Getting Your Pet Microchipped

Many of us take every precaution we can to protect our pets. With growing technology in the veterinary field, new measures of protection for companion animals are now available to owners at a low cost. Microchipping, one of the newest ways to locate and identify lost animals, is growing in popularity and efficiency.

A microchip is a glass-encased device that bears an identification number unique to every marked animal. Once the microchip is inserted under the animal’s skin and registered with the devices company, the microchip can be activated with a scanner at a veterinarian’s office or local animal shelter. With no batteries or power source required to activate a microchip, this device will provide a permanent identity for your pet that will last their entire lifetime.

Many owners protect and identify their pet with a personalized collar. While this method can certainly help identify your pet, there are many strong advantages in microchipping your animal. For instance, pet collars may fall or slip off, and personalized tags may become unreadable after several years. Microchips do not face any of these challenges and have no chance of being removed, no matter where Fido wanders off to.

Dr. James Barr, clinical assistant professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, explains the biggest advantage microchipping has over other methods of identifying animals: “The biggest advantage is that a microchip can’t be lost. It allows access to detailed information about the pet and its owner with a quick phone call to the company.” Barr also adds that most microchips can be installed at veterinarian offices and sometimes even spay and neuter clinics. He further explains that the process of installing a microchip is very quick and does not hurt the animal, contrary to what some owners might believe. “A microchip is implanted under the skin between the shoulder blades using a needle and plunger, which is similar to a syringe,” he said. “The needle is a rather large needle comparatively to what would be used for a vaccine, but it usually does not require sedation and is only transiently uncomfortable for the animal.”

Microchips, which are about the size of a grain of rice, can be installed into dogs, cats, horses, ferrets and most other mammals. If you are considering microchipping your pet, consult your local veterinarian to see which microchipping companies are most commonly used in your area. Some chips are more universally read than others, so it is important to consider which microchips your local veterinarian and animal shelters can read. Finally, do not forget to register your chip to your name and phone number. If you move to another address or change phone numbers, you will be required to update this information with your microchip’s company. A microchip will only bring your pet home if your contact information is kept up-to-date.

Although personalized collars have been traditionally used as a method of identification in pets, microchipping is fast becoming the modern solution for lost animals. Even if your pet has been microchipped, providing a collar for your pet is still important. Remember to register your pet’s microchip to your name and updated contact information in order for your pet to return safely home if they ever become lost.

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Is Your Dog Manipulating You?

Soko, a German Shepherd, is ball obsessed. Mojo, her Malmute-mix housemate, enjoys taking Soko’s ball, placing it in the middle of the floor, and then lying down and looking at her as if to say, “Go ahead. Make my day.” Soko, being smaller and non-confrontational, will suddenly prick up her ears as though she hears something outside. She’ll spring up and dart out the dog door, with Mojo hot on her heels. That accomplished, she’ll immediately race back inside and grab the ball.Continue reading

Ten Tips to Discourage Destructive Behavior in Dogs

For those of you following this blog, you may have read some of my previous posts about Gatsby, my incredibly destructive, adopted German Shepherd mix. I’d like to share some of the techniques I used to help curb Gatsby’s destructive tendencies.

If you have a destructive pet, the first thing you have to do is find the root of the behavior. Does he have separation anxiety? Is he under-stimulated? Or maybe there was a recent change in routine or environment? All of these can be common triggers of destructive dog behavior. Your ‘treatment’ of the bad behavior will depend on the cause, and you may require some professional help if you are dealing with dangerous or extreme destruction in your home.

1. Exercise. A common cause of destructive chewing and digging can be cured with a simple walk. If you dog isn’t getting adequate exercise during the day, boredom can manifest itself through shredded cushions, carpets, or other destructive behaviors. Try to get your dog out at least 30 minutes a day, if not twice a day, depending on the breed and energy level of your dog.

2. Mental Stimulation. Even if you are exercising your dog’s body, you also need to stimulate his brain to reduce boredom. Try daily training sessions, but keep them short; maybe 5 minutes at a time, 2 or 3 times per day. Practice old tricks and try out some new ones, too.

Puppy with a KONG toy3. Stimulation, stimulation, stimulation. Starting to see a pattern here? If a dog is under-stimulated, mentally or physically, the results could be disastrous. Try using puzzle toys or a treat-stuffed Kong while you are away to challenge your dog.

4. Provide proper toys and bones. If chewing is your problem, be sure that you have plenty of tough dog toys and bones as an alternative to your furniture.

5. Calm them naturally. You can specially designed music to calm your canine while you are away. I have found Through a Dog’s Ear to be especially effective.

6. Supplements. There are some homeopathic remedies on the market to help curb anxiety. They use natural herbs and supplements that have calming effects.

7. Pheromones. Start using a product that employs the use of appeasing pheromones, like Comfort Zone. Spray it or use the plug-in diffuser to release a calming chemical in the air that replicates a nursing mother’s pheromones which naturally calms your canine friend.

8. Change your behavior. Believe it or not, your actions just before you leave or when you return may be root of the anxiety. Through a dog’s eyes, when you make a big fuss over leaving the house in the morning with hugs and kisses and lots of goodbyes he can sense your anxiety about leaving him and cause additional anxiety for your dog. When you leave the house, don’t make it a big deal, just give a treat and calmly walk out the door.

9. Crate Training. When a dog is properly crate trained, the crate becomes a place of security and comfort. It’s a safe place to and can keep him out of potentially dangerous destructive behaviors. Make sure you aren’t using the crate as a tool for punishment.

10. Doggie Day Care. There are many facilities that offer a doggie day care services. Your dog can play with other dogs, receive training, and be stimulated all day outside of your house when you can’t be home to supervise.

If you have any other tried and true techniques or tips for curbing destructive dog behavior be sure to share them in the comments section.

Pet Fire Safety Check – How Does Your Home Compare?

Last Thursday was National Pet Fire Safety Day. A house fire has always been one of my greatest fears so when the AKC put out their tips on avoiding this potential tragedy I was shocked to learn that almost 1,000 house fires last year were actually started by the family pets themselves. Some of the pet fire safety tips the AKC gave were obvious to me, but others were more subtle. Planning for the unexpected tragedy is an integral part of responsible pet ownership.

How to prevent your pet from starting fires

Extinguish open flames – Curious by nature, pets will often investigate candles or stovetops. Never leave an open flame, such as a candle or gas stove, unattended and be sure to double check that all flames have been put out before leaving your home.

Invest in stove knob covers – A stove is the number one cause in pet related fires. Consider buying knob covers for your stove, or remove them altogether when you leave the house.

Love candles? Go flameless – Flameless candles often create the same atmosphere as a regular candle, but with less risk. Don’t let kitty burn her tail on an open flame candle, try flameless candles that use small light bulbs to generate the flickering visual.

Confine dangerous pups – Consider confining curious young puppies or destructive dogs away from potential fire-starting hazards while you’re away using crates or baby gates.

Replace the glass water bowl – If you use glass water bowls avoid leaving them outside or on a wooden deck. The sun’s rays are surprisingly powerful and can ignite materials under or around the glass bowls. Use stainless steel or ceramic bowls instead.

How to keep your pet safer in an emergency

Collars and leashes at the ready – Keep your pet’s collars on them and keep leashes near the door in case firefighters need to rescue your pet from a dangerous situation while you are away.

Confine pets to areas near entrances – When you’re leaving your pets home alone consider leaving them confined in areas or rooms near an entrance, and make sure to mark it on your fire safety cling.

Monitored smoke detectors – Invest in a monitoring system that alerts emergency personnel when a fire has been detected and no one is home.

Fire Safety ClingPet window clings – Write down how many and what type of pets are in your home on the cling and attach it to a window at the front of your house. Make sure it’s visible! Include any information that may help responders find your pets, like where they prefer to hide or where the dog is confined. Update it the number of pets you have as soon as a change occurs.  You can request a free pet safety window cling on ADT’s website.

Often times no one wants to plan for the worst, but prevention and planning are your best bets when you’re trying to save your best friend. What other steps do you take to avoid fire disasters? Feel free to add tips in the comments below.


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Skunk Encounters with Pets – Dealing the Fog of Eternal Stench

So now that Spring has sprung (YAY!), pet owners across the nation may find themselves dealing with more than foul weather and slick roads. The warmth of the sun and the extended daylight becons the emergence of dormant wildlife from their cozy winter dens. Perhaps none is so dreaded than those with tell-tale black and white markings and unmistakeable scent – the skunk.

Mojo and the Fog of Eternal Stench

I know a Great Pyranees named Mojo that has a particular fondness for wildlife. He can often be seen roaming the farm fields and woods edge in search of something to make friends with (or harass) whether it be a herd of deer or a plump groundhog basking too far away from his hole. Unfortunately for his family he doesn’t discriminate – he’s happy to greet anything he comes across, even the local skunks. I often wonder if he likes the smell or if his gentle, fun-seeking nature just makes him keep trying to get aquainted with them. Regardless of his motives, it seems as if he constantly reeks of his overnight encounters, much to the dismay of his family. My guess is he’ll never learn or accept that the fascinating striped “cats” don’t want to be his friend, and the noxious perfume is supposed to be a hint.

Mojo has inspired this blog entry. Everyday pet owners wake up, let the dog out and go about their daily routine, but a select few are greeted by more than their happy dog when he comes back in from his morning business. A freshly skunk scented pet is an excellent way to begin a ruined day. If you’ve ever experienced it, you know what I mean, and for those of you who haven’t – pray that it never happens to you. By the time you realize what’s happened, your eyes are watering, you don’t want to breathe, and the smell seems to permeate everything! So, what next?

A Lesson in Skunk Chemistry

Skunk musk is so powerful it can make you dizzy or bring on a strong feeling of nausea. The musk is a means of defense. Each skunk has two glands, one on each side of the anus. Muscles next to the glands allow the skunks to spray the fluid accurately at a potential threat up to 16 feet away! The Spray is not the skunk’s first means of defense, in fact they try not to use the spray, depending on their warning colors and postures to deter a threat first. They only produce enough fluid for about five or six sprays. Once depleted, it can take over a week for the fluid to be replenished. Fortunately for the skunk, most predators are deterred by the initial barrage. The fluid doesn’t just stink, it can cause temporary blindness, vomiting, and the scent can linger for miles around! Most natural predators know better and don’t bother skunks they encounter.

Chemists have studied skunk musk for years (I DO NOT envy them). What makes that stuff so effective!? The distinctive odor is somewhere between a concentrated dose of sulphury rotten eggs and a mountain of burning rubber. The spray is composed of seven distinctive compounds and “thiols”created by decomposing proteins. It is speculated that the smell has evolved to resemble the scent of decay that animals naturally tend to avoid. The 2 most potent compounds are butene-1-thiol and methyl-1-butanethiol. Complexities aside it’s easy to understand why it makes an effective deterrent.

Dealing with Eau du Skunk

If early childhood memories serve me, tomato juice, tomato sauce, or whole tomatos were the go-to remedy for a skunk sprayed pet. Others included vanilla, vinegar, orange juice, or even mouthwash! Unfortunately, none of these really pack the punch necessary to remove the musk, though some amy do a mediocre job masking the sharpness of the smell. The odor can linger for months and may become more apparent in rainy or damp weather. Your senses may adjust to the smell somewhat, so it may not seem as pungent.

In order to have a real impact on the odor, a wash has to be able to break down the thiols in the skunk oil. In 1993 a chemist named Paul Krebaum formulated what is waidely viewed and praised as a miracle skunk odor remedy. Mix 1 quart of 3% hydrogen peroxide, 1/4 cup of baking soda, and 1 teaspoon of liquid soap; use the mixture immediately on your pet, following with a generous rinse of warm tap water. VOILA! Simple but effective. These days there are also several reliable, commercially available products that can safely remove or neutralize the odor from your pet.

It is important to keep several things in mind if you should be faced with this issue. The faster you can clean the dog the better…the longer the musk oil lays on the skin and coat, the harder it may be to remove and the more you and your pet will suffer the smell. Above all keep your pet’s well-being in mind. Look over his body and face to check for scratches and bites that may need to be addressed or require veterinary attention. Also, before using any home remedy consider your dog’s skin and coat type – some home remedy ingredients may irritate a pets sensitive skin or discolor his coat. If it’s a concern, call your vet for advice on a reliable solution.

Don’t Blame the Skunk

Foul smelling odor aside, skunks aren’t all bad. Yes, they have a reputation for being vectors of rabies like other wild animals, and yes, they can create a mess by foraging for food in gardens, trash cans, or other places they associate with food (resourceful little guys!). But generally, skunks just want to be left alone. They have poor eyesight and a typically shy disposition. Spraying is usually a last resort – an effective defense if their bold color, hissing, stomping, and defensive stance doesn’t do the job. Some people even keep domesticated skunks as household pets (scent gland removed, my grandmother had one years ago named Flower), but thats a whole other blog!

5 Things You Give Up In Exchange for Pet Parenthood

Lots of people I know don’t have pets because they’re afraid that a pet might destroy their belongings or otherwise cause destruction and mayhem. While this is definitely the case with some pets, there are steps you can take to mitigate the damage and take on a furry family member. The love that you receive from a cat or a dog in the house is unlike any other kind of love you’ll ever experience.  It is an experience to cherish and hold dear, though I heartily admit pet ownership isn’t right for everyone.

Without further ado, here are my top 5 picks for what pet parents sacrifice:

1. Clothes or furniture free of dog hair or cat hair

This one is tough to avoid at all costs, unless you decide on a hairless breed of cat or dog, but trust me; a house full of pets is a house full of loose fur! I have 3 dogs and 2 cats and I sweep and vacuum twice a week, which is probably less than half of what I should do. When you share your home with this many animals you learn to ignore the hair as much as possible. Some tips for tackling that hair problem?

  • Soft leather furniture. I’ve had 2 cloth sofas and I now have a soft leather couch. By far, there is much less hair on the leather couch than on the previous sofas. You’ll have to mindful of claws and get high quality leather, but leather is much easier to clean than a cloth sofa.
  • Regular grooming. The more hair you can remove with regular brushing and dog grooming means fewer hairs on your clothes! I groom weekly, but should do it more often.
  • Use the hair as a condiment or garnish. My mother in law always said “Nothing tastes quite right without a Husky hair in it, or two!” I’m sure from an outsider this sounds gross, but fellow pet lovers can probably attest, there is no way you’re going to be completely hair free in your house.

Did I do that?2. Nice belongings.

Especially the case with young dogs, they will love to chew and they will inevitably find your favorite pair of expensive heels to chew on! My opinion is that every dog is different, some dogs I’ve had went after personal belongings, others chewed on furniture. There are ways to keep your pet from taking everything you love:

  • Keep nice things (handbags, shoes, baskets, electronics) out of reach and behind closed doors.
  • Use bitter apple spray on your furniture
  • Adopt an older pet who is less likely to damage your belongings. Be sure to find out from the shelter staff if there are any known “chewing” incidents.
  • Create a pets-only room: A room where you pet can roam unsupervised with plenty of toys, beds andchews to occupy their minds while you’re away.

Top 3 Crate Training Questions, Answered

Continuing our series on crate training, this segment will answer some of the top questions we get when people are considering crate training their dogs or puppies. Our previous posts included why you should consider crate training and the three main steps for crate training your dog. Hopefully by now you know that crate trained dogs don’t view their crates as punishment, but as a refuge in a world that is constantly changing around them. You also know that crate training can be a slow process. That leads us to our first question:

How Long Will Crate Training Take?

The answer to this very common question is “It depends.” It depends on your dog’s age, temperament, personality, and any past experiences they may have had in a crate.

It is very important not to rush the process of crate training. Take your time and only proceed when your dog is comfortable with the last step in the training process. If you move too fast, your dog may become anxious or fearful of the crate. The purpose of your dog’s crate is to provide a safe, comfortable environment where your dog can retreat to if they are anxious, scared, or there is too much excitement in the house.

The crate should always be a safe, welcoming and enjoyable environment, which is why you should never use the crate as a tool for punishing bad behavior. Make sure to provide plenty of treats, praise, fun toys, and love while you are crate training. Your dog will learn to enjoy time in the crate and will begin to use it on his own, without you asking him to go to his crate.

The second most common question we hear has to do with whining. Many puppies have this issue in particular and it can be heart wrenching to listen to. Lets talk about some steps to try if your dog is whining while they are inside their crate.

What do I do if my dog is whining?

You never want to let your dog out of the crate when they are whining. This only serves as a “reward” and they’ve now learned that whining will get them out of the crate. Consider first that your puppy may be whining because he needs to go to the bathroom. Calmly take him straight outside to do his business and return him to the crate without any stops along the way.

Tips for Introducing Your Pet to Your Newborn

Set Up The Stuff

Babies come with tons, and I mean TONS, of stuff. You can help your dog prepare by slowly putting the new items out. Set up your crib one day and then that fancy new swing or play mat a few days later. Take it slow and let him get used to each item before adding the next. Introducing these items gradually will give your dog a chance to smell and explore each one, and then when your baby arrives he will already be used to those things being in the house.

Bring Babies Around

Have friends with babies? Have them over. If your dog has never been around a baby you may want to see how he reacts to the crying and all the new little movements. Some people have even used those electronic babies you were forced to bring home from health class. Lucky we have lots of family and friends with kids, so Chester has had exposure to children of all ages.

Set Boundaries

Let your dog know what’s okay and what’s not. If he won’t be allowed in the nursery after the baby comes, don’t let him in now. If you let him do things now that you won’t let him do when the baby arrives it’s going to confuse him and he could end up resenting you or your little one.

Tell Him About The Baby

Everyone says that dogs can tell when you are pregnant and I really believe that Chester knew. It might sound silly to a non pet owner, but I talk to Chester like he’s my best friend so naturally I told him all about his little sister before she arrived. I like to think he understood and that helped him prepare.

Stock Up On Treats And Toys

In the weeks after you bring your little one home your front door will be like one of those revolving doors at the mall, people coming in and out all the time. Chester is extremely food motivated, so we stocked up on lots of different types of treats. We got some of his favorite training treats to reward him for good behavior or if we needed to temporarily distract him from the door or other items. We also loaded up on some long lasting treats like Greenies , filled bones, and Indigo chews. These were good to have when he would get a little too excited and we needed to divert his attention for a longer period of time. If you are worried about over treating or your dog is on a diet, toys can also be used to keep your pup occupied.

Have A Plan

This may be common sense but make sure you have a reliable pet sitter on call. Child birth is unpredictable–you can go into labor at any time and be in the hospital for an undetermined amount of time. Make sure you have one, if not two, pet sitters that will be able to get your dog within a few hours when the big day comes.


Control The Introduction

Chances are that you haven’t seen your dog for a few days, so he is going to be really happy to see you. Give him a little time to get his excitement out and give you all the kisses he wants before bringing in the baby. What worked for us was to have my mom take Emmalynne into her nursery when my husband brought Chester home. Once he was over the excitement of seeing me he sniffed around at the diaper bag and car seat then we took him in to meet his little sister.

Keep Calm

Your dog can tell if you are nervous and that can make him uneasy, if you stay calm and don’t make a huge deal out of him meeting the little one he won’t either. Remember to take it easy on your pup; this is a huge adjustment for him too. Dog toys and baby toys are surprisingly similar so you can’t really blame him for chewing on one you leave out.

Don’t Forget Your Dog

Make sure your dog gets enough exercise and attention. Try to stick with his normally scheduled feedings and walks; you don’t want to have to deal with accidents just because you didn’t have time to let him out. We take Chester with us everywhere that we are allowed to. So even though it might be easier to leave him home sometimes, we make sure that if we would have taken him before Emmalynne was born, we take him now. I look at it more like; we now have two kids rather than one kid and a dog.

These are some of the things that helped Chester make the transition from only child to older brother. Emmalynne is now two months old and Chester has taken on the role of her protector. When someone new holds her he is watching their every move. He is more alert and curious about abnormal noises. In the mornings when she’s in our room sleeping and I’m getting ready he lays in the doorway where he can keep an eye on both of us. It makes me feel good knowing that he is looking out for her (as all big brothers should). I think he has accepted her as a member of our family and I am excited to see how their relationship grows as she gets older!

7 Things You Might Not Know About Your Canine Companion

How well do you know your dog sitting on your sofa? Why is he playing odd sometimes? Is your canine doing it on purpose or just desire to make fun of you? The days you are with your dogs do not guarantee how good you know them as well as their odd practices. Let’s try to find out some wonderful dog facts and know them more than what their wagging tail seems to tell.


Canine Fact Number 1:  When your dog chases his/her tail, he might need help from the vet.

A wide variety of reasons clarify why dogs chase their tail: exercise, predatory instinct, discomfort or presence of fleas. Nevertheless, to talk with your vet is the safest and surest approach to get the actual reason why your dog keeps chasing his/her tail.


3823200771_b745a54697_zCanine Fact Number 2:  Dogs dream while asleep.

Do not be shocked if you see your dog barking or moving his/her feet while asleep. He/she may have been chasing his/her dearest at the park in his/her dream. Humans and dogs share the same SWS (slow wave sleep) as well as REM (rapid eye movement) while asleep. So let him/her experience the moment to savor twitching while the eyes are closed.


Dog Fact Number 3:  They have night vision.

Do you know how dogs can freely move in the dark? How did they even get robbers trying to steal your valuables when it’s dark? Well, dogs have tapetum lucidum, which gives them the ability them to see even when it’s dark.


7385054252_8e8ba99e34_zCanine Fact Number 4:  If he/she is acting comical, go find your umbrella.

Although scientists have not yet found the mystery behind this, but according to some, dogs can determine the weather especially when it’s going to rain. So, the next time you discover your dog acting funny, go get the umbrella straight away. Besides, it pays to be all set at all cost.



Dog Fact Number 5:  Dogs don’t sweat like we do.

Dogs do not sweat everywhere. As a matter of fact, they only sweat on their pads. When you find that their paw pads are sweating, you get the notion that the area is a bit warm for them to reside.


Dog Fact Number 6: Your dog’s nose is wet because he/she is absorbing scent.

Popularly known to be the captain of scent, dogs secrete a mucous on their nose to help them recognize the scent (more accurately than we do). When their noses get wet, they would lick them to sample the scent they have gathered with their mouth.


Canine Fact Number 7:  They are the chief of scent.

Dogs can smell 100,000 times more accurate than their owners. No wonder why even the FBI and peace order departments of our local government search help from them in searching unwanted items in certain public places. This also explains why when you leave your cookies unattended; you would be left with nothing but the food container.


There are other things that you do not understand about your pet so do not easily label them by the way they act or kick after peeing in your couch. Some of the strange stuffs they do may really be funny but it is always ideal to visit your vet on a regular basis.