Happy new year from all of us here at the ASPCA! As you set your resolutions for 2013, don’t forget to consider ways to improve your pet’s wellbeing, too. Providing a little bit of extra grooming or playtime for your pet can go a long way. We suggest you start by making a few simple resolutions that will keep your furry friends healthy and happy from January to December.
Here are some easy ways to get started:
Exercise time! Before you rush to join a gym, consider ways to incorporate your pet into your new workout routine. Healthy adult dogs need at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise twice a day—jogging, swimming and playing at the dog park are all great options. Engage your cat with rousing play sessions of chase and fetch with furry toys, small balls or toy mice.
Battle the bulge. Humans aren’t the only ones who might need to cut back on excess food after the holidays. This year, vow to lay off those table scraps and consider switching your cat or dog to a well-balanced, high-quality pet food.
Schedule a check-up. Give your veterinarian the chance to notice any developing illnesses by scheduling regular check-ups for your pet. If it’s been a year or more since your pet has seen a vet, make an appointment today!
IDs, please! Get an updated look by outfitting all of your animal companions—even indoor pets—with an ID tag. Implanted microchips are also a smart option.
After weeks of gift shopping, cookie baking and house decorating, it’s finally time to celebrate! From all of us here at the ASPCA, we’d like to send warm holiday wishes to you and your pets.
As you’re making your last-minute holiday to-do list and checking it twice, please don’t forget to consider your pets’ safety in the hustle and bustle of the season.
Keep these potential hazards in mind when getting your home ready for holiday gatherings:
Mind the greenery. Christmas trees, holly and mistletoe present various dangers to your pets. Make sure your Christmas tree is securely anchored so it doesn’t tip, fall and injure your pet. This will also prevent the tree water—which may contain fertilizers that can cause stomach upset—from spilling. Holly and mistletoe can also cause illnesses in pets if ingested.
Hide the leftovers. Fatty, spicy and no-no human foods, as well as bones, should not be fed to your furry friends.
Be careful with your cocktails. Don’t leave alcoholic beverages unattended where your pets might try to drink them—alcohol can cause serious illness in pets.
Use candles and lights with care. Pets may burn themselves or cause a fire if they knock candles over. Be sure to use appropriate candle holders, placed on a stable surface. Also, when decorating with electric or battery-powered lights, consider that wire can deliver a potentially lethal electrical shock and a punctured battery can cause burns to your pet’s mouth and esophagus.
As your pets celebrate the holidays with your family this year, try to keep their routines as close to normal as possible. If you plan to have guests in your home, it’s a good idea to keep your pets in a quiet, calm room with plenty of water and places to snuggle.
Friday is the first day of winter, and while we might be dreaming of a snowy holiday, icy conditions can present challenges for our pets’ health.
“During the winter, products used as de-icers on sidewalks and other areas can lead to trouble for our animal companions,” says Dr. Louise Murray, veterinarian and Vice President of the ASPCA’s Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital. “Pet parents should take precautions to minimize their furry friends' exposure to such agents.”
Keep these tips in mind when you bring your furry friends along for the neighborhood snowball fight:
•Bring a towel on long walks to clean off irritated paws. After each walk, wash and dry your pet’s feet to remove ice, salt and chemicals—and check for cracks in paw pads or redness between the toes.
•Booties for your pet’s paws help minimize contact with painful salt crystals, poisonous anti-freeze and chemical ice-melting agents. They can also help prevent irritating sand and salt from getting lodged in between bare toes.
•Massage petroleum jelly into paw pads before going outside to protect them from salt and chemical agents. Also, moisturizing can help heal chapped paws.
Retractable leads—those long leashes that extend to allow your dog to roam freely—are great for trips to a wide open space like a park. They let your dog sniff and explore more freely. But if you’ve got one that you use on daily walks in the city or on a busy path, it might be time to ditch it. Here’s why.
1. The leash can get caught on you, your dog, a cyclist or jogger and cause tripping, rope burn, cuts and even strangulation.
2. You might have the best-behaved dog in the world, but what about that other dog down the block? When you use a retractable leash, you’re opening your dog up to all sorts of dangers, including those posed by less-friendly dogs, bikes and cars. You may not be able to hit the brakes in time.
3. Retractable leashes allow your dog to approach other dogs uninvited, and that’s just downright inconsiderate. Other pet parents may not want their dogs to greet your dogs for a variety of reasons, including your own dog’s health and safety.
4. Perhaps worst of all, should you drop the leash in an already-busy area, its sudden retraction and the noise the handle makes when dragging on pavement can terrify even the most even-keeled dogs. That means your dog is much more likely to bolt.
We get why people are attracted to retractable leads, but for these reasons and more, we’re sticking with our dog’s good old six-foot leash when we’re on busy streets. For your pet’s safety, we hope you will, too.
Thanksgiving is all about spending time with loved ones—human and animal alike. So it makes sense that we’re tempted to fix Fido a plate of all the scrumptious holiday food we’re eating, right? But wait! Put down the serving spoon. Are you sure that’s safe for your pet? Here’s what you need to know.
Ten Thanksgiving dangers. Some foods are totally off-limits to our furry pals. Ten of them are especially common around the holidays. Just say no to:
•sage •shocolate •candy with xylitol •bread dough •batter with raw eggs •onions and garlic •macadamia nuts •raisins and grapes •rich or spicy foods •alcohol
Let’s talk turkey. Good news for Fido! ASPCA experts say a little bite of plain turkey is usually safe for pets. If you decide to share, remember: Only boneless, well-cooked turkey is OK. Giving your pet undercooked or bone-in turkey, fat or gristle, or cooked bones for chewing is not OK.
Don’t overdo it. Lots of us overindulge at the Thanksgiving table, but when our pets do, it can be a real problem. It’s best to keep pets on their normal diets during the holidays, but if you do decide to share your holiday spread, make it just a taste. Eating too much can give your dog diarrhea, upset stomach, or even pancreatitis.
Play it safe. If your dog or cat consumes any potentially harmful foods or products, please consult your veterinarian, or the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 or www.aspca.org/apcc.