9 Tips for Pet Safety Around the Holidays

The holidays are a special time of year, bringing together loved ones for joyous celebrations. The tree is trimmed, lights adorn the home and families feast together upon scrumptious holiday spreads. Our furry friends are just as enthralled by the occasion, with more time to play with and snuggle up next to family members, exciting decorations and gifts to explore, and plenty of accessible leftovers and treats to nibble on.

Unfortunately, not all of our beloved festive elements are safe for our pets. Some of our favorite decorations and foods can make them sick or pose hazards to their well-being. If your family is celebrating its first holiday season with a dog or cat in the home, take these nine pet-safety tips into consideration for a safe and festive season for all.

Stabilize the Christmas Tree

Dogs and cats are curious creatures. Once the Christmas tree enters the home, there’s no doubt they will be likely to explore. And, yes, sometimes even indoor play can become rowdy. Take extra care this year (and the years ahead) to make sure the tree is stable and secure in its stand, and that the base is large enough to support the size of the tree. As an extra measure, you can tie your tree to a door frame. The last thing you want is to watch as a movie-like scene plays out in your living room and the tree comes crashing to the floor—or worse, lands on top of your pet or a small child.

Get Rid of the Tinsel

Tinsel can be a fun element to decorate your tree with, but it’s no friend to your pets. Both cats and dogs might be tempted to eat this sparkly trimming and, if they do, it can cause intestinal blockages. This year, get rid of the tinsel. And, while you’re at it, make sure your other holiday decorations don’t pose threats: keep homemade ornaments with food-based materials higher up on the tree, set smaller trinkets out of reach and clean up any broken ornaments as soon as possible.

Hide the Wires and Cords 

The wires and cords for your holiday decorations and lights should always be tucked away. Curious pets can suffer electrical burns if they choose to bit into one of these cords. If you have extra cord at the end of a string of lights, try to wrap it up and tuck it beneath a rug or tree blanket. This goes for your outdoor lights, as well. Ensuring that excess cords are wrapped up and taped down, tucked under mats or along the home’s siding will keep your pets—and you and your guests—safe from electrical mishaps and falls. 

Say “No” to Festive Plants

A red poinsettia and a handful of mistletoe or holly might seem like the perfect finishing touch for a holiday party. Unfortunately, these plants and others (amaryllis, balsam, pine, cedar) can be dangerous—even poisonous—to our pets. Unless you can be absolutely sure your pet has no access to these plants, it’s probably best to keep them out of the house.

Check out the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ full list of toxic and non-toxic plants for cats and dogs.

Don’t Leave Leftovers Unattended

In most homes, the meal is a central feature of any holiday gathering. The event can span hours, from appetizers to dessert, and often incorporates more than just a single room in the home. As tempting as it might be to leave the mess of leftovers and dishes behind for an hour, this opens up the perfect opportunity for your pets to fill their tummies, too. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, table scraps can be extremely dangerous for pets, especially turkey and turkey skins, gravy, meat fat, bones, onions, yeast dough and more. Be sure to promptly clear the table and keep these human-only foods out of reach from your furry friends.

Careful with the Treats

Sweets are a holiday must-have for most people, and they’re often amply found throughout the home during gatherings. We all know chocolate is dangerous to pets, but so are artificial sweeteners found in many candies and store-bought baked goods. Be sure to keep these sweets and treats in secure containers and resist sharing the sugary goodness with your pet.

Watch the Door

As guests come in and out of your home for an evening of celebrations, make sure to keep the doors to your home closed so that your pets don’t find their way out into the cold without you. It’s a great idea to microchip your dogs and cats in case one were to ever go missing, and an identification tag and collar can help make for a quicker return. If your pet doesn’t already have one, look no further for the perfect holiday gift idea!

Let Your Guests Know

You alone can’t be responsible for every door left open, plate of leftovers set on an unsupervised table and uncovered treats brought into the home. When hosting a holiday gathering, be sure to let your guests know that you have pets and that the doors need to stay closed and foods and treats minded. Other pet owners will be more than happy to oblige by the simple rules, and those who don’t know the dangers of holiday edibles and decorations won’t mind the guidance.

Find a Good Pet Boarding Facility

In the case that you’re leaving town for the holidays and can’t take your pet with you, make sure he has the best care possible, making his holiday most comfortable. If a house sitter is not feasible, consider a professional pet boarding facility. Your dog or cat will be in good hands with plenty of playtime to pass the days you’re away.    

Though there are plenty of cautions to be mindful of with pets in the home around the holidays, the love and playfulness of your pet is well-worth the extra considerations. Don’t forget to include your pets in the holiday celebrations. Special toys and pet treats will let them know they’re a part of the fun.

(Photo ©Nagy-Bagoly Ilona/123 RF Stock Photo)

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4 Tips for Cold Weather Pet Safety This Winter

The first snow of the season has already arrived in the Inland Northwest, blowing in with freezing temperatures. If your dog is like most, the first snow means a day full of excitement, with plenty of outside playtime. And, much like kids, they’ll often remain outdoors until they’re cold to the bone.

Our furry friends are just as sensitive to the weather elements as we are. We all know how dangerous leaving our pups inside cars during warmer months can be, but the winter temps are just as problematic. The effects of the severe cold and snow can sneak up on your pup without you noticing, unless you pay attention to the limits and are aware of the signs to look for.

Ensure your dog’s safety and warmth this season (and every season) with these cold weather tips.

Stay Indoors

When the temperature dips below freezing, it’s best to keep your dog indoors as much as possible. Refrain from leaving your pup outside for any lengthy duration—playtime and potty breaks should be quicker than usual, too. According to the American Veterinary Medical Foundation, “Longer-haired and thick-coated dog breeds, such as huskies and other dogs bred for colder climates, are more tolerant of cold weather; but no pet should be left outside for long periods of time in below-freezing weather.”

Also, be sure to crate train your pup before winter, so that you can leave him or her inside the home and comfortably warm while you’re out and about. Just like during the hot summer months, leaving your dog in the car while running errands isn’t a safe an option.

Check the Paws

Checking your pup’s paws is one of the most important factors in ensuring his or her well-being during the cold-weather season. The winter elements can cause cracked paw pads and bleeding, and walking through snow and ice can cause ice ball accumulation between toes. Try to inspect your pet’s paws regularly after returning inside from the elements. Trimming hairs between your dog’s toes can help decrease the ice buildup and, if you notice cracking and bleeding of the paws, it might be a sign that more time needs to be spent indoors.

In addition to checking your dog’s paws for cracks and ice balls, make sure to wipe them off after any trip outside to places where deicers and antifreeze chemicals might have been used. Not only can these chemicals get tracked into the house on your dog’s paws, but they are poisonous to your pup if he or she licks its paws. For your own home’s walkways and driveway, use a pet-safe deicer to avoid this everyday hassle. 

Consider an Extra Layer

Not all dogs are bred for cold-weather climates. Many short-haired breeds and smaller dogs are less tolerant of the chilling conditions. For these pups especially, a warm dog coat or sweater is a great option for trips outdoors. Perhaps more importantly, dog booties can help protect your pup’s paws, making even the quicker trips outdoors far more comfortable. 

Watch for Problem Signs

Dogs are susceptible to hypothermia and frostbite just like we are. Pay attention to the symptoms. Bring your pup inside immediately if you notice whining, shivering, signs of anxiousness or weakness, or if your dog slows down or stops moving. It’s important to contact your veterinarian immediately if you suspect hypothermia or frostbite.

Particularly with older dogs, medical conditions such as arthritis can worsen during the colder months. A trip to your veterinarian for an annual checkup around this time of the year will help make sure your pup is healthy and ready for the season ahead.

There’s no reason not to enjoy some precious moments of playtime in the snow with your pup. In fact, a winter without these memories just wouldn’t be the same. Play it safe, however, by limiting outdoor time and following these tips to keep your pup healthy and safe. 

Going away this winter? Contact K9 Country Club to arrange dog boarding so that your pup can stay happy and warm while you’re gone.

 

Jorge Mauro Fernndez/123 RF Stock Photo)

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What is Protection Dog Training? 

Dogs provide comfort in more ways than one. Sure, they will gladly accompany you along an otherwise solo hike or cozy up next to you when you’re feeling sad. They make each and every day exciting and fun with their energy and playfulness. But when danger lurks, those with specialized protection dog training are ready guard your home from intruders or spring into action to keep you and your family safe and sound.

Obedience and crate training are just the first half of the resume for these well-trained pups. The two types of protection dog training—personal protection dog training and estate and article protection dog training—each provide increased comfort in knowing your dog has your back. When bringing a new dog into your family home, protection dog training is often the most logical next step after obedience and crate training.

Personal Protection Dog Training

Having a trained personal protection dog by your side can make nights spent home alone, running errands solo and taking road trips to unfamiliar places less worrisome. Whether you’re a single female or a family with children, personal protection dogs are a wonderful addition to the household.

Through specialized courses with a professional dog training company, dogs learn to distinguish between normal and aggressive behaviors of strangers. When identifying aggressive and threatening behaviors, dogs are taught how to protect their owners by vocal and physical attacks on the suspect. The identification and repetition of practice attacks instill intuition and reaction in your dog. When called upon in a real-life scenario, your dog will be better able to protect and defend you and your family members from an intruder, kidnapper, carjacker or attacker.

Among breeds that do exceedingly well with personal protection training are the German Shepherd, Rottweiler and Doberman Pinscher. The size, strength, training ability and loyalty are contributors to the success of these protection dogs.

Estate and Article Protection Dog Training

Quite different from personal protection dogs, estate and article protection dogs are trained to guard and protect possessions and homes while owners are out-of-sight. When dogs trained in estate and article protection are told to watch over an item, be it a wallet, vehicle or child, the dog knows to stay with it and protect it from strangers until your return.

Good estate and article protection dogs do not need to be quite as large and strong as personal protection dogs, though the same breeds do well with this training. Others include Schnauzers, Scottish Terriers and Rhodesian Ridgebacks.

Choosing to train your dog in personal protection or estate and article protection is not a decision to be made lightly. The skills your dog learns should only be called upon in situations deemed absolutely necessary and not as a game or showcase. Professional and trusted dog training companies, like K9 Country Club and I-Guard International, require an owner’s background check and an evaluation in order to pursue protection dog training services.

Dogs trained in either or both methods of personal protection are loyal protectors in a myriad of circumstances. Their natural-born companionship and professionally trained skill-set may one day prove to play a role in ensuring the safety of your family.

(Photo: ©Mikhail Maslov/123 RF Stock Photo)

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How Your Dog Can Benefit from Canine Hydrotherapy

Just like humans, canines can suffer from many of the same health ailments. Arthritis, muscle atrophy, spinal injuries and hip dysplasia, among other conditions, can cause great discomfort in dogs if left untreated. Fortunately, hydrotherapy can help your pup recover and regain mobility, just as the water exercise therapy helps humans do the same. According to K9 Country Club, the use of hydrotherapy can reduce a dog’s recovery time by up to 60 percent.

Not only is hydrotherapy used as a treatment for medical injuries and diagnoses, dog owners often seek hydrotherapy for their pup to help control weight, improve coordination and range of motion, prevent injuries, and as general conditioning and massage techniques. 

How Does Hydrotherapy Work?

Hydrotherapy tanks offer dogs the ability to exercise and work on mobility without the effects of gravity. The water-filled tanks keep the body buoyant when submerged, which reduces stress on the joints. The underwater treadmill encourages movement, aiding in rehabilitation and conditioning efforts.

What Are the Benefits of Hydrotherapy?

Chambers with an underwater treadmill create resistance suitable for low-impact muscle strengthening. This can help improve a dog’s joint flexibility, circulation, endurance and strength. It can also aid in improving range of motion and agility. The temperature-controlled water reduces joint swelling and pain, especially in arthritic dogs. Additionally, water exercise encourages better digestion, assists in weight loss, helps rid the body of toxins and can improve the immune system.

What Can Hydrotherapy Treat?

Benefits of this water exercise treatment can impact dogs suffering from a long list of ailments. It is used as a post-surgery recovery method, as well as for pain control, weight control, injury prevention and general conditioning. According to K9 Country Club, hydrotherapy can help treat or improve the following health conditions:

  • Arthritis
  • Muscle atrophy
  • Spinal injury
  • Paralysis
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Gait disruption
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Loss of range of motion

Professionals at facilities like K9 Country Club are able to help your pup reach its recovery and health goals with supervised hydrotherapy sessions. To learn more about canine hydrotherapy or to schedule an appointment, contact K9 Country Club.      

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The Dos and Don’ts for Crate Training Your Puppy

Left on their own, puppies have the tendency to show the devious sides of their personalities – using the couch cushions as chew toys and soiling the carpet. Let’s be honest, puppies are kids. Good inside-the-home behavior is a learning process, and your new friend needs some coaching.

Training your puppy is an important part of being a dog owner. And part of that process involves crate training. Crating your puppy while you’re away from home or even while you’re home, busy with a project that keeps your attention away from your dog, is beneficial for each of you. For you and your family, it helps with house training and provides peace of mind that you won’t return to a destroyed home after a day at the office. For your puppy, the crate provides a safe space—a bedroom of sorts—which alleviates anxiety when you’re away, and establishes routine and expectations.

Follow these dos and don’ts for successful crate training.

5 Things You Must Do

Follow a schedule: Establishing a schedule for feeding time, taking your puppy outside (more than once) and crating him is especially important in the mornings before you leave the house. In the evenings, try not to feed your puppy past 6:30 p.m., so that it leaves plenty of time to take him outside a few times before bedtime. 

Remember key times: Puppies generally need to go outside right when you wake up in the morning, 20-30 minutes after eating, after napping and after playtime. 

Pay attention to the signs: If you’re home, be sure to observe your puppy’s behavior. When he begins to circle around an area, that’s a sure sign it’s time to take a trip outside.

Take your puppy to the same spot: Returning to the same area outside helps your puppy to understand why he’s there. Once your puppy relieves himself, be sure to give him a little praise to reinforce this action. The routine, once learned, becomes habit.

Remove your puppy’s collar or harness when inside the crate: Removing your puppy’s collar or harness when inside his crate is for his own safety.

5 Things You Should Never Do

Never use the crate as a punishment: In order to establish the crate as a safe and positive place, never put your puppy inside of it as a punishment. This action will give the crate a negative association.

If he begins to bark when you put him in the crate, don’t give in: In the beginning, your puppy may bark or cry when placed in the crate. This is normal. Comforting him or letting him back out will only prolong the process for your puppy to get used to his crate. 

Don’t put the crate in an isolated space: This is especially important when you’re home. Puppies feel more comfortable when their owners are nearby. Try to place the crate in an area of your home where your puppy can see you.

Don’t leave him out of the crate if you’re not there to supervise: Until your puppy is grown and good behavior inside the home is learned, refrain from allowing your puppy to roam your house without supervision. This allows more opportunities for mishaps.

Don’t leave him in the crate all day: Puppies just can’t hold it. Though puppies don’t like to urinate where they sleep, if they’re neglected and left inside the crate for too long, it’s not their fault.

Crate training is a process, and one that requires routine and dedication. Accidents will happen, and it’s important not to overreact. As your puppy gets older, time outside the crate can increase. And with positive association with the crate, your dog will have a safe haven to retreat to when needed.

For more tips on crate training your puppy and information about obedience training classes, dog boarding and more, contact K9 Country Club.

(Photo: ©fotojagodka/123RF Stock Photo)

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5 Worthwhile Benefits of Obedience Dog Training

Puppies will be puppies and dogs with be dogs. This is true in many scenarios, like when your dog chases its tail, sneaks a slice of pizza left unsupervised, and shakes the pool water off itself and onto everyone within 15 feet. “Dogs will be dogs” is not an excuse for disobedience, however. Just like children learn manners and what is right and wrong, our furry family friends need the same training.

Dog obedience training has many benefits for both puppies and older dogs joining new homes. It’s a way to establish rules between you and your dog, with the help of expert dog trainers who understand canine behaviors and training techniques better than the rest of us.

Participating in a dog obedience course has five worthwhile benefits for you and your dog.

Bonding Time with Your Dog

The dedicated time for training with you and your dog provides an excellent opportunity to bond with your new best friend. Attend these training sessions and focus on you and your dog’s time together, without distractions on the mind. Your dog will enjoy the quality time with you. Chances are, it’s not every day your pup gets a solid time frame of your undivided attention.

Opportunity to Learn More About Your Dog

Especially for those who have adopted an older dog, obedience dog training is a chance to gain more insights about your dog’s behavior, temperament and personality. What you learn about your dog during these training sessions can help you understand your new friend and strengthen your relationship with him or her for years to come. Maybe your pup reacts poorly when people raise their arm, or whimpers when a man stomps the ground. Adopted dogs often have backgrounds that remain a mystery to us, but learning how certain movements and tones effect your dog can help you create a comfortable new environment.

Chance to Correct Problem Behavior

Dog owners often seek the help of expert dog trainers when there are problem behaviors that the owners are unable to fix on their own. Obedience dog training addresses these problem behaviors. Correcting problem behavior is often a process that requires patience and understanding, and the dedication to adhere to strict rules—it’s not a one-time fix during training sessions. Some dog training companies, like K9 Country Club, offer boarding and training options so that expert trainers have more one-on-one time in-house to help correct major problem behaviors.

Time for Socializing with Others

Puppies and older dogs alike can benefit from time socializing with other canines. This opportunity during dog obedience training helps instill your dog’s friendly behavior when interacting with other dogs, and allows an opportunity to address any problems you and your trainer notice. For pups who tend to be shy and keep to themselves, growing comfortable around other dogs is an important social skill—just as it is for humans. For those with serious social problems, the boarding and training option slowly immerses your dog into controlled social situations.

Ability to Create a Safer Environment

Well-trained dogs pose less of a threat to you, your family members, friends and others who come into contact with your dog. Uncontrollable dogs are often unpredictable and difficult to calm, leading to potential mishaps and injuries. Obedience training helps lessen the possibility of an incident, and if a situation does arise, your dog’s knowledge of commands is likely to help regain control.

Training doesn’t end after the obedience dog training course has finished. These courses help to establish the boundaries, teach basic commands, address problem behaviors and begin friendly social interaction. It’s up to you to continue using and reinforcing the commands and behaviors your dog has learned. The more you know and understand about your dog, the stronger your relationship can become.

Contact K9 Country Club for more information about obedience dog training and its other training options. 

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6 Things to Consider When Boarding Your Dog or Cat

Our pets are members of our family, each with its own personality and “fit” into our complex family dynamics. Sometimes, however, certain circumstances, trips and vacations exclude our furry friends. Leaving your dog or cat in the hands of a boarding facility can be difficult, especially if it’s your pet’s first overnight stay.

Will Fido be well-cared for?
Will he have playtime and be given his medications?
Will it go unnoticed if other dogs pick on him?    

Choosing a pet boarding facility that you can trust may seem like a nerve-racking decision, but it doesn’t have to be. During your research for the best place to board Fido (or Kitty), consider these six questions.

Is it a reputable pet boarding facility?

First and foremost, is the facility at which you plan to board your dog or cat a reputable one? Put on your online-investigating hat and do some digging. What do the facility’s Google and Yelp reviews read? Does the company have an online presence and positive social media interaction with clients? Reading other pet owners’ great experiences boarding their furry family members at the facility you’re considering can increase confidence in your decision. Furthermore, check to see if the company you’re considering has any certifications. This is not a requirement by law, but can amount to a pro on your pro and con list. And finally, avoid searching for the facility with the best rate. A cost of $10 per day is likely not a rate that a facility can charge in order to afford its operating expenses to maintain a sanitary, well-staffed environment.

Is the staff experienced and knowledgeable?

Visit the facility in-person and talk to staff members to get a first-hand experience with the professionals who will be caring for your pet. Are they friendly? How do they treat the dogs and cats they are around? Don’t be afraid to inquire about the staff’s experience, if staff is on-site around the clock and if staff is present when your dog or cat is in the same play area as other dogs and cats. The more you know about the professionals working at the pet boarding facility you’re considering, the more confidence you will gain about the care your pet will receive.

Will my pet have room to play?

Will my dog or cat have time out of its kennel? A week in a 5-foot by 5-foot space is certainly not ideal. Ample space for your pet to play and stretch its legs is a big concern when researching pet boarding facilities. Make a note to ask about playtime details—what is the space like? Are other dogs or cats in the same area at the same time? How long is playtime each day? Better yet—ask to see!

Can I tour the facility?

Any reputable pet boarding company shouldn’t object when potential clients ask to tour its facility. Check out where the kennels are located and what the play area looks like, and keep mental notes about the property’s cleanliness and safety. Are the other dogs or cats having fun, and are they supervised by staff members? Check and check.

Will my pet’s special diet and medications be a problem?

A high-maintenance cat or dog doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a human-only trip every once in awhile; it just means you need to be even more mindful that the facility you choose is accommodating to your pet’s needs. A good pet boarding company’s staff understands that specific diets and medication consistency is key to the health of your pet.

Are my pet’s vaccinations updated?

Each pet boarding facility has its own policy regarding the vaccinations needed before your dog or cat can stay. These requirements may include Bordetella, Rabies and DHPP, in addition to a fecal parasite test. This is for the health and safety of your dog or cat when interacting with others during its stay. The last thing you want to happen on the day you drop off Fido or Kitty is to find out that your pet’s vaccination records are not up-to-date. Make a note to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to update your pet’s records in accordance with the facility’s requirements well before the date of your trip.

Researching the best pet boarding facility is never wasted time when it concerns where your furry family member will be staying while you’re away. The peace of mind from knowing your dog or cat is comfortable, well-fed, safe and having fun allows you to enjoy your time away. Some pet boarding companies, like K9 Country Club, even offer live video feeds so that you can check in on your pet to see what they’re up to.

Contact K9 Country Club for more information about its dog and cat boarding services, rates, vaccination requirements and facility tours.

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