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I’ve conned asked our vet to answer reader questions, so if you have a question about your pet, ask them here! We will do our best (and within applicable laws) to get you answers.


Summer Pet Tips

It’s Summer! It’s time to play in the yard and at the lake! It’s a time for fun with your family pet.

Here are some tips for a safe and happy summer:

  1. NEVER leave your pet in the car
  2. Don’t let your pet ride unsecured in the car or in the back of a truck
  3. Watch out for fertilizer and other poisonous plants, even Cocoa Mulch
  4. Keep plenty of water for your pet
  5. Don’t let your pet play unsupervised in the pool/lake, use a life jacket if necessary
  6. Don’t forget flea and heartworm preventatives
  7. Make sure your pet has a new collar and tags
  8. Go for walks in the early morning or evenings when it is cooler outside
  9. Provide shade if your dog spends a lot of time outside
  10. If you live in an area prone to natural disasters, prepare a disaster kit for your pet and yourself

Safely Boating With Your Pet

Four-legged companions are the best boat-going crewmates one could ask for. They enjoy the ride, don’t talk back, do what they are told and shower you with affection. Not only that they take up little space and don’t eat all of your hot dogs and potato salad. These furry crewmates, which most often are dogs, also include cats, birds and other creatures are often times a big part of a great boating experience.

Your pet might not immediately take to the water, but with patience and a little training most grow to love outings on the boat. You will want to be sure that your dog is comfortable in the water before you introduce him or her to the boat. Cats, we know hate water, so you’d better off just skipping that part and going straight to the boat. Allow your pet to become familiar with the boat and give him or her time to explore it on her own terms. Once your pet is comfortable, you can being introducing the sound of the engine. Once your pet is comfortable with the sounds of the engine and the horn, you’re ready to take a short spin.

On your spin, it may be better to harness or leash your pet. The waves and the motion of the boat could cause your pet to slip on the deck and hurt himself or herself and could fall overboard. Even if your pet is a good swimmer an unexpected plunge into the water could cause him or her to panic.

If your pet is anxious even after several short boat trips, it is probably better to leave him or her at home. The stress for both you and her can make your boating trip miserable.

Don’t be surprised if your pet gets seasick, just like people, they have to adjust to the motion of the boat on the water. You may have to get a prescription from your veterinarian if seasickness is a continual problem. Over time, extend your outings and soon your pet will be enjoying the wind and waves as much as you do.

You will need some essential safety gear to take with you though:

  • Life Jacket/Flotation Device – while many pets are good swimmers, they can very easily become tired and need to rest – the life jacket also makes it easier to pull your pet back into the boat should he or she go overboard. Need more reasons to get a life jacket, read this!
  • First Aid Kit – accidents do happen and its important to be prepared – Find out how to prepare a pet first aid kit.
  • Potty Pads/Litter Box – if you won’t be seeing land for awhile, keep some potty pads or a litter box available should your pet hear the call of nature.
  • Food/Water – provide your pet with clean food and water, especially in warm temperatures.
  • Water Toys – if your pet loves to swim, take some water toys along for a waggin’ good time.
  • Ramp or Platform to help your pet get easily in and out of the boat from the water, such as a Paws Aboard Doggy Boat Ramp.

Now get out there and have a great adventure. Happy sailing!

The Cat Coach to Offer Classes in Cat Behavior

We have all heard about the horse whisperer and the dog whisperer, but what about a cat whisperer? Well, now you have it! Renowned cat coach, Marilyn Kreiger, is often referred to as the cat whisperer. Keriger is a certified cat behavior consultant and she will be offering two telecourses on cat behavior in July. The first one is titled, “Introducing the New Cat to the Resident Cat without Stress,” and will be on July 16th at 9 p.m. ET. The telecourses are being sponsored by

Kreiger helps cat owners resolve unwanted behaviors, such as inappropriate elimination, spraying, aggression, scratching and more. She uses behavior modification techniques along with positive reinforcement while teaching the cat owner the right way to interact with their cat to correct behavior problems and avoid behavior issues in the future.

Kreiger is a certified cat behavior consultant who has been successfully solving cat behavior problems since 1990. She is the resident cat behaviorist for Cat Fancy magazine’s web site. She also authors the Ask the Cat Coach for Animal Radio Network’s monthly magazine. Based in Northern California, Marilyn donates her expertise to the Peninsula Humane Society, which has honored her for her efforts to keep cats from being surrendered unnecessarily due to fixable behavior problems.

Nationally recognized as being one of the country’s foremost behavior experts on Bengal Cats, domestic cats which are descendants of Asian Leopard Cats, Marilyn spearheads coordinated rescue work in California for these beautiful felines. She also is a Filial Bengal Cat Consultant (FBBC).

Marilyn teaches cat behavior telecourses for companion animal professionals through Raising Canine. She also teaches a series of mini-seminars at For Other Living Things in Sunnyvale, CA.

She is a proud certified member of the IAABC (International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants).

It’s Fireworks Time!

July 3, 2006 fireworks display at the Tesla/Skid Row concert at Fort McDowell Gaming Casino in Scottsdale, AZ

Yes, everyone it’s that time of year: thunderstorms, fireworks and loud noises! If these things have your dog or cat running for cover, here’s a few tips to help make summer a little more enjoyable for your pets.

During fireworks season, it’s easy to see why pets get stressed out. There’s sudden loud noises and they come from all directions for hours on end. The first thing you want to do is get your pet HomeAgain microchipped, so that if he or she does escape, you can be sure that if they are found, they can be returned home. Second, common sense, guys, don’t let them out during the times when you know people will be setting off fireworks. You will want to create a “safe place” for him or her to go. This could be a kennel, a bedroom, or even the basement (think muffled sounds) that has a radio or tv on to drown out the loud scary noises.

During fireworks or thunderstorms is a good time to break out the Kong ball or your cat’s favorite toy, such as the Chirpy Bird (a BIG hit at my house!!). Something that will keep your pet busy for awhile so they don’t pay attention to the noises going on around them.

You can also try a D.A.P. collar or diffuser for dogs and a Feliway diffuser for cats. Both of these emit natural pheromones that help to calm your pet during stressful situations and can also help eliminate urine marking, scratching and help with separation anxiety in dogs. If you are using a diffuser, you will want to plug it in early so that it has time to spread throughout the house before the fireworks show starts (at least a few days before). During thunderstorms, you can use the diffuser as well as the spray that is available for quick fixes. The spray is also very useful if you’re traveling or taking a trip to the vet.

It is also important not to give your pet too much attention if he or she is acting fearful. Doing so will reinforce the fearful behavior, and you don’t want to encourage your pet to act fearful during fireworks or thunderstorms as this can make the problem worse. Reward him or her with attention only when he or she is calm and comes out of hiding on his or her own.

Flea Season is here!

Flea and tick season has arrived in the midwest! Which means it’s time to get started on flea prevention on both your pet and in your home. Preventing fleas includes treating three different areas: your home, your yard and your pet.

Indoor Flea Prevention
Indoor flea prevention starts with vacuuming. You will want to vacuum high traffic areas daily and other areas weekly. This will help remove any fleas or larvae that are present in your carpet. When you change the vacuum bag, be sure to put it in a plastic bag and seal it to prevent the fleas from getting back into your home.

If you have a severe flea problem, you may want to treat your home with an insecticide, such as a fogger or spray. Virbac offers a great fogger that works really well. You will want the fogger to contain IGR or insect growth regulator, which stops the flea’s life cycle by not allowing them to develop into adults.

You will want to wash your pet’s bedding in hot water weekly to kill any fleas that are present. Don’t forget to treat your car, garage, basement or any other areas that your pet spends time.

Outdoor Treatment
Outdoor treatment involves treating the yard, kennel, patio, and any other areas in which your pet frequents. Fleas like moist, warm areas that contain organic debris. So, get out the rake and get busy. Remove any organic debris with the rake to expose the areas where the fleas are present and to allow the yard treatment to reach these areas. Once you have these areas cleaned out, you can treat them with Siphotrol Yard Spray. It covers 5,000 square feet and can prevent reinfestation for up to 4 weeks.

Pet Treatment
Treating your pet for fleas is easy with a topical spot-on, such as Frontline. Frontline is a once a month treatment that is applied to the back of your pet’s neck. The medication is spread throughout your pet’s body by his or her hair.

For severe infestations that need to be taken care of immediately, you can use a flea dip such as Adam’s Flea & Tick Dip. Adam’s kills and repels fleas, ticks, lice, gnats and mosquitoes for up to 7 days. It is easy to apply, you just sponge it on and let it dry, no rinsing required. You can also use an oral medication, such as Capstar, which kills fleas within 4-6 hours and is effective for 24 hours; however, I wouldn’t recommend you use this on a daily basis.

As you can see, it is pretty easy to keep your pet and your home flea free. Prevent infestation before it happens by starting to treat your pet and your home now!

Professional Pet Sitter’s Week

If you use a pet sitter, send some flowers or a note this week to tell them how much you appreciate them caring for your pet while you’re gone!

Pet sitters do much more than just feed and water your pet while you are away. A professional pet sitter will spend quality time with your pet as well as provide play and exercise time. Pet sitters often will not only care for your pet, but will bring in your mail, water your plants and turn lights on and off to help deter crime.

A pet sitter offers both you and your pet many benefits.

Your pet gets:

  • the environment he knows best.
  • his same diet and routine.
  • relief from traveling to and staying in an unfamiliar place with other animals (such as a boarding kennel).
  • attention while you’re away.

You get:

  • the peace of mind that comes from knowing that your pet is being cared for by a professional.
  • someone to bring in your newspaper and mail so potential burglars don’t know you’re away.
  • someone who will come to your home
  • other services, such as plant watering and pet grooming.

Just because someone has the title of professional pet sitter, doesn’t mean that they are qualified to care for your pet. Here are some things to look for when choosing a pet sitter.

According to the Humane Society of the United States, when looking for a pet sitter, you should keep these things in mind:

It’s important to learn all you can about prospective pet sitters’ qualifications and services. Before selecting a pet sitter, interview the candidates over the phone or at your home. Find out the following:

  • Can the pet sitter provide written proof that she has commercial liability insurance (to cover accidents and negligence) and is bonded (to protect against theft by a pet sitter or her employees)?
  • What training has the pet sitter received?
  • Will the pet sitter record notes about your pet, such as his likes, dislikes, fears, habits, medical conditions, medications, and routines?
  • Is the pet sitter associated with a veterinarian who can provide emergency services?
  • What will happen if the pet sitter experiences car trouble or becomes ill? Does she have a backup?
  • Will the pet sitter provide related services such as in-home grooming, dog walking, dog training, and play time?
  • Will the pet sitter provide a written service contract spelling out services and fees?
  • If the pet sitter provides live-in services, what are the specific times she agrees to be with your pet? Is this detailed in the contract?
  • How does your pet sitter make sure that you have returned home?
  • Will the pet sitter provide you with the phone numbers of other clients who have agreed to serve as references?

Even if you like what you hear from the pet sitter and from her references, it’s important to have the prospective pet sitter come to your home to meet your pet before actually hiring her for a pet-sitting job. Watch how she interacts with your pet—does your pet seem comfortable with the person?

To help your new pet sitter and your pet get accustomed to one another, you might want to take a weekend trip and see how everything works out. This will give you a better idea if your pet sitter and your pet are made for each other.