Category: Holiday Seasons

Winter Protection & Health Safety for Your Pet

Note:  This post was previously published on the Ontario SPCA’s blog under the guest author section on December 18, 2015.

Winter is upon us and though you may want to stay inside where it’s warm and curl up by the fire or under a blanket, your dogs still need to get outside to at least use the bathroom.  Admit it, we all probably gain a little weight over the holidays but some dogs will want to stay out longer and can benefit from the exercise.  Cold-weather breeds such as huskies, malamutes, and Newfoundlands generally do pretty well in colder temperature but there are so many other breeds of dogs or those which may have some medical issues that in some cases you need to take some extra precautions.

Taylor Rudy in coatsShort to minimal hair breeds such as Chinese Cresteds or Boston Terriers are a great example of dogs that may need to bundle up.  Similarly, slender dogs in general that do not have a lot of body fat or muscle mass can be more susceptible to frigid temperatures.  But if you look at the other side, even the longer haired dogs don’t escape the wrath of the cold and snow.  For any of those dogs who love to dive through the snow or roll around in it, long hair and water don’t mix to create a manageable, healthy hair coat.  Matted or tangled fur can subsequently lead to skin rashes so coats even for these pooches aren’t a bad idea unless your superbly committed to brushing them.

from www.mydr.com.au

from www.mydr.com.au

I don’t know about you but when I’m outside in the middle of January shoveling snow it gets a harder to breathe.  The reason this happens is that cold air will cause some constriction of your airways.  When you look at anatomy, pugs, bulldogs, maltese and other brachycephalic breeds already have a high risk of breathing problems that can be compounded in the brutal cold if they are exposed for too long or get to be too active.  Dogs that also have pre-existing breathing problems like asthma should be closely monitored and if you notice your dog having any breathing issues, get them checked out by your veterinarian.  The best course of action is to take a safe approach and limit any hyperactivity outside.  Additionally, it can help if you keep your home inside at a comfortable temperature without being too hot and with a controlled humidity to make the transition outdoors easier.

Cat w/ frostbitten ears (www.thewhig.com)

Cat w/ frostbitten ears (www.thewhig.com)

There are a few other hazards which are simple to prevent.  Frostbite can unfortunately happen to both cats & dogs outside for prolonged periods of time, especially ear tips.  Make sure you bring cats in from the cold and keep a timer to know when it’s time go back inside from outdoor activities with your dog.  Just after a freshly fallen snow and then a further drop in temperature, we can see a slight ice layer on top of the snow.  While smaller dogs may not be heavy enough to step through this, heavier or more energetic dogs may bust through that layer which, if the conditions are proper, can lead to cuts on paws or legs so some boots might come in handy.  And while you’re getting Rover fitted for boots, get something with some traction as icy conditions can lead to slip & fall injuries.  For these dogs, nails can be broken, hip arthritis can be worsened, or ligaments can be torn.

from www.thegreenleash.com

from www.thegreenleash.com

So just like any other time of the year, you are your pet’s best bet to stay healthy by taking a few precautionary measures.  After all, it’s the holiday season and you would rather spend your time surrounded by family, friends, and pets rather than at an animal emergency room.  Enjoy the winter and remember, your pet truly knows if you’ve been naughty or nice!

Wrapping Up 2015

Source: www.decentfilms.com

Source: www.decentfilms.com

How different would your life be if you changed one thing, a seminal moment in your life?  Can you trace your life back to that one moment that forever altered your life?  Imagine yourself in “It’s a Wonderful Life” and you play yourself (unless you really want to be known as George Bailey).  For those who haven’t seen it, the protagonist gets a chance to see what life of those around him would be like if he had never been born (no spoilers here!) thanks to a guardian angel named Clarence.

Take a second now and find that moment.  For me, it was the arrival of my cat Zorro that forever altered my life.  I can’t imagine being anything other than a veterinarian nor would have I been able to touch the lives of so many people & their pets.  In my version of “Wonderful Life,” my guardian angel is my pets and I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels that way.  Whether giving a unique perspective to see life through their eyes or just helping unwind at the end of the day with a fun game of fetch or napping on the couch, our family pets are the one thing we can’t live without and are grateful for all they give us through the year. Continue reading

Pet Adoptions and the Holidays

Pet Adoptions & the Holidays

The holidays are just around the corner and you know what that means…time with your family, holiday traditions, kitten giftawesome food, and crazy shopping madness.  Still looking for that perfect gift?  Why not do a good deed and give two gifts??  Pet adoption is a popular idea at this time of year.  Not only do you find a gift for that special someone but you’re giving an animal, who would otherwise be cooped up in a shelter, a forever home.  Yes, forever…

I’ve got nothing against pet adoption. I’ve done it myself and wish that more people would.  The Ontario Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA) even has a special program called iAdopt to help raise awareness of the plight of animals in shelters and to increase the numbers who get homes.  Their website has lots of excellent tips to help you in choosing who to add to your family and how to integrate them into your family.  But let us look at “forever”…

OSPCA_iAdopt_Forholidaycat_iadoptbanner

Adopting a pet is a commitment that is not to be taken lightly.  We see high volumes of animals such as rabbits & ducks around Easter get purchased only to be surrendered, abandoned, or released into the wild.  However, around the winter holidays, cats & dogs are often the chosen pets to get adopted.  When you get these pets, they often come with the bonus of already being vaccinated and spayed or neutered which is a great thing for them and a savings for you.

Christmas petsYet, you need to be devoted to them as much as they are devoted to you.  Realize that though they are almost always healthy when you bring them home, accidents do happen and if you adopt an adult or senior pet (highly encouraged!) some problems may rear their ugly head in the years ahead.  It’s this reason that I urge you to consider that into your decision to add a pet to your family.  Pets are wonderful but they deserve all the care you can give and this unfortunately comes with a price….food, toys, veterinary care, leash & collar, etc.

I’ll suggest including an insurance plan or a savings account as part of your gift.  Many shelters give you up to 6 weeks ofmoney dog free insurance for you to try and investigate as an option but I don’t find too many people continuing it.  Another possibility is that your veterinary clinic may offer gift certificates you can purchase to help defray costs for anything the new pet owner may need; this is especially great for college students.

Speaking of kids…for a lot of people, they are enamored with the idea of getting a puppy or kitten for a child.  I would discourage this from happening as small kids often aren’t the ones who end up taking care of the pet.  If they are teenagers, their interests may change and the critter in question may be yours and rather than theirs.  Shelters may often have other options geckosuch as rabbits, rats, or other pocket pets which still require special care and attention but don’t involve walking & bathing such as dogs but still may be a little less maintenance and easier for kids to manage.  It’s still important to know about proper pet care and make sure they have a clean habitat and fresh food.

In short, pet adoption is a wonderful gift for you, the new pet parent, and the animal who gets a home.  All I ask if that you commit to them by giving them the care and love they deserve.  If now is not a good time to get a pet, consider sponsoring one, fostering a rescue, or volunteering at a shelter and in this way you can still give back to them.  I hope you all have a happy and wonderful holiday season!

CharlieTaylor Xmas 2010

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

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