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Count the Ways You Love Your Pet in February and Beyond
February is Pet Dental Month: Keep Your Pet’s Pearly Whites in Tip-Top Shape
Do You Know TNR? Trap-Neuter-Return Helps the Lives of Feral Cats

Count the Ways You Love Your Pet in February and Beyond

We love our pets; it pretty much goes without saying. And they love us back. Our loyal dogs are so dutiful. They protect our homes by barking at intruders, they greet us at the door after a long day of work, and they snuggle up with us during a home movie. Our devoted cats seem to listen to us when we have no one else around, and they love to cuddle up and purr in our laps.

But how do we show them the love?

Here’s some ideas to count the ways and make them count:

For dogs:

  • Take your dog for a nice long walk. It will make your dog happy and it will keep you both in shape.
  • Pet your dog and even give him or her a doggy massage.
  • Give your dog healthy treats, such as carrots.
  • Play with your dog. A game of catch is always a good idea to keep you both happy.
  • Pay attention to your dog, even if it’s just cuddling on the couch together.

For cats

  • Because most cats love to be clean, make sure you keep a clean litter box around.
  • Cats love play time, so invest in a toy mouse, some string or laser lights. It’s playtime and exercise for you both.
  • Keep some sturdy scratching posts placed around the home to keep your cat busy and engaged. It keeps their claws shortened and helps relieve stress, too.
  • Give your cat a couple places to sleep to feel safe and stay warm such as a bed or a box.
  • Snuggle up with your cat and give some scratches behind the ear. You’ll have a friend for life. 

Show your cat or dog the love, and you’ll be rewarded tenfold with a grateful and loyal friend for life.


February is Pet Dental Month: Keep Your Pet’s Pearly Whites in Tip-Top Shape

Just as the health of your teeth are important, so is the dental health of your pet. When you disregard their dental health, serious issues can arise, just as in humans. Since Feburary is Pet Dental Month, there’s no better time than to have your pet’s pearly whites checked by your veterinarian.

According to the article “Pet Dental Care,” at the American Veterinary Medical Association website, your pet’s teeth should be checked yearly to detect any problems and for the overall health of your pet’s mouth.

Take note of signs including bad breath, a broken tooth, discolored teeth, mouth pain or bleeding from the mouth. Any of these signs could be a serious dental problem, so contact your veterinarian as soon as possible, the article said.

It is less common to find cavities in pets, but “they can have many of the same dental problems that people can develop” including broken teeth, abscesses, cysts, tumors and periodontal disease, the latter of which is most common in dogs and cats. “Early detection and treatment are critical, because advanced periodontal disease can cause severe problems and pain for your pet,” the article stated. Periodontal disease is associated with other issues including kidney, heart muscle changes and the liver. Discuss dental cleaning treatment with your veterinarian.

Along with a yearly checkup for your pet’s teeth, speak to your vet about prevention at home. This can include brushing your pet’s teeth on a regular basis. It “is the single most effective thing you can do to keep their teeth healthy between dental cleanings, and may reduce the frequency or even eliminate the need for periodic dental cleaning by your veterinarian,” the article said.

The trick is to be patient with your pet when getting him or her used to brushing. Talk to your vet before you start any regimen.


Do You Know TNR? Trap-Neuter-Return Helps the Lives of Feral Cats

If you don’t know about TNR — Trap-Neuter-Return — it’s time to find out about the program that is helping feral cats nationally.

“Trap-Neuter-Return is the humane and effective approach for stray and feral cats,” according to “Why Trap-Neuter-Return Feral Cats? The Case for TNR,” an article by Alley Cat Allies, a nonprofit that helps to effect positive change for cats. The program has been in practice in the US for decades after it was proved to work in Europe. The article said that, according to scientific studies, TNR “improves the lives of feral cats, improves their relationships with the people who live near them, and decreases the size of colonies over time.”

The TNR program is simple, according to the article: People involved with the program in their communities set out to humanely trap the feral cats in the area. The cats are then taken to a veterinarian, neutered and vaccinated. Following recovery, the cats are then brought back to their outdoor colony. Those cats who are friendly and some kittens are sometimes adopted out to homes.

TNR is an effective program that helps the lives of feral cats by halting breeding, which improves health and prevents unnecessary litters. It is a program that easily and much more humanely stops the inhumane practice of killing outdoor, feral cats. Additionally, feral cats who are removed and brought to local pounds do not end up being adopted and are then euthanized, according to the article. TNR programs continue to be effective and successful.

To find out more about local TNR programs in the Phoenix area and to help, go to the Animal Defense League of Arizona or Altered Tails.

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New Year, New Pet: Get Your Overweight Pet on Weight Loss, Exercise Plan


Whether you have a fat cat or a pudgy pup, the New Year is the perfect time to get your beloved family pet in shape. It’s not that they need to fit into a great bathing suit by summer, it is strictly for their health and well-being. Along with your own resolutions for 2017, add some for your pet as well.

As with people, overweight dogs are susceptible to various health risks that affect many organs, according to the article “Health Risks in Overweight or Obese Dogs” at Doctors Foster and Smith at “When we overload these organs, disease and sometimes death are the consequences,” the article said. Risks can manifest in the form of diabetes mellitus, damage to joints, heart disease, digestive disorders and many more.

Basically the same can be said for overweight cats as stated in “Health Risks in Overweight or Obese Cats” at “One of the most common complications of obesity in cats is the development of diabetes mellitus (sugar diabetes).” Other consequences include liver disease, lameness and arthritis, and skin problems.

In the article “7 Surprising Ways To Help Your Pet Lose Weight (And Why It’s Important)” at, Dr. Ernie Ward, DVM, wrote, “…over half our nation’s dogs and cats are overweight. This means almost 80 million pets are at risk for developing crippling arthritis, debilitating diabetes, catastrophic kidney and heart disease, high blood pressure and many forms of cancer.”

Dr. Ward recommends seven tips to help get your pet back in tip-top shape:

  1. Calorie counts. Find out the amount of daily calories your pet needs by asking your veterinarian, and consult your vet before starting a diet because each pet has a different metabolism.
  2. Got measuring cup? Well use it, according to Dr. Ward. Don’t “guestimate.” He said, “After you calculate how many calories your pet needs, determine how much food you should feed each meal – and measure it.”
  3. It’s OK to give treats, but make sure they are not junk-food. Provide treats that are low calorie and no-sugar.
  4. Instead of store-bought dog treats, try baby carrots, green beans, cucumbers, bananas and sliced apples. “For cats, try a flake of salmon or tuna,” Dr. Ward wrote.
  5. Exercise! It’s good for you and your dog. “…anyone with a dog has a built-in, no-excuse exercise buddy,” Ward wrote. For dogs, 20-30 minutes of brisk walking helps with cardiovascular health. For cats, play with a laser pointer or remote-controlled toy for 5 to 15 minutes a day.
  6. “Almost every dog, cat and person can benefit from taking a daily omega-3 fatty acid supplement,” Ward wrote. Consult your vet before using any supplement.
  7. Cutting carbs. Dr. Ward suggests a higher protein/low carb diet. However, he advises checking with your vet first.

Our pets are our family and we are responsible for their health. There’s no better time than now to achieve your pet’s weight-loss goals and keep him or her healthy to live a long life.

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If You See a Stray Dog, Here’s How to Help
Keeping Dogs Indoors vs. Outdoors: What’s Best for Your Best Friend
Declawing Your Cat: The Pros and Cons

If You See a Stray Dog, Here’s How to Help

It happens to so many of us: You see a stray dog in the street or side of the road and you want to help but are unsure of what to do without scaring the dog or having him or her run into traffic.

According to “How to Help a Stray Pet” from The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), whatever you do, don’t get into an accident so safely pull off to the side of the road. Here are tips from the HSUS:
• Catch safely: Often a dog will be scared, sick or injured. You cannot predict his/her behavior. Ensure the dog doesn’t run into traffic. “If possible, restrain the animal. Create a barrier or use a carrier, leash, piece of cloth, or length of rope to keep the animal in the area.”
• Be cautious. An animal may be scared and could bite due to fear. “When moving toward the animal, speak calmly to reassure them,” according to the HSUS article. “Make sure they can see you at all times as you approach, and perhaps entice them to come to you by offering a strong-smelling food such as canned tuna or dried liver.”
• Ask for backup. You may need help restraining the dog so you can call local animal control, or police if you are in a rural area.
• Bring the dog to safety. The HSUS article advises that if you can transport the dog, bring the dog to an animal shelter nearby. “If you plan to keep the animal in the event no owner is found, notify animal control that you have the animal or that you have taken them to a veterinary hospital for treatment.”

Check out the dog for injuries. If the dog has tags, try to call and locate the owner, or have the dog checked for a microchip. The dog may have a family who is searching for their canine friend.

Keeping Dogs Indoors vs. Outdoors: What’s Best for Your Best Friend

Should dogs live indoors or outdoors? There are families who have dogs who live inside and sleep alongside their humans. They are part of the “pack” and considered family. There are families who leave their dogs outside all the time. Often those dogs lack socialization and become isolated.

So what’s best?

According to “How Much Should You Keep Your Dog Outdoors?” at, Jacque Lynn Schultz, C.P.D.T. Companion Animal Programs Adviser, National Outreach, wrote, “A dog who’s kept outside experiences social isolation. He may engage in excessive barking and howling in an attempt to reunite his pack.”

Schultz said that outdoor dogs who are isolated “become exceedingly independent and difficult to train.” Although bringing dogs outside to play is a great idea, it should not become their full-time home.

For those dogs who do like to spend time outdoors, it is very important to ensure they have appropriate protection from the elements and enough fresh, clean water, especially during summer months. Make sure to bring dogs inside during inclement weather. Also make sure to keep an eye on dogs outside as they could succumb to overheating during the summer. Outside dogs can be put in harm’s way if encountered by wildlife such as coyotes. Whatever you do, do not chain your dog outside, as that is very dangerous, cruel and inhumane.

“Dogs are companion animals and, as such, belong in our homes and in our lives,” Schultz wrote. Your dogs should not be restricted to a backyard. When you make an effort to train your dog, teach him or her manners and socialize your dog, “you will discover you have within him the best possible companion.”

Declawing Your Cat: The Pros and Cons

There is a lot of controversy on the subject of declawing cats. There are some countries that have actually banned the practice, considering it to be inhumane.

Some cat owners think it’s OK as they don’t believe that declawing is harmful and want to deter cats from scratching up furniture. “They don’t realize that declawing can make a cat less likely to use the litter box or more likely to bite,” according to “Declawing Cats: Far Worse Than a Manicure,” an article from The Humane Society of the United States. “Declawing also can cause lasting physical problems for your cat.”

According to the article, cat’s scratch. It’s a normal behavior for them. They do it, “to remove the dead husks from their claws, mark territory, and stretch their muscles.” They begin the behavior at approximately 8 weeks old, which is the perfect time to train them on using scratching posts and get them used to trimming their nails.

Declawing should only be considered for medical purposes “such as the removal of cancerous nail bed tumors.”

The surgery to declaw is not like having nails trimmed. It is the “amputation of the last bone of each toe,” the article said. “If performed on a human being, it would be like cutting off each finger at the last knuckle.”

According to the HSUS article, cats who have been declawed can experience:
• Pain in the paw
• Infection
• Tissue necrosis (tissue death)
• Lameness
• Back pain
• Nerve damage
• Bone spurs

The HSUS article recommends the following to help deter unwanted scratching:
• Keep your cat’s claws trimmed
• Provide scratching posts and boards throughout the home
• Ask your veterinarian for humane options

Medically, there is no benefit to declaw your cat. You can ensure everyone in the family is happy when you train your cat not to scratch furniture and other items in the home.