Winter’s Icy Grip Affects Our Pets Too

We are definitely in winter’s frigid grip….with record breaking low temperatures, blizzards, and wild weather, meaning shoveling, snowblowing, dealing with bad roads, and sometimes unbearable cold. Eugene O’Neill describes the way most of us feel right now: “Blow, blow, thou winter wind, away, away from here…I do not love thy snow and sleet or icy flows. I am cold, no matter how I warm or clothe me.” Our companion animals do not appreciate this inclement weather either, and caregivers are responsible to keep them safe and healthy.

These below zero temps may be even worse than what the thermometer reads. The wind chill factor can drop the actual temperature by 20 or 30 degrees, so even if your dogs are used to being outside, they need to be brought inside in extreme cold snaps.

Nothing is more fun that cavorting in the snow with your dog, and regular exercise is important when you are both housebound much of the time, but take care to limit the time outdoors. Wipe snow and ice off your dog’s fee…even clean between the toes…after outdoor walks, and be sure to clean lime rock salt or calcium chloride salt off their paws, both of which can cause digestive problems if the dog licks it.

Your dog is smaller and thus more vulnerable to the chills you feel, so just a short exposure to sub-zero temperatures can produce frostbite of the feet, nose, or ears. Frost-bitten skin is usually red or gray and may peel off. It should be treated by applying warm, most washcloths to thaw the affected areas slowly, and if serious, a veterinarian should be contacted for further care. Prolonged exposure to cold weather, especially accompanied by high winds (the wind chill factor) can lower the body temperature. This condition, known as hypothermia, can interfere with normal bodily functions and result in injury or death.

The ASPCA offers these tips to keep your pet safe in cold weather:

  • Pets should NEVER be left outdoors for extended periods of time when it is extremely cold. IF IT IS TOO COLD FOR YOU, IT IS TOO COLD FOR YOUR DOG!
  • Never let your dog off-leash in the snow or ice. He can become disoriented and lost, even in a familiar area.
  • Massaging petroleum jelly into paw pads before going outside helps to protect them from the salt and chemical agents, but always take a minute to wipe your dog’s legs and stomach as well as his paws when he comes in from a walk. He might ingest salt or chemicals when grooming himself.
  • Never shave a dog down short during the winter. A longer coat offers warmth. Clothing for dogs has become a fashionable fad, but a high fashion garment is not necessary. Look for a simply styled, easy-on, easy-off coat that covers the underside of the dog as well as the back.
  • Animals like the sweet smell and taste of ethylene glycol, an ingredient in antifreeze, but drinking even a small amount can cause fatal kidney damage. Stay safe, by stowing containers up away from your pet’s reach, and discard bottles that are cracked or leaking. Clean spills thoroughly , and if you think your dog has ingested dangerous chemicals, get him to the vet immediately.
  • All pets need a cozy dog bed with a warm blanket or pillow, and older pets may need a little extra attention in cold weather. Whether it is another orthopedic bed, or a ramp over the frozen steps, small acts of kindness can help your older friend feel fine this winter, and don’t ignore small changes in behavior that might signal a medical problem.
  • Don’t leave your dog alone in a car. If the engine is left on, carbon monoxide may endanger his life, and if the engine is off, the temperature in the car will get too cold.
  • If you see or hear of an animal in distress, please contact your local humane society or law enforcement right away. You may mean the difference between life and death for her.

If you keep these precautions in mind, winter can be a fun, healthy time for both you and your dog!


Embrace the New Year

As we embrace the New Year and its promise of changes and improvement, don’t forget to include your pets in your 2018 resolutions. Need ideas? Her are a few resolutions to make sure the new year is your dog’s healthiest happiest year yet:

  • Update Pet ID info…A lot can change over a year’s time….people move, get new phone numbers, and change e-mail addresses. If any of your contact information has changed, updating tags and microchip information are the best ways to ensure a lost pet makes his way home safely.
  • Spend more time with your dog. We often get caught up in the daily responsibilities and working to improve our personal lives, but spending more time with our family, both two-legged and four-legged is a sure way to increase happiness in the new year. Try a new activity; a new exercise routine is a great way to bond, and it will get you both moving and you will reap the benefits of a healthy physical activity. Joining a group with like-minded pet owners might be fun for all.
  • Maintain a schedule. Pets thrive on routine. When meals, walks and playtime happen at relatively the same time daily, you will find your dog will be ready and anticipating what comes next.
  • Training. Well behaved dogs are well behaved because they have been trained. It is the caregiver’s responsibility to teach what is acceptable and what is not acceptable behavior. Most relinquished dogs are dogs that have not learned boundaries and limitations, which is sadly the human’s fault. Training for your dog often becomes training for you as you learn to be consistent, firm, clear, and patient in both commands and expectations.
  • Make a date with your vet. Yearly examinations by a veterinarian are vital to good preventative care. Many medical conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, and obesity are easier to manage when detected in the early stages. Veterinary visits are also the perfect time to have a dental exam….did you know that most dogs have serious dental problems by the age of three? Canine dental problems are not limited to the damage of the dog’s teeth and gums. They can also have adverse effects causing problems to major organs such as the lung, heart, and kidneys.
  • Guarantee your pet-related financial health by starting a pet savings fun. Stash away a few dollars every month, and then when a pet emergency comes up, you’ll have a reserve.
  • Evaluate your dog’s diet. Just because a dog food is highly advertised does not mean it is a healthy diet. Many of the highly touted foods are really not good for your dog. It is difficult to understand all the jargon used on dog food labels, but avoid products containing bad products like by-products and chemicals. If you are unsure, go to for an unbiased report on a particular food. You may be surprised at what you discover.
  • Measure your pet’s food—every time. Most of us just eye-ball their daily intake, which usually results in overfeeding and weight gain. It is important to use an actual measuring cup to ensure your pet isn’t getting more food than she needs. Most professionals recommend twice daily feeding, and PLEASE don’t feed junk-food treats to your dog. There are many easy-to-make HEALTHY recipes available.

Start the New Year off on the right paw by following these simple guidelines:

Play more! Stress Less!

Love unconditionally

Go on relaxing walks

Smile more and laugh a lot

Live in the moment….NOW is a new beginning


A New Year’s wish from your dog

As a dog, I live in the now. I don’t celebrate yesterdays and tomorrows, but my humans are excited about what you call the “New Year” and are busy making resolutions. I wish I could convince you to make a resolution to spend more time with me. I know you lead busy lives…have to work, have children to raise, meetings to attend, and too many things to do, so you really don’t have a lot of time to spend with me. It seems that you are usually rushing here and there, without pausing to enjoy the simple joys of everyday life. You look at me, but do you really see me? I am getting older….gray hairs are beginning to show, and my dark brown eyes are getting cloudy.

You have your job, your TV….I have only you. I know you care, even when you are too busy to notice me. I may not understand most of your words, but when I hear my name, I know you mean ME and that I matter to you. When you smile at me, I see love in your eyes. What do you see in mine? A companion who loves you as no other in the world…one who would forgive all trespasses of prior wrong doing for just a few moments of your time. I watch over you in the night and I comfort you when you feel bad. I would do anything for you. I wish you would slow down, to be with me. I’ve watched when you have been saddened by what you see on that screen where you spend so much time…news about a friend or a dog passing. Sometimes two-legs die young and so do four-legs…. and sometimes so suddenly that it brings tears to your eyes. Remember I don’t live in yesterdays or tomorrows….today is our day. I am aging, but do you even notice the grizzled muzzle and cataract clouded eyes, or the fact that I move slower and sleep more?

I may not be here tomorrow, and you will shed the water from your eyes, and you will be angry at yourself that you did not have “just one more day” with me, but we have today, so slow down, sit here next to me on the floor, and look deep into my eyes. Stroke my fur and let us look deep into one another’s eyes, and talk.

I may tell you something about the fun we’ve shared through the years….and the tough times too, or I may tell you how thankful I am that you decided to have me in your life. I won’t dwell on my inability to run as fast as I used to, or bound up the stairs in a flash. I am a dog, very different from you… but my heart is filled with love for you. I do not think of you as a dog on two feet…I know who you are, and I love you unconditionally. Now come and sit with me on the floor. Enter my world for just awhile, and let time slow down. Look deep into my eyes, and whisper in my ears. Speak with your heart, with your joy, understanding that the resolution that would mean the most to me is for you to realize that life is, oh, so very short, so we need to live and love in the NOW.

A new year, a fresh start, 12 new months of choices to make. Cheers to a new year and a chance to get it right. 2018 is the beginning of what each of us chooses it to be. Let’s choose to live and love in the NOW and throughout the year. HAPPY NEW YEAR!



The Perfect of Christmas

If you are considering buying a puppy for a Christmas gift, we urge you to think carefully before impulsively bringing a companion animal into your home. A pet is a living being and involves long term adult commitment. A dog is not a toy, not a disposable item to be discarded when he becomes inconvenient, or the kids lose interest in him. Please avoid the heartache of a poorly thought out pet purchase, and don’t let the kids con you into a decision you will regret. The introduction of a pet into a household should be a total family decision that has been discussed, planned for, and researched before the purchase or adoption.

“The perfect Christmas gift” illustrates how a well intention, impulse purchase can bring heartache to both the family and the animal:

“I am a dog with a story to tell… I was unlucky enough to be born in a filthy wire cage, in a dreadful puppy mill. and was soon sold to a pet store. I was one of those “designer dogs—all of the rage,” and was bought for a Christmas present for the kids, but that didn’t last long before I hit the skids. At first everything was fine; I lived in a nice house and played with the children….it was a great life for awhile. Then things changed, and I was thrown outside to live in the yard. Maybe it was because I shed a little, and once I piddled on the rug, but no explanation or reason was given why. When the sun came up, I barked all day, but no one ever came out to play. Soon they said I I was too big for the house, and too much trouble to train, so I just sit at the end of a chain, day after day, year after year. The seasons change….I freeze in the winter, and swelter in the summer…my joints are sore, and my eyes don’t see as well any more. My fur is matted and provides a home for the fleas. I bark and I cry; I cry and I bark….it is a sad existence. Sometimes I have water….sometimes I don’t. I hope that you think of me when you see a dog on a chain and know that dog is lonely, hurting, and in pain. He was probably that perfect Christmas gift too, now forgotten and alone. Perhaps you could stop awhile and pat him on the head, or just sit beside him and talk to him , offering him a friendly word. It’s sure to be a kindness that he may not have experienced for awhile.. I guess some folks just don’t understand that a dog is not for Christmas….he is for life.”

If you have discussed, and planned for adding a dog to your heart and home, and are willing to make a long term commitment, spending a good amount of time and energy with the dog and have enough space and money to properly care for his needs, go to your area shelter or rescue group and talk to them. They can help you choose the best dog for your situation. (Do NOT buy from a pet store…you will be supporting the puppy mill industry.)

You will never know the joy that dogs bring to the world until you have one of your own. They really do deserve the title of “man’s (and woman’s) best friend. They are loyal, intelligent, devoted and affectionate, and are known to improve both our physical and mental health. Dogs keep a lonely night, less lonely; they treat us like celebrities; they make us smile; they teach us the meaning of unconditional love. A faithful dog will play with you….or cry…he’ll gladly starve to stay with you nor ever question why, and when you’re feeling out of sorts, somehow he’ll understand. His blind, implicit faith in you is matched by his unconditional love.

“Dogs have given us their absolute all. We are the center of their universe. We are the focus of their love and faith and trust. They serve us in return for scraps. It is without a doubt the best deal man has ever made. ” (Roger Caras)

Tis The Season for Love and Joy… And Debt

For many Americans, the quality of Christmas is determined by gifts It is an undeniable fact that for our society as a whole, gifts are the central feature of the holiday season, with retailers pressuring us to spend more than we can afford by promoting the ‘buy now, pay later’ philosophy, piling on credit card debt. In a recent survey, many said they would prefer to skip Christmas altogether because the holiday season brings so much financial pressure. How sad….we need to learn that things will never make us happy, and Christmas is not about accumulating more “stuff, ” for either our two-legged friends or our four-legged companions.

According to the American Pet Products Association, pet caregivers are spending more than $60 BILLION dollars on their pets this year. Chris Riches of Dailymail says that pets are more popular than relatives at Christmas with more than half planning to spend more on their animal companions than each of their own family members. Naturally every pet supply outlet is taking advantage of the impulse buyer, tantalizing dog lovers with toys, but remember that there is NO agency overseeing the dog toy market , and many of them are not good for your canine. With the market flooded with cheap imports, it’s BUYER BEWARE. Double check…and then check again to make sure a toy is non-toxic and safe. Squeaky toys are a favorite for almost all dogs, but it is easy for dogs to choke on them, often causing a blockage that requires surgery. Dogs love rawhides, but I recommend that you NEVER give rawhides to your dog! Consider toys made of very hard rubber which are safer and last longer, and remember your dog is not impressed with expensive stuff…. They possess the spirit of Christmas every day of the year, realizing that it is not the Christmas wrapping or the gifts…it is about joy and love, and they are eager to share those attributes with you every day of every year. . However, a gift or two would be appreciated, so please choose products made in North America or Europe over those mass-produced and imported from other countries where safety standards are almost non- existent. Avoid the cheap, stinky latex toys, and Inspect all toys for loose parts or pieces that might easily break off. Don’t give children’s toys to dogs, because they could chew off and choke on the eyes and noses of stuffed animals.

One of my favorite toys is the Kong. Kong toys are uniquely shaped, extraordinarily strong, rubber toys with hollow centers, and they have an unpredictable bounce that appeals to almost all dogs. This toy can be used for therapy, boredom, separation anxiety, other behavior problems, and just plain fun. A Kong can be stuffed with almost any kind of food your dog likes…mix some of his meal with a little canned dog food, yogurt, peanut butter…combinations are endless, and if you freeze them , they will occupy your dog for extended periods of time.

Kyjen Pet Products has a great assortment of quality dog dogs….the Squeaker Mat Toy has multiple squeakers that have the squeakers sewn inside, and doesn’t have any stuffing to be swallowed when your dog eventually rips it open.

The Nylabone Durable Dental Dinosaur and the Nylabone Dura chew Wishbone are great gifts for serious chewers. They have interesting shapes and raised bristles to help clean her teeth.

The Cuz is an ingeniously designed, natural rubber ball with feet…but that’s not its only special feature. It squeaks…and the squeaker is built into the Cuz so that it won’t fall out. It is a well-made toy by JW Pets, a U.S. based company that claims their ideas are l00% homegrown in the USA. They also have a large assortment of other creative, well-made toys, including Cuz Tails, which has a soft, squeaky tail that can be bounced, tugged and fetched. JW dog toys are higher quality than most of the toys you find in the big box toy departments.

Remember that no toy is indestructible, and as long as the toy industry is an unsupervised playground, it is the responsibility of the caregivers to keep their eyes on the ball, the stuffing, and the squeaker.

Dogs help us to better understand what Christmas is truly about, and even though they cannot speak in our language-or perhaps it is that we cannot speak in theirs-we know that dogs realize the true meaning of Christmas. Have a loving , joyous, debt-free holiday season!

Gifts that Keep on Giving

We enter the holiday season of giving with the realization that gifts of love, compassion, kindness, and gratitude are priceless gifts that keep on giving, but if we focus on tangible gifts that keep on giving, I choose books. There is an old English song that puts it this way: “Oh, for a nook and a storybook… with tales both new and old, for a good book wherein to look is better to me than gold.” If you are looking for a book for a gift to a special someone, I have some suggestions:

Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree, is one of my favorites , and the only one I am listing that isn’t centered around a dog…..The book follows the lives of an apple tree and a boy. In his childhood, the boy enjoys playing with the tree, and eating her apples. As he grows older, he spends less time with the tree, and visits her only when he wants material items at various stages of his life…in an effort to make the boy happy at each of these stages, the tree gives him parts of herself which he can transform into material items, such as money from her apples, a house from her branches, and a boat from her trunk. With every stage of giving, the “tree was happy.” In the final pages, the boy returns as a tired elderly man to request a “quiet place to sit and rest” which the tree could provide. Scholars heatedly debate about “hidden meanings” in the book, but I choose to believe it is a fable about life and life lessons..of what it means to be mortal and flawed and the blessings of love. Everyone needs this book, and it would make an awesome gift

Christine Davis of Lighthearted Press offers awesome coffee table books, and all animal lovers should have at least two…or more…of her delightful books. She writes and illustrates magical books for lifting the spirits of anyone coping with the loss of an animal friend in For Every Dog An Angel, and Forever Paws. The Shelter Dog tells the story of Hero, an angel dog flying through the heavens with other angel dogs, requesting to return to earth and become a shelter dog. Hero discovers that things don’t always turn out the way you plan….sometimes they turn out better. Old Dog and the Christmas Wish Is a perfect gift for those who believe in Christmas miracles…and for those who are not quite certain. It is Christmas Eve, and an old dog lies chained to a tree, alone and forgotten. Beyond the fence something is about to happen that will awaken the strong spirit that still runs deep within his tired old bones. Whispers of a Christmas wish will reach the heavens, and suddenly anything is possible on this very special night. All of these books are overflowing with love, magi, and of course, FUR! If you would like information or would like to place an order, contact davis@lighthearted or call 877-385-6837.

If you need a gift for someone with a special love for old dogs, Gene Weingarten’s book, Old Dogs Are The Best Dogs would be a perfect choice. Beautifully illustrated with photographs by Michael Williamson, this book emphasizes “old dogs can be cloudy-eyed and grouchy, gray of muzzle…hard of hearing, wheezy, lazy and lumpy, but to anyone who has ever loved an old dog, these things are of little consequence. They are sweetly vulnerable, show exorbitant gratitude, and have limitless trust. They possess a special sort of dignity and charm.” Old Dogs is a glorious gift book and a fitting tribute to any dog you can never forget. The book is also available as an e-book.

Another book that any animal lover would appreciate is Patrick McDonnell’s Mutt’s Shelter Stories. McDonald has been recognized worldwide for his distinctive style, heartwarming humor, and strong, yet nonpreachy, stand on important issues like responsible pet ownership, animal advocacy, adoption, and the sanctity of all life. This book provides a pathway for any humane minded person—turning us away from the pet trade and toward our shelters, where you can make a friend for life.

I have an entire stack of more books that I would recommend for gift-giving, but unfortunately can’t list them all. I do assure you that if you choose the books I have showcased, you will make someone happy! (All of them are available from Amazon, or most book stores).

“Good books are friendly things to own…the fellowship of books is real. They won’t disturb you…they’ll comfort you…they’ll share your lonesome hours, , and though you may cease to care for them, they will remain your loyal friends. The world before you will unfold with the magic key you hold in a book!” –Edgar Guest

The Importance of Gratitude

As Thanksgiving Day approaches, we pause to remember the things for which we are thankful . To quote Oprah Winfrey, “We radiate and generate more goodness for ourselves when we are aware of all we have rather than focusing on our have-nots.” Today’s life is constantly throwing us curve balls, and our busy lives are so packed with responsibilities and stress that sometimes we forget that the path to happiness is gratitude. It seems especially fitting as we turn our thoughts to Thanksgiving that we pause to count our many, many blessings ….faith, family, and friends, both two-legged and four-legged. I am making a “Thankful list”, and one of the things on my list is my dog, who offers me unconditional love every day of the year As Roger Caras said “Dogs have given us their absolute all. We are the center of their universe. We are the focus of their love and faith and trust. They serve us in return for scraps. It is without a doubt the best deal man has ever made. ”

  • A dog is loyal and provides love and affection. You are never alone when you have a dog. .You always feel safe with your dogs. Even the small ones act as watchdogs to warn you of visitors—welcome or unwanted.
  • You always get an exuberant greeting to welcome you home, whether you have been gone for hours or just minutes.
  • They never complain about you….no matter what you do…make a fool of yourself, come home late, or are just plain cranky…. your dogs never complain. They love you just the way you are…with all your faults.
  • No matter what mistakes you make, your dogs always forgive you. .. they never hold a grudge (a trait that very few of us humans possess.)
  • You are ALWAYS number 1. Whether in a crowd or home alone with your dogs, you are the most important thing in their lives.

This Thanksgiving, my dogs will take their rightful place on my “Thankful List”, but there are many dogs who are not on anyone’s list. Some of them have been abandoned and are living on the street. Others have spent their entire lives crammed in miserable puppy mills with little human companionship or medical treatment. The word “thanksgiving” is exactly that: giving thanks, and giving is an action….urging us to take time to do something for all the dogs who have little for which to be thankful. Your actions don’t have to be enormous to make a big difference. Here are a few ideas to make lives better for your dog, a friend’s dog, or a homeless dog.

  1. Volunteer at your local shelter or rescue group. “There is always a dog for reasons unbeknownst to me why his family gave him up. They took him to the shelter and they just left him there, where he sits scared and lonely, wondering what he did that was so bad . He deserves a second chance! “
  2. Offer to walk a senior’s or neighbor’s dog who may not get a lot of attention or exercise.
  3. Make a donation to an animal welfare group, preferable an area group with which you are familiar.
  4. Check out the cosmetics that you use. Be sure you are using products that do not do testing on animals.
  5. Bake dog treats for a local rescue..and your dog and perhaps a neighbor’s dog… Here’s a quick and easy –to- make recipe:

 Peanut Butter Balls

  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 cups flour (preferable whole wheat flour)
  • 1 ¼ cup peanut butter
  • ¾ cup whole milk
  • ¼ cup mashed bananas

Mix well . Hand form into 1-inch balls and bake at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes.


 “When life gets hectic, and you feel overwhelmed, take a moment to focus on all your blessings. When you have an attitude of gratitude, frustrating troubles will fall by the wayside. Smile, show kindness, and be grateful. Refuse to be unhappy”—Dana Arcuri

Frights, Chills and Spooky Thrills

Frights and chills, spooky thrills, candy and nuts, bring lots of fun and laughter! Filling your Halloween with absolute delight” for humans, but Halloween can be a traumatic or even dangerous time for your pet. Here are a few tips to protect him on this spooky day:

  • Never leave your dog (or cat) outdoors. There are plenty of stories of pranksters who have teased, injured, stolen, or even killed pets on this night. A frightened pet could easily get lost in the confusion of the holiday, so set up a place with a quiet space in a room away from the front door, so he doesn’t freak out every time he hears the doorbell or knocking sound. Even a very mellow dog can be overwhelmed with all the strange looking creatures in wild costumes.
  • Exercise him early, before the kids begin to trick-or treat. He will be less anxious if he is tired. Be sure he is wearing complete, up-to-date , identification, just in case an escape does occur. A lost dog wearing proper ID, especially one that has been microchipped, has the best chance of being reunited with his caregiver.
  • Think twice about a costume. Most pets do not enjoy wearing a pretty pink tutu, or ghost or goblin suit, and it can put a lot of stress on the animal. If you feel you must dress up your dog, make sure the costume is reflective, isn’t constricting, annoying, or unsafe, doesn’t obstruct her vision, or have loose parts. An emergency visit to the vet could ruin the fun!
  • Dogs are naturally curious, and decorations can pose a huge threat to them. Keep all decorations including streamers, glitter, glues and adhesives, glow sticks and jewelry, costume parts, silly string, electrical cords, jack-o-lanterns, and all the props from skeletons and skulls to spider webs and candles out of reach.
  • The National Fire Protection Association estimates that over 1,000 house fires are accidentally started each year by pets. A better choice than burning actual candles would be no-flame candles. Battery operated candles with flickering LED lights create a real burning candle effect…..however, even these should be kept away from inquisitive paws…ingesting the batteries would be serious.
  • NO candy – especially chocolate. This is an important Halloween safety tip as chocolate contains the stimulant theobromine from cacao beans, and can cause seizures, coma and even death if consumed by dogs. Also sugar-free candy containing Zylitol can cause liver failure and death. Be sure that all the children in your household understand the importance of never sharing their candy with the dog. Treat bags should be stored in a designated safe place, and candy wrappers should be disposed of in a secure garbage container. Empty wrappers as well as sucker sticks can cause choking or intestinal problems,


A quick and easy treat for your dog would be Peanut Butter-Pumpkin Yummies:

  • 2.5 cups of flour (wheat preferred but white is okay)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup of canned pumpkin (DO NOT buy pie mix)
  • 2-3 Tlbs of peanut butter
  • A bit of water ( to make dough workable)


  1. Mix together flour, 2 eggs, ½ cup canned pumpkin, and 2 or 3 tablespoons of peanut butter.
  2. Add water as needed to make the dough workable.
  3. Either roll the dough out and cut into shapes, or you can just drop by small spoonfuls, onto a lightly greased baking sheet.
  4. Bake in 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes…for harder biscuits, bake about 10 minutes longer.

Remember that your pets are depending on you to keep them safe from the dangerous ghosts and goblins that this holiday brings out!

The Spookiest Night of the Year!

“Trick or treat, bags of sweets, ghosts walking down the streets”…..Halloween will soon be here, and promises to be a howling good time for kids and many adults, but for your dogs…not so much. For most dogs, it is one of the most frightening days of the year, and the new trend to put your dog in a costume will only add unnecessary stress!… Pet stores are loaded with really cute outfits for your pooch, with sales of pet costumes soaring in recent years, growing by 68% last year, according to the National Retail Federation, and retailers say they see demand only increasing in the years ahead. Pet Smart points to the fact that it now carries 111 styles of pet costumes and accessories; it’s even starting to offer items for “small animals.” These are commercial ventures targeted for the enjoyment of humans, not the animals!

According to Pet Poison Helpline, emergency critical care and toxicology calls increase dramatically during the week of Halloween, making it one of the center’s busiest time of the year. One major reason for the calls is ingestion of costume parts, and average costs are documented as more than a thousand dollars. Dress-up is usually a major mess-up from a dog’s perspective; they are not excited about wearing a costume, and most, however “cute” they are, are uncomfortable, British Prevention of Cruelty to Animals strongly advocates against this fad, calling it annoying, and potentially dangerous, believing that legal action might be warranted for people who dress up their pets. Dogs aren’t “dress up dolls” or toys to play with, and if you are honest with yourself, you will probably admit that, even if your dog doesn’t fight being dressed up, she probably wants nothing to do with it, and it’s a huge relief once it’s off. My advice is FORGET DOG COSTUMES, but sadly, many of you have already bought your dog’s Halloween outfit, and many others will ignore my advice, so please make sure that the costume doesn’t restrict his movement, hearing, vision, or movement, and is safe and comfortable.

  • Most costumes are made of scratchy, cheap material which could result in your dog’s adverse reaction. If you notice her scratching while trying on the costume, remove it. An allergic reaction can cause an itchy rash, and possible infection.
  • Make sure the costume isn’t a tight fit. Tightness around your dog’s paws, legs, torso, or neck or tight elastic cords can pinch his body and cause a great deal of discomfort. The outfit should not constrict his movement, or hearing, and should not impede his ability to bark or breathe. Many of the ones that I looked at would hinder a dog’s vision which could be very dangerous.
  • Check carefully for small or dangling accessories which she might chew off and swallow. Buttons, ribbons, and tassels could cause intestinal blockage or choking if swallowed.
  • Some elaborate Halloween costumes can cause your dog to overheat. Depending on the outfit, the temperature, and your dog’s coat, it is easier than you might think for him to overheat while all dressed up.
  • Be sure to try on costumes before the big night. Place it on the floor, let your dog sniff and examine the costume. After he examines it, drape part of the costume over his back…repeat this several times prior to actually putting the garment on him. Take it off and put it back on several times. If your dog shows abnormal anxiety or is distressed, please don’t force him to wear it. A colorful bandana would make for a happier dog.

It is our responsibility to make sure our dogs’ Halloween doesn’t turn into frightful nightmares.

Autumn Dangers Lurk

Cooler weather is setting in, and the leaves are changing colors. Autumn is a favorite time of year for many of us, but it can be a dangerous season for pets, with many potential health hazards.

Our lives are often so hectic that we yearn for an extra hour in the day, so losing an hour of daylight when Daylight Savings Time kicks in means that many of our daily activities take place when visibility is poor. We end up walking or exercising our canine companions in the darkness of early morning or evening. Reduced light makes it more challenging for drivers to see either humans or canines, resulting in injuries being suffered after being hit by a car during daybreak or twilight hours. Be sure your dogs wear up-to-date tags and reflective wear is helpful for both you and your dog. Maintain close observation and control with a short leash attached to his chest harness. I never recommend extendable leashes, but they are especially dangerous in low light situations.

Dogs love to play in piles of leaves, but leaf piles quickly accumulate moisture, which promotes mold and bacterial growth. If your dog ingests these microorganisms, the result can be digestive tract upset, and burning leaves can irritate your pet’s eye, nose, throat, and skin, so the best practice is to keep your pets restricted from your yard work.

Mushrooms abound all over this time of year, and fortunately most mushrooms are non-toxic. However, differentiating a toxic from a non-toxic mushroom is difficult for most of us, so it is best to prevent consumption of any mushroom. Poisonous mushrooms contain dangerous toxins, and can cause severe liver toxicity if ingested.

Cooler temperatures motivate rodents to search for shelter from the cold, and rodenticides are often used to deter vermin infestations, but these poisons also cause life-threatening toxicity to dogs. The active ingredient in D-Con and most common rodent poisons is Brodifacoum, and is an anti-coagulant that inhibits Vitamin K’s normal function in blood clotting, so within several days, blood fails to properly clot. Other mice and rat poisons contain Vitamin D3, which causes kidney and liver failure, failure, muscle weakness, seizures and death. If you use these products, put them in places that are totally inaccessible to your pets, and where you are sure that mice and rats cannot transport chucks of the poison to areas your pets can reach.

There are many fall blooming plants, such as the Chrysanthemums, Saffron, and Clematis that can trigger toxicity if ingested. Ingestion of these plants can result in stumbling, drooling, skin inflammation, diarrhea, and vomiting. If you are not sure what fall plants are the most poisonous, go to,

Many people begin preparing their vehicles for the colder weather, so be aware of any antifreeze or other coolant product that may have spilled onto the ground. These chemicals can be deadly to your dog if they are ingested.

Free standing heaters can be tipped over by rambunctious pets so be sure you close off doors on your fireplaces, and block off any fire pits. Be sure to turn off any portable heater in your home whenever you leave the house.

Fleas can be more prevalent in the fall than at any other time of the year, as they are seeking warm bodies to feed and exist, and ticks can survive very cold weather. Be diligent in the consistent use of flea, tick and heartworm prevention products.

Crisp mornings walking the dog as the sky blushes with russet light crisp days, walking the dog with leaves blowing in the wind, crisp evenings to get in some quality bonding with your dog. Keep safe and enjoy the sights and smells of autumn!