Thursday, March 27, 2014

Do Dogs Like Music?

What’s your reaction to hearing your favorite song on the radio? It has been proven that music can significantly impact our moods, from instant happiness when hearing a song we enjoy to ease and comfort while listening to a calm, classical tune. It turns out our pets may have equally discerning ears while listening to music, and could actually have their own favorite songs!

Psychologist and Animal Behaviorist Deborah Wells studied dog’s reactions to music by exposing them to mainstream, heavy metal, and classical songs. While heavy metal had dogs barking and anxious, classical tunes encouraged pets to calm down and relax.

Similar studies have looked deeper into canine musical preferences, discovering that many pooches react poorly to intense drumming or percussion and that peaceful music can actually help dogs who are sick to ease more quickly into recovery. Music can also help distract dogs with anxiety, and to drown out other stress-inducing noises like fireworks.

At Morris Animal Inn, we have seen firsthand the effects of calming music with our pet guests. Our open facility with skylights and spacious luxury suites are built with the comfort of each pet in mind, and we complement the peaceful environment by playing music throughout the building.

We find that the steady, calming sounds of music playing overhead helps our visiting pets to feel relaxed and comfortable. Have you seen your pet react to music in a positive way? What types of music does your pet enjoy?


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Top Pet Toxins - National Poison Prevention Week

March 16-22 is National Poison Prevention Week. This week serves as a reminder to all pet owners to watch for both natural and processed pet toxins, especially as we prepare for spring cleaning and as plants start to poke their way through the snow. 

The March 2014 issue of Pet Age Magazine, along with the Pet Poison Helpline, listed the top cat and dog toxins to watch out for. These toxins are listed by their commonality, so watch especially for those highest on the lists. Keep this list handy to help keep your pet healthy year round.

Top Ten Cat Toxins

  1. Lilies: All plants in the lily family, if ingested, can cause kidney failure in cats. These plants are common, so be especially careful what types of plants you have accessible in your home.
  2. Household cleaners: Watch especially for concentrated products like toilet or drain cleaners, which can cause chemical burns.
  3. Flea and tick prevention products for dogs: Certain pyrethroid based products can cause tremors and seizures in cats and are potentially deadly if ingested.
  4. Antidepressants: According to Pet Age, cats seem strangely drawn to these medications. Keep them tightly sealed and out of reach, as they can have damaging neurological and cardiac effects on cats.
  5. NSAIDs: Drugs like Ibuprofen found in Advil, Motrin, Aleve, etc are even more dangerous to cats than they are to dogs. Even those meant for pets should be used with caution.
  6. Prescription ADD/ADHD medication: Can cause tremors, seizures or other cardiac problems that could be fatal to cats.
  7. Over the counter cough, cold & allergy medicine: Those containing acetaminophen (like Tylenol) are particularly dangerous can do damage to red blood cells and cause liver failure.
  8. Insoluble Oxalate Plants: Other common household plants like the philodendron and pothos can cause oral irritation, foaming at the mouth and inflammation.
  9. Household Insecticides: Most sprays and powders are fairly safe, but it’s best to keep cats away until the product is fully dried or settled.
  10. Glow Sticks: Though these may seem like cute toys to cats, if punctured, the chemicals inside can cause pain and foaming at the mouth. If exposed to these, food and water are a safe remedy.

Top Ten Dog Toxins

  1. Chocolate: Dark and bakers chocolate are the worst, and milk chocolate in large amounts can also be dangerous.
  2. Xylitol (sugarless gum sweetener): Also found in some candies, medications and nasal sprays, this sweetener causes a fast drop in blood sugar and possible liver failure in dogs.
  3. NSAIDs: Drugs like Ibuprofen found in Advil, Motrin, Aleve, etc. Dogs are not good a digesting these and the continued exposure can cause stomach ulcers and kidney failure.
  4. Over the counter cough, cold & allergy medicine: Particularly those containing acetaminophen or decongestants.
  5. Mouse and Rat Poison: Even small amounts may cause internal bleeding or swelling of the brain in dogs.
  6. Grapes & Raisins: May cause kidney damage.
  7. Insect bait stations: While these stations themselves are not poisonous to dogs, pets who are intrigued by the plastic casing and swallow it may experience obstruction in their bowels.
  8. Prescription ADD/ADHD medication: Can cause tremors, seizures or other cardiac problems that could be fatal to dogs.
  9. Glucosamine joint supplements: These can be extremely tasty for pets, and in excess can cause diarrhea or even liver failure in dogs.
  10. Silica gel packets & oxygen absorbers: While the gel packets found in new shoes or purses do not pose a significant threat, oxygen absorbers found in food packages, even pet treats, can cause iron poisoning.

Pet Poison Helpline online is a resource available for pet owners to learn what other poisons are out there and how to respond if your pet is exposed to something harmful. Should your pet be exposed to any of these or other toxins that are cause for concern, contact your local vet or the Pet Poison Helpline at 800-213-6680. 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Does Your Pet Dream?

For humans, we climb into bed each night knowing we’re off to dreamland. Dreams are a result of REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep, the most important and deepest stage of our sleep cycle. But do our dogs and cats also travel to a dream world in their sleep, too?

Many pet owners are adamant that their pets do dream. We’ve all watched our pets while they’re fast asleep, and often gush over their cute twitches and muffled woofs during a nap. It turns out that these subtle body movements may tell us a lot about what goes on in our pet’s heads while they slumber.

A recent article in Parade Magazine discussed pets traveling into dreamland. For humans, according to Veterinary Relief Solutions, Inc. owner Lisa Boyer, DVM, the purpose of dreaming may be to help maintain a sense of self. Since we cannot ask our pets, we can’t know for sure, but what we can observe suggests that pets do dream while asleep.

Studies have shows that dogs and cats, while sleeping, exhibit REM sleep actions like eye twitching, lip movements and vocalizations. These signs, along with fast breathing, confirm that our pets do dream, but what they dream about is still a mystery. We hope that these are all signs of good dreams!

So next time your dog mumbles a woof or your cat’s whiskers twitch while they are asleep, take a guess at what might be going on inside their heads. Maybe your dog is running across a grassy field, or your cat is tossing around their favorite toy. No matter what our pets envision while asleep, we can make their good dreams come true by giving them plenty of love and attention when they wake up.

What do you think? Does YOUR pet show signs of dreaming while they sleep?

Friday, March 7, 2014

Winter Exercise with your Pet

Even our pets get the winter blues. As we move into March and are feeling ready for spring, the continuing winter weather has many of us, and our pets, holing up at home. Dogs need exercise now just as much as during the warmer months, when running outside is a breeze. But while our pets’ paws still sink into the snow, our friends at Golden Woofs have come up with a list of alternate ways for you and your pet to get some exercise.

Play mental games. Winter is a great time to work with your dog on training and tricks, things that can be practiced indoors. Have you always wanted your dog to learn to roll over, or beg? Now’s the time to teach them. Treat puzzle games are also a good way to exercise your dog’s mental skills.

Take your dog swimming. Cold temperatures may have you dreaming of the sun and surf, so why not let your pet experience a bit of summer with a swim session? At Morris Animal Inn, our indoor pool offers a warm and fun escape from the chilly outdoors. All first time swimmers wear life vests for safety and are closely monitored by our experienced staff, who help pets get a great conditioning workout paddling in the pool. We also have a state-of-the-art aqua massage for a warm, muscle-relaxing soak after a swim.

Find dog-friendly trips. Need to run to the pet supply store, or maybe even your neighborhood garden center? Many of these places do allow pets to pace the aisles with you. Find out in advance if pets are allowed – if not, consider dropping them off at Morris Animal Inn for a day of daycare fun while you run your errands!

Try agility. Racing through tunnels and jumping over hurdles is a solid workout for any dog! Our sister company, Morris K9 Campus, offers indoor beginner agility courses that any pet-owner team can try. Agility burns lots of energy and also strengthens the bond between you and your pet. Visit their website for more information about upcoming classes.

Enjoy winter! Embracing the cold and snow may feel like the last thing you want to do, but a brisk walk around your neighborhood can be rejuvenating for both you and your pet. Bundle up for a quick walk, the pace will keep you both warm, and follow it up with a cuddle in front of the fire. You’ve earned it!