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.


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


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.



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:


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.


Shelby Semel is a certified Dog Trainer in NYC ( 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 🙂

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


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:

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.


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.


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:

Pet Obesity is a Huge (Pun Intended!) Problem


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.

February is National Pet Health and Dental Month

Has it been a while since you’ve taken your 4-legged furry friend for a health or dental checkup?  If so, this is a good way to celebrate; remember, February is also the MONTH OF LOVE–what better way to show that than giving the gift of health?

That said, this is a post that was written last year–and certainly just as relevant today!


In a down economy everyone tries to make cuts–but your pet’s health shouldn’t be one of them.

Just as with humans, early detection is best.  Regular pet checkups will monitor your animal’s overall health, focus on prevention and education—and, quite possibly, save you money in the long-term. Please remember also that your pet can’t tell you when it’s in pain; what you might think is just routine bad behavior can actually be an acting out for a tooth-ache, stomach-ache, or something else. Ever hear the story of the cat that urinated in the bathtub?  Turns out the cat only wanted to bring her urinary tract infection to the attention of the owner.

Here are three good reasons not to skip your pet’s checkup:

1. It’s easier to prevent the blaze rather than to extinguish the fire.  When a problem is still small, it can be less complicated and less expensive to manage. “I see this a lot with dental care,” says Michael Farber, DVM, of West Chelsea Veterinary in New York City.  “Sometimes people will wait until the tooth is abscessed before they come in, but if the problem was caught three or six months prior, that tooth probably could have been saved.”

2. You’ll learn how to keep your pet lean and fit:  If you think your pet’s extra pound or two isn’t a big-deal, think again:  A couple of extra pounds on an animal is comparable to 30-50 pounds on a human.

In the U.S., roughly half of dogs and cats are now considered to be overweight or obese, and that costs owners millions, according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention. When your pet is overweight it puts her at risk for chronic conditions, including diabetes, joint problems, and heart problems and more.. “The veterinary costs for these diseases can be sky-high,” said Farber. In fact, according to Healthy Pets at Mercola.Com, Veterinary Pet Insurance (VIP) said Americans paid $25 million in 2010 in veterinary bills for obesity-related problems, such as asthma, disc disease and ligament ruptures.

Here’s the problem, though. Many people just don’t know how a fit pet should look, but a veterinarian will teach you how to monitor your pet.   You’ll also most likely get advice and suggestions to help your pet lead the healthiest lifestyle possible.

3. It will focus on prevention: Routine pet check-ups detect serious underlying problems, such as heart or kidney disease and, as with humans, early detection can help prevent a major, sometimes fatal, problem.

If you have financial concerns, the best thing to do, advises Farber, is not to ignore it, but to have an honest discussion with your pet’s doctor.  “Discuss your financial concerns and see if you can make a plan to prioritize those things that should be done immediately, what can wait—and for how long it can wait.”


Irene Ross, CHHC, AADP is a certified nutrition and wellness coach who helps people alter unhealthy habits so that they can balance their lives.  Irene focuses on “The Wellness-Centered Family,” which includes both the 2-legged human and 4-legged furry children. “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:

Valentines for Animals

I received the ASPCA newsletter today, and they featured a really sweet Valentine’s Day gift that would also help animals.  You make a gift in the name of your favorite animal lover and they send out a card to that person.

The gift can be things like donating supplies to keep shelter animals and resuced horses comfortable or perhaps therapy-cat training kits.



Isn’t this a wonderful idea?

To learn more, call your local ASPCA look online at


Bravo and well said!! I remember when I was a kid, my parents NEVER washed the dog’s bowl (yuk) because they just didn’t think it was necessary. But, more and more, people need to realize that pets–all cats and dogs–are prone to many, many of the same things we are–and that includes bacteria piling up on a dirty bowl. (I even tell people to be sure the dishwasher door is closed tightly, since pets will try to reach and rummage for food–on an unwashed plate!

All Pets Allowed

Imagine eating off of the same plate day after day without washing it.  Is that what you’re asking your pet to do?  I know I don’t wash my cats’ bowls as much as I should but I do try to wash them.

It’s good to wash your pet’s food bowls for their health and your health.  Harmfull bacteria could multiply on food left in the bowls and the bacteria can be bad for your pet.  You could potentially swallow this bacteria if you touch the bowls and then eat without washing your hands.

Part of the reason they recall pet foods is because Salmonella poses a risk to the humans feeding the food.  And the couple pet food recall notices that I looked at did mention that people handling the food should be sure to wash their hands after feeding their animals.  It’s probably a good idea in general…

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