Archive for November, 2013

Top Traits to Look For In Your Vet

One of the important things you need to think about when you purchase or adopt a pet is choosing a veterinarian. Making sure to select the right veterinarian is vital to your pet’s health. Of course, you’ll want a vet that offers the best pet care possible.

What to look for in a vet?

You need to get familiar with the veterinarians in your local area, and the services they offer and/or specialize in. Veterinarians are evaluated on the quality of their staff, facility, equipment and animal care. You may also want to ask local family and friends for recommendations. They may also be able to offer good tips on traits to look for in your vet.

Which Veterinarian is right for my pet?

Here are some tips for helping you choose the best local vet for your furry family member:

  • Make your first vet appointment without your pet. That way, you can speak with the veterinarian, meet the staff and get a good feel for what they have to offer.
  • Look around at the facilities and check to see whether it’s clean, organized and modern or not.
  • Be sure to ask how many pet care specialists are on staff, as some offices may share duties.
  • Ask any and all questions that come to mind. Your pet is a member of your family. So, do not be shy!

Note: Communication with your vet is essential to health of your pet.

Questions to Ask your Veterinarian

Here are some questions that you should ask your vet upon your first visit to the pet care facility:

  • Are you AAHA-accredited?
  • How does your facility handle overnight patients?
  • What protocols do you have in place for patients that need anesthesia before surgery?
  • What is your protocol for patient pain management?
  • Do you refer your patients to specialists when needed?
  • Are your technicians licensed in your state?
  • What different kinds of medical pet care equipment does your facility use?

Can I switch veterinarians?

You have the final choice when it comes to who provides your pet’s medical care and treatment. Because you love your pet, getting the highest quality pet care possible is a goal of yours.

So, if you ever have problems or feel that you are not getting the proper care for your animal, remember that you have the right to change veterinarians. What you look for and how you choose a veterinarian is your decision. No one else has the right to make that decision but you. If you do choose to leave your current vet, make sure to get a copy of all of your pet’s medical records to take to the new vet.

It’s very important to choose your veterinarian early-on, in case of an emergency. You also want to get your pet acquainted with the new veterinarian as soon as possible. Health care for your pet is important for him/her. Your furry friend is a significant part of your family. So, make sure you know what to look for in a vet so you can make an educated decision about your pet’s health care.

With Christmas just around the corner it’s time to think about holiday gifts for your dog and for the dog lovers in your life. Whether your dog has been naughty or nice, Santa likes to visit every single puppy and dog in December! And, really, aren’t all dogs good at heart?

Here’s a look at some of the gifts that will be at the top of your doggy’s wish list this year.

No matter what your budget is, you can find some great holiday gifts for your pet this year.

Under $10: Look for delicious organic treats for your dog. This price range should allow you to buy a nice bag or box of terrific treats made with the very best ingredients. Check online or at your local pet store. Your dog will love them! There are lots of good brands. You can also give your dog favorites like Nylabones, Kongs, squeaky toys, and rope toys. What dog doesn’t love toys and chews?

Under $25: Look for a stocking filled with toys and treats. Zanies has a great holiday toy stocking filled with squeaky balls, rope toys, and more, but other manufacturers also offer terrific holiday stockings, too. These toys and treats can keep your pup entertained for days.

Under $50: Look for a warm, cozy dog bed for your favorite four-legged friend. Many companies make excellent dog beds around this price. Features to look for include good stuffing or memory foam for older dogs and washable covers. You can also buy heated dog beds.

Under $100: Crates and pet carriers. You can purchase your dog a terrific crate or pet carrier in this price range. Crates and carriers are great for traveling with your dog in your vehicle or if you are flying with your dog. Large dogs can also use a crate in the home as a place to nap.

There are plenty of other gifts that are good for your dog at any time such as a new collar and leash, a harness, new dinner bowls, and other things you and your dog need on a regular basis. It’s always nice to spruce up your dog’s belongings and have something new.

If you are looking for a gift for a dog lover, there are plenty of great gifts to consider. Most dog lovers enjoy mugs with a picture of their favorite breed or calendars featuring dogs. Consider having a T-shirt or sweatshirt made with a picture of your friend’s dog on the front. If you’re looking for something for yourself, consider a vacuum cleaner that picks up dog hair. That’s something that most dog owners can use! Also new this year is Bake-A-Bone, a kitchen appliance that lets you make cookies right on your kitchen counter. Simply mix the cookie batter and pour it into the cookie cut-outs in the appliance to cook. Voila! Dog cookies in any flavor your dog likes.

Don’t forget those less fortunate this holiday season. You can always make a donation to your local shelter – either monetary or by donating things they need. Local shelters often need blankets and dog food

Winterize Your Dog!

Now that cold weather is here, it’s time to think about preparing your dog for the snow, mud, and cold winds ahead. Afterall, you probably get your home and car ready for winter. Doesn’t your dog deserve the same care?

Preparing for cold and bad weather

One of the first things you’ll notice as winter approaches is that your dog may be shedding a lot more. This is especially true with double-coated breeds. This might seem counter-intuitive. Don’t dogs need more hair in the winter? Right, but before your dog can grow a thick new winter coat, he has to shed out his old hair. You can help the process by brushing your dog more in the fall and winter months. This will help remove the dead hair and help the new coat grow in healthy and lovely. It also stimulates the skin and keeps it healthy. Plus, brushing your dog when he’s shedding can prevent all that dead hair from flying all over your house. So, definitely add more brushing to your list of things to help winterize your dog.

The heat is on

Once the weather is colder and you start using the heat in your house, it can really take the moisture out of the air. Many of us feel this when we have dry skin in the winter. Dogs have the same problem. Lots of dogs have dry, itchy skin in the winter because of the dry air in houses. You can add a humidifier to your home if you want to put more moisture back in the air. This can help both you and your dog. You can also add vitamin E or fish oil gel tablets to your dog’s meals. Fish oil is a great source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids which are very beneficial for your dog’s skin and coat. Many dog foods also feature added omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for improved skin and coat condition. Lots of people see their dogs itching and scratching in the winter and assume that their dogs have allergies when the problem is really dry heat and dry skin. Try the vitamin E and/or the fish oil and your dog should have soft, supple skin throughout the winter months.

Coats

These days, most dogs don’t live outside 24/7 so cold weather and the elements don’t have as much effect on a dog’s coat as they did at one time. Most dogs have a good outer coat to protect them from cold weather and some dogs also have an insulating undercoat for more warmth. If you have a double-coated dog, he should remain warm when he’s outside playing or walking as long as his undercoat remains dry. If you have a dog with a single coat (that is, a dog that doesn’t have an undercoat), your dog might need a coat or sweater when he goes out in cold temps.

If you have cut your dog’s coat very short or shaved him during the summer months, it’s a good idea to let it grow out more during the winter. This will help keep him warmer when he’s outside. If you have a breed with naturally short, smooth hair, you may also want to consider a coat or sweater for your dog. This is particularly true with small Toy dogs. They feel the cold more than big dogs. (Some of the sled dog breeds prefer cold weather and don’t like being in a warm house all the time.)

Paws

Winter also means that your dog’s paws will likely be exposed to ice and snow. One way to protect his paws is by using a product to help toughen and protect them so they won’t become chapped or raw when he is outside in cold weather. You can find these products at pet stores and online. If your dog’s paws do become cut or chapped, you can also buy soothing paw ointments. Or, you can purchase winter boots for your dog to keep his paws protected from ice and snow. This is often a good choice, especially if you live in an area where sidewalks and roads are covered with salt and de-icing chemicals. These chemicals can be harmful to dogs yet it’s easy for dogs to lick their paws and ingest the chemicals after walking on them.

To bathe or not to bathe

As for bathing your dog during winter months, most dogs don’t get as dirty in the winter because they aren’t outdoors as much as they are during the summer months. You will probably be able to use the same shampoo as usual for your dog but you may need to adjust the conditioner you use depending on whether your dog’s skin is dry and itchy from the heat in your home and other factors. If you don’t normally use a conditioner for your dog, you might need to use one in the winter because of the added stress of the weather on his coat.

If you follow these suggestions your dog’s skin and coat should look great all winter.

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With Christmas almost here it’s time to think about decking the halls and fetching ye olde yule log for the fire. It’s also time to give some thought to keeping your home safe for your pets during the holiday season. With all of that tinsel and all of those bobbins and bows lying around, your dog can easily eat something he shouldn’t. Glass ornaments and shiny things can be irresistible to many pets.

Vets say they have to remove tinsel and other objects from pets every year during the holidays. Here are some things to watch out for during the holidays.

Small things can be dangerous. Be careful of anything that’s small enough to fit in your pet’s mouth. At Christmas this includes plastic bags that are dangerous to pets. Pets can easily suffocate if they get their head in a bag. Watch out for ornaments and bulbs for strings of lights that you might leave lying around, too.

Hot things are dangerous such as irons, space heaters, coffee pots or anything that heats up. A curious puppy can jump up on them. It’s also a good idea to close off fireplaces with a screen when they’re in use.

Chemicals can be deadly. Use child locks on your cabinets. Don’t let your dog near disinfectants or other chemicals such as rodenticides, salts to melt snow or ice, lawn chemicals, and particularly anti-freeze. Even chemicals that say “pet safe” should be kept out of reach. If your dog spills one of these chemicals chances are that he will lick it all up.

Unsafe foods are also a no-no. Many people have parties and feasts during the holidays and that can offer some tempting – but dangerous food for dogs. If you give your dog human food, do so in moderation. Never give your dog the following foods:

  • fatty foods
  • cooked bones
  • spicy foods
  • chocolate
  • grapes and raisins
  • onions
  • xylitol (sugar substitute found in some candies and other foods)
  • macadamia nuts
  • pitted foods such as peach pits

 

Avoid dangerous plants. Some plants are harmful to dogs such as azaleas, lilies, oleander, daffodils, and milkweed. Contrary to popular belief, poinsettias are only mildly toxic and treatment is rarely necessary. But they aren’t recommended for your dog either.

If you think your dog is in danger, call your vet or an animal emergency clinic immediately.

Decorating with your dog

Decorating with a dog in the house can be challenging! Assuming you have put away all of the things that your dog can eat which might harm him, you still have to put up some holiday touches.

If you are putting up a tree and your dog keeps bothering it, there are a couple of ways to protect the tree. One recommended way to protect a tree is by putting up a small exercise pen around the base of the tree. The pen can keep most smaller dogs from getting close to the tree and knocking it down. If you have a bigger dog you might need to use a bigger pen. This can be unsightly if you are having a party in your home but it is sturdy and durable. You can buy x-pens online or at your local pet store. You can often find used x-pens for sale online.

Another method is to screw in a bolt to the tree with some fishing line and bolt it to the wall. This will keep most trees standing even if a dog jumps on the tree. Plus the fishing line and bolts won’t be seen by any visitors. The downside to this method is that the dog can get close to the tree and he might pull off some ornaments or bother the Christmas lights.

If you have a dog who pulls ornaments off the tree, try to put the ornaments, lights, and other breakable objects up higher so he won’t be able to reach them.

Keep candy, statues, centerpieces, and other decorative items that you would normally have sitting around in places where your dog can’t reach them.

When it comes to special occasion meals, consider feeding your dog first, before family and friends come over. This can reduce begging and pestering from your dog. If your dog is crate-trained you can send him to his crate for a nap during special meals. Even if your dog stays out during meals, most dogs will get tired of waiting on leftovers and find a corner to take a nap while you and your friends eat. Be sure to warn your guests about giving your dog anything to eat that might be dangerous for him.

If you keep these tips in mind while you prepare your house for the holidays, you and your dog should have a wonderful holiday season!