Celebrate Your Dog’s Birthday in Style

dog_wearing_birthday_hatWith the recent elevation from lowly household pet to a member of the family, the dog is being celebrated in ways we would have never thought about 20 years ago. One of these ways is the birthday party – a way for pets and their owners to congregate for fun and companionship.

So how does one throw a party for his dog? It’s easy….

Choose your location – Where do you want to have the party? Home, doggie daycare, dog park, the beach? Each place has it’s pro’s and cons. You will want to do this first because your guests, food and party favors will all be affected by your location.

Choose your Guest List – Invite friends, family and anyone else you can think of who loves dogs. Make sure to invite people who have dogs so your pup can have playmates. Make it clear though that only friendly dogs are allowed.

dog-birthday-treatsFood/Cake – There are lots of options for food. Go to your friendly pet store or look up recipes online. Make sure the foods are specifically for dogs because many human desserts can make dogs sick.  Have plenty of water bowls scattered throughout the area. Make sure to ask your guests if any of their dogs are aggressive around food. If so they may need to be moved into a different area for the eating.

Party Favors and Activities – Have plenty of toys and balls for your dogs to have a fun romp. Have a race, toy search or Frisbee game. If you really want to go all out, there are dog agility toys available at any large pet store.

Photos – Most important of all, make sure you have a camera. You and your dog will cherish these memories for years to come!

Want more information on how to throw a party for your dog? Go to http://www.dog-birthday-parties.com/

Don’t Limit Yourself to Puppies

daisy-leavesThinking about getting a dog? Consider an adult instead of a puppy. I know puppies are cute and playful, but adults have their benefits too.

When I went to the Humane Society looking for a dog, I had a puppy on the brain. However, I met and fell in love with a one year old black lab named Daisy. When I took her home and she began to settle in, these are the things I discovered…

– Chewing – Daisy was just phasing out of her chewing phase when I got her. She chewed on one book and a shoe, then she was done. The chew phase for puppies can go on for up to a year.

– Focus – There was one unpleasant surprise when I woke up the morning after I adopted Daisy. She hadn’t been house-broken. Silly me, I had assumed that she had. However, unlike puppies who have the attention span of a hamster, all I had to do what catch her in the act once and scold her and DONE. Potty trained.

– Bladder – This brings me to the bladder topic. Puppies’ bladders have not developed yet, so they must be taken out every four to five hours or they have accidents. Those who know me know that I like my sleep. With Daisy this was a non-issue (well except for that first night).

daisy-ivy1– Size – I wanted a medium size dog. A dog who is naturally bigger, but maybe small for it’s breed. That’s exactly what I got. Daisy is a black lab but 55 lbs, which is unusually small. If I had gotten her as a puppy, I would have never known how big or small she would be.

– Temperament – Puppies that are cuddly and easy-going can become terrors when they get older. Some puppies mellow out. When I went to the Humane Society I asked for a mellow dog, and that’s exactly what I got.

– Cheaper – Puppies can be very expensive in the first years between shots, fecals, neutering etc. Generally an adult dog comes with all vaccinations and is already spayed.

No matter what you choose, a puppy or adult, make sure you have thoroughly thought out your decision prior to adopting. Dogs are a responsibility, and if you are not ready, it’s not fair to you or your canine companion. For tips on adopting a dog go to http://petfinder.com.

Dog Quotes

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“We give dogs time we can spare, space we can spare and love we can spare. And in return, dogs give us their all. It’s the best deal man has ever made” — M. Facklam

“The reason a dog as so many friends is that he wags his tail instead of his tongue.” — Anonymous

“Anybody who doesn’t know what soap tastes like never washed a dog.” — Franklin P. Jones

“A dog teaches a boy fidelity, perseverance, and to turn around three times before lying down.” — Robert Benchley

“My dog is worried about the economy because Alpo is up to $3.00 a can. That’s almost $21.00 in dog money.” — Joe Weinstein

rufus1_1“Some days you’re the dog, some days you’re the hydrant.” — Unknown

“Don’t accept your dog’s admiration as conclusive evidence that you are wonderful.” — Ann Landers

“In order to keep a true perspective of one’s importance, everyone should have a dog that will worship him and a cat that will ignore him.” — Dereke Bruce, Taipei, Taiwan

“Whoever said you can’t buy happiness forgot about puppies.” — Gene Hill

“Heaven goes by favor. If it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in.” — Mark Twain

“Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea.” — Robert A. Heinlei

pug_05“He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion.” — Unknown

“I know that dogs are pack animals, but it is difficult to imagine a pack of standard poodles…and if there was such a thing as a pack of standard poodles, where would they rove to? Bloomingdale’s? ” –Yvonne Clifford, American actress

“The pug is living proof that God has a sense of humor.” –Margot Kaufman, American writer

How to Give Your Dog a Bath

dog-bath-clothesThe frequency of dog washing has many factors, including breed and activities.  However rule of thumb is: if your dog smells bad or is scratching frequently, it’s probably time for a bath. Read on for the easiest way to wash your dog.

You will need: bucket or basin, towels, hose, dog shampoo and a willing volunteer if possible.

Lay these out so they are close but not in the way.

Get the dog
Brush the dog’s coat. Inspect for any skin/coat/health issues.
If your dog is scratching, decide if it is from parasites, allergies, or simple skin irritation. Pick out a good flea or problem specific shampoo at a pet store or retail store. Get a shampoo that says “Will not sting eyes”. Some general dog shampoos are formulated with oatmeal to help reduce general irritation. (If scratching is a big problem with your dog, changing her food may help. Look for a food that says something to the effect of “Good for Skin & Coat”. )
Get your dog’s coat very wet and apply the shampoo. Do this from the top down, first for her back, then gently scrubbing down to the tail and below, her rear legs, belly and chest, and then her neck. Make sure to rub shampoo into all creases, or rolls, like under front legs and neck.
Wash head and face. Get the top of the dog’s head wet, then add pets_0803_dog_bathshampoo a little at a time and wash her head, face, below her eyes, her jowls/whiskers, and under the chin. Use very warm water, and take time to re-rub the entire facial area 2-3 times, since this is an area where eye secretions and food can generate much of a dog’s odor.
Keep the shampoo on your dog for as long as the bottle calls for.
Rinse your dog until the water from her fur runs clear, and then rinse one more time. This is very important, especially for dogs with skin problems.
Towel her off. Make sure you dry the inside of her ears also. In the winter, or for small dogs almost all the time, lay a dry towel on the floor and use a hair dryer and dog brush to dry and brush your dog.
Now give your dog a treat…. She deserves it!

For more information on pet grooming, go to http://grooming.petsmart.com

“Pet Friendly” has a Whole New Meaning at Airports

There was a time when a “Pet Friendly” airline meant you could check Fido in at the airport and let him ride cargo.  However, more and more people are traveling with their pets and in response, many airlines have taken the term “Pet Friendly” to a whole new level.  These days, the goal of many “Pet Friendly” airlines is to provide the same amount of comfort to the pet that is provided to the passenger.

How is this done? First of all, for staff handling pets that come on board, “must love animals” is part of the standard job description. Some airlines provide goody bags containing various travel–sized pet toiletries and even carob cookies similar to the chocolate chip cookies served to passengers on board.

phlpetportarea1Pets are kept in climate controlled areas on the plane as well as during transport and in their own area with only pet crates and no luggage. Like their human counter parts, pets have three options for travel. These are Cabin Class, Baggage Class and Cargo Class. Some airlines offer a 24 hour pet travel desk, where customers not flying with their pet can call to track their pet travel. Midwest Airlines and Continental have even gone so far as to offer pet frequent flier programs where points can be earned each time the pet flies.

Some airports have also followed suit. In May 2008, the Transportation Department gave airlines a year to comply with new rules requiring accessible relief areas for pets. Now New — and newly improved — pet-relief areas have been popping up at airports all over the country. Miami International recently spent $40,000 to build two pet parks, each with a bench for people and a fire hydrant for pets.

For information about the best pet friendly airlines, click here. For pet travel tips click here.

How to Photograph a Puppy

naughty-puppiesWell it’s spring, which means Puppies!! Seeing as how I’ve seen at least one puppy at almost every event, party and/or Barbeque I’ve been to lately, I thought I’d do some puppy research. Turns out, people who have puppies like to capture them on film. They grow up so fast you know, so I searched and searched and finally found the steps for taking a great puppy picture:

1. Remove film from box and load camera.
2. Remove film box from puppy’s mouth and throw in trash.
3. Remove puppy from trash and brush coffee grounds from muzzle.
4. Choose a suitable background for photo.
5. Mount camera on tripod and focus.
cute_dog_seo_0436. Find puppy and take dirty sock from mouth.
7. Place puppy in pre-focused spot and return to camera.
8. Forget about spot and crawl after puppy on knees.
9. Focus with one hand and fend off puppy with other hand.
10. Get tissue and clean nose print from lens.
11. Take flash cube from puppy’s mouth and throw in trash.
12. Put cat outside and put peroxide on the scratch on puppy’s nose.
13. Put magazines back on coffee table.
naughty-puppy-dog-destroying-toilet-paper11114. Try to get puppy’s attention by squeaking toy over your head..
15. Replace your glasses and check camera for damage.
16. Jump up in time to grab puppy and say, “No, outside! No,outside!”
17. Call spouse to clean up mess.
18. Fix a drink.
19. Sit back in Lazy Boy with drink and resolve to teach puppy “sit/stand” and “stay” the first thing in the morning.
20. Consider buying “older, trained” rescue dog.

Have a great week!

More Pet Safety Tips

While we are on the subject of Pet Safety, I thought I would add more tips for keeping your pet out of harms way.

Cats and dogs tend to explore things with their mouths. Therefore as pet owners, we need to ensure that what they are putting in their mouths is safe. Many common household items can be dangerous and even lethal to our pets.

Below are 10 Tips for Preventing Poisoning, by Dr. Jill A. Richardson, DVM of the NAPCC

1. Be aware of the plants you have in your house and in your pet’s yard. The ingestion of azalea, oleander, mistletoe, sago palm, Easter lily, or yew plant material, by an animal, could be fatal. (see lists of toxic plants and website references below).

poisonous-household-items2. When cleaning your house, never allow your pet access to the area where cleaning agents are used or stored. Cleaning agents have a variety of properties. Some may only cause a mild stomach upset, while others could cause severe burns of the tongue, mouth, and stomach.

3. When using rat or mouse baits, ant or roach traps, or snail and slug baits, place the products in areas that are inaccessible to your animals. Most baits contain sweet smelling inert ingredients, such as jelly, peanut butter, and sugars, which can be very attractive to your pet.

4. Never give your animal any medications unless under the direction of your veterinarian. Many medications that are used safely in humans can be deadly when used inappropriately. One extra strength acetaminophen tablet (500mg) can kill a seven-pound cat.

rx5. Keep all prescription and over the counter drugs out of your pets’ reach, preferably in closed cabinets. Pain killers, cold medicines, anti-cancer drugs, antidepressants, vitamins, and diet pills are common examples of human medication that could be potentially lethal even in small dosages. One regular strength ibuprofen (200mg) could cause stomach ulcers in a ten-pound dog.

6. Never leave chocolates unattended. Approximately one-half ounce or less of baking chocolate per pound body weight can cause problems. Even small amounts can cause pancreatic problems.

7. Many common household items have been shown to be lethal in certain species. Miscellaneous items that are highly toxic even in low quantities include pennies (high concentration of zinc), mothballs (contain naphthalene or paradichlorobenzene. One or two balls can be life threatening in most species), potpourri oils, fabric softener sheets, automatic dish washing detergents (contain cationic detergents which could cause corrosive lesions), batteries (contain acids or alkali which can also cause corrosive lesions), homemade play dough (contains high quantity of salt), winter heat source agents like hand or foot warmers (contain high levels of iron), cigarettes, coffee grounds, and alcoholic drinks.

garage-poisons8. All automotive products such as oil, gasoline, and antifreeze, should be stored in areas away from pet access. As little as one teaspoon of antifreeze (ethylene glycol) can be deadly in a seven-pound cat and less than one tablespoon could be lethal to a 20-pound dog.

9. Before buying or using flea products on your pet or in your household, contact your veterinarian to discuss what types of flea products are recommended for your pet. Read ALL information before using a product on your animals or in your home. Always follow label instructions. When a product is labeled “for use in dogs only” this means that the product should NEVER be applied to cats. Also, when using a fogger or a house spray, make sure to remove all pets from the area for the time period specified on the container. If you are uncertain about the usage of any product, contact the manufacturer or your veterinarian to clarify the directions BEFORE use of the product.

800-number10. When treating your lawn or garden with fertilizers, herbicides, or insecticides, always keep your animals away from the area until the area dries completely. Discuss usage of products with the manufacturer of the products to be used. Always store such products in an area that will ensure no possible pet exposure.

Make sure you always have the number available for your local Poison Control Center  as well as Pet Emergency Clinic numbers in case your pet ingests something and you need help fast.

4th of July Safety for your Pet

One of the first signs that summer is in full swing is the 4th of July. Gotta’ love it. Parades, barbeques, fireworks – What better way to spend a hot summer day? Well your pets might not agree.

4th of July fireworks can be really scary for your furry friends. I inherited my first dog after someone found her wandering around on the freeway on the 5th of July. It is not uncommon for animals to escape, never to be seen again, when faced with the fear of the booming firework sounds.

To protect your pet on the Fourth of July, take these precautions:

  • Keep your pets indoors at home and make sure your home is secured. Keep them in a quiet room if possible. Remove any items that your pet could destroy.
  • Do not take your pet to fireworks displays. Your pets may be family to you and you may want to take them to the celebration. Don’t. They will not enjoy it in the least.
  • On the 4th of July, do not leave pets outside unattended, even in a secured area. Pets who normally wouldn’t leave may become frightened with the festivities and escape and become lost.
  • Make sure your pets are wearing identification tags so that if they do become lost, they can be returned promptly.
  • If you know pet is distressed by loud noises, consult with your veterinarian. She may have some ideas on helping your pet through the holiday.
  • If you plan to go away for the holiday weekend, read our information on pet travel.

4thofjulyladyJust a side note, if you find an animal who seems to be lost, take it to the local animal shelter, where it will have a better chance of being reunited with it’s owner.

For more information on 4th of July Precautions for Pets, click here.

Pet Health Insurance. Good Idea!

woman_cat1I have to admit, as much as I love animals, when I heard that companies are now offering pet insurance, my first response was “You’ve got to be kidding me!” This was basically the same response I had when I learned there were pet psychiatrist and pet psychics…. But then I thought about it.

A few years ago I had a beloved cat named Winston. Winston had been with me for 5 years. He had moved with me from one state to another and then back again. He had also  sat on my lap, purring and butting his head against me, when I had a major health scare.

Then one day he was on my lap and I noticed he was getting a little thin. I started watching his food and realized he wasn’t eating  much, so I took him into the vet. 6 days later I came home with my cat. It turns out he had kidney failure but, much to the surprise of myself and my vet, had responded to treatment and was able to come home with me. By some miracle, he had recovered.

cat_vetThe invoice from my vet for saving Winstons life was close to a thousand dollars. I pondered this. On the one hand, it had cost an arm and a leg, and after all, he was just a cat. But on the other hand, he was like family to me, and because of this enormous bill I was able to have three more years with him.

I’m guessing a lot of pet owners have experienced this dilemna because now more and more pet insurance is offered for just that reason. Insurance, which covers routine visits as well as major catastrophes, costs approximately $25-$30 per month. If I had had pet insurance when I took Winston in, his six overnight stays, as well as treatment and anesthesia, would have cost’ me approximately $50.

The thing is, when the vet asked me if I wanted to put Winston to sleep or try to save him, he warned me that it could get expensive. For me though it was a no-brainer. My heart always wins…. but if I had to do it over again, I would have gotten insurance.

If you’d like to know more, read our guide to pet health insurance including plans and companies that offer insurance.

Dog Park Etiquette

dog-parkIf you are like me, dog parks are a dream come true. I’ve had Daisy for 3 years now. For 2 years of that time I had a 12×12 back yard and for a year I had no yard at all. Not exactly conducive to running and playing. So you can imagine, the first time I went to a dog park I thought my prayers had been answered. How perfect. Daisy could get all the exercise she needed with absolutely no effort from me! WRONG.

It didn’t take long for me to realize there is an unspoken dog park etiquette. You’d be amazed at how annoyed other dog owners can get.

Want to know how you can stay popular at the dog park? Read on:

  • First and foremost, clean up after your dog. The biggest complaints at dog parks is that owners do not clean up.
  • Don’t eat at the dog park. First of all: EWE! Talk about germs!! But more importantly, some dogs get aggressive around food.
  • Never leave your dog unattended. If you step away to use the restroom, take your dog with you.
  • Keep your dog on-leash until you get to the off-leash area. This is respectful to other park users and safer for your dog.
  • Always observe all of the rules posted at your local dog park. Each town has its own set of regulations: please follow them.

Remember, dog parks are a privilege. Follow a few simple rules and you can help guarantee your park will stick around for years to come.