Holiday Safety Tips by Fit ‘N’ Furry

With Christmas and New Year’s just right around the corner we want to make sure that both you and your four-legged companions enjoy this festive season safely.  It’s best to keep-up your pets eating and exercise routine as much as possible. During this busy time we often get distracted and tend to break away from our normal daily activities, and since pets, dogs especially, are so routine based, they too can pick up on our bad behavior and start acting up. Here are a few tips to keep in mind this holiday:

  • NO TABLE SCRAPS – We know it’s tempting to give your furry pals a treat from the dinner table, but holiday foods tend to be richer than what they are used to eating and can cause severe diarrhea and stomach upset.  Bones are really bad idea because they can be swallowed and get stuck in the digestive tract, causing painful stomach cramps for your pooch and painful cramps in your wallet from the visit to the vet.  Avoid the passing of human foods and opt for a pet-friendly treat, you’ll be thankful when you’re not stuck cleaning up a dog mess right before the friends and relatives arrive.
  • NO TINSEL – These shiny, light reflecting strands are very attractive to kitties. They love batting it around and getting all tangled up in it, but whats even worse is when they start biting on these little strands. If swallowed your cat may suffer from severe vomiting, dehydration, and an obstructed digestive tract, which could require expensive surgery.
  • NO HOLLY or MISTLETOE – When ingested by four-legged pals gastrointestinal and cardiovascular problems may occur. Try artificial plants. Contrary to popular belief Poinsettias, also known as the Christmas Star plant, are not poisonous to you or your pets.  Also be sure your Christmas tree is safely secured to prevent it tipping over and possibly injuring a pet, family member, or guest.
  • NO WIRES – Be sure to keep wires such as tree lights or electronics up off the floor and out of reach from your pets. They could get a severe shock if they took a nibble on those wires.  Be especially aware of new puppies, we all know they find everything to get into.

If you are traveling this season keep your pets in mind.  Ask yourself,  “Who’s going to take care of Sparky and Garfield?”  Check out local pet care facilities and ask the right questions.

  • Are they able to provide the care and attention you give at home? Remember, pets are very routine-based, they probably let you know when it’s time to eat or go to the bathroom, right?
  • Are the pets indoors or outdoors for most of their visit? Keep in mind the weather temperatures and climate of your area or the area you are traveling to.
  • What vaccinations are required for your pets?
  • Will the facility need to meet your pets before they come to visit?
  • What kind of pet food they serve?  Can you bring your own?
  • Can they administer medication for pets who need extra-special care?

These are all important things to know before checking your pets in for a holiday.  Hope everyone and their beloved furry, four-legged friends have a Happy Holiday and a Merry New Year!

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FitnFurry Asks, “When Is The Time To Say Goodbye To A Faithful Friend?”

To put your pet down, or to not put your pet down, that is the extremely difficult question many of us pet owners are faced with at some time or another.  Some questions to ask yourself are: Is my pet suffering or in pain in any way?  How has his/her quality of life changed? Is my pet exhibiting severe or dangerous behavior? Ask yourself these questions and I feel you might have an answer to our first question.

Everyone has their own role in a household, including your pet. Both you and your pet know what role they are there to fulfill.  Dr. Nancy Kay, author of “Speaking for Spot” suggests these questions: “Does my pet still respond enthusiastically to the things that would normally excite him/her?  Do the good days still seem to outnumber the bad?  When you get down on the ground and go eyeball-to-eyeball with your dear companion, do you still see that familiar spark in his/her eyes that let you know that he/she wants to keep on going?  Do you sense your pet is ‘hanging in there’ and putting on his/her game face in order to take care of you? Your always-loyal best friend may feel that he/she doesn’t have ‘permission to pass away’ because you, his/her most beloved human, aren’t quite ready to let go.”

A lot of times your pet will know when it’s time to go. They might even start distancing themselves from the family. Such as if your pet sleeps with you at night, he/she might start sleeping in another part of the room or house. Pack animals are known to separate themselves from the pack if they’ve become injured or weak to help prevent the stronger pack leaders from being hurt by protecting them.

The decision to put a pet to sleep is always difficult and intensely personal.  In most cases you will probably have some time to weigh your options and to speak with family and friends, unless there is some urgency, such as an untreatable injury or illness.  It’s a heart breaking experience for all pet owners, but surrounding yourself with people who knew and also loved your pet can bring a sense of closure.  Remembering your pet in a positive way and all the loving moments you shared together can be a comforting exercise to do with your family, especially with younger children.  Let them know that Buddy isn’t suffering anymore, that he’s no longer in distress, and encourage them to think of all the fun/happy times.  Celebrate the times your family shared with Buddy and always remember the unconditional love you and your family experienced during Buddy’s life. If you have loved and lost a pet, I wish you serenity and acceptance over the sadness of your pet’s passing.

Kennel Cough – The Common Doggie Cold

dogcoughing1Everyone has heard of K-9 Cough or Kennel Cough, and some of us have first hand experience with it. It is equivalent to a human catching a cough or common cold that is going around. If your dog comes down with K-9 Cough he will start coughing, but his general health will remain the same he won’t loose his appetite, have a temperature, or feel lethargic. His incessant coughing will be annoying to both you and him, but life threatening cases of this infection are extremely rare, and dogs will often recover on their own in 7-21 days without any type of treatment. It is a good idea to take your dog to the vet for treatment just to be safe, and the veterinarian will prescribe cough suppressants or antibiotics. K-9 Cough is transmitted by a virus expelled from an infected dog. This virus can be airborne, or anywhere that an infected dog has been; say in a common water dish at the dog park. Just like humans have a higher chance of catching a cold in an enclosed and heavily populated environment like an airplane, elevator, or an office, dogs have a higher chance of catching a K-9 Cough in an enclosed area that is not well ventilated. Many dogs can be carriers without exhibiting symptoms themselves and a dog may carry the virus for several days after they have fully recovered. Just like in humans some dogs are especially susceptible to the virus whereas others seems to have a higher level of immunity to it. A dog may catch K-9 Cough from a Champion show dog at a show, from the dog down the street, or from the Vet’s office. Because it is often refereed to as Kennel Cough people associate K-9 Cough with a kennel. Though dogs can catch K-9 Cough in a kennel, it is often not the source of the infection. No matter how well ventilated, spacious, and hygienic the kennel is, there is still a possibility a dog may develop K-9 Cough. In many cases the cough will simply run its course and the dog will recover. In some cases it will persist and a veterinarian will prescribe an antibiotic to assist the dogs immune system. The best method of prevention is to vaccinate the dog twice a year with the Bordetella Vaccine. This will HELP prevent K-9 cough. The Bordetella vaccine acts much like the Flu vaccine in humans. It will minimize the risk of infection but will not completely prevent it. Also, you should be aware that once your dog has received this vaccine he may carry the symptoms and either pass the illness or contract it himself simply by being vaccinated. Really the bottom line is that your dog could pick up this common doggy cold anywhere, and although it’s no fun it’s not a big deal.