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A Guide For First-Time Pet Owners

selective focus photography of black, white, and brown cat lying on wooden table

Photo credit by Unsplash

Owning a new pet is a big responsibility. If you’ve decided to take the plunge, here is what you need to welcome your new pet to the family.

 

Selecting The Right Pet

Your first step is choosing a pet that’s a good fit for your home, your family, and your time. Avoiding impulse buys is an important piece of advice from 2nd Chance. Here is how to determine which pet and/or breed is right for you.

Why Do You Want A Pet?

This is the first question to ask. Do you want a constant companion or some interesting entertainment? Would you prefer a bit of wildlife or an animal that can provide unconditional love? You must also consider personality: are you active or sedentary? All pets have different personalities, too. Learn more from Deliberate Magazine.

Many people opt for companion pets. These are not trained like service animals. (Read what sets the two apart in this article from The Independence Center.) Companion pets can be beneficial to people with various emotional support needs, like those who have been diagnosed with depression or anxiety, or people in substance abuse recovery. Petting a dog, for example, can reduce stress and calm the spirit. They can also provide love, support, and a sense of responsibility.

What Is Your Commitment?

Large pets, such as cats and dogs, require a larger time commitment than hamsters and fish. Keep in mind that dogs almost always will need some training in a new family. Do you travel a lot or work very long hours?  Will you be the primary person responsible for this pet? If you’re a parent, learn how to choose the right dog for your child from Cesar’s Way.

Allergies

Make sure that you and anyone you live with are not allergic to the pet you are considering. If you’re unsure, you can always get tested.

Home Size And Budget

How much square footage is required for this pet or breed? Will your pet need a yard? Do you have a safe and sturdy place for a habitat or fish tank? If you are getting a cat or a dog, decide which areas or rooms are off-limits beforehand so you can block them off.

When You’re Away

Determine who will care for your pet when you’re away. Is there someone who can come in to feed them? Remember that if you have a pet that eats bugs or mice, make sure that person is not squeamish! For larger pets, will you use a kennel or do you have a reliable friend who can watch him?

Here are even more questions to ask yourself from Monterey County SPCA.

 

Preparing Your Home

Before bringing any pet home, complete these tasks:

  • Make sure your home is safe. This can mean anything from putting up a fence to checking areas for broken glass or toxic chemicals.
  • Instruct your family or housemates on how to treat your new pet and what not to do to prevent mishaps. Vetstreet.com recommends bringing home your pet when you have a few days off (like a weekend) so you have time to bond with him.
  • When you bring home your pet, help him to acclimate by having food, toys, bedding, and all his needed items on hand in advance. When you’re choosing your pet supplies, be discerning, especially when it comes to food. What you feed your pet has a major impact on his or her overall, long-term health. Research online before you buy, check ingredients lists for organic fruits and veggies, and consider any allergies your pet may have.
  • For those choosing a rescue pet, keep in mind he may have fears he can’t express and could be skittish. Take your time introducing him to your home, and be calm around him. Woof.com has advice on how to handle this situation.

Bringing home a new pet is exciting, but make sure you choose the right pet for you and your home. Take the time to prep your home, acclimate your pet, and bond with him to create a wonderful experience.

Human Foods That Dogs Can Enjoy

Feeding your dog is a part of your daily routine, and it’s easy to grab a couple of cups of the same dry pet food and pour it into your dog’s bowl. For the most part, your pet’s dry food is a nutritionally balanced meal that is tasty and healthy for them. However, these same flavors and textures can become boring for your dog.

By offering your dog human food once in a while, you will give them the variety they crave. For your dog, this extra-special meal will feel like a reward—aiding with training—and you will feel good about enhancing your pet’s diet. Even so, it’s important that you stick to human food that is safe for dogs.

Here are some human foods that you can safely offer to your dog.


Cooked boneless chicken breast

Chicken is a lean meat that provides dogs with many nutritional benefits, such as added protein. Most dogs enjoy the flavor of chicken, and it can be used to make any dry meal more appealing to your pet. Chicken can be paired with brown rice if your dog is experiencing digestive issues but may still need a nutritious and wholesome meal.

Note: Chicken should be boneless and fully cooked before serving to your dog. Boneless chicken breasts are ideal for dogs because they minimize the risk of inadvertently giving your dog bones that could become a choking hazard.

Raw Carrots

Raw carrots can provide your dog with additional beta carotene as well as vitamin A. Also, raw carrots are low in calories, which makes them an ideal snack between meals for your pet. Not only do carrots offer a boost of essential vitamins and nutrients, they also help to naturally clean and strengthen your dog’s teeth. Consider offering your dog raw baby carrots, as the size is perfect for snacking.

Sliced Apples

Apples are packed with vitamins that are beneficial for your dog. Vitamins A and C are plentiful in apples, making this low-calorie fruit a great snack option for your pooch. It’s OK for your dog to eat the skin of the apple, but you should avoid serving a full apple — for fear your pet might eat the stem and seeds. Note: Seeds can contain trace amounts of cyanide, which would be dangerous. Consider slicing apples and rewarding your dog with this treat for good behavior.

Peanut Butter

Peanut butter is likely to be one of your dog’s favorite human foods. This sweet, creamy concoction is a great choice because it is filled with valuable protein as well as powerful vitamins, including vitamins E and B. When you stuff your dog’s favorite chew toy with peanut butter, you’ll provide a healthy reward and a long-lasting treat. Not to mention, you might also enjoy a few extra minutes to yourself while your dog devours the tasty snack (be sure to grab natural peanut butter- most regular peanut butter jars contain artificial sweeteners which can be dangerous to your dog’s health).

Pureed Pumpkin

This fall gourd is often considered to be more of a decoration than a nutritious vegetable, but it’s one of the best human foods you can give your dog. Filled with fiber and vitamin A, pumpkin can help your dog when suffering from gastrointestinal issues. Be sure to serve canned pureed pumpkin, or even homemade pumpkin pie is an acceptable human treat for your pooch.

If you are interested in changing your pet’s diet or mixing in some of these human foods as supplements, be sure to first discuss it with your veterinarian. Your vet may have insight into the best human foods for your dog’s breed, age, or health history. After adding a new food to your dog’s diet, monitor for any signs of digestive distress or allergic reactions. Always contact your pet’s health care provider if you have any questions or concerns.

Author bio: Stephanie N. Blahut is Director of Digital Marketing and Technology for Figo Pet Insurance. Figo is committed to helping pets and their families enjoy their lives together by fusing innovative technology — the first-of-its-kind Figo Pet Cloud — and the industry’s best pet insurance plans. 

Reducing Your Dog’s Impact on the Value of Your Home While Selling

There are many things to consider when buying a home. Mortgage rates are impacted by a number of things, including the value of the home. This is especially true, if you’re buying it as an investment for your future and will rely upon the market value.

One concern is in how having pets will affect the property’s value. While you may be an animal lover and look forward to giving a pet a home, you should be aware that they can impact how potential buyers view your home.

This article is by no means meant to deter you from having a furry best friend– but rather to ensure you’re aware of what you should do if you decide to sell your home.

While we absolutely adore our furry best friends, those in the ‘real estate business’ may look at them as a home depreciation method.

Hide Your Pets for an Appraisal

Pets leave plenty of telltale signs that they live in your home and even cleaning the carpets and flooring may not be enough.

Pet hair can get into the vents, deep in the fibers of your furniture, and even into the corners of every room. However, boarding your dog or cat at the time of an appraisal can lessen the impact your pet has on the appraiser, especially if the individual is allergic or especially sensitive.

Have your pet go on a play-date… or find a professional pet sitter to help out while your house is getting appraised.

Getting Rid of the Carpets isn’t Always the Answer

Both dogs and cats have accidents, especially when they’re left home alone for hours at a time. And… especially if you had your dog or cat when they were babies. 

While a good carpet cleaner can pull out most of the stain and odor, the damage to the carpet may be permanent.

One way to avoid this is to replace carpeting with hardwood or tile flooring, though this presents another type of problem.

Untrimmed animal claws will dig into the flooring, leaving scuffs, scratches, and holes.

This type of damage isn’t really avoidable, so be prepared to take a hit on the home’s market value as a result.

Or… another option (which may be a bit more expensive) is purchasing stain-resistant carpeting to place throughout your house when you make your purchase. Then, someday when you decide to sell, you’re able to do a quick shampoo job and have carpet that looks as good as new.

It’s Time to Call a Landscaper

When you do decide to sell your home, you’ll want to call a landscaper to attend to the exterior.

You may do this anyway to help the home’s curb appeal, but ask the landscaper to pay particular attention to the damage caused by the family dog.

In addition to marking their territory, dogs like to dig holes, break fencing, and tear apart smaller shrubs and plants. Left untreated, these factors will bring down the value of your home.

You can ask your landscaper to fix these problems before your house is shown to potential buyers. It’s not usually a huge deal… just some finishing touches to ensure the potential home-buyer is ‘awed’ by the sight of your home upon arrival.

A thorough cleaning is required before showing any home, but this is especially true for homes with pets.

Additionally, many real estate professionals recommend removing the pets, during showings. Whether prospective buyers adore animals or are afraid of them, you cats and dogs will be an unwelcome distraction.

You may also want to ask your agent if they can detect any odors and what they recommend to eliminate the offensive scents so that the home will feel more welcoming to potential home-buyers.

Training Your Dog Will Reduce the Impact on Your Home

If you would like to train your dog to behave while in the house in order to reduce the damage they may be prone to do, check out this website for some professional assistance!

 

essential-oils-for-dogs

Find Out How Essential Oils Can Help Your Dog

Essential oils for your dog are a simple, safe, and healthy solution to many issues. And, they can help your dog live a longer, happier life.

Research has shown essential oils have the ability to relieve conditions ranging from itchy skin to digestion problems. From anxiety to depression. And, so much more.

But… there’s still some uncertainty here.

Essential oils for dogs (and humans) are a relatively new idea. As with any new idea, we (as humans) must do our own research to come to our own conclusions about how effective they are.

They kind of seem too good to be true… don’t they?

If these ‘solutions’ have the power to do everything they claim… why are we just now finding out about them?

Do they really work? And, what can they be used for? We’ll discuss this and more in today’s article.

How Do Dogs Use Essential Oils?

Before we dive in to what various oils may be used for, lets discuss how they can be applied safely to your dog.

When you scroll down to the oils, you’ll notice they may say ‘can be applied topically, ingested, or inhaled. You might also hear it phrased as ‘can be applied topically, aromatically, or internally.

Just as with anything else that’s new, the introduction of essential oils should be gradual and slow. Start with a small amount of an essential oil and watch your dog’s behavior. If the response is neutral but you aren’t seeing much an effect therapeutically, you can generally add more essential oil or increase the frequency of application. Be sure not to start out with a huge amount immediately, though. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Aromatic Application of Essential Oil

When talking about aromatic or ‘inhaled’ application, we’re talking about the use of a diffuser. That could be a nebulizing diffuser or water diffusion.

Nebulizing diffusers pull oil directly from the bottle and disperse the oil through the air. If you’re using a nebulizing diffuser in your home, make sure your dog has a place to escape the ‘air’ from the room if she wants to.

With water diffusion, you start with 1-5 drops of oil in a diffuser. If you have never used oils before, professionals recommend using the water diffusion method rather than the nebulizing diffusion.

Applying an Oil to Your Dog Topically

If we say an oil can be applied topically, that means the oil can be placed on your dog’s skin in certain places.

The most common area to place oil is along the spine of your dog. It’s the area the oil is usually best tolerated.

Some professionals recommend applying oil to the tips of a dog’s ears. Some dogs are okay with this, but most don’t prefer this method. You should avoid using this method if your dog has long ears. Dogs with long ears can shake their head and get the oil in their eyes accidentally.

The skin along the paw pads can sometimes tolerate essential oils… but make sure the oil is diluted if you’re placing it here. This area can easily become irritated.

Finally, certain oils can be placed in your dog’s shampoo. Dogs who have itchy skin usually benefit from this application.

Internal Application for Dogs?

And… internally. Be sure before you provide your dog with any essential oil internally, you fully understand the oil is designed for this (and find out whether the oil should be diluted and how).

Some essential oils can be placed in food and/or in drinking water. A general recommendation is 1 drop per 2 cups of drinking water for dogs.

Calming Oils: Oils to Reduce Anxiety and/or Irritability

Roman Chamomile (Anthemis nobilis): This oil helps to provide a calming ‘mood’ for dogs who are feeling anxious or nervous. Roman chamomile can be inhaled, ingested, or applied topically to your dog.

Hops (Humulus lupulus): Hops can help calm a dog who is anxious, nervous, or irritable. This oil can be inhaled, ingested, or applied topically on your dog.

Valerian root (Valeriana officinalis): Valerian root is a relaxant and mild sedative. It offers calming and soothing support for your dog when she is experiencing anxiety, panic or some sort of tension.

Nutmeg (Myristica fragrans): Nutmeg can help a dog who is anxious or hyperactive with scattered energy. This oil can be inhaled, ingested or applied topically on your dog.

Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia): This oil has many uses, but most commonly, lavender can be used to soothe and comfort a dog who is experiencing distress and/or anxiety. This oil can be inhaled, ingested or applied topically on your dog. (P.S.- This oil can also be used for allergies, burns, ulcers, and insomnia).

Oils for Fearful Dogs: Dogs Who are Feeling Stressed Out

Frankincense (Boswellia carterii): On its own, or with the support of other essential oils that help reduce a dog’s fearful emotions, Frankincense can help reduce extreme stress. This oil is used in severe cases of fear to help a dog ‘come back to the ground.’ This oil can be inhaled, ingested or applied topically on your dog.

Violet Leaf (Viola odorata): If a dog is shocked or hesitant toward a situation, violet leaf can be used to reduce feelings of nervousness by providing a feeling of comfort and safety. This oil can be inhaled, ingested or applied topically on your dog.

Linden Blossom (Tilia cordata). Linden blossom can assist in providing a sense of safety and trust. This oil is commonly recommened for dogs who have a history of abuse. This oil can be inhaled, ingested or applied topically on your dog.

Sandalwood (Santalum austrocaledonicum): Sandalwood provides support on a physical and emotional level. Dogs who have emotional imbalances, worry, or uncertainly of situations are among those who can benefit from this oil. It can be very effective on its own, or in combination with other essential oils. And, can be inhaled, ingested or applied topically on your dog.

Oils for Aggression: Let’s Provide Some Comfort

Vanilla (Vanilla planifolia): Vanilla has comforting and nurturing qualities for dogs who experience nervous tension, irritability, and/or anger. Dogs who have been known to bite are among those who this oil is recommended to. This oil can be inhaled, ingested or applied topically.

Clary sage (Salvia sclarea): This oil is generally recommended for female dogs but can also be used for male dogs who are experiencing feelings of anger, frustration, and/or mood swings. This oil has been found to have soothing effects. This oil can be inhaled, ingested or applied topically.

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium): Yarrow has not only shown the ability to heal physical imbalances, but emotional imbalances as well. This could be a dog who has experienced trauma, neglect, and/or abuse… or a dog who is over-sensitive. This oil can be inhaled, ingested or applied topically.

Rose Otto (Rosa damascena). Rose Otto is recommended for dogs who have a history of neglect, abuse, or suffering of some kind. This oil is also recommended for dogs who are displaying any sort of aggression. It’s important to note that alternative veterinarians have a disclaimer with this oil… a dog may continue to display aggressive behavior in the beginning of the use of Rose Otto but you may see positive results once your dog has been exposed. This oil can be inhaled, ingested or applied topically on your dog.

Vetiver (Chrysopogon zizanioides): Vetiver provides comfort and reassurance for an anxious dog showing aggression. This oil can be inhaled, ingested or applied topically.

Oils for Sadness: Relieving the Depression

Neroli (Citrus aurantium): There are many dogs who do not particularly care for this oil. But, if your dog will accept this oil, it can be used to support a dog who is experiencing depression, grief, or loneliness. This oil can be inhaled, ingested or applied topically on your dog (only if your dog selects its use).

Peppermint (Mentha piperita): Peppermint has been known to have a calming effect on dogs (and humans!). And, can be inhaled, ingested or applied topically on your dog.

Oils for Flea and Tick Prevention: Make Your Own

Essential oils can be used to prevent fleas and ticks from living on your dog’s body without exposing your dog or your family to those dangerous chemicals from traditional flea medications.

Lemongrass Oil: Insecticidal

Peppermint Oil: Peppermint oil doesn’t kill fleas and ticks, but it does work as an effective repellant to fleas and ticks.

Citronella Oil: Citronella isn’t a surprising candidate on this list. After all, we do use this to protect ourselves against mosquitoes. But, it is also highly effective in repelling fleas and ticks.

Cedarwood Oil: Insect repellent

If you don’t want to make an essential oil ‘flea and tick killer’ yourself, you can investigate Richard’s Organics Naturally Gentle & Safe Flea & Tick Spray which contains a mix of peppermint, cedar, clove, and rosemary essential oils to kill fleas and ticks… and repel mosquitos for up to 4 weeks following application.

Approach with Caution: Follow Some Rules

While oils can be extremely helpful, just as with anything else, we must be cautious. Essential oils are powerful and can produce adverse effects.

‘Principles of Safe Use’ must be in place.

If your dog doesn’t like an oil, don’t force her to use it.

In cases where an oil must be dilated, one drop of essential oil per 50 drops of ‘carrier oil’ (Like grape seed oil) is generally enough.

It’s also possible to overuse oils. Make sure you’re not one of those people who starts using essential oils, and then unintentionally overdoses yourself or your dog.

Be sure not to get essential oil around or near the eyes. And, wash your hands after using any type of oil.

To reduce the chances of your dog (or you) becoming sensitive to an oil or unintentionally overdosing on an oil, a general recommendation is using an oil for no longer than two weeks and then take a rest period. Come back to using that oil later on.

There’s More to Learn… Start Studying Today

This article just brushes the surface of essential oils.

It’s not meant to be a ‘you’re ready to do this’ type of article. You must do your own research before using any essential oil on your dog.

Print this out for reference- and ask a holistic or alternative veterinarian if your individual dog would benefit. Remember, every dog is different. And, depending on the health of your dog, some may be acceptable whereas other aren’t recommended.

And, not all oils should be treated equal… make sure the oil you are purchasing is of high-quality.

There are hundreds of ‘fake oils’ out there. You want your first impression to be as good as it can be. If you try out a ‘bad’ essential oil first, you won’t know if it’s really helpful for your dog (or for you).

You should never place an essential oil on your dog’s skin (or let them inhale/ ingest) without first fully understanding the oil you’re using.

Bottom line… be sure to do further research before implementing essential oils into your dog’s routine.

How Dogs Help You Cope With Mental Illness

Animals have long been used to help provide support for those dealing with medical issues. They can help a person with a vision deficit find their way through a busy store, and they can help calm the nerves of someone suffering from anxiety. Many people wouldn’t be able to get out and mingle socially if they didn’t have their dog with them. If you are considering a furry friend to help you, then here are some health benefits to owning a pooch.

Pets Help to Lower Blood Pressure

You’ve probably heard that owning a hound can help to reduce your blood pressure. Well, there is a scientific fact to back that statement. It’s called the “Pet Effect.” Using 60 people, a study was conducted by the University of Maryland Hospital. They found that when petting a dog for 15-30 minutes, the average person’s blood pressure drops over ten percent.

They Increase Social Connection

Dogs are great icebreakers. Most people love pups, and it can be a great conversation starter. Plus, being in a social situation when you have PTSD or social anxiety can be difficult. Thankfully, having a dog can allow these people to be in public and feel secure. A dog’s senses are far beyond the capability of a human. They can see and hear things that we cannot. So to the person with PTSD, having someone on guard and looking out for them means everything.

They Provide Companionship

Canine friends are used in nursing homes and convalescent centers around the country. The companionship that they provide to the lonely is unparalleled. Dogs love unconditionally. They are great for people who don’t have family and friends to occupy their time. They are a living, breathing being that stays close by your side.

Dogs Give A Sense of Purpose

Many people who suffer from depression, PTSD, and other anxiety conditions may feel that their life lacks purpose. Even those with empty nest syndrome after their children grow up and move away have found that a pooch can help fill the void. A dog can replace that sense of purpose. Parents often feel like they need to nurture and take care of someone since they have done it for more than 18 years. A canine can provide a reason to get up in the morning.

When considering adding a pup to your family, you should know that they can help with loneliness, depression, stress-related disorders, and companionship. Dogs can lower blood pressure and make you feel calmer. A canine companion might be just what the doctor ordered.

Sources:

A Guide to Pest Control Services and Pet Safety

Pest control and prevention can be a stressful and anxiety-inducing endeavor for any homeowner, but this is especially true if you have pets. The need for pest control can mean many things; fleas, bed bugs, cockroaches, etc. But while you get rid of whatever infestation you are plagued with, you must also consider the well-being of your animals. Follow these tips for pet-safe pest control.

Prevention is Key

Your first line of defense is prevention. Keep your home tidy and deep clean as often as you can. Invest in sealant and clear off any cracks, nooks, and crannies between your home and the outdoors. Avoid placing your pet’s food bowls near doors and windows, as these can attract bugs from the outside. If there is a way for bugs to get in, they will find it, so be diligent and pest-proof your house as best as you can.

Choose Pet-Friendly Brands

If, heaven forbid, you need to take chemical action to fight your pest infestation, it is important to be choosy with brands. Seek out brands that are specifically pet safe and non-toxic to animals. Just because a brand is safe for humans doesn’t mean it is okay for Fluffy and Spot. Make sure to read labels carefully and abide by all directions. If a product has a 12 hour waiting period, it probably isn’t safe for you or your animal during those 12 hours. When possible, choose DIY treatments. For instance; fruit flies can be trapped with just a bottle and some vinegar. These DIY traps are pet-safe and don’t involve chemicals.

If that doesn’t work, professional pest control companies quickly and effectively treat a variety of pest infestations, including termites, mosquitoes, cockroaches, spiders, ants, and rodents. Find a company in your area that uses eco-friendly treatments; these are least lightly to be harmful to your pets.

When In Doubt, Wait It Out!

It is best to avoid your home for a while any time you involve chemical pest treatments. This is a great time to book a playdate for your dog or cat with one of your neighbors or family members, or perhaps check them into doggy daycare for an afternoon. Having your pet out of the house and out of the way will be safer for them in the long run and more convenient for you during treatment.

No matter what pest-control operations you choose, make sure that your pet is one of your top priorities. Keep them safe by doing your research, choosing animal-friendly products, and keeping them out of the house as long as possible. Follow these tips and your pest control is sure to be pet-friendly.

Do you have more questions about your dog and their behavior? Check out our blog for answers to your questions!

4 Often Overlooked Doggy Dental Facts

As dog owners, we do everything we can to maintain the health of our furry family member, but it can be easy to forget sometimes the importance of their dental health. Dogs can have similar issues with their dental health that people do, and it’s important to prevent any problems from occurring. Knowing more about what’s happening in your canine’s mouth will help keep you more alert to any potential problems.

Here are 4 overlooked doggy dental facts that can help you and your pet:

Gum Disease

Gum disease is extremely common in dogs. Studies have shown that there is an extremely high percentage of dogs that unfortunately show signs of gum disease as early as three years old. Some of the signs for gum disease include noticeably bad breath, brown and yellow buildup of tartar, and irritated gums. Make sure to examine your dog’s mouth regularly so that you can acknowledge any of these symptoms right away.

Root Canals

Another overlooked doggy dental fact is that dogs can also need root canals. Many people assume that root canals are something done specifically for humans, but dogs can also need root canals because it is common for dogs to break their teeth. If your canine needs to have a root canal, you can expect it to cost about the same as it would for a person. Since broken teeth are common in dogs, it’s important to monitor what your dog is chewing on. Hard objects like wood, rocks, hard treats, and hard toys can be potential dangers to your dog. Giving your dog soft treats and toys will greatly lessen the chance of your dog breaking a tooth.

Periodontal Disease

Smaller dog breeds are at a higher risk of developing periodontal disease. Small dogs are more at risk because their teeth are too big for their mouths. Canine periodontitis symptoms include yellow or brown teeth, loose or missing teeth, red or swollen gums, smelly breath, and a loss of appetite or weight loss. To prevent this, make sure to regularly brush your dog’s teeth, visit your vet for dental cleanings, give your dog toys and food that support dental health, and give your pet treats that are treated with enzymes.

Tooth Infection

If your dogs 4th premolar is infected, you will notice swelling under the eye. This tooth is larger than the others and is also known as the carnassial tooth. Owners typically misunderstand the unique problem because of the unusual symptoms.

Just as your dental health is an important aspect of your overall health, so too is your dog’s. Regular check ups and consulting with your veterinarian on recommended toys, treats, and food will keep your furry friend healthy and happy.

References:

Doctors Foster and Smith

PetMD

Hammond Dental Care

Banfield Pet Hospital

Go On Vacation A Lot? Here’s How To Avoid Common Pet Pawblems While Away

While dogs and cats provide excellent relief from our daily anxieties, sometimes you need a good prolonged vacation to burn off some extra steam. But animals rely on us as much as we depend on them, and being left alone or in a foreign environment can be stressful with them. There are a few precautions you should take to minimize the effects of anxiety on your pet and allow you to enjoy your trip without stressing out about their well-being.

Maintaining an Air of Familiarity For Your Pet

Cats and dogs are creatures of habit. The familiarity of home and the standard routines of everyday life provide them with a sense of stability, and even the most adventurous outdoor cat eventually likes to wander to safety and security back home. While kennels can be a reasonable option for shorter vacations, having a house sitter if you are gone for two weeks or more is a good choice. This allows your pet to stay within the presence of the sights, sounds, and smells that make up their defined territory, but it also avoids anxieties that came from being overly socialized. Interactions with other animals are a positive experience for most pets, but the unfamiliarity of a new environment and the extended exposure to multiple animals can make pets anxious and territorial. Just make sure to set up a regular schedule. Two visits per day are a good average, allowing your pets to get the socialization they need regularly, but this can vary depending on the personality of your dog or cat as well as factors like age and medical conditions.

Lean into the Familiar Routine

Whether you hire a sitter, drop your pet off with a friend, or place them in a kennel or pet hotel, your pet is likely going to experience some anxiety. If you’ve ever scheduled feeding time or walks for your dog, you’ll understand how keenly aware they are regarding the ins and outs of their routine. As their de facto parent, you’re the most assured constant in their routine, but scheduling specific activities for your pet sitter to perform while you’re away can help ease your pet into the process of being away from you. Try to have your sitter stick to this routine as precisely as possible. This will also help the pet understand the terms for times apart in the future and create a consistency they can expect when you go on vacation. Enlisting the services of the same sitter on future outings can go a long way towards making your pet feel more secure.

Put Together a Pet Emergency Kit

It’s generally a good rule of thumb to hope for the best but plan for the worst, and that’s doubly true if you aren’t physically available to deal with a crisis personally. Anything from a natural disaster to a medical emergency could strike while you’re away, and that’s why it’s a smart move to have an emergency kit at the ready for your sitter.

You want to make sure that all of your pet’s basic needs are covered in the kit. Package together secure dry food and preferably sealed water along with bowls for both. An extra leash and collar and a thermal blanket are also key, and you should make sure to include waste bags and a pet first aid kit as well. Consider packing some toys or other personal belongings like blankets as well, so your pet will have an anchor of safety and comfort even if they’re forced to leave their home. Even if an emergency never arises, the kit can double as a to go bag for walks and hikes.

Make Sure All Records Are Updated

If you’re leaving on vacation, chances are you’ve taken the time to pay off your bills and generally get your affairs in order. Your pet deserves the same courtesy. Making the time to take them to the vet and groomer can make sure everything is in order when it’s time for you to say your goodbyes. You’ll also want to make sure their tags and identification are accurate and secured so that they’ll be safe even if they manage to break from their leash or get out of their home or kennel.

Don’t Be Too Dramatic

While you’ll probably miss your little guy or girl while you’re away, making a big deal out of your departure may only make their anxieties worse. Dogs and cats can sense our emotional states pretty effectively, and making a show out of your goodbyes could instill in them the notion that you’ll never return. Treat your farewell with the same urgency as when you leave for your work commute. And if you’re still worried your dog will be anxious, check out our blog to learn some calming exercises you could try.

 

References:

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Should I Put My Dog In Training?

Image Source: Integrity K9 Services: Executive Protection Dogs

If you’ve adopted a puppy or an adult dog, you may be wondering if you should invest in dog training. Is it really necessary? Why does it matter? Whether you are struggling to tame your unruly canine companion or simply want to fine-tune your dog’s skills, training has numerous positive outcomes for both pet and owner. Check out the following benefits of dog training services that every owner should know.

Safe and Sound

Training your furry friend will ensure his or her safety. If your dog is obedient, he or she is far less likely to dart out in front of a car and more likely to come back when called in the face of precarious situations. A trained and properly socialized dog will often be less aggressive towards other animals and people. Not only is this a security measure for your dog’s safety, but for others and their pets as well. We recommend starting early, if you have a pup, so that they grow up with the expectation that it is not okay to be aggressive.

Busy Owners

If you are super busy, you may feel you have no time to allot for training your pet. In the short-term, a dog training service will take up more of your time. In the long-term, dog training may actually save time. Dog training can be useful for busy dog owners who don’t have hours to spend on picking up after their pets’ accidents or providing constant monitoring and support. It is easier to leave your dog with peace of mind knowing that you can spend more time on what you need to focus on (and with your dog) rather than fixing your untrained dog’s mistakes.

Create a Strong, Lasting Bond

If your primary goal is to strengthen the bond you have with your dog, dog training services are the way to go. Statistics illustrate that a trained dog has a better bond with its owner. Positive training will improve communication, emphasize teamwork, and foster mutual respect. Your dog will become fully integrated into your family, respect your rules, and enjoy life to the fullest.

Train to Protect, Retrieve, or Alert

After you lay down a basic framework of obedience rules and commands for your dog to follow, you may decide you want to teach him or her a special skill. As your dog moves further throughout formal basic training, he or she will be able to learn more advanced commands that involve protecting you, retrieving important objects you need when you are unable to, or even alerting you to danger.

References:

Benefits of Taking Your Dog To Obedience Training

Dogs: Positive Reinforcement Training

5 Ways Owning a Dog Improves Your Mental Health

It is well known that dogs are the ultimate companions. They offer friendship and comfort to children and adults alike. But dogs can also have a positive impact on your mental health. Particularly for those with PTSD, dogs can provide emotional support and reduce loneliness. Here are five ways that owning a dog can improve your mental health:

Dogs Can Decrease Stress and Anxiety

When feeling anxious or overwhelmed, petting your dog can relax you. The repetitive motion of stroking the dog’s fur and focusing on the rhythm can recenter your thinking and provide a calming influence. Oxytocin is also released when you connect with your pet, which reduces cortisol levels and reduces anxiety and stress.

Dogs Get You Out of the House

It is common for those struggling with depression, anxiety or PTSD to isolate themselves and to avoid leaving the house. However, a dog needs its owner to take him out for walks or for play. This exercise releases endorphins, which increases positive feelings and reduce sensations of pain. Even the exposure to sunshine and fresh air can improve stress levels and depression symptoms.

Dogs Will Listen to You

It can be embarrassing or overwhelming to discuss feelings of depression or anxiety with friends or family for fear of judgment. Dogs, however, offer a sympathetic and unbiased ear, and provide love and comfort regardless of what their owner has to say. Talking through problems or concerns with your dog can have therapeutic effects that positively impact mental health symptoms.

Dogs Provide You With Purpose

When bombarded with anxious and negative thoughts, it can be hard to find value in everyday life. The act of caring for a dog provides an owner with purpose and responsibility, which has been shown to improve mental health. Feeding the dog, taking him outside and playing with him allows for a positive focus on your mental and emotional energy.

Dogs Bring You Joy

Dogs are playful and eager by nature, which can be contagious. Whether playing throw and catch or snuggling on the couch, happy moments with your dog can increase serotonin levels. Serotonin helps to regulate mood, improve your sense of wellbeing, and keep depression at bay.

Training might seem a bit daunting at first, but there are plenty of resources available to help you out! While owning a dog will not cure mental illness, caring for and spending time with your dog can make a positive impact. The everyday routines of walking, playing with, and engaging with your dog can increase neurotransmitters that boost your mood and improve your mental health.

References:

How Dogs Can Help Combat Vets with PTSD | Low VA Rates

What Dogs Teach Us about Peace, Joy, and Living in the Now | Tiny Buddha

Forget the Treadmill. Get a Dog. | The New York Times