Winter Pet Safety

Brrr, it’s cold out there! Help your pets remain safe during the colder months by following these simple guidelines.

  • Repeatedly coming out of the cold into the dry heat of your home can cause itchy, flaking skin. Keep your home humidified and towel dry your pet as soon as he comes inside, paying special attention to his feet and in-between the toes. Remove any snow balls from between his foot pads.pet-care_cold-weather-tips_main-image
  • Never shave your dog down to the skin in winter, as a longer coat will provide more warmth. If your dog is long-haired, simply trim him to minimize the clinging ice balls, salt crystals and de-icing chemicals that can dry his skin, and don’t neglect the hair between his toes. If your dog is short-haired, consider getting him a coat or sweater with a high collar or turtleneck with coverage from the base of the tail to the belly. For many dogs, this is regulation winter wear.
  • Bring a towel on long walks to clean off stinging, irritated paws. After each walk, wash and dry your pet’s feet and stomach to remove ice, salt and chemicals—and check for cracks in paw pads or redness between the toes.
  • Bathe your pets as little as possible during cold spells. Washing too often can remove essential oils and increase the chance of developing dry, flaky skin. If your pooch must be bathed, ask your vet to recommend a moisturizing shampoo and/or rinse.
  • Massaging petroleum jelly or other paw protectants into paw pads before going outside can help protect from salt and chemical agents. Booties provide even more coverage and can also prevent sand and salt from getting lodged between bare toes and causing irritation. Use pet-friendly ice melts whenever possible.
  • Like coolant, antifreeze is a lethal poison for dogs and cats. Be sure to thoroughly clean up any spills from your vehicle, and consider using products that contain propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol; if swallowed in small amounts, it will not hurt pets, wildlife, or your family.
  • winter-carePets burn extra energy by trying to stay warm in wintertime. Feeding your pet, a little bit more during the cold weather months can provide much-needed calories, and making sure they have plenty of water to drink will help keep your pet well-hydrated and their skin less dry.
  • Make sure your companion animal has a warm place to sleep, off the floor and away from all drafts. A cozy with a warm blanket or pillow is perfect.
  • Be prepared. Cold weather also brings the risks of severe winter weather and power outages. Have enough food, water and medicine (including any prescription medications as well as heartworm and flea/tick preventives) on hand to get through at least 5 days.
  • Remember, if it’s too cold for you, it’s probably too cold for your pet, so keep your animals inside. If left outdoors, pets can freeze, become disoriented, lost, stolen, injured or killed. In addition, don’t leave pets alone in a car during cold weather, as cars can act as refrigerators that hold in the cold and cause animals to freeze to death.

Pet-Friendly Thanksgiving

Be Prepared When Your Pet Comes Begging

With the holidays approaching, your dog or cat will inevitably be begging to partake in the big turkey dinner. While this can be a wonderful way to add lean protein and fresh veggies to your pet’s diet, there are also hidden dangers in holiday fare. This year, before preparing a heaping plateful for your pet, consider these tips to keep Thanksgiving a safe, healthful holiday for your dog or cat.befunky_thanksgiving1

SHARE (in moderation)

White Meat Turkey

Turkey can be a wonderful lean protein to share with your pet. Just be sure to remove any excess skin or fat, stick with white meat, and make sure there are no bones.

Cranberries

Cranberry sauce is just fine for pets but watch the amount of sugar in it. It is probably best to only provide a small helping to your pet’s plate.

Plain Pumpkin

Good for both diarrhea and constipation, canned pumpkin (not raw, not the sugary, spicy pie filling) is loaded with fiber and beta-carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A.

Plain Yams & Sweet Potatoes

Great source of vitamin B6 and vitamin C for your pup! A good tip is to set aside some cooked sweet potatoes before you add any salt or butter (or marshmallows!) to them, and save those for the dog.

Mashed or Baked Potatoes 

Regular potatoes, while not quite as nutritious as the sweet variety, are also a safe and yummy treat. Again, set aside your pets serving of potatoes before adding butter, garlic, gravy, cheese, etc.

Carrots & Green Beans

Plain green beans are a wonderful treat for pets. Fresh vegetables are a great addition to any diet. If the green beans are included in a green bean casserole though, be conscious of the other ingredients in it.

Apple Slices 

Apples (minus the seeds) are also a great, crunchy treat for dogs. Applesauce is also an acceptable treat for dogs, but stick to the unsweetened variety.

DO NOT SHARE (toxic to pets)

Bones

Turkey bones can become lodged in the throat, stomach, or intestinal tract or break into splinters, causing extensive damage to the stomach and gastro-intestinal tract if swallowed, even puncturing the small intestines.

Spices 

Flavor enhancers can cause all kinds of problems! Seizures, death, stomach discomfort, anemia and even death. Onions, garlic, sage and nutmeg are some of the common seasonings we use during the holidays and these are some of the biggest offenders!

Nuts

Never give your dog walnuts, pecans or macadamia nuts! All three are extremely poisonous for pups (a toxin in macadamias can lead to tremors and hind-quarter paralysis).

Grapes

Many people are unaware that grapes, and subsequently raisins, can be toxic to pets. The fruit has been shown to cause kidney failure in dogs.

Chewing Gum and Candy

Many contain Xylitol, an artificial sweetener that can cause a severe drop in blood glucose in dogs. As soon as 30 minutes after ingestion, dogs can begin to show signs of depression, loss of coordination, and seizures. 

Chocolate

A well-known off limits indulgence for pets. During the holidays, however, chocolate is used in recipes and sometimes forgotten about by the time the dishes hit the table. Make sure this holiday season that your pet does not ingest any chocolate, especially the baking kind.

Beer

Alcohol, especially the hops in beer, can be particularly harmful to dogs, causing intoxication, panting, fever, racing heart, liver damage, even coma, seizures and death.

Dough and Cake Batter

The combination of raw bread dough and the pet’s body heat can cause the dough to rise inside the stomach, resulting in vomiting, severe abdominal pain and bloating. The batter used in cakes and pies usually contains raw eggs which could contain salmonella bacteria that may lead to food poisoning.

TIP:

Exercise your dog before guests arrive. A tired dog is less likely to misbehave and look for mischief! If your dog is full of energy, he will be more likely to be underfoot while you are preparing for the feast and entertaining your guests. HappyTails Pet Sitters are available on Thanksgiving Day and would love to help make your holidays less stressful! Book today!

Want to let your fur kid indulge in all the glorious leftovers without the guilt?

Check out this recipe for Turkey Pumpkin treats! PS – it’s cat friendly too.

  • 6 ounces white turkey meat
  • ½ cup cooked carrots/potatoes/pumpkin
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries
  • ½ cup ground oatmeal (or substitute whole grain, rice, or pea flour)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Blend turkey, cranberries, and carrots in a food processor until smooth, then mix in ground oatmeal. Roll into ½-1 inch balls and cook on a baking sheet for 10-15 minutes depending on the size of the treats.

8 Tips to Keep Your Dog Safe This Halloween

The week leading up to and just after Halloween is one of the busiest times of year for the Pet Poison Hotline, and the 2nd most common holiday for pets to get lost (after July 4th).

So while Halloween can be a fun time of year for humans and kids, it can be quite a bit frightening and stressful for dogs that don’t understand the concept, don’t like wearing costumes, or are not real happy with strangers knocking on the door every few minutes.

Keep these 8 Tips in mind this Halloween to keep the holiday fun, stress-free and safe for your dogs.

8-haloween-safety-tips

Keeping Your Dog (And Your Kids) Safe On Halloween

Halloween is just around the corner so here are some tips for kids, parents, and dog owners to help keep everyone safe this Halloween.

Bizarre sights and sounds can cause stress in a normally calm dog. It is much safer and better to keep dogs out of the excitement by securing them away from the door and by providing a long lasting chew treat.

Teach your kids to “be a tree” and stand totally still if any dogs come near them on Halloween. Halloween is lots of fun for kids, but many dogs can become confused or scared by kids in strange looking costumes and by so many people coming to the door, yet they are never being invited in.

Dog owners:

  1. Secure your dog behind a closed door or in a crate in a room away from the front door or the party if children are meeting at your house.
  2. Give him a juicy bone from the butcher; a sterilized bone or Kong stuffed with hotdog. Play music or leave a TV or radio playing in the dog’s area to help mask the sounds of the activity at the front door.
  3. Close drapes so that the dog does not see people coming and going through the window.
  4. If you have a dog that barks at the sound of the doorbell, disconnect it or watch for trick-or-treaters so that they do not have to ring or knock.
  5. Supervise very carefully if you have a dog that may try to play with your children’s costumes while they are wearing them.
  6. Keep your dogs (and cats) indoors around Halloween time. Pets have been stolen, injured or poisoned as part of Halloween pranks or other rituals.

Kids and Parents:

  1. Never approach any dog, even if you know him. He may not recognize you in your costume.
  2. If an owner opens the door and there is a dog there, just stay still and wait for the dog owner to put the dog away. You can tell them you do not want to come near the dog. Do not move toward the person and dog. Wait for them to come to you to give you your candy. Wait for them to close the door before you turn and leave.
  3. If a dog escapes just stand still and “be a tree” (hands folded in front, watching your feet). He will just sniff you and then move on. Wait for the owner to come and get the dog before you turn away.
  4. If you meet a dog without its owner, “be a tree” and wait until the dog goes away.
  5. It is best to ignore other people’s dogs on Halloween if you meet them out walking. The dog may be worried about all the strange creatures that are out and about. Again, even if you know the dog, he may not recognize you in your costume.

Remember, Halloween can be a scary time for some dogs. And, most aggression and accidental dog bites stem from a dog’s fear reaction. Pet owners and parents alike should be cautious and considerate on this fun holiday.

Dognapped: 5 Ways To Prevent Dog Theft

I feel pretty certain that I speak for the majority of you when I say the thought of your dog going missing is a nightmare. Even worse is the thought of someone taking her.

Did you know that all over the world, as many as 2 million dogs are stolen from their families every single day? TWO MILLION! EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

That’s a shocking statistic, especially when you consider that pet theft can be prevented. 

The 5 most popular breeds that are targeted by thieves are Yorkshire Terriers, Pit Bull mixes, Maltese, Pomeranian, and Labradors. Even if you don’t own one of these breeds, it’s still crucial to educate yourself about pet theft so that your dog doesn’t become a statistic. Take a look at this infographic…

dognapped

 

More than 50 percent of dog thefts occur right in your own home or yard. That means it’s up to you to provide a safe and secure home, and pet parents can drastically reduce the odds of their dog going missing by taking these 5 precautions:

  1. Never, ever, ever leave your dog unattended. I can’t tell you how strongly I believe this. There is absolutely no reason for your dog to ever be left alone in the yard, in a parked car, or any place where you’re not right there with her. Period.
  2. Make sure your dog has an ID tag with current and accurate information. Even if she is microchipped, an ID tag is still a must.
  3. Build a secure fence around your yard. I like a fenced yard because it provides a contained play area but again, I strongly advise never leaving your dog alone in the yard.
  4. Keep your gate locked at all times. Keeping your gate locked makes it even harder for a stranger to enter your yard. This gives added security not just for your dog, but also for your home.
  5. Keep an eye on strangers. If you see people you don’t recognize in your neighborhood, be aware of them. Report them to the police if they exhibit shady behavior. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

There you have it: these 5 ways to prevent dog theft are so simple, and losing a pet to thieves is totally preventable when we know what to look for and what to do to keep them safe.

Do you have any tips for keeping pets safe from thieves? Leave me a comment and let’s chat about it!

5 Spring Flowers that are Poisonous to Dogs


One of the things I love about Spring is the pop of color from all the beautiful flowers. Nothing quite represents a fresh start like the first flowers of Spring.

But some of Spring’s most beloved flowers are harmful – even fatal – to your dog. Do you know which flowers to avoid? Here are 5 Spring flowers that are poisonous to dogs. If these are growing in your garden, take precautions to protect your pets.

  1. Lilies. I love lilies but did you know that lilies are deadly to dogs, cats, and rabbits? The peace lily, calla lily, amaryllis, autumn crocus, and lily of the valley are all toxic because they contain a substance called oxalic acid, which is poisonous to pets. The deadliest part of this plant is the root.
  2. Daffodils. Such a gorgeous, happy, Spring flower is the yellow Daffodil, but it’s also deadly to pets. It’s the bulb that is the most dangerous, as it contains toxic alkaloids that cause an entire array of problems, including death.
  3. Azaleas. As pretty as they are, Azaleas are deadly to dogs because they contain a substance called grayanotoxin, which can shut down a dog’s central nervous system. Scary stuff.
  4. Morning Glory. The beautiful Morning Glory contains seeds that can be highly toxic to dogs. The seeds contain a combination of poisonous chemicals that can kill your dog.
  5. Chrysanthemum. I’m told that a little bit of this flower might not affect your dog, but who wants to take the chance? These flowers contain a substance called pyrethrins, which will cause loss of balance and lack of coordination.

My best advice for avoiding a tragic situation with any of these plants is keep an eye on your dog. Don’t assume that your dog knows what is harmful to her, because she doesn’t. All she knows is what tastes good, and we all know that what tastes good isn’t always good for us.

Animal Poison Control – 888.426.4437

I advise keeping the number near the phone in your home, as well as saving it in your cell phone contacts. The center is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

For a more detailed list of plants that are toxic to your pet, visit the ASPCA website

Do you know of other plants that are harmful to pets? 

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