With elaborate dishes, specially prepared meats, vibrant libations and rich desserts, Thanksgiving is a time when most people overindulge. For pet owners, it is tempting to share tidbits of food with Fido and Frisky. However, many of these delicious foods can make them sick. Animal Behavior College cautions pet owners to avoid feeding pets table scraps and offers healthy food alternatives that will keep them safe and happy on this special day.
Foods To NOT Share
Turkey Skin & Bones. Cooked turkey skin with no seasoning is hard to digest and turkey skin with butter and spices is even worse. If you decide to feed turkey to your pet, choose white meat, as it is not as rich as dark meat and is easier to digest. Remove the skin and cut the meat into small pieces before serving. Also, avoid feeding dogs cooked bones, as certain bones can lodge in a dog’s intestines.
Gravy/Buttery Side Dishes. Rich gravies and side dishes can wreak havoc on a pet’s digestive system. Dogs can develop inflammation of a digestive gland, pancreatitis, diarrhea and other painful and serious conditions. Instead, add a little turkey broth to their regular meal as a tasty alternative.
Onions, Garlic and Sage. Onions, garlic and sage are staples in Thanksgiving stuffing and other festive dishes. However, they can make pets sick. Onions and garlic are poisonous to dogs and cats and can cause abdominal pain, diarrhea and vomiting. If ingested, sage causes gastrointestinal upset if consumed in large quantities. Instead, give green beans or a plain hardboiled egg.
Also be sure to not allow your pets in the kitchen. With food preparations and other busy kitchen activities, a spilled hot dish or dropped pan or bowl can injure or burn a curious pet. Have someone watch your pet or put her in a quiet room or in a crate or carrier away from the fray. Keep a closed lid on the trash bin to prevent pets from feasting on disposed food that could make them sick.
If a dog or cat is ill from eating toxic food, contact a veterinarian immediately, or call the Pet Poison Helpline at 800-213-6680 or visit at www.petpoisonhelpline.com.
Busting Pit Bull Myths
Pitties are not the dangerous breed many think they are.
By Audrey Pavia
Pit 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.
4) 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.
How to keep an eye on your pets no matter where you—and they—are.
By Stacy Mantle
Most 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.
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.
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 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.
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?
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
Many homes have a variety of indoor plants. Not only are they beautiful, but they also increase oxygen levels, decrease dry skin and remove toxins from the air. During the holidays and other occasions, plants like holly, mistletoe and poinsettias are festive and add a splash to holiday decor.
But did you know that these indoor plants as well as an assortment of others could make your cat sick?
Before bringing new indoor plants into your home, it is important to learn which plants could potentially be harmful to your pets.
In the spirit of pet safety and the best interest of our loved fur-babies (cats and dogs), we have provided the 6 commonly purchased indoor plants that are poisonous to pets and we recommend that you avoid having them indoors.
National Indoor Plant – Week Sept. 15th – 19th
Holly – Common names of the holly plant are English Holly, European Holly, Oregon Holly, Inkberry, Winterberry and American Holly. The Scientific name for Holly is Ilex opaca and it comes from the Aquifoliaceae plant family. Holly plants are toxic to cats, dogs and horses because of the “saponins” found in the plant roots.
Clinical Signs of Illness may include: Vomiting, diarrhea and depression. Leaves and berries found on the Holly plant are low in toxicity.
Mistletoe – American Mistletoe is a staple in the holiday season. To kiss a loved one “under the mistletoe.” Tis the season to keep your pets safe. The “American Mistletoe” plant is toxic to dogs and cats as well as horses. What makes this plant toxic are the Toxalbumin, pharatoxin, viscumin present in the seeds. The Scientific names for Mistletoe are Phoradendron & Flavescens. This plant comes from the Viscaceae family.
Signs of Illness from Mistletoe poisoning may include: Cardiovascular collapse, dyspnea, bradycardia, erratic behavior, gastrointestinal disorders, vomiting, diarrhea and rarely-low blood pressure.
Poinsettias – A very common house plant that grows well indoors or outside is the beautiful poinsettias. This plant’s leaves carry Irritant Sap which is deemed poisonous to cats, dogs and if injested even children are susceptible to illness. The Scientific name for Poinsettias is Euphorbia pulcherrima. This plant comes from the Euphorbiaceae family.
Clinical Signs of Illness may include: Irritation to the mouth, vomiting and upset stomach.
Cyclamen – Also referred to as Sowbread has pretty flower pedals in a pink and red shade. This plant is deemed toxic to both cats and dogs. Its Scientific name is Cyclamen spp. This plant is in the Primulaceae family. Toxic principles of the plant are the terpenoid saponins found in its roots.
Clinical Symptoms of Illness include: Salivation, vomiting and diarrhea. Systemic fatal abnormalities may include heart rhythm off-beat, seizures and possibly death.
Dieffenbachia – Comes from the plant family Araceae. This plant is toxic to dogs and cats. What makes it a toxic plant for pets is Insoluable calcium oxalates and proteolytic enzymes. Common names for the Dieffenbachia plant include: Charming Dieffenbachia, Giant Dumb Cane, Tropic Snow, Dumbcane, Exotica, Spotted Dumb Cane and/or Exotica Perfection. The Scientific name is Dieffenbachia.
Clinical Signs and Symptoms may include: Oral irritation, intense burning and irritation of the mouth, tongue, lips. Signs may also include: excessive drooling, vomiting and difficulty swallowing.
Philodendron – Comes from the plant family Araceae. This plant is toxic to dogs and cats. What makes it toxic is Calcium oxalate crystals. The Scientific names for Philodendron is Philodendron spp.
Clinical Signs of Symptoms include: Oral irritation, intense burning and irritation of the mouth, tongue, lips. Signs may also include: excessive drooling, vomiting and difficulty swallowing.
If you suspect your dog or cat is ill from eating a toxic plant, contact your veterinarian immediately. You can also call the Pet Poison Hotline at www.petpoisonhelpline.com or call 800-213-6680 for more information. To learn more about toxic and non-toxic plants for dogs and cats, the American Society for the Prevention and Cruelty of Animals (ASPCA) has a comprehensive list.
For more information regarding all indoor/outdoor plants that may be harmful to your pets click here.
Houseplant Awareness: Which Ones Are Safe and Which Ones Are Not for Your Pets
By Audrey Pavia
The month of September plays host to National Indoor Plant Week, which runs from the 21st through the 27th. If you love nature, chances are you like to keep plants inside your house. Houseplants add softness and beauty to the home. But if you have pets, you need to be careful of which houseplants you choose. Some plants are toxic to dogs and cats, and can cause a variety of problems, from gastrointestinal irritation to death.
Although the following plants are beautiful, resist the temptation to keep them inside your house where your dog or cat might get to them:
- Aloe Vera (Aloe barbadensis)
- Amaryllis (Amaryllis sp.)
- Angel’s Trumpet (Datura innoxia)
- Angels’ wings (Caladium hortulanum)
- Azalea (Rhododendron sp.)
- Ceriman (Monstera deliciosa)
- Chrysanthemums (Chrysanthemum indicum)
- Croton (Codiaeum variegatum)
- Crown-of-thorns (Euphorbia milii)
- Cyclamen (Cyclamen persicum)
- Devil’s Backbone (Kalanchoe daigremontiana)
- Dumb cane (Dieffenbachia sp.)
- English Ivy (Hedera helix)
- Flamingo lily (Anthurium andraeanum)
- Hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla)
- Jerusalem Cherry (Solanum pseudocapsicum)
- Kaffir Lily (Clivia miniata)
- Philodendron (Philodendron sp.)
- Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima)
If you suspect your pet has ingested one of these plants, contact a veterinarian right away. Immediate symptoms will depend on the plant. Extremely toxic plants, such as Angel’s Trumpet, can cause lethargy, hyperactivity, vomiting, decreased gastrointestinal motility and constipation, dilated pupils, disorientation, tremors, seizures and respiratory depression. Less toxic plants, such as poinsettia, are likely to cause only mild reactions, such as drooling, lip licking, skin irritation, vomiting and diarrhea.
The good news is that plenty of attractive houseplants are fairly safe to keep around pets. Here are some suggestions:
- African Daisy (Dimorphotheca aurantiaca)
- African Violet (Saintpaulia ionantha)
- Aluminum Plant (Pilea spp.)
- Baby’s tears (Soleiria soleirolii)
- Golden Bamboo (Phyllostachys aurea)
- Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia reginae)
- Bird’s Nest Fern (Asplenium nidus)
- Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata)
- Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera bridgesii)
- Coleus (Coleus hybridus)
- Echeveria (Echeveria spp.)
- Geraniums (Pelargonium spp.)
- Impatiens (Impatiens wallerana)
- Jade Plant (Crassula argentea)
- Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum spp.)
- Orchids (Paphiopedilum spp.)
- Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum)
- Wax Plant (Hoya carmosa)
- Zebra Plant (Aphelandra squarrosa)
While these plants are not considered harmful to pets if they eat them, keep in mind that any kind of foreign matter ingested by your pet might upset his stomach. You may see vomiting or diarrhea if your dog or cat decides to swallow a large enough amount plant material. Once the chewed up plant has left his system, he should be fine, with no lasting effects.
The best way to avoid having any issues with plants and your pet is to place them in areas where your dog or cat is unlikely to get at them. High windowsills make it hard for dogs—and some cats—to reach, and the extra sun is good for the plants.
For more information on toxic plants, or to get immediate help if you suspect your pet has eaten something poisonous, visit the Pet Poison Hotline at www.petpoisonhelpline.com or call 800-213-6680.
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.
The Cats and the Bees
By Sandy Robins
Did you know that July 10 was “Don’t Step on a Bee Day.” Seriously, who comes up with this stuff? If you don’t believe me, go to a website called DaysOfTheYear.com and check this out along with national waffle day and national gummi bear day…
The whole idea of this day is to help preserve bees, which are in danger in many parts of the world. While saving bees is a good thing, they can present a problem when you have cats. Cats find them irresistible to watch, chase—and catch.
We have a succulent on our balcony where the cats are allowed to sit safely and sun themselves. Every year it produces a huge stem with hundreds of tiny yellow flowers and with it comes the bees that probably get more pollen from this one stop than from flitting from flower to flower.
Fudge couldn’t care less. Been there done that—this occurs every year. But Ziggy is fixated, watching their every movement. It must make him dizzy when several bees arrive at once and flit all over this huge flowering stem. When one bee lost its sense of direction and flew inside Ziggy took after it at high speed. I had to spring into action to prevent ensuing conflict.
After a couple of weeks of this, I realized I couldn’t sit and watch Ziggy watching the bees any longer because eventually he could catch one and probably get stung, so I cut off the huge stem and put into it into a vase instead.
What do you do if your cat gets stung on her nose, paws or anywhere else? First off, if possible, get the entire stinger out. (Note: wasps, yellow jackets, hornets and bumble bees don’t leave their “stingers” behind.) A credit card is your best friend when it comes to removing a stinger. Use the credit card to scrape it away, making sure you get the whole stinger. Don’t use tweezers or your fingers as you might end up releasing more venom into or onto your cat. A sting won’t be too painful for your cat, according to veterinarians, but the site can swell up quickly. Ice will help reduce the swelling and it’s also a good idea to apply an antibiotic cream.
A friend’s cat chomped on a bee and got stung inside his cheek. That necessitated a trip to the vet and an antihistamine injection. In fact, any bee sting is definitely worth a follow up to the vet because cats can have an allergic reaction and go into shock. They might have difficulty breathing if the tissues of the throat swell. In addition, their blood pressure could plunge, resulting in a life-threatening complication. If your cat exhibits any of these symptoms after being stung, take her to a veterinarian immediately.
Sorry bees. Next year when this plant flowers, I am going to cut off the flowering stem and put it in a vase straight away. I am going to buy Ziggy a toy that replicates a bee on a wand and play with him instead.
About the Author: Sandy Robins is the 2013 winner of the “Excellence in Journalism and Outstanding Contribution to the Pet Industry Award.” Her work appears on many of the country’s leading pet platforms, such as MSNBC.com, MSN.com and TODAYShow.com. She is a regular contributor and columnist in multiple national and international publications, including Cat Fancy, as well as the author of the award-winning books “Fabulous Felines: Health and Beauty Secrets for the Pampered Cat” and “For The Love of Cats.” Learn more about Sandy on her website or Facebook page. #welovecats
5 Tips to Keep Your Pets Safe This 4th of July
Keep Pets Safe this 4th of July. For Americans, Independence Day is a time for celebration and reflection. This is especially a time to honor veterans and active duty soldiers who have paid and continue to pay the ultimate price for Americans to remain free.
However, every 4th of July thousands of pets are scared away from their homes by the fireworks. Many are lost and most end up in shelters never to be claimed by their original owners.
Keep pet safety on your mind, please be sure that we take extra precautions and planning around our Independence Day. Our pets tend to be fearful of fireworks and loud bangs. To keep your home and your pets safety a top priority on the upcoming holiday to do list, we have outlined 5 tips to pet safety on the 4th of July.
With the holiday fast approaching, Animal Behavior College (ABC) encourages pet owners to prepare now and take extra precautions to ensure they protect and keep their four-legged friends safe and secure.
4th of July Pet Safety Tips:
Prepare in Advance. Make plans in advance to ensure pets are micro-chipped with current contact information and are wearing a secure collar with appropriate identification tags. Tags should include: your name, a current phone number (preferably your mobile number) and the name and contact information of the microchip company. This will prove helpful in locating your pet in the event he becomes lost or manages to escape.
Keep Your Pet Comfortable and Inside Your Home. Observance activities can overexcite your pet, while festive foods and treats meant for humans can harm your pet’s health. If possible, safely secure your pet away from the soiree. Be sure to communicate clear instructions to guests not to feed your pet, as doing so could cause inflammation of a digestive gland and can be very painful and serious. Alcohol is toxic to dogs and cats. Never leave unattended alcoholic beverages within their reach.
Watch Your Pet Around Children. Some dogs have difficulties interacting with children. They become anxious, stressed and exhibit verbal behaviors and actions such as growling and biting. To avoid negative situations and signs of trouble, closely monitor the interaction between the dog and child. If the dog ignores your command and becomes too aggressive, move him to a secure area or crate.
Hire a Pet Sitter. With an abundance of activities and guests to tend, hiring a pet sitter is an option. Pet sitters adhere to your pet’s routine, provide exercise and walks, administer water and feedings and spend quality time. This personalized care not only relieves owners of guilt and worry, but also gives them an opportunity to relax and fully enjoy their guest and festivities.
Move Pet to a Quiet, Soothing Area. If a pet sitter is not an option, consider moving your pet to a safe place such as a crate, quiet room or escape-proof part of the house. Be sure to check occasionally to ensure there is plenty of water. The center of your home is a great place to allow your pet to feel safe and secure. If anxiety for your pet is too much during fireworks, consider ordering them a Thundershirt to have on-hand for the holiday festivities.
No Fireworks for Fido. For dogs, fireworks and reverberations leave them feeling agitated, startled and stressed. Keep dogs away from fireworks displays and noisy celebrations. Instead, create a peaceful environment by blocking outside sights and sounds, closing blinds and curtains, leaving on the radio or TV and providing their favorite toy or blanket.
Lastly, should your dog get scared and escape, contact your local animal shelter and animal control agency right away.
Animal Behavior College offers three certifications: Dog Obedience Program (DOP), Grooming Instruction Program (GIP) and Veterinary Assistant Program. For more information about Animal Behavior College, visit our website at www.AnimalBehaviorCollege.com.
Heat Awareness Day 2014
Several states are already experiencing above normal temperatures and sizzling, record breaking heat. Weather predictors such as the 2014 Farmers’ Almanac indicate that this summer will be exceptionally hot across much of the U.S. Since heat is the No. 1 weather-related killer in the U.S. (According to the U.S. Department of Commerce National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), Animal Behavior College encourages pet owners to prepare now to ensure they protect their dogs and cats from heat’s devastating effects. National Heat Awareness Day on May 23 serves as a great reminder.
“Summer is one of the busiest seasons for most people,” said Steven Appelbaum. “With so many activity-filled days, it is easy for dog and cat owners to forget that extreme heat can be potentially fatal. Planning and early preparation are key to ensuring pets are comfortable and safe.”
Pet Summer Safety Tips
The college recommends five readiness tips to help your pet beat the heat and other summer safety-related concerns:
Prevent Heat Stroke. As your pet’s body temperature increases, it cannot accommodate excessive external heat. Extreme heat can lead to heat stroke resulting in multiple organ dysfunctions. Keep your pet out of the heat and in a cool, shaded area. Provide access to water.
Prevent Sun Burn. White dogs and cats and those that have thin or no hair are more susceptible to sunburn. Just like humans, they can sunburn. Use pet safe sunscreens and keep your pet out of the sun. Some sun blocks contain potentially harmful ingredients, so consult your veterinarian before applying sunscreen to your cat.
Avoid Dog Walks on Hot Pavement. Pavement can get extremely hot and can cause lacerations, paw infections and burnt pads. Unfortunately, these injuries are often not apparent to the human eye. Walk dogs when temperatures are coolest or in shaded areas on the grass.
Keep Your Pet Safe Around Water. It is a myth that all dogs are good swimmers. Keep a watchful eye on them around pools, lakes or any other body of water. Ensure fresh water is available to ensure your pet does not drink water from the pool. Visit our blog to learn more about Dog Water Safety.
Safely Remove Ticks. Ticks transmit disease, which can cause fatal complications. If you notice a tick on your pet, it is important to remove it immediately and carefully. Visit our blog for tips about properly Removing Ticks.
Ensure your pet has access to plenty of fresh water and a way to cool off. Never leave pets in parked vehicles. If you notice that your pet is in distress, visit your veterinarian right away.
By following these easy heat awareness and safety tips, you and your pets will enjoy a fun and safe summer season.