The 4th of July is an exciting event that brings friends and family together. That often means people bringing their furry friends along to cabins, lake fronts, and backyards to watch fireworks. However, this can cause unnecessary stress for your dog. Keep reading for tips and tricks on how to keep your pet happy and stress free on the fourth!
It is best to keep your dog inside and not bring them to the fireworks. Dogs' hearing is far more sensitive than humans. The loud sounds can be anxiety inducing and very frightening for your pooch even if they are not normally anxious. If they are fearful of the fireworks, your pet may try to run away from them, leading them to get lost. If they have to be outside, make sure to keep your pet on a leash or contained so that they do not end up at the shelter. Make sure that your pet has the proper ID on them or that they are microchipped in case they run away. The better option is to keep your pet inside helping them ease their anxiety, but also to keep them safe.
Whether or not your pet has pre existing anxiety or not, there are a few things that you can do to help them have a better night.
Create a comfortable environment for your pet and provide them a safe sheltered place with their favorite things (maybe a blanket or toy). Close all the windows, and put on television to have some background noise to muddle the sound of the fireworks. Distract them with toys and treats that will keep their attention. Try freezing a bone with peanut butter in the middle for your dog. That will keep them occupied long enough for the fireworks show to finish. You are the most important thing to them and your calm presence can go a long way to helping them feel safe, so consider sitting with them through the fireworks display.
In extreme situations, you can ask your veterinarian about anxiety medication. If the suggestions above do not help your pup and they are still very anxious, medication may be the best choice. You can get something that is just a single use medication or something longer if your pet has anxiety outside of fireworks.
Your pets will thank you for helping them have a stress free 4th of July!
For more information check out these articles:
Written by: Helen North
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 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
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!
For more information on Heatstroke check out:
Written by Gracie Butler
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
One of the most avoidable pet-fatalities occurs when pets are left in cars. Whether you’re running into the grocery store or popping into the post office, it is never safe to leave an animal in a hot car unattended.
According to studies, hundreds of pets die from car-related heatstroke every year; studies also show the first 15-30 minutes are critical. Parked cars can become ovens fast. Even on a day a moderately warm day, a parked car can rise from 75˚F to 100˚F in just ten minutes. You may have heard of a “safe period”, the amount of time in which your pet can be left in a car. However, it is not prudent to follow a “safe period” since there are external factors that you can not control, such as the sun shifting. Since there are many factors as to why a car heats up, there’s not a safe amount of time to leave your pet.
Another thing to remember is your pet’s inability to sweat. You’ll need to keep in mind when you’re warm your animal is even warmer! Most dogs and cats are covered with a thick coat of fur making it difficult for them to dissipate their body heat. Warning signs that your pet is in distress include heavy panting, tongue hanging out, restlessness, anxiety, clawing at window, trembling, vomiting, disoriented, foaming at mouth, diarrhea, collapsing, and seizures.
What can you do if you see an animal trapped in a car that appears unsafe? The state of Minnesota prohibits leaving a dog or cat unattended in a standing or parked motor vehicle in a manner that endangers the dog's or cat's health or safety. For this reason, you can feel justified calling law enforcement. You could also wait nearby for a few minutes to see if the owner returns quickly.
All pets are at risk of developing heat stroke if left in a car, this can lead to severe illness or death. We urge you to recognize it is always your responsibility to keep your pet safe and spread awareness! Ultimately, the goal is to avoid the heartache of losing your pet’s life to a hot car.
Written by: Gracie Butler
The dog days are in full-swing, and you may be wondering how to keep your pup happy and healthy during this warm season! From hydration to feet protection, read on to learn how to keep your dog healthy and happy as you enjoy the warm weather together.
The first step to beating the heat with your dog is to always have a supply of water. Whether you’re going for a stroll, drive, or running an errand, it’s important to keep your dog hydrated both indoors and outdoors. Many public beaches and parks have a spout of clean water, but it’s never safe to assume; error on the side of caution and bring water. You’ll also need to know how to identify signs of dehydration, the more noticeable signs can include vomiting, loss of energy, excessive panting, and the loss of elasticity in your dog’s skin. However, there are less spottable signs; here is a resource that identifies all possible signs and can help decipher if your furry friend has had too much sun. https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/warning-signs-dehydration-dogs/
The next thing you’ll want to know is how to protect your dog’s paws. We all know the pain of a bad sunburn, but did you know your pup can catch a burn too? Burned paws are more common than you may realize, wildly uncomfortable, and potentially dangerous for your dog. The signs you should look for are limping, avoiding walks, licking or chewing feet, paw pads appearing darker than usual, pads looking visibly damaged, and blisters or redness. To avoid burned paws try using dog booties or socks to shield hot pavements and avoid walking on streets during the peak temperature of the day. It’s important to regularly check their paws and monitor the weather app before strolling on hotter surfaces. Since your dog may not realize there’s a problem, it’s up to you to recognize the signs and protect your furry friend.
As much as you and your pup may love to bask in the sun, we all need a break! Whether you’re on a walk, spending time at the park, or chilling in the yard, be sure to scout out a shady area for your dog to catch a break from the rays; tree shade and tarps are prime places since they don’t obstruct air flow. We recommend paying attention to how long your dog has been exposed to the sun, and make sure to monitor how strong the UV rays are that day. Always remember when you’re warm, your dog with a fur coat and inability to sweat, is especially warm.
Take a Break
The final thing we want you to keep in mind is to give your dog a rest! With all the adventures summer has to offer, it’s important to take a break from your summer activities, head indoors, and enjoy a nap. We suggest monitoring your dog’s activity and building in breaks on the particularly hot days. Despite how much energy your pup exhibits, we all need downtime. Make sure to know your dog’s limits in order to have the happiest and healthiest summer yet!
Written by Gracie Butler
Animal Care Foundation
Providing elderly and disabled community members access to veterinary care for their beloved pet.