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.

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

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.

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!

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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.”

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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:  http://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.

 

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