Tips for First-Time Pet Owners
So you’ve said yes to the abundant rewards of pet ownership. Congratulations! There really is nothing like the company of a beloved pet. For first-time pet owners especially, the better prepared you are, the easier it will be on you and your new member of the family. Read on for tips and advice on doing it right from the get-go.
Choosing the right pet for you depends a lot on your personality, what works best for your lifestyle, whether anyone in your family has pet-specific allergies, and what you’re able to afford. You’ll want to consider all the expenses, from food and toys to grooming, routine vet care, and occasional vet emergency care and boarding.
Puppies or Dogs
Before getting a dog, research the best breed for your lifestyle, be it one that’s best for a sedentary senior or one who could be your running companion. Also, consider how much time you’re away from home. Dogs are very social creatures and live to be with their person. They need daily walks and the opportunity to go outside to relieve themselves at least three to five times per day. Veterinarians recommended that dogs go no more than six to eight hours between trips outdoors. And getting a puppy can be even more challenging unless you can take significant time away from work to train, socialize, and spend time with him. But don’t lose hope! There are ways to work around any busy work or school schedule. Automatic dog feeders can be programmed to give your pooch his meals on time, and electronic dog doors can give you the assurance that your dog can go outside whenever he needs. And, of course, you can always hire a reputable pet sitter or dog walker as well.
If you are renting, you’ll need to find out if your landlord or community has any breed restrictions. Whether you own your own home or are renting, part of being a good neighbor is scooping up after your dog, so you’ll want to prepare yourself for that as well. Also, keep in mind that some dog breeds shed more than others. In other words, if your career requires you to wear a white uniform, think twice about bringing home a Bernese Mountain dog!
Kittens or Cats
If considering a kitten or cat, be prepared to maintain a litter box. Cats also need scratching posts because they scratch to keep their claws clean and mark their territory. They also love to climb, and they’re not the easiest to train, so if the thought of having a cat on your counters, your desk, or even on top of your refrigerator bothers you, listen to your intuition! On a positive note, cats are more independent than dogs and can make the most delightful (and entertaining) companions. Another bonus is that their average lifespan is 15 to 20 years — not as long as grey parrots, who live to be 40-60, but longer than some large dogs who live six to eight years.
When you bring a pet home, you are making a commitment to care for that pet for life. The kind of pet you choose will determine how to prepare for his arrival. Choose a veterinarian before getting your pet and add the phone number to your contact list. All pets will need food, bowls, bedding, and a few toys. You may also need to keep the number of a local maid service on hand for those days when fitting house-cleaning duties into your schedule simply isn’t possible. And considering that cleaning your home can rid it of pet hair and dander, it’s important to stay on top of this task. In the Butler, New Jersey, area, you should expect to spend between $115 and $242 on a one-time cleaning from a professional maid service.
For dogs or cats, you’ll need to pet-proof your house and yard as well.
The level of bonding you’ll have with your pet is also dependent upon the type you choose. Puppies usually bond quickly, but it can take longer with older dogs and rescue pets. To establish trust and make your pet feel at home, you’ll want to spend as much time as possible with him at first while giving him plenty of praise and treats.
As a pet owner, you’ve got wonderful days ahead of you. As Anatole France once said, “Until one has loved an animal a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” Bravo to you for doing your research and joining the world of responsible pet owners.
About the Author
Jessica Brody created OurBestFriends.pet so others could find a place to share stories and photos of their beloved animal companions.
Photo via Unsplash
Do you know where fleas and ticks hide in your home? They can be found in a variety of places such as the cracks in hardwood floors; on the couch, bed or chair cushions; in rugs and carpets, and on your dog’s bed and blankets.
Now that Spring 2019 has arrived, it is important to be tick aware - for your dog’s and family’s safety. The best way to help you deal with ticks in your home is to prevent them from entering. What can you do?
Put a fence up to reduce the number of tick carrying animals strolling through your yard
Keep your lawn mowed and remove dead leaves/piles of brush
If you take a walk in the woods, check yourself and your dog before you enter your house
Put your walking clothes in the wash immediately so ticks do not have a chance to move into your home
Vacuum your car if you drove it right after your walk
Keeping your house clean helps too. Vacuuming removes up to 30% of flea larvae and up to 60% of flea eggs from rugs, carpets and bedding. Using a quality HEPA vacuum will reduce ticks and
Vacuum regularly (Using a robotic vacuum helps - see the post on How to Solve the Pet Hair Problem)
Check your pet using a flea comb
Treat your pet with flea and tick treatments
Keep you dog’s bed clean - vacuum daily and wash weekly
How to Check Your Dog for Ticks
Use the picture to the left to find out the spots on your dog where ticks like to attach. Ticks like the warm areas, such as the ears and under legs. I have removed ticks off my dog’s nose as well as every spot on the picture.
Using a sharp tick removal tweezer, grabbing at the mouth of the tick and pulling gently works the best for me. Some ticks really hang on so it may take a minute or two. Always give a reward as I give my dog and myself a treat after it is all over!
PawSheets Can Help
Changing your dog’s bed cover weekly can be a pain. So why not use a fitted sheet that can easily changed every week? That’s what inspired PawSheets. PawSheet customers send me emails telling me they use PawSheets on chair or couch cushions. It ‘s a great idea.
Thanks for reading this post. If you would like to try PawSheets, use promo code SPRING2019 for 10% off one PawSheet. If you buy two PawSheets, you get 10% off with GET2PAWS.
According to a recent survey conducted by PawSheets, the top challenge of dog owners is keeping their dog’s bed clean and odor free.
This is no surprise. There are more styles for dog beds than ever before. Even for not-so-big dogs, extra large dog beds, bolster dog beds and couch type beds are becoming very popular.
According to International Scientific Forum on Home Hygiene (IFH), a dog bed should be washed once a week. Germs and other nasty stuff can live on a dog bed for up to 12 months! The large and extra large dog beds present more of a challenge. Removing a stinky, hairy cover is not fun, and refitting the washable cover is no easy task.
If you are like me, washing a couple large dog beds (or even the covers) every week is a bit more than I can handle. I find that there are several reasons for this:
- My dog beds are too big for the washing machine – so need to go the laundromat.
- What if the dog bed cover shrinks at a high temperature making putting it back on next to impossible?
- What if the dog bed cover zipper wears out?
I don’t know about you but washing the dog bed cover ends up at the bottom of my weekend ‘to do” list – right after cleaning the garbage cans.
Tips to Help Keep The Dog Bed Clean
Keep in mind the longer you wait to wash the dog bed, the harder it will be to get it clean. So here are a few tips to help keep a dog bed clean and odor free:
- Buy beds with a removable, washable cover and a good zipper.
- If you dog tends to have wetting issues, trying enclosing the mattress in a large plastic bag and then put the cover over the bag.
- Vacuum the bed daily. Use a pet hair sticky roller to remove the stubborn hair.
- Make a deodorizer spray with some baking soda, essential oil (lavender, lemongrass) and water. Spray the bed daily.
- Some people spray the dog bed with Febreze®. If you do, I would suggest spraying the underside of the dog bed in case of a sensitivity.
- Do not let it get too stinky. If it does, it may be time for a new bed.
- Try using a durable dog bed sheet – or two. PawSheets are made with plenty of fabric and big enough to use two at once.
- I use two PawSheets and wash the top one weekly. Then if the underneath one is still fresh, I use it on top of a fresh PawSheet.
The Best Tip to Solve Dog Bed Odor
Extra large, XXL and fancy dog beds look great when they are new. The best tip is to think about how easy or difficult it will be to keep the bed clean and fresh – before you buy.
Have any other ideas for keeping you dog’s bed fresh? Please share with us.
People who love dogs also love to spoil their canine companions. Do you baby your dog? Does it make you deliriously happy to shower your pup with gifts? Well, during this Christmas season, you may want to add these gift ideas to your wish list. Who knows? You just may find some of these items tucked beneath the tree.
Do you worry about your pet escaping from the yard? After all, if your dog escapes from your property, he runs the risk of getting lost or hit by a car. So why not add electric fencing to your Christmas list? Electric fencing keeps your dog safe and close to home. The cost to install an electric fence is $962-$1434. If you and your dog have really been good this year, maybe someone will pay for the installation as your Christmas gift. So go ahead! Add it to your wish list.
Keep Your Pooch Warm
If you live in an area where it gets cold in the winter, you know that temperatures during this season can be brutal. So while you pile on the layers of clothing to keep yourself warm and toasty, don’t forget about your dog. He gets cold too! Ask Santa to give your pup some warm sweaters to keep him protected from the frigid air. Dog sweaters come in a variety of colors and styles. All of them are designed to keep your dog comfy and warm. He’ll also look impossibly adorable as he struts outside in his new sweater.
Speaking of keeping your dog comfortable and warm, your pup will definitely appreciate a new dog bed. A bed will help your pet sleep better and can be especially beneficial for older or overweight animals.
If you already have a dog bed, consider treating your dog to a clean bed by getting him a new sheet specially designed to fit pet beds. This sheet can be changed weekly to reduce hair, dander, and odors. Many of us do not even realize how dirty our pet’s bed gets. No one likes dirty sheets, including your pooch.
Dogs love to play with toys that are soft and squeaky. So add dog toys to your Christmas list. Today’s dog toy options are practically endless. Chew toys, soft toys, noise-making toys, and balls are all perfect gifts for your dog. And you can’t go wrong with an interactive toy that requires your dog to do a bit of thinking to remove a treat or dollop of peanut butter from the toy. Toys that make dogs problem-solve keep them busy while you’re away so they won’t suffer from separation anxiety and chew up your favorite house slippers.
Perfect for those walks around the neighborhood, dog strollers provide your pint-sized pup the chance to rest his little legs. Similar to a traditional baby carriage, dog strollers allow you to place your small dog inside it for a relaxing stroll. Made with stylish fabrics and modern designs, your precious pup will feel special and pampered as he rides inside it.
GPS Collar and Pet Tracker
Worried about your dog getting lost? Ask Santa for a GPS dog collar or pet tracker so you know where your dog is located at all times. These collars monitor your pup’s whereabouts so even if he escapes from the house, you can still track him down. Far from frivolous, these gifts can recover a lost dog and even save his life!
You hate being separated from your canine companion, but you have to work. How else will you pay for his kibble and expensive dog toys? Fortunately, you can still monitor your dog in real time as you go about your work day. Just ask Santa to buy you a dog monitor. Dog monitors are cameras that let you spy on your dog all day long. They use the internet to function, so you and your dog can be separated by thousands of miles, but you can still see what he’s up to while you’re away.
Admit it. You want your dog to enjoy the season by receiving gifts he’ll literally slobber over. As an important member of the family, he deserves to be showered with love and presents. So if you want to make your pup’s Christmas merry and bright, add some dog-friendly gifts to your Christmas list. Your dog will thank you !
Thank you Cindy Aldridge for contributing this post!
Photo via Pixabay
Using a robovac was a life saver for me. No more every day vacumming and a cleaner house for all!
Hot Tips for Washing a Pet Bed
It is no surprise that a dog bed is a magnet for hair and dirt, but did you know that it can also harbor flea eggs and larva, ticks and other parasites? According Dr. Heidi Maher, Medical Director of The Truesdell Animal Care Hospital and Clinic in Madison Wisconsin, bedding should be washed with a mild fragrance and die free detergent weekly or when it becomes dirty. Water should be warm (130° or higher) and dry on high for 20 minutes.
If you or someone in your home has asthma or allergies, clean bedding will keep pet dander and hair to a minimum. Washing bedding regularly is very important to remove parasites eggs and flea dirt. It also eliminates the odor of a stinky dog bed!
An Easier Way Then Washing
PawSheets offer an alternative to frequent dog bed washing. What makes them so convenient is that they are easy to take on and off and are made of a polyester and cotton blend. They are durable, do not shrink or fade and still provide a nice comfy feel for your pet. So you can use a hot water and a hot dry setting to rid the dog bed sheet of fleas, spiders, ticks and other dirty stuff.
PawSheets Fit Most Dog Beds
Before you look for a dog bed replacement cover that often has to be an exact fit, try a PawSheet. PawSheets’ unique design makes them a great fit on round, square, rectangular or oval pet beds.
This is a question I have struggled with for years. They look so tempting at the pet store and I know my dogs love them.
Based on advice from my vet, I stopped giving rawhide to my dogs. I know people who give their dogs rawhide chews and never have a problem. When I read an article on vetSTREET, I thought it would be good to share a few considerations.
Considerations when giving a dog rawhide chews:
- Only buy if made in USA. That means sourced and manufactured in the US.
- Can be a carrier of salmonella so wash your hands after touching. Don't let your baby near them!
- Know your dog's chewing style. Does your dog chew or gulp? My Lab gulps so it could be trouble for him. My Shepard mix chews everything to the max so it is unlikely to get stuck in his throat or stomach.
- Can help with teeth and gums but not a substitute for brushing.
- Make sure you are around to supervise your dog while he is chewing in case of a problem.
Another post The Dangers of Rawhide Dog Chew Toys presents good reasons to avoid commpletely rawhide chews. For one, they are not regulated so who know what chemicals were used to produce them.
For me, forget the rawhide. Too many considerations. I have tried antlers, but they actually cracked on of my dogs teeth! My most successful toys and treats are rope toys, Greenies (which have been reformulated and OK by my vet) and smart toys.
Here is a video of my Lab with his new smart toy... he is finally getting the hang of it. The first couple days he was trying to bite the toy open!
Many dog owners I speak to tell me that they give their dogs fresh or cooked vegetables as part of a healthy diet. My vet suggested green beans as they are low in calories and may help my always hungry lab to be less voracious.
One dog owner told me she gives her dog canned string beans since it was quick and easy. I asked her if she rinses them with fresh water before serving to her dog - or if she bought low salt or no salt versions. "No" she replied and asked me why I was asking. I told her that canned string beans are high in sodium and that can be a problem for dogs.
Having a background in human nutrition, I know that canned foods, including vegetables are high in sodium (unless Low or No Salt version). Here are the stats from Del Monte for 1/2 cup of canned green beans:
- Regular Cut Green Beans - 380 mg
- Low Salt Cut Green Beans - 140 mg
- No Salt Cut Green Beans - 10 mg
If you rinse the regular green beans, you can reduce the sodium by 41% (Chef Kyle Shadix, MS, RD). This is the most economical method as low salt and no salt cans tend to be more expensive.
For a 33 lb. healthy dogs, no more than 200 mg of sodium a day should be consumed (Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources). If you are giving your dog 1/2 cup of canned green beans, this is almost double what is considered OK. Rinse them and you will get it down to around 224 mg. Still high as there is a bit of sodium in dog food too.
The best green beans I have found are the ready to cook, fresh in the bag or frozen beans. Make sure that the only ingredient is green beans. No added sodium whatsoever. No butter sauce or seasonings. As with all food we buy, read the labels.
With dog and human food, the less processed, the better. Please share any other tips or info to how you keep your pet healthy.
My vacuum is on its last wheels so thinking it is time to find a new one. With Spring around the corner, and two dogs who shed, pet hair pick up is a consideration. Recently I read an article on VetStreet about three vacuums that were evaluated on pet hair pick up. Here is the link. If you are short on time, I have provided a summary and added the Amazon ratings.
Dyson - V6 Motorhead
Cost: $399 Weight 3.96 lbs. Amazon: No Reviews (yet)
- About: Cordless, bag-less, with a direct drive motor in the cleaning head. Run time 20 minutes but if on max, 6 minutes.
- Positives: easy to empty, picked up fur, dirt and kitty litter with ease, lightweight, flat enough to go under furniture (where the fur hides)
- Not so positives: bin fills fast, price is high
Panosonic JetForce MC-UL429
Cost: $150 Weight: 15 lbs. Amazon: 2 out of 5 Stars (4 reviews)
- About: Retractable 24 ft cord, PetGlide brush attachment.
- Positives: easy to empty, good size bin, very easy to empty, price, pet hair tool makes easy fur removal on furniture.
- No so positives: bulky size, weight
Bissel Bolt IOn
Cost: $179.99 Weight: 5.6 Amazon: 4 out of 5 Stars (72 reviews)
- About – Not as powerful as Panasonic and Dyson. Runtime 20 minutes
- Positives: price, easy to use, gets up dirt and fur on floors and low pile
- No so positives: less effective on high pile carpets, need to remove filter to clean the bin
Based on the information presented, I will consider the Bissel. I do not want to spend $400 and do not have any high pile carpets. So it just may do the trick. I also like cordless vacs and something that does not take up too much room in the closet.
Do you have a recommendation for a good pet hair vacuum? Please share and let us know. Remember that clean pet homes and beds are healthy for everyone.
Best Treats for Dogs
Dogs love treats and maybe that's why there are so many dog treats available on the market. However, dog owners should read the labels on treats and selection should be done carefully - as carefully as when selecting dog food.
Most people now know that jerky treats from China should be avoided. However, if you do a bit of research, you will find complaints from treats made in the USA too. Did you know that treats indicating "Made in USA" can get their ingredients from anywhere… even China?
Just like with labels on human food, you need to read the labels on treats. If there is no information, don’t buy the product. If you see words like animal meal or by-products or words that sound odd, avoid these treats.
I know some dog owners have resorted to making their own dog treats. That’s an option if you have the time. If you don’t have time, and want to know what is in your treats, here are some healthy suggestions. Remember that too many calories are not good for dogs which is why I like fruit and vegetable options.
- Carrot slice
- Apple slice (no pits)
- Banana slice
- Small piece of broccoli (frozen or fresh)
- String bean (frozen or fresh)
- No salt or butter (air popped) popcorn
- Plain rice cakes broken into little pieces
Items like antlers, bones and hooves can be hard on teeth. My collie had fractured teeth and I think this was due to the antlers I provided. No more antlers! Occasionally I find a treat that passes the label test. I break them into the smallest pieces possible and the dogs still are happy. Learned that from a dog trainer.
When you are in doubt about any food or treat, it never hurts to check with your vet.
What about Rawhide?
I was told to stay away from it as it is not natural and can splinter when it gets small. Yes it does soften when a dog chews on it, but I had a dog choke so not a fan of rawhide either.
Remember salt is very bad for dogs (and humans) so that is why I did not mention canned vegetables. Please share your ideas so we can all provide good nutrition and care to our four legged friends - cats and dogs!
Attended the SuperPetExpo last weekend in Edison NJ. Lots of people and lots of pets turned out for the show.
One of my favorite events at the show was The Marvelous Mutts. This is promoted as a canine spectacular of dog entertainment. Agility, dock diving and canine disc are the featured sports. Although the dogs, stunts and show were terrific, the best part is the story behind The Marvelous Mutts.
All of The Marvelous Mutts are adopted from shelters and rescues. Since 2007, this amazing group has been wow-ing audiences around the world. Not only is the show entertaining and fun, but provides a wonderful way to show people the potential of shelter dogs. They totally rock!
Here are 10 reasons why anyone should adopt from a shelter or dog rescue:
- You save a life.
- You save money.
- You get a healthy pet.
- You feel good.
- You make room for another pet who needs shelter.
- You reduce the pet population.
- You make a stand against puppy mills.
- You support a good organization.
- You have less chance with a mixed breed (vs pure breeds) of hereditary illnesses.
- You give a pet a second chance for a loving home.
PawSheets donates pet bed covers to shelters. If you have a shelter that you work at or know of, please contact PawSheets.
Please adopt your next pet and encourage your friends to do the same.
After a big dental bill from my vet for my dog’s teeth cleaning and extractions, I now vow to be more diligent to brushing my dogs’ teeth. Luckily, both my black lab and mixed breed dogs allow me to stick a tooth brush into their mouth to brush their teeth. So, I have no excuse not to do this on a regular basis.
Over the years I have learned a bit about how often to brush a pet's teeth, how to brush and what tool is best to use for brushing. Based on experiences, this is what I have found to work best:
- Use a toothbrush and toothpaste designed for dogs or cats.
- Wash the toothbrush after each use.
- If the bristles get stiff, I soften them with warm water before I begin.
- Announce it is time for teeth brushing. My dogs start licking their mouths.
- They know they will get a treat after their teeth are brushed.
- Rest the side of the dog's head on your thigh and pull the gums up on the opposite side.
- Brush the outside of the top and bottom teeth with a circular motion – focus on the top back teeth.
- Re-paste the toothbrush and repeat on the opposite side.
- Finish with a quick brush on the front teeth.
- A thin slice of a fresh carrot is well received as at treat.
- I feel that the raw carrot also adds to gum health.
I try to brush my pet's teeth daily. When I just cannot get to it my vet suggested a chew specially designed for helping with dental hygiene - Virbac CET® VeggieDent® Chews. My lab gobbles one down in a few minutes whereas my mixed breed chews it slowly and then gags. So I had to look for something else.
The Best Dental Hygiene Chews
The Veterinary Oral Health Council publishes a list of food and chews that meet or exceed the Veterinary Oral Health Council’s effectiveness standards for retarding the accumulation of dental plaque and/or tartar. Greenies are on the list which surprised me.
Years ago, I stopped using Greenies as I read that some dogs had choked on them. However, I was told (by my vet) that they have been reformulated and are now a good choice. I also recommend pet owners look at the county of origin as I lost a cat that ate toxic cat food made in China.
What I have learned:
- Dogs and cats need help with their teeth. Help them!
- Good dental hygiene pays off with fewer vet bills and a healthier pets.
- If your pet has bad breath, do something about it!
- Your pet needs basic hygiene just like a human – hair brushing, tooth brushing, nail clipping and a clean place to sleep. Healthy pets are happy pets.
Good luck with your pet's teeth. Please share any tips.
Think about how much we “humans” value our beds and how much time we spend selecting the “right” bed. Can’t be too soft, too hard, but has to be just right. What about our furry companions? Is there a need to provide them with a bed of their own?
Benefits of a Pet Bed
A pet bed provides more than just a place to sleep for your dog or cat. There are many good reasons to have a pet bed available to your pet. Here are a few:
- A pet bed gives a pet their own private space
- A pet bed offers a quiet, safe place to relax
- A pet bed can be a barrier against cold, hard floors and offer cushioning for the joints
- A pet bed reduces the hair and dander on your furniture
What Type of Pet Bed is Best?
When you select a pet bed, you need to think about the style, size and cost. Make sure that the bed is large enough so your pet can stretch out. If your pet likes to snooze with his or her head on the arm of a sofa, a bolster bed may be a good choice. Of course, a better quality bed will cost you more than a cedar chip fill bed. Like everything in life, you get what you pay for.
Keep Your Pet Bed Clean
Buying the bed is the easy part, whereas keeping it clean is another story. Pet beds get dirty and can smell pretty bad in no time. When selecting a pet bed, look for beds that have removable covers or are washable. Note that some “washable” beds are too large for home washers and may require a trip to the laundromat. Another alternative is to purchase a fitted sheet for the bed which can be easily washed and dried.
Pets should have a private space to call their own. It can be a pillow, a rug or a pet bed. Place the bed out of heavy traffic areas so your pet can rest in a quiet area. Recognize that the bed needs to be cleaned regularly and keep this in mind when you select the bed.
PawSheets has been getting great feedback. Before we launched, we did a market test to make sure that we got it right. We will continue to improve and expand the line of products. Please share your stories and photos with us..