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Holiday Gift List For Every Four-Legged Family Member

Pet Holiday Gift List

What to give your favorite four-legged friends.

By Stacy Mantle

HolidayGifts4Pets

When it comes to the holidays, we all want the best for our pets. I spend the year looking for well-designed gifts that will last—and are from companies that participate in programs to benefit nonprofit organizations. If you’re looking for a gift for your dogs or cats, these are a few of my holiday picks for 2014.

For the Dogs on Your Holiday List

Ruffwear K9 Overcoat

Ruffwear-K-9-OvercoatOnce again, Ruffwear proves it is the king of outdoor wear for dogs. The redesigned K9 Overcoat is great for any climate and the durable material allows it to stand up to even the most active dog. Wind- and water-resistant outer fabric keeps the elements out, while interior fleece layer keeps body heat in. Ruffwear’s Donation Program provides product donations to organizations and events that support outdoor spaces where wildlife thrives and people and dogs recreate

Pricing begins at $65

http://www.ruffwear.com/K-9-Overcoat

ClearConscienceSliders

Clear Conscience Pets Sliders

Sliders® are formulated with meat content and ultra-low carbohydrates and are free of all chemical preservatives, including glycerins and glycols. These treats make the perfect stocking stuffer for any sized dog. Clear Conscience Pet actively supports The Potcake Foundation and the Turks and Caicos SPCA (TCSPCA) and a variety of local animal shelters.

http://www.clearconsciencepet.com/about-products/sliders

UpCountryHolidayCollarsUpCountry Collars

Perfect for a night walking with carolers. UpCountry collars come in more than 100 beautiful designs and the company offers matching leads and harnesses to complete the look. Made in the USA THE holiday collection features everything from sweaters to treats. Each year during the holiday season at Up Country, employees collect money for donation to a nonprofit organization. Up Country generously matches the total raised and the company actively participates in fundraisers for a variety of organizations.

Prices vary, but most collars begin at $20

http://www.upcountryinc.com/our-products/category/holidays

Pogo-PlushPetSafePetSafe Pogo Plush Toys

Looking for a toy that will hold up to the heaviest chewer? PetSafe offers PogoPlush toys that come complete with a migrating squeaker and an inner cage under the plush covering dogs love. Great for any size, this toy can last much longer than your standard plush toys. PetSafe plays a lead role in helping pets become respected citizens and actively participates in community initiatives to create dog parks, as well as offering tuition assistance and supporting pet-friendly communities.

Prices begin at $12.99

http://store.petsafe.net/pogo-plush

OrvisWaterTrapperOrvisDogBreedOrnaments

Orvis Pet Ornaments and Water Trapper Mats

Orvis offers an extensive line of high-quality holiday items that any dog or cat owner will love, including pet-themed ornaments, durable water-trapper tree mats, and much more. Orvis partners with customers to help the PetFinder Foundation in its mission to support rescue shelters. Orvis will match every donation dollar for dollar up to $30,000 for a total contribution of $60,000.

http://www.orvis.com/dog-products

For the Cats in Your Life

NekoTelescopingRodNekoFlies BirBug Telescoping Rod

NekoFlies brings a unique twist to the wand toy. This gliding toy features a design that will entice even the most unresponsive cat, and its telescoping rod makes it the perfect selection for playtime in the largest of rooms or the tiniest of spaces. NekoFlies regularly donates products to shelters.

http://www.nekoflies.com/index.php/neko-birbug.html

Ultimate-BlendFrom the Field Silvervine & Catnip

Silver vine is the new herb for cats who don’t generally respond to catnip. Naturally grown in Malaysia, this natural herb can give your cat a euphoric response even if she doesn’t normally respond to catnip or valerian root. Sprinkle a pinch of From the Field’s Ultimate Blend of silver vine and catnip on your cat’s favorite toy or bed, and watch the magic. Protecting the planet was the inspiration for the From the Field line of products. The company works to protect the earth from deforestation and pollution by using eco-friendly products and supporting key .

http://www.fromthefieldpet.com/silvervine.html

EcoCattypillar

Eco Cater Pillar Toy

This all-natural toy is perfect for cats who love to play. Each colorful body part is made of organic wool and sewn together with hemp twine. The natural lanolin aroma appeals to any cat and the toy can be hand-washed. As a bonus, the wool components are handmade by women in Nepal as part of the Fair Trade program, and every purchase helps support families who are involved with Snow Leopard Preservation programs.

http://honestpetproducts.com/shop/natural-cat-toys

Licks4CatsLicks for Cats

The perfect stocking stuffer comes in the form of a supplement. Individually packaged to ensure proper dosage, LICKS® offers an extensive line of products, each formulated to focus on resolving specific health and behavior conditions. (I recommend the ZEN™ formula as a calming aid to keep anxious, stressed-out or aggressive cats calm during the holidays). LICKS Liquid Vitamins contributes 5 percent of revenue to charitable organizations.

http://www.lickspillfree.com/?page_id=1084


About the Author: Stacy Mantle is the founder of PetsWeekly.com and the bestselling author of “Shepherd’s Moon.” Learn more great tips for living with animals by visiting PetsWeekly.com or get to know a little more about the author at  www.StacyMantle.com

Every Day Should Be National Mutts Day

Magical Mutts

Let’s make every day National Mutts Day, not just December 2.

By Audrey Pavia

Magical Mutts

Your mutt is unique since no two mixed breed dogs are exactly alike. Regardless of the cross, it’s nearly impossible to find two that look identical.

Purebred dogs are wonderful creatures. They have been bred for hundreds of years to look and act a certain way. Purebreds are special, and the world would not be the same without them.

That said, dogs of mixed blood are also amazing in a different way. For one thing, more mixed breeds are on the planet than any other type of dog, yet each one is special.There are some good reasons to own a mixed breed dog.

Uniqueness

No two mixed breed dogs are exactly alike. Regardless of the cross, it’s nearly impossible to find two that look identical. Even deliberately bred mixes like Schnoodles (Schnauzer x Poodle) or Cockapoos (Cocker Spaniel x Poodle) are not uniform in color, shape and size. If you want a dog that looks like no other dog, a mixed breed is the pet for you.

Good Health

Due to decades of close breeding, many pure breeds suffer from common genetic illnesses. Pembroke Welsh Corgis are prone to a bleeding disorder called Von Willebrands Disease. German Shepherds have a proclivity for hip dysplasia. Standard Poodles can develop an endocrine disorder called Addison’s disease. Mixed breeds, on the other hand, are less susceptible to genetic ailments because their genes are so mixed. This notion is supported by the fact that several pet insurance companies charge lower medical premiums for mixed breed dogs than purebreds.

Availability

MagicalMutts1

With a mixed breed, not only do you have the best of several breeds in your dog, you also have a friend who will always be thankful that you love him.

Because most dogs are mixed breeds, shelters are full of them. While purebreds often end up in shelters, the vast majority of dogs picked up as strays or surrendered to animal control facilities are mixes. In fact, 75 percent of shelter dogs are mixed breeds, according to the Humane Society of the United States. Many of these dogs are homeless through no fault of their own. The result of irresponsible pet ownership, these hapless dogs are in desperate need of caring owners.

Some mixed breeds are pretty hard to figure out, most likely because they have been mixed for many generations. If you are curious about your mixed breed’s background, a company called Wisdom Panel offers an inexpensive DNA test where you can have his genes tested to see what breeds went into making him. For more information, visit www.wisdompanel.com.

Living with a mixed breed can be a fun and joyful experience. Not only do you have the best of several breeds in your dog, you also have a friend who will always be thankful that you love him.


About the Author: Audrey Pavia is an award-winning freelance writer and author of “The Labrador Retriever Handbook.” She is a former staff editor of Dog Fancy, Dog World and The AKC Gazette magazines. To learn more about her work, visit www.audreypavia.com.

Dogs Offer Us Daily Lessons on Life

Dogs Keep Teaching Us

From puppy to senior, canines offer life lessons daily.

By Ava Olsen

DogsTeachUs1

Dogs teach us about family, love, compassion and life from the beginning to the end.

What is cuter than a puppy, cute enough to melt your heart with a single look and make all the work and effort worthwhile.

When you get a puppy you sign on for a hurricane of joy and enthusiasm. Constant activity followed by crashes into deep, deep sleep and then reawakening with all batteries charged and ready to tear into life again at full speed. They are our companions for walks and adventures. They take us outside to see the trees and forests, sunsets and seasons. We work to train them, but they learn to be part of the family.

Dogs have short life spans and we know in the back of our minds when we bring that little puppy home that in a few years we will have a mature dog as part of our family and then an old dog and all of the questions and challenges that go with that. It is our own lifespan in miniature.

My dog is now 9 and has been through a series of health problems that have been heart-wrenching and costly. With so much medical technology now available to our dogs, who are our family members, we have new considerations about quality of life, health insurance and end-of-life decisions that have come to the forefront. It broke my heart to see my dog sick and struggling but I also admired his determination to keep going and to find joy in those things he was still able to do. Now that he has recovered to a point where he goes crazy for his food and loves playing with his toys, my heart feels lighter and happier. Dogs make us laugh, they give us love and unconditional acceptance. The way they approach life with such enthusiasm brings that same enthusiasm to us. They let us see the way they love life and it makes our lives better.

DogsTeachUs2

As puppies, they teach us patience; as they age, they teach us a new kind of patience, compassion, love and devotion.

As puppies, they teach us patience; as they age, they teach us a new kind of patience, compassion, love and devotion. They face sickness and death with calm resolve and, in the end, acceptance. We are left to make the decisions about care and medication. We are left to make the decision as to when the pain is too much to be tolerated. We are left to be the grownups but they always remain our teachers.

In our society where families live miles or countries apart, it is our dogs who have become our immediate families. We take them on outings, we care for them, they are there at the end of a hard day to provide a friendly face and a warm hug or face lick. They are also there to aggravate us with inappropriate or bad behavior, like any good family member.

In our society where our old relatives are put in facilities, it is our old dogs who continue to teach us about aging and end of life. Our old dogs give us the patience to go for very slow walks or “sniffing” outings. Our old dogs teach us that even though they are not cute puppies we still love and value them and want to care for them.

Why are there millions of dogs living in our homes? Dogs of all ages? They are here to teach us about family, love, compassion and life from the beginning to the end.


About the Author: Ava Olsen is a long-time dog owner and rescue advocate, and is the Brand Manager for Charlee Bear Dog Treats, headquartered in Madison, Wis. Ava spends a fair amount of time in Costa Rica each year, where she has been known to foster dogs. 

Great Products for Dogs and Cats

Nifty New Pet Products

MudMonstersMuttluks Mud Monsters and Snow Mushers boots are made for walking, hiking, rugged terrain, snow, ice and extreme heat or cold. Made with 100 percent recycled rubber, the unique flexible soles with traction treads incorporate “barefoot” technology that makes the boots “pawsitively” comfortable for dog paws. Mud Monsters are a rugged summer boot with a breathable mesh upper fabric; Snow Mushers are a rugged winter boot with warm fleece inner lining. Both feature elastic soft-cinch fastening and are available in eight sizes and three colors. www.muttluks.com

 

TUFFKittyPuff

 

Kats ‘n Us TUFF Kitty Puffs feature colorful yarn and tinsel that are tightly woven together to outlast the hunter instinct and playfulness of any cat. The cat-pleasing toys come in assorted brilliant sparkly colors—blue, white, gold, green, red and dark pink—and are 1 1/2 inches in diameter. www.catsnus.com

 

 

 

flexi-NEONDesigned to improve safety and visibility for dog owners during evening walks, the flexi® Neon retractable leash offers highly reflective, neon components, on the leash handle break button and the 16-ft. retractable cord or tape. Highly durable, lightweight and equipped with an easy-to-use thumb breaking-system, NEON comes in three different sizes—small, medium and large. www.flexi-northamerica.com.

 

CatGlowDots-Petmate

 

Petmate’s Glow Dots cat collars incorporate glow-in-the-dark ink to provide nighttime visibility for added security. Sized 3/8 in. x 8 ½ in., the collars feature breakaway buckles to ensure cat safety while on the prowl indoors or out. The dot-patterned collars come in three colors: purple, orange and yellow. www.petmate.com

 

 

 

Fruitables-snowflake

 

Give your dog a reward as unique as he is with new Fruitables Vanilla Snowflake Flavor dog treats. Each limited edition treat pouch includes an estimated 300 snowflakes, sustainably harvested in the Rockies. To make these novelty holiday treats, Fruitables combines a snowball’s worth of real, fresh high-altitude snow with its delightful pumpkin granola and yogurt recipe. The finished product is both satisfyingly crunchy and creamy. And, with only 9 calories per treat, dogs can guiltlessly indulge without worrying about winter weight gain. www.FruitablesPetFood.com.

 

 

KttyConnectionDeluxe

 

Kitty Connection®, from Innovation Pet, is a patent-pending, modular playground featuring the SmartLink® Toys system for cats of all ages—from kitten to senior. You can choose from two starter kits, Essential or Deluxe (shown), and add-on a wide variety of accessories that connect together, allowing for endless possibilities in movement and sound attractants, creating the ultimate playground for your cat. www.innovationpet.com

 

 

 

BravoHomestyle

Bravo Pet Foods Homestyle Complete Dinners have premium meat or poultry as the No. 1 ingredient. The freeze-dried diets also contain wholesome ingredients such as organ meat and chickpeas plus a generous helping of garden vegetables and cranberries, as well as natural herbs such as turmeric and sage. Available in three different proteins—beef, pork and turkey—each dinner is 100 percent complete and balanced, low in fat and grain- and gluten-free. In addition, no artificial preservatives, flavors or colors of any kind are used. www.bravopetfoods.com

Animal Behavior College Fall Class Graduation 2014


Animal Behavior College (ABC) (http://www.AnimalBehaviorCollege.com/info) held its fourth commencement ceremony on November 21, honoring the achievements of its Dog Trainer In-Classroom Program students.

The graduating class of military veterans received certification for mastering various dog training tools and techniques using positive reinforcement for handling canine behaviors. The program also covered effective problem solving, pet first aid and an opportunity to gain hands-on experience via internship.

“You have all come a ways since starting this program, and I am sure there were times when some of you wondered if you would make it through,” said Steven Appelbaum, president and CEO of Animal Behavior College, to an audience of family, friends and employees of the college. “I know as former members of the armed forces this isn’t the first adversity you have faced. You dealt with each day, each challenge and as a result, you are sitting in graduation regalia ready to be certified ABCDTs [Animal Behavior College Dog Trainer]!”

Debbie Kendrick, vice president of operations for ABC, praised the graduates’ accomplishments before handing out complimentary certificates to enroll in an ABC Continuing Education Program (CEP) of their choice. Appelbaum joined Kendrick and Candace Mason, ABC’s director of admission, in presenting award certificates to students. Those students include Richard (Ricky) Kripps, Kristen (Meghan) Clark, Jesse Araujo, James (Jim) Minick and Carlos Valle Jr.

Beth Harrison, a certified dog trainer and course instructor for ABC’s Dog Trainer In-Classroom Program, thanked her former students for their military service and for their dedication and commitment to working in “the world of humans and dogs.” Amanda Yocom, a caregiver and playgroup coordinator for Best Friends’ Animal Society, also thanked students for volunteering at the shelter and complimented their “eagerness to learn.”

“After graduating from college with a degree in fisheries and wildlife management, I served 10 years in the Navy. However, I always wanted to work with animals,” said James Minick, ABC honors graduate, during his commencement address. “After leaving the Navy and getting a job, I came to a crossroad in my life. What am I going to do? I knew I wanted to work with animals and needed a viable living. That is when I found ABC.”

For Minick and other ABC dog-training graduates and other animal care and service workers, the jobs forecast in the U.S. appear promising. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts employment will grow 23 percent from 2010 to 2020, faster than the average for all occupations. With more people in the U.S. owning dogs (35.5 percent or 43,346,000), ABC’s programs are ideal for veterans and career changers. As certified dog trainers, they have the option of working for an established company or building their own dog training business.

November is Pet Diabetes Month

Living with a Diabetic Pet

Thanks to treatment  improvements, the disease is now very manageable.

By Stacy Mantle

November is Pet Diabetes Month and it’s important for owners to know what signs to look for in their pets.

November is Pet Diabetes Month and it’s important for owners to know what signs to look for in their pets.

November is Pet Diabetes Month and as this is a disease that affects nearly every species, it’s important for pet owners to know a little about it. All types of animals, from ferrets to cats and humans to dogs, can develop diabetes.

To understand the condition, you need to know a bit about insulin. Insulin is a hormone that enables a body to use sugar (glucose), which is converted from consumed food, for energy or save it for use later. Glucose is absorbed into the bloodstream from the intestines; it then flows to the body’s cells. If the pancreas isn’t producing enough insulin, which acts as a key to open up cells to glucose, the sugar cannot be absorbed by the cells. This results in a buildup of sugar in the bloodstream.  

This buildup is what causes your pets want to eat constantly, but still appear to be malnourished. It is due to the cells not properly absorbing glucose for energy.

If your pet is showing signs of excessive thirst, frequent urination or acting like he or she is tired all of the time, it’s time to get some blood work done. Diabetes is one of those diseases that can sneak up on you and if you don’t pay attention, you could quickly lose your pet. Caught early, and your pets can live a normal, healthy life.

 

Types of Diabetes in Pets

Type 1 diabetes occurs when the pancreas produces no insulin at all. For Type 2, the pancreas produces insulin, but the body’s cells don’t respond well or have become resistant to it.

Dogs tend to develop insulin-dependent diabetes (Type 1), which means they will need injections—probably forever. Cats, however, are more commonly diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, which can usually be handled with oral medication and diet changes.

 

Diagnosing Diabetes in Pets

If your veterinarian suspects diabetes in your pet, she will likely need to perform a complete blood count (CBC), a serum biochemistry profile and a urinalysis to confirm diagnosis. While this may seem like a lot of tests, they are important as it allows the vet to accurately confirm the dosage levels required to help your pet.

It’s also important to remember that many pets react very strongly to being at the veterinarian’s office, and this can effect or change their actual levels. Running multiple tests will help confirm what is really going on while also ruling out other things that could affect your pet’s health.

 

Treating Diabetes in Pets

After your veterinarian has reached the conclusion your pet has diabetes, she will select an insulin type and dosage for your pet. The dosage needs to be closely monitored for the first few months to ensure it is accurate and effective. Every animal responds differently to the treatment and it’s up to the vet to establish how well your pet is doing with it.

In severe cases, your veterinarian might ask you to leave your pet at the hospital for a few days so she can quickly establish the best dosage through close monitoring.

Learn more about pet diabetes, its signs and risk factors with this downloadable brochure from Merck Animal Health.

 

Diet and Exercise

You might also need to change your pet’s diet to a prescription food or other vet-recommended food. It is very important that you monitor your pet’s diet, including treats, for the rest of his life. You need to be extra careful not to let your pet eat from the table or get into garbage as this can seriously affect his blood-sugar levels.

Currently, most vets recommend that dogs stay on high-fiber diets, since fiber seems to help increase the effect of insulin in dogs. Cats with diabetes, however, should be on a low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet. Sugars, obviously, need to be avoided. This is often simple to do for cats, but dogs tend to have a harder time controlling their intake of sugar.

Exercise is also very important. You will want to make sure your dog is getting plenty of walks and playtime to keep him active—it will tremendously help him to manage this condition.  

 

Injections

Most pets could require injections twice a day—after each meal. You might have to modify your pet’s feeding schedule. You will also need to learn how to give these injections subcutaneously (under the skin). This might seem intimidating, but you can quickly learn this simple task. The needles are quite small and, in most cases, your pet will not even feel it—especially after you’ve had some practice.  Work closely with your veterinarian to learn how to give these injections. They are very, very important to maintaining your pet’s health.

In some cases (such as with Type 2), oral medication can be used instead of insulin injections. The treatment plan will depend on your veterinarian and how advanced your pet’s condition is (which is one more reason why you need to catch it early).

 

Glucose Testing

Your pet will need to have glucose tests to monitor his insulin levels. In the beginning, he might need to have a glucose curve established—blood -sugar levels are monitored every 2 to 4 hours for a 24-hour period. This test tells the veterinarian how well your pet is adjusting to the insulin.

After the initial curve is established, you should be able to monitor your pet with ongoing veterinarian appointments or by measuring the levels at home with a glucometer. You’ll want to learn more about this process because many things can affect how your pet responds daily to insulin day.

If you suspect your dog or cat has diabetes, be sure to get him into the veterinarian right away. This is a very manageable disease and the science used in preventing and treatment is improving every day.


About the Author: Stacy Mantle is the founder of PetsWeekly.com and the bestselling author of “Shepherd’s Moon.” Learn more great tips for living with animals by visiting PetsWeekly.com or get to know a little more about the author at  www.StacyMantle.com

Returning to Standard Time Can Confuse Pets

Transitioning From Daylight Savings Time

How to convince your pets it really isn’t time to eat, sleep or play.

By Lisa King

Even though you now get to sleep an hour later, your cat will still walk on you and purr for attention at the usual time.

Even though you now get to sleep an hour later, your cat will still walk on you and purr for attention at the usual time.

Switching to Daylight Savings Time in the spring is hard on most people. You must get up an hour early, drive to work in the dark, take lunch before you’re hungry, try to go to sleep an hour before you’re tired. It’s like having jet lag without leaving town. The return to normal time and the gain of an hour are usually easier—unless you are making the transition with pets in the house.

Humans are diurnal, which means they are naturally most active during daylight hours. Dogs and cats are crepuscular, or most active around sunrise and sunset. Even though canines and felines in the wild are naturally attuned to daily cycles of light and dark, the pets in your house are following the schedule you set for them. You choose when to turn on the lights in the morning, when to feed them, when to walk them and when it’s time for lights out. A one-hour delay in these activities can cause confusion and stress in both dogs and cats. Extra affection and attention during this time will help them adjust more easily.

On the day after Daylight Savings Time ends, you’ll want to take advantage of an extra hour’s sleep, but your dog will still want to go outside and pee and your cat will still walk on you and purr for attention at the usual time.

The easiest way to help pets adjust is to move activities forward incrementally rather than by an hour all at once. You can transition to the new wake-up time this way. Set the alarm 10 or 15 minutes later each day until everyone is getting up at the correct time. You won’t get that extra hour of sleep, but your pets will have a smoother transition to the new schedule. Feeding time is also easily adjusted this way. These incremental adjustments will also make your own transition to the new time easier.

Since dogs are more attuned to human activities, they will probably accept these changes as soon as they realize their walks are just a little later than expected.

Since dogs are more attuned to human activities, they will probably accept these changes as soon as they realize their walks are just a little later than expected.

Since dogs are more attuned to human activities, they will probably accept these changes as soon as they realize that they will get their meals and walks, just a little later than expected. Cats, on the other hand, are notoriously oblivious to human needs and are more likely to complain loudly if a meal is late. If you free-feed your cat dry food, the transition shouldn’t be an issue, but if she’s made to wait for her breakfast and dinner, you’ll hear about it.

However, some activities must shift by an hour. If you are away from the house at work all day and your dog has to wait an extra hour to go outside and relieve himself, accidents can happen. Be patient with these incidents and don’t punish him. He’ll adjust within a few days and your household will once again run like a well-oiled machine—at least until Daylight Savings Time returns in the spring.


About the Author: Lisa King is a freelance writer living in Southern California. She is the former managing editor of Pet Product News International, Dogs USA, and Natural Dog magazines. Lisa is also the author of the well-received murder mystery novel “Death in a Wine Dark Sea” and the recently released “Vulture au Vin.”

How You Can Help Your Local Shelter

Helping Rescues and Shelters

Do what you can: adopt, volunteer, donate, spread the word.

By Audrey Pavia

The most important step you can take toward helping a shelter dog or cat  is to adopt one.

The most important step you can take toward helping a shelter dog or cat is to adopt one.

Every year, nearly 7.6 million cats and dogs end up in U.S. animal shelters; only half of those animals find homes; the other half is euthanized, according to the ASPCA. This means approximately 1.2 million dogs and 1.4 million cats are destroyed in shelters every year.

These shocking statistics underline the severity of the homeless pet problem, and drive home the need for pet lovers to do whatever they can to help shelter animals.

The first of November began the National Animal Shelter and Rescue Appreciation Week, but shelters need help all year round. What follows are some suggestions on how you can provide assistance to shelter pets.

 

Adopt

The most important step you can take toward helping a shelter dog or cat  is to adopt one. Instead of buying a pet, go to www.petfinder.com and search for the kind of canine or feline companion you are seeking. Shelters and private rescues list dogs and cats of all breeds and breed mixes, ages and temperaments on this site. Private rescues can often tell you a lot about the dog or cat because the animal has been kept in foster care for a period of time before being placed up for adoption. City and county shelters might not be able to give you as much information about the pet, but many shelters provide adoption packages to people who adopt a dog or cat, and these often include free or low-cost training.

 

Rescues and shelters appreciated any help you can give, from a few hours a month to regular weekend visits.

Rescues and shelters appreciate any help you can give, from a few hours a month to regular weekly visits.

Volunteer

Most shelters and rescues are desperate for volunteers. Positions that need filling include tasks like office work, pet photography, public relations, attending adoption events, dog training and dog walking. You can spend as much time you like volunteering. Whether it’s a few hours a month or every weekend, rescues and shelters are grateful for any help they can get.

 

Donate

All shelters and rescues are desperate for resources. If you cannot donate money, find out what other items they need. Many shelters and rescues will accept pet food, blankets, carriers, toys, bowls and other pet accessories. If you have gently used items your dog or cat no longer needs, consider taking them to the local shelter. You might also want to buy a gift card to a pet supply chain such as PetSmart or Petco to enable the rescue or shelter to purchase whatever they need.

 

Spread the Word

Get on the mailing list for your favorite rescues and your local shelter, or follow them on social media. Share postings about pets for adoption with people you know. The more exposure shelter pets receive, the more likely they are to get a home.

 

Help Strays

Even though shelters are inundated with homeless dogs, they are there to help animals in need. If you see a stray dog, call your local animal control agency so they can catch the dog and take him to their facility. The dog will be fed and given veterinary care, and kept for a period of time so the owner can claim him. In the event the dog is not claimed, he will go up for adoption. You can request that the shelter keep your posted on dog’s status.

 

Spay or Neuter

Don’t contribute to the homeless pet population by allowing your dog or cat to breed. Spay or neuter your dog, even if she is a purebred. Shelters and rescues are filled with purebred dogs that need homes.


About the Author: Audrey Pavia is an award-winning freelance writer and author of “The Labrador Retriever Handbook.” She is a former staff editor of Dog Fancy, Dog World and The AKC Gazette magazines. To learn more about her work, visit www.audreypavia.com.

Five Pit Bull Myths

Busting Pit Bull Myths

Pitties are not the dangerous breed many think they are.

By Audrey Pavia

PitBullPit Bulls get a very bad rap. How many times have you heard Pit Bull attack stories on the news? If you only obtain your information from the media, you might think Pit Bulls were the only dogs that ever bite anyone.

The truth is that any breed of dog is capable of aggression. Pit Bulls are in the news more than any other breed because they have the misfortune of being the favorite breed of gangbangers, drug dealers and irresponsible individuals looking for an intimidating, macho dog.

As a result, plenty of myths exist about Pit Bulls. Let’s take a look at five of the most popular untruths plaguing the breed.

1)      All Pit Bulls are vicious. All you have to do is meet a few pet Pit Bulls in person to do discover the falseness of this myth. Pit Bulls are among some of the sweetest, gentlest dogs around. Although they were originally bred in England for fighting other dogs and taking on bulls, the original lines were never bred to be aggressive towards humans. Well-bred modern Pit Bulls are not inherently vicious.

2)      Pit Bulls have the ability to lock their jaws. Veterinary examination at the University of Georgia has proven that Pit Bulls have the same type of jaw mechanism as all other breeds. They do not have a special mechanism that allows them to lock their jaws once they take hold of something in their mouths.

3)      Pit Bulls are able to inflict more bite pressure per square inch than other breeds. Dr. Brady Barr, of National Geographic’s Dangerous Encounters with Brady Barr, measured the pressure per square inch (PSI) of the bites of German Shepherds, Rottweilers and Pit Bull Terriers. The Pit Bull had the least amount of bite pressure of the three breeds tested.

PitBullwChild4)      Pit Bulls attack more people than any other breed. Pit Bulls are among the most popular dog breeds in America, so their bite numbers will be high relative to the number of Pit Bulls in existence. (Rottweilers and German Shepherds also have higher bite statistics than many other breeds.) Pit Bulls are also the favorite breed of certain types of people who deliberately train them to be aggressive toward human beings. For instance, drug dealers often keep Pit Bulls as protection dogs, and maintain these guard dogs in residential communities where innocent people sometimes get bitten.

5)      If a Pit Bull is aggressive toward dogs, he will aggressive toward humans. Aggression toward other dogs is common in many breeds, and is a separate issue from aggression toward humans. Any breed of dog can be aggressive toward another dog for reasons of protecting territory or resources, or because of fear. That same dog can be submissive and loving toward humans.

The best philosophy to take with Pit Bulls is to judge each dog as an individual. Responsible Pit Bull owners treat their dogs with love and gentleness, provide them with training and veterinary care and teach them to be canine good citizens.


About the Author: Audrey Pavia is an award-winning freelance writer and author of “The Labrador Retriever Handbook.” She is a former staff editor of Dog Fancy, Dog World and The AKC Gazette magazines. To learn more about her work, visit www.audreypavia.com.

 

Keep Track of Your Pets’ Activities While You’re Away

Home Alone

How to keep an eye on your pets no matter where you—and they—are.

By Stacy Mantle

HomeAloneMost pet owners agree that the most stressful part of having pets is leaving them when they have to go to work or decide to take a vacation. Whether you decide on having a pet sitter come in to your home, putting your faith into a close friend or relative, or selecting a boarding facility; there are new ways to ensure your pets are safe and secure.

 

Wearable Technology

Technology has come a long way in the past few years. Lightweight GPS locators, individual activity trackers, hi-def cameras, and motion-activated technology are just a few ways you can make sure your pets are in good hands. Here are a few things you can try to make sure your pets are safe while you’re away.

 

GPS Trackers

TaggPetTracker

A GPS pet tracker, such as the Tagg unit the yellow Lab is wearing, helps ensure you’ll be able to find your pet if he goes roaming on his own. Image courtesy of SnapTracs Inc.

If you’re wondering whether or not your dog walker is taking your pets out for the full hour walk they promised, this is now a way you can do that. GPS monitors, such as the Tagg unit, will notify you when your dog leaves a previously assigned “virtual” area (like your backyard or home). You will receive a text message when your dog leaves the area and you’ll be able to track the route your dog is travelling. This works for dogs who are being walked as well as it works for those who escape yards.

Your pets should all be wearing GPS trackers even while they are home with pet sitters. Pets tend to become more stressed when they are away from us, so it’s good to have a secondary method of finding your pets should they escape the yard while you’re on vacation. With GPS trackers, you’ll be able to give your pet-sitter access to the program, or you can just contact your pet sitter after you receive a notification. You can also put other important contacts, such as neighbors or relatives, into your contact list in the event your dog escapes the yard.

 

Activity Monitors

Activity monitoring is another offered feature through Tagg and other companies, such as Whistle, Starwalk, the Spotlight and dozens of others. Each tracker offers individual benefits, so you’ll need to do some research to find the one that best fits your situation.

Activity trackers are remarkably advanced and are now capable of monitoring everything from your pet’s internal temperature and heart rate to the type of activity she is engaged in. For instance, you’ll be able to identify whether your dog is running a fence line, walking calmly through the house in search of treats or sleeping.

 

Wireless Cameras

If you are the type of owner who always worries about their pets while you’re away from the home, a wireless camera can be an excellent way of checking in on them without being invasive. There are a number of cameras that are not only high-def, but also offer infrared technology, which enables you to check on your pets in the middle of the night.

These cameras are affordable (ranging between $80 to $200) and very easy to install. Each camera brand has a free, downloadable app that can access the camera from any device. Before you purchase, be sure to check the following:

  • Does the camera have two-way talk? (This can come in handy if you check in and see your dog ransacking the garbage.)
  • Is the app compatible with Apple and Android? If you have an Android phone and iPad, you’ll want a camera that can handle both systems.
  • Does the camera offer infrared/nighttime vision?
  • Does the camera offer additional functions, such as temperature inclusion? If you live in an extreme climate, knowing what the temperature of your home is may be of value to you.
  • Does the camera offer you control over location? For example, can you maneuver the lens to easily survey a room or do you need to purchase more than one camera to have them strategically placed around the home?
  • Can the camera be used indoors and outdoors?
PetSafeSocialPet

Wireless cameras with treat stations, such as SocialPet from PetSafe, lets you monitor and treat your dog while at work or traveling. Image courtesy of PetSafe.

When selecting a boarding facility, be sure the facility has remote cameras installed that give you access via secured servers. In this day and age, there really is no reason for a facility to not have cameras installed. If they do not—ask them why and decide for yourself if it’s acceptable.

In this day and age, we never need to be far from our pets. While technology offers a lot of advantages, it will never take the place of good old-fashioned TLC and will never be a substitute (or excuse) for leaving pets at home alone. What technology can do is alleviate some of the anxiety we feel when we have to leave town and it might just help decrease your stress a bit while you’re at work, too.


About the Author: Stacy Mantle is the founder of PetsWeekly.com and the bestselling author of “Shepherd’s Moon.” Learn more great tips for living with animals by visiting PetsWeekly.com or get to know a little more about the author at  www.StacyMantle.com

 

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