Challenges

Ho Ho Ho! Holiday Safety Tips for Pet Owners

Dalmatian by a Christmas TreeHappy Holidays from Dog Tails! All year, we’ve enjoyed sharing our stories and advice with you, our fantastic audience of passionate pet owners. We hope our blog has kept your informed about and, of course, entertained by all things canine (and feline, too)!

In our last post before Christmas, we pulled together one last list of tips to keep your pets safe during the end-of-season holiday madness. Noise, food, decorations, guests, travel – these next two weeks have it all! Follow our final list of tips for 2010, and enjoy the most wonderful time of the year with your wonderful pets!

The Food

Holiday feasts are not only tempting for us, but also for our pets. Be sure to keep an eye out for unattended plates or serving dishes left within reach. Also, don’t forget to watch the trash and any drinks – your pets can get in trouble exploring these things, too!

Extra caution is needed for specific, dangerous foods containing chocolate, xylitol, bones, alcohol or grapes. (For more information on good and bad people food for pets, check out this previous blog post and the ASPCA website.)   As we discussed in our Thanksgiving tips, leftover treats should be kept to a minimum and limited to foods that your pets have tried before without incident. (Nobody enjoys a Christmas trip to the Vet!)

To avoid food-related surprises altogether, purchase or prepare special holiday-themed treats (like these for dogs and these for cats). Inform your guests that table scraps are off-limits for Fido and Fluffy, and instead, have proper treats available so you can include your pet in the holiday festivities without risking any unintended consequences.

The Tree

The Christmas tree is a holiday tradition for many – but it can be a nightmare for dog owners. The ASPCA reminds you to securely anchor your tree to make sure it does not fall, especially if your pet likes to play near it. If you have a real tree, keep your pet away from the tree water. It may contain fertilizers, and if it stays stagnant, it can upset your pet’s stomach and cause diarrhea.

Also, keep your pet away from the tree’s strings of lights. Some dogs are tempted to chew these cords, which can cause a serious electric shock. Check for signs of chewing each day, and do not let your pet play in the tree area if these signs appear.  If you need more than a stern warning to keep your pet away from the tree, you may want to consider using an electronic indoor boundary to ensure the safety of both your pet and your tree.  Indoor boundaries also work well for other indoor areas (such as the kitchen counter!).  Check the Indoor Boundaries section of the DogWatch website for more information.

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Boos and Barks: Halloween Safety Tips for Dog Owners

It’s the scariest time of the year…and we wouldn’t have it any other way!  Halloween is the time for ghoulish decor and frightful costumes.  Trick-or-treaters love the spooky sounds and scary makeup.  However, there is one member of the family that might not understand the fun spirit behind all the “Boo”-rific happenings – the dog.  Halloween can be a difficult day for dogs and their owners, with all the new visitors, strange sounds and unhealthy but irresistible chocolate candy.

dog halloweenTo help you and your furry friend make it safely through this scariest of holidays, the DogWatch Hidden Fences Team has compiled a list of safety tips for dog owners.

1) Keep your eye on the candy!!

As a rule, dogs and Halloween candy don’t mix.  Most dog owners know that chocolate is potentially fatal to dogs.  Less well know is xylitol, an artificial sweetener often found in candy – it is equally hazardous.  (Cats should stay away from these ingredients as well.)

The best way to avoid an emergency trip to the vet is to keep the candy out of the dog’s reach at all times, and educate your kids and your trick-or-treaters.  You may want to keep a bowl of dog treats by the door.  That way, your dog can enjoy his own, much healthier treats, and not miss out on the fun!  Plus, you can give a treat to any neighborhood dogs who stop by with the costumed kids.

2) Costumes should be fun for all.

Everyone loves a dog in a Halloween costume, right?  Well, everyone except perhaps the dog itself.  While some dogs love the attention that comes with a cute outfit, others are miserable in the extra garb.  We suggest trying out the costume prior to the big day so you can make sure it fits properly (i.e. not to tight or otherwise restrictive) and so you know how Fido will react.  If your dog shows signs of discomfort, take off the costume.  It will make the night less stressful for all.

3) Prepare for many little visitors.

For most families, Halloween night means an unusual amount of doorbell ringing and little strangers at the door.  This commotion causes many dogs to react by barking and acting out.  Consider placing your dog in another room with the TV on to drown out the noise.  If your dog doesn’t mind visitors and wants to join the fun, that’s great – yet it is still a good idea to keep a leash on, in case she makes a run for the door.

For those taking your dog with you to trick-or-treat, remember to keep an eye out for falling candy.  Also, for those of you in warmer climates, make sure your dog doesn’t overheat in his costume during the long walk.

As always, we’d love to see pictures and hear stories about your Halloween hijinks.  Share your photos and fun times on our Facebook page!  We hope you all have a happy, spooky and safe Halloween!

Photo by daveynin via Flickr.

Cats & Dogs: Enemies or Best Friends?

dog&catIn honor of the new film Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore, which opened this past weekend in theaters across the country, DogTails is tackling the fascinating relationship between America’s most popular pets.  For every story of a dog who loves cats, there are even more stories of dogs who love fighting with cats.

In honor of this love-hate relationship, we have compiled the following tips to help all the brave animal lovers who share their homes with a dog and a cat.  Follow these tips, and you can help keep the peace between your two furry best friends.

The most important rule of introducing a new dog to your cat (and vice versa) is to take it slow.  When it comes to a dog and a cat’s first meeting, do not just open the door and let them chase each other.  Instead, let the two animals slowly move closer to each other, while maintaining control of them at all times.  As a result, it is best to have another person help with the introductions, so that both animals can be quickly pulled away if necessary.

As always, treats are helpful to encourage good behavior in your dog.  Ask the dog to look away from the cat and look at you.  If he complies, give him a treat – he is doing very well!  If he does not comply, continue working with the dog to calm him down and divert his attention away from the animal. Toys and treats and words of praise are all helpful here.

The ultimate goal is to allow the dog and cat to interact without chasing and lunging.  Some dogs will need more guidance and training than others – it depends on the dog’s breed and history.  Also, you will want to muzzle larger or more aggressive dogs when they are first introduced to smaller animals like cats, to ensure that no one gets hurt.

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Fireworks and French Bulldog puppy

Boom Boom, Woof Woof: Controlling a Dog’s Fear of Fireworks

Fireworks combine awe-inspiring visuals with pulse-pounding sound to create dramatic, can’t miss effects. Yet while we “ooh” and “aah” at these colorful explosions, our animals are often more frightened than enlightened.

In this week’s post, DogWatch has compiled information from dog experts across the country to help you prepare your dog for this year’s Independence Day fireworks shows. We have also looked into another related summer-themed fear common among pets – thunderstorms – and will share those tips with you as well. Your dog may never love fireworks as much as you do, but you can still help him or her stay calm and happy on this most exciting day of the summer. Read post »