Getting Started with Catios
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
Spring and summer are finally within reach, and with the temperatures rising you may be looking for some activities to make the warm seasons cool. Here are a few ways to make the most of your Spring and Summer with your pup.
Go For a Stroll, Hike, or Run
Activity Intensity Rating: 3/10 - 9/10
We all know how much dogs love to embrace the outdoors! Whether it’s through a walk, hike or run, such activities are possible nearly everywhere anytime! Some great trails your dog will love in Minneapolis and St. Paul are the Minnehaha Fall Lower Glen Trail, the Mississippi Gorge Regional Park, and Winchell Trail. You can Google “hiking trails'' for a list in your area. Whether you head for a wooded trail or walk around your neighborhood, spending time outdoors is a great way to get some exercise and have quality time with your dog.
Activity Intensity Rating: 2/10
Outdoor dining in the Spring and Summer are great, bringing your dog along with you to your favorite patio is even better! Two great options with dog-friendly patios in Minneapolis and St. Paul are Eagle Street Grill and Aster Café. If you’re looking to feed you and your dog head over to The Howe Daily Kitchen and Bar where dogs are welcome on the “pawtio” and have their own doggy menu; yappy-hour is from 3:00pm-6:00pm!
Take a Swim
Activity Intensity Rating: 2/10 - 5/10
Splish, splash, or take a bath! In the land of 10,000 lakes finding a body of water for your pup to splash around in is hardly a problem. Whether you’re wanting to play with your dog or just enjoy watching them, taking advantage of the water is a great way to cool off on those warmer days. Make sure you check for postings about sewage leaks, algae blooms, or other contamination that would make the water unsafe for your dog before letting them swim.
Enjoy a Treat
Activity Intensity Rating: 2/10
Whether it be a pup cup, lick of ice cream, or homemade dog dessert, your dog will love a sweet treat to enjoy on beautiful Spring and Summer days. Pup cups can either entail a small cup of custard or whip sold at numerous fast-food chains such as McDonald’s, Dairy Queen, and Starbucks. If you’re looking for a DIY activity, countless dog dessert recipes can be found on Pinterest. What better way to show your dog how much you love them than by treating them with sweetness! If your dog has never consumed these treats make sure to offer them in moderation. Dogs are lactose intolerant and if they eat too much of these delicious treats, their tummies may not be too happy! Offering them ice cubes or other hard frozen treats can cause cracked teeth that then need to be addressed by a veterinarian, softer options are better. Some dogs are very sensitive to dietary changes, checking with your vet before trying these treats would be a good choice.
Yard and Outdoor Relaxation
Activity Intensity Rating: 1/10
Sometimes the best ways to spend time with your dog are more peaceful and laid-back activities. For this activity all you really need is a cozy spot in your yard or local park! Hot days are inevitable this summer, make sure your dog takes breaks from play and has access to plenty of water and shade to avoid heat exhaustion and potentially life threatening reactions.
Cats have a reputation as being aloof, but if you know what to look for, they are often trying to communicate with their human! Read on to find out about what your cat is trying to tell you when they verbalize!
Cats do not meow at other cats unless they are kittens and want their mother, so when your cat meows at you, you know that you are special! But what are they trying to say?
They’re saying hello. They could be greeting you when you get home or come out of a room to say hi. Usually, this meow is not super loud or high pitched, they sound excited to see you.
They want to be fed. Often, a cat that is meowing constantly thinks it is time for some food! They can be incredibly insistent at mealtimes or whenever someone is near their food. These meows are often repetitive and can be longer in duration.
They want your attention. Cats will meow at their owners to get their attention and affection. Just like humans, some cats crave touch, play, or other forms of attention. This meow is often repetitive until you give in! It can be a shorter meow versus a drawn out one.
They are an elderly cat. Just like humans as cats get older and can have some diminished cognitive function, they can become lost or confused more easily. In this case, your cat is probably looking for you or a comfy place to nap but can’t find it. This meow is often loud and frightened sounding.
They are looking for a mate. If your cat is not neutered or spayed, they are more likely to produce a loud drawn-out howl to attract a mate, usually it’s the females calling for males. The best solution for this is to get your cat spayed or neutered.
Chirping: Have you ever heard you cat make a chirping or trilling sound? Cats make these sounds when they are happy and to tell each other to follow them! If you cat is making this sound as they look out the window at a bird, they are having fun watching it. If they make the sound at you, they often are trying to get you to come to them or follow them.
Hissing: Hissing is a cat’s way of showing they are scared or angry. They often hiss at other cats or animals if they feel threatened. If your cat is hissing unprovoked it could be a sign that they are in pain and need to be taken to the vet especially if the behavior is new.
Written by: Helen North
Salty Paws: What to Know
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!
Pet Dangers on Halloween
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
Back to School for Your Pet
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.
Heatstroke and Dehydration
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
The Perks of Pet Fountains
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
Animal Care Foundation
Providing elderly and disabled community members access to veterinary care for their beloved pet.