Preparing Your Pets for Fall and Winter

You and your pet had a great summer. Many days were spent at the park, the beach, or camping in the wilderness. It has now come to an end and fall and winter are on their way. You’ve put away the camping gear and brought out your winter clothes. But what can you do for your pet? How can you prepare them for the change of seasons that are on the way? Read below to find out.

This kitty sure seems to be enjoying the cool weather and the colorful leaves.

Changes in Weather Patterns Can Affect Your Pets

Both dogs and cats can react strongly to changes in weather patterns. Many animals are sensitive to barometric pressure (the pressure of the earth’s atmosphere). If a storm is on the way and you have a sensitive pet, provide a safe place for them to hide. Put them in a kennel or crate in a quiet area of the house so they don’t panic and run away or injure themselves.

Your pet’s appetite may change during fall and wintertime. Dogs and cats often eat less during the summer months and increase their food intake during the colder months. When it is hot and humid outside, they may not feel like eating. During winter, the change in temperature and activity level may increase their appetite as an attempt to keep them warm.

The below is quoted from a research abstract on ScienceDaily.com.

“The study found that cats ate approximately 15% less food during summer, and the vets have concluded that the extra effort to keep warm in winter and the temptation to rest during hot summer days contributed to the swing in activity levels during the year.”

You can read the full article here: Cats Found to Eat More in Winter.

This little guy seems to have lots of energy to play in these cooler months!

It is also possible that your pet has an illness that is affecting their appetite, rather than the change in weather. If they are losing weight and don’t seem to be feeling well, you may want to take them to your veterinarian for a checkup. The issue could be a bad tooth that is causing pain when they eat, kidney or liver disease causing nausea, an infection, or even cancer.

To be prepared for any health issues that may befall your much-loved, four-legged family member during their lifetime, be sure to purchase pet insurance. For $30-$70 per month, you can assure that you will be able to provide any medical care that they may need in the event of an unexpected illness or accident.

Keeping Your Pet Comfortable

If you feel like snuggling up in a warm blanket, your pet most likely does too. And when you bundle up to go outdoors because it is bitter cold and windy, bundle up your pet. Unless they have a full, dense winter coat, they will be more comfortable with an extra layer on just like you are. A fleece pet sweater will help them enjoy going outside and help maintain their body temperature.

This article on VetStreet.com describes why some dog breeds do need to have sweaters or coats put on them during colder months: Do Any Dogs Really Need Sweaters or Coats?

In addition to giving them a warm, comfortable place to be during the day such as a well-insulated dog house with blankets, outdoor dogs (and cats) should be brought indoors at night.

Keep Up with Flea and Tick Prevention

Icy cold weather with five inches of rainfall does not necessarily eradicate all pests in the environment such as fleas and ticks. There may be not as many around to jump onto your dog or cat and take up residence in their skin and fur, but they can still be present and can infect your pet. Don’t start slacking on the flea and tick preventative during these months! There may be fewer bugs around, but they are never completely gone.

Piles of leaves are great places for these nasty critters to hide and wait for their next meal.

If You Get the Winter Blues, Your Pet May Be Affected Too

During the wintertime, some adults can experience mild to moderate depression. Called “Seasonal Affective Disorder,” it is believed that less hours of sunlight during the day lead to biochemical changes in the body that affect mood and behavior. You may become lethargic, unmotivated, have changes in appetite, and feel a lack of pleasure when doing things you used to enjoy.

If this happens to you, it may affect your pet as well. When you start lounging on the couch for hours on end instead of getting outside and doing things you normally do, your pet will notice the change in routine. This may cause them to experience a change in their normal behavior, too. In other words, they may start acting a little depressed.

Take care of yourself so you can take even better care of your pets. You deserve the best, and they do too!

PetMD.com describes depression in dogs this way: “Generally speaking, when we speak of a depressed dog we are referring to a dog who is exhibiting a change in behavior that manifests as decreased interest in normal activities or a change in interaction with his family.”

You can learn more here: Can Dogs Get Depressed?

To keep your pets happy even when you may not be, try to stick to a routine that they can count on and make sure to express affection like you normally do. That may boost your spirits a bit as well. Look forward to spring when both of you will most likely be back to your normal selves.

Enjoy Your Pet Year-Round

Above are some basic tips on how to prepare your pet for the cooler months beginning in September-October and lasting until May-June. You may need to increase their daily food intake and take extra care so they can stay warm and comfortable. Your daily patterns may change (fewer days at the local dog park and less time spent outdoors) but try to keep as consistent a routine as possible.

The best advice is to simply enjoy your pet. Lots of love and affection will help them adjust to changes in weather patterns at any time during the year.

Jayson Goetz is a writer from Phoenix, Arizona who loves pets! He is a proud owner of a beautiful puppy and wants to share the joy of pet ownership with others. He hopes to encourage people to keep their pets happy and healthy year-round.

Bringing Your New Horse Home: Tips For The First Time Owner  

So, after weeks, possibly months, of searching for your perfect equine partner, you have finally bought the horse of your dreams. Congratulations!

Becoming a horse owner for the very first time is tremendously exciting, but it can also be quite nerve racking. You are now responsible for all of your horse’s daily needs, requiring 100% commitment from you, seven days a week, in all weathers.

“Hey, I hear that you’re my new mom!”

Also, moving your new horse into another barn is likely going to be quite stressful for him, and time must be allowed for him to adjust and settle in. Think back to when you started school or a new job and how lost and awkward you felt. That is precisely how your horse will feel. Your horse will be in unfamiliar surroundings with unfamiliar faces, both equine and human, having left the security of his previous owner and stable mates behind, in a place that was once his home.

If you follow our tips, you will be fully prepared for your new arrival, and you can help your horse settle into a happy new life with you.

Before Your Horse Arrives

Before bringing your new horse home, you will need to organize a few things.

Stable

If you intend to board your new horse, you should reserve and pay a deposit for a stable at a suitable barn. You can either opt for full board, or provide everything yourself. This choice will depend on your circumstances and financial situation.

Find out which vets, farriers, and horse dentists the barn uses and ask for their contact numbers.  Also find out if an instructor is based there, or if you’re allowed one from outside of the facility.

If you are providing your horse’s bedding, then you will need to acquire wood shavings or straw from a supplier.

Equipment

Although you can buy things as you go along, you will need a few essential pieces of equipment before your horse arrives:

A saddle is a crucial piece of equipment for a new horse owner!

  1. Headcollar and lead-rope (it is a good idea to have a couple in case they break)
  2. Feed and water buckets
  3. Brushing boots
  4. Rugs (depending on time of year)
  5. Saddle and bridle: if your horse doesn’t have any, then you will need to arrange an appointment with a qualified saddle fitter. Ask around for recommendations.
  6. Grooming kit- this should include:
  • Body brush
  • Dandy brush
  • Water brush
  • Rubber curry comb
  • Metal curry comb
  • Mane comb
  • Hoof pick
  • Hoof oil and brush
  • Stable rubber
  • Sponges
  • Sweat scraper
  • Box to keep equipment in

7. First aid kit- this should include:

  • Bandages
  • Thermometer
  • Gauze pads
  • Antibiotic spray
  • Wound powder
  • A ready-to-use poultice, e.g. Animalintex
  • Cotton wool
  • Tweezers
  • Scissors
  • First aid box with telephone number of veterinarian

Feed and Hay

Find out what feed and hay your new horse is currently having along with any supplements. You may wish to switch to another brand of feed, but this should be changed gradually over seven to ten days to decrease the risk of colic.

Buy a couple of bags of his current feed and ask the previous owner if you can purchase one or two bales of hay so you can mix it with yours.

Transportation

If you don’t have a trailer, then you need to hire one to collect your horse. The barn may provide this or recommend someone who can do it for you. Make sure you buy or borrow travel boots to protect your horse during the journey.

A horse trailer is a good thing to have even after the initial move-in day.

Equine Insurance

It is essential that you have insurance for your new horse. With so many different policies available, it can be incredibly overwhelming for a new horse owner. Most owners choose an insurance plan that includes veterinary expenses, mortality, personal injury, and third-party liability. Contact equine insurance companies who can guide you toward the best policy for you and your horse.

Your Horse’s Health

Before you move your new horse from his current home, make sure he is in good health and that all his worming and vaccinations are up-to-date. Get a copy of his vaccine records, including a copy of the Coggins Test.

Find out from the previous owner what your horse’s usual routine is, so you can try and follow a similar pattern, helping him to settle more comfortably.

Prepare The Stable

If another horse was using the stable before your horse, ensure it was cleaned out completely and disinfected before placing your new bedding in it.

Provide a salt lick and use water buckets even if there is an automatic drinker so you can see how much your horse is drinking. Horses typically don’t like unfamiliar water, so make sure it is clean and fresh to encourage him to drink. If possible, ask the previous owner for the bucket that your horse was using before.

Arrival Of Your New Horse

Be prepared for your horse to be anxious and difficult to lead when he comes off the trailer. It may be better if someone more experienced with horses can handle him when he first arrives at the barn.

Remove his travel boots and put him in his stable with clean water and some hay, allowing him to take in his new surroundings. Make sure he can see the other horses in the barn, and expect a lot of whinnying!

It is best not to do much with your new horse for the first few days so he can have a chance to settle. Spend time gently grooming him so the two of you can start to bond. Brush him slowly and talk to him so your voice becomes familiar. You can also lead him around the grounds using a bridle for greater control.

Witnessing a bond being created between a horse and her owner.

Turnout

When turning your horse out for the first time, use boots on his legs for protection. Put him in a paddock adjacent to the other horses so he can safely get to know them and they can check out their newest companion. Keep an eye on him though, as horses can still kick and bite each other even with a fence dividing them.

Having time in the paddock will help him relax and get him accustomed to his surroundings. You should cut his feed down if he is not working so you don’t risk him having colic.

After a few days, it should be fine to turn him out with the herd, but make sure you are there to keep an eye on things as you don’t want any injuries either to your horse or others. After all, it is their very first time meeting without a fence dividing them.

Just a pair of friends meeting for the very first time.

Riding For The First Time

When you decide to ride your new horse for the first time, go slowly. You may even want to lunge beforehand to get rid of any excessive energy.

Ride in the arena the first few times and don’t ask too much of him. Just do some basic schooling and keep things simple. If you feel everything is going well with your horse after a few days, take him for a light ride. He may spook easily, so ask one of the other horse owners if they can ride with you for safety, and so you can learn the best routes.

If you take things slowly with your horse at the beginning, he will eventually settle. Depending on the animal’s personality and temperament, it can take a couple of weeks or up to six months.

Check that your horse is eating and drinking normally and consult your veterinarian if you have any concerns regarding his well-being.

Keep in contact with the previous owner. They will be pleased to know how your horse is doing and they can often advise you on his typical habits and behaviour if you have any doubts or concerns.

This horse is greatly enjoying getting to know his new owner.

Build healthy relationships with the other owners at the barn. That way you can help each other out with the care of each other’s horses, ride together, and seek their advice when needed.

If you can afford it, continue to take regular lessons with a good, qualified instructor so you and your horse can progress together and establish a partnership.

Most of all, enjoy the wonderful feeling of being a proud new horse owner!

Alison O’Callaghan, our Equine Editor, is a professional horse riding instructor and has owned many types of pets. When she is not riding horses or walking her dog, she loves to write about animals. If you’d like to contact Alison, you can email her at ocallaghan462@gmail.com. 

Surprising Benefits of Clipping Your Dog’s Nails Regularly

Even if you are one of the best dog owners, trimming your dog’s nails is one of those things that you can easily fall behind on. Since most dogs have nails that tend to grow fast like weeds, you will need to clip your dog’s nails regularly to keep up with the pace at which his nails are growing.

Many people tend to think that they don’t need to do anything if their dog’s nails aren’t curling around. You don’t have to wait for your dog’s nails to scratch your skin while he jumps on you to know that they need to be trimmed. Although it might seem like both you and your dog don’t want to deal with a nail trim, for the sake of your dog, clip those nails regularly to keep them short.

An example of beautifully short nails.

You may think that you can’t trim your dog’s nails due to a of lack of experience or the fear of over-cutting the nails. Well, that is something to be concerned about because you don’t want to hurt your dog’s nails to the point that they start bleeding. In the unfortunate event that your dog’s nails start bleeding while you are trimming them, you should learn how to stop your dog’s nails from bleeding to prevent excessive blood loss.

Doing so will save your dog’s life. The rule of thumb is: if you can’t trim your dog’s nails at home, it is good to seek professional assistance so that you don’t get the whole process wrong. Seeking professional help will also minimize the chances of doing the trial and error method on your dog’s precious nails.

How Often Should You Clip Your Dog’s Nails?

You might ask yourself, “How often is often enough?” There are some important factors that will affect how often your dog’s nails should get trimmed. These factors include: the type of surface that your dog walks on most of the time, your dog’s breed, and their diet.

Is your dog mostly indoors and just walking on your soft carpet? Does he only go outdoors within your compound to walk on the soft grass and dirt? Do you walk him in the streets on concrete surfaces? If your dog is always active and walks on hard surfaces, then he will need less frequent nail clipping sessions. This is because the hard surfaces will be grinding down on his nails. His nails won’t grow as fast or be very long. However, if your dog is mostly indoors or if he spends most of his time walking on soft surfaces like grass and dirt, he will most likely require more trims.

Your dog’s breed will also determine how frequently you will be trimming his nails. Some dog breeds have nails that will grow at very fast rates as compared to other dog breeds.

Thick, black nails are some of the hardest kinds to trim. Don’t be afraid to ask for help!

Your dog’s diet also affects the rate at which his nails will be growing. If you feed him a well-balanced diet that is full of minerals and vitamins, his nails will grow very fast. Keep in mind that this should never be an excuse for not feeding your dog on a well-balanced meal.

When it comes to how often you should trim your dog’s nails, you should be able to clip your pooch’s nails as often as possible so that his nails do not touch the ground when he is standing. If you clip your dog’s nails more often, there will be great benefits for both you and the dog. The more you will do it, the more your dog will become accustomed to having his nails clipped. If your dog becomes used to having his nails trimmed, you or the person that will be doing the clipping will have an easier time doing the nails.

Benefits of Clipping Your Dog’s Nails

Do you know that there is a relation between your dog’s nails and his health and comfort? There are several benefits of clipping your dog’s nails regularly and they include:

Comfort While Walking

The length of your dog’s nails determines how comfortable they will be while they are walking. If your dog’s nails are too long, they will touch the ground while your dog is standing. If you let your dog’s nails overgrow, you will not only have to deal with a cosmetic issue, you will also have to deal with a potentially serious health issue.

These pretty paws need to stay healthy to keep the whole dog healthy!

Dogs usually walk on their toes. This is called digitigrade walking. When their nails grow to be very long, the nails will curve and dig painfully into the pads of their paws. They will, therefore, have difficulty in walking on their toes because of the pain. Your dog will then rest his weight further back on his paw to compensate for this difficulty in walking.

The result of this change will cause an awkward posture while walking. This awkward gait will put a lot of pressure and strain on the joints and muscles of your dog. Your dog will develop joint pain and discomfort while he is walking due to this posture. He will also be less steady on his feet.

No Damage to Your Carpets and Bedding

If your dog’s nails are overgrown, you can expect him to claw your carpets, either on purpose or accidentally. This is because his long nails can get caught in the carpet. He will, therefore, rip or fray your carpet as he attempts to free his stuck claws.

When your dog is sleeping, his claws can also rip his bedding. If he jumps on your bed, you might need to consider replacing your bedding because his long claws can leave holes in your sheets and comforter.

We don’t want this carpet to get any more shaggy!

No Injuries to Your Dog’s Skin or Your Skin

When you come back from work, your dog is probably very excited to see you and, as a result, he will jump on you. If your dog has long nails, this can be quite unpleasant. His sharp nails might break your skin when he jumps up. He can also cause injuries to other people that come to your house, or accidentally hurt other pets while playing.

Your dog can also cause injuries to his own skin when he scratches himself. He can easily scratch himself bloody if his nails are too long. Armed with the best dog nail clippers, clipping your dog’s nails will protect his skin, and your skin, too!

Training Your Dog to Accept Getting His Nails Clipped       

Most dogs don’t like the idea of getting their nails clipped. If you have such a dog, you will probably have a hard time trying to make your dog sit still so that you can clip his nails. You will first have to get him used to nail clipping sessions. How can you achieve this?

Don’t dig in your heels if your pooch is anxious and is not tolerating you clipping his nails. You can take a break and maybe play with him for a while before you can resume your clipping session. With time, he will get used to it.

You can click here to watch this helpful video to help you train your dog to enjoy having his nails clipped.

If you start young, your pup won’t mind having their nails trimmed!

A Word of Caution

Care must be taken when clipping your dog’s nails. This is to avoid causing injuries on your dog’s toes. You will, therefore, need the best tips on how to clip dog nails so that the whole procedure is safe and smooth for your dog.

If you hurt your dog while clipping his nails, he is likely going to be fearful of having his nails clipped. He may not cooperate the next time you need to clip his nails. If you are not willing to clip your dog’s nails at home, you can take your dog to a veterinarian or a groomer. Your Pet Space now offers nail trims and bathing, so don’t hesitate to ask!

Cutting it Short

Getting your fur baby groomed on a regular basis is very important since it is beneficial to your dog’s health. One of the ways that you can groom your dog is by trimming his nails. Apart from aesthetic benefits, clipping your dog’s nails will ensure that your dog walks comfortably, and there will be no more click-click clicking when your dog is walking on hard surfaces!

Your carpet, bedding, and furniture will also be safe from damages, not forgetting that it will help protect your dog’s skin, and your skin too. You should, therefore, have a nail clipper nearby to clip your dog’s nails whenever they grow long. Good luck in clipping your dog’s nails!

Do you have something you wish to add on the benefits of clipping your dog’s nails? Do you have any questions? Let us know in the comment section below.

Joy Henderson: Hello everyone! I’m Joy and I really love dogs and would like to share all my knowledge fellow dog lovers like me. Please feel free to share your story with me at www.mypupmyhero.com.

10 Ways Owning A Pet Can Positively Affect Your Mental Health

Your mental health is not something that should be taken lightly.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a child, single adult, a family, or an elderly individual; owning a pet can positively affect your mental health in numerous ways. By owning fish, birds, rabbits, cats, or dogs, your mental health becomes affected by caring for them. Here are 10 ways that your pet positively affects your mental health.

Bonding

A bond created with a pet has a way of making you feel important. People that are prone to depression often disconnect from the outside world. Being bonded to a pet can help them feel less lonely. The bond is created by your pet’s dependency on you to meet their needs. This gives people the feeling of being needed and they understand the important role they play in their pet’s life.

Exercise

Some pets require outdoor exercise. Your brain releases “feel good” chemicals when you exercise. Walking or playing with your pet outdoors promotes this chemical release and leaves you with an all-over good feeling. Your also pet appreciates the exercise and a break from the normal routine! Their brain also releases the same type of chemicals when they exercise. When your pet is happy, it generally leads to you feeling the same way.

Getting into horse-back riding helps you feel better, gets you in better shape, and helps your form a bond with your horse.

Nurturing

When you get a pet that is young, you will have to nurture it into its adulthood and beyond. By giving your pet food and attention, you’re inadvertently sharing love and compassion. This positively affects your mental health. When you can give your time and love to a pet, you will often find that your mind isn’t as overwhelmed with life’s issues.

Play Time

All pets require play time (except maybe fish). Your pet can positively affect your mental health by allowing you to let go of stress and worry and just play. Watching your pet’s antics will make you laugh and relax after a hard day out in the human world. Owning a pet and participating in frequent play time can bring lots of joy into your life.

Isolation

Single people and the elderly who own pets typically find their furry friends to be great companions. Busy lives and old age can make people feel isolated. Owning a pet positively affects their mental health by making them feel less lonely. Knowing there is a pet at home waiting for them gives them a good reason to want to return home to their pet’s happy greetings.

Your pets literally have your back in times of crisis.

Feeling Purposeful

Kids and the elderly who are responsible for pet care may find a more purposeful meaning to their lives. Kids will learn responsibility, and the elderly or the empty nesters will once again have something to care for. Caring for animals positively affects mental health in those who have lost some hopefulness in life. Feeling purposeful can come from simply feeding a fish daily and cleaning its tank once a week. You understand that without your help, a pet can suffer or die.

Unconditional Love

Pets give us unconditional love, and this can positively affect your mental health. They are non-judgmental and generally happy to be around their people. Animals are loyal and will listen to our problems without issue. Animals can make you feel safe, secure, and loved without you having to meet much expectations from them.

The Here and Now

Owning a pet can positively affect your mental health by keeping you in the present moment. Pets have a way of distracting you from your problems, and they give you a reason to smile. This helps keep your mind off of life stresses and keeps your mind on what is necessary now. Sometimes all that is necessary is playtime followed by some cuddles.

You and your cat are a team working together to keep both of you happy and healthy.

Kids and Pets

Children not only learn responsibility from pet ownership, but they can also benefit from positive affects to their mental health. For instance, children with ADD or ADHD often have excess energy that is hard to manage. Running and playing with a pet can provide a natural outlet for the excessive energy that your child deals with. This can help bring some calmness into the home at times when things are usually out of control.

Therapy Animals

Numerous studies show that therapy animals help to positively affect your mental health. Therapy animals are often specially trained to provide a specific duty. For example, a seeing eye dog allows a blind person to venture outdoors more frequently. Without the guide of a therapy animal, they may feel isolated or alone in their world. They also might feel like they are too dependent on other people because there are things that they can’t do alone. Their guide dog can help them move forward in this difficult time and gain some independence and confidence. The pet also provides companionship, love, and loyalty.

There are more than 10 ways that pets can positively affect your mental health. We hope you enjoyed this basic breakdown of some ways that human mental health can be positively affected by owning a pet. Can you think of other ways that pets positively affect mental health? You can comment below and let us know how your pet has helped you get through life.

There’s a reason that dogs are called “man’s best friend.”

Matt Barnett is the creator of dogdogo.org, a small blog that’s focused on dog health, wellness, and training.

The Chemistry of Catnip

When you put catnip in a toy for your cats, or if you place some on the floor, or if you keep a fresh catnip plant near the window, your cats are going to go nuts for it. Your cats may exhibit several behaviors that are similar to how female cats react when they’re in heat. Your cats may sniff at it for a few minutes, rub their cheeks against corners, groom themselves, roll their bodies over it, or eat it. Not all cats respond to catnip the same way. Some will back away from it, and some cats appear unaffected by it. So let’s look at some facts about how catnip does (or doesn’t) affect our cats.

This little lady is loving a whole stem of catnip!

The History and Science

Originally called Nepeta Cataria, catnip is a perennial herb from the mint family. It is also related to other herbs like oregano, basil, and spearmint. The plant is indigenous to Europe and its effect on cats have been known and recorded since the 1700s. Due to it’s popularity, it now grows all over North America. Although it is widely known as a weed, there are roughly 250 species in the plant family that are popular in herb gardens. The oil Nepetalactone is an active ingredient that is found in the leaves of catnip. Humans can’t smell this oil, but it has a special scent to domestic cats and even to wild cats such as leopards, lions, and tigers. The plant also has other ingredients such as tannins, acids, and sterols which cause cats to get high from the oil Nepetalactone. This oil binds receptors inside a cat’s nose and this stimulates sensory neurons leading into cat’s brain. Thankfully, it isn’t addictive and it is completely harmless to cats. Nepetalactone is a stimulant, and when your cat sniffs catnip leaves or dried catnip, your cat gets high in a way that is similar to when humans take drugs. This effect usually lasts for about ten minutes. The plant also acts as a sedative as its initial effects wear off.

A bee feeding on a catnip plant.

The Catnip Response is Hereditary

What determines whether a cat will react to catnip is a genome which is inherited, or not inherited, at birth. When a kitten is three to four months of age (when they have become sexually mature) you will discover whether or not they react to catnip.

Cat’s Reaction to Catnip Can Dull Over Time

As a cat ages, their reaction to catnip can change, which means they might have a very subtle reaction to catnip, or no reaction at all. Your cat’s reaction (or lack thereof) can also be caused by being exposed to catnip too often, therefore triggering the loss of your cat’s ability to sense it. It’s recommended that you only give your cat catnip as a treat up to once a week. This means that you probably shouldn’t leave toys filled with catnip hanging around the house where your cats will have constant access.

Loving his catnip filled birdie!

Too Much For Males

When male cats are exposed to catnip, some become a bit too frisky and can even become aggressive with their owner or with other cats. This can create a pretty dramatic scene if you have multiple cats in your home and one happens to take on the persona of The Hulk. Keep in mind that this doesn’t always happen. Some cats drool, others become very playful, some get frisky, some get aggressive, others become extremely vocal, and some will just enjoy their experience. If you plan on give catnip to multiple cats, give it to them individually in separate rooms to avoid any issues.

You Can Use Catnip to Condition Behavior

Have you ever heard of positive and negative reinforcement? If not, don’t worry about it (unless you work in the health and social services fields). Psychologists determined that negative reinforcement towards children and pets such as spanking, yelling, using terms like, “You’re being bad” is more damaging to the behavioral health of pets and children. It is better to offer to your children and pets positive reinforcements, and this is done by praising good behavior by giving gifts or treats. If you have an aggressive cat in your multiple cat home, you can modify their behavior by providing them with catnip as a means of calming them. If you have a cat that is fearful, timid, or has experienced trauma, you can treat them with catnip as well. This can also be used to enforce personal playtime between you and your cat.

“This is the best prize ever!”

How to Grow Catnip

The common name for the the plant is “catmint” and it can be grown easily and in potted plants or a backyard. The plant can become up to three feet tall and three feet wide. Their rather small, white colored flowers grow in clusters on the plants and the stems have a squarish shape which naturally belong to the mint family. The plant needs sun and they are very drought-tolerant so if you live in the desert you can grow these plants without struggling. To start growing catnip, plant them in partial shade to and make sure to use alkaline soil in your potting plant or garden. If you are growing catnip in your home, try to keep it in a hanging basket from a ceiling hook so your cats can’t access it. If you’re growing the catnip in your garden, fence off this area of your garden so wild cats won’t be tempted to come and raid your garden. It is recommended that you pinch the stems of the plant while it’s growing to loosen the plant stem. When you begin harvesting, the plant must be flowering and dry. Cut off the whole plant at the base and hang it upside down in a dark, dry, well-ventilated place such as a pantry or an attic. Afterwards, store the dried leaves, stems, and flowers in a freezer bag to preserve the potency of the oil within the plant.

This kitty found the catnip plant outside!

Catnip for Humans

Catnip can be brewed to produce an herbal tea for human consumption. It is also used as a culinary herb for some dishes. It can be smoked, and it only has the effect of relaxation like other herbal cigarettes (otherwise known as tobacco-free cigarettes) such as corn silk, lemongrass, mint, cinnamon, and rose petals.

Don’t Want To Grow Catnip? Try Catnip Spray!

If you don’t want to deal with growing your own catnip plants, you can always purchase it at your local pet store, or purchase catnip spray. Catnip spray is made with concentrated catnip oil. The oil is steam-distilled from the catnip plant to produce very potent catnip oil. You can spray it on your cat’s toys, scratchers, cat condos, or their cat tree. KONG and Field Organic Catnip Spray are two of the best brands around.

Regardless for the reasons why you decided to use catnip or where you get it from, your cats will surely love you for it. Whether you give catnip toys to your new kitten, keep a small plant in your kitchen window, or provide your elderly cat with catnip to keep them comfortable, they will be very excited. Enjoy watching your cat roll around in bliss, and maybe can enjoy some catnip tea with them!

Elanda-Isabella Atencio, our Feline Editor, is on her road to being a “crazy” cat lady. She has three cats; a moody Missus, a wild Baby Kitty, and notorious Fredrick Douglass. She was raised with cats, chickens, dogs, and geese. From cleaning coops, morning dog runs, picking eggs, to growing catnip, Elanda enjoys pampering her pets. Elanda is a student at New Mexico State University, earning her BA in Creative Writing and is Editor-in-Chief of the online arts journal, Independent Noise and reader for Puerto del Sol. She plans to move to Oregon, where she hopes to take her cats on daily walks when it’s overcast and cool. If you’d like to contact Elanda, email her at eincatencio@gmail.com.

How to Protect Your Dog From Fleas

Flea infestation is one of the most dreaded problems that dog owners face, yet many owners don’t know how to spot or treat them. This can be an issue for your pet – enduring fleas for any amount of time is an extremely itchy and uncomfortable experience. Luckily for you, there are several steps that you can take to prevent your dog from ever getting fleas and to get rid of them quickly should your furry friend ever suffer from this issue.

Ticks and fleas must be avoided at all costs!

 

How Do I Know If My Dog Has Fleas?

Has your pup been biting at themselves and scratching a lot lately? One of the best ways to determine if this is caused by fleas is to see if there is any ‘flea dirt’ in your dog’s fur. Flea dirt is actually flea feces. It consists of blood consumed by the flea and their other wastes. If your dog has lightly colored fur, this will be easy to spot, however, if your dog has darker fur, you can use this simple test to determine if they have fleas:

  1. Using a fine tooth comb, brush through your dog’s fur and check for small black specs.
  2. If you see these specs, place them on a damp piece of tissue and wait to see if they turn red.
  3. If they do, you’ve found flea dirt and have confirmed that your dog has fleas.
  4. If not, it could just be regular dirt. This doesn’t mean that you’ve ruled out the presence of fleas since there isn’t a build up of flea dirt available when your dog first becomes infected. Additionally, your dog can remove evidence of flea dirt if they bite, lick, and scratch themselves excessively. However, it can also be a good sign. If your dog does have fleas, you’ve managed to catch the problem early on and can fix the issue before it progresses too far.

Fleas and ticks love hiding inside dog’s ears!

How Can I Be Sure That it Isn’t Something Else?

If you haven’t found flea dirt in your dog’s fur and are uncertain that it’s actually fleas that are giving your dog itchy discomfort, there are a few things you can look at to either confirm or disprove your theory.

Ticks

Tick bites can be just as uncomfortable for your pet, but the type of bite they leave behind is different than a flea bite. Both tick bites and flea bites appear to be small red lesions, however there are some subtle differences.Tick bites tend to be bigger than flea bites (though exceptions can be made for seed ticks) and are more likely to take on a bull’s eye shape. Tick bites are also more likely to scab over, though the same can also be said for flea bites if your pup has been scratching and biting the affected area excessively.

Mosquitoes  

Mosquito bites are more likely to look like a flea bite and can be every bit as itchy. However, the difference can be determined by looking at the patterns of the bites. Does it look like there are only a handful of bites on your dog, all of which are spread out from each other? You’re likely dealing with a mosquito bite. However, if the bites seem to be clustered together in the same area you’ve most likely got a flea issue on your hands.

Mosquitoes like humans and animals alike.

My Dog Has Fleas. What Do I Do?

Have you found flea dirt in your dog’s fur or otherwise confirmed the presence of fleas? This is unfortunate, but luckily there are several great ways to tackle this issue.

Flea Shampoos

One of the best ways to combat fleas is to use medicated shampoo. This method proves very effective in fighting fleas, and it is also safe for your pet. Simply find a brand that works well for you and draw a bath for your pet! These treatments last for up to 2 weeks at time and will significantly reduce your dog’s discomfort.

Many people seem to think that using a medicated shampoo will leave a strong or unpleasant smell on their dogs coat. This may have been true at one point in time, but thanks to recent advancements in products it is no longer the case. If you do a bit of investigating, you’ll easily find the best smelling dog shampoo on the market – perhaps even a brand that you like better than your dog’s regular shampoo.

Do keep in mind that, in order for this option to work, your dog will have to be patient. The majority of shampoos designed to treat this problem require your dog to let the shampoo sit in their fur for a minimum of 10 minutes before you can wash it out.

Sometimes problem-solving can be as simple as a bath.

Oral Medications

If you don’t want to rely on shampoo to fix the problem or don’t think your dog will be patient enough to use this option, you can try using oral medications. Some oral medications begin to work as quickly as 30 minutes after consumption and effectively kill up to 99% of fleas.

Spot On Treatments

Spot on treatments are likely the most thought of solution when it comes to getting rid of fleas, but this doesn’t mean that they are the most effective solution. These treatments will only work in the areas that the treatment is applied to. Additionally, some of these treatment options only work for developed fleas or for the larva fleas – not both. Be sure to do ample research into what your dog needs before choosing this option.

Classic flea and tick prevention like Frontline Plus!

Consult Your Local Vet

Have you tried these options without seeing any success? It may be time to talk to your local veterinarian. Your local veterinarian will have seen dozens – if not hundreds – of similar cases and will likely be able to prescribe medication to your pup that isn’t available over the counter. They’ll also be able to give you tips and tricks to use to make your home a less friendly environment to fleas.

Conclusion

That’s it! You should be well on your way to addressing the problem and finding a solution that works well for you and your dog. Be sure to check for fleas consistently after you’ve treated them the first time – you don’t want a problem like this to resurface and become an issue again.

Remember, Your Pet Space requires that a flea and tick preventative must be used for all boarded and daycare dogs so that bugs don’t spread. Let us know what you’re using to keep the bugs away!

Emma is the founder of HelloCutePup. As the owner of 3 dogs, Emma has had the pleasure of learning the ins and outs to becoming a pet owner. With years of experience working on training, at-home dog health care, and aesthetic maintenance, she has the real-world experience that every pet owner is looking for. She is an avid blogger who enjoys giving realistic tips and tricks to help dog owners understand their pet’s personalities and to help pets easily become a part of the family.

Steps to Take When You Find a Lost Pet

We’ve all seen lost pets running along the sidewalk, down the street, or through our neighborhoods and wished we could help. Some of us may have even risked our own safety to try to save the life of a lost pet, with mixed results. For me, it is extremely difficult, nearly impossible, to see a dog running down the street without pulling over and trying to help. Since this is “Back to School” month (BARK to School, as we call it at Your Pet Space), I am going to teach you what you should do when you find a lost pet to keep the animal safe, and to keep yourself safe.

This poor thing deserves a real place to call “home”.

The first thing that you should know is that sometimes these animals know exactly where they’re going. Sometimes dogs, and especially cats, get out of their homes or they are even let out to roam the town by themselves. While this is greatly frowned upon, some owners still participate in this very dangerous practice. If you see a dog or cat walking down the sidewalk looking like they know exactly where they’re going, they probably do. This means that, if you pick up these dogs and take them off of their route, THEN they’ll be lost and their owners may not think of looking in the shelter because they’re used to their dogs being out on their own. This doesn’t mean that it’s okay, but if a dog or cat seems like they know where they’re going, you may want to think twice about picking them up. No animal is truly “safe” while wandering the streets, even if they know where they’re going.

This being said, if you decide you want to try to get this dog or cat off the street, there are a few procedures you should follow to keep yourself, the animal, and the drivers on the road safe. First of all, be careful not to slam on your brakes if you are driving. If you see an animal, pull over to a safe area before getting out of the car. If your car is in the way of other drivers, that can be a huge safety concern to everyone involved.

Chasing dogs down the street isn’t the best way to save them. Try luring them to you with treats and a “puppy voice”.

If you determine that you are in a safe area and the dog appears safe to approach, there are some items that you should try to have on hand. You should carry some good-smelling treats in your car to convince the dog to come closer. A variety of treats would be good in case they aren’t impressed by your first choice. Treats like dried liver, salmon treats, and jerky are some of the best smelling to dogs. Next, you should have a leash. Because many loose dogs don’t have collars, you should get a slip lead. This allows you to keep some distance from the dog, it gives you control, and it won’t matter if the dog doesn’t have a collar. You can turn a regular leash into a slip lead by feeding the end with the clip through the handle. This will create a loop in the leash that you can slip over the dog’s head. You will be holding the end with the clip as the handle with this method.

If you cannot get the dog on the leash or if it becomes frightened and runs into traffic, signal approaching vehicles to slow down. If the animal is in the road and appears to be injured, attempt to divert traffic around them. DO NOT PUT YOURSELF IN HARM’S WAY. Even though you’re trying to protect and save a lost animal, protecting yourself needs to be the priority. Do what you can to save the animal, but if the situation becomes too dangerous or if it becomes too much for you to handle, there is no shame in taking a step back. Inform local animal control agencies and keep an eye on the animal if possible while waiting for them to arrive. Anything you do to help save an animal is a gift, no matter how small it may be.

Once you get them on the leash, lure them into the car with treats. Avoid lifting the dog or letting them near your face as they may be more nervous than they seem and they may try to snap at you. They may also have parasites or diseases that you are unaware of that can rub off on your skin or clothes. When you get them in the car, you may want to restrain them by placing them in the back of the car where they cannot reach you, or by placing them in a crate if you have one handy. An energetic, nervous dog could cause some very dangerous driving conditions. In some cases, it is smarter to stay where you are with the dog in your car so you don’t have to risk driving. In this case, you would have to call the local animal control agency to pick up the dog, or call a friend or family member for back-up if you aren’t willing to turn them over to the shelter yet.

This poor baby needs a bath and some love.

If you don’t feel comfortable taking the dog to the shelter right away, you have a few options. If you want to take the dog home until you find the owner, make sure to keep it separated from all of your other animals until they go to the vet. You have no way of knowing what diseases or parasites this stray dog might be carrying. Always check them for an ID and get them scanned for a microchip as soon as possible. In New Mexico, it is required by law that every dog gets microchipped, but some people do not choose to follow this law. You can get them scanned for a microchip at any vet clinic or at the shelter. I would recommend taking them to the vet as soon as you can because then you can have them looked at, as well. Be warned though, you will probably have to cover the vet bills, especially if you cannot locate the owner. Vet bills are a small price to pay when saving the life of an animal.

“Will you help me find my family?”

Once you have determined that the dog doesn’t have a licence or microchip or if the information is out of date, you may take them home and begin making “found pet” fliers. Make sure to contact all of your local shelters and vet offices to let them know about the dog and to file a found dog report. Post fliers in the area where you found them, and share pictures of them and their story online. DogCruces is a great resource for local lost and found pet reports. They are shared widely, and many owners are able to locate their animals through DogCruces. I would recommend that you hold onto the dog for as long as you are able. Shelters are a great place for owners to find their pets, but you can also file a found pet report through them. If they are at the shelter, they only have three days before being listed as “adoptable”. After this, they only have a few more days before facing the risk of euthanasia. By holding onto them as long as possible (and continuing to look for their owner) you are giving them a few more days of life.

The Humane Society of the United States explains that, “In almost every state, the animal is not ‘owned’ by the finder until the holding period for strays (as specified by state or local laws) has expired and the finder has made an attempt to reunite the animal with their original owner and…has taken steps—obtaining vaccinations, license, collar and identification tag—to prove they are now the owner.” In New Mexico, the holding period for strays is three days. This means that they must be in the shelter or you must actively be looking for the owner for three full days before you can decide to keep the dog or before they will be placed for adoption through the shelter.

Clean, fed, leashed, and loved.

To keep your dog safe, show them you love them by getting them spayed or neutered, getting them fully vaccinated, have them microchipped, make them an ID tag with their name and your phone number, keep them on a leash when you go out, make sure they can stay safely inside your house and yard, and give them all of the love that they can handle. Dogs are angels covered in fur, so treat them the best way you can possibly imagine. They deserve that and more.

Jessica Smith, Managing Editor, having been raised in a household full of dogs, guinea pigs, hamsters, and all things furry, Jessica’s love of animals has only grown over the years. She is currently volunteering for Safe Haven Animal Sanctuary in her free time when she isn’t out and about with her ridiculous pit bull mix, Annabel Lee, or taking care of her goldfish, Carrot Cake. She is also putting her literature degree to use by working as an editor for a local online magazine, Independent Noise. While she has no plans for the future, she knows that it will be filled with fur and fiction galore. You can e-mail Jessica at managerjessica@yourpetspace.info

New Feathered Friends

As many of us begin a new school year this month, we will meet new people and create new friendships. Our companion animals may face the same thing. When coming into a new home or meeting another household member, companion birds may need some assistance from you to create these friendships and learn to live together in a happy household. There are some differences when your bird makes acquaintances with other birds, cats, dogs, and unfamiliar people. This information may help you guide your feathered companion to making fun and safe friendships.

Two cuddling bird buddies relaxing together.

Birds and Birds

Your first pet bird may seem a little lonely, so you may start wondering if it’s time to adopt a second feathered friend. To ensure a smooth transition with multiple birds, there are some steps that you will need to take. First of all, assess whether a second bird will be beneficial to your first pet. Ask your avian veterinarian for their opinion, and also consider your current bird’s personality.

Before bringing the new bird into the home, you will need to set up a quarantine area. Speak to your vet about how long this new bird should be separated, and know that the average quarantine time for a new bird is about 30 days. The reason for quarantine is to keep any illnesses from transferring to the first bird. Avian diseases are easily transmittable from bird to bird and they may not show symptoms until it is too severe. By keeping the new bird in quarantine, you will limit all interactions with your original bird. You will also need to be very strict on sanitation and cleaning so there is no chance of contamination to the first bird.

After quarantine, you may begin bird interactions. It is best to start slow and be very patient and to work at the speed of both birds. While the second bird is in quarantine, you can have a cage set up that this new bird will eventually go into a few feet away from the first bird’s cage. The first bird just needs to see the cage but not have any interactions with it. After quarantine, allow the second bird into its new, clean cage and give both birds time to adjust and get to know each other from a safe distance in their own space. When doing daily bird activities, it is best not to interrupt or change the first bird’s schedule. You can always introduce this schedule to the second bird. When preforming the daily actions such as feeding, cleaning, and training, always begin with the first bird. Treating the first bird as the “alpha” bird will make the addition less stressful for all.

Separate bird cages that are close enough for the two birds to see and communicate with each other but far enough apart so that they have their own space.

Once both birds seem more comfortable with each other, you can bring their cages slowly closer until they are also comfortable with that distance. Later, when they seem ready, you may add the second bird into the first bird’s cage. Give them space, but observe their behavior. They may want to stay separated from each other in this cage or they may begin to play. Let them act as birds do and figure themselves out with minimal intervention from you. If they begin to act distressed, they may not want to be housed together, but let the birds decide that for themselves. There may be some disagreements at first, but if the conflict continues without settling, it may be best for your birds to be caged separately. You will not want to be overly affectionate with one bird nor be too cuddly in front of the other. This may cause one of the birds to be overly protective of you and create jealousy between them. Give both birds equal quality time with you. This can also be done with them together. Allowing both of the birds their own space and time to become friendly with each other on their own terms may result in the best of flocked friends.

Two parrots sharing a cage, but spending some time in their own space calmly.

Birds and Cats

Believed to be enemies since Saturday morning cartoons, cats and birds can actually get along under the proper conditions. It would not be completely fair to any of your household companions to completely prevent access to a room that you frequent. That’s what happens if you prevent any pet from entering the bird’s room. As naturally curious creatures, cats want to explore and meet this feathered buddy that you are fascinated with. To be safe, it’s best to keep your bird in a heavy duty cage. You don’t want to have a cage that can be easily toppled over or one that can be torn apart. You need to feel comfortable for the safety of all your animals. Also, establish your bird’s cage in a corner or against a wall so, if the bird becomes uncomfortable, it can retreat to that safe area of the cage. Spend some time with both animals in the room. Keep the bird in the cage for now and just let your cat explore and smell the bird’s area. If the cat tries to bat through the cage with a paw, give them a command like “No,” or “Stop” to cease their action. You need to train your cat that it is not okay to swat at the bird. If your bird receives a bite or scratch, it can become very ill very quickly.

Once your bird becomes more comfortable with the presence of the cat, you can then start to take the bird out of it’s cage. A good way to do a face-to-face meeting between the two is to hold the bird on your hand or finger and allow the cat to approach. This way, if the animals start to get uncomfortable or too excited, you can lift the bird up and return it to it’s cage. Do not allow the cat to lick or bat at the bird at all. It may seem innocent and playful, but accidents can happen so it’s best to prevent this behavior early. Reward your cat with treats for either ignoring the bird or for gentle and calm actions. Reward your bird similarly with some of it’s favorite treats as well. With calm and repetitive actions, your cat and bird should get along fine.

A budgie gently preening a kitten.

Birds and Dogs

When introducing your dog to the bird, you want follow similar steps as the cat introduction. A sturdy cage and keeping your demeanor calm will make this process easy. Just the same as the cat, you want to supervise the dog’s presence around the bird while the bird is still secure in its cage. Give similar serious commands if the dog becomes too excited or tries to jump on the cage. These actions can be very threatening to a flighty bird. Once everyone seems comfortable, you can progress to holding the bird and allowing the dog to smell and meet the bird. Give the dog the same strict commands if it attempts to lick the bird or if they become a little too forceful in their curiosity. Birds may be seriously hurt from a dog bite or from being jumped upon. Reward calm and sweet behavior for both animals to reinforce proper conduct. Eventually, all animals should be able to interact safely together. It is recommended that you always supervise when your animals interact with each other for everyone’s safety.

This Golden Retriever likes to keep his feathered friends nearby.

Birds and People

Introducing birds to another person who will be living in the same household can also be complicated, but it is very similar to the process utilized with cats and dogs. Some birds, especially larger parrots, tend to bond with one person. Giving birds opportunities to make more human friends will provide greater entertainment for both species. Children, of course, will need to be closely supervised when interacting with the bird. With older people, it depends mostly on your bird’s behavior. The best way for anyone to get to know your bird is to just have them spend some time in the same space as the bird. Having the new person hang out near the bird’s cage while reading or watching television is a great way for the bird to start getting familiar with them.

Once the person and the bird are more comfortable together, you can progress to having them hold the bird. Start by having the new person hold their arm straight out horizontally and have the bird stand on their arm. This is a safe way for the bird to decide how close they want to get to this new person. In addition, the person is less likely to exhibit quick, jerky movements while attempting to pet the bird. Once the person is more comfortable and understands the bird’s behavior better, they can start to hold the bird on their hands or fingers and form a closer bond. The new person should also offer some yummy treats when the bird behaves nicely.

Child and bird sharing a healthy snack together.

Patience and rewards for good behavior are an excellent way to assist your birds to become friends with many species. New friendships enrich the bird’s life by mimicking a flock mentality. It also promotes greater intelligence, and having someone new to play with is always a good thing. These new friendships should last for many years to come!

Ashley Gurnea, our Avian Editor, is a certified bird feeding specialist at Wild Birds Unlimited. A graduate from New Mexico State University, Ashley earned her bachelor degree in the field of Animal Science. She completed an internship at an exotic animal park, working with animals ranging from camels to porcupines and a variety of birds such as parrots and cockatoos. This love and curiosity of aviary has led her to her current position at Wild Birds Unlimited in Las Cruces where she remains up to date with local wild feeder birds. Growing up in a home where animals have always been present, Ashley is now a self-proclaimed “Corgi Countess” due to her love and adoration for her tricolor Pembroke welsh corgi, Colin.  Bring up anything corgi or bird related in a conversation and Ashley will be happy to share her many photos. Feel free to ask her about pet birds, and visit Wild Birds Unlimited for questions on wild birds! Ashley can be reached at ashleygurnea@gmail.com.

On the Road Again: Making Travel Time Fun and Safe

Traveling with K2 the Wonder Dog

Welcome to adventures on the road with K2 the Wonder Dog! K2 is my 2 ½ year old yellow Labrador Retriever. He is my second lab, named after the first one, Kojak. His full name is Kojak Version 2.0 (K2 for short). I call him the ”wonder dog” because I always wonder what he is thinking!  My husband and I have been RV-ing and traveling with dogs for quite a few years. I hope K2’s adventures will help you learn to enjoy traveling with your dog as well.

Many of us leave our dogs in the loving care of Your Pet Space when we travel. I know K2 loves to be there and play with his doggy pals! But there are times when it makes more sense to take him with us. We travel both by car and by RV for vacations and to visit relatives, and have some helpful tips for those of you looking to travel with your dog.

Traveling with a dog is a little bit like traveling with children: you need to be prepared for a lot of different things, but if you think it through ahead of time, it can be very enjoyable and rewarding.

Dog Travel Packing List

One of the first things to do is to make a list of the things you will need for the dog, much like you make a packing list for yourself. Here is the list I use:

Vaccination records, towel, current photo, pet bed and blankets, water, cleaning supplies, food, poop bags, treats, toys, bowls, medication, collar and leash, first aid kit.

The current photo of your pet in the list of items to bring is in case something happens and he gets loose or lost – hopefully it will help you find him. It hasn’t happened to me yet, but I’d hate to not be prepared – I don’t want to lose my buddy.

You might think: what do I need cleaning supplies and a towel for? Well, if you stop by a beach, and your dog drinks the salt water, you’ll need to clean him up before getting back in the car, and if you don’t wait long enough for him to purge himself of the salt water he drank, you’ll have a mess in the car to clean up as well. This has happened to us – K2 emptied himself of almost a gallon of water in his kennel in the car – luckily I had my towel to mop it up and cleaning supplies to make it all shiny and smell good. Also, you never know when your dog will find mud to play in at a dog park either. K2 was filthy after digging in the mud one day.

Car Safety Dos and Don’ts

Lets go over safety next: always make sure your pet feels (and is) safe and secure when in a vehicle.

Some people like to let their dogs roam free in the car, envisioning them standing by the window, head in the wind, ears flapping in the breeze and tongue hanging out with a grin. Most dogs love this, and when they aren’t hanging out the window they will often curl up on the floor or a seat and nap while you drive. While this seems easy and stress free for you and your dog, it is NOT SAFE if you have an accident, or even if you brake quickly. If your dog is roaming free in the car, they can easily open an automatic window and leap out while the vehicle is moving, not to mention the distraction they can cause you by barking and moving around the car. We’ve all seen the crash test dummies go through windshields when they don’t wear a seat belt – think about what this will do to your beloved companion! One final, big No-No: doggies should not ride in your lap! In many states (including New Mexico) it is illegal, and it is also dangerous for both you and your pet. Keep safety in mind when deciding how to transport your beloved companion.

Some people use harnesses, others prefer crates. Do some research online and find a solution that works for you. PetAutoSafetyBlog.com is a great reference. If your dog is already crate trained, a crate in your car is ideal. The crate is great because it can also be used in the hotel room at night. Small creates that are secured by a seat belt are available for smaller dogs. Crates and seat belt harnesses should be in the backseat – just like child safety seats. This is the safest place for your dog to be in the car in case of an accident.

Some dogs travel well, others take a bit more time to get used to it. If the only time your dog is in the car is to visit the vet, they may feel anxious or nervous about a car ride. Make the environment as familiar and comfortable as possible for your pet. Get your dog used to sitting next to you in the car (without driving). Feed them a few meals a week in the car. Take some test trips before a big trip: outings for walks, to visit friends, and going to dog parks should make your dog more comfortable while traveling in your car. Make sure your dog is wearing a collar with an identification tag and a rabies tag attached. Micro-chipping your dog is also highly recommended (and actually REQUIRED in New Mexico), and it will help you recover your pet if they get lost. If your dog has anxiety about traveling, talk to your vet about possible medications that can help. Another thing to try would be a Thundershirt anxiety jacket.

While on the road, you need to stop frequently to allow your dog time to stretch his legs and relieve himself. Aim at stopping every 2-3 hours. Look at the route you plan to take ahead of time, and look for places along the way to stop. Your dog, especially if they are not as used to traveling, may need to go more frequently than they do at home because of the stress of the car ride. K2 loves it when we stop at a dog park – it also ensures that when we get back in the car, he will sleep for the next couple of hours.

The best dog park we stopped at while traveling was a beach front dog park along the gulf coast. K2 not only got to romp and play with other dogs, he got to go swimming in the ocean. The fence for the dog park reached out into the ocean far enough I didn’t worry about him swimming around the fence. K2 is your typical lab when it comes to water – I always say if he had a bumper sticker, it would read “I’d rather be swimming”. I would never have stopped at or found this park without having spent some time looking before I left home and planning the stop as part of the trip – remember to plan ahead and you may find some really wonderful places.

Debbie and K2 on a pier.

DON’T LEAVE YOUR DOG ALONE IN YOUR CAR!!!!

Should you leave your dog unattended in your car? The easy answer is a resounding NO. Many states have laws against leaving your dog alone in your car – especially when it is hot. Even if the temperature outside is pleasant, a car still heats up in the sun.

But what if you want to eat dinner, or go somewhere your dog can’t join you? Planning ahead is key. If you know that you’re going to be spending the day at an amusement park or eating dinner out, check the area you will be in BEFORE you leave home and contact a doggy day care and arrange to drop your dog off. Another choice, if you are just passing through and want to get a bite to eat or go shopping, is the “tag team”, method, where one of us will go in while one of us stays with the dog, then the other person goes in when the first person is done. For a meal, once the first person has decided what they want to order, they return to the car and let the other person go in until the dinner is served. Once they are done eating, they switch with the other person. Another easy method is to order the food to go, and eat back at the hotel – or even better, at a park where you can walk your dog. If you are traveling alone, I recommend pick up or delivery for meals, and to eat in your hotel room. Having a cooler in the car filled with drinks and food can be useful as well – and for me, it tends to help me eat healthy food instead of junk food – an added bonus!

Traveling with K2 in the RV

Having the RV makes it easier to leave the dog while we go shopping, visit tourist attractions, or head out to eat. We can turn the generator on and leave it running to power the air conditioner if it’s hot, or the heater if it’s cold. But even when we do this, we return to the RV to check on K2 every 20 minutes or so, just in case something goes wrong and the generator fails. If we are at an RV park, I can rest assured that he will be okay until I return, since we are hooked into power and the RV can now be considered equivalent to leaving the dog at home when you go out. Expect more details on RV traveling with your pets in a future installment!

In conclusion, it can be a lot of fun to travel with your dog, but it does take some forethought and planning. Join me for K2’s next set of adventures, when we talk about how to find things to do and places to stay with your dog while on vacation or visiting friends and relatives, and how to keep him from annoying other hotel guests.

Until next time – get on the road and enjoy some time with your dog!

Deborah Ivey is a Las Cruces transplant. She describes herself as a high-tech gypsy, having moved frequently throughout her life wherever her work takes her. Now retired, she travels with her husband, Jim, and their dog K2, both by car and in their RV. She loves to explore new places, and find fun activities for herself and her dog to enjoy together.

War Horse – A Touching Story In All Its Incarnations

The Animals In War memorial in London.

This is the time of year when we look back at The Great War, which began on the 28th of July in 1914. The War to End all Wars was one of the largest wars in history, and it brings sharp images to mind about soldiers fighting in trenches, loss of life, and suffering. Most of these stories are about men being sent off into battle for their countries, but one of the more popular tales shifts away from that traditional format and instead shows us the War through the eyes of a fictional horse named Joey. There are three versions of this story: a book, a play, and a movie, and since all three are adored by their fans, I thought that, for this anniversary, I would give a little history on how Joey, Topthorn, and all of the characters became as much a part of our lives as so many other famous tellings of this moment in history.

The Book

Cover of War Horse, by Michael Morpurgo

The first incarnation of War Horse came about through a number of routes. Author Michael Morpurgo met three veterans of the Great War who had told him their stories. Wilfred Ellis of the Devon Yeomanry, Captain Budgett of the cavalry, and a villager named Albert Weeks all told of their interactions with horses in one form or another, either because they had served with them, or because they could remember when the army would enter local areas to purchase any horses they could find. Hearing these stories made Morburgo think seriously about showing the Great War through the eyes of a new character, a horse.

In an interview on BBC Radio 4, Morburgo explained his second motivation for writing the book came from a child who refused to speak because of a stammer. The boy was at a farm as a part of the Farms for City Children program, which Morpurgo and his wife had founded, and he was lost in conversation with a mare. The mare was intently listening to every word, and the two seemed to have bonded in this moment. The boy had found bravery, and the mare had found a purpose in being there for the boy in his moment of need.

The final inspiration for War Horse was an actual painting by F. W. Reed of horses trapped in barbed wire as they charged into battle. The painting was fictionalized for the book as a picture of Joey “Painted by Captain James Nicholls, autumn, 1914.”

Closeup of the face of Joey from the National Theatre production of War Horse

I have to say that my own personal experience with reading War Horse has revealed all of these inspirational moments in the author’s life. Each of these examples is so perfectly included in Joey’s story that simply writing them down here brings to mind specific parts of the horse’s fictional life or the troubles and emotions of his owner, Albert. When it comes to other versions of War Horse, some are even more clear than others, such as the painting coming to life in the play as Joey struggles against barbed wire in his attempts to escape an oncoming tank.

The Play

Opening in London in 2007, the play was instantly recognizable by the use of life-sized puppets made by the Handspring Puppet Company. Controlled by three puppeteers, Joey and Topthorn steal the show for so many who attend. Videos of Joey interacting with real horses can be found all over the internet and his live appearances outside of the theater still draw over-sized crowds.

Joey reacting to the sound of emergency vehicles while performing at West End Live in London. The crowd was awed by the puppeteers’ ability to recreate a natural reaction.

Saying that the puppeteering is amazing is only expressing my opinion, of course. I have seen the play live several times, as well as been to the National Theatre live filmed version which plays in movie theaters on occasion. I am constantly amazed at how quickly I accept Joey and Topthorn as real horses, even with the puppeteers clearly visible. The play has a slightly darker feel, both visually and emotionally, than the book or the movie, perhaps because you are watching history come to life in front of you, or because of the staging. Whatever the reason, I am always left with the thought that we have experienced the play more through the horses’ eyes, even more-so than how we read it in the book or watch it in the movie.

The Movie

Fans of War Horse were given a holiday gift in 2011, when the movie adaptation was released in December of that year. This version has always felt more balanced when it comes to light and dark content, and it contains elements from the play (like the goose) that will have theater goers looking back at their memories of the live experience with great fondness.

There is more of an equilibrium between human and animal perspective as well, making the movie more of a story told by everyone, rather than something seen only through the eyes of a horse. Occasionally, a scene will push more toward what you would expect from Joey after having read the book, but most are just horse and human interaction, bringing to mind the story of the boy and the mare from the farm. The horses in this film are as much actors as the humans are, and the cinematography is simply stunning.

Movie poster, advertising the cinematic version of War Horse.

Why We All Need Joey

I have to say that of all of the stories that have been translated from book to play to movie, War Horse has always felt the most consistent throughout all of its incarnations, and it is a story that I have never grown tired of. Though my heart is really for Topthorn, I still feel a swell of amazement and love for Joey whenever I see his interactions on the streets. No matter how fresh some scenes are in my mind, it always touches my heart to see or read them again. War Horse is something that reminds us that hope can always be found in hard times and that humans weren’t the only ones who suffered in the War. So for this upcoming anniversary, seek out your favorite version of War Horse and remind yourself that not all soldiers from the Great War walked on two legs.

Mirrani Houpe, our Small Animal Editor, has had rats since she took home her first little boy once they both completed the second grade. Since that time she has owned, rescued and bred many kinds of rats, from many backgrounds. She may not be a vet, psychology major, or scientist, but her babies have her very well trained when it comes to how to care for them. She is constantly working with her family’s veterinarian to come up with new and innovative ways to love and care for the most often misunderstood rodent in the pet world. You can e-mail her at mirrani@yourpetspace.info