Fourth of July Pet Safety Tips

Fourth of July is a holiday full of pool parties, cook-outs, and fireworks. But many of these same things can be dangerous for our pets. Here are some tips to help keep your pets safe this holiday:

  • Leave your pets at home. The safest place for your pet is inside your home. Pets will be stressed by the noise of a backyard pool party or cookout. The large crowds and louder booms at firework displays can cause pets to panic and run away.
  • If you are hosting a party, remember that alcoholic beverages are poisonous to your pets. Make sure these drinks stay out of your pet’s reach.
  • Don’t give your dog scraps from the table during your cookout. Fatty meats are too rich for pets, corn on the cob could cause an intestinal blockage, and chocolate is poisonous to your pets.
  • Make sure your pet is wearing a collar with an identification tag on them so they can be returned if they happen to get out.
  • Fourth of July can mean hot temperatures outside. Make sure you pets aren’t left outside for extended periods of time or left waiting in a parked car.
  • Be aware of matches and lighter fluid as these can be dangerous to pets skin and cause severe illness if ingested.
  • Provide a safe space for your pets to stay during the fireworks. This safe spot could be a closet or a crate. Many pets have a favorite hiding spot that they go to for security. This is where your pet will want to be during the fireworks.
  • It sounds like a cute photo opportunity to adorn your pet in glow sticks or glow jewelry, but these items glow because they contain chemicals inside. If your pet chews up the glow stick, the chemicals inside will be harmful to your pet. You pet could also choke on the plastic pieces.
  • Be aware of matches and lighter fluid as these can be dangerous to pets skin and cause severe illness if ingested.
  • Never use fireworks or sparklers around your pets. Your pets may spook and run away in panic. Or your pet may be curious about them and get burned or ingest the hazardous pieces.
  • Keep your pet’s veterinarian number with you as well as the local after hours emergency animal clinic numbers. Contact your vet immediately if your pet exhibits unusual behavior.

Stop Your Dog from Jumping Up

In order to get your dog to stop this behavior you have to stop rewarding it. What do pet owners usually do when the dog jumps up? Usually they look at the dog and say something like “OK, Rover, OK, down, down, OK, good dog, go away now, enough, OK…” and may even pet the dog during the episode. All this attention is PURE REWARD to the dog, and only encourages the jumping up behavior. What needs to be done is the withdrawal of all attention. When the dog jumps up, quickly turn away from the dog, fold your arms, make no eye contact and say nothing. Once the dog has settled down THEN give it loads of attention and serious petting. The dog will need to learn this with every family member and everyone should act the same way to be consistent.

Once the dog learns that jumping up gets it NOTHING, the behavior should lessen or stop. Often the combined use of the sit command to refocus the dog’s attention is a great way to speed the whole process. As the dog is calming down, give the sit command and reward the dog for the good sit. This is especially good when you are on walks and the dog encounters a human it wants to greet. Just before it gets excited, give the sit command, then reward the dog with food, petting, toys, etc. Get the human to come down to the dog’s level and greet the dog that way. A dog that is busy sitting can’t jump up if it’s on a leash.

Summer Shedding

Summer heat means, your dogs and cats are shedding. While you might be annoyed at the extra hairball tumble weeds on your floor, remember that all that loose hair isn’t good for your pet. Dogs and cats require a minimum of weekly brushing year round, even if they are indoors. Long haired cats and dogs may require daily brushing.

The best products I’ve found to help me manage my dog and cats’ shedding are the Furminator products.

Furminator makes stainless steel blade brushes in many varieties to fit every coat length and type. The brushes are very effective at removing not only the top coat, but also the loose undercoat that can cause matting if left on your pet. The brush blades are well made and don’t scratch your pets skin or pull on their fur. I’ve found that brushing my dog and cats with the Furminator brush twice a week really controls my pets’ shedding.

Furminator also makes many waterless sprays that aid in the effectiveness of brushing.. I’m going to tell you my two favorites.

The first one is for cats. I’ve been using Furminator Hairball Prevention spray on my cats for years. It helps reduce shedding and prevents hairballs in cats without having to bathe them. The spray contains Omega 3 Fatty Acids and other natural ingredients that help keep my cats fur shiny and healthy looking.

The second spray is for dogs. I use Furminator detangling waterless spray. My Shih-Tzu has curly fur that gets easily tangled between grooming appointments. This spray is very effective in loosening the tangles, so I can brush through it without pulling his fur. Like the Hairball Prevention spray, the detangling spray is made with Omega 3 Fatty Acids and other natural ingredients to promote healthy fur.

Furminator products will help you keep the excess hair off your dogs and cats so they can enjoy the summer with you. Happy brushing!!

Dog Rearing: The Essentials

Attention, Exercise, and Mental Stimulation

Dogs need social interaction, physical exercise, and mental stimulation – just like children do – in order to grow up to be healthy and well adjusted.  When these needs are not met, many behaviour problems can develop. 

Attention:

How much daily social time does a dog need? A good rule of thumb is that a dog should spend at least half his waking hours each day interacting with other dogs and people.  Like humans, most dogs enjoy a mix of old friends and new encounters – so make sure your pup meets at least one new dog or person each day.   While dogs do need to learn to spend time alone, too much isolation will make them antisocial, anxious or depressed.  Allowing your dog regular access to his familiar doggie buddies as well as the chance to meet new dogs will increase the chances of him being socially content and well adjusted. 

Physical Exercise & Mental Stimulation:

Your dog’s brain and body BOTH need lots of exercise. Swimming, playing tug & fetch, and playing with other dogs are good brain AND body work-outs.  Walks on leash are not always physically exerting, but they do provide a lot of mental stimulation: all the outdoor smells, sights and sounds are very interesting!  Working on obedience skills requires lots of doggy concentration, and your dog will love the mental challenge of figuring out new things.   Make sure you exercise your dog’s brain AND body each day.

Pet sitting Guidelines

Find out the pet’s normal schedule and routine from the owner.  Follow it as closely as possible.  Pets are creatures of habit and their routine will comfort them while owner is away.

Find out about pet’s normal eating habits- do they scarf their food or do they graze on it all day?  This will be important for you to know if the pet is stressed while their owner is gone.  Not eating is a common symptom of separation anxiety in pets and needs to be monitored closely and taken to the vets when necessary.

Find out if the pet’s favorite spots in the house- cats might hide under the bed or in a closet while owner is away, dog might lay on a couch or bed that is forbidden when owners are home.

Make sure the owner leaves you phone numbers where they can be reached, an itinerary of their travel plans, and pet’s veterinarian number. Ask for written instructions for pets feeding and medication instructions so you have a reference sheet. Take notes as the pet owner explains their pets’ daily routines.

Remember even though the pets are in their own home, they will still be stressed to some degree while their owner is away.  Use common sense when it comes to caring for the pets and don’t expect them to behave for you the same way they do for their owner. 

Find out the owner’s weekly schedule- do they work from home or do they go to the office 5 days a week? A pet that is used to a person in the home all the time is going to be a lot more stressed, staying in the house alone.

Know if the pets have had pet sitters in the past or if this is the first time.  A pet that’s never been left before is more likely to stressed than a pet that is left on a regular basis.

Find out expectations from owner as to communications.  Some clients will want a call or text every day from the pet sitter, while others only expect a call if there is an emergency.