Exposure to winter’s dry, cold air and chilly rain, sleet and snow can cause chapped paws and itchy, flaking skin, but these aren’t the only discomforts pets can suffer. Winter walks can become downright dangerous if chemicals from ice-melting agents are licked off of bare paws. To help prevent cold weather dangers from affecting your pet’s health, please heed the following advice from our experts:
A puppy or a kitty under the Christmas tree. Or maybe you just want to give an animal friend to someone you think needs one. People who give animals as gifts mean well, but their good intensions often misfire. Giving a pet as a gift is usually an ill-advised decision that can end tragically.While it is true, pets bring us untold joy and wonderful companionship, they are a huge responsibility. People who receive a pet as a gift don't pay, but the gift is hardly free. It means a long-term commitment of time, money and energy that may exceed their abilities. Among the costs:
The holiday season is upon us, and many pet parents plan to include their furry companions in the festivities. As you gear up for the holidays, it is important to try to keep your pet's eating and exercise habits as close to their normal routine as possible. Also, please be sure to steer pets clear of the following unhealthy treats, toxic plants and dangerous decorations.
The best prescription for winter’s woes is to keep your dog or cat inside with you and your family. The happiest dogs are taken out frequently for walks and exercise but kept inside the rest of the time. Don’t leave pets outdoors when the temperature drops. During walks, short-haired dogs and senior pets may feel more comfortable wearing a sweater. No matter what the temperature is, wind-chill can threaten a pet’s life. Pets are sensitive to severe cold and are at risk for frostbite and hypothermia during extreme cold snaps.
Know the limits: Just like people, pets’ cold tolerance can vary from pet to pet based on their coat, body fat stores, activity level, and health. Be aware of your pet’s tolerance for cold weather, and adjust accordingly. You will probably need to shorten your dog’s walks in very cold weather to protect you both from weather-associated health risks. Arthritic and elderly pets may have more difficulty walking on snow and ice and may be more prone to slipping and falling. Long-haired or thick-coated dogs tend to be more cold-tolerant, but are still at risk in cold weather. Short-haired pets feel the cold faster because they have less protection, and short-legged pets may become cold faster because their bellies and bodies are more likely to come into contact with snow-covered ground. Pets with diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, or hormonal imbalances may have a harder time regulating their body temperature. The same goes for very young and very old pets. If you need help determining your pet’s temperature limits, consult your veterinarian.
Trimming your dog’s nails may seem like an inconvenience, but it’s actually essential to your dog’s overall health. Here’s why trimming your dog’s nails is important, and a few different ways that you can make the process easier on you both.
Why Trimming Nails Is Important
Your dog’s nails continuously grow. In the wild, your dog would naturally wear down his nails by traveling and hunting over different terrain. That’s not the case with domesticated dogs, though, since we’ve greatly changed their environments. Since domesticated dogs’ nails aren’t naturally worn down enough to keep up with their growth, we need to trim their nails for them.
If left uncared for, your dog’s nails can grow too long. You’ll notice this if you can hear every footstep click loudly as he walks across a hardwood or tile floor. Nails that are too long can chip and break, creating a painful condition that needs veterinary attention. Your dog can easily tear his toenails when playing outside. Additionally, nails left too long can make standing and moving painful and awkward for your dog. In extreme situations, the nails can continue to grow until they curl around and become embedded in the paws of your dog’s feet.
Different Trimming Methods
There are a variety of tools available to help you trim your dog’s nails. Nail clippers come in a wide range of styles, so you can find the one that works best for you and your dog. When selecting a nail clipper, be sure to choose one only as big as needed – buying an oversized pair of nail clippers makes it more likely that you might slip and clip more than just the nail you had wanted to.
Small Dremels provide another option for trimming and maintaining your dog’s nails. Equipped with a grinding tool, a Dremel can quickly and efficiently sand off some of your dog’s nail. This is advantageous because you can round and buff the edges of the nail for a softer finish, rather than dealing with the points that clippers sometimes leave behind.
Whichever method you use, be careful not to cut too much of your dog’s nail at a time. Dogs have quick in their nails, which contains blood vessels and nerves. The quick is sensitive and will bleed if cut. Only cut a very small amount of the nail at a time.
Trimming for Success
It’s important to introduce the process of trimming your dog’s nails as early on in his life as possible. Start by accustoming your dog to having his feet handled, and then gradually progress to handling just one paw pad and claw at a time. Make nail trimming a positive and enjoyable experience for your dog, and be sure to only hold nail trimming sessions during times when your dog is calm and focused. Give your dog treats whenever you expose him to the nail trimming process so that he associates nail trimming with a positive activity.
Trimming your dog’s nails is a task that you will have to do regularly throughout his life, so if your pet is proving challenging, consider enlisting professional dog training help to make the process easier on both of you. And, if you’ve never trimmed your dog’s nails before, ask a veterinarian or experienced dog person to show you how to do so safely the first time.
Article by Bed and Biscuit
Thanksgiving is at time for family, football and, of course, food. With a cornucopia of guests -- and their kids -- descending on your house, there will be lots of extra people trying to pass a tasty treat to your cat or dog. They may have the best of intentions, but "people food" isn't always the best for your four-legged friend.
To keep things safe, read this list about which Turkey Day food favorites are safe for pets to eat and which ones may leave you cleaning up a mess.
Going to someone's house? Even if your pet is great with table scraps, it doesn't mean that your relative's cat can tolerate the same amount. Always check with the owner before you offer a pet any additional food.
In general, any newly introduced food can induce vomiting, and even diarrhea. When we switch an animal from one diet to another, we generally do it gradually over one to two weeks. So keep new foods minimal, especially if Fido and Kitty haven't added them to their palette before.
For pets with health problems, their owners should always check with their veterinarians prior to changing their diets.
Verdict: A small amount is okay.
Most pets can gobble up small amounts of lean, light meat without a problem. Turkey skin and dark meat have more fat and may be too greasy for pets. Light meat is the preferred snack.
"I think most animals enjoy the ritual of receiving food, so small pieces given as treats is sufficient or small amounts mixed into their regular kibble or canned food is fine as well," says Dr. Brian Collins, Lecturer, Community Practice Service at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine.
Make sure anything you serve your pet is bone-free. "Avoid giving your dog or cat wings or drumsticks. The bones can get stuck between teeth, in the esophagus, and cause vomiting or get lodged in any part of the GI track," warns Dr. Collins.
To keep things safe, carefully remove the meat from the bones. Even if you have a cat (who typically eat more carefully than dogs who usually "inhale" their food), you can still get into trouble with bones.
Recipes for turkey gravy often include turkey stock, pepper and seasonings; yummy for you, but too fatty for your pet.
Verdict: Depends on how it's prepared.
If the potatoes are plain and bland, with minimal fat and salt, mashed potatoes can be slipped under the table. But if you go all out like most people and add butter and heavy cream galore, it makes the potatoes less ideal for your pet -- and your waistline. "Fatty foods can cause GI upset and pancreatitis, which can be life-threatening," warns Dr. Collins.
And if you added onions, garlic, scallions, chives or leeks to the dish, you definitely can't share them. All of these are toxic -- maybe even fatal -- to cats and dogs. So despite Mom and Dad saying to always try a little, when it comes to these foods, even a little bit is toxic to your pets.
That "Who makes the best stuffing?" argument can finally be put to rest. Like mashed potatoes, if stuffing is bland and has very little fat, it could get a paw print stamp of approval. But who wants bland stuffing?
If the stuffing has more fat, butter and ingredients, it becomes less ideal for your pet. And don't forget about those add-ins! Many stuffing recipes call for onions, garlic, scallions, chives and leeks too. Even the basic out of the box Stove Top Stuffing has onions in it. The best bet is to make a rule: No stuffing for pets.
These days, a lot of cranberry sauces aren't just the popular stuff we see come right out of the can. Nuts, raisins, sugar and even pineapple is added to many recipes. And as a result, this staple of Thanksgiving can't be shared. "Macadamia nuts are the only nuts that are toxic to dogs," warns Dr. Collins. And nuts add fat to the meal. Grapes and raisins are definitely to be avoided because they can cause kidney failure in dogs (and possibly in cats).
Most animals won't eat cranberries that aren't coated in extra sugar, so your pet can be saved from that lovely Ocean Spray color he'd have all over his face. "Sugar isn't good for pets, and most cranberry sauces have sugar. It's best to avoid giving this treat." says Dr. Collins.
Verdict: Beans only.
Green beans are excellent snacks for dogs. But if you add the mushroom soup and the onions on top, you are asking for trouble. If you want to give your pet a treat, make sure the bad-for-pets fried onions have been removed from the top layer. Rinse off the beans or set some aside before you add other ingredients, and your pets can enjoy.
Candied? Buttery? With brown sugar and marshmallows? Again, it's best if your pet doesn't indulge his sweet tooth.
Verdict: Loose corn is fine, but avoid corn on the cob.
Has your five-year-old been slipping his veggies to the dog? Don't worry. As long as the corn is removed from the cob, that pile of veggies can quickly disappear under the table.
If it's still on the cob though, let your little one (and any guests) know it's not okay. "Dogs especially should not be given corn cobs because if swallowed, pieces can cause an obstruction," says Dr. Collins. So rather than play fetch with the corn cob, watch until after dinner and find his favorite toy.
Verdict: Small amounts are okay.
Rolls fall to the ground during the annual food fight and are nibbled up by your kitty? Never fear. As long as they don't have butter on them, they are safe for your pets to enjoy.
Verdict: Not ideal.
It's not the end of the world if your little niece happens to "drop" her pie under the table and the pets inhale it. But, it still has sugar in it -- which it's great for animals.
Verdict: Not ideal.
The American dessert can be prepared a variety of different ways, but almost all of them include lots of sugar. It's better for your cat and dog if they don't enjoy apple pie.
Verdict: Not ideal.
Like pecan and apple pie, a very small piece won't hurt your pet, but it's not a good idea to offer pets anything with sugar.
The rule to follow:Humans get human desserts and pets get pet dessert. (Have the kids at your table repeat this.) A nice dog treat can be dessert for your pets. And if you really want Fido and Kitty to be included, you can find cookbooks on making homemade treats for dogs and cats.
If you are still afraid you won't be able to resist your pet giving you "that look" (puppy eyes and all), hire a pet sitter for the day, or ask your animal-loving niece to be on guard duty. See if she will enjoy playing with the dog or cat after she's done with her meal. It keeps your pet safe and her entertained.
And even though you may have finished your meal, it doesn't mean your pet has called it quits. Pets will take food off the counter, out of the trash and even grab a piece of food that may have been tossed outside. "I have heard countless stories of the turkey carcass being taken out of the trash, or the turkey being taken off the counter," says Dr. Collins. Make sure any leftovers are out of reach.
This holiday, remember to be Stephanie St Martin