Thursday, May 30, 2013

Banish the Bites - Tick and Cicada Pet Safety

People and pets alike are all through the roof about the nice weather, but with warmth comes many tiny bugs that can lead to not-so-tiny problems. According to the Montefiore Medical Center in New York, more than 90 percent of Lyme disease cases from tick bites are reported in just ten northeastern states. New Jersey falls in the top half of this list, and tick numbers are expected to hit extreme highs this summer in our state. For a month or more this summer, we can also expect cicadas, allegedly harmless bugs that can actually pose a threat to our pets. What can you do to help protect your pooch?

Dogs are extremely susceptible to tick bites and the resulting illnesses, including Lyme disease. If tick bites are hard to spot on humans, finding out if your dog has been bitten is even more difficult. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that signs of tick-borne illness may not manifest for 7-21 days or more after your dog is bitten. Even then these signs, which include change in behavior or appetite, can be very subtle. The best thing you can do for your dog is to take preventive measures to avoid ticks and tick bites.

The CDC suggests that in order to reduce the chances that your pet will be exposed to ticks and tick-borne diseases, you should:

  • Check your pet daily for ticks, especially after spending time outdoors.
  • If you do find a tick on your dog, remove it immediately. For tips on how to properly remove a tick that may already be attached to the skin, you can read step by step instructions at the Lyme Research Alliance website or 
  • Reduce tick habitat in your yard by trimming tall grasses and brush, mowing your lawn regularly and treating with pesticides.
  • Have your groomer do a thorough tick check during routine grooming appointments. To schedule your pet for a full groom, call us at Morris Animal Inn at 973-539-0377.
  • Most importantly: talk with your veterinarian. Have your vet conduct a tick check every time your pet has an exam, ask about common tick diseases in your area, and talk about tick preventatives for your pet.

The best method of preventing Lyme and other tick related diseases is to prevent the ticks themselves. A pesticide product that will kill ticks that attach to your dog is an important step towards giving your pet the proper protection. Protecting your dog will help keep you and your family safe as well; though you cannot catch Lyme disease from your dog, ticks that attach to your pet and are then carried into your home can put you at risk. Speak with your vet about finding the right product.

But what about those pesky cicadas? These underground nymphs emerge sometimes as infrequently as once every 17 years, and though they will not bite or sting your pet, they may prove dangerous if your pet decides to do the biting. Cicadas will shed their shells, an exoskeleton that can look like a crunchy treat to dogs, but these shells are not digestible.

The Humane Society warns that though cicadas and their shells may be appealing to pets, ingesting too many can cause vomiting, choking or even an allergic reaction. It’s best to watch your dog while outdoors for signs of interest in these bugs, and prevent your pet from munching on them whenever possible. If your dog shows adverse reactions after eating cicadas, consult your vet for proper treatment.

Friday, May 24, 2013

National Dog Bite Prevention Week: Understanding Your Dog's Signals

It’s National Dog Bite Prevention Week, and you can help the cause by learning to understand your dog’s warning signs. This week was established by Doggone Safe, an organization devoted to promoting education that can help prevent dog bites and providing support for dog bite victims. The ultimate goal of this week is to help us, the humans, properly understand and communicate with our dogs in ways that can help prevent biting. 

As Doggone Safe acknowledges, we often misunderstand our pups. When a dog bites, we interpret this behavior in negative human terms, when to a dog, biting is a relatively normal and primal behavior. By learning to understand why dogs are motivated to bite in the first place, we can help reduce the risk that our pet will respond to situations with a bite or other threatening behavior.

Basic knowledge of your dog’s physical behavior can take you a long way towards preventing biting. Our sister organization, Morris K9 Campus, published a blog post in honor of Dog Bite Prevention Week about canine body language and how to read the signs that may lead to aggression.

Watch out for:

  • Tail between the legs
  • Whites of eyes showing
  • Ears back, head down, or teeth bared
  • Excessive yawning or licking
  • Furrowed or tense brow

You can also help prevent biting or lashing out by avoiding situations that often make dogs uncomfortable. Avoid surprising your dog, especially while they are asleep, as they may react instinctively and bite. Do not approach a tethered dog or a dog that is chewing on a bone; even if you know the dog well, they may become defensive. Also avoid forcing your dog into a submissive position.

By keeping your dog comfortable and watching for these warning signs, you can help prevent your dog and others' pets from biting. Though they may be subtle, these signs are a dog’s way of telling us how they are feeling. If you watch for them, you can become more in tune with your dog’s likes, dislikes and overall well-being.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

What to Look for before Leaving your Pet with a Pet Sitter or Lodging Facility

As you plan for your getaway, deciding where your pet will stay is something that should give you peace of mind. The Humane Society writes an informative article about what to consider before choosing your pet's lodging accommodations. Some of their tips mentioned:
  •  To have your pets stay where they receive more attention and supervision than if home alone most of the day.
  • To find out if the facility requires pets to be current on their vaccinations - including the vaccine for canine cough - this will protect your furry family member from others.

Other important questions to ask before boarding your pet with a pet sitter or lodging facility:
  1. Will pets be monitored by trained staff?
  2. Are veterinary services available if needed? What are they?
  3. Are they veterinarian recommended?
  4. Are cats housed away from the dogs?
  5. Does the facility look and smell clean?
  6. Are other services offered such as training, bathing and grooming?
  7. How many years have they been in business?
These are just a few items to consider before choosing a lodging facility. At Morris Animal Inn, we welcome you to ask these questions and more in order to feel comfortable leaving your pet with us. We want to be your pet's home away from home. Please stop in for a tour to see for yourself.  

Source: Humane Society of the United States (

Friday, May 10, 2013

Pounds for Hounds Food Donation Totals Over 1500 Lbs!

You lose some… to win some! Morris Animal Inn’s Pounds for Hounds fundraiser had staff eating healthy and exercising to lose weight for a good cause.
This annual event, which took place over a three month period from January through March, is a popular weight loss inspiration for staff at Morris Animal Inn because it means more than just getting healthy: for every pound our staff loses, we donate 10 lbs. of food to an animal shelter. This year, our food goes to Eleventh Hour Rescue Animal Shelter in Randolph, NJ!

After months of hard work, weigh-ins and healthy eating, our staff went above and beyond for our highest total yet: combined we lost a total of 199 lbs! Our final donation to Eleventh Hour was 45 33 pound bags of Fromm dog food and 33 cases of California Natural canned food. Adding it all together, that’s nearly 1500 lbs of dry food, plus the 33 cases of cans!

This hard-earned food will be put to good use at Eleventh Hour Rescue, a shelter that focuses on saving animals from kill shelters and finding them foster and permanent homes.

This year, our Grooming staff participants topped our weigh-in charts with nearly 5% weight loss. Congratulations to our groomers and all our staff participants on taking healthy steps to help shelter dogs get healthy, too!

To help your dog get fit, sign up today for our next Kentucky Derby themed daycare fit camp! “A Week at the Races” from May 13-17 will have your dog racing to the front of the pack with treadmill trots, saddle pawlates, derby diving and homemade healthy treats. Call 973-539-0377 to book your dog a spot in the winners circle today!

Friday, May 3, 2013

How to Spoil Your Pet - the Best Way

Is your pet “spoiled rotten?” The expression has undoubtedly become much more common among pet owners today, as we indulge our furry companions by treating them like part of the family with birthday parties, presents and treats galore.

Morris Animal Inn is proud to say we pamper your pets with our amenities, fitness programs and loving attention. Nat Geo Wild’s new show “Spoiled Rotten Pets” spotlights pets whose owners are proud to go above and beyond to give their pets the very best. The show is hosted by Beth Ostrosky Stern, an American television personality, actress and wife of radio personality Howard Stern. 

On Saturday, May 4th at 9 pm, “Spoiled Rotten Pets” will feature Morris Animal Inn as Stern tours our picturesque facility and follows one of our pampered guests on a customized fitness regimen. Read more about the upcoming broadcast here!

The best way to indulge your pet is to include many activities that responsible pet owners do regularly: buying premium foods, making regular vet and grooming appointments and giving your pet frequent exercise and training with a good, consistent program. But is it possible to spoil our pets too much? An article by Helium pet blogger Janet Farricelli acknowledges the fact that some behaviors, though rewarding, can at times be unhealthy for your dog. Keep an eye out for the following to make sure that your dog stays healthy, fit and happy:

  • Begging followed by a reward – Rewarding barking, crying or pawing at you during dinner with table scraps can be bad for your dog because it enforces incorrect behavior, but more importantly  because a lot of human food also contains ingredients that can be unhealthy or even deadly for animals. Human indulgences like fatty foods or chocolate can lead to obesity, toxicity, pancreatitis or other dangerous reactions in your dog.
  • Praising at the wrong moment – When training your dog, you often want to praise them every step of the way. Limiting your praise to when they are actually performing the requested behavior, like a sit or stay, will enforce the behavior better than cheering them on after the fact. This way, in your dog's mind, the good behavior is what makes you happy.
  • Pampering that leads to laziness – If your dog does not receive proper exercise, nutrition or mental stimulation, it could lead an unhealthy environment for both yourself and your dog. Consider your dog’s breed and specific needs in your day-to-day pet activities.

This is not to say that you cannot go above and beyond for your furry friend; their health and behavior won’t change if you buy them that expensive collar or throw them a birthday party. By remembering your dog’s basic needs and making sure these needs are met, you can spoil your pet in the most positive way.

Does your dog need a bit more exercise? Call us today at 973-539-0377 to book your pet a spot in our upcoming “Week at the Races” Fit Camp, May 13-17. For an inside look at the fitness amenities we offer and the good ways we spoil our pets, be sure to tune in on Saturday, May 4th at 9 pm to watch us on Nat Geo Wild’s “Spoiled Rotten Pets!”