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Keep Your Dog Cool with Homemade Frozen Treats

Tasty Frozen Snacks for Dogs

By Lisa King

DogIceCreamHot weather is dangerous to humans and animals alike, and climate change means that longer and hotter summers are on the way. Keeping pets cool is an owner’s responsibility, but confining a dog to an air-conditioned house all day just isn’t feasible. Both you and your dog are going to want to spend time outdoors, so while you’re enjoying the pool, barbecuing or working in the garden, make sure your dog has a way to stay cool and be near you.

We have all seen photos of lions and tigers in zoos licking giant “bloodsicles” during heat waves. These effectively cool down the animals’ bodies so they don’t suffer as much from the heat. You can do the same for your dog without resorting to freezing blood. 

If you have a large dog or multiple dogs, freeze water or salt-free chicken stock in layers in a large plastic container and drop in small toys and treats as each layer freezes. Once it’s fully frozen, run a little hot water over the container and slide the block of ice out onto a flat pan or plate. Set it in the shade where your dog can reach it. He will be able to see the treats and toys and will happily lick away the ice to get to them.

Commercial frozen dog treats are available at pet supply stores and some supermarkets. These are handy, but can be pricey. If you want to save money and be certain of what your dog is consuming, make healthy frozen treats for him at home.

frozendogtreatsThe principles behind making frozen treats are simple: Use foods your dog likes and that are safe for him and combine them in imaginative ways, and then freeze them in ice cube trays (the silicon ones make popping out the treats easy). There are even trays designed for dog treats in which the holes are bone-shaped. You can also freeze treats in small Dixie cups, disposable plastic cups or cupcake liners.

Never add salt or sugar to your dog’s treats. Don’t use grapes, onions, avocados, chocolate, macadamia nuts or anything else on the ASPCA list of foods hazardous to dogs.

Give your dog his frozen treats outside; he is bound to make a mess as the treat melts. Keep in mind that these treats do have calories, so don’t overdo it.

Here is a list of suggested ingredients for frozen dog treats:

  • Plain nonfat yogurt
  • Peanut butter (the natural kind without sweeteners or salt)
  • Bananas
  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Melons
  • Chopped apples or applesauce
  • Canned pumpkin purée (avoid pumpkin pie filling)
  • Grated carrots
  • Cooked ground or shredded meat or poultry
  • Salt-free chicken stock or beef stock
  • Grated cheese (low salt)

The easiest treats to make involve putting a few berries or pieces of chopped fruit (such as banana, melon or apple) in the bottom of each section of an ice cube tray and then filling the tray with yogurt or one of the combinations below. This gives your dog a sweet and healthy treat. For a low-fat savory treat, put a little leftover unseasoned meat or chicken and a pinch of cheese in each section and fill with salt-free stock.

Here are some ideas for combinations your dog will like. If the mixture seems too thick, thin with a little stock or water.

  • Combine peanut butter with a little yogurt or applesauce.
  • Mix pumpkin purée with peanut butter.
  • Pumpkin is also tasty mixed with plain yogurt.
  • Mashed bananas are delicious mixed with yogurt, peanut butter, or a combination.

This isn’t gourmet cooking. Keep the combinations simple and appealing to your dog. While you and your guests are enjoying frozen margaritas on the deck, he’ll feel as if he’s joined the party.


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.”

A Safe, Cozy Home for Your Dog

In the Doghouse

By Audrey Pavia

DogHouseYardDogs are a lot like humans in one respect—they appreciate a safe, cozy home. Descended from wolves, dogs have a strong denning instinct, which means they feel happiest when they have a secure hideaway they can call their own.

Providing your dog with his own “den” will go a long way toward helping him feel comfortable and secure. That den can be in the form of a doghouse or a crate, depending on your situation and your dog’s needs.

 

Doghouses

In the days when dogs lived mostly outdoors, doghouses were a necessity. They provided shelter from the elements and a place for an outside dog to feel secure. Today, we know that dogs need human companionship and should spend the majority of their time in the house, especially at night. But for dogs that need to be outdoors during the day when their owners are away at school or work, a doghouse can provide a welcome respite.

Unlike the simple wooden doghouses of the past, today’s commercially made doghouses come in a variety of materials and designs. While some houses are made from plastic or metal, the most popular styles are still made from wood, with some featuring windows, skylights and front porches.

When selecting a house for your dog, look for a design that allows for good ventilation along with protection from bad weather. Make sure the house is insulated, and large enough for your dog to stand up and turn around.

If you choose to build your own doghouse, choose a plan that provides these same benefits. Be sure to use untreated wood in case your dog chews on any part of the house.

 

Crates

Dog crates are useful not only for providing a dog a safe place to retreat indoors, but also to help with training. Crates are invaluable for housetraining puppies, and for confining dogs that are still learning the rules of the house. Crates are also the safest way to confine a dog for travel.

Dog crates come in two basic styles: airline and solid wire. Airline-style crates have plastic sides, with a wire door

MidWest Homes For Pets' LifeStages ACE crates are designed to be a safe place for a dog to retreat.

MidWest Homes For Pets’ LifeStages ACE crates are designed to be a safe place for a dog to retreat.

and windows. Solid wire crates are made of a wire grid on all sides.

Airline-style crates are the most adaptable type of crate. They provide dogs with a sense of security because of their solid sides, and can be used for travel. In fact, these crates are the only type approved for use on airlines, and are a safe place to confine your dog when he’s going somewhere by car.

Wire crates are also popular with some dog owners, who believe this style makes it easier to observe the dog while he’s confined. These crates can also be folded up when not in use for easy storage or transport.

Whatever type of doghouse or crate you choose, keep your dog’s health and wellbeing in mind. Make his “den” as cozy and welcoming as you can by including a soft blanket and his favorite toys.


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.

Cats in Film – Superstar Cats People Love To Watch on the Big Screen

Cats in Film
By Sandy Robins

Breakfast At Tiffany’s

It seems that if you have an idea for a national holiday or special day, all you have to do is lodge your suggestion with someone (I am not sure with whom, to be exact) and bingo, you have a day on the calendar to celebrate.

Case in point: June 19 is National Pets in Film Day.

If you just take cats, there is a plethora of well-known feline actors as well as cartoon cats and, of course, feline-inspired characters such as Catwoman that actors love to portray to show off their feline prowess.

In fact, cats have been stealing scenes throughout the history of cinema. The movie “Inside Llewyn Davis owes its success to a brilliant cat performance from an unknown ginger tabby, according to British film critic Ann Billson who writes for The Telegraph. Billson also noted that the Coen brothers, who produced the film, were so successful because they applied one of the truisms of the Seventh Art: There are few films that are not improved by the presence of a cat.

I would take it one step further and say that many films are only remembered because of their feline stars.

I don’t remember much about “Breakfast at Tiffany’s except that Audrey Hepburn’s character had a cat. Nor do I remember much about the dysfunctional Focker family shenanigans in both movies, but I do remember Jinx, the cat. The movie “The Heat was one big catfight between the Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy characters, but the scene-stealer was the ginger tabby Pumpkin. “Cloud Atlas is a blur, but the sleeping grey tabby that the naked man grabbed and used as a modesty shield until its claws came out made this movie memorable to me. Go tabby!

Not surprisingly, ginger tabbies are definitely movie favorites. The opening sequence of “The Long Goodbye,” Robert Altman’s revisionist update of Raymond Chandler’s private-eye story, depicts Marlowe (Elliott Gould) being woken up by his cat, which tramples all over him and meows nonstop till it gets what it wants. Billson claimed the film as having “a fine bit of Method acting from the ginger cat.”

Billson’s critiques are very cat-centric. She also gives kudos to Jones in “Alien” another handsome ginger puss that performed multiple functions. He is a catguffin—a pretext for characters to go wandering off by themselves. He is a catpanion for Ripley to talk to, provides several moments of catshock by suddenly jumping out at people and remains a wild card to the end because the audience is never quite sure if an alien has infected him.

The James Bond movies are often an intellectual muddle between good and evil but everyone remembers Ernst Stavro Blofeld’s white Persian who made her first appearance in “From Russia with Love,” and returned to nestle in the archvillain’s lap in “You Only Live Twice.” Not to mention the Austin Powers spoof where the white glamorous Persian is replaced by a sphynx named Mr. Bigglesworth.

There is no question that dogs are easier to train for the movies; however, cats, even if they work on cue, add their own special feline mystique that make them scene stealers. And when it comes to cartoon cats, such as Garfield or Puss in Boots, or any one of the memorable Disney movies such as “The Aristocats,” the felines aren’t the sidekicks; they are where all cats belong: in the spotlight center stage as the star.


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

Dog Safety in the Car

On the Road with Your Dog
By Lisa King

Harness For Your Dog - Car Ride Safety for Dogs

Sleepypod’s Clickit™ 3 Point Safety Harness

Traveling by car with your dog can be rewarding for both of you. Sharing a vacation is much more enjoyable than kenneling your dog and going without him. With a little careful planning, you can minimize problems and maximize fun. Before you hit the road, ask yourself a few questions:

  • Is my dog accustomed to riding in the car? Does he enjoy car travel?
  • Does my dog get carsick?
  • Is my dog very active or generally calm?
  • Is my dog crate-trained? If so, is my car large enough to accommodate his crate?
  • Are there dog-friendly motels or campsites along my route and at my destination?

The answers to these questions should guide you in making your travel preparations. Before departing, do an online search for dog-friendly accommodations and make reservations. It’s increasingly easy to find lodging that welcomes canine guests, but some places have size or breed restrictions.

The safest way for a dog to travel by car is in a crate. If your dog is crate-trained, this should be an easy solution. The crate should be large enough to allow your dog to stand up, turn around and lie down. Make sure it is well-ventilated. Put a crate mat or other absorbent material on the bottom of the crate and give your dog chew toys (preferably non-squeaky) to keep him from getting bored.

A crate also makes a great bed for your dog at your destination, whether it’s a motel, a friend’s or relative’s house or a campsite.

If you have a large dog and your car is too small for a suitable crate, put an absorbent blanket across the back seat and secure him to the seat belt with a tether. These are available in many configurations; check online dog supply sources. Never give your dog unrestricted access to the front seat or let him hang his head out a window.

To get your dog used to car travel, take him on short trips to destinations other than the vet’s. Drive him to a dog park or to pick up the kids. That way, he will associate car travel with positive things. Never leave him alone in the car on a warm day, either around town or on your trip.

Your dog should have a checkup at the veterinarian’s before you leave. Make sure all his vaccinations are up to date, and carry proof with you. Now is the time to ask about motion-sickness medication if your dog gets carsick. If the trip will be long and your dog is very active, ask the vet about a mild sedative.

Some carsick dogs respond well to natural motion-sickness preparations, many of which contain ginger and mint. Antihistamines such as Benadryl can help calm a nervous dog, but don’t give him human medications of any kind without checking with your vet first.

Here are a few supplies you should have with you no matter what your destination:

  • Plenty of water and a spill-proof water dish.
  • Your dog’s usual food and a spill-proof dish for that
  • His medications, if any
  • If he’s not traveling in a crate, bring his familiar bedding along
  • An identification tag with your cell phone number on it. If he’s micro-chipped, make sure the microchip company has your cell number.
  • A collar and sturdy leash.
  • Favorite toys—chew toys, plush toys, fetch toys.
  • Plenty of poop bags.

As you travel, stop every hour or so to allow your dog to get out, walk around, drink water, and relieve himself. He should be on a leash at all times when he’s not in the car. Always clean up after him.

Once you get to your evening’s destination, play a game of fetch with your dog if possible or take him on a long walk to let him stretch his legs. He’ll sleep better if he’s gotten some exercise.

A dog who reacts to outside noises by barking can get you tossed out of a motel. Playing low music or running a fan or white-noise machine can help calm your dog. Give him a treat-stuffed chew toy to distract him. That mild sedative can come in handy in this case, too.


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.”

Dogs At The Beach – Beach Activities for You and Your Dogs

Canine Beach Time

By Stacy Mantle

Canines Day At The Beach

Heading to the beach with your best friend can be a great experience for both of you. Whether you have a Chihuahua or a Labrador, the love of water is a crossbreed activity. Not only is it relaxing for both you and your pet to get out in the water, its great exercise as well.

There are some considerations before you head out for a day on the water. There are certain breeds of dogs that are so low to the ground and off center, they can’t swim (or can’t swim well). If you have a bulldog, basset hound, Maltese, dachshund or pug, it may be better to stick to land-based activities.

However, there are many breeds that love the water. You, as a responsible pet owner, need to make sure your pets are prepared for a day at the lake or the ocean. Here are some tips to ensure a wonderful day at the beach.

Follow the Rules
Visit the beach or lake prior to taking your pet. Become very familiar with the location, the possible escape routes, the routines of other people and their pets, and the rules associated with the locale. Never leave your dog unattended, always keep them on a leash (or under your control), and always clean up after your pet.

In addition, be courteous of other beach-goers. No one likes to be on the beach only to have someone’s dog come up and shake water all over them. Keep in mind that some people have an irrational fear of all animals, no matter the size, so be sensitive and avoid potential problems.

Be Prepared
You should plan on making sure you have the following items (depending on the activity and time spent outdoors).

PFD: A personal flotation device is a must-have any time you’re in (or on) the water.

Bowls: There are some great collapsible bowls on the market. Make sure you bring them along and keep them filled with water!

Sunblock: According to CanineCancer.com, “Exposure to the sun has been shown to cause a higher incidence of three types of skin cancer: squamous cell carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma and hemangioma.” Only use an approved sunscreen as human-grade sunscreen can be toxic to pets. I recommend epi-pet sunblock.

Shade: Offering your pet a shaded area will help them stay cool and out of the dangerous sun. Sturdi offers a great “pup-tent” that is easy to transport and perfect to give pets some relief.

GPS Tracker: If you’re planning to visit an off-leash beach, be sure you have a way of finding your pet in case the worst happens and he is sucked out to sea in a riptide or running after seagulls on the beach. A GPS tracker that is waterproof, lightweight and easily affixed to the collar will tell you where your pet is at all times.

Standard Pet Gear:

  • Collar, harness and leash
  • Proper identification (picture and dog tags)
  • Water and food bowls
  • Poop bags
  • Food and treats
  • Dog towel
  • Plenty of toys

Before taking your pets to the beach, you should be well versed in CPR and basic first aid for you and your pet. There are many dangers on land and at sea, so be prepared for as many as possible to help make your visit to the beach a safe and non-stressful day for everyone in your group.


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

Keep An Eye Out For Signs of Heat Stroke in Dogs

Beat the Heat – Signs of Heat Stroke in Dogs

By Audrey Pavia

Protect Dogs for Heat Stroke

It’s summertime, and the living is easy. Especially for dogs. Pet owners are home a lot more, spending time barbecuing in the backyard and going on family outings. Dogs get more quality time with their people, and some lucky pups even get to go on road trips.

While summer offers plenty of opportunity for dogs to be outside having fun, it also poses some risks. Heat stroke and dehydration are dangers dogs face when the weather is hot. Unlike humans, dogs don’t cool themselves by sweating, but mostly through panting. This is not a very efficient way of cooling the body in hot weather, making dogs particularly susceptible to overheating.

Some dogs are even more prone to heat-related illness, including older dogs, dogs who are under the weather, and breeds with short muzzles, such as bulldogs and pugs.

You can do a lot to help protect your dog from suffering in the summer heat by keeping him cool, and recognizing potential signs of distress.

Making sure your dog stays hydrated will go a long way to ensuring his comfort during the summertime. Water is essential at all times of the year, but particularly during the summer when hot weather saps moisture from your dog’s body. Make sure your dog always has access to plenty of cool, fresh water so he can keep himself hydrated. If he’s outdoors, drop ice cubes in his water bowl frequently to keep the water chilled.

Dogs love to be outside during the summer, but it’s crucial your dog be able to get out of the hot sun when he’s had enough. Be sure he has a shady area where he can cool off when he needs to. On particularly hot days, keep him indoors in the air-conditioning.

Of course, never leave your dog in the car, even with the windows cracked. On a hot day, the temperature inside a car can quickly rise to more than 120 degrees, which can be fatal to your dog.

If you are hiking or playing with your dog outside, keep an eye out for these signs of heat stroke:

  • Restlessness
  • Difficulty breathing, including heavy panting
  • Tongue and mucous membranes are a bright red color
  • Thick saliva
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Rectal temperature over 104 degrees F (100-102 is normal)

If your dog shows any signs of heat stroke, get him out of the heat right away. If possible take him into an air-conditioned building. If his temperature is higher than 104, put him in a bathtub of cool (not ice cold) water. Take his temperature again in 10 minutes. Once his temperature is back to normal, make an appointment with a veterinarian to have him examined. Heat stroke can sometimes cause damage to internal organs.

Signs of severe heat stroke include staggering when trying to walk; seizures; dark red, purple of blue gums; and coma. If your dog is experiencing these symptoms, wrap him in cool wet towels and rush him to a veterinarian immediately.

By taking the right precautions and keeping an eye out for heat stroke, you can make sure your dog has a safe, fun and happy summer.


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.

Flea Control – Protect Your Pets from Fleas

Flea Control: When Natural Doesn’t Work

By Lisa King


Anyone who owns a cat or a dog must deal with fleas. They not only make your pets miserable, they bite people, too, causing annoying itchy bumps.

Fleas prefer warm, humid conditions, which means they are seasonal in cold climates but are a problem all year round in the Southeast and Southwest. Dogs bring fleas into the house from outside, but even if you only have indoor cats, be on the lookout for fleas. People can track the eggs in on their shoes.

Natural flea prevention is the safest method (see last month’s article “All Natural Flea Control for Pets” by Stacy Mantle), but sometimes stronger measures are required. If you have a persistent flea problem, ask your veterinarian for advice. Consider the people as well as the pets in your household when choosing flea products—if you live with a pregnant woman or small children, topicals—the spot-on medications that you apply between your pet’s shoulder blades— might not be the best choice. Although topicals kill fleas for a month, it can take a few days for all the fleas to die. In addition, in some areas fleas have evolved to be resistant to certain types of topicals.

If you use topicals on your cat, make sure you are using a product formulated specifically for cats. Many topicals for dogs contain permethrin, which is fatal to cats.

Oral flea medications are an option that will not impact others in your household. Capstar kills all fleas within 30 minutes or so, but has no residual effect. Spinosad (sold as Comfortis) is a fast-acting neurotoxin that can have serious side effects in some animals but is very effective at killing fleas for an entire month. Both medications are approved for cats and dogs.

Sometimes it is worth the risk of side effects to use these strong oral medications. One of my cats is severely allergic to flea bites. He scratches them so hard that he wears off the fur and skin on his neck and face. He has had to take several rounds of antibiotics for skin infections. I finally broke down and gave him spinosad, which he tolerates well, and it has kept him flea-free.

Remember that for every flea you find on your dog or cat, there are dozens more in your home. Here are a few measures you can take to minimize the flea activity in and around your house:

  • Feed your pets a high-quality diet. The healthier your dog or cat is, the easier it will be for him to resist a flea infestation.
  • Bathe your dog regularly with a mild shampoo. If your cat will cooperate (or at least not attempt to eviscerate you), wash him as well, but less often.
  • Use a flea comb on your pets every couple of days during flea season. Drop the fleas in a cup of water with a few drops of dish detergent in it—this will cause them to sink and drown.
  • Wash all pet bedding regularly. Also wash blankets, pillows and rugs where your pets spend time.
  • Vacuum regularly and thoroughly, and not just your floors. Fleas also lay eggs on upholstery and curtains. If you have sofas with slipcovers, you can de-flea them easily by simply throwing the covers in the wash.
  • Keep your pets’ claws clipped. That way, even if they do get a few fleas and scratch, they will do less damage to their skin.
  • Spread beneficial nematodes on your lawn and gardens. They are available at garden stores and some pet supply stores. They not only kill fleas, but many other pests as well.

 


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.”

 

Dog and Equestrian Relationships

Dog and Equestrian Relationships

By Audrey Pavia

It’s difficult to find a horse owner who doesn’t also live with at least one dog. Horses and dogs are a natural combination. If you love horses, chances are you love dogs, too.

Although dogs and horses can often become great friends, danger is inherent whenever these two species come together. The sheer size of a horse, combined with its nature as a prey animal, can mean trouble for even the mellowest dog. Likewise, dogs can pose a great danger to horses as well.

In order to keep your dog safe around horses, it’s important to remember that horses are often afraid of dogs, and will kick, bite or strike to defend themselves. A well-placed kick from a horse can cause severe injury or death.

Conversely, a dog can cause damage to a horse by biting it, chasing it or scaring it to the point where the horse injures itself trying to escape.

Before allowing your dog to be around horses, follow these precautions:

  • Train your dog. Provide your dog with basic training so he will respect your authority when in the presence of a horse. Teach him that horses are not to be chased or barked at. This is especially important if the horse is being ridden.
  • Use a leash. When your dog first meets a horse, keep him on leash so you can control his reaction. Do not allow him off leash until you are certain he will not harass the horse.
  • Teach respect. If your dog has no fear of horses, teach him to stay away from the horse’s legs. Some dogs are so comfortable around horses; they can get underfoot and be stepped on. A healthy fear of horses is a good thing for a dog.
  • Gauge the horse. Before allowing your dog to approach a horse, get a sense of the horse’s reaction to your dog. Determine if the horse seems undisturbed—head and neck are level with the rest of the body, the eye is calm, muscles relaxed—before allowing your dog anywhere near the horse. If the horse is tense, with his head raised and nostrils flaring, or is being ridden, keep your dog away.
  • Watch for pack mentality. Your dog may ignore horses when he’s alone, but could become harassing when in the company of a more aggressive dog. If another dog is present, determine whether this dog might be a bad influence on your normally well-behaved canine.
  • Discourage play. Horses and dogs sometimes like to play together, but this should be discouraged. Horses may find it fun to have a dog run alongside them when they are galloping through a field, but a playful kick from the horse can prove fatal to the dog. This behavior also encourages aggression on the part of the dog, and should not be permitted.
  • Supervise your dog. Never take for granted that your dog is safe around horses. Always keep a close watch on him whenever a horse is nearby.

 


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.

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