Cool Pups

Who doesn’t like a cool popsicle on a hot day?

A great, and easy treat to make for your dog and the kids can help out on this one.

What you will need: paper cupcake liners, fruit, veggies, dog treats, water and a freezer — oh and a dog!

1. Place paper liner in muffin tin and add pieces of fruit, vegies or even dog treats. Things that are healthy for your dog  to eat. If you are unsure about what not to feed them please take a moment to research it online.

2. Add water.

3. Place in freezer.

4. If  the paper is frozen to the tin turn it upside down under some tepid water. Add water back into the tin and place paper covered ice pop back in the water for 2-3 seconds. This will make the paper liner easy to remove.

5. Call your dog and take him outside to enjoy his treat.

******As with all toys and treats, please sit with him and watch him enjoy it and make sure he is safe.*******

 

Kodi checks out his fresh blueberry ice pop on a hot Florida day.  Next I am going to mush up some of the berries so they are not all at the bottom, not that he minded.

Ice pops 3

Ideas for fillers:

Uncooked green beans, sweet potato, bananas, strawberries, fruit juice with no added sugar (I would add just a bit to the water), dog treats

 

Flea free

The one question guaranteed to start you scratching has got to be, “Is that a flea?”

Hoping against hope the small black dot you see on your pet is just a speck of dirt quickly fades as the “dirt” jumps.

Seeing one flea can start you scratching. Heck, writing this has me feeling things that aren’t there.

I have found a few ways that work for me in displacing these unwanted house guests.

First let’s meet our flea, In other words, “Know thy enemy.”

Fleas require certain conditions to survive beginning with their food supply which is blood. Yours or your pet’s the flea doesn’t care. So the first thing to do is treat your animals,

Bathe them with a high quality flea soap and dry them briskly with a towel and with the hair dryer if they will let you. Immediately take the towels and any bathmats and put them in the washing machine.

Now apply your flea preventative of choice. If the infestation is bad enough ask your veterinarian for a capstar pill. One should do it. This pill is given prior to the bath and will kill all of the adult fleas. You will see them wash down the drain. This is not a replacement for the preventative.

Now the house. I am not a big fan of poisons and repeated bombings. This is not healthy for you or your pet and simply trying to poison them isn’t going to do the job.

For a long and “reproductive” life fleas needs warm temperatures and humidity. Let’s get rid of both.

Tackle the problem one room at a time, beginning with the bedrooms. Strip your bedding and put it in the washing machine. I use hot  water, laundry soap and 20 Mule Team Borax. Maybe cold water and just laundry soap would work but this makes me feel better.

Remove your mattress and rub borax on the top of the box spring. Just a thin layer. Reposition the mattress.

Vacuum like you have never vacuumed before. Several times back and forth. I like to sprinkle borax on the carpet. Just be sure to vacuum all of the powder up. We do not want Fluffy and Fido licking it up.

Next, buy, borrow, rent, whatever, a dehumidifier. Fleas love humidity and hate dry air. Turn it on, leave as many lights in the room on as you can and close the door as you continue onto the next room.

EMPTY the vacuum bag or canister. I put my trash can in my garage to do this. If the bag is full replace. This is not the time to save money and conserve on bags. When you have completed your cleaning of the whole house take the garbage outside to your street trash can. We are not letting even one flea back into the house.

I am not going to kid you. This is an intense process that needs to be done thoroughly.

Your house is going to have the cleanest carpet in the neighborhood for the next few weeks. Why? Because you are going to vacuum it thoroughly every single day for at least two weeks. Running that dehumidifier each day will also help.

That’s my system and it has worked for me. It is the most natural method I have found. If you decide to use poisons you are still going to need to vacuum thoroughly,

Four letter words

There are four letter words no pet owner wants to hear — flea and tick. These offensive and intrusive parasites can turn an otherwise happy home upside down.

Prevention is of course the key. There are many products to choose from but one size does not fit all. What works for me may not work for you.

Topical treatments, those tiny plastic tubes that you snap open and apply on a section of skin below the animal’s fur have never been easy for me. No matter what type of dog I had, parting the fur was never simple. With my current pup, Kodi the Corgi, the fur is so dense I cannot get to the skin.

According to Kodi’s the fluid is some sort of acid. He squirms and bucks and if a drop should fall and bead off his red and white coat … well the reaction is indescribable and he is not protected.

When he was younger I did manage to get a topical treatment between his shoulder blades and to his skin, or so I thought. At that time we had two other dogs, Shadow, a Labrador mix, and Luna, a golden retriever mix. The morning after I applied the treatment we found Luna had died in her sleep. She was only 8-years old with no known ailments. I have always wondered if  he licked Kodi’s shoulder after the application. I will never know for sure but that was it for me and the topical treatments.

We began using Trifexis, which is an excellent treatment for fleas and ticks but is pricey. I have even tried to get it through our vet at the humane society. One our benefits is being able to get discounts, but there was no real savings for this pill. But I continued because that is what we do for our pets. We may go without something so we can care for them.

Enter a sales representative with a wonderful new product using an old method — a flea and tick collar. This is not the type you pick up in the grocery store. Seresto collars by Bayer are made for dogs and cats six months and older. The initial cost is $45 and up but they last for eight months or about $6 a month.

I put one on Kodi and one on Samantha, a cat who does not wear collars, three months ago after the threat of a flea infestation. We caught the fleas early, treated them and the house (tomorrow’s post) and then the collars were added.

As I said, indoor cat Samantha was not accustomed to having a collar on so I watched her carefully. I certainly did not want her trying to get out of the collar and getting it stuck in her mouth. But that was never an issue. These have a nice soft feel to them and everyone adapted quickly.

The feature I like the most (other than the absence of the intruders) is I put this on my pets, counted forward eight months on my phone calendar and forgot it. No more questioning myself, did I treat them this month?

Most important — I haven’t seen a flea or tick since they began wearing them.

 

Found my way “home”

My blog posts stopped last October as duties as the Volunteer Manager at a local humane society swallowed up my time.  But a meeting with the Ancient City Writers (St. Augustine FL) and guest speaker Carol O’Dell have brought me back to what I love to do — write about animals.

During the past nine months (geez I could have had a baby) I have given birth to some new skills which will hopefully be featured in spin off blogs, volunteering and summer camp. Summer Camp? you ask, yep last week was the second of four, week-long summer camps  at our humane society. With each one we learn what works and what does not and being a writer first I kept notes for future use.

But this is a pet blog so hopefully I will find some like minded readers and we can have fun.

 

Trimming cat claws without tears

Cats scratch for a number of reasons, to stretch their muscles, wear their nails down and mark their territory. They do not scratch out of anger or retribution for something you’ve done.

Of course when the leg of your favorite chair is in shreds it is easy to take it personally.

Trimming your cat’s claws is not as hard as you might think. It is far easier than trimming the dog’s nails. No special equipment is required, no electronic gadgets or cumbersome clippers, just the nail clippers that you use on your own finger and toenails.

The other nice thing about cat claws is they are much finer than the canines’ and generally clear in color. This makes it very easy to clip without cutting into the quick and causing bleeding.

The hardest thing about this pedicure is just doing it. I don’t know why but it’s one of those things I tend to put off, even though it only takes five minutes, seriously.

Before you tip off the cat as to your intentions collect the items you will need, people clippers that cut cleanly, a bath towel and another person. Depending on your cat I recommend this be a two-person job.

Wrap the cat up in the towel tucking in all her little paws. Your assistant’s job will be to release one paw at a time to allow you to clip the nails.

I recommend beginning with the front paws. This way if you only get two paws done before losing the interest or cooperation of either your assistant or your cat you have smoothed the paws likely to do the most damage.

Gently squeeze the pad of the paw to extend the claws and quickly clip the tips. Less is best, especially until you are comfortable with it. The claw will most likely end in a point and it is this point that you want to trim off plus a smidge more. It’s difficult to say how much because each cat will be different, size, age, etc. What you want is a smooth, semi-straight claw that doesn’t curve back.

Do not forget the dew claw on the side! You do not want that often forgotten claw to curl back into the cat’s leg.

Tuck the first leg back in before releasing the second paw to be trimmed. This may take one or two times to get accustomed to but it does work and very well.

If your cat has had enough after the first two let him out of the towel. You can do the back legs later. The goal is to get your cat as comfortable as possible in having her nails done so don’t push it.

Many may ask, “Why not just declaw the cat?” Because it is an incredibly inhumane and painful thing to do to your favorite feline. The only exception would for a medical need such as tumors.

Declawing a cat may save your furniture from her shredding it but declawed cats have been known to stop using the litter box and more likely to bite.

The surgery is not simple or painless for the cat and is not the same as having your nails done at the salon. Declawing is the amputation of the last bone of each paw toe. Imagine having your fingers “trimmed” at the last knuckle. There are many different procedures but the end result is the same.

Each house with a cat should have at least one scratching post. Scratching posts used to be a carpeted 2 by 4 attached to a wooden base. These were not sturdy and few cats would use them. Your cat wants to be able to dig those claws in and pull. Which is why they use your furniture. The furniture is steady and doesn’t move.

In recent years new products, very reasonable in price, have come on the market. Cardboard scratching boxes. These vary in design and size, some are simple rectangles of corrugated cardboard that fit in a small box. Generally they come with a small bag of catnip to entice your cat to check it out.

We have these around the house for our cat Samantha. I put them in an area against a wall but there have been those times that Samantha has gotten into the scratching so much she shoots it across the tile floor. These are available at the pet supermarkets and their use can be extended by flipping the insert over when it gets too worn on one side. They really aren’t all that expensive, less than $10 but I am cheap and try to use everything up.

If you want to recycle — and we all need to — there are tons of different patterns online to make your own.

Happy Fourth of July

If you are in the U.S. you may have plans for the Fourth of July and if you’re one of the lucky ones — you have day off from work.

 

I have always enjoyed the holiday. We live in a small beach town and there are always parades, parties and of course fireworks. I’ve seen the fireworks display on the Mall in Washington, D.C. but my favorite have been right here by the sea where the fireworks are set off from barges in the middle of the Intracoastal River and from the end of the Flagler Beach Pier with the Atlantic Ocean as a backdrop.

 

When my husband and I were first married, and before there were children, we would put on a little display on the back yard patio for the cats, Toby, Mandy and Kiki. They were fascinated as they lined up inside the house looking out the patio door. Our dog at the time — Buttons, a wire haired terrier – was not in the viewing stands, His Independence Day came when all of the fireworks had been put away for the year.

 

Most dogs are like Buttons. They don’t like the noise and smell of the fireworks. Because of that we always make sure our dogs are as comfortable as we can make them. We now go to local firework shows rather than set off our own but neighbors do what we once did and the public displays may be miles away but I know Kodi will be able to hear them with no problem.

 

Every year I spend a little extra time making sure Kodi is as comfortable as I can make him. He will have his Thundershirt on this year as I mentioned in an earlier post. He will also be in our bedroom with the television on (not blaring,  normal to low level)  his favorite channel which happens to be Nickelodeon. This provides some white noise for him to serve as a buffer from outside noises. I do not try to drown out the outside sounds.

 

Sometimes I will put up his crate and pad it with towels, a few favorite toys I know he is safe with, and maybe a t-shirt or other piece of clothing one of us has worn recently.

 

Crates are wonderful pet accessories and their uses extend far past training and traveling. They can become a dog’s “room” — his safe place to go whether it be to get away from noises like what we will hear tomorrow night or youngsters in the house. If your dog has not been used a crate before you don’t want to force him during what may already be a stressful situation for him. It won’t hurt to put up the crate and allow him to make the decision.

 

I  always leave the crate open. I don’t want Kodi feeling trapped inside. To make the crate more cave-like I drape a blanket over the top. This is your dog’s preference. I know Kodi likes the cave atmosphere, why else would he chose to go under the bed to feel secure?

 

Many people try to include their pets in their holiday activities. In most instances I have observed that the dogs aren’t having fun and the people aren’t enjoying themselves as much because they are having to worry about their dogs. There are some exceptions but they are in the minority.

Dogs should never be left in cars, no exceptions, no excuses.

Tomorrow night don’t leave them outside, not even in a fenced yard. July 5th is a big day for humane societies and animal control departments with frightened dogs that tried to get away from the noises.

And if you have the day off spend some time with your favorite pooch. Before activities begin take him to a quiet park and walk with him, play inside with him and work on some tricks for treats. Having you home is all the holiday he/she needs.

Thundershirts — the calm during the storm

Outside in a storm Kodi does a quick model of his stylish Thundershirt.
Outside in a storm Kodi does a quick model of his stylish Thundershirt.

Years ago I was asked to test a Thundershirt. It’s slogan was “Takes the “pet” out of petrified.”

Well my pup, Kodi a Pembroke Welsh Corgi is definitely petrified of storms, and fireworks and if the space shuttle was still in service I suspect the sonic booms.

I was more than skeptical. Come on a shirt that is going to calm a dog during a thunderstorm – a gimmick I was sure. But what did I have to lose?

Let me give you some examples of how Kodi would react to storms. If we were home he would be under the bed, in the middle under the bed, before the first crack of thunder was complete. And there he would stay. Nothing could coax him out. Comforting words, an outstretched hand, even treats wouldn’t budge him.

Traveling south in I-95 in Georgia black clouds filled the sky. The clouds even had my attention as I scoured the horizon for possible funnel clouds. Kodi who was belted into his seat began straining and fighting the restraint. Afraid he might hurt himself I released the seat belt and he promptly wedged his 30 pound body between a cooler on the floor and the back of the drivers seat.

Trying to comfort him with gentle strokes from my spot in the passenger seat I could feel my poor pup’s fear. A few miles later we were ahead of the storm and stopped at the first rest stop in Florida. It was night and quiet and it had been quite a while since he had stretched his legs so I coaxed him out. The last paw just touched the pavement when there was a mild rumble of thunder and Kodi was back in his wedged spot on the floor of the car.

Two hours later we pulled into our driveway. No storms, no thunder and it took everything I had to get that terrified dog out of the car and into the house. That’s how frightened Kodi is of thunder.

So when the offer came to try the charcoal grey shirt I agreed. Of course as these things usually go we didn’t have a storm for weeks but one afternoon the skies clouded over and Kodi was headed for his cave under the bed. It took both of us that first time but we got the shirt on.

The design is easy with velcro attaching the collar around the neck and under the rib cage. The reason is took both of us the first time is because we had a moving target.

I was a believer after the first time. Out of habit he went under the bed but didn’t stay there long.

Today a late afternoon thunderstorm came up. He knows what his Thundershirt is and it no longer takes two of us to “dress” him. He wants it on. It offers comfort and security. When he has his shirt on he stays with us instead of cowering under the bed, still not thrilled with the noise but obviously feeling safe. He has even been known to go out and do a quick business if the need arises during a storm.

The Fourth of July is in four days and the Thundershirt is going to be part of Kodi’s Independence Day outfit.

The company website, http://www.thundershirt.com, states more than 80 percent of dogs respond favorably to wearing the Thundershirt.

In this house we are happy to be part of the plus 80 percent.

Why do we have pets?

Seems appropriate to begin with the basic question, Why do we have pets?

At some point most of us have had a pet. From dogs and cats to birds and bunnies and horses and goats. We may have been attracted by a sad shelter story of how the animal was abandoned or a neighbor/coworker had a litter to find homes for (more about that subject later).  We are nurturing beings and animals need us to care for them, feed them, groom them, make sure they go to the doctor. Sound a lot like children don’t they? They are part of the family, our children. And as much as they need us, we need them.

Dogs and cats are wonderful companions and can have positive health benefits. For the person who lives alone, it is a companion to  share their day with and enjoy. Having said that, it is important for the individual not only to want a pet, but also to pick a pet out themselves. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and it boils down to the personality of the pet and potential owner.

People love to talk about their pets. Say “hi” to a scowling individual walking his dog down the street and  you may be ignored, but ask “what kind of dog is that” or “what’s his name” and prepare to listen.

When my columns were about animals  in need of a home it was much easier for them to be adopted if they had a story. TV news reports will often feature the kitten that was trapped under a bridge and had to be rescued or the dog left behind half-starved by his owner. And before the broadcaster has gone onto the next story the phone lines at the television station are lighting up with people wanting to adopt the animal.

Every animal has a story you just have to listen.

A little about me

After nearly 20 years of writing  print and online columns for newspapers and magazines I find myself looking for a new venue to share experiences, interview professionals and even try out and review pet products.

I don’t have all of the answers. I have a lot of experience and many wonderful professional contacts of people who do have the answers. They will be featured in upcoming posts.

I have moved on from my journalism beginnings to working at a  humane society in Florida as the Volunteer Manager.  This new venture provides me additional insight into the world of pets, especially those looking for good folks to adopt them.

Anyone with a pet issue, whether it be behavioral, medical (I will get answers but you will need your own vet), or even a funny story, to contact me and visit often.

So here we go….