CARE & TIPS:

Muddy Feet
When the weather is rainy, or your pets are outside when the sprinklers are going, you need to worry about their muddy feet when you let them in. Get a mat that the dog can step on before walking onto the carpet. Keep some towels there to wipe the feet with. We line the laudry room with towels so the dogs walk on them as they come in from the garage. Teach the dog to come in and sit, then lift one paw at a time. The routine becomes easier if you do it consistently. If you have a garage that enters into the house, you might put the dog into the garage first, until the feet dry off, then let him in when feet are dry - you might still want to flick off any mud from feet bottoms and from the fur.

Make sure to brush your pet fur in the fall - at least - as the weather gets cooler, they will be shedding their winter fur and getting ready for heavier summer fur (Self-Cleaning Slicker Brush) - if you live in a place with climate changes. Make sure to check for lumps or fleas or scabs as you brush - see if there is anything unusual and tell your vet about that. Keep feeding your pet decent food so his coat stays nice (you can add fish oil). If the coat is drab or flat-like, try to feed him a better diet, or if that doesn't work, ask your vet about it. This may be a symptom of something else.

Make sure to keep identification on your pets, in case they ever get away. Take them on walks in your neighborhood so they will recognize it - in case they get away, they will know how to get back.

Keep your dog leashed when out in neighborhoods - loose dogs can pose a threat to a leashed dog - while the loose dog may be playful and jump up on a leashed dog - the leashed dog sees it as an aggressive act of dominance. A leashed dog may also be protective or non-social. Don't assume a meeting between dogs on a walk will go well. A leashed dog to leashed dog meeting doesn't always go well - an alpha personality may cause conflict.

Keep License and Tags Up to Date. Make sure you have a current license for your dogs and other pets if required - check with your county or city for ordinance requirements. Do not let these lapse or you can face fines - you may get stopped by an animal control person while on a walk or if your dog runs off, the animal control people will find out he isn't currently licensed, if caught. It is a good way to identify a dog, as well. Current rabies certificates are also required - and should be required prior to getting licensed. Make sure to keep these tags on his collar (make sure the collar fits him well so it doesn't come off) at all times. It can save you a lot of grief if something happens. While you're at it, get a recent photo of your pet and update it regularly so you can post it if the dog gets lost. Check with your animal shelter for more information and to find out the requirements. Also - don't keep more than the legally allowed number of pets - you can get a cited. Instead of the S tag holders, I use key rings that stay on the collar longer and better.

What If Your Pet Gets Lost?

  • First - make sure you keep a collar and tags on your pets that can escape - dogs, cats, etc. You should get a chip in them, as well, if you cannot bear or afford to lose them.
  • If your pet gets out and lost, check the local animal shelters. You can try calling the police, but likely they'll just refer you to the shelter - they might be able to update you on a loose dog in traffic, or of one that may have been hit, however. Give the shelters your information on your pet (always have recent photos and keep track of any unusual markings or words that the pet responds to). You may be required to drive to the shelter in person to make your report. Do this for all the nearest shelters around, as soon as you can. Check the websites at the shelters daily in case your pet's photo shows up as a found animal.
  • Place fliers at mailbox units, at neighborhood club houses, or anywhere that many people will pass it and see it. Make sure to include a photo. You can also post them in certain grocery stores.
  • Keep driving or walking the areas that your pet is most familiar with or most likely to have wandered to. Call out so he will respond to your familiar voice.
  • Leave some familiar blankets or toys at your front porch so your pet will recognize he's home if he wanders back into the area. Leave a shirt you've worn with your scent by your door.
  • If your pet returns to you, give him lots of praise so perhaps he'll know he doesn't want to leave your safe area again. Don't punish him - he won't know what is wrong - only that he is back with his family.

If you keep your dogs in a backyard and work away from home - consider putting a lock on the gate. Curious kids and malicious people are known to open gates to either check out your dog or to purposely let the dog out. This happened to my dog below and he was hit by a car, ran to hide, was chased by the humane society someone had called in, and was both severly injured and traumatized. The cost was huge to care for him. After that we put locks on the gate and it's been a huge relief.

Pay Attention to Pet Quirks.
Make sure to monitor your pet for odd behavior, and ask the vet if you should be concerned. Is your pet eating or drinking more or less than usual? Is he actual lethargic or turning in circles? Does he have a hard time eliminating - urine or other? Is he throwing up? Eating poops? Loose stools? All this needs to be watched for - to make sure your dog or pet is well. If you notice anything abnormal about your pet's routine, call the vet and ask. It might be nothing, might be seasonal, might be mating season action, or might signal a problem that needs to be dealt with.

Wipe Those Paws.
It's getting to be another mud season - rain, sleet, snow are coming up. Paws will get muddy and messy. Place a doormat for them to walk on prior to coming into the house, or let them go into the garage until they dry off. Place a towel for them to use when they come in. When it's snowing, melt off the ice and snow from the paws - don't rip them off since these are stuck to the fur between the toes. You can run water over the paws or just let them thaw out inside (or in the garage). If the pads do rip, clean out the wound, put antiseptic (like Polysporin) on it, and wrap it up. Yes, the dog will try to chew off the wrapping, and possibly try to chew the flapping skin off. Try to get him to leave it alone the best you can. You might need to keep him in a room with a floor you can mop, in case he bleeds. Keep good care of his paws and he'll be a happier dog.

Respect Your Animals - Your pets need to be treated with respect - they depend on you to live. They need fresh food and water every day. They need to exercise, just like we do. They need your love and attention - even if you are very busy, let your pet be with you in the room you are working in (unless it's dangerous or you are cleaning with chemicals causing fumes). They are happy to just lie down and watch, just to be near you and hear you talk to them, or follow you around and feel part of your day. Let them sit with you when you watch TV or read the paper or work on your computer. Don't just always yell at your pet or shoo him away. He loves you unconditionally - show him you care about him. Take him for a walk or play ball - it will be a good thing for you, as well - get your exercise while having a fun time with your dog. It might help you see that there is more to life. Pets help soothe people - give your pet the respect he deserves. He doesn't ask for much - appreciate him.

Pets Need Your Contact & Love
If you have a pet, make sure to daily spend time with it - pet it and hug it if you can (depending on the type of pet it is). Most types of pets need contact from you every day to feel loved and cared about. Dogs are very social creatures, pack animals - they need to feel you are in charge of the pack. They need to feel you love them. Most animals will get into trouble if you don't bother to take care of them.

Approaching a Dog With Your Hand
When you meet a new or unfamiliar dog, give your hand to the dog under his chin, so he can sniff it and accept it. Don't put your hand on or over the dog's head - this can cause a defensive reaction - he might snap at you. Dogs may feel charged or threatened when a hand approaches them from above, so be very aware of such action. Many dogs have been hit by their owners from above, and may take if ok from their masters, but are not about to take it from a stranger or non-master. It is a bad idea to discipline a dog by hitting from above the head or on their head. Just be aware that many dogs cannot be approached by a hand coming at them from over hteir heads. It doesn't mean this is a bad dog - it's just not a good practice for any dog - it's likely an inbred behavior to dislike the above-the-head action.

Holidays With Your Pet. Be aware of anxieties your pet may have during the holidays, when there is so much going on, so much noise and commotion. If they are anxious, find a quiet place for your pet to find solace - a room, a dog run, anywhere to give it space. Cordon off areas that might get messed up by a pet run amuck. Don't leave candies accessible to pets, and refrain from giving rich leftovers. You want to keep your pet healthy. A dog with an active tail - put tree ornaments higher than the tail can reach, and keep glasses off tables the dog runs by. Keep your desserts, your turkey, your alcoholic drinks, etc., out of reach from your pets. Keep poinsettias and other toxic plants up high and out of your pet's reach. Use common sense and help your pets deal with the holidays in the safest manner.

Air Travel with Your Pet

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