Abytes Pet and Animal

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Month: May 2015

Recognizing and Treating Pain in Your Pet

If your pet’s in pain, you may not even hear a peep out of him — so how do you know when he needs your help?

Treating pain in your dog or cat can be difficult, because while people are “painfully” aware when they are in pain, animals are much more stoic. Therefore, it’s oftentimes difficult to know when animals are actually suffering or in pain. Most importantly, they can’t open their mouths and say, “Hey mom, I’m in pain over here. Can you help me?”

Thus, pain management has become an important issue in veterinary medicine. Organizations such as the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine Center for the Management of Animal Pain, the Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine, the Humane Society of the United States, and the Companion Animal Pain Management Consortium are all committed to studying pain and pain management in animals. Studies have shown that by helping your pet avoid pain, you may be able to speed the recovery process, whether from surgery or injury. Best of all, because it reduces stress and increases a sense of well-being, pain management may even help your beloved pet live longer.

Signs Your Pet Is in Pain

When humans feel pain, they complain. However, when it comes to our pets, we rarely hear a peep out of them. So if they can’t tell us, how do we know when our pets are in pain?

Pay attention. While your pet can’t talk, they oftentimes send us signals that indicate they are suffering from some type of acute or chronic pain.

  • Unusually quiet, listless, restless, or unresponsive
  • Whining, whimpering, howling, or constantly meowing
  • Biting, either itself or those around it
  • Constantly licking a particular part of the body
  • Demonstrating uncharacteristic behavior (e.g. overly aggressive or submissive)
  • Flattening the ears against the head
  • Having trouble sleeping or eating
  • Appearing excessively needy; seeking a lot more affection than usual

How You Can Help Your Pet

If you suspect your pet is in pain, contact your veterinarian immediately. He or she will perform a complete medical evaluation to help you assess the cause of the pain and potential solutions.

As with any medical condition, your veterinarian is your best ally in identifying and managing your pet’s pain. Pain management requires a team effort, but the end result can be a happier and healthier companion.

Pet Proof Your Home

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A new pet is more than an adorable bundle of fur; it’s also a big responsibility. That pesky puppy or curious kitten can find lots of ways to get into trouble, and — contrary to popular opinion — pets don’t always intuitively know what can be potentially harmful to eat or drink. A pet’s safety always comes first, but you’ll also want to take steps to safeguard your furniture, carpeting, and other belongings (including that favorite pair of shoes). Read on for tips that will help you pet-proof your home.

Pet Safety: Gates and Latches

“The most common injury in new pets that I see in my practice is puppies falling off beds, sofas, and other high furniture,” says Ernest Ward, Jr., D.V.M., the founder and chief of staff at Seaside Animal Care in Calabash, North Carolina, and a regular guest on The Rachael Ray Show. To prevent such falls, keep your pet off high furniture — a rule that holds for kittens too, says Ward.

It’s also important to restrict a new pet’s access to your home by shutting off rooms with a closed door or child gates. “This not only prevents accidental injury but also can help curtail house-soiling problems,” says Ward. Establishing boundaries for your puppy or kitten early on leads to a well-trained adult animal.

Household Cleaners, Chemicals, and Plants

While your pet is still getting accustomed to its new home, install childproof latches on cabinet doors and keep household chemicals and cleaners — such as bleach, ammonia, and antifreeze — well sealed and out of your pet’s reach.

For dogs, the most dangerous common toxin is antifreeze, says Dr. Louise Murray, D.V.M., director of medicine at the ASPCA’s Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital in New York City and author of Vet Confidential: An Insider’s Guide to Protecting Your Pet’s Health. “A dog may lick it off the floor while its owner is working on a car,” she says.

For cats, the most dangerous toxin is the lily, which can cause fatal kidney failure if even a leaf is nibbled. Other common houseplants are also toxic to dogs and cats; ask your veterinarian for a list.

“People Food” and Other Common Pet Dangers

Ward recommends that animals of all ages be kept away from “people food” — onions, garlic, chocolate, and raisins, in particular, are harmful to pets.

Pet medicine is designed to taste good to dogs, which can tempt them to chew through the bottles, leading to overdose. Some owners give their pets medications meant for people, such as ibuprofen, a hazardous practice that can cause damage to pets’ intestines and kidneys. Murray recommends keeping human and pet medications separate, and keeping both safely stored away.

For further information on poisonous household items, visit the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control FAQ.

Electrical cords are another potential hazard, says Ward, because teething puppies enjoy chewing on squishy wires. Unplug unnecessary cords and purchase protective covers for outlets and power strips.

The Great Outdoors

Many pet owners believe that their new pets’ instincts will keep them away from harm, a common assumption that can seriously endanger pets left free to roam outdoors. “Their instincts were designed for a world we don’t live in today,” says Murray.

Letting dogs and cats run loose outside can lead to fights with other animals, as well as injuries from cars and people. Murray recommends keeping dogs on a leash at all times outside. Cats should be kept indoors for the most part, although they can be allowed to venture into a backyard if they’re kept on a leash under their owner’s supervision.

Keeping a Healthy Home With Pets

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There’s no doubt about it — pets add joy and contentment to a home. In fact, numerous studies have shown that people who live with pets report they are happier and healthier than those who don’t.

And yet there are health factors those who keep furry friends inside should heed — such as managing the shedding, fleas and ticks, accidents, and other issues indoor pets can bring. And with 70 percent of U.S. households home to a dog or cat, according to American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, that includes just about everyone.

Approximately 10 to 15% of people are allergic to pets. Cat allergies outnumber dog allergies two-to-one. “There really is no allergy-free pet,” says Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America spokesperson Angel Waldron. “There are just pets with less dander.” Dander, a common source of pet allergies, is dead skin shed by pets on a daily basis. Urine and saliva are other typical sources of pet allergies.

Still, about one-third of Americans allergic to cats decide the benefits of animal companionship outweigh the downside of allergy symptoms and decide to keep cats anyway. In such cases, there are steps one can take to minimize the reactions, says Waldron.
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And allergies aren’t the only reason to think about your pet’s affect on your environment. Keeping a pet-friendly and easy-to-clean home is beneficial to your health — allergies or not. Keep the following tips in mind to make your home a haven for yourself and your furry friends:

Limit Access: Your spend a lot of your time in your bedroom. Therefore, limiting a pet’s access to sleeping quarters is key for people with allergies, says Waldron. Keep the door shut, set up sleeping quarters for Fido or Fifi elsewhere, and make the bedroom a dander-free zone. If allergies are severe, limiting the pet’s access to other shared areas may also be needed. Have someone without allergies handle tasks such as grooming, maintaining the pet’s bedding, and cleaning the litter box. Because dander can linger, it may take weeks or even months to see results.

Think Hardscaping: Wall-to-wall carpeting may be comforting underfoot, but it can also provide a haven for dander, fleas or ticks, and be difficult to clean if the pet has an accident. “Hard flooring is the best option for pet owners,” Waldron says. Think tile, linoleum, vinyl, hardwood, laminate, or concrete when choosing flooring options. Renters or those who can’t replace flooring can still keep pets out of carpeted areas. Area rugs over hard flooring — vacuumed weekly and steam-cleaned monthly — are a better solution for those who can’t stand the thought of bare floors, Waldron says.

Be Wash and Wear: Pet owners are wise to choose easy-to-clean furniture as well. Leather, wood, or plastic don’t stain as easily or trap dander or fur, and can be wiped down with a damp rag. Plain water works excellently, Waldron says, and won’t irritate those sensitive to chemicals like commercial cleaners. When fabric must be used, choose a smooth surface, such as microfiber. Another tip: For less lint-rolling choose furniture that complement the color of your pet’s fur, rather than contrasts with it. A beige couch is a better choice for a home with a golden retriever than a navy blue one, for instance. If someone in the home has pet allergies, keep pets off upholstered furnishings altogether.
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Suck It Up: Frequent vacuuming (at least once a week) of carpeted and hard flooring is key to eliminating shed hair and dander in the home, Waldron says. Look for a model with a HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter, which can trap over 99 percent of small particles, such as dust and dander. Empty canisters or change vacuum bags frequently, and make sure filters are clear as well, because a clogged vacuum can literally turn into a dander-spreading device, shooting clouds of dust and debris in its wake. If someone in the home is especially allergic, consider purchasing a second vacuum for use in their bedroom only to prevent cross contamination from other areas.

Seal it Off: Likewise, a home’s central air unit can become a mode of transportation for pet dander as well. Install HEPA filters and consider closing off vents to bedrooms where family members with allergies sleep or covering the vents with filter fabric to trap debris, Waldron recommends. A HEPA air filter unit in the bedroom itself adds another layer of protection against allergens.

Be Slick: Finally, don’t forget dander, oils from the animal’s skin, and dirt can build up on walls, doors, and trim that pets rub against . Gloss or semi-gloss paints are easier to clean, and stand up to repeated wipe-downs better than flat paint. Pet owners should avoid heavily textured wall coverings or heavy fabric drapery, as well. “Less is more,” says Waldron.

By keeping these simple tactics in mind, pet owners and their companion animals can continue to share a happy and healthy home. And that’s good for everyone.

How to Find a Pet Friendly Place to Stay

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Finding a pet-friendly place to stay can involve a number of factors. Imagine driving all day with a long-suffering, trusty animal companion by your side, then finding the only hotel for miles around doesn’t admit pets.

This scenario may have been all-too-familiar a few years ago, but the ever-increasing number of pet travelers has made a huge impact on the industry. Hotels, bed-and-breakfast inns, resorts, and private rentals are now vying to attract four-legged customers.

About 35 percent of hotels in the United States and Canada allow pets to bunk with you, according to DogFriendly.com, a Web site that tracks dog-friendly hotels and lodging, ski resorts, campgrounds and RV parks, beaches, and dog parks. The site also offers city guides and event listings.

With a little planning, it’s easy to find the right place to meet both of your needs.

Catering to Every Taste

For the upscale pet traveler, hotels offer intriguing options:

The St. Regis Aspen is pet-friendly. Pet owners fret not: even the dog beds have Frette linens.

Hilton properties recently developed the Hilton Pet Friendly collection for dogs and cats, designed by artist William Wegman, famous for his Weimaraner portraits and calendars. The collection includes a stain-, water- and microbial-resistant pet bed. If you need pet-friendly information, the Hilton’s pet concierge service is happy to help.

Austin’s Driskill Hotel was named the nation’s top pet-friendly hotel this year by Animal Fair magazine. Pets are served gourmet treats, bottled water, and can sleep on a custom pet bed. One pet package provides champagne and chocolate-covered fruit to the “pet master.”

For owners who realize their pets might not insist on high thread count, medium- and lower-priced motels and hotels also offer lodgings for furry travelers.

Don’t rule out campgrounds and RV parks for a fun vacation. Check the specific rules at each facility before hitting the road.

Emerging Trends

As the humanization of pets continues to grow, different ways to please and care for them are being offered by businesses savvy enough to know pet owners are willing to pay for something extra.

A new trend is the cage-free care facility, connected to resort hotels, which offers 24–hour supervision and companionship. This option provides a vacation for both of you, enabling you to see your pet when you feel like it.

The Grand Traverse Resort and Spa near Traverse City, Mich., recently rolled out “The Dog House – The Ultimate Dog Retreat.” Four-legged guests can relax in a homey atmosphere with three separate play/slumber rooms, plenty of toys, and fenced-in grassy play areas. Cozy beds, daily walks, and filtered water and treats are part of the $35-per-night package.

Unusual and fun activities – including hiking, doggie yoga and surfing – are available at some resorts. In fact, earlier this year, the Loews Coronado Bay Resort in San Diego hosted its third Surf Dog-a-Thon fundraiser, with 60 surfing dogs.

Last-minute plane trip? Paws4Paradise, located outside Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, operates a 24-hour-a-day upscale hotel for dogs and cats. Owners can assuage their guilt of sudden or frequent departures by having their pets indulge in “pawdicures,” haircuts, and massage therapy.

Need to relocate? Call NorthStar Moving Corp. The company, which specializes in moves in and out of California, offers pets a first-class way to relocate. Cats ride in an 11–by–9 foot compartment, the A.L. Webber, with a flat-screen TV for bird watching. Dogs have custom services provided by pet care specialists in “The Paris.” These services, designed to reduce the trauma of relocation, were dreamed up by NorthStar and two partner organizations: the California Center Inc. of Los Angeles and Tamar Gellar of The Loved Dog cage-free dog-boarding facility.

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