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!



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”.



How Your Cat Shows You Affection

Hi world! It’s me, Tory the cat. Maizee has had a bit of writer’s block so I thought I’d take over for the day. I’m writing about a subject near and dear to me. I hear so many people talking about how they love dogs because they are always so sweet and affectionate, but cats get no acknowledgement for being loving. There are even people out there who consider themselves “not cat people” for this reason. I don’t understand at all; cats definitely are loving and affectionate. We just show it in different ways that dogs do.

When dogs are happy to see you’ve entered a room, they wag their tails and some may jump all over you. It’s pretty hard to miss. But with cats, we like to be a bit more refined with our greetings. You have to look at our eyes to see our happy welcome. Slow eye blinks are considered “kitty kisses”. This is our way of saying we are happy you are around. And unlike with dogs, you can reciprocate with slow eye blinks with us. We will continue to communicate with kitty kisses as long as you interact with us!

Cats also show we love you by rubbing our face on you. This is actually a cat form of marking. We have glands that secrete pheromones to mark our territory. Every cat has a unique scent so we can tell who marked what. And when a cat rubs her face on your leg, she is telling the world this is my favorite human! It’s also a way for us to be close to you.

A cat rubbing its face against your leg is a sign of affection.

A lot of the other ways we show affection are similar to dogs; it’s just less in your face than with dogs! When you’ve been away and we can tell you are home, we do get excited! We don’t bark and jump at the door like some dogs I know, but we will get excited when we hear your car pull up and the jingle of the keys in the door. Cats will show their excitement by running to the door. This is us saying we missed you and are so glad you are home. We’ll even follow you around from room to room to be with you, because we love our parents!

And not unlike a dog submitting to a belly rub, cats will also show you their belly as a sign of love and trust. This is cat’s letting our guard down and becoming vulnerable, a true sign of affection.

Remember, cats are affectionate creatures. You may find the aloof cat personality who does not want anything to do with humans, but many cats do like people and love their human parents. I know I love my Mommy & Daddy! I’m just not as loud as the dogs about it! So look for these subtle signs in your kitty and know that your cat loves you just as much as you love your cat!



Stomatitis in Cats

Tory, my cat sister, was telling me a story about one of her friends the other day. It was a horrible situation in which her cat friend, Moose, got stomatitis. I had never heard of this before and neither had Tory. So I asked her to write about it today. I thought all cat parents should know about stomatitis. Here is her story.

I hadn’t seen my friend Moose in a while and was excited when he came over to visit the other day. He told me that he got really sick last month. All of a sudden his mouth became very painful and swollen. He didn’t want to eat, had trouble breathing, and he lost weight. His Mom told him that his breath smelled really bad too. His Mom took him to the vet right away to see what was going on.

His vet did a thorough examination. He looked into his mouth and after seeing his red, swollen gums and smelling his bad breath immediately determined it was most likely stomatitis. He did do some tests to rule out allergies and did a complete examination of his teeth and gums to rule out periodontal disease. Test results showed the initial thought was correct and the diagnosis was stomatitis. The vet explained that stomatitis is the inflammation of the oral cavity, or mouth. (Stoma means opening, so in this case it’s referring to the mouth) Stomatitis is common in cats and can occur in any breed, though it’s more common in Persians, Himalayans and Somalis. (Moose is a Persian cat like me.) Stomatitis causes the gums to become swollen. It starts with gums in the front of the mouth and can move into the back of the mouth. Swelling in the back of the mouth can block off the esophagus making eating difficult and painful. Also, the swollen gums can envelop the teeth; the tissues can swell around the tooth and even cause holes in the teeth which is very painful! No one knows what causes stomatitis. Vets believe it is an autoimmune disorder that causes the body to attack the cat’s teeth and gums.

Unfortunately stomatitis best treatment method is surgery. So Moose had to have surgery to remove his infected teeth, tooth roots, and any inflamed and infected tissue in the mouth. All the infected tissue must be removed or the stomatitis will reoccur. Luckily Moose’s vet knew a great cat dental surgeon who did a great job on his surgery. Moose is missing a few teeth now, but he feels much better! His Mom did a great job by taking him to the vet to get check quickly. If she had waited, it could have turned into a life threatening illness for Moose and treatment would have been much more difficult.

So, there you have it. Stomatitis is a scary illness I hope never happens to me. But if it does, at least now Cat Moms & Dads know the signs and can get their cat treatment quickly.



Yes, Pets do Lower Your Stress!

Whenever my Mommy or Daddy (or both!) have a bad day, they love to curl up with me and the rest of the gang, and love all over us. Now don’t get me wrong, they give us love and attention every day – but on bad days we get extra special attention! They spend even more time petting us! I love it because I like spending time with my Mommy & Daddy! The other pups love the extra special attention too! And it always helps Mommy & Daddy relax and forget about their bad day. They always end up smiling after only a few minutes of being with us!

There are several reasons why pets help lower a person’s stress level. Number 1 is unconditional love. Your dog and/or cat does not care if you made a mistake at work, forgot to pick up the dry cleaning, or spilled your breakfast all over yourself and the floor. (If it was a tasty breakfast, we actually appreciate the last one!) We love you and are happy you are around no matter what! Dogs are especially good at showing their affection with their happy greeting when you come home, wagging tails and lots of kisses (licks)! And cats, well just the sound of their purr and a rub against your leg shows you how much they care!

Another reason we are great for stress is that pets are a distraction. And while it doesn’t sound like a great trait, in cases where you’ve had a bad day, it is a good thing! We will get your mind off of anything that bothers you. Taking care of us, whether it’s taking us for a walk, feeding us, cleaning up after us, while sometimes may feel like a chore, is beneficial to your stress level. And no, I don’t mean that we won’t act up because we want something you are not providing! What I mean is that you are focused on taking care of us, and not whatever is stressing you out! Plus, when you are feeling sad and just want to sit on the couch, taking care of us will get you up and moving around. And moving around and participating in activities is always good for lowering your stress and improving your mood!

So the next time you are having a bad day, think about coming home to your sweet dog or cat. Remember how much we love you and depend on you – and how we think you are just perfect! That will put a smile on your face and make you shrug off whatever it is at work, school, and in life that is bothering you!



The Best Methods to Manage your Cat’s Hairball Problem

So Tory, the cat, has been bugging me ever since I started writing this blog to let her write an entry. Today I have finally given in to her constant pestering and am letting her write. She chose a topic that I don’t understand, but she and her cat buddies do: hairballs. So everyone, here’s Tory’s blog:


Today I am writing about something I hate: hairballs. Hairballs happen to all cats at one point or another. Some cats are more likely to get hairballs than other, like cats with long fur, or cats who groom themselves a lot, but all cats hate having hairballs. And all cat parents hate having to clean up hairball messes, so prevention is the key to the game for both parents and cat happiness.

Hairballs are caused by cats’ great attention to being well groomed. Yes, our grooming brings about these nasty little things. It’s a double edge sword really – we can’t stand to be dirty but we hate hairballs. A cat’s tongue actually has small hook like structures on the surface. This is why when a cat licks you it feels like sandpaper! These hooks are great for helping us get loose hair out when we are grooming, but the downside is that the loose hair is then digested. Most of the time the hair passes through our digestive system without any problems, but sometimes a nasty clump of hair can gather in our stomach, creating, you guessed it, a hairball! The only way for us to get this hairball out is through vomiting. It’s unpleasant for us to have to do, and unpleasant for our parents to have to clean up!

There are a few things cat parents can do to help lessen the amount of hairballs your cat will develop. The first thing to do is groom your cat regularly. While we will continue to groom ourselves as often as we had before, if you comb and brush out a lot of our loose fur on a regular basis, there will be less fur for us to digest. Daily brushing is recommended for the best prevention of hairballs. As an added bonus, most cats love to be brushed and it can help strengthen the bond between cat parent and cat. If you have one of those cats who doesn’t like to be brushed, consider taking him or her to a professional groomer at least every six months for a good brush and maybe even a haircut.

There are many specially formulated cat foods out there for hairball prevention. This food is high in fiber and has lots of vitamins for a healthy coat for your cat. The vitamins help reduce shedding while the fiber helps any loose fur pass through your cats system without forming a hairball. Speak to your veterinarian about what food is best for your cat.

Sometimes, hairballs can cause intestinal blockages. If you notice your cat vomiting or gagging without producing a hairball and if he or she has a lack of appetite, low energy, diarrhea or constipation, make an appointment to see your vet. This could be a hairball stuck in the intestines which can be life threatening, so getting medical treatment as soon as possible is best for your cats health.

Thanks everyone for reading about this not so pretty, but very important topic. I hope that Maizee gives in to my nagging again in the future so I can write another blog article!






What To Do if your Dog or Cat is Choking

Dogs and Cats explore the world differently from humans. Our vision is good, but not as keen as humans, so we mainly use our nose and mouth to learn about everything around us. If something smells good enough, we usually try to taste it. And if it tastes good enough, we may try to eat it. This can lead to us eating things that are not meant to be eaten, and if we try to swallow something that’s not meant to be swallowed, we can start choking.

Some pets symptoms of choking is very similar to humans, and includes difficulty breathing, choking sounds when breathing, coughing, and a blue colored lips and/or tongue. We may also paw at our mouth a lot when we are choking. If you think we are choking, stay calm and approach us carefully. A choking pet is a very scared pet so we may act out and try to bite or scratch you.

If your pup or cat is still breathing but you suspect an object in the airway, transport him or her to your veterinarian or emergency vet clinic immediately. It’s good to always call ahead so they can be ready to see your pet when you arrive. That’s why you should always have your vet and emergency vet’s number in your cell phone so you can get us the care we need without having any unnecessary delays. If your pup is having great difficulty breathing or has collapsed, call and transport your pet to your vet immediately.

To perform at home/in car care while waiting to get to the vet, first look into your pets mouth to see if you can see any object lodged in the mouth or throat. If you see an object, gently try to remove the object with tweezers or a small pair of sterilized pliers. Be very careful when doing this as you do not want to push the object down further into your pet’s throat. If it’s difficult to reach, don’t try to remove it; just take your pet to the vet as quickly as possible.

To perform the doggie or kitty Heimlich Maneuver, lay your pet on it’s side and using both hands, apply quick firm pressure along it’s rib cage. You want to imagine pushing air out of your pet’s lungs to push the object out. Repeat as necessary until the object comes out or you arrive at the vet clinic.


If you ever have to perform this, and I hope you don’t, stay calm and remain focused. Remember you are helping your pet! And to help avoid having to do this, try to keep all small objects out of your dog or cats reach. Look at your home as your pet would, and remove any objects that may tempt us into giving them a taste.





Pets as Tax Dependents? A Look at the Money We Spend on our Pets

Today is April 17, 2012 – otherwise known as the tax deadline.  Now I’m lucky because puppies don’t have to file taxes.  But my Mommy & Daddy do.  They were on top of it
and got their taxes done early, but a lot of people I hear wait until today to file their taxes.  I’d probably wait until today too if I had to file taxes.  It doesn’t sound like fun so I would put it off as long as I could!

A lot of people think they should be able to claim their pets on their taxes as dependents.  In fact, there is a proposed tax bill that would allow people to claim their personal pets as dependents on their taxes. It’s called the “Humanity and Pets Partnered Through the Years” or the HAPPY Act.  This bill hasn’t gotten much support since Michigan Representative Thaddeus McCotter, as well as representatives from Tennessee and Colorado, introduced the bill in 2009.  HAPPY would allow deductions of up to $3,500 a year for pet expenses.  While groups still push for the passing of the Act, it doesn’t look very promising just yet.

But considering how much the average American spends on their pet, a $3,500 deduction would be a great help to all the pet parents out there.  It is estimated that over $52 billion will be spent by Americans on their pets this year.  Last year Americans spent just shy of $51 billion on their pets.  In 2011, Americans spend $19.85 billion on pet food, $11.77 billion on pet supplies and over the counter medications for their pups and kitties, and $13.41 billion on veterinary care.  In my opinion, that definitely deserves a tax break (and don’t think I’m biased because I’m a pup!)

So how much does it cost per year to be a pet parent?  Well, according to the 2011-2012 APAA National Pet Owners Survey, the average annual expenses for a dog or cat owner include:

Expense Dog Cat
Surgical Vet Visits $407 $425
Routine Vet Visits $248 $219
Food $254 $220
Kennel/Boarding $274 $166
Vitamins $95 $43
Travel Expenses $78 $48
Groomer/Grooming Tools $73 $34
Treats $70 $41
Toys $43 $21


And of course, this varies depending on the pet, pet owner, and the amount of pets in the household.  So, Maizee says give pet parents a break and let them claim us as dependents!  But nonetheless, pet parents work hard to keep us safe, healthy and happy and we greatly appreciate it!

Thanks Mom & Dad!