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Top 8 Cat Holiday Gifts – Cat Presents for the Holiday

Our Top 8 Cat Holiday Gifts

When it comes to giving presents, your cats can be at the top of the list.

By Sandy Robins

Top * Cat Presents for the Holiday 2013

If the toys don’t “wow” your cat, she might play with the boxes they’re wrapped in.

More than 35 percent of cat owners spoil their furry companions with gifts during the holiday season. There’s a wonderful selection of fun ideas in all price ranges and sizes, from stocking stuffers to sculptured cat trees designed to put your feline in purr mode.

Here are our top eight gift ideas:

Cat Gifts for Christmas 2013

Catnip Stogie

1. Catnip Stogie
The room will be smoking with revved up feline action when your cat gets her paws around a stogie of compressed catnip. It’s made from 100 percent organic catnip compressed into a roly-poly shape that’s easy to pick up and toss around. MSRP:$5.99.

Cat Tree Lookout

2. Cat Tree Lookout
You cat can enjoy a simulated outdoor scratching and climbing experience with a cat tree that has a real bark and sisal scratching surfaces and place to snooze amongst some silk leaves, which will also provide endless enjoyment for playing hide and seek. Various designs, styles and shapes are available. MSRP: $119 – $1,299

Top 8 Holiday Gift Ideas for Cats

Frolicat’s Pounce Automatic Cat Teaser

3. Pounce Automatic Cat Teaser
The Pounce is an automatic, rotating, hide-and-seek cat toy featuring Marshal Maus, who zips around the circular path, zooming forward, reversing direction, hiding under obstacles and occasionally twitching back and forth. The unpredictable movement stimulates your cat’s natural instinct to hunt, chase and pounce on prey. It has various speeds and an automatic shut off button after 10 minutes. MSRP: $30.95

Top * Holiday Gift Ideas for Cats

Sherpa Pet’s Leopard Cat Tote Carrier

4. Leopard Cat Tote Carrier
Designed for small- and medium-sized cats, this durable carrier has a flexible frame and tightly woven wire mesh offering excellent ventilation and ensuring that claws won’t get caught in the material. It includes a machine washable faux lambskin liner, offers both top and side entry and has three roomy zipper pockets. It’s also available in black. MSRP: $73

Top 8 Cat Toys for Presents This Holiday Season

Crazy Tail Cat Toy

5. Crazy Tail
Toys that mimic the thrill of the hunt hone a cat’s hunting skills and offer great exercise opportunities. The Crazy Tail is a battery-operated toy that can be attached to a doorknob. Switch it on and the string tail flies all over the place; it’s ideal for multi-cat households. Two AAA batteries are included. MSRP: $18.99

Holiday Tips - 8 Presents for your Cat

SuperCat’s Catnip-infused Paper Bag for Cats

6. Feline Stationary For Fun and Games
The SuperCat™ range of feline stationary items include papers bags, post-it note-styled catnip crumples and scratch ‘n sniff stickers all infused with catnip bubbles that release the irresistible scent as the cat scratches on the surfaces or plays with the paper items. There are catnip markers that can be used to “draw’ on all surfaces, too. MSRP:$3.99 -$8.99

Cat Food Bowls - Top 8 Gifts for your Cat

Loving Pet’s Vintage Black Double Diner for Cats

7. Loving Pet Vintage Black Double Diner for Cats
A vintage-styled brushed metal double diner in a fishbone pattern will add a decorative touch to your kitchen and provide your cat with stylish, but practical dinnerware.The raised diner keeps bowls off the ground to discourage pests and prevents them moving around as your cat eats or drinks. The removable bowls are stainless-steel, bacteria-resistant and dishwasher-safe for easy cleaning. The stand has a rubber bottom for skid-resistance; it’s perfect for food and water. MSRP: $16.99

Cat Presents for the Holiday - Top 8 Gifts for Cats

The Purrfect Cat House by NekoNapper

8. NekoNapper—The Purrfect Cat House
The NekoNapper is a cozy pet house that wil lquickly become a popular feline snooze zone. It offers privacy as well as a nice lookout to keep an eye on household activity. It’s sturdily constructed but lightweight, so it’s easy to move around the home. MSRP : $70

 

View Our Top 8 Toy Presents for Dogs


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

Holiday Safety Tips

Holiday Safety Tips

Keeping Your Pets Safe During the Holidays

By Lisa King

Dog & Cat Safety for Pets During The Holidays

Few cats can resist the temptation of shiny, dangling ornaments.

 

In my last column, I outlined how to keep your dog safe at Thanksgiving. The concerns at this American holiday are mostly about food, but Christmas offers a whole new set of dangers for dogs and cats. When making decorating decisions this season, keep your pets’ safety in mind. Here are some guidelines to follow.

A lot of your precautions will depend on the personalities of your pets.

  • How well-trained is your dog?
  • Is he food-motivated?
  • Is your cat a jumper and climber?
  • Is she likely to try to climb the tree and knock off ornaments?

In any case, place your Christmas tree in a corner to reduce its accessibility to pets. Secure it to the ceiling or a high curtain rod with string or fishing line so your pets can’t knock it over. Move furniture away from the tree so cats can’t use themas launching pads to jump on the tree. If possible, put the tree in a room with a door so you can shut pets out when you leave the house. You can also put a folding gate around the tree to keep dogs away from it— of course; your cat will just scoff at this barrier.

When trimming the tree, leave a foot or two at the bottom of the tree undecorated. Don’t use edible ornaments; chocolate, candy canes, and popcorn and cranberry garlands can be tempting to dogs especially. Hold the tinsel—if swallowed, it can cause serious intestinal problems. Fake snow and flocking are toxic to pets as well. Use mostly unbreakable ornaments if you can. Sparkly, glittery ornaments are very appealing to cats. Don’t leave ornament hooks where pets can swallow them. Clean up any broken ornaments promptly.

Why Candles May Not Be Safe for Cats

Never put real candles on a tree. In fact, be careful where you put any candles. Don’t put them where a cat can knock them over. Don’t leave pets unattended in a room with lit candles; when you leave the room, blow them out. Make sure your fireplace has a sturdy screen that keeps pets from getting too close.

Keep the area around the tree vacuumed. Both real and fake pine needles can perforate intestines. Use a large, sturdy tree stand and cover it up, since the water inside contains pine resin and possibly flame retardant and other chemicals.

If your cat tries to climb the tree, put foil around the bottom of it and wrap some foil around the base of the tree. Cats dislike walking on foil.

Many other holiday plants are toxic to dogs and cats. Mistletoe; holly; amaryllis, narcissus, and other plants that grow from bulbs; and to a lesser extent, poinsettia, are all on the verboten list. Keep these plants out of your dog’s reach. If you have a cat, keeping things out of reach is more problematic, so perhaps you should forego buying these plants all together.

Pet Safety When Wrapping Gifts

When you wrap packages, shut your pets out of the room. If a dog or cat swallows a ribbon, your vet might have to remove it surgically. Pets can also run into trouble around bits of wrapping paper, Styrofoam and sharp scissors. Put the presents under the tree at the last moment so your pets aren’t tempted to explore them. Empty cardboard boxes, however, make fine playthings for cats.

After you’ve opened presents, clean up all paper and ribbons right away. Small gifts like toys and jewelry that a pet might swallow should be put away quickly, too.

If you have guests over, make sure purses and coats are in a room inaccessible to pets. Dogs have been known to root around in purses and take out vials of medicine.

The best way to ensure a safe holiday for all involved is to think ahead of time about your pets’ safety and take appropriate precautions. A new Christmas toy or two can also provide a distraction and a reward for good behavior.


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.”

Can Your Dog Herd?

Can Your Dog Herd?

By Audrey Pavia

AKC Herding Dog Breeds

If your dog has what it takes, you could train him to compete in herding trials.

 

Ever notice your dog trying to round up the kids while they are playing in the backyard, or move the cats around the kitchen in an orderly manner? If so, your dog is exhibiting more than just weird behavior. Depending on his ancestry, he might be letting you know that he has a good dose of herding instinct in his blood.

Thanks to two organizations devoted to preserving dogs’ natural working instincts, you might be able to find out if your dog has what it takes to herd more than just kids and cats: he might be able to learn to herd livestock.
In the days when the majority of dog breeds were being developed, agriculture was the way most dog-owning families earned a living. Farmers and ranchers needed the help of their dogs to manage an assortment of livestock, from ducks to horses. As a result of this early breeding, a vast number of dogs still possess the herding instinct that was bred into them generations ago.

To see if your dog has the inborn ability to herd and has the potential for advanced training, have his herding instinct tested. Not only it is fun to watch your dog’s instincts really kick in the first time he’s asked to work sheep or ducks, but you might decide to train him for competition, which can be loads of fun.

Herding Dog Breeds

The American Kennel Club, which registers purebred dogs, has designated 51 breeds as having herding instincts. Any AKC-registered dog from one of these breeds is eligible to be AKC herding-instinct tested. These breeds include the Australian Cattle Dog, Australian Shepherd, Bearded Collie, Belgian Tervuren, Bernese Mountain dog, Border Collie, Boxer, Cardigan Welsh Corgi, Collie, German Shepherd, Giant Schnauzer, Old English Sheepdog, Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Rottweiler, Samoyed, Shetland Sheep dog and Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier, among many others.

AKC Herding Test for Dog Breeds

At an AKC-sanctioned herding test, your dog will enter a pen with a tester and some livestock, usually sheep or ducks. The judge will let your dog interact with the livestock, gauging how he handles them. For a dog to pass a herding instinct test, he must show an interest in the livestock without being aggressive, and must show a propensity for driving and fetching the animals.

After your dog is tested, you’ll be given a card with the judge’s comments on your dog’s natural instincts. The card will indicate whether your dog passed or failed.

If your dog passes the test, you’ll receive a certificate from the American Kennel Club in the mail. You can then take your dog’s herding abilities even further by training him to work.

Registering A Herding Dog with the AKC

If your dog is not registered with the AKC, is not a breed considered eligible for herding testing with AKC or is a mixed breed, you can still have his herding instinct tested. The American Herding Breeds Association (AHBA) provides herding capability tests to all dogs, designed to determine whether a dog has the instinct to herd livestock. Dogs who have shown to have the needed instinct can go on to be trained for competitive AHBA events.

For more information on herding instinct testing and herding competitions, visit the AKC at www.akc.org or the AHBA at ahba-herding.org.


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.

 

Pet Safety During the Holidays – Keep Your Dog Safe on Thanksgiving

Keep Your Dog Safe at Thanksgiving

By following a few rules, you can prevent an emergency trip to the vet for your animals.

By Lisa King

Keep Your Dog Safe on Thanksgiving

Pet Safety During the Holidays

During the holidays, especially on Thanksgiving, which is food-focused, keep in mind that although canines and humans area both omnivores, their digestions and dietary requirements are very different. Those roasted pearl onions you love can make your dog anemic. Your favorite chocolate cream pie will make her very sick. And cooked poultry bones can splinter and cause abdominal perforations.

Canines do have something in common with sharks, however. Most dogs will eat pretty much anything. My sister has found everything from wine corks to rubber bands to Legos in her Chesapeake Bay Retriever’s poop. When the dog ate a bunch of grapes and half an onion left on the counter, the vet had to induce vomiting. If your dog is a land shark like this, you must be extra vigilant at Thanksgiving if you want to avoid spending the day at the emergency vet clinic. Here are some tips to keep her safe:

  • Make sure your kitchen garbage container has a tight-filling lid. There are plenty of tempting morsels being thrown away this time of year—yummy stuff like turkey bones and skin that your dog would love to get at.
  • Carefully dispose of all the plastic bags, clips,and ties that the turkey came in; they smell of meat and are very appealing to dogs.
  • Don’t put appetizers on low coffee tables. A dining table, counter or something of similar height should be safe, unless you own a large dog. In any case, don’t leave food unattended.
  • Exercise and feed your dog on her normal schedule. Take a long walk before guests arrive so she’s tired out and not too active.
  • Buy her a new and interesting toy—perhaps one you can fill with treats—to keep her happy while you eat your Thanksgiving feast.
  • When guests are coming and going, be sure your dog can’t run out the door.
  • Put her bed in a quiet room where she can retreat if the party gets to be too much for her.
  • Ask your guests not to feed your dog human food, no matter how adorable she is when she begs. Provide safe treats that guests can give her.
  • Put leftovers away in the fridge promptly. If you’re in a postprandial stupor, you might not pay attention to what your dog is scavenging off the table.
  • Keep decorations out of your dog’s reach. Wreaths, bunting, scented candles, decorative gourds and small pumpkins are all tempting to a curious dog.
  • Many types of flowers are poisonous to dogs. Keep arrangements well out of reach.

Here are some holiday no-nos that are either toxic, too fatty or otherwise dangerous to your dog:

  • Xylitol or other artificial sweeteners
  • Chocolate
  • Onions, garlic, shallots, or other members of the allium family
  • Butter, turkey skin, or other fats
  • Raw turkey
  • Cooked poultry bones
  • Uncooked bread dough
  • Raw fish
  • Raw eggs
  • Foods with lots of herbs
  • Gravy
  • Corn on the cob
  • Marshmallows
  • Grapes and raisins
  • All alcoholic beverages
  • Coffee, tea or anything else with caffeine in it

Your dog can have a few treats on the big day. It’s OK for her to have small amounts of these foods:

  • Turkey meat
  • Plain mashed white potatoes
  • Plain sweet potatoes
  • Plain green beans
  • Plain carrots
  • Plain loose corn
  • Cranberry sauce (if it’s not too sweet)
  • Pumpkin pie (hold the whipped cream)

If you want to give her a bit of turkey, put a few pieces of well-cooked skinless, boneless white meat on top of her regular food.Do the same with small amounts of the other allowed foods. Whatever you do, don’t feed her from the table. That will encourage her to beg at dinner every night.


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.”

Taking Your Cat to the Vet – Petropolitan by Animal Behavior College

Taking Your Cat to the Vet

You can make a stressful event less so with these feline transportation tips.

By Sandy Robins

Cat Carriers - Traveling with Your Feline

It’s no secret; cats, carriers and cars do not add up to a fun time. The mournful meows en route can be very stressful on the driver too. Usually the destination is the vet’s office, which exacerbates the situation. And some cats are so anxious they pee inside the carrier, which just makes the trip even more uncomfortable for all concerned.

What to Know About Cat Carriers

It’s really important for your cat to understand that the carrier is not a big bad box.The best way to do this is to leave it open around the house and allow her curiosity to take over and initiate detailed explorations.

If your cat is so freaked out by your existing carrier, it might be a good idea to donate the one you have to an animal shelter and start over with a new one that has no bad associations. The latest designs offer additional ventilation and wider windows so they can look out at their surroundings.

If you are not planning on using it for air travel, consider purchasing a round carrier. Cats like to sleep curled up “in the round” and this could help her feel more at ease. Alternatively, a dog carrier could offer more comfort, as often they are a little roomier than those designed specifically for cats.

There are lots of things you can do beforehand to help make the journey less stressful for her, too. Start by adding some Rescue Remedy to the water bowl the night before. This is a tasteless calmative to help ease travel stress.

It’s also a good idea to spray the carrier just before a trip with a pheromone spray.

Research has shown that cats (as do dogs) communicate with each other via certain pheromones. A mother cat is able to calm her kittens through the natural pheromones she emits. Thus, products that mimic these pheromones can help a cat of any age feel more secure in the carrier and cope better while in the car.You can also consider placing a favorite toy in the carrier for comfort.

My Ziggy gets very stressed when we travel to the vet’s office. Consequently, I bought him a ThunderShirt, now available in different sizes for felines. The ThunderShirt works on the swaddling principle that mothers use to calm small babies and toddlers, and it has definitely made a difference for him. He still meows a bit, but he no longer emits long mournful meows and seems much calmer when we get to the destination and back home.

If your cat simply can’t control her bladder, it’s a really good idea to line the carrier with a puppy pee pad to absorb the accident and keep her dry and the carrier from smelling. Put a second one in a carrier pocket so that you have a fresh liner for the journey home.

The safest place for a carrier is on the floor of the front passenger seat or the floor area of the back seat. In this position, if you break suddenly, there is nowhere for the carrier to fly forward. However, this means your cat can’t really see what happening. Consequently, playing music on the journey can help keep her calm. There are even music modules specially designed to fit into a carrier to block out car and traffic noises.And don’t forget to talk to her, too. The latest research done by scientists at the University of Tokyo has shown that cats react to their owner’s voice.

However, if all this doesn’t help, there is the possibility that she suffers from motion sickness. Seek advice from your veterinarian. There are prescription products to ease the situation.


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

 

 

Wintertime Indoor Fun for Dogs

Wintertime Indoor Fun

Entertainment options abound for dogs—and their owners.

By Stacy Mantle

Indoor fun for dogs - Dog Treadmill

Winter is nearly upon us and for many that means making adjustments in order to keep our pets safe and warm during the colder winter months. Here are several indoor activities that can help keep cabin fever at bay.

Teach Dogs New Tricks

Winter is a great time to hone your training skills. Not only does training provide mental stimulation for your pets, it helps cement the bond with your dog and gives you both something to focus on besides going outside. If you’ve thought about implementing clicker training, this is a great time to start.

Puzzle Toys for Pups

Puzzle toys are a fantastic way to keep a dog’s mind engaged, which tires them out more quickly. These types of toys also encourage sedentary dogs to become more active, even when left alone. Interactive toys range from squirrel trees to puzzle boxes, and the rewards can vary from plush toys to pet treats (be sure to use a low-cal treat). There is really a toy for every activity level, so do a search—you might be surprised by what you find.

Make Feeding Time Fun

Make feeding time more interesting with an interactive pet feeder. These feeders engage pets’ primal instincts by allowing them to “hunt” for their food. Interactive feeders, such as those available from Nina Ottoson or Aikiou, keep dogs interested during mealtime while decreasing their eating rate—something that is physically and emotional important.

Treadmills for Pets

You may not think of your dog as the “running” type, but she may just surprise you. Winter provides a great opportunity for implementing interval training into your dog’s workout. Dog Tread carries a wide selection of treadmills designed especially for pets. If you’re in an area where rain and snow prevail, this is probably the system for you. To step up the power level, try adding a K9 FIT Vest™, which comes with various sized weights that you add or decrease as your dog gets in shape. 

Building up Balance for the Pet’s Body & Mind

The best way to tire out your dog is to engage her mentally and physically. Balance balls can do the trick.Sometimes referred to thera-balls, exercise balls, fitness balls, gymnastics balls or Swiss balls;these are a great tool for working on balance, core strengthening and endurance. If you have an agility dog, this is going to be an especially valuable activity for your pet. Best of all; it can all be done indoors (under proper supervision, of course). Dog Tread carries a wonderful line of balance toys for pets, as does Fit Paws USA, and there are other companies that offer innovative balance equipment for pets. 

Experiment in the Kitchen

If you’re as bored as your dog during the cold and dark winter months, consider experimenting with some new recipes. There are many great ways to integrate leftover holiday food (such as pumpkin puree or turkey) into recipes that are healthy and easy to make.

Scavenger Hunts for Dogs

Scavenger hunts can be entertaining for you and your human kids, as well as your pets. This is very easy game to set up. Simply put your dog outside or in another room while you “hide” the treats around the house. Start out with easy hides (such as in the corner of a room), then move into the “high value” hides (under a box or the couch). Be careful you don’t inadvertently enforce bad habits while playing. Hide treats and toys only in areas where your dog is allowed.

Doga (Dog Yoga)

There is nothing more relaxing in winter than a morning yoga session. You can integrate your dog into this healthy routine by simply encouraging her to participate. Practice simple stretches together and when your pet lies down for a rest, use the time to interact with her—it will help make your own morning yoga that much more valuable as petting animals has been shown to lower blood pressure and decrease stress.

Grooming the Pet

A grooming session can do wonders for your pet when the cold, dry air of winter is taking its toll on her skin. Consider purchasing some pet-friendly Bath Salts from DERMagic for a gentle exfoliating scrub that will remove dandruff and help loosen dry skin, preparing it for an invigorating shampoo. This is not only great for your pets, but will help keep you warm and relaxed during the cold winter days.


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

Providing Quality Care for Your Senior Dog

Happy, Healthy and Old

Providing quality care for your senior dog is easier than you think.

By Audrey Pavia

Caring for Senior Dogs - Old Dogs need extra love

Nothing illustrates the quick passage of time more than watching your dog grow old. One day he’s a tiny puppy and before you know it, he’s a senior dog.

You want to keep your canine companion around for as long as possible, and the best way to do that is to give him the special care senior dogs need. Giving him special consideration can help him stay with you as long as nature will allow.

Vet Care for Senior Dogs

Start by taking your senior dog to the vet for a wellness exam. Small- to medium-sized dogs over the age of 6 years should make yearly visits to the vet for a physical. Larger dogs should start at age 4.

The veterinarian will give your dog a thorough exam, looking into his mouth and eyes, checking his skin and coat, and palpating his abdomen, kidney and other organs. The vet will also perform a blood test that will show whether your dog’s body is functioning properly. This entire exam is important because it might provide early clues to any illness that could be developing. Early detection is the key when it comes to treating older dogs.

In between regular exams, pay close attention to your dog’s behavior. If he stops eating, develops diarrhea that doesn’t pass in a day, is breathing rapidly, acts lethargic or behaves in anyway out of the ordinary, take him to the vet immediately. A host of ailments, ranging from parasites to kidney failure, can take a serious toll on an older dog if you don’t act quickly. Fast intervention is essential with senior dogs, who can succumb quickly to an illness they might have been able to fight off when they were younger.

Quality Food For Dogs

Older dogs sometimes need special diets to help them get the most out of their meals. Consult with your veterinarian to find out what you should be feeding your dog. Also consider giving him a joint supplement containing glucosamine, chondroitin and MSM, since older dogs are prone to arthritis. Other nutriceuticals, such as fish oil and kidney or liver support supplements, might also be in order, depending on the results of your dog’s veterinary exam.

Provide the Pet Good Shelter

Most dogs spend a lot of time outside, sometimes in bad weather. Because of his advancing age, your older dog may have trouble staying warm in the winter and cool in the summer while he’s outdoors. In uncomfortable weather, bring your dog inside to spare him extreme cold or heat.

Physical Help for Older Dogs

Older dogs often have stiff, aching joints and weaker muscles. Give your dog a thick, soft bed to sleep in. Consider raising his food and water dishes up off the ground so he doesn’t have to bend his neck as far to reach them. If your dog is having trouble jumping up into your car or on your bed, lift him, or buy or make him a ramp.

Extra Attention

Just because your dog is old doesn’t mean he doesn’t need stimulation. Take him for walks, or give him a light job to do around the yard (like fetching sticks for you or finding slugs in the garden). If he’s a playful dog, throw a tennis ball to him for a few minutes each day. Not only will the activity help him stay physically fit, it will do wonders for his attitude. It will also help foster the bond between you, which is crucially important to his state of mind as he ages. A happy dog will want to stick around longer.


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.

Save a Life: Adopt a Shelter Dog

Save a Life: Adopt a Shelter Dog

Nothing says love like giving a pet a forever home.

By Lisa King

Tips for Adopt A Shelter Dog Month. Save a life, adopt a shelter dog.

Adopting a dog from a shelter is one of the best things you can do to save pets from euthanasia and enrich your life. Dogs usually end up in shelters through no fault of their own. Foreclosure or other financial hardship, a death in the family, a divorce, a move or any sort of life change can cause perfectly wonderful pets to be put in shelters.

Before you visit your local shelter, decide on the type of dog your family wants. Do you live in an apartment or do you have a big yard? Are you athletic or sedentary? Do you have children? How old are they? Do you already have other pets?

Adopting a puppy is problematic. They are unquestionably very cute and appealing, but it requires a tremendous amount of work to train them correctly and keep them out of trouble. It’s a lot like dealing with a toddler. In addition, you only have a vague idea of how big the puppy will get or what his adult temperament will be, especially if he is a mutt. Adopting an adult dog means most of the tough training has already been done; they are usually housebroken and know how to walk on a leash, they won’t get any bigger and their temperament is readily apparent.

Once you’ve decided on the type of dog you are looking for—large or small, docile or frisky, cuddly or independent—stick with your decision. If need be, take a hard-nosed friend with you to prevent your choosing that affectionate, adorable Saint Bernard mix instead of the lapdog you planned to adopt.

If this is your first dog and you’re not sure how to evaluate dog behavior, ask a knowledgeable dog person to come with you. If you don’t have any dog-savvy friends, hire a qualified animal behavior expert to accompany you to the shelter.

Keep in mind that behavioral problems are magnified in shelters. The dogs are frightened, they don’t get enough sleep and they are often unnerved by overwhelming smells and noises. Spend time alone with your potential dog. Most shelters let you visit with a dog in an area away from the kennels. Often, you can walk the dog around the shelter to see how he reacts to the leash. Look for a dog who is eager for your attention and responds positively to you.

The shelter staff is a great resource for learning about the temperament and energy level of each dog. Also ask about the dog’s history, how he interacts with people and other dogs and if he has any health issues. At a good shelter, the staff will ask you as many questions as you ask them to ensure you are a good match for the dog you want.

Bring all family members to meet the dog you are thinking of adopting. That includes dogs you already own. If you have cats, ask the shelter staff how the dog gets along with them. Most shelters test dogs for compatibility with cats before adopting them out.

If you don’t find Mr. Right on your first visit to the shelter, don’t worry. Sadly, new dogs arrive every day. Check the Internet for new arrivals in your area (Petfinder.com is a good resource, as is BestFriends.org) or return to the shelter periodically.

Don’t buy supplies until you have chosen your dog. Size matters when it comes to food and water bowls, collars and leashes, toys and beds. Also, purchase the same food the dog has been eating in the shelter; you can transition him to a higher-quality food once he gets used to his new home.

Choose a veterinarian before you bring your dog home. Take him in as soon as possible for a checkup. Your dog will most likely be neutered or spayed and be up to date on his shots.

If you’re still unsure of what type of dog you want, volunteer to walk dogs at your local shelter. You can even foster a dog to see if he is compatible with your family before making the commitment to adopt him. Chances are, once you bring a dog into your home, you and your family will fall in love with him—forever.


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.”

Safe Halloween for Your Dog

A Safe and Sound Halloween

Tips for a Safe Halloween for your dog

With these precautions, your dog can have a howling good time.

By Audrey Pavia

Halloween is a fun time for kids and grown-ups alike, but it can be scary and even dangerous for pets. You can keep your dog safe this year—and even enjoy his participation—by following some precautions.

Trick-or-treaters can be a real hoot, but all that door-knocking and bell ringing can drive your dog crazy. To prevent your dog from barking all night and stressing out over the strangely clad visitors, consider keeping him in a back room of your house or apartment. Leave a radio or TV on to help block out the noise, and give him something to chew on to divert his attention. If your dog is particularly high-strung, consider administering a dose of a natural calming product to help ease his anxiety. (Rescue Remedy is one such product, available in health food  and pet stores.)

If you won’t be home on Halloween, keep your dog inside the house or locked in a garage while you are away. Dogs can become frightened by all the activity on the street and can escape from a yard. They also need to be protected from pranksters, who might gain access to them from a gate. Turn the lights off in your house so trick-or-treaters will avoid your home in your absence.

If you plan to take your dog trick-or-treating with the family (a good idea only if your pooch is friendly to strangers, well-behaved and not easily stressed), be sure to fit him with a secure collar and ID tag. Keep him on leash at all times for his safety and the safety of others. If he will be wearing a costume, make sure he’s not upset about wearing it and that it’s comfortable. Watch out for strings, straps and any other part of the costume that might restrict your dog’s movement or sight, or wrap tightly around his neck. Keep an eye on your dog while he’s wearing his costume to make sure it doesn’t affect his ability to move. Some dogs will even chew on their costumes and swallow it in pieces, so watch for this dangerous activity as well.

Halloween decorations can also pose a safety hazard for your dog. Keep an eye on your pet to make sure he doesn’t chew on decorations (especially strings of lights) or knock over lit candles. Some dogs have a hankering for pumpkin, so make sure your jack-o-lantern is out of reach. While it won’t seriously hurt your dog to eat an entire pumpkin, it will mostly likely give him digestive upset.

Candy gathered during Halloween can be dangerous to your dog, too, if he gets into it. In large amounts, chocolate can even be fatal. Theobromine, a chemical found in chocolate, can cause serious damage to a dog’s heart. The fat and sugar also present in chocolate can cause pancreatitis if consumed in large quantities. Xylitol, a natural sweetener that is becoming popular in candy, is also highly toxic to dogs. It is often found in gum and some hard candies. For this reason, it’s wise to keep all Halloween candy well out of your dog’s reach. Be sure to remind your children to keep candy up high up in their rooms where your dog can’t reach it.

With the right amount of precautions, your dog will stay safe and sound on Halloween.


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.

Best Pet-Friendly Flooring

Best Flooring Choices for Fido and Fluffy

Utility, style and value are not mutually exclusive when it comes to what goes under your and your pets’ feet.

By Stacy Mantle

Pet friendly flooring, what to know about purchasing flooring with pets in mind

These days, we have more flooring choices than ever. More than 60 percent of families in the U.S. share their homes with pets, so it’s no surprise the flooring industry is getting creative with options that are durable, inexpensive and stylish. Here is a look at some of the best pet-friendly flooring options on the market today. 

 

Cool, Natural and Affordable Solutions

Those in warm southern climates can benefit from the cool, natural flooring options that are so often associated with showcase homes.

Stone: Naturally beautiful, scratch-resistant and easy to clean, stone is probably one of the best options for a pet-friendly household. Since it’s not as slick as tile, you won’t have pets falling throughout the house or causing injury to their hips, and if you’re in the Southwest, it can keep you cool all summer long. The drawback is stone can be uncomfortable for pets to sleep on throughout the day, so it’s very important you provide them with plenty of options for bedding, particularly senior pets.

Tip: Look for stone that doesn’t need to be sealed.

Tile: Easily one of the most popular flooring options for pet owners with allergies, tile is cool, easy to maintain, inexpensive to install and very pet-friendly. Be sure to incorporate some stylish, nonslip rugs into the design. Rugs help ensure young animals don’t slide into walls while playing and create a soft area for senior animals to rest their arthritic bones.

Tip: Stock up on extra tiles at time of purchase to keep color consistent during repairs.

Concrete: Decorative concrete is the new “in” design across the country. Whether you choose to stain, stamp or paint, there is a look you can mimic using the highly versatile concrete. There are an unlimited number of ways you can make concrete look as expensive as marble. Rated as the best alternative for people with pets, concrete can make a beautiful and inexpensive option for your pet-friendly floor.

Tip: Incorporate radiant heating into design to lower winter heating costs.

 

Warm, Inviting and Durable Solutions

If you live in an “all-weather” region, you might likely be on the hunt for warm, durable solutions. These include vinyl, laminate and carpet-tile options. While wood is beautiful flooring, it’s one of the least durable options for homes with pets—sharp claws can make short work of the floor. Instead, look for chic, aesthetically pleasing options that are easy to maintain.

Vinyl: Vinyl flooring is very durable and resistant to moisture, which makes it a favorite in the rainy areas. Simple to maintain, it has the added bonus of muffling the sounds your pets nails make as they click across the floor. Vinyl flooring comes in a large variety of colors and designs so you never have to sacrifice style for comfort.

Tip: Inlaid vinyl is thicker and has richer colors.

Laminate: If you’re looking for the aristocratic feel of wood floors without all the maintenance; laminate flooring is a durable solution that can hold up to the hard nails of your pet without scratching. While it’s not quite as durable as vinyl, laminate is affordable, easy to maintain and lasts much longer than wood.

Tip: Check the warranty—they range from 10 years to a lifetime.

Carpet Tiles: This is an excellent alternative to heavy floor rugs or to cover up and preserve wood floors. Simple to assemble, these can be used as an entire floor or as a way to preserve a high-use area. Cleaning is as simple as removing the carpet tile that is soiled by running it under water or tossing it in the washer. A vacuum can clean up any larger areas. Use as a runner for areas your pets like to charge through and eliminate any problems of getting toenails caught in shag. The pattern variety enables custom design and you can also make it the perfect option for concrete floors.

Tip: Visit Flor.com for clever ideas to create unique, affordable designs.

 

Green, Natural and Renewable Solutions

Flooring made from long-lasting, renewable resources is in vogue, which makes cork and bamboo two of my favorite flooring options.

Cork is a natural antimicrobial that reduce smold and other allergens—making it a perfect flooring solution for homes with pets. It also absorbs sound nicely (an excellent selling point if you dogs bark a lot). However, cork floors can fade and discolor if they see too much sunlight, making it a bad option for sunny regions. Consider coating it with a high-quality urethane to reduce wear and tear.

Tip: Avoid cork-vinyl composites. If using sealer, select a low-VOC product.

Bamboo is also an excellent option as it’s the hardest of hardwood—making it very durable and long-lasting. Cleaning is a breeze but remember, while cork and bamboo floors are naturally water-resistant, you need to get stains cleaned up quickly as they will eventually cause discoloration.

Tip: Look for FSC-certified products that have had no formaldehyde added.

Whatever new flooring you select, focus on easily maintained, durable and mildew-resistant designs. Any of the above options can last a long time and add value to your home. Pet-friendly (and pet-resistant) flooring also ensures you won’t grow frustrated with damage caused by your four-legged family members. These days, you don’t have to sacrifice comfort and durability for style.


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