It is so important to ensure that your dog continues to get exercise, even in the winter months. But with the colder temps, there are new safety concerns that need to be taken into account.
Salt that is put down on sidewalks and roads to act as a deicer can be dangerous for your pup! These chemicals can cause irritation in their paws after walking on walkways and internal medical issues if ingested even from licking their paws post walk. To keep your canine friend safe, take the following precautions when you go out for a walk:
Check out our post over the rest of the month for other tips to keep your dog warm and healthy in the winter.
While your dog does come with a built in coat, of varying warmth levels depending on the breed, you can’t assume this is enough in our cold climates! It is so important to ensure that your pup is warm enough when you take them out in the winter.
Listen to your dog. When walking your dog this winter, don’t forget to watch for signs that your dog may be too cold such as whining, shivering, and lifting its paws or holding one up as they walk. If you notice these signs, get them somewhere to warm up as quickly as possible.
To ensure that they stay warm enough check out these tips:
1. Cut back on walks on very cold days. On colder days limit the duration and the number of walks to protect your dog from frostbite and hypothermia.
2. Protect their paws. Make sure your dog’s toe hair is trimmed so that ice and salt don’t get caught in it. You can also buy your dog winter water-resistant boots. These will keep the snow, ice, and cold water off their sensitive feet.
3. Don’t allow your dog to eat snow on cold days. Eating snow dangerously lowers your dog’s body temperature which makes them more susceptible to cold related injury. Additionally, there could be chemicals or hidden objects buried in the snow that could be very harmful to them. If the snow is in a space that you know is chemical free and they are not out for a long period or it is a warm day, you can let them have a snow treat.
4. Get them a jacket or sweater. Even though your dog comes with a built in jacket, most breeds are not equipped to handle Minnesota's coldest days or long periods outside. A jacket or sweater can help keep them warmer so you can be out longer or on colder days.
With these simple shifts, you and your dog can continue to enjoy the benefits of your daily walks even in cold months! Happy walking!
Trick-or-treat! Halloween is swiftly approaching and you may be wondering how to keep your night full of lots of treats and minimal tricks. For pets, some hazards are obvious, and some are not. Continue reading to learn about the pet dangers on Halloween and how to keep your pet as safe as possible.
Candy is certainly an essential element to Halloween, who doesn’t love candy?
The hazards of candy go beyond the toxicity in chocolate. In addition to chocolate, sugar free candies contain xylitol which can be deadly in both cats and dogs. Since nearly all Halloween candy is dangerous due to wrappers and artificial sweeteners, it’s best to steer clear of candy around your pets. Stash the candy bowl, be sure to pick up wrappers, and make sure the only one devouring treats is you!
Costumes and Decorations
In relation to all the spooky knick-knacks around your home, make sure your decorations are out of reach of your four legged pals. Decorations with tempting tinsel can be especially dangerous and cause damage to the intestinal tract if consumed; that being said, keep tinsel well out of reach. Use extreme caution with candles and lit jack-o-lanterns along with other porch decorations. Safety is always the priority, which applies to costumes too. Make sure your pet is wearing a comfortable and breathable costume if you choose to dress your pet-up. While Halloween night is a fun occasion, it’s also a night where you’ll want to keep a closer eye on your furry friend.
The Halloween season is packed full of spooky activities all leading up to the spookiest celebration of the year, trick-or-treating. Trick-or-treating is not necessarily intended for pets; however, if you decide to bring your pet along, you’ll need to keep a few things in mind. The most important thing is that your pet is easily identifiable. Make sure your pet is easy to spot, preferably in bright or reflective colors. Be sure to come prepared, and bring your own dog treats to reward your pet along the way. If you’re finding that you have to ask yourself if bringing your pet trick-or-treating is a good idea, the answer is probably not. That being said, the best way for your pet to spend Halloween night is at home. Pets tend to get riled up by neighborhood activity, we recommend keeping your pet away from the commotion and checking on them periodically.
Halloween night is intended to be fun, but sometimes things happen. If you suspect your pet has ingested something toxic, please call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 immediately. If something unexpected comes up, act fact and don’t wait until the morning to do something. And most importantly, stay spooky!
Written by: Gracie Butler
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.
As temperatures begin to rise, a common issue that all pet owners should be aware of is heatstroke. Heatstroke occurs when the body becomes unable to control its temperature and most often occurs when the body has been exposed to hot temperatures over a prolonged period of time. Since dogs don’t have the same sweat mechanism as humans, they are far more susceptible to heatstroke.
The most common causes of heatstroke in dogs are the result of a pet parent mistake. Leaving a pet in an unattended car, forgetting to provide water and shade outdoors, or excessive exercise on hot days are the leading reasons pets suffer heat stroke.
To prevent your pet from getting heatstroke, remember that hydration is key! When a dog loses body fluid faster than they can replace it, they will suffer from dehydration. Dehydration greatly increases chances of heat exhaustion and heatstroke. You can read more about hydration and heat protection here.
It is always a better choice to prevent heatstroke in the first place, but knowing the symptoms can help save your pet’s life if a mistake is made. The most telling signs include heavy panting, heavy breathing, lethargy, drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, bleeding, and bruising on the skin or gums. Less obvious symptoms could involve a fever, lack of urine, rapid pulse, and muscle tremors.
If you suspect that your pet is suffering from heatstroke the first thing to do is call your veterinarian or closest emergency animal hospital and let them know what happened and that you are on the way. While doing so, immediately remove your dog from the heat. The best ways you can take care of your dog post-heat stroke is providing a surplus of cold water along with cooling your dog off with cold-damp towels.
Any hot environment can cause heat stroke in any breed of dog, however, some dogs are more prone to heatstroke than others. Dogs with thick fur, short noses, and brachycephalic breeds (flat-faced dogs such as pugs, boxers, and bulldogs) are the most at risk. As a pet parent, you are in charge of your pet’s health, which is an amazing privilege and tremendous responsibility. The best summer yet with your pup is within reach, just be sure to stay cool!
Written by Gracie Butler
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
With the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic, one unlikely pet came to the spotlight, chicks. The rise of chicks as pets has provided an unexpected outlet of emotional support for Americans in need of some light in their lives. Social media began to explode with postings of people with their new baby chicks, and then the hype died down almost as quickly as it started. You may have wondered, where are the baby chicks now and what happens when they grow up?
It’s hard to dispute, baby chicks are adorable creatures, but these delightful little animals tend to become more work as they get older. Most of the adopted chicks in 2021 were abandoned, died from improper care, or were surrendered. Baby chicks require specific needs to thrive, and adult chicken ownership is regulated in most cities. Some of the adopters of these chicks did plan ahead; those lucky chicks now have a new home in a backyard chicken coop!
It’s important to consider how your animal may change as they grow up and remember pets are cute, loving creatures who deserve to be treated well. Whether it’s a dog, cat, or baby chick, getting an animal is a commitment! If you are thinking about getting a baby chick this spring, here are some resources to help you decide if you’re ready for the commitment.
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!
Animal Care Foundation
Providing elderly and disabled community members access to veterinary care for their beloved pet.