Letting children, especially young children, and pets, especially new ones, play can be a little nerve-wracking. The foremost worry is for the safety of the children, of course — it's more likely that an animal would physically hurt a child than the other way around. Unfortunately, kids can hurt pets too, and what's more, they can antagonize a pet to the point the animal will act out.
This is mostly due to two factors. First, children are still growing, learning, and testing boundaries, coupled with still learning how to verbalize their thoughts and needs. Second, pets can't verbalize at all, making it more difficult for them to communicate when they don't like something, want certain behaviors to stop, or are hurting. As a parent, you need to step in and fill this fundamental gap and help them understand each other.
Keep in mind that some animals simply aren't comfortable around children, and that's okay. When adopting a new pet, especially if it's older, make sure to talk to the shelter or rescue organization staff to make sure the animal is safe to live with kids. Similarly, if you already have kids and kid-friendly pets but are ready to adopt a new pet, make sure to ask if the animal is also comfortable with other animals. Bringing a pet into a home where it's uncomfortable will only make them more and more stressed, and thus more likely to hurt someone.
Our pets are beloved members of our family and seeing them unwell can be heartbreaking. Unfortunately, there are some illnesses that pets are unable to recover from. In the case of terminal illness and/or debilitating pain, one of the kindest things that we can do for them is to relieve them of that burden by making the difficult decision to put them to sleep.
Your veterinarian is the best person to advise you on when it is time to consider euthanizing your pet. However, there are some signs and symptoms to look for that would indicate that your pet is no longer experiencing a good quality of life. If you notice these, it would then be advisable to contact your veterinarian to determine if euthanasia would be the most humane course of action.
These signs include:
Chronic labored breathing, breathlessness and/or coughing
Chronic pain that cannot be controlled by medication (your veterinarian can advise if this is the case)
Frequent diarrhea and/or vomiting that leads to dehydration or severe weight loss
Inability to stand or move around
Disinterest in food or eating
Incontinent to the stage where they are frequently soiling themselves
No interest in communication with family members, treats, games, or other previously enjoyed activity
Zest for life is non-existent
While euthanasia is never an easy decision to make, a small benefit is that it allows family members the time to say their final goodbyes. This opportunity for final displays of love and affection with their pets helps to ease them into the grieving process. It is especially important to prepare young children as this may be their first experience of bereavement.
Many veterinarians will allow you to be present during the euthanasia procedure so that you can comfort your pet as they enter into their final journey. However, while this is a personal decision, it is not recommended that young children be present during this time.
Did you know that despite doing all we can to keep our pets safe, approximately one in three pets in the United States will become lost at some point during their lifetime? This is a scenario that no owner wants to think about, but by understanding that it is something that does happen, we can be better prepared. One of the best ways of doing this is by microchipping your pet.
Many owners are quite content with using collars and tags as identification for their beloved animal. While microchipping isn’t intended to replace this traditional and highly successful practice, it can complement it. Microchips are about the size of a grain of rice and are injected under your pet’s skin. Once inserted, it is impossible to locate exactly where they are, which makes them tamper-proof and accident-proof. While conventional tags and collars can be removed by thieves or can fall off, microchipping is permanent.
Studies have shown that microchipping is also a much more effective and efficient way of reuniting pets with their owners. Since many animals look alike, ownership disputes are a fairly common occurrence in neighborhoods where there are a number of pets of the same type and breed. However, microchipping can also prove invaluable when it comes to proving who the rightful owner of your pet is. While having your details on the chip is not proof of ownership, disputes nearly always go the way of the person who is registered with the microchip provider.
Ticks are arachnids that belong to the same family as spiders and mites. They are parasitic and feed on the blood of host animals. Ticks are visible to the naked eye but are only about the size of a pinhead before swelling with blood as they feast.
Animals living in the Southern States or near heavily wooded areas will have increased exposure to ticks as they like to live in thick, long grass and will attach to host animals as they walk by. They are most active during the late spring and summer months and are not fussy about what species of animals they feed on. However, animals that spend a lot of time outdoors will be more susceptible to ticks.
Animals with only a few ticks can present with little or no symptoms, which is why it is often not until there is a larger infestation or infection from the bites that signs become apparent. If and when symptoms do materialize, they can include itching, scratching and red or inflamed irritations on the skin.
Ticks can transmit a number of diseases including Babesia, Cytauxzoonosis, Lyme disease, and Mycoplasma. Some animals can also have allergic reactions to tick bites which can result in infections. Symptoms from these reactions or diseases can include fever, lethargy, loss of appetite and pain and can last for several days or even weeks. If you are concerned that your pet has developed an illness from a tick bite, consult with your veterinarian as soon as possible.
Regular exercise is just as important for pets as it is for humans. Not only does it help with weight control, but it also keeps their joints supple and their heart healthy.
Regular exercise benefits for pets include:
Reduction in undesirable behaviors including chewing, barking, jumping up, and being predatory.
Maintaining your pet's weight.
Helping your dog to unwind and sleep better at night.
Keeping your dog healthy and mobile.
Reduction in constipation and digestive problems.
Building a rapport with your pet and gaining their trust.
In recent years humans have adopted a more sedentary lifestyle, and our pets are following suit. However, in order for our pets to live a long, happy and healthy life, you need to ensure that activity is worked into their daily routine. Here is our guide to helping your pet get more exercise.
Until the start of the 20th-century, dogs were primarily bred to work in a range of areas such as military, farming, search and rescue, and sensory support. Whilst some dogs still do work, the majority of them are now couch potatoes where they are provided with more than enough food and water. And since they spend the majority of their time in a confined space, their naturally active tendencies are fading as they become lazier.
Dogs who do not have enough exercise can exhibit some undesirable behaviors including:
Destructive: chewing, scratching and digging
Hyperactive: extreme excitability, jumping up, etc
Play biting / rough play: your dog may nip you regularly when playing
Investigative tendencies: this can include garbage raiding
Predatory: your pet may get very territorial
Vocalization: increased barking, whining, and other attention-seeking sounds
Many people believe that having access to a garden or yard counts as exercise, but unless you have the equivalent of a football field outside, then it is not enough. Also, your dog doesn’t want to exercise alone. Interaction with him is the key to getting him moving.
It doesn’t have to mean running for miles either. As long as your dog is moving and his heart rate is increasing, it counts as exercise!
However, before you start your pet off on a regular exercise routine, there are a few things that you should take into consideration.
A dog's exercise needs vary depending on their breed and size.
Sustained jogging or running can be problematic for larger dogs as they
are naturally more likely to suffer from cruciate ligament injuries such as
hip dysplasia or arthritis.
Sustained jogging or running is also not recommended for dogs under 18
months of age as their bones haven’t finished growing.
Brachycephalic breeds (those with short or flat noses) can struggle with
their breathing during vigorous exercise, particularly if the temperatures
Ideally, you should always consult with your veterinarian before beginning an exercise regimen with your pet.
Almost all dogs will benefit from at least one half-hour long walk per day which would, ideally, occur at the same time every day. This helps your pet get into a routine and is beneficial for helping your dog know what time of day he will get to empty his bladder/bowels.
If your dog is sociable, you should look into a local agility group or class. These can be quite competitive and intense, but they provide a great workout for your pet and are a good way for you to make new friends too. Also, some of the activities that your pet will do are good for developing new skills. Your veterinarian should be able to advise you on how to find your nearest group.
Getting your pet active doesn't have to be complicated. For example, you can’t beat a game of fetch! Simple, effective and you don’t need to go too far. You can even play it indoors if the weather is poor, given that you have enough space.
If you live near a lake, river or beach, then take your dog swimming. It is a particularly good exercise for dogs with arthritis as it is gentle on their joints. If your dog is reluctant to get into the water, start by encouraging him to chase a ball or toy into the shallows.
Play hide and seek. It is just as important for your pet to exercise their brain as well as their body. Hide and seek is a light physical activity that stimulates your pet's cognitive abilities.
REMEMBER: never let your dog off of his leash is you are not confident that he will return to you when called.