Are you ready for an emergency?

If you are like millions of animal owners nationwide, your pet is an important member of your household. Unfortunately, animals are also affected by disaster.

The likelihood that you and your animals will survive an emergency such as a fire or flood, tornado or terrorist attack depends largely on emergency planning done today. Some of the things you can do to prepare for the unexpected, such as assembling an animal emergency supply kit and developing a pet care buddy system, are the same for any emergency. Whether you decide to stay put in an emergency or evacuate to a safer location, you will need to make plans in advance for your pets. Keep in mind that what’s best for you is typically what’s best for your animals.

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Happy 74th National Dog Week

There’s much you can do to celebrate with your dog and make it feel super special. Here are our top seven favorite ideas:

1. Turn the routine into ritual. A dog’s life really revolves around ritual: the morning walk, mealtime, when their human companion comes home. Celebrating your rituals brings great richness to both dog and human alike.

2. Tell your dog’s story. Share your dog’s history or some special action or accomplishment with friends and family via email, letter or Facebook. Create a family dog tree, documenting your family’s canines through the generations, including names, dates and doggie tall tales, suggests Bless.

3. Give your dog the spa treatment. Do you put off that messy but much-needed dog bath? Set time aside during National Dog Week for a thorough cleaning. Bath time is a great way to bond with a good sudsy massage, while checking your dog for any bumps, lumps and those nasty bugs like ticks or fleas. Splurge on special shampoo, and look for a shop in your area with a dog-washing facility if you want to avoid the mess at home and save your back.

4. Make a doggy date. Treat your dog to a fancy new collar and plan a date to a local restaurant that welcomes pets. Check for restaurants that make a special effort for dogs. The site includes eateries in California.

5. Help dogs help others. Gabriel’s Angels in Phoenix offers pet therapy for abused, neglected and at-risk children, nurturing their ability to love and trust by having them work with animals. “When celebrating or honoring our beloved dogs, we also must celebrate the affect they have on humans — especially children,” says Leslie Sonnenklar, a Gabriel’s Angels board member. Consider volunteering with an organization like Gabriel’s Angels.

6. Help other dog owners. Because of the economy, many dog owners may be struggling to either keep their pet or to provide adequate care and medical attention. Consider holding a dog walk to raise funds for a local veterinary clinic’s Good Samaritan fund, intended to assist needy dog owners in paying for medical care. Or collect dog food for local pantries, since their clients often have pets as well.

7. Add to your family. Consider adopting another dog or convincing a friend to adopt a dog from a shelter. Dogs like friends. If you get one, why not get two? If you can’t adopt, consider making a donation to your local shelter, whether it’s cash, bags of food or even old towels and sheets.

Most of all, remember that your dog is a treasured family member that deserves to be celebrated. Whether you do something special for your dog or for other dogs, you’ll be honoring that relationship.


September is Happy Cat Month

September is Happy Cat Month, dedicated to finding ways to keep our feline friends happy, healthy and purring all year long.

In honor of Happy Cat Month, the CATalyst Council, a national initiative comprised of animal health and welfare organizations working on behalf of cats, has released a list of the top 10 ways cat owners can keep their pets happy:

1. Provide toys. One of the easiest ways to make a cat happy is with a new toy. Every cat has a preference as to what type of toy it likes best, and experimenting with different kinds will be fun for both you and your cat.

2. Train together. Cats are smart and can be trained to do fun tricks–the mental and physical stimulation is great for felines. Teaching your cat to sit, for example, is easy, and training your cat to sit on stools instead of counters will make you and your cat much happier. An added bonus is that training will strengthen the bond between you and your feline buddy.

3. Work for food. Feline obesity is a huge problem, and one way to combat it is to make cats work for their food. Food toys are available to channel a cat’s natural hunting instincts. The toy releases kibble in small amounts. Another option is to hide a cat’s food in different places so that they have to find it. Working for food makes a cat happy because it’s great physical and mental exercise.

4. Get your cat acclimated to the carrier. Many cat owners find that the worst part about taking their cat anywhere is getting it into the carrier. The time to work with your cat on making their carrier seem like a safe, secure and inviting place to be is prior to veterinary visits or family vacations – not when you’re ready to get into the car.

5. Visit the veterinarian. Healthy cats are happy cats. While some owners may dread a trip to the veterinarian with their cat, our practice is cat friendly and will gladly show leery owners how pleasant a trip to the veterinarian can be.

6. Microchip your cat. In addition to a collar and identification tag, owners should ask their veterinarian about microchipping their feline friend. If a cat ever escapes or gets lost, having this type of permanent ID will make a reunion between you and your pet much more likely.

7. Go outside (appropriately). Yes! There are ways owners can safely take their indoor cats outside to allow them to broaden their horizons. Cats can be walked on a leash with a harness or confined in a special outdoor area—always under supervision, of course—so they can periodically and safely experience the world outside their window.

8. Scratch the surface. Cats should have places they are allowed to stretch and care for their claws. Scratching is an important aspect of feline behavior. Providing a long and sturdy scratching post in a vertical, horizontal or angled position is a good way to keep your cat happy … and your sofa, too!

9. Provide preventive medications. No one likes fleas, ticks, mites or heartworms, especially your cat. Even if your cat is kept strictly indoors, they can still be attacked by these little creepy creatures. Talk with your veterinarian about the best preventive plan for your cat. A parasite-free cat is a happy cat—and preventive care will keep your family healthier, too.

10. Think about getting another cat. Cats are social animals, so you might want to consider visiting the shelter and adopting a best buddy for your current kitty. Cats love to play, and a playmate will make them happy—provided they are properly introduced and have the right places to eat, hide, play and go the bathroom. Visit the community animal shelter and see what feline friends they have to offer.

“Studies have shown that having a cat live with you can have many benefits for your health, both physical and mental, so why not give a little back to your favorite furry friend during Happy Cat Month,” says Dr. Jane Brunt, executive director of CATalyst Council. “Most cats just want a home with a comfy couch they can curl up on and a loving owner to stroke their fur and massage their head. During Happy Cat Month, CATalyst Council encourages people without a cat to consider adopting one from their local shelter. If you already have one, how about adding a play mate? Too many wonderful cats are sitting in shelters all over the country waiting for someone to give them a forever home. And last but not least, use some of these 10 tips to spoil your cat a little more than usual during this special month.”


Fall: Back to School Pet Tips

The hurried rush of back-to-school and shorter days means families are spending more time focused on school work and active schedules. Now is an important time to include your recently adopted dog, cat, puppy or kitten in the family’s new routine.

Many families adopt a pet during the summer months because it provides the opportunity to spend the extra time needed for training and bonding with their new family member. Puppies and kittens will often develop lifelong emotional bonds with their new owners during this valuable time.
 As a result, the change in routine when children return to school can be confusing to a new family pet. Instead of going for walks and playing in the yard, their companions suddenly don backpacks and head out the door without them.

Pets are creatures of habit and it is important to establish clear rules and a set schedule to ensure they will be happy and well adjusted. This is especially true of dogs, because they tend to depend on their owner’s attention more so than cats.

Here are a few helpful tips from the Animal League’s Animal Behavior specialists to help young animals cope with back-to-school schedules and your children’s shift in attention:

1. Work with your children to set and follow a daily routine that works for their lifestyle all year long. The schedule should include feeding, walks to one spot for housebreaking (toileting), walks off the property (for socialization) and appropriate play at approximately the same time every day. Establishing a routine your pet can depend on will help them weather any changes that may occur.

Save a special toy that your pet really loves and have your children give it to them just before they are ready to go out. Put it away again once the children come home so it remains the “special toy.”

2. Hide favorite pet treats around the house for your pet to discover while you are away. Rubber Kongs or hard hollow bones can be stuffed with a little peanut butter or cream cheese and can even be frozen for a long lasting treat!

3. Encourage your children to come home right away to care for their pet’s needs and jump into a fun game of “fetch” or “cat and mouse” before starting other after school activities.

Plan fun after school activities for your children to do for and with their new pet – build a cat tree, plan a family game of soccer or go for a hike together. Encourage children to spend quiet time reading out loud to their pets and recording it so it can be played back while the animal is home alone.

These are just a few of the fun and pet-friendly activities you and your children can do to help keep your pet happy and content. Don’t hesitate to write your own back-to-school plan and be creative. Ask your children for their ideas too!