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Holidays & Your Pets

Keep Pets Safe This Holiday Season

Next to spending quality time with extended family and friends, shiny decor and sweet treats are easily some of the greatest parts of the holiday season. However, before you pull out the tinsel or chocolate chips, make sure you establish a safe location to store these items far out of your pet’s reach. No matter which holiday you’re celebrating this winter, there are plenty of pet safety tips for New Year’s Eve, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and so on to help ensure your pets stay safe.

Holiday Decor

Mindfulness when setting up your space for the holidays tops the list of important Christmas safety tips for pets to follow. Decorations are half the fun of the holiday season, but unfortunately, most of them are dangerous to animals. 

Broken ornaments may expose your pets to loose shards of glass, and strands of tinsel may be toxic if ingested. Specifically, cats love to chase the sparkle of tinsel and ribbon, so you’ll want to monitor your feline friend closely around these items.

Twinkling lights add that extra glow, but you want to be sure to tuck excess electrical wires or batteries out of sight to avoid any curious paws. Christmas tree lights tend to heat up rather quickly, and one sniff can result in a bad snoot burn. Put your tree on a timer and never leave the lights on when you’re not home.

Fire can be mesmerizing for animals, so you’ll want to keep any candles out of reach, especially since the holiday scents often smell like food and easily attract those silly rascals. Remember to blow out your menorah candles every night along with any others you have scattered around and never leave any flame unattended!

Festive Greenery

Keeping an eye on festive plants, trees, and other greenery is essential among other Christmas safety tips for pets. While Amaryllis flowers are beautiful, they can be deceiving along with mistletoe, pine, cedar, holly, balsam, lilies, and poinsettias. If you’re not careful, their festive foliage can result in serious medical problems like heart issues or kidney failure, so it’s best for pet owners to steer clear and pick out artificial arrangements instead. 

Regardless of real or artificial, the pine needles found in festive trees and wreaths can be harmful to pets if consumed. Keep an eye on the water source to make sure your pets aren’t drinking it, and try not to leave your pets unattended with these items. It’s safest to choose a location for these decorations that’s off-limits to your pets. Otherwise, select an area that you can temporarily fence or block off if, for any reason, you’re away for the day and make sure it’s completely secure and won’t topple over on anything or anyone.

Seasonal Treats

Fudge, sugar cookies, gingerbread houses, candy canes, cakes, pies, chocolates – you name it, it’s hazardous and should be stored far out of reach. Holiday dinner may also bring temptation, and you may find your pet begging for “people food” under the table. But, It’s best not to indulge your pet with table scraps as consumption of heavy food items like stuffing, turkey, potatoes, and more can cause upset stomach, vomiting, diarrhea, and worse. Also, be sure to put any leftovers away to avoid your pets helping themselves to a snack while you’re in the other room enjoying dessert.

Changing Seasons

Along with festive decor and delectable treats, the holidays bring colder weather than usual. Although adjusting may come easier in Arizona, winter brings excessive dryness, which only increases dehydration risk. Some simple cold weather safety tips for pets, tips for hiking with your dog, or tips for those just looking to take a quick trip to the snow are being mindful of your dog’s age, weight, and size and be sure to check paws regularly for hydration. Smaller or shorter-haired dogs are more susceptible to lower temperatures and may benefit from a festive sweater. In contrast, larger, longer-haired, or double-coated breeds tend to be more tolerating and might overheat if dressed in any garments. 

Additionally, the holidays come with end-of-year excitement, so it’s essential to follow these few pet safety tips for New Year’s Eve to minimize risk and ensure safer celebrations:

  • Keep pets in a secure room
  • Make sure all pets are wearing collars with ID tags
  • Keep alcohol away from pets
  • Never leave pets outside during fireworks
  • Distract nervous pets with white noise or toys
  • Clean up firework debris before letting pets outside
  • Keep streamers, noisemakers, balloons, and tinsel out of reach

Animals love to use their mouths to examine foreign objects, which poses a high risk for choking and swallowing. 

Pets are such a rewarding addition to any household. They deserve to enjoy the holidays in the safest environment possible and to be cared for as we care for ourselves and the rest of our family. By becoming aware of the different hazardous holiday household items, you and your pet will be able to enjoy a safe and fun holiday season together.

 

[DISCLAIMER]

Not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinarian advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian with any questions you may have regarding the medical condition of your pet. If you think your pet has a medical emergency, call or visit your veterinarian or your local veterinary emergency hospital immediately

Holiday Gift Guide for Pets

Stocking Stuffers: Safer Christmas Gifts for Cats & Dogs

You can’t forget to treat your furry friends this holiday season. After all, more toys mean more distractions, comfort when they’re feeling anxious, a quick solution to tiring out an energized pup, and less time spent getting into things they shouldn’t be in.

Picking out Christmas gifts for cats is easier since they’re already pretty picky about toys and well, everything else, but dogs are often quick to accept any kind of toy or treat you present to them. This means that it’s your duty as a pet parent to be especially mindful when picking out stocking stuffers and other Christmas gifts for your pets.

Several factors contribute to the danger or safety of a toy, and many of them depend on the size of your pet, their activity levels and playing environment. Certain gifts for small dogs might not make great gifts for large ones.

Although we can’t deem any toy 100% safe, we can provide you with a simple holiday gift guide for pets to help point you in the right direction.

According to the Humane Society of the United States, different types of toys fit the different personalities of each dog.

Active toys. Hard, rubber toys like Nylabones or Kong-like products that come in various shapes and sizes are great for chewing on and playing with. Rope and woven toys are excellent for multiple-pet households where a lot of tug-of-war goes down. Tennis balls are also perfect for fetching; however, you should discard any that have been chewed up as they can be a choking hazard. 

Distraction toys. Kongs, “busy box,” “feeders,” or other similar rubber products that you can fill with treats are great for distracting your pooch for hours. If approved by your veterinarian, peanut butter is also a fantastic and tasty toy stuffer.

Comfort toys. Soft, plush toys serve several purposes for pups, but this is when the dog type comes into play. If your pet enjoys carrying around soft toys and views this toy as their friend, pick one appropriate to the size of your pup’s mouth. For those that want to shake or destroy their toys, choose one that’s sturdy to withstand such rough-housing and one large enough to avoid accidental swallowing amid that chaos.

The Bark offers some smart, safer, and widely popular dog toy options from reputable pet product companies worldwide.

Additionally, for those on the hunt for Christmas gifts for cats, Chewy offers an array of toys from reputable brands like PetStages, All Kind, Frisco, Ethical Pet, and many more. These serve as great distractions for your kitty counter surfer, hopefully keeping them from swatting all your holiday decor down!

Some things to avoid:

  • Balls with single air holes (these can create a dangerous suction trap)
  • Squeaker toys (unless closely monitored)
  • Sticks and stones (may splinter or become lodged in throat or stomach)
  • Heavily dyed toys
  • Toys treated with fire retardants or stain guard
  • Soft plastics
  • Feather toys
  • Balls with bells inside
  • Toys with plastic inside

Both dogs and cats use toys for comfort, to carry, shake, and roll around with, so the toys you purchase should be interactive yet appropriate for their playstyle and appropriate for their size – you wouldn’t give a teacup chihuahua the same toy you’d give a newfoundland and you surely wouldn’t give that same toy to your cat!

It’s imperative to understand the risks toys pose of ingestion, choking, stomach obstruction, containment of toxic materials, and more. While it’s a federal requirement that products consumed by humans are regulated and inspected for safety, it’s not a requirement for animal products. Exercise caution when purchasing Christmas gifts for your pets, and be sure to supervise their play once you’ve gifted it to them.

If you’re looking to stuff your pets stocking this season, check with your veterinarian for guidance on which toys are safer and which ones to avoid according to your pet’s specific needs. The brands/products contained within this article have no affiliation with AZPetVet, and their presence should not be interpreted as an endorsement or recommendation by our veterinarians.

How to Help Animal Shelters

Supporting Your Local Pet Rescue

For all the animal lovers out there looking for an opportunity to give back, there are several ways to show support to your local pet rescue and other shelters. While local shelters and humane animal rescues work day-in and day-out tending to the needs of each animal they take in, they often do so with limited resources.

Here are five ways to show your support and lend a helping hand to the groups that do so much for the animals and people of our community.

  1. Adopt – If you’ve been considering expanding your family, there’s no time like the present and no better place to look than your local pet rescue group or shelter. As one example, we are a proud partner of the LovePup Foundation and provide essential medical services to rescue pets who are looking for their forever home.
  2. Foster – Fosters can be lifesavers for animals that are struggling to adapt to shelter life, need to be nursed back to health, or require undivided attention and care beyond what shelter staff is able to provide. Foster families and homes are often the backbones of rescue groups. By bringing one or more of these homeless animals into their home, they are freeing up space and allowing the rescue groups to take in and care for a greater number of animals.
  3. Volunteer – Hang up flyers for upcoming events, transport animals, walk dogs, pet cats – you name it. Local pet rescues and shelters can always use an extra pair of hands to help out!
  4. Donate – Along with monetary support, local pet rescues and shelters are always in need of more towels, toys and other supplies. The best way to learn what items your local group needs is by calling. However, some have wish lists on their websites, so check to see how you can best help.
  5. Recognize – Become a rescue ambassador. Share adoption profiles on social media, express gratitude to the people working at your local rescue groups, give them a shoutout, and acknowledge their hard work! By publicly recognizing your local rescue groups, you’re spreading the word to friends, family, and coworkers who otherwise may never have known about the group and their initiatives. Sharing adoption profiles also increases the chances for the animals to find their furever homes!

Every day, the staff at local pet rescues work endlessly to save and protect animals from vulnerable situations. Without the help of their surrounding community and people like you, the animals within these shelters would not have the ability to improve or the opportunity for a second chance at life. Thank you for caring about animal rescue programs. Community support makes a world of difference.

Pocket-Sized Pals: The World of Small Pets

What is a Pocket Pet?

A pocket pet can typically be described as a tiny, on-the-go, pocket-sized furry friend that might love to snuggle in your shirt or pant pocket. There are many different types of small pets to own, and can be a great addition to any family. However, just like any other pet, they have unique needs including housing and dietary requirements. You’ll want to research pet or feed stores that cater to your specific type of small pet. Some pocket-pets have a lengthy lifespan, so do as much research as possible to be 100% certain you’re prepared to commit to caring for your little friend properly for years to come.

For anyone interested in keeping little animals for pets, there are a few essential questions to consider when researching:

  • What type of accommodations will the pet require?
  • What are the specific dietary needs?
  • How much exercise and interaction do pocket pets need?
  • When will the pocket pet be most active?
  • What type of veterinary care will the pet need?

Types of Small Pets & Their Needs

In the United States, some of the most popular small pets to own are rats, guinea pigs, hedgehogs, chinchillas, ferrets, and sugar gliders.

Rats – When you first hear “rat,” you probably don’t think of keeping these little animals for pets. However, they are quite intelligent and surprisingly clean creatures. Their docile demeanor can make them an excellent fit for families with children. They’ll need a large, wire cage with multiple-level platforms for all of their climbing and exercise needs, as well as a hammock or nesting box for them to cozy up in during nap time. They primarily eat commercially formulated pellets along with the occasional fresh fruits and vegetables as treats.

Guinea Pigs – These are some of the more social types of small pets, and they don’t require much more than a well-ventilated wire cage topped with bedding or a soft towel. They eat mostly hay grass and a controlled amount of species-specific pellets. Additionally, vitamin C-rich foods like kale and bell peppers may be recommended by your veterinarian as they do not produce enough vitamin C independently. It’s also essential to provide wooden blocks or treats to chew on to prevent their teeth from overgrowth.

Hedgehogs – These prickly creatures may not make the best pocket pets per se, but they’re still great to have at home nonetheless. They’re shy and often like to hide and burrow. They typically prefer little human handling, and they need a large wire cage lined with bedding. As insectivore-omnivores, they’ll enjoy a mealworm or cricket and pellet combo for dinner with occasional fruits and vegetables as snacks. The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) states that due to their sharp spines, hedgehogs must be sedated for veterinary exams when they receive wellness checks, teeth cleaning, and nail trimming.

Chinchillas – Although very shy and quiet, they often do well when housed with another chinchilla. They’re nocturnal, so they typically sleep through the day just like rats, so a hammock or nesting box is ideal. For diet, much like guinea pigs, they consume mostly hay with a controlled amount of pellets. One unique thing about these types of small pets is that they need dust baths weekly. You’ll need to provide a tray or short box filled with chinchilla dust – made to absorb dirt and oils from their fur. Volcanic dust works wonders, and it’s quite a sight to see them tossing their little bodies around in it!

Ferrets – These furry fellas are very sociable animals and can make great pets, especially if socialized and handled well from a young age. They’re very smart, fast learners, and have personality traits similar to those of cats and dogs. They’re fairly low maintenance, just like cats and can also be trained to use a litter box. They love to roam and climb so a multi-level cage or open space would be best. They also love a soft place to snooze so providing extra cushion or a hammock is perfect.

Sugar Gliders – These are highly social, nocturnal creatures, so they should be housed in groups. If they aren’t receiving adequate interaction with people or other sugar gliders, they can become depressed or develop unwanted behaviors. They require a tall, wire cage filled with branches and various levels for their roaming and flying needs. Just like hedgehogs, they love their insects – but despite their sweet name, avoid feeding any sweet treats or large amounts of fruit.

These are just a few of the many awesome small pets to own. Gerbils, mice, and hamsters are a few more among the best pocket pets to consider. When it comes to welcoming one of these tiny creatures into your home, it’s essential to have a veterinary resource familiar with pocket-sized and exotic animals and their care.

Check out our locations that treat Pocket Pets to find one near you: https://www.arizonapetvet.com/pocketpets-exotics.php 

The sooner you learn the basic care necessities for these pets, the sooner your front pocket can be occupied by your new best pal!

[DISCLAIMER]

Not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinarian advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian with any questions you may have regarding the medical condition of your pet. If you think your pet has a medical emergency, call or visit your veterinarian or your local veterinary emergency hospital immediately

It’s Always a Happy Thanksgiving With Pets

Five Reasons to Be Thankful for Pets

Across the country, on Thanksgiving Day, it’s a common tradition for families to come together to prepare and enjoy a delicious, home cooked meal. Often, before digging in, they’ll go around the dinner table and take turns stating something they are thankful for, and although they may not be sitting at the table, we encourage you to take a moment to give thanks to all of the amazing things that animals give us, too.

There’s no question that pets are great companions that provide us with unconditional love, motivate us to be healthier and help us unwind, and give us a much-needed laugh at the end of a busy work day. But those are just some of the thousands of reasons to be thankful for your cat, dog, and all other animals alike. Here’s a list of five more:

Nonjudgmental. Your pet won’t make fun of your clothes, they will kiss you even when you have bad breath and might even dance along with your terrible dance moves. Pets are great companions because in their eyes, you can do no wrong.

Non-Demanding. Pets don’t ask for much besides food, water, and a safe place to call home. Sometimes they demand more belly rubs or extra treats, but is that really too much to ask for considering all of the things that animals give us? They’ll be the easiest to shop for come Christmas time, that’s for sure.

Best Food Critic. In your pet’s opinion, you are an excellent cook and they probably wouldn’t turn up their nose at a dish that you’ve prepared. But – it’s important to keep the Thanksgiving feast on the table, not under it. Luckily for them, these homemade treat recipes we shared for National Cook for Your Pets Day  are easy enough to whip up for Thanksgiving, too!

Great Listener. You can laugh with them, joke with them, cry with them, spill your secrets to them – they will always listen. Unless you tell them to get off the couch, or stop scratching up the baseboards, or stop stealing and hiding your only good socks, then it seems to go in one ear and right out the other.

Body Warmer. Not only will they happily binge watch an entire Netflix series with you but they’ll cozy up right next to you – or right on top of your feet – and keep you nice and warm when the fuzzy socks or plush blanket just aren’t cutting it.

You’ll never feel alone in the presence of your pet, they’re always thrilled to see you, they’ll comfort you when you’re feeling low and always keep the secrets you can’t share with anyone else. Not only do they warm our feet, they never fail to warm our hearts so be sure to show your gratitude. Keep them close this holiday season, and you’re guaranteed to have a happy Thanksgiving with your pets.