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.

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!

 

 

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!

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.

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.

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.

Responsible Animal Guardian Month

With Responsible Animal Guardian Month, Pet Cancer Awareness Month, and Chip Your Pet Month, the month of May is here to remind you to be more aware of your pet’s health, surroundings and happiness. And it is also to help people understand that we are not just “owners” of our pets but rather “guardians” of another life. We would never want to treat pets simply like property to be treated however we want and discarded when we tire of them. When you are a Guardian, you have compassion, responsibility, consideration and love for your pet.

For their health, check them over for lumps, bumps, sores or anything unusual. Our pets are just as susceptible to cancer as we are, they are exposed to the same environmental risks as us. See the vet if you find something. Be sure to feed them a good quality food in the correct amount for them. Always have clean water available for them. Get lots of playtime in, both physical and mind challenging. Remember all of their needs: both physical and emotional.

Do proactive things too for your pet and your community.

  • Microchip your dog or cat. This tiny chip has a unique ID number that can make the difference between your pet finding their way home or being lost forever. Microchips are no bigger than a grain of rice, implanted under the skin at the shoulder blades. Almost all shelters and veterinarians have scanners.
  • Start or participate in a Trap – Neuter – Release program in your neighborhood. This helps keep stray cats healthy and helps to prevent the number from growing.
  • Encourage other pet parents to spay/neuter their pets.
  • Donate funds, supplies or your time to a local shelter.
  • Know the early warning signs of cancer, Learn the 10 L’s

There is so much wonderful information and ideas available that we couldn’t begin to share it all. But here are just a few links with more information:

https://www.puppyup.org/its-responsible-animal-guardian-month/

http://www.onegreenplanet.org/animalsandnature/10-traits-of-truly-loving-companion-animal-guardian/

https://www.idausa.org/campaign/guardian-initiative/latest-news/animal-guardian-month/

https://www.puppyup.org/canine-cancer/about-cancer/

https://positivelywoof.com/pet-calendar-may-is-national-chip-your-pet-month/

Don’t forget to consider a Hale Pet Door to give your furry companions a way to get outside for more playtime.

Heartworm Awareness Month

In April, pet organizations nationwide work to bring attention to the prevention of Heartworm Disease during National Heartworm Awareness Month.

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What is Heartworm Disease?

Heartworm disease is a potentially fatal disease that affects dogs and cats, as well as other mammals, and it is spread by mosquitoes. When a mosquito bites an infected animal, it could carry microscopic baby worms to your healthy pet. Because mosquitoes can easily get inside your home, even exclusively indoor pets are at risk.

Dogs are a natural host for heartworms, and if not detected early, heartworms can multiply inside a dog’s heart, lungs and associated vessels until there are hundreds of worms, causing severe lung disease, heart failure and other organ damage. Symptoms of heartworm disease may not appear until the disease is advanced, and may include a persistent cough, lethargy, fatigue, decreased appetite, and weight loss.

Because cats are not natural hosts for heartworms, it is less likely that worms will reach adulthood in a cat, and if they do, they will not be as numerous as in a dog. However, even immature heartworms can cause serious health problems for cats, including respiratory disease. Signs of heartworm in cats may include coughing, loss of appetite, vomiting, or weight loss.

How is Heartworm treated?

Treatment for heartworm disease in dogs can be lengthy and expensive, which is why prevention is key. If your dog does become infected, treatment might include medications, surgery and serial blood tests.

Unfortunately, there is no approved drug therapy to treat heartworm in cats, but close veterinary care in these cases is still essential.

Prevention is the Best Treatment

Dogs and cats should be tested for heartworm at their regular veterinary visits, and your vet can prescribe monthly preventatives for you to administer to your pet. It is important to stay on top of preventative medications to avoid a gap that could leave your pet vulnerable to infection.

For more information on how to protect your pet from heartworm disease, please visit the Heartworm Society website.

National Poison Prevention Week

March 18-24, 2018 is National Poison Prevention Week

50174473 - chart of toxic foods for dogs. also available without text.

Remember your furry friends this week and always. There are a lot of different things (plants, medicines, people food, household products, etc) that can make your animals sick or even kill them.

TIPS TO PREVENT POISONINGS

  • Be prepared for an emergency. Keep the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center number at your fingertips by saving the number in your mobile phone: 888-426-4435
  • Practice safe storage habits for household chemicals and other substances that can be poisonous for pets
  • Read and follow all labels and directions
  • Detect invisible threats

36871833 - white cat fight green snake in untidy dirty garden, danger.The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center is the best resource for any animal poison-related emergency. They are available at 888-426-4435, 24 hours/365 days a year and staffed by veterinary health professionals. There may be a fee for the call.

The ASPCA has a good page with more information on specific items: https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control

If you have a pet door, please be aware of what’s in your yard, for their safety and health.