While most family dogs are famously loving and protective with children, it’s always a good idea for parents and other adults to remind children about how to interact safely with dogs, especially unfamiliar dogs. The organization Doggone Safe is dedicated to the mission of dog bite prevention through education. They have a lot of great safety tips on their website, with a special focus on child safety. Here are a few tips for adults to teach kids about dogs (click HERE for the full list of dos and don’ts):
Remind children that they need to be patient when they are in the mood to play with a dog. Kids should never bother a dog that is eating, sleeping, playing with a toy or bone, is hurt/sick, or has puppies.
Teach kids the best places to pet a dog, like the chest or the side of the neck, and make sure that they avoid pulling on ears, tail, or fur.
Kids should learn that a dog’s crate is the dog’s special place. They should be told not to stick their fingers or hands into the crate, and not to play inside the dog’s crate. With adult supervision, a child can play “in and out of the crate” by tossing a treat in the crate and then letting the dog go in to get it.
Tell kids that they should not put their faces too close to a dog’s face, or lie on or hug a dog, especially an unfamiliar one. They can sit near the dog and pet the dog’s “safe” places like the chest and side of the neck.
Teach kids to walk around a dog that is resting on the floor, and not to lean over or step over the dog.
February is Pet Dental Health Month, a great time to remind dog and cat owners to make sure their pets’ teeth and gums are in good shape. Talk to your veterinarian about bringing your pet in for a dental, may veterinary practices have special deals on dentals during the month of February.
Your vet will carefully examine the condition of your pet’s gums and all of the teeth, do a thorough cleaning with dental instruments, and finish with a tooth cleaning/polishing and maybe even a protective coating, too. If your vet finds any issues, you can talk about things like X-rays, tooth extractions, or additional procedures to help your pet combat periodontal disease.
Oh, and if you’re not already brushing your pet’s teeth at home every week, it’s never too late to start! Make sure you get toothbrushes and toothpaste especially made for dogs or cats, and never use human toothpaste on pets. Some owners like to wrap gauze around their finger and brush the teeth that way. Introduce your pet to tooth brushing gradually. Even cats can learn to tolerate it over time!
Want more information on pet dental health? Check out American Veterinary Dental College’s (AVDC) website HERE.
What are the dog and cat injuries that are most frequently seen by veterinarians? Here’s a list of the top 10 pet accidents as compiled by WebMD. Is your pet well-protected from these common mishaps that lead to unexpected trips to the vet?
Foreign body ingestion. Dogs in particular are at risk for eating things they shouldn’t.
Being hit by a car. Consider keeping your cat indoors and always walk your dog on a leash.
Dog bites. The bites of large dogs can do a lot of damage to other dogs.
Poisoning. Both dogs and cats are at risk for all types of poisoning: plants, human medicine, household chemicals, and human food are the top culprits.
Cat bite abscesses. Because cat bites are like puncture wounds, they can often become infected.
Eye trauma. Injuries to the eye can range from mild scratches to ulcers to dangerous perforations and ruptures.
Cruciate ligament ruptures. Dogs in particular are prone to this particular knee injury.
Lameness/back trouble. Smaller sized dogs with long backs like dachshunds are especially at risk.
Torn or broken nail. Long nails on dogs and cats can get caught on things and tear, causing significant bleeding.
Heat stroke/dehydration. Keep your pets cool and hydrated in the summer months and never leave them alone in the car.
Does your local pet store still sell commercially-bred puppies? There’s a pretty good chance that those cute little puppies (and kittens and rabbits, as well) come from large-scale breeding facilities called puppy mills that have come under fire for the intensive breeding of purebred animals in conditions that are often unsanitary, unsafe, and inhumane.
Luckily, more and more cities and towns around the U.S. are taking steps to change this. There’s a large (and growing) list of local jurisdictions that have banned the sale of commercially-bred puppies, kittens, and rabbits in pet stores. Pet stores will still be able to house pets from animal shelters and rescue organizations. Here in San Diego County, San Marcos just became the most recent jurisdiction to ban retail puppy sales. Does your community have a ban? You can check this list, maintained by the Best Friends Animal Society to find out.
If you are interested in a particular breed of puppy, there are lots of ways to find one without relying on vendors (including questionable online sellers) that work with puppy mills. You can do a breed-specific search on Petfinder, check out the American Kennel Club’s Dog Breed Rescue Network, and you can even adopt a former puppy mill dog at National Mill Dog Rescue!
Did you know that there are thousands of pet birds at shelters and rescue organizations just waiting for someone to come along and adopt them into their new forever homes? January is Adopt a Rescued Bird Month, designed to raise awareness about the need to rehome birds that have been surrendered to shelters and rescue groups.
If you’re thinking about adopting a bird, but have never owned a bird before, Petfinder has some important advice for potential adopters to keep in mind. Here are a few tips:
Make sure your space can accommodate a cage large enough for a bird to comfortably move around and stretch his wings. Experts also recommend the bird have access to an enclosed room where it can fly around safely.
Interested in a talking bird? You can look into adopting an Amazon or African Gray parrot, but keep in mind that it takes time and patience to develop a relationship with the bird and teach it to talk.
Smaller birds can often require less maintenance than larger birds. Consider parakeets, lovebirds, finches, and canaries if you are a novice bird owner.
Remember that some birds can have very long lifespans. While many birds live for around 8 years, there are also birds that live between 30 and 50 years…or even longer! Adopting a bird is truly a lifetime commitment.
You can do a bird-specific search on petfinder.com to find adoptable birds in your area.