Home » Blog » Archive for the ‘Pet Safety’ Tag
The Wellness Blog

Fireworks Safety: How to Keep Your Dog Safe This Fourth of July

Fourth of July is one of America’s favorite holidays. When you think of 4th of July celebrations, what comes to mind? Celebrating our freedom? Of course. Family cookouts? Pass me a burger. We all may celebrate the 4th of July holiday a little differently, but let’s talk about the grand finale – the fireworks! While most people love a good fireworks show, we can’t say the same for dogs. This time of year can present many dangers to your dog, as fireworks can cause them severe anxiety. Let’s talk about how you can keep your dog safe this 4th of July.

Bring Your Dog Inside
If you know that your dog doesn’t like fireworks, or even if you have a new dog and are unsure, it is always best to bring them inside on the days surrounding the 4th of July holiday. Fireworks can cause your dog extreme anxiety, which can present many dangers if they are left outside alone. Possible dangers can include –

  • Injuries sustained as a result of attempting to jump the fence
  • Getting hit by a car while roaming frantically around the neighborhood
  • Wandering away from home to escape the noise and getting lost
  • Getting picked up by strangers (and not the nice kind) while roaming aimlessly

July 5th is known to be one of the busiest days for local shelters, due to these dangers that fireworks present to your dog. Play it safe, and bring your dog inside – they will be happy to join you.

Talk to Your Veterinarian about Anxiety Medication

This may sound a bit dramatic, but for dogs who experience severe anxiety from fireworks, this can be the best way to keep your pet safe and comfortable. If you using natural methods of medication, talk to your vet about that as well – chances are he can steer you in the right direction. Check out these natural remedies:

  • Chamomile
  • Lemon balm
  • Oat
  • Valerian
  • Skullcap

Always consult your vet before giving your dog any medication, even natural remedies, as doses can differ for different dogs and breeds.

Keep Your Dog Away from Windows

When you bring your dog inside, it is important to find a nice, comfortable spot for them to be while the fireworks are going on. A good tip is to try to find a spot away from any windows, as this can help to relieve their anxiety. Some cozy spots to consider –

  • A spacious laundry room without windows
  • A central room in the house that can be closed off
  • A comfortable room in the basement – “No scary basements, Mom.”

Make Sure Your Dog is Wearing Identification

This is a common rule that applies year round, but at times like these it is especially important to make sure that your dog can be identified in the event of getting lost. Even if you bring your dog inside, 4th of July is a busy time in most households, with people coming and going from the house a lot. If your dog were to slip out, make sure that someone can help him find his way back.

Keep Your Dog in a Kennel/Crate

Another things to consider is keeping your dog in a kennel during firework shows. This can often provide a safe escape for dogs in high-anxiety situations, especially if it is an enclosed kennel versus an open crate. Make sure you have the appropriate size kennel for your dog. Your dog should be able to stand up and turn around completely in their kennel. Keeping a dog in a kennel that is too small can be dangerous to your pet.

Skip the Fireworks and Stay Home

If fireworks cause your dog to experience severe anxiety, another option is to celebrate with your family at home, without fireworks. Sometimes we as pet owners have to make sacrifices for the comfort and safety of our dogs. We may not be able to control our neighbors when it comes to fireworks, but we can do our best to provide a safe environment for dogs in our own home.

However you choose to celebrate your freedom this year, be mindful of your four-legged friends as well as others in your neighborhood. Utilize some of these tips to keep your dog safe from the dangers of fireworks, and keep an eye out for your neighbor’s furry friends as well.

Take Your Dog to Work Day is June 26th

Take Your Dog to Work is celebrated each year on the Friday following Father’s Day. The holiday was started by Pet Sitters International in 1999, so this year marks the holiday’s 17th anniversary. The original purpose of the holiday was to “celebrate the great companions dog make and encourage their adoptions.” Take Your Dog to Work Day has become a huge hit and some big companies have even started allowing dogs in the workplace on a regular basis. Why, you ask? We’re glad you did.

Reasons to Take Your Dog to Work
While some people may think that taking your dog to work is a bit far-fetched, others are jumping on board and would argue that having their dog in the workplace actually creates a more relaxed, productive environment. Here are some reasons why taking your dog to work can be beneficial –

  1. Bringing your dog to work promotes a stress-free environment. Studies have shown that spending time with your dog can alleviate stress and work is one of the biggest contributors to our stress levels – makes complete sense, right? Bring your dog to work, keep you more relaxed, and improve the quality of your work.
  2. Spread the love and promote adoption. After all, this is one of the reasons that Take Your Dog to Work Day was started – to promote the adoption of other homeless pets. By bringing your dog to work with you, co-workers who may not have a dog, get the chance to witness the bond that you share with your dog. Hopefully this will lead to inspiring someone to adopt a dog of their own.
  3. Boost the overall morale of the office environment. Dogs make us happy – they are just special that way. Allowing dogs in the workplace improves the overall morale of everyone in the office. It creates a lighter, happier environment that people enjoy being in. Wouldn’t it be nice to feel as happy at work as you do when you are at home with your dog?
  4. It’s not all about making us happier – your dog will be happier too. Whether you crate your dog or not while you are at work, have you ever noticed that your dog is overly excited when you get home? This is partly because they are happy to see you, but also a result of pent up energy from being left alone all day. Even if you only took your dog to work a few days out of the week, your dog would surely appreciate it and you might even notice some positive changes in their behavior.
  5. Create a more inviting atmosphere and give people a reason to come back. If you are trying to bring people in, having a dog in your work establishment creates a laid back, homey atmosphere. People who visit your business will feel more at home and they will remember the experience and be more likely to visit your establishment again – especially the dog lovers. Again, this also promotes adoption, which is always a positive thing. 

Who’s Doing It?

Allowing pets in the workplace is becoming more and more popular. There are a lot of big name companies that now have pet-friendly policies, such as Amazon, Google, Proctor & Gamble and Etsy, just to name a few. Some companies even provide perks that cater specifically to the pets, such as –

  • Benefit packages that include pet insurance
  • Websites that include photos of office dogs
  • Daily group dog walks for employees and their dogs
  • Dog friendly water fountains
  • Designated play areas for pets
  • Dog food and treats provided by the company

Here at Wellness, we celebrate Take Your Dog to Work Day every year. It’s always a lot of fun to bring in our pets!

How to Make a Disaster Plan for Your Pets

It is extremely important for pet owners to have a plan in place in the event of a disaster or evacuation. The safety of your pets should be treated as a priority along with the rest of the family.

Plan Ahead for Taking Shelter

In the event of a disaster, it is important to have a designated place for you and your pets to take shelter. This will prevent unnecessary stress and confusion during an emergent situation. Here are some things to consider when choosing a shelter –

»     Not all storm shelters will allow pets, so it is important to contact local disaster shelters to find out ahead of time

»     Contact your veterinarian for information regarding pet friendly safe havens

»     Local animal shelters may provide emergency shelter and/or have a foster plan for temporary placement in a home outside the area

»     Make a list of hotels outside of your area that allow pets – this could be a safe option for you and your pets to take shelter together

»     Be aware of road closures and all possible routes to get to your chosen shelter locations

Keep Your Pets Prepared

It is just as important for your pets to be prepared for a disaster as the rest of your family.

»     Have an updated emergency kit for your pet

»     Be sure that your pet is current on vaccinations and has been microchipped

  • In the event that your pet is lost during a disaster, having them microchipped can be their ticket home
  • If your pet has to be placed in an animal shelter during a disaster, you want to be sure they are vaccinated and protected from the spread of disesase

»     Be sure that you have proper pet carriers to transport your pets during a disaster

  • If you have a pet that suffers from anxiety of any kind, whether storm or separation, talk to your veterinarian about possible medications that may help during disaster situations
  • It may help to have an old shirt, or any item that has your scent, to keep inside your pet’s carrier – this has been shown to provide comfort to pets in a stressful situation

»     Get a Rescue Alert Sticker to place on the outside of your home to alert rescue groups that there are animals inside your home

Designate a Caregiver for Your Pet

This is something that deserves careful thought and consideration. There are two types of caregivers that need to be designated for any given disaster situation.

»     Temporary Caregiver

  • This is someone who you will choose to provide temporary care during a disaster situation
  • A neighbor or someone who lives close by would be a good choice as well as someone who is often at home during the day when you are gone to work.
  • This person should have access to your house and should be a familiar face to your pet
  • Be sure that your temporary caregiver is aware of your Disaster Plan and your chosen safe haven for your pet

»     Permanent Caregiver

  • This is the person that you designate to take care of your pet in the event that you can no longer care for them
  • Consider choosing someone who has either cared for your pet in the past or has experience caring for animals
  • Once you choose someone who is willing to take on this responsibility, discuss your expectations and be sure that your permanent caregiver fully understands how to properly take care of your beloved pet

Prepare for Evacuation

In the event of an evacuation, it is best to always be prepared for the worst case scenario – in other words, assume that you will not be able to return for at least a month.

»     If you have a close friend or family member that lives in a nearby or reasonably located city, you may want to designate them as a potential temporary caregiver for your pet in the event of evacuation

»     Have an emergency kit with all of your pets basic needs located in your house near an exit for convenient access

»     Bring your pet inside immediately if extreme weather is predicted – pets are likely to wander during bad weather if kept outside

When disaster strikes, having a proper Disaster Plan will give you peace of mind to know that your pets will be properly taken care of – because after all, our pets are our family.

What Every Pet Lover Should Know About National Pet First Aid Month

Do you have a first aid kit in your home? Do you have another one in your car? Do you have pet first aid supplies in it too?

It’s a good to be prepared. Some supplies can be used for both pets and people but not all.

What’s In Your Pet First Aid Kit?

Bandages, phone numbers and your awareness are three important components.

You’ll want the phone numbers of your vet, the nearest emergency vet and the poison control center. A common hazard for pets is poisoning. Pets either get into household products like Clorox or antifreeze or they eat a food that makes them sick.

For example, if you chew sugarless gum or eat sugarless mints, keep them out of reach of your pet. Many years ago, we heard of a woman whose dog went into her purse, found the gum and chewed it up. Her pet started having seizures, vomited multiple times and she rushed him to the vet where he had life-saving surgery. Xylitol is the sweetening agent in many of these sugar free mints and gum and it’s highly toxic to dogs.

Here’s the Animal Poison Control Hotline for emergencies– 888.426.4435.  They do charge a consultation fee to cover their costs.

Your Pet First Aid Checklist

  • Copies of your pet’s vet paperwork. If you have to go to a different vet, they’ll want to make sure your pet is up-to-date on shots and if there are any special conditions to be aware of.
  • Phone numbers of your vet, emergency vet and Poison Control.
  • Muzzle in case your pet is panicking and biting (Don’t use this if your pet is vomiting or choking)
  • Extra leash
  • Self-sticking bandage (Available at some pet stores)
  • Gauze pads in case of bleeding
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Hydrogen peroxide (in case you need to induce vomiting – best to do this under guidance of a veterinarian or other pet medical professional)
  • Sterile saline solution
  • Tweezers
  • Emergency blanket
  • Disposable gloves
  • Pet carrier
  • Thermometer
  • Petroleum Jelly
  • Syringe
  • Flashlight
  • Over the counter antibiotic ointment

Of course you should also have any specialty medications or items your vet recommends. Special needs pets may need different items.

Some veterinarians and shelters offer occasional pet first aid classes if you want to know more.

What’s in your pet’s first aid kit?

National Animal Poison Prevention Week

For over 50 years, the third week in March has been celebrated as National Animal Poison Prevention Week. This week is all about bringing knowledge and awareness to all pet owners regarding the many poisonous hazards in and around one’s own home, and what to do if you know or suspect that your pet has ingested something that is potentially harmful. Let’s go room by room and talk about the potential poison hazards so that you can protect your furry friend from harmful substances. A little bit of knowledge can go a long way, and in this case, it could save your pet’s life!

Kitchen

We are starting with the kitchen because we believe it is one of the most important rooms when it comes to poison prevention. People often make the mistake of thinking that if a given food is safe for them that it is safe for their pet, but this could not be more wrong. We all want to treat our pets to something scrumptious from time to time, but people need to be educated regarding certain foods that can be toxic to animals. The following foods have been shown to be potentially harmful to pets –

  • Chocolate – especially dark chocolate, coffee, caffeine
  • Raisons and grapes
  • Yeast dough
  • Macadamia Nuts
  • Raw or undercooked meat
  • Table salt
  • Garlic, onion and chives
  • Avocado

These are just some of the most common foods that can be hazardous to your pet. It is always recommended that you don’t give your pet any table foods unless approved by your pet’s veterinarian. Besides, if you have your pets on the Wellness diet, then they are already getting all of the delicious nutrition that they need!

Bathroom

Let’s talk about medications. Human medications are a big cause of pet poisoning occurrences. First things first, all medications should be stored in a secure place at all times to avoid any accidental ingestion by your curious pet. It wouldn’t take long for some pets to chew right through a medication bottle, totally unaware of its harmful contents.

  • It is a good idea to store your own medications separately from your pet’s medications to avoid any confusion.
  • Always check the bottle before giving your pet any medication to verify it is the correct one, especially if you have multiple pets.
  • All human medications, whether OTC or prescription, should be deemed unsafe for your pet, unless otherwise advised by your veterinarian.

Cleaning supplies is another culprit. The chemicals can be very harmful to your pets. Keep them in a safe place and keep your pets away while you are cleaning with them to avoid any harmful contact.

Living Room

Household plants are a popular topic when it comes to poison prevention for our pets. There are some household plants that can be toxic and even potentially fatal to your pets. If you are a pet owner and you are in the market for some plants to display in your home, be sure that you do your research to be sure that they aren’t poisonous to your pet. Here is a list of 17 poisonous plants that can be harmful to your pet. Knowledge is power!

Miscellaneous Household Items That Can Be Toxic to Your Pet

  • Batteries
  • Potpourri
  • Insecticides
  • Rodenticides
  • Plant fertilizer/plant food
  • Antifreeze
  • Yarn, rubber bands, dental floss

How to Handle an Emergency

If you know that your pet has ingested something poisonous, or if you are suspicious due to your pet displaying signs and symptoms such as – fever, diarrhea, vomiting, muscle tremors and/or lack of coordination – contact your emergency veterinary service immediately. You can also call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center hotline 24 hours a day, seven days a week for a possible fee of $65 per case.

National Animal Poison Prevention Week is a great time to educate ourselves on how to keep our pets safe from potentially harmful materials that can be found right inside our own homes. The moral of the story? Curiosity really can kill the cat – or dog, if we aren’t careful! Keep your pet safe!

National Puppy Day

Since 2006, March 23rd has been celebrated as National Puppy Day. This day was founded not only as a celebration of the unconditional love that puppies bring into our lives, but also as a day to save the lives of homeless puppies sitting in animals shelters and to bring awareness to the horrific reality of puppy mills across the globe. Here are some ways that you can celebrate the true meaning behind National Puppy Day!

10 Ways to Celebrate National Puppy Day

1. Adopt – If you have been teetering on the edge of the decision to bring a new puppy into your home, this would be the perfect day to take the plunge! Adopting from your local shelter has become much easier with the help of social media. Most shelters use social media sites such as Facebook to post photos of all of their animals that are currently up for adoption. Adopt from your local shelter or animal rescue.

2. Donate to the Cause – Maybe you already have the perfect puppy in your life and you get to celebrate that unconditional love day in and day out – great! Another way that you can celebrate the meaning of National Puppy Day is to DONATE!

  • Donate your time by volunteering at a local shelter
  • Donate money and/or supplies to a local shelter
  • Make a donation to an animal welfare organization that fights to end puppy mill cruelty

3. Spread the Knowledge – Not everyone is aware of the dangers and cruelty involved with puppy mills. What is a puppy mill? Do your research and share the knowledge to bring awareness to this important issue.

4. Share the Puppy Love – We get to experience the unconditional love from our puppies each day, so National Puppy Day is a great opportunity for us to share that love with others. Take your puppy to a local elderly community to visit with the residents and put a big smile on all of their faces – your puppy will be smiling too from all of the extra love and attention.

5. Capture the Moment – They don’t stay puppies forever! Hire a photographer to take some photos of you and your puppy to savor the sweetness of the puppy phase. You will love looking back on those in the years to come!

6. Puppy Training 101 – Sign you and your puppy up for an obedience training course to get a jumpstart on the basics. You will be well on your way to having the smartest puppy on the block!

7. Puppy’s Day Out – Plan a special outing for you and your puppy. Whether it is a trip to the Dog Park or “Bring Your Puppy to Work Day,” introducing your puppy to new social environments is one of the best things you can do for them.

8. Take Action – Write to your congressman to ask that he or she support the ban of puppy mills in your state.

9. Get a Healthy Start – It’s never too soon for your puppy to get a healthy start. Make sure that you are giving your puppy food and treats that are made with all natural ingredients and vow to give him the proper daily exercise to keep him healthy and happy!

10. Be Present for your Puppy – The puppy phase will be over before you know it! Spend as much quality time with your puppy as you can, not only today, but every day. Raising a puppy is a big responsibility and the decisions that you make now will shape them into the dog that they will grow up to be.

National Puppy Day is a great time to celebrate the unconditional love that our furry friends bring to our lives and have fun while doing it! However, this day is also about shedding some light on some of the harsh realities of the world that some of the more unfortunate puppies are forced to live in. Choose to take some time today to help bring awareness to the importance of adopting shelter puppies as well as the fight against puppy mills – be the voice for puppies everywhere!

#HappyPawlidays Pet Safety Twitter Chat Recap

Check out veterinarian Dr. Cindy Bressler’s tips on pet safety around the holidays!

The holidays can shake up our routines, and the same can be said for the routines of our pets. We recently hosted a Twitter Chat with veterinarian Dr. Cindy Bressler where she shared her tips for how to keep your pets safe during the holiday season. We’ve compiled our favorite tips from Dr. Bressler. Take a look, below:

Don't miss the #HappyPawlidays Pet Safety Twitter Chat, Wed., Nov. 19, 8pm ET w/ @wellnesspetfood & @DrCindyBressler http://t.co/O0w7lN8d2Y

Find out tips from @DrCindyBressler on how to keep your pets safe for the holidays--11/19 @ 8 PM ET! #HappyPawlidays http://t.co/uQ2hvzDTDK

Wholesome Thanksgiving Ingredients for Your Pets

Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and with the arrival of this beloved holiday comes thankfulness for the year behind us, the arrival of relatives to join hands around the table, the football rivalry that makes us not want to join hands around the table, the Thanksgiving Day parade that never ceases to entertain, and the cornucopia of delicious Thanksgiving foods that seem to make their grand appearance only once a year. While you are enjoying your own Day of Thanks this year, don’t forget about the four-legged members of the party who have set up camp under the dining room table, just hoping that something wonderful makes its way from your plate to their tummies. While most table foods are not recommended for your pet’s health, there are several delectable harvest foods that are not only tasty to your pet, but healthful as well!

Pumpkin

The Benefits
Pumpkin is not only an appetizing treat for your pet, but also a very healthy one to offer. A great source of fiber, pumpkin is a natural promoter of healthy digestion, which lends itself to the overall energy and vitality of your pet. Proper digestion is also a powerful aid in weight management, which can help prevent a whole host of other health problems down the road.

This colorful harvest symbol also helps with urinary health, as the natural oils in both the skin and seeds has been shown to increase urinary functionality. The seeds also promote healthy skin and coat (perfect for our pets with allergy problems!) Pumpkin is also a powerful source of Vitamin A, Beta-carotene, potassium and iron, attributing to longevity and cancer prevention.

Serving Suggestions
Fresh pumpkin is, of course, the best source for serving, but canned pumpkin also packs a hearty punch as well. It can be mixed in with dry food or given as a treat, and many pets find the flavor irresistible. Keep in mind that pumpkin can act as a laxative if too much is given, so consult with your vet about the quantity your four-legged friends can have on Thanksgiving. For a ready-made pumpkin treat your pet can’t refuse, try Old Mother Hubbard Soft Bakes with Carrots and Pumpkin, perfect for busy chefs in the kitchen or families on the go for the holidays.

Cranberry

The Benefits
The delightful red berries make their way onto many a Thanksgiving table, and luckily they can also find a place in Baxter’s bowl as well! Cranberries are rich in antioxidants and Vitamins A, B1, B2, C, and just as they do for humans, they also promote good urinary health and can aid in the prevention of urinary tract infections and bacterial growth. By lowering the pH, cranberries make urine more acidic, which makes it harder for bacteria to grow, and cranberries also have at least two known agents that work to prevent bacterial growth.

These potent berries have also been found to reduce the incidence of bladder stones in dogs, as well as the development of Idiopathic Interstitial Cystitis in cats. If your pet has a history of urinary tract infections or otherwise bothersome urinary problems, these delicious red berries and their juice can be given as a very healthy supplement.

Need another reason to serve cranberries to your beloved pets? These little magic charms also work to prevent the formation of plaque on your pet’s teeth, containing powerful flavonoids and plyphenols that help protect your pets sensitive chompers.

Serving Suggestions
Avoid giving cranberry salad or other sugary versions of this healthful food. Many stores also carry ‘cranberry juice’ that is a very sugary version of an otherwise healthy drink. To serve to dogs, offer organic cranberries as a whole fruit, or mix in organic cranberry juice with food or water. The bitter taste may ward off the more sensitive pallets, so be wary that this healthful food may be served better if mixed with food or other treats.

Sweet Potatoes

These festive orange spuds have been a favorite of Thanksgiving-celebrators since the beginning of the holiday, and there’s no reason why your pet shouldn’t also be served a helping as well! Sweet potatoes, in plain, unseasoned form, have been recommended for pets for years to soothe a sensitive or upset stomach, or even just to offer a filling, healthy food that goes easy on those who have are ill or have recently undergone surgery.

Considered to be one of nature’s nearly perfect foods, sweet potatoes, or yams, are an excellent source of potent antioxidants that aid in healing, the prevention of cancer and easing the effects of aging. Sweet potatoes contain vitamins A, C and B6, as well as the minerals manganese, copper, and iron. They are also an excellent go-to for dietary fiber, preventing loose stools in for pets with upset stomachs.

Serving Suggestions
Sweet potatoes can be found as an ingredient in wholesome dog food or can be served whole to pets after baking. They can even be sliced thin and baked to make crispy, chip-like treats. Some of the best dog treats even combine two Thanksgiving favorites: sweet potatoes and, of course, turkey.

There’s no reason your pets can’t participate in the Thanksgiving festivities this year, and luckily, many of the items on your holiday shopping list can also find their place in Fido’s bowl. Be smart about ingredients, including any added sugars or flavorings, and always consult with your vet if you have any questions. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Take some time this year to let your pets know just how thankful for them you are.

How to Keep Your Pet Safe on Halloween

Every Halloween, the streets are lined with frightening strangers – decaying mummies, wicked clowns and hungry zombies – arriving at your door every few minutes demanding a gift of food for their bags.  This is what Halloween is like for your pet, and it can be terrifying! Add on to that a few holiday safety hazards and the stage has been set nicely for disaster.  Keep your pet safe this October 31st with these tips:

Trick or Treat

Treats
Halloween candy is the bane of dentists everywhere, but also a regular presence on Halloween night in emergency veterinary clinics. Something that tastes so wonderful to us can be incredibly dangerous for our four-legged roommates.

  • Chocolate – Halloween provides easy access to this deadly treat, especially when you have a fully-stocked bowl of those amazing chocolate-and-peanut-butter pumpkins. Chocolate is dangerous to both dogs and cats, and can be lethal, and the symptoms include diarrhea, quick breathing, high heart rate, vomiting and even seizures.
  • All Other Candy - A good rule of thumb when it comes to all candy for your pet is this: don’t do it. Even non-chocolate candy is dangerous, as it may contain, xylitol, an artificial sweetener that can cause a sudden drop in blood sugar and seizures.

Tricks
All Hallow’s Eve is also called the “Mischief Night,” and while many practice harmless pranking, sadly many beloved pets fall victim to those with less honorable intentions. Many animal shelters will not allow any black cat adoptions during the month of October, to deter any would-be cruelty inflictors. No matter how deplorable, it can be avoidable, so keep your pets inside on the days surrounding Halloween.

Monsters

People in Costumes
If you live in a kid-friendly neighborhood, you better stock up and leave the porch light on, because they are coming for you. While it’s fun for us to ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’ over the creative costumes America’s youth is donning this year, it’s 100% terrifying for your pets. “Who are these strangers at the door? Why do they keep knocking on the door? Why do you open the door, and then why do they yell? I’m pretty sure I just saw a zombie.” While we can’t really explain this October holiday with our pets, we can take certain steps to make sure they’re as comfortable with the situation as they can be.

  • Pick a room far away from the front door and designate it the pet room for the evening. Turn on low music or a television in the room so sudden knocking or doorbell-ringing isn’t quite so jarring. Buy yourself some time with a few jerky treats and chew toys.
  • If pets can’t be confined to one part of the house, at least make sure they have no access to the front door. With so many constant openings and closings of the door, all to reveal strangers in costume, it’s easy for Fluffy to slip out into the night for tricks of her own.

Your Pets in Costumes
Be sensitive to your buddy. While many pet costumes are hilarious and adorable, it’s important to make sure that your dog or cat is okay with wearing whatever you have chosen. I’m not saying that he’s going to choose whether he wants to be Lady Gaga or a hotdog, but he can let you know quickly if the costume doesn’t fit.  You wouldn’t want to wear an uncomfortable costume all night, so don’t put your pet in something tight, restrictive, irritating, itchy or painful.

The one costume your pet should not go without this Halloween is an identifying tag, engraved with your phone number. Many pets go missing on Halloween, so make it easier for rescuers to reach you when they find your dog.

Pumpkins

Pumpkin is a delicious fruit can be a nice addition to your pet’s diet. However, Halloween presents its own set of dangers when it comes to the cheerful orange decoration.

  • Too Much of a Good Thing – Pumpkin in small quantities can act as a natural regularity booster, but too much can quickly up that power to laxative and even intestinal blockage. Make sure any decorative pumpkins are not within easy access to dogs and cats, who may just decide they’re going to eat the whole  pumpkin before you even realize it’s happening. Similarly, another fall decoration, corn, can also cause gastrointestinal problems, so keep it out of reach as well.
  • Jack-O-Lantern – You certainly want the neighborhood to enjoy all the hard work you put into your jack-o-lantern, but don’t forget that the unusual glow from the candle can attract more than trick-or-treaters. Keep pets away from any items that have a flame, including pumpkins and decorative candles.

Halloween can be scary for your pet, or it can be like any other day with careful planning and consideration for your pet.  Remember your first concern is your pet’s health and safety, and if that can be accomplished while dressing your dog as the Toto to your Dorothy, your Halloween will be one to remember.

How to Choose a Vet (in 10 Steps)

Your pet is a member of your family, and when it comes to his health care, it’s important to look for the best. Whether you’ve just moved to a new place or you’re looking to up the quality of your current animal care, there’s much to consider in your pet’s new doc. Keep in mind that this person should not only have a caring touch, but also be fully capable of handling any emergency situation that could arise. The hardest time to select a vet is when the need is urgent, so take the opportunity to scout around for the best choice now. Give yourself the peace of mind that no matter what happens with your buddy, you have a great veterinarian on call.
License and Accreditation: You certainly wouldn’t visit an unlicensed doctor for your own healthcare, and your pet deserves the same. A professional license to practice in your state is required, and although a membership with the American Animal Hospital Association is not mandatory, it offers a step up in knowing your pet is in good hands. Additional training and certifications should be noted, particularly if your pet has specific health concerns that require specialized knowledge. Check your state’s requirements and don’t hesitate to ask for proof of certifications; responsible vets will have these clearly posted in their clinics.
Referrals: The best form of guidance can be found in the referrals of others. What do current (or former) patients have to say about the care they were provided at the veterinarian you are researching? Good and bad experiences should be noted, specifically those that made all the difference in the satisfaction of the client. How reasonable are the charges? How thorough are the examinations? Was the vet friendly, approachable, easy to talk to? These are all questions you should ask of those who have had their fur babies treated at the vet you are considering.
Connection with the Community: Pay attention to the vet’s connection within the community, something that can be very telling determining the kind of person this vet is with animal care. Does the veterinary clinic provide discounted services to rescued dogs, or discounted fees for spaying or neutering a new pet? A caring vet will reach out to the community as an advocate for proper animal care, serving as an example of how to treat our constant companions with respect and kindness.
Personal Touch: Busy veterinarians can struggle with allotting the proper time for each pet, and it’s not always easy to spend as much time as they would truly like to with your pet. However, a good vet will not lost the personal touch with your pet, regardless of how busy the day is or how many patients are waiting to be seen. Your pet is important, and you should never feel as though your visit is being rushed or that your concerns are being ignored. Sometimes an extra few minutes just to pet your dog or give him a special treat can make all the difference in both your pet’s experience at the vet, and yours!
Diet and Exercise Knowledge: A great way to keep your pet from visiting the vet for more than an annual visit is to provide the right food and treats along with an exercise program, and a good vet recognizes these natural life and health boosters. Responsible vets are knowledgeable about the right program for your pet, and they advocate for proper diet and exercise.
Continued Education: The medical profession is constantly changing, with new and exciting updates in healthcare happening every day. The same is true for veterinary medicine, and a worthy veterinarian will consistently update his knowledge with new techniques and treatments. Many veterinarians receive regular training to keep skills fresh and learn about new options for animal care, and your vet should do the same.
Office Maintenance: Hospitals and doctor offices are kept sanitized and sterilized for a reason, and veterinary clinics should be no exception. Ask for a tour of a vet before signing your pet onto the registry; a worthy clinic should have no problem showing you everything from the kennels to the surgery, and everything should be clean and orderly.
Staffing Requirements: When your pet is being seen at an animal hospital, he comes into contact with many other members of the staff, and each of these individuals should be properly trained and certified. It’s okay to ask the vet about his staffing requirements, what is required of each position, and who would be involved in the care and keeping of your best friend.
Office Hours and Location: Ideally, your vet is located close enough to be reached in an absolute emergency fairly quickly, and the office hours the vet keeps is critical as well. While many vets do not provide 24-hour service, they should at least provide the contact information for those who do. Routine treatments and annual visits need not be handled urgently, but when every second counts, you want a veterinarian who is on call and ready to handle any emergency.
The Most Important Vote: Trust your pet’s instincts when it comes to choosing a vet. It is, after all, his doctor, and it should be someone that he trusts, even during times of sickness or injury. Of course your pet doesn’t get the same excited feeling pulling in to the vet as he would the dog park, but there should be some level of “hey, I know these guys!” that puts your dog at ease. Your vet  and his or her staff should always try to make the experience as pleasant and comfortable for your pet as they can.
Take a few extra steps and check references, do your research and make sure a vet is the right choice for you and your pet. A little extra time spent in the decision can make all the difference in the health and happiness of your best friend.

Your pet is a member of your family, and when it comes to his health care, it’s important to look for the best. Whether you’ve just moved to a new place or you’re looking to up the quality of your current animal care, there’s much to consider in your pet’s new doc. Keep in mind that this person should not only have a caring touch, but also be fully capable of handling any emergency situation that could arise. The hardest time to select a vet is when the need is urgent, so take the opportunity to scout around for the best choice now. Give yourself the peace of mind that no matter what happens with your buddy, you have a great veterinarian on call.

License and Accreditation: You certainly wouldn’t visit an unlicensed doctor for your own healthcare, and your pet deserves the same. A professional license to practice in your state is required, and although a membership with the American Animal Hospital Association is not mandatory, it offers a step up in knowing your pet is in good hands. Additional training and certifications should be noted, particularly if your pet has specific health concerns that require specialized knowledge. Check your state’s requirements and don’t hesitate to ask for proof of certifications; responsible vets will have these clearly posted in their clinics.

Referrals: The best form of guidance can be found in the referrals of others. What do current (or former) patients have to say about the care they were provided at the veterinarian you are researching? Good and bad experiences should be noted, specifically those that made all the difference in the satisfaction of the client. How reasonable are the charges? How thorough are the examinations? Was the vet friendly, approachable, easy to talk to? These are all questions you should ask of those who have had their fur babies treated at the vet you are considering.

Connection with the Community: Pay attention to the vet’s connection within the community, something that can be very telling determining the kind of person this vet is with animal care. Does the veterinary clinic provide discounted services to rescued dogs, or discounted fees for spaying or neutering a new pet? A caring vet will reach out to the community as an advocate for proper animal care, serving as an example of how to treat our constant companions with respect and kindness.

Personal Touch: Busy veterinarians can struggle with allotting the proper time for each pet, and it’s not always easy to spend as much time as they would truly like to with your pet. However, a good vet will not lost the personal touch with your pet, regardless of how busy the day is or how many patients are waiting to be seen. Your pet is important, and you should never feel as though your visit is being rushed or that your concerns are being ignored. Sometimes an extra few minutes just to pet your dog or give him a special treat can make all the difference in both your pet’s experience at the vet, and yours!

Diet and Exercise Knowledge: A great way to keep your pet from visiting the vet for more than an annual visit is to provide the right food and treats along with an exercise program, and a good vet recognizes these natural life and health boosters. Responsible vets are knowledgeable about the right program for your pet, and they advocate for proper diet and exercise.

Continued Education: The medical profession is constantly changing, with new and exciting updates in healthcare happening every day. The same is true for veterinary medicine, and a worthy veterinarian will consistently update his knowledge with new techniques and treatments. Many veterinarians receive regular training to keep skills fresh and learn about new options for animal care, and your vet should do the same.

Office Maintenance: Hospitals and doctor offices are kept sanitized and sterilized for a reason, and veterinary clinics should be no exception. Ask for a tour of a vet before signing your pet onto the registry; a worthy clinic should have no problem showing you everything from the kennels to the surgery, and everything should be clean and orderly.

Staffing Requirements: When your pet is being seen at an animal hospital, he comes into contact with many other members of the staff, and each of these individuals should be properly trained and certified. It’s okay to ask the vet about his staffing requirements, what is required of each position, and who would be involved in the care and keeping of your best friend.

Office Hours and Location: Ideally, your vet is located close enough to be reached in an absolute emergency fairly quickly, and the office hours the vet keeps is critical as well. While many vets do not provide 24-hour service, they should at least provide the contact information for those who do. Routine treatments and annual visits need not be handled urgently, but when every second counts, you want a veterinarian who is on call and ready to handle any emergency.

The Most Important Vote: Trust your pet’s instincts when it comes to choosing a vet. It is, after all, his doctor, and it should be someone that he trusts, even during times of sickness or injury. Of course your pet doesn’t get the same excited feeling pulling in to the vet as he would the dog park, but there should be some level of “hey, I know these guys!” that puts your dog at ease. Your vet  and his or her staff should always try to make the experience as pleasant and comfortable for your pet as they can.

Dr. Tonia Shatzel at 30-A Vet in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida

Take a few extra steps and check references, do your research and make sure a vet is the right choice for you and your pet. A little extra time spent in the decision can make all the difference in the health and happiness of your best friend.