Tuesday, April 5, 2016

10 Safety Tips For Dog Toys

10 Safety Tips For Dog Toy Safety featuring GoDog toys with Chew Guard technology. (sp)

If you ever were scolded for getting into your mother's makeup, or giving your father's best suit a new, arguably more fashionable, design a-la-Crayola, you likely didn't understand why your parents were being so mean at the time. After all, why do all the adults get to have all the fun? Being a pet parent is very much like being a human parent, only fur-children seldom ever grow up, never move out, and will always require you to clean up their poop. Fur children come in all shapes and sizes, but all require their own defined selection of toys. Not just for the safety of your Italian loafers, but for their safety as well.
10 Safety Tips For Dog Toy Safety featuring GoDog toys with Chew Guard technology. (sp)
Our morkie (maltese+yorkie) Nora recently turned 3. We have high hopes she will one day go off to doggie college, earn an exceptional income, and care for us in our old age. Until then we've done our very best to provide her with the best in home training. Much like one would couch their daughter on proper handwriting, I've raised her around cameras and people, with exceptional control and obedience.

She is 'spot trained,' which means she understands surface boundaries and will not leave a dog bed/rug/chair/blanket's surface if set directly down on it. She also knows not to chew on anything with a tag. Yes, even dog toys. Something I find especially important for her safety, as tags, and their attaching devices, can be a serious choking hazard for small dogs. In exchange, she is provided hours of attention each day, walks on the beach, her own personal cat (every dog needs an arch nemesis) and countless accessories and toys.
10 Safety Tips For Dog Toy Safety featuring GoDog toys with Chew Guard technology. (sp)
But today I'd like to discuss some basic tips for choosing the right toys for your canine children, and basic care and upkeep for ensuring those toys are always at their safest. After all, dog toys are designed to be torn up and chewed, of course, which means you should always be aware of their condition and materials, even long after introducing them to your dog!

Tip #1: Remove all tags before giving a toy to your dog. This includes 't-shirt' style tags that are generally made of nylon or cloth and loop out from a toy's base. Paper tags, in particular are often attached with small plastic tabs that pose a serious choking hazard if lodged in a small animal's windpipe. Because Nora has been involved in pet photography since she was a puppy, we also trained her to 'leave it' if she comes across a dog toy with a tag still on. This is the same basic training concept as requiring a dog to ignore their food until given verbal or visual permission.

Sometimes fluffy toys, like the critters featured here, will have a small plastic hanging tab that is used to display products in store. Thoroughly inspect all toys for additional packaging before giving them to your pup.
Tip #2: Avoid toys that resemble people items. As cute as it may be to give your dog a toy designed to look like a human slipper, it's not cute to find your favorite pair of bath slippers torn up upon arriving home. Teaching pets to chew on objects that look like 'no-no' objects is a bad idea all around, and poses a serious safety threat to your dog.

Tip #3: Inspect toys for small parts. Don't assume, just because something is marketed as a dog toy, your dog's toys are safe for them to play with. Toys are often given to dogs with the intention of being chewed up. You know your dog's strength and play style more than anyone, exercise judgement when picking out the right toys for your pet.

Tip #4: Consider your dog's size when selecting the right toy. While a 150lb German shepherd might play with a toy designed for a 5lb yorkie, it should not be considered safe. Dog toys are designed for breeds and weights for a reason- read labels for suggested weight and size limits before giving your dog any toys.
10 Safety Tips For Dog Toy Safety featuring GoDog toys with Chew Guard technology. Seen here is Checkers the Rooster. (sp)
Tip #5:  Limit available toys when you are not around to physically watch your dog. In general, pick up all toys with squeakers, fabric, or dangling parts, and store them when you leave the house. Even consumable bones can pose a risk as a chewing toy, and turn into a choking hazard, when you are not there to keep an eye on your dog. Never leave your dog home alone without toys, as that could turn into an unfortunate incident with human toys, or furniture- but do choose the safest, sturdiest, toys for alone playtime.

Tip #6: If the stuffing of a toy becomes exposed, remove the toy from the dog's playthings immediately. While sewing a toy up may be a fine temporary fix, even the best seam repairs will end up ripping again. Don't be fooled, even a tiny amount of batting or stuffing can cause slow blockages inside your dog. A torn toy, without stuffing, can be just as enjoyable as one with stuffing. And always remember to remove the squeaker as soon as a toy is torn.
10 Safety Tips For Dog Toy Safety featuring GoDog toys with Chew Guard technology. (sp)
10 Safety Tips For Dog Toy Safety featuring GoDog toys with Chew Guard technology. (sp)
Tip #7: Clean your dog's toys. While it sounds like common sense, many pet owners do not launder their dog's toys. Since toys spend the majority of time in your dog's mouth, then all over your home, it's suggested that you clean your pet's toys at least once a week. For a natural cleaning solution use 1 part water to 1 part vinegar. Toys can be placed in a gallon sized bag and soaked in this solution, then rinsed and air or machine dried.

Tip #8: Check child safety warnings. You may not know but most pet toys contain safety warnings for children. If a dog's plush toy doesn't say it's safe for children under 3 years, it probably poses a larger risk for your pet. At the same time, you should always observe the above safety practices with dog toys, regardless of child safety advisories.

Tip #9: Consider hard rubber toys, such as Kong or JJ Pet brands, instead of raw hide chews. Not only do rawhide based toys and chews pose a choking hazard, they can also have extended long term effects on your pet. Consult with your veterinarian before giving your dog rawhide chews.
10 Safety Tips For Dog Toy Safety featuring GoDog toys with Chew Guard technology. (sp)
 Tip #10: Play WITH your dog. The best way to ensure your pets are safe is to spend time playing with them. This naturally allows you to familiarize yourself with your dog's play habits, and the toys they prefer most. It also keeps you aware of the status of your pet's toys, and any condition or safety issues that may be developing through extended use. Not that you needed an excuse to play with your pup!

Naturally, most of these tips are good to follow for human children as well; you can never be too safe when handing things over to loved ones for play. Nora's rooster has become one of her favorite snuggle and chew toys with it's playful long legs (perfect for tug-o-war) and tear resistant double lining. What's one of your dog's favorite toys?

For more great articles on pet safety check out some of my favorite pet blogs!

Monday, February 29, 2016

Quick Start Guide To Bringing A New Pet Home

Pets, unlike human children, are most likely to come into our lives with little to no warning. As unexpected as a human pregnancy may be, you still have 9 months to prepare. But with pets, when your eyes meet the eyes of your new fur child there is no delaying. You simply want your new cat or dog to come home as soon as possible- you've found the newest member of your family. And, whether you took in a stray off the street, fell in love with a wagging tail at the shelter, or eagerly awaited the birth of a new litter of kittens next door, you'll need to have a few things on hand when you bring a new pet home for the first time.
Considering where your new pet is coming from, and if you have existing pets, will have a big impact on how much preparation you need to make. If you already have a cat, and are bringing another cat home, you will likely have a lot of the basic supplies on hand already. However, you will want to think about issues such as integration and introductions with your existing pets. In most cases it is good to purchase and provide all new toys and bedding for the new pet to avoid issues of jealously or territory right out of the gate. If your pet is an adult it will likely already have it's own defined personality and it will be crucial to learn as much as is known from the previous care takers to help accommodate and special needs like private hideaways for anxious cats, tall furniture for active climbers and scratches or indestructible chew toughs for heavy chewers.
Sorting out toilet arrangements will be one of the first orders of business on your list when bringing a new pet home. Even older, house trained, pets will need guidance and definition of routine when transitioning to a new home. As silly as it may sound bring home the same supplies you would for house training a kitten or puppy, regardless of the age of your new pet. It may be absolutely un-necessary, but it's always best to be prepared on this topic if needed! For houses with multiple cats always set up a fresh little box in a defined space designated for the newest feline. They may still choose to use existing boxes, but having a fresh, clean, neutral box available will really help ease any anxiety when cats consider their scent a very important part of marking their territory.
Consult with the previous pet caregiver and a veterinarian for the specific food and treats appropriate for the age and breed of pet you are bringing home. While you may be tempted to spoil a new pet with a large variety of foods and treats it's best to keep the food to one brand or flavor, and treats the same when you first bring pets home. This helps establish a sense of stability while also allowing you to judge immediate reactions to the foods you are feeding your pets.In the first week pay special attention to your pets eating and waste habits to ensure that the foods you have chosen are the right ones. And, as with any pet, make sure water is readily available in multiple places throughout your home.
Consider any special healthcare or cleansing products your particular pet will need. Are you bringing home a stray or shelter pet that may have been exposed to fleas and parasites? Are you bringing home a puppy or kitten that needs gentle cleansing formulations for their weight and size? You will also likely want to invest in a coat moisturizer and ear cleanser- the coat cleanser to help soothe any dry skin related to climate changes (outdoor to indoor even) or stress induced shedding, and ear cleanser to establish a baseline of good hygiene and health in your home. If you notice your pet is handling the transition especially stressful you can as your veterinarian for supplement suggestions that may ease the stress, or consider a Thundershirt to help with this.
If you've had many pets in your family before you likely have a home that is well defined as pet friendly. However, if this is your first pet you will want to make sure you have a pet friendly space that is as equally safe as it is welcoming. Cats inherently need to be able to climb, and will do so with your own furniture if not given pet stairs, shelves, or cat trees to do so. They also need to scratch, it's a natural instinct, so encourage them to scratch on the right furniture with designated scratching posts and loungers. Dogs needs will vary on breeds, consider the age and shape of your dog when thinking about furniture does your pet need special furniture to get on and off the couch? Do you want to discourage your pet from sleeping on human furniture by providing extra comfortable beds? Make sure your pet has items that are clearly defined as their own, while considering ways to turn extistng furniture and space into welcoming ones as well.
And speaking of beds- Giving your pet it's own designated 'safe space' is a must when bringing a new pet home. Place any toys that may have traveled with your pets on the journey home with personal bedding in a space that is quiet and fairly private, but still allows for them to visibly see the family and goings on within the home around them. This can be as simple as a crate with an open door, or more fancy like a dog cabinet or memory foam pet bed with toy bin. For the first week, after bringing your new pet home, do not disturb or remove your pet when they put themselves in this space willingly. This will help encourage a sense of security and home where your pet will return to when they are stressed or tired.
Of course there will be other things you will want to pick up for your new pet along the way. Toys, training aids, collars, leashes, and accessories are all great to have on hand and consider. Most importantly, you'll want to have plenty of love and understanding on hand for that inevitable transition phase. While you will be overjoyed to have your new pet home at last, remember that your pet will be experiencing a whole variety or overwhelming emotions as they define their new home and make life-lasting relationships and impressions. Congrats on your new pet!

For more articles on bringing your first pet home, visit a few of my favorite bloggers.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

As Simple As Giving A Cat A Bath....

This post is sponsored by Bayer® ExpertCareTM and the BlogPaws Influencer Network. I am being compensated for helping spread the word about Bayer ExpertCare products but Time Out For Truffles only shares information we feel is relevant to our readers. Bayer ExpertCare is not responsible for the content of this article. Nothing contained below should be taken as expert veterinarian advice.
Your cat endures enough- Make bath time more amicable with Bayer® ExpertCare™ personal helath and grooming products at home. Find them at PetSmart. #BayerExpertCare AD

When I was a little girl we had a tuxedo kitten named Tippy. She had a thin strip of white running from her chin down her belly, little white 'mittens' and a white tipped tail (thus the name, clever, huh?) You see, this little girl was not so much sugar and spice, and everything nice. To that poor little kitten I was a terror. No, nothing criminal profiling needs to be alerted of, after all I was only 5 and a rambunctious young girl. But I recall tossing that poor kitten up in the air, and pulling it by it's tail much more than I'd care to admit. As a result, I have a great respect for domesticated cats. They have it rough, possibly even rougher than the feral cats which roam the neighborhood free and proud.
Your cat endures enough- Make bath time more amicable with Bayer® ExpertCare™ personal helath and grooming products at home. Find them at PetSmart. #BayerExpertCare AD
House kitties put up with a lot of bull, if you will. When you really stop to think all our pets endure without ever having a voice to vent, it's no wonder your favorite leather pumps were mistaken as a chew toy, or the cat 'accidentally' couldn't make anywhere other than your handbag when that fur ball hit. I don't think pets get enough credit, really- they see and hear it all within your 4 walls. If I had to pay Truffles for all of the hours of 'counseling' she's provided while enduring my emotional rants and aggravated grumbling I'd be living in the alley for sure. So, much to her dismay at times, I pay extra attention to her own health and personal care.
Your cat endures enough- Make bath time more amicable with Bayer® ExpertCare™ personal helath and grooming products at home. Find them at PetSmart. #BayerExpertCare AD
Thankfully, I can do so in the comfort of our own home with Bayer® ExpertCare™ home pet care and grooming products from PetSmart. If you've ever tried to place a cat in a pool of standing water, or under the flow of falling water you likely have a few scars to tell the story. Cats, by nature, are water reluctant creatures. And my car, who was (human) toilet trained at 4 months, and drinks from a moving water fountain, is no exception.She allows me to bathe her every few months under a contract we mutually signed and agreed too, but it's not without much resentment and attitude.
Your cat endures enough- Make bath time more amicable with Bayer® ExpertCare™ personal helath and grooming products at home. Find them at PetSmart. #BayerExpertCare ADYour cat endures enough- Make bath time more amicable with Bayer® ExpertCare™ personal helath and grooming products at home. Find them at PetSmart. #BayerExpertCare AD
Bayer® ExpertCareCat Coat Cleansing Foam (also available for dogs and in wipes) helps cut out some of the drama of regular grooming at home. If you have a 'traditional' cat then you likely avoid bathing your cat all together after that incident with the switchblade and the crazy eyes. (You don't mess then fluffy when those ears go sideways, am I right?) Bayer® ExpertCare™ Cleansing Foam offers a water free bathing method that refreshes feline coats while removing unwanted odors and restoring a natural sheen. Simply pump a few spritzes into the palm of your hand, rub your hands together, and work through your cat's coat. Then towel dry any residual moisture and brush as you normally would to groom.
Your cat endures enough- Make bath time more amicable with Bayer® ExpertCare™ personal helath and grooming products at home. Find them at PetSmart. #BayerExpertCare AD
I won't lie, Truffles isn't exactly brushing up against my legs when I grab the bottle- but she tolerates it much better than a full blown bath. The main thing, with her, is the strong natural oil based fragrance that reminds me of Eucalyptus. She scrunches her nose and eyes from even a foot away- as she should, she's worked hard to maintain that fragrance of cat saliva and dust bunnies. However the process of bathing one's cat with Bayer® ExpertCare™ Cat Cleansing Foam is significantly quicker and simpler for all involved than a traditional bath.
Your cat endures enough- Make bath time more amicable with Bayer® ExpertCare™ personal helath and grooming products at home. Find them at PetSmart. #BayerExpertCare AD
Bayer® ExpertCare™ Cat Cleansing Foam is entirely natural and soap free, which is great because Truffles insists on giving herself a second 'wipe' down as soon as she is 'free' from her special bath time. It never takes her long to come back around to her cheery disposition, but your cat may benefit from the coaxing of some extra play time or a special treat to diffuse any lingering ill feelings. Of course, if bathing your cat is entirely out of the question, you can still care for your pet's grooming and health needs at home with the wide range of other Bayer® ExpertCare products from PetSmart. Have you ever bathed a cat before? I'd love to hear how that went!