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  • The Benefits of Adopting a Pet

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    This is it! There can only be one reason for you to be reading this and that is you want to adopt a pet! First off, lots of kudos to you for trying to read up before getting yourself a furry, scaly, or some other kind of fluffy companion! Want to know what the benefits of adopting a pet are? Then read on!

    Adopting a pet is a life changing decision and it is understandable that some people (including you!) may want to be truly sure before heading to the shelter, your friend’s house, or an animal rescue to meet your new best friend. Every person is different and the benefits of adopting a pet will not be the same for a child as compared to an adult. It is just the same as saying that adopting a goldfish is very different compared to say, adopting a horse.

    In the whirlwind world of pet adoption, some surprises may pleasantly sweep you off your feet so you have to be ready for that too. So yeah, what are the benefits of adopting a pet?

    We’ve interviewed hundreds of pet rescues and shelters all over America to get the best tidbits from the experts themselves and here they are, the benefits of adopting a pet in no particular order:

    YOU GET TO FEEL THE MAGIC OF THE MEET UP

    Have you ever experienced the magical feeling of being in-love? It is said that when you meet an animal for the first time and that animal has formed a connection with you, there is an explicable bond that forms and you just know, this animal is meant to be with you. The bond is also reported to be deeper when that animal is from a shelter or a rescue; maybe because you know that taking that animal as your pet means that you will be giving it a better live. Some describes the feeling as almost like falling in-love. Some describe it as some kind of paternal or maternal instinct that makes you want to take care of another creature and love it as your own.

    In the words of Star Paws Rescue Foundation’s Courtney Rheuban Ax, “There’s something about bringing home an animal for the first time, either from the shelter or the rescue, and watching them realize that they are home and spending the rest of their life happy and warm and loved and safe. The unconditional love you get back from that dog or cat is one of the greatest things you can experience.”

    But let’s not only focus on shelter or animal rescue pets here. Making room for another creature in your life is a gift in itself. Hope for Feral’s Ashleigh Kuhl sums the magic of the meet up as quoted, “Adopting a pet is the best gift you can give them. It is the gift of life. In return, they give you a lifetime of loyalty and love in their own unique way.”

    YOU GET TO BE THE RECIPIENT OF SOME TLC

    Lots of pet animals are very loving creatures, and we’re not just talking of the furry kind of fur kid. Nothing beats a wagging tail, a happy purr, some happy chirping, excited flapping, a swoosh of the tail, and some cuddling after a long day at work. Pet parents are reportedly healthier and are less stressed than people who don’t own pets so yes, pets are good for you, just as much as you are good for them too!

    In fact, the most loving pets are usually from shelters and shelters because they tend to be more appreciative of the love and care given to them. Keyria Lockheart, a volunteer at the Last Hope Cat Kingdom says that, “I have had many tell me they love shelter animals more than non-shelter because they seem to appreciate being out of the environment and into a loving home.” Surely, that’s a great motivation to adopt a pet, yes?

    YOU WILL SAVE A LIFE

    Let us inject a bit of unsavory honesty in this post – pet animals which do not end up in loving homes are destined for just one thing, a life of desolation in the streets or on their own and then ending in a lonely and slow death in some way or another. That’s very sad.

    Not many people can say that they helped changed another creature’s life but when you adopt a pet, you gift yourself with that opportunity. Esther Lyon from Wayward Paws says. “I think that the most useful information that potential adopters can know is that by adopting from a shelter or rescue group, you are giving a home to a cat/kitten that has never had one of their own.” We agree with her, but is it a one-sided affair?

    Pet owners often remark that one of the best benefits of adopting a pet is not just saving another creature’s life. You are actually enriching yours and in some cases, saving your own life. There are numerous studies which shows that having a pet has plenty of health benefits, and it’s not just physical too. Some people with mental conditions like anxiety disorder and PTSD and people with social awkwardness all benefit from having a pet. It’s better than conventional therapy!

    YOU WILL BE PHYSICALLY HEALTHIER

    Do you know that children who grew up in homes with pets suffer from less allergies? Yes! Growing up with pets can minimize the risk of developing allergies – and we are just getting started. Depending on what kind of pet you have, you are in for an array of benefits. For dog owners, they tend to become more physically active and thus, have lower risk of developing heart disease and diabetes. If they do happen to already have those conditions, having a pet like a dog can help them get more active and decrease their stress levels too. It’s not just dogs either. All kinds of pets will benefit you with their power to simply turn off your stress switch. It is like having your very own unlimited supply of antihypertensive and anti-stress tabs, for FREE!

    YOU GET TO HELP YOUR LOCAL SHELTER OR ANIMAL RESCUE

    All over the world, pet rescues and shelters are filled to the brim with pets who have no other place to go. We all know how life will usually end up for them if no one comes to make them a part of their family. Adopting a pet, no matter how small is a big help to the community.

    Just to give you a glimpse on what goes on inside a shelter or an animal rescue. Basset Rescue Across Texas’ Founder Anne Fifield says, “Opt to adopt. Yes, puppies are cute and cuddly. Who doesn’t love puppies? However, there are thousands of animals in rescues and shelters who need a home or they could be euthanized. Shelters get full and have to make room for the dozens more coming in every day. You would be saving a life by adopting. Rescues become full, too. If they don’t have an open place, they can’t bring more in. That means someone is going to lose their life”. Surely you don’t want that to happen right?

    YOU WILL HELP END PUPPY MILLS

    Let us just state that we have no problem with responsible breeders as the pets which ends up in shelters, streets, and animal rescues usually do not come from responsible pet breeders. Pets like that are often from puppy mills who do not care who the pet will end up with and do not care if the pets they are breeding are not from a sturdy or good line. Buying from a puppy mill or an unregistered breeder only means that more well-deserving pets end up not having a home and puppy mills will keep on mass producing living creatures who deserve to be treated better than just a product in an unregulated factory.

    YOU WILL GET A BETTER PET MATCH WHEN YOU ADOPT

    As can be glimpsed above, baby pets are cute and everyone loves them but the cuddly ball of fur you have now can become your worst nightmare if the pet turned out to be totally different from your expectations based on breed characteristics. It is why some people end up giving up the pet they got from an irresponsible breeder or puppy mill and why it is better to either adopt from a shelter or a rescue where the animal has been assessed for temperament and is more or less stable with how they are regarding mood and activity level. With just a little bit of getting to know each other, you’ll likely end up with a dear companion who would deeply appreciate you and won’t take you for granted.

    YOU WILL BE FRIENDLIER

    People who have pets come as friendlier and more approachable. If you’ve been to a park or just chanced to see some dog owners at the street, they tend to congregate and look like life-long friends, even if they have never met each other before. That’s because a common interest brings people together and everyone loves cute furkids!

    YOU WILL HAVE A BETTER LOVE-LIFE

    Lacking dates? You may want to adopt a pet too. Having a better love life is indeed one of the benefits of adopting a pet; however, you have to remember that getting a pet should be something you really want and not just a temporary thing to be a guy or girl magnet.

    Individuals who have pets are perceived as more family oriented, more responsible, and more caring – all sought-after characteristics when picking out a romantic interest. In fact, people often feel so strongly about pets that your ‘performance’ the first time you meet the pet of your romantic interest is among the top parameters he/she will gauge you with. That’s right, your reaction to his/her pet or to the idea of having a pet ranks right up there with meeting friends and family!!

    YOU WILL SAVE YOURSELF SOME SERIOUS MOOLAH

    Purchasing a pet can be very expensive, especially for certain animals and breeds. Adopting a pet from a friend who can no longer keep the pet, or adopting from a shelter or a rescue is way cheaper than buying one.

    Sure, shelters and rescues can charge a certain fee and review your eligibility before letting you take home an animal, but what is that compared to the cost of buying one? A fresh-from-the-breeders pet is usually a baby and hence, you will have to take care of immunizations, vet bills, training, and everything else the pet needs whereas adopting one from a shelter or rescue often means that the pet has undergone vet check-up, has been given immunizations if applicable, and is basically A-okay. You’ll often get free expert advice and help from staff who wants the pet to have a great life with you – how’s that for some serious good deal?

    San Diego Humane Society and SPCA’s Public Relations Program Manager Kelli Schry says, “There are many advantages to adopting a shelter animal. Adoption is a much more affordable option, and you know you’re getting an animal that has been assessed behaviorally and medically. Our staff knows the animals well, so we can be sure you’re set up for a successful relationship. At the San Diego Humane Society, your new pet is not your only new, lifelong friend! We are your resource for the entire lifespan of your pet, whether you need training advice, pet supplies, educational resources, we are here to support pet owners well beyond the point of adoption.”

    *Source Courtesy of HomeoAnimal

     

  • Finding the Perfect Dog Breed for You

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    Have you ever noticed that different types of dog breeds are associated with specific occupations or other ways of life? Think about it this way, we’ve often seen celebrities with a poofy purse puppy in a paparazzi snapshot or a showdog seen prancing around inside of an arena. This is a drastically different comparison to a German Shepherd located in the back of a police car. There’s also images of a Dalmatian on board a fire engine, a Saint Bernard heading up a snow-covered slope to rescue a stranded skier, or working dogs herding sheep in the field.

    An elderly couple may prefer a lazier lap dog compared to a growing family that may be seeking a more active playmate. Different animals have very unique characteristics and attributes that match them perfectly with their master(s) and a certain lifestyle they’ll eventually enjoy with them. When it comes to choosing the perfect pet, there’s a certain amount of research that needs to involve criteria with your chosen critter in order to ensure you find the best fit when it comes to a lifetime of happiness you’ll find with you and your precious pooch.

    Check It Out

    When it comes to choosing your future best friend, making a checklist of your requirements along with their attributes is lengthy at best. But it’s it’s not that difficult and best to do your homework first before acquiring your perfect, future best friend. For example, Labradors and Retrievers are excellent choices for active families with growing children, but they also need tons of space and a great deal of exercise.

    Check out this Dog Breed Selector from the AKC (American Kennel Club) that will ask you some specific questions about:

    • Where you live
    • Whether you reside in a house or apartment
    • How many children and/or dogs you already have
    • Your activity level
    • How much noise you can withstand
    • Whether you’re a neat freak or not very tidy

    Your answers will reveal breeds of all shapes and sizes that could be a match for you. They’ll also give you further information about that breed’s trainability, type of coat, barking levels, activity required, grooming necessary and more information about how they could fit into your life.

    The site also offers links to places where you may be able to locate purebred puppies that match a possible choice for you. But before you spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on a pooch with papers, please consider visiting your local animal shelter or rescue organization. Remember that supporting breeders can be tied with possible puppy mills or other unsavory ways in which animals can be raised in unhealthy environments.

    Here at PET DEPOT we also offer pet adoptions in association with our local pet rescue partners. This way you’ll ensure that you’ll be giving a pet from your area a second chance at life and you’re already at the perfect location where you can find everything you need from feeding dishes to grooming supplies and more.

    *Written by Amber Kinglsey

  • Positive Reinforcement Training Tips

    They don’t call them “man’s best friend” for nothing! Domestic dogs have for thousands of years lived with humans in various capacities, from aiding in hunting to protecting livestock. In order to perform these functions, dogs learned to communicate with people and perform as their owners wished.

    Dogs are highly sensitive and responsive animals. They can tell when their owners are happy, sad, or nervous, and they may express these emotions themselves.

    Because dogs do have feelings, and intelligence that may be compared to that of a toddler (some breeds are as smart as a human seven-year-old!), it’s important that you refrain from treating your pet negatively. Continually shouting at a small child may scare him into submission, but it probably won’t make for a happy or healthy young person in the long run, even if he does obey.

    Your dog does not understand that you’re angry he got into the garbage bin; for one, dogs get into things because they’re dogs, and for two, his brain just isn’t going to connect your harsh tones and loud movements with all the fun he had with leftovers this afternoon. Just as with small children, dogs need to be coerced into behaving well with smiles and cheer.

    Your pet will understand when you’re unhappy with him, but he won’t understand why so well as the fact that you just are. That’s why it’s important to work on refining your dog’s behavior in a different way, with positivity.

    Positive reinforcement is one of the best methods of training your dog. It’s easier for your dog to understand what he did right, rather than grasping the concept of some arbitrary human rule he didn’t follow (such as resisting sticking his muzzle into the appealing-smelling trash bin). When you’re happy, your dog is happy as well.

    As such, two of the best ways to train your dog are with enthusiasm and with puppy treats. Both of these need to be awarded to your pet immediately after he performs the desirable action, so that he understands and repeats it again.

    Because dogs understand human emotions so well, it’s key to praise him when he does something correctly, even if it’s by accident. Use upbeat vocal tones, and repeated phrases like “Good dog!” Respond in this way when your dog completes commands, and pair it with petting and physical affection when you’re really proud.

    Treats are a great idea for training. Your pet gets a treat for sitting instead of jumping on visitor, for not barking when the doorbell rings, when he fetches an item, and so on. As long as they don’t trigger a food allergy, treats are a safe and effective way for modifying behavior and completing training. Be patient at first, since your dog probably won’t understand right away.

    It doesn’t take much to make dogs happy–pets and treats, please! Check out the infographic below for more on how to get your pet to please you with positive reinforcement.

    Positive-Training-small

    *Written and designed by Amber Kingsley

  • The Importance of Clipping Dogs’ Nails

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    Why keeping a dog’s nails short and sweet should be a top priority for all dog owners.

    Let’s get this out of the way first: Nobody, it seems, likes to “do” dog nails. Not you, not the dog, nor anyone else who may be called upon to take on nail-clipping for you (such as a technician at your local veterinary hospital or even a professional groomer). But for the health of your dog, it must be done, and should be done frequently enough to keep your dog’s nails short.

    This isn’t an article about how to make nail cutting a more pleasant experience for you and your dog; this magazine has run plenty of those (see list at right). Don’t be tempted to skip that step: You should read up on positive reinforcement and desensitization techniques before you even think about snipping; of course your dog should be comfortable with having his feet touched and manipulated before you attempt any type of nail trimming. If he is not – and especially if he shows signs of serious distress or aggression – consult a qualified dog behavior specialist to help you modify this behavior. Better safe than sorry.

    No, this article is what you’ll need to know before you have appropriately and positively introduced your dog to the nail-cutting experience. I hope to convince you to commit to a regular nail-maintenance program for your dog.

    Why Dogs Need Their Nails Trimmed

    When dogs spend a good deal of time outdoors, running on various hard surfaces,1 including concrete and blacktop, their nails are gradually worn down, and they have less of a need for formal nail-grooming sessions. But today, with many suburban and urban dogs increasingly confined indoors when their owners are at work, and running mostly on soft surfaces such as lawns when they are outdoors, this welcome friction is often absent in their daily lives.

    Long, unkempt nails not only look unattractive, but over time they can do serious damage to your dog (not to mention your floors). When nails are so long that they constantly touch the ground, they exert force back into the nail bed, creating pain for the dog (imagine wearing a too-tight shoe) and pressure on the toe joint. Long term, this can actually realign the joints of the foreleg and make the foot looked flattened and splayed.

    Again, this isn’t just an aesthetic problem, it’s a functional one: Compromising your dog’s weight distribution and natural alignment can leave her more susceptible to injuries, and make walking and running difficult and painful. This is especially important in older dogs, whose posture can be dramatically improved by cutting back neglected nails.

    In extreme cases, overgrown nails can curve and grow into the pad of the foot. But even if they are not that out of control, long nails can get torn or split, which is very painful and, depending on severity, may need to be treated by a veterinarian.

    And in the end, unattended nails create a vicious cycle: Because the extra-long nails make any contact with his paws painful for the dog, he avoids having them touched, which leads to unpleasant nail-cutting sessions, which makes both human and dog avoid them, which leads to longer intervals between trims, which leads to more pain.

    The Basics of Clipping Dog Nails

    So what’s the goal? What’s the “right” length? While some breeds (most notably the Doberman Pinscher) are often shown with nails so short they can barely be seen, the most commonly accepted rule of thumb is that when a dog is standing, the nails should not make contact with the ground. If you can hear your dog coming, her nails are too long.

    The nails of mammals are made of a tough protein called keratin. Technically, dogs have claws, not nails, though we’ll use the latter term in its colloquial sense for this article. (The distinction is that nails are flat and do not come to a point. And if your nail is thick enough and can bear weight, it’s called a hoof.)

    Dog’s nails differ from ours in that they consist of two layers. Like us, they have the unguis, a hard, outer covering in which the keratin fibers run perpendicular to the direction in which the nail grows. But unlike us, under their unguis, dogs have the subunguis, which is softer and flaky, with a grain that is parallel to the direction of growth. The faster growth of the unguis is what gives the dog’s nail its characteristic curl.

    In addition to one nail at the end of each of the four toes usually found on each foot, many dogs also have a fifth nail, called a dewclaw, on the inside of the leg, below the wrist. Some dogs are born with dewclaws in the front only; others are born with dewclaws on every leg. There’s a great deal of debate about whether these should be surgically removed; some breeders do this a few days after birth because they believe that the dewclaws are vestigial, and are likely to rip or tear if they are not removed. (Many shelters also do this surgery on dogs at the same time they do spay/neuter surgery.)

    Proponents of dewclaws argue that dewclaws are not vestigial, but indeed used to grip objects such as bones, and to provide important traction when a galloping dog needs to change direction. (Poke around Youtube and you can find videos of Sighthound lure coursing; they actually lay their entire forearms perpendicular to the ground when redirecting their momentum.) Even the floppy double-dewclaws of breeds like the Great Pyrenees are said to have some purpose (traction or a “snowshoe” effect in the snow).

    One thing is certain: If a dog has dewclaws, they need to be trimmed – perhaps even more often than nails that routinely touch the ground. Because the dewclaws rarely touch the ground and so aren’t worn down, they tend to be pointier than the other nails. But perhaps because dewclaws are so loosely attached to the forelimb, many dogs object to trimming them much less.

    The Canine Toenail Quick

    There’s a reason why the phrase “cut to the quick” means to deeply wound or distress: Running through the nail is a nerve and vein called the “quick.” Nicking or cutting this sensitive band of tissue is very painful for the dog – and messy for the owner, as blood often continues oozing from the cut nail for what seems like an eternity. (Keeping a stypic-powder product, such as Kwik-Stop, on hand can help promote clotting and shorten the misery. Or, in a pinch, try flour.)

    Shortening the nail without “quicking” the dog is easier said than done – unless your dog has white or light-colored nails, in which case, you’re in luck: The quick will be visible from the side, as a sort of pink-colored shadow within the nail. Avoid going near it. If you trim the nail with a clipper or scissors, trim a bit off the end of the nail, and notice the color at the end of the nail (in cross section). As soon as the center of the nail starts to appear pink, stop.

    You can’t see the quick in a black or dark-colored nail. With these nails, you have to be even more conservative about how much nail you trim off. After making each cut, look at the cross-section of the nail. If you see a black spot in the center – sort of like the center of a marrow bone – stop cutting. It’s likely your next slice will hit the quick.

    The longer a dog’s nails are allowed to grow, the longer the quick will become, to the point that taking even a very small bit of nail off the end “quicks” the dog. Then the goal becomes a matter of snipping or grinding the nails to get as close as possible to the quick, without actually cutting it. This is perhaps easiest to accomplish with a grinding tool (such as a Dremel), though it can be done with clippers, too, with practice. By grinding away the nail all around the quick – above it, below it, and on both sides – the quick has no support or protection, and within days it will begin to visibly recede, drawing back toward the toe.

    If a dog’s feet have been neglected for months (or, horrors, years) at a time, it might take months to shorten those nails to a healthy, pain-free length. But if you keep at this regularly, it should get easier for the dog to exercise. And the more he moves, the more his nails will come into contact with the ground in a way that will help wear the nails down and help the quicks to recede.

    Helpful Trimming Tools

    Nail clippers use blades to remove the tip of the nail. There are a couple of different styles to choose from, but no matter what type is used, their effectiveness is dependent on the blades being sharp and clean.

    Guillotine trimmers have a hole at the end, through which the dog’s nail is inserted; then, as the handles of the tool are squeezed together, an internal blade lops off the end of the nail in a fashion reminiscent of the execution device for which the trimmer is named.

    Some people find it easier to chop through thick nails with these clippers, but others find it difficult to thread each nail through the hole at precisely the right distance from the end of the nail, especially when the dog is wiggling or uncooperative. On the plus side, though, it’s fast and easy to replace the blade in guillotine-style clippers – in fact, most guillotine clippers are sold with replacement blades, which encourages an owner to swap out the blade as soon as the tool loses any effectiveness.

    Scissor- and plier-style trimmers are arguably easier to use, but need to be sharpened from time to time – and who knows how to do this, or where this service can be obtained these days? Many people find themselves discarding and replacing these tools as needed, instead.

    Grinders are relatively new to the world of canine manicures. So many owners discovered how easy it was to use that old hardware standby, the Dremel tool, that you’ll sometimes hear that brand name used as a verb, as in “I Dremel my dog’s nails.” Soon enough, pet-specific rotary grinders found their way to market – and now Dremel makes a pet-specific grinder, too.

    Regardless of the type of grinder you buy, make sure it is appropriate for your dog. Some cordless models might be perfectly adequate for a Papillon, but simply may not have enough oomph for trimming the thick, hard nails of a larger breed like a German Shepherd.

    Though Dremels and other grinders come with several different attachments, most owners opt for the sandpaper barrel. Change the sandpaper sleeve whenever you see it’s becoming worn.

    Be sure to acclimate your dog to the sound of the grinder, and then slowly introduce the tool, so that your dog is accustomed to the grinding sensation on his nails. Don’t keep the rotary tool stationery on one area of the nail, as the heat it generates can be painful for the dog.

    Be aware of dangling hair – both yours and your dog’s – and take care not to have it get entwined in the tool’s spinning drum. To protect your eyes, wear safety glasses. And because nail grinders can generate a good deal of nail dust, a disposable surgical face mask is a sensible idea as well.

    Nail Maintenance Routines are Crucial

    If this sounds like a lot of work, it is – at least initially, until you and your dog develop a nail-maintenance routine. And “maintenance” really is the name of the game; it’s far easier for you (and less painful for your dog) to maintain his short nails than to shorten nails that have gotten long, with the inevitable corresponding long quicks.

    If your dog’s nails have gotten too long, or you adopted a dog whose nails were too long, you need to really commit to frequent trimming to restore his foot health and comfort. Three to four days is probably the minimum amount of time that’s advisable between salon treatments that are intended to encourage the quicks to recede. Once a week is ideal if you want to gradually shorten your dog’s nails and eliminate all that clickety-clacking on your wood floors. And, depending on the rate at which your dog’s nails grow (and what sort of surface he exercises on) once or twice a month is a reasonable goal to maintain the nails at a healthy length.

    No matter what frequency you choose, make a commitment. Earmark a specific day of the week or month for your grooming sessions, and stick with it. You’ll have a better chance of remembering to do your dog’s nails on a regular basis if you get into a routine.

    It may also be helpful to dedicate a location in your home for doing your dog’s nails – somewhere comfortable for you and your dog and with a good light source. Make sure you have everything you need at hand before you begin: clippers, styptic powder and some tissue or a small clean towel or washcloth (in case you accidentally quick the dog), eyeglasses for you (if you need them to see well up close), and lots of small, high-value treats to keep the experience rewarding for your dog.

    It’s also smart to have a leash on your dog, even if he’s usually fine with having his nails clipped; many dogs will attempt to leave abruptly if they are “quicked.” And who could blame them? If you do make a mistake, don’t make a huge fuss. Feed your dog some treats, and proceed with more conservative clips.

    Source courtesy of Whole Dog Journal

  • 5 Ways to Keep Your Pet’s Teeth and Gums Healthy for Life

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    February is Dental Health Month, which means it’s time to lavish some attention on your pet’s teeth. It’s important to take proper care of canine and feline teeth, because if left untreated, plaque and tartar buildup can progress to painful periodontal disease. The bacteria from periodontal disease can spread to other organs and cause illnesses. More than 85 percent of cats and dogs over four years old are affected by periodontal disease — you don’t want your four-legged companion to become part of that alarming statistic.

    Here are five steps to help your pet’s teeth and gums remain healthy:

    1. Beware of Bad Breath
    If a musky scent is coming from Fluffy’s mouth, don’t ignore it. This could be a warning sign that she has periodontal disease or another oral disease such as stomatitis, a common feline condition that causes painful inflammation of the gums and mouth tissues.

    Other dental-health warning signs include bleeding gums, yellow or brown teeth, pawing at the mouth, and loose or missing teeth.

    2. Brush Your Pet’s Teeth
    While it might be difficult at first, with enough patience and plenty of yummy rewards, you can turn tooth brushing into a bonding experience with your dog or cat. It might take several weeks to train your four-legged friend to warm up to the toothbrush, so start by letting her smell the toothbrush and pet toothpaste, then gradually work your way to brushing for 30 seconds on each side of her mouth at least every other day. By the way, human toothpaste isn’t safe for pets, so be sure to use a product approved for your pet.

    If you’re scared your dog or cat will bite you, ask your veterinarian for alternative tartar-control options.

    3. Consider Dental Toys, Treats and Food
    While it’s not as effective as brushing your pet’s teeth, giving her treats, toys and food specifically designed to promote oral health will help her maintain healthy gums and teeth. Check for the Seal of Acceptance from the Veterinary Oral Health Council to make sure that whatever alternative you choose meets the standards for effective plaque and tartar control.

    4. Ask Your Vet for a Dental Exam
    Humans aren’t the only ones who need their chompers checked by a professional; your four-legged friend needs to have her teeth and gums checked by a veterinarian. During the dental exam, the vet will first take your pet’s medical history, then ask if you’ve noticed any dental health warning signs such as bad breath. Next, he’ll examine your pet, including checking the head and neck for any abnormalities. Finally, he’ll check out your pet’s teeth and gums for redness, bleeding and inflammation. He’ll also be on the lookout for tooth loss, cracked teeth, plaque and tartar, as well as potentially cancerous lumps and bumps.

    A cursory dental exam can usually be performed without sedation, unless your pet becomes aggressive or his teeth are very painful. For a complete dental evaluation, though, your pet will have to go under.

    5. Don’t Let Anesthesia Stop You From Getting a Dental Cleaning
    To thoroughly examine your pet’s teeth and gums, properly get rid of nasty plaque and tartar, and really clean your pet’s pearly whites, he’ll need to be anesthetized. Though sedating your dog or cat sounds scary, it’s not as bad as it sounds — in fact, the procedure has never been safer or more comfortable. Before your vet even begins anesthesia, he may recommend prescreening tests to help ensure that your pet is healthy enough for the procedure.

    When you think about it, the benefits of dental cleaning outweigh the possible risks of anesthesia. When Fluffy wakes up, her breath will smell better, and her teeth will be shinier and healthier. And as an extra bonus, maintaining healthy teeth and gums helps protect the body’s other organs, like the heart and kidneys, from the damaging effects of dental disease.

    *Source courtesy of Vet Street

  • Pet Obesity on the Rise for Sixth Straight Year

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    One of America’s most common New Year’s resolutions is to lose weight, and statistics show that pet owners should share that goal with their dogs and cats. Data from Nationwide, the nation’s first and largest provider of pet health insurance, reveals that pet obesity is on the rise for the sixth straight year. In 2015, Nationwide members filed 1.3 million pet insurance claims for conditions and diseases related to pet obesity, equaling a sum of more than $60 million in veterinary expenses. The boost in total obesity-related claims signifies a 23 percent growth over the last three years.

    Similar to their human counterparts, excessive body fat increases the risk of preventable health issues and may shorten the life expectancy of dogs and cats. Nationwide recently sorted through its database of more than 585,000 insured pets to determine the top 10 dog and cat obesity-related conditions. Below are the results:

    Most Common Dog Obesity-Related Conditions Most Common Cat Obesity-Related Conditions
    1.    Arthritis 1.     Bladder/Urinary Tract Disease
    2.   Bladder/Urinary Tract Disease 2.    Chronic Kidney Disease
    3.   Low Thyroid Hormone Production 3.    Diabetes
    4.   Liver Disease 4.    Asthma
    5.   Torn Knee Ligaments 5.    Liver Disease
    6.   Diabetes 6.    Arthritis
    7.   Diseased Disc in the Spine 7.    High Blood Pressure
    8.  Chronic Kidney Disease 8.   Heart Failure
    9.   Heart Failure 9.    Gall Bladder Disorder
    10.  Fatty Growth 10.   Immobility of Spine

    “Obesity can be detrimental to the livelihood of our pets,” said Carol McConnell, DVM, MBA, vice president and chief veterinary medical officer for Nationwide. “Pet owners need to be aware of the quality and amount of food or treats they give their furry family members. The New Year presents a perfect opportunity to create regular exercise routines for our pets and begin to effectively manage their eating habits to avoid excess weight gain. Scheduling routine wellness exams with your veterinarian is the most effective way to get started on monitoring your pet’s weight, particularly for cats.”

    In 2015, Nationwide received more than 49,000 pet insurance claims for arthritis in canines, the most common disease aggravated by excessive weight, which carried an average treatment fee of $295 per pet. With more than 5,000 pet insurance claims, bladder or urinary tract disease was the most common obesity-related condition in cats, which had an average claim amount of $442 per pet.

    Below are simple steps you can take to help regulate your pet’s weight:

    • Avoid feeding your pet table scraps.
    • Keep a consistent diet by monitoring the amount of food you give your pet.
    • Regulate the amount of treats you give your pet.
    • Establish a healthy and fun exercise schedule.

    *Consult your veterinarian to best determine your pet’s weight loss protocol.

    *Source courtesy of Pet Age

  • How to Put the Brakes on Pet Car Sickness

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    With summer travel right around the corner, many of us plan on hitting the road with our pooches for a little summer fun.  However, for some four-legged family members, road trips can mean upset tummies.

    Queasiness in the car is not just a human problem. Dogs and puppies do sometimes experience motion sickness on car rides.  Unfortunately, car sickness can make any kind of pet travel a distressing ordeal for both dogs and their families.

    Car sickness doesn’t have to be a serious or lasting problem for your pet. With the right treatment, it can be mitigated, or even stopped altogether.

    There are several causes of car sickness in dogs and puppies. The most common include:

    • Immature ears. In puppies, the ear structures that regulate balance aren’t fully developed, which can cause them to be extra sensitive to motion sickness. Many dogs will outgrow car sickness as they age.
    • Stress. If traveling in the car has only led to unpleasant experiences for your dog – to vet exams, for example — he may literally be worried sick about the journey.
    • Self-conditioning. If your dog experienced nausea on his first car rides as a puppy, he may associate car rides with illness, and expect to get sick in the car.

    Car sickness doesn’t look like you might expect it to in dogs, and you might not even realize that this is the challenge you’re dealing with. Here are some symptoms to look out for:

    • Inactivity/lethargy
    • Restlessness
    • Excessive/repetitive yawning
    • Whining/crying
    • Hyper-salivation (drooling)
    • Vomiting

    If your dog is suffering from car sickness, symptoms will typically disappear within a few minutes after the car comes to a stop.

    Fortunately, there are a number of different methods available to help prevent and/or treat canine car sickness.

    1.  Increase His Comfort Level
    • Turn your dog so that he faces forward. Motion sickness is related to the brain’s ability to process movement. The less blurring movement he sees out the window, the better he might feel.
    • Keep your dog as close to the front seat as possible (but not in the front seat). The farther back in the car you go, the more you sense motion.
    • Opening the windows a crack. This brings in fresh air, which is soothing, and helps reduce air pressure.
    • Avoid feeding your dog for a few hours before a car trip.
    • Transport him in a travel crate. A crate will limit his view to the outside, and will help to keep any sickness he may have confined to a small space.
    • Keep the temperature low. Heat, humidity and stuffiness can exacerbate car sickness.
    • Distract him. Toys, soothing music, or just hearing you speak may help calm and distract a high-strung dog.
    • Take frequent breaks. Getting out for fresh air or to stretch your legs can help him feel better periodically.
    • Exercise before your car ride.
    1.  Reconditioning  For dogs who have negative associations with riding in cars, reconditioning could be the answer. Reconditioning does take time and patience, but it really can help relax your dog.
    • Drive in a different vehicle.  Your dog might associate a specific vehicle with unpleasant memories.
    • Take short car trips to places your dog enjoys. This will replace negative associations with positive ones.
    • Gradually acclimate your dog to the car. Start by sitting with your dog in the car while the engine is off each day for a few days.  When he seems comfortable, let it idle. Once he is used to that, drive slowly around the block. Gradually progress to longer and longer trips until your dog seems comfortable driving anywhere.
    • Offer your dog treats, or offer him a special toy that’s just for car rides. This will make the car a fun and rewarding place to be.
    1.  Medication While motion sickness can be helped in natural ways for some dogs, there are cases in which medications is the only option. There are both over-the-counter and prescription medications available, including:
    • Anti-nausea drugs: reduce nausea and vomiting.
    • Antihistamines: lessen motion sickness, reduce drooling, and calm nerves.
    • Phenothiazine: reduces vomiting and helps sedate the dog.

    Caution: Always discuss any medications you plan to give your pet with your veterinarian to ensure that your dog is healthy enough to take them, will be given the correct dosage, and won’t suffer any adverse effects.

    1.  Holistic Approach  Holistic treatments are another way to go for dog parents. They really can be effective, and are worth trying.  Some common holistic choices include:
    • Ginger. Ginger is used to treat nausea. Try giving your dog ginger snap cookies or ginger pills at least 30 minutes before travel.
    • Peppermint, chamomile and horehound naturally help calm the stomach and nerves of your dog. These are available in pills and teas.
    • Massage can help sooth and relax your pet before you travel.

    As with other medications, always discuss any holistic remedies you plan to give your pet with your vet to ensure that it’s appropriate and the dosage is correct.

    In short, with some patience, training, or the right medications or holistic treatments, you and your dog will be able to ride safely and happily together anywhere you need to go!

    *Source courtesy of TripsWithPets.com

    About TripsWithPets.com
    TripsWithPets.com is the premier online pet friendly travel guide — providing online reservations at over 30,000 pet friendly hotels & accommodations across the U.S. and Canada. When planning a trip, pet parents go to TripsWithPets.com for detailed, up-to-date information on hotel pet policies and pet amenities. TripsWithPets.com also features airline & car rental pet policies, pet friendly activities, a user-friendly search-by-route option, as well as pet travel gear.

  • Pet Travel: Take Your Furry Sidekick  Along, or Leave Him Behind?

    Adorable and soulful labrador mix ready to take the old car for a drive.

    As a pet parent, a road trip with a furry kid might seem like a dream come true. You’d love the opportunity to bond and share new experiences with him, and you’d certainly appreciate the company. But before you load your beloved pet into the car for the long haul, take a moment to reflect. A pet who’s a great companion at home, on walks, and on short trips around town won’t necessarily be an ideal travel buddy. Long trips aren’t right for every pet, and your pet’s needs should come before your desire to take him along.

    Does My Pet have a Road-Worthy Temperament?

    Like people, dogs have a wide range of different temperaments. Some are laid-back and easygoing, while others are nervous and high-strung. If your pet is adaptable, easy to please and likes new places and new people, he’s likely to be a great travel buddy.  However, if he’s nervous by nature, skittish about car rides, or anxious when confronted with something new, chances are, he’s not ready for a long trip. If your pet is nervous or fearful, don’t despair – with some training, he may eventually become a great pet traveler. He just may have to stay home this time around.

    With appropriate training, commitment,  and patience, most temperament problems can be overcome. Your pet can become less sensitive to stimuli, and more suited for travel. That said, desensitizing training techniques aren’t a quick fix. You’ll need to dedicate the time, offer a lot of leeway and understanding, and let your pet set the pace.

    Will This Trip be Fun for my Pet?

    Will your pet be comfortable? Did you plan pet friendly activities he will enjoy? Your dog might love an impromptu hiking trip through the mountains or a glorious day on the beach, but he may not be so thrilled to share your mother’s tiny apartment with her cats while you head off to the golf course or sit alone in a hotel room  during your out-of-town business meetings, (in fact, many pet friendly hotels don’t allow pets to stay alone in rooms). You know your dog best, so you are the best person to judge whether this trip will be an enjoyable one for him – if not, you can adjust your plans to be more pet friendly, or you can let him stay home where he’s sure to be comfortable.

    Is My Pet in Good Health?

    If your pet is injured or under-the-weather, you may be tempted to take him along on your trip so you can watch over him. After all, no one will care for him like you do! However, it may be best for your pet to stay behind under the care of trusted friend or family member. You will be busy driving, after all, and you won’t really keep vigil over him. The trip may make him tired, distressed or uncomfortable – factors that will be difficult to remedy far from home. A pet in pain or discomfort may even act out, which won’t make for a pleasant trip for either of you.

    If your pet is elderly, but in good health, you’ll need to make a judgment call. If he enjoys taking car trips and visiting new places, taking him along may very well be good for him. If he likes trips, but becomes uncomfortable easily, he may be better off at home. If you’re undecided, a quick trip to consult with your vet can help you figure out whether a road trip is in your pet’s best interest.

    If your pet suffers from travel anxiety, routinely taking him on brief trips, or planning occasional trips that end up somewhere exciting and fun can help teach him that traveling is a rewarding experience. If your pet experiences motion sickness during car rides, all is not lost – a number of remedies exist to help alleviate his suffering, including reconditioning, traditional medications, and holistic remedies.

    If your pet is up for it, hitting the road with him can be a fantastic way to break up the blahs, have some fun adventures, and spend some quality time together. However, even if your pet isn’t perfectly suited for travel right now, it doesn’t mean he never can be.

    Safe travels and happy tails!

    *Source courtesy of TripsWithPets.com

    About TripsWithPets.com
    TripsWithPets.com is the premier online pet friendly travel guide — providing online reservations at over 30,000 pet friendly hotels & accommodations across the U.S. and Canada. When planning a trip, pet parents go to TripsWithPets.com for detailed, up-to-date information on hotel pet policies and pet amenities. TripsWithPets.com also features airline & car rental pet policies, pet friendly activities, a user-friendly search-by-route option, as well as pet travel gear.

  • Pets and Distracted Driving

    dog_driving

    With busy summer travel season in full force, many families are planning to hit the road with their families – and that of course, means their four-legged family members too. To ensure safe travels for everyone it’s important to take heed of a very real pet travel safety issue – pets and distracted driving.

    When we think of distracted driving, the typical “culprits” that come to mind include; texting, eating, applying makeup, chatting on the phone, or even daydreaming.  However, we seldom consider that traveling with an unsecured pet is a very real and dangerous distraction.

    AAA in conjunction with Kurgo conducted a survey of people who often drive with their pets. The survey showed that a whopping 64 percent of pet parents partake in unsafe distracted driving habits as they pertain to their pet.  Additionally, 29 percent of respondents admitted to being distracted by their four-legged travel companions, yet 84 percent indicated that they do not secure their pet in their vehicle. According to the survey, drivers were letting their dogs, putting them in their laps and giving them treats. Some drivers (three percent) even photographed their dogs while driving.

    It’s pretty easy to understand how an unsecured pet can be a distraction while driving. Some pets may become anxious or excited causing them to jump around or bark while in the vehicle. Additionally, a happy and loving pet may just want to be near you and crawl on your lap while driving.

    Oftentimes, pets can be frightened and there is always an element of unpredictability with any animal.  When looking for comfort dogs and cats may naturally opt to be near you and add to the possible perils caused by these distractions.

    Properly securing your pet in your vehicle is not only about alleviating this potential driving distraction that could cause an accident. It is also a proactive approach should there be an accident or sudden stop – even a fender bender can injure an unsecured pet. We wear seatbelts for our safety in case of an accident and should take the same care to secure our pets. A pet that is not restrained properly in a vehicle can be seriously harmed or even killed if thrown from a vehicle. Airbags can go off and injure a pet in your lap. In the event of an accident, frightened pets can easily escape from a vehicle and run off.  Further, a pet that is not properly secured may not only be harmed but could also put others in danger through the shear force of any impact from an accident.

    Ensuring your pet is safe while traveling in your vehicle means finding the pet safety restraint that is right for him. Options include pet seat belts, pet car seats, travel crates, and vehicle pet barriers. Planning to have the right pet safety restraint for your trip will not only keep you and your pet safe, but also offer you peace of mind and take one more distraction away.

    *Source courtesy of TripsWithPets.com

    About TripsWithPets.com
    TripsWithPets.com is the premier online pet friendly travel guide — providing online reservations at over 30,000 pet friendly hotels & accommodations across the U.S. and Canada. When planning a trip, pet parents go to TripsWithPets.com for detailed, up-to-date information on hotel pet policies and pet amenities. TripsWithPets.com also features airline & car rental pet policies, pet friendly activities, a user-friendly search-by-route option, as well as pet travel gear.

  • Keeping Your Dog Hydrated

    5 DOs and DON’Ts For Pup Parents Whose Dogs Have A “Drinking Problem”

    5 DOs and DON’Ts For Pup Parents Whose Dogs Have A “Drinking Problem”

    Did you know that the summer heat often leads to dogs with drinking problems? And by “drinking problem,” I mean being so thirsty that they’ll drink water wherever they can find it.

    petsafe13

    Pet hydration is super important, maybe even more important for pups than people since 80% of a dog’s body is made up of water—whereas we mere humans are only made up of 60% water.

    Thirsty dog tongue underwater

    But if access to water is super important, then access to CLEAN water is super duperimportant. Quenching your dog’s thirst with standing, stagnant water only introduces risk into your efforts to hydrate your dog. Water that rests in one place is a virtual love den for bacteria and invites airborne debris like hair or dust to gather on its surface. Yuck!

    les

    So here are a few pro tips to prevent your pup from developing a drinking problem this summer:

    1.

    DON’T wait for your dog to try and tell you that they’re thirsty. Chances are you won’t approve of what they want to drink.

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    DO provide constant access to water indoors and out. Your dog needs one ounce of water per pound of body weight everyday.

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    2.

    DON’T let their water supply get gross, or else they’ll go looking for it someplace else!

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    DO change out the water regularly to ensure freshness. Getting a PetSafe Drinkwell® Sedona Fountain is a great way to keep your pup’s water clean, since its free-flowing circulation discourages bacterial growth—and makes drinking a blast for your pup!

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    3.

    DON’T let their water bowl get so gross that they turn to the toilet bowl. Oh, and put the lid down. (Gentlemen, we’re looking at you here.)

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    DO wash your dog’s water bowl everyday, that is, if you don’t have already have PetSafe Drinkwell® Pet Fountain. Otherwise daily cleaning is the best way to guarantee your dog’s bowl is absolutely bacteria free.

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    4.

    DON’T depend on the kindness of strangers. Even though some businesses are cool enough to provide a little liquid for your dog, there’s no guarantee clean water will be waiting where you plan to go. And who knows where that water’s been?

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    DO bring fresh water with you wherever you go with your dog. It’s the best way to be sure they’ll stay hydrated.

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    5.

    DON’T ignore the symptoms of dehydration if you suspect your dog shows them. Lethargy, loss of appetite, and deep, sunken eyes are all serious indicators that your dog has grown dangerously thirsty and needs to see the vet, stat.

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    So DO yourself a favor: simplify how you quench your dog’s thirst with fresh water and get them a PetSafe Drinkwell® Pagoda Fountain.

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    There’s no cleaner, healthier alternative.

    *Source courtesy of Petsafe