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.
It’s perfectly normal for puppies and dogs to chew on objects as they explore the world. For young dogs, it’s a way to relieve pain that might be caused by incoming teeth. For older dogs, it’s a way to keep jaws strong and teeth clean.
But sometimes natural chewing can become destructive for dogs seeking to combat boredom or relieve mild anxiety or frustration. Dogs who chew to relieve the stress of separation anxiety usually only chew when left alone or chew most intensely when left alone.
So what can you do if your best friend’s chewing turns destructive? Puppies and adult dogs should have a variety of appropriate and attractive chew toys. However, just providing the right things to chew isn’t enough to prevent inappropriate chewing. Dogs need to learn what is okay to chew and what is not.
What to Do If Your Dog Is a Destructive Chewer
"Dog-proof" your house. Put valuable objects away until you’re confident that your dog’s chewing behavior is restricted to appropriate items. Keep shoes and clothing in a closed closest, dirty laundry in a hamper and books on shelves. Make it easy for your dog to succeed.
Provide your dog with plenty of his own toys and inedible and edible chew bones. Introduce something new or rotate your dog’s chew toys every couple of days so he doesn’t get bored with the same old toys.
Discourage chewing inappropriate items by spraying them with chewing deterrents.
Do your best to supervise your dog during all waking hours until you feel confident that his chewing behavior is under control.
Provide your dog with plenty of physical exercise (playtime with you and with other dogs) and mental stimulation. If you have to leave your dog alone for more than a short period of time, make sure he gets out for a good play session.
Some dogs are naturally inclined to dig, and though it is perfectly normal behavior most of the time, it can be troublesome for pet parents who don’t particularly care for holes in their yard and furniture.
So why do they do it? Dogs often dig at the ground and circle before lying down, as though they’re trying to make a softer resting place. Dogs also dig when trying to get warm or stay cool, to entertain themselves, to bury valued items, and when hunting ground-dwelling animals.
What to Do If Your Dog Digs
• If Your Dog Digs to Keep Cool or Get Comfortable
Dogs living outside in very hot or cold weather often dig holes to sleep in, especially if they don’t have access to proper shelter, like an insulated doghouse. Even with a suitable doghouse, some dogs prefer to retreat under a deck and dig a big hole.
• If Your Dog Digs to Entertain Herself
Many dogs dig for the fun of it. This type of digging is the hardest to treat because the action of digging is rewarding in and of itself. To achieve success, rather than attempting to eliminate the behavior, try to redirect your dog’s digging to an acceptable place.
• If Your Dog Digs to Bury Her Stuff
The best way to eliminate this type of digging is to refrain from giving your dog treats, food or chew bones that she will not finish immediately. Alternatively, you can build your dog a digging pit and encourage her to bury items there, instead of in your favorite flower bed.
• If Your Dog Digs to Hunt Small Animals
Most dogs love to chase small, fast-moving furry creatures, even if they never actually try to catch them. If your dog digs to pursue small animals like moles, chipmunks and ground squirrels, you can set live traps and humanely remove those animals from your property.