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!

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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!

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!

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.