Friday, January 30, 2015

What Signals is Your Kitty’s Tail Giving You?

Tail standing straight up and quivering

If you’ve spent much time watching your cat, you’ve seen it – a tail that stands straight up and quivers. This is a sign your feline is feeling fine and experiencing anticipation, pleasure, or excitement. You may notice this when he’s caught a mouse, or hears the familiar sound of the can opener humming, meaning dinner’s on the way.

Straight up tail

A cat who’s feeling confident, comfortable, and content holds his tail high and straight.

Tall tail with a question mark

You may notice your cat’s tail standing tall with a slight curve on the end, like a question mark. This means your cat is feeling playful and ready for human interaction and communication – one of the reasons why kitties make such great pets.  

Tail tucked underneath

When your cat sees or hears something alarming or frightening, he may begin acting strange or automatically try to make himself look smaller. This usually means he tucks his tail, literally, between his legs.

Puffy tail

When your cat is frightened, she will puff up her tail, sometimes to three times its usual size, which can be impressive if it’s a long-haired breed! Often this is accompanied by an arched back and extended ears – the stance cats of all sizes take to appear larger to a potential attacker.

Tail low to the ground

Cats feeling threatened by something in their environment may place their tails low to the ground. If you notice your cat looking wary with its tail in this position, understand the behavior may quickly progress from uncertainty to aggression.

Tail lashing rapidly back and forth

If you see your cat’s tail whipping back and forth or thumping the floor, it’s a sure sign of irritation. Recognize this stance as a warning – before he lashes out – that your sweet kitty may be preparing to take on whatever is getting on his nerves.

Tail gently swishing from side to side

This move shows how focused cats can be as they wait for just the right moment to pounce! The prey they’re intent upon is something they find tantalizing, like a bird through the window or their favorite catnip-stuffed toy… before curling up for a nap, of course.

Cats are mysterious, adorable creatures. Once you learn to recognize their silent signals, you’ll find yourself understanding your furry feline on a deeper level, and be able to better anticipate her temperament, emotions, and needs.

Source:  Healthy Pet Newsletter by Dr. Karen Becker, DVM

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Indoor Exercises: Keep Your Dog Active in the Winter!

Indoor Dog Activities

If you don't feel comfortable taking your furbaby outside during these cold months, there are few other ways to get their blood and brain pumping to burn off some energy! We decided to get a few ideas together for you so that your dog can still get some exercise inside of the house!

When you’re stuck inside and your dog’s bouncing off the walls, try exercising her brain!

1. Obedience and Trick Training:
In addition to teaching your dog basic obedience skills, like sit, down, and come, take this extra time together to work on some advanced cues, like stay and speak. Once you've mastered those, start working on some cool new tricks, like roll over, sit pretty, or high-five. Not only will you strengthen your bond and communication skills with your dog, you’ll have some great fun showing off what you've taught – and your dog will LOVE being rewarded for learning new behaviors.
Some people prefer using dog training books for quick and easy reference, while others prefer the visual aid of training DVDs. Whatever your preference, just give it a shot – you’ll be amazed at what you and your dog can learn together.

TIP: When training your dog, keep sessions short – about 15 to 20 minutes – and always end on a positive note. If your dog hasn't quite grasped the latest trick or cue, go back to one he knows well and end your session on a successful execution of the trick. This will keep him excited for training and looking forward to the next session.

2. Brain Games and Dog Puzzles
Indoor Dog ActivitiesDid you know there are tons of puzzles and games especially for dogs? From simple treat dispensing toys that require interaction by your pup, to elaborate puzzle games that force your dog to problem solve, dog puzzles are an excellent was to exercise your dog indoors! (research has shown that just a few minutes of mental exercise is far more exhausting to your dog than that same amount of time spent doing something physical!)
Remember to start off with simple puzzles and let your dog master those before stepping up to the more difficult, advanced puzzles – you don’t want your dog to get frustrated and lose interest!

3. Scent Games and Hide ‘n Seek
Scent games and hide and seek are excellent indoor activities that not only expend energy, but build confidence as well! Here’s how to play:

With your dog watching you, toss a few small, soft and meaty dog treats onto the floor. Just as your dog runs to eat them, say “go find it!” After a few tosses, start placing the treats inside boxes, in corners, or on low shelves (nothing above your dog’s nose level) and always use the “go find it” cue when he goes to get them.
Indoor Dog Activities

Once he’s got the hang of it, try putting your dog in another room while you hide the treats. At first, use the same locations that you’ve already put treats to guarantee success in finding them. Then, allow your dog back into the room and say “go find it!” and watch him go to work searching for his tasty rewards. If your dog has trouble finding your hides, either stand in the vicinity or toss some additional treats in that direction to give him a boost. Eventually his nose will take over and lead him around the room to find the hidden treats on his own.

If you really want to thrill your dog, hide a big meaty bone or long-lasting chew treat from him to first find and then enjoy!

TIP: If treats don’t excite your dog, scent games and hide and seek can also be played with a favorite toy. Or, you can even hide yourself and let your furriest friend come find you!

4. Tug-o-War

A good game of tug doesn't take up a lot of room, but it DOES use up a lot of physical energy!
Indoor Dog Activities
Look for tug toys that are durable enough to stand up to rigorous pulling and long enough that you can safely hold onto one while your dog pulls on the other. 

5. Build an Indoor Obstacle/Agility Course

Being stuck inside doesn’t have to be boring! You can still practice agility exercises from the comfort of the living room using portable agility equipment. Look for tunnels that pop up when you’re ready to use them, but can be flattened to store in a closet or under the bed, or look for free-standing weave poles that don’t need to be anchored into the ground.

Of course, you can always build your own indoor obstacle course using chairs, tables, and couch cushions! Have fun getting on all fours and doing the course along with your dog – he’ll love it!

6. Doggy Treadmill
If getting rigorous physical exercise indoors is an absolute must for your dog’s physical and mental well-being, consider a doggy treadmill. These treadmills are especially designed for dogs and offer safety and security features not found on a standard human’s treadmill.

You see, bad weather doesn’t have to mean your dog will be bored or won’t get any exercise. With these fun bad weather boredom busters, you might even start looking forward to those rainy, snowy, or sweltering hot days!

For some more ideas, go here!

For some specific product ideas, check out this collection of our favorite indoor activities and brain games for dogs!

SOURCE:  Dogington Post

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Volunteers always needed!

Shelters and rescues are amazing! They help untold numbers of animals and people, usually with limited resources and very little publicity. Do you want to give back to the these unsung heroes and organizations who contribute so much to your community? Try one—or all—of the following ten ways to help shelters and rescue groups. Don't be surprised if you end up feeling good and having fun.

1. Share your love
Tell the world how you feel about your local shelter or rescue by using The Humane Society of the United States' Facebook share graphics.

2. Get to know your local shelters and rescue groups
Start the process by locating all of the ones in your area. You may be surprised how many groups nearby are helping animals.

3. Learn before you leap
Before you adopt, go to the Shelter Pet Project to learn what to expect when adopting a pet. You'll be much less likely to become frustrated and return your new pet if you understand the challenges and rewards of adopting a pet beforehand.

4. Say "thanks!"
Take a minute to express your gratitude to the people who work at your local shelter or rescue groups. If you've adopted a pet from one of them, show how well your pet is doing by sharing an updated picture via a letter, email, or posting it on the organization's Facebook page or website.

5. Get crafty
Combine fabric, yarn, recyclables, and imagination to bring much-needed fun into the lives of local shelter and rescue pets. There's no end to the toys you can make. Try braiding strips of fleece into fun for dogs, or cutting and folding a surprising household object into a cat distraction.

Are you a born match-maker? Create attention-grabbing "Adopt-Me" vests to spotlight available pets at adoption events held by shelters and rescues. We’ve found DIY options forthose of us who avoid sewing as well as sewing-machine wizards.

6. Become a fan
"Like" the Shelter Pet Project on Facebook. Then, if possible, "like" the individual groups in your community, too.

7. Make wishes come true
Shelters and rescue groups always need towels, toys, and other supplies. Check their websites for wish lists or call them to find out what's in short supply.

8. Volunteer
Even if you can’t adopt a pet just now, you can help make life better for homeless animals by volunteering with your local shelter or rescue organization. Do you have experience as a carpenter or electrician? Are you a marketing or dog-walking whiz? All of these skills are valuable!

9. Help at your own home
Make the jobs of shelters and rescues easier: Outfit your cats and dogs with collars and proper ID (a microchip and ID tags) at all times. As soon as you bring them into your family, have all of your pets spayed or neutered. Keep your cats indoors, where you can keep them safe (though it's great to take them on walks if they are comfortable on a harness and leash), and keep dogs on leashes when off your property.

10. Help your shelter make positive changes
If you see or hear anything at your local shelter that concerns you, follow The HSUS's guidelinesfor addressing that concern in the most effective way.

Source: Humane Society of the United States

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

8 Quick Tips for Treating Minor Pet Injuries and Illnesses

Just like two-legged members of the family, sometimes pets have little accidents around the house, yard, or neighborhood. When a dog or cat acquires a minor injury, many pet owners don’t realize there may be a quick fix as close as the kitchen or bathroom cabinet.

 8 Quick Tips for Treating Minor Pet Injuries and Illnesses
  1. Problem: Nail injury. Dogs and cats can slice up their nails in a variety of ways – everything from a too-close nail trim that nicks the quick, to running outdoors over sharp rocks.
  2. Solution: Styptic powder. If you don’t have styptic powder on hand, for minor bleeding grab either cornstarch or flour from your kitchen, pour some into a small bowl, and dip the injured paw into the powder to stop the bleeding.
  3. Problem: Bee sting. Most bee stings occur on a paw or the face. Not only are bee stings painful, but your pet could also have an allergic reaction.
  4. Solution: Credit card and quercetin. If you need to remove the bee’s stinger, don’t use tweezers. Use a credit card from your wallet to scrape away the stinger – just make sure the venom sac comes out with it. If your pet has a mild allergic reaction to a bee sting, offer quercetin (I call it “nature’s Benadryl) if you have it, or real Benadryl if you don’t. Serious allergic reactions require an immediate visit to your veterinarian or the closest emergency veterinary clinic.
  5. Problem: Indiscriminate eating. If your pet has very recently ingested something she shouldn’t, for example, antifreeze or another toxin, you may need to induce vomiting. Always call your vet or an animal poison control hotline if you suspect your pet has swallowed a poison.
  6. Solution: Hydrogen peroxide. I'm talking about 3% hydrogen peroxide – the kind you purchase at any pharmacy. The dose is one teaspoon for every 10 pounds of body weight. Hydrogen peroxide typically induces vomiting within 15 minutes. If your pet doesn't vomit within that time, you can give her a second dose, but if another 15 minutes passes and she still hasn't vomited, it's time to call your veterinarian.
  7. Problem: Cuts and scrapes. Many pets manage to acquire minor cuts and scrapes while running around the backyard or out for a walk.
  8. Solution: Contact lens saline solution. You can clean dirt and debris from your pet’s minor wound with regular human contact lens saline solution. You can also use it to flush out dirt, sand or other irritants from your pet’s eye.
  9. Problem: Dangerously low blood sugar in a diabetic pet. If your pet has diabetes mellitus, you’ll want to do everything possible to prevent ahypoglycemia attack that can lead to a diabetic coma.
  10. Solution: Honey. As soon as you see your pet’s lips start to quiver or his body start to shake, you need grab the honey and rub a little on his gums. Make sure to use honey, not corn syrup, which can contain genetically modified and/or allergenic ingredients.
  11. Problem: Thunderstorm phobia. Many pets, especially dogs, fear thunderstorms. But it’s not just the thunder and lightning that makes your dog anxious, it’s also the static electricity that can accumulate in her coat, giving her little electric zaps that are unnerving.
  12. Solution: A steamy room. Pets with thunderstorm phobia often feel more comfortable in a steamy/humid space that removes static from their coat, so try putting your dog (or cat) in the bathroom while running hot water in the shower. Alternatively, you can rub your pet’s coat with a non-toxic dryer sheet for the same effect. Many dryer sheets are loaded with chemicals that shouldn’t remain on the fur, so make sure you’re using chemical free dryer sheets.
  13. Problem: Constipation, diarrhea, hairballs, and other minor digestive issues. Most pets at one time or another experience GI issues that last for a few days and disappear.
  14. Solution: Canned pumpkin. It’s a good idea to keep a can of 100% pumpkin in your kitchen cabinet for occasional mild tummy upsets. Give a teaspoon of pumpkin for every 10 pounds of body weight, one to two times a day, either in food or as a treat. Pumpkin is rich in soluble fiber that can ease both diarrhea and constipation.
  15. Problem: An injured pet that might bite. If your pet is sick or injured, it’s important to protect yourself and anyone else who is handling or caring for him. Even the most passive, gentle pet can bite in response to fear or pain.
  16. Solution: A homemade muzzle. Most owners of easy-going pets don’t even own a muzzle, so if you ever find it necessary to prevent your dog (or even your cat) from biting out of fear or pain, you can quickly improvise a muzzle from a pair of hose or tights, a man’s tie, or any available strip of cloth. The make-shift muzzle is lightly looped over your pet’s nose and mouth, then crossed under the chin, and tied behind the ears.

In most cases of even a minor pet injury or illness, after applying a home remedy, it’s still a good idea to follow up with your veterinarian to insure your dog or cat is receiving appropriate care. Chances are you won’t need an appointment, but your vet may want to note the information in your pet’s chart for follow up at your next regularly scheduled visit.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Choosing a Doggy Door

Are you considering a ‘doggy door’ for your canine?

The ideal doggy door is sized to fit the standard height of your full grown dog when measured from the top of the shoulders and the width at the chest.

Consider ideal features that include an easy-closing magnetic strip.  For added security, use an electronically activated ‘key system’ that not only keeps out unwanted guests, but can also improve energy efficiency.

The doggy door should only give your pet access to an enclosed outdoor area, such as a porch or fenced in yard.

Remember to monitor the door carefully and know that they are not completely safe using the door when you are not home!