Caroline Golon is a busy mom of two young girls and two rascally Persian rescue cats living in Columbus, Ohio. She’s passionate about animal welfare and creating happy households with both kids and pets. She’s a regular contributor toVetstreet.comand other pet-centric sites. You can read more about Caroline’s adventures with kids and pets at her site,Crayons and Collars.
School’s out! At first, the summer months seem to stretch out before our family as an endless opportunity for fun. Once the novelty has worn off, the dreaded words, “I’m bored!” start to emerge. Parents: have no fear. Read on for a few creative ways to keep your animal-loving kids occupied:
Collect Donations for Animals Turn your kids’ free time into a positive for animal shelters or rescues. One easy way to assist is to hold a donation drive and, with your supervision, collect supplies from your neighbors. Shelters use lots of items like old sheets and towels, empty toilet paper rolls, milk jug caps, newspapers and empty plastic water bottles to line cages, clean up messes or make DIY dog and cat toys. Use the ASPCA’s database to find an animal shelter or rescue group in your area.
Walk the Dog A great regular chore for kids during the summertime is walking the dog. Even if your kids are too young to walk the dog themselves, they can still come along. Walking the dog is good exercise for everyone, and you can make this activity even more fun by using a pedometer to count steps, or by downloading mobile apps that earn money for shelter pets each time you take your dog out for a stroll.
Write Stories about Your Pets Challenge your child to write and/or illustrate a biography about your pets—including details about where they came from, their favorite things and more. If your kids are really into the challenge, ask them to imagine what adventures your pets might like to go on. You might be surprised at your child’s willingness to write about a subject he or she loves.
Read to Your Pets Along with practicing their writing skills by writing stories about their pets, kids can practice their reading skills with their pets. Challenge your child to read a book (or more!) a day to your dog, cat, hamster or goldfish. Keep track of the number of books they read to your pet and consider creating a reward system to encourage them to continue.
By helping your kids feel excited about activities involving their furry friends, they (along with your pets!) will stay happily busy all summer long.
This winter has been brutally cold in many parts of the country, and there seems to be no end in sight! Whether your family loves to play in the snow or prefers to stay inside by the fireplace, we can’t always avoid braving the elements with our pets in tow.
Check out our cold weather infographic for tips to keep your pets safe and warm this winter:
Spring is finally here, and the sun is shining at last. It’s the season for spring cleaning and outdoor adventures, but before you start enjoying the fresh air, consider a few tips for keeping your furry friends safe and happy this season:
Screen it: After months cooped up indoors, it’s tempting to throw open your windows to let the breeze in. However, pets—especially cats— are apt to jump or fall through open windows. Make sure your windows are fitted with screens before opening them.
Grow a green thumb: As you work to beautify your lawn and garden, be mindful that some popular springtime plants including Easter lilies, rhododendron and azaleas are highly toxic to pets and can easily prove fatal if eaten. Fertilizers, insecticides and herbicides are dangerous to pets as well. Visit our full list of garden tips, and consider teaching your kids which plants are potentially harmful to your furry friends.
Ah-choo!: Like humans, pets may suffer from allergies during the spring season. Dogs and cats can experience allergic reactions to pollens, plants, dust and foods. If you suspect your pet is suffering from allergies, take him or her to the vet as soon as possible.
Spring cleaning: As you prepare to divvy up the chore list and give your house a deep cleaning, be sure to keep all cleaners and chemicals away from your pets. Most commercially sold cleaning products contain chemicals that are harmful to pets. Always read and follow label directions for proper use and storage.
When you’re out and about: Chances are that as the weather warms up, your family will spend more and more time outdoors. If your family likes to ride in the car with the windows down, be sure your pet is safely buckled in or rides in a crate. Going for a walk in the park? Be sure your pet is wearing an ID tag and has been microchipped.
Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and it’s a great occasion to have your family join you in the kitchen for a fun day of food prep. When the enticing aromas of food start wafting through your house, it’s likely that your pets will want to get in on the action. However, the hectic environment in the kitchen on this food-filled holiday poses some potential health risks for your pets. Remember these safety tips as you whip up the perfect batch of mashed potatoes and gravy:
Let’s talk turkey: If you decide to give your pet a nibble of your Thanksgiving turkey, make sure it’s boneless and well-cooked—no raw or undercooked turkey, which may contain salmonella bacteria.
Sage advice: While sage can be a delicious addition to your Thanksgiving stuffing, it and many other herbs contain essential oils and resins that can cause gastrointestinal upset and central nervous system depression in pets. Cats are especially sensitive.
Doughy dangers: When an animal ingests raw bread dough, his body heat causes the dough to rise in his stomach. Ouch! This may cause vomiting, severe abdominal pain and bloating, which could become a life-threatening emergency. Cake batters made with raw eggs are also dangerous to pets.
Portion control, please: While it’s ok to share a bit of well-cooked turkey with your furry friend, it’s best to stick to your pet’s regular diet during the holidays. Allowing your pets to over indulge could cause stomach upset, diarrhea or pancreatitis.
There are still a few weeks left to enjoy the beautiful autumn weather! Before the winter cold sets in, one of the best ways to take advantage of the season is to load your family in the car (including your pets!) and hit the trail for an afternoon hike. As you plan your next outdoor adventure, be sure to sit down with your kids to go over some important pet safety tips.
Pack a leash: Extension leashes are great for wide open spaces, but if your romp is taking you through wooded areas, it's best to leave the flexi-leads at home so your dog won’t find herself tangled in the brush. Unless the trail allows off-leash dogs and your dog knows to come when called, it’s best to keep your dog’s leash on at all times.
IDs, please: Always make sure that your current contact information, including your cell phone number, is attached to your dog's collar or body harness.
Leave no trace: Bring baggies along so you can scoop up after your dog when she uses the bathroom. It’s courteous to clean up after your dog in the woods as you would in your neighborhood or local park.
Stay hydrated: Be sure to pack enough water for your whole family, including your furry friends! Don’t allow your dog to drink from ponds, streams or puddles—they may contain nasty parasites or toxins that could cause her harm.
It’s also a good idea to check your pet’s veterinary records to ensure that all of her vaccinations are up-to-date. Pack our printable PDF of hiking safety tips for quick reference while you’re on the trail. Enjoy the great outdoors!