Reasons to Adopt a Pet

November is “Adopt a Senior Pet Month.” Older pets are often at a disadvantage at shelters as potential owners find cute puppies and kittens more attractive to adopt.However, pet adoption — senior or otherwise — is actually good for you. Here are some scientifically-proven ways pet ownership improves the lives of human companions:

  • Pets can boost self-esteem. Research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology demonstrates that pet owners have stronger self-esteem than non-pet-owners. Research also indicated that pet owners are more extroverted and less fearful than people without pets.
  • Allergy risk is reduced. While it may seem counter-intuitive, owning a pet doesn’t make you more susceptible tosenior dog allergies. Studies suggest being exposed to a pet early in life may decrease your risk of animal allergies later on.
  • Pets keep us positive. Researchers say that thinking about your pet after a negative experience helps you feel less negative.
  • You feel less lonely with pets. One study found that people with pet dogs indicated their social needs were fulfilled just as effectively by their pets as by their friends. Dogs, they said, provided them with a strong sense of self-esteem, belonging and meaning.
  • Pets offer a sense of support. Studies revealed that pet owners feel they get just as much support from their pets as they do from family members.
  • Pets incent us to stay healthy. It’s hard to sit on the couch all day and watch TV if your dog or cat is begging for attention. Whether you’re tossing balls with Rover or dangling wand toys for kitty to chase, you’re substantiating studies showing pet owners are healthier and more active than non-pet-owners.
  • We feel less stress. There is evidence from animal experts that simply petting your dog or cat can help reduce your stress. Their unconditional love and the fact that they don’t judge us are other factors that make pets the best support system during stressful times.
  • We attract other people. Studies find that owning a pet can improve our human relationships and attract others to us. Pets are natural conversation starters, which can draw other pet lovers to us.
  • Pets can help stabilize our blood pressure. A study of stressed out stockbrokers revealed that a group given pets for the course of the study had significantly more stable blood pressure than brokers without pets.  After the study, many from the control group of stockbrokers without pets went on to get a loving pet to help them manage their stress.

 

Ask your local shelter about adopting a senior pet. Because senior pets are usually the last to be adopted and the first to be euthanized in a shelter, you can feel good knowing that you have very likely saved a life. Senior pets offer all the advantages above and, thanks to you, have the chance to live out their lives in a loving home.

Include your pets in Thanksgiving

If you’re planning a Thanksgiving dinner with pets present, here are some tips to make it a special time for you, your family, and your pets.I’ll never forget a client relating how her beagle  climbed up onto their Thanksgiving table once everyone had retired to an adjoining room for dessert, and gobbled down a huge portion of leftover turkey! No one noticed the deed until much later. Fortunately, the dog was O.K. but was obviously feeling left out of all the feasting happening that day.

There are lots of ways to include your pets in Thanksgiving celebrating without having your dinner spoiled by an overzealous pet. ASPCA experts offer these tips:

  • If you decide to give your pets a bit of turkey, make sure it’s boneless, skinless and well-cooked. Raw or undercooked turkey, as well as turkey left setting out for more than two hours, may contain salmonella bacteria. Mix the turkey in with your dog’s regular food for a treat. Puree turkey with sweet potatoes or pumpkin and add to your cat’s regular food.

 

  • Sage is a great ingredient in Thanksgiving stuffing but it and many other herbs contain essential oils and resins that can cause gastrointestinal upset and central nervous system depression to pets if eaten in large quantities. Cats are especially sensitive to the effects of certain essential oils.

 

  • Keep raw bread dough away from pets. According to ASPCA experts, when raw bread dough is eaten. an animal’s body heat causes the dough to rise in its stomach. As it expands, the pet may experience vomiting, severe abdominal pain and bloating, which could become a life-threatening emergency.

 

  • If you’re baking Thanksgiving treats, be sure your pets stay out of the batter, especially if it includes raw eggs. The eggs could contain salmonella bacteria that may cause food poisoning.

 

  • Pets that overindulge in Thanksgiving food could wind up with stomach upset, diarrhea or — more seriously — an inflammatory condition of the pancreas known as pancreatitis. It’s best for pets to stay on their regular diets during holidays.

 

  • Some safe foods for pets from the Thanksgiving table include cooked vegetables like pumpkins, sweet potatoes, carrots, green beans and peas. Pet birds also love fresh veggies and fruits, including cooked sweet potatoes and cranberries. Even small pocket pets like gerbils can enjoy raw vegetables like carrots and broccoli if given sparingly.

 

  • While your guests are enjoying Thanksgiving dinner, give your cat and dog their own little feast. Offer them Nylabones or made-for-pet chew bones. Or stuff their usual dinner with a few added tidbits of turkey, vegetables like sweet potato or green beans, and dribbles of gravy into a Kong toy. This will keep them distracted and working hard to get at their dinner from the toy.

 

Make your pet thankful to you by supplying them with safe and healthy Thanksgiving treats. Everyone will have a better holiday experience when you do.

Make Halloween safer for your pets

When ghosts and goblins come knocking on your door this Halloween, be ready to make it a good experience for trick-or-treaters as well as your pets. Americans spend an astounding $7 billiion on Halloween costumes, candy and decorations annually. Here are some tips to keep your pets out of harm’s way on this spooky holiday:

cat in Halloween costume– Candy, especially dark or baking chocolate, can be highly toxic to dogs and cats. Same goes for candy made with the artificial sweetener xylitol. For example, xylitol, found in gum and candy, can cause dangerously low blood sugar or liver disease in dogs. Chocolate can create a range of symptoms, from vomiting to abnormal heart rhythm to death. Even snacks that are healthy for humans, such as raisins, can cause a toxic reaction. Keep candy where it’s out of reach for pets.

– Make sure your pet has an I.D. — microchip, collar or ID tag — in case it escapes through an open door while you’re distracted with trick-or-treaters.

– We spend nearly $300 million on pet costumes, but we need to get it right for our pet’s safety. If you decide to dress up your pet in a costume, make sure it doesn’t mind. Some pets are o.k. with it, others are definitely not. If wearing a costume upsets your pet, then skip it.

– Pet costumes should fit properly, be comfortable, and not have any pieces that could be easily chewed off. Your pet’s costume should not impede their breathing, movement, hearing or vision. If possible, let your pet get used to a costume before Halloween by letting it wear the costume for short practice periods. Never leave your pet unsupervised while it’s wearing a costume.

– If you’ve decorated for Halloween, keep in mind that some pets may try to eat decorations, such as pumpkins or objects that include actual corn. These can cause upset stomachs or even more serious digestive blockage, so hang decorations up high and/or out of reach. Be especially careful with lit candles and jack-o-lanterns as pets can easily tip these over and cause fires.

– Kids ringing doorbells all evening can drive dogs and cats a little crazy. Dogs may bark excessively and cats may run and hide — and any pet could dart out an open door. Put your pets in a quiet room far from your front door; put up a baby gate or close the door; or turn on your TV or music to disguise doorbell ringing.

– Kids in costumes can be frightening to many dogs. Only very calm, unflappable dogs should be outside with you on Halloween and only on a leash. Calm, well-trained dogs can be asked to “sit” and “stay” to greet trick-or-treaters and then given treats to reward their good behavior.

– Unfortunately, Halloween can be a time for pranksters, especially those who get kicks out of being cruel to animals. Any pet can
be at risk, but especially black cats. Don’t let your pet out alone in the yard during the Halloween season. Outdoor cats should be kept indoors for the week leading up to and following Halloween.

– For families that want to include their pets in the Halloween festivities, there are Halloween-themed events scheduled in the Minneapolis metro area. Here are a few links to check out for pet-friendly Halloween events:

https://www.sidewalkdog.com/events/
https://woofntreat.com
https://minnesota.cbslocal.com/top-lists/best-pet-friendly-halloween-events-in-minn/

If your pet is still highly stressed by Halloween in spite of all your precautions, ask your vet for suggestions on herbal calming remedies or mild tranquilizers.

Calling all dogs to Bark Park Expo

Your dog will love you for including him or her in this fun event.The city of Brooklyn Park is hosting its annual party for pooches on Saturday, September 13, from noon to 3 p.m. Admission is free.

Brookdale Dog ParkYour dogs will have a chance to pick out the ultimate treat in the bone yard or win a prize playing musical sit. And, if you have a fun dog trick you’d like to share, you can register to compete in the dog tricks contest.

Humans will also have fun. Lots of food is promised, and dog owners will be able to connect with local vets, pet-related businesses and animal rescue organizations. Whiskers To Tails Petsitting will be one of the vendors. The event will be held at Brookdale Dog Park, 7650 June Avenue in Brooklyn Park.

We hope to see you and your canines there. We’ll have coloring pages for kids and other giveaways for adults. Maybe some treats for your best friend, too.

The city welcomes all leashed and vaccinated dogs to this event. For more information contact the city at 763-493-8003 or email Mary Tan at mary.tan@brooklynpark.org.

Pet sitter on the move

We realize in the world of pet sitting that not all our pet sitters will stay with us for the long haul. It’s a rewarding job but doesn’t always satisfy a person’s higher calling.

Our pet sitter Kathryn Krause has a strong passion to serve people. That’s why she’s been pet sitting for us for several months. She also has a degree in horticulture landscape design and came to us to fill in the gap during fall and winter when landscaping jobs grow scarce.

“Pet sitting was one of the first jobs I ever had as a kid and have always loved it,” she wrote in her job application. And she has been a reliable sitter while working for several of our clients in the south Minneapolis area. However, she recently made a decision that involves risking her future carreer, financial security, personal comfort and safety.

According to Kathryn’s account in a recent letter, she will participate in a year-long missions trip called The World Race and will travel to and live in 11 different Central and South American countries. That will involve living with what she can carry on her back and traveling with 6-7 others to serve people.

Some of what she may be doing: building homes, leading church services, visiting orphanages, talking with sex-trafficking victims, teaching English and other community services. “I am most looking forward to living in a very authentic and real way and sharing my life and the love given to me with other people,” she says.

Until her assignment starts at the end of this year, she will continue to pet sit for us. I know her clients and their pets will miss her, but this appears to be Kathryn’s way of answering that inner voice telling her to do more.

We wish her luck and safe going. To learn more about Kathryn’s story and The World Race, visit her blog: kathrynkrause.theworldrace.org.

Know Your Dog Poisons

Dogs are wonderful companions, but they’re also not fussy when it comes to sampling things around the home. It pays to know about pet toxins to keep your home safe for your canine.Puppy and adult dogThe Pet Poison Helpline posts lists yearly of common dog poisons that result in emergency calls to them. This list shows the most emergency calls in 2013 for animal poisoning:

  • Chocolate: Bakers and dark are the most toxic, and milk chocolate, if ingested in large amounts.

 

  • Xylitol: This sweetener found in sugarless chewing gum and candy, medications and nasal sprays causes a rapid drop in blood sugar and liver failure only in dogs (not cats).

 

  • NSAIDS: ibuprofen, naproxen, etc., found in products like Advil, Motrin and Aleve. Dogs don’t metabolize these drugs well; ingestion causes stomach ulcers and kidney failure.

 

  • Over-the-counter cough, cold and allergy medications: Those that contain acetaminophen or decongestants, such as pseudoephedrine or phenylephrine, are particularly toxic.

 

  • Rodenticides (mouse poison): These may cause internal bleeding or brain swelling even in small amounts.

 

  • Grapes and raisins:  These harmless human foods cause kidney damage in dogs.

 

  • Insect bait stations:  These rarely cause poisoning in dogs–the bigger risk is bowel obstruction when dogs swallow the plastic casing.

 

  • Prescription ADD/ADHD medications:  These amphetamines such as Adderall, Concerta, Dexedrine and Vyvanse can cause tremors, seizures, cardiac problems and death in pets.

 

  • Glucosamine joint supplements:  Overdose of tasty products such as Cosequin and Move Free typically only cause diarrhea; however, in rare cases, liver failure can develop.

 

  • Silica gel packets and oxygen absorbers: Silica gel packs, found in new shoes, purses, or backpacks, are rarely a concern. The real threats are the iron-containing oxygen absorbers found in food packages like beef jerky or pet treats, which can cause iron poisoning.

If your dog shows signs of pet poisoning, such as vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, weakness or lethargy, get them to your vet or an animal emergency clinic right away. The Pet Poison Helpline (800-218-6680) is another 24/7 resource to help you identify if your dog has pet poisoning. If you know or suspect the substance your dog got into, bring it along.

In any case, acting quickly is your best bet to save your pet from serious harm or even death.

What does tail wagging really mean?

A wagging tail means a happy dog, right? Not always…Since dogs haven’t found a way yet to talk to their owners, they use other means to convey what they’re thinking. Body language, especially tail wagging, is one.

There’s been a lot of publicity for a recent study by Italian researchers of dogs observing other dogs wagging their tails to the right or left and how they react. This dog behavior study observed dogs watching videos of other dogs wagging their tails either left or right.

Study findings indicated that dogs wagging their tails to the right caused observing dogs to relax and even try to approach the other dog. Dogs observed wagging their tails to the left, however, resulted in heightened heart rates and anxiousness in those dogs watching the videos.

Dog wagging its tailWhile these studies of dog behavior may be valid, it can be hard for pet owners to put them to practical use. Dogs are much better at interpreting other dog behavior than humans. Plus, the tail wagging can be quite subtle and would require humans to see the wagging in slow motion to really observe differences.

Dog trainer and educator Penny Layne has six dogs of her own and had this to say about the tail wagging study: “I don’t dispute the research, but what I have is the experience of the last 22 years of studying dogs and training them and as a speaker and I’m reading more than just the tail. You really have to look for a while to see if the tail is going left or right. You can’t waste that much time if your life is threatened,” she says.

Another factor is breed. Dogs naturally hold their tails at different heights depending on their breed. In general, a broad wag to the side is typically a sign of a happy dog, especially if the hips are wiggling with the tail.

According to VetDepot’s blog, there are three tail wagging behaviors that signal trouble:

  • A slow, low wag. This can be a sign of insecurity. If a dog is feeling fearful, it’s tail may continue to wag even if it’s tucked between the legs. If you think your dog is feeling uneasy for any reason, be cautious about introducing a new person or animal.

 

  • A slow, high wag. This is often a display of dominance. Be cautious if your dog is exhibiting this behavior.

 

  • A wagging tail accompanied by barking. This is often a warning sign of aggression or over-excitement.

The best way to tell if a dog’s tail wag is negative or positive, according to many pet experts, is to watch its overall body language. Happy dogs are relaxed, hold their tails at a natural height, and aren’t showing signs of anxiety or aggression.

Banfield 2013 Report Details a Dog’s Life Span

How long will your pet be with you? Take a look at a recent research report from Banfield Pet Hospital…
Banfield report on dog breed longevity