5 Tips to Reduce Dandruff

Cold weather and then dry heat in a house can cause dry skin on us and our pets. While there’s nothing we can do about the weather, we can deal with the dandruff that our pets have and help them not feel as uncomfortable.

Here are 5 tips for reducing dandruff:

  1. Regular grooming – regular brushing can help remove unwanted and loose pet fur, debris, and untangle knots on our cats and dogs. Brushing your pet also helps stimulate the skin and moves the natural oils that are pets have down the length of their fur and along their skin.
    A brush that is too soft won’t massage the skin or get through the layers of fur. A brush that is too stiff could actually irritate the skin. The best kind to use a brush with bristles that stand straight and have rounded edges. It needs to be strong enough to get through your pet’s fur but smooth enough to run along their skin and not scratch them. Regular grooming will also help cut down on hairballs, matting, and pet hair on your furniture and clothing.
  2. Moisturizers – Moisturizing sprays are available at many pet stores for your pet. Many are for helping keeping coats shiny and clean and some have special ingredients for soothing dry skin and locking in moisture. Comb it through their fur and your pet can smell fresh, feel good, and not be as itchy as she was.
  3. Baths – Bathing your pet can also soothe and remove dandruff. Using a shampoo that has moisturizers can reduce dry skin. Just be careful not to bathe your pet too often or during very chilly days. Wet fur and cold temperatures can make them very unhappy.
  4. Diet – If you cook for your pet, add a little more fish to the diet. Fish oil helps keep their skin well moisturized. There are even supplements that you can buy in your pet store that can be added to their meals. You’ll notice a difference in their fur, skin, and their skin will thank you for it.
  5. High Quality Pet Food – food that is high in quality improves their overall health including their skin. The amount of good fat that is in pet food helps their skin produce natural oils and keep their fur shiny and healthy. Check the ingredients on the food you buy and compare brands if you are considering changing your pet over to another kind. Talk to your vet if you’re unsure what brands, types, and ingredients would be best for your pet.

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7 Reasons You Need a Pet

Having a pet helps reduce stress, can keep us in shape, and counter loneliness. If you have been thinking of getting a pet or haven’t had one for a few years. Here’s 7 reasons you need to make 2016 the year you get a pet:

 

  1. Companionship – loneliness can be tough and may lead to depression that be hard to pull out of alone. A dog or cat can help you stay focused on being present and keep you company in those late night hours of watching netflix.
  2. Routine – pets keep you on a routine and bring structure to your life. Don’t want to get out of bed? Feeling blue? Nursing a heartbreaking breakup? It’d be easy to stay in bed all day and shut out the world, but a pet helps you remember that you have to slowly move forward.
  3. Exercise – having a pet that pushes you to go outside, like a dog, can benefit your health. Regular walks with your dog are a great way to help you stay in shape.
  4. Meet new people – if you and your dog head to the dog parks, you may meet new people who also have a furry best friend. Some of these acquaintances could turn into friendships, for you and your pup.
  5. Protection – dogs can serve as a security system for your house. They tend to bark at strange sounds, strangers who approach the door, and anything that seems “off.” Cats, while they don’t bark, may sometimes turn to a sound that seems unfamiliar and alert you to something too.
  6. Taking care of something – waking up and taking care of your pet fish, bird, ferret, cat, guinea pig, or dog gives you a sense of responsibility and can help you stay on track when life is just… annoyingly stressful. It can be very satisfying to take care of another creature and remember that it’s not just about bills and taxes.
  7. Less stress – petting a dog or cat, holding a ferret, playing with a hamster can reduce stress. You focus on your pet for a few minutes and just forget about all the other crap you gotta do. Having a pet that looks forward to you coming home, wants to play, and likes your company can make a world of difference.

Bathing A Cat Or What Not To Do On A Sunday Afternoon

Cats tend to take care of themselves when it comes to staying clean but sometimes they need a bath. They may have rolled in something gross or maybe you need to bathe them to help with your allergies. Sometimes your cat may smell like a port-a-potty on a hot day… don’t think about why… they just do now and then.

So you’ve prepped your bathroom with a towel, pet shampoo, and a way to rinse all the shampoo off, so now what happens?

Tips to bathe a cat

  1. Get in the tub – Cats are quick, nimble, and can shred a shower curtain in under .03 seconds. What to do? You are stronger than the cat. Hold him still as best you can, fill the tub with a few inches of water to slow down the skating around he’ll do trying to escape, and if you have a sliding glass door close all openings except where you are kneeling. If your cat has moves of a jungle cat, you may want to consider getting into the tub with him and closing the glass shower doors completely. Sit on the ledge and begin wetting your cat down. Be careful of the face and ears. You don’t want to get water in their eyes, ears, or nose.
  2. Protection – Cats have claws and won’t hesitate to use them. Your advantage here would be to wear long sleeves or kevlar. The best outfit is a hockey mask, soccer goalie gloves, chainmail, canvas jeans, and work boots.
  3. The element of surprise – Use your ninja skills and surprise your cat. Pick up your cat like it’s just another day and pet him. Get him to be a little happy and carry him towards the bathroom. Your cat won’t care that you look like you’re dressed for halloween. They have little to no interest in your fashion sense. Once you get to the bathroom, close the door, and yell “AH-HA!” with an air of triumph.
  4. Speed – It’s essential to getting your cat washed, dried, and clean. In a single motion, wet your cat down, shampoo, and rinse! Having a few inches of water in the tub will not only slow your cat down but will also wet his feet, legs, belly, tail, and give you a few seconds to get his back wet. The head is last and often the hardest. You may want to avoid the head until you’re a black belt in cat baths. Shampoo him up quickly and begin rinsing by turning on the shower or faucet and quickly moving the water over his body. This may be the wildest and scariest 3 min of your life.
  5. Slippery Critters – Cats do not have handles or grips on their bodies. A wet cat is slippery. Do not expect to hold him for more than a few seconds at a time. This is when the glass doors of the shower come in handy. He may run around but he can’t get out. Rinse like crazy and then get ready for the final step – drying.
  6. Drying and Crying – Drain the tub. Ignore the screams and wailings of your cat. Once all the water is drained you will notice your cat will have calmed down a little. Drying is going to be simple compared to the previous steps. This is because the cat has now attached himself to your leg and your pants are absorbing all the water. Reach for the towel, wrap it around your cat, and carefully step out of the tub. If he squirms let him sit on the floor as you dry his fur and get most of the water off his tail, legs, and belly. Now you’ll have a clean, freaked, soggy cat walking around the house for a few hours. Be aware, chances are he’ll be sitting on your bed in a few minutes leaving a wet spot of loose cat fur on your blanket but he’s clean! Isn’t that the point?

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Food Aggression in Dogs: What to do about it

Food aggression is a form of resource guarding in which a dog becomes very defensive when eating and uses threats to force others away. It can be directed towards other animals, humans, or both. The behavior can also extend to treats.

Many dog trainers and experts have narrowed down food aggression into three degrees:

Mild: the dog growls and may show its teeth.
Moderate: the dog snaps or lunges when approached.
Severe: the dog bites.

Recognize Signs of Food Aggression

Hovering
When a dog is eating, his body will stiffen and he may keep his head down. He is using his body language to “hover” over the meal and protect it.

Eyes and Ears
The whites of your dog’s eyes may be visible, their ears are held back, their tail is lowered, or their hackles may rise. A dog may show any or all of these signs.

What to do about it

To begin retraining your dog to let her guard down around the food bowl, some behavioral changes need to be made.

Sit and Stay
Before you even begin to prepare your dog’s food, make her sit or lie down and stay, preferably just outside of the room you feed her in. Train her to stay even after you’ve set the bowl down and, once the bowl is down, stand close to it as you release her from the stay and she begins eating. Move away after she’s began eating. She may give you a few hard glances but stand your ground.

You eat first
In wild packs, the alpha dogs eat first, before everyone else, and it should be no different in a human/dog pack. Never feed your dog before or while you are eating. You eat first, then your dog.

Keep a schedule
If the source of your dog’s aggression is fear or anxiety over when the next meal is coming, then be sure that you are feeding your dog at the same times every single day. Dogs have a very good internal clock, and with consistency, they quickly learn how to tell when it’s time to get up, time to go for a walk, or time for the people to come home. Mealtime should be no different. Be regular in feeding to take away the anxiety.

“Win” the bowl
Food aggression can actually be made worse if you back away from the bowl, because that’s what your dog wants.

Here are some of the techniques you can use:

Hand feeding:
Start your dog’s meal by giving him food by hand, and use your hands to put the food in the bowl, which will give it your scent. The goal is to get your dog used to eating while your hands are near and to have no aggressive reaction if you stick your hands in or near the bowl while he’s eating.

Treat tossing:
Drop your dog’s favorite treats into the bowl while she’s eating so she’ll learn that people approaching the bowl is a good thing and not a threat.

“Trade-Up”:
When your dog is eating their regular food, approach them with something better, like meat or a special treat. The goal here is to get your dog to stop eating their food to take the treat from you.

This teaches your dog several things:
One is that no one is going to steal his food if he looks away from it.
Two is that removing his attention from his food when people come around leads to a reward.

Image from DogChannel.com

5 Valentine’s Day Safety Tips

Your best friend, always happy to see you, loves to snuggle… sometimes it really feels like pets are better than other people. This Valentine’s Day don’t forget to give them a little extra TLC but while you’re at it, keep them safe too.

5 Tips to Keep Your Pets Safe This Valentine’s Day

  1. Keep the candy away – Boxed chocolate in a red heart shaped box, candy shaped hearts with little messages on them, lollipops shaped as a big red heart all contain sugar and other ingredients that are toxic to your pet. Keep the sweets away from your pet.
  2. Flowers – Did you get roses? Did you get a dozen? That’s great but your pet might want to inspect them. Don’t let your dog or cat nibble them. Eating roses can cause an upset stomach, vomiting, and other problems.
  3. Wrapping paper and ribbons – Gifts are awesome surprises. Make sure to throw away the pretty ribbons, bows, and paper. While shredding wrapping paper won’t harm your pet, if your cat swallows ribbon it could get caught in the intestines and cause major problems.
  4. Blow out the candles – Having a romantic night at home? Before turning in for the night, blow out all the candles. Your pet could knock it over by accident and hurt themselves with hot wax or burn something in the house.
  5. Put away the alcohol – Never leave out any half glasses of wine or champagne. Your curious pet might lick or ingest some of it. Alcohol can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and harm their metabolism. Pour out any drinks not finished, put the bottles away, and keep the recycling out of reach from your pet.

Image from A Star Pets.com

Is Your Cat Peeing On The Bed?

In October I got a new kitten. It was unexpected. He was found in the backyard and his litter mates and mother were gone. I took him home, took him to the vet, and slowly introduced him to my older cat. As the weeks went on I let him explore the apartment room by room. One night I decided to let him sleep in the bedroom. The kitten peed on the bed. He peed on the bed about three times. I did a lot of laundry… a lot.

Anxiety

Once my kitten grew a little more, became more confident about his surroundings, and got used to things he stopped peeing on the bed. From what the vet and I talked about it seemed he was experiencing anxiety. This is not uncommon. Cats tend to pee in other places other than their litterbox to signal something in the house is upsetting them. If your cat is peeing outside the box and on your bed, or on your clothes, or anywhere, identify what could be the new stressor.

Checklist

Here’s a checklist of potential stressors that may help you identify what it is that your cat is upset about.

  • Is the litterbox clean?
  • Did you change litter?
  • Does the litter box need to be cleaned more often?
  • Is the litter box big enough? Is it accessible?

  • Is it a covered litterbox?
  • Is it in a quiet place?
  • Did your hours away from home change recently?
  • Did you move to a new place?
  • Are you not giving your cat the same amount of attention that you used to?
  • Did someone new start coming over? Staying over?
  • Do you have a new roommate?

Also, try making play time and treats something you do on the bed, in the bedroom, so that your cat associates the bedroom with a place where s/he eats. Cats tend to not want to urinate where they eat. Take it slow, be patient, and it’ll work itself out. If you suspect it might be a health issue, a trip to the vet is in order.

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5 Ways To Improve Dog Joint Health

As your pup ages, their joints may start to stiffen up. Most dogs in their senior years develop arthritis. It’s very common and and can cause the same discomfort and pain that we feel. Most of the time, you may not notice the signs because as dogs age, their energy level changes and their activities differ. You might notice though that your dog is having more difficulty jumping in and out of the car or seems to have discomfort walking up and down the stairs. More severe signs of joint pain could be holding up a limb, limping, or lameness and seeing the legs slide out.

What Can You Do

To help maintain good joint health with your dog try the following 5 tips:

  1. Keep your dog’s weight in check – overweight dogs can have additional stress on their joints. Exercise and correct portions of food can help keep your dog trim.
  2. Exercise – even if your dog wants to leap, gallop, and play hard, don’t overseers your dog’s joints. Light walks and maybe even swimming can work off all that energy without stressing the joints.
  3. Pet ramps and stairs – small dogs, especially, can get joint problems jumping on and off of surfaces. Ramps and stairs reduce the strain on the dog’s joints.
  4. Carpet and rugs – adding surfaces that prevent your dog from slipping can help reduce tension on the body.
  5. Give your dog a supplement – talk to your vet about giving your dog glucosamine or another supplement that will help keeps your dog’s joints in great shape for as long as possible.

Image from ABJ Photography

Did You Make These 5 New Year’s Resolutions?

Having a pet means being responsible for another being. It not only means making sure your pet has fresh water and good food, but also that your pet is exercised, entertained, and learns the difference between good and bad behavior. Sometimes it can be difficult to teach a pet what is ok to do and what isn’t ok.

For 2016, here’s 5 resolutions you can do to improve your relationship with your pet:

  1. Don’t label your pet – descriptions such as dumb, bad, stubborn, or jealous don’t help solve the behavior. Using those words might create a bigger divide. Instead try to take a step back and get to the root of the problem. It may mean changing routines or removing something that upsets your pet and you.
  2. Don’t blame your pet completely – while some pets may have some tough character traits, sometimes it’s also due to how you are trying to train him/her. Remind yourself that no behavior happens in a vacuum but is rather influenced by the environment. Look at the behavior is terms of your pet’s point of view, look to see if there’s something you are doing that might be contributing to the issue.
  3. Pay attention – reinforce the good behaviors with praise, treats, and affection. Quickly correct or redirect the bad behaviors and remember to be patient.
  4. Always be training – incorporate it to everyday life and know that your pet learns and relearns constantly. Be consistent and look to your own behavior to make sure that you are not confusing your pet.
  5. Never take your pet for granted – appreciate your pet. Learn new tricks together and make life enriching and fun for both of you.

What other resolutions did you make for you and your pet?

Image from PureLife4Pets

Trimming Your Dog’s Nails

Some dogs don’t mind having their nails trimmed. Others may pull away, try to nibble your hand, or hide. If you want to get your dog used to nail trimming, try to desensitize her to the clippers. Start by getting them used to having their feet touched. Offer a reward. Rub your hand up and down on the leg and press on each toe while praising her. This should help your dog get used to having her toes touched. It may take a few days to weeks. Be patient. Next step is the trimming.

How to Trim Your Dog’s Nails

  1. Spread the toes – your dog may fidget and wonder what you’re doing. Offer a treat, praise, and inspect the feet for dirt and debris.
  2. Hold your dog’s toe – hold it firmly but gently. Allow your dog to pull away and gently and calmly grab the toe again. Hold the trimmer in your other hand so that you’re cutting the nail from the bottom at a slight angle and cut off the tip of the nail. Try to not cut a blunt flat line but maintain the natural curve of the nail.
  3. Be careful of the quick – cut a little bit of each nail being careful to not go too far into the quick. On white nails you may see a circle of darker pink or nail color. On black nails this is harder but you may notice a difference between the texture of the nails as they get closer to the toes.
  4. Praise your dog after each nail is trimmed.
  5. If you cut the quick, use corn starch to stop the bleeding.

If your dog really does not like having her nails cut, you may need another person to help keep her calm and hold her. Take it slow and don’t be discouraged.

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Winter Checklist to Keep Pets Safe & Healthy

Winter is coming and it’s time to put away our shorts and tanks and take out our sweaters and jeans. It’s also time to start looking around our houses and apartments to make sure that any winter items we have out are safe around our pets and to make sure they are warm during the cold months ahead too.

Winter Checklist for Pets:

✓ Keep the car winterizing chemicals out of reach from children and pets
✓ Use de-icers for the sidewalks and driveway that are pet safe like Safe Paw”
✓ Doggie coat to keep body heat in and snow and rain out
✓ Doggie boots to keep rock salt and other debris out of the paws and keep feet warm
✓ High protein pet food or supplements for your active pup
✓ Playtimes limited to make sure no one freezes or becomes a “pupsicle”
✓ Towels by the door to wipe off wet snow, ice, and clean the paws after being outside
✓ Keep up on grooming to remove debris and loose dead fur
✓ Everyone is inside at night
✓ Pet beds placed away from drafty windows
✓ ID tags and information up to date just in case

If you’re unsure what else your pet may need, always check with your vet. Have a fun winter!

For more tips to make sure your pet is ready for cold winter weather, check out all of these PetsWelcome articles:

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