With Halloween just around the corner, you might be tempted to make your cat or dog a star by dressing him up in the cutest mini-sized costume you can find. But wait—is trick-or-treat apparel really safe for your furry friends?
Our experts suggest putting your pet in a costume only if you’re sure he will enjoy it. Some pets love the limelight: wearing a costume and posing for pictures is a blast! Others prefer to stick to their birthday suits for all occasions, and being dressed like a pumpkin for their pet parents’ amusement can cause unnecessary stress.
If you decide to have your pet wear a costume, here are some helpful safety tips to keep in mind:
Your pet’s Halloween garb should not constrict his movement or hearing, or impede his ability to breathe, bark or meow. Be sure to try on costumes in advance—and if your furry friend seems distressed, you’ll want to ditch the mini-pirate hat and vest.
Examine your pet’s costume and make sure it doesn’t have any small, dangling or easily chewed-off pieces that he could choke on. Also, ill-fitting outfits can get caught on external objects or your pet, leading to injury.
IDs, please! Make sure your dog or cat has proper identification on underneath that cute costume. If for any reason your pet escapes and becomes lost during Halloween festivities, a collar and tags and/or a microchip can be a lifesaver.
As the crisp fall air settles in and bright orange and red leaves swirl down from the trees, what better time to hit the trail? But as you plan your fall wilderness hikes, don’t forget your canine friends! Here are some ASPCA expert tips to ensure your dog’s safety as you explore the great outdoors together.
Pack a leash. With so many nooks and crannies to explore on the trail, it’s best to opt for a non-extending leash to avoid potential tangles with branches and brambles.
Bring IDs, please! Always make sure that your current contact information, including your cell phone number, is attached to your dog’s collar or harness.
Check your records. You never know what you might encounter on a hike through the woods. Before you set out on your journey, make sure your pet’s vaccinations are up to date.
Give pests the boot. Tick prevention is essential when tromping through the great outdoors. Treat your pooch with PetArmor, a spot-on flea and tick treatment by FidoPharm, one of the ASPCA’s corporate partners.
Leave no trace. Scoop up after your dog when she goes to the bathroom as you would on a stroll through your neighborhood.
Stay hydrated—don’t forget to bring enough water for yourself and your dog. It’s best to avoid letting your dog drink from nature’s water fountains, as puddles, lakes and streams can be home to nasty parasites and toxins that could be harmful to your furry friends.
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.