black and tan dachshund wearing sunglasses

Photo by Mel Elías on Unsplash

Summer has arrived and apart from it being a great time for you to relax, it’s also the perfect time to enjoy the outdoors with your canine BFF. Whether you form a twosome with your dog or get the entire family involved, and regardless of your best buddy’s breed, there are lots of summer activities to enjoy that are canine-inclusive. Here are our favorite 8, but keep in mind that there are lots more.

Go Hiking

Look for a dog-friendly hiking trail, especially in the hills or mountains where both you and your pup can get some respite from the heat. Trails will allow your dog to get involved in some serious exploring and canine investigation.

Go to the Beach or a Swim

If you reside where there’s a dog-friendly beach nearby, playing on the shore will delight your four-legged companion. Bring along a ball or frisbee and beach towel in case your pup decides to go for a swim

Do take care about the temperature of sand with those delicate paws, and always look for some shade, even a beach umbrella, so that your dog can rest out of the sun. 

You can also opt to play in a pool, but make sure your dog has a life vest and never leave your dog in the water unsupervised. In a best-case scenario, your dog should be able to enter and exit the pool by himself. If not, pay attention to any signs of distress.

Go Boating

If you own a boat or have access to one, taking the pooch along can make for a fun afternoon. Even if your dog is a swimmer, it’s still recommended that your dog wear a doggy life vest while out on the water.

Visit a State Park 

State parks are underrated and don’t get the attention they deserve. Most state parks will feature dog-friendly trails or areas, so your pup can enjoy the great outdoors at their finest.

Try Biking

If you have a young energetic breed or a dog that is used to jogging with you, consider a bike ride with a hands-free leash. If your dog is a smaller breed, or older, consider using a bike basket or a bike stroller and treat your dog to a ride around the area.

Get a Pet Pool and Sprinklers

Live in the city and can’t get away? Set up a pet pool in your yard specially designed for dogs, or even a children’s pool. Pet pools are generally foldable and portable with easy drainage and non-slip surfaces. Make sure you throw in lots of bobbing toys to play with. 

You can also let your dog have some fun by setting up yard sprinklers and playing with your pup amid all that cooling water.

Take a Fruit Break

There’s nothing more refreshing than fresh cool fruit on a hot summer day for both you and your furry friend. Dogs can safely enjoy watermelon, blueberries, strawberries, mangos without the pits and skins, pineapple without the skin, apples de-cored and de-seeded, pears de-cored and de-seeded, and even a small portion of banana (it’s high in sugar). Not only will this be a refreshing treat, but your pup will benefit from the vitamin and mineral intake. 

Organize a Doggy Spa Day

Organize a visit to your dog’s groomer. It’s much easier for dogs to get dirtier in summer. Your dog will probably gradually be losing his or her winter coat, so a trip to get the fur trimmed is perfectly timed. 

Removing old hair will aid your dog in managing the heat, as well as protect fur from matting in the water or collecting debris on a trail. While there, have nails checked for trimming and get the teeth brushed. If you are brave and up to the task, you can do hands-on grooming at home!

Tips When Including Your Dog in Activities

  • Check that wherever you decide to go, whether a park, a beach, or elsewhere, is dog-friendly so you won’t have any trouble entering with your pup.
  • Choose an activity that mirrors the activity level of your dog. If your dog is young, energetic, or involved in activities that require prolonged physical expenditure, you can opt for a long hike. If, however, your pooch is used to short walks, keep that in mind when selecting and planning your activities.
  • If the weather is hot, take enough water along for everyone involved including your pup, and a collapsible bowl.
  • A balanced and healthy diet like those offered by Timberwolf Organics will be essential to help repair sore muscles after every adventure. This becomes even more crucial to keep your dog in top condition during the hot weather.
  • Before adventuring along trails make sure the pooch has up-to-date flea and tick treatments as well as all necessary vaccines.

Now, you’ve waited an entire year for summer to return, so enjoy the season with your furry best buddy. Your dog will thank you for it.

 

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. 

Photo by Bahman Adlou on Unsplash

As Memorial Day draws near many of us are thinking about all of the great summer grill outs that we will be hosting. While barbecues are great fun for both people and their pets, it’s important to make sure that you follow a few guidelines when hosting or attending such an event to make sure everyone, both two and four legged guests, can celebrate safely.

1. Keep the people food to the people

Make sure you keep your food and drink out of reach of your pets. Inform your guests about any “don’t feed the dog” rules as well. Your pup may think that whatever is coming off the grill smells amazing, but human food poses many dangers to pets. Besides the chance of burns if you pet manages to nab something straight off the grill, the following is a list of common hazards for pets:

  • Kebab sticks (both metal and wooden) can be swallowed and/or puncture a pet’s mouth
  • Ribs/bones are also choking hazards. If swallowed they can cause puncture or perforation of internal organs
  • Corn cobs can cause obstruction or digestion problems if swallowed
  • Foods high in fat can cause inflammation of the pancreas, which can be serious and occasionally fatal
  • Onions and avocados are great on burgers but are toxic to dogs when ingested and snacks like grapes, raisins, and chocolate are dangerous as well

Consider feeding your dog their meal or a snack before your grill out to make sure they are less tempted by hunger. Or offer your pet their own version of a barbecue snack while you enjoy your food.

2. Pick up trash

Some of our pets may moonlight as raccoons, sneakily accessing our trash cans and bags of rubbish. Be sure that any trash, especially trash with food leftovers that may smell appealing, is secured where your pet cannot access it and keep it covered. Aluminum foil, skewers, bones, grease, plastic wrap, and lighter fluid all pose dangers to our pets that are easily avoidable if care is taken.

For those of you who may live in more rural areas, be sure to protect your trash from wildlife as well both to avoid luring in critters and to protect them from the same dangers.

3. Establish boundaries

These boundaries go both ways. You should be sure to establish places where it is unsafe for your pet to be and take steps to keep them out of those areas as well as make sure that your pet has a quiet place to retreat away from your guests if needed.

Consider fencing off or blocking access to the grill or barbecue area. Those smells are tempting for pets, but the heat from the fire and the grease are both dangerous. Make sure your pet doesn’t have access to either. It’s also important to make sure your yard/home are secure. It only takes one guest not paying attention, or you entering your home/yard with your hands full, to allow your pet to escape. Notify your guests that you have pets and explain where they can and cannot be. Put your pet on a lead or in an enclosed space if you’re worried about an escape.

While some pets may enjoy having friends and family of all ages visit, other pets prefer not to have to engage with strangers or children. Be sure there is a place where your pet can go to retreat from the gathering and have some quiet time. Let your guests, especially those with children, know that your pet may need some space and to not interfere if they do retreat to their “safe spot.” Give your pet a puzzle toy or a kong stuffed with a treat to distract them during their breaks.

4. Keep your dog cool

Make sure your pet has access to shade. On very hot days it may be best to keep your pup inside, or only allow them out for short periods of time. Know the signs of heat stroke in pets and keep an eye on your pup. If you have access to a hose, kiddie pool, or sprinkler, consider giving your pup some time to play in the water to cool off.

Hydration is important for both you and your pet. Make sure your pet has access to fresh water and keep their bowl full throughout the day. Toss a few ice cubes into their bowl for a fun treat to both entertain them and keep their water cool.

5. Scan the area

Know what plants are poisonous for pets and remove them from your yard ahead of time. When you’re distracted with the grill or your guests you want to know that there’s nothing your pet could eat that would be problematic. If you and your pup are guests of someone else, be sure to do a quick scan of their yard as well. Consider keeping your pup leashed to you to prevent them from interacting with any plants that may be suspect.

If you are going to be setting off fireworks make sure your pet is secured ahead of time. Fireworks are often extremely stressful for pets and they would much prefer being inside or somewhere that is secured. Once you’ve finished your pyrotechnic display, scan the ground for bits of the fireworks that fall so that your pet does not ingest them later.

 

So go ahead and enjoy those barbecues! Just make sure that you are following our tips to keep everyone safe and happy.

Microchipping Your Pet: How it Works

Microchipping your pet tremendously boosts the chances of reuniting if he or she ever gets lost. It does not matter if you have a dog, a cat, a rabbit, or a horse, microchipping works! But for it to be effective, you have to do it right, keep updating your details, and purge your mind of all the rumors and falsehoods about it. 

Microchipping does not monitor or track your pet. But we will help you learn how it works so that you can make this crucial decision and protect your fur baby. 

Photo by Werzk Luuu on Unsplash

Microchipping Works – Here Are The Statistics

The American Humane Organization estimates that each year, 10 million pets are lost in the United States. Many don’t stray too far from their homes and are recovered by their owners. However, many more end up in animal shelters. 

 

According to the ASPCA, 93% of dogs and 74% of cats in shelters are reunited with their owners. However, many pets have to wait in shelters because they are unidentified. They neither have an ID tag nor microchips. Of these, only 15% of dogs and 2% of cats are reunited with their owners. 

 

The situation changes when you consider microchipped pets.

 

A study conducted by the Ohio State University found that the owner-reunion rate for microchipped cats was 20 times higher than the owner-reunion rate for all lost cats. On the other hand, the return-to-owner rate for microchipped dogs was 2.5 times higher than the reunion rate for all lost dogs.

But what are pet microchips, and how do they work?

Pet Microchip – What It Is

The pet experts at The Vets explained to us that a pet microchip “Is a small electronic device inserted into the body of your pet. It is as small as a single grain of rice. It is often inserted underneath the skin between the shoulder blades. Contrary to the myths, pet microchips do not require batteries, can last a lifetime, and the insertion process is painless.”

How it works

The microchip carries a unique code that is identifiable by a microchip scanner. The scanner emits a specific radio frequency that activates the chip. The chip then transmits its unique identification code to the scanner. The scanning shelter or vet can then compare the code against a database to reveal the lost pet owner’s contact information.

 

Therefore, for a pet microchip to work effectively, these three conditions should be fulfilled:

 

  • The chip should be in the correct place and in working condition. 
  • The person scanning should use the proper scanner and proper technique. 
  • The name and contact information of the pet owner (in the database) should be up to date. 

 

Why A Pet Microchip Could Fail

Not fulfilling any of the three conditions above means that microchipping your pet may not be effective. There are several reasons why there could be such a breakdown. 

 

First, the microchip could be faulty. A faulty microchip means that the entire process does not work. But according to the American Veterinary Medical Association, it is rare. 

 

Second, the person scanning could be applying an incorrect technique. Sometimes the vet or shelter staff can scan for a microchip while the pet is wearing a collar with metallic parts. The metal could distort the microchip or scanner signal. One could also use the incorrect type of scanner that emits radio frequencies above or below the range of the microchip and fails to activate it. To minimize the chances of this error, scanner manufacturers worldwide have adopted uniform international standards. Plus, many are developing wide-range scanners that can detect a variety of chips.

 

The third and most common reason why pet microchipping might not be effective is a result of errors in the database. When your contact information is not up to date or is incorrect, the shelter cannot contact you. Worse still, there is no central database with information about microchipped pet owners in the US. However, pet microchipping companies are progressively addressing that gap. Today, there are websites providing links to the registries of microchip companies to vets and shelters.

 

Pet microchips will also fail to work if you believe the following myths:

  • You can use a microchip to track the location of your pet. Although some microchipping companies often sell pet monitoring and tracking systems, microchipping is primarily an identification device.
  • A microchip can replace the ID tag on your pet. 
  • Pet microchip companies do not protect your personal information. Therefore you could give false information or deliberately fail to update it.

Photo by Zach Lucero on Unsplash

A Final Word, Be A Proactive Pet Owner

Microchipping significantly enhances the chances of a reunion with your pet if he or she ever gets lost. Be a proactive pet owner and have your pet microchipped. 

 

But do not stop there. 

 

Ensure your pet always has an ID tag. Go a step further and get a collar with a tracking system. It could save you a lot of trouble since many pets don’t stray too far from home. Contact the microchip company and confirm your details are correct and up-to-date. Also, ask your vet to scan the microchip and check that it is working correctly every time you visit. 

 

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 friends. 


Image via Unsplash

 

Moving 101: Eliminate Moving Stress for You and Your Pets

 

As a pet owner, your animals are a part of your family. If you’re preparing to downsize and move to a new house, your pets are an important factor to consider in the equation. Learn how to find a new home with your furry family member.

 

Find the Dream Home for Your Whole Family

When hunting for your dream home, keep all of the members of your household in mind, including the pets. Location, house style, neighborhood, and pet-friendliness are all important considerations when deciding on your new home.

 

Once you have a home in mind, work on downsizing and packing up your current home. Downsizing and moving is a stressful time for your animals, so you may want to hire someone like Whiskers to Tails Petsitting to keep your pet company in another area of the house or take your pup for an extra long walk so they remain comfortable. Hiring a dog walker during a showing can also help with selling your current place. Some potential buyers prefer a pet-free home.

 

Modify Your Home for Your Furry Family Member

For safety, most dogs require a fenced-in yard. Fences allow your pets to play in the yard without you having to worry about them getting loose. Before you choose a fence, figure out the type you need. When installing one, think about the function and aesthetics. You can create a functional space without compromising fun design elements.

 

When considering a fencing contractor, evaluate the companies nearest to you. Check reviews and services online. When you meet with a contractor, he or she may provide you with a quote, which will depend on the size, materials, and location. Before signing a contract, check to ensure your contractor is licensed, insured, and knows where the underground utility lines are.

 

If you have the room, you may want to create a grooming station. If you have a dog who likes to run through the mud, you may want to make an area in a mudroom, on the back porch, or in the laundry room. Consider installing a walk-in bathing area with an extendable shower head for easy rinse offs.

 

You may need to anchor the furniture and other features to the wall to ensure no accidental collapses occur, especially if you have a kitty who likes to climb. Keep all electric wiring out of your pet’s way, patch up any escape routes and keep all dangerous items out of reach and locked away.

 

It’s also wise to consider any modifications you may need to make for your family if you have young kids or a senior relative living in your home. For example, if your senior parent is living with you, you’ll need to take steps to mitigate the risk of them falling, including adding non-slip carpeting, installing extra lighting, and fixing loose steps. As a bonus, these modifications will help as your pets age as well.

 

Make the Transition as Painless as Possible

To help yourself adjust, pack a box of necessities and essential items to set up right away. To make yourself feel at home faster, set up the kitchen first. The sooner you re-establish your routine for both you and your pets, the better.

 

Choose a room for your pets to adjust to when you arrive. The pets’ space should have toys, food, water, and treats available. Your pet can gradually adjust to one room at the new place before acclimating to the rest of the house.

 

Moving happens to be one of the most stressful events in a person’s life. Your animal will be under a considerable amount of stress, too. When your pet is safe, the process becomes a lot more painless.

 

 

Guest Author: Cindy is a freelance writer and dog lover. She started OurDogFriends.org as a fun side project for herself and to educate pet owners and potential pet owners about how dogs can enrich our lives. She enjoys writing about dogs and pet ownership.

 

 

April is National Prevention of Lyme Disease in Dogs Month. Many of us pet parents give our dogs monthly flea and tick medication to prevent a variety of tick borne illnesses, including Lyme Disease. However, even with that protection, your pup could be infected if bitten. Lyme disease, both for humans and dogs, is serious, but being prepared and vigilant and knowing the signs and symptoms means you can get your pup the treatment they need.

What is Lyme disease?

Lyme disease, also known as Lyme borreliosis, is a bacterial illness that can be transmitted to humans and pets via the bite of a deer tick (also known as the black-legged tick). Once bitten, the bacteria enters the bloodstream of the animal and travels to different parts of the body, often causing widespread problems in organs and joints.

red retriever lying down in tall grass with sun shining on it's headTicks prefer tall grasses or marshes, thick brush, and woods, and jump onto the host animal as it passes through those areas. The majority of deer ticks, and thus Lyme disease cases, occur in the Northeast, Upper Midwest, and Pacific Coast, but they can exist anywhere so it’s always a good idea to check your pets (and yourself) for ticks after walks through that type of environment. An infected tick can transmit the disease after it has been attached to the animal for 24 to 48 hours, which is why frequent tick checks are important, especially in the warmer months.

What are the symptoms?

Typical symptoms of Lyme disease in dogs are:

  • Fever
  • Lameness/limping (can be intermittent or recurring)
  • Generalized stiffness or pain
  • Swelling of joints
  • Low or reduced energy
  • Loss of appetite and/or weight loss

Some owners have described their dogs as seeming to “walk on eggshells.” They move hesitantly and painfully. Sometimes they may limp on one leg or it may switch to another leg or disappear altogether for weeks just to recur.

If untreated, Lyme disease can sometimes progress to organ, specifically kidney, failure. This is less common but can be fatal. Non specific signs of Lyme disease affecting the kidneys are lethargy, vomiting, lack of appetite, and weight loss.

The good news is that because it is transmitted via ticks, Lyme disease is not contagious between pets or between humans and animals. However, if one of your pets is diagnosed with Lyme disease, it’s possible that you and/or any other pets in your home can contract it if any additional ticks were carried back from your walk.

How is Lyme disease treated?

Veterinarians diagnose Lyme disease in dogs with a specific blood test. The infection can be found with that test approximately 3-5 weeks after your dog has been bitten, sometimes before your pup shows symptoms. Because the tests can take several weeks to show a positive result, veterinarians may also use additional diagnostics such as a urinalysis, fecal sample, x-rays, or a joint fluid sample to assist in the diagnosis. This is why annual well checks and bloodwork are important parts of your pup’s health care.

Treatment includes a long round of antibiotics, usually 30 days. Symptoms typically resolve quickly, but occasionally the infection will persist and a longer course of antibiotics will be needed.

What can I do to prevent my dog from getting Lyme disease?

While none of these are foolproof, there are several ways to reduce the risk of your pet contracting Lyme disease:

  • Keep your pet medicated year round. The flea and tick prevention prescribed by your veterinarian works best if it is used consistently. While it may be unlikely, ticks can survive some extreme weather and may bite your pup on a walk any time of year.
  • Consider getting your dog vaccinated. Vaccinations may help prevent your pup from getting Lyme disease if bitten. Consult with your veterinarian to see if the Lyme vaccination would be right for your pet.
  • Inspect your dogs (and yourself) after every walk through woods or grassy areas. The American Kennel Club says “On dogs, look especially on the feet (and between toes), on lips, around eyes, ears (and inside ears), near the anus, and under the tail.” You can also ask your vet to do a tick check at every exam. They may find some that you’ve missed.
  • Remove any ticks that you do find quickly and learn the proper method of removal so that the entire tick is removed.
  • Keep grassy areas in your yard mowed as short as possible and avoid any tall grasses while out for walks.

woman and 2 goldendoodles, one red and one cream, sitting on wooden bridge in forestSpringtime is right around the corner here in Minnesota and many of us are ready to get out and about now that the weather is more agreeable. From parks to events to coffee shops, there are some wonderful places you can visit and bring your four legged friend with you! Check out our list below of some of our favorite spots to hang with Spot.

Parks and Trails

There are so many great parks in Minnesota that it’s hard to pick just a few. We’ve listed our favorites below, but to see all of the dog parks in the Twin Cities, check out Bring Fido’s list. Before you head out, make sure the park or trail you chose is dog friendly (some of them are not) and be sure to bring water for you and your pup and poop baggies to carry out any waste. Orvis has some good tips on trail etiquette for your dog.

  • Minnehaha Regional Park is a great location in the Twin Cities to wander with your pup. The park has a beautiful waterfall, several miles of trails, a great seasonal restaurant, and even an off leash dog park (requires a permit or day pass). Keep in mind that dog park is not fully fenced and abuts the Mississippi River, so if your pup does not have good recall or doesn’t like water, this may not be the best park for you.
  • The Chain of Lakes has 15 miles of pedestrian (and dog!) trails along several lakes including Lake of the Isles, Bde Maka Ska, and Lake Harriet. The trails are a part of the Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway and for most of the path you and your pup will be feet from the lakes with a lovely view of the water and the Minneapolis skyline.
  • Elm Creek Park Reserve is part of the Three Rivers Park District. It’s over 4,800 acres and contains numerous paved trails for dog walking, picnic areas, a fully fenced dog park (with separately fenced in pond area), and a water park and playground (although those are not dog friendly).
  • The Superior Trail is Minnesota’s premier hiking trail. It is broken up into 3-11 mile long sections, so you can complete however much or little you’d prefer with your pup. Check it out for a fun weekend adventure with your four legged friend.

Also, all of Minnesota’s state parks are dog friendly and many have some great trails. Just be sure to keep your pup on a 6 foot leash and clean up after them. Check out Sidewalk Dog’s list of best dog friendly state parks here.

Shops and Restaurants

  • Craft & Crew  is one of the most dog friendly restaurant groups in the Twin Cities. All of their restaurants (Stanley’s NE Bar Room, The Block, Pub 819, Duke’s on 7, and The Howe) have dog friendly patios with yoga mats and water bowls for your pup’s comfort. They even have a doggie menu in case your pup is a bit peckish!
  • Nadia Cakes is our go to spot for sweet treats for you and your pup. Their pupcakes are made with yogurt, peanut butter, apples, bananas, rice flour, and cream cheese. They come in regular and mini sizes, so no matter how big or small your pup is, they can enjoy a treat alongside you!
  • Birchbark Books welcomes pets inside with pats and the occasional treat for your four legged friend. Their passionate and friendly staff are a wonderful complement to their focus on native books and handmade art (this is a teaching bookshop).
  • Seven Points is a shopping mall in Uptown where all of the common areas are dog friendly. With plenty of pet friendly patios and some stores that welcome your pet inside, you’ll find that window shopping with your furry friend is great fun!

Breweries and Distilleries

  • Lake Monster Brewing Company is dog friendly inside and out! Your pup can join you on the patio or inside their spacious taproom while you sample local brews and check out whichever food truck is visiting.
  • Twin Spirits Distillery is both a distillery and a coffee shop. Dogs are welcome on the covered patio, so stop by for a cocktail and bring your four legged friend.
  • For those of you who aren’t fans of beer, Sociable Cider Werks allows well behaved pups to visit both indoors and outdoors. With a large parking lot and plenty of space, Sociable often hosts fun events and food trucks to entertain you and your pup as you sample the ciders.
  • Unleashed Hops and Hounds is a unique combo of dog park, bar, and eatery. Bring your vaccinated pup to romp in their indoor and outdoor play spaces while you enjoy a drink and a snack. Unleashed often has themed events like Pups and Pizza Date Night or Drink for Dogs.

For a complete list of all dog friendly breweries, distilleries, wineries, and more visit Sidewalk Dog. Check out their Brewery Pass for free beers at over 40 Minnesota locations as well!

Dog Friendly Events

  • Mpls Pet Market pops up at Unleashed Hops and Hounds many weekends throughout the spring and summer. With plenty of vendors ranging from doggie treats and toys, pet wear, trainers, and more, there’s always something to peak your (and your pet’s) interest!
  • All About Dogs Day at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum is a great time for you and your pup to check out the beautiful trails, snap some cute summer photos, and attend the Dog Expo with a variety of vendors. This year’s event is on June 4th  so be sure to register ahead of time.
  • Run for Beer with the Minnesota Brewery Running Series covers a full season from April through December at a huge number of breweries around the Twin Cities and beyond. As long as your pup is on a 6 foot lead and is well behaved in crowds, he or she can run each race with you. But the beer at the end of the race is only for the humans!

These are just a few of our favorite places to go with our pets. There are many more in the Twin Cities and all over Minnesota, so get on out there for some pup friendly adventures!

Thank a rescue volunteer!

German Shepherd sitting staring at camera with head tilted, in grassy field

If you’re a proud parent of a rescue pet, odds are good that you worked with an animal shelter or rescue organization to bring your furry bundle of joy home. And the whole experience of finding your new forever friend was probably a wonderful one — after all, volunteers who work in animal rescues are passionate about their work, and they have a way of making it look easy! But the truth is, the path to placing a pet in his or her new home is rarely a smooth one. In fact, there are a few surprising challenges these selfless animal heroes face every day.

 

Whiskers to Tails Petsitting shares a few reasons we should all be extra thankful for animal shelters and rescue organizations — and especially the hardworking people behind them!

 

Many rescues don’t have a physical space

 

When a lot of us think about animal rescue organizations, we picture a safe haven similar to an animal shelter: a large building with ample space for harboring as many animals as possible. But in fact, many rescues don’t have one large, physical structure for the pets in their care.

 

Without having a physical space of their own, rescues depend on the generosity of their communities not only to adopt, but also to foster adoptable pets. Additionally people can volunteer by doing everyday tasks like transporting animals to and from locations, assisting at events, or even remotely by making phone calls or doing paperwork.

 

Animal loving community members who are business minded may consider combining their passion for pets with their skill set to start their own nonprofit to help homeless animals. There is a process involved, and rules and regulations vary by state, so do your due diligence before jumping in. ZenBusiness can help walk you through the steps.

 

There are no days off

 

A nonprofit rescue shelter is a 24/7/365 operation. Animals’ lives don’t just need saving during daylight hours — and they certainly aren’t exempt from a tragic situation during evenings, weekends or holidays. Emergencies do not always happen during business hours, but always must be dealt with immediately.

 

Incredibly, more than one million households re-home or surrender their pets each year according to the ASPCA. That can make it incredibly difficult for volunteers not only to help as many creatures as possible, but also to establish boundaries where their work stops and their lives begin. Animal rescue is very time consuming, and calls come in when people need help — which happens at all hours of the day and night.

 

It’s an emotional ride for everyone

 

It’s probably no surprise that working on behalf of critters isn’t always easy, as blogger Jackie Deems shares. Rescuers see animals that have been neglected, badly treated, and abandoned. But some of the ways this role can be emotionally exhausting are a little unexpected — for example, interacting with other people whose sensitivities are running high, including those who have to say goodbye to a beloved member of their family.

 

While many people recklessly surrender their pets, many are making a choice due to circumstances completely beyond their control, such as having to move into an assisted living facility that doesn’t allow pets. It’s even emotional for people hoping to add a new member to their family.

 

Although it’s not always easy, it’s important that rescuers who are in the position to help remain strong for everyone involved, including the animals in their care.

 

Despite all of these challenges — as well as countless others — people who are devoted to helping those without voices work tirelessly to save as many lives as possible. But they can’t do it without the help of their community members! If you’re interested in learning how you can make a difference, contact your local animal rescue or shelter to see how you can lend a hand to the cause.

 

Whiskers to Tails Petsitting is in-home and all-inclusive, providing exercise, cuddles, feeding, and medications. If you decide to adopt a rescue pup, Whiskers to Tails will care for them when you aren’t able to be there. Reach out to find out more at info@wttps.com!

 

Guest Author: Jessica Brody is a dog lover and is passionate about sharing pet photos and stories with others. She created Our Best Friends to be a venue for pet lovers to share their pet pics, stories and adventures. Jessica believes that pets are family and enjoys her bonding moments with her furry pals. 

 

 

 

 

white poodle sitting smiling at camera in front of green grass

Photo by Pixabay

 

Being a dog parent isn’t too difficult. Primarily, you just make sure your pooch is fed, walked or played with, and gets their regular vaccinations and vet visits. But you may be overlooking an important part of dog-ownership: being a good neighbor. While you may think your dog is the best ever, your neighbors might be less in love with him. Whiskers to Tails Petsitting sponsors these ways to make sure your pup is easy to live near.

 

Introduce: When you are shopping for a new place to live, do your research. Make finding a dog-friendly house and neighborhood a priority. Look for dog-friendly amenities like dog parks, restaurants, groomers, boarders, etc. Take a walk around the area you’re considering; after all, spotting other dog owners, or hearing their furry companions, is a good sign.

 

When you first move into a neighborhood, take some time to introduce your dog to the neighbors. Let them know that you intend to be good neighbors, and if there are any problems, you are open to their concerns. They will feel much better about discussing issues with you, and you’ll make some new friends, including their dogs. If they have a particular dislike or fear of dogs, you’ll find out which houses to avoid on your walks. If your dog ever escapes, your neighbors will know him and know where to return him.

 

Hire help: If you work long hours or have a busy schedule, consider hiring a dog walker or sitter who can come during the day and let him out. You wouldn’t want to go eight hours with no bathroom breaks, so why should your dog? Also, a bored dog can howl and bark all day, disturbing the neighbors or  even doing serious damage to your home. A good dog sitter can take him outside to potty, take him for walks or just spend a little time playing with him. You’ll feel better about leaving him, and your dog will be thrilled to have a new friend.

 

Train: Training your dog is key to helping him become a good citizen. Start early and train often. It usually only takes a few minutes a day to keep his skills fresh. If your dog is a barker, you can work to train him not to bark as much. You won’t eliminate all barking because it’s your dog’s job to protect his home and people; however, you can teach him to be quiet on command or only bark once or twice.

 

Fence: Having a good, sturdy fence can help ease a lot of neighborhood issues. It will prevent you from having to walk the dog every time he needs to potty, and it will keep your dog safely on your property. Before hiring a fence company, make sure they have good ratings and they’re able to provide clear price estimates. Take the average costs of materials (wood costs about $16 per foot, for example) and labor ($30 to $50 per hour) into consideration as well, as you don’t want to end up with a price that’s outside your budget.

 

Talk: If you have any issues with your dog, discuss it with the neighbors. If your dog is not friendly, make sure those who have dogs and children know not to go near the fence. Post “Beware of dog” signs everywhere you think someone could come into contact with him. Kids often don’t understand the danger of a dog that isn’t friendly to them. If he’s unfriendly to other dogs, your neighbors should know to avoid you when you’re out on walks. The more communication you have about this, the better.

 

Be calm and cooperative: If you were having a problem with a neighbor’s dog, you’d hope that the neighbor would respond calmly and politely. When a neighbor comes to you with an issue, respond the way you’d like someone to respond to you. Often, people aren’t aware that their dog is causing an issue. Discuss ways to address the problem, and then get to work. Your neighbors will appreciate your prompt and friendly response.

 

Being a good neighbor goes a long way toward peace and harmony in the neighborhood. You’ll show people that you are a responsible dog owner, and you and your dog will be much happier. You’ll get to know your neighbors and their pets, and they may become lifelong friends. Your walks in the neighborhood will become like a reunion, and you’ll get invited to all the cookouts on the block.

 

Guest Author: Cindy Aldridge is the creator of OurDogFriends.org, a website advocating for the love and ownership of dogs. She believes that dogs truly are our best friends and wants to see less dogs in shelters and more in loving homes.

 

 

two gray cats sitting next to each other in the opening of a litter robot

Photo from Unsplash.com

February is National Cat Health Month, so we wanted to discuss something vital to your cat’s health – their litter box! While it may not be the most glamorous topic, keeping an eye on your cat’s litter box habits can help you manage their overall health and wellness.

Healthy Habits

Bowel Movements

Your cat’s digestive habits can be a good indicator of their overall health. Typically we try to spend as little time as possible taking care of our cats’ deposits, but taking a quick glance at their poop as you clean it can help you gauge their proper food intake and watch for potential illness.

Most cats have a bowel movement once per day, although that can depend on their age, activity levels, diet, and frequency of feeding.  Their poop should be brown in color and well formed but not too hard. Your cat’s poop should also not be too stinky. Some odor is normal, but if you have to hold your nose to get close to the box that may be an indication of a problem.

Emergencyvetsusa.com has a great chart (shown below) for understanding cat’s bowel movements as well as more detailed information about what could be the problem if your cat’s poop is not normal. Fetch by WedMD also has a helpful chart for clarifying what your cat’s poop may be telling you about their health.

Cat Poop Chart - What Does Your Cats Poop Look Like

In general, your cat’s poop should be unvarying in color, consistency, and frequency. If your pet’s diet has not changed, their poop should not change, so if you notice a difference in color, consistency, or frequency you may want to contact your veterinarian.

Urinary Health

Your cat’s urinary habits are also important to track. Much like with bowel movements, the color, consistency, and frequency of your cat’s urinations can tell you about their health. While it might be difficult to tell with most types of litter, according to the PetHealthNetwork.com urine should be light yellow or clear without any cloudiness or debris. Most cats typically pee a plum sized amount about 2-4 times per day, but that’s just an average and can vary based on your cat’s diet, water intake, and medical conditions.

If your cat’s urine is pink, red, or brown, if your cat is suddenly urinating more volume or more often, or if your cat is urinating outside of the litter box, this could be an indication of a problem and you should contact your veterinarian. Also, if your cat’s urine has a strong odor, this may be an indication of an illness or underlying condition that should be discussed with your veterinarian.

If your cat is ever straining to urinate, this is an indication of a serious, potentially fatal problem and your cat should go to the emergency veterinarian immediately.

Bonus Tip

A litter company called Pretty Litter has created a new silica based litter that can help you track your cat’s health. When your cat urinates, the litter changes color depending on the contents of the urine. If your cat’s urine is within normal ranges the litter will be a yellow/green. If the litter is blue, orange, or red, that could indicate a deviation from normal urine and a potential issue with your cat’s health.

Why a Clean Litter Box is Essential

Be sure to clean your cat’s litter box daily. Your cat likely does not want to use a dirty litter box (who would!?), so keeping it clean can help ensure that your cat uses their box regularly. Cats are fastidious creatures, so if their litter box is dirty they are much more likely to find an alternate location to eliminate more comfortably. If your cat continues to use their litter box when it’s dirty, they may try to do so less frequently per day, which can increase the risk of several medical problems. Daily cleanings also makes it easier for you to track the frequency of your cat’s deposits to know what is or isn’t normal for them.

A dirty litter box can potentially make you and your human family sick. Many of us have heard about toxoplasmosis being dangerous to pregnant women, but there are a host of other illnesses that humans can get if their cat’s litter box is not kept clean. This means not only scooping it daily, but fully scrubbing the box and replenishing the litter at least several times per year.

If your cat is having trouble using the litter box for either urination or bowel movements, there may be an underlying medical, behavioral, or environmental issue. Speak with your veterinarian or a behavior consultant to help ensure that your cat has all he or she needs to comfortably and safely use their litter box.

Up here in the frozen tundra we call Minnesota, we often need to find ways to amuse ourselves and our pets during the long winter months. We may bake treats, teach new tricks, or even try to teach our pets to talk with buttons. But after a while we need to change things up. If you enjoy DIY projects, why not try some DIY that would make both you and your pet happy!?

More and more pet parents these days are keeping their pets in mind when buying or renting homes. They pay attention to the flooring, the stairs, the places to put gates, pet doors, or cat trees, and the spaces for play, bathing, and grooming. (Check out the infographic below for more details!)

It’s wonderful that so many people are considering their pets’ comfort when choosing their homes. However, you can still customize their living spaces for their entertainment and peace of mind even more, or if you weren’t able to choose your housing with your pet in mind, here’s a chance to spice things up!

Cat Shelves

Cats love climbing and high spaces. Higher perches allow them to feel safe and secure in their surroundings. But there are some places in your home, like your kitchen countertops, that you’d prefer their little toe beans to stay off! Some cat owners put a hammock in a window for their cats but what about building them their own highway in the sky? From installing a singular wall perch for your cats to creating levels of shelves, walkways, and tunnels, building cat shelves will be a great way to enrich your kitty’s life and keep them off unwanted surfaces!

To build your shelves you’ll need a sturdy wooden board at least 1/2 inch thick, “L” brackets, and heavy duty wall anchors. Be sure that your shelf is long enough for your cat to comfortable rest without parts of their body hanging off. Hillspet.com has a great how to guide to get started with your cat shelves. You can easily customize your design to best suit you, your cat, and your home!

Most cats will gravitate to their new kingdom in the sky, but if they are unsure of change you can help encourage them to interact with their new world by placing treats or catnip on the shelf as enticement. Soon your cats will be climbing all the time!

Catio

Yep, a catio (a cat patio) is a thing! I should know, I have one and my cats adore it. I bet you can imagine the look on Beans’ face when I tell her “no, I’m sorry, you can’t go outside because it’s -10 degrees.” They absolutely love having the space to explore outside, and I love that they (and our local birds) are safe.

Catios can range from a box attached to your window that you cat can relax in to watch the birds, to an enclosure large enough to be considered an addition to your house! There are many different catio plans out there so depending on your home type, number of cats, and handiness with power tools, you can create an outdoor oasis for your kitties.

The first step is determining where and how large your catio will be.The Daily Paws suggests creating a structure that is at least 20 feet wide and 8 feet high if you have the space, giving your cat optimal room to roam (and a bench for you!), and provides ideas for flooring, roofing, and extra enrichment. Catio World has suggestions for structures of all sizes as well as step by step instructions for construction. For those of us who maybe aren’t quite as DIY as we thought, Catio Spaces has plans and catio kits available.

Dog House

Most of our pups love to spend time outside, sniffing the breeze, watching the neighbors, and just relaxing in the sun. Wouldn’t it be fun to create a space outdoors just for your pup? There are a ton of pre-made dog houses out there, but designing your own means you can customize your pup’s home to their preferences? Does your dog love to sit up high (maybe channeling Snoopy)? Add a deck on top of their house. Does your pet have a thick coat that gets hot in the summer months? Add a porch to the front for some shade.

The most important part of DIY’ing a dog house is ensuring the frame is sturdy so that your pup can safely relax inside or play around their new space. Home Depot has some great instructions for how to purchase supplies, measure, and build your pup’s new pad. They also have some tips on how to insulate and weather proof the house to make it safer for your pet to enjoy in all weather. Just be sure to always bring your pup inside in severe weather.

If you have some carpentry skills and want to plan your own dog house, go for it! Just remember to include a floor so your dog is up off the ground, and add some insulation to make it cozy as it gets colder. If you are new to building houses of any size, check out these plans from thespruce.com or k9ofmine.com.

Doggie Dooley

Ok, I’ll admit that this last one is not so much for your pup as it is for you. For those of you who don’t know what a “dooley” is, it can also be called a doggie septic system or a doggie waste digester. Disposing of your dog’s waste often means having a trash can in the backyard, throwing away many plastic bags per day, or paying for a pooper scooper service. Instead, why not try to compost your pup’s waste. Just don’t use it in your vegetable garden, stick to using it around trees or flower beds.

Creating your own doggie dooley can be as easy as buying a large plastic trash bin (bonus points if you have an old one lying around that you can repurpose), cutting the bottom out, digging a hole for it, lining the bottom of the hole with rocks and gravel, and putting it in! The Wildest has a clear step by step guide on how to do this.

You’ll likely need to add a “starter” to the bin to get the waste to begin breaking down, so you can use a septic starter from any home improvement store. However, if you’re concerned about any of the chemicals, here is a good option for a more natural starter.

There are so many other options out there, these are just the beginning! You can build your pet their own room, a throne, some costumes, or a castle. The sky is the limit, so get out there and DIY for your pet!