Some Simple Tricks to Help Your Pets Beat the Winter Blues

As the weather warms up a little around the metro, one of our writers, Darcy, has some fantastic tips to keep your pets engaged during the crazy winter weather. Check it out!

 

Some Simple Tricks to Help Your Pets Beat the Winter Blues

After the holidays pass and temperatures get colder, many of us struggle with depression, lack of energy and boredom. The winter blues are no joke. Less time in the sun and more hours shut indoors can make all of us a little depressed. This is true for our pets as well. Perhaps it is even worse for them as they can’t ‘Netflix and chill’. Try to be patient and understand that if your pets can’t get outside to burn off some of their energy, they may get restless and into trouble.

Here’s what that looks like at my house: As I am trying to write this article, my cat, Maddie, has jumped on me repeatedly wanting to snuggle. I tell her, “No,” give her a kiss and set her on the floor to have her hop back up about three minutes later. Meanwhile, my dog, Dixie, has cried to go out and when I opened the door she sniffed the air and changed her mind. She will be back over at the door in about one minute. Kicking her out of the house doesn’t work. She cries on the other side of the door. Essentially, she is always crying on one side of the door of the other. I think she hopes at some point the door will open to Narnia or somewhere that isn’t cold and wet.

For dogs, games and toys that challenge them can be helpful. Like snack dispensing puzzle toys. You can find these on Amazon for around $10. Hide-A-Squirrel is a favorite of my dogs, while my dog-nephews (that’s a thing, right?) prefer Tug-A-Jugs.

Don’t want to buy a new thing? Try creating a little snack scavenger hunt for you pup. My kids enjoy hiding milk bones behind curtains and pillows. Just be sure to use items that won’t mold or go bad if they take a while (days/weeks) to be found.

Cats can usually be pretty easy to distract. Or mine can anyway. When I finish up here, I can snuggle her a bit and then she will be fine for a few hours. Some catnip on a scratching post or in a tiny stuffed toy can usually keep them busy until they tire out. Sometimes a new shelf by a different window in the house can help too.

When all else fails- an empty box (especially with packing paper in it) can provide hours of fun for dogs, cats and children! Hang on to those shipping boxes from the holidays!

My real challenge this year has been keeping the chickens entertained. Who knew! One things for sure, everyone at our house is eager for spring.

4 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Getting a Pet

We’re obvious pet lovers here at iPetsKC, but with all that love, also comes responsibility. Our friend Darcy gives us a few quick questions to ask yourself before getting your first (or even fifth!) pet. Take a look!

4 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Getting a Pet

4 Questions to Ask Yourself
Before Getting a Pet

 

Once your family has the idea to get a pet, it can be tempting to run out and immediately adopt one. The temptation is everywhere- KC Pet Project’s instagram has me constantly falling in love. But before you commit to your first pet, or your fifth, you need to give this some serious thought. Here are some things to consider.

#1 How much of a responsibility is it?

I’m not just talking about the initial purchase price of the pet. In fact, there are many times of year you can get a dog or cat possibly for free. You may also know someone who is trying to rehome an animal. But you have to consider the food and the care. Vet appointments, groomers, flea and heartworm medication, boarding during travel… costs can add up quickly. And of course that is assuming your pet doesn’t get injured or sick. Over the years, we have had many ill pet visits and they average to about $200 per instance. And it can get much more expensive. It was over $500 to x-ray our little dog when he had kidney stones.

#2 How much time will the pet need?

Time requirements. I always think especially of families with this one. If you are always on the run with kids’ practices and functions, you may want to rethink a pet. Dogs, especially, are highly social creatures that need your attention and time. If you like to travel or spend weekends out of town, again- a dog is probably not a good choice. Cats are a bit more independent, though they still require care. Even fish can be difficult if you are gone for multiple days. Also, you need to consider length of time you will have the pet. Many dogs and cats can live to around 20 years. There are birds and reptiles that can last 50+ years. You need to consider the longevity of the pet you want to get and ask will I still be able to care for this animal in ‘x’ years. If you don’t want that long of a commitment, consider adopting an elderly pet.

#3 What is your current living situation?

Your home. Before bringing a pet home, remember that this is a family member and will be sharing your home. If you live in a rental, save yourself the heartache of getting a pet if you aren’t allowed. And if you can’t tolerate the idea of a pet in your house for allergy reasons or otherwise- again reconsider what kind of pet will work for you. Some breeds shed, some do not. Some are hypoallergenic and some have no hair. Research your options so you know what to expect and what will work for you.

#4 How will this effect other people in your home?

Your family (fur and otherwise). When we rescued our cat this summer, we thought it would make our existing cat happy to have a playmate. This was not the case. We worked for months with the cats and our vet and have finally found a happy balance. If not all members are on board for a new addition, it may not work out.

Pro Tips

If you get through this list and you still think you’re game- feel free to do a test run! Ask to watch a friend’s pet for a few days and see how things go. (They would probably love it!) You can also sign up as a foster. It is a great way to get experience with different types and breeds of animals without the pressure of commitment. You can also volunteer at a shelter. Maybe you’ll meet your canine soul mate on a stroll.

Animals are wonderful and loving additions to any family. I think there are countless reasons they are invaluable family members. They lower stress, provide companionship and teach responsibility. But it’s up to the humans to be good family members too and that begins before you ever pick your new buddy up. If you have any questions, or think of something I missed, feel free to comment. And good luck!

Is A New Dog The Right Fit? Holiday Advice From KISS Dog Training

It’s hard to believe that Christmas is already upon us here in the metro area. Along with the hustle and bustle (and hopefully lots of holiday cheer), many of you are probably still considering that perfect gift for a loved one. If you’re considering bringing a new puppy home for the holidays, this post is for you. Mike over at KISS Dog Training provides some insight to things you should consider when bringing home an animal for the holidays, and provides some helpful advice for alternatives. Take a look…
KISS Dog Training Dogs as Christmas Gifts

Bringing Pets Home For The Holidays   Insight From KISS Dog Training

#1 Puppies Need Training

Puppies do not come potty trained. During the holidays (in between family, eggnog, toy assembly and traveling “over the hills and through the woods to grandma’s house) you will have to make sure to let the dog out at least every 2 to 3 hours. You will have to watch the pup like a hawk when he/she is loose and running around with the kids. Keep in mind this does not mean the dog can be put in the crate while you are gone and left in solitary confinement.

#2 Puppies Need Socialization

Puppies have a very short and critical developmental period that lasts from about week 3 to only about week 20. During that time they need to be exposed to all the things life will throw at them for the rest of their lives, and all of these experiences must be positive and properly conditioned. This will require meeting new people while at the same time having positive associations with them.
My rule of thumb for clients is the puppy must meet and experience 50 new things a week.  Remember, if you get your pup at 12 weeks you only have 8 weeks to properly socialize the pup.
Ask yourself: Are the holidays the right time to take on this important task?

#3 Puppies Need Regular Vet Visits

Puppies need a lot of visits early on to the vet, and just as many to the pet supply store. Boosters, physical checkups, chew toys, crates; the list is in some cases is never ending. Plus, all of these medical visits and shopping trips have to be done on a pretty strict time table.
It’s important to remember that during the Holidays, many vets and pet supply stores might very well be closed several days in each week for staff and crew to spend time with their family. Ask yourself again…are the Holidays really the best time to get a new pet, especially a puppy?

#4 Puppies Are A Long Term Commitment

A new puppy is a huge responsibility and even though cute and cuddly at the moment of gifting, they can and will change the way that person will need to live their life, forever. If that person is not ready for this responsibility, this will become a pup that ends up in a shelter! Please remember, never buy someone a pet unless that person is involved in the decision making process, period.
Now giving dogs/puppies as gifts to kids is a totally different ball game. In my opinion, the age a child should get their first dog is at least 9 or 10 and no younger. Why you ask? Because with those children younger than 9 or 10, it will be you taking care of the puppy on during the Holidays as well as on a day-to-day basis going forward! This is because younger children typically can’t handle the responsibility of taking care of a puppy.

Alternative Option Pro Tip:

The Holidays are already a high stress, busy and chaotic time, and in most cases, really not conducive to introducing a new pet to the family. So please take this article for what it’s worth. From this dog trainer’s point of view a gift certificate to your special person for a puppy in February is a far better choice, not only for you and that special person but also for the dog! Happy Holidays!

4 Great Gift Ideas for the Pet Lovers in Your Life

 

4 Great Gift Ideas for the Pet Lovers in Your Life // iPetsKC Blog

4 Great Gift Ideas for the Pet Lovers in Your Life

The holidays are coming and many humans on your list may have special animals in theirs. If you are wondering what to get the pet lover in your life, don’t fret, we’ve got you covered.

#1 For the wine/cat lover

https://www.onehopewine.com/shop/pinot-for-paws-meow-gift-box/

These gift sets are too cute! In addition to this cat one, they also have two different packages for dogs (here and here). If you want something smaller, you can purchase just a bottle of Pinot Noir. One Hope partners each of their wines with different charities and a portion of those sales go to that charity. The Pinot Noir goes towards finding homes for stray animals. A win-win!

#2 For the beer/canine lover

http://www.beerpaws.com/collections/all-products

Beer Paws makes treats for dogs along with some cool merchandise. They are local and partner with various breweries to make the perfect snack for your pup. Make your own owner/pet gift and partner some treats with some local brew. My favorite combo is the Torn Label Beer Biscuits Peanut Butter Treats (Torn Label is a Kansas City brewery) and some of Torn Label’s Monk & Honey.

#3 For the rescue advocate

https://www.etsy.com/shop/GreatPlainsSPCA

The Great Plains SPCA has an etsy shop with clothing, goods and even Rotisserie coffee. I have a t-shirt from them that I just love. It is soft and has held up well. Many of their items tie into the Royals so you can have a shirt highlighting several things you love!

#4 Treats for all

Every year we pass out homemade cookies to our human neighbors and homemade dog biscuits for dog neighbors. When you get edible treats for dogs, be aware that some dogs can have food allergies just like humans can. Wheat can be a problem for many dogs so if you choose a treat with wheat- be sure to let the owner know, or avoid wheat all together. Places like Three Dog Bakery can help you choose a suitable treat, or you can make your own. Below is a recipe I found years ago somewhere and I still use. I use a bone cookie cutter, but whatever shapes you have are fine.

Darcy’s Dog Biscuits

¾ cup non-fat milk

1 egg

1 cup peanut butter (chunky or smooth)

1 cup flour (you can use brown rice flour if wheat is a concern)

1 ½ cup old fashioned oats

1 tbs baking powder

Run oatmeal in a blender to turn it into a course flour. Set aside.

Mix together the peanut butter, egg and milk. Add flour and baking to make a stiff dough. You want it to be stiff. You may need to use your hands to work the in the last of the flour and adjust the amount as needed.

Roll out on a well-floured surface until about ¼ inch thick. Cut desired shapes out with a cutter and place onto greased cookie sheet.

Bake at 375 for about 20 minutes, then flip treats and bake another 15-20 minutes.

Cool completely and store in an airtight container or Ziploc bag.

 

I hope these gifts help you find just the right thing for everyone on your list. Have a safe and Yappy Howlidays!

4 Tips to Keep Your Pets Safe this Holiday Season

Holidays can be a bundle of fun for most of us, but they can also present quite a few dangers for our furry (and perhaps, non-furry) friends. One of our great writers, Darcy, has a few tips to keep our pets safe and happy this holiday season. Check it out!

4 Tips to Keep Your Pets Safe this Holiday Season

4 Tips to Keep Your Pets Safe this
Holiday Season

 

The Holidays are here and though they can be a time of merriment and love, it can also be a dangerous time of year for your pets. Here are some tips to keep your furry loved ones safe this year.

 

Food

Food is a huge part of the holidays. Between baking gifts, hosting parties and receiving edible gifts from others- this is a yummy time of year. And all these treats can be as tempting for your pets as they are for us. Be sure you keep any harmful foods out of reach. Below is a list of foods poisonous to dogs and cats.

Signs that your pet may have eaten something they shouldn’t have include vomiting, diarrhea, excessive drinking, depression, lethargy, coordination issues, or tremors. If your pet is acting funny and you think they’ve ingested something dangerous, Blue Pearl is a 24/7 emergency vet hospital with several locations around Kansas City.

Foods not suitable for pets: Alcohol, avocado, chocolate (baking and dark chocolate are the most dangerous), caffeine, citrus, coconut, grapes and raisins, macadamia nuts, dairy, nuts, onions, garlics and chives, raw meat, raw bones or raw eggs, salt, xylitol and yeast dough.

 

Décor

Researching holiday decorations and pet safety is like a terrifying downward spiral into Murphy’s land where beautiful, sparkly and festive ornamentation became menacing monsters skulking in plain sight waiting to attack your beloved fur babies when your back is turned. I will try to give a thorough overview without you feeling like a construction paper tree taped to the wall is your only option.

 

Trees, tinsel, gift wrap, poinsettias, mistletoe, holly, and salt dough ornaments. These are the big hazards. Christmas trees- Try to keep your pets out of them. If you have a live tree, be sure to vacuum up any needles that fall so that no one eats them. Keep light cords tucked away. Tinsel- If you still use tinsel, keep it high. It is bad if ingested. This goes for that tinsel like string popular for gift wrap too.

From personal experience I can tell you, if your cat swallows some, DO NOT pull it out! It can cut and damage their throats and intestines. Cut it close to their mouth if they haven’t had much and again, call Blue Pearl. Poinsettias, mistletoe and holly are all poisonous to animals so be sure to put them where your pets cannot get to them. Finally, salt is very bad for dogs. Be sure to keep those handmade salt dough ornaments way high on the tree, or elsewhere because they can be fatal if ingested.

 

Guests

Whether you are hosting guests or you are the guest, you may want to consider boarding your pets. It is a busy time of year, and with people coming and going from your house, it can be easy for a pet to get out. Or, if your dog gets anxious with lots of people around or with a lot of noise, like mine does, sometimes it is easier on them to stay the night at a doggy hotel. If you will not be able to get home to them, due to drinking (please don’t drive) consider boarding, or asking a neighbor to check in.

 

Weather

As the temperature goes down, it gets dangerous for pets to spend too much time outside. Make sure you don’t leave your dog or their only source of water outdoors. If you don’t have a heated bowl it can freeze. Leaving your pets, even in the garage is not a good option. Please make a plan for your pets when figuring out your holiday activities.

 

Pets are a special part of the family and with a little planning they can have a happy and safe holiday season with you and the rest of your family. We at iPetsKC wish you and your pets a very happy holiday!

You Think You Want a Cat? 5 Adoption Tips To Help You Along The Way

I’ve been a pet lover my entire life. Having grown up with two cats (Snowy, a turkish-van and Smokey, a grey tabby), I found myself missing that part of my life when I moved to Kansas City several years ago. Somewhere between the start of college and the start of my family, I’d convinced myself that I wasn’t the “cat person” (I think it was right around the time that I got my dog – more on her in a later blog post) I’d once claimed to be. Like all true animal lovers, however, I couldn’t escape the call for very long and I found myself longing for that unbreakable bond between woman and cat once more.

So I started spending time at the Great Plains SPCA near my house at first with the intention of simply getting some snuggle time in and giving the cats some love and attention and after several visits I began warming up to the idea of bringing a new pet into the fold at home. My daughter, who was three at the time, was all aboard the Bring Home a New Furry Critter To Love On express and it seemed to be moving full steam ahead. Fast forward nearly three years and I couldn’t be more thrilled with the decision we made to adopt. Bringing Catniss (I did, indeed, re-name my feline family member Catniss) home was one of the best choices we’ve made and I learned a lot throughout our experience that I want to share with you today. Take a look…

Adoption Tips For Cats

Five Adoption Tips For Finding Your Next Cat

#1 Don’t Give Yourself a Deadline

Tip1DontGiveYourselfADeadline

Once we made the decision to go ahead and adopt an animal, we knew we needed to take the time to find the right cat for our family. You might be tempted to give yourself a deadline for finding the right pet for your family. Whether that’s today, next Monday, or two months from now – don’t. Adopting an animal is a lifetime commitment and your job is to make sure that your decision is the right one and that it’s mutually beneficial for both the animal as well as for your family. Giving yourself the freedom of time means that you’re more likely to find an animal that’s the ideal fit for your home.

#2 Involve The Whole Family

Adopting A Pet

It took several trips to the shelter before we connected with Catniss and it was really important to us to have the entire family involved when we ultimately made the decision to adopt her. If you’re venturing out solo on your quest for a new pet pal, be sure to ask the staff at the shelter about placing a hold on an animal that you’re interested in. That will give you the time to get your entire family together to come back for a visit before you make the choice to take your new cat or dog home forever. BC (Before Catniss), I thought I’d found a cat that would be a good fit for our family but when we brought my daughter in for a visit, we discovered that they weren’t a good fit for each other (and that’s okay).

#3 Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions

Adoption Tips For Cats

I am constantly amazed by the wealth of knowledge over at the SPCA. From the staff to the volunteers, they’re well trained and well equipped to answer your questions on pet care and adoption. One of the things I appreciated most was that our adoption counselor was so patient with us as we asked questions during our visit. We asked questions about her history at the shelter (where she was found, how she got along with other pets, her temperment, etc) and each question was met with a detailed answer that put us at ease as we made the decision to give Catniss a forever home.

I encourage you to do the same. Not all animals are the same and what you see on one single visit to the shelter may not necessarily be indicative that pet’s normal response. The caretakers at the shelter have, more than likely, spent time with the cat and will have a fairly good picture of what you can expect from your new pet.

#4 Go In Prepared  

iPetsKC Tips For Adoption

Once you make the decision to adopt, go ahead and prepare your house and family for the impending arrival of your new pet. Stock up on the essentials to make your new cat’s transition as smooth and streamlined as possible. The last thing you’re going to want to do is make an emergency trip to the store for supplies while your cat explores her new environment. Here’s what we had on hand for Catniss:

  • Litter box (We went ahead and set up the litter box before we ever came home so that we could immediately show Catniss her space in the house.)
  • Fresh food and water in an easily accessible place (It’s important for your new pet to associate you with comfort and safety so we made sure that we had already filled our cat’s water and food bowls before arriving home.)
  • Toys (Cats do best when they’re challenged and have the opportunity to burn off energy. Make sure you have toys on hand for your new pet’s arrival.)
  • Cat treats
  • Carrier

#5 Be Prepared For A World Of Joy

Tips For Adopting A Cat

It goes without saying that your life is going to change once you make the decision to adopt from a shelter and that was definitely true in our situation. Catniss has been an amazing addition to our family and we couldn’t be more thrilled with the decision we made to bring her into our family. Once you do the same – you’re in for a world of joy yourself and we can’t wait to hear about it.

Share your pet adoption stories with us right here on iPetsKC.com.

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