Attention, animal lovers, it’s almost the spookiest night of the year! The ASPCA recommends taking some common sense precautions this Halloween to keep you and your pet saying “trick or treat!” all the way to November 1.
1. No tricks, no treats: That bowl of candy is for trick-or-treaters, not for Scruffy and Fluffy. Chocolate in all forms-especially dark or baking chocolate-can be very dangerous for dogs and cats. Candies containing the artificial sweetener xylitol can also cause problems. If you do suspect your pet has ingested something toxic, please call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.
2. Popular Halloween plants such as pumpkins and decorative corn are considered to be relatively nontoxic, but they can produce stomach upset in pets who nibble on them.
3. Wires and cords from electric lights and other decorations should be kept out of reach of your pets. If chewed, your pet might suffer cuts or burns, or receive a possibly life-threatening electrical shock.
4. A carved pumpkin certainly is festive, but do exercise caution if you choose to add a candle. Pets can easily knock a lit pumpkin over and cause a fire. Curious kittens especially run the risk of getting burned or singed by candle flames.
5. Dress-up can be a big mess-up for some pets. Please don’t put your dog or cat in a costume UNLESS you know he or she loves it (yup, a few pets are real hams!). For pets who prefer their “birthday suits,” however, wearing a costume may cause undue stress.
6. If you do dress up your pet, make sure the costume isn’t annoying or unsafe. It should not constrict the animal’s movement or hearing, or impede his ability to breathe, bark or meow. Also, be sure to try on costumes before the big night. If your pet seems distressed, allergic or shows abnormal behavior, consider letting him go au naturale or donning a festive bandana.
7. Take a closer look at your pet’s costume and make sure it does not have small, dangling or easily chewed-off pieces that he could choke on. Also, ill-fitting outfits can get twisted on external objects or your pet, leading to injury.
8. All but the most social dogs and cats should be kept in a separate room away from the front door during peak trick-or-treating hours. Too many strangers can be scary and stressful for pets.
9. When opening the door for trick-or-treaters, take care that your cat or dog doesn’t dart outside.
10. IDs, please! Always make sure your dog or cat has proper identification. If for any reason your pet escapes and becomes lost, a collar and tags and/or a microchip can be a lifesaver, increaing the chances that he or she will be returned to you.
It is estimated that 40% of dogs and cats are obese in the U.S. Why are there so many fat dogs and cats? Pampering your pet is more popular now than ever. From jeweled collars to canopy beds, gourmet treats are the norm for today’s spoiled dogs. But all of this pampering has led pets to start packing on the pounds.
So what if a pet is fat? Pet obesity is on the rise and spoiled pooches are leading the pack. The unhealthy effects of obesity are similar for people and pets. Excess weight can lead to an increased risk for diseases like diabetes; complicate problems like arthritis; and is linked to certain types of cancer – not to mention simply making them uncomfortable.
Many people barely have enough time for themselves, let alone their pets. This means quality time with pets becomes extremely infrequent. With little time to show your pet how much you love them, special treats become a means of compensation. For others, it may not be a matter of time but of love. For many pet crazy owners, their pets are their kids. They want to pamper their pets with tons of love and special treats, and the pet food industry eagerly provides tons of readily available gourmet treats. Doggy birthday cakes, frosted jumbo bones, and giant jerky treats are some of the extravagant goodies selling out. Although luxury pet treats are becoming bigger and fancier, other alternatives DO exist for spoiling your pet.
Some healthy ways to spoil you pet that can still show your pet that you love him or her without helping them pack on the pound are:
- Trade up for healthier treats. Fresh baby carrots are a great, low-calorie alternative to fatty biscuits and permit the frequent treat-giving that many dogs have become accustomed to.
- Make them work for it. Interactive toys keep pets busy while rewarding them with small treats throughout the play activity. For already obese pets, using pieces of their regular dog food as treats is helpful.
- Forget the treats and get moving. Increasing play time with your pet can greatly increase calories burned in a day. Spoiling your pet doesn’t have to involve food. Playing ball, going for a run or visiting a dog park are fun and healthful ways to interact with your pet.
Changing the trend of spoiled, obese pets requires a change in perception of pampering. It’s important to understand that keeping a pet healthy is the best treatment of all.
And cats are no exception! Is your cat “chunky,” “round,” or “heavyset”? (We’ve also heard the term “full-figured.”) Fat cats might seem cute but feline obesity is a serious issue. Veterinarians around the world agree that excess weight can lead to increased stress on joints and organs as well as a shortened lifespan. Getting a chubby cat to lose weight can really improve their health.
Weight loss in cats is similar to weight loss in people. For the most part, there are 3 ways to drop extra pounds: eat less, eat lower calorie food, or get more exercise. The same is true in cats. As long as the weight loss isn’t related to a medical issue, one or all of these methods can be effective.
Nutrition is an important part of weight loss. You can feed your cat slightly less or feed a lower calorie cat food. One of the healthiest ways to help cats slim down is to increase their activity. This is easier said than done, though. With today’s busy schedules it can be difficult to ensure that your cats are getting all the exercise they need. Indoor cats in particular can be prone to inactivity and even boredom, which some scientists think is linked to many cases of feline depression and weight gain!
Improving your cat’s health doesn’t have to involve expensive equipment. Just a few minutes a day can be enough to start on the path to better health. Which types of toys really turn your cat on? There is a big difference between cats and how they like to play. Watch what gets your cat moving!
Increasing your cat’s activity level can have other benefits as well, including a decrease in clawing, biting, lethargy, and inappropriate marking. As the saying goes, a tired cat is a happy cat.