for your dog—don’t assume the human variety is appropriate for your pet.
A good rule of thumb is to simply pay attention to your pooch. If your dog seems uncomfortable, remove him or her from the source of discomfort. With a little attention to detail you and your furry friend can safely enjoy the beautiful weather and warmer temperatures which seems to come and go around here just a little too quickly. Enjoy!
As a fun kickoff to the summer, Mary is now offering the option of having offsite-based classes at a variety of area locations.
Classes will start on Wednesday July 17, 2017.
All dogs need to be Canine Good Citizen (CGC) Certified or must have completed or currently be enrolled in an Advanced Dog Class. All vaccinations must be up to date and on file. The dogs need to be on a regular leash. No retractable leashes are allowed. Bring your own poop bags!
Class payment is due before classes begin. Upon payment, you will receive a sheet listing where our classes will be held. All sessions will be held at the specified location on Wednesday evenings from 6-7pm.
Contact Mary for more information on how to get started!