Canine Enrichment: Flirt Pole 

 

Canine Enrichment: Flirt Pole 

Cat owners are quite familiar with pole and string toys like flirt poles. Those are the products where a small toy is attached to the end of a string. Most cats go crazy for these toys because they tap into their predatory drive. Their owners wiggle and swing the string around making the toy look like it’s live prey. That natural drive in all cats to catch prey is satisfied, leading to a happy and healthy cat. Did you know that these types of toys aren’t just for cats? Flirt poles are the bigger dog version and canines love them just as much! They are a great dog training and canine enrichment tool. Your dog will learn and have fun at the same time!

Benefits of a Flirt Pole

The main benefit of using a flirt pole relates to canine enrichment. The toy swinging around in the air and being dragged on the ground makes it look like it’s live prey! This is the type of play that your dog’s brain is craving. They want to use those hunting instincts. Their brain interprets catching that “prey” as a huge reward. That’s what canine enrichment is all about…embracing and satisfying your dogs natural drives and desires in safe and fun way.

Flirt Poles are also a great dog training tool, specifically for impulse control. The design of the toy allows you to have better control over the reward. When used properly, your dog can learn to “chase” the toy only when you allow them to. Make your dog listen, before, during, and after the play session. Ask your dog to sit still and listen for a few moments and then reward them by allowing the to chase the toy around.

Flirt Pole DIY

Flirt poles are a super easy DIY project if you can’t find one at your local pet store. You can easily make one using a horse whip and tying a toy at the end. Find these at a local horse tack shop or tractor supply. If you don’t live in an area with horses, you can make one with supplies from any hardware store. Here are the basic steps:

For a medium to large size dog you will need:

  • 4-6 foot long ¾” PVC pipe

  • 10-15 feet of rope

  • One of your dog’s favorite toys

  1. Thread the rope through the pipe and tie a knot on the base.

  2. Tie a knot at the top of the pipe leaving a couple of feet of extra rope to swing around.

  3. Tie a toy to the end of the rope

  4. Have fun!

Do you use a flirt pole with your dog? Tell us about your experiences!

 

Top 5 Summer Safety Tips For Your Pet

Top 5 Summer Safety Tips For Your Pet

Summer is a fun time for humans and pets alike! So many activities to enjoy together outdoors. Unfortunately, it’s easy to get caught up in all the fun and forget about the dangers that the summer can bring. While you might know how to keep your human family member cool and safe, pets require different precautions. This is because dogs and cats don’t sweat like humans do. They cool off through their pads on their paws and by panting. Since your pet can’t tell you that they might be feeling sick from the sun, it’s important for you to know how to keep them cook and safe in the first place. Here are some of the top ways to keep your pet safe this summer.

Never leave your pet in the car!

Pets can suffer from heat stroke and suffocation within minutes when left in a hot car. Leaving the windows cracked doesn’t do much to keep the them cool. When parked in the sun, temperatures inside the car can more than double that of the temperatures outside. The inside temperature can reach dangerous levels even when parked in the shade. On those hot days, it’s best to just leave your dog at home if you’ll be out in the car running errands.

Protect their paws!

If you’ve ever walked barefoot on asphalt, you know first hand how hot it gets! It’s can easily cause burns on unprotected skin. This goes for you pets paws as well! Be careful of surfaces like dark pavement and metal when letting your pet outside. Not only can it cause burns, but it can also increase their body temperature. Along with the hot air temperature, they’re at increased risk of heat stroke.

Make sure their protected from bugs and parasites

Although you should be protecting your pets from these things all year, nasty bugs and parasites are in full force during the summer. Among these include: ticks, fleas, heartworms, and mosquitoes. Check with your vet to make sure they’ve had all the proper medications to protect them.

Careful with the grooming!

It might seem like a good idea to shave longer haired pets during the summer, it’s actually dangerous to do so! Animals use their coats for heat regulation and removing most of it can leave them vulnerable to heat stroke. For difficult to manage coats, go to a professional groomer for minor trims. Brushing cats or dogs more often during the summer can help as well.

Let water be plentiful

Dogs and cats need more water during the summer months. They will be using and losing more water as they sweat to keep cool. Keep an eye on those water bowls and make sure to refill as often as possible. If your cat is an outdoor cat, keep a bowl or two outside so they’ll have guaranteed access.

World Pet Memorial Day

World Pet Memorial Day

Every year, on the second Sunday of June, pet parents can honor and remember pets no longer with them. World Pet Memorial Day takes place this year on June 10th. Losing a pet has been shown to be just as devastating, if not more devastating, than losing a human friend or family member. Our pets are with us every day. They welcome us home with wagging tails and happy meows. They give us unconditional love and support and ask for very little in return. On this day, we should all take the time to show the pets we’ve lost the same unconditional love by remembering them.  Here’s some things you can do in to preserve their memory.

Simply Remembering

One of the easiest way to memorialize your pets is to think about all the wonderful memories you shared. You and your family can sit down and talk about how much your dog loved to chase tennis balls or how silly your cat went for catnip. By keeping those memories alive, a part of your pets will always stay alive.

Creating a Memorial

Another way to remember your passed pets is to create a physical memorial. There are lots of online stores offering physical objects to remember your pets by. Some of these memorials include: stone markers, custom jewelry, or engraved frames. By having something physical to see and feel, it makes it feel like your pet is not truly gone. You can go and “visit” them when you are missing them.

Helping Needy Pets

You can also honor pets you have lost by helping those that are alive and are in need. Try volunteering at your local shelter. Shelters are always looking for donations. A great way of memorializing your pet is making a donation in their name.

When a beloved pet dies are never truly gone. They live on in our memories and hearts forever. World Pet Memorial Day is a day to spend a few more moments remembering all of those furry snuggles and kisses.

June is Adopt-A-Shelter-Cat Month!

June is Adopt-A-Shelter-Cat Month!

June has arrived! With it comes sunny days and beach vacations. Unfortunately, June also marks the peak of “kitten season”. Kitten season might sound like happy time filled with warm kitten bellies, but for shelters, it’s one of the most dreaded times of years.

Kitten season lasts from May to October. The onset of warmer weather acts as a catalyst for non-spayed female cats to go into heat. During these months, one female cat can pop out at least two litters. Many of these kittens end up in shelters that are already overcrowded. It’s a sad fact that many of the kittens will end up euthanized because of this lack of space.

To combat this, the ASPCA founded Adopt-A-Shelter-Cat Month to take place all throughout June. It’s goal is to get kittens and cats alike to their forever homes. They also hope to raise awareness of shelter overcrowding during kitten season. Here’s how you can help the cause!

Fundraiser and Donate

Raising money for a local shelter is a great way to help cats find homes. Money is stretched thin during kitten season with all the vet exams, food, and litter needed to keep them healthy. Supplies are also most needed during these months. Reach out to a local shelter and ask if there’s anything they’re running low on. Then, go out and buy some to donate!

You can even start your own virtual fundraising campaign through ASPCA. If you are able to raise $100 or more, they send you a gift! Check out Team ASPCA here.

Be Social

One of the best ways to spread the word is through social media. Share post about Adopt-A-Shelter-Cat month on your pages. Local shelters often share posts highlighting cats that need homes. Share those posts! Your friends and family may be searching for a cat of their own.

Adopt!

If you have the space in your home, adopt a new feline friend! Some shelters hold specials during this month to help get cats in homes. Reach out the a shelter near you to see what’s available.

Remember that it’s not only kittens that need homes! Some of the neediest cats include black cats, senior cats, and bonded adult pairs. Consider some of these options if your looking to adopt this June!

You can start raising awareness for Adopt-A-Shelter-Cat month by sharing this blog! Let your friends and family know about the joys of cat adoption and help get cats to their forever homes!

 

BBQ Safety for Dogs

Barbecue Safety for Dogs

The dog days of summer are here, its BBQ time! With the days becoming steamier and the sun shining brighter, fun summer activities are just around the corner. Trips to the beach, picnics in the park, and playing in the backyard are all summer activities to share with your favorite dog. Barbecues and grilling parties are one of America’s favorite summer traditions but can be seriously dangerous for dogs. Here are some safety tips to keep in mind when you hold your next backyard BBQ!

Keep Gates Closed

Dogs, and other pets, can easily escape with lots of guests coming and going. Make your guests aware that there is a dog in the home. Make sure they close doors or gates behind them. If your dog is a master escape artist, consider keeping them on a lead or in a crate.

No People Food

With all the yummy foods cooked at a BBQ, it can be hard for your dog to resist trying to snag some. Let guests know not to feed your dogs. Foods like bones, corn on the cob, and alcohol are particularly dangerous and in abundance at an outdoor party. Even the not dangerous foods can upset your dog’s stomach if they get too many tasty treats from unaware guests.

Dangerous Flames

Make sure your pet stays far away from any open flames or open grills. Your dog might be especially tempted to wander to close when there’s yummy food being cooked. It might be best to keep your pet contained while a grill is being actively used. Make sure any fire starters like lighter fluid and charcol are far away from the grill.

Give them Cool Down Time

Give your dog some time to cool down from the heat and hectic nature of backyard barbecues. If they’ve been outside with you for awhile, make sure you let them back inside to take a nap in the AC. Having a lot of guests over can be stressful for even the most people-loving dogs. Like humans, dogs need their personal time too.

With some careful planning and preparation, backyard barbecues don’t have to be dangerous. Keep these tips in mind for your next party. Your dog will thank you for making the party fun and safe for humans and dogs alike.

Why do Dogs Need to Socialize with Other Dogs?

Why Do Dogs Need to Socialize with Other Dogs?

 Its time to socialize your pup! Did you know that one of the main reasons dogs are relinquished to shelters is behavioral problems? Many people jump at the chance to buy or adopt a puppy but don’t realize the work that goes into raising a well behaved and well adjusted dog.

Raising a puppy to be a “good dog” is much like raising a child. They must be taught the “rules” of how to react and  act in situations. The way that humans and dogs learn to be “good” is through socialization. Socialization is learning the proper rules and etiquette of all kinds of situations.

Just like humans learn to be “human” through interactions with other people, dogs must learn how to be “dogs” from other dogs. Yes, humans, as their owners, can help socialize dogs by providing opportunities for them to be in new situations. However, the most important factor in dog socialization is by having them interact with other dogs.

When to Start Socializing your Dog

Socialization starts the moment a puppy is born and should continue throughout their lives. Puppies learn the basics of proper behavior from interacting with their mom and littermates. Allowing them to spend adequate time with their litter and mom is integral in creating a solid socialization foundation. Once they leave the safety of their litter, puppies enter a new world of scary, weird, and unfamiliar situations. The new owner’s part in continuing their socialization starts here.

Puppy Classes

From the day you bring a puppy home, you should be safely socializing your puppy. Puppy classes are a great way to start introducing them to strange dogs and environments. A properly run puppy is a safe place where both you and your puppy can learn about good dog behavior. Not only do they meet “strange” dogs, but they also get to meet “strange” people like the class organizer and other owners. All of the puppies get to burn off some of their energy too while romping and rolling together.

Dog Parks

Once your pup has become more comfortable around strange dogs in a safe environment like puppy classes, you can try taking them to a more public place. Dog parks are a great next step in their socialization journey. Dog parks are full of strange dogs and people. Your puppy can begin testing out all the new skills they’ve learned from their class. It’s also a great place for you to test your dog’s responsiveness your commands.

Make Socialization a Positive Experience

While socializing your dog, try to always make it a fun, positive experience. Don’t rush or push your puppy past their limits. This can actually create behavioral problems down the line. Take it slow and steady. Socialization is mentally and physically exhausting, so make each session short and end on a positive note.

 

Should I Get the Flu Shot for my Dog

Should I Get the Flu Shot for my Dog

Recent Outbreaks

Back in 2015, a new strain of dog influenza (H3N2) tore through a few major US cities. Experts tracking the virus believe that its spread in the US started in Chicago. According to the New York Times, “over nearly two months, at least 1,500 dogs fell ill, many for as long as three weeks”. Over the next few months the strain spread across the midwest. By the time the viruses spread had been contained, they determined the Chicago outbreak to be the worst the city had experienced in 35 years. The AMVA reported a  resurgence of the H3N2 virus in May 2017. Areas affected included Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, Louisiana, and Illinois.

Are Vaccines Mandatory?

Although there isn’t an active outbreak today, the infection is always possible. To prevent the transmission of canine influenza, there are flu shots available. Does your dog need one? The answer depends on your dog’s lifestyle and general health. Unlike the rabies vaccine, laws do not require your dog to be flu vaccinated. In fact, most vets don’t advise vaccinating your dog for the flu on a regular basis. Rather, only dogs that spend lots of time around many other dogs should be getting the vaccine.

Which Dogs Should Be Vaccinated?

Veterinarians recommend that dogs that show, get regular weekly grooming, go to doggy daycare, or are boarded for long periods should be vaccinated. Being around other strange dogs from many different places increases their risk of catching canine influenza. Vets also recommend vaccinating dogs with chronic health conditions or specific breed traits. Dogs with chronic respiratory diseases could suffer worse and longer if they were to catch the virus. Experts recommend that dogs hailing from breeds with short snouts (like bulldogs and pugs) receive the vaccine.

To get more information on Canine Influenza check out these links:

Canine Influenza Resources

H3N2 CANINE INFLUENZA VIRUS FACT SHEET

CDC Key Facts on Canine Influenza

 

5 Ways to Give Your Cat More Exercise

5 Ways to Exercise your Cat

Is your kitty spending too much time cat-napping during the day? Do you have an indoor cat and worry about them not getting enough exercise? Although cats are blessed with a higher metabolism, getting them moving and playing is still a very important factor in keeping them healthy! Dogs can easily be put on a leash and taken on a simple walk. Cats . . . not so much. Unless your cat was leash-trained from kitten-hood, most would say that walking their cat was out of the question. Cats require a bit more creativity when trying to come up with ways to get them moving. To help get you and your cat started on your movement journey, here are 5 fun ways to exercise your cat.

Laser Pointers

Laser pointers are an inexpensive and universally enjoyed toy for cats. The small, darting beam of light looks just like a bug to kitties. They’ll zip and zoom around the room trying to catch their “prey”. Once your cat has started to tucker out, finish up the session with a toy they can physically catch. They’ll be mentally satisfied by being able to sink their teeth into their well-deserved prey.

Vertical Playtime

Cats are born to climb and leap. More often than not, our homes don’t give them the vertical climbing time that they crave. A simple shelf under a window sill or a scratching post with a perch on the floor will let them stretch and use their jumping muscles. If you’re looking to go all out, there are prefabricated wall obstacle courses you can buy. Install them on an empty wall and watch your cat leap and climb up their vertical jungle gym.

Play Time During Meal Time

Do you have a cat that doesn’t seem to want to do anything besides eat? You can use this to your advantage. Meal time is an easy way to get your cat moving. A non-interactive way to get your cat moving for food is to put their food and water separate from each other. For example, put their food on one floor and their water on another floor. They will have no choice but to make the trek between bowls. Get them jumping by moving their food during meal time. Move the bowl from the counter to the floor so they’ll use their jumping muscles. Make sure to reward them by giving them snuggles after their leap.

String Toys

Although it seems cliche, a ball of yarn can be as good as gold to your cat. Few cats can resist a string being pulled along the floor. Make it more enticing by wiggling it to make it seem “alive” or add some feathers to the end. Anything to make it seem more prey-like so your cat stays engaged. Just make sure to put the string toy away after playtime. Unattended strings can be safety hazard to your cat.

Play into their Natural Rhythms

Cats are naturally nocturnal. This means they are more active while the sun is down. You’re more likely to get your cat moving by playing during their peak activity levels. This doesn’t mean you have to wake up in the middle of the night to exercise your cat. Your cat might be more interested in playing first thing in the morning or before you go to bed. By working with their natural rhythms, you’ll be more likely to get your cat actively engaged in play time.

 

Fruits and Vegetables Safe for Dogs

Fruits and Vegetables that are Safe for Dogs

Is your dog bored of his plain old kibble and bagged treats? Are you looking for a way to trim down your dog’s waistline? Maybe you’re looking for healthy way alternative to commercially made treats? Fruits and vegetables are great way to add nutritious snacks to your dogs diet. Your dog will enjoy the new yummy additions to his food routine as well. However, some fruits and vegetables are better for your dog than others. Some are even dangerous, so it’s important to know which to give.

Dog-Safe Fruits

  • Apples: Apples are a great lower cost fruit to give your pup. They are full of vitamins A and C which are important for bones and tissues. The core and seeds contain small amounts of poisonous chemicals, though, so make sure to remove those parts.

  • Bananas: Bananas are loaded with potassium which helps supports healthy heart and kidney functions. However, they are a fruit with high sugar and carbohydrate contents so they should be given sparingly

  • Blueberries: These berries have high levels of antioxidants. This means they help prevent cell and tissue damage. They’re also full of fiber which helps keep your dog’s digestive organs functioning properly.

  • Pineapple: These are safe yummy treats for dogs. Like bananas, these are also high in sugar so feed sparingly. Also, make sure to cut off all of the spikey skin because that can be a choking hazard.

  • Other safe fruits: Cantaloupe, cranberries, mango, peaches, pears, raspberries, strawberries

Dog-Safe Vegetables

  • Broccoli: Broccoli is a fiber and vitamin-rich veggie that is safe for dogs. However, in large quantities it can cause stomach irritation in some dogs. Give sparingly.

  • Carrots: These are a great, low calorie treat for your dog. They also aid in oral health because they are so crunchy!

  • Celery: Celery is another great low calorie treat for your dog. It has vitamins A, B, and C and aids in heart health and may even fight cancer. It’s also been thought to freshen your dog’s breath!

  • Sweet Potatoes: These are full of fiber and nutrients, but should only be served fully cooked and cooled. Avoid giving them any sugar-packed sweet potato pies or casseroles, though.

  • Other safe vegetables: Brussel sprouts, cucumbers, green beans, peas, potatoes

Since summer is here and fresh produce will be bountiful in the stores, try giving some to your dogs this season!

Does your dog already have a favorite fruit or veggie? Let us know in the comments!

 

Top 5 Toys for Heavy Chewers

Top 5 Dog Toys for Heavy Chewers

It’s no mystery that dogs love to chew. Chewing is a way for dogs to de-stress and relieve boredom. Biologically speaking, dogs are born to chew. Unfortunately, certain individual dogs and certain types of breeds are known for being heavy chewers. The run-of-the-mill dog toy is destroyed in hours (or sometimes minutes) under the jaws of these pups. Your pocketbook can also suffer after replacing all of these toys. To help you and your dog, we’ve searched the market and found the top 5 toys for heavy chewers.

KONG Extreme

KONG brand has tons of options for chew-loving dogs. From puppies to senior mouths, KONG has a toy for every dog. Their KONG Extreme toy is designed for the heaviest of chewers. The hard rubber is nearly indestructible. It’s multi-purpose design means you have multiple toys in super durable package. You can fill it with treats for long-lasting mental stimulation or use it for a game of fetch.

Jolly Pets Romp-n-Roll

This toy combines two different chew-friendly materials, durable rubber and thick rope. Like the KONG extreme, the Romp-n-Roll is multipurpose and interactive. It can be used for games like fetch and tug-o-war. The ball also floats which makes it a great option for water-loving dogs.

Zogoflex Jive Dog Ball

The Jive Ball by Zogoflex is designed for the bouncy ball loving pooch. Although the rubber is not quite as solid as a KONG Extreme, Zogoflex rubber packs a long lifespan. The company also guarantees a free replacement if it doesn’t hold-up to your heavy chewer. The Jive Ball grooved design means that it has a fun, unpredictable bounce during a game of fetch. They also come in bright colors making it easier to find out in the yard. Zogoflex also has an awesome recycling program. You can send back your dogs old worn out toys and they’ll turn them into new toys. Fun for dogs and the environment.

GoughNuts Original Chew Ring

The original GoughNuts ring toy is another toy so strong that they offer a free replacement if your dog chews through the outer layer. The ring is composed of two layers, an outer black layer and then a red inner layer. Once you see the red layer, that means it’s time to send in your toy for a free replacement. The ring’s uniform design means that there’s no weak points. Dogs will grab the ring in a different spot every time making it wear evenly and slowly.

GoDogs Dino with Chew Guard Technology

In general, plush toys are not the best choice for heavy chewers. Plush toys are easily torn and make a huge mess once ripped open. We know, though, that there’s heavy chewers out there that prefer plush to rubber. GoDogs Dino plush toys offer a great alternative for those dogs that can’t resist a good stuffed toy. The dinos boast a chew guard technology and double-stitched seams. They also offer a one-time replacement guarantee. If the dino doesn’t outlast a standard plush toy, goDogs will replace the toy for free.

Parents of heavy chewing dogs, do not fear! There are tons of great options out there for your heavy-mouthed pet. The above toys are durable and most offer lifetime guarantees. Give them a try and let us know how they work for your favorite dog.