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Helping Your Dog Become A Good Neighbor!

Innocent faceAs much as I love my doggie girls, I know they are not perfect.  In her exuberance, Phaedra has taken to barking while staring at me when she wants me to do something for her.  Zoe loves “friends” and balls so she will retrieve her ball as many times as a person will throw it.  In the scheme of things, these habits aren’t bad, but over time they can be annoying to some of our friends who have never had dogs.  For the most part, I respond immediately to these behaviors and try to make the behavior less annoying for our friends through a variety of ways.

I ran across the article, How to be a Good Neighbor, at PetPlace that had some very good suggestions and I want to share them with you.  They may seem like common sense, but some people seem oblivious to behaviors which may annoy people and how to correct the behaviors without resorting to yelling at the pet.  Here are some suggestions that might help your pet.

Confine your pet:  For a pet’s safety, he should never run around free and without supervision while outside.  So many things can happen if your pet is not confined to your yard such as being hit by a car, getting into something which is toxic, and encountering angry neighbors.  Dr. Amy Wolff states, “Although you may think it is beneficial to let your pet out to wander, if he gets into your neighbor’s garbage, dig up their garden, or eliminate in their yard, it doesn’t do much to foster good neighborly relations. Your neighbor may try to have your pet picked up by a shelter (where the pet might be put asleep if there is no proper identification). A really angry neighbor may even try to harm your pet.”  She suggests, “Teach your pet the boundaries of your yard, provide a fenced area, or let him out only under supervision. If your pet is neutered or spayed, he/she will be less likely to wander. When you walk your dog, be sure to pick up any feces he leaves behind.”

Teach your dog manners:  If your dog doesn’t have good manners, he will often be excluded from social activities which many dogs love.  Teach your dog how to greet people without jumping up on them, or without being overly exuberant in greetings.  It is a great idea to take your dog for some basic behavior training.

Control excessive barking: This can be a difficult behavior to get a handle on.  “Excessive barking is a common behavioral problem and a nuisance to your neighbors. You may not even be aware of the problem until someone tells you. Barking often signals that your pet is frightened, bored, or has separation anxiety.”  The best course of action is to discover what is causing the excessive barking and then get help from your vet, from animal behaviorists, or from reading books about things to do to prevent this issue.  ( I make this sound so doable, but my grand-dog, Franklin, has anxiety disorders along with Addison’s Disease.  Excessive barking is one of his symptoms!!! He takes an anti-anxiety med along with other meds for his Addison’s and my daughter’s family struggles with some of these issues even though Franklin is one of the sweetest dogs I’ve ever known.  Seeing first hand how difficult this issue is, my heart goes out to those of you who may be dealing with excessive barking.

Give a friendly caution:  When people are visiting and if some of these annoying/difficult behaviors persist, give your friends a “heads-up” about your pet’s issues and give them some suggestions on how to approach your dog.  This may mean asking your friends to speak softly to your dog and letting the dog sniff his hand but not being overly attentive to the dog.  It may mean confining your dog to his “safe space” which is within range of where you will be.  Dr. Amy Wolff suggests, “Many animals just need a few minutes to feel comfortable around people they don’t know in order to calm down enough to accept petting and praise. Work with your dog for a few minutes every day to correct behaviors that are troublesome and destructive. It is a dog’s natural tendency to please and be a part of the family “pack.” Use that desire to your advantage when teaching your dog how to behave.”

The only thing you shouldn’t do is to ignore these behaviors.  You and your dog will be much happier if you look them straight in the face and deal with them.

 

Bayou Rescue’s Dog and Cat Kits Help Victims of Fires, Floods, and Other Emergencies

FireAnimal3When there is a house fire or flooding that takes place, most of us think about the family who has suffered the losses and needs help.  Sometimes we may not think about the pets that are in the home and in need too!
Many of you may not know our biggest partnership is with the American Red Cross, Triangle and Central region. Right now, we cover about 13 counties but, when asked, we do branch out on a case by case basis. The main thing we do for the Red Cross is make comfort kits that the Red Cross Disaster Action Team members pass out when they respond to fires, floods or other emergencies. We make dog and cat kits that include some food, a leash, a toy, bowls, a disposable litter pan and some litter.  It is just enough to get a family through the night until they can get to the store the next day, and it gives them hope that their whole family is valued and things can return to normal someday.
Over the last several years we have built and distributed hundreds of these kits that help families all over our area. They cost us a little under $5 each to make them when we have to buy the supplies. Sometimes we have items for the kits donated and we want to thank those who have donated recently.
We would love it if you would contribute to this cause.  Here is a link to our Amazon Wish List.  Please think about helping out, too!

 

Toys bring normalcy to victims of a disaster - pets love it and humans feel good playing!

Toys bring normalcy to victims of a disaster – pets love it and humans feel good playing!

 

 

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Food and a few necessities to tide a family over.

Food and a few necessities to tide a family over.

What dogs can eat

imageI have sent out lists and lists of foods which dogs shouldn’t eat in the past.  I stumbled across some other foods that I didn’t realize may cause problems and wanted to share them with you.  This list comes to you from The Animal Rescue Site and I hope you will read the article which has more information than my synopsis.

Salt:

You might think who in his right mind would give salt to a pup!  Well, if you have food thieves like my dogs sometimes are, you know that popcorn, potato chips, and salty nuts are enticing .  I have trained myself to never leave a plate or dish within their reaches.  (Most of the time, anyway!)

“Salty foods can cause excessive thirst and urination leading to sodium ion poisoning.”  Symptoms can be:  vomiting, diarrhea, depression, tremors, high temperature, and seizures so AVOID SALT
Fruit and seed cords:
“Make sure when feeding your dogs fruits like apples, pears, persimmons, peaches and plums, to get rid of pits and seeds. Persimmon seeds can cause inflammation of the small intestine, while apple and pear seeds, and peach and plum pits contain cyanide which can poison both humans and dogs.”
They can have strawberries, blueberries, apples, melons, and bananas which would be healthy for them.
Yeast:
Yeast is needed before we bake bread.  “The dough needs to rise and yeast won’t make any exceptions of when and where it’ll rise, especially your dog’s stomach. If consumed by your dog, yeast will swell inside and the dough will begin to stretch your dog’s abdomen and can cause severe pain. Yeast also ferments the dough to make it rise, producing alcohol which can lead to possible alcohol poisoning.”  This makes total sense, but I never would have considered it before reading this article.  Pasta made without yeast and cooked is fine for dogs to eat.

Raw meat, fish, bone and fat trimmings:
“What seems like an all-time doggie treat is more harmful than enjoyable. Bones and fat trimmings can cause pancreatitis in dogs and raw meat and fish both contain bacteria that can cause food poisoning. So avoid using your dog as a garbage disposal if you want to keep him happy and healthy.”  Tuna, though, is a healthy delicacy for dogs and cats alike.  Just watch out for any stray bones.
To my Fluffy’s misfortune, we learned about bones the hard way.  Fluffy stole a ham bone from our garbage pail and we were unaware of it.  Within 2 days she was straining to void her bowls and crying out in pain.  We rushed her to the vet and she was found to have a bone fragment in her intestine.  That is not anything we ever want to repeat due to her anguish and our guilt/fear.  She was all right after treatment, but it was touch and go for a while.
Chocolate:  (Most likely, this is no surprise for pet owners, but I wanted to add it here, especially since we are getting into holiday season and who doesn’t like chocolate????)
Chocolate has theobromine which is a toxic agent found in all kind of chocolate, even white.  The most dangerous amounts of it can be found in dark chocolate, chocolate mulch, and unsweetened baking chocolate. Eating chocolate can cause vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst, and even more serious symptoms in dogs.
So, keep your dogs safe!  Keep these foods away from them!

Halloween: Just five days from now! Watch Out!

dog-riders-pet-costumes-4Halloween can be one of the holidays that are such fun for us, and we sometimes think our pets will love it as much as we do.  That’s not true for our girls, though.  The doorbell ringing so much turns them into crazed, wild monsters running back and forth between our front door and our side door.  Then they run past the windows and stop to peer out at the Miley Cyrus in leopard costumed  look-alikes, the one of the Dispicable Me Minions, or the Marvel Comic Superheros and proceed to defend their ramparts with gnashing teeth and protruding claws.  If you think this is fun, let me tell you that you are sooooo wrong!  When it comes to opening our door to give out treats, I have to dodge the pups and keep them from racing out onto the front porch to scare the trick-or-treating kids away from their person.  I needed to find out what to do to keep my kids safe; me sane; and hopefully enjoy Halloween.

Here are some of the dangers your pets may face and thoughts on how to protect them:

1. Sneaking out an open door and running off in the night!!!!!!!!!!!  Even the most well trained pet can sucumb to the situation and get out.

2. Chocolate – Chocolate is more poisonous to pets than any other candy. Chocolate contains methylxanthines, chemicals similar to caffeine that can quickly sicken dogs. In general, the darker the chocolate, the more poisonous it is.  Symptoms can be: vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy or agitation, increased thirst, an elevated heart rate, and, in severe cases, seizures.

3. Candy other than chocolate – Large ingestions of sugary, high-fat candy can lead to pancreatitis, which may not show up for two to four days after the pet ingests the candy.  Symptoms can be: decreased appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, abdominal pain, and even kidney failure or organ damage.

4. Candy Wrappers – candy itself isn’t the only threat. Ingestion of foil and cellophane wrappers can cause life-threatening bowel obstructions, which often require surgical intervention.  Symptoms can be: vomiting, decreased appetite, not defecating, straining to defecate, or lethargy.

5. Raisins – While good-intentioned neighbors may hand out raisins as a healthy alternative to candy, very small amounts of raisins (or grapes) can cause kidney failure in dogs and cats. Some dogs develop idiosyncratic reactions at any dose—in other words, ingesting any amount can cause serious damage. Symptoms can be: vomiting, nausea, decreased appetite, abdominal pain, and severe kidney failure.

6. Glow Sticks and Jewelery – Pets love to chew on things they’re not supposed to, and cats in particular seem to love these items. Over the past year, 70 percent of Pet Poison Hotline’s calls relating to glow sticks and jewelry involved cats. In addition to the choking hazard, the contents of glow sticks can cause pain and irritation in the mouth. Symptoms can be: mouth pain, as well as profuse drooling and foaming at the mouth.

7. Costumes for your pet – Some costumes can cause discomfort in pets, and any metallic beads, snaps, or other small pieces (particularly those made of zinc or lead) can result in serious poisoning if ingested. Finally, don’t ever dye or apply coloring to a pet’s fur, even if the dye is labeled non-toxic to humans.make sure it doesn’t impair the pets’ vision, movement, or air intake.

8. Party guests with alcohol – You may laugh, but if  alcohol is served, guests sometimes put half-empty drinks down where pets can drink from them – even think it is funny to give alcohol to pets – and alcohol is VERY dangerous to any pets!  Dangers of Alcohol: Alcoholic drinks aside, alcohol can be found in some surprising places. Rum-soaked cakes or other unbaked deserts containing alcohol may contain alcohol to cause poisoning in pets. Alcohol is also a major byproduct of ingested yeast dough (see yeast-bread dough). Even small amounts of alcohol, especially in small dogs and cats, can cause life-threatening toxicity. Symptoms can be:  alcohol smell on the breath, neurological depression, hypothermia (low body temperature), hypotension (low blood pressure), seizures and respiratory failure.  Serious stuff, and costly to remediate!

Here’s hoping you have a Howly Great Time and a Happy Halloween!

Halloween “Spider Webs” And A Dead Bird: Protecting you own pets…

Yesterday, I was playing soccer with my 8 year old granddaughter and all of a sudden she stopped dead in her tracks, turned to me with a horrified look on her face, and told me that there was a dead bird caught in the fake spider web covering the holly bushes in her front yard.  Her sadness and surprise were apparent in her actions.  Within minutes, all of us were burying the poor, beautiful male Eastern Towhee in the front garden.  This experience prompted a discussion about whether the web should be taken down and not used.  As I looked down the street, I wondered how many other innocent lives would be lost this Halloween.

Courtesy of the ASPCA

I admit I never thought about anything like this happening.  Now, of course, I realize that this situation is most likely common.  That started me thinking about what we need to be conscious of as we approach the coming celebrations of the many holidays between now and New Years.

Here are a few things the ASPCA thinks you need to be aware of to keep your pets safe:

1. No tricks, no treats: That bowl of candy is for trick-or-treaters, not for Scruffy and Fluffy. Chocolate in all forms—especially dark or baking chocolate—can be very dangerous for dogs and cats.

2. Popular Halloween plants such as pumpkins and decorative corn can produce stomach upset in pets who nibble on them.

3. Wires and cords from electric lights and other decorations should be kept out of reach of your pets.

4. Pets can easily knock a lit pumpkin over and cause a fire. Getting burned is a terrible possibility.

5. Wearing a costume may cause undue stress.

6. Too many strangers can be scary and stressful for pets. Be watchful when you open your door to Trick-or-Treaters because pets might dash out.

7. IDs, please! Always make sure your dog or cat has proper identification. If for any reason your pet escapes and becomes lost, a collar and tags and/or a microchip can be a lifesaver, increasing the chances that he or she will be returned to you

Please read the entire article, Halloween Safety Tips,  because there are details which I did not include but which are very important!

Have a safe and fun-filled Halloween!

Halloween and Pets: Dangers Lurking

Holiday-Halloween-Pumpkin-Pug-300x445Halloween drives my girls crazy!  The doorbell rings and there is a frenzy of barking at the front door.  All they need is for people walking up our walk and they know something is up!  Halloween’s not all fun and games for pets.  Most pets react to repeated visitors even if they love company.  Usually, the company showing up on your doorstep is wearing a costume, too, and that can look kind of whacky.  Then there’s the “Trick or Treat” that alerts the family guards to visitors.  If I corral the girls in my bedroom, that doesn’t stop their desire to protect the family from the dangers of ghosts and goblins.  If I had my way, I’d cancel Halloween, or at least be away from home during that particular holiday.

 

There are things that responsible owners need to know in order to keep their fur children safe.  Here are some suggestions which will help you enjoy a safe Halloween with your pets:

1. Hide the candy. Keep all candy (and wrappers) out of your dog’s reach. (Once when my dog Cuddles was in pet intensive care, I learned that the dog housed next to her had gotten into a bag of chocolate kisses.  It wasn’t the chocolate which made surgery necessary; it was the fact that he had eaten the wrappers along with the kisses and developed an obstruction.)
2. Keep your dog on a leash. Don’t leave your dog tied up outside. Keep him inside where it is safe. ( You might say, a leash inside, right?  Well, if he is in the room with the door where the “Trick or Treaters” ring the doorbell, the potential for getting out side and getting hurt increases significantly.  He might bite one of your visitors, too, because of all of the excitement and his protective instincts.  Don’t take a chance.  Better yet, find a safe place for him in your home away from the door!)
3. Make a safe spot for your pet . During trick-or-treating, keep your dog indoors in a separate room that is as far from the front door as possible. This will prevent him from getting spooked by trick-or-treaters and running outside. Give your dog plenty of fresh water, a familiar blanket, and something to take his mind off all the commotion going on in other areas of the house.

PetPlace.com has some other great suggestions to help so check out the article “Keeping Your Dog Safe On Halloween“:

1.”This is a night to keep your pet close by your side. Don’t leave a dog tied up in the yard alone and say no to a cat who normally goes out on his own for a ramble. Animals have been teased, stolen, injured – even killed – by trick-or-treaters carried away by the excesses of the holiday.

2.Keep your dog or the cat in a room away from the front door with plenty of fresh water and a familiar blanket. It may sound unsociable, but too many strangers in weird costumes can scare an animal. You don’t want your dog to charge the door every time you open it – nor do you want the cat slinking out on the heels of the trick-or-treaters.

3.The best idea is to leave your dog home when you go out trick-or-treating. But if you can’t resist, use a short leash to keep him from fighting with other animals or biting strangers out on the prowl. If you’re out after dark, use a reflective leash or flashing safety collar so drivers can easily spot him.

4.If you decorate your house with Halloween lights, make sure wires are secured out of the way so your pet doesn’t trip on them or chew them. Cats, birds and dogs are all naturally inquisitive and are likely to try to explore with their paws, mouths or beaks. Also, make sure all decorations don’t have loose or sharp parts that can snag a tail or wound a paw.

5.Don’t leave a lighted jack o’ lantern unattended around pets. One exuberant swish of a tail can start a fire – or a quick sniff can burn a whisker.

6.Make sure your pet is collared and tagged with your name, address and phone number – just in case he manages to get out.

7.Don’t put a pet in a costume unless he or she seems to like it. Many animals stress out when you dress them up. If you do put your pet in fancy dress, make sure it’s safe: no constricting details that can obstruct hearing, movement, breathing or sight. Even the friendliest of animals can get snappy if they can’t see or hear what’s going on. If the costume attaches with rubber bands, make sure you remove them when you take off the suit. Otherwise, they can quickly work their way into the animal’s skin. Also note that cats find rubber bands almost irresistible. Make sure the cat can’t chew on them or swallow them; if ingested they can be life-threatening and require expensive surgery to remove them.

8.Halloween candy is not for pets: Chocolate is toxic for cats and dogs. Lollipop and candy-apple sticks can get stuck in an animal’s throat or perforate the stomach or bowels; candy wrappers can cause obstruction and irritation to the digestive system. Make sure the kids know not to share their hoard, and keep the stash in a place the animals can’t get to.”

If you should take your pet with you for Trick or Treat, make sure that you are being watchful for potential dangers.  Be sure that your pet wears reflective garments so that drivers can see her, use only fireproof materials in a costume (lots of candles out there on Fright Night!), and do not have any loose parts on the costume that the pet can eat!
It is easy to keep your pet safe if you just plan ahead.  Spread the word to friends about safety during Halloween, please.  Let’s keep all our beloved fur and feathered friends safe and sound for the holidays!