Month: October 2015

Normal is overrated

Just my feelings for the day, pass it along 🙂

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Today is a fall day in Florida, which means high 70s – low 80s. The type of day for a nice slow walk by the beach with the dog, curling up with the cat and a good book, and just kicking back. Hope everyone else is having a restful day as well.

Check in next week for some homemade mice for your cat. I made a couple for Robby, my daughter’s cat, and they have passed inspection; and he hasn’t been able to get the tails off yet!!  So with this endorsemennt I feel they are suitable for sharing.

I will post the pattern in the next day or so. No sewing experience necessary, and so much nicer and personal for your cat than the store bought  mice.

No Boo Boos on Halloween

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For some areas of the country Halloween is still a night for children to get dressed up and go door-to-door Trick or Treating. That’s how it was when we were kids, and it was fun. Today there are also organized events at churches and “Trunk or Treat,” also fun.

This fun does not extend to our animals. Take a moment and try to get their perspective — even if you have to get down on the ground. Have your child, all dressed up as a vampire, ghost or even Strawberry Shortcake, and have them walk to you with their bag, saying “Trick or Treat.”

A little different right? This is what your cat and dog sees, and while some can go with the flow, others will be stressed out.

Kodi counts on me to keep him safe. I bet your dog counts on you too.
Kodi counts on me to keep him safe. I bet your dog counts on you too.

The best way to keep your pet stress-free on Oct. 31 is to find a quiet place for them, away from the front door. Disconnect the doorbell for the night, you’re going to be watching the door, and put on some soft music for them, maybe a new chew toy and fluff up their bed or the bedding in their crate.

I have leashed Kodi the Corgi and answered the door in the past and this prevents him from darting out but I had to watch for little hands darting in. Most kids like dogs and want to pet dogs. Corgies “smile” looks inviting.

The parents are usually standing behind their kids on the sidewalk, they are trusting me for those few moments the kids are at my door, to look after them and keep them safe. At least that’s how I look at it. I certainly don’t want a child bitten or think a nip is a bite and be scared, so Kodi stays in the bedroom now. This is tough because we dont’ get that many kids in our neighborhood, maybe a dozen on a good year –  but they are spread out, so Kodi has to stay in the room a while.

Kodi doesn’t like costumes. When he was younger the kids would dress him and he was not happy. Today he wears his birthday suit and his smile.

If your dog wears a costume it is important to make sure it fits well, doesn’t bunch up around any part of his body, gives him full vision and  hearing and allows him to breathe. Do not leave the outfit on unless you are watching him. Taking off your own costume with paws isn’t easy and your pup is more likely to harm himself.

Everyone know that chocolate is not good for dogs, but did you know that other Halloween candy contains xylitol, a sugar alchohol used as a sweetener in candy.

According to WebMd.com – Xylitol can be toxic to dogs, even in relatively small amounts. If your dog eats a product that contains xylitol (sugarless gum included), it is important to take the dog to a veterinarian immediately.

 So have fun this Halloween and stay safe!!

Happy Halloween

Real kitties and pups should be watched carefully at Halloween
Real kitties and pups should be watched carefully at Halloween

As you get ready for Halloween, whether you are going door-to-door, openng your door to witches and ghosts, or out to a party — please remember your pets.

Get down on the floor and look at the world from their perspective. It might be scarier than you think !!

Check back in for more tips

Doggie massage-for you to do

I have a friend who just won four, yes 4 – free massages at a nonprofit event. OK, she won three and her mom won 1 but… she gave it to her daughter.So in my world she won 4.

I’ll be honest, I am not fond of massages.  I like the idea, and I could certainly use one today, but having a stranger, well touching me… iccck. Sometimes I can convince my hubby to do the honors and thats’ ok. I feel the same way about manicures and pedicures. another friend  once treated me to a mani-pedi  — the first and last time. Nothing really wrong with it, just not my thing.

This feeling carries over to my dog. I guess Kodi wouldn’t care who was petting/massaging him, but I like to think he would prefer it be me.

Some of the same benefits of a massage apply for both of us.

Stress  Kodi’s stress comes from: loud noises, not enough attention (never enough attention), and pain. I have noticed with my dogs that they don’t complain. They may be in pain but they aren’t going to whine about it. If they are complaining things are really bad and I amd taking him to his doctor right away.

Massage can also help with separation anxiety and sleepless nights. A daily massage before you leave and before bed can make a difference.

Pain – Kodi is 9-years old and walks, even walks I don’t consider long, seem to be harder for him. I know this because he slows down and has been known to stop completey requiring me to carry him home. I don’t take this lightly. I don’t expect him to “tough it out.” If he is hurting I take it seriously even if it means walking the rest of the way with a 30-lb corgi in my arms. I am beginning to understand why people have strollers for their dogs.

Once we get home, a fresh bowl of cool water is offered and then we can settle down for some massage time.

It is important to do this gently and to be aware of any spots that are tender. Kodi does not like his feet touched (I relate) so I focus on the upper section of his legs, especially up front where I know there are some joint issues and knead (softly) his muscles. Dogs with joint problems including arthritis may find the massages comforting. It is important, especially with dogs with medical issues to ask your vet to show you the best way to relax your pet with massage. I know you don’t want to do more harm.

Improve Circulation

Massaging improves circulation which assists with muscle recovery after exercise because the action increases the blood flow to the area. A rough massage is not necessary and will not be enjoyed. A mild massage is all you need to do to increase circulation.

One-on-one time with you

Even if there were no physical benefits, just having your attention, having you make physical contact, and the one-on-one time with you are reasons enough to add massage therapy to your dog’s life.

If you have a newly adopted dog spending this quality time can build your new relationship and help associate you and his new surroundings with comfort, love, and safety. Dogs that have been members of the family for a while will enjoy a new aspect to your interacton with this special bonding time.

Body check

Massaging your dog is also an excellent time to be alert for any abornomalities, lumps and hot spots. If you find either of these you will want to make an appointment with your vet to find out what is going on with your pooch. Very swollen areas, including fatty cysts should NOT be massaged.

How-to videos

There are many instructional videos online that demonstrate massage methods and explain why and how each is done. One I have watched and would recommend is on monkeysee.com at

http://www.monkeysee.com/play/2163-how-to-massage-your-dog

CATS

Cats have also been known to appreciate a good massage. Why wouldn’t they, the prince and princesses of the household enjoy having their subjects (us) make their lives more comfortable.

Two suggestions before you begin to massage your cat:

  1. Trim their nails – you’ll be glad
  2.  They determine the length of the massage. Watch their body language. When the ears go flat or the tail starts snapping back and forth (more forceful than a graceful wag) STOP.Samantha 2

Spoiled owner

I know I am spoiled – work wise – because much of my work can be done at home. I am a reporter for a local newspaper and we work from home a great deal

This means I get “pet’ breaks which I find most therapeutic. A mini walk outside with Kodi, scratching Rosie my Grey’s beak and an impromptu curl up with Samantha the cat.

I think my writing improves, my productivity increases when I allow myself some time with my animals during the day.

This little pup visited an office I used to work in before I started working from home.
This little pup visited an office I used to work in before I started working from home.

The number of workplaces are recognizing the value of allowing owners to bring their pets.

A recent study done by Virginia Commonwealth University in 2012 concluded that employees who bring their dogs to work produced lower levels of the stress-causing hormone cortisol.

Even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cites dozens of animal experts who report that pets can decrease blood pressure and cholesterol levels as well as increase opportunities for exercise and socialization.

Today I will miss my canine, feline, and avian, office mates as I attend a day-long school board meeting. I am going to be in a roomful of people and it’s going to be a long, lonely day.

Maybe I should bring Kodi along….he could herd them along.

Pumpkin update

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After my last entry I texted my friend mentioned in the post. Her cat is older and has had difficulty with fur balls and digestion and kidney issues. My text was to tell her about my pumpkin research.

A short while later she texts back, she had stopped at PetSmart and what does she fine? Pumpkin enhanced cat food!

As I also stated in my last entry, my cat Samantha is not typically a fussy eater, with one exception — pumpkin. At least the kind that comes out of the can. I put a teaspoon of pumpkin in her bowl on two occassions, once mixed in her dry food and once in a bowl of it’s own — she was not interested.

However, she does like the commercial pouch style.My friend was kind enough to give her a pouch.

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Since I give her this food as a supplement and not her main diet, these pouches last me a few days. I use a small chip clip to seal them and store them in the refrigerator.

Samantha eats dry food and she doesn’t like her food “touching” so a a separate ceramic dish is used for her wet food.

Pets have their food preferences just as we do, it’s our job to discover these healthy foods to provide them a balanced diet. Now I am off to PetSmart to get a few more pouches while they are still on sale!

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The great pumpkin is indeed great – for your pet

Typically we only eat pumpkin one time of year – Thanksgiving. As I researched for this blog and future columns in the palmcoastobserver.com I began coming across testimonials and studies about the benefits of the mighty pumpkin for our pets.

I know of two cat owners, a good friend and my daughter, who I will be passing this information onto immediately. My friend’s cat is having fur ball issues and my daughter’s cat has always had intestinal issues. Both have spent a lot of time and money on special cat food. Lucky for my cat Samantha, she often gets the “rejects.”

Vet check

This is where I tell you that it is always best to consult with your vet before making any major changes in your pet’s diet, especially if your vet is already treating your pet for a medical issue. I doubt you should have to make an appointment, just call and let them know you want to add a small amount of pumpkin to your pets diet.
Fiber Value

Fiber is an important part of all of our diets, including your cat and dog. Adding a teaspoon of pumpkin to your pet’s bowl at each meal can help with constipation, diarrhea and hair balls. Pumpkin seeds (not salted) have essential fatty acids and antioxidants are good for their skin and fur. Pumpkin seeds may also help urinary health and are filled with vitamin A, beta-carotene, potassium and iron.

Weight maintenance

My dog will eat just about anything, except popcorn. At nine-years old, keeping my corgi’s weight in check is important to me. The breed often has joint issues and my little guy has started to limp. We have him on Krillex which has helped him immensely but reducing the weight is important in keeping the stress off these joints.

Substituting (you don’t want to feed them more) a portion of their food with natural canned pumpkin can help them take a few pounds off, help their tummies and give a taste treat to their kibble.

Pumpkin source

The type of pumpkin is important. Definitely not the pumpkin decorating your porch for Halloween. These will have started collection bacteria and cause problems.

Canned or pureed pumpkin with no added ingredients are the best to use as a dietary supplement. Your pet doesn’t need the additional sugar and spice. It might cost a bit more, but a trip to your local Whole Foods or the organic aisle in your grocery store for organic pumpkin would be healthiest. If you are making pumpkin pies from scratch you can put aside a little for your pet.

To cook or not to cook

Raw, cooked and canned pumpkin is safe for most dogs and cats, however if your pet has a medical issue such as diabetes, kidney issue, etc. please check with the vet first.

Storage

To ensure the pumpkin stays fresh and healthy for your pet you can freeze meal-size portions with ice cube trays. Depending on the size of your pet you can use regular size or mini ice cube trays.

Once frozen pop them into a covered freezer container so you can use what you need and return the rest to the freezer. The cube size portions will thaw out quickly and can be added to their dinner bowl.