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When temperatures dip during the winter months, it can get pretty cold, even in Arizona and especially at night. There’s nothing better than a toasty sweater to get warm. From knits and cotton to V-necks and turtlenecks, there’s so many from which to choose. But wait, what about your dog? Does your furry family member need a sweater? How do you know?

There are tons of cute sweaters and coats for dogs. However, does your dog really need one? It really depends on the dog. “If you are concerned about your dog being cold, there is certainly no harm in putting clothing on him,” according to the article, “Do Dogs Need Sweaters in Winter?” at Dogs do have their own “layering system, but some dogs have lighter layers of fur than others, and some are not genetically suited to the environments in which they find themselves transplanted.”

Typically, it’s the smaller dogs, toy breeds and light bodied breeds with short or thin hair that do well with sweaters, the article said. It makes them feel better when they go out for a potty break or when on a walk. It’s even OK for them to wear around the house.

If you’ll be getting a sweater for your dog, the article offers some things to take into consideration:

• Choose material that is washable and doesn’t itch, such as a cotton or acrylic blend.
• Measure your dog for a good fit that is not too tight or too loose.
• Ensure you measure around the neck, the largest part of the chest, and distance from neck to waist. Make sure to leave the lower belly free.
• Make sure the armpit area and neck is not too tight or too loose.
• The sweater should be easy to put on and take off.
• Be careful of parts such as zippers, buttons, tags and hooks that can pose a danger.

For those dogs who are larger and fit for the colder months, sweaters are typically not necessary. For instance, “if you have a healthy, young Siberian Husky or Alaskan Malamute who’s acclimated to the cold and has the glorious coat common in the Northern breeds, you likely won’t have to invest in canine clothing for walks in the snow,” according to the article, “Do Any Dogs Really Need Sweaters or Coats?” by Dr. Marty Becker, DVM, at Dr. Becker said there are generally three types of dogs who benefit from sweaters or coats:

• Small dogs
• Older dogs or chronically ill dogs or both
• Dogs with a thin body type to include, Greyhounds and Whippets

According to Dr. Becker, these dogs all have a harder time “generating and retaining enough body heat on their own.”

Dogs with arthritis benefit from sweaters and protective clothing making it more easy and comfortable for them. Additionally, according to Dr. Becker, having a coat at home just in case won’t hurt your dog.

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Love Your Pet in February with a Dental Checkup for Pet Dental Health Month
Bringing Home Baby: How to Introduce Your Pet to Your Infant
The Pros and Cons of Pet Health Insurance

Love Your Pet in February with a Dental Checkup for Pet Dental Health Month

You love your pet and fuss over her with the best toys, the best food and long walks. However, do you know the importance of your pet’s oral hygiene? Just as you ensure your own teeth get checked and cleaned, it’s just as important to have your pet’s teeth cleaned and checked by the vet. February is a great month to show your pet dental love because it’s Pet Dental Health Month.

If your dog or cat has bad breath, it can sometimes mean there is an underlying health issue, “with the potential to damage not only your pet’s teeth and gums but its internal organs as well,” according to the article, “February is National Pet Dental Health Month,” at American Veterinary Medical Association ( “To address the significance of oral health care for pets, the AVMA sponsors National Pet Dental Health Month every February.”

There are numerous reasons to care for your pet’s teeth. The article, “10 Reasons Why You Should Take Care of Your Pet’s Teeth,” at Pet Health Network provides great reasons:

• Healthy teeth means better pet breath.
• Dental disease can lead to other health problems. It can get to “your pet’s organs, such as the heart,” the Pet Health Network article said.
• When you care for your pet’s teeth you can “prevent other health problems, saving you tons of money over the long term!” the article said.
• Just as you brush your teeth, you should brush your pet’s teeth.
• Periodontal disease is serious. Get your pet “regular dental checkups and cleanings,” the article said.

If you have any questions about your pet’s teeth, daily brushings or having a dental checkup and cleaning, speak with your veterinarian. Remember, prevention is best.

Bringing Home Baby: How to Introduce Your Pet to Your Infant

Your pet has been your first “baby.” Now you’re having a baby and want to make sure everything goes smoothly when you bring home your new bundle of joy.

When bringing home a new baby, “your dog will face an overwhelming number of novel sights, sounds and smells,” according to the article, “Dogs and Babies,” at Your routine will change, and so will the dog’s, so it’s important “to prepare your dog for the arrival of your new addition” by teaching your pup how to safely be around the baby and helping the dog adjust to new changes, the article said.

The article suggests these tips before baby comes home:

• Teach your dog basic obedience. Consider a group class.
• Four months prior to baby’s arrival, “Gradually introduce your dog to the new experiences, sights, sounds and smells she’ll encounter when you bring your baby home, and associate these new things with rewards,” the article said.
• One to two months before baby’s arrival, start making the changes that will affect your dog’s daily schedule.

You can also make sure your dog is comfortable around other pets and people, according to the article, “Introducing Dogs and Babies,” at Pet Health Network. Try “carrying around a lifelike baby doll, talking to the doll, and showing the dog that the baby will be in a crib, carrying seat, and in your arms.”

When you finally bring home your baby, while your dog is being curious and smelling the baby, make sure to give lots of praise and show your dog love, according to the Pet Health Network article. If you are concerned about any of your dog’s behavior, make sure to discuss with your veterinarian or a dog trainer to address any issues right away.

The Pros and Cons of Pet Health Insurance

If you have a pet, you probably have heard about pet health insurance. Is it something to consider for your pet?

Pets are living longer because of the technological advances in veterinary medicine. These advances also mean “higher costs associated with the equipment, facilities and training required to provide these higher-quality services,” according to the article, “Do You Need Pet Insurance,” at the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). “Pet insurance can help by offsetting some or most of the costs of diagnosing, treating and managing your pet’s illness or injury.”

The AVMA article notes the following:

• Make sure your coverage details are clearly spelled out by the insurance provider, from routine care to emergency treatment. Are there limitations or exclusions, and will your premiums go up as your pet ages?
• Ask about pre-existing conditions.
• Some providers may not insure certain pets or breeds, and some have a limit on the number of pets.
• Is there a multiple pet discount?
• Are there add-on options, such as dental care?
• Understand the policy and any limitations, from co-pays and deductibles to any other fees.
• Can you use the vet of your choice?
• Find out about the claims process.

If your pet has an unexpected illness or accident, pet insurance can most definitely ease your mind with regard to expenses. The article, “4 Reasons the Cost of Pet Insurance is Worth It,” at Canine Journal, offers some pet insurance positives:
1. It’s there if you have an unexpected surgery.
2. Costs of vet services, treatments and surgery are on the rise.
3. There are various plans, so you can choose the one that best fits your budget.

Whatever you decide, do your research, speak with your vet, and find out what’s best for your pet.

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Be Prepared When Bringing a New Pet into Your Home
Remedies to Help Your Older Pet’s Arthritis in the Colder Weather
Get Overweight Pets on Track to Help Them Live Longer and Healthier Lives

Be Prepared When Bringing a New Pet into Your Home

It’s the start of a new year, and it brings so much promise. If you adopted a new pet or received one as a gift, do you know what to do or what to expect? How should you prepare your home and your family?

According to the article, “Bringing Your New Dog Home,” from The Humane Society of the United States, “The key to helping your new dog make a successful adjustment to your home is being prepared and being patient.” The article offers some tips:

• Prepare the home to include supplies, from a collar, ID tags and leash, to food, water bowls and toys.
• Decide who will feed the pet, walk the dog or clean the litter box, and decide where the pet will sleep.
• Ensure housetraining is consistent.
• Schedule a veterinarian appointment.

In the article, “What You Need to Know Before Bringing Home a New Pet,” at HealthyPets, Dr. Karen Becker discusses how to successfully add a new pet to your home:

• Before bringing home a pet, ensure there are no dangers and move “cords out of reach, and plants if your new addition is a kitty,” Becker wrote.
• If you have other pets, seek advice on introducing your new addition.
• For new cats, “regardless of whether there are other pets or children in the family, I recommend you separate the new addition in a little bed-and-breakfast setup of her own for at least a week,” Becker wrote. “This will help her get acclimated on her own terms, which is the way cats prefer things.”

Bringing home a new pet is exciting. There is so much to look forward to and lots of love to go around. Make sure you have all the information you need to ensure the transition goes smoothly for everyone, including your new pet.

Remedies to Help Your Older Pet’s Arthritis in the Colder Weather

Arthritis hurts the joints in both humans and animals. Similar to humans, pets with arthritis feel more pain during the colder months.

The reason for increased arthritic pain in humans during colder months is not actually known by doctors but the assumption is that it is partly caused by “the drop in air pressure, which can allow the tissues to swell, or the effect that cold has on the muscles; a stiffening that can be uncomfortable even for those who do not suffer from joint issues,” according to the article, “How to Alleviate Arthritic Pain During the Winter,” at The same holds true for pets with arthritis.

There are things you can do to help alleviate some of the pain:

• Ensure your dog is not overweight, “since extra weight places a lot of extra pressure on the already stressed joints,” the article said.
• Speak with your veterinarian about medications and supplements.
• Alternatives such as massage, acupuncture and even physical therapy can help.
• Keep your dog as warm as possible.
• Pet ramps can help your pet with stairs.

According to the article, “Arthritis and Cold Weather: Treating Degenerative Joint Disease in Winter” at Pet Health Network, for dogs with degenerative joint disease, or DJD, the cold can be brutal. Movement is key as “activity helps the joints combat stiffness—which in turn reduces pain,” Dr. Jeff Werber, DVM, wrote.

Getting up and getting out with your dog for a walk is key. “The movement will help your dog maintain good muscle tone, and muscle tone is crucial to combatting arthritis,” Werber wrote.

If there is ice on the ground, try booties or pad protectors for your dog’s paw pads. There are numerous things you can do while working together with your dog to help him combat arthritis, especially in the cold.

Get Overweight Pets on Track to Help Them Live Longer and Healthier Lives

Obesity is a concern for humans and pets, and the situation seems to be getting worse. Pets who are obese are at risk for a variety of medical conditions that can be extremely dangerous to their health. What are the signs? What can you do?

In the article, “The 5 Biggest Questions You Must Ask About Pet Obesity: How to Check, What to Feed, and How to Exercise,” Dr. Ernie Ward, DVM, CVFT, and founder of The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP), said some weight-related disorders for obese pets include diabetes, arthritis, high blood pressure, cancer, kidney disease and more.

Dr. Ward suggests that pet owners ask their veterinarians five important questions:
1. Ask if your pet is overweight and get an assessment.
2. Ask the amount of calories you should feed your pet every day and “Feed that amount,” Dr. Ward wrote.
3. Ask how much weight your pet should lose in a month’s time. “A weight loss plan’s performance is critical to track and monitoring monthly trends is an accurate indicator of success or stagnation,” according to Ward.
4. Ask about exercise for your pet and the type of activities “based on your pet’s species, breed, age, gender, and current physical abilities,” Ward said.
5. Ask if your pet is at risk of a medical problem because he is overweight.

“I often emphasize that food does not equal love,” wrote Dr. Patti Iampietro, Best Friends veterinarian in the article, “Obese Dogs and Cats: Why Pet Obesity Is a Health Concern.” She added, “Walks, play time, petting and quiet time alone with your pet all say ‘I love you’ just as effectively as giving treats.”

Work alongside your pet and help him lose weight safely in order to bring him to a healthy weight… and a healthier life.