We all know that in order to prevent dry, cracked skin in the winter we must take care of our hands. But did you know you should do the same for your pets’ paws? We’ve compiled a list of the best tips and products to help keep your pup’s paws safe and healthy this winter.

reddish brown doodle play bowing in snow, staring at camera

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

Keep their pads moisturized

During the winter, the dry environment can cause dogs’ paw pads to crack. To avoid this, use a paw moisturizer or wax to help keep those pads in tip top shape. Some of the waxes are even designed to protect pads from the weather during walks and playtime outside. One of the most popular paw waxes is Musher’s Secret, an all natural wax used to protect paw pads year round. Another popular moisturizer is Paw Soother from the Natural Dog Company, which comes in a stick (like deodorant) for mess-free application. You can also try to make your own! Check out this recipe from the American Kennel Club.

Even if you do put paw balm on your pup’s feet before your walk, be sure to avoid slushy and salty areas while outside. Use pet safe de-icers and encourage your neighbors to do the same, but be alert on walks to avoid as much of the chemical based snow melt as possible.

Protect them with booties

For pups who live in harsh climates or have sensitive skin/thin coats, consider purchasing well-fitting booties for their feet. Booties can protect your dog’s paws from injury or cracking and can be a source of extra warmth.

Be sure to properly acclimate your pup to the booties. It may be funny to watch your dog walk strangely through the house with their new kicks, but the stress of wearing something unfamiliar on their feet can overwhelm some dogs. Give your pup plenty of treats and praise and keep the initial wearing sessions short until they get used to their new boots.

Keep their feet clean

It’s not just the dryness and cold that can be harmful to your dog’s feet. Ice and snow can become compacted in between your pup’s toes, causing them discomfort. Both chemical and non-chemical snow melt methods can cause irritation and even burns on their pads. If your pup then licks their feet to clean them when they get home, they could be ingesting harmful substances.

Be sure to check your pet’s feet daily, especially when coming back from a walk or playtime outside. Inspect between the toes, around the base of the toenails, and under the pads to make sure they are clean and healthy and that you catch any issues before they get worse. If possible, rinse your dog’s feet with warm water and dry with a towel when they come in from outside to ensure all snow, ice, and chemicals are removed.

In addition to keeping their paws clean, keep your pup’s paws well groomed. Trim the longer hairs between the toes to avoid snowballs and keep nails short.

Pay close attention to the temperature when you are out walking through the winter. Chances are if it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for your dog. Dogs’ paws can get frostbite just like our hands and feet. So keep those potty breaks and games of fetch short and sweet in the coldest days to keep your pup’s paws from any danger.

Keeping the rest of your pup’s body healthy is also important for the health of their feet. Make sure they stay hydrated throughout the dry winter and keep their body warm with cozy beds inside and jackets outside.

 

fluffy white dog looking out window of small planeOur world is slowly returning to normal, or what passes for normal post-pandemic. We are seeing a sharp increase in the number of people once again comfortable traveling by air. Those of us who have spent the last 18 months constantly with our pets, both newly adopted and well established, may want to consider taking our pets with us when we start to travel again. With the holiday season is coming up we’d like to give you some safety tips for air travel with your pet.

Tips for Airplane Travel

Check for costs.

The cost of flying with your pet varies greatly between airlines. Flying your pet in cargo depends on the size and weight of your pet in it’s crate as well as how far the destination is. For a pet in the cabin with you, some airlines charge $125 each way while others may charge as much as $500 for the trip. Be sure you understand all of the travel fees for the airline you have chosen.

Choose your carrier.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has a list of pet carrier requirements that are utilized by most airlines. All carriers, regardless of whether your pet will be in cargo or in the cabin, must have good ventilation, strong handles, and a leak proof bottom. Most airlines will have specific dimensions and weights for pet carriers. JetBlue, for example, states that “Your pet carrier cannot exceed 17″L x 12.5″W x 8.5″H and the combined weight of your pet and the carrier must not exceed 20 pounds.”

Choose your airline and flight wisely.

Each airline has different rules about pets on board, both in cargo and in the cabin. Choose the airline that fits your needs the best. According to Cleveland.com’s article, when rated on average pet fee and airline safety records, Alaska Airlines is the most pet friendly with low fees and flexible pet policies. Hawaiian and American Airlines tied for second place, with Frontier and Southwest coming in third. Spirit, JetBlue, and Delta have more strict/expensive pet policies and fees, while United was their least pet friendly airline. Click on any of the airlines to look at their pet policies and fees in more detail.

Try to find non-stop flights to minimize the duration of travel as well as the chances of anything going wrong during a layover. If you are traveling over a holiday, try to travel on off hours when the airport is not so busy. If your pet is traveling in cargo, try to gauge the temperature both at your departure and arrival destinations. For warm destinations, try to fly in the cooler hours of the early morning and evening. If it will be cold for your departure or arrival, try to fly during the middle of the day when it is warmest.

Know the rules.

If you think the rules for flying as humans are complex, the rules for flying with your pet are even more complicated. Check with your chosen airline to see if there are breed and size restrictions for both cargo and cabin pets. Many airlines do not allow brachiocephalic (snub-nosed) pets in cargo and some will not allow bully breeds to fly at all. Some airlines also have restrictions on the number of pets that can be on board each flight, so call your airline ahead of time so that they know you will be traveling with an animal.

It’s important to read all of the rules your airline provides to make sure you won’t be turned away at the airport. See our sections below for some updated information about domestic and international flights with pets.

Take your pet to the vet.

Consult with your veterinarian about air travel before booking your flight. Be sure to discuss food, water, and medications during travel. The issue of sedation or tranquilization is still contested and even the American Veterinary Medical Association does not provide clear advice, so discuss the pros and cons with your veterinarian who knows your pets and their needs. Some airlines prohibit sedation so make sure you know your airline’s rules before talking to your vet.

Not only is it a good idea to take your pet to the vet to ensure they are healthy enough to travel (and have enough of any medications needed during travel) and are up to date on their immunizations, your pet is required to have a health certificate before traveling by air. This certificate lasts for 30 days but many airlines require you to have completed the health check within 10 days of travel so make sure you know what your airline requires. And keep in mind that if your trip is longer than that time period, you’ll need to make a vet appointment at your travel destination to get a health certificate for the return trip.

Consider your destination.

If you are traveling internationally, or to some U.S. states (like Hawaii), you’ll want to look into any animal importation laws. Know if your pet will need to quarantine and for how long. You also want to know about any laws or regulations about animals at your destination, so that you know where you can bring fido or fluffy on your travels.

What to do at the airport, departure and arrival.

tan pug with aviator goggles and pilot hat onBe sure to prepare yourself and your pet prior to arriving at the airport. Know where the pet relief areas are (if there are any) for all airports you’ll be in. Familiarize your pet with the carrier they will be traveling in. Make sure it is a space where they feel comfortable and safe. You may even want to take your pet to the airport departure area to help them become familiar with the smells and sounds.

Arrive at the airport with plenty of time before your flight so you don’t feel rushed. If your pet is flying cargo most airlines require that you arrive 3 hours early for domestic flights and 5 hours early for international flights. You’ll need to take your pet to a specific cargo drop-off location. That’s where you will pick your pet up as well. Attach a photo of your pet to their carrier (you may also want to have up to date photos of your pet and their microchip information on your phone just in case). Also consider attaching a small bag of food and a container for water so that airline personnel can feed your pet in case of a long delay. As soon as you arrive, grab your baggage and head to the cargo area to pick up your pet. Typically, airlines say you must pick up your pet within 3-4 hours of offloading before they’re taken to a boarding facility or local veterinarian.

If your pet is flying in the cabin with you go to the airline check-in desk to submit your paperwork for your pet. As you go through security make sure you deal with your bags, coat, shoes, etc before dealing with your pet. Take your pet out of their carrier (that must go through the x-ray machine) and carry them through the metal detector. You may want to have a metal free collar/harness on your pet ahead of time so you don’t set off the alarm but are able to maintain control if you have a squirmy or nervous pet.

Once you’ve arrived at your destination make sure your pet has access to fresh water and take them for a walk to do their business and stretch their legs immediately. Now it’s time to enjoy your destination with your furry friend!

Domestic Travel Updates

Flying with your pets has become increasingly difficult over the past few years. In December 2020 the Department of Transportation (DoT) cracked down on service animals on board airplanes. Previously, any passenger could bring a pet on board as long as they had obtained a note from a licensed medical professional declaring the pet to be an emotional support animal. Due to the large number of pets, including a kangaroo, being designated emotional support animals, the DoT limited service animals to trained dogs only. Many airlines, including Delta, American Airlines, JetBlue, United Air, Frontier Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, and Alaskan Air, no longer allow any emotional support animals, even dogs, on board.

Animals without a service dog designation must fly in the cargo hold or in under the seat pet carriers. While flying an animal in the cargo hold of a plane is not the same as it was 50 years ago, it is still an unpleasant and potentially dangerous experience for your pet. While airlines may try to make it as comfortable as possible for your pet, some even have heated and ventilated cargo holds, your pet is crated in an unfamiliar and loud space far from you where items may shift and fall during flight. Many animals are still shipped in the cargo hold of airplanes each year, most without incident. But keep in mind what could happen when being loaded/unloaded, during travel, or if the plane sits on the tarmac for 2 hours during a delay. Many travelers have shared horror stories of their pets being injured, getting sick, or even dying in the cargo hold of airplanes, so consider if traveling with your pet is worth the risk.

International Travel Updates

One important new detail to note is that the Center for Disease Control (CDC) recently placed a travel ban on the import of dogs from 113 countries, beginning October 14, 2021. This ban applies to both foreign dogs as well as dogs who have been traveling with their American owners and are seeking to re-enter the country. The CDC has seen a large increase in falsified health documents from international importers since the pandemic and are tightening requirements for pets traveling internationally. The new ban is intended to prevent pets at risk for rabies from entering the country.

Starting in January, the CDC is also restricting the number of ports where pets from that list of countries are allowed to enter to just 3: John F Kennedy International Airport, Los Angeles International Airport, and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. So those of you who will be traveling overseas, it may be best to leave your pet home for the foreseeable future.

Many other countries have restrictions on the number of pets in aircrafts, the duration of travel for pets in cargo, or where they can enter/depart a country, so be sure you know about your travel destination’s animal regulations as well.

If you don’t want to deal with the hassle of pet airline travel and are in need of someone to watch your pet while you are away, check out our website to see how a professional pet sitter can help you!

October 17-23 marks Veterinary Technician Appreciation Week! Vet techs are essential to the everyday workings of veterinary clinics and hospitals. In human health care we have nurses, lab techs, dietitians, anesthesiologists, radiation techs, and many more, but in veterinary health care vet techs cover all of those jobs. So take some time this week to say thank you to your vet techs for their hard work, compassion, experience, and care.

What is a vet tech?

blonde man in blue scrubs using stethoscope on old shepherdVeterinary technicians are an integral part of a veterinary care team. They have gone through a specific 2-4 year education program and practicum accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities. They also commit to participating in continuing education annually to stay up to date with the most current research.

Vet techs have been educated in the principles of both normal and abnormal life processes and in laboratory and clinical procedures and are responsible for the care and handling of all animals who enter their clinic or hospital. They work under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian and can assist in performing a wide variety of tasks. However they cannot diagnose, prescribe medications, perform surgery, or engage in any activity prohibited by a state’s veterinary practice act.

In addition to those regular responsibilities, vet techs may also specialize in certain areas after more training, testing, and a certification. Those specialties include anesthesia, clinical pathology, dental technology, dermatology, emergency and critical care, internal medicine, and nutrition among others. Visit the NAVTA website for a complete list.

When your furry friend goes to the clinic, vet techs are the professionals who are trained to:

  • obtain your pet’s medical history
  • collect specimens and perform lab procedures, including blood work and immunizations
  • provide specialized nursing care
  • prep your pet and the necessary tools for surgery
  • administer and monitor anesthesia
  • assist in surgical care and diagnostic imaging
  • perform dental prophylaxis
  • educate you on your pet’s health and medical needs

Check out this video honoring vet techs for their contributions to veterinary medicine:

How to celebrate your vet tech

This year Vet Tech Appreciation Week is focusing on the message of self care. Over the last year and more, vet techs have had to handle a workload and stress level that was beyond anything the veterinary community had seen before. Techs are on the frontlines every day, compassionately working with each pet and their owner to provide the best care possible. NAVTA writes that “they work tirelessly in exam rooms, labs, and operating rooms, putting to work their vast technical and scientific knowledge treating and caring for every species of animal.  Their broad skills – both professional and personal – allow veterinarians to work more efficiently and effectively.  And they do it all with love and a smile, day after day.”

While it is important to recognize their contribution to veterinary medicine, we must also recognize the importance of self care and support them in their efforts toward a healthy work-life balance.

If you’d like to do more than just thank your vet tech, here are some ideas for vet tech themed gifts:

  • Vet tech themed apparel, face masks, or tote bags
  • Customized bandage scissors or stethoscope tags
  • Travel mugs or tumblers
  • Gift cards, for necessary supplies/memberships or for their favorite coffee shop/restaurant/store
  • Any of these customized gifts from Etsy

This week and every week we honor veterinary technicians for their commitment to high quality, compassionate care for all animals. Thank you for everything that you do.

Top Reasons to Adopt a Shelter Dog

Everyone deserves a second chance, but second chances don’t always happen for shelter pets. When they do, they often come from people who are responsible, mature, and determined to make a positive difference. 

When you adopt a shelter dog, you give him or her a second chance. If you have are on the fence about adopting, the following benefits of adopting shelter dogs may help clear your mind.

golden puppy asleep on top of crate and bedding in shelter

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

You will be saving a life while discouraging puppy mills

According to the ASPCA, about 670,000 dogs are euthanized each year. Many of these animals face this fate because there is no space for them at shelters. No dog lover, including those who run shelters, wants to resort to euthanasia, but even as a last resort, it is often necessary.

There is something you can do – adopt a shelter dog! It may seem like a drop in the ocean compared to the number of pets in need. However, many dog lovers have realized its impact, adopted a dog, and significantly reduced the number of euthanized dogs. And to your adopted dog, you’ve made all the difference in the world.

 

While many dog breeders care greatly for the puppies they produce, and the work that goes into raising healthy happy pups, some backyard breeders conduct their business in unsafe conditions. They may mass-produce puppies and keep them under unfit conditions. Some even care more about profit than the dogs’ well-being. Many rescues and organizations are working to shut down puppy mills, but the process is long and difficult. It takes all of us to recognize and raise awareness of and then help stop these negligent breeders.

When you adopt a shelter dog, you can help to lower the demand at pet shops and unsafe breeders. Adopting a shelter dog may be your chosen way of standing up against cruel breeding practices.

You free up shelter space

If it was up to us, all dogs would be in loving homes. But each day, more people are compelled to surrender their canine companions. Research shows that more than 1 million pet owners have no option but to relinquish their beloved pets each year. Their reasons may include:

  • Personal health-related issues
  • Pet health-related issues
  • Pet housing issues
  • Inability to care for the pet
  • Insufficient finance

Many of the relinquished pets end up in shelters, but shelters have limited space. By adopting a shelter dog, you free up space in shelters so they can take in and save more pets.

It will cost you less

Depending on the breed and the pet shop, a pure-bred pup may cost anything between $500 and $3,000. However, popular dog breeds, such as Frenchies and Goldendoodles, often fetch an even higher price. On the other hand, adopting a dog will cost about $800 in addition to the adoption fees of about $500 to $700. 

Think there’s not much difference? Guess again!

These are just the initial purchase costs. Other costs include spaying/neutering and vaccinations. You will pay extra fees to get these procedures done on your pup when you purchase them from a pet shop or breeder. However, dogs from shelters often come already spayed and vaccinated.

Also, if you adopt an adult dog it is often easier to estimate other costs such as pet insurance, food, grooming, equipment, and training. Your pet will already be grown so there’s no need to purchase multiple sizes and types of equipment for a growing puppy. So it is not only cheaper but also may be easier to budget for a shelter dog.

Some shelter dogs come already trained

One of the biggest wins of adopting shelter dogs is that some come already trained. As we mentioned earlier, many pet owners relinquish their fur babies due to circumstances beyond their control. Often by the time this happens, many have already taken their furry friends through plenty of training. Though it’s likely the poor pooch may be anxious at first, they will start to trust and love you given time to adjust in positive surroundings.

Many dogs in shelters are potty trained, familiar with basic commands, and may even do simple tricks. The shelter staff will also give you plenty of information about their temperament, likes, and dislikes so that you can give your new pup the care and enrichment they deserve.

You will be adopting a furry buddy who can likely already behave calmly in many situations, and with some additional training and adjustment time, makes a wonderful companion for all of your hobbies and adventures. 

There is variety as well as consistency

With more than one million pets entering shelters each year, there is no doubt that those shelters have a variety of pups to choose from. Whether you like a large and athletic dog, a medium-sized pup who loves to snuggle, or petite dog who likes to lie on the couch all day, you can find them at a shelter. Shelter dogs range in size, age, breed, and personality. The great thing about shelter dogs though, is that they all go through behavior assessments when they arrive at the shelter, so depending on what you are looking for in a best friend, the shelter volunteers can help you find a dog that fits into your lifestyle.

You will make new friends 

Adopting a dog entails a longer process than buying one from the pet shop or breeder. You start by identifying a suitable shelter or rescue, then pick a potential fur baby. After these steps, you could be vetted, approved, and instructed on how to take care of your new friend. Some shelters even perform post-adoption visits. 

As you engage in this process, you are bound to meet many potential pet parents who have a heart like yours and interact with shelter staff frequently. You will expand your circle of friends who love dogs, especially folks who know a lot about dogs, like the shelter staff. 

brown puppy looking at camera and smiling with blue plaid collarPhoto by Troy Bridges on Unsplash

It is a worthy action

Last but certainly not least, adopting a shelter dog is a worthy action. Many pet parents understand the benefits of owning a dog, but when you adopt a shelter dog, you go a step beyond just owning a dog. Although you stand to gain the above rewards, more importantly, you do it for the dog’s sake; you save a life.

It’s your way of giving back to a species that has provided companionship, care, and protection to humans for centuries. And, as you do it for the dog’s sake, other dog lovers watch you and may be inspired to do the same. 

 

Contributing Author: Emila Smith is a freelance journalist and blogger with a love for those with four legs! She has grown up around animals and pets and wants to use her knowledge on pet behavior, training and lifestyle tips to help other pet parents live the best possible life with their furry friend. 

brown and white tabby cat with yellow bandana meowing at the camera

As pet sitters we have approximately a thousand pet photos on our phones at any given time  (and will show them all to you at the drop of a hat). Some of them are of our own pets, but many are of the wonderful creatures we spend our days caring for. We love our four-legged clients as much as our own fur babies and our camera roll is proof.

We’ve all tried to take that once in a lifetime photo of our pet or our pet friends to showcase their energy, beauty, personality, or just plain silliness. Some of us may be able to snap the perfect photo at the drop of a hat, but for many of us it’s hard enough to get a good photo without having to try to focus on a wiggly, bouncy four-legged friend. For those of us who may need a little extra advice, here are some tips and tricks for how to take that purrfect photo of your pet.

1. Be patient

Lori Fusaro, a photographer who specializes in animals, says, give your pet time to get used to your camera (or smart phone), especially if it makes any type of sound. Let them sniff it and then dismiss it so that they go about doing their own thing. Sometimes you just have to follow them around until they do something cute or funny!

2. Time it well

If you want an action shot, have your camera ready before tossing the frisbee or pointing the laser. If you want to show how poised or relaxed your pet is, maybe wait until after the play session when your pet is tired and more willing to settle in one place.

3. Get down on their level

To get a more interesting photo, and one that really captures your pet’s expression, try kneeling or crouching to place yourself at their level. Consider getting close enough with your camera that your fur friend is taking up the majority of the frame, or go a step further and focus on their beautiful snout or adorable toe beans to get a unique photo!

4. Use natural light

Natural light works best to showcase your pet. Artist Mailin Plagge says “good lighting, either outside or in a bright room inside, helps keep the photo clear and in focus. It also helps keep the colors in your photo from being washed out.” So see if you can put your fur baby near a window or even outside for that purrfect shot!

5. Distractions are key

Unless you’re going for that candid shot of your dog mid yawn or your cat mid leap, using items like squeaky toys, treats, or whatever catches your pet’s attention can motivate your pet to look at the camera. Snacks or toys will also help keep these photo shoots fun for your pet!

Want a funny photo? Give your pup a spoonful of peanut butter and take some photos of their face as they eat it. Your pup also won’t try to wander away when they have a mouthful. Just be sure your peanut butter is all natural and xylitol free!

6. Focus on their personality

Maybe you have an active pup who loves to chase butterflies. Maybe your cat sits in their tower like royalty. Whatever your pet’s personality, try to catch that in their photo to make it really showcase your pet.

You also want to pay attention to the background in your photo. Plagge says to “place your pet in a somewhat neutral background. You want your pet to be the main subject matter, not the room they’re sitting in! ”

7. Practice, practice, practice

Take lots of photos of your pet, in all kinds of lighting and from all different angles. Try the action shots and the still photos. Try adding treats or tossing them to your pet to get a funny mid catch photo. Try whatever you can think of until you and your pet are pros at these photo sessions!

Take it a step further

Australian shepherd with purple bandanaSo what do you do with all of those great photos you just took? Why not turn one of them into a beautiful portrait! Artist Mailin Plagge loves capturing the beauty and uniqueness of peoples’ pets in her paintings. She says “when a client commissions a portrait of their beloved fur baby, it’s my job and my joy to capture each pet’s personality and character in a unique painting or drawing. I love to work with clients to create a piece that expresses their vision.” Plagge states that if you’d like to have a portrait of your pet, sometimes it helps to give your artist a few different reference photos of different angles of your pet, especially for those with all black pets, which tend to be difficult to take clear photos of. And make sure that the photos you send show how much fun your pet is, photos of cats and dogs having a good time always turn out the best!

painting of red merle australian shepherd with purple bandanaCheck out Mailin Plagge’s artwork on her website or instagram if you’re interested in a commission.

yellow lab smiling at camera

“Labor Day?! I thought you said ‘Labrador day’!”

 

In honor of “Labrador day” here are some paw-sitively hilarious jokes that we wanted to share with you. They’ll have you rolling with your pup!

What do dogs and cell phones have in common?

They both have collar IDs!

What kind of dog does Dracula have?

A bloodhound!

What do you call a dog magician?

A labracadabrador!

Which dog breed chases anything red?

A bulldog!

What’s a dog’s favorite instrument?

A trom-bone!

What do you call a dog in the winter?

A chili-dog!

Where did the dog leave his car?

In the barking lot!

What’s a dog’s favorite kind of pizza?

Pupperoni!

What do you get when you cross a dog with a calculator?

A friend you can count on!

Why are dogs terrible dancers?

They have two left feet!

What kind of dog takes a bath every day?

A shampoo-dle!

Why did the Dalmatian go to the eye doctor?

She kept seeing spots!

What happens when you cross a dog with a telephone?

You get a golden receiver!

What do you get when you cross a cocker spaniel, a poodle, and a rooster?

A cockerpoodledoo!

What do you get when you cross a herding dog with a rose?

A collie-flower!

Why do dogs love conjunctions?

They just love buts!

What do scientist’s dogs do with their bones?

They barium!

What type of market do dogs avoid?

A flea market!

Here’s one for all you cat lovers out there:

What do you call it when a cat wins a dog show?

A cat-has-trophy!

August is National Wellness Month, reminding us that self-care, managing stress, and creating healthy routines is paramount to living a long and healthy life. For pet owners, your pet is probably already helping you with all of those! Most owners know what a joy it is to have a pet in their life, but many don’t know that their pet is attuned to their emotional and mental state and can help improve it just by being present.

Did you know that your pet can help you live your best life, improving your mental, emotional, and physical health?

Physical Health Benefits

The animal-human bond has been studied in depth over the past few decades and researchers have found conclusively that pets improve our physical health:

  • Pet owners tend to have a lower blood pressure, both in general and in stressful situations than people without pets. Pets can often help control spikes in blood pressure due to stress more effectively than ACE inhibiting drugs. One study found that when people with borderline hypertension adopted a dog, their blood pressure decreased significantly within five months.
  • Pet owners have a decreased risk of coronary disease with lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels (indicators of heart disease) than those without pets.
  • Pet owners have a higher survival rate after a heart attack than people without pets.
  • Pet owners who exercise with their pet regularly have a reduced risk of obesity and are able to lose weight and keep it off more consistently.
  • Pet owners over the age of 65 make 30% fewer visits to their doctors than those without pets, according to another recent study.

Cats have an extra health superpower – their purr! Cats purr within a range of 20-140 Hz, which studies have shown to be medically therapeutic for us humans. A cat’s purr can not only lower stress it can also help labored breathing, lower blood pressure, help heal infections, and even heal bones. So the next time you think you feel better with your furry space heater purring on your lap, you know it’s not just in your head!

Mental and Emotional Health Benefits

Pets fulfill that basic human need for touch and a sense of togetherness. Studies have shown that spending time with your pets, talking to them, and petting them can help reduce stress and stave off loneliness. This is in part a result of your body’s release of Oxytocin, a “feel good” hormone, when you spend time with your pets. Interacting with your pets has also been shown to decrease your body’s levels of Cortisol, a stress-related hormone as well as elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine, which help you to relax.

Your furry friend may also be able to help break anxiety cycles by encouraging you to focus on their needs or entertainment rather than whatever is producing your anxiety. Your pet is your responsibility and caring for their needs can establish structure and routine in your day that not only keeps your pet calm and balanced, but can also help you in the same way.

Therapy pets often serve as a source of comfort to patients in hospitals or nursing homes and victims of trauma. Their warm presence, undivided attention, and innate compassion provide support for many people going through a wide range of physical, mental, or emotional problems. A recent survey found that 84% of post-traumatic stress disorder patients who were paired with a service dog reported a significant reduction in symptoms, and 40% of them were able to decrease their medications.

Our pets can us humans maintain healthy habits, stay connected, and find a meaning or purpose in our lives.

So give your pet a few extra minutes of cuddle time today to say thank you while improving your health!

August is Immunization Awareness Month! Most, but not all pet owners believe that vaccinating your pet is essential to their health. Some pet owners consider vaccination unnecessary. Others agree that the core shots are crucial but ignore the need for boosters. The following information can help you make sound decisions about vaccinating your cat and which vaccines your vet considers essential. 

tabby cat with green eyes staring at camera while lounging on back of red sofa

Photo by Caleb Woods on Unsplash

Why you should vaccinate 

  1. Vaccination is one way to show that you love your cat and want the best for her. Failing to vaccinate puts her at risk of contracting dangerous infectious diseases. They could threaten her life and even potentially harm you. 
  2. Vets recommend it. There are many rumors about pet vaccines. Your rule of thumb should be: if it is not from a qualified expert, dump it. Animal health experts from the American Association of Feline Practitioners and the American Animal Hospital Association affirm that vaccinations are necessary for your pet.
  3. Vaccinating your pet is the law. Although the details of animal laws may differ from state to state, all states have statutes compelling pet owners to vaccinate their pets. Failure to vaccinate your cat could land you in trouble with the authorities.

When should you vaccinate your cat?

Newborn kittens depend on their mother for nourishment, warmth, security, and good health. Mummy cat’s milk contains colostrum – a complex compound that builds immunity in the kitten’s body. However, each kitten responds differently to the colostrum. Some quickly develop a robust immune system, while others remain weak and vulnerable to diseases for weeks. 

 

To reduce the uncertainty, the American Association of Feline Practitioners recommends that kittens start getting vaccinations when they are 6 to 8 weeks old. The shots should continue until they are about 16 weeks old. Cats older than 16 weeks should receive booster shots as recommended by the vet. 

5 orange kittens sitting together in fuzzy cat bed

Photo by Kym Ellis on Unsplash

What vaccines should your cat receive?

According to guidelines provided by the American Association of Feline Practitioners, there are two categories of cat vaccines:

  • Core vaccines
  • Non-core vaccines

 

Core vaccines are mandatory and often a legal requirement. Non-core vaccines, on the other hand, are not a necessity. They are administered depending on the circumstances of the cat. These may include:

  • Age – The vet could recommend certain non-core shots to help a kitten build immunity while young. 
  • Geographic location – Some diseases are more prevalent in specific locations. For example, Lyme disease is common in heavily wooded areas. 
  • Lifestyle – A cat that often interacts with the outside world, other pets, and different environments has a higher risk of contracting infectious diseases. It may require several non-core shots and boosters. However, an indoor cat that lies in bed all day has little or no exposure. It is at a lower risk and may require fewer shots. 

 

Core vaccinations

Rabies shot: This protects against rabies, a dangerous infectious disease that affects both animals and humans. According to the CDC, cases of rabies in cats have been on a downward trend. However, different state laws require rabies shots for all cats. The vaccine is given as a single shot when the kitten is between 8 and 12 weeks old. The cat will take a booster shot one year later. 

 

FPV Shot – Protects against feline panleukopenia or feline parvovirus. It is a highly infectious disease that often affects kittens. It attacks the immune system and is often fatal. The kitten gets the initial vaccine as early as six weeks and subsequent shots every 3-4 weeks until the kitten is 16 weeks old. 

 

FHV1 Shot – Protects against feline herpesvirus and feline rhinotracheitis virus disease. The virus causes severe upper respiratory infection, oral ulceration, and pneumonia. Like the FPV shot, the kitten gets the FHV1 shot as early as six weeks old. Subsequent jabs come every 3-4 weeks until the kitten is 16 weeks old. 

 

FCV Shot – This is a combined shot that protects against several viruses that cause upper respiratory infections. The FCV shot is also given as early as six weeks. Boosters come every 3-4 weeks until the kitten is 16 weeks old. 

 

Non-core vaccinations

Your vet will advise which of these non-core vaccinations are suitable for your kitty:

  • Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) vaccine – Given when the kitty is 8-12 weeks old 
  • Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) – Given when the cat is eight weeks old
  • Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP) – Given when the cat is 16 weeks of age
  • Chlamydophila felis – Given when the kitten is nine weeks old 
  • Bordetella bronchiseptica – Given when the cat is eight weeks old 

A final word on cat vaccinations

The benefits of vaccinating far outweigh the negatives. Talk to your veterinarian if you have any concerns about specific vaccines. A disease-free cat is healthier and happier.

 

Guest Author-

Emila is a freelance journalist and blogger with a love for those with four legs! She has grown up around animals and pets and wants to use her knowledge on pet behavior, training and lifestyle tips to help other pet parents live the best possible life with their furry friend. 

 

Don’t want to be the neighbor everyone hates because of your noisy pup? Follow these tips from Whiskers to Tails Petsitting to ensure that your beloved dog is viewed as a great addition to your neighborhood, not a nuisance.

 

Keep your neighbors—and your pets—happy

 

  • Train your dog: Practice patience and consistency. Use positive reinforcement, not harsh words, and praise wanted behaviors. Sign up for an obedience class because training benefits both you and your dog.
  • Research local pet laws: Different areas have different laws. Some ordinances require a leash at all times, a special receptacle to dispose of waste, or quiet times when a barking dog might result in you getting a noise citation.
  • Give your dog attention: The biggest “pet” peeve expressed by most people, especially those living in apartment or condo complexes, is pet noise. Take your dog for regular walks, give her plenty of attention, and explore options to keep her occupied and happy when you leave her home alone.
  • Play outside: If you have a yard, utilize the space for exercise and playtime for your dog. Put up a fence to keep your furry friend from wandering into neighbors’ yards. It’s recommended that when searching for services, turn to Angi fence installers to ensure that the service you hire is licensed and highly-rated. Expect to pay around $4,500 for fence installation, but do get quotes from various services to get a good price for your wallet.

 

Treating Separation Anxiety

 

Contrary to “The Secret Life of Pets,” wild pet parties don’t really happen. But pets can and often do get lonely. They don’t know—even when you reassure them—that you’re coming back. Many dogs choose to voice their sorrow (or displeasure) with a cacophony of howls.

 

If you live in close proximity to your neighbors, a regular crescendo of barks and yips won’t earn you any friends or “good neighbor” points. The American Kennel Club offers some great suggestions to ease separation anxiety and stop (or greatly reduce) nuisance barking.

 

If your dog’s on the younger side or you’ve crate-trained your pup, consider using a wind-up clock, secured in a wrapping of several socks. The tick-tock sound soothes lonely puppies. The ASPCA provides other helpful suggestions about treating dogs who have mild, moderate, and severe separation anxiety.

 

Hiring an in-home pet sitter can also help to reduce separation anxiety, since your pup will be getting loving attention and care while you’re away. Turn to Whiskers to Tails Petsitting for compassionate petsitting services.

 

Why dogs bark

 

It isn’t just separation anxiety that triggers your dog’s “bark box.” Some dogs bark from sheer joy when their owners return. Others bark because they’re hungry or a leaf fell and they have to tell you about it. Some barking is beyond your control, but if your dog barks excessively and the neighbors have complained, it’s your responsibility as a dog owner to troubleshoot why.

 

Besides separation anxiety, other typical triggers that lead to barking include:

 

  • A territorial or protective attitude: If mail delivery or a stranger in front of the house makes your loving pup bark like crazy, she’s seeing that person as a threat.
  • Alarm or fear: Some dogs bark at anything that catches their attention.
  • Boredom or loneliness: Dogs are pack animals, and when they’re left alone for long stretches, they become sad or bored and express their unhappiness with barking.
  • Attention: Just like a toddler, many dogs bark to get your attention, whether it’s to go outside, get a treat, or receive a satisfying belly rub.

If you’ve exhausted all your ideas or are looking for other ways to discourage your dog from barking, Victoria Stilwell’s Positivity Training offers a whole host of solutions, from obedience training games to using calm energy to teaching your dog to bark, that may help curb the behavior.

 

Public Etiquette

 

No one likes a misbehaving child, and people frown upon pups who don’t mind their manners in public, too. Most communities require that people leash their dogs, which protects not just the dogs, but other pets and people, too.

 

Badrap, an organization formed in 1999 to tackle issues associated with pit bull-type dogs, quickly discovered that the advice it gave to bull terrier owners really applied to all canine owners. Read this article for a common-sense checklist of dog laws and dog owner rights.

 

Dogs and humans have shared a relationship for thousands of years. Emotionally, people see their dogs as family members. It makes sense that just as parents socialize their children to behave appropriately in all settings—whether at home or in public—pet parents take the same time and consideration to ensure that their pups also behave well in different environments.

 

Guest Author: Tyler Evans is a pet parent himself and loves to write about topics to help other dog owners (and their dogs!) live their best life. Check out his site to see more informative posts.

Image Credit: Pixels

Your cat is royalty, why not treat him/her to their own throne?

 

Why buy an expensive cat bed at the store when you can make your own DIY cat furniture? With the guide below you can give your furry friend a comfortable place to sleep, handcrafted with love by you.

This bed is not your usual cat furniture as it has multiple features like a scratching board and a head massager, and because we all know that cats love to sit in boxes, this bed is made out of a wooden box, which means your cat will love it.

In order to make this multi-purpose cat bed just follow the steps shown in the guide below.

 

Contributing author: Timi Smith

Timi Smith is a cat owner and some of her favorite things to do are DIY projects and spending time with her cat. This time she teamed up with Buy Rope to bring you this guide on how to make a multi-purpose cat bed for your feline friend. Follow her and her kitty Coconut: @timischmidtt @coconutthecat.2020 https://www.buyrope.co.uk/