Winter Pet Safety

Brrr, it’s cold out there! Help your pets remain safe during the colder months by following these simple guidelines.

  • Repeatedly coming out of the cold into the dry heat of your home can cause itchy, flaking skin. Keep your home humidified and towel dry your pet as soon as he comes inside, paying special attention to his feet and in-between the toes. Remove any snow balls from between his foot
  • Never shave your dog down to the skin in winter, as a longer coat will provide more warmth. If your dog is long-haired, simply trim him to minimize the clinging ice balls, salt crystals and de-icing chemicals that can dry his skin, and don’t neglect the hair between his toes. If your dog is short-haired, consider getting him a coat or sweater with a high collar or turtleneck with coverage from the base of the tail to the belly. For many dogs, this is regulation winter wear.
  • Bring a towel on long walks to clean off stinging, irritated paws. After each walk, wash and dry your pet’s feet and stomach to remove ice, salt and chemicals—and check for cracks in paw pads or redness between the toes.
  • Bathe your pets as little as possible during cold spells. Washing too often can remove essential oils and increase the chance of developing dry, flaky skin. If your pooch must be bathed, ask your vet to recommend a moisturizing shampoo and/or rinse.
  • Massaging petroleum jelly or other paw protectants into paw pads before going outside can help protect from salt and chemical agents. Booties provide even more coverage and can also prevent sand and salt from getting lodged between bare toes and causing irritation. Use pet-friendly ice melts whenever possible.
  • Like coolant, antifreeze is a lethal poison for dogs and cats. Be sure to thoroughly clean up any spills from your vehicle, and consider using products that contain propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol; if swallowed in small amounts, it will not hurt pets, wildlife, or your family.
  • winter-carePets burn extra energy by trying to stay warm in wintertime. Feeding your pet, a little bit more during the cold weather months can provide much-needed calories, and making sure they have plenty of water to drink will help keep your pet well-hydrated and their skin less dry.
  • Make sure your companion animal has a warm place to sleep, off the floor and away from all drafts. A cozy with a warm blanket or pillow is perfect.
  • Be prepared. Cold weather also brings the risks of severe winter weather and power outages. Have enough food, water and medicine (including any prescription medications as well as heartworm and flea/tick preventives) on hand to get through at least 5 days.
  • Remember, if it’s too cold for you, it’s probably too cold for your pet, so keep your animals inside. If left outdoors, pets can freeze, become disoriented, lost, stolen, injured or killed. In addition, don’t leave pets alone in a car during cold weather, as cars can act as refrigerators that hold in the cold and cause animals to freeze to death.

10 Cool Things Science Taught Us About Dogs in 2016

From how dogs understand our words to proof that you can indeed teach an old dog new tricks, here’s 10 cool things science taught us about dogs this year.

1. Your Dog Understands Words More Than You Think

A new study found that dogs respond not only to the tone in which we use, but that they understand many of the words we’re saying. Researchers used brain scans from 13 dogs and recorded their responses to their owner’s voice. The dogs heard both meaningful words (good boy) and meaningless ones. When analyzed the research found that dogs process meaningful words in the left hemisphere or their brain, just like humans do – yet they didn’t use the same process for meaningless words.

2. Study Finds That Dogs May Have Episodic Memories

Researchers studied 17 dogs and found that they were able to remember & imitate their owners actions up to an hour later. The dogs were trained to imitate their owner’s actions with the do as I do method. The results found that dogs could recall their owners actions when unexpectedly requested to imitate them up to an hour later.

3. Stress Can Make Dogs go Grey Just Like Humans

Earlier this year we found out that stress can make dogs go grey early. The study found that dogs who suffered from anxiety were more likely to show signs of premature greying. The study focused on 400 dogs, age 1-4, and the researchers found that a fear of noises & unfamiliar people were significant predicting factors in early greying. The researchers did not find any predictors of premature greying when looking at a dogs age, sex or spay/neuter status.

4. Playtime After Training Can Improve a Dogs Memory

recent study found that dogs who engage in play immediately after learning something new seems to enhance their memory. The dogs in the study were split into two groups; those that got to play after learning and those who rested after. When the dogs were tested on the same task the next day the dogs who had engaged in play performed much better when re-learning the task than those in the rest group.prettywhite

5. Vocal Praise Means Just as Much to Dogs as a Food Reward

New research found that vocal praise means as much to dogs as food, if not more. The study analyzed dogs in groups of 15 who were trained to sit in MRI machines for three 10 minute sessions. After the first session, the dogs were given a hotdog, verbal praise for the second, and nothing for the third. For 13 of the 15 dogs their brains lit up just as much for verbal praise as they did for food.

6. Your Dog Will Learn to Ignore Bad Directions

Earlier this year a study found that if you give your bad directions he’ll learn to ignore you pretty quick. The study involved 40 dogs who were given a puzzle with a treat inside. The puzzle itself only required one step to get the treat – lifting the lid of a box. But the researchers added in an unnecessary step – pulling a lever. The researchers showed the dogs how to get the treat by lifting the lid & pulling the lever, but it didn’t take long for the dogs to figure out the second step was unnecessary.

7. Dogs May Have Been Domesticated Twice in Eurasia

A new study found that dogs may have been domesticated twice, once in Asia and once in Europe. Researchers looked at genetics & archaeological records, including some partial DNA from 59 European dogs that lived 14,000 to 30,000 years ago. They compared those records with genetic data from over 600 modern dogs. Archaeologists previously found dog remains in Germany that may be 16,000 years old, suggesting that dogs had already been domesticated in Europe before the dogs from Asia arrived.

8. Dogs Reduce Stress in Families with Autistic Children

Research found that having a dog in the home can reduce stress in families with Autistic children. The study was a follow up to a previous study that looked at the short term benefits a dog can have on families with autistic children. 2.5 years later the researchers found that thos

e short term last years beyond their initial findings, and that the stress levels of those families continues to decline.

9. Our Dogs Don’t Trust Us When We’re Angry

A recent study found that dogs have a delayed response when receiving instructions from someone whose angry. The study had dogs follow the lead of someone pointing to a hidden reward. The person pointing would either smile & talk in a happy voice or frown and speak in a negative tone. The study found no difference between the response time of the dogs when following gestures from a happy or neutral person, but when the person was angry the dogs showed a significant delay in response time.

jackson10. Science Proves That You Can Teach an Old Dog New Tricks

A new 3 year study found that not only can old dogs learn new tricks, but that they perform certain tricks even better. The study looked at 95 Border Collies that ranged in age from 5 months to 13 years old. The dogs were put in front of a touch screen and shown two photos at a time. There were 8 photos total, 4 of which would give a treat when touched and 4 that gave nothing. When the older dogs were shown one of the previous “bad” photos (one that didn’t reward a treat) next to a brand-new photo they hadn’t seen they were able to determine which one was the “good” one better than their younger counterparts.


Pet-Friendly Thanksgiving

Be Prepared When Your Pet Comes Begging

With the holidays approaching, your dog or cat will inevitably be begging to partake in the big turkey dinner. While this can be a wonderful way to add lean protein and fresh veggies to your pet’s diet, there are also hidden dangers in holiday fare. This year, before preparing a heaping plateful for your pet, consider these tips to keep Thanksgiving a safe, healthful holiday for your dog or cat.befunky_thanksgiving1

SHARE (in moderation)

White Meat Turkey

Turkey can be a wonderful lean protein to share with your pet. Just be sure to remove any excess skin or fat, stick with white meat, and make sure there are no bones.


Cranberry sauce is just fine for pets but watch the amount of sugar in it. It is probably best to only provide a small helping to your pet’s plate.

Plain Pumpkin

Good for both diarrhea and constipation, canned pumpkin (not raw, not the sugary, spicy pie filling) is loaded with fiber and beta-carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A.

Plain Yams & Sweet Potatoes

Great source of vitamin B6 and vitamin C for your pup! A good tip is to set aside some cooked sweet potatoes before you add any salt or butter (or marshmallows!) to them, and save those for the dog.

Mashed or Baked Potatoes 

Regular potatoes, while not quite as nutritious as the sweet variety, are also a safe and yummy treat. Again, set aside your pets serving of potatoes before adding butter, garlic, gravy, cheese, etc.

Carrots & Green Beans

Plain green beans are a wonderful treat for pets. Fresh vegetables are a great addition to any diet. If the green beans are included in a green bean casserole though, be conscious of the other ingredients in it.

Apple Slices 

Apples (minus the seeds) are also a great, crunchy treat for dogs. Applesauce is also an acceptable treat for dogs, but stick to the unsweetened variety.

DO NOT SHARE (toxic to pets)


Turkey bones can become lodged in the throat, stomach, or intestinal tract or break into splinters, causing extensive damage to the stomach and gastro-intestinal tract if swallowed, even puncturing the small intestines.


Flavor enhancers can cause all kinds of problems! Seizures, death, stomach discomfort, anemia and even death. Onions, garlic, sage and nutmeg are some of the common seasonings we use during the holidays and these are some of the biggest offenders!


Never give your dog walnuts, pecans or macadamia nuts! All three are extremely poisonous for pups (a toxin in macadamias can lead to tremors and hind-quarter paralysis).


Many people are unaware that grapes, and subsequently raisins, can be toxic to pets. The fruit has been shown to cause kidney failure in dogs.

Chewing Gum and Candy

Many contain Xylitol, an artificial sweetener that can cause a severe drop in blood glucose in dogs. As soon as 30 minutes after ingestion, dogs can begin to show signs of depression, loss of coordination, and seizures. 


A well-known off limits indulgence for pets. During the holidays, however, chocolate is used in recipes and sometimes forgotten about by the time the dishes hit the table. Make sure this holiday season that your pet does not ingest any chocolate, especially the baking kind.


Alcohol, especially the hops in beer, can be particularly harmful to dogs, causing intoxication, panting, fever, racing heart, liver damage, even coma, seizures and death.

Dough and Cake Batter

The combination of raw bread dough and the pet’s body heat can cause the dough to rise inside the stomach, resulting in vomiting, severe abdominal pain and bloating. The batter used in cakes and pies usually contains raw eggs which could contain salmonella bacteria that may lead to food poisoning.


Exercise your dog before guests arrive. A tired dog is less likely to misbehave and look for mischief! If your dog is full of energy, he will be more likely to be underfoot while you are preparing for the feast and entertaining your guests. HappyTails Pet Sitters are available on Thanksgiving Day and would love to help make your holidays less stressful! Book today!

Want to let your fur kid indulge in all the glorious leftovers without the guilt?

Check out this recipe for Turkey Pumpkin treats! PS – it’s cat friendly too.

  • 6 ounces white turkey meat
  • ½ cup cooked carrots/potatoes/pumpkin
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries
  • ½ cup ground oatmeal (or substitute whole grain, rice, or pea flour)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Blend turkey, cranberries, and carrots in a food processor until smooth, then mix in ground oatmeal. Roll into ½-1 inch balls and cook on a baking sheet for 10-15 minutes depending on the size of the treats.

8 Tips to Keep Your Dog Safe This Halloween

The week leading up to and just after Halloween is one of the busiest times of year for the Pet Poison Hotline, and the 2nd most common holiday for pets to get lost (after July 4th).

So while Halloween can be a fun time of year for humans and kids, it can be quite a bit frightening and stressful for dogs that don’t understand the concept, don’t like wearing costumes, or are not real happy with strangers knocking on the door every few minutes.

Keep these 8 Tips in mind this Halloween to keep the holiday fun, stress-free and safe for your dogs.


Keeping Your Dog (And Your Kids) Safe On Halloween

Halloween is just around the corner so here are some tips for kids, parents, and dog owners to help keep everyone safe this Halloween.

Bizarre sights and sounds can cause stress in a normally calm dog. It is much safer and better to keep dogs out of the excitement by securing them away from the door and by providing a long lasting chew treat.

Teach your kids to “be a tree” and stand totally still if any dogs come near them on Halloween. Halloween is lots of fun for kids, but many dogs can become confused or scared by kids in strange looking costumes and by so many people coming to the door, yet they are never being invited in.

Dog owners:

  1. Secure your dog behind a closed door or in a crate in a room away from the front door or the party if children are meeting at your house.
  2. Give him a juicy bone from the butcher; a sterilized bone or Kong stuffed with hotdog. Play music or leave a TV or radio playing in the dog’s area to help mask the sounds of the activity at the front door.
  3. Close drapes so that the dog does not see people coming and going through the window.
  4. If you have a dog that barks at the sound of the doorbell, disconnect it or watch for trick-or-treaters so that they do not have to ring or knock.
  5. Supervise very carefully if you have a dog that may try to play with your children’s costumes while they are wearing them.
  6. Keep your dogs (and cats) indoors around Halloween time. Pets have been stolen, injured or poisoned as part of Halloween pranks or other rituals.

Kids and Parents:

  1. Never approach any dog, even if you know him. He may not recognize you in your costume.
  2. If an owner opens the door and there is a dog there, just stay still and wait for the dog owner to put the dog away. You can tell them you do not want to come near the dog. Do not move toward the person and dog. Wait for them to come to you to give you your candy. Wait for them to close the door before you turn and leave.
  3. If a dog escapes just stand still and “be a tree” (hands folded in front, watching your feet). He will just sniff you and then move on. Wait for the owner to come and get the dog before you turn away.
  4. If you meet a dog without its owner, “be a tree” and wait until the dog goes away.
  5. It is best to ignore other people’s dogs on Halloween if you meet them out walking. The dog may be worried about all the strange creatures that are out and about. Again, even if you know the dog, he may not recognize you in your costume.

Remember, Halloween can be a scary time for some dogs. And, most aggression and accidental dog bites stem from a dog’s fear reaction. Pet owners and parents alike should be cautious and considerate on this fun holiday.

Dognapped: 5 Ways To Prevent Dog Theft

I feel pretty certain that I speak for the majority of you when I say the thought of your dog going missing is a nightmare. Even worse is the thought of someone taking her.

Did you know that all over the world, as many as 2 million dogs are stolen from their families every single day? TWO MILLION! EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

That’s a shocking statistic, especially when you consider that pet theft can be prevented. 

The 5 most popular breeds that are targeted by thieves are Yorkshire Terriers, Pit Bull mixes, Maltese, Pomeranian, and Labradors. Even if you don’t own one of these breeds, it’s still crucial to educate yourself about pet theft so that your dog doesn’t become a statistic. Take a look at this infographic…



More than 50 percent of dog thefts occur right in your own home or yard. That means it’s up to you to provide a safe and secure home, and pet parents can drastically reduce the odds of their dog going missing by taking these 5 precautions:

  1. Never, ever, ever leave your dog unattended. I can’t tell you how strongly I believe this. There is absolutely no reason for your dog to ever be left alone in the yard, in a parked car, or any place where you’re not right there with her. Period.
  2. Make sure your dog has an ID tag with current and accurate information. Even if she is microchipped, an ID tag is still a must.
  3. Build a secure fence around your yard. I like a fenced yard because it provides a contained play area but again, I strongly advise never leaving your dog alone in the yard.
  4. Keep your gate locked at all times. Keeping your gate locked makes it even harder for a stranger to enter your yard. This gives added security not just for your dog, but also for your home.
  5. Keep an eye on strangers. If you see people you don’t recognize in your neighborhood, be aware of them. Report them to the police if they exhibit shady behavior. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

There you have it: these 5 ways to prevent dog theft are so simple, and losing a pet to thieves is totally preventable when we know what to look for and what to do to keep them safe.

Do you have any tips for keeping pets safe from thieves? Leave me a comment and let’s chat about it!

5 Spring Flowers that are Poisonous to Dogs

One of the things I love about Spring is the pop of color from all the beautiful flowers. Nothing quite represents a fresh start like the first flowers of Spring.

But some of Spring’s most beloved flowers are harmful – even fatal – to your dog. Do you know which flowers to avoid? Here are 5 Spring flowers that are poisonous to dogs. If these are growing in your garden, take precautions to protect your pets.

  1. Lilies. I love lilies but did you know that lilies are deadly to dogs, cats, and rabbits? The peace lily, calla lily, amaryllis, autumn crocus, and lily of the valley are all toxic because they contain a substance called oxalic acid, which is poisonous to pets. The deadliest part of this plant is the root.
  2. Daffodils. Such a gorgeous, happy, Spring flower is the yellow Daffodil, but it’s also deadly to pets. It’s the bulb that is the most dangerous, as it contains toxic alkaloids that cause an entire array of problems, including death.
  3. Azaleas. As pretty as they are, Azaleas are deadly to dogs because they contain a substance called grayanotoxin, which can shut down a dog’s central nervous system. Scary stuff.
  4. Morning Glory. The beautiful Morning Glory contains seeds that can be highly toxic to dogs. The seeds contain a combination of poisonous chemicals that can kill your dog.
  5. Chrysanthemum. I’m told that a little bit of this flower might not affect your dog, but who wants to take the chance? These flowers contain a substance called pyrethrins, which will cause loss of balance and lack of coordination.

My best advice for avoiding a tragic situation with any of these plants is keep an eye on your dog. Don’t assume that your dog knows what is harmful to her, because she doesn’t. All she knows is what tastes good, and we all know that what tastes good isn’t always good for us.

Animal Poison Control – 888.426.4437

I advise keeping the number near the phone in your home, as well as saving it in your cell phone contacts. The center is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

For a more detailed list of plants that are toxic to your pet, visit the ASPCA website

Do you know of other plants that are harmful to pets? 

April is Prevention of Animal Cruelty Month

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” — Mahatma Gandhi

Animal cruelty is a battle that rescuers and shelter workers fight every day, year round. But because we can’t do it all on our own, April has been dubbed Prevention of Animal Cruelty Month, and we’re asking YOU to get involved.april

If you’re wondering what you can do to prevent animal cruelty, here’s a short list of ideas.

  1. Be the voice. Animals that are being abused cannot speak for themselves. They need YOU to be their advocate. Don’t be afraid to call the authorities if you suspect an animal is being abused or neglected. And don’t wait – they need your help today! Tomorrow could be too late.
  2. Support your local shelter and rescues. As I said above, shelter workers and rescues can’t do it all. They need YOUR help. There are many ways to show your support. Monetary donations, volunteering a few hours a month, and donations of food, blankets, toys, and cleaning supplies are just a few ideas of ways you can lend a hand.
  3. Be a shining example of a responsible pet owner. Make sure your pets are always up-to-date on vaccinations, spayed or neutered, and properly restrained in public. Clean up after them on walks, and don’t leave them alone in a car on a warm day. You’d be surprised what an impression you can make when you simply do the right thing.
  4. Teach your children to love animals. The best way to prevent future abuse is to make sure our children love and respect animals. Show your kids how to be loving, responsible pet owners. And if you don’t have pets, you can still educate your children to be kind-hearted and respectful to animals. Just like with other things, our kids learn so much of their behavior from us.
  5. Be thoughtful about your food choices. I’m not asking you to become a vegetarian. But we have the power to make a difference in the lives of farm animals when we choose wisely. Avoid meats, milk, and eggs from “factory farms”. Know which food manufacturers practice cruel and inhumane acts. Choose restaurants that use cruelty-free products. Yes, it takes some planning and a little research, but if you really want to help fight animal cruelty, it’s worth it.

Check out this great article for ways that you can easily identify animal cruelty.

Bye-Bye Bad Breath

There are many reasons why good dogs sometimes behave badly. You’ve seen many cases on Cesar Millan’s TV shows where bad behaviors in bye-bye bad breathdogs were caused or triggered by human behavior.

Cesar has dealt with a lot of these cases, including severe aggression, fear, and dominance issues. But what you might not know is that bad behavior, or a sudden change in your dog’s behavior, can be caused by undetected medical problems. For example, if your dog starts chewing on random household objects, he may be experiencing tooth pain that could be helped with regular brushing. For this, Cesar recommends the Petosan Dental Line.
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Pet Obesity: Killing With Kindness

TP-Dog-2-300x212Our pets weigh too much.

According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention’s latest veterinary survey, 53 percent of adult dogs and 55 percent of adult cats in the United States — that’s 88.4 million pets — are classified as overweight or obese by their veterinarians.
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