Holiday pet care tips:
- Do your best to maintain whatever routines
you've established for your pets' daily care.
- When visitors come, watch doors so
that housepets don't slip outside in the excitement.
- Don't leave burning candles with unsupervised
- If you have a dog that gets wound up
when company comes, keep a leash on the dog for better control.
Ask your guests to ignore the dog until the dog calms down, so
as not to reinforce the frenzy.
- Be patient but firm with your pets.
The excitement and activity can overwhelm them. Keep on track
with your usual household rules. They'll feel more secure that
- Make sure that everyone knows not to
feed people food to your pets. Rich holiday food can cause upset
tummies. Fatty foods like gravy can cause damage, and bones can
be deadly. Chocolate is another no-no, as is alcohol. Keep snacks
where pets can't help themselves.
- Holiday decorations are another potential
trouble source. Secure decorations so pets can't knock them over.
Watch for ingestion of stringy decorations like tinsel--pets
often like to nibble on these items, but they can kill. Run electrical
cords through a piece of PVC pipe to prevent chewing and electrical
- Plan ahead for care for your pets if
you'll be traveling. Don't take them with you without your host's
permission. Petsitters and kennels fill early at holiday time.
- Spend some quality time with your pet
each day. It'll do you both good.
- If you're considering giving a pet
as a gift, or adding a new pet to your household, check this
space next week for helpful information. Return
to archive index
your pets healthy and safe in cold weather:
- Make sure your pets have continual
access to a warm, dry spot. This place can be inside your home
(we recommend this choice) in a garage, barn, doghouse, or any
other kind of structure available. A dog or cat door can simplify
your pet's access to a warm spot if you're away from home all
day. If you're using a doghouse or outbuilding, check to make
sure it's not drafty.
- Water bowls can ice over in cold weather.
Provide water indoors or check outdoor water frequently to make
sure your pet can drink it. Use caution when using electrical
bucket warmers. Pets can chew cords.
- Small, debilitated, or shorthaired
pets may need a coat in cold weather.
- Make sure your pet's resting space
has a nice bed or pile of old blankets, sleeping bags, pillows,
or some other soft material. Older pets often feel it in their
bones in the winter (just as we do!) and will be more comfortable
with a soft place to sleep.
- Develop the habit of knocking on the
hood of your car before you start the engine. In cold weather,
cats often crawl into the engine compartment, lured by the warm
engine. A good rap on the hood will usually convince the cat
to leave. Otherwise, when you start the engine, you could maim
or kill the cat. It's not good for your car, either.
- Check the pads of your pet's feet for
ice after walks outside. Remove them gently.
- Beware of puddles in parking lots and
driveways. Even a tiny bit of antifreeze can kill your pet, and
it has a sweet taste that attracts dogs, especially. When you
change your own antifreeze, look into the "alternative"
brands that are safe for animals. Always dispose of old antifreeze
- Active, trim pets may need more calories.
They're burning calories maintaining their body temperature.
Return to archive index
Free forms to help you take good
care of your pet:
We've prepared two handy forms that
you can download from our website. The first form, a pet care
checklist, can be posted on the refrigerator. It has space for
family members to mark off when they've fed, walked, played with,
or given medications to a pet. For busy families, this form can
you keep track of what care your pet has (or hasn't!) received
each day. Each form covers a two week period of time.
The second form provides an easy way
for you to provide detailed instructions to petsitters, be they
professional, neighbor, or relative. You can specify your pet's
diet, exercise schedule, medications, treats, no-nos, unique
habits, frequency of litterbox or cage cleaning, and other handy
information for a petsitter. Also, you can provide your veterinarian's
name, address, phone number, and complete an emergency medical
authorization for your pet.
If you'd like to download these pages,
click here. You need
Adobe Acrobat Reader to open the files; you may download that
as well, if you need it. Return
to archive index
Choosing a new vet:
- Get referrals.
You can ask neighbors, groomers, dog-park buddies, breeders,
pet-sitters, anyone whose opinion you value. If you're searching
for a new vet because you've moved, your vet in the old neighborhood
may offer a name or two to you. You should also get copies of
your pets' charts, of course.
- Call the clinic. Sometimes you can get a good feel for a new
vet simply based on your experience trying to phone the clinic.
- Ask for information. You might want to know, for example, how this
vet handles emergencies. Is there an answering service? a pager
number? does the vet provide you with the number of a 24 hour
emergency clinic? These options are all fine--but you want to
know how this vet handles emergency calls. Are you comfortable
with the arrangements?
- Schedule an appointment. You can bring your pet in for a "well animal"
check up and get a feel for how you like the vet and the staff.
Ask to see the back area where procedures are performed on your
pet. If it's a big clinic, can you choose which vet cares for
your pet (outside emergencies)? Do staff members seem to really
like animals? How do they react to your pet? Are you comfortable
with the fees, distance from your home, hours of operation? How
does your pet respond to the environment? (Some pets know the
smell of a veterinary clinic and will not be happy no matter
how well they're treated. If you have one of those, you probably
know it and will take your pet's response with a grain of salt).What's
your "gut feel" about the place?
- Ask for credentials. Where did the vet go to school? Is the doctor
affiliated with professional organizations? Which ones? How does
the vet keep current on new medical information?
- Don't be afraid to vote with your
feet. We're often amazed at
folks who will tell us a long story about the rotten vet who
killed their cat. Then they tell us that the same doctor treats
their new kitten! Most communities offer choices. If you're not
comfortable with your current vet, and discussions with the vet
haven't eased your mind, consider making a move.
- Make sure the vet is a good "match." You may be making important decisions based
on this person's expertise and opinions. Make sure you're comfortable
with the vet.
- How many vets? If your pet family includes many different species,
as ours does, you may need more than one vet. Your dog's doctor
may not be a good choice for your iguana. An ethical vet will
advise you of what species she can treat and will help you locate
a reputable vet for your other kinds of critters.
- Don't wait until your pet is sick. A routine visit to "check out" a
potential new vet is worth the expense. You don't want to be
stuck with an emergency and no medical help available. Return
to archive index
Arranging for your pet's well-being
after you're gone:
- Make a reciprocal arrangement with
a friend or family member. These
plans are often casual and sometimes even simply understood.
Every summer, when we tour the fairs, we talk to lots of folks
who are caring for a parent's or neighbor's pet after the individual's
passing. If you're certain that your sister or mechanic or whomever
would welcome your pet in the event that you could not care for
it, talk to them about the assumption. It's too important
a point to leave unspoken. Recently in our community, we saw
on the news the bereaved family of a young woman who had died
in an accident, pleading for someone to give a good home to her
beloved dog. It's best not to leave your pet's future to fate.
- Make arrangements in your will. This option requires consultation with an attorney.
In most states, you cannot leave money directly to a pet. You
can leave money to an individual or to an animal welfare group
for the purpose of caring for your pet after you're an angel
yourself. Of course, you need to make certain that the individual
or organization you choose is prepared to take on the obligation.
- Check with your local animal welfare
group. Shelters often receive
animals whose owners have passed on, or moved into nursing homes.
They may have suggestions to help you avoid that fate for your
- Don't think that planning for pets
is only for the elderly. Part
of our obligation to our pets is to arrange for their care should
we become unable to do so.
- Don't let fear of leaving a pet
ownerless keep you from the companionship and love they have
to offer to us. We often talk
to older people who would love to have a pet, but who fear leaving
the pet behind when they die. Investigate your options before
you acquire the pet. You may find that it's easier than you think
to enjoy the love of a fur-face and the peace of mind that comes
from knowing the animal will not be abandoned should it outlive
you. Return to archive
Deciding when it's time to euthanize:
- First, we recognize that the decision
to put a pet down is nearly always painful and very personal.
We mean simply to offer some observations that we hope may help
you sort through the options.
- Evaluate your pet's comfort level.
Is the pet in pain? frightened? Or is the animal limited in mobility,
say, but otherwise comfortable and happy?
- Consider the prognosis. Is medical
treatment likely to provide your pet with a significant increase
in the quality of life? Or will it add six more months of discomfort?
Your vet is the best source of information here.
- Think about ways to help. How able
are you to provide the special care that a pet may require to
- Involve the family in decisions. While
parents often need to make tough calls, children deserve to know
what the options are. Help to prepare them for the loss of their
friend. They may want to plan a "memorial service"
or some similar ritual. Let them.
- Make plans for your pet's remains.
If you take the animal to the vet's or a humane society to be
euthanized, they can help with disposal. Or you may prefer to
have your pet cremated or buried at a pet cemetery. In some areas,
you can bury a pet in the back yard.
- Build your own support network. Talk
to sympathetic friends or family members about the decision you're
facing and how sad you are. Choose carefully to whom you turn
for support: no one needs to hear, "so go get another cat,
already!" at such a time.
- Ultimately, at the end of a pet's days,
we need to look deep within our hearts and remember that they
depend on us for everything, including their protection from
needless prolonged suffering.
- When the time comes, hold your pet.
Modern euthanasia is quick, peaceful, and painless. Don't leave
your best friend alone in the final moments. You'll be glad later
that you were there to say goodbye. Return
to archive index
Pet safety in summer heat:
- Every pet must have access to clean,
fresh water at all times. We use a nifty valve that screws onto
an outdoor hose bib. When our dogs lick the valve, it dispenses
water. Thus we needn't worry about the dogs kicking over a water
bowl when we're not home. The cats have two bowls of water in
the house, checked twice daily. Our pig and tortoise have water
- Access to shade is crucial during the
heat of the day. Make sure your pet has a place to beat the heat.
- Provide your pets with a tiled (not
carpeted) area to lie on when they're indoors.
- Avoid walks--and especially runs--during
the heat of the day. Dogs don't sweat; they dissipate heat only
through the pads of their feet and their tongues. An eager-to-please
pet can easily walk its way to heat stroke on a hot summer's
day. Schedule exercise for morning or evening hours, instead.
- Check the pavement temperature before
going for a walk. If it's too hot for your bare feet, it's too
hot for your pet's bare feet, too.
- Think twice before you shave a pet
for the summer. They get sunburned, too! If their skin is used
to the coat's "shade" from uv rays, your pet could
get an ugly sunburn. Think about a shorter clip, perhaps, but
don't remove all the hair. You might even consider sunscreen
for light-skinned pets.
- Please please please don't leave your pet in a car during the heat
of the day. Even in the shade, even with a window cracked, tragedy
can strike in minutes. It's just not worth the risk.
- Know the signs of heat exhaustion and
dehydration: Overheated pets will pant uncontrollably and take
a long time to recover. The tongue may loll, as well, and the
pet may be less responsive than usual. Dehydration is easy to
detect with a skin-pinch test: Gently pinch up a bit of the pet's
skin. If it doesn't snap right back into place, but stays up
in a little tent where you "pinched" it, your pet is
dehydrated. These conditions are serious and warrant immediate
- If you take your dog to the park, make
sure it can't get into fire rings with hot coals or rummage through
the remains of someone else's picnic.
- Don't allow your dog to swim to exhaustion.
They'll do that, just to please us. Gauge your time in the water
by your pet's fitness level.
Here's to a terrific, safe summer with
your best four-legged friends! Return
to archive index
Arranging pet care when you leave
your pet at home:
Options for pet care in your absence
include having a friend or neighbor pet-sit in your home, hiring
a professional in-home petsitter, sending your pet to "visit"
with a friend or neighbor while you're away, or arranging for
boarding at a kennel or cattery. Consider your pet's personality
and needs and make the best choice for your pet.
A friend as pet sitter: Having a friend or neighbor care for your pet
in your home is a good choice for pets who don't adapt quickly
to new surroundings. Older pets with visual deficits, for example,
are often disoriented when removed from their familiar surroundings.
This helpful friend will probably pick up your mail and maybe
even water your plants, as well. It's important to make sure
that your petsitter is up for the task. If your dog needs play
time with a human twice a day, make sure your friend can do that.
If the cat must have a massage after dinner every evening, you
need to make sure your helper is willing. Lots of folks "swap"
pet-care duties with friends to avoid added expenses. This option
works well as long as you have trustworthy, reliable friends
who will care for your pet with love. We've even occasionally
had a friend come and stay in our home during our absence to
care for our menagerie. If you have a dog who is super territorial,
however, having a stranger come to the house each day may be
stressful or even provoke a bite.
A professional petsitter: The benefits are identical to those listed
above. Be sure to get accurate price quotes and to check references.
Many petsitters belong to the National
Association of Professional Pet Sitters. A professional affiliation
is a good start, but you owe it to yourself and your pets to
check references carefully.
Sending your pet to visit: We've also used this option for our dogs. An
arrangement like this can be mutual-aid in structure--we'll keep
your dogs while you take the kids to Disneyland; you can keep
our cat when we go to the mountains. For pets who are adaptable
in terms of where they are, but who don't do well without lots
of human interaction, this choice is the way to go--provided
you can find a friend or relative who's willing to care for your
pets. A friend recently reported to us that he kept his "niece"
dog while his brother was traveling. He took the dog to the beach
each day and for long walks every evening. The dog moped for
four days when she went home--she'd been having too much fun
at her "uncle's" house!
Boarding at a kennel or cattery: If you've relocated and haven't built close
friendships yet, or you don't want anyone in your home while
you're away, a kennel or cattery is your best bet. A kennel may
also be the best choice for a dog who's very protective and territorial.
A cattery can work well for a cat who likes to bolt for the door.
Services here range from a basic shelter and feeding schedule
for your pet to planned activities, swimming for dogs, massage
for cats, grooming, play time, and many other "extras."
Prices will vary to match the services offered. Again, references
are crucial. Ask your vet, groomer, neighbors, co-workers---anyone
you know who might be able to help you locate a good facility.
Then visit the facility yourself. Try to imagine your pet staying
there. Your instincts are your best guide. You may also ask for
customer references from the facility.
No matter what option you choose,
remember that your pets are relying on you to leave good instructions. Include amount and type of food consumed at
what times, any medications, favorite treats, special fears,
prohibited activities or foods, favorite games. Provide the caregiver
with enough of your pet's usual food, medications, and treats
to cover the duration of your absence, plus a day or two. We
sometimes premeasure food into plastic baggies to make sure our
caregivers have an easy job. Also provide your pet's usual bed,
favorite toys, and maybe a t-shirt that you've slept in for a
few nights prior to your departure. Nothing comforts like the
smell of familiar humans. Make sure that your pets' caregivers
know how to reach you at any time during your travel (or arrange
to call in to them regularly if you'll be on the move). Leave
them the name and telephone number of your vet's office. You
may download our handy form, fill it out, and have all the information
in one convenient location for your pet's caregiver. Click
here to download. Return
to archive index
Car travel with your pets:
- If you'll be staying in hotels, line
up pet-friendly accommodations before you leave home. If you'll
be staying with family or friends, make sure your pet is welcome
- Bring enough of your pet's customary
food along with you to last the duration of the trip, plus a
day or two extra. It may be hard to find the usual rations in
a vacation destination, and travel time is no time to change
your pet's diet.
- Make sure your pet has identification
on the collar. If you'll be visiting in one place for a week
or two, order a new tag with the telephone number of that location
on it. It's a small price to pay for the peace of mind.
- Pack a few favorite toys and your pet's
bed. Familiar items are comforting to pets.
- If you'll be crossing state lines,
bring veterinary certificates of vaccination.
- If your pet isn't an experienced traveler,
plan some shorter jaunts before you set off on a long distance
voyage. Make sure your pets will be comfortable on the trip.
- Keep your pet secure in the car. Cats
usually do best in a ventilated carrier. Dogs can be restrained
with a special seat belt that hooks to a harness. Excited pets
racing around inside a vehicle put you and others at risk. You
don't want to spend hours at a rest stop looking for your pet
after it bolts from the car, either.
- Provide your pets with just a cracked
window for fresh air while you're driving. Ever get a ding in
your windshield from a pebble tossed up by another car? Imagine
what that pebble would do to your dog's face.
- Dogs, if they must ride in the back
of a truck, must be safely restrained. Dogs seldom jump from
the back of a moving truck. They do, however, fall out when drivers
have to stop suddenly or swerve.
- Plan to stop at least every two hours
for a potty and water break. Your pet may also enjoy a little
- Do not, under any circumstances,
leave your pet locked in a car.
Summer heat can be a killer in a short period of time. Pack picnics
for yourself or plan on drive through meals on the road.
It takes a bit of extra planning, packing,
and travel time to bring your pets along on vacation. It can
be a blast--or a big pain, if your plans don't go well. Before
you load up the critters, consider whether it's in their best
interest to accompany you. If not, make other arrangements for
their care in your absence. Return
to archive index
Teaching leash manners:
If your dogs are anything like ours,
sometimes their good manners go right out the window when you
grab the leash and they realize that they're about to go somewhere.
Here's a quick cure for the walk frenzy: When your dog starts
to jump and whine or race around, stand still, fold your arms,
and look up. Eventually your dog will be puzzled ("why aren't
they trying to catch me to hook me up?") and sit down. At
that instant, praise the dog quietly, kneel, and attach the leash.
If the dog gets excited again, stand up, cross your arms, and
ignore the dog until calm returns. Gracie
and Glory learned very quickly
that it was easier to just relax in the first place. Return
to archive index
Acclimating cats to cars:
- First and foremost: make sure that
your cat doesn't learn to associate the car with the veterinarian's
office. Teach your cat otherwise by taking him or her on rides
to other places.
- Make the car a fun place: offer special
treats, a favorite game, or catnip as a reward for being in the
car. You can even take your cat out to the car and offer a reward
in the parked vehicle to begin desensitization. Then work up
to starting the engine, a short jaunt, and finally, a true drive.
- Be sure your cat is safe in the car.
For most cats, a carrier or ventilated cardboard box is appropriate
(although our boy Ti'i likes to go
in the car, wearing a harness and leash).
- Never, ever leave
your pet in a locked car during the daytime. Car interiors heat
up incredibly quickly, even on mild days. Cracking a window won't
- Be prepared to prevent your cat from
bolting when you stop the car and open the door.
- These tips work best when you start
with a kitten; however, adult cats can learn to gracefully accept
a car ride.
- These suggestions work well for dogs
who are anxious about car travel, too! Return
to archive index
Dog bite prevention:
You need to know that you're ultimately responsible (ethically
and legally) for your dog's behavior, for better or for worse.
Dogs need to learn manners and be socialized to accept different
kinds of people. Keep your dog under your control (use a leash)
when you're out in public. Supervise your dog's interactions
with children, especially young children. Remember that if sufficiently
provoked, even the sweetest dog can bite. Part of your job as
a pet owner is to prevent the provocation that could lead your
dog to such an extreme act. Don't allow children to tease your
dog. Teach them appropriate means of interacting.
Dogs need to know that their teeth never, ever, belong
on human skin. Begin this training when your dog is a pup by
refusing to allow your dog to mouthe hand or arm in play. Substitute
an acceptable chew toy, and tell the dog "no bite."
If you add an adult dog to your home, teach the same rule.
Children need to know that they must always ask permission to pet
or touch any dog that they encounter. Dogs who are eating or
sleeping should not be disturbed. Kids need to avoid dogs running
at large without a human to supervise. Poking, pulling, prodding,
and teasing are bad ways to treat dogs (or any other animal).
Teach your children not to maintain eye contact with a dog; in
dog language, that's a threat. Children also shouldn't run from
a dog, as that can stimulate the chase instinct in the dog. The
right thing to do when coming across a strange dog is to avoid
eye contact and keep moving, without panicking or running.
A wagging tail doesn't necessarily mean the dog is friendly;
it may mean the dog is in an alert state. If the absolute worst
thing happens, and the dog attacks, children can minimize their
chance of serious injury or even death by dropping to the ground
in a ball and protecting the head and neck with their arms and
hands. Parents can practice this move with little ones.
Dog bites are sad occurrences that don't
need to happen. Dogs that bite can be impounded and destroyed
by animal control officers. Children, the most common victims
of dog bites, can suffer horrible wounds, both physical and emotional,
from the attack. As pet owners we're obligated to do everything
we can to prevent this fate. As parents, we need to make sure
our kids are dog smart. Return
to archive index
Disaster preparedness for your pets:
As we write, tornadoes are a problem
in the Midwest and a huge wildfire left hundreds of families
homeless in New Mexico. We happen to live in earthquake country,
ourselves. No matter where you live, a natural disaster can strike.
Make sure you're ready to care for your pets in the event of
- Keep at least three day's worth of
pet food on hand at all times. A week's supply is better, especially
if your pet is on a special diet. Rotate out the emergency supply
periodically so it stays fresh. If you feed canned food, keep
a can opener with the emergency stash. Keep some water with the
- Always put leashes away in the same
place after a walk, so you'll be able to grab them in a jiffy
in an emergency. Keep cat carriers assembled and close at hand,
not up in the attic or in the basement.
- If your pet is on medication, keep
a supply on hand. Don't wait until you run out to get a refill.
- Maintain a small first aid kit for
your pet. It should contain gauze, tweezers, antibiotic ointment
and an antiseptic, at the very least. Remember that a terrified
pet may be snappy: a length of gauze can serve as a temporary
muzzle if your pet is injured.
- Think ahead about where you'll take
your pets in an emergency. Emergency shelters often won't admit
- If you do face an emergency, stay calm.
Your pets may stay calm if you do. If you become hysterical,
they're certain to follow suit. Try to prevent pets from walking
in broken glass or other debris that could hurt them.
- Keep your vet's business card in the
glove box of your car so you'll have that information should
you need it.
- PS: It's a good idea to follow these
same guidelines for the humans in your household--except the
muzzle. Return to archive
Top ten reasons to keep your cat
10. They can't dig in the neighbor's
flower beds from inside the house.
9. They won't be exposed to fights with
8. They won't be eaten by mean dogs.
7. They won't be run over by cars.
6. They won't ingest anti-freeze.
5. They won't be in contact with (unvaccinated)
stray cats and wildlife.
4. You know where they are all the time.
3. Their food bowls won't draw skunks
if they're in the house.
2. You can walk them on a leash if you
want to take them out.
1. They're always nearby to love you.
Return to archive index
Preparing your pet for a person's
departure from the household:
- Remember that your pets are likely
to miss the departing student deeply. Help them now to get ready
for this change in your household.
- If your pets sleep with the departing
family member, begin now to wean them to another sleeping area,
either with another family member or in the living room. Move
their bedding to the new sleeping spot, and don't allow them
to sleep with the family member who's leaving. This change can
be accomplished gradually, over a period of weeks. Bed the pet
down elsewhere for one night, then increase the separation gradually.
Stand tough if the pet cries or whines.
- Other family members can begin feeding,
walking, and playing with the pet. The family member who's leaving
home should gradually decrease participation in pet care. Praise
the pet for interactions with other family members.
- When the family member moves out, keep
a piece of worn clothing or unwashed sheets. Put this item in
the pet's bed; the familiar smell will comfort the pet.
- If possible, take the pet to visit
- Be prepared for happy reunions when
your student comes home for visits. Enforce your usual pet behavior
rules, however, in terms of jumping and other behaviors.
- Remember that your pet can be a source
of comfort to you if you're missing your young adult who's moved
on. The pet will enjoy the extra attention, too. Return
to archive index
Preparing your pet for a new baby:
- Set up baby equipment well before the
expected arrival of the baby. Teach your pet to stay off the
crib, changing table, play pen, and other trappings of parenthood.
- Acquire a doll. Carry the doll around
the house, put it in the crib, wear it in a baby sling, talk
to it....you might feel strange, but you'll gain an opportunity
to see how your pet will react. And your pet will gain some exposure
to what the future holds in store.
- If you have friends with babies, see
if you can borrow some unlaundered baby blankets or shirts. Bring
them home for your pet to sniff at. Once your baby arrives, you
can send a piece of baby's laundry home for your pet to sniff
before you bring your baby home.
- Play a tape of baby cries for your
pet to hear.
- Set up a baby gate (for dogs) or a
screen door (for cats) at the entrance to your baby's room. You'll
be able to hear the baby, but the pet won't gain unauthorized
- When baby comes home, be sure to greet
your pet warmly. Allow supervised investigation of the
new addition to the household.
- Don't leave baby alone with your pet.
Supervision at all times is essential. If you see signs of potential
aggression, consult with an animal behavior expert right away.
- Remember that pets thrive on routine,
and the arrival of a new baby is sure to upset their usual daily
schedule. Try to make a little time for your pet every day as
your pet adjusts to the new member of the family. Return
to archive index
Avoid losing your pet--or find your
pet if it is lost:
- Identification is crucial. License
your pets with the local animal control office. Use a pet tag
on your pet's collar. Other options to investigate include tattoos
and microchips. If you decide to use a microchip, a tiny device
that's implanted under your pet's skin and can be scanned, check
with your local animal control office to see what type of chips
their scanners read.
- Train your pets not to bolt for the
door when you open it.
- Make sure that your fences and gates
are in good repair. Keep them secure. Consider a lock for your
gate if your pets stay in the yard when you're not home.
- Don't allow your pets to roam unsupervised.
In our urban neighborhood, our dogs never leave our yard unless
they're on a leash. Our cats stay indoors, although Ti'i does
walk on a harness and leash to investigate the yard when the
great outdoors calls him.
- Neuter your pets. They're much less
likely to attempt an escape if their hormones aren't calling
- Keep a recent, clear color photo of
your pet on hand. If your pet should disappear, you can use it
to make flyers to post in your neighborhood.
- Should your pet disappear, visit all
the local shelters and animal control facilities. A personal
visit is much better than a telephone call. Let all your neighbors
know that your pet is missing. Tell your letter carrier, too---mail
personnel visit all the yards in your neighborhood every day.
Post flyers in your community--if you're prepared to offer a
reward, say so. Put an ad in the paper. Call your vet's office.
Check out web sites for lost and found pets. Don't give up! Return to archive index
Get ready for Spring:
- The weather is getting warmer. Make
sure your pets have access to clean water at all times. If they're
outside during the daytime, they need a shady place to beat the
- Protect your pets from exposure to
chemical fertilizers and insecticides in the garden.
- Beware the hazards of spring holidays:
Chocolate, for example, is toxic to dogs. Cats can ingest cellophane
"grass" used in baskets and suffer intestinal damage
as a result. Neither dogs nor cats should eat ham (or other cured
meats, for that matter).
- How hot is the pavement when you're
walking your dog? If it's too hot for your bare feet, it's probably
too hot for the dog's, too. Adjust walk time or buy some doggy
booties to protect those pads.
- If your pets are outdoors all day while
you're at work, consider whether the presence of lots of children
during spring school vacations is a hazard to your pets. Make
sure neighborhood children know to not harass or tease your pets.
Consider your alternatives if you're not sure your pets will
be left in peace in your yard without your supervision.
- If you live in an area where fleas
are seasonal, it's time to protect your pets from fleas. Don't
forget the Flea Treats! Return
to archive index
Find words besides "no"
to train with:
"No" can be a confusing word
for our pets. Mr. Kitty hears "no" today when he walks
on the kitchen counter; yesterday he heard it when he scratched
on the new sofa. Ms. Woofs hears "no" when she jumps,
sniffs, barks, and climbs up beside you on the bed. So what,
exactly, does "no" mean to our pets?
Probably not much. For our pets to get
"no," we're expecting them to generalize from one specific
situation to a number of varying settings. Lots of people have
trouble with this concept. No wonder our pets sometimes act bewildered
when we tell them no.
Instead, how about coming up with a
single word command for each thing you want your pet to learn
to do--or refrain from doing? Use "off" if the dog
is jumping on a guest, for example. Tell the cat "post"
and redirect him from your sofa to his scratching post. "Quiet"
can be used to mean "no barking"---though we've taught
ours, "hush puppies" for reasons that should be obvious.
See our pets and it'll be clear...Return to archive index
Why every pet should know a trick:
Almost all dogs, and a surprising number
of cats, look forward to a treat as a reward after they perform
a trick you've taught them. The immediate offering of
a treat, along with a hearty "good boy" or "good
girl" really seems to please them. This little habit can
be very handy if you need to medicate your pet. If they're used
to a treat after a trick, they will often accept the medication
without any "doctoring" with cheese or peanut butter
if you offer it right after a trick. Give it a try! Of course,
our Flea Treats are designed to be tasty right out of the jar.
You don't need any subterfuge to offer them to your four-footed
pals. Return to archive
Dealing with shedding:
Shedding is a fact of life. Most animals
shed hair on an ongoing basis, just as we humans do. However,
in spring and fall, most dogs and cats "blow their coats"
in preparation for the coming seasonal changes. Some animals
lose but a little hair; others leave wads of it everywhere. How
much is too much? As long as your pet still appears to have a
full, healthy coat, don't worry about apparently large amounts
of shedding in spring or fall. It's normal. Return
to archive index
While it may be normal for your pet
to shed, it can also be messy. During heavy shedding seasons,
the vacuum cleaner, dust mop, and lint removers (or duct tape
wrapped sticky-side-out around your hand) can be life savers.
Our suggestion? Take your shedding pet outside and brush or
comb every day while the animal is shedding. Then those gobs
of hair just blow harmlessly away. They even make good mulch
for your plants! If you have indoor cats (like we have), you
can either hold them on the porch to brush or brush them in a
small space like your bathroom, where clean up is easy.
Brushing won't stop the shedding. It
will, however, remove lots of loose hair where you want it to
fall--outside! Return to