There are many “pet holidays” and “special days” throughout the year; January is no exception. As noted last week, this is Walk Your Dog Month. January is also Train Your Dog Month.
Training our dogs even the basic commands, like sit, stay, come, and heel, is a great idea for several reasons. First and foremost, emphasizing these obedience words helps keep them safe. Daily, dogs in yards and visiting parks run into the street and are hit by cars. Having your dog respond to your voice command to “come” or “stay” helps prevent such tragedy should your beloved furry friend leave your side.
Training doesn’t have to be all about commands, however. Training can also include fun activities, such as agility, field work, and even games of fetch. Training can involve both voice commands and hand signals, and such activity is not only good for your dog’s physical health, but also its mental health as learning engages your dog’s brain.
Dogs aren’t the only animals that can be trained. Believe it or not, cats can also respond to words. “No” and “off” are good to use with cats as well as dogs; some felines are notorious for getting on tables and kitchen counters. I know a woman who uses clicker training with cats, rewarding them with treats for their good responses to her words.
Pet people want to bond with their beloved animals; training helps do that. For our pets, especially dogs, training is like playing games, and engaging your furry friend in games is fun for them. Therefore, they view it as time spent with you, which dogs especially enjoy since they are pack animals.
Take time this month to stimulate your pet mentally and physically with training. You’ll discover not only enjoyment in spending more time with your pet, but you’ll also reap the benefits of knowing your pet is safer by positively responding to commands as well as experience a stronger bond with your special friend.
Learn more about training dogs here:
Learn more about training cats here:
January is Walk Your Dog Month. I don’t know if there’s a special time set aside for Exercise Your Cat, but there should be. All pets need activity to be healthy. So do people. We can take time this month, in fact, each week, and preferably each day, for a bit of exercise with our pets. It’s good for them, and it’s good for us!
January is a time many people decide to pay more attention to their health. Exercise is one way to accomplish that. You can involve your pet in that resolution, and together, become healthier. There are many benefits to exercise for us and for our pets, including:
So, whether you talk a walk through the neighborhood, spend time at the dog park, play fetch in the backyard, or engage in a ribboned fishing pole activity with your cat, you and your pet will reap great benefits exercising together!
Read more on the benefits of activity for you and your pet at these websites:
Winter is officially here. Whether your area experiences chilly rain or freezing temperatures with blowing snow, this time of year brings safety concerns for our pets, including frostbite and poisoning. Below are five ways to keep your pet warmer and safer during these next several months:
Putting these five tips into action will help keep your four-footed companion warmer and safer during chilly winter months.
There’s a funny song “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” – did you get one of those? Sometimes families or individuals bring home a new pet as a Christmas gift, maybe not a hippo but a dog, cat, or guinea pig. Is that you this year? No matter what time of year you bring a new pet into your household, your life is going to be different – just as it is when a new human baby arrives. Here are a few tips to help you, your family, and your new pet friend adjust to the “new normal:”
These are just five tips to consider before and after you bring home a new pet. There are many other ideas offered by the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) and Petfinder, two sites which provide pet adoption opportunities and pet care tips:
Pets bring people deep joy through their antics and their devotion. Studies show pets benefit people emotionally and physically, helping with depression, cholesterol, and blood pressure, among other things. A pet is a special gift, and it’s a gift for life. Take care of your new pet and it will take care of you!
Nothing can ruin the holiday season quicker than a medical emergency, especially when the issue happens to your loved one, either human or pet. Between decorations and food, a plethora of problems can emerge. Therefore, make sure potential holiday hazards in your house are kept secure. Below is an infographic from VetNetwork on some of those possible perils.
Keep your veterinarian’s number handy (or the number to the closest emergency vet) as well as the ASPCA’s Poison Control Hotline in case your pet becomes poisoned or injured in some other way. Here is the organization’s toll-free number: 888-426-4435.
May you and your furry friends enjoy a safe and happy Christmas!
Just a few weeks left until Christmas Day – amazing how fast time goes! Have you shopped for your pet or for the pet-lover on your list yet?
Every year, various magazines and organizations list the “Best Gifts for Pets and Pet-Lovers.” There’s so much choice! Everything from beds and bowls to toys and treats, as well as the more obscure gifts, like a DNA test or a treat-tossing Wi-fi pet camera. Stocking stuffers include special treats and chews for the pets, and wine bottle stoppers and wine glass charms for the pet-lover.
Let’s look at some gift ideas for your furry friend.
Toys for Dogs
For years, KONG has made the list of top toys for dogs; 2018 is no different. The classic rubber chew toy continues to rank highly. Peanut butter and small treats entice dogs to play and chew – and receive a tasty reward for not chewing on furniture or shoes!
KONG also makes knotted toys and squeaker toys, including tennis balls, which can also be used as chews or to play fetch.
Nylabone is another classic and useful toy. Not only do dogs enjoy the chewing but they enjoy dental benefits, too. Non-edible chew toys are purportedly safe, however, at times large portions can be swallowed; that creates an emergency situation. Therefore, always supervise your dog with such toys.
Toys for Cats
KONG also creates toys for cats. A variety of choices allows you to find the purr-fect plaything for your feline friend. From plush to teaser toys, your kitty will find hours of enjoyment with these colorful and entertaining objects.
Catnip toys have been popular for decades. Often inexpensive, these enticing interactives come in a variety of shapes and styles. You can even create DIY catnip-filled projects. These also make great stocking-stuffers for your pet.
How about the animal-lover on your list?
Gifts for the Pet-Lover
Do you have a dog or cat-lover on your Christmas list? How about giving special socks? Maybe tumblers, mugs, or wine glasses (see ideas here: https://www.uncommongoods.com/fun/pets?view=all). Tea towels and jewelry are other options for the dog and cat people you know.
Books are another good choice, and there are plenty of great ones out there, for both children and adults. Buzzfeed supplies a list of 51 books animal-lovers should read; the list includes classics and children’s books.
My Books Make Great Gifts!
Speaking of, for more than 10 years I’ve written pet books for children and adults. For Christian dog-lovers, I have devotional books. For young readers, I create inspirational stories about dogs and cats that teach valuable life lessons. All of my books are available on Amazon. Some are print-only, a few are Kindle-only, and some come in both formats. You still have time to purchase a book or two and have it arrive before Christmas! And, if you want to “try before you buy,” I offer some free chapters and other giveaways on my website.
Whatever you give to your pet or the animal-lover on your Christmas list this year, may each of you enjoy a merry and blessed holiday!
Below are some websites that can help you find ideas for the pets and animal-lovers on your list!
Does the quality of your pet’s food matter to you? It should. Just like what we put into our mouths and stomachs determine our overall health, the same is true of our pets. What we feed them matters. If people tried to live on potato chips, cookies, and cupcakes, our health would be negatively affected in many ways. What our pets digest can also negatively, or positively, impact their health.
Obesity and cancer are two major health concerns in both humans and pets. Therefore, both species need proper nutrition to combat these, and other, health issues. According to the Pet Nutrition Alliance, our pets “need over 30 essential nutrients including protein, essential amino acids, essential fatty acids, and vitamins and minerals.” Even though their needs are the same, dogs and cats have different nutrient requirements.
There are many and varied pet foods on the market. Some are less expensive but also possess the least amount of quality nutrition. Ingredients such as corn and wheat have become less acceptable due to several factors, including that, in the wild, canines and felines don’t eat such products. Coyotes, wolves, bobcats and cougars and carnivores; therefore, our dogs and cats require protein. Reading labels is an important way to know what’s in your pets’ food. For example, is the food comprised of meat or meat by-product? There’s a difference. According to the Association of American Feed Control Officials, meat is “the muscle tissue of the animal, but may include fat, gristle and other tissues normally accompanying the muscle, similar to what is sometimes seen in raw meat sold for human consumption,” and meat by-product is “the non-rendered, clean parts, other than meat, derived from slaughtered mammals. It includes, but is not limited to, lungs, spleen, kidneys, brain, livers, blood, bone, partially de-fatted low temperature fatty tissue and stomachs and intestines freed of their contents.”
How do you choose your pet’s food? If you don’t want to read hundreds of labels, or if you want a place to start, there are many online reviewing sites. One such site, PetFoodReviewer.com, started last year and doesn’t contain information on all dog and cat foods, but could be a good resource starting point. DogFoodAdvisor.com and DogFoodGuru.com are two other good sites to research. These sites also provide a listing of recalls. For cat food, check out Reviews.com, We’re All About Cats, and Catological. The American FDA (Food and Drug Administration) also maintains a list of pet food and treat recalls. Check their website to find out about any recalls: https://www.fda.gov/AnimalVeterinary/SafetyHealth/RecallsWithdrawals/default.htm.
Nearly all experts tell us to not feed human food/table scraps to our pets. However, some people prefer to make their own pet food at home. Although that’s a subject for another newsletter, with Christmas on the horizon, there may be plenty of leftovers you’re not sure what to do with. The folks at Personal Creations, who shared a post last month, created a guide on using leftovers to create pet treats; in that guide, they also have a list of foods that are good for pets (such as pumpkin and turkey) and foods to avoid giving to pets (mushrooms, turkey skin, and onions). If you didn't see that publication previously, you can find it by clicking here: https://www.personalcreations.com/blog/thanksgiving-pets.
As you shop for your pets and for pet lovers on your Christmas list, look for nutritious foods and treats to keep your beloved animals healthy!
In related news, PetCo recently announced it will stop selling pet food and treats which contain artificial colors, flavors and preservatives. Read more here: http://www.petproductnews.com/News/Petco-Plans-to-Stop-Selling-Food-and-Treats-with-Artificial-Ingredients/
The holidays are a time for people to come together and celebrate, including the family pet(s). Your pet is a part of your family, so shouldn’t they get a “place” at the dinner table, too?
Of course they aren’t going to eat at the table or consume all of the same foods as humans. However, you could give them extra attention and special treatment during the season of giving.
Your dog has been smelling that turkey for hours on end, and they are coveting a taste. There’s no need to make them beg for a scrap. Let’s face it, no matter how many times you eat leftovers, at some point you just end up throwing the rest out.
Make good use of all that yummy extra food with the ultimate guide to holiday leftovers for pets. Our friends at Personal Creations compiled a list of foods to share and to avoid with regard to your furry friend. In addition to the guide on the Personal Creations website, see the infographics below which Katie and her team have shared.
Happy and Safe Thanksgiving to you and your family, including your furry ones!
We’ve entered Holiday Season 2018. Grocery stores are pulling out the turkeys and baking supplies for Thanksgiving, and big-box stores have set up Christmas trees. With Thanksgiving about a week away and Christmas only five to six weeks from now, this is a good time to remind pet parents of the dangers the holiday season can present to our furry family members.
Here are five pet safety tips to be mindful of these next two months:
Make sure you know your veterinarian’s holiday hours and the phone number of the emergency vet clinic in your community in case something should happen. Another handy number to have is the ASPCA Poison Control Hotline: 1-888-426-4435. Although we hope nothing happens to our furry family members, having these phone numbers handy and knowing if your vet (or another) is available on-call is good information to have just in case.
Find more tips and helpful information regarding holiday safety at these websites:
NEXT WEEK: A guest post from Katie at Personal Creations on Thanksgiving Food Do’s and Don’t’s for your pet, including creative food and treat ideas from your left-overs! Be sure to stop by! Meantime, check out the graphic below from Personal Creations for this week's blog post.
Many of us recognize some dogs have jobs, such as herding, hunting, and guarding. However, did you know some dogs serve in the U.S. military?
According to an article by the American Forces Press Service, the United States Military uses more than 2,000 working dogs throughout the globe. The Department of Defense’s Military Working Dog Program, based at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, deploys dogs and their handlers of the different branches of military service to various parts of the world. These teams safeguard military bases, help fight the war on terror, and detect bombs and other explosives. Because a dog’s sense of smell is so acute, they can detect the smallest trace of explosives and drugs, and they are trained to alert their handlers of such materials.
Dogs serving in the military isn’t anything new, even though their duties might be. Canines served in World War I and II as well as in Vietnam. They have been instrumental in Iraq and Afghanistan, and even in the capture of Osama bin Laden with the Navy Seals.
Different dog breeds have been used in military service, including Labs. Today’s military working dogs in the Defense Department program are primarily German and Dutch shepherds and Belgian Malinois. About 500 dogs are deployed at one time.
A memorial to dogs serving in war was dedicated in June 2006. It is found at the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial. Learn more here: https://www.njvvmf.org/us-war-dog-memorial/.
On Sunday, November 11, America celebrates Veterans Day. Let us take time to honor our human veterans as well as our military service dogs. Both display deep loyalty to country and to each other. Let’s not forget their sacrifice!
Gayle M. Irwin is a writer and public relations professional who volunteers with various animal rescue groups. She enjoys sharing her books and her passion for pets and the environment with others.