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How to Stay Safe and Have Fun When Kids and Pets Play

Letting children, especially young children, and pets, especially new ones, play can be a little nerve-wracking. The foremost worry is for the safety of the children, of course — it's more likely that an animal would physically hurt a child than the other way around. Unfortunately, kids can hurt pets too, and what's more, they can antagonize a pet to the point the animal will act out.

This is mostly due to two factors. First, children are still growing, learning, and testing boundaries, coupled with still learning how to verbalize their thoughts and needs. Second, pets can't verbalize at all, making it more difficult for them to communicate when they don't like something, want certain behaviors to stop, or are hurting. As a parent, you need to step in and fill this fundamental gap and help them understand each other.


Ensure new pets like kids

Keep in mind that some animals simply aren't comfortable around children, and that's okay. When adopting a new pet, especially if it's older, make sure to talk to the shelter or rescue organization staff to make sure the animal is safe to live with kids. Similarly, if you already have kids and kid-friendly pets but are ready to adopt a new pet, make sure to ask if the animal is also comfortable with other animals. Bringing a pet into a home where it's uncomfortable will only make them more and more stressed, and thus more likely to hurt someone.


Did you know that despite doing all we can to keep our animals safe, approximately one in three pets in the United States will become lost at some point during their lifetime? This is a scenario that no caring and the committed owner wants to think about, but by understanding that it is something that could happen, we can take prepare for the eventuality. One of the best ways of doing this is by microchipping your pet.
 

Why should I microchip my pet?

 

Many owners are quite content with using collars and tags as identification for their beloved animal. While microchipping isn’t intended to replace this traditional and highly successful practice, it can complement it. Microchips are placed under your pet’s skin and, at the same size as a grain of rice, they are impossible to locate precisely once they have been inserted. This makes them tamper-proof and accident-proof. While conventional tags and collars can be removed by thieves or can fall off, microchipping is permanent. 

Studies have shown that microchipping is also a much more effective and efficient way of reuniting pets with their owners and animals who are microchipped are significantly more likely to make it back home. Since many animals look alike, ownership disputes are a fairly common occurrence in neighborhoods where there are a number of pets of the same type and breed. However, microchipping can also prove invaluable when it comes to proving who the rightful owner of your pet is. Although having your details on the chip is not proof of ownership, disputes nearly always go the way of the person who registered with the microchip provider. 


Equine: Dentistry

One of the most important parts of responsible equine ownership is caring for their teeth and ensuring they are strong, clean and healthy. This is because oral health can have a significant impact on the overall wellbeing of your animal. Left untreated, dental problems can cause problems with the function of the nervous system, muscular balance, cardiovascular health, imbalance of chemicals in the body, digestive system and the structural stability of the head, neck, and tongue. Most equine dental problems begin as mild and treatable occurrences. However, they can rapidly increase in severity if left untreated. Regular check-ups by an experienced and qualified equine dentist are vital.
 

Symptoms of equine dental problems

One of the reasons that regularly scheduled check-ups are important is because many horses don’t display any clear symptoms of dental issues until they develop into major problems or begin to cause them pain. However, many responsible equine owners can tell when their horse isn’t feeling quite right. If they are unable to establish what is wrong, then there is a good chance that dental problems may be to blame.
Some of the signs and symptoms of equine dental problems that you can look out for include:
 

  • Tilting the head when not eating

  • Head tossing or shaking

  • Excessive saliva

  • Nasal discharge

  • Facial swelling

  • Foul breath

  • Dropping food

  • Stiffness on one side

  • Napping, bucking or rearing

  • Unexplained weight loss

  • Grass packing in cheeks

  • Slow to eat or dips feed or hay in drinking water

  • Nervousness or a dislike of being handled
     

In some cases, behavior changes can also be a sign of dental problems. These could be mouthing or chewing the bit, unexplained subtle lameness, resisting bridling or even rearing or bolting.


Equine: Castration

Equine castration is the most common surgical procedure performed on horses. Not only does it prevent unwanted breeding, but it can also dramatically improve the behavior and management of your horse.


When should equine castration take place?

Equine castration usually takes place in either the spring or autumn months in order to avoid bacteria-carrying flies in the summer and the mud of winter. Traditionally, castration is carried out in a horse’s yearling year, but there is no reason why the procedure cannot be undertaken at other times. However, both testicles must have descended into the scrotum before the castration takes place. If one testicle is undescended, then waiting to castrate is usually the most viable option. However, it is possible to carry out a full castration via laparoscopy to find the retained testicle, although this requires much more surgical intervention and therefore a longer recovery period.

Your equine veterinarian will obtain the medical history and conduct a thorough examination of your horse before performing castration, to ensure that he is in good condition, has been wormed regularly, his vaccinations are up to date and he has not suffered any recent respiratory infection.


Seasonal Care

Not everyone is lucky enough to live in a State with relatively consistent weather and temperatures. Just as humans change their behavior and diet with fluctuations in temperature, so do most animals. Here are our guidelines for seasonal care for your pets.


Winter

If temperatures plummet and your pet usually likes to spend most of its time outdoors try and persuade them to stay indoors in the warm instead. If circumstances mean that your pet has to be kept outdoors then take steps to ensure that they are as warm and comfortable as possible. This means providing them with a dry and draft-free shelter with plenty of extra blankets. You should also regularly check their water supply to ensure that it hasn’t frozen.

If the ground is covered with snow, ice or just extremely cold then you may want to consider animal booties. These are widely available from most pet stores.

Be prepared to see a change in your pet's eating habits. Outdoor pets tend to require extra food. They burn this extra food to help keep them warm. Indoor pets are likely to eat far less as they conserve energy by sleeping more.

Keep your pets away from antifreeze. Unfortunately, it smells and tastes delicious to dogs and cats, but even the smallest sip can be deadly. Keep pets out of garages and outbuildings and clean up any spillages as soon as they happen. Speak to your neighbors about the dangers and ask them to ensure that any antifreeze they have is securely stored and that they too clean up any spillages that may occur. If your pet acts as if they are drunk or begins to convulse then take them to a vet immediately.

Check under the hood of your car before starting the engine. Many cats like to sneak under the hood of a vehicle once you have gone inside so that they can curl up against the warm engine. If you are unable to open the hood then a firm tap on it should be sufficient to wake any sleeping cat.

Ensure that rabbit hutches are brought inside. If this isn’t possible then ensure that you put extra newspaper in for insulation. Again, check their water source to ensure that it isn’t frozen.


Training Your Pet

Once your pet has settled into your home it is a good idea to think about training. Training your pet can help ensure that the behaviors that they exhibit are primarily desirable ones. Dogs, in particular, like to please their owners and doing so will help retain a lifelong bond between you.


Training your Dog

Whilst dogs have earned a reputation as ‘man’s best friend’ thanks to their loyal and affectionate nature, just like the human counterparts they can sometimes possess annoying habits or personality traits that make them difficult to live with.

Training your dog will be hugely beneficial to your dog learning to live harmoniously alongside his human family. It will strengthen the bond between you and ensure his safety when out and about. Many dogs also find training to be a fun activity.

What is the best method to train my dog?
There are many different schools of thought as to how best to train a dog. Some owners prefer strict training with punishments for non-compliance, whilst others prefer to praise positive behavior and ignore undesirable reactions. Studies have shown that as a general rule the latter method works best, but however, you decide to train your dog, in order to do so effectively you need to consistently control the consequences of your dogs’ behavior.

Dogs cannot relate events that are separated by time and so the consequences to behavior need to be immediate. You cannot praise your dog several minutes after returning to you when called as he will not understand why he is receiving it. The easiest way to train a dog is to reward the behaviors that you like and not reward those that you don’t.
 

  • If your dog likes the consequence you give them they will be more likely to repeat that behavior so they get the consequence again i.e. love, attention, and praise.

  • If they dislike the consequences then they will do the behavior less often.


It really is that simple, but being consistent is vital otherwise you will send mixed messages to your pet. For example, if you do not want your pet to jump up at you (which they do to get your attention) then ignore them until they calm down. Praise and make a fuss of them as soon as they have returned to calm behavior. They will then learn that this is the way that you prefer them to behave. It may take several days or weeks of doing this, but your dog will soon learn the correct behavior to exhibit.


How to Adopt a New Pet

The addition of a new pet can be very exciting! However, knowing where to find your new companion and choosing the right one can be a daunting task. Here are some helpful tips to assist you in making your decision.
 

Things to keep in mind

Adopting a new pet is a big decision that shouldn’t be done impulsively. Pets require time, effort, and money to be cared for and loved just like any other member of the family. Do you have a yard large enough for a goat to live comfortably? Do you have time to walk your dog more than once a day, every day? Do you have enough money to regularly buy fresh litter for your cat?

Only consider adopting a new pet once you feel confident in your ability to care for them. This includes caring for your children’s pets. Children will naturally want to participate in all the fun aspects of pet care but may have trouble consistently remembering or wanting to do the dirty work. If you won’t be able to care for your pet when your kids can’t, your pet will be the one that’s left neglected.

But we understand that sometimes life can change! If you feel that you can no longer care for your pet, contact the shelter or organization you adopted the animal from, or feel free to come in and talk to us about potential options. There are plenty of choices if you need to rehome your pet so abandonment should never have to be one.


Basic Pet Bird Care

They may not be as common as dogs and cats, but birds make very interesting and rewarding pets. As a conscientious and compassionate owner, it is your responsibility to make sure you are covering all aspects of your bird’s care, from her environment and nutrition to her grooming. Whether this is your first bird, or you are a more experienced aviary owner, there is always something new to learn or be refreshed on.

To help you give your feathered friend the best life possible, here is our brief guide to basic pet bird care.
 

Habitat

It goes without saying that your bird will need to live predominantly in a cage. However, as with most pets, it is important that you provide her with as much space as possible. This means buying the biggest cage you can afford and have space for. She should be able to flap her wings without hitting any of the sides and there should be at least 2-3 perches for her to fly between as well as room for plenty of toys and water and food dishes.

When choosing a cage, find one with bars that have a powder-coated finish which is easier to clean and shouldn’t rust and with bars that are close enough together to prevent her from getting her head stuck between them. Ensure it is secure and can be locked. Place her new habitat in a bright area of your home or yard, but not in direct sunlight.

You should line the bottom of the cage with newspapers, paper towels or other cage lining paper. These are the most sterile and easiest to remove on a daily basis when cleaning out her cage. Substrates like sand or wood chippings can easily grow fungus and bacteria, which could lead to your bird becoming sick.
 

Nutrition

A proper diet is essential for all species of animal including birds. The easiest way to feed your feathered pal is to use commercially formulated diets created specifically for pet birds. This ensures that she will get all of the nutrition she needs from one meal, rather than you trying to choose and balance foods.


First Aid for Pets

Accidents and emergencies aren’t just for humans. While first aid is no substitute for emergency veterinary care,

it is important for treating certain injuries and preventing symptoms or situations from worsening.

In critical emergencies opting to administer first aid before heading to your veterinarian could make the difference between the life and death of your pet.

As a pet owner, it is your responsibility to try and ensure the safety and well being of your pet at all times. With that in mind, here is our guide to basic first aid for pets.
 

Bleeding (Externally)

Usually the sign of a fight with another pet or an accident, external bleeding can be dealt with relatively quickly and simply unless it is severe and/or located on the legs.

You may need to muzzle your pet to establish the site of injury as he may be in some pain. Once you have located it, press a thick; clean gauze pad over the wound, applying pressure until the blood begins to clot. It may take a number of minutes for the clot to gain enough strength to sufficiently stop the bleeding, so instead of checking every few seconds, hold the gauze in place for at least two minutes before lifting it to check if the bleeding has ceased.

If your pet has severe blood loss from the legs then you should use a thin strip of gauze, elastic band or similar to create tourniquet between the wound and the body. Once it is in place you should cover it with a gauze pad and keep gentle pressure on the wound.

Loosen the tourniquet for around half a minute every 15 to 20 minutes so that you don’t cut the circulation off from the wound entirely, and get someone to drive you to an emergency veterinarian immediately as severe blood loss can be deadly for any pet.
 

Bleeding (Internally)

It may not always be possible to tell that your pet is bleeding internally, but some of the symptoms that you can look out for include:
 

  • Coughing up blood

  • Bleeding from the nose, mouth or rectum

  • Blood in urine

  • Pale gums

  • Rapid pulse rate

  • Weak pulse

  • Unconsciousness
     

If any of the above symptoms present themselves then you should make your pet as warm and
comfortable as possible and take him immediately to your emergency veterinarian.
 

Burns

If your pet suffers from any form of burn injury then you should muzzle him before applying large quantities of ice-cold water to the affected area.

In the case of chemical burns then the water should be free-flowing; cleansing the skin as much as possible. Otherwise, hold an ice-cold compress to the burned area and immediately transport your pet to your emergency veterinary service.
 

Choking

Choking is just as common in pets as it is in humans, and knowing how to assist your pet if he chokes could save his life. Symptoms of choking include:
 

  • Struggling to breathe

  • Pawing at the mouth and nose

  • Choking sounds

  • Excessive coughing

  • Lips or tongue turning blue
     

Your pet will be in an extreme state of panic and is more likely to accidentally bite you, so using caution you should try and look into his mouth and see if any blockages are immediately visible. If you can see something obstructing your pet’s airway you should carefully try and remove it using tongs, pliers or tweezers, taking extreme care not to push the item further into the esophagus. If it is not easily removed then don’t spend time repeatedly trying to reach it.

If you are unable to remove it or your pet collapses you should try and force air from the lungs in an attempt to push the object out from the other direction. The way you should do this is by putting both of your hands on the side of your pet’s rib cage and applying short sharp bursts of firm pressure.

Keep doing this until you manage to dislodge the foreign object or until you arrive at the emergency veterinary service.


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