Creating a Pet-Safe Garden This Summer

It’s that time of year again to get the yard and garden ready for summer! Warm weather is coming, and soon you and your pooch or kitty will be able to frolic together outside. Nothing is better than getting to hang out and be outside in the fresh air, and if you’re like me, you absolutely love adding beautiful plants to your yard! But before you begin planting this year, it’s very important to ensure that you’re not planting anything that could pose a danger to your pets. There are many plants that may look beautiful but are poisonous to our four-legged friends. So, we’ve compiled a list of some popular plants that are not healthy for pets to come in contact with.

Unsafe plants for cats and dogs:

-Amaryllis

-Autumn Crocus

-Azaleas and Rhododendrons

-Castor Bean

-Chrysanthemum

-Convallaria majalis

-Cyclamen

-Daffodils

-Dieffenbachia

-English Ivy

-Kalanchoe

-Lilies

-Marijuana

-Oleander

-Peace Lily

-Pothos

-Sago Palm

-Spanish thyme

-Tulip and Narcissus bulbs

-Yew

Thankfully, there are also a lot of wonderful plants that you can add to your yard and garden that are not only safe for your pets, but that your pets will love! Here are some ideas:

-Barley grass is safe and may even help an upset stomach.

-Catnip. Although your cat may love it because it’s a stimulant for them, it actually does the opposite for Fido. Catnip makes dogs feel very relaxed, but it’s not harmful to them.

-Chamomile is calming.

-Lavender is a calming and soothing choice as well.

-Mint provides something fun and interesting for your dog to sniff, and they may even enjoy munching on it.

-Rosemary is energizing.

But don’t forget:

Basil

Carrots

Catmint

Cilantro

Flowering Currant

Leafy greens (lettuce, spinach, etc)

Marigolds

Radishes

Rosemary

Raspberries

Sage

Thyme

Zucchini

And remember to add some pet safe ornamentals to your outdoor haven! We’ve got some great ideas for you:

African violets

Alyssum

Aster

Black Eyed Susan

Hibiscus

Impatiens

Magnolia Bush

Pansies

Petunias

Snapdragons

Sweet Potato Vine

Zinnia

So, enjoy the outdoors this summer and don’t be afraid to share with your furry loved ones! There are so many wonderful plants to choose from that are perfectly safe for your pets and that they will thoroughly enjoy. Creating an environment that provides stimulation and interest for your dogs and cats is always fantastic. Experiment with different plants to see which ones your pets really enjoy. Just like people, pets also have favorites, so have fun with it!

And lastly, please don’t forget to check the labels of everything that you put in your yard and garden. Not all gardening products are pet safe, so be sure to always read those labels.

Have fun and enjoy the outdoors this summer!

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National Animal Disaster Preparedness Day – (Second Saturday of May)

How to Create an Emergency Plan for your Pet

It’s not always pleasant to think about having to go through a natural disaster or an evacuation order. In fact, it’s downright scary to even consider it! But, it’s never a bad idea to have a plan in place for your family just in case a natural disaster were to strike – but does your plan include your pets? Sometimes we forget to include our furry family members in our natural disaster plans and so we’ve compiled a list of important things to have in order for your fur babies!

Keep updated pictures handy. Take regular pictures (Well, hello! Of course!) and keep them in various locations. Keep them on your phone, keep some in your car. And if you have a bug out bag (more about this later!), stash a few in there as well. Should your little guy or gal go missing, having updated pictures of them is so incredibly important and will help you get reunited with them as soon as possible.

Get them microchipped. Just in case you get separated from your pet, having them microchipped is extremely helpful in them getting identified and back to you sooner. It’s a very easy procedure that your vet can do at your next visit and takes almost no time at all.

Have a bug out bag packed. Alright, about those bug out bags. What are they? They are basically handy bags packed with all the supplies you might need in an emergency. There are a lot of supplies you can pack ahead of time, like food bowls, leashes, blankets, bottled water, and freeze-dried food. Another important item is a good first aid kit, one that contains not only things for wound care, but also electrolyte powers, flea and tick treatment and repellent, and antihistamine. Don’t forget an extra collar that has ID tags on it.

Take your pets with you. If you ever suspect you might be needing to evacuate, take your pets with you when you leave. Even if you’re not positive, don’t count on being able to come back for them. Put them in your car, grab as many supplies as you can, and get out of there. If it’s too dangerous for you to stay, it’s certainly too dangerous for your pets to stay.

If you stay, make it as safe as possible. Just as you feel stressed during a disaster, your pets are surely going to be feeling very fearful. Pets are known for running away when they feel frightened, so it is vitally important that you keep your home as secure as possible to ensure they cannot escape. Loud noises, big storms, and the like might make your pooch want to bolt, so be sure to keep a close eye on him and make sure there is no way he can get out. Keep them on a leash and keep food and water close by. And if you’re instructed to barricade yourself against something like a tornado, keep your pets right by your side. If needed, put them in a crate with a warm blanket and their favorite toy to keep them calm. And remember, even when the storm is over, pets are likely to be on edge for a while, so be sure to keep them leashed and close to you.

Traveling with your Dog

Traveling with your dog can feel daunting, but sometimes, leaving Fido behind just isn’t an option. Luckily, if you do a little planning ahead of time, traveling with your dog can be a piece of cake.

Naturally, the first thing you want to consider before traveling with any pet is their health. Are they in good enough health to travel in the first place? If so, are they up to date with checkups and vaccinations? Most everywhere you travel with your dog will require that they are up to date with all of their shots. Take the time to pay your vet a visit and make sure they’re good to go. It’s also a good idea to have them groomed just before you leave and have their nails trimmed.

Make sure that your dog’s collar has an ID tag on it and that they are microchipped. It also doesn’t hurt to bring a copy of any paperwork that might come in handy if there was an emergency such as health records. Don’t forget to bring a leash!

Whether you are traveling by car or by plane, you may wish to take a crate. There are many reasons to pack the crate. If your dog is used to sleeping in his crate at night, taking his bed with you is a great way to help him feel more comfortable during your travels. But safety is another great reason to bring it with you. It’s a lot safer to not allow your dog to roam around in the car while you’re driving. Should you have to slam on your breaks or get into an accident, your dog could be seriously injured or could cause injury to other passengers in the car by being loose. Another option, if you’re not wanting to take a crate, is to purchase a special restraint that is made just for dogs that easily clips into your seats.

If you’re planning on taking an airplane to your destination, it’s important to do your research about taking your dog. Unfortunately, pets have been killed or injured on airplanes. This is much to do with the fact that they’re put in the cargo area of the plane and are subjected to extreme hot and cold temperatures, lack of ventilation, and rough handling by staff. Though the vast majority of the time, pets are unharmed during air travel, it is certainly not without risk, so please investigate before making this decision.

If you’re traveling by car, be sure to make frequent stops to let your dog use the bathroom and stretch his legs. But be careful not to ever leave your pooch alone in the car for long, especially if it’s hot out. What may feel like a warm day outside can quickly become a deadly temperature inside a car. So try to always stay with your dog. Get him out of the car as much as possible when you’re stopped, and bring plenty of fresh water so that he’ll stay nice and hydrated.

Is Pet Insurance Worth It?

Many of us have experienced the financial burden and sometimes even hardships associated with the medical care of our pets – especially after they get sick or injured. Medical procedures and surgeries for your pet can easily cost thousands of dollars. So, it’s no surprise that the popularity of pet insurance has skyrocketed in recent years. With the promise of more affordable lifetime care for your pet, it’s pretty much irresistible. I mean, if humans need health insurance, then why not your pet? It’s just the responsible thing to do, right?

But is pet insurance actually worth it? Just like people health insurance, pet insurance premiums will likely fluctuate throughout your pet’s life. Starting off less expensive when they’re young and healthy, and then increase as your pet ages. Depending on the breed of your dog and the plan you’re signed up with, monthly premiums could start at under $50 a month, and by the time your dog is 12, the cost might jump to upwards of $150 a month. That’s a pretty significant increase. For a lot of people, the cost just doesn’t seem justified. Especially for those who are lucky enough to have pets who are overall in good health, the cost of the pet insurance will likely outweigh the actual medical costs. But then again, when something catastrophic does happen to your pet, it is typically unforeseen, and you may be very glad that you had signed up for health insurance. If you’re facing a ten thousand dollar back surgery for your dog, a thousand dollar yearly premium may not seem so bad after all.

For many of us, if you add up your typical yearly vet bills, it’s well under $100 dollars. And if your monthly pet insurance premium is $50 per month, that adds up to $600 per year. For many, insurance just doesn’t seem worth having just for the possibility of an unfortunate incident occurring. However, for someone who owns a breed of dog that tends to have a lot of health complications as they go throughout life, having an insurance policy may be a smart investment.

If you do choose to look into pet insurance, make sure you shop around and do your research. Get quotes from multiple companies and ask how the premiums will change as your pet ages. Also, get a detailed report on what exactly is covered under the plan and what is not. It would be a terrible waste to purchase a plan only to find out what you really needed covered is not. Also, if your pet is currently sick or being treated for an illness, the policy is likely not to cover any of that care, so double check. Likewise, if your pet does suffer from a preexisting condition, check to see whether or not it will be covered as many companies will reject these claims.

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of pet insurance, so make sure to weigh all your options and do all your homework to find out what’s best for your family.

February is National Spay/Neuter Awareness Month

February is not only the time of year where you shower your human loved ones with affection, but also the four-legged members of your family. And there’s no better way to show Fido or Mr. Whiskers how much you love them than by being a responsible pet owner and making sure they are spayed or neutered. The overpopulation of pets is a big issue all over the country. Shelters across the nation are packed to capacity with dogs and cats that are in desperate need of a forever home, and sadly, over half of these precious animals are euthanized. Although a portion of the puppies and kittens dropped off at shelters come from strays, a lot are actually a result of unintentional breeding of beloved family pets.

But there is one surefire way to ensure that you don’t end up with unintended offspring – spay or neuter your pet. It is truly the only 100% effective form of birth control and it’s one of the very best things you can do for your kitty or pooch. And the process is probably even easier and cheaper than you think. Because getting your pets fixed is so important, most veterinary offices and animals shelters offer the service for a reasonable price, and some even offer special programs for lower income families. They work to make it as affordable as possible for all pet owners. Make sure to ask what options are available for you.

Not only is fixing your pet a smart decision for preventing unwanted pregnancies, but it also helps them to live longer and healthier lives than their counterparts. The changes that come with spaying and neutering helps reduce their urge to roam which could lead to their getting lost or injured as pets that wander away from their home are more likely to be hit by cars or attacked by wild animals. Spaying and neutering also lessens their chance of getting certain types of cancers and typically reduces behavioral issues such as aggression or desire to seek out a mate.

A lot of people worry about putting their beloved furry friends through a painful and traumatic experience. But rest assured, it’s a simple and easy procedure, and often you’ll be able to take your pet home the very same day. It’s a quick surgery, usually lasting less than 30 minutes, after which your pet will spend a few hours recovering from the anesthesia before being ready to go home. After your pet comes home, you’ll just need to keep them safe and comfortable while they recover. They’ll probably be feeling groggy and not themselves for a little while, but have no fear, after some rest, they’ll be back to normal in no time. Most times, even by the next day they’ll start feeling much better.

It truly is one of the most responsible and loving things you can do for your pet. So, if you have questions or are feeling unsure about this important decision, please talk to your vet today!

How to Care For Your Dog’s Coat Naturally

There are a lot of things to consider when caring for your dog’s health, and one that should definitely not be forgotten is their coat. If your dog’s coat isn’t feeling as soft and smooth as it used to, we’ve compiled a list of ways to get their fur back to tip-top shape.

Do you know what’s in your dog’s shampoo? If not, you’d better check the label. Look for ingredients that will nourish and hydrate your dog’s skin and coat like aloe vera. Even better, you can make your own doggy shampoo and it’s probably easier than you’d think. Here’s a simple recipe you could whip up in no time:

-1 Cup Baking Soda

-1 Cup Finely Ground Oatmeal

-4 Cups Water

-1 Tsp Mild Dish Wash Soap

Don’t forget to keep a regular grooming routine for your pooch. Regular baths and brushings are great for their coat and skin, not to mention it’s a relaxing activity for the two of you to do together. Look for a brush that helps groom the undercoat, too, as this is helpful for maintaining a healthy coat. Just like people, it’s important to help rid dead cells around the follicles. Not to mention that it really helps keep shedding under control.

Make sure to check the label on their dog food. A lot of brands on the market claim to have all natural ingredients, but it’s important to double check the quality. Looking at the ingredients will tell you right away if they use quality ingredients or mostly animal by-products. As an alternative, did you know that you can easily make nutritious food for your pets yourself? There are countless recipes you can find on the internet. But here are some specific types of foods that are especially great for a healthy coat:

-Salmon

-Liver

-Eggs

-Oats

-Sweet Potatoes

-Chia Seeds

Additionally, you can also try supplements. Specifically, try to find an omega-3 and omega -6 fatty acids. You can also try using fresh fish or ground flax seeds for these nutrients, but purchasing a bottle of oil might be easier. Some dogs might not mind the oil served straight, others might prefer it was mixed with something else, like dog food or gravy. Make sure to give your pooch their omegas every day to see the best results. *

And don’t forget, if your doggy appears to be suffering from some lingering issues with their coat that just isn’t clearing up, please see your vet. They’re the only ones that can determine if it’s something more serious.

* Be sure to check with your vet before offering any supplements to your pet

How to Trim Your Dog’s Nails

Keeping your dog’s nails trimmed is extremely important for both their health and comfort. Allowing toenails to grow too long can cause discomfort and even foot and toe problems like infections and irritation. Some dogs that run and walk on hard surfaces like concrete and pavement wear down their nails naturally and therefore, do not require trimmings. But a lot of dogs don’t get enough natural wear of their toenails, and need to have their nails trimmed every now and again.

Working on getting your dog to be comfortable with his feet being handled will help the whole situation greatly. Starting this when your dog is a puppy is even better. But no matter how old your dog is, slowly begin by getting him used to having his feet touched and messed with. Treats are a great bit of encouragement for this. You can start by gently rubbing his toes while you’re lounging on the couch together. Gently grab his paw and lift it a few inches into the air at random times. The more comfortable he gets to the sensation of having his paws handled, the easier the trim will go.

Remember to be careful to mind the quick (that’s the blood supply to the nail). It can be tricky to determine exactly where it is, but you can play it safe by trimming small bits at a time, working your way up. However, if you do happen to nick to the quick, never fear. Simply get a clean cloth and apply pressure until it stops bleeding. And don’t forget to give Fido a scratch behind the ear and reassure him that all is well!

Make sure to use nail trimmers that are designed for dogs. Human clippers will not work and will hurt your dog. Dog nail clippers are sold in most major stores and are easy to find.

To start, gently but firmly, hold your dogs paw in your hand and hold a single toe securely between your thumb and forefinger and begin trimming off tiny bits at a time. If you feel you are getting close to the quick, stop and move on to the next nail. Keep going, calmly and confidently to keep your dog feeling relaxed. Reassure him often that everything is okay.

When the job is done, reward your brave dog with lots of hugs, kisses, and maybe a treat or two! The more often you trim his nails, the healthier they will be and the more comfortable with the task Fido will feel.

7 Simple Ways to Keep Your Pet Healthy

  1. Keep your pet active. No matter if you’ve got a brand new pup who is full of energy to burn, or you’ve got an older dog that’s slowing down, exercise is vital for a healthy animal. Even a little walk around the block is an excellent way to keep them active and happy. And exercise isn’t just for dogs! Take a little time each day to play with your cats and other indoor fur babies!
  2. Spay or neuter. We just cannot stress this one enough. Getting your pet fixed is one of the best things you can do! Getting this simple procedure done can help avoid serious health issues in the future, such as uterine infections and breast tumors in female dogs, and prostate problems and testicular tumors in male dogs. But it’s also an incredibly responsible thing to do as a pet owner! Getting your pet spayed or neutered makes you part of the solution for the overpopulation problem and overcrowding of shelters.
  3. Take your pet to the vet regularly. Making sure your pet gets their regular checkup is vital for their health and well-being. Vets are specially trained to evaluate your pet’s health, make sure they’re healthy and detect problems early on.
  4. Feed your pets a healthy and balanced diet. Now, Fido may look cuter than cute batting those big brown eyes at you as you’re finishing your meal, but that doesn’t mean you should always share! Giving your pet a treat every now and again is probably okay, but it’s important to make sure they’re getting a well-balanced diet to keep their bodies in tip-top shape.
  5. Get your pets vaccinated. One of the best ways to help your pet avoid terrible illnesses is to get them vaccinated. Vaccinations help protect against disease like parvo, distemper, and rabies. Talk to your vet about what you need to do to keep your pet up to date on their vaccinations.
  6. Keep your pet’s weight healthy. Just like it’s not too healthy for humans to be overweight, it’s not healthy for your pet, either. All that extra weight is hard on their joints and organs and slows them down overall. Help them stay healthy and full of energy by monitoring what and how much they eat and keep them active. Talk to your vet to get started.
  7. Start a supplement routine. Dogs and cats can benefit from supplements just like people do! There are countless numbers of different types available on the market, so you’ll be able to find just the right ones for your pet. Multivitamins offer a great foundation, but there are also other supplements available like fish oil, which is great for their coats and joints.

How to Keep Your Dog Entertained Indoors During Bad Weather

Well, it’s that time of year where the weather tends to get nasty. And although a lot of dogs enjoy romping in the snow, you still end up spending a generous amount of time inside and that can lead to boredom. We’ve compiled a list with some easy and fun ideas to keep your pooch occupied when it’s too cold to play outside!

  1. Practice training. What better opportunity to practice a little obedience training than on a gloomy day? Engaging with your dog by working on training is an excellent way to pass the time and they love that interaction between you. It’ll help him stay sharp on commands while getting some one-on-one time with his favorite human.
  2. Play find the treat! Investing in a toy, such as a Kong, that you can hide a treat in is totally worth it. Your dog will love searching for the treat and will feel so pleased with himself once he does!
  3. Snuggle up and take a nap with Fido. Seriously – just do it. It’s good for both of you!
  4. Make a playdate with a friend! If you have friends who also have fur-babies, chances are they’re suffering from being stuck inside as well. Invite them over and let them have some buddy time. It’ll get them nice and worn out.
  5. Get the brush out. If you’re like a lot of us, the usual grooming sessions are few and far between. Well, now’s your big chance. Sit down with your dog and take the time to give him a thorough brushing. Chances are he’ll absolutely love the attention from you – not to mention you’ll get to check a chore off the list!
  6. Set up a small obstacle course in your living room. Stack up some couch cushions, or anything you have around that can make for a fun obstacle course. This is a great way to interact and play with your pooch, while also helping them get some exercise and get tuckered out.
  7. Hide treats around the house and let your doggy sniff around searching for them. Get creative with your hiding spots and then just sit back and watch Fido have the best time looking for them.
  8. Get out the toys! Play some tug-o-war and get some energy burned! If you get into it enough, you’ll even burn some calories yourself, so it’s a win-win!

Winter Safety Tips for your Dogs

Winter is a fun and beautiful time of year. Many dogs enjoy the change in weather and love playing in the snow, some even are reluctant to come inside to warm up! While other dogs dislike the cold as much as some people do! Whichever opinion your dog has on the season, it’s important to keep them safe and healthy all winter long.

Protect Their Feet

The cold can be extremely hard on a dog’s paws. Too much cold can cause damage to their feet, just like it can ours. You wouldn’t want to walk around in the snow barefoot, would you? And although most days it’s probably no problem for your dog to run outside to use the bathroom, if you’re going for a longer walk and the temperatures are pretty cold, you might want to consider doggy booties. Even Alaskan Iditarod dogs have to protect their feet from the cold and terrain. During times when the weather is nasty, your dog will really appreciate having just a little bit more protection from the elements and will make your walks much more pleasant for them. And don’t forget to apply dog paw balm when you come inside to help moisturize those paws!

Limit Their Time Outside

Some dogs love to romp in the snow and so it can be easy to be lulled into a false sense of security when it comes to their safety outside. No matter how much your mutt loves to frolic in the snow piles – it’s important to always be keeping an eye on them and bring them inside after they’ve had a reasonable time outside to play. Forgetting them outside could lead to serious injuries such as frostbite. Every dog is different and it’s important to understand how your dog behaves in the cold. Some dogs enjoy a nice long play session in the backyard, and others simply prefer to rush outside to the nearest tree before retreating hastily inside. Know your dog’s limits!

Clean Their Paws

The winter can bring a different danger that we don’t always think about – what they’re tracking in! During the cold months, anti-freeze and similar products are often sprinkled on sidewalks and walkways that your dog may be walking on. They get stuck to their paws and then get tracked inside your house. They’re not safe to ingest and definitely a dangerous hazard in your home. So it’s vital to stop your dog as he comes in and give his paws a quick wipe down.

Don’t Leave Them in Cars

It goes without saying during the summer to never leave your dog alone in a hot car – but the same goes for the winter. The cold can be just as much of a danger to your pooch as the heat. So please, please never leave your dog alone in your car!

Be Cautious of Ice

Bodies of water are notoriously dangerous during the winter because sometimes it’s difficult to determine whether the ice is thick enough to stand or walk on. So, unless you’re certain beyond a reasonable doubt, it’s better to just not risk it and never try to cross a frozen body of water. So, keep a close eye on your pet and make sure they don’t try to, either.

Winter can be a wonderful and fun time for you and your pet to spend time together – but it’s important to be ever cognizant of the conditions and always be looking out for the safety and wellbeing of your dog. Enjoy the season!