The Benefits of Outside Time for Your Dog

Most dogs love to be outside! I know I do! Lately with the warmer weather, I spend most of my time outside in our back yard. I love to run, play with my brothers and sisters or just lie down and soak in the warm sunbeams. Did you know that being outside is good for your dog? Outside time benefits our emotional health and our physical health.

A lot of dogs, like a lot of humans, don’t get enough exercise. With people becoming busier and busier, their lack of activity has translated to their pets. It’s very difficult for a dog, big or small, to get enough exercise indoors. Sure we will walk around, maybe chase a ball or play with our brothers and sisters while you are away or busy in the home, but most of the time we will spend our time napping. Being outdoors helps motivate us to move, whether it’s going on a walk or chasing a toy in the yard. It helps end the sedentary lifestyles of puppies and humans alike! Plus it helps us maintain a healthy weight, which translates into better overall health for your dog.

Have you ever noticed that your dog tends to either nap or follow you around the house a lot? Do you know why? Most of the time it’s because we are bored! And we are either sleeping away our boredom or looking to you for entertainment. Some pups actually may become destructive due to boredom. They create their own fun activity by chewing on your favorite shoe or clawing at your furniture. This may end puppy boredom, but it definitely does not create a happy dog owner. Spending more time outside playing or walking will help end our boredom. We are provided with a lot of stimuli, different sights, sounds and smells, that we are not exposed to inside. This keeps our minds active and alert. Plus the extra activity tires us out so we are less likely to be under foot or destroying your home décor.

Lastly, being in the sunlight helps keep our coats healthy and beautiful. When exposed to the sunlight and changing temperatures, our coats will shed on a normal cycle. Keeping on a regular shedding schedule, while it may be annoying to dog parents, is good for a dog’s coat. It makes our fur fuller and healthier. Sunlight also helps us absorb and utilize vitamins that keep us healthy and strong.

So take advantage of the longer daylight hours and beautiful weather by spending time outdoors with your dog. There are countless things you can do, from going for a walk around the neighborhood, visiting the local dog park, chasing a ball in your yard, or letting your dog chew on their favorite toy on the deck. Have fun!



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!

The Importance of Pet ID Tags

This week is National Pet ID Week.  Not only our pet ID tags stylish now, but they are so beneficial to pet safety!  My brothers and sisters and I wear one all the time.  Did you know that only 1 in 3 pets wear their tags all the time?  Most of the time pet parents take off the tags for 3 different reasons.  One, they think since their pet is never outdoors alone or without a leash, it is not needed.  Two, they get annoyed with the jingling sound the tag makes.  Or three, they think the pet is bothered by the collar and tag too much to wear it.  Well, these three reasons are not true because I live in a household with 5 dogs and 1 cat and we all wear our collars and tags proudly every day with no nuisance to us or our parents.

Research shows 80% of pet owners believe it’s important for pets to wear ID tags, but only 1 in 3 pets always wear a tag.

— Little Friends (@LittleFriends3) April 16, 2012

The ASPCA did a study on pet ID tag usage among pet owners.  They followed 109 pets in which pet ID tags were placed directly on the pets by either an adoption agency or a veterinarian.  Two months after the study began, 84% of the pets were still wearing their collars and ID tags.  The tags that were taken off were due to one of the three reasons mentioned above.

And can you believe during that 2 month period 18 pets were reported lost?  Seventeen of the pets were found and returned home.  Ten of the pets returned were able to get home because the person who found them saw their ID tag and used the information on it!  YAY!  The ID tags worked to get these kitties and puppies back home safely.

It’s important to have your kitten and puppy start wearing a collar and ID tag early on in life so they get used to having it on at all times.  We generally all adjust very quickly to wearing these and after a little while our parents don’t notice the occasional jingle from the tag!  Plus, a little noise and a few extra scratches are worth it to return your pet  home to you.

A lot of people have put a microchip in their dog or cat, which is great.  But only a center with a microchip scanner can actually read the information on the chip.  And anyone  can read an ID tag.  So for the most efficient safety measure for your pet, choose a pet ID tag.  You can get one that fits our personality perfectly at a reasonable price at your local pet store.  Happy shopping!


What to do When Your Dog or Cat is Stung by a Bee

Now that it’s warmer, I’ve noticed a lot of bugs flying around in the air.  Some are harmless but annoying, like flies.  Others are kind of scary.  There’s this one bug that makes a loud buzzing noise when it flies around.  And every time it goes near Mommy and Daddy, they immediately get up and move away yelling “bee!”  I guess that’s
the bug’s name, Bee!  Apparently they can sting you and cause a lot of pain, and some people and animals are allergic to bee stings.

Luckily I’ve never been stung by a bee.  But the other day one of my sisters was stung
by a bee.  She was not happy!  She yelped and started pawing and chewing at the spot where the bee stung her.  Daddy quickly went and picked her up so she would stop doing that!  He didn’t want her to break the stinger and get part of it stuck in her body.  That would be very painful to get out!

So after Daddy got her calmed down, he used the corner of a credit card and slowly rubbed it against her body so that the stinger would be lifted out of her skin.  (You could also use your fingernail if you didn’t have a credit card handy.)  Mommy can’t remove the stinger because she’s allergic to bees.  If she removes it and accidentally gets some of the venom on her, she will have an allergic reaction.  So Daddy does this if we get
stung by a bee.

After Daddy got the stinger out, he held a cold wash cloth on her skin for a few minutes.  She definitely didn’t like it and squirmed a lot, but Daddy kept the cold there for as long as possible to help ease the pain and reduce any swelling.  Mommy then combined some water and baking soda, which is non-toxic for pups, and made a paste out of it.  Daddy put the paste on the spot where the bee sting occurred and then he actually put a bit of clean gauze on it and secured it with puppy friendly adhesive bandage.  This way she wouldn’t immediately lick away the water/baking soda
paste.  The paste helps ease the pain.  Now my sister tugged and swatted at the spot,
but Daddy and Mommy held her so she would stay calm as long as possible to let
the paste do its work.

They also watched her for signs of possible allergic reaction.  Doggies’ allergic reactions to bee stings are very similar to humans, and include swelling of the face, hives and difficulty breathing.  Luckily she did not have an allergic reaction, but if she did they would have called our vet immediately and get her medication to stop the reaction.

After about 30 minutes, my sister was back to her normal self.  We all forgot about the nasty bee and were playing and having fun together.  But I bet the next time she hears the buzz of the bee, she will run the other way like Mommy & Daddy!  I know
I will after seeing what she went through!


Why Does My Dog Mark?

I have to say, I’m not big into marking.  On occasion I sniff an interesting smell in
the grass, but marking just isn’t my thing. The two older pups in the house, Abby and JoJo always mark!  They even sometimes wait until I’m finished doing my thing and mark over where I just went.  It’s crazy but it seems to make them happy, so I just let them do it.

You may not know this, but dogs can tell a lot from a sniff of another dog’s spot of pee!  It’s almost like our calling card we can leave behind for other dogs to find.  When dogs mark with pee, they are telling other dogs that one of two things.  One is that of “hey guys, just letting you know I was here,” and others may respond in equally friendly comments of pee.  The second is marking of possession of territory and land.  This is a dominant behavior found in both male and females pups.  And if another pup comes along who is also into building his or her territory, he or she will just mark right over the first pups pee, covering up the scent so it’s now all theirs.  It’s a no-win game of domination in this world of domesticated animals, but dogs still have the instinct to mark
when they can.  Some dogs will even go through the motions of lifting their leg to mark even when they have no urine left to mark with!

A sure sign that a dog is marking out of dominance is if he or she kicks back their legs after doing their business.  This is the dog trying to spread his or her message around.  Dogs have scent glands in their paws.  So when they are kicking the ground, they are adding more scent to the area to claim their territory.  If your dog exhibits this behavior, you definitely need to be aware that he or she does have a more dominant and
territorial personality.  There are many training techniques that can be implemented to break your dog of its dominant tendencies.  Refer to your local vet or dog trainer for ideas for your pup.

Other times dogs have a tendency to mark is if an un-spayed female is in heat.  Female pups in heat have a particular odor.  Male dogs can identify this odor as coming from a female in heat.  So the females do it to alert the male dogs that she is in fact in heat,
sometimes for teasing and other times for breeding purposes.  This is less common now since most pups have been spayed and neutered, but if you have unaltered pets this is definitely going to happen!

And there are times when marking is not done out of dominance but out of a bonding experience. Usually this is between a mother dog and her puppies.  If a puppy and Mommy dog go out to pee, usually the Mommy dog is standing next to her puppy while he goes tinkle.  Then after he tinkles, the mother will urinate over the same spot.  This is not to show the puppy that the Mommy is in charge, but more of a bonding routine to
show that it is both of their spaces.

But many pups, like me, just go when they need to go, sniff an interesting smell or two, and go along our way.  We are happy to just be exploring the land and don’t need to own it!

Golden Retriever Facts & Care

As many of you know, I’m a Golden Retriever.  Golden Retrievers are one of the most popular breeds of dogs in America due to their beauty and mild mannered demeanor.  (I just blushed a little typing that!).  We are great pets and can adapt to many situations!

The Golden Retriever originated in the Scottish Highlands inthe late 1800s.  Lord Tweedmouth, a wealthy man whose pastimes included developing townships and breeding animals, crossed the yellow Flat-Coated Retriever with the Tweed Water Spaniel (now extinct).  He later added in some bloodhound and Irish Setter, and out came the Golden Retriever.

Golden Retrievers are intelligent dogs and learn quickly.  They are great for obedience
competitions!  We also have a knack for hunting and tracking.  We were originally bred as bird dogs, hunting birds in the water and on land, so many of us still have the instinct to chase birds – whether we are running or swimming!  With are great obedience and tracking instincts, we make great police narcotics dogs.  A lot of police officers have Golden Retrievers as their partners to help them sniff out clues and illegal substances.  And we are well known for our ability to be fantastic service dogs!  We are great
with people of all ages and abilities, so we can be used as therapy dogs for
people with psychological illnesses, guide dogs for the blind, and service dogs for the disabled.  We love to please our masters – so give us a task and we’ll do it to the best of our abilities!

Maizee growing up fast!


We are active dogs and require daily activity to get our energy out – so if you are thinking of adding a Golden to your life, make sure you can meet our exercise needs.  We typically grow to about 60 to 75 lbs, but can live in smaller apartments and homes as long as we have our daily exercise. We are average shedders and are easy to groom.  We do gain weight easily so you need to pay attention to our feeding schedule.  And it is not uncommon for Golden’s to have allergy problems that require medication.

But take it from me, Golden Retrievers are great dogs!  We are very happy, friendly and full of love!  If you have room in your heart and your life, consider adopting a Golden.

The Responsibilities of Animal Control: Great and Varied

Not that long ago my brother and sister Yorkies were old enough to be spayed and neutered.  Now this is not a process any dog looks forward too, but it seems to be one most of us have to at one time in our lives. It’s a small price to pay for living in such a wonderful house with loving owners though!  But I have to say – I was glad it was them and not me!!

Did you know that the local Humane Society has a spay and neuter clinic for cats and dogs?  There is one clinic housed at the local Animal Control office in Charlotte, which is where the Yorkies went.  When my Mommy took them, she learned so much about the Animal Control of Charlotte.  They do great things for animals in the city and deserve more appreciation than they get!

Most people think of just mean old dog catchers when they hear the words “Animal Control”.  But that’s definitely not the case!  The Animal Control Office of Charlotte houses many adoptable dogs and cats in their huge facility and have many more that are taken care of by foster families.  They work hard to find these pets good homes, just like the Humane Society does!

And animal control works hard to make sure the public and all animals are safe.  They respond to barking and noise complaints and they take care of any dangerous animals (such as wolves) that may have gotten into a neighborhood.  One of the things I love most about Animal Control is that they help puppies and kitties in need.  They respond to animal abuse complaints, like if person is neglecting their pups and cats by not feeding them and making them live in unclean/unsafe conditions.  They will take the animals out of that horrible situation, get them healthy and help find them a loving home!  They also work with disaster response for animals, whether it’s a tornado or a Hazmat situation. Check out this video of an Animal Control Rescue Drill.  And if that’s not enough, they partner with the local food bank to make sure they have pet food for those in financial distress.  They do a lot to keep us safe and they deserve a big thanks for that!

Thank your local Animal Control Officers today in celebration of Animal Control Officer Appreciation Week!

Easter Hazards for Cats & Dogs

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter everyone!  I hope you are enjoying this beautiful spring day!  My Mommy & Daddy have gotten all dressed up in their Easter best to visit friends, family and loved ones.  And they didn’t forget about their pets either!  We all got special pet friendly
Easter presents, such as a stuffed bunny dog toy, Easter egg shaped dog treats,
extra pistachios for the birds, and some extra catnip for Tory the cat.  My Mommy & Daddy got Easter presents too.  But some of them we have to stay away from because they are bad for doggies and cats.

The Easter Lily is a beautiful plant and my Mommy gets one every year from Daddy to celebrate Easter. Mommy keeps this plant way up high in the dining room which is off
limits to all pets.  She can see its beauty, but it’s kept away from Tory.  Tory the cat can become very sick if she eats the Easter Lily!  If a cat eats a Lily, they show signs of
fatigue and vomiting.  The Lily can cause renal failure if ingested, so it’s important to seek veterinarian help as soon as possible if you think your cat has eaten a bit of your holiday plant.  And if you get one as a gift, make sure your cat does not have access to it.  Tory is older and can’t jump very well, so putting it up high helps keep her away from
it. But if your cat is younger and a jumper, even height may not be enough to keep him or her out of the plant, so keep it in a room closed off from your cat.

And if your house has a lot of kids, or even just one, then Easter grass is probably all around!  The plastic fake grass that fills Easter baskets every year is an extremely tempting toy/treat for cats and some dogs.  Easter grass moves in the breeze, makes an interesting sound and is just asking for a cat or puppy to chase and eat it!  Of
course, if puppy or kitty eats this plastic string, then bad things can happen.  The first sign, besides the plastic grass seen in the mouth or in stool, is vomiting and straining to use the bathroom.  Your pet may also have a tummy ache and the stomach is tender to the touch.  Call your vet if you suspect your pet has eaten some Easter grass.  And if you see it coming out in the stool, do not attempt to remove it yourself.  If the string is long the pulling may cause internal damage.  If you have cats or dogs in the house, it’s best to forgo the Easter grass all together and fill your Easter baskets with toys and treats for humans to enjoy.

And as many of you already know, the favorite treat of any holiday, chocolate, is very bad for cats and dogs alike.  And since dogs have such a great nose and can smell this sweet treat around the house, do not use it as an Easter egg hunt item or else fido may get to it before the kids.  Early signs of ingestion in animals include vomiting, diarrhea and trembling.  So enjoy the treat this holiday, but keep it out of the reach of your pets!

I hope everyone has a safe and happy Easter!

What are you doing for your pet this Easter?

Heartworm Prevention for Dogs and Cats

Once every month, I get a yummy, special treat.  It’s my Heartworm prevention medication.  All dogs and the cat take this chewable pill the 1st of every month to keep us healthy. I like the taste, but Sidney and Kai do not.  They get theirs with a little bit of peanut butter on it so they’ll eat it.

Heartworms are nasty bugs, called parasites, that are transmitted to dogs and cats by infected mosquitoes.  If a dog or cat is not on preventative medication and gets bitten by a mosquito that is a carrier of heartworms, bad things can happen.  The heartworms effect the arteries of an animals lungs and the right side of their heart.  Heartworms can actually breed inside your pet and the number of parasites can greatly increase.  They also grow up to 1 foot long inside our arteries!  This can cause lots of health
problems for your pet, and can be fatal if left untreated.  (See the heartworm cycle chart courtesy of the American Heartworm Society for more information.)

It can take several months up to a year after infection for a dog or cat to show symptoms of heartworm disease.  Sometimes pets never show signs.  Other times, pets may have a mild, persistent cough, difficulty breathing, fatigue, loss of appetite and weight loss.  Heartworm is treatable, usually with a series of injections and hospitalization.  Blood tests should be performed at your pet’s annual physical to test for heartworm infection.

But it’s easy to prevent your pet from having to go through the pain of this illness.  Heartworm preventative chewable pills are easily available from your vet and are to be
given to us every month.  It’s important that we have year round protection, especially in the warm and humid south where mosquitoes are active for most of the year.  And most of the time your pet will enjoy the pill as a special, yummy treat.  I know I do!

Pet First Aid Kits Supplies and Usage

My Mommy & Daddy have a special box in the closet with a picture of a bird, cat, dog and a red cross. This is the pet first aid kit.  It contains everything in it that they would need in case any of us got hurt or sick.  They said it’s important for all pet Mommies
& Daddies to have a pet first aid kit. If we get hurt, Mommy & Daddy will be the first ones to care for us.  This initial care can help lessen the pain, the scariness and the severity of our injuries.

Written on the outside of the box are all the important phone numbers they may need to call if something bad happens.  It includes our veterinarian’s phone number, the local emergency vet clinic number and the Animal Poison Control Center number.  Mommy & Daddy also have these numbers programmed into their cell phones, but it’s always  good to have them written down as well.

Inside the box are first aid items you can find at a pet store and at your local drug store.  Some of the items you can pick up the next time your at the drug store include gauze
and non-stick bandages.  Items to buy at a pet store include a leash, muzzle, a pet digital thermometer, and pet adhesive tape.  It’s important not to buy adhesive bandages used for humans (like band-aids) because the adhesive just won’t work on our fur.


If we get cut, you should wrap the bleeding area in nonstick bandages or clean towels, and then secure it with the pet adhesive tape.  If we are frightened, it’s a good idea to
muzzle us so we won’t get angry and snap at you!  Even though we love you, when we are in pain we go back to our animal instincts and don’t trust anyone!  Then you should immediately call our vet to get further advice on care.

If we are sick, have ingested a possible poison or have a possible broken bone, do not give care to us until you speak with a vet.  Call your vet immediately and they will give
you instructions as to how to care for us before going to the clinic.  It’s important in these situations to get advice from a professional because you may be doing more  harm than good going off of your instincts.  Remember, pets and humans have very different bodies, systems and reactions.

Finally, it’s important to stay calm if your pet needs first aid.  Your pet is scared and if you are too, it will only make him panic more.  Take a few breaths, and then give him the first aid care he need.  And always refer to your veterinarian with any questions regarding your pets care.  They may even have special pet first aid courses you can take to be ready for any emergency.