A coat for your pet is not just a fashion statement, it is a safety measure. Even with shaggy fur coats your pets can still suffer the impacts of cold weather.
Just like people, your pets all react to cold differently depending on age, breed, and size. Like most seniors, older cats and dogs have a hard time maintaining body heat. Meanwhile, puppies and kittens shouldn’t be outside in the frigid air even when well-dressed because they don’t have the fat, metabolism, or the full fur coat they need to stay warm when temperatures plunge.
Of course, it’s not a good idea to shave your dog’s coat during colder seasons. The fur helps keep your pet comfortable so just wait until spring to give Fifi a new do.
A fabric coat or knit sweater for your pet can be fashionable and warm. Add a reflective collar or some reflective accents on the covering to make it easier to spot you and your dog on the dawn and dusk patrols. Take the coat off as soon as your pet comes inside and never leave a wet coat on your pet otherwise they will get chilled from the damp material and you’ll have defeated the purpose of the protective garment.
When it’s cold or wet out, veterinarians say it’s vital to keep young, old, and sick pets indoors. If the temp is below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s too cold for pets to be left outside for extended periods and below 32 degrees is when frostbite occurs. It’s up to you to watch the thermometer and keep your pet warm and snug.
Rather than chilly hours in the yard unattended, keep those outdoor breaks short, just 10-15 minutes for a romp 3 or 4 times a day is a better option. When it is cold, watch your pet closely for signs of distress which may include shivering, lethargy, disorientation, and whining. If you think your pet is hypothermic, call your vet to determine the best way to warm them up.
While you can’t bundle up your outdoor pets, expect to add 10-15% more food in the winter. Birds (and squirrels) love to get peanut butter and suet when it is cold outside and those extra calories may help maintain their body heat.
Thankfully, we in NC don’t have to contend with severe and lengthy bitter cold seasons like other parts of the country. Our cold snaps may be brief but our concern for every pet’s well-being is for all seasons.
Happy Pet! Happy Home!
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I have owned more than a handful of dogs and have prepared many foster dogs for adoption. Along the way, I have met some interesting and challenging canines. One such dog was Duke, The Found Hound. I was buying groceries at the Food Lion in Bridgeton. Every time the door opened, this large, bony tick-ridden hound walked in sweeping his tail from side to side. He entered the store three times and each time he was forced back outside. After the third time, the store employees were ready to call Animal Control. It was Thanksgiving week, and I figured the fate of this dog in the hands of Animal Control would not have a good outcome.
In the parking lot, the dog was going up to everyone in the same friendly manner that he showed as he entered the Food Lion. Everyone brushed him off –that is, everyone but me. I saw something in him that I liked. No one knew anything about this dog so I considered him abandoned. It was clear by looking at him that he hadn’t been well cared for. He was severely underweight and his coat was in poor condition.
I asked some people to help me get him into the backseat of my car. They asked me what I was going to do with him, and I said I’d adopt him out or keep him. They looked at me like I was crazy. My intentions were to get him fully vetted, neutered, trained in some basic obedience, and then adopt him out through the humane society. After I got home, I named him Duke, and started his rehabilitation. He impressed me with his intelligence, athleticism, and willingness to learn. I worked on calming his reactiveness to other dogs, eliminating his food aggressive issues, and taught him basic skills and house manners. When he was ready, I took him to an adoptathon. To my dismay, he was ignored because he was too big. Everyone passed us to view the little dogs. I decided that no one would ever do that to him again and took him “home.” He was mine!
This dog that no one wanted went on to receive a Canine Good Citizenship certificate, had a blast learning agility, and excelled at obedience. He remained my faithful companion for eight years. To this day, he holds the title of being the most frustrating and challenging dog I’ve owned. But he also taught me the most and took me to places I never would have gone. For that, I am forever grateful.
If you have a dog that is a challenge, we may be able to help. We’d love to improve the outcome of your story. Contact us so we can all hear it.
I was a lucky winner of a raffle drawing at the Pet Sitters International Conference this year. My prize was a forty-five-minute consult with Marci Kosti, PHD, a well-known cat behaviorist. I prepared ahead and asked my Facebook friends and colleagues what their most pressing cat concerns were. Some of the concerns went beyond the scope of an introductory consult but other issues fit easily into a Q & A format.
Here is a summary of the answers to my questions with Dr. Marci:
When pet owners consult with you, what are the topics they want to discuss most often? The top concern is from pet owners who have cats that are not getting along and are looking for ways to create cat harmony in their household. The second most frequent topic is house soiling.
How important is early interaction between kittens and humans regarding their friendliness toward their owner and other people throughout their lifetime? The sensitive socialization period for kittens is 2 to 8 weeks. Studies have shown that kittens that have been gently handled (even just 15 minutes a day) are more likely to be friendly, more willing to explore, and more able to handle stress as they develop. Exposure to more than one person, other pets, environments, and situations provide kittens with positive associations that will last a lifetime.
As a pet sitter, we often administer medications to cats. What are some of the best methods that you have found for cats to accept this process? Less handling is better when giving medicine to a cat. For pilling, the best treat that Dr. Kosti has found is whipped cream cheese because it is sticky and yummy. Place a pea size portion with the medicine tucked inside on the very end of a knife or spoon. When the cat goes to lick it, it sort of sticks to the cat’s tongue and then goes into the mouth to be swallowed. To get the cat to accept this, start with a few portions of the cheese without the pill and then the one with the pill followed by one more lick without the pill. This way the cat doesn’t suspect the medicine each time. Some other good choices are Churu’s, Albacore tuna, marsh mellows, Easy Cheese cheddar and bacon, canned salmon, baby shrimp, Bonita fish flakes, anchovy paste, and Fancy Feast foil packets of any flavor. We also talked about adding medicine to a liquid paste in a syringe and letting the cat lick it off the tip of the syringe. Both of these methods can be completed without any hand holds so the cats aren’t stressed and look forward to medicine time. Dr. Kosti shared a great video by Feline Fundamentals that shows positive ways to medicate your cat which I thoroughly enjoyed watching. You can view it on Youtube.
What are the best ways to deter a cat from scratching the furniture? Scratching posts placed near the furniture that the cat is scratching. Make sure it is the right size and is sturdy. If the cat is reaching up then the post should be one that matches the cat’s height preference. The same applies for cats that scratch the carpet. These cats prefer scratchers that lie on the floor. There is a variety of scratchers to chose from. Consider buying several. Initially, you can sprinkle cat nip on the scratcher to get the cat’s attention.
What are your thoughts about cats exploring outdoors in a stroller? Dr. Kosti loves it and has tried it with all of her cats. However, only one of them took to it after training. It needs to be properly introduced with gentle training. If a cat doesn’t like it and growls, hisses, trembles, freezes, snaps or swats – then stop. This is not going to be a pleasant experience for that cat.
Feeding stations vary a lot from one house to another. Sometimes food bowls are close together near the litter box and other times they are spread out. What do you advise your clients to do? Cats are very fussy about this. They don’t like their food bowl near the water or the litter box. They also don’t have a drive for thirst even though they need water. I have found that the best feeding station is one that has the food apart from the litter box and away from the water bowl. It’s also a good idea to have several water bowls in areas that the cat is near because they may drink more water that way. This is especially important for senior cats.
Litter box issues are complex issues that can’t be addressed in this format. Dr. Kosti gave a ninety-minute presentation which I found valuable on litter box issues and house soiling at the Pet Sitters International conference. The first step in resolving these issues is a veterinary check- up to determine that the problem isn’t medical. Then a review of litter box basics (location, design, type of litter, and maintenance) and some simple adjustments may be all that is required for your cat to behave appropriately. As a pet sitter, I have a lot of experience in this area and may be able to help.
When it comes to cats that don’t get along in their multi-cat household – it may be time for you to reach out to a cat behaviorist. Dr. Marci Koski, a Certified Feline Behavior & Training consultant, successfully helps cat owners restore harmony in their homes. The testimonials on her website are from satisfied customers who wish they would have contacted her sooner. I am very impressed with her understanding of cats and her willingness to share her knowledge with me. I highly recommend her to you. She is amazing and will be happy to talk with you.
What is your proud pet story? Contact us so we can all hear it.
How prepared are you? A little, a lot, gone overboard, never crossed your mind? North Carolina is no stranger to hurricanes so that will be my focus today.
Here are some things to think about: the internet and tv may go down; power may go out; rain may cause floods; wind may cause damage; evacuations may be ordered. Everyone is under a lot of stress scrambling to get what they need to survive and protect their belongings.
Make a plan for your pet ahead of time: decide where they will go, how they will get there, what supplies and records you will take, and know what you can do to help keep them calm.
Prepare an emergency kit for each animal. Take water, food, can opener, carriers or crates, litter box and litter, puppy pads, plastic bags, pickup bags, medicine, medical records, leash, collar, harness, pet photo, ID tags. Suggestion: take paper records and a photo. While you may have excellent records and pictures on your smartphone, you may not be able to access them. Store paper reports in a waterproof container (zip lock bags are handy) and take them with you. You may also scan records and photos to a file and email the file to a friend or family member who lives in a safe area.
Before the bad weather approaches, bring your pets inside. Keep them safe. You don’t want to search for a terrified pet that has escaped from the yard.
Stay calm – your pets are sensitive to your feelings. You can help them stay relaxed by packing their favorite blanket or toy, bringing a long-lasting chew toy, spraying Feliway (cats) or Adaptil (dogs) on bedding or towels that can be put into their carriers or crates.
If your pet is not familiar with going into carriers or crates – teach them to love them. Leave them up in the house, toss treats in them, feed them next to them and gradually move the food inside. If they have to spend time confined in one, they will be more comfortable if they have a good association with them.
Stay tuned in to the weather reports and, if you have to leave – don’t dilly dally. You are your pet’s best guardian so plan to take them with you.
I’ve laced up my sneakers & jingled my car keys, lining my pockets with necessary items for a quick outing. As I head towards the door, there she is, my eager & loyal canine companion wanting to join in on the travels. The repeated & habitual motions have sounded the ‘car ride alarm.’ She knows what’s in my future – and she wants in!
Whether it’s the idea of being with her pack leader or the excitement offered by a traveling box on wheels, she is always up for a car ride. Being mindful of vet visits & other necessity destinations, I encourage her fondness for accompanying me. By exposing her to low stress, simple neighborhood rides, positivity is associated with the experience. I’ve practiced this with Sam since she was a puppy & as a result, she is happy to be my co-pilot. She absorbs it all; with ears that adorably perk up at the painted New Bern ‘Bear’ statues.
With 3 million olfactory nose senses, our dogs gather exposure to a variety of smells offered by travel. In addition to bonding, we feed into the animalistic desire for exploration. When traveling, safety always comes first. As tempting as it is, keeping all sniffers and paws inside the vehicle deter incident. A well ventilated backseat harness, crate or carrier are always the safest ways for a dog to ride. A casual, safe and frequent cruise through the neighborhood keeps my precious pup ready to roll!
Submitted to Crockett’s Critter Care by Nicholas Bailey
What is your proud pet story? Contact us so we can all hear it.
Dogs love your companionship so it is a great way to strengthen your dog-human relationship. It’s an easy thing that you can do together. Do you notice how many times your dog looks pleadingly at its leash and back at you? It’s waiting for you to attach his leash and spend some quality time with each other. Most of the time, all you have to do is step out the front door.
Sometimes a vigorous walk is great for exercise but not always what your dog wants. A slow and steady walk gives your dog a great chance to read the environment. Their sense of smell is so powerful that they know who was here, which way they came from, where they went, and how long ago they passed through. Let them read the stories that the environment offers them.
Dogs would love to have more control over where they go. After all, we control every aspect of their life so why not let them pick and chose the direction they want to go? We just need to make sure the direction they are selecting is safe and allow them to lead the way.
Slow down and listen to what your dog is saying to you. Sometimes you can just stop and observe what they are doing. Give them a moment to do what they are interested in. We don’t need to pull them away from something they are attracted to every time. How would you feel if you were reading the newspaper and were constantly interrupted before you finished the article?
They want to explore different surfaces so vary your location. When it’s convenient, walk them on a sidewalk, at the park, on a hiking trail in the woods, down a path by the river, or on a sandy beach. Many dogs love to take in new experiences.
Dogs love a routine. Walking them at the same time every day calms them. Just like our morning routine gets us off to a good start – the same is true for your dog. Consistency is calming.
My Davy cues me when he wants to walk. He looks at his leash and back at me until I oblige. He loves tracking and looking for squirrels, bunnies, deer, and reading who else was visiting his world. He knows where the neighborhood cats are hiding and which trees the birds are perched in. He stops to look down along the common grounds to see if any other critters are in sight. He is alert and interested in everything. He reminds me to live in the moment.
Ginger, on the other hand, is content to meander on the front yard and across the street and back. She can sniff the same spot for five minutes and then walk a few feet away and then back where she was. She is excited to meet up with her friend, Max, but ignores the other critters that are around.
I walk Davy and Ginger separately. They have different styles of walking and I want to spoil them both on their walk. They trust me and enjoy our relationship. Each one is special and different. Both are allowed to be dogs and are happy pets.
I would be happy to walk your dog too. Contact me to get started.