Does microchipping really help in finding a lost pet?

I just renewed my annual membership for our foxhound, Bella, in the HomeAgain Pet Recovery Service. I debated whether or not to spend the $19.99 membership fee. If I hadn’t renewed the membership, Bella’s microchip number and our contact information would remain in the HomeAgain Recovery Database. I could still access that database to update contact information. And if Bella ever did get lost and was taken to an animal hospital or shelter, they could scan for the microchip, read its unique code, and reach out to HomeAgain to retrieve our contact information.

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So Why Pay a Membership Fee?

As a HomeAgain member, I get much more support from the company. If Bella should ever get lost, HomeAgain will send out lost pet alerts to veterinarians, shelters, and Volunteer Pet Rescuers in the area where Bella was last seen. As a Volunteer Pet Rescuer, I get these email alerts all the time. They include a photo of the missing pet, the exact location where he/she was last seen, and a lost pet flyer with the pet’s photo and contact information.

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When Your Pet Doesn’t Want You to Leave: Dealing with Separation Anxiety

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We lost our Rottweiler mix, Lucy, three years ago and while she will always live in our hearts, there are plenty reminders of her still around the house. Lucy suffered from severe separation anxiety. Crating wasn’t an option as that made her even more nervous, so we did what we could to dog proof the house.

I dreaded coming home from work every day because I never knew what to expect. It could be curtains or blinds ripped from the windows, chewed floor molding,  ripped up rugs,  holes in the walls around the doors and windows, or all of the above. I will never forget the frantic look on Lucy’s face when I returned home. Her eyes were huge and she was panting like she had just come back from a strenuous hike.  I often wondered what our border collie, Jason, must have thought as he watched his “sister” going through these episodes.  So often he tried to calm her down by licking her mouth and she seemed to enjoy that.

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How to Care for Senior Dogs During Winter Months

Senior-dog-in-snowWhile winter can be hard on all dogs, it’s especially tough on seniors. Veterinarians say it’s important for families who share their lives with a senior dog to be on the lookout for changes in behavior during the winter. For example, is your senior slowing down on walks or losing interest in going outside altogether. Pay attention to how easily a senior dog can rise from a lying down position, or if he or she is reluctant to climb the stairs. Also, families should be on the lookout for any signs of shaking or shivering, or changes in eating habits.

All of these changes could signal a health issue. Being extra sensitive to changes in your senior dog and staying on top of physical exams can go a long way in preventing problems.

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Is There Really a Tick Season in New York State?

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Since we had a blanket of snow and ice on the ground for the last two weeks, I was very surprised to find ticks on our dogs when we returned from a recent hike. It was a sunny day and the temperatures had gone above freezing. According to Cornell University experts, the persistent snow cover helps insulate overwintering ticks in the leaf litter. Once temperatures go above freezing these ticks become active and attach themselves to unsuspecting hosts. Really, the bottom line is that every season is tick season in New York State.

High local deer populations have contributed to a rise in reported Lyme disease cases in people and pets in New York State and the surrounding areas, according to Cornell University. My husband and I were both bitten by infected ticks last year and had to be treated with antibiotics. Now, we’ve become experts at spotting those tiny black specks on our dogs’ legs during hikes in the woods. There are always some of those pesky ticks that escape our notice. Usually, they are hiding behind the dogs’ ears or have already embedded into the skin on their necks. These we find later either dead on our floors – thanks to flea and tick preventative – or crawling between the bristles of a grooming brush.

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How to Design a Dog-Friendly Garden

 

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For those of you planning a dog-friendly garden, it’s important to think about your pet’s safety before ordering plants and fertilizers. The ASPCA Poison Control Center (APCC) recently announced the top ten toxins of 2016 based on calls to the poison control hotline. Of the 180,639 hotline calls, 2.6 percent involved gardening products, including herbicides and fungicides, and 5.2 percent were plant related.It’s surprising how many popular plants are toxic to our pets. Here are just a few examples: azalea, begonia, caladium, daffodil, daylily, dahlia, Easter lily, hydrangea, and iris. The APCC provides a search-based Poisonous Plants page where you can look up your favorite plants and see if they are safe for your pets.

Designing for Dogs

While it’s great to have soft sun-drenched grassy areas in your dog-friendly garden, it’s just as important to provide shady spots by planting trees or adding a pergola or dog kennel. A water feature such as a fountain or a faucet with a drinking station for the dogs is also a necessity.

Dog-friendly gardens should include spaces where a dog can play safely and roam freely. Experts at the Borst Landscape and Design in Allendale, NJ, recommend using small fences or dense shrubbery to block off areas off limits to dogs. A combination of patio and paver as, well as grass and mulch materials can be used for pathways and play areas. When choosing hardscape patio and paver materials keep in mind that the darker color stone will attract more heat. During summer months these stones can cause injury to a dog’s paw pads. Lighter colors such as field stone of blue stone are a better choice.

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Do Pregnant Women Have to Part With Their Cats?

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It’s not at all uncommon to see posts on pregnancy forums where a contributor shares that her OB-GYN advised getting rid of the family cat.  The fear is that the pregnant mom might contract toxoplasmosis, a rare parasitic disease that can be transmitted via a cat’s feces, and passed along to the unborn baby. Toxoplasmosis can lead to miscarriage or cause malformed babies. For some parents, this fear is so great that they are compelled to part with their beloved cat/cats. Every year shelters take in cats who lose their homes when a new baby is on the way.

According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC), it is not necessary for pregnant women to part with their cats. By following safety tips, mothers-to-be and family cats can happily share a home.  In fact, according to the CDC, people are more likely to get toxoplasmosis from eating raw meat or from gardening than from their cats.

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