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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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.

Baxter--my

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

PETS, PEOPLE AND THE FLU

We’ve all heard the stories about the flu epidemic among people and, even though it’s not all that common, pets can also get the flu.  Know also that it can be highly contagious among animals, so shelters, boarding kennels, daycare facilities, etc.can be hotbeds.

Remember 2009?  People got the H1N1 virus from pigs–and then gave that virus to cats and dogs who often fell ill or died.canstockphoto7741255pethealthsign

Bacteria and viruses have zoonotic properties.  Zoonotic means simply that it can be passed back and forth between people and pets.

So here’s what to look out for in your dog or cat: Labored breathing and cough, whether wet or dry, are common symptoms.  So is lethargy or discharge from the nose or eyes. Gastrointestinal tract problems can also occur, so if you see them, check for any additional symptoms, above.

A healthy lifestyle–plenty of sleep, high-quality food and plenty of fresh, clean water, is critical always, but especially now.  Also check that your pets’ vaccinations are up-to-date.  If you board, groom, or send your pet to day-care, ask them about their health policies, particularly regarding the flu.  Since it is so contagious among animals, keep yours away from any cat or dog who looks sick.

You should also discuss any other preventative measures with your vet.

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Irene Ross, CHHC, AADP, is a certified health and nutrition coach who specializes in wellness for the entire family, including the 4-legged furry children.  “Everyone absorbs the energy of each other, so it’s best to coach as a family–and animals are just as vulnerable to the same things as people, including obesity (which is now up to 54 percent in this country), arthritis, stress and lifestyle-based diseases, such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

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

We Know Pets Can Help Keep Us Youthful, But Do They Also Keep Us Healthier?

There has been a lot of research as to how animals can help keep us youthful, but a study from Finland recently found that children who are around pets the first years of their lives are less prone to illnesses, especially ones like the ear infections for which kids are so known.

Although those around cats were still protected, they were a little less so than infants who were around dogs.

No one really knows for sure why and, although officials readily acknowledge that more research is needed, one thought is perhaps that the more time a dog spends outside, the more dirt he or she drags in–and that somehow stimulates the child’s immune response.

This story was reported on CNN; to read the entire story, click here.

What do you think about this?

 

Caring for your pet

Dudley, a cairn terrier, was my first dog as a grown-up.  A few days before his arrival, there was a flurry of activity—interviewing vets, pet-sitters, dog-trainers, creating his own spot, buying food, toys and leashes, etc.  At that time, I had a job that required a lot of travel–and I wanted to keep his routine as uninterrupted as possible– so I also interviewed house-sitters.

When I mentioned that to someone, she just scoffed and said, “You don’t have to do anything special.  Dogs just require affection, nothing more.”

A few years later, someone overheard me making an appointment for Dudley’s dental cleaning.  Once again, I heard the scoff–only this person actually tried to ridicule me by not only laughing and telling ME it was a waste of money but also laughing and telling anyone in the office who would listen…my reply to him was, well, I can’t repeat it here.

Bringing a pet (dog or cat) into your environment is just like bringing a baby home–only the pet permanently stays in that toddler phase.  (I used to compare my dog, Dudley, to a two-year old). There’s grooming, training, vet visits, medications, good quality food, toys–and that responsibility needs to be taken seriously. And circling back to dental care, that’s not an unnecessary expense; as with humans, the result of neglect can have serious consequences, from tooth decay,cavities and broken teeth to the millions of bacteria invading their hearts.

Many years later another dog, my Westie Baxter, develop a fast-growing cancer at the age of 16. His prognosis was terrible; he had eight weeks at most to live.My single-pointed focus was only to make his last days as comfortable as possible.  I constantly bought him acupuncture treatments so his pain could be diminished naturally.  Every Saturday he got either a reiki treatment (which he loved) or a massage.

By the last week of his life, even though he couldn’t play, he DID try to pick up his toys.

So here’s the point:  Pets aren’t just playthings, they require care.  Please think long and hard about if you’re willing or able to take on that responsibility before bringing one home.

Five Ways To Keep Your Pet Happy and Safe in Summer

PART 2 in a blog series on Summer Safety for Pets

Memorial Day, the unofficial start of summer, is just around the corner, and we’re entering what’s probably the most dangerous season for your pet.

We recently went into detail about heat stroke and dogs–because it’s a very real, very serious emergency that can even be fatal.

Here are five ways to keep your pet happy and safe in summer:

  • Water.  Contrary to popular belief, not all dogs are good swimmers. Make sure you introduce your dog gradually to the water–especially if you have a pool or if there’s a nearby pond or canal– so you can make a thorough determination as to his ability–and then keep him safe if you find he can’t swim.  Make sure your dog has a flotation device if you go out on a boat. In addition, water can be a home to parasites, toxins and chemicals.  Stagnant puddles of water can also be breeding-grounds for things like mosquitos and ticks.
  • Parties and other celebrations.  The excitement can sometimes over-stimulate an animal; doors and windows can be accidentally left open; people food, garbage and decorations can be left for them to get into–and animals can often be terrified by the sound of fireworks.

The answer to this is to keep pets a safe distance from the celebration: Make sure there’s a special room, or area, where your pet can safely stay to get away from it all.  Include any special items, such as blankets, toys, water, a few grains of dried kibble, maybe an article of your clothing.

My Westie, Baxter, was crate-trained as a puppy, but he loved his crate so much I never had the heart to get rid of it.  I always kept it with the door ajar so he could go in and out as he pleased. Baxter saw the crate as his  room, a place of his own where he could get away from it all.  Once I had a house full of guests so he just let himself into the crate—and shut the door with his nose.  “Did he just do what I think he did?” asked one of my guests.  He’d also go in whenever there were noises like thunder, construction or traffic that would disturb him.

  • More heat dangers. Cats, especially, like to lounge near sunny windows.  All pets like balconies, terraces, porches, decks and even, sometimes, fire escapes.   Make sure they’re safe and secure so your pet can’t fall.

And don’t forget about sunburn! Cats mostly stay indoors, but dogs like to romp outside–and their skin can peel and blister.  Just like humans, repeated exposure to the sun can cause skin cancer. Pets with light, or short, hair tend to be the most vulnerable, as are dogs with short legs; they’re close to the ground so their tummies can get burned from the reflected sunlight. Use a sunscreen specially formulated for dogs; ask your veterinarian for a recommendation.

  • Poisons.  During the summer, people tend to their gardens and lawns;  find out what chemicals are poisonous and keep them away from pets.  Some flowers and plants can also be poisonous to animals.  Do your research; talk to the people at your garden center; read labels; get recommendations from your veterinarian.
  • Pests.  A neighbor’s dog was diagnosed with Lyme Disease last summer.  As she put it, “There was one tick with the disease and it bit my dog.”  I once had a cairn terrier who was severely allergic–to just about everything!  We took a brief walk through a park one day and walked on the concrete pathway–not on the grass or by the trees or shrubs.  The next day he bit all the hair off his tail.  I rushed him to the vet who told me he had been bitten by a flea–and had an allergic reaction!  So make sure you talk to your vet about proper (and safe) pest control.

How not to project those past “perfect pet” memories on your new dog or cat

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.

Baxter, my "perfect pet"

Baxter, my “perfect pet”

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 exact memories, but all it did was flood me with overwhelming 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 Baxter.  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.  Baxter taught me about happiness–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.

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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