Sleepless in Summer
Fear of Fireworks
Kid Friendly Pet Games
Cool Pet Treats
|Looking south. See - blue skies south now |
Storms have been coming and going this summer as usual for central Illinois. Typically they roll in without warning (to us humans) booming and flashing overhead. Butterscotch has clued in to the oncoming storm well before anyone in my home has. Fortunately he has learned to go to his safe area in our bedroom which then tells us in to start his favorite music - gypsy caravan by putamayo - to help him settle (read about 2 blog posts earlier about how rhythmic music helps in storms). Yesterday morning I was reminded how we can miss the approaching storms that our pets are already reacting to.
I was driving west on Route 36 at about 8:30 am and saw a large black front coming across the sky. Just in to the east of the front, the sky was blue and clear, to the north and south there were all these different cloud formations all moving fairly fast. No rain, no big temperature drop but the wind was picking up. I pulled over at Main and Van Allen Streets, just 3 blocks north of where I was driving to take some pictures. I began to realize how storm approaches can be confusing as I looked at the sky, snapping all 4 directions.
Looking north - the front is over head and
extending many blocks north
If I were in my own yard looking just over my head, the sky was not that stormy. The front was moving from west to north with pockets of clear sky. There was not any rain yet, and the wind was not up at ground level. When I was at a spot where there were few trees, I could see up high how fast the clouds were moving. All of this weather activity up high is sensed down low by our pets. This is telling them a storm is coming, which gets them to start the early signs of storm tension - pacing, clinging to you, hiding in the closet, avoiding going outside, or avoiding people or other pets. We tend to miss these early warnings, especially when we only look over our own head. If your pet is acting like a storm is coming, believe them.
|Looking west - mixture of building clouds|
moving fast high
This whole front moved over town in about 30 minutes without any rain, or wind. I am not sure what weather Villa Grove may have had ( about 9 miles north east of Tuscola) - maybe a downpour or maybe not. It really does not matter to the storm tense dog - a storm is coming and they need help to stay calm. Put on a DAP bandanna or collar, put the rock and roll or other heavy rhythm music, and if they need meds, give them a small dose.
|Looking east - Not too bad. Mild cloud cover|
As it turns out, we did get a pretty good thunderstorm in the wee hours of the am. Butter was in his safe place and I put his gypsy music on which lulled us all back to sleep.
Check out Dr. Foote's blog for more useful information about pet behavior.
Fear of Fireworks
Many dogs are afraid of fireworks. Maybe a dog was left alone during a fireworks and did not know where to go or what to do. It may be genetic, or it may be something that has been increasing over the years. Whatever the cause, firework phobia is very common and can range from mild to severe. There is help for your dog. Help is in the form of a plan to teach them to be calm with the help of antianxiety medication as determined by your veterinarian.
When your pet is young do train them to be rewarded for calm, non anxious behavior during fireworks, and other loud noises. Teach them to go to a "safe" spot in the house. Their safe spot may be their bed, your bed room or a bathroom. Command them to the area before the fireworks start and reward them. Give them a bed, crate or in the bath tub to lie on and reward them for going there fast and lying calmly. You can give them a rawhide or kong filled with treats to chew and lick at while the fireworks explode overhead. Heavy beat rock music or Egyptian/Indian music is very helpful also. Print out Butterscotch's play list from our website for suggested songs that have helped many dogs. DAP collars are also helpful to reduce fear.
For the dogs that are pacing, panting, drooling, circling, howling, pawing at their owners, climbing on to furniture, hiding under the bed, in the closet, digging out of doors or windows there is help for them. There are different levels of fear, and each level causes some physical pain. The dog may not be completely fearless during fireworks, but they can be more calm, which is much better for them.
Proper anti anxiety medication (not just tranquilizers) during fireworks are very effective. These medications are not sedatives, although sedatives may be part of combination treatment in severe cases. Your dog will not be constantly drugged out. A check up and blood check are needed before starting treatment.
A plan to help your pet have a better 4th of July season is possible with the help of a veterinarian and staff offering behavioral help. Okaw Veterinary Clinic offers exams and consults to prepare a plan for your dog. Helping your dog will also help you. Contact Okaw Vet Clinic at 217-253-3221, look at the services we offer or read Dr. Foote's blog for more help.
Last month we saw a few dogs with ticks. So we wanted to talk a little bit about ticks and what you can do to keep them from getting your pet sick.
Ticks live in grass, leaves, brush and bushes. Ticks crawl onto your pet as he or she walks past. We often find ticks attached pet's head and neck since your pet is sticking his or her head and sniffing areas where ticks like to live. Ticks attach to your pet and drink blood. If the tick drinking your pet's blood is infected with a disease, it can pass this disease on to your pet. Ticks can give your pet diseases such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Tularemia, Tick Paralysis, Babesiosis, Ehrlichiosis and Lyme Disease. The female tick will feed for days until she is fat and swollen. The female tick is the easiest tick to find on your pet. The male ticks do not feed as long and are therefore smaller and harder to see. Other immature stages are also small and are harder to see on your pet. The smallest stage that can attach to your pet is called a nymph and can be as small as the head of a pin. A good way to find ticks is to rub your pet's head, neck and legs a few times a day. Also look at both sides of your pet's ear flaps.
What do you do when you find a tick on your pet? Get a bottle of alcohol, a cotton ball and a pair of tweezers, and some of your pet's treats, and someone to help. Pour some alcohol onto the cotton ball. Have the friend hold your pet and give him or her some treats. Put the cotton ball onto the tick for at least 10 seconds, then remove the cotton ball. (This helps stun the tick and loosen it's grip). With the tweezers, gently grasp the tick as close to your pet's skin as you can and GENTLY pull. Do NOT twist or jerk. (Removing it slowly helps reduce the chance of the mouth parts being left behind in the skin). If the tick gets squished and starts to bleed, try not to get any of the blood on you or your pet. Wash your hands and any place the blood got on your pet.
How can you prevent ticks from giving your pet a disease? Use a flea and tick preventative such as Frontline Plus or Revolution. These products are applied to your pet once a month. These products do not repel ticks. No product spot on product (like Frontline, Revolution, Advantage, etc) will repel ticks. The products will kill the tick when it attaches to your pet. The tick dies before it can give your pet a disease.
What can you do to help keep ticks out of your yard? One way to help keep ticks out of your yard is to make it unfriendly to ticks. Ticks like dark and humid areas. So keep your lawn mowed and and remove bushes. Remove any sticks, leaves or other yard waste. Plant grass that requires less watering in the summer. Create a "tick free zone" around your yard. The zone should be covered in mulch and be at least 3 yards wide. Do not have any plants, except trees in this zone. This should reduce the tick population in your yard by atleast 75%. Another way to keep ticks out of your yard is to keep other animals out of your yard. Ticks will feed on any warm blooded animal (squirrels, birds, deer, cats, dogs, etc). By keeping these animals out of your yard, you will keep ticks out of your yard.
*Image of tick from www.capcvet.org
Kid Friendly Pet Games
Summertime is finally here. The kids are out of school and have time to spend more time with the dogs and cats at home. Playing together can be great fun for both your pet and child. If you have a younger child, say under 10 for example, always watch them play with your pet. Sometimes one or the other can get a little rough and one may get hurt.
Fetch - Grab several tennis balls to play with. Throw one ball and have your dog chase it. If your pet doesn't bring back the ball or won't let go of the ball, your child has other balls to throw to your pet.
Frisbee - Use a pet friendly frisbee to play with your dog. Regular frisbees can be too hard and may hurt your pet's mouth. Purchase a pet safe frisbee such as the Kong Flyer from Kong or the Dura Chew Frisbee from Nylabone. Have your child throw the frisbee for your pet.
Hide and Seek - Your child hides from your dog and your dog must find your child. You can teach your pet this game. Start by giving your child lots of treats, then have your child hide behind an object. You hold your pet and say "Find your child's name" and then have your child call your dog. If your dog finds your child, then the child gives the dog the treat. If the dog can't find your child, have your child stand up or step out so your pet can see him or her. When the pet goes to your child, the child gives the dog a treat. Repeat this several times, a couple times a day for a few days. Then try having your pet find your child without your child calling your dog to see if he or she can find your child. If not, go back to having your child call your pet.
Fishing rod - Purchase a kitty fishing rod toy available at pet stores. Cast it out and reel it in as your cat plays with the toy on the end of the line.
Ribbon - Cut a yard long piece of 1 inch ribbon. Tease your cat with the ribbon. Always put this toy up out of your cat's reach when your child is done with this toy.
Fetch - Not all cats will fetch. If you cat likes to bat and chase toys a lot, you may be able to teach your cat to fetch. Start with a couple "balls" of paper or tin foil or a couple small lightweight toys. Also get some treats that your cat really loves. Throw one ball. When your cat has the the ball in his or her mouth, call your cat to you and give a treat and toss the ball again. If your cat doesn't bring the ball to you, go to your cat and get the ball and drag it back to where you were sitting. Then give your cat a treat and throw the ball again. Always keep your cat moving when you are playing fetch. If you stop the movement of the ball for a few seconds the cat can lose interest.
Cool Pet Treats
Ingredients: 2 cups vanilla yogurt (not fat free or sugar free), 1/2 cup peanut butter. Mix yogurt and peanut butter. Put into ice cube tray and freeze.
Ingredients: 1 cup vanilla yogurt (not fat free or sugar free), 1/2 cup applesauce, 1/2 cup chopped fruit (apples, strawberries, peaches, blueberries) (NO grapes or raisins). Mix yogurt, applesauce and fruit. Put into ice cube tray and freeze.
Ingredients: 1 cup vanilla yogurt (not fat free or sugar free), 1/2 can tuna. Mix yogurt and tuna. Put into ice cube tray, don't fill cubes full. Freeze tray.
Ingredients: 1 can tuna (or clams or sardines), 3/4 cup water. Mix water and tuna. Put into ice cube tray, don't fill cubes full. Freeze tray.
Ingredients: 1 can low sodium broth. Mix broth with water if instructions say to. Pour broth into ice cube trays and freeze.