September is a month of changing routines, and pets across the country are adjusting to new schedules as their family members go back to work or school. Unfortunately, some dogs may have trouble adjusting and start acting disruptive or destructive when left home alone. They may resort to urinating and defecating in the house, howling, chewing, pacing or trying to escape from the house or yard. When these issues are accompanied by signs of panic, distress or depression, they may indicate that your pet suffers from separation anxiety.
But we’re here to help! When treating a dog with separation anxiety, the goal is to resolve the underlying issue by teaching him to enjoy—or at least tolerate—being left alone. Our experts have put together a list of top tips for helping your pooch overcome separation anxiety. Here’s a sneak peek at their advice:
Doctor Knows Best: The first step in tackling behavior issues is to rule out any underlying medical problems that might be causing your pet’s behavior. For example, if your pet is urinating in the house, he might be suffering from a urinary tract infection, bladder stones, diabetes or kidney disease—all of which can cause urinary incontinence in dogs.
Conquer the Fear: If your pup suffers mild separation anxiety, counter conditioning—or helping your dog associate being alone with something good, like a tasty treat—might reduce or resolve the problem. To develop this kind of association, offer your dog a food dispensing toy (like a Kong) stuffed with food every time you leave the house.
Dogs Need Jobs: Providing lots of physical and mental stimulation is a vital part of treating many behavior problems, especially those involving anxiety. Exercise can enrich your dog’s life, decrease stress and provide appropriate outlets for normal behavior. Plus, a tired dog doesn’t have much excess energy to burn when he’s left alone!
According to a 2012 survey by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, 53 percent of adult dogs and 55 percent of cats are overweight or obese. That equals 88.4 million pets!
Obesity in pets is no joke. Just like in humans, it can cause a host of health issues, including respiratory distress, orthopedic problems and arthritis, and has been shown to make dogs more prone to diabetes and compromised immune systems.
So how do you know if your dog is overweight? And what can you do to help your portly friend? Read on!
When determining if your pet needs to shed a few LBs, ask yourself: Does he bulge at the waist? You should be able to feel, but not see, your dog’s ribs and spine
Talk to your vet! Certain health conditions—such as a low thyroid level and other hormonal imbalances—can cause weight gain in dogs.
One of the most important steps for controlling your dog’s weight is to cut out the treats and snacks. Exercise can only accomplish so much if your pet is taking in too many calories between meals.
“If you feel you must give your dog treats, choose low-calorie options such as veggies or a piece of rice cake,” recommends the ASPCA’s Dr. Louise Murray, author of Vet Confidential. “Decide how many treats your dog will get each day, and…make sure everyone in the family understands the plan and agrees with it.”
As Tropical Storm Isaac bears down on the Gulf Coast, we have some essential storm safety tips for pet parents.
• Bring pets indoors at the first sign of the storm. Animals can become disoriented and wander away from home during a disaster.
• Arrange a safe haven for yourself and your pets in the event of evacuation. Do not leave pets behind.
• Store an emergency kit—with items such as pet food, bottled water, medical records, a blanket, a flashlight and leashes—as close to an exit as possible.
• Make sure all pets wear collars and tags with up-to-date identification.
• Affix a rescue alert sticker to your front door or window to let rescuers know that there are pets inside your home.
• Choose a designated caregiver to take care of your pet in the event you are unable to do so.
No matter where you live, it’s always a good idea to develop an evacuation plan well in advance of a major storm or emergency.
“Disasters threaten the safety of people and animals alike, and it’s often too late to create a plan for your pets when you’re in the middle of a crisis,” says Tim Rickey, Senior Director of the ASPCA Field Investigations and Response Team.
For more information on how to keep yourself and your pet safe in the event of an emergency, please read our complete list of Disaster Readiness tips.
Spring has sprung, and with the change of season, our thoughts inevitably turn to Easter celebrations, spring cleaning and much-needed home improvement projects. But the new balmy weather can prove not-so-sunny for curious pets—or their unwitting parents. Before you embark on seasonal chores or outdoor revelry, take inventory of potential springtime hazards for your delicate, furry friend. To help you out, our ASPCA experts have come up with a few seasonal tips that will help prevent mishaps or misfortunes.
Easter Treats and Decorations Keep Easter lilies and candy bunnies in check—chocolate goodies are toxic to cats, dogs and ferrets, and lilies can be fatal if ingested by our feline friends. While bunnies, chicks and other festive animals are adorable, resist the urge to buy—these cute babies grow up fast and often require specialized care!
Buckle Up! Dogs love good weather, too! But allowing them to ride in the beds of pick-up trucks or stick their heads out of car windows is downright dangerous. Abrupt stops or turns can cause major injury, or worse! Pets in cars should always be secured in a crate or wearing a seatbelt harness designed especially for them.
Home Improvement 101 Products such as paints, mineral spirits and solvents can be toxic to your pets and cause severe irritation or chemical burns. Carefully read all labels to see if the product is safe to use around your furry friends. It may be wise to confine your dog or cat to a designated pet-friendly room during home improvement projects.
Ah-Ah-Achoo! Like their sneezy human counterparts, pets can be allergic to dust, plants and pollens. Allergic reactions in dogs and cats can cause minor sniffling as well as life-threatening anaphylactic shock. If your pet suffers from a springtime allergy, please visit your veterinarian.
Moving to a new home may be one of the most stressful life events you’ll ever have to tackle. But in the chaos of cardboard boxes, packing tape and moving trucks, you might not realize how stressed your pets feel, too. We chatted with ASPCA Director of Anti-Cruelty Behavior Research Dr. Katherine Miller about ways to make the transition as safe and easy as possible for your furry friends.
Choosing a new ‘hood, house or apartment
Before you pick out your dream home, make sure your pet will love it just as much as you do. When it comes to square footage needs, cats and dogs differ. Older dogs, puppies and dogs with house training issues will need to go outside often, which might be difficult in an apartment building with lots of stairs or a house without a yard.
Packing up your stuff
Cats aren’t big fans of change. You can help your cats (and skittish dogs) adjust to the moving process by bringing in moving boxes early, and by keeping your furry friends in a familiar room you plan to pack up last. On moving day, keep your pets in a quiet room or at a friend’s house.
Planning your road trip
Many pets haven’t spent much time in crates or cars. In the weeks or months leading up to the big trip, you can prepare your pets by gradually acclimating them to their crates. First, place your pets’ food inside an open crate, and eventually have your pets eat meals in the crate with the door shut.
Settling into your new digs
When you arrive at your new home, it will be tempting to set your dog or cat loose to explore. But a new and unfamiliar space can be overwhelming to your pets. Start by allowing them to adjust to one room—their “home base”—which should include their favorite toys, treats, water and food bowls, and litter box for cats.