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Stay Safe & Sound

Pet Week Message:  Stay Safe and Sound

National Pet Week, May 4-10, is a celebration of the unique relationships formed between humans and animals that often start when a new pet is adopted or rescued from a shelter.  However, many people who bring new pets home fail to plan ahead. New arrivals may wander away, shed hair, chew up items, stain carpets, or destroy furniture.  In these cases, animals may be given up for adoption – which is a shame, because behaviors are controlable.

Being a responsible pet owner means ensuring your dog or cat is provided with proper shelter, food and water, a clean, safe living environment, as well as the attention and training that it requires.  Some people think animals should be left outside, so they don’t have to deal with pet hair or potty accidents, but dogs and cats actually are better off indoors where they are sheltered against the elements, diseases, and injuries. Furthermore, pets feel more like an integral part of the family when they are in closer contact.         

What makes an optimal pet living space?  First recognize that pets are not much different than humans when it comes to comfort.  They like cozy places, soft, clean bedding, fresh water and a sanitary environment free from fleas, ticks, dust, and noise. Veterinarians recommend the following tips for sheltering dogs and cats:

Crates.  Crates are an invaluable tool when house training a new dog.  Dogs have denning instincts and will avoid eliminating where they sleep.

ü    Keep washable bedding and safe toys in the crate and rotate the toys for variety.

ü    Make sure the crate is large enough for your dog to lie down and turn around.

ü    Feed your dog in the crate and offer praise when it rests calmly.

ü    Avoid using crates for time-outs as punishment.

ü    Pet store puppies that spend much of their time in a pen or cage become used to sitting in their waste.  To prevent this behavior, take your dog outside 20 minutes after it eats.  Feed your pet only two times per day—this develops a routine, provides plenty of food, and prevents obesity.

ü    Do not crate your pet for excessively long periods of time

Bedtime.  Once your dog is crate- and potty-trained, allow it to sleep in its own bed or leave the crate door open, in a bedroom with a family member, as dogs are social and enjoy the company.

Cat Protection.  Train your new kitten to use a litterbox, especially when living in apartments or in a home without outdoor litter space.  It’s a common mis-perception that felines will not be happy if confined.  If left outside, cats can contract diseases, get hit by cars, get hurt in a fight, or be poisoned.  Provide lots of play toys and scratching devices for cats to keep them active and stimulated. Install barriers on ledges or balconies to safeguard cats from falling.

Safety and Sanitation.  Cleanliness should be a high priority for any pet owner.  Failing to properly sanitize pet habitats on a regular basis can be dangerous and unhealthy for animals as well as humans.     

ü    When cleaning up after a pet, treat spots with “enzymatic cleaners” to effectively remove the ammonia smell of urine that causes pets to mark again.

ü    Invest in black lights, which illuminate urine stains that would otherwise be difficult to see.

ü    Don’t let pets drink from toilets, especially those with fresheners in the tank or bowl.  The chemicals are toxic.  Cats like to drink from circulating fountains or sinks.

ü    Deter pets from jumping on furniture by placing large-size bubble wrap or foil on chairs and sofas.

ü    Prevent fleas and ticks with products your veterinarian recommends.

ü    Pet dander is a common allergen.  Have your carpet and furniture the animal frequents professionally cleaned periodically.

Home care is only one defense and must be coupled with regular veterinary wellness exams to ensure pets receive proper preventative care. You can prevent internal parasites like roundworms, hookworms and tapeworms and external parasites like fleas, ticks, and ear mites.  Regular pet grooming is also important, and allows owners to discover problems much sooner than if they were not so closely working with their pet. 

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