With summer winding down, and leaves beginning to change, school is nearly back in session! The transition from the summer season to the school year can be ruff on pets, continue reading for tips to prepare your pet for the smoothest transition possible.
Easing Into a New Routine
The key to a smooth transition with routines is to start slow! By easing your pet into their new routine, they’ll be more likely to adapt faster. During the summer pets get used to lots of activity and sounds around the house, meaning its up to you to make sure your pet gets used to staying home alone. Starting three or four weeks before school starts, build in short absences during the week. The goal is to make your pet feel as comfortable as possible, normalizing the new schedule while it’s still summer prepares your pet for a gradual and smooth transition
Bathroom and Meal Times
It’s inevitable your pet’s bathroom and meal times will change with the new schedule. However, establishing specific times throughout the day can help smooth out the change of routine. Focus on consistency! Mapping out you or your family’s day is also critical in relation to letting your pet out and making sure they’re fueled. Talk to your family and establish a game plan for who’s taking your pet out, and who’s feeding your pet. Weeks before school starts, try to stick to the times you’ve picked for your pet; this will ensure your pet knows exactly what to expect! The adjustment might take some time, but with your help, your pet will adapt.
Despite the busyness of back to school, your pet’s physical activity should not be compromised! Be sure to strategize how you’re going to fit in lots of walks and outside time for your pet with the new schedule. A dog or cat with pent-up energy that’s left home alone all day can become stressed and they may cause you extra stress if the diversions they come up with for themselves damage your belongings. An active pet is a happy pet, make sure exercise does not take a back-seat despite how crazy your schedule may feel.
We all love our pets unconditionally throughout every season, though it may be more challenging to find quality time to spend with your pet during some seasons. With all of the adjustments to your schedule, it’s important to make sure your pet isn't feeling neglected. Find a few blocks of time to play catch, use the laser pointer, or snuggle up with a magazine or book and your furry friend on the couch. You can also try and find activities that meet multiple needs. For example, you could bring your dog to the hardware store the next time the toilet breaks and it can be a fix it trip as wall as a walk.
Separation anxiety is real! It’s natural to miss your pet, but making a big deal everytime you say goodbye perpetuates the idea that leaving your pet is a big deal. As you and your family get ready to spend more time away from your pet, normalize leaving. Go to the shop and simply say, “Goodbye, Fido” instead of making a big deal about leaving. If you make a big deal everytime you leave, your pet will think there is a problem and be more stressed for longer periods after you go then if you treat it as a normal occurrence that is not a big deal. (If you are the one experiencing the anxiety, fake it till you are out of the house and far enough away that your pet can’t hear you. I know, they’re your best friend! It is hard to say goodbye! But, you’ll be home in no time!)
Keep in mind there’s not one perfect schedule, the best thing to do is practice your new routines and continue showering your pet with lots of love, care, and attention. Find time to spend with them and ensure that their basic needs are met and they should adapt to the new schedule.
Written By: Grace Butler
There are so many toxic plants that can harm your furry friend if they are ingested. We know that this area of pet care can be difficult to navigate, especially when you do not know what kind of plant you have. We recommend checking the ASPCA's toxic plant list before bringing any new house plants into your home. When you are in the store you can ask for help identifying the plant or flower from staff members so that you know what you should look up. The ASPCA's toxic plants list can be found here. Personally, I keep the site bookmarked on my phone for easy searching.
You can also look through the flashcards below to see the most common (with a focus on the most deadly) poisonous plants and their impact on your pet if they should ingest them. Click on the next button to view the detailed information about each group of plants.
If you suspect your pet ingested something toxic, call the Pet Poison Helpline (855-764-7661) and your veterinarian or emergency clinic immediately. The sooner they receive treatment the more likely there will be a positive outcome! Do NOT take a wait and see approach, as this can lead to death.
A pet fountain is a water fountain for your pets. Many dogs and cats prefer running water to drink from, so having a pet fountain that is a source of running water will grab the attention of your pets and can help keep them hydrated. Generally, cats are picky water drinkers so a device like this helps encourage them to drink more.
Pet fountains maintain a temperature that is 1 - 2 degrees cooler than a traditional pet water dish. Pet fountains can also carry 1-6 liters of water, which means you don’t have to constantly refill your pet’s water.
Because the water in a pet fountain is constantly circulating it helps prevent dirty build-up, unlike a traditional water bowl. Some pet fountains even have filters to collect any dirt in the fountain, keeping the water clean and safe for your pets. However, this doesn’t mean that you can get by without cleaning the fountain. It is a good idea to clean the fountain at least once per week. Most fountains have a filter that will last for about a month, make sure to replace it as recommended by the manufacturer.
Pet fountains can be especially helpful for pets with kidney or liver problems as well as diabetes. Since you can not reason with your pet to get them to drink more, having appealing sources of water for your pet can be a great health benefit. Because of this, you should consider having multiple sources of freshwater for your pet around your home so they are always close to an attractive water source. One fountain in an inconvenient location will not increase the amount your pet drinks.
When looking for a pet water fountain, make sure you get one that is specifically made for pets or says that it is made of food safe materials. Many decorative fountains contain minerals or chemicals that are dangerous for people and animals to consume.
What are your experiences with pet fountains? Please comment below.
Written by Shaniya Payton and Heather Mains
Have you been thinking about finding a way for your indoor kitty to experience the great outdoors? Maybe you have seen the videos of adventure cats that have become more prevalent, or you’ve seen a neighbor taking their feline family member for a walk. Or maybe you’re thinking more along the lines of a catio. Whatever your thoughts, there are some things that you should consider before taking fluffy outside for the first time!
Make sure to think about the personality of your cat before you make the decision to start bringing them outside. Not every cat should be an outdoor cat. Many kitties are too frightened to enjoy the new experience. And while some may come to love it in time, it is important not to force the experience or cause them undo stress.
Plan to either have them on a leash or in a confined place that will do double duty, keeping them from wandering while also keeping predators away. Never leave them unattended! If a predator or other cat comes into the space the possibility of injury or death is high if you are not there to intervene.
If you plan to leash train them, start inside with just the harness. Leave it on for short periods and allow them to get used to the extra weight. Most cats do not like harnesses, so expect some flopping. Once they are used to the harness you can plan your first excursion!
Plan on starting with trips that are less than 5 minutes. And prepare yourself for them asking to go back inside almost immediately. Try to avoid busy streets as the car noise will frighten them. A comfort item might also help ease the transition.
My cat, Lyric, absolutely adores baskets. When I first started bringing him outside on a leash, he always asked to go back inside immediately. I listened to his needs and did not force it. Then, one day he was sleeping in his favorite basket and I decided to carry him outside in that. I set him on my lap and he sat purring for several minutes before he started to show any agitation. When he showed me he was ready to go back in, I always listened to him right away. Now he asks to go outside regularly during the summer. Remember, the goal of outside time is for your kitty to enjoy it! Not for you to make them into the adventure kitty you saw in that cool TikTok. If they are showing agitation, let them go back to a safe place.
My other cat, Ari, took to leash time immediately and will spend significantly more time outside then Lyric before he asks to come back in. On the hot days of summer I have to end his adventures before he likes to keep him from overheating.
I bring my cats outside with me when I am gardening or visiting with friends. I do not take them for walks. I also only let them out in my backyard because the front of my house faces a busy street.
General Safety Considerations:
When you first make the decision to take your indoor cat outside, make sure to make a veterinary appointment. They can get you proper medicine to protect against fleas, mites, and ticks that may find their way onto your cat over the course of their adventures. They can also let you know if your area has any other parasites or diseases that may impact your cat.
Before going outside the first time, take some time to look at the plants around your space. Try and identify what they are so you can determine if they are poisonous plants. Lilies are especially deadly to cats. Do not let them hang out near these plants as a few mouthfuls can be deadly. Chemicals can also be dangerous for your cat. Make sure that the space that you are using has not been treated with gardening or lawn chemicals.
Many of the general considerations listed above are applicable to taking your cat out on a leash or using a catio. If you are thinking about creating a catio space check out our blog on the subject here.
Written by: Heather Mains
Cats and dogs are amazing for countless reasons, but have you ever seen your pet do something strange and wonder why? Today we’re counting down some of our favorite funny pet behaviors and breaking down the meanings behind each action.
Written by: Gracie Butler
Have you been thinking about creating an outdoor catio space for your cat? A catio, an outdoor enclosed patio designed for cats, are great for your cat to hang out in and take in the outdoors. Before jumping into a big project like this, here are a few things you’ll want to consider.
Ensuring Your Pet’s Safety
Safety first! Even if the catio you purchase or design seems to be 100% safe, you’ll always need to keep an eye on your feline friend. To make your catio a positive and safe space, we suggest you include the following features: an entry door or window, ramps, catwalks, hiding places, beds or pillows for resting, fresh drinking water, shady spaces , predator-proof screening (on the bottom as well as the sides), and a roof or covering for mild weather protection. Even in a catio, it’s crucial to never leave your pet unattended. At the end of the day, you are 100% responsible for your pet’s safety and ensuring your catio is a secure space!
Although your cat may not embrace the outdoors like a dog would, there are many advantages to spending time outside. The first and potentially the most important benefit pertains to the mental stimulation and enrichment for cats. The sounds and smells of nature, along with the ledges and climbing areas help channel your cat’s inner-adventurer. Another perk includes decreased conflict in multi-cat homes. If you have two cats or more, conflict may arise; however, a catio can give each cat an opportunity to explore and thrive individually. With multiple cats, be sure to provide multiple entrances and exits so no one gets cornered or let them enjoy the catio independently. Other benefits include exercise, wildlife protection (those song birds will be safe on the other side of the screen), and protection for your cat from other wildlife (be sure the material you use can withstand a predator trying to get inside from the top, sides, and bottom).
You can choose to purchase a ready made catio or build one from scratch. If purchasing, make sure to read all of the information provided and do a thorough comparison. More often than not, catios are on the pricier side which is why it’s important to do a thorough evaluation before making a purchase!
For our creative folks, diy catios are a great option. A diy catio enables you to meticulously control design, materials, and cost! With a self build you can be creative and cator (did you see what we did there) toward the specific needs and personality of your pet! The resources below will help you get started mapping out your catio from scratch.
Written by Gracie Butler
It is that time of year when many of us are getting loved ones gifts. We at ACF hope that you don’t forget your furry (or scaly) loved ones and want to share some easy homemade gifts you can share with your (or someone else's) pet!
Rodent, Bird, and Reptile Toys:
Many of the above cat and dog toys can also serve as reptile, rodent and bird toys.
You can find some specific Reptile toy recommendations on the Reptiles Direct page here.
Check out The Spruce Pets article by Lianne McLeod, DVM for some great rodent toys. (Though this is targeted to rats, many would be great for rabbits, mice, hamsters, gerbils, and more!)
Bird toy ideas can be found at Exotic Direct here. These are targeted to parrots, so size down if you have smaller birds!
The holidays are jam packed with fun activities, family, and festive decorations! While these times are great fun for us humanoids, they can be dangerous for our pet family. Check out these tips to keep your pet safe this season:
Whatever holiday is being celebrated (Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas, or New Year’s) we love to decorate! Unfortunately, all the new things we bring into our homes can be dangerous for Fido and Fluffy. Often these new items are potential toys to our furry friends. Chewing on them can cause mouth lacerations, while eating them can cause digestive blockages. Both likely resulting in a trip to the emergency vet. Block off new and interesting decorations from your pet family or consider decorating in a room that can be closed off when you are not able to monitor your pet’s activities. Some specific dangers to pay particular attention to include:
Confetti from New Year’s celebrations can cause intestinal blockage if eaten by your pet.
Christmas Tree water from pines, spruces and firs often contains pesticide residue. The sap in some trees is also toxic to pets. Make sure they can not access the tree’s water reservoir.
Pets will often investigate your Christmas Tree. Ensure that it is well supported by the stand and tie the top to a hook in the ceiling with fishing line to prevent it from falling during your fur family’s explorations. Check that the bolts in the base are tight every few days as they can loosen over time.
Tinsel is especially tempting to pets. Eating tinsel can lead to intestinal problems including blockages.
Many plants are poisonous to pets. Avoid placing holly, mistletoe, and poinsettias where pets can chew on them.
Lights pose a problem if pets chew on them or their cords. They can also become tangled in them and potentially be strangled. Make sure they are not accessible to your pet.
We often exchange gifts with family, friends, and neighbors at this time of year. Keep these out of reach of your pets until you know what is in them. It would be a real bummer if Fido at that fancy chocolate you didn’t even know was there and had to be rushed to the vet! By keeping presents in a location inaccessible to your pet until it is time to open them, you’ll ensure that you got the chocolate, not Fido!
Your furry friend is likely interested in tasting the delicious food surrounding them. Be aware some of it is very poisonous to them! Be especially aware or grapes, raisins, chocolate, and alcohol. Left over bones from your meal should not be shared with your pet. They splinter as your pet chews them and can cause cuts in the mouth and lacerations to their intestines as they travel though the digestive track.
Food bags should not be left alone with pets as they may stick their head inside to eat the leftovers or simply lick the residue. This can lead to suffocation in just minutes as the bag suctions onto their head.
While many pets enjoy the extra company and noise that comes with the season, some do not. And some pets that are normally very social could become overwhelmed. If your pet is showing signs of stress or acting oddly provide them with a break in a room away from the noise and stimulation. The last thing anyone wants is to need to doctor a bite to a family member or friend.
The Holiday Season is a time filled with joy and excitement for many of us. Make sure to keep your beloved pets safe during this time by following the advice above!
Additional information can be found at:
Pet MD “10 Pet Safety Tips for the Holidays”
ASPCA “Holiday Safety Tips”
Dog Time “6 Helpful Christmas Safety Tips for Pet Owners”
Image created by rawpixel.com accessed at www.freepik.com
Winter can be a dangerous time for pets. Keep these recommendations in mind during the cold months to keep your pets healthy and happy.
Adapted from https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/general-pet-care/cold-weather-safety-tips
Photo from www.freepik.com
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