6 Dog Training Tips for Loose Leash Walking

posted Mar 19, 2019, 5:58 PM by Tracy Honstain

Halloween Tips - October 2018

posted Oct 14, 2018, 5:16 PM by Tracy Honstain   [ updated Oct 14, 2018, 5:17 PM ]

Halloween can be a festive and fun time for children and families. But for pets? Let's face it, it can be a nightmare. Skip the stress and keep your pets safe this year by following these 10 easy tips.


1. Trick-or-treat candies are not for pets.

All forms of chocolate—especially baking or dark chocolate—can be dangerous, even lethal, for dogs and cats. Symptoms of chocolate poisoningmay include vomiting, diarrhea, rapid breathing, increased heart rate, and seizures. Halloween candies containing the artificial sweetener xylitol can also be poisonous to dogs. Even small amounts of xylitol can cause a sudden drop in blood sugar and subsequent loss of coordination and seizures. “Xylitol ingestion can also cause liver failure in dogs, even if they don’t develop symptoms associated with low blood sugar,” adds Dr. Jennifer Coates, veterinary advisor with petMD. And while xylitol toxicity in cats has yet to be established, it's better to be safe than sorry.


2. Don't leave pets out in the yard on Halloween.

Vicious pranksters have been known to tease, injure, steal, and even kill pets on Halloween night. Inexcusable? Yes! But preventable nonetheless. Black cats are especially at risk from pranks or other cruelty-related incidents. In fact, many shelters do not adopt out black cats during the month of October as a safety precaution. Make sure your black cats are safely housed indoors around Halloween. 


3. Keep pets confined and away from the door.

Indoors is certainly better than outdoors on Halloween, but your door will be constantly opening and closing, and strangers will be on your doorstep dressed in unusual costumes. This, of course, can be scary for our furry friends, which can result in escape attempts or unexpected aggression. Putting your dog or cat in a secure crate or room away from the front door will reduce stress and prevent them from darting outside into the night…a night when no one wants to be searching for a lost loved one.


4. Keep glow sticks away from pets.

While glow sticks can help keep people safe on Halloween night, they can add some unwanted drama to the holiday if a pet chews one open. “Thankfully, the liquid inside glow sticks is non-toxic, so it won’t actually make pets sick,” Coates says, “but it does taste awful.” Pets who get into a glow stick may drool, paw at their mouth, become agitated, and sometimes even vomit. Coates recommends that if your pet does chew on a glow stick, “offer some fresh water or a small meal to help clear the material out of the mouth.”


5. Keep Halloween plants such as pumpkins and corn out of reach.

While small amounts of corn and pumpkin can be fed safely to many pets, ingesting uncooked, potentially moldy Halloween pumpkins or corn displays can cause big problems. Gastrointestinal upset is a possibility whenever pets eat something they aren’t used to, and intestinal blockage can occur if large pieces are swallowed. Coates adds that “some types of mold produce mycotoxins that can cause neurologic problems in dogs and cats.” So, keep the pumpkins and corn stalks away from your pets. And speaking of pumpkins…

6. Don't keep lit pumpkins around pets.

If you are using candles to light your jack-o-lanterns or other Halloween decorations, make sure to place them well out of reach of your pets. Should they get too close, they run the risk of burning themselves or causing a fire.


7. Keep electric and battery-powered Halloween decorations out of reach.

Electric and battery-powered Halloween decorations are certainly safer than open candles, but they still can present a risk to pets. Pets who chew on electrical cords can receive a possibly life-threatening electrical shock or burn. Batteries may cause chemical burns when chewed open or gastrointestinalblockage if swallowed. Shards of glass or plastic can cause lacerations anywhere on the body or, if swallowed, within the gastrointestinal tract.


8. Don't dress your pet in a costume unless you know they'll love it.

If you do decide that Fido or Kitty needs a costume, make sure it isn't dangerous or simply annoying to your pet. Costumes should not restrict movement, hearing, eyesight, or the ability to breathe. Coates warns that pets who are wearing a costume should always be supervised by a responsible adult so that if something goes wrong, it can be addressed right away.


9. Try on pet costumes before the big night.

Don’t wait until Halloween night to put your pet in a costume for the first time. “Any time you want to introduce your pet to something new, it’s best to go slowly,” Coates says. Get your pet costumes early, and put them on for short periods of time (and piece by piece, if possible). “Make it a positive experience by offering lots of praise and treats,” Coates adds. If at any time, your pet seems distressed or develops skin problems from contact with a costume, consider letting him go in his “birthday suit.” A festive bandana may be a good compromise.


10. IDs, please!

If your dog or cat should escape and become lost, having the proper identification will increase the chances that he or she will be returned. Collars and tags are ideal if a Good Samaritan is able to collect your wayward pet, but microchips offer permanent identification should the collar or tag fall off. Just make sure the information is up-to-date. Use Halloween as a yearly reminder to double check your address and phone number on tags and with the company who supports pet microchips.


Heat Pet Safety - August 2018

posted Aug 7, 2018, 4:19 PM by Tracy Honstain

Firework Safety - July 2018

posted Aug 7, 2018, 3:55 PM by Tracy Honstain   [ updated Aug 7, 2018, 3:55 PM ]

Here are tips:

Before Festivities

Make sure your dogs have updated contact information on their collar or harness (use a sharpie). Consider leaving their IDs and harness on during this stressful time, as the extra excitement could lead pets to run if presented with an opportunity. If your dog gets loose, make sure you have a current photo to help you reunite.

Remember to never leave dogs alone outdoors when anticipating fireworks in your area, even if tethered or in a fenced yard. Dogs, especially, may escape and become lost or injure themselves chewing or choking on their leashes.

Before the fireworks show, put indoor dogs into a small, darkened room they are familiar with. Turn on the radio or TV for distraction and noise, and reward calm behavior with high-value treats.

Exercise your dogs thoroughly before the fireworks start. A tired dog is a less anxious pet and will generally be mellower during the festivities.

Speak to a veterinarian about giving a mild sedative or tranquilizer to calm the fears of an over-stressed dog. Sedation is helpful and keep in mind that noise phobia can get worse as a pet ages.

If their fear seems to be maladaptive or getting worse, consider behavioral therapy to desensitize your dog and reduce the risk of panic.

During Festivities

Unless you know from experience that your dog is not stimulated by fireworks, do not take dogs to fireworks shows. As always, do not leave a dog in a car unattended.

Keep dogs on leash or in a carrier if they must be outside.

Protect animals from children, and children from animals, who may not realize that waving sparklers or setting off "safe" fireworks could upset dogs.

After the cookout, check your yard and your home for food scraps, leftover sparklers, or other debris that could be harmful for your dog.

It's up to us to keep our fur-babies safe and out of harm's way. By planning ahead and keeping their safety in mind, everyone can have a safe and happy Independence Day.

1-4 of 4