Summer Vacations–Why You Should Think About Taking Your Pet Along

A summer holiday can be just what the doctor ordered– for both of you!

Think about it.  Domesticated animals suffer from the same stresses as you and me. They’re usually home alone while we go to the office, and often put in long hours, and when you’re tired, stressed and worried that’ll also be mirrored by your pet.

Now add all of that up to the unhappiness and anxiety a pet will feel when being left at a kennel–and you have one very unhappy, nervous and anxious pet.

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The most important thing is that you and your pets have the time of your lives. Medical research shows vacations are the ultimate in relieving stress for you and your loved ones. Summer holidays should be filled with all the old clichés; sun, sea, sand–and. oh and your pet too!

Why Vacation With Your Pet?

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Taking a pet on vacation can seem like a lot of extra work when planning, booking and preparing for the trip. But leaving him in boarding kennels or with friends can mean even more logistical planning and this decision hardly has your animal’s best interests at heart. Not only is he affected but research states that over 10.5 million people feel their vacation enjoyment was damaged by continually worrying about a pet at home. Obtaining health certificates and vaccinations is not as difficult as you might think, most of the jabs and procedures required are the same that any responsible pet owner will be up to date with anyway. If you’ve made the decision to take your (probably now ecstatic) pet on vacation then you can start the fun part and consider where to go!

Exotic Vacations

If you’re stressed out from work you’ll be dying to take a long exotic summer holiday. Beaches and palm trees mean days spent relaxing in the sun. While you enjoy sunbathing at the beach or sipping cocktails by the pool your dog could be playing ball along the golden sand, splashing in refreshing sea water. Destinations that are both appealing to you and offer something for your pet are many!

  • Why not consider crossing the border for a couple of weeks and experience Mexican beaches Cancun or Acapulco.
  • The Caribbean is just a plane ride away and islands like Puerto Rico or Barbados offer the height of luxury for you and your pet.
  • If hiking and mountain trails appeal to you then Yellowstone National Park offers so much in terms of outdoor activities and wildlife spotting.
  • A perfect vacation spot inside of USA territory Hawaii is not only packed full of beaches but culture and wildlife too!
  • Something that combines all of the above and takes you to several destinations is a cruise. You may not have thought it possible to bring your most beloved along but pet cruises are growing in popularity as they offer so much more than a one-trip summer vacation.

Transportation

Bringing your pet on vacation will be one of the best holidays you’ve ever experienced but you must take into account that some forms of travel for pets are less than comfortable. Long car trips for animals often equal anxiety and travel sickness. Ensuring your pet is properly trained and comfortable in the car before setting out on a road trip will make everyone’s journey more agreeable. Making sure your dog, cat or other furry pet has enough food (some recommend no food for twelve hours before a car ride if your dog or cat gets car sick), water, adequate bathroom stops and fresh air will aid a cheerful trip. Planes and boats have advantages and disadvantages for pets; they are often a smoother ride than a car but pets normally have to travel in crates in cargo areas away from their owner. Normally on ships pets must stay below deck either in an assigned area or inside your car but on luxury pet cruises pets are allowed on deck, in cabins and even have allotted play areas for meeting other pets or playing with their owner!

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What to Pack

Your pet’s luggage should be packed with as much care as your own. There might be a little more to take than you had first considered!

  • Initially your pet may need to travel in a crate so extra room should be left for this sometimes large commodity.
  • Packing your pet’s bed and blankets will make his stay more comfortable and homely. Water and food bowls along with toys and treats should go in the bag.
  • Look into what pet foods if any your vacation location is offering as you may need to take enough of your pets favourite for the duration of the trip. Changes in diet can mean an upset stomach and an ill pet is enough to ruin any holiday.
  • If you’re going to be in high temperatures and out in the sun a lot, your pet will need sunscreen too!
  • Any medicines especially those which are routinely taken need to be remembered as do spare collars leashes and identification tags.
  • You’ll need to look into veterinarians at your destination or with your travel provider. Make sure you have emergency numbers you can call in the event of an accident.

This guest post was written for Furry Friends Have Fun by Julie Winton.

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Irene Ross, CHHC, AADP is an integrative nutrition and holistic wellness coach who works with both humans and non-humans.  She believes that everyone has the spark, but it just needs to be ignited–so she helps people alter unhealthy habits and balance their lives with her easy 7-step system.  She also has a program for both people AND pets–called, appropriately enough, “Transforming People and Pets.”

Author of the e-book, Sugar’s Sour Story and of the forthcoming book, 25 Ways to Fire Up Your Day: Increase Energy, Get More Done in Less Time, Balance Your Life, her website is: http://www.irenefross.com.

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Keeping Your Pet Safe and Happy in Summer

One of the things I’ve found over the past couple of years is that pet wellness and human wellness isn’t really all that different.  Pets now suffer from many of the same lifestyle-based diseases as us, including diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity and more.

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That also goes for summer-time dangers. Many of the things from which we need to protect our children–heat stroke, allergies, water dangers, insects–are the very things we should protect our pets from.

Julie Winton, a writer and mother-of-two, wrote this guest post.  By the way, she wants everyone to know what, when not busy raising her kids, she’s badgering her husband for a dog.

Here are some guidelines for helping your pet through summer:

  • Talking about Temperature

Heat stroke is one of the leading causes of canine death in the USA during summer months, and the temperature in your car can rocket very quickly even when parked up in a shaded area. Dogs cannot sweat from anywhere but the pads of their feet, so overheating can become a problem from which your pet may never recover.

Walk your dog first thing in the morning or in the evening–and never leave it–even for a few minutes. . Heat stroke isn’t entirely preventable, but by watching for symptoms and reacting quickly you could prevent a disaster during the hottest months of the year.

  • All about Allergies

Just like humans, dogs can suffer from hay fever. In early summer, pollen and spores can cause dogs to suffer discomfort although this tends to take the form of itching rather than watery eyes and sneezing. Regular grooming, oatmeal shampoo in cool water and avoiding heavily wooded areas should alleviate the majority of the symptoms but, in some cases, your vet may choose to prescribe antihistamines or steroid-based medication to further aid the healing process.

  • Vacation Precautions

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A lot of families will choose to vacation in a place which will benefit the whole family, including members with four legs! This is great for socializing a young dog so long as you remember you are not in your home environment, and as such need to put paperwork in order before leaving.

One of the major factors in vacationing with your dog is remembering that your local vet is unlikely to be reachable in the event of an emergency – as such, researching local practices and noting the number and address of a few is advisable. Ensuring that your pet insurance will cover you away from home is also essential, especially if your pet has a pre-existing condition which could require urgent attention during your vacation. Should your trip consist of any strenuous activity, keeping in mind the above tips about temperature awareness is the first step, while owners of brachycephalic – or short faced – dogs should keep an eye out for signs of over-exertion. A new environment is exciting and can cause your dog to run around for much longer than they would in a familiar setting.

  • Water Safetycanstockphoto14353911dogswimming

If you have an exuberant breed like a Labrador or Dalmatian, chances are they leap into lakes and rivers before you can blink! While this is an excellent form of exercise and can help keep them cool on hot days, caution should always be exercised around deep water. If possible, you should teach your dog to swim in a body of water you know well, and encourage them to join you by playing with a tennis ball – this is best in a backyard pool or using a child’s pool for smaller breeds. Never throw a dog into the water, as this could scare them off the idea for life!

After your swim, carefully rinse your dog off using fresh, clean water. This is because pool water contains chlorine, which can dry out sensitive skin and cause a stomach upset if ingested during routine cleaning.

As President of the California Veterinary Medical Association, Dr Dean Henricks, points out that, “We find more injuries with dogs during the summer months as more dogs are in the back of pickup trucks and fall out, and in the wild they get bitten by rattlesnakes.”

By remaining vigilant and preparing for all situations, whether this is a walk or a vacation, you can keep your dog safe this summer.

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ABOUT IRENE:

Irene Ross also works with humans–as an integrative nutrition and holistic wellness coach. She helps people alter unhealthy habits with her easy, 7-step system–so they can balance their lives and ignite that spark that everyone has.

Author of the e-book, Sugar’s Sour Story, and of the forthcoming book, 25 Ways to Fire Up Your Day: Increase Energy, Get More Done in Less Time, Balance Your Life, her website is:  www.irenefross.com.

KEEPING YOUR PETS SAFE DURING SPRING AND GARDEN CLEAN-UP

Spring cleaning can be a perfect time to do things like change lights and smoke alarms. At that time, I was living in a building with very high ceilings–and I’m terrified of heights– so I had someone change the light for me, but he didn’t screw it on tightly enough. So eventually the light came crashing down, causing glass to shatter all over the floor.  Luckily, my dog was in another room, but if he had been there he would have been very seriously hurt–or worse.

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Here’s the point:  We can just never be too careful.  Even something as innocuous as a rake can fall down and injure a five-pound cat.

Raking is a big part of garden clean-up, but it can fall and injure a small cat.

Raking is a big part of garden clean-up, but it can fall and injure a small cat.

Even the prettiest shrubs and flowers can be toxic to animals; in fact, all versions of the lily can cause kidney failure in cats, the Seattle Post was told in 2011.  For more information, please visit:  www.nolilliesforcats.com.

As for our canine friends, well, just a few poisonous plants are hyacinths, hydrangea, oleander and lily of the valley.

.Here are some other toxic items:

  • Anti-freeze:  Dogs love the sweet taste so they can be naturally drawn to it.  Put that, and any automotive products out of reach
  •  Pesticides, extermination fluid, some types of glue
  •  Fertilizers, weed and snail killers, herbicides and chemicals

You can get a complete list of toxic items from your local ASPCA–and, of course, discuss all concerns and questions with your veterinarian.

About Irene:

Irene Ross, CHHC, AADP, is a certified integrative nutrition and holistic wellness coach.  Also a writer, she has written numerous articles on pet nutrition and wellness and has now developed a program called, “The Wellness-Centered Family” that focuses on health for all children, whether they have two or four legs.

Author of the e-book, Sugar’s Sour Story, and of the forthcoming book, 25 Ways to Fire Up Your Day:  Increase Energy, Get More Done in Less Time, Balance Your Life, her website is:  www.irenefross.com

Pets, our health and happiness: 3 things animals teach people

I first wrote about this subject last March.  I’ve been doing an enormous amount of thinking about it lately, especially since I’m constantly drawing correlations between the health needs of humans and non-humans alike. Health experts are constantly telling us about the health benefits of pet ownership and there have been numerous studies and scientific evidence.  They can teach us at least 3 things–but maybe more.

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I read a thought-provoking article recently on the Purely Puppy blog from PetMD. A client brought her new puppy in to the vet for a first visit. The vet kept trying to conduct a health history, but the conversation just kept circling back to the owner’s past pet who, apparently, was perfect. This isn’t unusual, the vet says, because when pet owners suffer a devastating loss of a past pet, they often try to project those memories on the new animal, often leading to disappointment, unfairness and discomfort.

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This article really made me think hard. My dog, Baxter, a Westie, was the perfect dog; he was healthy, happy, smart, funny and loving. He was also ultra calm; even the vet commented that nothing ever seemed to upset him.

When Baxter passed away, it was a long time before I could ever think of getting another pet. I finally began to look at other Westies, but this article made me wonder if I was just trying to reproduce another Baxter. Would be a better idea for me to go with a completely different canine breed–or maybe even a different species, like a cat?

It also made me remember how I once tried to project those “perfect-pet” memories on Baxter. It was grossly unfair to Baxter, overwhelmingly sad for me and, I’m sure, very uncomfortable for those around us.

You see, Baxter’s predecessor, Dudley, a Cairn Terrier, was another “perfect pet.”  I was devastated when he died. Dudley and I had many wonderful, sweet memories, but the most poignant one was this: Every Saturday morning, Dudley and I went to puppy kindergarten class and later, weather permitting, we’d go into a nearby park for a walk, play and fun.

I brought Baxter home only two weeks after Dudley’s passing. Westies and Cairns are very similar in breed; in fact, the American Kennel Club once considered them the same breed. I immediately enrolled Baxter in the very same puppy kindergarten class, and planned to play with him in that same park afterward. I mistakenly thought I could produce those same exact memories, but all it did was flood me with crushing sadness. I was unfocused, distracted, and even burst into tears during the class. It was at that moment that I learned that Baxter and I needed to create our own memories, not just ride on already-existing ones.

There are many ways to honor a memory.  Actually, this blog is one of them, because it’s dedicated to both Baxter and Dudley.  Other ways to honor might be to volunteer at, or donate to, a shelter. You can even volunteer at a rescue; maybe a local veterinarian needs some volunteer help.  You can also be an “aunt” or “uncle” to a canine or feline neighbor. I used to take care of a neighbor’s dog; Kris worked long hours outside of the home. I have a home office so I’m often around.  Kris’ dog had his own toys, bowls and treats at my house, so he probably just thought of it as his second home.

Meanwhile, the veterinarian and author of the article, urges us to think of all our animals and what they contributed to our lives; my cairn, Dudley, taught me patience, because he would constantly test me and try to outsmart me.  Baxter taught me about happiness, because he had one mood only: sheer joy–and that tells me you really can find something positive in almost any situation. Duchess, my childhood dog, was always my “protector.’  A cousin’s cat, Meow-Meow, started life in the most horrifying way, but is now healthy, happy and very well-adjusted; that makes me think we should always be hopeful, even in the most dire situation. Another cousin’s dog, Logan, taught me about courage and loyalty–especially when he protected his family be chasing a bear away from the house and into the woods (He’s totally okay–came back completely unscathed.)

This is Logan, who put himself in grave danger last summer when he chased a black bear off property to protect his little (human) brothers.

This is Logan, who put himself in grave danger last summer when he chased a black bear off property to protect his little (human) brothers.

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About Irene: Irene Ross is an integrated nutrition and wellness coach.  She works with both humans and non-humans to help them alter unhealthy habits so they look and feel great and finally get off that diet roller coaster!

Author of the e-book, Sugar’s Sour Story, and of the forthcoming book, 25 Ways to Fire Up Your Day: Increase Energy, Get More Done in Less Time, Balance Your Life, her website is:  http://www.irenefross.com

The cute, cuddly puppy–and 5 things every new dog owner must do right away

Editor’s note:  Puppies are adorable but, just like children, they require care to grow and thrive.  Unfortunately, a lot of people just see those cute big brown eyes–and then get overwhelmed, even resentful, at the care involved. That means the puppy, unfortunately, can end up in a shelter.

So what are some simple things to do to ensure a smooth transition?  Who better to answer this than my friend (and a member of my board of directors), Shelby Semel.

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Shelby Semel is a certified Dog Trainer in NYC (www.shelbydogtraining.com). Her goal is to help owners understand how to become trainers for their own dogs.
Shelby lives with her two pups, Taz & Xena, whose behavioral issues help keep her skills up to par 🙂
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Congratulations! You’re the proud parent of a brand new puppy. But often time the days that follow can be hectic and confusing, leading owners to go into a bit of a frenzy.

While you should always talk to a professional if you need clarity, here are five things every new dog-owner should do right away.

#1: Head to a professionally led puppy class and/or get some one on one playdates with your friends who have friendly dogs. Your pup needs to learn to play with dogs of all shapes and sizes so they don’t develop fear, fear-based aggression, or become the dog park bully. This needs to start as soon as your pup has its FIRST round of vaccinations and given a clean bill of health.

#2: Take your dog to a new place or two each day. Sit on a bench or stairwell outside with a bag full of goodies. Teach your puppy to adjust to new sights, sounds and people while they are still impressionable and moldable! Each time something unusual passes (for example, an ambulance, a woman in an electric wheelchair, a dog walker with two Great Danes) praise and treat your pup.

#3: Practice putting on the leash and collar and harness a couple of times a day and walk around your home or have some playtime. Use a piece of chewy treat as you put that harness and collar on so your pup isn’t wiggling around and spray bitter apple on your leash if your pup has a tendency to chew on it.

#4: Crate or pen your dog. For the next decade, your furry friend will be living in your home, and there will be times you need to be able to isolate them (friend who is allergic or scared, illness or injury). If you’ve adjusted them to this as a puppy, there will be no stress when the time comes to manage this sort of situation.

# 5: Introduce your pup to young kids.  Pick children (one at a time) that you know well and are above the age of 5 and can follow directions. Have the child do simple commands with the puppy or just drop treats

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About Irene:

Irene Ross, CHHC, AADP is an integrative nutrition and wellness coach who helps people alter unhealthy habits so that they can balance their lives. She works with both people and pets because, “Our pets are prone to many of the same things we are, from the obesity epidemic to lifestyle-related diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure.”

Author of the forthcoming book, 25 Ways To Fire Up Your Day: Increase Energy, Get More Done in Less Time, Balance Your Life, her website is:  http://www.irenefross.com.

How to Find a Reliable and Professional Pet Sitter

This is National Pet Sitters Week, and you want to be sure you always have the best in mind for your little fur-baby. If you haven’t already, it’s a good time to think about what you’d want in a pet sitter. Even if you have a trusted friend or family member, he or she may not be available if you have to take a sudden overnight trip–and the last thing you want to do is scramble to find someone, especially if their quality is sub-par, at the last-minute.

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The first thing you should know is that there are two kinds of pet sitters: One is a dog-walker or cat feeder who comes into your home once or twice a day. Ask if they’ll also do things like pick up newspapers, remove trash or rotate the curtains.  The downside with this is that your pet will be alone much of the time.

The other is a house sitter who, just as the word implies, moves right into your home while you’re gone. While a little more pricey, it provides the least disruption to your pet; there is constant supervision and, of course, your house is always occupied.

The second thing you should know is that you shouldn’t be afraid to interview several candidates or ask a lot of questions. If the person seems abrupt, discourteous or unprofessional in any manner–or if your animal appears not to like them (and, remember, animals are great judges of character)– that won’t be the person for you to hire. Also, it’s a red-flag if the person shows up late–would that mean the person would skip times to come in for walking and feeding??

Third, check with your local ASPCA or Humane Society to see if they have guidelines on selecting a pet sitter.

Here are some guidelines when interviewing:       canstockphoto3465918dogcockerspanielonleaves

  • Ask for referrals: This includes veterinarians, groomers and neighbors.
  • Check fees and services: Sometimes a pet sitter will also take animals to the vet or groomer–but be sure to ask if it’s included as part of the overall package or if it’s an additional fee.
  • Ask if they are members of organizations such as NAPPS (National Association of Professional Pet Sitters) or PSI (Professional Pet Sitters International).  If the candidate is certified in animal CPR, that just adds more marketability!
  • Ask for references, and check them. Be sure to ask any reference whether they have a cat or dog, because you don’t want someone who’s inexperienced with your species; for instance, you wouldn’t hire a dog sitter if the person’s only experienced with cats–and vice versa.
  • Find out if he or she insured and bonded. This is a legal agreement and gives an element of trust when deciding to hire a pet sitter. Liability insurance to protect the client’s pets or homes in the event of an accident, as well as insurance that covers bodily injuries while caring for a pet. Remember, this person will have full access to your home. They can easily get it through NAPPS or PSI.
  • Get everything in writing. It’s a good idea to have a contact to avoid any misunderstandings.
  • Once you go, leave detailed instructions, with your’s, your vet’s and a family member’s contact information.

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About Irene:

Irene Ross, CHHC, AADP is an integrative nutrition and wellness coach who helps people alter unhealthy habits so that they can balance their lives. She works with both people and pets because, “Our pets are prone to many of the same things we are, from the obesity epidemic to lifestyle-related diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure.”

Author of the forthcoming book, 25 Ways To Fire Up Your Day: Increase Energy, Get More Done in Less Time, Balance Your Life, her website is:  http://www.irenefross.com.

Pet Obesity is a Huge (Pun Intended!) Problem

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You often hear me speak of the pet obesity problem and how serious it is; pet waistlines are expanding as quickly as humans.

This leads to chronic problems, such as diabetes and pre-diabetes; heart problems; arthritis and more. In general, a possible shortening of the lifespan of 2.5 years.

Take a look at this video from “Good Morning America.” It’s only three years old, but the pet obesity rate in this country was 40 percent; now it’s estimated to be over 50 percent, according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention. That’s how fast it’s increasing.