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!
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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!

The Benefits of Owning a Pet Door

A lot of pet owners consider getting a pet door for their home but are unsure about whether or not it would be a good investment for their family. We at Hale Pet Door have spent the last 33 years manufacturing the best pet door on the market and we’re proud to say that they make an outstanding addition to your home. Here are just a few of the reasons why owning a pet door might be one of the most beneficial home improvements you’ll ever make!

Safety – Having a pet door in your home allows your pet access to both inside and outside. This cannot be any more important than if there was an emergency at home and you were not there to help your pet(s) escape. And of course, we all know how very dangerous it could be to leave a pet outside to deal with the elements. Giving them the ability to come inside anytime they need to is important.

Health – Ask any veterinarian and they will tell you that making your dog hold its bladder and not be able to use the bathroom for extended periods of time is very unhealthy. Not only is it quite uncomfortable for your pooch, but it can cause urinary tract problems, including but not limited to infections and urinary stones. Could you imagine having to hold your bladder for 8+ hours every day? Of course not – and your pet shouldn’t have to, either! Not to mention giving your dog the ability to run and play every day will help keep their weight in check and their cardiovascular system strong and healthy. Having a sedentary lifestyle isn’t good for any of us.

Helps with Boredom – Being home all day alone waiting for you to come home, pets often get bored or antsy which can lead to behavioral problems such as destruction or anxiety. Allowing your pet the freedom to go outside at their leisure to explore and play breaks up the monotony of the day and maintains activity and mental stimulation.

Greatly Reduces Accidents – Even the most well-behaved dogs are bound to have an accident inside every once in a while. While many dogs do their best to hold it until you get home, sometimes they just can’t wait that long. Having the freedom to go outside gives them the ability to relieve themselves anytime needed without risking an accident inside your home.

Pet Doors Aren’t Just for Dogs – Did you know that cats love pet doors, too? These days, catios (outdoor enclosures for cats) are gaining popularity. Imagine if you could give your cat the independence of going outside as often as they would like to watch the birds and bugs without fearing for their safety or security. Just like dog runs, catios come in all shapes and sizes and can be completely customizable to your home. Trust us, your cat will love it!

And Let’s Not Forget What Might Be The Most Important Reason – Not having to let your dog in and out of the house 100x a day! I think we all can agree that is definitely one of the best benefits to owning a pet door!

For more information about pet doors in general or to see our line of high-quality pet doors and related products like ramps and security barriers, visit our website at www.halepetdoor.com.

 

 

Healthy Thanksgiving Treats for Pets

Thanksgiving is a special time of year where people prepare delicious foods to share with their loved ones, but a lot of these dishes are not safe or appropriate to feed to your pets. Surprising to many of us, there are quite a few human foods that are very dangerous for pets to consume. You may already be aware of some of the harmful foods such as chocolate and items containing caffeine, but did you know that citrus is also dangerous for pets? The fruit, stem, and seeds contain citric acid which can cause damage to their nervous system in large amounts. Even smaller quantities can cause an upset stomach. Also, grapes and raisins can be quite toxic to pets and can even cause kidney failure. But one of the most concerning substances is something called xylitol. It can cause liver failure and is very serious if consumed even in smaller amounts. One of the reasons this particular ingredient is so dangerous is that it is in so many products like gum, candy, and toothpaste. It’s even in some peanut butters – a food that is often given to dogs. So, make sure that you always, always double check food labels before sharing anything with your pets.

Thankfully, there are tons of foods that are very healthy and beneficial for your pets, so you don’t have to leave Rufus out of the holiday food fun. Foods high in protein like chicken and eggs are an excellent addition to their diet. Treats made of peanut butter or cheese are also great choices. A lot of dogs love to eat veggies like carrots and green beans, and most cats will go bonkers for a little salmon in their bowl. Your pets will be so thrilled with these tasty treats, that they’ll have no idea that they’re so healthy! And you’ll be thrilled with their healthy coats and teeth.

Check out this quick and easy recipe that you can share with confidence this Thanksgiving with your fur-babies!

Sweet Potato Peanut Butter Dog Cookies

Sweet potatoes are a classic dish on the Thanksgiving table and as it turns out, they’re also amazing for Fido! Rich in vitamin A and fiber, they’re a great addition to their diet.

INGREDIENTS:

1 Large Sweet Potato

2 Cups Whole Wheat Flour

½ Cup Old Fashioned Oatmeal

¼ Cup Unsweetened Applesauce

2 Eggs

¼ Cup Natural Peanut Butter

DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Stab sweet potato several times with a fork or sharp knife to make numerous holes.

2. Place sweet potato in microwave on high for approximates 5-7 minutes until fork tender. Carefully peel the skin off sweet potato (potato will be extremely hot, so please use caution!). Then, mash the sweet potato and place about 1 cup in a large mixing bowl.

3. Add the remaining ingredients to the large mixing bowl and combine until a dough forms. Place dough onto a floured surface and roll dough out to about ½” thick.

4. You can use a knife or pizza cutter to cut dough into treat-sized pieces, or you can use fun cookie cutters. Small biscuit cutters work well also. Arrange treats on an ungreased baking sheet.

5. Bake until nice and crisp, about 35-45 minutes. Allow treats to remain on the pan for 10 minutes after baking before moving them to a wire rack to cool.

These cookies are sure to be a hit in your home this holiday season. Keep them in a sealed container like a cookie or mason jar and they’ll keep well for weeks. They’re full of beneficial nutrients for your dog and are also nice and crunchy so they’re great for their teeth. Plus, it takes almost no effort to throw a batch together. These also make a wonderful gift! Simply place them in a clear jar and tie a festive ribbon around it – voila! Enjoy!

Keep Your Furry Friends Safe this Halloween

While Halloween festivities can be fun for humans, they can be stressful and even dangerous for our four-legged friends. Follow these safety tips to have a fun and safe Halloween for everyone in your household.

  • Do not let pets eat trick or treat candies. They can be toxic to animals.
  • Kids and others in costumes can be stressful for pets so keep them away from the door when trick-or-treaters call. The loud noises of doorbells constantly ringing, kids screaming and more can set off the calmest dog. And people in costumes can be disorienting and frightening for any animal. If possible, shut them in a quiet room away from the action to keep them calm and prevent them from running away or possibly being aggressive towards one of your callers.
  • Don’t leave your pet out in the yard on Haloween. You wouldn’t want them to be the victim of a “trick”. Be especially careful if your pet is a black cat.
  • Be wary of keeping Halloween decorations out of reach of your pets. Pumpkins and corn can be dangerous especially if eaten uncooked or if moldy. Lit candles can burn your pets or get knocked over and cause a fire. Glow sticks can make a dog sick if chewed on. Electric cords to decorations can be chewed on causing a fire hazard or electric shock danger. Batteries from decorations can be swallowed.
  • Pets in costumes look cute but they don’t all love it. Make sure you try any costumes before the big night to get your pet used to it. Also, make sure your pet actually isn’t upset or annoyed with the costume or any part of it. Look for pieces of a costume that might restrict the animal’s movement, hearing, eyesight or breathing and remove them. Watch out for skin problems caused by the costume and remove immediately if any develop.
  • Most importantly for Halloween and every day: Make sure your pet has proper identification with the proper information on it. Collars and tags are a good start but these can fall off and get lost. Microchip your pet to make sure they can be identified if they do get separated from you.

Community Cats Need Our Help

Misinformation costs millions of community cats (also known as feral cats) their lives every year. When a person sees a cat living outdoors, the urge is to assume that it needs our help, and that help often comes in the form of delivering said cat to the overcrowded local shelters. Sadly, because feral cats are not socialized to humans, this well-meant action is most likely to be a death sentence for a cat who could otherwise have lived a natural life outdoors.

Cats living outdoors is a hard pill to swallow for many animal lovers, especially since we are told over and over that it is so much safer for our pet cats to live indoors. This information is real and good, considering that an outdoor cat is more likely to be hit by a car, contract a disease, or get into a fight – but it doesn’t apply to community cats quite the same way. Why? Because feral cats are closer to wild animals than pet cats. They, like millions upon millions of cats who came before them over many thousands of years, were born and have made their homes outside, in nature – just like squirrels and rabbits. Contrary to popular belief, feral cats can live long and healthy lives in the wild. While we might want to “save” them, most feral cats typically avoid contact with humans, are even frightened of them, and would be unhappy if made to live in a human home.

Alley Cat Allies is an organization that helps educate the public about community cats, and combat the misinformation that leads to the deaths of so many of them. Among many efforts, they work with officials to create T-N-R (Trap, Neuter, Release) programs for community cats that help to combat overpopulation, while allowing cats to continue living where they are happy and thriving. Humanely controlling the feral cat population in this way, as well as working to inform the public as to the nature and needs of community cats, also helps to save the lives of stray or pet cats – overcrowded shelters all too often result in their deaths, as well.

It may be difficult for a concerned cat lover to tell the difference between a stray cat who might need help and a community cat who just needs to be left alone. Alley Cat Allies has an amazing guide to help us figure this out. We urge you to peruse their website, which contains a wealth of information to help the average animal advocate to learn how to help their own community cats, including what to do when we find feral kittens, how to help educate others on the truths about feral cats (are they really bad for wildlife?), and how to get involved in T-N-R.

Like us, we know you want to do what you can to help your neighborhood cats. For Global Cat Day, we hope you use this information and these resources to kick off a community cat education initiative in your own neighborhood.

Get Outside for National Walk Your Dog Week

47410078_l.jpgThe weather is starting to cool down, and this makes the first week in October the perfect time to celebrate National Walk Your Dog Week.

Obesity is on the rise in the US, both for humans and for their canine friends. In the US, an estimated 56% of dogs are overweight – that amounts to about 50 million dogs! Excess weight in dogs can create health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, pancreatitis and cancer. A sedentary lifestyle, which is a large contributing factor to obesity, can also cause behavior problems in dogs, due to boredom or excess energy that has not been burned off in a positive way. Sadly, these behavior problems can sometimes land dogs in overcrowded shelters. What can we do?

In addition to keeping a close eye on a dog’s diet, avoiding unhealthy foods and making sure not to overfeed, one great way to address a dog’s weight problem is to walk with them every day. A daily 30 minute walk will help both you and your dog meet national standards for heart health, and will get you both on the road to a healthier weight. The exercise also has the added benefit of tiring your dog out – remember, a tired dog is a good dog.

You may be thinking to yourself that you have a large yard, and a pet door for your dogs – isn’t this enough? While it is true that it is very beneficial for a dog to have free access to their yard, and it helps provide an excellent foundation for a healthy dog, there is more to the picture. When a dog is outside in their own yard, there is a lot of (valuable) time spent exploring his territory, sniffing around, lying in the sun – all very important activities for your dog. But this outside time doesn’t quite live up to the sustained exercise a dog needs – similar to how the time we spend outdoors in our garden, while great for us, doesn’t quite provide all of the cardiovascular exercise our own bodies need. Also, when you take your dog out into the world for a walk, there are new sights, sounds and smells that stimulate his brain in a different way than his usual scene, which gives him a mental health boost in addition to a heart health one.

You can even get your whole family involved. If you bring your kids along on your walks, you will be not only modeling an active lifestyle for them, but you will also be teaching them how to take excellent care of their own dogs when they get older.

These are all great points, but what if you don’t have a dog to walk? There is a great solution to that problem waiting for you at your local dog shelter. Remember how we mentioned above that some dogs end up in shelters due to behavior problems that have their root in a sedentary lifestyle and obesity? You can find yourself the perfect walking buddy in a dog who needs you to help him get to be his healthiest and happiest self. It’s a win-win!

Consider Adopting a Less Adoptable Pet

According to the ASPCA, 6.5 million companion animals enter shelters in the US every year. Shelter and rescue resources are stretched thin as they try to find homes for these pets, and sadly, only 50%, on average, will be adopted – and we know the sad end to the story for many of the other 50%.

In 2009, Petfinder.com, an online searchable database that partners with shelters and rescues to help connect homeless pets with adopters, founded “Adopt a Less Adoptable Pet Week” (the third week in September) to highlight the struggle of finding homes for pets who, statistically, have a harder time finding a home. In a recent survey, Petfinder revealed that 95% of responding rescues have pets that they define as being “hard to adopt.” While an average pet spends about 12 weeks on the site before adoption, pets that have special needs, black coats or senior pets may take four times that long to find a home.

While pets with health problems and disabilities, such as cats with FIV, or dogs with diabetes, can live relatively normal lives with average lifespans, the fact that they require a little extra care, and perhaps medication, makes a pet with special needs less likely to be adopted. Even disabilities as simple as a missing eye or leg, that requires no extra care, can cause a pet to be passed over. This tragic fact is made even more so when you consider how rewarding it can be to bring a pet like this into your family, and how manageable many disabilities and illnesses can become with a little education and support from a great veterinarian.

It may seem like an old wives’ tale, but many shelters and rescues still report that animals with a black coat are less likely to be adopted than pets of any other color. There are varying views on why this is true, from the lingering stigma of black cats (and even dogs) of old being associated with witchcraft and bad luck, to the belief that they are harder to photograph. Some sources state that it’s simply the fact that there are more black cats and dogs than other colors, and so people will pass them by in favor of a less common color. Whatever the reason, we hope our readers realize what great pets black cats and dogs make (I mean, black cats look like tiny panthers – what could be better?).

And when it comes to senior pets, this may be the saddest less-adoptable category of them all. Many times, senior pets have been given up because their older owners have died or had to move into assisted living, or their owners may have decided that they couldn’t deal with senior-related changes or expenses. These kinds of surrenders are so sad, because senior pets have likely been with their owners for many years, and don’t understand why they have been left in this situation. And, just as a side effect of not being a cute and cuddly little puppy or kitten any longer, these older pets may never find a new home. How sad, considering that senior pets can be the perfect pets – mellow, low demands for energy, they just need a loving place to lay their heads, and kind pat on the head, and a good meal.

When you next find yourself in the position of opening your home to a new pet, we hope that you keep these “less-adoptable” pets in mind. You could even consider covering all of the bases, and adopt a senior, special needs pet who happens to have a black coat – you could save a life and make a new best friend.

Happiness is Vital to Your Cat’s Health

We do everything we can to make sure our cats are healthy. We feed them good quality food, we take them to their annual checkups, brush them, scratch them behind the ears, and love them. Cats have a reputation for being the low-maintenance pet – meet their basic needs, and they will live long healthy lives. But do we spend enough time thinking about our cats’ mental and emotional well-being?

It turns out that, like most creatures, happiness has a deep connection to your cat’s health. While good food and vet visits are clearly important, we also need to consider what our cats need to meet their instinctive requirements as a cat.

First, let’s look at the most prominent threat to a cat’s happiness: stress. Like in humans, stress, especially over prolonged periods, has a detrimental effect on cat health. Stress hormones that are perfectly designed to help cats in nature (the good old “fight or flight” response) were not meant to be released over and over again all day long. Continuous exposure to these hormones causes damage to organ systems by elevating heart rate and blood pressure and raising blood sugar.

But what on earth does a pampered domestic cat have to be stressed about, you may wonder? The answer is a lot of things. Things like boredom, conflicts with other household cats over territory, food or resources, changes in routine, loss or addition of household members and pets, tension in the home, medical problems, and so much more, can cause systemic stress in your cat.

So what can we do about all of this? We have to remember that cats are not very far removed from their wild relatives, and their needs are still very similar to that of their cousins. Cats are hunters, and also prey animals. They need to have their own territory and resources. In short, cats need to feel like cats. You can help keep your cat happy and healthy by:

Protecting Food Resources

This doesn’t just mean feeding them on time. When you feed them, make sure they are not threatened by other animals in the house – that might mean separating them from other cats at feeding time, elevating their feeding area to be safe from dogs in the house, or simply moving their dish away from the wall so that they can face the room while they eat.

Give them Ownership of Scent and Vantage Resources

Make sure that all of the cats in your house have access to climbing, perching and burrowing resources. In nature, cats might sit in a tree to view their surroundings for hunting or hiding purposes, or they might prefer to shelter in a bush. Approximating these with plenty of cat trees, perches, caves and beds will help to assure that each cat has their own space without any conflict. Likewise, there should be cat scratchers aplenty around the house – cats need them to maintain claw health and to leave their scent, thus securing their zone.

Keep Things Clean

In nature, cats bury their waste, and would not wish to relieve themselves in a dirty place. The same is true for your cat. Keeping the litter box clean by scooping or emptying a minimum of once per day is key if you want your cat to maintain good bathroom habits. You should also have more than one litter box – ideally, one for every cat in your house, plus one – distributed in different parts of your home, to avoid litter box conflicts.

Provide Mental Stimulation

We want to keep our cats indoors to keep them safe, but we also must ensure that their needs as a natural hunter are being met. Play with your cats daily by encouraging them to chase toys that resemble prey animals, laser dots, etc. Give them window perches so that they can watch birds outside. And if you want to go all out, you can build your cats a catio – an enclosed outdoor space that allows them to experience a taste of the outside world without the dangers of outdoor-cat life.

In reality, it just takes a few simple changes to put some focus on your cat’s mental well-being, and you will be paving the way for a cat who is healthy in both body and spirit.

July Is Pet Loss Prevention Month

July is National Pet Loss Prevention Month, and even though the majority of us are responsible pet owners who care deeply for our furry family members, 1 out of 3 family pets will go missing at least once in their lifetime, potentially ending up as one of the 7.6 million dogs and cats who enter shelters every year.

July is an especially risky month for lost pets, because of the 4th of July holiday. More pets go missing on and around the 4th of July than any other day of the year, due to anxiety caused by fireworks. A mild-mannered dog might panic and claw its way out of a crate or crash through a glass door or fence, and could be running on the streets within moments. But it doesn’t have to take something dramatic – there are many reasons well-behaved pets might wander, even if it’s simple curiosity.

You can help reduce the stress of a lost-pet situation by taking a few steps ahead of time:

  1. Make sure your pet has up to date ID tags and a secure collar. This goes for cats, as well as dogs. A pet with a collar will be more easily identified as a pet, as opposed to a stray, and having your pet’s name and your identifying info clear to the person who finds your pet will help immensely with getting your pet home.
  1. Have your pet microchipped. Because collars can come off, another important step is to have your vet microchip your pet. If your pet were to be found and turned in to a shelter, they will be scanned for a microchip. Make sure you keep your info up to date at your microchip registry so that you can be reunited with your pet quickly.
  1. Get a GPS tracker for your pet. To help you track your pet if he or she does get out, there are several brands of GPS devices that are designed to attach to a pet’s collar.
  1. Be prepared for riskier times for pet loss. Make sure you have a plan to keep your pet safe and secure during holidays like the 4th of July. It is best to keep your pet home from 4th of July events, and it might even be a good idea for you to stay home with them. For more information on keeping your pets safe during 4th of July, the ASPCA has some great tips in this article.