4th of July Safety

Dog owners planning Fourth of July celebrations with fireworks: Don't let your pet suffer. The loud noises from professional displays and consumer fireworks can be especially troublesome for dogs, who can be sensitive to explosions. "There's a lot of concern about pets getting freaked out and sometimes getting so distressed that they'll run out of the yard, and you won't be able to find them," said Dr. Glynes Graham, from Patterson Dog and Cat Hospital in Detroit. "Find them a nice quiet place to stay." Dogs also can injure themselves while trying to get away from fireworks. The best option is to keep them at home, indoors. But Graham said veterinarians also can prescribe anti-anxiety drugs or recommend supplements or pheromone sprays. Phantom Fireworks, a consumer fireworks company, issued a news release also recommending that people try to soothe a dog by playing a TV or music loudly enough to drown out the fireworks explosions. Attempting to play with the animal to divert its attention also helps. The K-9 Calming Vest, Thunder Shirt and Anxiety Wrap are dog-clothing options that fit tightly to make the animal feel safe and secure, according to the news release.

9 most common bad kitty behaviors explained

9 Most Common Bad Kitty Behaviors Explained

Ever wonder why your kitty does those naughty things? Marci Koski is a Certified Feline Behavior Specialist from the Portland, Oregon area who works with owners of cats with behavioral issues to figure out which biological/emotional need is not being met, and then developing a plan to help meet the kitties needs, thus ending the inappropriate behavior. Koski explained the 9 most common inappropriate behaviors and cats. If your cat is doing one or more of these things, contact a local certified feline behaviorist to help you tackle the problem.

Why does my cat…

#1 – Not use the litterbox?

There are three primary reasons your kitty may be going outside of the litterbox. First, there may be a medical issue causing pain during urination, which your cat then associates with the litterbox, so be sure to get your cat examined by a veterinarian to make sure that he doesn’t have a urinary tract infection or other health issue. Second, a change in your cat’s environment may be causing stress – have you added another pet to your family, or have you moved?  Even small changes can cause stress. And third, your cat may be dissatisfied with his litterbox setup. Make sure that you have enough boxes that are big enough, and that you are using an

#2 – Bite/scratch me when I go to pet him?

Some cats are generally fearful of people, which may be the result of not being socialized enough as a kitten. Reaching out to a cat to pet him can be misinterpreted as a threat, and the cat will defend himself by biting or scratching. Alternatively, your cat might be accustomed to you playing with him using your hands (a big no-no!), and react with rough play. Additionally, some kitties have “petting-induced” aggression, where they have a lower tolerance for petting and physical contact. Make sure you pay attention to your cat’s body language so that you can avoid being bitten or scratched when interacting with your kitty!

#3 – Beat up other cats?

Feline members in a multi-cat family don’t always get along; there are a lot of reasons for inter-cat aggression, and they’re not always clear. Cats may not have been properly introduced to each other upon being brought into the home, in which case they can view each other as threatening. Competition over shared resources (such as food, water, toys, litterboxes, etc.) can also cause aggressive behavior in cats. Fear, changes in the environment, territory issues, and even medical conditions (or coming back from a visit to the vet) can all trigger aggression in cats that normally get along.

#4 – Spray (both male and female)?

Both male and female cats spray, and this can usually be greatly reduced (or stopped altogether) when a cat is spayed or neutered. However, cats can continue to spray, usually as the result of territory issues, or in an environment where the kitty is anxious or stressed. If your cat is spraying near doors or windows, he might be responding to the presence of an outdoor kitty that he perceives as “encroaching” on his territory, or new smells that enter the home through these entrances. Alternatively, if your cat sprays on significant household items (like your bed), your cat might be stressed or insecure about her relationship with you; it is thought that spraying can be a “self-soothing” measure that calms cats by intermingling her scent with yours.

#5 – Scratch my furniture?

All cats have the need to scratch! They do this to leave visual and scent marks on various surfaces, shed the outer surface of their claws and keep them maintained, and to stretch many muscles in the body. If your cat is scratching your furniture, it means that you have not provided her with an adequate scratching surface, which must be stable, large enough to accommodate stretching, and have a suitable scratching surface. Cardboard horizontal scratchers, larger scratchers covered in sisal rope, and carpeted cat trees are favorites, but try different things to see what your kitty prefers. And please don’t declaw – it’s really not a solution, because cats who are declawed are subject to a lot of pain, and can develop other behavioral issues!

 

#6 – Wake me up at 3 am for breakfast?

Has your cat trained you to give him food whenever he demands it? If your kitty is waking you up at 3 am because he wants something and then you give it to him, you are reinforcing his pesky habit! Your cat might be waking you up early because he didn’t get his energetic needs met the day before (did you play with him?  did he get any exercise?), or because he may be hungry (are you feeding him enough small meals throughout the day, and feeding him just before bedtime?). If you can get your kitty on a regular schedule of play and feeding, you can begin to adjust the time your cat wants you to get up and submit to his every whim!

#7 – Hide all the time?

Many cats are very shy, fearful, or have not been properly socialized. If your cat avoids interacting with your family, take a look at her environment – are there other pets who are bullying her? Is your cat scared of small children who may not know how to interact with kitties? Are there sudden noises that occur in your home, or perhaps something else that could startle or scare your kitty? If your cat is hiding because she is new to the home, try confining her to one room with everything she needs and spending time with her there. Bring her food and treats…a great way to start earning her trust!

#8 – Lick herself all the time, or overgroom?

Overgrooming can result in bald, irritated patches on your cat’s skin. If your cat seems to be licking herself all the time, take her to a veterinarian to be examined for allergies (fleas, food, or environmental allergies), or for other medical issues that could cause overgrooming. Stress and change can also cause overgrooming, which may be another “self-soothing” activity that cats perform. Has something in her environment changed? Moving, adding new family members, and other environmental changes can cause stress and result in overgrooming.

 

#9 – Constantly meow so loudly?

If your kitty starts yowling for long periods of time without stopping, this could be the sign of medical issues, particularly in older cats. Older cats meow in response to pain or being disoriented, so visit your veterinarian to see if either of these issues are possible reasons why your cat may be meowing excessively. Alternatively, your cat might be bored and begging for attention! Make sure you give your kitty plenty of play time and mental stimulation during the day.

 

 

 

 

Why Should I use a professional pet sitter

 

If work or travel will keep you away from your pets, you’ve likely considered various pet-care options, from asking for help from a family member or friend to securing the services of a professional pet sitter.

More and more pet owners are using the services of professional pet sitters to take advantage of the benefits in-home pet care provides:

Pets are happier and experience less stress at home.

Diet and exercise routines are uninterrupted.

Travel trauma for both owner and pet is eliminated.

Pet’s exposure to illness is minimized.

Untrained or unwilling friends/family/neighbors need not be called.

In-home professional pet care provides added peace of mind.

5 Questions You Need to Ask Before Hiring a Pet Sitter

Monday, March 4, 2013 at 5:43PM

There are many great options for pet care to keep your furry family members safe and happy while you are away. Many people choose in-home pet sitting, where a sitter cares for your pet in your own home. Selecting the best sitter for your pet’s needs is extremely important. Once you’ve found someone that you and your pet are fond of, there are a few questions you should ask during the interview process to help determine whether they will be the best fit for you and your family.

1.     Are you insured?

A professional pet sitter will always be insured. While having insurance does not guarantee that the pet sitter is a good fit for you, it’s a good start to your interview. A pet sitter who is insured not only covers your pet and your home in the event of an unforeseen incident, but also shows you that the pet sitter takes his or her business seriously.

2.     How much notice will you need for scheduling?

It is important to know how quickly your sitter will be booked and if he or she will be someone you can rely on for future trips. Likewise, a sitter that is always booked solid will have little time for unexpected situations that may require extra attention (e.g. a sick pet).

3.     How will my key(s) be treated?

The trust you put in your pet sitter with your home and pets is of the utmost importance. You should understand and be comfortable with the way your keys (and alarm code) will be handled.

4.     How can I ensure the accuracy of my schedule?

When you request a specific schedule, you need to be confident that your sitter has correctly added your visits to his or her calendar.  A professional pet sitter should always confirm your schedule in detail, in advance.

5.     Is there a plan in the case of emergency with my pet or home?

A professional, experienced pet sitter will have a plan in place for any situation that may arise, whether it is a sick pet, a flooded basement in your home, or even if the pet sitter himself or herself has a personal emergency that prevents him or her from visiting your pet during a scheduled visit. It is important to discuss these plans in advance so you can understand the kind of care your pet and home will receive, even in less-than-ideal-situations.

The relationship between you and your pet sitter should be rewarding and fulfilling for both you and your pet. Be sure to leave your interview with an equal dose of peace of mind and the warm fuzzies.

Benefits of Daily walks

Health Benefits Walking Provides Your Pet

Get Moving!
It is common knowledge that exercise is beneficial to human health. While you probably take your pet walking at least to relieve itself, you may have overlooked how beneficial exercise can also be to your pet’s health. Here are some health benefits you can provide to your pet by walking it regularly.

Helps Keep Pets Healthy
This one is a no-brainer. Exercise is good for us all. It provides many health benefits that include keeping your pet healthy, agile, and limber.

Helps with Weight Control

An overweight pet is not a healthy pet. In addition to regulating its diet, to keep your pet in tip-top shape, you should be doing your best to provide regular exercise as well.

Helps the Digestive System
Regular walks can be extremely beneficial to your pet’s digestive system, and they can aid in relieving constipation.

Helps reduce destructive Behavior
Regular walks, as well as other forms of exercise, can help reduce or eliminate any of your pet’s destructive chewing, digging, or scratching. Pets are like children: If you are not giving them something constructive to do, you may not like what they choose to do.

Helps reduce Hyperactivity
Walks can help to alleviate extra energy your pet may have, calming it down and reducing any hyperactivity, excitability, and even nighttime activity. A walk can help your pet to feel more relaxed and sleepy rather than restless at bedtime.

Helps reduce Unruliness
Behaviors such as knocking over furniture or jumping on people can be a sign of pent up energy. Regular walks will help curb this.

Helps reduce Attention-Seeking Behaviors
Barking and whining are just signs that your pet wants some attention from you. Regular walks together will help both of you to stay healthy and happy!

Separation Anxiety

EVERYONE NEEDS A LITTLE TIME ALONE NOW AND THEN— unless of course you are a dog who suffers from separation anxiety. Dogs with separation anxiety exhibit behavior problems when they’re left alone. Typically, they’ll have a dramatic anxiety response within a short time (20–45 minutes) after their owners leave them. The most common of these behaviors are:

Digging, chewing, and scratching at doors or windows in an attempt to escape and reunite with their owners

Howling, barking, and crying in an attempt to get their owners to return

Urination and defecation (even with housetrained dogs) as a result of distress Why Do Dogs Suffer from Separation Anxiety? We don’t fully understand why some dogs suffer from separation anxiety and, under similar circumstances, others don’t. It’s important to realize, however, that the destruction and house soiling that often occur with separation anxiety are not the dog’s attempt to punish or seek revenge on his owner for leaving him alone. In reality, they are part of a panic response.

Separation Anxiety Sometimes Occurs:

When a dog accustomed to constant human companionship is left alone for the first time

Following a long interval, such as a vacation, during which the owner and dog are constantly together

After a traumatic event (from the dog’s point of view), such as a period of time spent at a shelter or boarding kennel

After a change in the family’s routine or structure (such as a child leaving for college, a change in work schedule, a move to a new home, or a new pet or person in the home) How Do I Know If My Dog Has Separation Anxiety? Because there are many reasons for the behaviors associated with separation anxiety, it’s essential to correctly diagnose the reason for the behavior before proceeding with treatment. If most, or all, of the following statements are true about your dog, he may have a separation anxiety problem:

The behavior occurs exclusively or primarily when he’s left alone.

He follows you from room to room whenever you’re home.

He displays effusive, frantic greeting behaviors.

The behavior always occurs when he’s left alone, whether for a short or long period of time.

He reacts with excitement, depression, or anxiety to your preparations to leave the house.

He dislikes spending time outdoors by himself. What to Do If Your Dog Has Separation Anxiety For a minor separation anxiety problem, the following techniques may be helpful by themselves. For more severe problems, these techniques should be used along with the desensitization process described in the next section

Keep arrivals and departures low-key. For example, when you arrive home, ignore your dog for the first few minutes, then calmly pet him. This may be hard for you to do, but it’s important!

Leave your dog with an article of clothing that smells like you—such as an old t-shirt that you’ve slept in recently.

Establish a “safety cue”—a word or action that you use every time you leave that tells your dog you’ll be back. Dogs usually learn to associate certain cues with short absences by their owners. For example, when you take out the garbage, your dog knows you come right back and doesn’t become anxious. Therefore, it’s helpful to associate a safety cue with your short-duration absences. Some examples of safety cues are a playing radio, a playing television, or a toy (one that doesn’t have dangerous fillings and can’t be torn into pieces). Use your safety cue during practice sessions with your dog. Be sure to avoid presenting your dog with the safety cue when you leave for a period  of time longer than he can tolerate; if you do, the value of the safety cue will be lost. Leaving a radio on to provide company for your dog isn’t particularly useful by itself, but a playing radio may work if you’ve used it consistently as a safety cue in your practice sessions. If your dog engages in destructive chewing as part of his separation distress, offering him a chewing item as a safety cue is a good idea. Very hard rubber toys that can be stuffed with treats and Nylabone®-like products are good choices. Desensitization Techniques for More Severe Cases of Separation Anxiety The primary treatment for more severe cases of separation anxiety is a systematic process of getting your dog used to being alone. You must teach your dog to remain calm during “practice” departures and short absences. We recommend the following procedure:

Begin by engaging in your normal departure activities (getting your keys, putting on your coat), then sit back down. Repeat this step until your dog shows no distress in response to your activities.

Next, engage in your normal departure activities and go to the door and open it, then sit back down.

Next, step outside the door, leaving the door open, then return.

Finally, step outside, close the door, then immediately return. Slowly get your dog accustomed to being alone with the door closed between you for several seconds.

Proceed very gradually from step to step, repeating each step until your dog shows no signs of distress. The number of repetitions will vary depending on the severity of the problem. If at any time in this process your actions produce an anxiety response in your dog, you’ve proceeded too fast. Return to an earlier step in the process and practice this step until the dog shows no distress response, then proceed to the next step.

Once your dog is tolerating your being on the other side of the door for several seconds, begin short-duration absences. This step involves giving the dog a verbal cue (for example, “I’ll be back”), leaving, and then returning within a minute. Your return must be low-key: Either ignore your dog or greet him quietly and calmly. If he shows no signs of distress, repeat the exercise. If he appears anxious, wait until he relaxes to repeat the exercise. Gradually increase the length of time you’re gone.

Practice as many absences as possible that last less than 10 minutes. You can do many departures within one session if your dog relaxes sufficiently between departures. You should also scatter practice departures and short-duration absences throughout the day.

Once your dog can handle short absences (30–90 minutes), he’ll usually be able to handle longer intervals alone, and you won’t have to repeat this process every time you are planning a longer absence. The hard part is at the beginning, but the job gets easier as you go along. Nevertheless, you must go slowly at first. How long it takes to condition your dog to being alone depends on the severity of his problem. Teaching the Sit-Stay and Down-Stay Another technique for reducing separation anxiety in your dog is practicing the common “sit-stay” or “down-stay” training exercises using positive reinforcement. Your goal is to be able to move briefly out of your dog’s sight while he remains in the “stay” position and thereby teach your dog that he can remain calmly and happily in one place while you go to another. To do this, you gradually increase the distance you move away from your dog. As you progress, you can do this during the course of your normal daily activities. For example, if you’re watching television with your dog by your side and you get up for a snack, tell him to stay, and leave the room. When you come back, give him a treat or praise him quietly. Never punish your dog during these training sessions. Interim Solutions Because the treatments described above can take a while, and because a dog with separation anxiety can do serious damage to himself or your home in the interim, consider these suggestions to help you and your dog cope in the short term

Consult your veterinarian about the possibility of drug therapy. A good anti-anxiety drug should not sedate your dog, but simply reduce his anxiety while you’re gone. Such medication is a temporary measure and should be used in conjunction with behavior modification techniques.

Take your dog to a dog day care facility or boarding kennel.

Leave your dog with a friend, family member, or neighbor.

Take your dog to work with you, even for half a day, if possible. What Won’t Help a Separation Anxiety Problem

Punishing your dog. Punishment is not an effective way to treat separation anxiety. In fact, punishing your dog after you return home may actually increase his separation anxiety.

Getting another pet as a companion for your dog. This usually doesn’t help an anxious dog because his anxiety is the result of his separation from you, his person, not merely the result of being alone.

Crating your dog. Your dog will still engage in anxiety responses in the crate. He may urinate, defecate, howl, or even injure himself in an attempt to escape from the crate.

Leaving the radio on (unless the radio is used as a “safety cue,” as described above).

Training your dog. While formal training is always a good idea, it won’t directly help a separation anxiety problem. separation anxiety is not the result of disobedience or lack of training; it’s a panic response. Adapted from material originally developed by applied animal behaviorists at the Dumb Friends League, Denver, Colorado. ©2000 Dumb Friends League and ©2003 The HSUS. All rights reserved. This information provided for you by Promoting the Protection of All Animals