How to Keep Your Dog Cool in the Summer Heat

Summer is such a fun time of year. The weather is beautiful and we can finally get outside to play. But with the fun comes heat – and sometimes, that can mean danger for our four-legged family members. Dog’s can’t sweat or cool themselves like we can and the summer heat can spell trouble really quick for our pups. That’s why we’ve compiled a list with a few tips on how to keep your dog cool this summer.

Plan Your Outings:
Try to plan your walks and park time for the coolest parts of the day. Usually, mornings and evenings are some of the best times to go outside with your pooch. Being outside during the summer months in the heat of the day is often just too much for dogs to handle. Adjusting your schedule a little to accommodate for the weather will make all the difference in the world for your little guy.

Find Shade:
Sometimes going outside during the heat is unavoidable, so do what you can to make the best of it. Try to find shade wherever you are. If you’re on a walk or a hike, keep an eye out for good shade spots and take frequent breaks. If you’re going someplace where there isn’t going to be a lot of shade, consider bringing along a travel canopy. There are many available that are very compact and can fold down to a portable size.

Don’t Forget the Water:
Always bring plenty of water. One of the best ways to keep your dog safe and cool during the hot weather is to always carry water with you. Bring a collapsible bowl and a jug of water and it’ll make all the difference for your pup. Try adding some ice cubes for added coolness!

 

Watch Out for Hot Pavement
Since we are always wearing shoes, sometimes it’s easy for us to forget that the pavement gets very hot and that can really burn a dog’s feet. One of the easiest ways to avoid injuries is to invest in a set of booties for your doggy. It may take a little time for him to get the hang of wearing them, but he’ll get used to it in no time and they’ll really protect his footsies! If your dog is not wearing booties while you’re out and about, be sure to be continuously checking the pavement with your hand to make sure it’s not too hot. If it is, make sure you find some shade ASAP.

Make Some Cool Treats
There are tons of quick and easy recipes online for making easy and yummy cold treats for your doggy this summer. One example is to blend together water, peanut butter, and bananas and freeze in an ice cream tray. Your pup will go bonkers for these sweet and healthy snacks, not to mention they’ll help him cool down.

Get the Hose Out!
One of the easiest – and most fun – ways to keep your pooch cool is to break out of the garden hose and let your dog go to town. Not all dogs are into this activity, but if yours is a fan of playing in the water, set it up! Turn the hose on and let your pup run through the spray! He’ll have the time of his life while he’s getting cooled down. Set up a baby pool for even more fun!

 

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Protect Your Pets During Independence Day Celebrations

While the Fourth of July brings fond traditions like picnics, barbecues, concerts, and fireworks, it isn’t such a fun holiday for the four-legged members of the family.

Photo from Friends of the GCARC via Facebook

Many animals are extremely frightened by the noise from firecrackers and can even be stressed by the sight of fireworks. This leads to a 30-60% increase in lost pets every year between July 4 and July 6. July 5th is typically the busiest day of the year in humane societies and shelters across the country as people try to find their lost and scared pets. But don’t forget that fireworks and firecrackers don’t just happen on July 4th. They are already happening as people build up to the big celebration.

So what can you do to make things less stressful for your pets?

  • Make a safe space for them in your home where they can retreat and hide but where they can’t easily escape. Even the most mild-mannered dog might panic and claw their way out of a crate or run through a glass window or a fence in their panicked state and can run away and be lost or hit by cars.
  • Playing calming music in the area can help block out some of the noise from outside and keeping curtains closed helps block out the flashes of light from fireworks.
  • If your dog or cat is pacing, cowering, hiding, or displaying nervous behavior, try to distract them with a favorite bone or toy but don’t distress them further.
  • Consider skipping leaving home to go to the big celebration and stay home with your pets to protect and comfort them during this traumatic time.
  • Above all else, make sure that if something does happen you have the best shot of getting your pet returned to you by following these suggestions:
    • Make sure your pets are wearing their collars and that they are secure and have up-to-date ID tags on them with your name and contact info readable.
    • Add a GPS tracker to your pet’s collar to make it easier to track and reunite with your pet if they should escape.
    • For extra security, get your pet microchipped. Pets are little magicians and can get out of their collars on the best of days much less when they are panicked or stressed by the sights and sounds of fireworks. Getting your pet microchipped gives an added layer of protection that if they escape and make it to a shelter, they can be scanned and reunited with you. Make sure your contact information for the microchip registration is up to date.

There’s a reason that July is considered “Pet Loss Prevention Month” and by using a few common sense tips you can keep your pets happier and safer during this and other holidays.

Tips for Grooming Your Cat at Home

Cats are known for being low maintenance and pretty self-sufficient in a lot of ways – grooming included! A lot of feline owners love the fact that they don’t usually have to groom cats as often as dogs. But, that doesn’t mean that every now and again you won’t have to give your cat a little extra TLC, especially if they’re of the long-haired variety. Just like dogs, making sure her coat is cared for keeps her fur and skin nice and healthy. Grooming also helps reduce hairballs and overall shedding around your house. Here are a few tips for keeping your cat looking and feeling like a million bucks.

It’s always a good idea to start as early as you can. If you have a kitten, it’s the perfect time to begin getting him or her accustomed to being brushed regularly. But even if you adopt your kitty as an adult, it’s still okay to work with them to get them used to being brushed. Start off slow, and don’t rush. Give them a little brush every now and then and soon they’ll start getting used to the sensation. Hopefully, it’ll become a bonding experience between you!

The type of brush you’ll need depends on how long kitty’s fur is. A short haired cat could use just about any pet brush or a rubber grooming mitt. Brushing can be done 1-2 times per week. Not only does it help remove dirt and debris from her fur, but it also helps stimulate blood flow to the skin, encourages a healthy coat, and minimizes shedding. If your cat has a longer coat, multiple brushings per week may be necessary to keep their fur free from tangles and debris that gets stuck in it. Find a wide tooth comb that’s made for long cat hair. The longer you wait between brushings, the more tangled, dirty, and matted their fur is likely to be, so try to do it regularly.

Nails and paws are also an important part of the grooming process. This step might be a little more tricky as most cats do not enjoy getting their nails clipped, but with most cats, it is possible to do this at home. A good way to get started is to get your cat used to having his feet touched. Gently play with your kitty’s toes as much as possible during times when the two of you are just hanging out together. If he’s taking a nap on your lap, touch his feet. Get him used to that so that he doesn’t automatically associate it with something unpleasant. When you’re ready to try clipping his nails, try holding him on your lap, keeping your arm wrapped around his middle, and be confident and sure in your movements to make him feel more at ease. If your cat is just not having it, try wrapping a big towel around him with only his head sticking out, keeping only one paw at a time exposed during the clipping process. This will not only restrict his movements but will also help with anxiety by keeping him more secure. Of course, there are some cats that just simply will not allow their owners to clip their nails. If you feel this is your cat, you can always take them to a professional groomer or your vet to have them do it for you.

Finally, don’t forget the ears! Every time you groom your cat, take a few extra minutes to examine their ears to make sure they look healthy and free of redness or excess wax build up. Regularly grooming your cat will not only help keep his skin and coat healthy but will also reinforce the bond between the two of you!

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!

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.

Should You Make Your Own Cat Food?

There are actually a lot of great reasons to make your cat’s food at home! A lot of us have had that unsettling moment in the middle of the cat food aisle, reading label after label, trying to decipher what’s on the ingredient list and deciding whether you want to feed it to Socks or not. It can be confusing and sometimes you just can’t be certain which brands truly have the best ingredients. Taking the guesswork out by creating the meals at home is an excellent way to ensure that your kitty is getting all the essential nutrients and the best quality possible.

There is a debate amongst cat foodies about whether or not you should cook the food. Many people believe that cats are designed, of course, for consuming raw meat and that cooking it, will hinder the essential nutrients. But, if your cat has been accustomed to eating kibble her whole life, it wouldn’t hurt to slowly transition her to raw meat, if that’s your goal – that way it gives her tummy a little time to get used to the new kind of food. Still, some people still prefer to slightly heat the food, just enough to kill off bacteria, yet not thoroughly cook it through. Either way you go, your kitty is sure to love you for it.

The cost of making cat food at home can vary significantly depending on the foods you choose. If you’re choosing expensive meats like filet mignon or lamb, the costs might be quite a bit more than if you went with chicken. However, variety is always a great choice and you’ll likely be able to keep the costs down by purchasing certain meats when they’re on sale.

Cats are carnivores. This means that they need meat to survive. One problem with store-bought cat food is that some companies will fudge by saying they’re “high in protein” but their protein sources are from things like legumes. This simply isn’t sufficient or right for a cat. They absolutely require meat in their diet to be healthy. Meat contains specific nutrients like the amino acid taurine that must come from her diet, as her body cannot produce it on its own. In the wild, cats would also gnaw or even consume bone material as well which provides calcium, magnesium, and other minerals. Animal fat is another crucial nutrient that is derived from animal products. Omega 6 is essential for cats and will be used for energy; Omega 3 is an important fat that is found in foods like salmon and sardines. Beef and pork also contain fat so a variety of foods will give her everything she needs.

Recipes don’t have to be complicated. A lot of times you can probably just wing it, see what’s available and throw whatever you have together. But we’ve compiled a few example recipes just to get you started on the right track. And remember, it’s always a good idea to talk with your vet before feeding your cat new food or giving her any supplements.

Easy Raw Chicken Meal

3 lbs. raw chicken – includes meat, organs, skin, and bones.

2 whole eggs (or just the yolks is preferred)

1 cooked carrot

1 cup water

Put everything in a blender powerful enough to deal with the bones or a meat grinder. Grind it all up until it’s nice and smooth. Be sure to freeze any extra you have that won’t be consumed within a couple days so that it will stay fresh.

Seafood Delight

1 can salmon or sardines or mackerel

⅓ cup cooked old fashioned oatmeal

1 tablespoon cooked peas

Mix it all together and store in an airtight container.

Hope this helps get you started on your journey to homemade cat food! Enjoy!

 

 

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