For the Love of Mutts: Celebrate National Mutt Day!

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Did you know that July 31st is National Mutt Day?  In fact, mutts are so awesome that they have a second National Mutt Day on December 2nd.  Celebrate your love of mixed breed dogs by visiting your local shelter and adopting a mutt of your own.

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Mixed breed dogs are over-represented in the animal shelter population, but they actually make great family pets.  Mutts come in all shapes and sizes, so you’re sure to find the perfect one for you.  Experts say that they tend to be generally healthier, longer-lived, and better behaved than purebreds.

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Need any more reasons to add a loveable mutt to your family?  Check out this article about the benefits of adopting mixed breed dogs on dogster.com.

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“Dog Flipping”: What Dog Owners Need to Know

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A troubling practice called “dog flipping” is on the rise in many parts of the U.S. Dog flipping is when a family dog is stolen from its owners and then turned around and sold online, such as on Craigslist, for a profit.

The American Kennel Club reports that dog flipping statistics have been on the rise since 2008, when it began keeping statistics. In 2008, the AKC recorded 71 dog thefts, but in 2014, the number rose to 637. Actual numbers are probably much higher.

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Dog flipping is a traumatic experience for both dogs and owners. Dogs are taken away from their homes and families and are passed on to strangers. While some owners will never see their dogs again, others have reported seeing online ads for their own stolen pets.

The most common dog breeds that are stolen are pit bulls and pit bull mixes, followed by Yorkies, Chihuahuas, bulldogs, Pomeranians, Shih Tzus, and German shepherds. Dog flippers will either steal a family pet or claim to be the owner of a lost pet. Once they have the dog, they will then sell it online for hundreds of dollars.

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What can you do to help keep your dog safe? Always keep your dog leashed and close to you when you are out. Never leave your dog unattended in public places or even in your own backyard. Be sure to have your dog microchipped and keep all information with the microchip service up to date. Don’t tell strangers who approach you on the street or in the park and ask you how much your dog costs.

 

How to Reduce Your Pet’s Fear of Veterinary Visits

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Is your dog or cat afraid of going to the vet? Don’t worry, your pet isn’t weird, this is a common fear in both dogs and cats. It’s not a surprise, given the strange smells and sounds at the vet clinic, combined with a good amount of poking and prodding by unfamiliar people. Here are some helpful tips for reducing fear to keep in mind the next time your fur kid is due for a vet visit.

  • An ounce of prevention. Make your pet’s trips to the vet less traumatic by making sure he’s used to being handled. Regular tooth brushing, ear cleaning, and nail trimming at home will help desensitize your pet. You can also perform a mock exam to simulate the kind of touching he will experience at the vet’s office.

 

  • Positive reinforcement. Bring your dog to the vet’s office for friendly social visits with the staff. Ask them to interact with your dog, make a bit of a fuss over her, and give her some treats. You can even practice getting on and off the scale many clinics have in the lobby. Your dog will begin to associate trips to the vet with positive experiences.

 

  • The power of treats. Never underestimate the power of treats in stressful situations for both dogs and cats. Bring some of your pet’s favorite treats along to your appointment. Treats can be useful as both a distraction and as a reward for good behavior.

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  • Just for cats. Cats can be especially fearful of being put in a carrier, taking a ride in the car, and going to unfamiliar places. Try to make the trip to the vet as calm as possible by finding the right carrier and making sure the car ride to the vet is quiet and direct. Look into cat-only or cat-friendly veterinary practices if encountering dogs in the waiting room is stressful for your cat.

 

  • Be a calm pet parent. Many veterinarians will tell you that anxious or nervous pet owners in the exam room can heighten a pet’s anxiety and make the whole experience worse for the animal. If you’re the nervous type, try to be calm so that your pet stays calm. You can also ask to remain in the waiting room during procedures and meet up with the vet afterwards.

 

 

Guide to Plants that are Toxic to Cats

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The list of plants that can be harmful to cats is a long one. The effects of plant toxins in cats can range from moderate gastrointestinal upset to life-threatening cardiovascular and nervous system poisoning. Prevention is the best way to avoid accidental plant poisoning in cats. Be careful not to bring any houseplants into the home that are toxic to cats. You should also be careful of what you plant outside if you let your cat in the garden.

Here’s a guide to how some common plants can be harmful to your cat if eaten.

Mouth and throat irritation: philodendron, dieffenbachia, jack-in-the-pulpit

Gastrointestinal irritation (including nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea): tulip, daffodil, amaryllis, wisteria, English ivy, iris, bird of paradise, nightshades, castor bean

Cardiovascular effects (including irregular heartbeat and difficulty breathing): lily of the valley, foxglove, oleander, larkspur, hydrangea, apple seeds, almonds, and the pits of cherry, peach, and apricot

Nervous system effects (including trembling, dilated pupils, salivation, twitching, staggering, and convulsions): yews, tobacco, rhubarb, belladonna, jimsonweed, henbane, datura, periwinkle, chinaberry, marijuana, morning glory

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If you suspect your cat has ingested a poisonous plant, call a pet poison hotline like the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center and make arrangements to get your cat to the vet as soon as possible. While inducing vomiting with ipecac syrup or hydrogen peroxide and water can be beneficial in many cases, it’s still important to get advice and additional treatment from a veterinary professional.

Certain plant toxins such as digitalis (lily of the valley, oleander) and cyanide (fruit pits) are extremely dangerous to cats, so immediate treatment is essential in saving your cat’s life.  Check out the Cat Fanciers’ Association listing of plants that are toxic to cats HERE.

 

Lost San Diego Dog Finds Way Home After 9 Days and 35 Miles

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A local dog recently made national headlines when she somehow found her way home after getting separated from her owner on a hike 35 miles from her house. Georgia, an 8 year old Shar-Pei mix, disappeared after chasing a rabbit into the hills off a trail at the Los Penasquitos Canyon Reserve. Her owner, Kris Anderson, was distraught after rangers told her they didn’t expect Georgia to survive the night with all of the coyotes that live in the park.

Anderson never gave up hope of finding Georgia, and she and her daughter made daily 70 mile round trips from her home in Carlsbad, in the hope that they would reunite with their dog at the reserve.

9 days after she disappeared, Georgia came through the doggy door and ran to find Anderson in her bedroom. She was tired, thin, and covered in scratches, but incredibly, she managed to make the long journey over the 4th of July holiday and find her way home. Anderson was stunned. The family vet expects Georgia to make a full recovery.

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Georgia is just the latest example of the amazing ability our pets have to find their way home over long distances when they get separated from their families. Animal behavior experts say that this ability comes from a combination of good visual memory and mental mapping, along with a strong sense of smell.

Anderson admits that Georgia was off-leash when she ran off, despite posted warnings at the reserve to keep dogs leashed. Besides coyotes, other dangers like rattlesnakes, ticks, and other off-leash dogs can be hazards to dogs allowed to run off-leash in nature preserves. While Georgia’s story has a happy ending, it serves as a good reminder to keep your dog leashed on hikes and walks.