Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

The Top 10 Pet-Owner Mistakes

Posted on: June 27th, 2014

By Megan Kaplan

Avoid common errors, and keep your four-legged pal healthy and well-behaved.

Mistake 1: Buying a Pet Spontaneously

Why this is a mistake: That doggie in the window may be darling, but he might not be the right fit for your family or lifestyle.

How to avoid it: Fully inform yourself before you bring home a pet. Every dog or cat has its own needs, some of which are specific to the breed. Terriers tend to dig; Abyssinians explore and climb. If there’s a breed that interests you, read up on it (try the website of the American Kennel Club, at, or the Cat Fanciers Association, at, talk to owners, and get to know someone else’s Border collie or Persian. That said, not every dog or cat is typical of its breed, so “ask about the pet’s history, health, and temperament,” says Stephanie Shain, a director at the Humane Society of the United States. When dealing with a breeder, you should be shown where the pet was raised and meet his parents.

Mistake 2: Skipping Obedience Training

Why this is a mistake: Bad habits can be difficult to train out of a pet. So unless you have the know-how to school an animal, you need the help of a pro.

How to avoid it: Even before a puppy starts formal training, teach him simple commands, such as sit and stay. A puppy can begin formal training at eight weeks (and ideally before 12 weeks), after he has had his shots. “Between the ages of 8 and 16 weeks, puppies readily absorb information about the world around them,” says Andrea Arden, author of Dog-Friendly Training ($13, To help a dog stick with good behaviors, every few years take him for a refresher course. (Find one in your area at the Association of Pet Dog Trainers,

Mistake 3: Being Inconsistent With the Rules

Why this is a mistake: If one child lets Fifi on the bed and another punishes her for it, the animal will be confused. Bad behavior is inevitable.

How to avoid it: Make sure everyone in your household knows?and follows?the rules, says Arden. “You want your dog to sit before eating a treat? You don’t want your kitten to pounce on your hands? Then figure out a system that will help your pet succeed.” Pets thrive with a sense of order, so discuss with your family when yours should be fed, exercised, and even given a treat.

Mistake 4: Dispensing Too Many Free Treats

Why this is a mistake: Treats lose their training value if your pet gets them for no reason.

How to avoid it: “Think of treats as currency given to a pet to reward good behavior,” says Marty Becker, a veterinarian and a coeditor of Assign each type of treat a value, and pay according to how well your pet behaves. Kibble is worth a dollar; a chicken strip, five; bologna, 10. “But it’s important to not pay off the good behavior all the time,” Becker says. “That way, your dog will always hope he might get that piece of bologna, and he’ll eventually perform without seeing a treat.”

Mistake 5: Neglecting to Socialize Your Pet

Why this is a mistake: Pets that aren’t exposed to a variety of animals and people at a very young age can develop fears and aggressive behavior.

How to avoid it: Introduce your pet to adults, kids, animals, and environments so he’ll take every novelty in stride. It’s optimal for a pet to start the process before you bring him home, since the critical socialization period is early in life. “For a dog, it’s between the ages of 3 and 12 weeks. For cats, it’s between 2 and 8 weeks,” says Nicholas Dodman, director of the Animal Behavior Clinic at the Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, in North Grafton, Massachusetts. The breeder or the shelter’s adoption counselor can tell you how much socialization an animal has had.

Mistake 6: Skimping on Exercise

Why this is a mistake: Pets have pent-up energy that needs to be unleashed through physical activity. Otherwise it will be channeled into barking, jumping, or even hostile behavior.

How to avoid it: “Walk your dog at least twice a day for a minimum of 30 minutes each time,” says Cesar Millan, host of The Dog Whisperer, on the National Geographic Channel. “To your dog, that’s a primal activity?birds fly, fish swim, and dogs walk.” Pamela Reid, vice president of the ASPCA’s Animal-Behavior Center in Urbana, Illinois, recommends that dogs get at least 40 minutes of aerobic exercise daily. “Dogs need more exercise than people do,” says Reid. Try running or biking with your dog or playing fetch or Frisbee. With a cat, “you can’t take her jogging, but before and after work, give her 10 to 20 minutes of playtime,” says Reid.

Mistake 7: Neglecting to Keep Your Pet Mentally Active

Why this is a mistake: Bored pets are more likely to get into trouble.

How to avoid it: Give your pets something to do. For a dog, that can mean having him hunt for food. Place a meal or treats in spots around the house for him to sniff out, or “feed him out of a food-dispensing puzzle toy instead of his bowl,” says Andrea Arden. Keep a cat engaged with simple amusements, like a toy mouse dangling from a string. “You can stimulate your cat visually by placing a bird feeder outside a window, or setting a lava lamp on a shelf,” says Arden Moore, author of The Cat Behavior Answer Book ($10,

Mistake 8: Leaving a Pet Alone for Too Long

Why this is a mistake: A lack of proper companionship can lead to separation anxiety and destructive behaviors.

How to avoid it: “Don’t leave a puppy alone for eight hours,” says Reid. Hire someone to watch him or drop him off at a doggie day-care center. Your puppy will need to learn how to be alone for a few hours each day, however, so “teach him to self-pacify almost immediately,” says Andrea Arden. Put him in a crate (or leash him to a stable object) a foot or two away from you, then gradually increase the distance over the course of a week. Then make sure that he spends escalating amounts of time alone in his crate or confined to a room. Break up the day for dogs of any age with a visit from a dog walker or a neighbor, and give your pet access to toys and visual stimuli. Unlike puppies, kittens can be left alone, but they should have access to toys and visual stimuli.

Mistake 9: Failing to Make Your Home Pet-Friendly

Why this is a mistake: A cat without a proper litter box will just use the carpet. A dog without a cozy bed will end up on the couch.

How to avoid it: Location is key with a litter box. “A cat doesn’t want to travel a long way to go to the bathroom any more than you do,” says Mieshelle Nagelschneider, a feline behaviorist and a consultant at the Cat Behavior Clinic, near Portland, Oregon. Place litter boxes (one per cat, if you own a few, plus one box they can share, says Moore) in quiet areas throughout your home. Plug in a night-light beside each one so your cat can find it in the dark. Cats dislike strong odors (even air freshener), so use uncovered boxes and unscented litter and scoop out each box every day. Dogs are far less persnickety about where they relieve themselves, but do them the favor of regularly picking up the poop in the backyard. Cats and dogs also need spots where they can cuddle up and feel safe. “A dog needs a crate like a teenager needs a room,” says Dodman. Provide a crate or a cozy bed, and make it taboo for your family to pester the dog while he’s in it. Cats naturally want to climb to an optimal vantage point, so set up a place where yours can look out a window.

Mistake 10: Punishing Your Pet

Why this is a mistake: You might think Chewie knows you’re screaming at him because he ate the loaf of bread on the counter, but he won’t connect your behavior with his action.

How to avoid it: Never physically punish your pet; he’ll just learn to fear you. It’s OK to startle a pet out of a behavior, but only if you catch him in the act. Command him with a firm “No!” or “Down!” and he’ll connect the reaction with what he’s doing and learn that it’s not OK. Otherwise, the punishment should come from the environment. Teach a cat or a dog to stay off the counter, say, by arranging sheet pans in a pile that will clatter to the floor if he jumps up. The counter, not you, will become the thing to fear.

Buckle Up Your Pup!

Posted on: June 10th, 2014

According to AAA, more than 30,000 accidents a year are caused by dogs riding in the front seat of the vehicle. The Travel Industry Association says that 29 million dog owners drive with their dogs but only 20 percent use dog safety restraints. They also state that driving with an unrestrained dog can be as distracting as talking on a cell phone or texting.

  • If a dog survives the impact of a crash, he will likely be injured or frightened, and flee the scene, at risk of being struck by another vehicle or becoming lost.
  • An unrestrained dog can interfere with driving by crawling on the driver’s lap, falling down by the gas or break pedals, or creating some other distraction that causes an accident.
  • If you have an air bag for the passenger seat of your car, the force of impact upon inflation can severely injure or kill your dog.
  • A small dog on the lap of a driver in a crash is at risk of being crushed between the air bag and driver.

Sunburn Protection for Dogs

Posted on: June 5th, 2014

By Linda Cole

We know the health concerns and dangers associated with sunburns for people. We have all had our share of too much sun after a day at the beach, hiking or just enjoying a day off relaxing outdoors. If your pooch is at your side while enjoying outdoor activities, don’t forget the sunburn protection for your dog.

Sun, fresh air and exercise are good for our pets as well as for us. Rays from the sun aid the skin in producing vitamin D and helps balance calcium levels with metabolism. Enjoying summer sun doesn’t have to be painful for either man or dog.

Dogs can and do get nasty sunburns, although not as easily as we do which can make it harder to determine if your pet is burned or not. Hairless, short haired and light colored breeds are the most prone to sunburn, but any dog can pick up a burn after a day in the sun. Because dogs are closer to the ground, they can get sunburned from above and from the reflection of the sun’s rays off a sandy beach or concrete. Like us, repeated burns can result in skin cancer and skin damage.

Some breeds like Collies and Shetland Sheepdogs have a hypersensitivity to the sun and can get a condition known as “Collie nose.” However, any breed who has little to no color on their face are more susceptible to the sun than others. “Collie nose” can be a serious health issue for these dogs. Lesions can develop on their nose, eyelids and lips which need to be attended to in an early stage to prevent a deadly cancer that can develop if the condition is left untreated. Weimaraners and boxers need to be monitored carefully since they are more prone to cancer than other breeds. It’s important to follow a dedicated sunburn protection routine for these dogs.

Signs that your dog is getting sunburned are the same for them as it is for humans. You will see redness on the bridge of your dog’s nose, the tips of their ears and tummy. They can also experience a loss of hair. The burn can blister and peel, and be just as painful for them as it is for us.

Prevention is easy. Make sure your dog has plenty of shade during peak hours of summer’s heat. Even cloudy skies can let enough UV rays through for a nasty burn. Apply sunscreen, SPF 15 or higher, to their belly, ear tips, inside the legs and on the bridge of their nose. Look for lotions that have titanium dioxide as the active ingredient. Active dogs will need to have sunscreen reapplied throughout the day, especially if they are playing at the beach, in the water or running through tall grass that can wipe the sunburn protection off their bellies and legs.

To help prevent sunburn, put a T-shirt on your dog. Doggles (dog sunglasses) help prevent sun damage to their eyes. You can even find a variety of hats at most stores that sell pet apparel. If you want the newest type of protection, a body suit made out of a spandex type material has hit the market. This suit will give your pooch the ultimate protection from harmful UV rays. It might also help him catch the eye of that cute Schnauzer that sits under the umbrella with her human companion watching his athletic abilities catching a Frisbee.

It’s safe to use the same sunburn protection you apply to yourself, but be careful your dog doesn’t lick it off. Use baby sun protection if your dog is prone to lick the lotion off. Alternatively, sunscreen made specifically for dogs can be found at pet stores. Avoid lotions that contain zinc oxide. You can use it on their nose and ears, but if they ingest too much zinc oxide, it can cause gastrointestinal problems.

If a sunburn occurs, keep an eye out for rawness or broken skin. Minor burns don’t usually require medical attention, but if your pet is showing signs of pain or raw skin, it would be a good idea to schedule a visit to your vet.

Dogs enjoy being outside, especially with their favorite human. Just take it easy during peak sun hours (noon to 4:00 p.m). Find a nice shady spot for an afternoon siesta and avoid the sun’s dangerous UV rays. No one likes to deal with a sunburn, and that includes your pooch. Remember sun protection for your dog and enjoy outside activities free from worry about sunburns.

The Naturally Healthy Pet

1850 Thomasville Rd.
Tallahassee, FL 32303 Tel. 850.576.7387 Directions ›


Monday - Friday: 10am to 6pm
Saturday: 10:00am to 5pm
Sunday: 11am to 4pm