How to keep an eye on your pets no matter where you—and they—are.
By Stacy Mantle
Most pet owners agree that the most stressful part of having pets is leaving them when they have to go to work or decide to take a vacation. Whether you decide on having a pet sitter come in to your home, putting your faith into a close friend or relative, or selecting a boarding facility; there are new ways to ensure your pets are safe and secure.
Technology has come a long way in the past few years. Lightweight GPS locators, individual activity trackers, hi-def cameras, and motion-activated technology are just a few ways you can make sure your pets are in good hands. Here are a few things you can try to make sure your pets are safe while you’re away.
If you’re wondering whether or not your dog walker is taking your pets out for the full hour walk they promised, this is now a way you can do that. GPS monitors, such as the Tagg unit, will notify you when your dog leaves a previously assigned “virtual” area (like your backyard or home). You will receive a text message when your dog leaves the area and you’ll be able to track the route your dog is travelling. This works for dogs who are being walked as well as it works for those who escape yards.
Your pets should all be wearing GPS trackers even while they are home with pet sitters. Pets tend to become more stressed when they are away from us, so it’s good to have a secondary method of finding your pets should they escape the yard while you’re on vacation. With GPS trackers, you’ll be able to give your pet-sitter access to the program, or you can just contact your pet sitter after you receive a notification. You can also put other important contacts, such as neighbors or relatives, into your contact list in the event your dog escapes the yard.
Activity monitoring is another offered feature through Tagg and other companies, such as Whistle, Starwalk, the Spotlight and dozens of others. Each tracker offers individual benefits, so you’ll need to do some research to find the one that best fits your situation.
Activity trackers are remarkably advanced and are now capable of monitoring everything from your pet’s internal temperature and heart rate to the type of activity she is engaged in. For instance, you’ll be able to identify whether your dog is running a fence line, walking calmly through the house in search of treats or sleeping.
If you are the type of owner who always worries about their pets while you’re away from the home, a wireless camera can be an excellent way of checking in on them without being invasive. There are a number of cameras that are not only high-def, but also offer infrared technology, which enables you to check on your pets in the middle of the night.
These cameras are affordable (ranging between $80 to $200) and very easy to install. Each camera brand has a free, downloadable app that can access the camera from any device. Before you purchase, be sure to check the following:
- Does the camera have two-way talk? (This can come in handy if you check in and see your dog ransacking the garbage.)
- Is the app compatible with Apple and Android? If you have an Android phone and iPad, you’ll want a camera that can handle both systems.
- Does the camera offer infrared/nighttime vision?
- Does the camera offer additional functions, such as temperature inclusion? If you live in an extreme climate, knowing what the temperature of your home is may be of value to you.
- Does the camera offer you control over location? For example, can you maneuver the lens to easily survey a room or do you need to purchase more than one camera to have them strategically placed around the home?
- Can the camera be used indoors and outdoors?
When selecting a boarding facility, be sure the facility has remote cameras installed that give you access via secured servers. In this day and age, there really is no reason for a facility to not have cameras installed. If they do not—ask them why and decide for yourself if it’s acceptable.
In this day and age, we never need to be far from our pets. While technology offers a lot of advantages, it will never take the place of good old-fashioned TLC and will never be a substitute (or excuse) for leaving pets at home alone. What technology can do is alleviate some of the anxiety we feel when we have to leave town and it might just help decrease your stress a bit while you’re at work, too.
About the Author: Stacy Mantle is the founder of PetsWeekly.com and the bestselling author of “Shepherd’s Moon.” Learn more great tips for living with animals by visiting PetsWeekly.com or get to know a little more about the author at www.StacyMantle.com
Heat Awareness Day 2014
Several states are already experiencing above normal temperatures and sizzling, record breaking heat. Weather predictors such as the 2014 Farmers’ Almanac indicate that this summer will be exceptionally hot across much of the U.S. Since heat is the No. 1 weather-related killer in the U.S. (According to the U.S. Department of Commerce National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), Animal Behavior College encourages pet owners to prepare now to ensure they protect their dogs and cats from heat’s devastating effects. National Heat Awareness Day on May 23 serves as a great reminder.
“Summer is one of the busiest seasons for most people,” said Steven Appelbaum. “With so many activity-filled days, it is easy for dog and cat owners to forget that extreme heat can be potentially fatal. Planning and early preparation are key to ensuring pets are comfortable and safe.”
Pet Summer Safety Tips
The college recommends five readiness tips to help your pet beat the heat and other summer safety-related concerns:
Prevent Heat Stroke. As your pet’s body temperature increases, it cannot accommodate excessive external heat. Extreme heat can lead to heat stroke resulting in multiple organ dysfunctions. Keep your pet out of the heat and in a cool, shaded area. Provide access to water.
Prevent Sun Burn. White dogs and cats and those that have thin or no hair are more susceptible to sunburn. Just like humans, they can sunburn. Use pet safe sunscreens and keep your pet out of the sun. Some sun blocks contain potentially harmful ingredients, so consult your veterinarian before applying sunscreen to your cat.
Avoid Dog Walks on Hot Pavement. Pavement can get extremely hot and can cause lacerations, paw infections and burnt pads. Unfortunately, these injuries are often not apparent to the human eye. Walk dogs when temperatures are coolest or in shaded areas on the grass.
Keep Your Pet Safe Around Water. It is a myth that all dogs are good swimmers. Keep a watchful eye on them around pools, lakes or any other body of water. Ensure fresh water is available to ensure your pet does not drink water from the pool. Visit our blog to learn more about Dog Water Safety.
Safely Remove Ticks. Ticks transmit disease, which can cause fatal complications. If you notice a tick on your pet, it is important to remove it immediately and carefully. Visit our blog for tips about properly Removing Ticks.
Ensure your pet has access to plenty of fresh water and a way to cool off. Never leave pets in parked vehicles. If you notice that your pet is in distress, visit your veterinarian right away.
By following these easy heat awareness and safety tips, you and your pets will enjoy a fun and safe summer season.
Pet Summer Safety Tips – Heat Awareness Day 2014
Car Safety for Dogs
The President of Animal Behavior College, Steven Appelbaum, wrote a guest post on WayCoolDogs.com which talks about safety harness crash test results for dogs.
The non-profit Center for Pet Safety tested several brands of pet harnesses using the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS 213). The crash test was conducted at an independent laboratory that also tests for the Department of Transportation, using life sized dog test dummies.
Steve believes that all pet products designed to keep a pet secured in an automobile will be held to the same or similar standards as human seat belts.
Read the entire blog post about Dog Safety for the Car or Truck at: http://www.waycooldogs.com/car-safety-for-dogs/
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Water Safety Tips
As the video below shows you, not all dogs can swim. While this dog may look cute in her owner’s arms as she moves her legs across the surface of the kiddie pool, water safety is not to be taken lightly. If your dog has yet to meet your swimming pool, the ocean or any other body of water, read on to learn how to introduce your dog to water.
Before we begin, understand not all dogs can swim. Some breeds, such as French Bull Dogs, have shorter legs while others with naturally low body fat percentage are more likely to sink. Despite these factors, any dog can catch hypothermia.
Approach the water
Bring your dog toward your swimming pool or the shore. Let him go into the water slowly, making sure to keep the experience positive. If you need help introducing your dog to water, consult with a certified dog trainer.
Use a personal flotation device
Personal flotation devices come in various sizes and colors for dogs. The vest comes with a handle on the back so you can easily pull your dog out of the water. Putting this on your dog while at the beach or on a boat ensures your dog stays atop of the water.
Know when to go in the shade
Dogs are prone to sunburns just as we are so it’s best to use caution when outdoors. Make sure you’re aware of heat stroke symptoms, such as heavy panting, excessive drooling and bright red gums. To cool your dog down, apply an ice pack to his groin area or have him drink some water.
With these safety tips in mind, you can let your dog romp in the water as he pleases. Remember to supervise your dog at all times. If you suspect your dog is having a heat stroke, contact a veterinarian immediately.
Does your dog like the water? How often do you go swimming together? Tell us in the comments below!
Man’s Life Saved by His Three Dogs
On Friday morning in Lewisburg, Tenn., a fire spread throughout Doyce Mitchell’s home. Quick to take action, Mitchell’s three Jack Russell Terriers (Luke, Fiddle and Pinch) ran to Mitchell’s bed and barked frantically to wake him up. Most of his home was filled with smoke by the time Mitchell got up.
“Lost everything but me and my boys I could care less about everything else glad me and the boys got out,” said Mitchell.
Without his heroic dogs, Mitchell may not have made it outside his mobile home.
Sadly, this is one of many stories that involve dogs saving lives. Nearly half a million pets are lost to house fires every year. To protect your dog during a disaster, create a safety plan for your family.
How to Make a Fire Safety Plan
Test your smoke alarm
Testing your smoke alarm ensures it’s properly working. While you’re testing, you should train your dog to go outside when he hears the alarm go off. You can do this a number of ways so consult with a professional dog trainer to help you.
Create an escape plan
As you have an escape plan for your family, plan an escape route for your dog. A doggie door is an easy way to ensure your dog escapes the home in the event of a fire, which is especially helpful if a fire breaks out while you’re not home. Also consider hanging a pet alert on your window to let firefighters know how many pets you have so they can be rescued.
Turn off appliances
Never leave electrical appliances and open flames unattended, as your dog may endanger himself. Before leaving your home, make sure these appliances, including the space heater, are turned off.