Category: Dogs (page 2 of 4)

Dog Parks – The Good, The Bad, & The Furry

Dog Parks – The Good, The Bad, & The Furry

Over the past several years, dog parks have sprung up in communities as a place for your canine companion to get some exercise and depending on rules, meet other dogs.  Dog parks can be wonderful places, but they aren’t meant for everybody.  Let’s look at why this is and also review some etiquette.

The Good

Photo: Herne Bay Coastal Park

Photo: Herne Bay Coastal Park

Everyone loves their own dog.  Many people love other dogs.  Visiting the dog park is a great place to get your dog socialized to other people and dogs to help acclimate them and hopefully avoid some unwanted behaviors.  Dogs evolved as pack animals and the social aspect can be good for their mental stimulation.  You also will get to meet new people, maybe even your future spouse or a new close friend.  Rover will also get that much needed exercise to help fight off obesity by staying active.

The Bad



Remember what I said about dogs being pack animals?  Well, that can work against them as dogs meet each other for the first time, the potential for dominance aggression behavior is always possible.  Yes, dogs like children might fight on the playground.  Fights should try to be broken up by calling your dog or making some noise to distract them which might make it easier to pull them apart.  Another downside to these public places is that they can be a breeding ground for disease.  Infectious viruses, bacterial infections, or parasites can all be picked up at the park.  Also, dogs will be dogs…and if your dog is not spayed or neutered, then somebody could be expecting puppies in around 2 months.

The Furry (the Etiquette)pickupafteryourpet1

  • Make sure your pet is vaccinated and is free of fleas.  Not only are you protecting your dog, but also everyone else and the public.

  • Spay or neuter your pet!  This will help prevent unwanted behaviors which can lead to fights or unwanted puppies.  If spay/neuter is not an option, please keep your in heat dogs away for at least 2 weeks after the visible signs have stopped.

  • Teach your dog simple commands – sit, stay, and come are three basic commands to ensure everyone has a safe and enjoyable time.

  • Before letting your dog off leash, it can be a good idea to let them meet the other dogs to see how their personalities and initial reactions are.  If there are obvious signs of aggression, you still have control while they are on leash and can pick another time to come back.

  • If you know your dog is anxious or does not play well with others, go at times that are less busy.  This category might also include a new dog to the family that has not had time to get trained yet.  Another recommendation is to tie a yellow ribbon onto their leash or collar as a sign to others that your dog needs space.  For more info, check out the Yellow Dog Project.

  • Avoid bringing toys or other personal possessions of your dog which may cause conflict with others.  If you bring something, perhaps a new toy is in order so your dog does not feel possessive.

  • Limit your time at the park to no more than 60 minutes.  Not only does this let other dogs & families have a turn but it also is a good way to make sure your dog does not get over heated.

  • And lastly, pick up after your pooch!

A trip to the dog park can be a great bonding experience for you & your canine companion.  Just be sure to be safe and courteous so that everyone has an enjoyable time!

 Disclaimer:  Blog posts may contain opinions which are my own and do not reflect that of any current or former employers.

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Cars, Planes, Cats & Dogs – Traveling with a Pet

Cars, Planes, Cats & Dogs – Traveling with a Pet

The arrival of the spring-summer travel season is upon us and perhaps you’re getting ready to take some time off with the family including the pets.  Traveling with pets can be lots of fun but also can be an anxious endeavor for both you and them.  Before you hit the open road or take to the skies, let’s do our part to make it a safe and enjoyable time for everyone.  Edie the Pug and I are back to help share some tips for your upcoming adventures!

Edie wants you to be safe & loves car rides!

Edie wants you to be safe & loves car rides!

Safety in the car just isn’t for you; your pets have to be safe also.  We’re talking about restraint.  Cats should always be in a carrier.  Preferably the carrier should be large enough for them to stand up and walk around in (though my cat prefers to curl up) but small enough to fit on the floor behind a seat which is the safest place.  For longer trips you may need a larger type crate (if space allows) for a litterbox and water or food dishes.  Dogs should wear seatbelt harnesses unless they are a toy breed then they should be in a carrier.  Seatbelt harnesses should be comfortable, well fitting, and sturdy.  One such recommendation is the Sleepypod Clickit Sport harness.  There may be other restraint devices out there but they may not have been tested for safety ratings.  For more safety info, you can visit the Center for Pet Safety website where they have tested many types (using crash test dummies).

SleepyPod Clickit Sport harness (from

SleepyPod Clickit Sport harness (from

What about when you fly?  Carriers will have different requirements if you are flying on an airplane so you will need to check with the airline.  If your pet is going in cargo, make sure the carrier has a screw type of closure, not clips as we wouldn’t want anyone escaping!cat in carrier2

A common request I get is about sedation for the trip.  Many dogs don’t seem to be bothered by a car trip but some do mind and there is a fair chance that many cats will vocalize.  In some cases they’re just talking but sometimes it’s more of a concern or bother for the other passengers especially if kitty is frantic in the carrier.  As mentioned before, by no means would I suggest that your cat get free roam of the car as it is a safety hazard to everyone.

pillsI must first stress you should never give any over the counter or prescription medication without the advice of a veterinarian.  Sedatives or anti-anxiety medications can vary from homeopathic to mild common medications to heavy tranquilization.  It is best to look into any type of medication at least a few weeks before your trip as I prefer to start on a benign medication (something that won’t affect heart rate or blood pressure) or start on a lower dose of a mid-grade medication.  Each pet will be different and may require different drugs.  When traveling on a plane, I do not recommend heavy medications that would normally require monitoring unless nothing else will work and we have no other choice.

These are the two main points to focus on when traveling with your pets.  There is much more but we will touch on them briefly here.

Nausea : Some animals can get car sick just like people!  If they do, it may be best if they are fasted before a trip or only feed them a small meal.  Alternatively, your veterinarian can recommend or prescribe something to help.

Identification & Records : Before leaving, make sure your pets tags or microchip information is up to date in case of a separation.  If you will be gone for awhile or if your pet has a medical condition, it may be useful to bring a copy of pertinent records or information should they need medical attention.

First aid kit : Particularly if you’re camping, this may be a necessity.  Bandage material, antibiotic ointment, tick removers, peroxide, and eye wash are just a few of the items that might be handy.

Pit stops : Take a break every few hours on longer trips!  Stretch your legs and let your dog do the same.  For cats, this might be a good time to set a litterbox in the back of a vehicle for them to try to use though some cats may be too stressed.  I would also suggest having a leash & harness on cats just as another aid in keeping them from escaping or getting under seats.

Well that’s the basics of pet travel and we didn’t even talk about moving overseas!  Plan ahead and be safe. Remember, it’s not just a vacation; it’s an adventure!

Gremlin napping during a trip

Gremlin napping during a trip

Disclaimer: Blog posts may be opinions which are my own and do not reflect on those of my current or any former employers.  I did not receive any compensation from SleepyPod or the Center for Pet Safety.

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Do Pets Catch Colds?

Do Pets Catch Colds?

This is one of the questions I have been asked numerous times, oddly more so since I’ve moved to Kingston.  With winter upon us, as well as cold & flu season for people, I thought I would do my best to answer this and shine a little bit more light on coughing & sneezing in pets.  Specifically, when you should head to your family veterinarian versus when you can monitor them at home before possibly taking them to the veterinarian.

sneezing kittenSneezing in many cases may not be a problem, yet I still see some patients who have sneezed “just a few times” and nothing more before being brought in.  There’s nothing wrong with having your pet checked if you’re concerned.  In cases where there is discharge, pets should be seen.  By discharge, I’m looking for blood or mucoid material (yellow, green, whitish-grey).  These are typically indicative of infection, foreign body, or in older animals particularly, I mightpotpouri be suspicious of cancer.  Sneezing without discharge leads me down the road of investigating allergies or other things in the home that might trigger such a response.  Things such as plug-ins, potpourri, scented candles, and treacherous dust bunnies living in closets or under furniture have all been culprits that have been identified before.

coughing_dog cartoonCoughing in most forms is a sign of something more serious internally.  In dogs, a cough can simply be a sign of Bordatellosis, more commonly referred to as kennel cough.  Coughing can also be a sign of more serious conditions such as heart failure, heartworm disease, pneumonia, or asthma.  These can all be difficult things to manage or potentially life threatening so getting your pet checked out is always a good idea.  One thing I’ve noticed personally in the winter is that with very dry environments, the airways can also get dried out and cause some irritation.  A simple recommendation I have to try and confirm this is to increase the humidity level in the home but if that doesn’t help it’s time for a trip to the veterinarian.

So the question on everybody’s minds…do pets get colds?  I would say it’s certainly possible and if your pet only has an kitty resp maskisolated sneeze or cough it could be the case.  We probably don’t see too many of these cases in practice.  Cold & flu season primarily exists among the human population and those little types of “bugs” won’t be transmissible between you and your pet.  My best recommendation is that if your pet is sneezing or coughing for more than 1-2 days, or if you see discharge, labored breathing, or lethargy, it’s time to get your furry family member seen before things get worse.

Disclaimer: All blog posts are personally written and my opinion and do not reflect those of current or former employers.

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