Tips for Great Fall Hikes With Your Dog

Fall can be a great time to set out on outdoor adventures with your dog.  The weather is crisp and cool to keep you and your dog comfortable, and all that beautiful fall foliage is definitely an added benefit.

We’ve gathered some of the best fall hiking tips for dog owners.  Keep in mind that many experts recommend keeping your dog on leash at all times for her safety, so go off leash with caution.

Check out these helpful tips and enjoy the great outdoors with your best friend!

  • A walk in the woods, even in fall, means that your dog could be vulnerable to flea and tick bites. Use a deterrent and check your dog for ticks after a hike.
  • Consider using a harness specifically designed for hiking or running. Experts report that v-neck harnesses distribute force evenly to keep you and your dog steady.  Some also have a handle on the back so you can quickly grab your dog in an emergency.

  • While it may not be as hot as summer, your dog still needs plenty of fresh clean water to stay hydrated on a fall hike. Bring water and a collapsible bowl along with you on hikes.
  • Challenging uphill trails can lead to some great views of fall foliage, but long distance/high elevation hikes are not for all dogs…or all people. Know the level of difficulty before you set off on a hike.

  • Sometimes the weather can change quickly in the fall. Dress in layers and consider a jacket and booties for your dog in case the weather gets nasty.  Booties or paw pad balm are always a good idea for rugged trail hikes.

 

Environmental Enrichment for Pet Birds

The Veterinary College at Texas A&M University has put out some very helpful tips on how to provide your pet birds with environmental enrichment and mental stimulation.

They report that birds are happiest when given many different forms of enrichment.  Not surprising given their intelligence, curiosity, and sociability!

Here are a few tips, but be sure to read the full story for more ideas for your own bird!

  • Besides regular toys, birds also appreciate objects that provide visual and auditory stimulation like mirrors, music, bells, and rattles.
  • Birds are sensitive to the texture of objects; some prefer plastic, while some prefer wood or paper.
  • Birds are color-oriented and may prefer certain colored toys over others (some dislike red!).
  • Be sure to choose toys that are lead-free and made from safe forms of plastic. Be careful of toys with string as these can harm a bird.
  • Household objects can also be used as bird toys, such as paper towel rolls and popsicle sticks.
  • Place your bird’s cage in an area where the outside is visible through a window.
  • Lots of interaction with you (and even other animals in the home) is a key form of stimulation and enrichment for birds. Pay plenty of attention to your feathered friend.  You can even teach it some tricks!

Interested in learning more?  Check out this Avian Enrichment blog from the Association of Avian Veterinarians!

 

Video Outlines Mental Health Crisis Among Veterinary Professionals

A sobering new video produced by Dr. Carrie Turnbull of the Staunton River Veterinary Clinic in Virginia might come as a surprise to many pet owners.

The suicide rate among veterinarians is significantly higher than the rate for the general population.  One study conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that female veterinarians are 3.5 times and male veterinarians 2.1 times as likely to die from suicide than the general population.

Dr. Turnbull notes in her video that many veterinarians tend to be high-achiever, type A personality types, and they are strongly affected by the stressors inherent in their jobs, such as unsuccessful treatments and patient deaths.

She also notes that vets can experience financial stress and many carry a significant amount of debt for years after veterinary school.

Do you have friends or family in the veterinary profession?  Dr. Turnbull recommends checking in with them to see how they are doing and if they are getting the help and support that they need.

You can watch Dr. Turnbull’s video below and learn more about this issue on the American Veterinary Medical Association’s website HERE.  There is also a Facebook group called Not One More Vet that provides help for vets in need of support.

 

Health Problems in Lop Eared Rabbits

House rabbits are becoming an increasingly popular pet among animal lovers.  Fancy rabbits, such as tiny dwarf breeds, fluffy lionheads, or floppy eared lop breeds, are top choices among rabbit fanciers.

If you’re thinking about adding a floppy eared lop rabbit to your family, check out this new research about the health issues that can go along with lop ears.

A comparison of lop eared versus erect eared rabbits has found that floppy eared rabbits have higher rates of certain ear and dental problems.  Specifically, lop eared rabbits are more likely to suffer from

  • Ear canal stenosis (narrowing of the ear canal)
  • Cerumen (ear wax buildup) leading to ear infection
  • Erythema (reddening and inflammation of ear skin)
  • Incisor pathology
  • Molar overgrowth, sharpness, and spurs

These problems can be painful and can negatively impact a rabbit’s overall quality of life, causing hearing loss and difficulty in eating.

Proper ear and dental care are important for all rabbits, and especially for lop breeds.  Be sure to talk to your veterinarian if you have any questions about ear and tooth care for your bunny.

The House Rabbit Society offers lots of helpful advice on ear care and dental care on their website as well.

 

It’s National Walk Your Dog Week!

October 1-7 is National Walk Your Dog Week, an event designed to raise awareness about the importance of regular exercise for your dog’s health.

According to the official website, many dogs (and their humans) do not get enough exercise, which can lead to health problems like obesity as well as behavioral problems that arise from boredom and separation anxiety.

You can take the pledge to walk your dog for at least 30 minutes every day for one week.  The folks at National Walk Your Dog Week want to hear from dog owners who have taken up this challenge.  Chances are both you and your dog will be feeling better!