No matter the relationship between dog and human, these animals can improve lives in numerous ways. Consider these five ways dogs can make a positive impact on your life and those around you.
5 Ways Dogs Can Improve Lives
(Family Features) Whether playmates or protectors, the human-animal bond is often a powerful connection that goes beyond pure companionship. Dogs typically have many talents and personas – they can be man’s best friend, a canine companion during a difficult time or even a service dog helping veterans and others through daily routines. No matter the relationship between dog and human, these animals can improve lives in numerous ways.
Consider these five ways dogs can make a positive impact on your life and those around you, and find more information at bettercitiesforpets.com.
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It’s no surprise that dog owners are more likely to get out and take a walk around the neighborhood. In fact, taking a quick walk with your dog a few times each week can increase general health and may help reduce rates of obesity.
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If you’re new in town or looking for new friends, use your walks as an opportunity to meet your neighbors and engage with other dogs. Dogs can help make easy introductions to other pet owners and non-pet owners alike, and even potentially help you find your next pet-sitter.
Some animals are trained to provide therapeutic aid and wellbeing. Therapy and facility dogs help normalize environments, such as hospitals and universities, by alleviating fear and giving comfort during difficult experiences. For example, Mars Petcare’s Better Cities For Pets initiative is working to bring the healing power of pets to more children and families nationwide, including a partnership with Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt to support a dedicated facility dog and staff position.
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Service dogs can help veterans and others who suffer from post-traumatic stress – yet people may be unprepared to accommodate the unique needs of service dogs. To help educate people on how to interact with an individual who has a service dog, American Humane, which has helped the U.S. military and military animals for 100 years, created a wealth of resources, including these informational videos.
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Making the office a pet-friendly zone has its perks. In fact, a Mars Petcare survey shows that having furry friends around the office boosts morale and lessens anxiety, giving you even more of a reason to spend all day, every day, with your pet.SOURCE:
Dogs and their owners have many things in common, but perhaps one of the biggest commonalities is that they both love to eat! When preparing meals for your four-legged family members, it’s important for the meal to be packed with flavor and nutrients, and to create a dining experience they enjoy and look forward to. Help give your pets the ultimate mealtime experience with these tips.
(BPT) - Dogs and their owners have many things in common, but perhaps one of the biggest commonalities is that they both love to eat! When preparing meals for your four-legged family members, it’s important for the meal to be packed with flavor and nutrients, and to create a dining experience they enjoy and look forward to. Help give your pets the ultimate mealtime experience with these tips:
1. Create a mealtime routine
Animals love routine. It’s important for dogs to establish a mealtime routine whether they get fed first thing in the morning, after their walk or as small meals throughout the day. By establishing a routine, your pooch will quickly catch on when it’s mealtime.
2. Purchase a puzzle bowl or toy
Does your dog eat too fast? Do you want them to make a game out of their meal? Puzzle bowls and food dispensing toys are a great way to stimulate your dog’s mind during mealtime. They allow them to slow down to truly enjoy their food, making mealtime fun! Head to your local retailer to choose the correct bowl or toy for your dog.
3. Provide your dog with a meal that gives them variety
Dogs and humans alike enjoy food with variety! That's why for nearly three decades, Kibbles ‘n Bits(R) has been making dog food with its signature combination of crunchy kibble & tender bits to bring joy to your dog’s every bite. With varieties including Bacon & Steak Flavored dry dog food and Steak & Cheese Flavored dry dog food, you will be sure to find the perfect match for your furry friend.
4. Turn mealtime into a dance party
Have you ever danced due to excitement? Well, now your dog will, too. Play a song before each mealtime to signal when it’s time for your dog to eat. This new bonding ritual will create more fun for all family members and will have your dog busting moves in anticipation in no time!
5. Make it a training opportunity
Use mealtime as an opportunity to train and reinforce wanted behaviors. Using commands like “sit” and “wait” before allowing your dog to eat helps them practice impulse control and good manners.
To learn more about Kibbles ‘n Bits dog food and what variety is right for your dog, visit https://www.kibblesnbits.com.
Summer social gatherings and celebrations involving fireworks can add up to a lot of fun for humans, but it’s an equation that may test the limits for a fearful pet. The break in day-to-day consistency and the chaos that comes with festivities can cause pets to escape in search of solace, which often times results in them leaving their loved ones behind. These tips can help prevent your pet from running off.
Prevent Pets from Fleeing in Fright
(Family Features) Summer social gatherings and celebrations involving fireworks can add up to a lot of fun for humans, but it’s an equation that may test the limits for a fearful pet. The break in day-to-day consistency and the chaos that comes with festivities can cause pets to escape in search of solace, which often times results in them leaving their loved ones behind.
“During the summer months, we tend to take a step away from our usual routines and that can be very unsettling for a pet,” said David Haworth, DVM, PhD, president of PetSmart Charities. “While July 5 is known as a day of high intake for local animal welfare organizations due to the noise and chaos associated with the Fourth of July holiday, even small barbecues and other summer events can cause distress that results in a pet fleeing for perceived safety.”
In honor of National Pet Loss Prevention Month, the experts from PetSmart Charities recommend these tips to prevent your pet from running off.
Practice effective “stay” techniques with your pet: Pets and pet parents who participate in behavioral training courses can learn effective ways to communicate during times of leisure or stress. Knowing simple commands like “stop,” “sit” or “stay” can help prevent a pet from running away.
Ensure your pet has proper identification: Microchips are a great way to ensure your pet is armed with the proper identification. To help decrease the number of pets that enter shelters each year across North America, PetSmart Charities supports low-cost microchipping programs in local communities. Whether you use tags, embroidered collars or microchips, make sure you update the information provided at least once a year to ensure the latest contact information is available to those who may find your pet.
Secure your pet’s surroundings: To prevent your pet from running away, provide a comfortable, yet contained environment that he or she may safely explore. This could include a fenced-in backyard during a family barbecue, the use of a leash at a local parade or access to favorite toys for a soothing escape. Don’t forget an ample supply of shade and water to help your pet stay cool and comfortable in the summer heat.
Inquire about calming solutions: Just like pet parents, pets can become sensitive to unexpected events and develop anxiety over time. Symptoms may include, but are not limited to destructive behavior, excessive barking or panting despite lack of exertion. If your pet is exhibiting extreme behavior, ask a veterinarian if calming solutions are a fit ahead of a large gathering.
Know how to handle a lost pet: If you see a lost pet, check his or her tags and contact the pet parent. If the pet shies away from contact, reach out to your local animal control department for assistance. If you lose a pet, contact your local animal control department or your neighborhood shelter to request assistance.
For more information about helping local pets in need, visit petsmartcharities.org.
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It’s always a good time to pay attention to your family’s health and happiness, and that includes your feline friends, too. Regular exercise and wholesome nutritional choices can help ensure your cat is happy and healthy all year long. These five tips can help keep your cat purring for years to come.
5 Health Tips for Your Feline Friend
(Family Features) It’s always a good time to pay attention to your family’s health and happiness, and that includes your feline friends, too. Regular exercise and wholesome nutritional choices can help ensure your cat is happy and healthy all year long.
These five tips can help keep your cat purring for years to come. For more information on keeping your cat happy and healthy, visit IAMS.com.
1. Create a Space for Your Cat – As most cat owners know, cats have energy they need to exert throughout the day. Create a space specifically for your cat that includes a cat tree and toys, which allows them to climb around, expel extra energy or use this space to do what cats do best, take a catnap.
2. Provide Healthy and Tasty Meals – Nutrition is a major player in the overall health and happiness of cats. They are natural carnivores and need the proper amount of protein in their diets. Providing your cat a diet with high-quality, animal-sourced protein, such as IAMS™ High Protein cat food, can help them maintain healthy vitality and fuel their carnivorous spirit.
3. Find the Perfect Toys – Cats are curious creatures and love being on the prowl. Make sure you have a variety of toys on-hand for your cat to play with, including laser pointers, stuffed mice and feather wands. These items will not only keep them busy, but they offer a great form of exercise to keep them active.
4. Give Them Some Love – Spending quality time with your furry friend can be as easy as allowing them to curl up with you on the couch at the end of a long day. Show some love by treating them to a nightly brushing, which can help maintain coat health and shininess.
5. Visit the Vet – One of the easiest, and often overlooked, tips for maintaining your feline friend’s health is taking them to the veterinarian at least once a year rather than simply waiting for signs of illness. Scheduling yearly checkups can help identify any problems that may go unnoticed.
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Ever since the day the first feline became a house cat, destructive cat scratching has plagued owners. All the affection and loving care owners shower upon their cats can feel like wasted energy when the thanks they get looks more like hatred: shredded furniture, carpet and curtains.
Your Cat’s Scratch Has Met Its Match
Why cats scratch and how to safely stop it
(Family Features) Ever since the day the first feline became a house cat, destructive cat scratching has plagued owners. All the affection and loving care owners shower upon their cats can feel like wasted energy when the thanks they get looks more like hatred: shredded furniture, carpet and curtains.
It’s a normal human response to be angry or frustrated about damage inflicted by cats’ scratching, but equally normal is a cat’s need to scratch. Cat scratching is a behavior that fulfills both physical and emotional needs. Cats scratch to stretch their bodies, maintain their hunting and climbing skills, groom their claws and mark their territory, showing they’re in a safe space.
However, these behaviors cats exhibit to establish a safe living space can be anything but pleasant for their human companions. This can lead frustrated owners to take drastic measures to modify behavior, but those decisions can be risky, especially when it comes to a permanent and potentially harmful practice like declawing.
Many pet owners believe that declawing their cats is a harmless and quick fix for unwanted scratching, similar to trimming one’s nails. However, if a declawing procedure were performed on a human being, it would be like cutting off each finger at the last knuckle.
“Not only does the practice cause pain, it removes an important self-defense tool and the surgery itself poses risks related to anesthesia and infection,” said Dr. Valarie V. Tynes, president of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists, licensed veterinarian and veterinary services specialist at Ceva Animal Health. “All of this can lead to behavioral issues that may be worse than a shredded couch.”
Declawing is an irreversible measure to address a normal behavioral issue in cats. Declawed cats may be less likely to use a litter box, more likely to bite and the disruption of the natural scratching behavior can cause lasting physiological problems.
That sentiment is echoed by national organizations such as the American Association for Feline Practitioners, which deems the practice of declawing an ethically controversial procedure that is not medically necessary in most instances. In fact, declawing cats is now illegal in several U.S. cities.
Find alternatives to declawing, and cat-scratching solutions, at savethecouches.com.
5 Humane Alternatives to Declawing
There are numerous safe and painless alternatives to declawing, including these ideas from the pet behavior experts at Ceva Animal Health:
1. Routinely trim nails. Regular nail care is an important part of general care and hygiene for your cat, but it can also help prevent scratching damage by eliminating the sharp, destructive claw tips. Properly trimmed nails are less likely to snag or split, and cats with well-trimmed nails are less likely to resort to scratching as part of their own self-grooming rituals.
2. Create scratch-friendly zones. Keeping cats from scratching areas you don’t want them to bother is far more likely if you provide areas where they can scratch at will, such as scratching pads and posts. Pair these scratching areas with a product such as Feliscratch by Feliway, which is clinically proven to prevent destructive scratching by redirecting cats to scratch in the right place. Cats are attracted to the drug-free, naturally derived product and will feel compelled to scratch where it’s applied, leaving that chair or couch alone.
“Cat owners can now have damage-free home decor without putting their cats through the stress and potential physical harm of the painful declawing procedure,” Tynes said.
3. Reinforce off-limits areas. Cats are highly tactile, so applying textured materials like double-sided sticky tape or rough, crinkly aluminum foil to areas you don’t want scratched can be an effective deterrent.
4. Consult a behaviorist. Not all cases have easy answers, but an expert with experience in animal behavior can provide guidance based specifically on your cat’s personality and circumstances to help create a custom solution.
5. Eliminate negative reinforcements. Avoid punishing your cat for undesirable behavior. This includes shouting, spraying with water or swatting your cat. Punishment can increase stress and anxiety. It can make the problem worse and may even make your cat afraid of you.
DIY Scratching Post
Designating a spot for your cat to safely scratch is one of the most effective ways to minimize damage to your possessions. A homemade scratching post is a quick and easy project.
1. Cut foot-long length of 4-by-4-inch wood and a 1-foot square piece of plywood. The exact sizes can vary, but these are good starting points that you can adjust up or down, depending on your space.
2. Sand away splinters and rough edges.
3. Add a sturdy fabric wrap or paint to lend aesthetic appeal to the plywood base.
4. Wrap the post tightly with heavy-gauge rope or carpet scraps (or both), securing tightly with glue and reinforcing with a staple gun.
5. Securely attach the post to the base using a long bolt.
6. Place the post in an area your cat enjoys spending time, and consider adding a pheromone therapy spray to attract your cat to the post.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images (Women on the sofa with black cat)SOURCE:
Ceva Animal Health
(BPT) - With good weather and flexible work schedules, summer time is the best season for spending some extra time with your pet. However, once fall comes, the kids aren’t the only ones in the family that experience the back-to-school blues. Separation anxiety can happen for many reasons among pets, but with the changing routine and lack of attention due to busy schedules, back-to-school is a common time when pet owners may start noticing changes in their dog or cat’s behavior. To support them during this time Dr. Kurt Venator, Purina’s Chief Veterinary Officer offers five tips to address separation anxiety in pets.
1. Get your pet into a routine. Pets love routines because it makes them feel secure. During the summer, kids are always around to make things entertaining and exciting. When they suddenly disappear, some cats and dogs will feel sad and confused while others may experience real separation anxiety. It’s important to get your pet acclimated to the change by replacing their old schedule with a new one. This new schedule should include allocating time to play after work and keeping a consistent schedule when coming and going from the house.
2. Burn off some energy. Some pets deal with separation anxiety by engaging in negative or destructive behaviors, such as howling, excessive barking or chewing on inappropriate objects. A great way to keep your dog from doing this is to take them on a walk in the morning before you leave the house to help burn off some of that extra energy. For cats, consider playing with them at night as well — whether it’s making them chase a feather wand or play with a ball.
3. Create an interactive environment. Back-to-school season is a great time to buy your pet a new, interactive toy to play with. This will help mentally stimulate them and keep them occupied during the day when children are away at school. For dogs, chew toys are a way for them to relieve their anxiety, frustration and boredom. For cats, creating a play area — including scratching posts and cat furniture — can keep them entertained even when you’re not home.
4. Turn up the tunes and start with baby steps. Try leaving some soothing music on at your home while everyone is out of the house. The music will help drown out distracting noises that your dog may mistakenly associate with their family coming home. Some animal shelters have even found that playing calming music helps animals in their facilities relax. Additionally, help your pets adjust to a new routine by providing them with clear cues. For example, jingling your car keys prior to leaving for work each day can provide your pet with an important audible cue and ultimately, help with the transition to a new family schedule.
5. Spend time with your pet. It’s important to remember that while you may have had a long day, your pet may have been sitting at home feeling lonely, waiting for you to come home. Spending some quality time with your pet at the end of the day is critical to helping keep them active and mentally sharp. It may be tough to fit into a busy work schedule, but be sure to build some interactive time — whether it’s a walk or cuddle session —to benefit both you and your pet.
For more information on helping your pet deal with separation anxiety, check out this article on Purina.com.
(BPT) - For millions of pet parents, their beloved dog is more than just a four-legged friend — he’s a member of the family. When looking at products for their pet they are willing to explore all options to ensure they provide the very best items like organic foods, therapeutic bedding, unique and innovative toys, on-trend collars and leashes, electronic feeding and watering items and more.
Although our pets are treated as family members there is one issue that is often overlooked and undertreated in dogs — anxiety.
After all, we can’t ask our animals how they’re doing. Nonetheless, 75 million dogs in the U.S. experience anxiety, stress or fear at some point in their lives, and about 24 million of them regularly suffer from these potentially debilitating issues.
In some instances it’s genetics. But for many dogs, anxiety often arises as a result of a change in routine such as a thunderstorm, fireworks, encounters with strangers, travel and other loud noises. Any of these can trigger an anxiety event.
Dogs show signs of anxiety or fear in many different ways. Sudden barking, hiding, inappropriate urination, digging, chewing, panting and excessive lip licking are the most common signs of emotional stress.
While it may be challenging to identify the triggers, it’s important to understand the science of anxiety in order to best alleviate it.
Stress does more than just make for an unpleasant few hours; it can have long-lasting physiological effects that can be extremely detrimental.
During periods of anxiety, stress or fear, a dog’s brain releases an increased amount of adrenaline and cortisol, which decreases the amount of blood flow to the frontal cortex of the brain. This means less oxygen is flowing to the frontal cortex. With prolonged anxiety or fear, the increase in cortisol levels can weaken the dog’s immune system, leading to increased incidence of sickness or stress.
To avoid long-term health problems, it is important to be aware of the common signs and symptoms and to treat anxiety when it occurs in companion animals.
Some drugs, like sedatives, mood modifiers and anxiety medications have been recommended in extreme cases, but the results have been mixed. Wishing to avoid pharmaceuticals, some owners opt for more natural solutions containing chamomile, passion flower, valerian root, poppy or hops.
One of the most effective treatments doesn’t involve drugs at all, but rather, focuses on behavior modification to soothe dogs and calm their senses.
At the forefront of this innovative approach is the new Calmz(R) Anxiety Relief System for dogs that combines high-tech innovation with acupressure in a revolutionary non-invasive, drug-free treatment that soothes anxiety. The innovative system comes complete with an adjustable Comfort Fit Vest that cradles a device over specific acupressure points on the dog’s spine. When the device is activated, the clinically proven NeuroSync Technology(R) takes over. The dog will hear and feel a therapeutic blend of classical music, tones and vibration.
This cuts to the physiological root of the stress, reducing adrenaline and increasing blood flow to key areas of the brain.
Because anxiety, stress and fear are so common in dogs and can cause so much harm, it’s important to visit a veterinarian or a pet behaviorist to rule out any underlying medical conditions and to utilize the experts to help create a plan to treat the issue at hand.
Anxiety is a serious disorder and it is best to get it under control early on. Treatment will improve quality of life for not only the dog but for the pet parent as well.
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