12.10.2014 | 10:45 am
‘Tis the season to be jolly – wrapping gifts, baking cookies, visiting family and having parties. It truly is the most wonderful time of the year, and yet, for pets, it can be confusing and oftentimes dangerous. This holiday season, give your pets an early gift: pet-proof the holidays to ensure your buddies stay safe and the holidays go off without a kink.
Tinsel, Glitter and A Trip to the Pet ER
Decorating the home has been a favorite pastime of families for years. Every year, the decorations that are annually packed away, are brought out again to illuminate the home with holiday cheer. As you’re decking the halls, keep in mind these tips for protecting pets from dangerous decor:
The Tree Itself – If your holiday plans inspire the putting up of a lighted tree within your home, take every precaution to ensure pets aren’t lured into this dangerous fixture. Cats may try to climb the tree, and dogs may knock it over trying to grab an ornamental bird from its high branches. If possible, put your tree in a room that doesn’t have pet access, and keep the doors closed. Also remember that the tree stand will hold water, and this too is an attraction to pets. They won’t realize they are creating a fire hazard by removing the tree’s water source and also possibly poisoning themselves with toxic preservatives in the tree.
Ornaments, Tinsel, Holly and Mistletoe – Tinsel, and glitter, and holly, oh my! Shiny, pretty objects hanging from trees, wreaths, mantles and more – your pets won’t understand that these are not new toys. Ornaments and tinsel can present a choking hazard, and holly and mistletoe are poisonous to pets. Make every effort to keep holiday decorations out of pets’ reach, and avoid a quick trip to the vet over the holidays.
Christmas Lights and Other Electrical Dangers – We’ve all seen the scene in Christmas Vacation where an unfortunate cat chews through a strand of lights on the tree and becomes, in the words of Cousin Eddie, ‘Fried Kitty.’ While this movie obviously takes a more lighthearted look at the scenario, there’s no joke involved when it comes to the possibility of your pet suffering a similar fate. Ensure all electrical outlets are properly protected, and keep all lights out of reach. Also remember that the animated Santa in your yard that belts out ‘Ho Ho Ho’ whenever anyone comes near – could be an attraction to your protective canine roommates. Be sure to supervise your dog if you have an outdoor display.
Candies, Cookies and Other Hazards of the Holiday Table
The holidays are marked by the delicious smells that permeate the kitchen air, like fresh gingerbread cookies, a pot of steaming hot chocolate, pecans roasting, or homemade candies. These smells will bring the pets closer to the action, so it’s important to remember a few tips regarding your favorite holiday treats:
Nuts and Berries – Cherries can cause a dangerous heart rate increase, shock, and even death in pets, and plums can cause vomiting and diarrhea (not exactly the dance of the Sugar Plum fairy). Many nut dishes are set out over the holidays, and their contents are also dangerous for pets, causing gastrointestinal upset, lameness, tremors, and even liver failure.
Anything Chocolate – Of course you’ve heard about the dangers of chocolate for dogs, and the abundance of its presence in holiday recipes should be enough to steer Fido clear out of the kitchen until January. Chocolate poisoning can cause vomiting, diarrhea, increased body temperature and reflex responses, rapid breathing, increased heart rate, seizures, and worse, including cardiac failure and coma. The three most dangerous kinds of chocolate? Milk Chocolate, Semi-Sweet Chocolate and Baking Chocolate.
Santa Claus and Other Unusual Guests in the Home
Be it Mr. Claus himself or other holiday guests, an abundance of unfamiliar visitors can make even the calmest mutts restless or uneasy. Here are a few tips to combat holiday house guest hazards and keep your pets safe from harm:
Closed Door Policy – One of the main reasons pets go missing during the holidays is because they slip out of the house unnoticed during holiday bustle and tussle. When guests are in the home, make sure that everyone understands the ‘closed door policy,’ which includes closing all doors behind you and making sure that no pet has escaped during your exit. It’s also a good idea to expand that rule to include all interior doors as well, to prevent curious pets from nosing through Great Aunt Mildred’s suitcase.
Inform Guests of Any Need-to-Knows – It’s important to notify your guests ahead of time if your pets have any medical condition, food restrictions, or behavioral issues. If Rex is on a grain-free diet, make sure no one is slipping him scraps under the table. Does your cat Mr. Snuffins really (and I mean really) hate being petted by anyone he doesn’t know? That’s a good thing to tell your guests. Avoid any unhappy family members (pets or people) and give everyone the lay of the land as soon as they arrive.
Keep the Routine – As much as possible during the holidays, keep your pet’s usual routine. If your dog takes a walk every day at 4, try to stick to that schedule. If your cats are used to dinner every evening at 7, try to keep feeding to a similar time. It’s easier for pets to adjust to the excitement of holiday festivities if their routine stays as normal as possible for the essentials.
May your holidays be merry and bright, and even more, safe for your entire family. Stick to these tips for a pet-proof holiday season.
11.17.2014 | 10:41 am
Q: What are the best vegetables to feed my pet as a treat?
Green beans, spinach, carrots and pumpkin have vitamins and minerals as well as other beneficial nutrients for pets. We recommend using vegetables only as a treat fed along with a balanced diet of Holistic Select dry or canned foods. It’s important to wash the vegetables thoroughly and cut into small bite-size pieces. While they can be fed raw, boiled, grilled or baked, just be sure to cool them before feeding. Use unseasoned veggies as certain herbs can be harmful to pets. All Holistic Select dry recipes contain vegetables, such as the Holistic Select Weight Management Chicken Meal & Peas dry dog food which contains peas, carrots and pumpkin, for a healthy, balanced meal.
11.13.2014 | 11:28 am
Fall is a beautiful time of year; the cooler weather is ideal for outdoor walks, visiting parks and getting exercise with your pets. November kicks off both the holiday season and many pet-related events around the U.S. from fun classes, to wellness and educational outreach programs, to festive photo ops.
Ways to Give Thanks to Pets
Another thing that comes along with November is Thanksgiving which, in addition to being time for the greatest meal of the year, is a time for giving thanks. One thing pet owners are certainly grateful for are their furry best friends. Rather than pretending not to notice when Garfield and Odie make a break for it with the turkey leftovers, demonstrate a thankful attitude by participating in one of the many fun pet-friendly events taking place in your community and around the U.S.
- Pet Expo: From Ft. Lauderdale, to Atlanta, to Tucson, November is practically pet-expo month. For those who have never been to pet expos, pet expos are fun, exciting, pet-oriented events with booths, information, demonstrations, and more for pet owners and pet lovers. There are free samples, gift bags, silent auctions and even pet massages at these events.
- Pet Walks: Pet walks are fun, athletic events that get you and your pet outdoors for fresh air and fitness. Cost of participation is usually minimal, and the fees generally go toward charitable causes. In addition to the walk, there are often events, vendors, booths, and other exciting activities for you to explore after the walk.
- Holiday Photo Ops: Nobody understands that your pets are your babies better than fellow pet parents, which is why many cities across the U.S. organize pet photo ops with Santa Claus. Adorn your pet with a red cap and let him sit on Santa’s knee and tell Santa what kind of treat he wants in his stocking; get a photo to commemorate the occasion and make it your annual holiday card. Check your town for times and dates for pet photos ops. Most will have separate times designated for dog and cat owners.
- Educational Outreach: Did you know that November is Pet Diabetes Month? Some pet care professionals are taking extra steps to make this and other information widely known. For example, did you know that pets are just as receptive to the healing power of massage as humans are? Healing Touch for Animals has seminars throughout the year all over the U.S. and Canada.
Another fun November event for you and your best bud are Canine Crime Scene Investigation classes where you can solve your own mysteries while your dog learns new tricks. There are several different programs and offerings, so go online to check your local pet calendar to see what is going on in or near your community.
Livelihood of the Traveling Pets
Needless to say, many of the “big” pet events like Healing Touch, Canine Crime Scene Investigation, and pet expos take place in major cities, so if you’re already planning to travel to visit family for the holidays, bring Fido and Fluffy along for the ride and stop off at a fun pet event on the way there or back (it will be much-needed stress relief for both of you!).
If you are going to take your pet on the road, whether it is for a fun event or just to visit family for the holidays, make sure you obey a few pet travel tips:
- Keep Pets Warm: If you’re going to travel somewhere where it might snow or somewhere that’s much colder than your pet is used to, make sure to bring adequate pet-wear, blankets and pet beds for your buddy.
- Pet Identification: Whether you’re just hitting the road or going to an expo or a pet walk, make sure your pet has proper identification; it should be updated and securely fastened to your pet’s collar.
- Study Up on Leash Laws: Different cities, towns and communities have different leash laws, so even if you’re popping one town over for a photo with Santa, make sure you’re aware of what’s expected of you as a pet parent.
- Know Where You Can Get Help: You know where 10 different vet clinics (and the pet ER) are in your hometown, but what about in your in-law’s hometown or in the town you’ll be spending the weekend for the pet expo? Though you’ll hopefully have a fun, safe trip, find out where at least one or two clinics and the local animal ER are located.
- Car Riding 101: Pets are a lot like toddlers especially in the car; when they have to go potty, you pull over. When you do pull over, you have to make sure you stay close to prevent them from running away and getting lost. Also, don’t leave your pet alone in the car which can quickly reach dangerous hot or cold temperatures.
- Pet Accessories: Make a checklist before you hit the road; make sure you have your pet’s leash, carrier, medications, bug repellents, etc.
No matter what adventure you pursue, do something to show your pet how thankful you are for the joy they bring to your life, and they’ll be sure to thank you in return.
10.10.2014 | 03:35 pm
Q: My dog is epileptic. Is there a diet that will keep him healthy?
A: Epilepsy is congenital disorder and a dog’s diet generally does not play a role. Although rare, there are dogs that will experience an epileptic seizure as a result of allergies or food sensitivities. If you and your veterinarian determine that this may be a potential cause of your dog’s epilepsy, you can try the Holistic Select Anchovy & Sardine, Salmon Meals recipe which can be less likely to cause reactions in food-sensitive dogs.
A slow transition is important when switching to any new diet. Give the new diet at least 2 months trial, as it may take time for allergens to completely clear your dog’s system. You must use caution when treating food sensitivities, as something as small as a treat or human food may set off a reaction with your dog. Many medications such as chewable heartworm preventatives may contain meat flavors that should also be avoided. We recommend that you discuss any diet changes with your veterinarian.
08.26.2014 | 09:41 am
Q. My dog needs to lose 4 lbs. She is a miniature Pinscher Dachshund and she weighs 14 lbs and is just beginning to have a little tummy. I feed her 1/2 cup of kibble morning and 1/2 cup at night but she is not losing weight. I can’t get her to run and chase a ball but I do take her to the park and walk her. Do you have any suggestions for how to encourage weight loss?
Sorry to hear that your pet is overweight. It’s a common problem that can lead to more serious issues, so I congratulate you on recognizing the problem and making an effort to resolve it. As long as you have had your pet’s annual checkup and your veterinarian has indicated that excess weight and a reluctance to exercise are the only issues, we can focus on getting the weight off. Exercise is important for losing weight and keeping it off. Choose a type of exercise that your pet can tolerate every day. Regular exercise conditions the muscles, lungs and heart, and burns calories. As the weight comes off and your dog’s body condition improves, you can increase the intensity or length of the exercise.
Diet is also a factor to consider. Feeding pets more calories than they need is a common problem. Many feed to satisfy the pet’s appetite and not to just maintain a slightly lean body mass. It is difficult when you know that your pet is asking for more but it is essential to feed only enough to satisfy the caloric needs of the pet.
Holistic Select Weight Management Chicken Meal & Peas Recipe is designed to help reduce calorie intake and at the same time help satisfy appetite. In addition, there are supplements like glucosamine and Omega 3 fatty acids that can help reduce the discomfort associated with arthritis, which is common in overweight pets.
You have already began an essential part of getting weight off. You have set a goal for the amount of weight loss needed and you know the starting weight of your pet. Begin with what the feeding guide on the bag recommends for a 10 pound dog and weigh your dog weekly. We recommend losing approximately 2% body weight per week. In your dog’s case that would be approximately 4 ounces. That means it could take you up to 16 weeks for your dog to lose 4 pounds.
If the pet is not losing enough you must reduce the amount of food even more. If she is losing too much weight too quickly you must increase the amount fed. The ideal portion size varies from pet to pet.
07.17.2014 | 01:02 pm
Q. We have a 14 mo. old Black Lab mix (we think Coon Hound). He barks quite a lot for no apparent reason–not all day, but a lot. Any suggestions?
Every dog will bark to some degree. Some hound breeds bark more than others. Excessive barking is certainly annoying and should be controlled. The first step is to determine what has caused the dog to bark and then work to reduce the urge to bark. Protection of territory, fear, alarm, boredom, play, attention seeking, and other reasons can trigger a barking episode. It often takes a good deal of time to solve a barking issue so don’t give up. Shouting can encourage barking so speak calmly. Try saying “quiet” in a soft manner and when the dog responds, reward him with praise and maybe a treat. There are often local pet training classes that you could seek for help as well.