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Benefits of Hugging Your Cat

Hug Your Cat!

By Sandy Robins

Did you know that June 4 is officially Hug Your Cat Day? It’s the purrfect oppurrtunity to celebrate the power of the purr.

It’s actually been scientifically proven that cats are good for us. Research done at the University of Minnesota deduced that cat owners are 40 percent less likely to have a heart attack.

There is no question that if you have had a bad day at the office or, for any reason, are particularly stressed, the moment your cat greets you at the door and insists on a game of fetch (as my Ziggy does) or simply climbs on your lap, you begin to relax and benefit from your cat’s slow and gentle purr.

There are many ways to celebrate this wonderful human-feline bond. Sitting and relaxing with your cat on your lap is a no-brainer.

Grooming your cat can be considered “hugging” her, too, because it is a great way to bond. Once you have found the ideal grooming tool, cats enjoy being brushed and it’s a great way to spend time with her, not to mention the benefits of getting rid of shedding fur.

I mention the ideal grooming tool because lots of cats don’t like the feel of anything metal on their fur and skin. They prefer a grooming mitt that offers a simultaneous massage—who can resist that?

Hugging also falls under the heading of playing with your cat. Cats enjoy all kinds of games and will turn anything into a fun toy—such as a cardboard box that you had something delivered in.

However, the best games are interactive ones .In other words, games that involve both you and your favorite feline—just like Ziggy’s endless games of fetch, which we play with a wand toy. Wands and laser tools are a great way for the two of you to interact. Cats enjoy pounce-and-play type games and will often include a couple of head butts during the games. This is their way of hugging you back.

Cats blink at their people and also yawn, which are recognized signs of affection; so be sure to blink back. Your feline will understand the communication.

But the most important thing to remember is that cats enjoy their people every day. It’s not a matter of hugging your cat, but how many times you hug them in a day that really counts!

Hug Your Cat Day is a great idea to have on the pet calendar. Actually, every day should be hug your cat day. Your cat deserves nothing less.


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

 

The ABCs of Gardening with Pets

The ABCs of Gardening with Pets:
Safe Natural Flea & Tick Repellants

By Stacy Mantle

The use of herbs as natural pest repellents on pets and in gardens is nothing new, and it can be a very effective way to decrease or eliminate your reliance on chemicals. However, when planting herbs, be sure to consider herbs that add to the health of you and your pet, while naturally repelling fleas and ticks.

There are a number of plants that can help you naturally control pests on pets in your garden and around the house. When the proper herbs are mixed between your plants in a garden, they can help naturally repel fleas and ticks, while attracting valuable insects such as ladybugs and worms.

Beware of Toxic Plants
Some of the most effective herbs used to control insects are not only toxic to fleas and ticks, but to pets as well. Common herbs that are generally recommended for flea-and-tick repellent, but can be toxic to your pet if consumed, include:

  • Flea Bane (Pennyroyal)
  • Eucalyptus
  • Citronella
  • Fleawort
  • Wormwood
  • Tansy
  • Sweet Bay
  • Rue

These herbs should be avoided in the yard and garden when you have pets.

Safe, Natural Repellents

This leads us to some useful plants that not only act as natural repellents, but are safe for your pets if they decide to snack on them while you’re away. (Note that while these will repel fleas and ticks, they might also work to attract other animals.)

Star Anise is a cousin to the magnolia vine, and placing whole star anise pods around your home can help keep cockroaches and termites at bay. Anise is a natural dog attractant, and many canines have been known to react in the same way cats react to catnip. Star Anise is known to promote vitality and the licorice-spiced plant has quickly become one of the most sought after plants in the world for its healing qualities—shikimic acid, the starting ingredient in the human prescription medication, Tamiflu, is extracted from it.

Catnip is from the mint family and is a very safe and highly effective for the control of fleas and ticks. According to Iowa State University, nepetalactone (the essential oil in catnip) is 10 times more effective than DEET. Remember that anything from the mint plant family is very invasive and can easily take over a garden if left unchecked. Instead, consider some well-positioned containers to keep mint under control. As you know, catnip will act as an attractant for most cats, so you may find your favorite feline rolling around in your garden each morning.

Rosemary is a natural pest repellent that works especially well as a flea, tick and mosquito repellent. You may see rosemary as a natural supplement in many herbal shampoos and conditioners due its effectiveness in repelling pests while serving as an invigorating and refreshing scent for pets and people. Since it does well in nearly any climate, Rosemary is a wonderful addition to any garden.

Lavender is a natural calmant for pets and people, and it also happens to be a great option for natural pest control. These are perfect for containers and will keep pets calm as they lounge on the patio. Not only is it a great way to repel pests, it can help heal sensitive skin after a bite. Simple rub some essential oil directly on the bite and the itch and pain will immediately dissipate.

Lemongrass is not only used to create delicious Asian food, it’s a natural mosquito repellent. You’ll find that this herb naturally attracts cats and naturally repels dogs (under most circumstances), so keep that in mind when you plant. Another benefit to this plant is its ability to keep deer from your garden. Generally, the more fragrant a plant, the less likely deer will be interested in approaching. Consider placing in containers as it has the ability to take over your garden.

Sage has one of the longest histories for medicinal and culinary plants. Egyptians used it as an agent against delirium; the Romans used it to stop bleeding; and it is still used to reduce swelling in injuries. Not only does sage have medicinal values, it’s a natural repellent for fleas and ticks. Consider planting some in containers around your garden. Since it’s a desert plant, sage is naturally drought repellent and low-maintenance, doing particularly well in dry desert climates.

Chamomile is not only easy to grow; it makes for some wonderful tea and offers a broad range of medicinal purposes for man and pets. It’s also a natural repellent for fleas and ticks. Steep a tablespoon of in a cup of water, then cool and add it to your pet’s food or water. This can help relieve gas in pets, encourage healing, expel worms and act as a natural calmant. This makes chamomile one of the most versatile herbs around.

Sprinkling food-grade diatomaceous earth (DE) around plants can also help stop most pests, especially fleas and ticks. Not ready to start a garden? You can also apply food-grade DE to your pets coat and on their bedding to repel keep fleas and ticks. To obtain food-grade DE, check your local garden store or order Flea Dust directly from DERMagic. Flea Dust is safe for all animals, including birds and fish. (Do not use pool DE or DE that is not food-grade as it is treated with chemicals during processing.)


Stacy Mantle is the founder of PetsWeekly.com, a columnist for many publications, including Animal Behavior College and Pet Age, and the bestselling author of the fantasy novel, “Shepherd’s Moon.” For more information about Stacy, please visit www.StacyMantle.com

Canine First Aid

Being prepared with CPR could help save your dog’s life.

By Audrey Pavia

Canine First Aid & CPR

Scenario: Your dog is sick or injured. What do you do? The first thought for most dog owners is to rush him to a veterinarian. But steps you take before you get to the animal hospital can mean the difference between life and death.

April is Pet First-Aid Awareness month; making it a good time to prepare should your dog need immediate medical help.

First-Aid Kit

It’s important to keep a first-aid kit handy in the event of an injury. If your dog is injured or ingests poison, you can intercede on his behalf just before you take him to an animal hospital.

For your dog’s first-aid kit, you can purchase a pre-made first-aid kit designed for dogs, or assemble your own. If you decide to put together a homemade pet first-aid kit, gather the following items:

  • Emergency information: Your veterinarian’s phone number and the number of an emergency referral veterinary hospital where you can take your dog after hours. (Visit the Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Society website to search for a local emergency hospital) Keep the number of the Animal Poison Control Center in the first-aid kit as well (888-4ANI-HELP).
  • Gauze: A roll of gauze to wrap a wound or tie around your dog’s muzzle to keep him from biting if he’s injured.
  • Towels and cloth: Small towels or strips of clean cloth to control bleeding or protect a wound.
  • Adhesive wrap: An adhesive wrap made especially for use on animals to wrap gauze or cloth bandages.
  • Milk of Magnesia or activated charcoal: To absorb toxins in case your dog ingests poison. (Contact a vet or Poison Control Center before administering.)
  • Hydrogen peroxide: To induce vomiting when giving orally in the event a dog has swallowed something poisonous. (Contact a vet or Poison Control Center before administering.)
  • Thermometer: A digital fever thermometer for determining your dog’s rectal temperature. (This information can be reported to your vet upon arrival at the hospital.)

Keep your dog’s first-aid kit in a bag or box clearly labeled and place it somewhere you will remember in case an emergency occurs. Always take your dog to a vet immediately after you apply first aid.

Pet First Aid & CPR

Knowing how to perform CPR on your dog in the event he stops breathing can be a lifesaver. Understanding how to manage a wound or electric shock can make a difference in your dog’s survival.

The Red Cross offers pet first-aid classes around the country that are designed to teach you how to manage emergencies when they come up. You will learn how to respond to health emergencies and provide basic first aid for pets. You can take either Dog First Aid, or Cat and Dog First Aid.

The courses cover the following:

  • Understanding basic pet owner responsibilities
  • Administering medicine
  • Managing breathing and cardiac emergencies
  • Managing urgent care situation
  • Treating wounds
  • Treating electrical shock
  • Caring for eye, foot and ear injuries
  • Preparing for disasters

 

To find a pet first-aid class in your area, visit www.redcross.org/take-a-class. [The Red Cross also has a Pet First Aid app, available through the App Store, Google Play and Kindle Fire.]

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.

 

All-Natural Flea Control for Pets

How to keep pets at bay all year long.

By Stacy Mantle

Cat Scratching may be Fleas

You don’t have to share your home with pets to find yourself falling victim to a flea infestation, but the chances of you seeing fleas are a lot higher with pets. While chemical-based flea repellents are the easiest way to treat, they are also the most dangerous method and [could] pose a risk to you, your pets and your family.

Late last year, the EPA agreed that many of the flea and tick collars on the market are dangerous and have cancelled registrations of collars containing the flea-fighting agent, propoxur, which includes collars manufactured by Wellmaker International and Sergeant’s Pet Care Products Inc.

According to the EPA, “The registrants agreed to phase out the products by producing them until April 1, 2015, and stopping distribution after April 1, 2016. Although the products do not meet the current safety standard they do not pose a public health risk if label directions are followed.”

Don’t despair. There are many ways to control flea and tick infestations without waging chemical warfare on your family.

Know Your Enemy, Know Your Environment

The life cycle of a flea is three to four weeks, which is important to keep in mind when you first do battle with the pests. This is important to know because it can take you at least that long to eradicate them from your home. Fleas are notorious for learning how to adapt to situations, so be very vigilant to any symptoms of flea bites. As fleas can lay up to 60 eggs a day, and a cocoon surviving on average a year without feeding, infestations can happen quickly.

Temperature and humidity levels increase the likelihood of a flea and tick infestation. To see when conditions are at their worst in your area of the country, use the weather channel’s handy app.

Bathing Your Pet

Last year, DERMagic released the first “Flea Barthat is formulated with diatomaceous earth (DE). This all-natural shampoo is made in the USA and provides protection against the pests. [DE is a desiccant; it works by drying out fleas’ waxy outer layer. They dehydrate and die.]

If you decide to purchase DE on your own, you need to ensure it is food-grade. DE used in pools has been processed by heat, which nullifies the insecticide benefits. It is often treated with toxic chemicals and is dangerous to use around you or your pets.

After shampooing, use a fine-toothed flea comb seeking out adult larvae or flea dust. The use of a flea comb should be done daily.

Cleaning Your home

Vacuuming is one of the most effective ways to rid your home of fleas and it should be done frequently. After each vacuuming, you should remove the bag and clean filters right away. You should also plan on washing your pet’s bedding each week.

Apply DE in areas that flea infestation are most likely to occur. This includes pet bedding, carpeted areas, nooks and crevices where larvae are most likely to live.

Natural Pest Spray & Flea Traps

Other natural pest control favorites that I know work include: Buzz Guard Natural Insect Repellent, Mad About Organics Natural Insect Repellent, and NatuRepel from A Balanced K9. They are all highly effective and safe for dogs (although remember to use with caution – too much of anything is dangerous!) Remember, less is more with essential oils and they should never be used on or around cats. If you are in need of a household deterrent, one of the more effective (but natural) ones I’ve found is BioDefense. But, look around and you’ll find dozens of others that are all natural and safe if you follow directions closely.

Remember, all natural does NOT mean that they are safe to use on cats, so pay very close attention to labeling.

At night, placing a dish of soapy water beneath a small nightlight near where your pet sleeps can help trap the little creatures overnight. If you’re not comfortable having your pets around soapy water, there are many electric flea traps available that are safe and effective.

Nutritional Support

Flea infestations in pets are often linked to nutritional deficiencies and poor diets. One of the most important things you can do for your pets is keep them on a good diet. Feed your pets a superb diet that is natural and free from additives or preservatives. Other digestive aids such as omega 3s, fish oils and plant enzymes can sometimes help strengthen their immunity. While many “natural” websites tout the use of garlic or onion for your pets, these things can cause extreme toxicity in dogs and cats and should be avoided.

External Control

There has been a great deal of success in using nematodes, which are microscopic worms that eat flea larvae. Nematodes can be purchased at your local pet and garden stores (but they are virtually useless in the West where temps exceed 100 degrees). While studies are still ongoing, it’s widely accepted that nematodes do best in climates that have a sandy, moist soil. Initial results with studies in California, Texas and Louisiana have seen up to 95percent reduction in fleas. However, areas such as Florida have not seen those types of results.

Natural Control to Avoid

  • Essential oils can be either very beneficial or extremely toxic in pets. For this reason, it’s important that you avoid using them on pets unless you have consulted with an expert.
  • Brewer’s Yeast can result in skin allergies in many pets.
  • Garlic can result in damage to your cat’s red blood cells, which may result in hemolytic anemia and eventual death. Dogs have also shown severe reactions to garlic, and so this common home remedy should be avoided.

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

 

Cat Hairballs – Cough It Up

Preventing hairballs—or their aftermath—helps keep cats healthy (and floors clean).

By Sandy Robins

This April 25 marks the ninth year cat lovers will celebrate National Hairball Awareness Day. It is interesting to note that felines aren’t the only hairball expellers; rabbits do, too. So do cud-chewing animals such as cows, oxen, sheep, goats, llamas, deer and antelopes. And—wait for it—people, too! A human hairball is called a trichobezoar. It’s common in people who compulsively play with their hair and swallow it.

Now, this is not a day you want to celebrate by being greeted by a big hairball presented by your cat. A celebration would be NOT waking up to a hairball on the rug.

Most cats are able to expel hairballs by vomiting them up. But often that is the tip of the iceberg of hair—so to speak. Ingested hair can cause a serious blockage in the intestinal tract and lead to all sorts of complications.

It’s so important to remember that while cats are self-groomers, they still need help from their pet parents, especially if the cats have long hair and, also if they are elderly and simply are not agile and mobile enough to groom themselves properly.

There are lots of excellent grooming tools on the market that help get rid of thick undercoats. I am always telling my friends with cats that grooming should be considered a fun way to spend quality time with their cat rather than a chore. My cats really enjoy being massaged with a hand mitt, which picks up the loose hair as your brush.

For owners who need to deal with their cats’ ingested hair, there are products, such as Petromalt Hairball Relief Gel from Sergeants PetCare, which can help alleviate the formation of hairballs by coating the digestive tract to prevent build up—they also act as a laxative. It’s simply a matter of putting a dollop on a front paw and letting the cat lick it off. For really fussy cats, put a blob on their lower chin and let them take over from there.

For anyone wanting to know more about hairballs, the National Museum of Health and Medicine (NMHM) in Washington, D. C., has a virtual hairball exhibition on its website. You can learn why hairballs develop in the stomach and see examples of them from various animals, including humans.

There are also craft books such as Crafting with Cat Hair, which shows readers how to transform stray clumps of fur into soft and adorable handicrafts. From kitty tote bags and finger puppets to fluffy cat toys, picture frames and more, these projects are cat-friendly, eco-friendly and require no special equipment or training.

For the past couple of years, there have been all kinds of hairball events, including a celebrity lookalike competition where people were asked to brush their cats and take the fur and style it into a celebrity. I took part last year and got my cats’ shedded fur to look like Howard Stern—well sort of….

On a final note: when you’re stressed and want to pull your hair out, remember it’s simply a phrase, not a call to action. Brush your cat regularly 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

 

Pet Identity Crisis

Make sure your pets have proper ID at all times because you never know when they’ll need it most.

By Lisa King

Pet Protection Matters Most in Times of Emergency

Having a dog or cat go missing is a very traumatic event. Not knowing whether they’ve been hit by a car, been pet-napped or have simply wandered off is nerve-wracking. Providing your pet with effective identification is the best way to ensure that if the worst happens, you can be reunited with your lost pet.

Some dogs are real escape artists and will take advantage of a loose board in a fence or an open gate; some have been known to dig under fences to get free. If the escape happens while you are at work, you might not find out for hours, giving your dog plenty of time to wander quite a distance.

Even if you have indoor-only cats, a door left ajar can mean a missing cat. Two of my cats once pushed a loose screen out of a window and went on a walkabout for several minutes before someone noticed. Fortunately, we were able to round them up quickly.

If someone finds your pet and brings him to a shelter, the staff will make every effort to find you. If your pet has no ID and you don’t turn up looking for him, he is at risk of being euthanized. But this tragic outcome is easy to prevent.

A simple metal tag bearing your pet’s name and your phone number attached to his collar can make all the difference. These can be custom made at most pet supply stores or ordered online. Someone who finds your wandering pet needs only call your number to let you know where your dog or cat is.

Another option is a specially designed flash drive. These are available in shock-proof, waterproof cases that attach to your pet’s collar. You program your contact information onto the drive so whoever finds your dog can plug the drive into his computer and contact you. These devices can also include medical information if your pet has a serious condition.

Since collars can come off—especially cat collars, which should always be breakaway collars—all your pets should be micro-chipped. If your pet is ever stolen, the thieves can remove tags, but cannot remove the microchip.

Some countries require that all pets be microchipped. Most U.S. shelters routinely microchip their cats and dogs, but if not, you can pay your veterinarian a one-time fee of about $50. She will inject the tiny chip (about the size of a grain of rice) with a syringe, usually just under the skin between the shoulder blades.

This procedure is no more painful than a vaccination would be for you. The chip remains inactive until it is scanned. You must then put your contact information into a pet database. If your pet is picked up and brought to a shelter, he will be scanned to see if he is microchipped. If so, shelter staff will contact you through the database. Always keep your contact information up to date. The chip will remain usable for the life of your pet.

Since there are a few different types of chips, shelter staff might have to check several registries before they find your pet. You can simplify the job by putting a tag on your pet’s collar that names the type of microchip he is carrying. Newer scanners can read all types of chips, but older ones can miss certain chips.

Microchipping may sound pricey, but it can save you the trouble and expense of searching the neighborhood, posting fliers, and paying rewards, not to mention the anxiety and heartache of losing a family member.


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.”

 

Allergies in Dogs – Providing Allergy Relief for Dogs

allergy free dogs

Allergies in dogs, what to know…

By Lisa King

Even though the eastern part of the U.S. is covered in ice and snow and California is experiencing heavy rains and mudslides at press time, spring will eventually come. When it finally arrives, people with seasonal allergies will begin sneezing and wiping runny eyes. Although their symptoms are very different, dogs can suffer from seasonal allergies, too.

Allergies are basically an overreaction of the immune system to a specific trigger. While in allergic humans, spring (and in some cases fall) brings on upper respiratory misery, in dogs who are allergic to pollen the symptoms are usually skin-related. Although allergic dogs sometimes sneeze and have runny eyes, they usually scratch, chew and lick themselves excessively, especially their feet. A dog who scratches all the time can create open sores, hair loss, hot spots and skin infections. These dogs also are more susceptible to ear inflammation and infections. Not to mention, they feel miserable from all the itching.

If you notice your dog scratching excessively, take him to your veterinarian to have him evaluated. He might have flea-bite dermatitis, an allergy to flea bites, another spring and summer phenomenon. This condition is usually relieved by effective flea control and thorough house cleaning.

However, if fleas aren’t the problem, your vet might diagnose your dog with a seasonal allergy. There are several ways you can help your allergic dog be happier and more comfortable. Clean off his feet when he comes in from outside so he doesn’t track pollen and other allergens into the house. Bathe him often; this removes allergens in his coat. Vacuum your home frequently to keep floors free of allergens. Wash your dog’s bedding and blankets often, too, to remove accumulated allergens. If it’s feasible, request that people remove their shoes before they come into the house to reduce tracking in pollen. Keep track of the pollen count in your area, and on bad days reduce the amount of time your dog spends outdoors.

Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids can be effective in reducing minor inflammation. Many supplements formulated for dogs are available at pet supply stores. Ask your vet if your dog should be eating an anti-inflammatory diet. These diets are formulated to contain very little grain.

Medications that suppress the immune system can help reduce allergic reactions. Some over-the-counter oral antihistamines, such as Benadryl, are safe for dogs, but check with your vet for dosage recommendations, which will vary based on the size of your dog. These medications reduce itching and inflammation, but can make your dog sleepy.

If you try all these measures to mitigate your dog’s allergies but he is still scratching, your vet might recommend oral or injectable steroids. They are effective with many allergic dogs, but they can have side effects, especially if used over the long term. Cyclosporin, sold as Atopica, is the same drug that people take to prevent organ transplants rejection. It is an oral medication, and its use in dogs is relatively new. It can be more effective than steroids and has fewer side effects, but it is also more expensive.

Your vet might also recommend an intradermal skin test, which is similar to a human allergy test. The vet will shave off a patch of hair and apply specific allergens to isolate the one causing problems. If she is able to find the source of your dog’s problems, she can give your dog a series of allergy shots or a vaccine to prevent future reactions. These solutions can be costly, however.

Some dogs grow out of allergies, but some dogs’ allergies get worse as they age. If you think your dog might have seasonal allergies, the wisest course is to take him to the vet as soon as he begins scratching to prevent his symptoms from becoming too severe so he can enjoy the spring weather outdoors with you.


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 soon-to-be-released “Vulture au Vin.”

Doggy Daycare – Keeping Fido Entertained While You’re Away

By Stacy Mantle

Doggy Daycare – Pros & Cons

There are many advantages to putting your dog in daycare during the long work week. If you live a busy life (and who doesn’t), you probably don’t get as many chances to let your dog socialize with other animals or engage with other humans. Socialization is an important part of your pet’s development and doggy daycare can help you meet that need. Dogs are social creatures, which is just one reason they make ideal companions for humans. Like us, they can become “overly attached” to a human or another animal; they can become stressed when left alone; and they can become destructive when left alone. Daycare can be an excellent way to wean your dog off an unhealthy attachment.

Doggy daycare is much like “child daycare” in that it provides an outlet for energy, offers an environment for socialization, and if you choose the right daycare, can help you in your training protocol so that you have a happier, healthier, well-adjusted pet.

Choosing a Daycare for Your Dog

Choosing a quality daycare is the most important thing you can do. You should only work with daycare facilities that employ qualified dog trainers who understand and love dogs. A good place to start is by asking your current trainer for recommendations.

Be very cautious about unlicensed facilities or ones that take place in a person’s backyard. A fun day at daycare can result in tragedy if an aggressive animal is added to the mix or if the owners are not trained in how to deal with aggression.

It’s very important that you are honest in assessing and reporting your dog’s needs to whichever facility you choose. For example, if you are working on separation anxiety with your dog, or if your dog is aggressive towards other animals, you will need to find a trainer who understands and knows how to deal with these problems. If you have a well-balanced dog who gets along with others and simply needs to burn off some energy, a communal daycare will probably be just fine.

Who Can Attend and Requirements

Requirements will vary according to the facility, but generally groups prefer dogs to be at least 4 months of age. For general daycare programs, such as those offered by pet stores, they usually require your dog to be well-socialized with other dogs. They also require your dogs to be in good health and spayed/neutered.

Every daycare worth its salt will require your dog’s vaccinations to be up-to-date. This generally includes bordetella, rabies, distemper, parainfluenza and parvovirus. They might also require your pet to have some sort of flea/tick protection (e.g., Frontline, Advantix or other topical treatments). If your dog is prone to skin conditions or has had a reaction to any topical medication, be sure you discuss this with the daycare staff and ask for an exception.

Unfortunately, most bully breeds or wolf hybrids are going to be turned away from many daycare facilities. However, there are many daycare facilities that have trainers who specialize in these breeds and you’ll want to avoid any daycare that doesn’t want your beloved dog there, anyway.

If you have a dog who does not qualify or does not do well in this environment—and there is no place qualified to take him nearby—consider hiring a dog walker to come to your home throughout the day. These are wonderful services that allow your dog the one-on-one time he needs and can be a great way to help socialize him during the day. Be just as certain that the person you hire for dog walking is well-trained and understands your dog, and is licensed and bonded. You’ll want to avoid any liability if anything happens at your home. Again, the best thing you can do is be honest with anyone who interacts with your dog.

Cost

Cost varies dramatically according to region, the quality of the facility and the education of trainers available, as well as the frequency of visits. Some places range a few dollars a day to a monthly program that includes training and range in the hundreds. However, you’ll find that many fall into the $25-per-day category—a small cost compared to the destruction an unsocialized, untrained dog can do to a home while you’re at work!


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

 

Cat Bath – How To Bathe a Cat

how to bathe a cat, cat bath

How To Bathe A Cat

The general perception is that cats hate water, but in fact, they are natural swimmers. Certain breeds such as Abyssinians and Turkish Vans might even willingly join you in the shower. This misconception probably persists because the average domestic feline isn’t usually exposed to water on a regular basis. For an adult cat who has never been bathed to suddenly find herself in warm water can be very stressful and could even cause her heart rate to spike. However, if you introduce your feline to water from kittenhood, she will learn to tolerate a bath—and may even enjoy it.

It’s a good idea to get everything ready before you bring your cat into the equation. Make sure you have your shampoo and conditioning products open and have at least two towels in place. Special absorbent pet towels are excellent for removing excess water before you wrap your cat in an ordinary towel. If possible, warm your towels in advance by placing them in the dryer.

Remember, you have options. You can bathe your cat in the kitchen sink, in your bathtub or even in the shower stall. It will depend on how tolerant she is. Wherever you decide, be sure to put down a rubber mat or a towel on which she can stand. This will give her traction and make bath time less stressful for her—and for you.

Often, cats don’t like the sound of handheld shower sprays more than the actual water. The best way to deal with this type of hesitant cat is to place her in position and have several buckets of warm water on hand along with a sponge and a cup. The idea is to use the first bucket of water to sponge her before and during the shampooing and conditioning ritual and then to use the second bucket of water and cup to gently pour water over her fur for the final rinse.

Start washing your cat from her neck down to her toes and tail. Massage the bath formula into her fur—she will like that part. Dab shampoo and conditioner onto a cotton ball and work gently around the eyes, nose, ears and under the chin. Some cats might prefer the use of a pet wipe on facial areas.

If you are using any kind of special skin treatment, experts suggest that you apply it twice during a bath for it to effectively treat the condition. Leave the second application on for 5 to 15 minutes (cat permitting, of course) to allow the active ingredients to be properly absorbed.

Rinse the fur well to remove all traces of shampoo and conditioner, especially if you are using the “buckets-of-water” routine. If you are showering the products off, allow the water to run over your cat for at least 5 minutes to enable her skin to be properly hydrated. It’s very important to rinse well because products not designed to be left on the skin and fur can cause irritation. They might also be ingested when your cat takes over her own grooming and starts licking herself after you’ve completed the bath.

Also, never allow water to enter your cat’s ears—fold them over when rinsing. It’s not a good idea to place cotton balls in the ears because you may forget to remove them.

When your cat has been thoroughly rinsed and while she is still in the tub, use an absorbent pet towel to remove excess water. Then scoop her up in a warm, dry, fluffy one for the final toweling.

Longhaired cats should be gently brushed or combed after a bath so that their fur doesn’t mat during the drying process. If you are going to use a hair dryer, make sure that it’s made specifically for pets because those designed for humans are far too hot—and noisy.

No matter how efficient you are and how wonderful the experience is, you will probably still get a look from your cat that implies you didn’t do a proper job, so she is now forced to “clean up” after you.

But that’s just her natural grooming instincts kicking in. It’s what cats do.


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

 

10 Dog Breed Myths – Choose the Right Dog Breed

10 Dog Breed Myths

Revealing the truth behind these common misconceptions.

By Audrey Pavia


Urban legend isn’t limited only to stories about Bigfoot and Pop Rocks. A number of dog breeds have also fallen victim to rumors that have spread like wildfire through the years. Here’s a look at 10 myths about dog breeds and the truth behind the rumors.


1 .Myth: Irish Setters Are Dumb.

It’s hard to know how this rumor started. It could be because of the Irish Setter’s puppyish, clown-like nature. Not serious and stoic like some sporting breeds, the Irish Setter likes to goof around. The truth is that Irish Setters are intelligent dogs bred to work closely with hunters out in the field.


2. Myth: Greyhounds Need a Lot of Exercise.

Not surprisingly, people think that because Greyhounds are famous for their talents on the racetrack, they need a lot of exercise. The truth is that Greyhounds are actually couch potatoes who prefer to cuddle up on the sofa than run around digging up the backyard. Although they love long walks, Greyhounds actually make great house dogs.


3. Myth: Rottweilers Are Vicious.

Although Rottweilers were bred to be guard dogs, they are also very trainable and affectionate. They are not mean by nature, as some people believe, and like any dog, make wonderful companions if they are properly trained and socialized. Although a Rottweiler will give off a ferocious bark when protecting his territory, a well-socialized Rottweiler will greet strangers with a wagging tail once his owner lets him know guests are welcome.


4. Myth: Pugs Are Lazy.

Some people are under the impression that Pugs just want to lay around the house all day. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Although by no means hyper, Pugs are active and happy members of the family, and are often underfoot, looking for the next adventure. Even though they aren’t bred for jogging alongside their human companions, they still enjoy running around the yard chasing a ball or another dog.


5. Myth: Pit Bulls Can Lock Their Jaws.

Pit Bulls suffer from very bad press, and one of the stories often repeated by those who don’t know better is that these dogs can lock on to a human or other dog during a fight. In truth, Pit Bulls have the same mechanics in their jaws as other dog breeds.


6. Myth: Long-haired Breeds Need to be Shaved in the Summertime.

Although dogs such as Siberian Huskies, Chow Chows and American Eskimos might look uncomfortable in the summertime with their long coats, nature has provided them with fur that allows the heat to escape from their bodies when the weather is warm.


7. Myth: Small Breed Dogs Live Longer than Large Breed Dogs.

As a general rule, this is actually true: Smaller breeds tend to live longer than larger breeds. While a Saint Bernard might only make it to 7 years, a Chihuahua can live to be 14 or more.


8. Myth: Shetland Sheepdogs Are Miniature Collies.

Although Shelties might look like small Collies, they are actually a completely separate breed. The American Kennel Club recognizes the Sheltie and the Collie as two distinctly different dogs, both with inborn instincts to herd livestock.


9. Myth: Jack Russell Terriers Are Hyperactive.

Jack Russell Terriers are busy dogs with a lot of energy, but they aren’t hyperactive. While they do need lots of exercise, more than anything, Jack Russells need something to occupy their minds. Interactive toys and playtime with their human companions usually fit the bill.


10. Myth: Labrador Retrievers Have Webbed Feet.

As odd as this may sound, it’s actually true; Labs do have webs between their toes. This feature was bred into the Lab to help him swim, as the breed was originally created to retriever downed waterfowl. Labs can also use their tails as rudders when they are swimming.


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.