Thursday, January 31, 2013

Super Bowl with your Dog

Will you be one of the millions of viewers watching “the big game” this Sunday?  Every year Americans devote the first Sunday of February to the final game of the football season, also known as Super Bowl Sunday.  Of Super Bowl XLVI (last year), NBC Sports reported “In all, 166.8 million tuned in for some portion of NBC’s coverage of the game, making it the biggest total TV audience of all time.”  Needless to say, it’s hard not to catch a glimpse of the Super Bowl when the whole nation is watching (even if you just watch the commercials).

Whether you will be watching Super Bowl XLVII or trying to avoid it, there is no reason why you and your dog can’t get caught up in a little of the excitement around the day.
First you can tune into the Animal Planet and catch a bit of the Puppy Bowl IX.  For the ninth year running, the puppy bowl is an adorable takeoff of the Super Bowl where animal lovers get to watch puppies (in a puppy stadium) play and make touchdowns.   This year, Animal Planet boasts of hedgehog cheerleaders, Hamsters steering a blimp, a kitten halftime show, and a slow motion “Cute Cam” for replays.   “The Cutest Sports Event of the Year” is not to be missed.  Kickoff begins on Sunday, February 3rd, at 3 p.m. on the Animal Planet.

Another appropriate activity for game day would be to toss the ball around in the yard.  You can pick up a football shaped dog toy at any pet store, if you don’t already have one.  And while you play fetch, you can wear your favorite team jersey (and get one for your dog to match).
Most homes will be watching the big game with company over.  Everyone loves a good Super Bowl party because it makes the game that much more fun to watch.  Your dog should be able to enjoy the game, and your guests as well, without stress.  To ensure a stress free environment, lay down some ground rules with your guests.

1.       No one is allowed to give table scraps or party food to the dog.  There are many human foods a dog cannot digest such as onions, garlic, avocado, raisins, grapes, mushrooms, and chocolate, all of which can make him or her very sick. 

2.       No one is allowed to give your dogs any drinks.  Caffeine, sugar, and alcohol can make a dog very sick. 
You may lay down any other house rules you already have in place for your dog such as no jumping, no getting on the couch, no barking, etc.  It is also a good idea to take your dog for a long walk or run before any event.  This exercise will help reduce hyper, disobedient, or stressed out behavior once strangers start coming to the door.  

The San Francisco 49ers play the Baltimore Ravens this Sunday, February 3rd, in Super Bowl XLVII. Tune in at 3:30 p.m. PT or 6:30 p.m. ET.
Puppies Predict Super Bowl Winner

Friday, January 25, 2013

Pet First-aid Kit

If a disastrous earthquake hit Southern California, would you be prepared? If you found a tick on your dog would you know how to safely remove it?  From the worst case scenario to the most common occurrence, a first-aid kit can mean a world of difference.

Does your household even have a first-aid kit for humans?  Many people don’t even think about a first-aid kit for themselves, let alone their pets.  But why not?  While some dogs are more accident prone than others, there are no guarantees that your dog will never get hurt.  If you could clean up a cut, wash debris out of an eye, wrap a sore paw, or remove a tick without incurring a vet bill, would you?

What you need in your first-aid kit depends on your first-aid training. The most basic kit for your pet should include the following:

4x4 Gauze Squares- to control bleeding
Rolled Gauze- to secure the gauze squares

Adhesive Tape or self-adhering bandage- to secure the rolled gauze
Styptic powder & Cotton Swabs- to control minor bleeding (like a broken toe nail). Corn starch or corn flour will also work.

Blunt-nosed scissors- to carefully remove bandages or cut anything close to the body
Tweezers- to remove ticks or debris from a wound

3% Hydrogen Peroxide- to induce vomiting and clean a minor wound
Eye Wash or Saline solution- to flush a minor wound and clean eyes

Cold Pack- to aid in heat stroke, cool burns, and reduce swelling
Antibiotic ointment (or diluted 15% tee tree oil or vitamin E gel or Pure Aloe Vera Gel)- to soothe and promote healing of minor cuts, scrapes, and insect bites

Needle-less Syringe or Eye Dropper- to administer medications and other liquids
Digital Thermometer- to check your pet’s temperature.  A dog’s temperature is typically 100.4˚F – 102.5˚F

Other items you can keep on hand for your dog are:
Antihistamine Tablets- for bee stings and snake bites.  The dosage is 1mg per pound of body weight (ex. dog weighs 30 lbs, give 30mg). Double dosage for snake bites.  Any dog with major swelling or difficulty breathing should go to the vet.
Antacid Tablets- for upset stomachs. Administer according to body weight and withhold food for 24 hours.  Pepto-Bismol is ok for dogs but NOT for cats.  Mylanta can be used for dogs and cats.  

Electrolyte Replenisher- to rehydrate
Leash- to wrangle a pet in need of help, or can be used as a muzzle if a dog needs to be restrained while being treated.

Towel or Blanket- to treat for shock, help transport a pet, or help restrain a pet
Phone Numbers & Addresses- In case of an emergency, it is always best to leave veterinarian contact info with the first aid kit along with any other important numbers you may need in a hurry.  If your regular vet does not offer 24 hour service, keep the number and directions to the nearest 24 hour vet in your first-aid kit as well.

First aid kits can be expensive but you don’t have to have the biggest and best kit on the market.  You can build your kit over the year starting with things you would most likely use such as gauze, hydrogen peroxide, triple antibiotic, and tweezers.
Maintaining your first-aid kit is just as important as building it.  Be sure to restock after use and check expiration dates each year.  

If you don’t know much about first aid, you can always find plenty of ‘How to’ videos online.  If you are seriously interested in further education and training, you can sign up for a pet first-aid and CPR class.  Check out classes offered by Denise Fleck, owner and founder of Sunny Dog Ink, and an expert on the topic of pet first-aid.  And if you aren’t up to the task of making your own first-aid kit, Denise also offers ready-made pet first-aid kits for sale on her website.

Friday, January 18, 2013

A New Year’s Resolution

We are a little over two weeks into the New Year and, no doubt, many people have already given up on the resolutions they made for 2013.  Have you?  Why not try a resolution that you can stick to and will benefit your four-legged best friend as well?

We all strive to improve ourselves or our situation, and January 1st is a favorite time to make such a change because the New Year represents a fresh start and a clean slate.  But we often fall short of our new goals because they are extreme or large jumps from our current lifestyles.  Anyone who has ever tried to kick a bad habit before can tell you that success will not come overnight.  It can be a long and gradual process, especially if it is a dramatic life change.
Don’t give up on your resolutions just yet.  Take a look at your overall goal and see how you can turn a large goal into smaller, more manageable goals that will lead you to your desired destination. 

Say you want to start walking your dog every day but you currently walk your dog maybe once a month.  You may have the drive to walk the dog every day for a week, but chances are you will have a rough day where you won’t feel like walking the dog.  That day may turn into two days, then a week, and before you know it you are back to walking the dog maybe once a month.  If you break that big goal into smaller goals you would start with walking the dog once a week.  Once you have done that regularly for a month, you can celebrate your success and then add another walking day, so now you are walking the dog twice a week.

Every month of successful walking will lead to another walking day added the next month.  Every step you reach will be a celebration of success because you are that much closer to your overall goal.  And if you should stumble, don’t let it bring you down or deter you.  If you create a habit of walking the dog three days a week but for some reason can’t seem to be consistent when you add a fourth day, then keep working on four walks per week before trying for five.  You want to set a solid foundation before building on it, so be sure to master your current goal before trying to reach the next.
While you may not reach your original goal overnight, this technique of patience and persistence will get you there before you know it.  Remember the race between the Tortoise and the Hare; slow and steady will win this race. And you have no one to beat but your old self.

If you already have a habit of walking your dog regularly, look to see if there is anything else that you could improve to enrich your dog’s life.  One thing many homes do not have is a first aid kit.  Many people don’t have a first aid kit for themselves, let alone the pets.   If you don’t have a resolution of your own, I challenge you to put together a first aid kit for your family.  It is always beneficial to be prepared for the unexpected, not to mention, being able to care for a superficial wound at home can save you a trip to the vet.