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.

Why Do Dogs Run In Their Sleep?

The saying says to “let sleeping dogs lie.” However, what if your dog doesn’t look like it’s sleeping at all? If your dog runs while sleeping it may look as though it’s more activity sleep than it does during your daily walks. The American Kennel Club reports that dogs sleep for about 12 to 14 hours a day, during some of the dog sleep cycles, it may twitch, jerk or even bark. Seeing this can be humorous, but it can also be disconcerting. Is your dog having a nightmare, or Is your dog simply dreaming about chasing a squirrel? This article explains these strange sleeping dog habits.

What Is Normal Dog Sleep Behavior?

The normal sleeping behavior of dogs involves lots of lounging. Experts aren’t sure why dogs spend so much of their lives sleeping. Puppies may sleep 18 to 20 hours a day because their boundless energy makes them tired whereas older dogs may need more rest just to rejuvenate their bodies. Different dog breeds require different amounts of sleep, for example, larger dogs tend to sleep more than smaller dogs. The amount of sleep that a dog needs is also dependent on the animal’s physical activity. Working breeds might not sleep as much as a pet that stays home all day. However, some dogs sleep just because they’re bored. Make sure that your dog is getting enough stimulation throughout the day to keep him from falling asleep out of boredom.  Additionally, dogs that are kept busy throughout the day may sleep better at night. This isn’t necessarily a problem for the dog, but a dog that’s up all night may become a problem for its owner.

What’s Normal For A Dog Sleep Cycle?

Dogs have similar sleep cycles as humans, the length of time for which they stay in each stage differs, however. Dogs stay in REM sleep for about 10 percent of their downtime. Humans, on the other hand, spend about 25 percent of their snoozing time in REM sleep. Experts believe that dogs do dream during the REM stage. According to Dog Notebook, the muscles are partially paralyzed during this stage and that’s why your dog might shiver or twitch but not take off running across the house. How frequent are REM cycles? The rate of REM sleep depends on the dog. Smaller dogs may have brief dreaming periods every 10 minutes and bigger dogs may not have as many REM cycles, but they tend to have longer dreams.

What’s Normal for A Dog to Do When It Dreams?

When your dog first falls asleep, it is quiet and peaceful. The animal’s breathing will slow down, and it won’t typically notice what’s going on around it. During this stage, the heart rate slows, and the blood pressure drops. Within about 10 minutes, the dog may enter the REM stage of sleep. During this time, it’s normal for a dog to twitch; the tail may move, or the skin along the dog’s entire body may jerk gently. Sometimes, a dog may move its paws as though it is running. During REM sleep, the eyelids may open, revealing the whites of the dog’s eyes, additionally, a dog’s whiskers or lips may quiver, and he may cry out or whimper. If your dog barks in its sleep, it is not necessarily having a bad dream. Barking is one of the only ways that dogs can communicate.

Keeping your senior dog’s mind healthy

Raise your hand if you know what Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CDS) is. If your hand is in the air, you probably take written directions too literally; more importantly, though, you’re one of a precious few.

CDS is the name that pet behavioral specialists have given to the severe mental decline that happens in many dogs and cats as they get up into their geriatric years. It can involve things like disorientation, restlessness or increased sleep, increased agitation and separation anxiety, loss of appetite or interest in exploring, less of a reaction to sights, sounds and smells, and overall changes in the way they interact with you.

For lack of a better way to put it simply, specialists have likened CDS to pet “dementia.”
How often does this occur in pets? More research needs to be done, but experts say that somewhere around 28% of dogs aged 11-12 suffer from the condition, and that number grows to around 68% by the time dogs turn 15-16.

So, how can you help your dog if he or she is dealing with this degenerative condition?

Old dog, new tricks
You’ve probably heard the phrase, “If you don’t use it, you lose it,” right? Well, just as some older people do things like crossword puzzles and brain teasers to keep their minds sharp, dogs can learn new and engaging activities to keep their minds stimulated.

When their brains are forced to work and focus on something in order to succeed, it tends to slow down degeneration. Try new toys, new forms of exercise, and even training to keep those canine minds sharp.

Feed them right
Make sure that the food you’re giving your aging pup has plenty of vitamin C and E, as well as selenium, beta carotene, and omega-3 fatty acids. Krill oil, for example, has proven to improve cognitive health, and overall the diet should promote growth, healing and a healthy metabolism.

Some experts recommend only fresh, living food, but tests have shown that some manufactured diets designed specifically to enhance brain functioning have made significant cognitive improvements in dogs suffering from CDS. To find out what’s right for your dog, talk to your vet.

Don’t over or under feed
This is true for dogs at any age, but it’s especially important for older dogs, because if they are an unhealthy weight, it increases their chances of suffering from various diseases and will harm their overall health. If your dog is already dealing with CDS, this will only make things worse.

Brush those pearly whites
Unhealthy teeth make for unhealthy dogs and open your best friend up to all sorts of potential problems. These only get worse as they age, and they can impact both physical and mental health.

Consider supplements
Before you do anything like this, it’s always wise to speak with your veterinarian first, but as more research is done into CDS and how to slow down the process, the number of tested supplements on the market continues to grow.

Coconut oil and SAMe (S-adenosylmethionine) are two supplements that have tested well, but there are a number of others out there. If your normal vet doesn’t care for supplements but you’re still interested, you can always seek out the advice of a holistic veterinarian.

Ask about drugs
Dog owners don’t have many options available if they decide to turn to psychoactive drugs to improve the cognitive state of their pet, but there is one that has been approved. Ask your vet about Anipryl® (selegiline) and whether or not he or she believes that it can help.

While there’s no known way to completely stop or reverse CDS, the best way to deal with it is to keep your dog happy, healthy, active, and engaged. Do that and you’ll make their life as rich and long as it can be.

5 Tips for Polite Leash Walking Like a Pro

Has walking your dog become a battle of wills over who will be dragging who in what direction?

1. Walking outside with all the new sights and smells can be highly distracting for dogs who are working on their polite leash walking. To help your dog focus on what you are trying to teach them, try working in a more neutral environment where there are fewer distractions such as in the backyard or even in your house.

2. Dogs need to be motivated to have good manners and that means you need to plan ahead by bringing high-value treats along. A treat pouch offers a great way to easily be able to reward good choices. When choosing a treat make sure that you pick something that will be motivating for your dog even when distractions are present. Typically moist treats are your best bet and they can be cut to a small size (fingernail size) so that you can reward a lot without overdoing how much food your dog is getting.

3. If getting the leash put on sends your dog into an excitable frenzy, the likelihood that you will then be able to go for a calm and well-mannered walk drops. Often times the best way to start preparing for a polite walk is by practicing “getting dressed” (putting your dogs walking leash and or collar on). The key here is to not continue to go for the walk until your dog has calmed down sufficiently and can listen to instructions. So if you have put the leash on and your dog is acting wild, simply ignore them and wait for that behavior to stop before starting your walk. At first, this may take some time while your dog tries to understand these new rules but in no time they will learn that the only way they get to go on their walk is if they keep their cool.

4. Sniffing is an incredibly important part of being a dog and dog owners who attempt to prevent their dog from sniffing are really setting themselves up to fall short. This doesn’t mean however that your dog should be dragging you to go check out exciting smells. Instead, have your dog earn sniff breaks by responding to a command like a sit or come. When your dog performs the command successfully, give them a cue like, “go sniff” and allow them to get their nose on their ground to investigate. By utilizing sniff breaks you can allow your dog to be a dog while also developing a relationship where they don’t just pull you all over the place to check out their surroundings.

5. The last tip is easily the most important. make sure pulling doesn’t work! If your dog has learned that by pulling towards things, they get access to them you have inadvertently taught them to pull. Whether it’s to greet a person, dog, go through a door or whatever your dog wants to pull you towards, make sure that you don’t allow them to drag you where they want to go. Instead, turn and go the other way or simply stop until your dog gives up and then you can practice walking towards the thing that they want with a loose leash. Each time your dog pulls, you show them that pulling is not effective by stopping or turning around. Yes, this requires some patience and consistency early on in training but that dedication will be rewarded during the lifetime of your dog through relaxing walks. As Spring brings sunshine and nicer weather, it’s definitely the time of year to get outside and start walking our dogs! Keep these tips in mind to ensure your walk can go smoothly and that your dog is practicing good manners with you rewarding their positive choices as you go!

How to Get Rid of Dog Smell Without Removing The Dog

We are a nation of people who love to cuddle with our pets. It is undeniable. Long gone are the days when out pets were simply working companions whose place was at the hearth – and that was if they were allowed in the house. Now, they not only cuddle with us on the sofa to watch TV, they snuggle with us in our beds, go on long holiday trips in the car, even out to dinner at out favorite cafés.

 

All of this one-on-one time means that all of our furnishings are going to hold the distinct smell of dog, and even the most rabid of dog lovers amongst us may not want the whole house to smell of a dog that needs a good washing – not if we want to enjoy the company of human guests. So how do you get rid of that smelly dog smell? We’re happy to tell you that it’s relatively easy.

 

How to Eliminate Dog Odor

 

Start off by taking all of the furniture apart – pillows, blankets and the like – and vacuuming everything thoroughly. If the sofa and chairs have removable slipcovers or cushion covers, take those off for washing (details later). Get into the crevices of the furniture as deep as possible to remove all the hair, and flip the bed mattress to get both sides. On the floors, make sure to get under all of the furniture and in the corners, where “hair bunnies” tend to gather.

 

How to Remove Pet Odor from Carpets and Furniture

 

Next, gather your deodorizing supplies to work on removing pet odor from carpets, furniture, and beds. It’s simple; all you need is a big box or two of baking soda and a bottle of apple cider vinegar. Wash all of your linens, blankets and cushion covers in a mix of oxy powered laundry detergent and a ¼ cup of apple cider vinegar. There are also pet odor removers available at pet supply stores, but generally speaking, they are not much more effective than the home remedies.

 

On the carpets, bed and furniture, sprinkle baking soda liberally, using a cleaning brush to spread it around and into the fabric. Let it all sit overnight so that the baking soda has a chance to absorb the odors.

 

For the bed, you might want to do this in the morning so that you can clean and remake the bed at the end of the day. Follow up by vacuuming all of the baking soda from the bed, carpet, and furnishings and returning the bed linens and cushion covers or slipcovers to the furniture.

 

This will get rid of a great deal of the smell, but to really do a thorough job, you might want to rent a carpet cleaning machine with an attachment for furniture – or call a cleaning company to do it for you. Always start with neutralizing as much of the smell as possible before the shampooing, though, or all you will be doing is creating a hybrid of dog smell and perfumed shampoo. Not a good combination. And don’t use carpet shampoo on the furniture, or you could end up with ruined and smelly furniture.

 

Finally, if you do want to use a perfumed product to help neutralize the smell, make sure that it is non-toxic to animals. Many products that are safe for humans are not always safe for dogs. Some home air fresheners – sprays, plug-ins and scented oils – can be harmful to a pet’s health, so when in doubt, just stick with the tried and true baking soda solution.

Is Your Dog Anxious? Look for These Signs

Wouldn’t life be so much easier if your dog could just talk to you and tell you how they’re feeling? Yes, of course, it would! You’d never have to ask yourself, “is my dog anxious?” But the truth is, your dog is giving you clues as to whether they’re feeling anxious, happy, or bored.

There’s just one problem: they’re communicating in a foreign language.

Most humans can only identify the most obvious signs of a dog’s feeling state. This is especially troublesome when a dog is feeling anxious—they may silently scream at the top of their lungs with their actions, but if their owners aren’t “fluent” in body language, their attempts to communicate will fail.

Brush up on your “dog speak” to figure out whether your dog is anxious, in particular, with this dog body language dictionary.

Signs of dog anxiety, decoded

Flattened ears

  • Ears pinned back against the head. Can occur when a dog is anxious, scared or excited.

Tucked tail

  • Tail curled up under the tummy. Occurs when a dog lacks confidence or is scared. How tightly the tail is tucked might indicate just how anxious or frightened your dog is.

Hunched body

  • Think of this one as a dog trying to curl in on themselves to seem smaller, or even to disappear. It often occurs in combination with a tucked tail.

Shivering

  • Shivering can indicate fear or discomfort, such as when a dog is cold.

Lip or nose licking

  • Also referred to as “tongue flicking,” this action often occurs two or three times in quick succession. Generally, you’ll see lip licking when something in the environment has changed or a new trigger has emerged. If you see your dog lip lick as you’re preparing a meal, they’re probably just hopefully anticipating food.

Yawning

  • In many contexts, yawning is a stress release. If you’re on a walk, at the dog park, or in an unfamiliar place and you see your dog yawning, their anxiety is up. If you’re at home getting ready for a nap or waking up in the morning and you see your dog yawn, they may just be tired.

Sweaty paws

  • Dogs only have the ability to sweat through their paws. Sweaty paws (which you may notice from the paw prints left as your dog moves around) are a good indication that your dog is anxious or, alternatively, that they’re too hot and need to cool down.

Whale eye

  • Whale eye is the term for when the whites of your dog’s eye show, often when they’re attempting to look at or look away from something without wanting to move their entire head (i.e., look without looking). This is a good indication that your dog is experiencing fear or high anxiety—but don’t confuse whale eye with the appearance of your dog’s third eyelid, which is often light in color.

“Fear” grimace

  • A fear grimace is easy to confuse with a dog “smiling” out of happiness or excitement. When your dog is experiencing fear, they may pull back the muscles of their lips to expose clenched teeth as far back as the molars, looking like a forced smile. Because of the tension in the face during a fear grimace, you may also see creasing of the skin around the eyes, corners of the mouth and forehead.

Panting

  • Panting helps a dog to cool down and it often occurs during or after exercise or in extreme heat. It can also occur, however, when a dog is stressed. If you haven’t recently exercised and it’s not a hot day, a panting dog is likely to be an anxious one.

Drooling

  • Drooling, an extreme fear reaction can occur in combination with panting or on its own from a slightly opened mouth. A dog may also drool if they’re anticipating food coming their way. My dog drools so much when we eat breakfast that he forms big bubbles of spit!

Turning or walking away

  • A dog that turns away from an approaching human or dog is likely trying to communicate that they are no threat. This suggests that, for whatever reason, the approaching dog or human is making them anxious. Never force your dog to interact with someone or something. If they’re anxious, they may feel as though they have to “defend” themselves from the offending dog/human by biting.

Rolling onto the back

  • Rolling over doesn’t necessarily indicate “submission” as most people think, but your dog may be trying to communicate that they’re no threat. Rolling over can occur in times of stress but it is also a natural, healthy part of play behavior and can be a cue that they want a belly rub.

Why Do Dogs Like to Cuddle?

Those moments when our dogs choose to be right next to us, the times when our dogs initiate closeness. So why do dogs like to cuddle?

Dogs Like Cuddling Because It Provides Warmth

The biggest clues when it comes to figuring out why dogs love to cuddle with us is the definition itself: ‘to cuddle is to hold close for warmth or comfort or in affection.’

If you’ve ever seen a puppy pile you know how adorable it is. But besides being the cutest thing ever it makes sense from an evolutionary standpoint. Puppies snuggle with one another to keep warm. When you get cold you can snuggle up under a blanket or put on some extra layer, for our dogs it’s not that easy.

Cuddling with humans was an important part of canine domestication. Early dogs helped us hunt and alerted us to danger, but we also helped each other out by cuddling and keeping each other warm. In fact, the term “three dog night” refers to those really cold nights when humans had to cuddle up with 3 dogs to keep from freezing to death.

Cuddling Provides Affection

But cuddling isn’t just about warmth – it’s also a way to show affection. Cuddling, and showing affection in general, is one way in which our dogs strengthen their bond with us. Researchers have even found that bonding with their owners is more important to dogs than it is to other pets. (sorry cat lovers)

The long evolutionary relationship we’ve had with dogs has reinforced many of the traits we see today in our pet dogs. We have a very intimate bond with our dogs, and that feeling seems to be mutual. There’s a special bond between humans and dogs, and it’s demonstrated by the amount of affection we show one another.

The Science Behind Dogs Cuddling

Cuddling is also a great stress reliever. Petting and talking to a dog for just a few minutes has been shown to increase oxytocin levels in both dogs and humans. Oxytocin, often referred to as the love hormone, is associated with social bonding and trust. New research found that human-dog interactions can elicit the same positive hormonal response that mothers have with their infants.

Researchers suggest that the strong ability of dogs to bond with humans played a crucial role in their domestication. The theory is that in the wild the dogs that were able to bond with humans were the ones that received human care and protection. And yes, much of that bonding surely included cuddles.

Why Do Some Dogs Cuddle More Than Others?

So why do some dogs like to cuddle more than others? Well, genetics is certainly one part of it. Some dogs have been bred to be independent and less affectionate, while others are bred for the opposite.

Certain breeds such as the Maltese, Pomeranian and Yorkshire Terrier have been bred to be lap dogs. Lap dogs are small enough to be held in our lap and to have a temperament predisposed to do so.

But there’s more than just genetics at work. Some dogs are just more affectionate than others. Some dogs don’t cuddle much, if at all. My previous dog Carter had a funny way of showing affection. He was a total velcro dog (followed me around everywhere), yet he wasn’t fond of cuddling. At least not when touching was involved.

He’d get up on the couch with me, but he’d stay a few inches away. I called it his ‘personal space’ issue. Now when bad weather was on the way? He’d jump into my lap in a heartbeat. So he’d still come to me for comfort when he was afraid, but daily cuddles weren’t his thing.

Dogs have their own unique personalities, and not all of them are super cuddly or affectionate. Dogs are just like people in that way; some people love hugs, and others are a little more standoffish.

Why Your Dog Cuddles Less in the Summer

Some dogs don’t like to cuddle because of the heat. Laika loves to cuddle, but there’s a definite slow down on cuddle time in the summer. Our dogs have a higher body temperature than we do, and it’s harder for them to cool down. Cuddling produces a lot of heat, so when it’s really hot out your dog might not cuddle because they’re just trying to keep cool.

 

 

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.

 

The 5 Different Types Of Dog Growls

Most people assume a growling dog is bad news, but that isn’t always the case. Dogs vocalize their thoughts and feelings in several different ways. They bark and whine, and the low rumbling we call growling can mean multiple things. There’s the basic aggressive growl most people know to watch out for, but a growling dog isn’t always an angry dog. Knowing the different situations where a dog might let out a growl will help you better communicate with your pup. Here are a few reasons for growling you might not have known about.

#1 – Play Growling

Dogs often growl in the middle of playtime to say, “This is fun! Let’s keep going!” It usually happens when they’re enthralled in a game of tug-of-war with their favorite human, and they also growl while playing with other dogs. For an outsider listening in, two dogs growling with each other can seem alarming. As long as the situation doesn’t escalate, however, there’s no reason to intervene. It’s hard to decipher the difference between human ears, but play growling is typically higher-pitched and shorter in length than aggressive growling. Dogs can tell the sounds apart and know when their playmate is having fun and when they’re not.

#2 – Pleasure-Seeking Growl

Similar to the play growl, a pleasure growl is completely harmless. Some dogs start growling every time their owners walk through the door because they know they’re about to get attention. They’re anticipating head scratches and belly rubs, and the growl is by no means threatening. The noise is usually low and loose, and it can even sound like the dog is trying to speak their owner’s language. They might bare their teeth and sound angry, but they’re actually happy and excited.

#3 – Frustration Growl

Like humans, dogs aren’t great at handling frustration—and some are worse than others. A frustration growl is almost a pleasure-seeking growl. It’s often misinterpreted as aggression, but that’s rarely the message the dog wants to convey. An example is when a dog is behind a fence and sees another dog or person on the other side. They desperately want to get closer to say hello to their new friend, but the fence is holding them back. Growling shows their irritation at the fence, and it doesn’t mean they’re being aggressive or threatening.

#4 – Warning Growl

Dogs that are uncomfortable with a situation will resort to a warning growl. It’s usually when the dog is afraid, possessive, or territorial. They emit the deep grumbling to tell whoever’s trying to approach them that it’s time to back off. They’re firmly requesting that the person or dog respect their personal space. A warning growl isn’t always easy to decipher. They’re typically extremely low pitched, and the dog doesn’t have to open their mouth to make the sound. It’s usually accompanied by a set jaw, dilated pupils, and stiff body language.

#5 – Aggressive Growling

Once a situation escalates out of control, aggressive growling is a clear sign the dog is past the point of warning. At this stage, the dog wants to establish their power. There are several possible triggers for an aggressive growl. It could be that the dog has a high prey drive and sees something they want to hunt, or they could relish the idea of putting a competing canine “in their place.” An aggressive growl is identified by being clearly audible with stretched-out rumblings. It also comes with lunging, raised hackles, and snapping.

Most of these types of growls are nothing for a dog owner to worry about. They sound scary, but if a loving family pet lets out a growl,  consider the situation and surroundings before jumping to conclusions. If a dog growls to show aggression, it’s important to separate them from whatever they’re growling at. Use extreme caution and know dogs think and act quickly. Talk to a trainer to better understand why your dog is showing signs of aggression and how you can help them overcome the behavior.