8 Fun Games You Can Play With Your Dog

By Dr. Karen Becker and comments by Diane Weinmann

We all love our pets but dogs seem to need a lot of entertaining, right?  No worries, you’ll have a lot of fun too if you play these games with them:

 

1. Play Frisbee fetch — If your dog loves to play fetch-the-ball, consider adding a Frisbee to the mix. Agile, athletic dogs can be taught to catch flying discs. It’s a good idea to start small, by rolling the Frisbee on the ground toward your dog. Once she’s picking up the disc as it’s rolled to her, try tossing it to her at a very low level.

If she’s able to catch or at least stop it in mid-air, you can gradually increase the height and distance you throw it. If the Frisbee seems to hold your dog’s interest and focus, you’ll can teach her to bring it back to you so you can continue throwing it for her.

2. Expand your dog’s vocabulary — With time, patience and lots of practice, most dogs can learn to associate certain words with certain objects. Here’s how to start. Give two of your dog’s favorite toys a name — something simple, like “ball,” “bear” or “baby.” Remove all other toys from sight to help him focus. Say the name of one toy and throw it so he can retrieve it. Do this a few times, repeating the name of the toy as you toss it. Then do the same with the other toy.

Now put both toys on the ground and say the name of the first toy. Each time he goes to it, reward him with praise and treats. If you want to make it more challenging, have him bring the toy to you for his reward. Repeat this with the other toy. When you’re sure your dog is consistently identifying the right toy by name, you can try expanding his vocabulary even further using additional toys or other objects.

3. Create a simple at-home agility course — Setting up an agility course for your dog and teaching her how to navigate it can be very mentally stimulating for her, and fun for you. Items to consider include a sturdy crate or stool, a chair to jump on or run under, a box with open ends to crawl through, a pole attached to two stools or boxes to jump over, a hula hoop to jump through and a disc or ball to catch.

Tailor the course to your dog’s physical ability, focus and attention span. Teach her to handle one obstacle at a time, and make sure to offer lots of praise, treats and other high-value rewards each time she conquers an obstacle. This should be all about fun, not work!

4. Play indoor hide-and-seek — Hide and seek challenges your dog’s obedience skills (so obedience training is a prerequisite for this activity) and provides both mental and scent stimulation. Here’s how to do it. Grab a few treats and give your dog a sit-stay command. Go into another room to hide, and once you’re out of sight, call him. When he finds you, reward him with praise and treats.

If you’ve taught your dog a find-it command that sends him in search of something, you can also play hide and seek with objects or food treats. To play, show your dog what you’re about to hide, and then do a sit-stay or put him behind a closed door so he can’t see you. Hide the object or treat, then go to your dog and tell him to find it.

Unless he’s a canine Einstein or has played the game awhile, you’ll probably need to give him verbal cues as he gets close to, or farther away from the object. You can also give physical hints by pointing or moving toward the hiding place until he catches on to the game. When he finds the hidden object or treat, be sure to make a huge deal out of it with lots of praise and a few additional treats.

5. Lead your dog in a stair aerobics session — If your dog is fully-grown (his joints are fully developed) and you have stairs in your home, this game is a good way to get his heart pumping.

Go to the bottom of the stairs and put him in a sit-stay. Throw a toy up to the landing, then give him the nod to go after it, bounding up the steps as fast as he can. Allow him to come back down the stairs at a slower pace, to reduce the risk of injury. Ten or so repetitions of this will get his heart rate up and tire him out. Stair exercise in conjunction with a device like Dr. Sophia Yin’s brilliant Treat&Train system can provide the foundation for an excellent winter workout program for dogs.

6. Turn on the water hose — If your dog isn’t afraid of spraying water or getting wet, on warm days you can turn your backyard hose into a fun chasing toy. It’s best to have a nozzle on the hose that shoots out a jet of water. Make sure the force of the jet isn’t too much for her and take care not to spray her in the face. This can be accomplished by standing a good distance away as you move the jet around for her to chase.

A word of caution: be sure to monitor your dog’s activity closely, since water from a hose (or sprinkler) is under pressure and she can ingest a great deal of it in a short amount of time, potentially causing water intoxication.

7. Bring out your dog’s prey drive with a flirt stick — Also called a flirt pole, it’s a simple pole or handle with a length of rope tied to one end, and a toy attached to the far end of the rope. You can buy one or create your own homemade version, just be sure to use regular rope and not flexible or bungee cord.

Flirt sticks appeal to the prey drive in dogs and they’re a fun way to exercise your pet in your backyard (or in the house if you have the space or your dog is small) without overly exerting yourself. The game is simple — just drag the toy on the ground in a circle, and your dog will chase and tug at it.

The flirt stick can be a fun way to help your dog with basic commands like sit, down, look, wait, take it, leave it and drop it. It’s also useful for helping him practice listening while in a state of high arousal and cooling down immediately on command.

8. Liven up your walks by playing find-it — On your daily walks with your dog, after she’s done her business and checked her pee-mail and the two of you are just strolling along, you can use the time to stimulate her mind. Give her a sit-stay, show her a treat and then place it on the ground out of her reach.

Return to her and give her a treat for holding her sit-stay, then give her the find-it command to get the other treat. Repeat this a few times, and then make the challenge a bit more difficult.

Place the treat under some leaves, behind a tree or on a rock. Stop at several spots as though you’re hiding the treat there but hide only one treat. If you’re playing the game off-leash, make sure you’re in a safe area, and don’t hide treats beyond your line of vision. Keep your dog in sight at all times.

 

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Resources for Pet-Friendly Travel

By Dr. Karen Becker and comments by Diane Weinmann

The following resources provide a wealth of links and information on pet-friendly hotels, vacation rentals, timeshares, campgrounds and RV parks, restaurants and bars, attractions and activities:

PetFriendlyTravel.com Bring Fido
GoPetFriendly.com PetsWelcome.com
Take Your Pet DogTrekker
PetFriendly.Travel Pet Hotels of America
Pet Friendly Travel on Facebook National Geographic’s The Dog Lover’s Guide to Travel
AAA Pet Travel

 

 

7 Tips for Safe Air Travel With Your Dog

With that said, if you do decide to bring your pet on a flight, here are some tips to help keep her safe and relatively comfortable:

  1. Make sure your dog is fit to fly — Very young animals, elderly pets, ill pets, pets with a chronic health condition, pregnant animals and brachycephalic breeds are among the types of pets for whom air travel is in my opinion an unacceptable risk. In fact, many commercial airlines have in recent years banned flat-faced pets from their planes due to the significant health risks involved.

Talk with your integrative veterinarian about whether your dog is a good candidate for air travel. You’ll also want to get any required health certifications, for example, pets traveling to a different state by air must have a current rabies vaccination and a certification of veterinary inspection within 10 days prior to travel.

  1. Make sure your dog is very comfortable in her carrier before heading to the airport — Long before your scheduled flight, your dog should view her carrier as a safe place. Purchase it well ahead of time and get her used to hanging out in it at home.
  2. Make sure your dog is wearing a secure collar and a current ID tag — Also keep a photo of your pet on your person to help with identification in case he is lost.
  3. Bring your dog in the main passenger cabin with you if possible — Whether or not your pet can fly in the passenger cabin will depend on his size and the airline you use. Most if not all airlines only allow dogs in passenger cabins that can fit in a carrier small enough to slide under the seat.

Having your dog right there with you, in a climate-controlled cabin, has obvious benefits and is by far the best way to travel by plane with a pet. Book your flights as early as possible since airlines only allow a certain number of pets to travel in the passenger cabin.

You won’t be able to remove your dog from the carrier during the flight, so make sure he isn’t traveling on a full stomach and has an opportunity to relieve himself shortly before you board the aircraft.

  1. Avoid flying in very hot or cold weather and book nonstop flights whenever possible — In warmer months, book morning or evening flights so you’re traveling during the coolest part of the day. In cold weather, try to fly during the warmest part of the day.

Nonstop flights are highly preferable to connections, especially if your dog is flying in the baggage compartment or cargo hold. Keep in mind that direct flights are neither nonstop nor connecting but are preferable to a connecting flight. If your pet will be traveling in the baggage or cargo area, retrieve her as quickly as possible when you land at your destination.

  1. If your pet will be traveling in the baggage compartment or cargo hold, invest in a good-quality carrier — Defective or inappropriate carriers are behind most of the problems with escaped or injured pets during air travel. A suitable carrier will be TSA-approved, have secure construction (for example, locking bolts), metal doors (not plastic), metal rods that fasten the door to the container, a strong and effective lock mechanism, and no wheels.
  2. Reduce your pet’s anxiety with natural remedies — I’m not a fan of sedating pets for travel except in the most extreme circumstances, and only in consultation with a veterinarian. If your dog is so anxious she needs to be tranquilized to fly, she really shouldn’t be put through the experience if it can be avoided.

If your dog must be sedated for travel (usually due to hyperactivity) she must be in the cabin with you so you can monitor her throughout the flight. Never, under any circumstances, sedate a pet that cannot be supervised. Natural calming agents that may be beneficial include ashwagandha, holy basil and rhodiola.

To help reduce your dog’s anxiety during a trip, consider giving flower essences such as Jackson Galaxy Solutions orally before, during and after travel, and mist her carrier with specially blended pet-friendly essential oils such as those from the Earth Heart line. I also recommend homeopathic aconitum for extreme fear, if warranted. CBD oil can also be very effective at reducing stress. Try out the protocol prior to travel to make sure you’re happy with the results.

Diane recommends Rescue Remedy Bach Flower Essence 4-5 drops directly in mouth or on treat throughout the travel to keep your pet calm.  It also helps to have an animal communicator talk to your pet before the journey to explain everything that is going to happen to help alleviate stress for your pets.

If your dog has never flown before, you can gauge her potential response to air travel by how well she travels by other means. If she relaxes comfortably in her crate during car rides, chances are she’ll handle air travel reasonably well.

Most if not all the major air carriers have information about traveling with pets on their websites. If you’re thinking about flying with your dog, I recommend you contact the individual carrier as a first step. Find out what pet restrictions apply, approved carrier/kennel dimensions and other critical information you’ll need for planning purposes.

This is the time of year when many people, weary of winter, start looking forward to the warm months ahead and summer vacation. If you’re a dog parent, you’re probably also facing the question of whether to bring your pet on your trip this year or leave her at home.

Traveling with dogs is commonplace these days, but the fact is, as bonded as we are to our furry companions, we’re much better equipped to handle disruptions in routine than animals are. As much as our dogs love to be with us, they thrive in a familiar setting with a structured daily routine.

Taking your dog away from home and her daily schedule for several days or weeks can generate a level of anxiety even your constant presence can’t overcome. Now, that’s not to say you absolutely shouldn’t bring her along or that she won’t have fun, but you should be aware that her travel experience will be very different from your own. If you do intend to bring your dog with you on vacation this year, plan ahead and keep your pet’s safety top-of-mind.

Traveling Safely by Car With Your Dog

Putting your dog into a crate, carrier or secure harness is for their safety as well as yours. An unrestrained dog or cat can be a distraction while you’re driving and can become a projectile in the event of an accident, which is life-threatening for both your pet and other passengers.

You’ll want to choose a crate or carrier that fits your dog snugly, with enough room to be comfortable but not excess room (which poses a risk in the event of an accident). The crate or carrier should then be secured into the back seat or cargo area of the vehicle — not the front passenger seat.

While you can fasten almost any crate or carrier in your vehicle using elastic or rubber bungee cords, this method may not be secure enough in an accident, putting your pet at risk of injury. In addition, many pet restraint manufacturers claim their products are crash-tested and safe for use in a vehicle, but there are no established test protocols or standards required to make such claims.

Fortunately, the Center for Pet Safety (CPS) and Subaru have collaborated to perform crash tests on a wide range of harnesses, carriers and crates on the market. CPS actually provides a list of crash test-certified pet restraint systems (up to date as of November 2018).

The CPS and Subaru also crash-tested pet travel seats. These are portable booster seats for small dogs that are placed on the passenger seat or console to elevate small dogs so they can see out the windows. None of the four tested seats safely restrained the (stuffed) dogs in the crash tests,1 so whil

 

14 Common Health Warning Signs in Dogs

By Dr. Karen Becker

 

When our dogs don’t feel well, or we suspect they don’t, it would be such a relief if they could just tell us, wouldn’t it? It’s incredibly stressful to have a dog who, for example, is clearly miserable judging by her hunched posture, tucked tail and sad eyes, and there’s no way to gauge what’s going on, how long it might last or how serious it is.

Even if you’re very disciplined about taking your dog for regular veterinary checkups, it’s still very important to be alert for changes in her health or behavior between visits. After all, you know your furry best friend better than anyone, and you’re her first line of defense when there’s a problem brewing beneath the surface.

The Morris Animal Foundation lists common signs to watch for in dogs that should always prompt a call to your veterinarian.1

1. Skin lumps or bumps — Most of the time, lumps and bumps on a dog’s skin are harmless, though they can be unsettling and ugly. However, it’s important to have new growths evaluated by your veterinarian. It’s rare that a growth requires emergency action, however, occasionally a mass like an abscess or cyst may require urgent care.

My recommendation when you find a growth is to monitor it. If it’s growing or changing quickly, you’ll want to see your veterinarian as soon as possible. However, if you notice, for example, a discoloration on the skin or what looks like a skin tag that doesn’t get bigger or change over the course of days, weeks or months, then just mention it to your vet at your pet’s next wellness exam.

2. Sudden collapse — this is an emergency! — When a dog collapses, it means he experiences a sudden loss of strength that causes him to fall and not be able to get back up. If a collapsed dog also loses consciousness, he has fainted. Either of these situations is an emergency, even if your dog recovers quickly and seems normal again within seconds or minutes of the collapse.

All the reasons for fainting or collapsing are serious and require an immediate visit to your veterinarian. They include a potential problem with the nervous system (brain, spinal cord or nerves), the musculoskeletal system (bones, joints, muscles), the circulatory system (heart, blood vessels, blood) or the respiratory system (mouth, nose, throat, lungs).

3. Dramatic weight gain or loss — If your dog seems to be gaining a lot of weight, it’s most likely a result of what she’s eating (e.g., a dry diet), how much she’s eating and a lack of physical activity (most dogs — no matter their size or age — don’t get nearly the exercise they need).

However, it’s also possible that a tumor in her abdomen can make your dog appear to be gaining weight or getting fat, so it’s best to give your veterinarian a call if your dog is getting bigger and you don’t know why.

On the flip side, often a loss of appetite is the first sign of an underlying illness in dogs. There can be many reasons your dog isn’t hungry or refuses to eat, but not eating can begin to negatively impact his health within 24 hours. And for puppies 6 months or younger, the issue is even more serious.

Weight loss is the result of a negative caloric balance, and it can be the consequence of anorexia (loss of appetite) or when a dog’s body uses or eliminates essential dietary nutrients faster than they are replenished. Weight loss exceeding 10 percent of your dog’s normal body weight will be a red flag for your veterinarian. There can be several underlying causes, some of which are very serious.

4. Changes in chewing, eating and drinking habits — If your dog is having difficulty chewing, there’s something painful going on in his mouth that needs investigating. Possibilities include dental or gum disease, a broken tooth or tooth resorption.

Changes in your dog’s appetite or eating habits can signal any number of underlying problems, from oral disease to a gastrointestinal (GI) disorder to cancer. If your dog is suddenly drinking his water bowl dry, it’s also cause for concern. Excessive thirst (along with excessive urination) are symptoms of several disorders, including urinary tract problems and kidney disease.

5. Non-healing sores or wounds — If your dog has a sore or wound that isn’t healing, the most immediate concerns are pain and the potential for infection. There are many nontoxic therapies that can successfully treat these wounds, including manuka honey, negative pressure wound therapy (NPWT), shockwave therapy and laser therapy.

Since sores that won’t heal can also be a sign of a more serious underlying disease such as cancer, I recommend making an appointment with your veterinarian for diagnosis and treatment.

6. Loss of energy — A lethargic dog will appear drowsy, “lazy” and/or indifferent. She may be slow to respond to sights, sounds and other stimuli in her environment. Lethargy or exhaustion is a non-specific symptom that can signal a number of potential underlying disorders, including some that are serious or life-threatening. If your pet is lethargic for longer than 24 hours, it’s time to make an appointment with your veterinarian.

7. Bleeding or discharge from any orifice — “Orifices,” or openings into and out of your dog’s body, include the eyes, ears, nose, mouth, anus and urethra. If you notice bleeding or unusual discharge from any of these openings, make an appointment with your veterinarian. Be aware that digested blood in your dog’s poop will appear as black tarry stools. Fresh blood in the stool indicates bleeding in the colon or rectum. Either situation is cause for concern and should be investigated as soon as possible.

Blood in your dog’s urine, called hematuria, can be obvious or microscopic. There are a number of serious disorders that can cause bloody urine, including a blockage in the urinary tract, a bacterial infection and even cancer. Vomited blood can be either bright red (fresh) or resemble coffee grounds (indicating partially digested blood). There are a variety of reasons your dog might vomit blood, some of which are relatively minor, but others are serious and even life-threatening.

8. Persistent cough — Coughing in dogs, unless it’s a one-and-done situation, generally indicates an underlying problem. Examples include a possible windpipe obstruction, kennel cough, bronchitis, pneumonia, heartworm disease, heart failure, and tumors of the heart and lungs. All causes of coughing require investigation, and in most cases, treatment.

9. Change in breath or body odor — A common cause of stinky breath in dogs is dental or gum disease, which is entirely preventable in the vast majority of cases. If your pet’s mouth has reached the point of emitting a foul odor, it’s past time to make an appointment with your veterinarian for an oral exam.

Poor skin and coat condition can cause unpleasant body odor in dogs, as can a yeast infection. If your pet’s normal “doggy smell” suddenly turns sour, give your veterinarian a call.

10. Persistent lameness, stiffness or limping — Mobility problems in dogs are always a sign of an underlying, often painful condition such as arthritis. There are many things you and your veterinarian can do to either resolve or effectively manage the disorders that inhibit your dog’s ability to move around comfortably, so it’s important to have him seen by your vet as soon as possible.

11. Difficulty breathing, urinating or defecating — A dog in respiratory distress will have labored breathing or shortness of breath that can occur when he breathes in or out. Breathing difficulties can mean that not enough oxygen is reaching his tissues. Additionally, dogs with heart failure may not be able to pump enough blood to their muscles and other tissues.

Respiratory distress often goes hand-in-hand with a buildup of fluid in the lungs or chest cavity that leads to shortness of breath and coughing. If your dog has sudden undiagnosed breathing problems or appears to be breathing harder, heavier or faster than before, he should see a veterinarian immediately.

Difficulty urinating includes discomfort while urinating, straining to urinate and frequent attempts to urinate with little success. If your dog cries out while relieving himself, seems preoccupied with that area of his body or is excessively licking the area, you should make an appointment with your veterinarian right away. There are several underlying causes of urinary difficulties, some of which can result in death within just a few days.

Your dog should poop at least once every day because it’s an important part of his body’s natural detoxification process. He’s constipated when he either has difficulty pooping (and the stool he produces is dry and hard), or he isn’t pooping at all. This is why it’s so important to keep an eye on those daily “deposits.” The quantity, color, texture and smell, along with the presence of mucus or blood in your pet’s feces (and urine), are all indicators of his general well-being.

Often, what passes from (or in the case of constipation, doesn’t pass from) your pet’s body is the first sign of a health problem, so you should regularly monitor your dog’s potty area and familiarize yourself with what “normal” looks like for your pet.

On potty walks, constipated dogs tend to look like they’re trying to go or need to go, but nothing’s happening. If after a few minutes of hunching and straining your dog doesn’t go or produces poop that is small, hard and dry, you can reasonably assume he’s constipated.

Sometimes constipated dogs appear bloated and painful, especially when trying unsuccessfully to poop. The stool a constipated dog does manage to pass is often darker than normal and may contain mucus, blood or strange debris. If your dog seems constipated, make an appointment with your veterinarian so she or he can check for underlying conditions.

12. Vomiting or diarrhea — Unless your dog vomits or has a bout of diarrhea as the result of eating something she shouldn’t have, which you have identified, it’s cause for concern. Chronic vomiting or diarrhea are red flag signs of an underlying problem that requires your veterinarian’s attention.

13. Eating more than normal — If your dog suddenly becomes food-obsessed (or more food-obsessed than usual), a relatively unlikely but potentially serious possibility is the presence of an underlying medical condition that causes excessive hunger, no matter how much he eats.

I recommend making an appointment with your veterinarian if your dog seems to be extra hungry even though he’s eating well, and especially if he’s also losing weight.

14. Excessive drinking, panting, scratching or urination — A brewing bladder infection, other types of infection, a metabolic problem such as Cushing’s disease and diabetes can cause excessive thirst and water consumption. Some forms of cancer cause pets to drink more. If your dog is drinking more water than normal, you should have her checked by your veterinarian to rule out an underlying condition.

Normal panting typically occurs when your dog’s body is overheating and is considered a natural, healthy response. Abnormal panting, on the other hand, may be a sign that your dog has a physical or emotional issue that needs further investigation.

Abnormal panting is excessive compared to your dog’s normal panting behavior and occurs during times when she isn’t overly warm and doesn’t need to cool her body down. It doesn’t sound quite like normal panting — it may be louder or harsher, for example, and requires more exertion.

If your dog suddenly starts panting at inappropriate times or the panting seems heavier than usual, you should be concerned, but there’s no need to panic. Make an appointment with your veterinarian to discuss your pet’s symptoms and have her checked out.

If your dog is scratching a lot, there can be any number of causes, all of which deserve investigation. A chronically itchy dog feels miserable, and in addition, underlying causes of itching almost always get worse over time when they aren’t diagnosed and effectively treated.

Excessive urination in dogs typically goes hand-in-hand with excessive thirst as discussed above. Both situations are clear signs of an underlying disorder that requires a vet visit.

 

 

Training Kitty to Come When Called

 

Training Kitty to Come When Called

by Karen Becker and comments by Diane Weinmann

 

Can you imagine your cat coming when called just like your dog?  Well, it can be done and he/she might already be trained to respond you just don’t realize it.

So why would you need to have your cat respond to you when called?  Life and death situations come to mind in the event of a natural disaster or fire.  It’s also important not to use this training to call your cat for anything he might (or will surely) find unpleasant, like giving him medication or taking him for a veterinary appointment. In those situations, says Christensen, it’s better to go find him so that he doesn’t make any associations between being called and a negative result.

You may not realize it, but your cat probably already comes when he’s “called” by any sound that tells him it could be mealtime, such as the whir of the electric can opener. If there’s no sound involved, he’ll be called by the aroma of his meal being prepared. Since he’s already answering these calls, you can easily build on this foundation, says veterinary behaviorist E’Lise Christensen in an interview with Adventure Cats.1 The trick is to pair calling your cat with something he’s already responding to.

First you need to decide precisely how you’ll call him from now on when you want him to come to you. For example, you can call him by his name using a different vocal inflection, or by his name followed by “come” (“Fluffy, come”) or preceded by “here” (“Here, Fluffy Fluffy”). The key is to consistently use the same words and tone of voice each time you call him to you.  According to an animal communicator, it helps the “call” if you visualize the cat coming to you in your head as you call their name.

You can also use high-value treats to train kitty to come when called. Standing next to him, call him to come and then immediately give him a treat. When it’s obvious he’s made the connection between your call and yummy treats, you can start increasing the distance.

Move a few feet away from him, call him, and when he comes to you, give him a treat. Once he’s doing this consistently, gradually increase the distance between you. If things go according to plan, he’ll be reliably responding to your call from all over the house. Keys to successful training sessions:

  • Plan to do several sessions each day to help your cat maintain his training; keep each one short — no more than five minutes
  • Never, ever punish your cat for not coming when you call — it’s ineffective and can cause him to become stressed or fearful
  • Always reward him, no matter how long it takes him to respond to you; remember that you’re asking him to do something entirely unnatural for a cat

Grow Fresh Air With Plants That Are Safe for Cats and Dogs

By Carly Sutherland

Plants that are safe for cats and dogs are great for decorating, but they can provide the benefit of fresh air for pets and pet parents alike.

 

Dr. Cathy Alinovi, DVM, author and pet health expert, explains it like this, “These days, many houses are built for energy efficiency. This can mean fewer fresh air opportunities for people or their pets. For those who can open their windows wide, city living/pollution might make it such that the better air is on the inside.”

 

She goes on to say, “Stale air can adversely affect health. Stale air has higher levels of carbon dioxide, possibly carbon monoxide and other waste gases. Higher wastes mean less oxygen availability.”

 

Houseplants cleanse the air we breath from toxins found in many household products—formaldehyde, benzene and carbon monoxide, just to name a few. These toxins are found in household cleaners, paint, solvents, vinyl, cigarettes—the list goes on. Plants play a vital role in improving indoor air quality and helping to remove trace levels of toxic vapors from the air.

 

Indoor, Pet-Friendly Plants Release Oxygen

 

One standout benefit is more oxygen. You may be wondering why more oxygen in the home is ideal. When we breathe, we inhale oxygen, and when we exhale, we are releasing carbon dioxide.

 

During photosynthesis, plants essentially do just the opposite. Plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen, which creates a healthy and symbiotic relationship between plants and animals (both human and nonhuman). Plants undoubtedly increase oxygen levels, and our bodies—as well as our pets’ bodies—certainly appreciate it!

 

Dr. Alinovi goes on to explain, “Oxygen is critical for good brain and muscle function. Therefore, stagnant air can lead to tiredness and brain dizziness, and can even affect heart function. The good news is, safe indoor plants help clean the air and increase oxygen concentration while decreasing waste products.”

 

As Dr. Alinovi explains, plants make great natural air purifiers!

 

Houseplants Can Raise the Humidity Level

 

According to a study conducted by Virginia Lohr of the Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture at Washington State University, increased oxygen in the home isn’t the only benefit plants provide for both pets and owners. They also raise the air’s humidity by releasing water in the form of moisture vapor. This means softer skin, less dandruff on your furry family members, and clean and healthy airways for both you and your pets.

 

In a natural environment, a plant’s roots tap the groundwater table, and through a process known as transpiration, the water evaporates through its leaves. Evidently, the same thing happens in our home—of course with a different water supply.

 

Choose Plants That Are Safe for Cats and Dogs

Dr. David Dorman, DVM and professor of Toxicology at North Carolina State University of Veterinary Medicine, explains the importance of researching safe plants for dogs and safe plants for cats.

 

“Exposure of dogs and cats to household plants occurs commonly, especially with younger animals that tend to be very inquisitive. Some plants are extremely toxic to our pets. For example, cats ingesting small amounts of Easter lily leaves can develop life-threatening kidney failure. This is just one of many examples,” he says.

 

Dr. Dorman goes on to explain, “It’s important to remember that your pet cannot distinguish between safe-to-eat plants and those that are dangerous. The key to preventing poisonings in your pets is to prevent exposure.” Thus, don’t bring poisonous plants into the home with cats and dogs, period.

 

“Some plants can cause vomiting without actually being poisonous. Poinsettia and spider plants are an example [of this]. On the other hand, many lily species are poisonous, can cause kidney failure and should not be used in the home with pets,” says Dr. Alinovi. She suggests trying succulents and herbs in the home.

 

If you’re concerned that you pet has ingested a poisonous plant, or they’re showing symptoms of poisoning, contact your veterinarian immediately. The ASPCA and Pet Poison Helpline have valuable information regarding safe, non-poisonous plants for use around pets.

 

Here a few examples of plants that are safe for cats and dogs:

 

Ferns:

  • Boston Fern

Herbs:

  • Basil
  • Cilantro
  • Dill
  • Lemon Balm
  • Rosemary
  • Sage

Perennials:

  • African Violet
  • Aluminum Plant (aka Watermelon plant)
  • Bamboo
  • Friendship Plant
  • Spider Ivy (aka Spider Plant)
  • Swedish Ivy

Succulents:

  • Blue Echeveria (aka Wax Rosette, Painted Lady)
  • Christmas Cactus
  • Haworthia
  • Hens and Chickens

Palms:

  • Areca Palm
  • Dwarf Palm (aka Good Luck Palm)

 

Consider Edible Grasses

The benefits of pet-friendly plants in the home will only work if they aren’t eaten or chewed-on, Dr. Alinovi explains. “The downside of trying to grow cat mint or edible grasses is they both taste great, and the challenge will be to keep pets from eating the plants. (If the plants are eaten, they will have difficulty cleaning the air.),” she says.

 

Having cat-safe houseplants and plants that are safe for dogs doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t be nibbled on from time to time. This is where adding pet grass, such as The Cat Ladies organic pet grass kit with planter, comes in handy!

 

Dr. Dorman explains why some cats enjoy nibbling on indoor plants. “Some cats enjoy chewing on these types of grass materials. Other cats may occasionally develop vomiting even from this ingestion. Most high-quality cat food based diets are complete, meaning they provide all of the nutrients your cat needs—so supplementing their diet with plant materials is not required,” he says.

 

If your dog or cat enjoys a pet grass to munch on and doesn’t get stomach upset, then pet grass kits, like Pet Greens self-grow garden pet grass, might be the solution to keeping a happy pet.

 

Do your research on plants that are safe for cats and dogs, and add functional décor to you and your pets’ most treasured spaces for a healthier and happier home!

 

 

 

How to Keep Your Dog Safe and Comfortable When Moving to a New Home

Written by:  Cindy Aldridge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Moving can be stressful for people, but it can be even more so for dogs. The activities and sounds leading up to and on moving day can be frightening to dogs, so it is important to take the necessary steps to reduce his stress as much as possible and to prevent an accidental escape. When moving with a dog, there are steps you can take prior to the move and on moving day to keep your dog comfortable and safe.

 

Preparing for the Move

 

The stress of moving day increases the chances of your dog escaping, and your dog’s risk of running away increases when you first move into a new home. Before moving day, ensure your dog’s collar fits well, and ensure his tags are up to date with your name and current phone number. Have a tag with your new address handy too so that you can switch tags with the proper identification from day one. If you haven’t done it already, now is a good time to microchip your dog, which should cost you around $45.

 

Many dogs experience car sickness. Your dog’s veterinarian can prescribe medications and offer feeding recommendations to help lessen the likelihood of car sickness. Also, if you’re moving to a new state, ask about region-specific vaccines that your dog may need. Before you move, find a veterinarian in your new location

 

If you’re one of the millions of Americans making a long-distance move this year, locate pet-friendly hotels along your route and book rooms ahead of time. Also, when you make pit stops for yourself, be sure to give your dog a potty break and fresh water. Leash your pet before exiting the car and keep him or her leashed for the break.

 

While you’re probably feeling stressed from packing and preparing for the move, try to keep calm. Dogs can pick up on your emotions, so the more anxiety you show, the more stress your dog will feel. Maintaining your dog’s normal routine as much as possible will also help reduce his or her stress. These suggestions also apply to moving day.

 

On Moving Day

 

When moving day arrives, make sure your dog is secured in a crate or closed room until you’re ready to load him or her into your car. You can also ask a friend or family member to pet sit, hire a pet sitter, or board your dog for the day. One of the best options is to take your dog on a fun outing for the day. Hiring movers means you don’t have to worry about loading and moving all of your items. Instead, you can take your dog to the dog park or a nearby dog-friendly restaurant to hang out.

 

If you hire a professional moving company, inform them ahead of time you have a dog, as they may have policies regarding dogs. Many professional movers offer services that pack up your items for you as well, so they may be interacting with your dog. If so, they’ll need to know about your dog’s temperament. Sometimes, it’s best to keep your dog in a separate room or take him or her out while they work.

 

When the time comes to transport your pet, you’ll want to make sure he or she is restrained, even if your dog loves car rides and is normally obedient. Remember that moving day is stressful, so the anxiety can change his or her behavior. Also, never transport a pet in an open truck bed, car trunk, or storage area of a moving van.

 

Your dog will feel less anxious at the new home if you arrange his or her sleeping, playing, and feeding areas in a similar manner to the previous setup. Have plenty of treats and toys on hand to keep your dog distracted while you move in. Make sure the home has a wood fence to prevent your dog from escaping; average prices for a fence service in Cleveland are $2,103-$4,180.

 

The activities and sounds of packing and moving your home may cause your dog to experience anxiety. Your dog is also at great risk for accidentally escaping during the moving process. Fortunately, you can help reduce your dog’s stress and keep him or her safe and comfortable with a little preparation and thought.

 

 

 

Arthritic Pets

Arthritis in Pets

By Dr. Karen Becker and comments by Diane Weinmann

Like humans, pets can and do develop osteoarthritis (OA), also known as degenerative joint disease (DJD). About 20 percent of dogs and cats of all ages suffer some degree of OA, including 1 in 4 dogs in the U.S.1,2 The risk increases with age, just as it does in humans. In fact, one study showed that more than 90 percent of kitties over the age of 10 have arthritis in at least one joint.3

Inflammation Is a Primary Source of Pain in Arthritic Pets

OA is a chronic inflammatory joint disease that causes pain, soreness, stiffness, swelling and lameness in pets. One of the most important ways we help dogs and cats with arthritis is managing their pain. As veterinary pain specialist Dr. Robin Downing explains it:

 “… [U]nmanaged (or undermanaged) pain leads us down a dark rabbit hole in which pain moves from a minor nuisance, to decreased quality of life, to unbearable suffering, and it can ultimately result in physical pathology that leads to death. In other words, it’s not an exaggeration to state that pain kills.”4

Inflammation is one of the pain-causing factors in arthritic pets, so decreasing it is of paramount importance in keeping your dog or cat comfortable and mobile. In addition, inflammation increases the risk for many other serious diseases, including insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart and respiratory disease, cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) disease, kidney disease and decreased life expectancy.

Another disease associated with inflammation is cancer. Inflammation kills the cells of the body. It also surrounds cells with toxic inflammatory byproducts that inhibit the flow of oxygen, nutrients and waste products between cells and blood. This creates an environment in which abnormal cells proliferate.

Excess Fat Is a Primary Source of Inflammation

Unfortunately, most pets with arthritis are already, or become overweight, in part because they can no longer move around comfortably.

“The white fat that accumulates in overweight and obese patients secretes inflammatory and proinflammatory hormones that can enhance and amplify the chronic pain experience,” writes Downing. “For this reason, normalizing body composition — decreasing both the pet’s weight and the size of its fat compartment — is a critical component of any multimodal pain management strategy.”5

Downing makes the point that simply cutting back on the amount of food your pet eats isn’t enough, because while body mass will decrease, the fat compartment will remain (in proportion to the smaller body size). “In other words, a large marshmallow will simply become a smaller marshmallow,” she explains, which is why it’s necessary to feed a diet that allows the body to burn fat selectively for energy.

Veterinarian Dr. Ernie Ward, founder of the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP), calls excess fat an “adipokine storm” inside your dog’s or cat’s body:

“Adipokines are signal proteins produced by fat tissue,” says Ward. “Leptin, adiponectin and interleukin-6 (IL-6) are examples. We know adipokines cause or contribute to hundreds of harmful inflammatory processes throughout the body. Think of every fat cell as a little factory pumping out hundreds of potentially toxic compounds. Multiply that by millions or billions in an obese pet. The real danger of excess fat isn’t the fat; it’s the inflammation the fat causes.”6

Ward firmly believes inflammation is the biggest threat pets face today. Scientific evidence of the damage excessive inflammation causes to the body continues to mount.

I agree, and I think toxic fat combined with a toxic environment (lawn chemicals, flame retardants/PBDEs, vaccines, and flea and tick pesticides, to name just a few) plus malnutrition, courtesy of the processed pet food industry, is a 100 percent guarantee pets will suffer from at least one degenerative condition such as arthritis in their lifetime.

 

Processed Pet Food Is a Primary Source of Obesity in Dogs and Cats

Most integrative veterinarians, including me, believe processed diets are by far the biggest contributor to pet obesity. Most processed pet food isn’t biologically appropriate and contains exactly the types of ingredients that promote weight gain and inflammation in the body.

It’s also true that today’s dogs and cats are overfed and under-exercised, however, the first thing I scrutinize with any overweight patient is the type of food he’s eating. I look for things like the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio in the diet. Food high in omega-6 essential fatty acids and low in omega-3s (which is the case with most processed pet diets) is associated with inflammatory conditions.

Commercial pet food is also typically high in pro-inflammatory carbohydrates, including processed, high glycemic grains and starchy vegetables like potatoes or legumes, which contain lectins. If a pet is fed any dry food it’s a red flag, because all kibble contains some form of starch — it can’t be manufactured without it.

Arthritic Pets (and All Pets) Should Eat an Anti-Inflammatory Diet

All dogs and cats, especially those with inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, should be fed a moisture-rich, nutritionally balanced, species-appropriate diet that is naturally anti-inflammatory, consisting of real, whole foods, preferably raw, organic and non-GMO. It should include:

High-quality protein, including muscle meat, organs and bone (protein coming from animal sources should make up more than 80 percent of a cat’s diet)
Low to moderate levels of animal fat (depending on your pet’s activity level)
High levels of EPA and DHA (omega-3 essential fatty acids)
A few fresh cut, fibrous vegetables, pureed
No grains or starches
A whole food vitamin/mineral supplement that meets the additional E, zinc, iron, copper, manganese and vitamin D deficiencies often found in homemade diets OR enough of these hard-to-source foods in whole food forms, daily
Beneficial additions such as probiotics, digestive enzymes and super green foods

Along with a nutritionally balanced, species-appropriate diet, it’s important to practice portion control at every meal. For most pets, this means a carefully measured morning and evening meal. And don’t forget to factor in any calories from treats. You also need to know exactly how many calories your dog or cat should be eating per day. Use these calorie calculators to determine how many calories your pet should take in to lose weight or maintain his or her current weight.

Natural Supplements to Manage the Inflammation and Pain of Arthritis

Chondroprotective agents (CPAs) protect the joints and slow the rate of cartilage degeneration, and include glucosamine sulfate, collagen, MSM, eggshell membrane, perna mussel (green-lipped clam), Adequan and cetyl myristoleate.

Natural substances that can reduce or eliminate the need for painkillers in the early stages of arthritis include a high-quality omega-3 supplement (krill oil), ubiquinol, turmeric (or curcumin), supergreen foods (spirulina, astaxanthin), natural anti-inflammatory formulas (such as proteolytic enzymes and SOD), homeopathic remedies (Rhus tox, Bryonia and Arnica, for example), and Esterified Fatty Acid Complex (EFAC).

I have found CBD oil to be a very safe, long-term management strategy for chronic pain, and there are also Ayurvedic and Chinese herbs and nutraceuticals that can be very beneficial, depending on the animal’s specific symptoms.

Additional Beneficial Treatment Modalities for Arthritic Pets

Laser therapy Maintenance chiropractic
Assisi loop Underwater treadmill
Massage Acupuncture
Daily stretching

 

Dr. Becker recommends bringing your arthritic pet for a wellness checkup with your integrative veterinarian at least twice a year to review the status of her health, and to check the range of motion in her joints, the muscle mass she’s either gaining or losing, and to make adjustments to her protocol as necessary to ensure her quality of life is optimal.

Diane also recommends essential oils like Dr. Shelton’s New Mobility along with routine energy healing using healing touch for animals or reiki.  Diane has many clients that schedule weekly healing touch for animal distance sessions.   She has a cat client that she has been healing for years now and he is 21 years old!  Yeah energy healing!!!!