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Pets and the Holidays

Thanksgiving may officially be over but the howliday season is in full swing! Along with this magical time comes lots of eating… and over-eating. However, this is something that shouldn’t apply to our pets.

The problem is that at this time of the year, with parties and friends coming and going, it’s often difficult to monitor the food and snacks put out for guests and, if you turn your back, pets might be tempted to help themselves!

It’s not only chocolate that is toxic to pets, but many other things from grapes to onions and more. If you are preparing a spread, it’s a good idea to cover everything with a net cloth or keep each individual dish wrapped until needed to deter food snatching.

The same applies when you have cleared the table after a feast. Pets have to be kept out of the kitchen or again, the leftovers have to be protected. Corncobs and bones if swallowed can be fatal. In addition, just simply over-eating can cause tummy upsets and depending what has been consumed, can also cause diarrhea.

If your pets are prone to attempting to help themselves, and succeed in snatching, it’s a good idea to have medications on hand in your home just in case. There are a lot of different products to choose from such as Anti-Diarrheals and many more.

At the same time, there is no reason your pet can’t enjoy a special treat of their own in moderation. Treats make a great gift for four-legged family members who don’t want to miss out on this special time of year.

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Preparing for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is this week! The day is a great holiday for families to come together, put aside their drama, and enjoy delicious food. Whether you are hosting the Thanksgiving get-together or will be attending it elsewhere, you probably want to include your furry family member(s) in the festivities as well. With all of the traveling, people, and food around, it could potentially be a chaotic environment that may stress out your pet(s). To ensure that no accidents or mishaps occur due to the hectic nature of the holiday, just follow these simple guidelines:

Travel Safely – Thanksgiving is already a very stressful time to travel, whether you are flying into a packed airport, taking a long bus/train ride, or dealing with awful traffic in your own car. If you are taking a plane, train, or bus, make sure that you have chosen a company that allows pets, and that you have the proper pet carrier that they require. Although more travel companies are allowing pets than ever before, most of them only allow small to medium-sized dogs on board if they are in a travel crate. Although you may miss them terribly for the days you’re gone, perhaps it’s better if you hire a pet-sitter to care for your beloved while you are gone. If you are driving your own car to the Thanksgiving gathering, try to plan your trip using highways and/or straight roads, with minimal stops and turns that will help prevent carsick dogs. Keep the car temperature cool, and open the windows to make sure fresh air is circulated. Dogs should be confined with doggie seatbelts or crates, and cats, ferrets and house bunnies should all be in crates. Pets that get anxious in the car may benefit from natural remedies for anxiety such as Travel Anxiety Drops for dogs and cats.

Prepare Your Pet – Be sure to pack everything you need for your pet, including its food, medication, treats, chews, and even water from home. A few familiar toys and a crate or gate for confinement in the home you’re visiting are good ideas as well. Talk to the person who will be hosting you and make sure that your pet is not only welcome, but that there is a quiet area for them to hang out while everyone is eating. It may be a good idea to give your pet a bath or have it groomed before you take it anywhere, especially if their nails are getting a bit long! If you are hosting the Thanksgiving function, then you are obviously free to let your pet go wherever it wants, but be aware that it may be a bit “on edge” due to all of the people coming over. Some pets become excited for all of the attention, but others can get stressed out and paranoid because of the unusual amount of people. Especially if your dog barks every time someone rings the doorbell or knocks, then you may just want to simply put a sign on the door that says, “Please let yourself in!” If your dog (or cat) gets too excited and jumps on the guests, then perhaps you may want to sequester them into the backyard or their own room until everyone is all settled. If your pet has a problem with slipping out of the door when you aren’t looking (cats love to do this), you should keep them somewhere safe just in case!

Prepare Your Guests – Even if you stay home and celebrate Thanksgiving in your own home, there are precautions to take if you have guests coming over. Remember that not all people enjoy having pets around, and not all people are on high-alert for possible pet-related accidents! Be sure to tell everyone any quirks or behaviors your pet has; for instance, if they enjoy chewing shoes, tell everyone to put their shoes in a designated area where they will be safe from destruction. If your pet enjoys begging at the table but you don’t want them to be rewarded for it, tell everyone not to give any table scraps to them during dinner. If your pet enjoys bolting out of the house whenever someone opens the door,  make it very clear to everyone which doors to leave closed at all times, and which doors to be extra careful about opening. Also make sure that no one leaves out any medication or small items that could cause your pet to choke or become poisoned. Last but not least, try to keep loud noises minimal, and let your guests know your pets’ fears and traumas so they don’t accidentally trigger them and cause a panic episode.

Ensure Food Safety – Thanksgiving is synonymous with food of course, but you don’t have to feel bad that your pet is missing out on the feast. Your pet truly does not need to sample Aunt Margaret’s sweet potato and marshmallow pie. Your pet will do best if you stick to his or her regular diet, with a few small pieces of turkey breast or other pet-safe food as a special treat. While your family may be trained not to feed your dog or cat from the table, your company may not be so well trained, so let them know not to give your pet food unless they ask for permission first! Confine your pets away from the dinner table if possible, and tell your guests not to leave any food laying around where your pets can reach them. Remember that turkey bones are NOT safe for dogs to chew on because they can splinter easily and cause choking. After dinner it’s common for everyone to retreat to the living room and watch football, talk, or nap. Be sure all leftovers are carefully cleaned up and put away before you leave the kitchen area. More than one clever dog has ended up at the veterinary emergency clinic with a partial turkey carcass in his stomach!

Remember to enjoy this special day surrounded with your loved ones. Happy Thanksgiving!

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Celebrating Thanksgiving with Your Pet

Thanksgiving is a wonderful opportunity to spend time with those you love, so it’s natural to want to include your four-legged companions in on the celebration. As hard as it is not to let your pet partake in your Thanksgiving feast, it’s probably best to keep the furry family members out of the room at mealtime. This ensures pets won’t have access to potentially dangerous handouts or scraps that have fallen on the floor.

If you absolutely have to share some of the big meal with Fido or Fluffy, check out the safe options listed below as well as those to avoid:

Safe:

  • Turkey: As long as you keep the portions small, remove the skin, and remove the bones, turkey is typically a safe choice for pets.
  • Sweet Potatoes: If they’re not drowning in brown sugar and marshmallows, natural sweet potatoes are a great snack for pets because they’re full of fiber, vitamin A, and iron.
  • Green beans: Before dressed with butter, garlic, or that traditional fried onion topping, sharing a green bean or two with your pet is a healthy choice with plenty of potassium, vitamin A, and vitamin C.

Not Safe:

  • Stuffing: This Thanksgiving staple almost always contains several toxic ingredients like onions, garlic, leeks, and raisins. Stay on the side of caution and keep this side away from pets.
  • Gravy: This turkey topper is full of fat, which can lead to stomach upset and even pancreatitis in pets.
  • Dessert: From the high sugar content, to the possibility of dangerous ingredients like chocolate and macadamia nuts, dessert should be off-limits for pets. Opt for a healthy pet treat or homemade treat instead.
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Traveling Safely with Pets This Thanksgiving

If you’re considering hitting the road with your pet this Thanksgiving, it’s important to keep safety in mind. Here are a few recommendations for pet owners who want to include their furry friends in their holiday road trip.

•Make sure your pet is equipped with a collar and updated ID tag before hitting the open road. Bring any necessary pet supplies including a leash, your pet’s regular food and treats, water, and a water dish.

•Pets should always ride in the backseat of a car and should be properly restrained with a harness, carrier, pet car seat, or vehicle barrier. Dogs should never ride in the back of a pickup truck because they can easily leap out or be thrown. To keep your pup safe, keep him securely inside the vehicle at all times.

•It’s widely believed that dogs love sticking their head out of the car window and feeling the wind in their fur, but the possibility of flying debris makes this a dangerous scenario. Keep your dog’s eyes safe from injury by keeping those car windows closed.

•To avoid a case of doggy carsickness, try to feed your pet a few hours prior to your trip. This gives your dog some time to digest before the motion begins.

•Make sure to stop every so often so your dog can stretch his legs and take a bathroom break. Also, make sure your pup’s leash is fastened before opening the car door to prevent your dog from making a run for it.

•Never leave your pet in a parked car to avoid exposure to the wintry temperatures of this time of year.

•Once you’ve arrived at your destination, you may be inclined to share some holiday goodies with your pet, but remember that not all people foods are safe for animals. All desserts containing chocolate are dangerous for canines. Foods with onions and garlic are also toxic for both cats and dogs, so it’s best for your pet to chow down on his own food.

 

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Treat Your Dog to a Homemade Oat Snack

For a homemade, no-bake treat for your dog, try this recipe! The yummy combination of peanut butter, wholesome oats, honey, and dried fruit makes a really special snack for your dog. Since these treats don’t require any time in the oven, this is also a great recipe for kids to help with!

Note: Some manufacturers have started using xylitol as a sugar substitute in their peanut butter. Xylitol is dangerous for dogs and will cause great harm. Ensure any peanut butter you give your pooch is Xylitol free.

Ingredients:

1 cup oats
¾ cup peanut butter
1 ¼ tablespoons honey
½ cup dried cranberries

Directions: 

Be sure to wash your hands before you get started. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl with your hands. Spoon the mixture onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Refrigerate the treats until they’re set.

If you’re looking for more great pet treat recipes, be sure to order VetDepot’s Favorite Dog & Cat Treat Recipes! It’s available in paperback as well as for download on your Nook or Kindle.

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Cold Weather and Your Pet’s Skin

The weather is getting cooler and we all know that chilly temperatures can take a toll on skin health. It’s important to remember that dogs and cats are at risk for skin issues during the colder months too. The combination of cold air and low atmospheric humidity is drying, and indoor heating systems only make the problem worse.

If you’ve ever suffered from dry skin, you know how itchy and irritating it can be. For pets that can’t repeatedly apply moisturizer on themselves, the problem can be maddening. Irritation, flaking, and itching often leads to excessive scratching, which can cause injury and infection. During the winter months, take steps to prevent and treat your pet’s dry skin.

Here are a few tips for managing your pet’s dry skin and coat when the cold sets in:

1. Bathe your dog as infrequently as possible and don’t bathe your cat at all unless absolutely necessary. Though it may seem counter-intuitive, washing can worsen dry skin.

2. If you do have to bathe your pet, opt for a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner. Also, use lukewarm water.

3. Follow up any necessary bath with a species-appropriate moisturizing rinse. Remember, human products aren’t safe for use on animals, so don’t be tempted to use your favorite moisturizer on your cat or dog.

4. Brush your pet’s coat at least once or twice daily to remove skin flakes, loose hair, and dander. Dander buildup tends to be considerably more significant during the winter.

5. Skin and coat health begins with proper nourishment. Feed your cat or dog a high-quality, nutritionally balanced pet food.

6. Ask your veterinarian about providing your pet with an essential fatty acids supplement. These supplements benefit skin and coat health, along with cardiovascular and joint health.

7. Ask your veterinarian whether he or she recommends any other nutritional supplements, such as a multivitamin.

8. Run humidifiers around the house. These can add some much-needed moisture into the atmosphere. Just make sure they’re out of reach of your pet and can’t fall or pose any other dangers.

Just a note of caution: more serious conditions can resemble dry skin. Allergies, parasites, nutritional deficiencies, hormone imbalances, infections, organ dysfunction, and other problems can affect the health and appearance of the skin and coat. If you can’t successfully manage your cat or dog’s dry skin during the winter, see your veterinarian for advice. Also, if you notice other troubling symptoms accompanying dry skin, a veterinary visit is in order. Some signs that dry winter skin is not your pet’s only problem include a rash, red bumps, open sores, patches or widespread areas of hair loss, dull hair that can easily be pulled out, repeated foot licking or face rubbing, and other abnormalities.

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Tips for Feeding a Picky Pet

Being responsible for the care of a pet that is a picky eater can be stressful. Owners wonder whether or not their pet is getting the right nutrition and if they’re maintaining a healthy weight.

 

The first step in addressing the problem of picky eating is to rule out any medical causes for the behavior. Make an appointment with a veterinarian if any of the following apply:

  • A dog or cat used to be a good eater, but their appetite has waned.
  • A pet is losing weight or has any other concerning symptoms (vomiting, diarrhea, coughing, etc.)
  • A dog or cat seems to want to eat but has difficulty doing so.
  • A pet is lethargic.

Once you are convinced that a pet’s picky eating is not the result of disease, the next step is to determine if the behavior really is a problem. Studies have shown that dogs and cats that are a little on the thin side are actually healthier and live longer lives in comparison to pets that are “normal” or overweight. If a pet is a little thin but otherwise healthy, this is probably the ideal body type for that individual.

But, when a dog or cat is too thin or a veterinarian has said that he or she is concerned the pet’s intake of nutrients is insufficient to support good health, it is time to step in:

  • Begin by trying one or two different pet food formulations. Perhaps a pet who has only ever been offered dry food would eat more of a canned diet, or vice versa. Try different flavors and different brands, but give the dog or cat a week or so to get used to each before trying another. Frequent rotation of foods can actually promote finicky eating behavior.
  • Foods that are designed for extremely active pets are generally calorie and nutrient dense. If a dog or cat eats the same volume of one of these foods, he or she will actually be getting more nutrition out of every bite in comparison to “regular” pet foods.
  • Cut back or eliminate table scraps and treats. Filling up on these “extras” can cause dogs and cats to eat less of nutritionally complete and balanced foods.
  • Consider a home-prepared diet. Some pets will eat more home cooked food than they will commercially prepared options. Make sure any recipes you use are designed by a veterinary nutritionist, however.
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Halloween Precautions for Pets

Halloween can be a fun holiday for people, but not for most pets! The chaos of strangers knocking on the door, the scary costumes, and the candy all add up to potential problems for pets. Plan ahead to keep your four-legged family members safe and sound.

The first step is to find a safe place for pets to be during trick-or-treating hours. Ideally, this is a quiet room at the back of the house. A room downstairs in a finished basement is another good choice. Set your pet up with a comfortable bed, some water and a toy or something to chew on.

If your pet is inclined to be an escape artist, consider using a crate in a quiet room. It might be a good idea to have a radio playing for some background noise, this will minimize the disturbance of the doorbell ringing and knocking. Pheromone products, like D.A.P for dogs or Feliway for cats, can be helpful in stressful situations like Halloween night.

Some cats will mellow out with catnip. If this applies to your cat, add some dried catnip or a fresh sprig to the room or carrier where your cat is confined. However, do not try this with a cat that gets wound up from catnip!

Plan your candy and treat storage carefully. You will need a pet proof container for pre-trick-or-treating and to store any leftovers. Chocolate, raisins, and xylitol (found in many sugar-free gums and candies) are all dangerous for pets.

Be sure to check out our Halloween Safety for Pets Infographic for more helpful tips and information.

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Does Your Dog Suffer From Separation Anxiety?

Does your dog become nervous when he sees you getting ready to leave the house? Do your neighbors complain that he barks or howls while you are away? Do you return home to find that your dog has urinated or defecated inside the house, or has chewed on the furniture? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, your dog might be suffering from separation anxiety.

The first thing an owner should do when faced with a dog suffering from separation anxiety is to take a deep breath and calm down. You must remember that he behaved in this way because he was truly scared of being left alone. If you punish him in any way he will become even more scared, making the situation worse rather than better.

This does not mean, however, that there is nothing that can be done to help dogs become better able to tolerate separation from their owners. Behavioral modification is possible. The goal is to teach dogs to relax, reward them for doing so and to promote a healthy rather than overly dependent relationship between dog and owner. Try the following techniques:

  • Pretend to leave (e.g., pick up your keys, put on your coat, etc.) but then stay or walk out the door but immediately come back in. As your dog begins to learn that you always return after you leave, gradually extend the amount of time you are gone.
  • When you return home, ignore your dog until he is calm.
  • Do not allow your dog to sleep in your bed.
  • Ask someone else to do things with your dog that he enjoys (e.g., taking him on a walk or feeding him) and even consider hiring another person to take him out for a walk if you have to be gone for a long period of time.
  • Give your dog special toys when you leave and put them away when you are home.
  • Keep a television or radio on while you are gone.

In some cases, dogs need help relaxing in order to be more receptive to behavioral modification. Dog appeasing pheromone, a substance that nursing females emit to calm their pups, is available in sprays, diffusers, collars and wipes. Over-the-counter anxiety-relieving nutraceutical, herbal or homeopathic formulations are also worth a try.

If your dog’s anxiety is severe or worsens despite your attempts to treat it at home, make an appointment with your veterinarian or a veterinary behaviorist. They can thoroughly assess the situation, design a behavioral modification plan best suited to your dog’s particular needs, and even prescribe powerful anti-anxiety medications like Clomicalm® or amitripyline .

With appropriate treatment, most dogs can learn to tolerate some time by themselves.

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Celebrating Halloween Safely

Halloween is just under a week away! With all the excitement in the air, now is a great time to reflect on how to make this Halloween the safest for you and your pets. We hope you find the following suggestions helpful in enjoying Halloween with the whole family!

  • If your pet is going to walk with you and the kids while trick or treating, ensure they are wearing their ID tag and are on a leash. Even the most obedient pets can get spooked by all the ghostly decorations outside causing them to run off. Keeping your pet on a leash near you is the best way to avoid this. This is very important for your pet’s safety. With all the lively trick or treaters comes more traffic which could be a potentially dangerous situation if your pet were to run off. Even if you plan on staying at home and passing out candy, keeping your pet properly restrained will be the safest preventative measure for them. The noisy trick or treaters and consistent knocks and door bell rings may cause your pet to panic and run. In the event your pet does run off, having their ID tag on will greatly aide in their homecoming.

 

  • Keep candy and treats up and out of the way of reach. Sweet treats can be just as tempting for our pets as they are for us humans. Keeping treats up and out of eye sight will deter even the most determined pet from getting into treats that may make them sick and may possibly be deadly for them. In addition to candy and treats, props from costumes and decorations should be kept out of reach as they may create a choking hazard.

 

  • Candles in jack-o’- lanterns look beautiful but can injure a curious pet. Our four legged pals don’t understand that the beautiful flicker from candles hurts badly. The safest measure to take to avoid a possible catastrophe is to use a battery powered candle rather than the real thing.

Taking a few extra precautionary measures will ensure you and your pet have a wonderful and safe Halloween.

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