Springtime Safety Tips

Spring has sprung, and with the change of season, our thoughts turn to spring cleaning and much-needed home improvement projects. Before you embark on seasonal chores or outdoor revelry, take inventory of potential springtime hazards for your furry friends.

Screen Yourself
Many pet parents welcome the breezy days of spring by opening their windows. Unfortunately, they also unknowingly put their pets at risk—especially cats, who are apt to jump or fall through unscreened windows. Be sure to install snug and sturdy screens in all of your windows.

Buckle Up!
While most dogs love to feel the wind on their furry faces, allowing them to ride in the beds of pick-up trucks or stick their heads out of moving-car windows is dangerous. Flying debris and insects can cause inner ear or eye injuries and lung infections, and abrupt stops or turns can cause major injury, or worse! Pets riding in cars should always be secured in a crate or wearing a seatbelt harness designed especially for them.

Spring Cleaning
Spring cleaning is a time-honored tradition in many households, but be sure to keep all cleaners and chemicals out of your pets’ way! Almost all cleaning products, even all natural ones, contain chemicals that may be harmful to pets. The key to using them safely is to read and follow label directions for proper use and storage.

Home Improvement 101
Products such as paints, mineral spirits and solvents can be toxic to your pets and cause severe irritation or chemical burns. Carefully read all labels to see if the product is safe to use around your furry friends. Also, be cautious of physical hazards, including nails, staples, insulation, blades and power tools. It may be wise to confine your dog or cat to a designated pet-friendly room during home improvement projects.

Let Your Garden Grow—With Care
Pet parents, take care—fertilizers, insecticides, and herbicides keep our plants and lawns healthy and green, but their ingredients may be dangerous if your pet ingests them. Always store these products in out-of-the-way places and follow label instructions carefully. Many popular springtime plants—including rhododendron and azaleas—are also highly toxic to pets and can prove fatal if eaten.

Ah-Ah-Achoo!
Like us, pets can be allergic to foods, dust, plants and pollens. Allergic reactions in dogs and cats can cause itching, minor sniffling and sneezing, or life-threatening anaphylactic shock to insect bites and stings. If you suspect your pet has a springtime allergy, please visit your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Pesky Little Critters
April showers bring May flowers—and an onslaught of bugs! Make sure your pet is on year-round heartworm preventive medication, as well as a flea and tick control program. Ask your doctor to recommend a plan designed specifically for your pet.

Out and About
Warmer weather means more trips to the park, longer walks and more chances for your pet to wander off! Make sure your dog or cat has a microchip for identification and wears a tag imprinted with your home address, cell phone, and any other relevant contact information.

Litter Box Problems

It’s estimated that at least 10 percent of all cats develop elimination problems. These problems include not using the litter box, sometimes using the litter box, and using the litter box for either urinating or defecating, but not both. In all instances, this proves a problem for cat owners and it’s something you’ll want to tend to right away—once your cat has developed a particular non-litter-box surface or location preference for eliminating, it can be hard to address.

According to the ASPCA, the following common litter box problems might cause your cat to eliminate outside of her box:

  • You haven’t cleaned your cat’s litter box often or thoroughly enough. Virtually all cats like clean litter boxes, so scoop and change your cat’s litter at least once a day. Rinse the litter box out completely with baking soda or unscented soap once a week.
  • You haven’t provided enough litter boxes for your household. Be sure to have a litter box for each of your cats, as well as one extra. If your home is multi-story, you’ll need a litter box on each floor.
  • Your cat’s litter box is too small for her or she can’t enter it easily.
  • Your cat can’t easily get to her litter box at all times.
  • Your cat’s litter box has a hood or liner that makes her uncomfortable.
  • The litter in your cat’s box is too deep. Cats usually prefer one to two inches of litter.
  • You’ve placed your cat’s food and water bowls beside her litter box. Generally, cats do not like to eliminate where they eat.

Other problems
Multi-cat household conflict and medical problems can also cause litter box aversion. Even if you don’t actively see one of your cats blocking access to the litter box, this doesn’t mean conflict isn’t behind the reluctance to use the box. Similarly, if your cat had a medical problem that caused pain during urination or defecation, this could create negative associations with the box even if the medical problem is now resolved.

Location
Most cats prefer a quiet litter box location with sight lines—so they can see people and animals approaching—and multiple escape routes so they don’t feel cornered when using the litter box.

Litter Type
Most cats prefer unscented, clumping litter OR they could be attached to the litter they used as a kitten—some cats adapt to litter changes no problem but some may feel wary of a litter they didn’t use when young. If you think your cat may dislike her litter type, try offering a few different types of litter in litter boxes placed side by side. Your cat will use the one she likes best.

Accidents
Clean all accidents immediately and thoroughly with an enzymatic cleanser, available at most pet stores, designed to neutralize pet odors. Do not use an ammonia-based cleaner (urine is also ammonia), which can actually cause your cat to want to soil this area again.
If your cat has developed a non-litter-box location or surface preference for eliminating, you’ll need to make that surface or area less appealing. Try installing a bright light, or better yet, a motion-activated light, and covering the surface with tin foil, double-sided sticky tape, or the spiky underside of a carpet runner.

A Note on Urine Marking
Urine marking often gets lumped in with litter box problems but it is a whole different beast with different causes and solutions. Generally, a cat who is urine marking still uses the litter box but is also spraying other surfaces, usually vertical, with smaller amounts of urine. You may see your cat, tail held high and perhaps quivering, back up to a surface and spray it with urine.

Safety Tips for Using Flea and Tick Product on Dogs

Proper Application of Dog Products

An important part of basic health care for dogs is providing preventive products to avoid infestations of fleas and ticks. Keeping your dog free of infestations not only prevents discomfort, it can also prevent some of the illnesses that can be acquired from these blood-sucking parasites. Choosing the proper products and using them in a proper fashion is very important. Here we will discuss ways to keep your dog, yourself, and others safe when using these products.

When deciding which flea and tick products to use on your dog, you need to carefully read the labels on all products. It’s very important you purchase the correct dosage for your dog, and that you use only approved products for your dog’s particular age, weight, health status, and species. Use special care if your dog is very young, very old, pregnant, nursing, sick or debilitated, or if it has had a previous sensitivity to any of these products.

Dogs should only be given flea and tick products designed for use on dogs. While they may not be harmful, products made for cats may not be as effective on dogs. If you also have a cat, do not use your dog products on your cat, as they can be harmful to a cat’s health. Always ask your veterinarian’s advice, even when you are planning to purchase your flea and tick products from a pet store or online supplier.

TIPS FOR APPLICATION

Once you’ve read all the directions for proper application, be sure that you use only the amount required for your dog. Do not use more flea and tick product than indicated and do not use more than one product at one time. One flea and tick product (spot-on or spray, etc.) should be all that is necessary to kill or repel fleas and/or ticks for the time period indicated on the package.

To prevent accidental contact with topical products during application, disposable gloves can be worn to protect your skin. Washing your hands thoroughly with soap and water after application can also reduce exposure to the chemicals. Keep children from touching or playing with the dog after application to allow the product time to absorb or dry, and read the instructions for proper disposal of empty product containers after use.

In households with multiple animals, it may be necessary to keep the animals apart for a time while the product dries to prevent them from grooming each other and ingesting the chemicals.

MONITOR FOR ADVERSE EFFECTS

For the several hours following application of a flea and tick preventive product, keep an eye on your dog for any reactions or sensitivity to the product. This is especially important when using a particular flea and tick product for the first time on your dog.

Keep the packaging for the product for at least a day after application so that you have information on the kind of ingredients used, as well as contact information for the company that manufactured the product.

Signs of sensitivity to pesticides include:

  • Vomiting and/or diarrhea
  • Stumbling or incoordination (ataxia)
  • Drooling excessively or foaming at the mouth
  • Trembling (seizures)
  • Lack of appetite
  • Severe depression

If you notice any unusual behavior shortly after applying a preventive product, call your veterinarian immediately. Bathe your dog completely in soapy water and rinse its coat with copious amounts of water.

REPORTING PROBLEMS

Due to increased incidents of reactions to spot-on products in dogs and cats, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning about their use in 2009. The FDA and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are working together to improve safety and reduce adverse effects in pets. In order to do this, the EPA is working to address certain aspects of safety, such as improving labeling and simplifying instructions on the packaging. They are monitoring any reports of adverse effects and keeping track of incidence reports.

If you believe your dog has had an adverse reaction to a flea or tick preventive product, call your veterinarian and report the problem right away. Your veterinarian has access to a national reporting center that will inform the EPA. You may also wish to inform the company that manufactured the product. All manufacturers are required to report any incidents to the EPA. Contact information should be clearly indicated on the packaging for the product

Working with your veterinarian and carefully reading labels will help you to reduce the incidence of reactions to flea and tick preventive products. Make sure you know your dog’s correct weight and the proper application technique. If you are careful, the possibility is much lower that your dog will experience any adverse effects.

10 Things to Consider Before Bringing a New Pet Home

Some of the greatest moments in life include the day we met our pets for the first time, and the day we adopted them and they came home with us. Here are 10 things to consider before bringing a new dog or cat home.

 

#1 Can You Commit?

Will you have the time to walk your dog three times a day? Will you remember to exercise your cat every evening? If the answer is no, and you have no one who can perform those essential tasks, you should stop right here and consider a fish or a parakeet as a low-demand animal companion.

 

#2 Will Your Pet Fit Your Lifestyle?

Choosing a pet based on how popular or cute it is, is probably one of the worst decisions people make. Too often these pets are unceremoniously dropped at an animal shelter when they show themselves to be too high energy, too needy, too intolerant … the list is endless.

Get to know the breed you are interested in and be open to changing your mind if it doesn’t fit your ability to provide for its temperament. Ask lots of questions from the people adopting the animal out, maybe even find a breed specific group to ask questions of some of the members. A great example is the recent Chihuahua craze. Sure, they’re adorable and can live in any size home, and they’re very low maintenance. The catch is that they are not usually very tolerant of children and are one of the breeds that are known for biting children without much provocation. A pet cat should also match your personality. Some cats, for instance, require a lot of attention and interaction while others are mostly independent. Do your research and choose wisely.

 

#3 Interview Veterinarians Before the Adoption

Before you have settled on the type of pet that will suit you, ask your friends for their veterinary recommendations. A veterinarian can be an excellent source of information to help you choose the best pet to suit your lifestyle and needs. Not all vets are the same, and you want a veterinarian that best matches your needs. This will be a lifelong relationship and as such, the choice is very important. Again, do your research. Read online reviews of the vets in your community (with a grain of salt), ask groomers in your area who they recommend, and make interview appointments with them.

Our tip: Don’t rely entirely on a vet’s friendliness toward humans (i.e., you). A good veterinarian often has better skills relating to animals than to people. It is also your prerogative to ask the vet if she/he can provide a few references.

 

#4 Make Your Home Pet-Friendly

Did you know that something as simple as chewing gum can be deadly for dogs, or that ibuprofen is toxic to cats? It is highly important to go through your home now, before you bring a new pet home, to search out hazards and get them out of the way or out of the house. This includes cabinets at pet level, counter tops, bottles of chemical on the floor, small toys, electric cords and curtain cords.

 

#5 Choose an Age and Breed Appropriate Food

Not all pet foods are alike. Some are better than others, and some make claims that are not always backed by facts. It would be easy to just grab the pet food bag or can with the nicest design on the cover, but that is not what is going to guarantee our pets’ long-term health. Choose the best food for your dog or cat and always look for a diet labeled complete and balanced. From the time they are young until the time they are seniors, your pet food choices should be guided by the pet’s specific needs, life stage, and lifestyle. You can do some cursory research to get a good idea of why it is important and what to look for, but for the best advice, consult your veterinarian.

 

#6 Be Prepared for an Adjustment Period

If it’s a puppy you’ll be adopting into your home, be prepared for crying. Yes, just as with human babies, baby dogs cry during the night in their first days in their new home. But unlike human babies, it is not a good idea to take your puppy to your bed to soothe him. The best thing you can do before bringing the puppy home is set up a quiet, enclosed space with a comfortable bed, or a kennel that can be closed, keeping your puppy secure from wandering. Choose the spot that will be your dog’s permanent spot. During the day, let your puppy have free, supervised privileges to roam around the house to smell everything. This will also be a good way to spot any hazards you might have missed on the first go ‘round.

Bedtime for cats is a bit easier. Arrange the kitten’s sleeping area in a secure area close to his litter box so that he doesn’t get lost looking for it, and then leave him to romp around in his area until he drops off to sleep.

Things get a little bit trickier when you are bringing a new pet into a home with pets. You will need to make sure that your resident pet does not feel threatened enough to strike out at the newcomer.

 

#7 Train Your Pet

If your happy home is going to remain a happy home, the housetraining will need to start immediately after bringing your pet home. If you are adopting a kitten, introduce him to his litterbox as soon as you get him inside. If it is a puppy, leash him up and take him outside to start getting to know his neighborhood. Most puppies will be intimidated by their new surrounding, and you don’t want to put a fright into your puppy. A very short walk on the first outing is all that is needed. Begin training on that first outing. When the puppy relieves himself outside, while he is doing it say, “Go now.” Repetition of this command will eventually make it so that you will be able to take your dog out in any kind of weather without worrying about how long your dog will take to relieve himself.

 

#8 Select Appropriate Pet Treats and Toys

The right treats are essential, especially for puppies. Treats are one of the best tools for behavior training when used sensibly. Experiment with a few different dog treats and stick with the one that has the highest value for your puppy. That will be the treat he will do anything for, including staying by your side even when a clowder of cats goes by. Stay practical when giving treats. It is tempting to be liberal when it comes to treating our “little babies,” and just like giving candy to a human child, too many snacks can lead to an unhealthy body; even healthy snacks can add up in excess weight. Do always keep a back of treats in your pocket for training opportunities. Be careful with rawhide; it can be torn into pieces and swallowed in large chunks, potentially leading to choking or intestinal blockages. Toys should be free of buttons, strings, and anything that can be bitten off and swallowed.  Stick with rubber balls made for dogs (the harder to tear apart), nylon-bones, non-toxic stuffed toys, and ask other dog “parents” for advice on toys that hold up under puppy pressure.

For cats, feather wands are always popular, and a lot of cats are responsive to laser light devices. And don’t forget the old standbys: the catnip stuffed mouse toy and the old boxes. Cats love treats too, so go with the same advices as above and treat sensibly.

 

#9 Consider Spaying and Neutering

Neutering, a term that can refer to spay or castration surgery, can typically be done as early as eight weeks of age. Generally, the neutering procedure is performed around four to six months, plenty of time before the animal has reached the age of reproduction. Some people choose not to based on the feeling that the animal will lose its sense of identity (male), that the animal will be missing out on the life milestone of giving birth (female), or that the animal will lose its ability to be protective. None of these reasons are based in fact.

The best thing you can do for your pet’s health is to have him or her neutered. Yes, neutering does decrease aggression in most instances, but it does not make a dog any less protective of his or her human family. And your female animal will not feel less-than for not giving birth. It would be worse for her to have her babies taken from her than to have never given birth at all. She will not know the difference. She will also be less prone to cancer of the mammaries and ovaries. Ask your veterinarian for their recommendation.

 

#10 Outfit Your Pet with Proper ID

Finally, ensure that your puppy or kitten is properly outfitted with ID so that if he should ever get loose — and it does happen to most everyone eventually — you will have him returned safely to you. Have your contact information on your pet’s collar, either on a tag or printed directly onto the collar (the latter can be custom ordered or made by you). Also, keep photos on hand. This is a good reason to track your pet’s growth, but you may need those images when it comes time to post them around town or to leave with the local shelter in case your pet is delivered to them. A GPS device that attaches to the collar is a clever way to track your pet, but it loses its efficacy when the collar gets lost.

Microchips are the best assurance for identification and need to be used in combination with a collar for the best chance of finding a lost pet. Make a point now of remembering to update your contact information with the company that keeps records for the microchip every time there is a change in your contact information. It can make the difference between your pet being returned to you or staying lost to you forever.

 

What Does it Mean When a Dog Is Tilting His Head?

When your dog cocks his head from side to side, it’s not because he knows you think it’s cute — not always, anyway. He does it for a combination of reasons, but they aren’t all adorable. It could indicate an illness, so watch out for other signs of health trouble.

Poor Balance

A dog who tilts his head often could be suffering from poor balance and is trying to compensate. Your dog’s vestibular system, deep down in his inner ear, controls his balance and his ability to gauge his posture. Vestibular disease, which can be caused by conditions such as injury, nutritional deficiency, parasites or more, affects the vestibular system. Your dog’s balance suffers, and he tilts his head to try to stay level. Other symptoms include frequent falling down, nausea and poor coordination — if your dog appears to be struggling, contact your vet.

Better Hearing

Your dog may tilt his head when you speak to him as a way of trying to hear you more clearly — think of it like adjusting your earbuds when you listen to music. While dogs generally have excellent hearing, their outer ears don’t automatically adjust and hone in on sounds like yours do. He has to tilt and turn his head as a way of funneling sound into his ear. You may notice that he does the head tilt more often when you’re directly in front of him than when you’re to the side — that’s because when you’re face-to-face, the sound isn’t going straight into his ears, and he has to point them at you.

Communicating Back

Dogs don’t communicate by listening alone — they are visual communicators that rely on body language. In fact, they communicate with body language so much that the same part of the brain that controls listening to sound also controls movements of the head and face. This means that while your dog is listening to something, like you asking him for the hundredth time who a good boy is, he’s working his face and head muscles to “talk” back, and show you his reaction and/or comprehension.

Learned Behavior

Dogs learn from consistency. When it comes to getting positive attention from their people, they can learn quickly. When your dog does something cute like tilting his fuzzy little head, you can’t resist fawning a little bit — it’s OK to admit it. Once your dog gets that positive reaction from you a few times, though, he realizes that tilting his head is the key to making you gush — and he’ll milk it for all it’s worth. Dogs aren’t always too proud to perform a little, especially when affection and treats are at stake, so sometimes they just tilt their heads because they know how much you love it.

 

OTHER DOGS TILT THEIR HEADS FOR DIFFERENT REASONS

Many dogs have learned to cock their heads to the side simply because they get a reward. What is the reward? Well, remember at the beginning of this article how I mentioned that this gesture is just too cute?

Your immediate response is to say something like, “Awwwww, like at Buddy with his head turned to the side, how cute!” followed by lots of petting and soothing tones. This is a reward, and some dogs may have turned their heads to the side a few times in the beginning, but soon enough learned that this will give them lots of that lovable attention.

So if you have ever given a dog this kind of attention after it has tilted its head in a really cute way then you have just positively reinforced that behavior. And you know what? The dog will remember this and might do this more often – not to hear better, but to feel better.

HUMAN SPEECH & YOUR DOG

Dogs can understand part of our human language, but most of it is just a fuzzy blur to them. Almost like when a human hears a foreign language. Dogs cannot take in everything we say. But canines are very good at observing and becoming familiar with human tone of voice, body language as well as eye movement.

Trying To Absorb Every Sound He Can

It is when a dog notices something of interest that its ears perk up to catch all the sounds. If the sound comes from the front your dog might cock its head in the direction of the sound, but if the sound is coming from a direction to the side of him then there is not likely going to be any head tilting. Why? The ears are in the perfect spot all ready to pick up the minutest of sounds.

A dog’s ear shape and position will have something to do with how the dog perceives sound and how often a head tilt might be noticed. Even the age and experience of the dog play a role in this. A German shepherd with pricked up ears might hear better from the front than a cocker spaniel who would hear better from the side. Certainly, a long floppy eared dog would be seen tilting its head more often than a dog with open ears.

So, trying to understand why a dog tilts his head we learn it’s probably down to the dog trying to understand us or the strange noises of our world. It’s been said that a dog who tilts their head to the side is showing intelligence. A very subjective position to take. Canine intelligence is still a largely disputed area of scientific study. A clever dog is not always a dog who happens to be what we like to call ‘obedient’. However, head tilting by dogs does tend to suggest an advanced propensity to want to understand and identify an audible stimulus.

 

How to Cat-Proof Your Christmas Tree

Thanksgiving has ended and everyone knows what that means! It’s time to put up a Christmas tree! However, the very thought of putting up a tree strikes fear in the minds of many cat parents. Cats love trees – and in a cat’s mind, your tree has colorful, shiny cat toys dangling from it – just for their enjoyment! If you’ve got a kitty that’s smitten with your Christmas tree, it’s important to cat-proof it, to protect both your tree and your cat! Here are some great tips on how to keep your cat from destroying the Christmas tree:

 

Consider Getting an Artificial Tree

As much as we love the look and scent of real Christmas trees, they are more tempting – and dangerous – for our furry friends. The needles on a real tree are sharp and could injure a curious cat. Additionally, pine needles are mildly toxic if your cat chews on them, and can irritate the stomach and mouth, causing drooling and even vomiting. So, consider getting an artificial tree and then following our additional tips to keep your cat out of it.

If You Put Up a Real Tree…

If you are dead-set on putting up a real tree, be sure to also use a covered tree stand so the water tank can’t be accessed by your kitty. Often times, live trees are sprayed with pesticides and fertilizers and those chemicals will leach out into the stagnant water in your Christmas tree. If your cat drinks the water, it could have deadly consequences.

 

Make Sure Your Tree is Stable

Make sure you put your tree up on a very solid tree stand. When the tree is up, it shouldn’t wobble on its base but should be firm and stable. In addition, anchor your tree to the wall or ceiling. These precautions will ensure your tree won’t topple over should your curious kitty decide to climb or pull it.

Pick a Safe Spot for Your Tree

Put your Christmas tree in an area that leaves it plenty of room on all sides. Make sure you don’t have any shelves or furniture too close to the tree that might act as a launching pad for adventurous kitties to use to jump or climb the tree. If it’s possible, put your tree in an area that can be closed off from your cat at night or while you’re away.

Try These Deterrents

If your cat is showing a lot of interest in the tree, try using deterrents to discourage him from going near it. Cats are repelled by citrus, so you could place orange peels under the tree. Or, use a spray like Bitter Apple or dilutedCitronella oil on the tree to make it unpleasant for your cat. For cats who like to climb the trunk, wrap aluminum foil around the base of the tree.

Decorate the Tree Wisely

  • Choose shatter-proof ornaments that won’t break and become a hazard if your cat does manage to knock one off the tree.
  • Never use tinsel on a tree if you have cats! Tinsel is extremely hazardous for cats and can cause an intestinal blockage if they ingest it.
  • Avoid artificial snow – it’s toxic to pets and children.
  • Many people decorate their trees with food, like popcorn garland, chocolate, and candy canes. If you share your home with a cat, avoid tempting him by hanging food from the tree you want him to avoid. And, be aware that many “people foods” are dangerous for cats.
  • Place delicate, dangly, and especially enticing ornaments higher up in your tree. Don’t hang any ornaments of interest at your cat’s eye level.

Protect The Wires

Dangling wires from your Christmas lights can prove to be as much of a temptation to your cat as a swinging ornament! Don’t leave your wires hanging around for cats to play with or, worse, to chew on. Instead, wrap wires around the base of your tree and then cover them with a tree skirt. If your cat likes to chew on wires, you can cover them with tape or run them through a piece of pipe to protect them. Decorate with lights that will automatically shut off if the wire becomes damaged. Lastly, always turn your lights off when you aren’t home!

Taking a few extra precautions will ensure both you and your cat are able to enjoy your Christmas tree – without destroying it! And, While you’re decorating this year, consider this collection of kitty Christmas ornaments to make your tree just purr-fect!

Five Ways Your Pet Helps Reduce Holiday Stress

It’s the most stressful time of the year. But it doesn’t have to be. Read on to see how your pet can reduce your holiday stress!

Once you’ve experienced enough Decembers, you know the drill. This holiday season, you’ll attend fabulous parties sporting your trademark ugly sweater, be reunited with that group of relatives you’re fine with only seeing annually, and endure enough stress to last all year long.

Yes, holiday stress is inevitable. Like overspending and overeating, it comes with the territory. As you proceed with coordinating gatherings, hanging decorations, and attempting to remain within your spending budget this holiday season, your stress level is bound to grow.

But thankfully, you have a secret (and non-alcoholic) weapon to combat stress. Enter your pet – your ever-loyal friend, confidant, and sanity-keeper. Since your dog or cat’s holiday stress level is comparatively minimal, you can balance each other out.

Here are five ways your pet can help you remain as happy and carefree as a gift-awaiting child this holiday season.

How Your Pet Can Reduce Your Holiday Stress

1. Constant Companionship

As you scramble around the house completing holiday preparations, your pet will be right there with you, operating as your secondary shadow. Your dog or cat will keep you company whether you’re wrapping gifts in the living room or baking up a holiday storm in the kitchen. Always aiming to please, your pet is by your side, adapting to your hectic schedule. You can confide in your pet regarding the true source of your stress, or simply talk to him in order to relieve loneliness.

2. Warm Bedmate

Achieving ample sleep is key to controlling holiday stress. When it comes to your dog or cat, you have a furry, snuggly sleeping aid. Those cold holiday nights will be much cozier when you have your pet’s warm body producing heat nearby. And your dog or cat’s mere presence – and gentle snoring – will help soothe you to sleep. Why let the stressful obligations of the upcoming day race through your head when you should be enjoying pet-aided rest?

3. Exercise Partner

When you worry about holiday weight gain, you get stressed. And when you cope with stress by eating, you gain weight. It’s a vicious cycle that your dog can help you avoid. Twice-daily walks in the morning and evening can bolster both your sanity level and your pooch’s well-being. The stress-relieving powers of adequate exercise are well-documented. Escape your holiday anxiety by stepping outside into the crisp air for 15 minutes. Your dog will be thrilled to partake, even if it’s snowy and cold.

4. Comic Relief

Sometimes you just need a good laugh to stave off holiday stress. When your fully-decorated Christmas tree topples over or you accidentally regift that malfunctioning blender to Aunt Jackie, there’s not much else you can do. As luck would have it, your pet is a king of unintentional comedy. Whether he’s creating mischief by carrying a stocking around the room or wearing a gift bow as a hat, your dog or cat’s antics are sure to induce a chuckle or two. Hearty laughter will vanquish your stress, whether it’s attributable to your pet’s natural hilariousness or to National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.

5. Therapeutic Presence

The cost for an hour of private counseling to treat your anxiety can exceed $200. Save that money to find the perfect holiday gift for your spouse, and instead rely on your dog or cat to be your living stress ball. Your pet is blessed with a naturally therapeutic presence. Oodles of research indicate that simply petting your dog or communicating with your cat can relax you and lower your blood pressure. With your dog or cat serving as your loving therapist (and only charging mealtime + attention), your holiday stress doesn’t stand a chance.

Put Your Pet on The Path to Perfect Health

There is no doubt that a healthy diet is the best way for your dog or cat to get the essential vitamins and minerals necessary for maintaining health and warding off illness and disease. But unfortunately, our hectic lifestyles prevent most of us from making dog and cat food from scratch with fresh, natural whole foods. Even if you feed your pet a natural, high-quality commercial food, chances are it still does not provide all the natural vitamins and minerals that an animal needs to stay healthy and strong.

A high-quality daily vitamin can supplement your dog or cat with the optimal level of nutrients that may be missing from their food.

Extensive research has shown that modern-day ailments are caused by nutrient deficiencies and exposure to environmental toxins. Luckily, there is something we can do to support the health and the normal growth and development of our cats and dogs. Enhancing your pet’s diet with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and amino acids, we can help make up for nutritional deficiencies…which means your best friend will stay healthier longer.

So stack the odds in your pet’s favor. Start today by giving your pet, or friends pets the nutrients they need for a balanced health.

Give the gift of NuVet “Your Pet’s Best Friend.”

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7 Summer Dangers for Your Outdoor Cat

Summer is in full swing across the U.S., and the heat has come with it.

If you have an outdoor cat, you know she likes her independence and, other than some basic tick and flea prevention, you might think she’s OK on her own during the summer.

It is true that cats are pretty resilient, but summer provides dangers for all pets that she might not be prepared to handle. From heat stroke to poisons introduced by landscaping, there are new outdoor hazards all around her.

Here are seven common summer dangers our veterinarians see. Know these exist to help you make a plan to keep your cat from getting sick this summer.

1. Heat stroke and dehydration
You know your cat is highly intelligent, and she is pretty good at keeping cool on her own, but she needs resources from you to protect herself on the hottest days.

While she can likely find her own shade, it’s best if you provide ample cool and covered areas near your home where she can find a breeze. Additionally, leave out plenty of water for her. Some cat owners will leave out two water dishes — one with water and the other with ice that will melt as the day goes on to provide cool water later in the day.

If possible, consider bringing your outdoor cat indoors during the hottest parts of the day (10 am – 4 pm). Keep an eye on the weather forecast to see spikes in heat. If you see your cat panting, make sure to bring her inside and, if it continues, consult your veterinarian.

One note for all pets in the summer: If you need to take them somewhere, do not leave them inside the car. A car’s temperature can reach 104 degrees in less than 15 minutes on a hot summer day. This is a formula for heat stroke.

2. Cars
This is obvious in all seasons, but in the summer there is more traffic and people tend to speed a bit more. We’ve covered this in the past, but in general outdoor cats have a shorter life expectancy than indoor cats. Car injuries are one of the leading reasons for this. You obviously cannot keep your cat safe all hours of the day, but try to give her safe shelter and play areas near the back of your home, away from traffic areas. Again, if you can bring her indoors, try to do so when the traffic near your home or apartment is highest.

3. Asphalt and Sidewalks (They get Hot!)
On hot days, it’s not uncommon to see the road steam. It’s likely you would never think to walk barefoot on such a hot surface, but your cat doesn’t really have a choice. Sure, as an outdoor cat she’s a little more accustomed to the rough surfaces than you are, but it can still be too hot for her. Remember that she is much closer to the ground than you are, meaning that she really feels heat radiating off surfaces.

She likely knows how to avoid the hottest surfaces, but again, if possible, help your cat by either bringing her indoors or providing an outdoor shelter area that will keep her cool. If there are paths to her food or water that require her to go over hot asphalt or concrete, try to give those areas some cover or shade to help protect her.

4. Fleas, Bees and Ticks
Warm summer weather means pests galore – and they are on the lookout for cats and dogs. Be prepared to manage summertime pet pests like fleas, ticks and even mosquitoes. In most cases, there are safe, effective ways to prevent or eradicate pest infestations that don’t involve dosing your pet with toxic chemicals. Always read the labels on any pest prevention tools you use to make sure they are pet safe.

Additionally, the buzzing of bees can seem quite attractive to your cat, which can get her stung. If there is a lot of swelling, call your veterinarian, who can suggest an office visit or prescribe an over-the-counter medicine. Watch how your cat responds to any swelling. She may scratch the stung area or pull at her fur. Bring your cat to the vet right away if you notice any abnormal behavior or swelling.

5. Cookouts and Parties
The warmer months are the time for block parties, picnics and family gatherings. Everyone loves a cookout, especially your pet, who can find all kinds of table scraps and, if she’s social, make lots of new friends. Some cats avoid parties and others love them!

Food that’s left out, fed or dropped at a cookout can be dangerous for cats. Staples of a BBQ, like onions and garlic, are dangerous for cats.

Even worse, some guests think it’s OK to give scraps to animals at a party. Talk to your guests about what your cat can have. Politely remind them if your pet has a special diet, is allergic to anything or if there are any foods on the table that could cause a health problem. You want to enjoy the party too, not worrying about a cat that’s vomiting.

6. Water
Domesticated cats, even outdoor ones, tend to avoid water. That doesn’t mean they can’t swim, but most of them are not accustomed to it. Still, summer pool parties or parties at the lake can attract your outdoor cat and, if they are mesmerized by the water or chasing something near the water, they may end up taking an unexpected dip. Keep an eye on them, as many will be able to swim, but may be shocked to be submerged in water.

If for some reason you have one of those rare cats that likes to swim, always rinse them off afterward. Chlorine in pools and bacteria in lakes can be harmful. Always offer them fresh drinking water when they’re done.

Written by the staff at petplace.com