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

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.

 

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Isn’t this a wonderful idea?

To learn more, call your local ASPCA look online at http://www.aspca.org.

 

THE WELLNESS CENTERED FAMILY INCLUDES EVERYONE–INCLUDING THE 4-LEGGED FURRY CHILDREN!

canstockphoto5976994dogcatFor years we’ve been hearing that pets are good for our health and, today, 62 percent of all households in the United States own a dog or a cat. That compares to 56 percent in 1988. In 2011, pet owners spent a total of $51 billion–and that number is expected to increase in 2012. Of course, a big reason is there are just more pets–but, overall, they’re now, more than ever, seen as part of the family.

Everyone in the family absorbs the energy from each other so, in effect, their problems become ours, whether it’s a spouse, 2-legged child or 4-legged one. As one vet recently said, “If someone comes in with an overweight pet, 9 times out of 10, the owner will be overweight as well.”

So why have pets become such a big part of the family?

  • Americans have about a third fewer close friends today than they did 20 years ago — averaging two rather than the three they had, on average, in 1985—and pets fill those vacuums. Other interesting stats include:
  • Nearly a third of all pet owners say they’d rather rather chat with their cat after a long day than anyone else, and 39% say their cat is more likely than a romantic partner to pick up on their current mood.
  • Almost 95% of pet owners say their pet makes them smile at least once at least once a day and there have been multiple studies showing that pets lower blood pressure, alleviate depression, and boost mental and physical resiliency.
  • In 1994, roughly 15% of Americans reported increased anxiety in their lives. By 2009 that number had risen 49%, and it’s predicted to be even higher now. Want the SCIENTIFIC reason why pets help us reduce stress? It’s simple, really. When we cuddle, play with, and even just look at our pets we get a hefty boost of oxytocin, our body’s naturally occurring feel-good, stress-relieving, emotional-bonding hormone. So do our pets, by the way. Which makes all parties more relaxed and happy, and more deeply bonded.

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When it comes to wellness, humans and non-humans aren’t really that different. Our pets get many of the same illnesses we do, from the simple common cold to the very common arthritis–and the even more serious illnesses like cancer. They also get stressed-out; many don’t think that can happen but, truthfully it does–did you know the German Shepherd is one of the most stress-prone animals around? Animal waistlines are expanding as rapidly as pet ones; in fact, according to the AMERICAN ASSOCIATION FOR PET OBESITY PREVENTION, 54 percent–that’s 88.4 million cats and dogs– of all pets in the United States are classified as overweight or obese by their veterinarians. Simply, that means pet waistlines are expanding as rapidly as human ones.

So let’s think of everyone, pets included, when considering family wellness and nutrition!

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About Irene:

Irene Ross is a certified nutrition and health coach who helps people alter unhealthy habits so they can balance their lives.  A wellness educator, for both the 2-legged and 4-legged, she conducts speeches, lunch ‘n learns, workshops, groups and individual classes.

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.

Should You Take Your Cat for her Routine Vet Visits?

A recent survey by the American Animal Hospital Association has revealed an alarming trend:  Only 28 percent of cats go to the veterinarian for routine examinations.  Dogs fare only slightly better at 58 percent.

Of course all pets–cats and dogs–need routine vet care.  I’m certainly not dismissing the need for dogs to receive medical examinations, but cats do seem especially neglected in this area; this figure is alarmingly low. Many mistakenly feel that cats don’t need veterinary visits.  Maybe it’s the myth of the self-sufficient cat. Maybe cats just hide their symptoms better.  Maybe some try to avoid stressing their cat out with any kind of travel. Or maybe it’s the result of a bad economy where many have financial concerns.

It’s penny-wise, pound foolish, though, because if you avoid veterinary care, you could possibly end up spending more since a small problem could easily turn into a bigger, more expensive one.

For instance, one of the things the vet will ask is about is your cat’s appetite, an extremely relevant question; if cats suddenly stop eating the body begins to use fat stores as fuel; they’re sent to the liver, to be broken down to supply nutrients. The liver sometimes can’t unable to process this fat as quickly as necessary, so the fat builds up in the liver, which interferes with normal function. The result is an illness called “Hepatic Lipidosis,” which can lead to dehydration and death.

Bottom-line, cats just can’t live for very long without food.

Here are some other reasons to take your pet–cat OR dog–for their checkups (excerpted from one of my January 12, 2012 post):

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.

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.”

National Take Your Cat to the Vet Day was this past August 22.  To commemorate, please take it to the vet if you haven’t already.

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Irene Ross, CHHC, AADP is a nutrition and wellness expert for both the 4-legged and the 2-legged.  A graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, she received her board certification from the American Association of Drugless Practitioners.

To learn more about her human practice, please visit:  http://www.irenefross.com.

Irene’s free, twice-monthly newsletter “Power Wellness” is full of tips and suggestions for healthy eating and lifestyle (for the 2-legged).  You can subscribe here.

International Homeless Pet Day: Could This Be Your Time to Adopt?

You know that advertisement with the photo of the person standing next to an animal? The caption reads, “people are the best thing to happen to animals.”

True, but I often think it’s the other way around, because a cat or dog offers so many benefits and many of them are health-related.

Many tend to think of animal adoption primarily around the holidays–but the truth is that adopting a dog or cat is a wonderful gift at any time; most of them are just waiting to become part of a warm, loving family.  You can visit your local ASPCA, or animal shelter at any time.

That said, veterinarians, council members and shelter personnel from around the world come together on the third Saturday of August to raise awareness about the pet overpopulation epidemic.

This year, International Homeless Pet Day is Saturday, August 18. To commemorate, here’s an excerpt from one of my earlier posts as to why you should consider a mixed-breed dog:

1.   They often inherit the best traits of their family tree. Some people even insist that mixed-breeds are healthier; it’s never really been proven, but think about it:  If purebreds are prone to certain diseases, and if your dog possesses fewer of that breed’s genes, it does make sense.

2.  They are often already trained.  In many cases, these dogs already had an owner, but they might have been given away for reasons that had absolutely nothing to do with the dog. Especially today, with the financial crisis that often leads to high levels of foreclosures, many are forced to move into quarters that do not accept dogs.  My neighbor’s dog came from a shelter; the dog was friendly, well-behaved, trained, socialized. ”Someone clearly look very good care of this dog before you got him,” I said.

3.  They adjust easily to most homes.  Many breeds are known for specific temperments, traits and other issues; for instance, we should think about whether or not they make good pets for households with kids, or if they make good companions for the elderly–or any number of things. Mixed-breed dogs, though, have fewer of their lineage’s genes–and that makes it much easier for them to adjust in most homes.

4. They can still be service dogs.  At one time, we only thought of certain breeds for service, but a mixed-breed is just as effective and appropriate, especially if they have specific genes in them.  For instance, labradors are known for their guiding skills and poodes for their intelligence.

5. You can skip the puppy period.  Raising a puppy is worthwhile, but hard work.  It requires a lot of time, patience and energy–and some just don’t have that, and would rather skip this stage.  With a mixed-breed shelter dog, you can.

6.  Good karma.  You’re saving a life.  Period.

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Irene Ross, CHHC, AADP is also a nutrition and health coach for the 2-legged.  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:  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?