Keeping Your Dog Calm During Fireworks

It’s 4th of July week and that means you will probably have some fireworks going off around you, either in a big display or just some firecrackers being shot off in your neighborhood.  fireworksYou may love to watch fireworks, and who doesn’t, especially at Independence Day?  Your dog is who.  More dogs are lost around the 4th of the July than any other time of the year.  That’s because many of them are left alone at home, get agitated by the noise, and run off.  Last year in Durham, NC, a dog that runs the bases at the Durham Bulls games was being put in the car by his owner when the post-game fireworks started.  He was spooked and ran off.  Fortunately because of the media attention, he was returned to his owner.

It’s the loud, unpredictable sound that frightens them.  If you are going to a fireworks show, leave the dog at home.  Dogs can’t see the colors like we do and the noise could make them afraid.  Even though it’s at night, it’s still usually hot and humid, and there are crowds and strangers and those factors can make even the most docile dog agitated and will make sure you and the people around you won’t enjoy the show.

So what happens if you leave your dog at home, but you know there will be some firecrackers shot off around your house?  Dr. Bonnie Beaver, past president of the American Veterinary Medical Association has some tips for how to keep your dog calm.  “You want to keep them inside and as far away from the noise as possible,” says Dr. Beaver.scared  She says some background noise from the TV or radio works.  And your vet can prescribe something for it too.  Keeping the room dark also helps.

There are some over the counter products that are available to calm your dog also.  Dog City Bakery in East Cobb and in Sandy Springs has some products available.  completeCalm-productComplete Calm is a mixture of herbs in chewable form that can help keep your pet relaxed in any stressful situation, including separation, car rides, trips to the vet or groomer or moving into a new home.  You can also get a similar product, Herbsmith Calm Shen at Dog City.  It comes in powder or pill form.  An alternative to the oral medication is Rescue Remedy for Pets.  These are drops that you put in your pet’s water bowl.

If your dog gets scared during thunderstorms, it will likely be scared during fireworks.  If you have a Thundershirt for your dog, you may want to put it in it, but not if it will be left unattended.  If you typically crate your dog during thunderstorms, crate it during the fireworks.

AmyKcompr  If you are leaving your pet at home while you and the family attend the fireworks, you may want to have your pet sitter come over and stay with it.  The play time and being with a familiar face can help to relieve the stress and distract the dog from the noise.

Fetch! Pet Care provides pet sitting, dog walking and cat care services for Roswell, East Cobb, Marietta and Woodstock, GA.  You can see the happy pets by following us on Pinterest at http://pinterest.com/fetchnwatlanta/

Heat Safety Awareness Day

    Regardless of your opinion of weather forecasters, the National Weather Service got this one right.  The day that could be the hottest day of 2014 is Heat Safety Awareness Day.   You can follow that link to a lot of great information about heat, how it affects you, and what advisories and warnings the NWS issues.  Memorial Day is the unofficial beginning of summer, too.  ImageYou probably have outdoor plans for the holiday weekend.  If you are including your pets in those plans, I have some suggestions to keep the weekend enjoyable for everyone.  

     It’s important for you to take care of yourself on a hot day because if you begin to succumb to heat when you are walking your dog, you are putting your dog in jeopardy.  Many of these things involve common sense.  You shouldn’t take your dog on extended walks during the hottest times of the day.  Not only can the sun get to them, but the hot asphalt can damage their paws.  Try and stay on grass or concrete sidewalks.  Of course, grass can be dangerous if it’s been treated with fertilizer or pesticide.   If you are lucky enough to have a shady trail available to you, great. Image You shouldn’t be running during the hottest part of the day, but you want to run then, don’t take the dog.  I’m sure you know that dogs cool off by panting because they don’t sweat.  When they are breathing hard because they’re tired, it’s even harder for them to cool off.  Other than that your dog is pretty much like you and it needs a lot of water.  Portable bowls are available that can fold up in your pocket or attach to your belt.  You can share a bottle of water this way. 

      I hope I don’t have to tell you not to leave your pet in the car, Imagebut I took this picture in early September last year, on a very warm day.  The NWS has some great information about how quickly temperatures can rise in a parked car.  You can’t do it, even for a short time.  Another important thing to realize is that breeds with pug faces, bulldogs, pugs, etc. are even more susceptible for heatstroke and even in moderate temperatures.

     Okay, you’re following directions; you’ve moved the long walks to the cooler times of day, you’re getting your dog plenty of water, but being out in hot temperatures is unavoidable.  How will you know if it’s getting heatstroke?  The most obvious symptom is uncontrollable panting.  It may also start to foam at the mouth, become agitated or lethargic and even vomit.  First Aid for heatstroke in your pet is to reduce its body temperature.  Typically the first thing you do when performing first aid on a dog is to muzzle it, so it won’t bite you.  However, when a dog is muzzled, he can’t pant, so only use that as a last resort.  Ideally you want to give it cool water to drink, spray it with a hose, and get it in a wading pool or something. Image You don’t want the water to be too cold, because it could shock the system.  You can also wrap it in a cool, wet sheet or towel.  You should get it to your vet as soon as possible. 

     This doesn’t have anything to do with the temperature, but dogs can get sunburned.  White skinned dogs or dogs with thinning hair are most susceptible to sunburn.  Keep these dogs under cover.   

      One of the great things about owning a dog is being outside with it in the nice weather.  Just be aware of the conditions, use common sense and keep a close eye on your pet and you won’t have your afternoon ruined by an emergency trip to the vet. 

           Fetch! Pet Care provides pet sitting, dog walking and cat care services for Roswell, East Cobb, Marietta and Woodstock, GA.  You can see the happy pets by following us on Pinterest at http://pinterest.com/fetchnwatlanta/  

Hairball Awareness Day

   One of the things I do to look for ideas to blog about or things to market my services with is to talk about pet holidays.  Some of these are things that are pretty normal.  There’s a National Pet Week, a Pet Safety Day and a take your cat to the vet day.  Some of these “days” or “weeks” are started by a company to get some attention to their product or service.  This week is National Pet ID WeekImage I think this is a great idea.  It’s a way to get lost pets reunited with their owners.  Pets can be IDed with a tag on a collar or a microchip.  Both of these have advantages and disadvantages, but you should do one or the other if not both.  Many adoption agencies chip their animals before they send them home with the new owners. 

    But I sometimes come across a day that seems a little funny.  Today is Hairball Awareness Day.  Now I know hairballs are not funny for cat owners and their not funny for cats.  It’s one of the top health issues for cat owning households. Image It may be a sign of a dangerous issue for your cat like a bowel disease or even intestinal cancer.  I couldn’t find out who started Hairball Awareness Day, but I found 2 companies that tied themselves to it pretty closely.  One is Furminator,  That’s the grooming tool that reduces animal hair.  Their website has this description of how hairballs occur from veterinarian Shelby Neely who is also known as the Cat Doctor.  “Because cats groom themselves with their tongues, they naturally ingest some hair in the process,” says Neely.  

According to Dr. Neely, most of the hair will pass though the intestinal tract, but some remains in the stomach. Over time, as more is added, a hairball develops as the hair becomes dampened by bile and other digestive fluids. “Fortunately, by reducing the amount of hair your cat ingests, hairballs can be prevented.”

    Furminator says that by using their product there will be less hair for the cat to ingest.  Regular brushing also reduces the hair the cat will ingest.  Some cats don’t mind a brushing, but as I’m sure some of you know, some don’t like it at all. Image

    Another company that claims it can reduce the hairballs for your cats is Hills Pet Food Company.  “Controlling this issue is as easy as feeding their cats Science Diet® Hairball Control cat food.”

     While these companies get some PR and may get some sales for their products, they also want your cats healthy.  If your cat has a lot of problems with hairballs, you should mention this to your vet.  The vet has several tools to diagnose the problem and recommend a treatment.  Vets are also a good place to ask an opinion of a product and how valid the company’s claims are. Image

     It’s doubtful your cat will ever stop having hairballs.  It is natural for cats to groom themselves and hair will get ingested.  But with some products that claim to help reduce them and a checkup from your vet, you may not have to find so many around your house. 

           Fetch! Pet Care provides pet sitting, dog walking and cat care services for Roswell, East Cobb, Marietta and Woodstock, GA.  You can see the happy pets by following us on Pinterest at http://pinterest.com/fetchnwatlanta/  

Preventing Pet Poisonings

    Now that all the green beer has been consumed and the green shirt you wear once a year has been restored in the mothballs, we can get down to the serious event of the week.  ImagePoison prevention week.  Pet owners may be surprised of all the items that are toxic to pets that are lying around the home.  You don’t have to throw everything away, or spend all day reading all the labels on everything you buy.  There is plenty of good information out there to make your home safe for your pets and maybe even the rest of your family. 

    I found this blog from the Oregonian in Portland, Oregon that has a list of many of the items that are dangerous to pets.  You may not even be aware that some of the most toxic items can be your houseplants.  I have a client that has a cat and dog, and when I’d go over there to walk the dog, I could tell the cat had eaten some of the leaves on plants and had gotten sick.  Lilies are especially dangerous.  Here’s a list of plants that are harmful to pets if ingested.

     There are many dangerous things in the kitchen too.  Dog owners know what spots on the counter are not safe from their dogs.  It’s harder to keep things away from cats because they can get almost anywhere.  That’s why it’s important to know what is dangerous and to keep it in the pantry or a cabinet and that those doors are kept closed.  If you smoke, it’s important to empty your ashtrays.  You don’t want to leave cigarettes lying around either.  Second hand smoke is toxic to pets just as it is to humans, so you may want to do your smoking in a place where your pets can’t go. 

    The Pet Poison Helpline has a great website with a lot of wonderful information about making your home a safe environment for your family and your pets.  If your pet does ingest something that you are afraid could be dangerous to it, they have a number to call for help.  There is a $39 fee for this, but it includes follow up calls.  You may want to put the number in your phone: 800-213-6680.  It is monitored 24/7.

    As you do your spring cleaning, keep some of these tips in mind and you may find some things that can be easily fixed.  Hopefully you’ll never need to call the hotline.  This is another instance that preparation can prevent a problem or at least make it less likely to happen. 

           Fetch! Pet Care provides pet sitting, dog walking and cat care services for Roswell, East Cobb, Marietta and Woodstock, GA.  You can see the happy pets by following us on Pinterest at http://pinterest.com/fetchnwatlanta/  

Animal Lovers Guide to Super Bowl Commercials

     Unless you’ve been stuck in a frozen snow drift or on an Atlanta interstate for the past few days you know this weekend is the big, huge event that everyone looks forward to and spends all day Monday breaking down:  The annual Pets and Product Placement Presentation known as Super Bowl Commercials.  I post a lot of things on my Facebook page about how people use animals toImage promote their business or product, so I think it’s neat how the commercials do this.  When I was researching this, I found several groups that have their own top 10 lists for Super Bowl commercials involving animals.

    I’m not going to bore with you my top 10 list because I don’t think I could even name 10 Super Bowl commercials with animals.  I will say that my favorite one from last year is the one with the Clydesdale trainer reunited with the horse he raised as a foal.  I’m a big sports fan, so I’m watching the game and using the commercials to get another drink or fill up my plate with more food.  But there have been some memorable animals that have debuted during the Super Bowl.

    I did come up with a few memorable spot, all from Anheuser-Busch: Image Spuds McKenzie from the 1987 Super Bowl, the Budweiser Frogs from 1995, and of course the Clydesdale’s football game

   However animal lovers may be a little disappointed on Sunday.  Variety magazine says that celebrities will be the stars of most of the commercials this year.  You may have already seen the Bud Light commercials promoting Arnold Schwarzenegger’s commercial.  That’s what we’ve come to, promos for commercials.  Animal lovers shouldn’t stay away from the game.  After all there are 2 animal teams playing.  Audi is going the celebrity and animal route in their commercial.  There will also be a sequel to the Budweiser commercial I mentioned earlier.  This one has a puppy in it and you can get a preview hereImage.

    One reason these commercials are so popular is because we love animals so much and can relate to many of these experiences.  And let’s face it, some of these animals are just cute and you can’t take your eyes off them.  I think that animals will always have a place in commercials because so many people love animals and marketers want to have their products associated with them.  Enjoy the game and let me know what your favorite commercials have been in the past and what you think about this year’s commercials after the game. 

           Fetch! Pet Care provides pet sitting, dog walking and cat care services for Roswell, East Cobb, Marietta and Woodstock, GA.  You can see the happy pets by following us on Pinterest at http://pinterest.com/fetchnwatlanta/  

Pet Gadgets

     The annual consumer electronics show wrapped up over the weekend in Las Vegas.  This show is usually where the latest in TVs and other gadgets are released to the public.  I’m not a big gadget guy, but I’ve learned since doing this job that many things for humans are getting turned into things for pets.  So I decided to see if there was anything at this year’s show that can make a pet owner’s life or the pet’s life any better or easier.  As it turns out, one of the top rated items at the show is for pets.

Image

Voyce from i4C Innovations

     It’s called Voyce, and it’s a device that worn around your dog’s neck and measures all sorts of things, including activity, rest, calories burned and other things.  The information can be used to track the dog’s overall health and well-being.  I see more and more humans wearing monitors of some sort at the gym and this is something similar for your dog.  The information can be downloaded to a computer or mobile device and shared with a vet to develop or track programs for your dog.  The heart rate monitor is one way to determine if your dog is feeling pain, which it may not visibly show.   

   It will be available for pre-order this spring and will be shipped in the summer.  The cost is slated to be $299 for the device itself with a $15 a month subscription for the data.   Voyce was developed by i4C Innovations in collaboration with a group of bio-medical engineers, dog experts and Cornell University, one of the leading veterinary institutions.  I4C Innovations describes itself as a company that loves dogs and aims to understand dogs like never before.  If Voyce takes off, there are plans for a smaller unit for toy breeds and cats, as well as an equine version. 

           Fetch! Pet Care provides pet sitting, dog walking and cat care services for Roswell, East Cobb, Marietta and Woodstock, GA.  You can see the happy pets by following us on Pinterest at http://pinterest.com/fetchnwatlanta/  

Pets and the Cold

     The Atlanta area will be seeing some temperatures dropping down to close to all time record lows over the next few days, so it will be important for pet owners to take some precautions for not only their pets, but themselves.  ImageOur sitters are preparing for these conditions as well.  As every pet owner knows, regardless of what else is going on, nature will call your pets so you’re going to have to go outside for at least a little bit. 

    Tuesday morning temperatures are forecast to be in the single digits with wind chills below zero.  If you keep your dog outside, you should really considering bringing him in for the night.  If there is no way for that to happen, you should consider boarding it for that night.  Make sure the boarding facility is taking precautions for the cold and make sure your dog has a warm bed at least.  If the dog will be staying outside, make sure the doghouse has been wind proofed and insulated.  Take some extra blankets out there to keep it warm.  And don’t forget water.  There are water dishes available that won’t freeze, but you may not be able to find them around Atlanta on this short notice. 

     If your dog spends most of its time inside, you will need to make sure you are dressed warmly as well.  Even if you are convinced you will only be out for a few minutes it’s dangerous to have any exposed skin when temperatures and wind chills are that low.  And as every dog owner knows, when you want your pet  to go quickly, it won’t regardless of how cold it is.  Be sure and wear layers, gloves, and a hat.  There’s a chance of some icy conditions over the next few days as well.  If you come across ice, try your best to avoid it.  The ice  can cause damage to your dog’s pads, plus the obvious reason, you don’t want to slip on it.  If you walk in an area when you see that salt or other chemicals have been used on the ice, make sure you wipe off your dog’s paws very carefully when you get back home.  The chemicals will burn and it will start licking them and that can lead to a lot of problems. 

    After you get back in, keep a close eye on your dog.  Make sure it drinks water to stay hydrated.  Dogs can show signs of shivering.  If you see that outside, get it back in, regardless of if it has done its business.  ImageIdeally you should snuggle up with your dog so both of you can warm back up together.  If that’s not possible, move your dog’s bed into a warm spot and make sure it gets in it.  You can tell when dogs and cats are cold.  They will curl up more and want to snuggle with you.  You may want to give them an extra blanket or towel to curl up with.  If they look lethargic that’s an early warning signal that there could be a problem.  Contact your vet. 

   I’m sure most of you know all this stuff already, but this will be a cold snap that’s not seen much in the Atlanta area, so taking some time and precautions can help you and your pets make it through the first part of the week safely. 

       Fetch! Pet Care provides pet sitting, dog walking and cat care services for Roswell, East Cobb, Marietta and Woodstock, GA.  You can see the happy pets by following us on Pinterest at http://pinterest.com/fetchnwatlanta/