Everything you need to know to prevent pet dehydration

During the hot summer days, we are all susceptible to dehydration, including our pets. Dehydration is the lack of water in the body and it can cause serious health problems and even death in humans and pets alike. Water makes up 80% of dogs and cats bodies, and helps with circulation, digestion, waste removal and other body processes.

When fluid levels drop below normal, dehydration occurs. Dehydration is caused by a reduced fluid intake and/or an increased fluid loss. Fluid loss occurs due to overheating or illness in dogs and cats. And with the increased heat and humidity, dogs and cats overheat quickly when outdoors or in a location without air-conditioning, such a parked car or garage. Older, young and sick pets are more susceptible to overheating and dehydration; but any dog or cat can become overheated and dehydrated at any time, so it’s important to look for the signs during the hot summer months.

The typical signs of dehydration are:

  • Fatigue or lack of desire to move
  • Dry mouth
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sunken eyes
  • Depression

There is a simple at home test to do for dehydration. Gently lift up your pet’s skin on the back of their neck or between their shoulder blades. The skin should immediately return back to its normal position. If a pet is dehydrated, it will take longer to return to its normal position. This is not the only sign that a pet is dehydrated, and your pet may still be dehydrated even with passing this test. So if you notice any signs, you should consider your pet may be dehydrated.

Test your dogs skin to see if they are dehydrated. Gently pull between shoulder blades and let go. If it takes a while to bounce back, dehydration is supected.

If you suspect your pet is dehydrated, immediately take him or her to your veterinarian. It’s always best to call ahead and let them know you are coming so they can have everything ready for your arrival. The veterinarian will test for dehydration and administer intravenous fluids if dehydration has occurred.

To prevent pet dehydration, always provide plenty of fresh, clean water. You should refill your pets bowl with fresh water regularly and be sure to clean their water dish(es) every other day to kill any bacteria that may have developed in the dish. And when you and your pet go outside, be sure to bring water and a water dish with you and take plenty of water breaks.

A pet should drink one ounce of water per pound of body weight a day, and more when exposed to heat or illness. Monitor your pet’s drinking habits and if you feel he or she is not drinking enough, consult with your veterinarian. There may be a medical reason why your dog or cat is not drinking as much as they should.

Dehydration is a dangerous thing for both humans and animals. But its prevention technique is simple: lots of fresh clean, water! I’ll see you around the drinking fountain!



Fun Activities for Your Pet on the Fourth of July

Fireworks and pets just don’t mix well. So the 4th of July is not a very fun day for dogs and cats. Pets often get overwhelmed by all the people, excitement and loud noises that come with a large celebration. But you can make the day special for your pet too! Here are some great ideas to make your pet happy this 4th.

1 – Take your dog for an early morning walk in the park or go to a dog park. Let’s face it, most dogs love to be outside, sniff around, explore, run and walk. What better treat for your pup than a special trip outdoors? Take your pup to a new park or his favorite park to explore and enjoy. Go early before the crowds and intense heat set in, and be sure to bring you and your dog some water to stay hydrated. If you are going to a dog park, be sure to read over these guidelines to keep the peace in the park.

2 – Buy your pet a new pet friendly toy. It can be something as simple as catnip or a bone, or it can be a special patriotic red, white and blue toy. During the heat of the day, stay inside in the cool air conditioning and play with your pet and his new toy. He will love the new toy and the time spent with you!

Have a safe and happy 4th of July!

3 – Instead of giving your dog or cat a piece of hotdog or burger as a special treat, buy him a pet treat instead. Human food often upsets pets’ stomachs, and some food is toxic to your pet. (For a list of toxic foods, read this article). Go to your local pet bakery and pick up a special dog or cat treat so your pet can indulge on the 4th.

4 – Create a safe place for your pet to go when he or she gets overwhelmed. If you are hosting a party, all the people, sounds and activities can cause anxiety in your pets. And most pets are extremely fearful of fireworks. So create a safe room for your dog and/or cat to retreat to de-stress. Put their favorite beds, blankets and toys in the room. Keep fresh water and maybe even a special treat in the room. Turn on some soothing music (if that appeals to your pets) to help drown out the party noise. And make sure your guests know that this is your pet’s safe space so they do not disturb them.

For your dog or cat to have a happy Fourth of July, all they need is to feel safe and comfortable. You can do that by giving them a special treat of extra outdoor time in the morning, a new toy or pet snack in the afternoon, and a soothing environment to go to when they are nervous.

Happy Fourth of July!



Fourth of July Pet Safety Tips

It’s almost here: barbeques, swimming pools, friends, families and fireworks. We all love going to or hosting a 4th of July party. These celebrations can pose serious threats to our pet’s health. So in order to keep your dog and cat safe, follow these simple tips for your event this 4th.

    • Never keep alcoholic beverages unattended and where a pet can reach them. And remember, if your dog tends to be creative to get to things he or she wants, you need to take extra precautions. Notice where you leave your drinks and take into account if your pet can jump up on a chair and get to a beverage sitting on the table next to the chair. Alcohol is poisonous to pets and if too much is ingested, they can become severely weak and even go into a coma. Keep your beverages up high with nothing your dog or cat can use as a ladder to reach them.
    • It’s a great idea to apply sunscreen and bug repellent to your pet when they are outdoors for an extended period of time. Dogs and cats can both get sunburns as well as nasty bug bites. Always use products approved for pets on your dog or cat. The chemical DEET is often found in popular bug repellants humans use, but DEET can lead to neurological problems in dogs and cats. Never use sunscreen or insect repellent on your pet unless it is labeled safe for animals.
    • Keep party items away from your pets and out of their reach. Things like matches and lighter fluid used for grilling can cause severe respiratory problems in your pet if accidentally ingested. Glow jewelry is popular with adults and kids alike during times of celebration, but never put the jewelry on your pet. The substance that makes it glow is highly toxic to pets. Also popular items to use in the backyard, like citronella candles and insect coils and oils to keep bugs away, are extremely harmful to your pet if ingested. So if you have these items on hand at your gathering, make sure that your dog or cat can not get to them at any time.
    • We all love to pamper our pets and include them in the family fun. But feeding them “people food” that they are not used to eating is not a good way to pamper pets. Dogs and cats have very sensitive digestive systems and any change in their diet can cause digestive distress. Plus, many human foods that we consider either treats or healthy snacks can be toxic to pets. So when your pup begs for a bite of hotdog, just say no. Reach for their normal pet treats instead.

Avoid giving your dog human food this 4th of July. They may be disappointed, but their tummies will thank you!

  • Finally, remember that this can be a stressful time for even the most well adjusted pet. Dogs and cats are often overwhelmed by large crowds, different noises, and loud fireworks. When going to a 4th of July celebration that may be too much for your dog to handle, you may want to keep them home in a safe place instead. And if the party is at your house, make sure your pets have a comfortable and safe room to retreat to when they start to feel a little jittery.

Happy Fourth of July everyone!



How to Ease Your Dog’s Fear of Fireworks

It’s almost July 4th and that means barbeques, parties and fireworks. Some dogs don’t mind fireworks while others are extremely fearful. So for some dog parents, the 4th of the July is less of a holiday and more of a stressful evening with their pup. But there is hope. Try these tips and tricks to help calm your dog during this stressful time.

The reason dogs are afraid of fireworks is simple; it’s because they are loud. A dog’s hearing is extremely sensitive. To dogs, the sound of a firework boom is like an explosion right outside their house. So no wonder a lot of dogs are afraid!

Rule number 1 for calming your dog during this time is for you to stay calm. Many times pup parents get anxious before the fireworks begin because they know that their dog is going to become overwhelmed by the noise. Mom’s and Dad’s start dreading the trembling, whining, panting and pacing that many dogs exhibit when they are fearful. Your pup can pick up on this anxiety and it will make the event even scarier for them. Their logic is much like a child’s; if Mom & Dad are scared or anxious, then something bad is happening. So if you stay calm, you will make the experience less frightening for your dog.

A great idea is to teach your dog to associate loud noises, such as fireworks or thunder, with something positive. If you took any psychology course throughout your education, you will remember the experiment by the scientist Pavlov. He trained dogs to salivate at the sound of a bell ringing through what is called conditioning. He conditioned the dogs to start salivating by ringing the bell, and then giving them food. He continued to do this for a while and eventually the dog learned that when the bell rang, he got food. Before long, the dog got excited and his mouth started watering when he heard the bell. He associated the bell with a good thing, being fed. So you can start associating loud noises with a good thing, such as treats. Since we don’t have storms and fireworks every day, you can find a CD or DVD of storm sounds and fireworks to work on training your dog. Soon, just upon hearing a loud noise, your dog will begin to salivate instead of tremble!

Finally, make sure your dog is in a safe indoor environment the evening of July 4th. Dogs have a tendency to flee when they are scared, so if left outdoors he or she may try to escape. If they are left alone indoors, make sure things that can harm them are out of their reach. When a dog becomes fearful, they have a tendency to act out their fear in the form of destruction. So make sure all electric cords, small toys, and any other item a dog may easily destroy is out of the way. Make the environment safe and comfortable for them by adding their favorites toys, blankets, and treats.

Other remedies for noise fear in dogs include medications (ask your veterinarian before trying) and thundershirts.

I hope you and your pup have a happy and fear-less 4th of July!



Keeping Your Dog Cool in the Summer Heat: Daily Walks

With the heat wave upon us, most of us are avoiding going outside and staying in the air conditioning during the day. That’s a great way to stay cool, but what about your dog that needs daily walks for exercise and potty breaks? Both you and your pup need to follow these survival tips to beat the heat during your walks.

Beat the Heat this Summer!

Tip 1: Go for early morning and late night walks if possible. Since these times are the coolest parts of the day, make an effort to get your walks in during these times. Usually between 10am and 5pm are the hottest times of the day, so avoid long walks during this time.

Tip 2: Watch your dog for signs of dehydration. Excessive panting, drooling, unusual fatigue and bloodshot eyes are signs of overheating and dehydration. If you notice these signs, get your dog to a cool place and give water immediately. And remember, dogs with thicker coats and darker cooler fur tend to overheat quicker than those with lighter coats.

Tip 3: Keep your dog hydrated! Carry a bottle of water on your walk with a collapsible dog bowl so you and your dog can have water breaks in the heat.

Tip 4: Avoid walking on the asphalt during the heat of the day. Not only is the asphalt hotter than the sidewalk or grassier areas, but it can burn your dogs sensitive paws. Choose the sidewalk or grass instead. If you can not avoid walking on asphalt, invest in doggie booties. These shoes will keep your dog’s feet from burning and help him or her stay cooler since they will absorb less heat through their paws.

Tip 5: If you must take your dog out during the heat of the day, make sure it is a short walk to do their duty only. Try to stay on a shaded path, away from asphalt if possible. Do not give your dog outside exercise during the heat wave. Instead, play with them inside for exercise.

Following these tips will help you stay happy, healthy and cool this summer. See you out early tomorrow morning for a walk!



Heat Safety for Your Pet

June 20th was the first official day of summer and it is hot, hot, hot outside! If you are new to the South, then I hate to tell you, but the heat is just getting started. Temperatures in the 90s and above, with very high humidity levels, are very typical for Southern summer months, which generally last from late May to late September/early October. So you’re in for a treat (if you like heat!).

A lot of people think that pets can survive in any weather. The thought is that since they are animals, nature has taught them ways to survive. Well, that’s true to an extent. A dog or cat will seek shade if they are overheated, water if they are thirsty, and shelter if there’s a storm. However, even the most instinctual pet can not survive the heat wave we are about to begin. Pets can and will get dehydrated, develop sunburns and even suffer from heat stroke if they are not properly cared for during the summer months. But by taking some simple precautions, you and your pet can stay safe and cool this summer.

1. Never leave your pet in a parked car! Even with the windows down, parked cars can get dangerously hot in the summer, leading to heat stroke and even death.

2. Make sure all your windows have screens and that they are fastened securely to your home. During the summer months, there is an increase number of what is classified as “High-Rise Syndrome”. This is when a cat or dog falls out of an upper floor window as they are trying to get fresh air. If you have any windows without screens, or broken screens, leave them shut.

3. If you have a dog with long hair, you may want to shave them down to a shorter length for the summer months. But remember not to completely shave your pup or cat. Pet hair is a natural sunblock, so shaved pets are at risk for severe sunburns. You should not cut hair shorter than 1 inch from the skin.

4. Watch out for asphalt and other outdoor surfaces that heat up quickly in the sun. Pet paws can burn on the hot surface. Walk on sidewalks, gravel paths or in the grass and avoid asphalt during the heat of the day.

5. Finally, always make sure plenty of fresh water is available to your pet. If you are going for a walk, take a bottle of water for you and your dog. You should always keep a bowl of fresh water easily accessible for your dog when spending any amount of time outdoors this summer to avoid dehydration.

It's important for your dog to stay hydrated this summer. Make sure to provide your pup with plenty of fresh water.

Stay tuned for more beat the heat tips. Stay safe and have fun!





Know the Signs of When Your Cat Needs Emergency Care

As we all know, accidents happen. Oftentimes when people think of a pet needing emergency care, they think of a dog eating something he shouldn’t have or trying to jump over a fence and cutting himself. They do not often think of cats needing emergency care. Cats do get themselves into situations where accidents happen; they are just a bit sneakier about it than dogs. A cat is just as likely to need emergency care as a dog. Knowing the signs and having a plan of action is important to helping your cat in an emergency.

Cats can get themselves into plenty of sticky situations. My cat sister Tory is pretty trouble free now in her senior years, but I hear stories of when she was younger and mischievous. Cats love to jump and climb, which puts them at risk for falls. They also love to explore the world with their mouths (just like dogs) and may ingest a harmful substance. Bug bites, overexposure to heat or cold, or choking on an object are also common reasons cats need emergency care.

You may catch your cat in the act of the trauma, or you may not see the act but just the symptoms. Signs that a cat is in need of emergency care include:

• Excessive bleeding

• Loss of consciousness

• Difficulty or rapid breathing

• Rapid or weak pulse

• Difficulty standing or moving

• Inability to move

• A change in body temperature

• Pale gums

If your cat exhibits any of these signs, seek veterinary help immediately. If it’s during business hours, call your primary veterinarian and explain the situation. They will give you guidelines on how to care for your pet in route to the vet office. But sometimes accidents happen when the vet is closed. So next time you speak to your veterinarian, ask for the name and number of a good 24-hour emergency clinic near you. Keep the name of the office, address and phone number in an easily accessible place, like saved on your cell phone or taped onto your cat carrier.

Some cats, like Tory, are lucky and never need emergency care. But some cats are not as lucky. That’s why it’s always a good idea to know the signs of trauma and have a plan of action in place. It’s never a bad idea to plan ahead for the “just in case”.



Happy Father’s Day to all Doggy Daddies!


Happy Father's Day to all Doggy Daddys!

Top Ten Reasons Dogs love their Dads:

1. You take me for long walks and sometimes even run with me.

2. You give me extra treats from the dinner table when Mommy isn’t looking.

3. You brave the rain to take me outside while Mommy waits inside with towels.

4. You throw the ball extra far for me to chase in the yard.

5. You give me a little bit extra food at every meal you feed me.

6. You let me get on the couch even though I’m not allowed.

7. You give great belly rubs with your great big hands!

8. When I dig a hole in the yard, you just fill it back up for me to do it again!

9. You will let me run and bark at squirrels without telling me “no”!

10. You let me curl up on your shoes while Mommy hides all of hers in the closet.


Proper Nutrition for Your Senior Dog

Did you know that dogs are considered seniors at about 7 to 12 years of age, depending upon size and breed? As a general rule, the smaller the dog, the longer it takes to show signs of aging. Lately I’ve noticed some of my puppy friends are slowing down a bit. Abby & JoJo are starting to rest more and are even getting grey hairs. And I don’t get to play as much with my friend Caroline anymore because her joints are not as strong as they used to be. But let me tell you, these senior pups are still as sharp as they ever were and loving life. That’s because their Mommy’s and Daddy’s help keep them in tip-top shape. One way they do that is through their diet.

Make sure to feed your senior dog specially formulated food for optimal health.

One easy thing to do when your pup reaches senior age is to switch them from adult dog food to the senior formula. Senior formula’s have special vitamins and minerals to help decrease the most common problems of senior dogs. As a dog ages, just as a human ages, their bodies change. Their metabolisms slow down, so it’s easier for them to gain weight. They can start to lose muscle mass, their skin and coat start changing, they can develop arthritis and dental issues. Plus as dogs age, it’s more difficult for them to fight off illnesses and infections. Feeding senior dogs’ specially formulated food for older pups can help decrease a lot of the common aging problems.

Since senior dogs put on weight easier than younger dogs, you need to pay close attention to their calorie intake. If you keep feeding them as much as you did when they were younger, they most likely will gain weight. Switching to a lower calorie food or lowering the amount of food and/or treats you feed your dog is the best way to avoid pet obesity. If you choose to lessen the amount of food in your dog’s diet, do so gradually. Like humans, your pups can become very hungry if you dramatically lower the amount of food they are eating.

And make sure your senior dog is getting plenty of protein. Not only does protein help your dog feel fuller for a longer period of time, but it helps maintain their muscle mass. Check with your veterinarian for specifics on the amount and type of food your senior dog should be eating.

A dog’s diet is important at any age, but by paying special attention to your senior dog’s nutrition needs, you can help him or her live a longer, healthier and happier life.



How to Help Your Dog Deal with Separation Anxiety

Last week we talked about what separation anxiety is and how dogs exhibit signs of separation anxiety. Today I want to talk about how dog Mom’s and Dad’s can help their pup if she or he has separation anxiety. There are training techniques out there to help your dog deal with his anxiety and fear when you are gone. It may be difficult, and can take a while, but training is always advised before turning to medications for your dog.

One way to help solve the problem of separation anxiety is keeping your dog in a confined area when you area away. This can be as simple as buying a crate for your dog to stay in anytime you leave the house. This is best used when you are leaving home for a short period of time. If a crate is not available or your dog does not react well to being crated, then try limiting the dog’s access to one room in the home while you are away. Make sure this room does not have any easily accessible items to destroy and take an effort to make the room and/or the crate as comfortable as you can for the dog. Do not make the room or crate punishment, but a safe place for your dog to spend time. Put blankets, beds and your dog’s favorite toys in the room to surround him with his favorite things. When leaving the room, do not make a big deal of it but just casually leave. To get your pup used to the room and/or crate, leave him alone for a few minutes in the beginning, and return with praise and treats. Continue doing this method, leaving him alone for longer time periods until he is comfortable for several hours at a time. Soon the crate or room will become a safe and happy place for your pup while you are away. If you are gone for long periods of time, it’s good to have someone check in on your dog and let them go outside to go to the bathroom. Pet sitters are great for this!

A crate can give a dog a sense of security and safety while you are away.

Exercise is always a great way to relieve stress in an anxious dog. Before you leave the home, take your pup for a long walk or run, depending on his or her fitness level. Not only does this help your pup blow off steam, but it also makes him or her too tired to act out when you are gone.

Leaving your dog with interactive toys is also a good way to keep him busy, get some exercise for stress release and deter his attention from his anxiety. Chew toys, bones and treat dispensing toys are great activities for a dog with separation anxiety to get rid of some stress without destroying your home.

If the separation anxiety symptoms still persist, or if the case is severe, consult your veterinarian. They may find it is necessary to medicate your dog to relieve his or her symptoms.

Remember to be patient and never punish your dog for acting out when they are fearful. Instead, try to find ways to calm your dog and help him or her feel safe while you are away.