Does your dog love playing in the snow? Many cold weather breeds like American Eskimos, Shiba Inus and Huskies are in their element when it snows- but this doesn’t mean that other breeds can’t have fun in the snow as well.
For many dogs, there is nothing better than waking up to a fresh coating of new snow, waiting to be explored. But why let your dog have all the fun? Here are some great ideas for games and activities that you and your dog can do together in the snow:
- Chasing snowballs— Have a snowball fight! Most dogs love fetch and will delight in chasing either you or the snowball. Form snowballs from soft snow (don’t pack them hard and make sure there are no rocks or twigs), then gently toss them at the dog. Try tossing tighter packed snowballs in the air for the dog to jump at and try to catch. It’s quick, easy and a good workout for both of you!
- Winter hiking or snowshoeing— If you love being outside in the snow, there’s no reason why your pup can’t come with you. Dogs love new spaces and smells, so take them along the next time you go for a hike or go snowshoeing. Just make sure you bring plenty of water for both of you as you’ll probably work up a sweat.
- Shovel the driveway— It has to be done, so why not make a game out of it? Your dog might even want to run and chase after the flying snow. Remember, if your driveway is not fenced in, make sure to put your dog on a leash so that he doesn’t get overexcited and run down the street.
- Create a maze in the snow— When you are finished with the driveway, shovel paths in the snow to create mazes and run through them with your dog. Your dog will love running through the paths!
Remember! Make sure your dog is adequately protected from the elements and stays warm. If you have a short haired or small dog it might be a good idea to buy him a coat or sweater to help him to stay warm while playing in the snow. Also, don’t stay out for too long if the temperature is bitter cold.
Do you have pictures of your dog in the snow? Why not share them on the Wellness Facebook page?
Keep your kitten safe from common household items.
Spring is a popular time of year when people welcome new kittens into their home. If you’re one of those lucky folks who are expecting or recently welcomed a new addition to your family, be sure to consider the likelihood that your kitten’s curiosity will be invoked by the introduction of a new environment. It is important to anticipate your investigative friend may find his way into items that are not suitable for contact. Some items may be more obvious than others so take the time to examine your kitten’s surroundings closely and remove any potential risks. Create a list of important phone numbers that you may need to reference in case of an emergency. Numbers should include your local vet hospital, emergency clinic and animal poison control hotline. Here are some items to be sure to keep our of your kitten’s reach.
1. Human Medications – Human medications were one of the top calls received by the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center in recent years. Pain killers, cold medications and other prescription or over the counter medications have various toxicity levels and should be stored in a place where pets cannot get to them.
2. Chocolate – This beloved human treat can make pets ill. It can contain high levels of fat and methylxanthine. The darker the chocolate, the higher the potential for clinical problems, which can include vomiting, diarrhea, panting, increased thirst and urination, arrhythmias, and tremors/seizures.
3. Lilies and other Toxic Plants – Lilies in their entirety are toxic to cats and have been linked to cause kidney failure. While only parts of other plants can be considered toxic to cats, it is recommended to research your household plants and remove any that may be considered harmful to your pet.
4. Antifreeze – Whether from a leak or a small spill while refilling, most brands of antifreeze consist of 95 percent ethylene glycol, an extremely toxic chemical. As little as 1/4 of an ounce (1-2 teaspoons) of this sweet-tasting liquid can prove to be fatal to a cat.
5. Easter Basket Grass & Holiday Tinsel – These shiny, stringed decorations are especially attractive to kittens. They are often played with and eaten and can cause intestinal obstruction or act as a linear foreign body.
Romping outdoors with your pet gives you both fresh air, exercise and some quality bonding time. However, there are some outdoor dangers that you need to be aware of to keep your pet safe.
- Many outdoor plants can be hazardous to your pet. Steer clear of many bulbs, ferns, flowering plants, lilies and shrubs. If ingested, these plants can cause severe vomiting, diarrhea, or organ failure in animals.
- Be careful about compost piles. The bacteria that forms in compost piles can be lethal. Compost piles should be enclosed.
- Some varieties of the common mushroom that you find growing in your yard, can be very dangerous for pets. If your pet begins to show symptoms of poisoning, or if you know they have ingested a mushroom or other poisonous plant you should contact your veterinarian immediately.
- Another outdoor hazard for pets is ticks. Ticks carry and transmit diseases, including Lyme Disease. You should conduct tick checks of your pet after they have been outside. Try to avoid high risk locations such as heavily wooded areas and low-growing grasslands. If you do find a tick on your pet remove it as soon as possible using tweezers. Grasp the tick by the head where they enter the skin and pull firmly and steadily outward. Keep an eye on the site of the bite for the next several days to make sure a rash does not develop, a sign of Lyme Disease.
- Snakes are also an underlying threat to pets. Most snake bites to pets come from non-venomous snakes, but should still be avoided if possible. To prevent snake bites always keep your pet close-by, and leashed.
- You should stay on designated trails and do not go hiking at night. Also try to keep your pet from sniffing and exploring holes, crevices, and rocks. If your pet is bit by a snake, bring them to a veterinarian immediately.
So, you think food allergies are the unique domain of humankind? Well, think again. Animals suffer from food allergy symptoms too, and there is an ever expanding list of foods and food ingredients that, given the individual in question, could be the offending agent.
In fact, next to obesity, skin and ear-related concerns are the most prevalent conditions seen by veterinarians. Allergic reactions can show up in puppies as young as five months old, or in seniors as old as 12 years of age, though the vast majority of cases occur between two and six years.
Various prepared pet food ingredients can trigger allergic or food-sensitivity reactions in dogs and cats. These include not only the expected list of chemical additives, preservatives and flavorings that offer no nutritional value, but also many commonplace menu items that are known to be healthy dietary staples for most pets. Separating the helpful ingredients from the harmful is the key to sound pet nutrition and health. Read the rest of this entry »
Enjoy Outdoor Time Safely
Spring is a great time to give your dog more exercise and fresh air, often letting them have run of the yard. However, everyday gardens can pose a serious risk to your dog’s health. The following ten garden plants are poisonous and need to be kept away from our canine friends:
- Bulbs – Amarylis, Daffodil, Elephant Ear, Hyacinth, Iris, Tulip. The bulb is the poisonous part, so beware particularly with those dogs that like to dig.
- Ferns – Asparagus Fern, Emerald Feather, Lace Fern, Plumosa Fern. Many of these can be grown in a hanging pot, just make sure pieces of the plant or its berries do not fall to the floor.
- Flowering Plants – Cyclamen, Hydrangea, Kalanchoe. While the blooms are beautiful the consequences can be deadly.
- Garden Perennials – Charming Dieffenbachia, Christmas Rose, Flamingo Plant, Foxglove, Morning Glory, Nightshade.
- Lillies – Glory Lily. These are not only toxic to dogs, but cats as well.
- Shrubs – Cycads, Heavenly Bamboo, Holly, Jerusalem Cherry, Oleander, Precatory Bean, Rhododendron, Sago Palm, Yucca. Shrubs are one of the deadliest garden plants.
- Succulents – Aloe.
- Trees – Avocado, Buddist Pine, Chinaberry, Japanese Yew, Macadamia Nut, Madagascar Dragon, Schefflera.
- Vines – Branching Ivy, English Ivy, Glacier Ivy, Needlepoint Ivy. The foliage of vines is actually more toxic than the berries.
- Other Plants – American Bittersweet
While it is best to not have these toxic plants in your yard, at the very least they should be fenced in to keep your dog from getting to them.
Children and pets can be the best of friends. Of course there are certain safety precautions that need to be taken, particularly with pets and younger children. The following are tips for keeping children safe around pets.
- Do not allow your child to disturb the pet when he is eating.
- Teach your child to never take a toy or treat from your pet’s mouth. Unless the pet is willing to drop the toy, your child should leave the pet alone or have an adult retrieve the item.
- Do not sneak up on the pet. Pets caught by surprise may become jumpy and defensive, acting upon instinct. Teach your child to approach the pet with hands visible and a soothing, non-threatening voice.
- Teach your child to read the pet’s body language. Growling, baring teeth, and raised fur are all signs of a threatened or aggressive pet.
- Always supervise children under five years old when interacting with animals.
- Teach your child not to stare into a pet’s eyes. This may be seen as a challenge by the pet.
- Make sure your pet is properly socialized to be comfortable around other animals and a variety of people. This is best if done at a young age.
- Your pet should be well trained and respond to simple commands. Be sure to reward your pet during training with a healthy snack such as Wellness Wellbites®.
- Your child should not make startling or sudden movements around the pet.
- Practice gentle petting with your child. Make sure they understand that the pet should not be pinched, pulled or hurt in any way.
As we bundle ourselves up for these winter months it is important to remember our pets too! Some special precautions need to be taken to keep your pet safe from winter conditions. Here are 10 tips to keep your pet safe during this season:
* Watch the temperature. When the temperature outside falls below 20 degrees it is best to bring pets indoors. For short haired dogs, cats and young puppies or kittens it is best to bring them indoors when the temperature falls below 40 degrees.
* Make sure your pet’s outdoor water is not frozen. Remember, water freezes at 32 degrees and a frozen bowl of water will not do your pet much good.
* Check your car for nesting pets. The warm engines of parked cars attract pets seeking refuge from the cold. Before starting your car slap the hood to scare them away. Read the rest of this entry »
Dr. Edward Moser, a board certified veterinary nutritionist, weighs in on pet food nutrition.
Wondering if you should portion-feed your cat or just leave food out? Dr. Moser lends his insights
Free-choice feeding, sometimes referred to as “free-feeding,” typically refers to an owner making food available at all times to the cat, without time or portion constraints. If the cat chooses to eat only the amount of calories it needs per day and shows it by maintaining a lean body weight – this method is acceptable.
If an owner chooses to free-choice feed, but they notice their cat over-consumes, one way to avoid weight gain is to change their food from energy-dense diets, to high-fiber/low calorie formulas such as Healthy Weight or Indoor Health. The calories per cup would be less and cats would feel full, even though they haven’t consumed extra calories. (This is sometimes referred to as bulk-limiting.) Read the rest of this entry »
One of the trickier aspects of air travel is how to get our pets from point A to point B. There are many guidelines and restrictions when it comes to pet air travel that you will need to be aware of before planning your trip.
* Unless your pet’s carrier can fit under your seat they will need to be checked as cargo.
* Pets should be at least 8 weeks old and fully weaned.
* Sedating your pet is not recommended, as it may cause difficulty breathing at high altitudes.
* The travel crate must be large enough for your pet to lie down, turn around and stand comfortably.
* The door of the crate must be metal that is thick enough to prevent the animal from bending or distorting it.
* Mark the crate with the words “Live Animal” and “This Side Up” along with your name, address and phone number.
* Many airlines stop shipping pets as checked baggage during extreme hot or cold weather. However, many have special programs that allow you to ship pets as cargo during times of day when the temperature is more comfortable.
* Make your pet as comfortable as possible in the crate with a blanket or towel and toys.
* Do not feed your pet prior to air travel, as this may cause them to have an upset stomach during the flight.
* Give your pet frozen water or ice cubes that will melt slowly during the flight.
* Book a direct flight whenever possible to avoid your pet having to be handled more than necessary on the tarmac.
Keep in mind that not all airlines allow pets to travel in the cabin or as cargo. Each airline will have their own restrictions and policies regarding pet air travel. It is best to check the airline’s website for their policy regarding pet travel before booking your flight.
In general, we do not advocate frequent or excessive feeding of human snack food to your four-legged family menu. Typically, “people snacks” do not meet the pet’s nutritional needs, may unbalance a previously balanced diet and may have detrimental side effects. Individual animals can have food intolerances to specific ingredients or foods, just like their owners. Any food that is normally not included in a pet’s daily intake, or whose consumption amount varies considerably, could also cause gastrointestinal upset.
Here is a list of 5 items pet owners should be especially cautious of:
* Xylitol – This sweetener is used in sugar free chewing gums and candies, and is available in a powdered form for use in baking. In people, this five carbon sugar alcohol is used in diabetic dietetics and does not impact insulin levels. However, xylitol is a strong promoter of insulin release in dogs leading to hypoglycemia. Common presenting clinical signs in affected dogs include vomiting, weakness, ataxia, seizures, and collapse. In 2007 ACVIM Research Abstracts, Dr. Lyman and Dr. Bichsel discussed toxic effects seen with ingestion of 150 mg xylitol/ kg of body weight; consisting of hypoglycemia and hepatic failure. That is about 680 mg xylitol for a 10 pound dog. (A teaspoon of xylitol weighs about 5 grams) Read the rest of this entry »