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Many of us are headed back to work in the coming weeks. That means two things;
- You must ditch the pjs.
- Your pet is going to be spending more time alone.
Big adjustments like moving to a new home or a change in schedule can be hard on pets. That stress can manifest as separation anxiety. The good news is, there’s a lot we can do as awesome pet parents to ease their stress.
In this blog, we’ll discuss signs of separation anxiety in dogs and what we can do to help our pets feel better.
First, if your dog is 5 or more years and you start noticing this behavior, play it safe and call your veterinarian. Frequently, the only sign of a larger health problem is a change in behavior. Even if you’ve had a move or change in schedule, it is possible these behaviors are symptomatic of another problem.
1. Set a schedule:
If you’ve veered off course during quarantine, we’re right there with you, but it’s time to jump back on the wagon. Start getting your pet back on the schedule they were used to when you were working. If they were in a crate most of the day, begin with a few hours of daily crate time. Were walks the first part of the morning? Grab the leash and get going at your normal time.
Our pets don’t understand why we have been spending so much time at home. They won’t understand why suddenly we aren’t with them all day. The more you can get your pet back on your work routine before your quarantine ends, the easier it will be on him or her.
2. Wear ’em out:
Give your dog plenty of exercise and playtime so he or she is ready to relax when you’re gone. Depending on your dog’s breed and age, he or she may need a high level of exercise and mental stimulation.
3. Small Steps:
Begin with small absences, like 5 minutes. This will help your dog understand that you come back, every time. Work up to an hour, but don’t rush it.
What’s your usual routine when heading out the door? Do you grab your keys before you put on your coat? Do you put your shoes on by the door? Try to mix small parts of your routine into your everyday life when you aren’t leaving. Grab your keys, then sit back down in front of Netflix a few times a week. This will help your pet disassociate those items or actions with you leaving.
5. Give ’em something to do:
What are some things you like to do when home alone? Read a book? Workout? Give your dog a little something to do when you’re gone.
Play classical music or the TV. Not everyone likes silence. Your dog might enjoy some tunes. They may even enjoy chasing some butterflies (or a cat) on the nature channel.
Just like us, dogs need mental stimulation. Provide your dog with toys designed specifically for enrichment. See our list below for our five favorite products to ease your dog’s anxiety.
1. Kong Replay Interactive Treat Dispensing Dog Toy: This toy is powered by your dog and rewards him or her for exercise. Watch how it works, here.
2. NaturVet Quiet Moments Soft Chews: For use in stressful situations, these treats help relax your dog with the help of natural melatonin. Learn more and read reviews here.
3. HempWell Calm Dog: One of the highest-quality, American-made CBD products for dogs. This is an oral supplement. Learn more about CBD for your dog here.
4. JW Holee Roller: The possibilities are endless with this toy. This is a great enrichment toy because you can mix up the treats that go inside of it; a pig ear, bone or crinkly toy will keep your dog occupied. The Holee Roller can be used as more than a treat ball. It’s great for tug of war and fetch, don’t forget to wear your dog out as much as possible! Here are 10 uses for the Holee Roller.
5. Kong Goodie Bone: This is a toy that will challenge your dog and work harder for a treat. The Goodie Bone is a great option for heavy chewers. Use this toy in a game of fetch. Add a variety of biscuits, bones or gooey treats to engage your dog. Pro tip: hide this toy around the house when you’re gone for an extra level of enrichment.
As a great pet parent, I know you want to do everything you can to make sure your dog lives a long, healthy life. You already know the health benefits of a high-quality nutritious food, but have you ever wondered if your pup needs supplements, like vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, joint support, etc.?
A few years ago, The Packaged Facts report “Pet Supplements in the U.S., indicated a third of all U.S. households with dogs use supplements, as do about a fifth of households with cats.
“Joint health supplements remain the most commonly purchased condition-specific pet supplement followed by those supporting heart health and skin and coat health, then digestive health/hairball prevention, and omega fatty acid supplements. Probiotics, senior formula supplements, and omega fatty acid supplements were more popular with cat owners, while more dog owners than cat owners give their pets joint health supplements.”
I know you have seen the numerous advertisements for supplements on TV, your computer browser, on the sides of buses and in print….. but are the supplements really necessary? Let’s start with the basics.
Where to Start?
It is important to start by finding a high-quality nutritious food from a well-established company that meets your lifestyle needs. Your dog’s life stage is also important to take into consideration. Is your dog a puppy, a couch potato, Olympic athlete or senior citizen? All these life stages have different nutritional requirements so take advise from your veterinarian and other pet professionals to find the best food for your canine companion.
Just like taking incorrect supplements or too much of any supplement can be bad for your health, the same is true for your dog. Also, never give your pets human supplements! Before you start your hunt for supplements, begin with your veterinarian. Your vet will give your pet a thorough examination and may suggest appropriate medical tests to assess your pup’s health status. It is very possible your vet partner will give your pet a clean bill of health and let you know supplementation is not needed.
If you and your veterinarian decide supplements are necessary where do you start to look, which ones do you need and how much do you give? Your vet will provide you with much of the information, but I know you will want to do some research on your own.
I would suggest you go to your favorite pet store and browse their aisles. I can promise the choices will be numerous and you can get overwhelmed quickly. Find your favorite employee and start asking questions about their supplements, keeping in mind the instructions from your vet.
Here are tips from veterinarians, those who test supplements or work in the industry;
- Look for a brand that specializes in one area, or that has commissioned clinical studies of their products.
- Read labels. Know the name of the ingredient you’re looking for, so you won’t be deceived by sound-alikes.
- Look for a lot number on the product, a sign that the company has set up quality control checks.
- Look for a contact number for the company on the label. Call and ask who formulated the product, what expertise they have, and how long the manufacturer has been in business.
- Be wary of claims that sound too good to be true, such as promises to alleviate diseases like parvovirus, cancer, and hip dysplasia.
- Look for certification from an organization that has independently verified a supplement’s contents.
The most popular supplement for dogs. There is some evidence that it may have modest benefits in the treatment, although not the prevention, of osteoarthritis. But the effects are much smaller in an animal that is overweight. For older dogs, it may relieve joint pain and improve mobility. A 2007 study in “The Veterinary Journal” showed a glucosamine supplement reduced pain and increased mobility after 70 days of treatment.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Limited research exists on omega-3 fatty acid supplementation in veterinary medicine. Fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids that are thought to improve coat quality and alleviate skin allergies. A study in the “American Journal of Veterinary Research” suggests that fish oils reduce inflammation.
Antioxidants such as vitamins C and E are thought to counteract some effects of aging, such as memory loss and cognitive dysfunction. They’re also used as a treatment for heart disease in dogs and to reduce inflammation. Coenzyme Q10 is a natural and powerful antioxidant that helps convert food into energy, as well as fighting free radicals. It’s commonly used as an antioxidant supplement for dogs.
Probiotics use in humans has boomed in the past few years and pet products are not far behind. Probiotics live in the intestinal tract in the form of yeasts and live bacteria that aid with digestion and intestinal health. As supplements, they’re used to treat a wide variety of digestive problems. Probiotics come in several forms, capsules, chews, powders, and are found in some dog foods.
As with anything ingested, some supplements, such as herbals, may interact with medications your pup is taking. Your vet will be able to assess whether your supplement is OK to give your pet. One example is willowbark, which interacts with aspirin and causes what is essentially an aspirin overdose, with intestinal and/or stomach bleeding. Vitamin E and Digoxin (Digitalis) also interact badly; vitamin E can cause a Digitalis overdose, even when the animal is receiving a normal dose of Digitalis.
One of the most common problems come from minerals that are naturally required in the greatest quantity: calcium, iron, copper, and zinc. Over-supplementation of calcium in large and giant breeds can cause joints to break down; also, calcium can bind with other minerals and cause problems. You can also have copper and zinc toxicity because copper binds zinc, so sometimes you won’t see copper toxicity, but you will start seeing a zinc deficiency – not because the diet is deficient in zinc, but because the copper is binding up the zinc and interfering with the zinc in the animal’s body. Please work with your vet who will be able to help with these interactions.
Bottom line – most healthy dogs on a high-quality diet designed for their lifestyle do not need supplementation. If you start to see problems with your pet immediately take him to your vet for a complete physical exam. You and your veterinarian will form a great team and you will know if supplementation is necessary. Follow your vet’s advice and work with your favorite pet store to find the best supplement solution for your four-legged buddy.
Meet Petland’s Consulting Veterinarian, Dr. Thomas Edling, DVM, MSpVM, MPH:
Dr. Edling received his BS in Industrial Engineering from Texas A&M University in 1981 and his degree in Veterinary Medicine (DVM) from Colorado State University. He previously served as Vice President of Veterinary Medicine for Petco and was on the faculty of the University of Wisconsin Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital. In addition, Dr. Edling completed the American Board of Veterinary Practitioner’s residency program for Companion and Wild Avian Medicine and Surgery, at North Carolina State University, where he also received his Master in Specialized Veterinary Medicine (MSpVM) in 2001. In 2011, Dr. Edling completed the Master of Public Health (MPH) program at Johns Hopkins University. As a veterinarian, Dr. Edling works closely with the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians (NASPHV).
With the mild winter it is a good bet that this year will be better for fleas and ticks – but worse for us and our pets. Let’s learn a bit about these pests and find ways to keep you and your pet safe.
What Are Fleas and Ticks and Where do they Come From?
Fleas and ticks are external parasites that can cause extreme discomfort for your pet and serious diseases for you and your pet.
Fleas can be found almost everywhere although they prefer warm humid climates. In most areas fleas are worst mid-late summer and early fall, but are year-round in some areas. Fleas usually enter your life through other flea-infested animals, like coyotes, possums and raccoons, or stray dogs and cats. They live and thrive in your home, yard or most any environment where your dog or cat plays.
Female fleas can produce up to 2,000 eggs in her three-week life span. There are more than 2500 species of fleas, but the cat flea (Ctenocephalides felis) most commonly afflicts dogs and cats.
Once infested with these blood-sucking insects, your pet will suffer from itchiness and could develop flea allergies.
Some pets are so allergic that even a single bite can cause a reaction. In severe cases, flea allergy dermatitis (FAD) can cause severe itching and inflammation that, if left untreated, can damage skin from excessive scratching and chewing. Secondary bacterial or fungal infections can develop as a result.
Fleas can also play a role in transmitting internal parasites, like tapeworms, caused by your pet ingesting a flea. In very severe infestations, particularly in old, ill, or young animals, fleas can remove so much blood through feeding that they can weaken the animal. To top it all off, fleas can also carry bacterial diseases, such as cat scratch fever (bartonellosis), to humans.
Ticks are related to spiders, scorpions, and mites. They are found in every region of the United States. Ticks are most prevalent in the early spring and late fall, although some species can be found any time of year. In general, they prefer dark, moist, brushy places in which to lay their eggs. Animals are susceptible to ticks when walking through the woods or high grass.
Ticks can’t fly or jump. Instead, they rest on the tips of grasses and shrubs, waiting to climb onto a passing host.
There are approximately 80 tick species found in the United States, but only a few cause problems. The main culprits are the brown dog tick (Rhipicephalus sanguineus), deer tick or blacklegged tick (Ixodes scapularis and Ixodes pacificus), and the American dog tick (Dermacentor variabilis). The brown dog tick is the only species that can complete its entire lifecycle on a dog and infest homes and kennels.
Tick bites can be painful and irritating, but the real concern with ticks is the number of serious diseases they can transmit. The deer tick or black-legged tick can transmit Lyme disease. The American dog tick can transmit Rocky Mountain spotted fever. They can also transmit babesiosis, anaplasmosis, ehrlichiosis, tularemia and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. These diseases cause significant illness and even death in both pets and people.
How Do I Know If My Pet Has Fleas and/or Ticks?
Scratching or biting at specific areas is a common sign. Adult fleas are small and can be difficult to see, but flea combs work well to remove fleas as well as flea dirt. Flea dirt is flea feces, which is digested blood. To check your pet for fleas, run a flea comb through your pet’s fur and put the hair and debris onto a damp white paper towel. The dark specks that stain the towel red let you know your pet has fleas. Excessive grooming is a sign of itchiness which might point toward fleas.
The large tick species can be seen or felt in the hair coat, especially once they are engorged after feeding. Deer ticks, on the other hand, are about the size of the head of a pin in some stages which are difficult to see.
As always, work with your veterinarian on any flea or tick concerns you might have. Your vet is a true expert on how to prevent and treat them so don’t be shy!!
How Do I Prevent Fleas and ticks?
FIRST – Never use flea control products intended for dogs on cats. Some medications can be highly toxic to cats. Only use products on the species for which they are intended and follow all label instructions. I can’t remember how many times I have heard of terrible outcomes from people not following label directions and harming or killing their canine and feline family members.
This is one of the many areas where working with your veterinarian is essential. First, your vet knows which types of fleas and ticks are in your area and can recommend the best products for your individual circumstances. They will know your pets and ask a bunch of questions about your home and lifestyle. Your vet will explain different products and help guide you to the best decision. Here is some basic information on common products.
Oral flea and tick medication treatments
These come as chewables or pills, rather than applied to the skin. The medicine circulates in the body and is transferred to fleas when they bite. There are several active medications used in these products which last from a few days to a month. Here are some of the most common active medications found in oral treatments.
Lufenuron: This compound doesn’t attack feeding fleas; it goes after the larvae produced by the adults so any offspring will not survive. This medication does not kill ticks.
Nitenpyram: This works very quickly on fleas, in as little as thirty minutes but doesn’t have any long-term effect, so it shouldn’t be used for continuous flea control. This medication also kills ticks.
Spinosad: Spinosad kills adult fleas but does not kill ticks.
Topical flea and tick medication are generally applied to the skin between the pet’s shoulder blades so the pet can’t lick it off. Most topical medications last about 30 days. Some of these products not only kill fleas and ticks, they also repel them. These are some of the most common topical medications:
Fipronil: Fipronil works by spreading over the cat or dog through body oils in about a day. And lasts about a month. This medication also kills ticks.
Imidacloprid: This medication kills both adult and larval stage fleas that meet the pet. This medication does not kill ticks.
Pyrethroids: This medication is derived from a flower and comes in natural and synthetic forms. Pyrethroids are extremely toxic to cats so BE CAREFUL. Products with pyrethroids kill fleas, ticks and mites.
I am repeating this here because it is very important!! Never use flea control products intended for dogs on cats. Some medications can be highly toxic to cats. Only use products on the species for which they are intended and follow all label instructions.
How Do I Prevent Ticks?
Prevention starts with keeping pets out of “tick habitats,” such as heavily wooded areas or tall grass. If possible, create tick-free zones in your yard by keeping grass mown short and bushes cut back. Ticks like moist areas, so remove leaf litter from around your house. If necessary, you may need to treat your backyard with a pesticide to reduce the number of ticks. Check with your vet.
During tick season it’s very important to make a habit of performing a “tick check” on your pet at least once a day, especially if he or she has any access to wooded or grassy areas where ticks may hang out. If you find a tick, grasp it with a pair of tweezers as close to the mouthparts as you can reach. Exert a gentle, steady pressure until the tick lets go. There are also tick removal tools that are very easy to use. Never remove a tick with your bare fingers. Avoid using lighter fluid, matches, or other products that may irritate the skin or cause other injuries to your pet. As always, you can ask your veterinary care team for assistance removing the tick.
I have been asked many times over the years if the flea and tick products I have mentioned in this blog are effective. A ninety-day study, involving 128 dogs from five states, published in Veterinary Parasitology, showed that topicals were 88.4 percent effective, while oral treatments were 99.9 percent effective. The most important thing to remember is that products need to be given to your pet as directed to work correctly. I believe most product failures are due to the products not being used correctly or the owner forgetting to give the medicine to their pet.
Flea and tick preventative products can save lives – both of your two-legged and four-legged family members. Veterinarians are a very important part of your animal health care program and it’s important when buying any medication that you make sure your vet has approved the medication’s use for your pet and that you are purchasing it from a reputable source. It is also important to consider heartworm treatments. If your chosen flea medication doesn’t protect against heartworm, make sure to talk to your vet about how to protect your pet.
Have a great spring!!
Self-Quarantined but Not Alone
Archaeologists believe humans began keeping pets over 10,000 years ago. According to the American Pet Products Association (APPA) National Pet Owner Survey over 84 million households (68%) own at least one pet.* When you add up all fish, small animals, birds, reptiles, dogs, cats and horses there are approximately 390 million pets living inside or outside those 84 million households.
Therefore, it was not surprising that during this Covid-19 lockdown pet stores and pet supply stores have been considered an “essential” service by Homeland Security.
Numerous research studies and respected medical experts including the Surgeon General of the United States, the CDC and Harvard Medical School have all confirmed that pet ownership can decrease blood pressure, cholesterol levels, triglyceride levels and depression and increase exercise, outdoor activities and opportunities for socialization.
Now as we experience the first global pandemic in over 100 years, pet owners are not alone as they manage the isolation of self-quarantining. They have the companionship of their pet to feed, care for, exercise with, and to talk to (without being interrupted). The responsibility of caring for a pet helps foster a sense of purpose and validation and increases the opportunities to achieve the recommended levels of daily exercise.
Social Isolation and Loneliness was a Public Health Epidemic Before Coronavirus
According to Dr. Vivek Murthy, Surgeon General of the United States, one fifth of American adults suffer from loneliness, a figure that surpasses the number of people who have diabetes or smoke cigarettes.
Research by the AARP Foundation found that loneliness can impair health by raising levels of stress hormones and inflammation which in turn can increase the risk of heart disease, arthritis, Type 2 diabetes, dementia and even suicide attempts.
Dr. Murthy shared the following observation at the 2019 Summit on Social Isolation and Companion Animals, “Addressing the public health crisis of loneliness isn’t about transforming lonely people but returning us to who we are. Animals help answer that question ‘do I matter?’ They see us for who we are and remind us that we are lovable and worthy of compassion and affection. That support is essential. We need someone to lift us up. Sometimes that someone can be an animal.”
I Can’t Believe I Ate the Whole Thing
As we complete our first month of lockdown many people have commented that when all of this is over they will have to join Weight Watchers. Grocery stores must be an essential service, but after a month of isolation are we more likely to crave hot dogs and donuts or fruits and vegetables?
There are hundreds of research studies confirming that pet ownership can decrease cholesterol levels, triglyceride levels and blood pressure. Since caring for pets fosters a sense of purpose and increases the opportunity for healthy exercise, they can provide an alternative to the impulses that may drive us to unhealthy eating. During these stressful times pets can become an emotional oasis in this environment of fear and anxiety about our future.
Caring for Pets Together
We are here daily providing exceptional care for all of the pets at Petland. And it’s not just cleaning and feeding. It’s playing, exercising and providing active socialization which allows our pets to enjoy an optimum quality of life while they are here in our stores. We know there are 390 million pets in America who need their owners every day. Please know that we are here to help you be successful in every aspect of the important responsibility to provide loving care for your pets.
*The APPA National Pet Owners Survey is only available for purchase here.
-Elizabeth Kunzelman, Director of Public Affairs, Petland Inc.
As people around the world are struggling with the repercussions of the Coronavirus, it is more important than ever to pay it forward.
It is times like this I am reminded of Mr. Rogers. He once shared, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers—so many caring people in this world.”
While we often see reports of people who are taking advantage and are not helpers, there are so many that are, and we salute them.
This is a time for us all to be helpers in any way that we can. Sometimes it can be as simple as a smile or a “Thank-you.” Maybe it’s a bigger tip when you are picking up carry-out. Maybe it’s donating food or money to your local food bank. Maybe it’s a sidewalk chalk message of encouragement to neighbors, grocery store works or hospital staff.
Petland was founded with the idea of providing a clean, fun and safe place for children and families to visit to learn about pets. It was also founded with the idea that our stores are “helpers” in our communities.
You may not hear as much about what we do, but recognition isn’t our goal. We sincerely want to make a difference. From providing food to shelters and food pantries, to supporting veterans with service dogs, to fulfilling wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses, we take our commitment to our children, our pets and our communities to heart.
Several Petland stores have provided much-needed support to their local food pantries in Ohio, New York and Texas with donations of dog and cat food during this uncertain time. And, one of our international franchisees sent much-needed masks and gloves to our local hospital in Southern Ohio.
In May, we will launch our 2nd annual Round Up at the Register for Heartland Canines for Veterans, a 501c3 organization that provides service dogs to military veterans.
This summer, we will initiate a fundraising campaign in honor of Make-A-Wish’s 40th anniversary and in October, we will participate in our annual St. Jude Halloween Campaign.
And year-round, we will continue to support more than 200 police K9 units and service dogs around the country.
We know this is a strange and somewhat scary time. But we will come out of this better and stronger. As we are sequestered with our families and staying safe, let’s take this time to think about how we can be helpers in our communities, not just now, but always.
Sending the Wrong Message:
Humane Society of the United States asks Lawmakers to Prioritize Closing Pet Stores During COVID
This message was not about COVID-19, the $2 trillion-dollar stimulus bill or the looming economic recession and resulting increase in unemployment. The message from Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) CEO Kitty Block was to applaud the passage of 3 more local pet sale bans. For over seven years retail pet sale bans have been HSUS’s misguided and ineffective effort to eliminate puppy mills.
So far it is Retail Bans-351 to Puppy Mills Closed-0
At a time when all Americans and elected officials are working tirelessly to save small businesses, the CEO of a $200 million-dollar non-profit organization is celebrating legislation that will cause the closure of small businesses. One Carver, Minnesota, pet store will soon be closed, while the alleged puppy mill will remain open for business. It is also worth noting, one locality that passed a ban, Algonquin, Illinois, never had any puppy-selling pet stores.
And while the CEO of HSUS was celebrating legislation that will negatively impact pets and small businesses the CEO of the ASPCA, Matt Bershadker, announced the launch of a $5 million dollar grants program to provide emergency relief to local animal shelters impacted by COVID-19.
You Can Make a Lot More Money Banning the Sale of Puppies Than Selling Puppies
Since 2013 The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has assisted in the passage of 351 local and state retail puppy sale bans in an effort to eliminate puppy mills. To date there has not been a single puppy mill that has been identified as closed due to a retail bans. The HSUS definition of a “puppy mill” is “a dog breeding operation, which offers dogs for monetary compensation or remuneration, in which the physical, psychological and/or behavioral needs are not being fulfilled due to inadequate housing, shelter, staffing, nutrition, socialization, exercise, veterinary care, and/or inappropriate breeding.” During testimony to promote retail pet sale bans HSUS staff attributes this general lack of care to the fact that dog breeders care more about their monetary profits than the welfare of their dogs.
When you visit a best practice commercial dog breeder who sells their puppies to a retail pet store you quickly understand all the staff time, equipment and supplies it takes to raise healthy puppies. And you certainly do not see any evidence of an opulent lifestyle funded by the immense profits from breeding dogs. But no one from HSUS has ever visited a best practice commercial kennel or spoken to a commercial dog breeder about their kennel operations and standards of care. Breeding dogs properly requires years of education and experience to develop the competency to be successful.
The number of USDA licensed dog breeders have steadily increased since 2016. This is a promising sign that more breeders are stepping up to higher standards of care and willing to be inspected by the federal government. In this blog, Petland President and CEO Joe Watson, emphasized that pet store bans can push consumers towards unregulated breeders,
“Bans are pushing families to buy their pets over the internet or in the dark corners of the unregulated pet trade. A space “out of sight and out of mind” of elected officials and federal oversight. A space that lacks transparency, animal welfare standards, consumer protections and consumer choice.”
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Animal Breeders average annual income ranges from $22,730 to $73,130. According to the 2018 HSUS annual 990 report to the IRS, the top 14 staff members have salaries ranging from $150,000 to $255,000.
Advocating to ban the sale of puppies requires no knowledge about dog breeding and can lead to twice the annual income of a successful dog breeder.
During these incredibly challenging times one would hope that the next message from the CEO of HSUS will be something substantive that will help all animals and the people who care for them.
Suggested Further Reading: “What is Best for Pets?” A Message from Petland President and CEO, “Impact of California’s Retail Pet Sale Ban.“
There’s no doubt your cat is full of his or her unique quirks- chittering at flies, hiding in boxes 10x too small or hiding in the bathtub. But is eating grass just another wonky cat-thing or are our cats smarter than we give them credit?
It turns out be the latter- our cats have a few purfectly good reasons why they enjoy nibbling grass.
Cats intentionally gobble grass and usually do a great job self-regulating the amount they ingest. Researchers at the University of California
surveyed over 1,000 people with indoor cats. Results found 71% of cats were caught mid-plant-devouring at least six times in their lives and 61% over 10 times. Of cats that were caught eating plants over 10 times, 61% were estimated to eat plants daily or weekly.
- Keep me regular– Turns out grass can help our cats go. Grass contains folic acid, a vitamin present in their mother’s milk. Folic acid is a natural laxative. Think of how much time our cats spend grooming themselves (up to 50 percent of their waking hours), now imagine how much fur they could be ingesting. Without a regular flow, your cat’s intestinal tract could be clogged up.
- Keep the bad stuff out- About a quarter of grass eaters were seen vomiting afterwards. The researchers at the University of California believe there is an evolutionary explanation. Grass latches onto intestinal parasites. When cats throw up after consuming grass, they may be purging parasites. Researchers don’t think these parasites are bugging our cats today, but the habit may be inherited from an ancestor. Cats don’t have the proper enzymes to break down a large amount of grass, so they throw up. This may be especially important for outdoor cats that consume other animals. Vomiting helps purge the stomach of fur, feathers and bones, all of which cats can’t digest.
- Keep the good stuff coming- Folic acid also aids growth and increases oxygen levels in blood. Eating grass may be a vitamin boost your cat knows it needs.
“Cat’s natural diet includes small rodents that eat grasses, grains and other plants. When felines eat the intestines of a mouse for example, it ingests this green matter and thus has a salad with its main dish.” –Dr. Hazel Carney
If your cat starts eating large amounts of grass or eats grass daily, that may indicated intestinal distress and you should speak with your veterinarian.
Keep your cat away from any grass or plants sprayed with pesticides or fertilizers.
Growing Your Own
Grass gobbling is an instinctive habit and may even aid your cat’s health, so why not provide your cat with more of the good stuff? You can find supplies to grow your own cat nip and cat grass at your local Petland store.
Suggested further reading: 5 Cat-Safe Plants you can Grow at Home
Photo credit: KDDESIGNPHOTO/SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
By John Woods. Founder of All Things Dogs– Dog Breeds, Training and Behavior.
Coming home with a new puppy is one of the most exciting events that could happen in an animal lover’s life. Their excitement and cuteness are infectious with their little paws and a head too big for their body. Between belly rubs and playing with toys, new pet owners will run into a few behavioral issues that might frustrate them if they’re not addressed soon enough. This is where training comes in; it is extremely important to teach manners and begin to establish trust between human and dog.
Like people, all dogs learn differently. Some are more food motivated, others love getting pets, or their favorite toy as a reward. Finding this motivator is key when training because it will create a positive and exciting experience for the puppy.
These are five tricks to teach your new puppy in the first month of adoption…
- Their Name
This is the most important thing for your puppy to learn because it will help you get their attention in several different scenarios, whether it’s trying to find them after they got off leash or having them do a trick for you.
- Having their favorite thing in hand, say their chosen name as you give them their treat or toy. They will soon associate the name with something you’re going to give them that is very interesting. Repeat for only a couple minutes at a time because puppies do get tired.
- When you come back home from work or class, greet them by saying their name over and over. Petting, toys, or treats enhance the positive association they have with their name and owner.
- Leave It
When you can get your dog’s attention with their name, puppies have a habit of getting themselves into trouble either way. “Leave It” is a simple command that redirects the puppy’s attention towards you instead of something like a frog or electrical cords that they would like to chew up.
- Let the puppy see you have a reward in your hand, preferably something small so when you make a fist it is completely covered. This works best with treats.
- Before they can snatch it up, close your hand and say “leave it”
- The puppy will try to gnaw and paw at your hand for the reward, but stay strong.
- Once the puppy looks away or loses interest, reward them with the treat and repeat.
- Once they get the hang of that, drop the treat on the ground, say “leave it,” and quickly cover it with your hand.
- Repeat step 4 with this new variation.
The “come” command is pretty simple because it reiterates the same steps like teaching them their name, just at a distance.
- When your pup is out of arm’s reach, get their attention with their favorite reward.
- As they trot towards you, say “come” and reward them with the treat, toy, and/or lots of love.
- When they are preoccupied with something else, call out their name and “come.” Reward them handsomely when they do run over to you, expecting something fun or tasty for them to have.
Having a puppy sit might seem impossible because of all their wiggles, but rest assured, it is possible. With a little bit of incentives, your pup is sure to follow suit.
- Have your puppy’s attention with their reward while they are on leash.
- With the reward in hand, hold it above their head and move it slowly towards them, parallel with their back.
- Your puppy will want to back up, but having a hold on their leash keeps them from moving and ultimately tricking them into sitting down.
- Just before their butt hits the ground, say “sit” and reward them. Repeat until you can do this without the leash.
This will be the hardest command out of the others, especially with stubborn puppies. Laying down means that the dog is giving up control, forcing them to be in a relaxed, vulnerable position with their new owner on command. It takes a lot of trust, but you should have a strong bond with your pup by doing the aforementioned tricks.
- Your puppy should be in a sitting position to make it easier for them to transition into laying down.
- Hold a reward at their face, not allowing them to get it, and slowly lower your hand towards the ground.
- If your puppy gets up out of sit, have them sit again and repeat the process.
- Before their elbows hit the ground, say “down” and reward them when they do go into a down position. Repeat.
Suggested further reading- Puppy Weight Calculator. How Big Will Your Puppy Get?
How can Fish Tanks Improve Our Health and Well Being?
We’ve all gotten transfixed by the fish tank in a dentist’s office and momentarily forgotten about the anxiety of being locked into that dental chair. When I’m having a stressful day at the Petland corporate office, I plant myself in front of the 60 gallon aquarium that welcomes visitors to the office. When I walk away from that tank, I always feel a little lighter, a little less stressed. Why is that?
As it turns out, our small gilled friends could make big benefits to our health and mental well being. A few fintastic benefits of aquariums include;
- -Reduced blood pressure and heart rate.
- -Increased mood and relaxation.
- -Reduced behavioral difficulties in Alzheimer’s patients.
Are all Fish Tanks Created Equal?
If you’re building a tank in hopes of getting more relaxed, the most important factors are diversity and live plants. This study found tanks with more variety in fish species and live plants were associated with a greater reduction in heart rate and an overall elevated mood.
“The passionate love of life and of all that is alive.” – Erich Fromm
Isn’t there a scientific term for just about everything? The idea that humans naturally have a tendency to seek a connection with nature is called the Biophilia hypothesis. Fish tanks can fulfill our “nature fix.”
Adults in urban, subsidized housing found fish tanks increased feelings of relaxation and leisure in this study. If you’re in an urban setting or may not have direct contact with nature often, an aquarium with a variety of unique fish species and live plants may help relax you.
“A fish tank is just interactive television for cats,” wrote Oliver Gaspirtz
Purdue University found excellent results when placing aquariums in dementia units in three Indiana nursing homes. A common side effect of Alzheimer’s is dramatic weight loss. The Purdue study found;
- Significant increase in weight gain (residents ate up to 21% more food)
- 87% of participants increased their dietary intake
- Less behavioral issues (wandering, pacing, yelling and physical aggression)
Nurses and staff noticed residents opening up more. On Petland’s pet therapy visits, we often hear stories of a resident’s past pet snake or puppy. I’ve been pulled aside by an aid or nursing home director to tell me, “Gerald never talks. We thought he didn’t like any of us. But you come in with that ball python and he is talking your ear off!”
Those with Alzheimer’s and other disabilities may have difficulty connecting with people, but not pets. No matter what the science says, we naturally have a bond with pets, and who knows how far that bond may truly go. If you’re considering a new aquarium, ask yourself “why?” Your local Petland Pet Counselor can help you find the right live plants, decorations and fish for your lifestyle.
Suggested further reading; Pet Therapy May Improve Life with Alzheimer’s
Hannah is the Communications and Community Service Specialist at Petland Inc. She enjoys Petland’s pet therapy visits, her two betta fish tanks and her orange cat.
IN FRISCO, TEXAS, EDUCATION BRINGS PROGRESSIVE REGULATIONS
On January 21 the Frisco, Texas City Council voted unanimously in favor of an ordinance to strengthen pet store regulations in the city. What began as a polarizing debate about retail pet sales concluded with an education on what constitutes best practices in retail pet store management. Not only did Petland celebrate the new ordinance, John Goodwin, senior director Humane Society of the United States Puppy Mills Campaign (HSUS), stated, “The council’s action is a step forward.”
Josh Nie, general manager of Petland Frisco, supports the new regulations stating, “It’s basically a transparency ordinance. We have to effectively put in writing what we’ve always done. We’ve always done our due diligence when it comes to who we buy from and how we care for out pets. Now customers will see that on paper.”
Petland Frisco will be adding a full-time staff member to document all new paperwork requirements to guarantee compliance with the new ordinance.
The transparency requirements include posting sourcing on the windows of ferrets, bunnies, puppies and kittens; expanded health records to identify the amount of socialization time each puppy is receives; any medication that has been administered; and, every time the pet is seen by a veterinarian. The city is developing a checklist of documents the store must give to each puppy customer including a current statement on the pet’s health. Petland Frisco’s management welcomes these changes and will be meeting with city officials this month to ensure expectations for the new ordinance are clear.
The process began with a demand to ban all pet sales based upon an HSUS undercover investigation at Petland Frisco. HSUS alleged there were incidents of mistreatment and lack of proper veterinary care for some of the puppies. Petland denied these allegations by explaining every puppy is examined upon arriving at the store and a consulting veterinarian visits three times a week for any follow up checks. In response to the Humane Society’s allegations, the Frisco Police Department, which oversees animal services, did its own investigation. The department found record-keeping violations but no evidence of animal cruelty. Additionally, the officers’ unannounced visits since then have revealed no problems.
The additional record-keeping transparency is a progressive step for improved retail pet store management. Petland has a strong corporate culture of continuous professional education and is committed to implementing these new requirements. This ordinance also ensures that any new independently-managed pet store will follow the new regulations and operate their store with full transparency to the customers.
The development of the ordinance began with an adversarial all or nothing approach and concluded with a more educated city council, improved dialogue with enforcement officials and greater transparency on all aspects of pet care in the retail environment. The retail pet store remains the most regulated source for a new puppy and demand for pure bred puppies is increasing significantly every year. The Frisco City Council members should be commended for their willingness to hear all sides of the retail pet store issue. The result is an ordinance that will guarantee humane care of the companion animals and strong consumer protection regulations.