Friday, October 31, 2014

9 Halloween Safety Tips for Your Pets

While Halloween is a fun day to dress up and eat your fair share of candy, remember the holiday isn't as fun for your pets!  When people are suddenly wearing weird masks, hats, and ringing the doorbell, Halloween can be stressful and confusing for dogs and cats. Here are a few tips to ensure your pets have a safe and happy Halloween!

1. Keep the candy away from your pets! Chocolate in all forms—especially dark or baking chocolate—can be very dangerous for dogs and cats. Candies containing the artificial sweetener xylitol can also cause severe problems.

2. Wires and cords from electric lights and other decorations should be kept out of reach of your pets. If chewed, your pet might suffer cuts or burns, or receive a possibly life-threatening electrical shock.

3. If you dress up your pet, make sure the costume isn't annoying or unsafe. It should not constrict movement or hearing, or impede their ability to breathe, bark or meow. Also, be sure to try on costumes before the big night. If your pet seems distressed, allergic or shows abnormal behavior, consider letting them go au naturale or wear a festive bandana.

4. Take a close look at your pet’s costume and make sure it does not have small, dangling or easily chewed-off pieces that they could choke on. Also, poor-fitting outfits can get twisted on external objects or your pet, leading to injury.

5. Keep your pets in a safe, quiet and separate room away from the front door during peak trick-or-treating hours or party time. Too many strangers and excessive doorbell ringing can be scary and stressful for pets.

6. When opening the door for trick-or-treaters, make sure your cat or dog doesn't dart outside. In case they do happen to escape through the open door, make sure your pet is properly identified with a microchip and/or collar and ID tag.

7. Keep lit candles and jack-o-lanterns out of reach from your furry friends. Their curiosity may cause them to get burned!

8. Keep glow sticks and glow jewelry away from your pets. Although the liquid in these products isn't likely toxic, it tastes really bad and makes pets salivate excessively and act strange!

9. If going out to trick-or-treat, leave your dog at home! Lots of costumed children on the street may be frightening. 

Knowing the potential risks will help your family have the best day possible. Happy Halloween!  We hope you have a spook-tacular day!


Friday, October 24, 2014

13 Benefits of Pumpkin for Pets

From your front doorstep, to pies, to lattes, pumpkins are everywhere this time of year! While you enjoy your pumpkin for the season, let your pet enjoy it too! Pumpkin has many health benefits for your furry friends, so consider adding it to their food or treat routine.  Their bodies will thank you too for this healthy snack!

Here are 13 ways pumpkin can benefit your pet:

1. Pumpkin seeds are a great source of protein, carbohydrates and fiber. Roast the seeds and then grind them up. Do not add salt.

2. Additionally, tapeworms and other intestinal parasites become paralyzed by cucurbitin, an amino acid in pumpkin seeds that acts as a natural de-worming agent.

3. Pumpkin flesh contains soluble fiber, which helps slows digestion, and can help manage diarrhea by absorbing water.

4. Alternatively, pumpkin also helps with constipation due to its high fiber and water content.

5. Pumpkin is great for “bulking up” your animal’s food. The extra fiber will also help a dog or cat feel full, even if they’re eating fewer calories overall. For this reason, pumpkin can aid in a pet’s weight loss program as well. Try substituting a tablespoon of canned pumpkin for a ¼ cup of food.

6. Since pumpkin slows digestion, your pet will feel fuller for longer.

7. Pumpkin flesh contains vitamin A, which is important for vision health.

8. The flesh also contains vitamin C, which boosts the immune system.

9. Dogs with joint problems need more vitamin C than they produce naturally, and pumpkin is a good source.

10. Pumpkin slows the aging process with its bountiful antioxidant beta-carotene.

11. The zinc in pumpkin will help improve skin and coat.

12. Oils found in pumpkin seeds and flesh are believed to support urinary health. Dogs with urinary incontinence, in particular, may benefit from a little pumpkin in their diet.

13. The fiber in pumpkin can help move furballs along through your cat’s digestive tract and into the litter box, rather than hacked up onto the carpet. Regularly including about a teaspoon a day of pumpkin in your cat's diet will also help prevent the formation of new furballs.

The best way to use pumpkin is to purchase plain canned pumpkin. You don’t want the “ready for a pie” version that has added fats and spices. Many pets like plain pumpkin, so you can just add it to their regular pet food. Talk to your veterinarian about how much pumpkin to safely give your pet since it will vary depending on your pet’s size and current diet.

Source: Animal Wellness Magazine, Pet MD, Pet360

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Can Dogs Protect You from Asthma?

Dogs enrich our lives in many ways, so Morris Animal Inn was intrigued by information indicating that the simple presence of a dog may help protect a household from asthma and allergens.

Interesting research from the University of Michigan late last year suggests that dogs may add a diversity of bacteria to household dust that is protective against respiratory disease.

According to the article in the Wall Street Journal, researchers have determined that children in households with dogs exposed to the outdoors may develop a gastrointestinal tract with a more mature immune response to allergens.  

They identified a species of “good gut bacteria” that is critical in protecting the respiratory airways from sensitivity to allergens and viral infections.

Researchers found that this “good bacteria” prevented airway inflammation associated with allergies, and also infection with Respiratory Syncytial Virus, other wise known as RSV. RSV infection in children is known to increase the risk of asthma.

This is interesting for pet owners because the presence of pets is sometimes associated with pet dander, which is known to have the opposite effect. Of course there still is so much to learn about this topic, but it’s an interesting concept, don’t you think?

There are many proven health benefits to owning a pet and further research on this topic may add another benefit of living with pets to the list!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Road Trip - Helping Your Anxious Dog in the Car

We all love our dogs and look forward to taking them places for their enjoyment, but sometimes traveling with your pup can be difficult if your dog shows signs of stress, barks out the window or even vomits. Working to solve your dog’s issues in the car can be beneficial to both you and your pooch.  

Try to determine what it is about the car that is causing your dog’s stress. Though you may never know what the exact issue is, there are always methods of improving the car ride. Start by getting your dog used to the car. Whether you have a puppy or an older dog, there are steps that you can take to help them adjust.

Puppies. If you have a puppy that is in his or her socialization window, which is before 20 weeks, it’s important to get your dog in the car as much as possible. Bring your puppy with you when making short trips. If you are running to the bank or picking your kids up from school, take them with you on these trips to get them used to the car. With puppies, you have the added benefit of adding different environments to his or her repertoire. Every new place you go together is a new environment that will help increase their confidence outside your home.

Adult Dogs. This process can be slightly different when dealing with adult dogs. For dogs that are afraid of the car, short trips as simple as driving around the block are key. Just once around the block and heading back home can help your dog better adjust to the car. It’s also important to end the short car trip with something that your dog loves, like a long walk. This method can also work for a dog that gets an upset stomach when riding in the car. The idea is to keep the ride short, and again end it with something that your dog goes crazy for, like a walk. This needs to be continued until your pet seems better adjusted, and then you can begin longer trips with your dog. This process can be done with any dog that is having any type of problem in the car.
Easing Stress. If your dog is clearly stressed out in the car, the best thing you can do is work on it over time. Start by getting them used to the car when it's stationary.  Feed them treats or meals inside the car without going anywhere so they can get used to being inside.

However, if you are looking for other things to help, they could benefit from the following:
  • A Crate: Crates are a great tool for the car and can take some of the stimulus away that could be causing your dog's stress, like movement or sounds outside window. They can also serve as a safety measure; keeping your dog in a crate or in a single position through the use of a seat belt can help reduce risk of injury should you have an accident or even just need to slam on your brakes.
  • Pheromone Remedies: There are pheromone sprays similar to ones that a mother dog would naturally produce in order to help calm her puppies. These “Rescue Remedies” can be sprayed in your car, or mixed in with your dog's food, in order to help your pooch calm down. Remember that it’s not a cure, but it might help your dog quite a bit.
  • Thundershirt: The Thundershirt is designed to help calm your dog by making them feel more secure. It’s important to first put the Thundershirt on a few weeks prior during feeding times and other random “good” times. You don’t want to just use the shirt as a way to calm your dog down. If you only put the shirt on the dog when they are going in the car, they will begin to associate the shirt with the car, which could hamper its effectiveness.

Car Sickness. If your dog vomits in the car, there are steps that you can take in order to prepare them for the car ride. Don’t feed them before they go for a car ride, and make sure they aren’t consuming a large quantity of water before getting into the car. Keep a cleaning agent with you just in case, and remember that it is easier to clean up if your dog is in a crate. Even if your dog doesn't throw up, they still might be suffering from motion sickness, and still feel nauseated.  Watch for drooling, trembling or a hunched posture. A vet can tell you about medications that may remedy this problem.

Remember to address the issues that your dog has in the car before your trip. You should never address an issue while you are driving; not only does it put you and your dog in danger, it also endangers other people on the road! By addressing your dog’s fears and stress prior to the trip, you can help improve the car ride for yourself and your dog, and move on to enjoying going out and about together!

Source: ASPCA

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Are You Giving Your Dog the Right Kind of Affection?

Sometimes we forget that our dogs display affection in a different way than we do. While humans display affection through gestures like hugging and kissing, dogs display through licking, jumping, snuggling, and tail wagging.

As a dog owner it’s important to give your dog the right kind of affection at the right times.  With the help of  Animal Wellness Magazine and The Pet Professional Guild we've compiled some information for you and your dog to speak the same!

Kissing vs. licking

While important among people, kissing and hugging are not in a dog’s behavioral repertoire!  On the other hand, licking one another is important to dogs, but not something humans normally do!  If your dog licks you, most of the time it is a sign of affection and attachment.  Dogs probably don’t understand the equivalency of kisses and licks so try to keep this in mind!

How do you know what kind of affection your dog likes?

The best way to know is to observe their behavior!  If your dog enjoys the petting or the scratching, they will remain relaxed and not tense up.  Their ears should stay forward and the tail high. If your dog tries to move away and avoid you, then they probably don’t like it.  If your dog wants you to continue, you should expect them to move toward you and show a behavior that has worked in other contexts to get what they want such as pawing at you or leaning against you.


Most dogs learn to accept or tolerate hugs from familiar individuals, but because they cannot hug one another, it is unlikely they recognize this as an affectionate behavior.  For a dog, a hug can resemble the social threat of having another dog place his paws on or drape his neck overtop her shoulders in an act of dominance. 

Being hugged is probably confusing for dogs.  When dogs are confused or uncertain in situations, they may display displacement behaviors.  The most common canine displacement behaviors are lip licking and yawning.  If a dog shows any of these behaviors when being hugged or kissed, it’s a clear sign to stop, because they are not enjoying it!

During an interview with Mother Nature Network, Animal Behaviorist Patricia McConnell talks about reading your dog. “It’s good to be sure how your dog feels when you hug him or her, and how he feels when strangers go in for a hug, especially since hugs mean putting your face next to a sharp set of teeth. If a dog barely tolerates hugs, then the wrong hug at the wrong time could mean the dog snaps at the hugger. No one wants that. Thankfully, dogs make their thoughts abundantly clear through body language." As long as you know what to look for, you will know what your dog thinks of a love-squeeze.

If your dog goes stiff, closes their mouth, or licks their lips they might be anxious, concerned, or think they did something wrong!

Better understanding your dog’s likes, dislikes, and body language can help you communicate to one another how much you care!  Sometimes a nice scratch or rub behind the ears or under the chin, or a belly rub can say a lot more than a hug or kiss!