February is Pet Dental Health Month! We all know that we are supposed to brush and floss our teeth regularly to maintain oral health, but did you know that your pets also need regular dental care? Approximately 70% of cats  and 80% of dogs in the United States are affected by dental disease. Dental health is about more than just clean teeth. Caring for your pet’s oral hygiene can help prevent health problems later.

Why Dental Health Matters

According to the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), dental disease is “a painful condition that occurs when bacteria, plaque, and tartar build up on the teeth and get trapped beneath the gumline. The bacteria can be absorbed into the bloodstream and wreak havoc on other major organs throughout the body.” The AAHA states that dental disease starts early in life and that the majority of dogs and cats have some degree of dental disease by the age of 3.

Dental disease doesn’t just affect your pet’s teeth and gums; it can also affect the function of other organs and body systems. According to the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) periodontal disease is the most common dental condition in dogs and cats and can lead to kidney, liver, and heart changes in your pet’s older years. Neglecting your pet’s teeth can cause chronic pain and may even lead to weight loss and behavioral changes.

Signs of dental disease or issues with your pet’s oral health include:

  • Bad breath
  • Broken or loose teeth
  • Extra teeth or retained baby teeth
  • Teeth that are discolored or covered in tartar
  • Abnormal chewing, drooling, or dropping food from the mouth
  • Reduced appetite or refusal to eat
  • Pain in or around the mouth
  • Bleeding from the mouth
  • Swelling in the areas surrounding the mouth

Always be sure to schedule regular veterinary exams for your pets. Annual exams include a dental check-up, which can help you catch signs of dental disease early. Be sure to mention anything out of the ordinary, like foul smelling breath or excessive drooling, to your veterinarian. Your veterinarian will also provide regular teeth cleanings, extractions, or repairs if necessary to help maintain your pet’s oral health.

Providing regular home dental care for your pets can help prevent problems like bad breath or tooth loss as well as keep any dental disease from worsening, thus causing chronic pain or organ damage.

Not sure how much you already know about your pet’s dental health? Take this quiz from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) to find out!

Tools for Home Dental Care

  • Toothbrushes: Be sure to use a pet appropriate toothbrush. You can use soft bristled brushes that look much like human toothbrushes but are smaller or finger brushes with rubber bristles. Some people even use gauze wrapped around their finger, but be careful it doesn’t snag on your pet’s teeth if you do that.
  • Toothpaste: Always use pet safe toothpastes; never use human toothpaste. Human toothpaste includes foaming agents and other chemicals that can upset your pet’s stomach. Pet toothpastes come in a variety of types and flavors. You can get gels or pastes in chicken, beef, liver, mint, or peanut butter flavors to encourage your pet’s enjoyment of the process. There are even some oral sprays that are designed to help break down tartar build-up, but make sure you introduce that slowly to your pet as well because the action of the spray bottle could be startling or stressful.
  • Chews and toys: There are many types of dental chews and regular toys that can aid in caring for your pet’s teeth and gums. Products like Greenie chews or Nylabone toys are frequently recommended by experts. Playing tug with a rope toy can even help “floss” your pet’s teeth.

Check out this helpful video from the AVMA about the tools and tricks for caring for your pet’s dental health at home.

 

Tips for Home Dental Care

Regularly brushing your pet’s teeth is the most effective thing you can do between dental cleanings to keep your pet’s teeth and gums healthy, and may even prolong the period between required dental cleanings. It’s not easy to brush your pet’s teeth every day (I know from experience), but even brushing 2-3 times per week can make a huge difference.

  • Start a routine when your pet is young. We don’t always have our dogs and cats as puppies and kittens, but starting a dental care routine as soon as you become their owner is important. You can always start later as well, but will likely face more resistance from your pet.
  • Start your routine slowly. Buying a toothbrush and pet toothpaste at the local pet supply store and immediately attempting to start brushing your pet’s teeth can be frustrating for you and scary for your pet. For both dogs and cats try to start small and work your way up to a full brushing over weeks or months. Here are some helpful steps from Petco to get you started:
    • Let your pet get accustomed to the toothpaste by allowing them to lick it off of your finger
    • Let your pet check out the toothbrush/finger brush and give them plenty of treats to encourage a good association
    • Massage your pet’s teeth and gums with your finger to get them used to the feeling, both with and without the toothpaste
    • Put toothpaste on the toothbrush/finger brush and brush just one tooth or a couple of teeth
    • Slowly work your way up to more teeth and longer brushing
  • Feed your pet a healthy, well-balanced diet. We know that your pet’s overall health begins with a good diet, but did you know that many dental health issues are caused by malnutrition? Work with your veterinarian to address your pet’s nutrition and develop a healthy eating plan. Consider feeding a VOCH (Veterinary Oral Health Council) approved pet food. Some pet food brands offer specifically formulated dental care foods designed to help reduce plaque and tartar build-up.
  • Offer your pet dental treats and chews. There are many brands of dental treats and chews out there. Try to find brands that are VOHC-Approved, as those have been scientifically proven to help reduce tartar build-up. There are many types of chews for both dogs and cats that are designed to help care for teeth while indulging your pet in some quality entertainment. Be careful with chews (like bones or antlers) that are hard to bend or break easily, as those can potentially result in fractured or broken teeth. While treats and chews cannot replace regular brushing, they can be a great addition to an oral health routine, and lots of fun for your pets!

black cat sitting in dryer reaching out toward camera

 

There’s no doubt that our furry friends add heaps of joy to our lives. Pet owners handle the quirks and oddities that their companions bring with a touch of good humor. But sometimes there are little things that new pet owners, and some veteran pet owners, may not have realized. When we say that pet hair can get everywhere, we mean literally everywhere. And it can gum up even the best built machines.

You’re probably familiar with the vacuum cleaner losing suction and needing to be serviced due to excessive pet hair. That’s not the only appliance in your home that needs a little extra maintenance when there are shedding dogs and cats in the home though.

 

The Washer and Dryer

You probably do a little bit of maintenance on your washer and dryer anyway, and you may be familiar with cleaning out the lint trap in your dryer. But did you know your washer also has a filter that needs to be cleaned out regularly? If you’re the proud owner of a heavy shedder like the popular golden retriever, you’ll want to clean out the filter of your washing machine regularly. The more shedding your pets do, the more it gets on your clothes, and your washing machine gets the first go at cleaning all that out.

If you completely neglect this simple task, then a quick wash out could turn into an archeological excavation after the machine stops working entirely. On the plus side, it doesn’t need to be done as often as your dryer lint.

 

The HVAC System

Your HVAC system refers to the appliances that heat and cool your home. In North America, this is usually an air conditioner and a furnace combo. All HVAC systems have a ventilating system where warm or cool air is delivered via ductwork to different rooms in the house. And because air is traveling through an open system, this means there are areas where pet hair can be introduced. A good filter will stop the pet hair from reaching the components of your system, but filters do wear out over time. If all you have is a beagle or a cat, a quality filter should last about three months. But the more pets you have and the more shedding that occurs, the more important it is to check the filters and replace them regularly. It’s so important that some HVAC companies even recommend reducing the shedding with regular grooming.

 

The Computer and TV

Pet hair drifts everywhere, as many pet owners know. Another common place to find a build-up of pet hair or dander is across your television or inside of your computer, mouse, and keyboard. While it may be annoying to have cat hair scattered across your televiosn while watching a movie, it does not tend to be as damaging as large amounts of pet hair inside of your computer, which can slow processing or cause an increase in heat without the ability to vent it safely. Vacuum regularly around your computer and other electronics and dust with a soft cloth (never spray electronics directly with cleaner). You can also use canned air to spray hair away from your keyboard and the bottom of your mouse. For more detail on how to clean your electronics check out this article from the Spruce.

 

Pet Hair under the Fridge

This is one of the worst places to deal with pet hair. Fridges are heavy and the items inside are not always perfectly sealed. Moving them around can be a hassle. But if you have ever moved one aside you may have noticed that pet hair clinging to the metal under the fridge or up against the wall. The problem occurs if the pet hair becomes so dense that it clogs up the refrigerator’s condenser coils. When this happens, the fridge stops cooling the way it was designed to. Fortunately, you can use a vacuum cleaner with a thin attachment to get into most hard-to-reach places, including around the fridge. If the coils are already clogged, there is a special brush for refrigerator coils you can use. On the plus side, this is not something that takes too long or has to be done too frequently in most situations.

 

Although it seems like a lot, the truth is that pet hair just accelerates the regular maintenance we should all be doing on our homes anyway. Instead of vacuuming once every two weeks, we might have to do it every Saturday. Instead of changing the filter once every three months, it might be every other month now. And that is okay, because our walking fluff balls are worth it.

Besides regular home mainentance, there are a few things you can do to minimize the amount of hair tumbleweeds blowing around your house before they get caught in various appliances. By regularly grooming your pets you can often reduce the amount that they shed. That may mean combing your kitty once a day or bathing your Bassett Hound monthly. Those of us with double coated dogs know that the few times a year that they “blow out their coats” feel like it’s snowing dog hair in your home. Have a specific place (probably one that is well contained) to brush your dog daily through that time period and promptly collect that hair so it doesn’t have a chance to travel. You could even put that excess hair outside; birds love to line their nests with animal hair for warmth!

If you notice that your pet is shedding escessively it may be a sign of stress, poor nutrition, or a medical issue. If your pet’s shedding patterns change, you may need to consider a trip to your veterinarian to check for underlying conditions.

 

Author: Brett Elliott

Brett is writer, digital marketer, and pet lover with three dogs. Brett often writes for Home Service companies such as https://lakesideheating.com/ who helped sponsor this story.

 

 

Whiskers to Tails Petsitting is proud to announce that it has earned the home service industry’s coveted Angie’s List Super Service Award (SSA). This award honors service professionals who have maintained exceptional service ratings and reviews on Angie’s List in 2020.

“Despite the enormous challenges facing our service pros throughout 2020, our Angie’s List Super Service Award winners continued to provide exceptional customer service,” said Angie’s List Founder Angie Hicks. “These outstanding businesses have helped homeowners not only maintain their homes, but also evolve them into safe and comfortable spaces that can handle all the mess of life, work, school and entertainment under one roof. Our homeowners’ consistent positive reviews make it clear: these are the best pros in our network.”

Angie’s List Super Service Award 2020 winners have met strict eligibility requirements, which include maintaining an exceptional rating in overall grade, recent grade and review period grade. The SSA winners must be in good standing with Angie’s List and undergo additional screening.

Whiskers To Tails Petsitting’s owner, Claire Newcom, gives credit to her amazing team of pet sitters for the company’s excellent service through the years. “Our pet sitters are committed to providing top notch care to all of their four-legged clients, and even though this past year has been quite a challenge, I’m proud of our team for being flexible and adjusting to the times while still maintaining that exceptional level of service,” said Newcom.

This is the 8th time Whiskers To Tails Petsitting has won an Angie’s List Super Service Award since 2011.

Service company ratings are updated continually on Angie’s List as new, verified consumer reviews are submitted. Companies are graded on an A through F scale in multiple fields ranging from price to professionalism to punctuality.

For over two decades Angie’s List has been a trusted name for connecting consumers to top-rated service professionals. Angie’s List provides unique tools and support designed to improve the local service experience for both consumers and service professionals.

Whiskers To Tails Petsitting is locally owned and operated and has served the Twin Cities metro and surrounding suburbs since 2010, coming to client homes to care for their pets while they are traveling or working long hours. Services include pet sitting, dog walking, and overnight sitting. Whiskers To Tails Petsitting is bonded and insured and its pet sitters all undergo criminal background checks. Go to http://www.whiskerstotailspetting.com to learn more or reserve a pet sitting service.

This Wednesday is the presidential inauguration and marks not only a transfer of power for our country but an auspicious day for our four legged friends. This Inauguration Day is the first time a shelter dog will become First Dog (don’t tell Champ that I gave Major that title!). Joe Biden will bring his two German Shepherd pups, Champ and Major, to the White House to assist him in the very difficult task of running the United States of America. While Champ is an old hand at this governing business, having lived in the White House during the Obama administration, Major is about to become a very important (to dogs anyway) part of American history! I’m sure Champ will show him the ropes and that both pups are up to the task of helping their Dog Dad Joe through the next four years.

Close up of older German Shepherd and German Shepherd puppy cuddling

In honor of Champ and Major’s “indoguration,” we’ve compiled some fun facts and lists of the presidential pets of the past. Check them out below!

Weirdest White House Pets:

While many of us would expect the occasional dog or cat to pop up in presidential history, I doubt anyone would expect William Henry Hippopotamus. That’s right, President Calvin Coolidge owned a hippo he nicknamed “Billy.” But don’t worry, it was only a pygmy hippo. Speaking of Coolidge, he owned or was gifted a wide variety of odd animals, although many of them were donated to the zoo.

  • John Quincy Adams supposedly had an alligator, formerly owned by the Marquis de Lafayette, that lived in the East Room in it’s own bath tub, but as no proof has been obtained, this might just be a myth
  • Adams’ wife Louisa kept silkworms
  • Thomas Jefferson had several mockingbirds throughout his administration along with two grizzly bear cubs very briefly
  • Benjamin Harrison had two opossums as well as (supposedly) 2 alligators that he kept in the White House Conservatory
  • Theodore Roosevelt counted many odd animals as pets, most notably several bears, a pig, a badger, snakes, a hyena, a lion, and a zebra
  • Woodrow Wilson kept a flock of 48 sheep on the White House lawn to keep it trimmed and sold the wool to benefit the Red Cross, way to think outside the box Wilson!
  • Calvin Coolidge also briefly owned two lion cubs from South Africa and several Pekin ducks along with several raccoons, a bobcat, and even more briefly a wallaby, a duiker (antelope), and a black bear
  • While we don’t consider Siamese cats that exotic these days, when Rutherford B Hayes was president, he was the first person to bring that breed to the states with his two kitties, Siam and Miss Pussy; Hayes also had a small menagerie including cows, goats, canaries, a mockingbird and more

Funniest Presidential Pet Names:

  • George Washington named his coonhounds Drunkard, Taster, Tipler, and Tipsy; he certainly had a theme there
  • John Adams had a dog named Satan
  • Benjamin Harrison had two opossums named Mr. Reciprocity and Mr. Protection
  • William McKinley named his yellow-headed Mexican parrot Washington Post
  • Theodore Roosevelt had so many animals that we could list them for days (well, not really, but it feels like it!) but some of our favorite names are Emily Spinach the garter snake, Fierce the one-legged rooster, and Baron Spreckle the hen
  • William Howard Taft’s daughter Helen had 2 cows named Mooly Wooly and Pauline Wayne
  • Warren G Harding must have been tired of coming up with names, he had a canary named Petey and a squirrel named Pete
  • Calvin Coolidge had some excellent names for his menagerie, but some of the best are Boston Beans the bulldog, Do-Funny the songbird, and Tax Reduction and Budget Bureau the lion cubs
  • John F Kennedy, or more likely his daughter, had two ponies named Macaroni and Leprechaun
  • Maybe not the most creative, but definitely amusing, Lyndon B Johnson named his beagles Him and Her; you guessed it, one was a boy and the other a girl
  • Great naming abilities run in Jimmy Carter’s family; he named his border collie Grits and his daughter named their cat Misty Malarky Ying Yang
  • Bonus fun fact: We often call dogs by the generic name Fido, which came from Abraham Lincoln’s dog Fido, who was famously assassinated just a few months after Lincoln

Pets Gifted to Presidents:

Some people like Senator Ted Kennedy gift presidents with adorable Portuguese Water Dog puppies like Bo (to the Obamas). Other people like the King of Siam gift presidents with a herd of elephants. Don’t worry, James Buchanan gave all of them away except for one, which he kept along with a pair of bald eagles.

  • Royal Gift was an Andalusian donkey given to George Washington by King Charles III of Spain
  • Captain Zebulon Pike gifted Thomas Jefferson with those two aforementioned grizzly bears. Thankfully, he deemed them too troublesome to keep at home and donated them to a museum in Philadelphia
  • Martin Van Buren was gifted 2 tiger cubs by Said bin Sultan, Sultan of Muscat and Oman, but was asked to donate them to the zoo by Congress
  • The hyena mentioned above, named Bill, was gifted to Roosevelt by Emperor Menelik II of Ethiopia
  • Soviet Union Premier Krushchev gave John F Kennedy a dog name Pushinka, one of the puppies of Soviet Space Dog Strelka

Bonus: The president with the most pets

Theodore Roosevelt had one of the largest if not the largest menagerie to ever occupy the White House. (He and Coolidge are neck-in-neck depending on how you want to count pets.) Throughout his presidency Roosevelt had ten dogs, two cats, a rat, a snake, a pig, a rabbit, a “small bear,” a macaw, a hyena, a pony, a lizard, and a badger. That’s not to mention his guinea pigs Admiral Dewey, Bishop Doane, Dr. Johnson, Father O’Grady, and Fighting Bob Evans and a wide variety of animals that he had briefly before donating them to zoos or museums.

Runners up Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson would interact with large groups of animals. Lincoln loved cats and could be found playing with any kittens he came across through his travels. Andrew Johnson had taken to feeding the white mice that lived in his White House bedroom as a stress reliever.

 

brown tabby cat sitting in a cardboard box staring out of a hole cut in the sidePhoto credit: Pixabay

 

What Your Pets Want You to Know About Moving to a New Home Together

 

It’s the new year and along with New Year Resolutions, many of us may be preparing for a change in our jobs, homes, locations, or future plans. If your plans this year include a move, here are some tips to help your pet cope with the change.

If you’re feeling stressed about your upcoming move, imagine how your pets must feel! Pets don’t understand what all the hustle and bustle is about, but they do sense our emotions, including stress. It isn’t realistic to think you could eliminate that stress entirely, but what you can do is lower the stress level for humans and animals alike. Whiskers to Tails Petsitting offers the following advice when moving with your pet.

 

Preparing to Move

While you’re busy taking care of preparations, don’t forget to prepare your pets too (just like you prepared before bringing your dog home for the first time). One of the first things to do is check that their health needs, vet care, and vaccinations are in order. Not only do you need these documents to transition to a new vet, but you’ll also want to be sure that they’re in good health before making such a big transition.

 

This is also a good time to ensure all pets are getting a nutritious diet because this can make a big difference in alleviating health problems. Puppy parents should take extra care in choosing puppy food because growing pups have such specific nutritional needs. A good puppy food does more than meet basic nutrition; it also helps with brain health, muscle development, and even good vision. The healthiest puppy foods are full of lean protein sources while leaving out ingredients that dogs are often sensitive to, like corn, soy, and grains.

 

Along with taking care of your pup’s health needs, you can also prepare by helping pets get used to the sights and sounds of moving. Even before you start packing, bring a few boxes into your home. Dogs may feel anxious about the boxes, but most cats love this part! At the same time, try to keep other aspects of their environment consistent until it’s time to move.

 

How to Handle Moving Day

If you’ll be traveling very far, planning should include how to keep your pets safe in the car, plus making arrangements for pet-friendly stops along the way. You may want to use a dog seat belt or crate in the car, but whatever you do, give it a test run to help your pets get comfortable with it before the big trip. When moving day arrives, look to Whiskers to Tails Petsitting, a good friend, or a relative to watch your dog while boxes and furniture are being moved out. Doing this helps reduce your pup’s stress level, plus it’s a good way to avoid the risk of both cats and dogs dashing out the door while movers are working.

 

Getting Comfy in Your New Home

The last part of the process is settling into your new home. Of course, this process will take a few weeks or even months, but you can help your pets settle more quickly with these tips from Pup Jobs. Here are a few of the most important tips to keep in mind:

 

  • First introductions: VCA Hospitals recommends helping your dog get familiar with the new space by letting him sniff and explore, both outside and in. Give plenty of treats, play with him, and show him where his favorite stuff is, including his bed, bowls, and toys.

 

  • Create a sense of normalcy: Maintaining your regular routines will help create the sense that everything is going to be ok. This is especially important in the first few days, so it’s best to be home with your pets as much as possible.

 

  • Shower them with love: On top of everything else, remember that pets will need your love and affection now more than ever. Extra cuddles, walks, and playtime will work wonders in relieving any anxiety they may have.

 

  • Provide room to play: If you’ve recently purchased a home with no fencing, securing your yard with a new fence gives your dog the chance to run around freely, plus you remove the potential stress of your pup running off. The national average to build a fence is $2,800, but prices can vary based on materials and length.

 

As much time as it takes to prepare, careful planning is what makes your move go as smoothly as possible. The same holds true for preparing your dogs and cats for a move. Making these plans to keep them safe and calm will go a long way towards easing the transition for everyone.

If you need a dog walker or a regular pet sitter, turn to the experts at Whiskers to Tails Petsitting to keep your pet happy, engaged and active!

 

Linda Robinson is a contributing author. She can be contacted at info@youdidyourbest.org.

black and white cat sitting under Christmas tree with shiny garlandThe holidays are here! And during this busy season of giving, merriment, and Zoom calls, it’s easy to leave the gift shopping until the last minute. Life happens, but just because you didn’t feel like putting on pants today doesn’t mean you can’t finally buy Aunt Janet with 9 cats the best gift she and her felines have ever seen. It’s not too late! 

 

But where to start? You may lament. Fear not, animal lovers, for we have compiled a list to help you choose the right gift for those special pet people in your life. Whether you are buying for a Dog Dad or Cat Companion, you’re sure to find something for everyone below. 

1. BarkBox or KitNipBox Subscriptions

The gift of a monthly box subscription to BarkBox for dogs or KitNipBox for cats provides endless entertainment for our furry friends, and keeps the fun coming throughout the year. Simply sign up and get a customized box of goodies for your pet shipped directly to you, every month! Stocked with tasty, healthy treats and original toys, and starting at just $23 per Bark Box and $19.99 per KitNip box, the value can’t be beat. The haul changes monthly to keep it fresh for your furry friends. Check it out, and give the gift that keeps on giving to your pet-owning friends. 

 

2. At-Home Pet Camera

Ever wonder what your pet gets up to while you’re away? Have a family member that can’t bear to be away from their fur baby? An at-home pet camera takes the worry out of leaving home. Keep an eye on your dog or cat from an app on your phone while you work, run errands, or travel. Camera options even allow two-way communications for giving commands, laser pointers for play, and treat dispensers to reward good behavior. 

 

For dogs, we like Furbo Dog Camera as a functional and interactive option. Check on your pup and dispense treats no matter where you are. With sharp 1080p video, a treat dispenser, barking alerts, two-way audio, and photo capture capabilities, the fun doesn’t stop after you leave the house! 

 

Cat lovers aren’t to be left out on the excitement–occupy your feline with the Petcube Play by taking advantage of its 1080p video, speaker, and laser toy. With good night vision and optional cloud storage service, this camera is entertaining for both cat and owner. 

 

3. Pop Your Pup

Make your loved one’s day by putting their pet’s face on a morning cup of joe. Mugs, masks, socks, blankets, and so much more can be adorned with their adorable pup (or any pet!) as the perfect gift for pet parents. With reasonable prices and a wide variety of products to print on, Pop Your Pup is sure to have something that your loved one will enjoy. What better way to show people you care than plastering their beloved Spot’s face on some pajama pants! Good dog, Spot!

 

4. Interactive Feeders for Both Dog and Cat

Stationary meals quickly gobbled up from a bowl are a thing of the past. Add some spice to snacktime by encouraging play and learning with interactive dog and cat feeders. Entertaining for both human and pet, interactive feeders challenge your pet just enough to slow down eating and keep them motivated to munch away. 

 

Great for dogs who eat too quickly or both cats and dogs who need more stimulation throughout the day, the Outward Hound Hide N’ Slide Puzzle Game makes pets work for their food as they move the pieces around to find food hidden in the compartments. Or gift a feeder that’s a bit more mobile like the SlimCat Interactive Feeder by PetSafe. Felines and canines alike love batting around interactive feeder balls to dispense their treats. And we humans love to watch them enjoy their playtime and mealtime!

 

5. Custom Pet Portrait

We all know that our pets are beautiful and deserve to be forever memorialized as a piece of art. Now, it’s as easy as submitting a photo online and getting an original pet portrait shipped back to you. A fun and quirky gift for those who are as pet-obsessed as we are. Shop Etsy to find real artwork from small businesses in a variety of styles. For something really unique, check out Crown and Paw to make your loved one’s pet a superhero, astronaut, or Renaissance princess.

 

6. Sponsor a Shelter Pet or Make a Donation

This season, one of the best gifts we can give to other animal lovers is a donation to an animal shelter or sponsorship of a shelter animal. Donations and sponsorships allow these shelters to find happy homes for pets, provides low-cost/no-cost spay and neuter programs, and supports legislation and educational efforts that save the lives of future animals. Sponsoring a shelter pet is so needed, and doing so in the name of a friend or family member is the perfect way to show support for what they love. Humane Animal Rescue even allows you to pick out the pet you’d like to sponsor. Consider a donation to help save a life and spread your loved one’s compassion to even more animals.

 

7. Pet Sits and Dog Walks from Your Local Sitters at Whiskers to Tails!

Whether or not you are traveling this year, it’s hard to be around for your pets at all times. Life gets busy, but that’s where we come in! Give the gift of peace of mind by purchasing future pet sits or dog walks for your loved one. Let them rest easy knowing that we are caring for their fur baby as if it was our own. With expert services designed to keep animals of all kinds happy and healthy, we are thrilled to help you with all your pet needs through the holidays and beyond. 

 

Support local small businesses, and contact us today!

 

cream goldendoodle with puffy gray winter hat onWe all know that we have to winterize our cars and our homes, especially those of us up here in Minne-snow-ta, but did you know that you should also winterize your pets? It is important to ensure that your pets have proper gear to safely endure the cold weather months. Here are 10 tips to help you help your pet through winter.

1. Have the proper winter wear.

According to veterinarian Nancy Kay, dogs can’t layer up in the winter without our help and likely need a coat to help stay warm, especially if they have short hair and spend a good deal of time outside. Find a coat for your pet that provides warmth without limiting their mobility. It’s best to find one that covers the chest and abdomen. Smaller dogs in particular seem to have a hard time staying warm without an additional layer. But if your pup is an arctic breed, no need for a coat since their own does the job!

*I can highly recommend coats from Hurtta or Ruffwear. Here is Office Pup Piper in her Hurtta Summit Parka and Ultra Paws boots.

cream goldendoodle walking on a leash with pink jacket and black boots on

2. Make sure they have plenty of water.

Since your dog is both wearing extra layers and burning more calories to stay warm in the winter, they’ll need to drink extra water to stay hydrated. Good hydration is essential to your dog’s ability to regulate their body temperature. If you have water for your pet outside, be sure it is in a plastic bowl. Metal bowls can freeze and pose a risk to your pet’s tongue. Also consider a water heater or a fountain that keeps the water moving if your water bowl is outside to help prevent freezing.

3. Provide proper paw care.

Booties are ideal to help keep your pet’s paws clean and dry while romping outside in the winter. But many pups dislike wearing things on their feet. (I know we’ve all seen those videos of dogs walking in boots. While they may be funny, boots can be pretty stressful to your pup if not introduced properly!) The Dog People‘s blog has some good options for dog boots if you want to try them. If your dog doesn’t want to wear protective coverings, then keep the fur in their paws clean and trimmed short, but not too short. Hair gets wet in the snow and freezes and stays cold and wet once back indoors. You can also consider putting Musher’s Secret or another paw balm on their pads to provide some protection.

4. Avoid salt/de-icer on driveways and sidewalks.

While there are some pet friendly ice melt chemicals on the market, not all of your neighbors may think to use them. Try to avoid any areas that have been treated just in case. If your pet does walk on a treated road or sidewalk, be sure to wipe off their paws with a damp cloth when they get home. This will also help keep their pads from drying out from contact with the salt. In addition to salt on the sidewalks, prevent access to antifreeze in your home or garage. The sweet flavoring may tempt your pet but antifreeze is extremely toxic to pets.

5. Offer thicker bedding or a heated bed at home.

A slight draft in your home may not bother you, but it could put your cats or smaller dogs at risk for a chill. Put out some soft, cozy blankets or bedding that your pet can burrow into to stay warm.

6. Brush your pet consistently.

Keeping your pet knot and mat free will help them regulate their body temperature. Fur that is matted does not insulate as well and takes longer to dry. Brushing out your pet and keeping their coat clean will remove old fur and allow a fuller coat to grow in.

7. Keep an eye on their health.

Elderly pets with arthritis may have a harder time in the winter, especially in the mornings. If your pet is stiff or having difficultly with their mobility, contact your veterinarian to discuss options for treatment. In addition to their mobility, keep an eye on your pet’s weight. Some dogs and cats are less active in the winter and may need fewer calories. Some are more active or spend a good deal of time outside where they burn calories to stay warm. In that case, you may need to add a bit more to their food to keep them at the ideal weight.

8. Beware of ice, both on water and sidewalks.

We have all slipped on the ice at one point or another. Typically we recover and are not harmed, but a fall on the ice can cause injury to you or your pets. Be careful on sidewalks to avoid any icy patches. If you are out for a walk in the woods, keep your pet close to you if you reach a lake or river. If the ice is too thin your pup could fall in, creating a disastrous situation for them as well as a dangerous situation for you as you try to rescue them. The Bark website suggests keeping your pet leashed to prevent any attempts to walk out on the ice.

9. Keep your pet visible in the dark.red goldendoodle with green light up collar standing in snowy field at dusk

It gets dark pretty early in the winter so make sure that you and your pet have reflective gear so that motorists can see you on your evening walks (or so that you can see your pup in the dark on their last potty of the night). You can find reflective leashes, collars/harnesses, and safety jackets for your pet at multiple retailers to keep them in sight. Check out Chewy.com’s available items here.

 

10. Learn about your breed’s needs.

Some dogs need more or more specific care in the winter. While some breeds like Malamutes, Newfoundlands, or Samoyeds have a thick double coat designed to keep them warm, other dogs may need a coat, limited exposure to the elements, or extra care to ensure they stay safe and healthy. BarkPost suggests you can check with the American Kennel Club or ASPCA for more breed specific information. A good rule of thumb for all pets though, is if it is too cold for you it is too cold for them! Bring your pets inside when it becomes too cold.

Bonus tip: If you park your car outside in the winter, be sure to tap on the hood and make some noise before starting your car. Warm engine blocks are tempting to cats and small wildlife, who may curl up inside where you cannot see them. You may want to bang on your hood to shoo them away before you turn over the engine.

 

Or you could just move to Arizona and never have to deal with a winter again! It’s up to you, but my pups love the snow too much to ever leave. So if your pup is like mine, be sure to keep them safe while they romp (or snooze) through the winter.

 

This year our holiday season is going to be a bit different. There will certainly be adjustments to stay safe and healthy. Maybe your family will eat Thanksgiving dinner over Zoom. Maybe you’ll be mailing a lot of Christmas or Hanukkah gifts. We have one constant though, and that’s our pets! Our four legged family will be there with us like they have been all year. However, holidays can be a stressful or potentially dangerous time for our pets. Here are some tips to keep your pet safe and stress free during the holiday season!

gray and white tabby cat staring at camera sitting next to Christmas treeHoliday Stress

Typically, the holiday season is a time of change in your pet’s environment. There are more people visiting their home and changes to their owner’s routine or work schedule. Pet owners put up decorations in the home and move furniture around. There may even be fireworks or boisterous gatherings that can be too noisy for pets. With a little planning, you can reduce the stress your pet may feel at these changes.

  • Create a safe space for your dog or cat to retreat to when events become too loud or chaotic for them. Put it in a quiet place in your home with their favorite bedding and toys and even a fan or white noise maker to help mask any stressful sounds. Make sure it is a space that they are willingly go to, do not force them to retreat there (especially for pets with separation anxiety, they might rather be with you). You might even consider leaving a longer lasting special treat there, like a stuffed kong or bone, to encourage their enjoyment of this safe space. For cats, if they are being closed into a room, make sure they have access to their litter box and food/water.
  • If your pet prefers to be near you and the action, keep a close eye on their behavior to ensure they are not becoming overwhelmed or anxious. Be sure to let your guests know how to interact appropriately with your pets. Ask them to not follow or chase your pet if he or she walks away from them. Be sure that if your pet retreats to their safe space guests do not bother them. Consider requesting that guest not feed your pet any treats by hand, especially human food! If they’d like to give your pet a treat, they can offer pet friendly treats by placing them on the floor nearby to reduce the risk of a stressed pet lashing out.
    • If your guests are bringing pets of their own, consider asking them to come before the others so that you can introduce both pets in a less chaotic environment where you can closely monitor their reactions to ensure everyone’s safety and enjoyment.
  • Watch the doors as you greet guests as they enter your home. Even a pet who is comfortable around people may make a break for an open door to get away from any stressors. Be sure your pet is wearing their collar/ID tags and has up to date microchip information just in case.
  • Keep countertops and trash cans secure. Even the most well behaved pet can be tempted by all that delicious food. Be sure that you are watching your countertops and trash cans (or have secured them when you leave the room) so that your pets cannot get into something that could harm them.
  • Consider forgoing the pet costume. Many pets do not appreciate wearing clothes. If you attempt to put a costume on your pet and they react anxiously or negatively, quickly remove it to decrease the amount of stress they are experiencing.
  • Use pheromone diffusers or collars to help your pets cope with any stress during the holidays. Adaptil and Feliway are well known and effective brands of pheromone based products that could help your pet.

Holiday Decorations

Festive decorations in and around our home are important to many of us. We love our Christmas trees, garlands, and candles galore. Decorations can pose a hazard for pets though, so make sure you have secured them all safely and do not bring any toxic decorations or plants into your home where your pet can reach them.

  • Secure your Christmas tree. Consider tying your tree to the ceiling or nearby doorframe with fishing line to prevent it from tipping if your pets climb up or try to play with the lights and ornaments. The AVMA also recommends hanging lemon scented air fresheners in your tree to deter cats from climbing up (and your house will smell lemony fresh!).
  • Ensure your tree’s water source is kept away from pets. Be careful if you put any additives in your tree’s water, but even tree sap can be harmful to pets if ingested. Some Christmas trees also have fertilizers that could be harmful to your pet. Try to prevent your dog or cat from drinking out of your tree stand.
  • Keep your pets away from lights, tinsel and ornaments. PetMD suggests keeping lights, tinsel, and ornaments off the bottom third of your tree to reduce temptation. Those shiny ornaments, especially homemade ones out of natural materials or salt dough, are a great temptation for pets. Make sure any that could be broken or ingested are out of your pet’s reach. If eaten, they could cause a blockage or toxicity. Tinsel is another great temptation for pets, especially cats. Consuming them can cause intestinal blockages that may require surgery. Chewing on electrical cords can be harmful and may cause burns. Zoetis Petcare recommends spraying cords and even trees with bitter spray as a deterrent for pets.
  • Do not place toxic plants within reach of pets. Several popular holiday plants are dangerous for pets. According to the ASPCA, Amaryllis, mistletoe, poinsettia, balsam, pine, cedar, lilies, and holly are all poisonous if ingested so be careful not to allow your pets near them or better yet, make sure you don’t have any in your home.
  • Watch candles and potpourri around your pet. Open flames can be tempting to pets so make sure you are always supervising your pet if you have lit candles around. Both liquid and solid potpourris contain essential oils and ingredients that can damage your pet’s eyes, mouth, and skin if inhaled or eaten. Be especially careful with essential oils if you own a cat, they are extremely sensitive to most oils.

Don’t forget to unplug any decorations, blow out any open flame, and secure trash cans before you leave your home. Electrical cords can be a temptation for both dogs and cats.

Holiday Food

We all want to share our holiday meal with our pets. What harm is a little taste of turkey going to do? However, experts advise against feeding your pet human food for multiple reasons. Your food may have ingredients or additives that are toxic to your pet. While some people food is technically safe for pets, feeding your pet from the table can result in some pretty excessive begging (not to mention the drooling!) so it’s not a good habit to get into. If you’d like to be extra safe, you can feed your pet homemade pet treats or specifically formulated commercial treats with a holiday flair. However, there are a few human foods that your pet can share with you:

Holiday Pet Safe Food list

If you suspect that your pet ate something that could be harmful, contact your veterinarian or call the ASPCA Poison Control Hotline (a fee may apply). Be sure that your veterinarian’s contact information, as well as an after hours emergency clinic, is easily accessible.

ASPCA Poison Control Hotline: 1-888-426-4435 

Bonus: DIY Treats for Your Pet

Your pet may not be allowed to eat much of the people food you’re enjoying, but they could have some special treats of their own. Check out this recipe for turkey and cranberry meatballs for your pup or these tasty treats for your cat.

Happy holidays to you and your family, two and four legged! Stay safe and stay well!

Do you like cacti? Are you looking for a new home project for the coming winter months, especially now that COVID-19 rates are on the rise? Check out this holiday cactus cat scratcher. It’s a beautiful addition to your home and a wonderful new toy for your cat!

Contributing author: Timi Smith

Timi teamed up with Buy Rope to put together this guide for every cat owner who wants to surprise their furry friend with a unique cat scratching post. As a cat mom and DIY lover she thinks this is the purrfect project that will make you and your cat happy. Follow her and her kitty Coconut: @timischmidtt @coconutthecat.2020 https://www.buyrope.co.uk/

As busy pet owners, it can be difficult to keep up with the current trends and research. Should you feed grain free or is that detrimental? What proteins are best for your pet? How old should your pet be when she is spayed? What immunizations should your pet have? The list can go on and on. There is always new information, new technology, and new safety protocols for caring for our pets. One of the newer trends is the increased use of CBD products for pets. What is CBD? Should you consider using it for your pet?

What is CBD?

CBD, or cannabidiol, is a compound extracted from the cannabis sativa, or hemp, plant. It is derived from the non-intoxicating portion of the plant (high in omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids, omega-9, amino acids, proteins, and other healthy nutrients) independently of THC, as opposed to marijuana. Definitions of hempseed oil or CBD versus marijuana are dependent on the amount of THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol – a psychoactive compound, in the product. According to the Pet Safety Crusader, “the top portion of the cannabis plant where the flowers are, include the highest concentration of THC, while the stalk, stem, seeds, roots, and lower leaves house shallow levels of THC and a more significant concentration of CBD. The hemp plant’s medicinal and therapeutic properties live here.”

Products that are derived and labeled as hemp or CBD must contain less than 0.3 percent of THC. The American Kennel Club’s chief veterinarian Dr. Jerry Klein says “it is essential to note that in most cases, CBD oil does not contain delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the compound that gives marijuana its psychoactive properties. In fact, most CBD products are derived from hemp and not from marijuana.”

CBD is an all-natural supplement that partners with the endocannabinoid system. This system, in both humans and pets, is comprised of multiple receptors that interact with other body systems to maintain balance and well-being. For more detail about CBD and the endocannabinoid system the Pet Safety Crusader has a great post.

CBD comes in a variety of forms and formats. According to Only Natural Pet, CBD can come in 3 forms: Full Spectrum, Broad Spectrum, and Isolate.

  • Full Spectrum: Full spectrum CBD is a hemp extract that contains all of the naturally-occurring compounds in the plant, including terpenes, essential oils, and important cannabinoids (such as CBC and CBG) that have been shown to support healthy inflammation response and cell health. Full spectrum hemp-derived CBD contains trace amounts of THC (less than the legal limit of 0.03%). Since the amount of THC is so low, full spectrum CBD is non-psychoactive.
  • Broad Spectrum: Broad spectrum CBD is a manufactured alternative to full spectrum. During the manufacturing process, the hemp plant components are isolated and then reintroduced in specific ratios. This allows any THC (the psychoactive component) to be completely removed from the final product.
  • Isolate: CBD isolate is pure CBD that has been isolated from other parts of the hemp plant. It may be sold as a powder or mixed with a base oil (like MCT oil). CBD isolate does not contain any other cannabinoids (including THC) or compounds that occur naturally in the hemp plant.

The most commonly found format for CBD is an oil or tincture, but you can also find capsules, topical lotions or creams, and infused treats and food. Finding non-GMO, quality CBD is as important for pet consumption as for human consumption. Most CBD experts recommend getting an organic CBD oil. Being organic means it is free of any pesticides, fertilizers, or fungicides. Especially be certain your pet’s CBD is free of additives. Oils are ideal because you can dispense or adjust the correct dose by an individual drop.

What to consider (is it safe)?

Because CBD products are still fairly new and have not been subjected to FDA oversight or regulation, it is difficult for veterinarians to recommend their use. The American Veterinary Medicine Association cannot allow veterinarians to make recommendations without extensive research being completed. While several universities and clinics have begun studies on the efficacy of CBD products, their long term results will not be known or widely circulated for some time. The laws regarding recommendation and dissemination of hemp products (as opposed to marijuana based products) are also often hazy or complex. Many veterinarians are unable to legally discuss any cannabis based products, either hemp or marijuana, depending on state regulation.

However, this does not mean you should not use it. The studies that have been performed all found potential benefits without harmful side effects. CBD could offer many of the same benefits to pets as it does to humans. According to the AKC “while there’s no scientific data on the side effects of CBD usage for dogs, there are potential side effects based on how CBD affects humans.” These potential side effects of CBD usage for pets include temporary drowsiness, temporary drop in blood pressure with high doses and increased thirst and are considered very mild. For this reason, CBD is considered safe as long as you follow the dosage instructions and any of your veterinarian’s recommendations.

The biggest risk seems to stem from buying from a less-than-reputable supplier. As with any medical decision, extensive research as a pet owner is critically important when selecting a supplier! Regardless of where you get it, the label should indicate the strength of formulation and recommended dosage. The products should also come with a certificate of analysis. According to Dr. Downing, a veterinary pain specialist researching CBD, “this is a way for a producer to affirm and assure the public that what they produce is consistent, not contaminated, and has a specific concentration of active ingredients. Reliable companies are interested in acquiring and repeating independent analyses.”

Does it work?

Many pet owners have reported positive results when giving their pets CBD products. In theory, CBD can provide the following benefits:

  • Pain relief: CBD has an anti-inflammatory effect that can help relieve pain associated with joint disorders, arthritis, and even tumors. Joe Wakshlag, DVM, a veterinarian at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, completed a CBD study that showed a reduction of pain in dogs with osteoarthritis.
  • Anti-Tumor/Cancer properties: Cancer is scary and many treatments for cancer in both humans and pets can be harsh, with plenty of unfortunate side effects. CBD can help alleviate those side effects and can potentially help shrink tumors if taken internally.
  • Anti-Nausea properties: Your pet may be prone to car sickness or has eaten something that makes her ill. Several studies have shown that CBD can reduce nausea and vomiting.
  • Epilepsy/Seizure relief: Much like in humans, CBD can help to calm the neurotransmitters that tend to over-fire in epileptic pets. CBD can reduce the number and severity of seizures, often without the side effects of traditional drugs
  • Stress/Anxiety relief: Anti-anxiety meds are expensive, sometimes addicting, and can have negative side effects. CBD interacts with serotonin receptors in the brains of animals with anxiety giving them some relief from stress and/or anxiety.
  • General health and balance: If your pet seems a little “off” but you and your vet cannot put a finger on it, CBD might be beneficial. Because CBD triggers the endocannabinoid system to promote overall health and balance, it might helpful in getting your pet back to normal and helping to keep her that way. Natural Living Ideas states that CBD can restore appetite, protect the nervous system, and even help with Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

Where can I find it?

Finding a supplier of a CBD product that is trustworthy, derived from hemp-only and containing only CBD is absolutely essential. We recommend purchasing your pet’s (and your) CBD from Healthy Solutions, right here in Minnesota.

Healthy Solutions is a women-owned local business with extensive knowledge and ties to national leaders in the industry. Teresa and Tessi, the owners, only distribute locally sourced organic products that are top of the line. We’ve personally known these two women for over a decade and are confident in their knowledge of CBD products and their passion for improving the lives of people and their pets.

Healthy Solutions offers a full menu of products for pets and humans. For information on what products would be best for you and your pet, contact Tessi or Teresa.

Healthy Solutions has partnered with us to offer our clients a 10% discount on their first purchase. To purchase their products click here. Be sure to enter the discount code word “pets” to get your Whiskers to Tails discount.

 

When using CBD, it’s recommended that dog owners start with the smallest possible dose, watching for signs of improvement before moving to a higher dose. As with any substance, careful observation and starting slowly is absolutely essential.