Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year!

Thank you for your support in 2014.
We hope to see you again in 2015. 

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Five table scraps that are bad for your pets

In this season of holidays both humans and pets tend to eat more than we should. While it is okay to share some things with the furry friends, the following five can be deadly if consumed in large enough quantities.

Some people believe cats and dogs won't anything that's bad for them. This is simply not true - especially when it comes to dogs. Dogs are scavengers, and dogs will generally eat whatever comes their way. Especially if it's handed to them by a favorite human.

If you're having a New Year's party, ask your guests not to share food with your pets - or tell them what's okay to share and emphasize that it has to be in small quantities.

1. Onions are toxic to both cats and dogs. Apart from causing nausea and vomiting, onions damage red blood cells and can kill a pet. Many, many human foods contain onion as seasoning. Read the ingredients before you share.

2. Alcohol in all forms should be kept away from cats and dogs. Many like to let their pets taste some beer or similar, but this can be very dangerous. The liver and kidneys of a pet is not able to handle alcohol.

3. Raisins, grape, and chocolate are dangerous to pets. Raisins and grapes are often found in stuffing and bread, and can cause kidney failure. Chocolate is toxic to pets.

4. Cherries are found in many turkey glazes and desserts. The seeds of cherries, peaches, and similar fruits contain cyanide that can leak into the fruit. While the amounts aren't high enough to hurt a human, it can be enough to make a pet severely sick.

5. Caffeine is surprisingly tempting to pets, and both dogs and cats can be seen tasting a latte or some soda. A couple of laps generally doesn't contain enough caffeine to poison a pet, but coffee grounds, tea bags, or pills containing caffeine can poison pets and even kill cats and small dogs.

If you want to share some of your holiday food, stick to things you know are safe for pets, and keep the amounts small. It's also a great idea to invest in some dog or cat treats, and hand these out instead of human food.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Monday, December 29, 2014

Pet safety tips for the New Year's holiday

It is almost time to say goodbye to 2014 and welcome 2015. This is a great holiday for many humans, but what's fun for us can be terrifying for cats, dogs, and other pets. Here are some of our best tips to keep everyone safe during the holiday.

Don't underestimate a pet's ability to flee from perceived danger. If fireworks or firecrackers scare your dog, they have an uncanny ability to get out and seek a "safer" place. Keep your pet inside, in a room where they can't get out or hurt themselves.

Make sure your pets can't bolt out of the front door if people come and go. Your yard might be secure enough for your pets on the other days of the year, but when it comes to fireworks they get astonishing abilities to climb fences.

If your cat or dog seeks out their safe place in a crate or even under the bed, leave them be. Extreme behavior from humans - even if it's intended to calm the pet - can reinforce their sense of danger. Keep a radio or TV on as background sound to cover some of the noise from the outside.

Check that your pet's tags and microchip information is up to date. This will increase your chance of getting him or her back if they get out anyway.

Desensitize your pet to fireworks

It's a bit late for New Year's to start now, but you can help desensitize your pet for fireworks, and the following is good to keep in mind for all firework holidays:

  1. Find a video of fireworks and play it on low volume a few times during the day. Give your dog treats, play, and cuddle while the video is playing. The purpose of this is to associate the sound with something positive.
  2. Increase the volume slowly. Keep doing fun things every time you play it. If your dog shows fear at any time, turn the volume back down. Keep the positive reinforcement of treats and play coming.
  3. Desensitizing doesn't always make the fear go away. When it's time for the actual fireworks, try to drown out the sound and allow your pet to hide if he or she wants to.
Some dogs have severe firework anxiety. Discuss with your veterinarian to see if anti-anxiety medication is right for your furry friend.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Friday, December 26, 2014

Derby the dog is the first animal to run on 3D printed legs

Derby is a charming dog bursting with love and energy. Unfortunately, he was born with deformed and disabled front legs. He didn't let that stop him - he tried to get around anyway - but he couldn't walk and run like other dogs.

Derby's foster family got him a wheelchair, and he learned to use it quickly. The family felt that with today's technology there might be an even better option that would give Derby a chance to run.

He is now the first animal with 3D printed prosthetics. 3D printers have been used to create prosthetics for humans in the past, but this is the first time the technology is used to create prosthetics for a pet. There are different challenges when working with animals, and a lot of time went into designing the prosthetics to make them safe and useful.

Derby's taking to his new legs so quickly, and being able to run with them, means a huge step forward for animal prosthetics.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas!

We here at PlexiDor Pet Doors are closing for the holidays. 
The answering service at 1-800-749-9609 will remain available, 
and the office with customer service will be open again on December 26th. Until then, have a wonderful holiday!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Most popular names for kittens in 2014

If you've gotten a kitten this year, what did you name it? The website sums up trends in the pet world each year, and compiles lists of the most popular names for kittens and puppies. Is your kitten on the top ten most popular when it comes to name?

This year saw some major changes in names for female kittens. Bella keeps the number one position, and the name has been the most popular since 2007, but Elsa has raced up to top five from not even being on the top 50 list in 2013.

Girl kittens         Boy kittens
1. Bella    Oliver
2. Luna Milo
3. Lucy Leo
4. Kitty Charlie
5. Elsa Max
6. Daisy Simba
7. Lily Tiger
8. Callie Smokey
9. Lilly Jack
10.         Gracie Kitty

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Monday, December 22, 2014

Most popular names for puppies

At the end of each year, sums up trends in the pet world. They've compiled lists of most popular names for puppies and kittens for many, many years, and the 2014 lists were released a couple of weeks ago.

The lists are usually pretty constant, but this year has seen some changes in names for male puppies. Max is still going strong as number one - that name has held the spot for nine years - but number two and three are new with Charlie and Rocky.

The top three for female puppies have remained the same for years. Number one is Bella, that has kept the position since 2006. Two and three are Daisy and Lucy.

Girl puppies         Boy puppies
1. Bella    Max
2. Daisy Charlie
3. Lucy Rocky
4. Sadie Buddy
5. Molly Cooper
6. Lola Duke
7. Sophie Bear
8. Zoey Zeus
9. Luna Bentley
10.         Chloe Toby

Are your dogs' names on the list?

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Friday, December 19, 2014

This is a season when many who aren't usually around dogs and other pets will encounter them at get-togethers with friends and family. It is important to know that some human behaviors don't translate well to dog language, and that things we do without thinking about it can trigger accidents or bites.

First of all, when you visit someone with pets it is important to respect and understand that the pets are part of your host's family. Treat them well, even if cats or dogs aren't your favorite thing in the world.

When it comes to dogs, here are four things many humans do that can cause problems:

1. Misreading the dog's signals

A vast majority of dog bites, especially when children are involved, happen because humans misread a dog's body language. Parents can think something is cute, but the dog just wants to get away, even if it knows the child. The follow signs should be put in context, of course, and each sign below is usually accompanied by other signs of stress.

Licking nose and lips

A stressed dog licking nose and lips looks very different than when you feed your dog a treat.


A stressed dog often yawns repeatedly, with intensity. Some dogs even yawn when they need to go out.


Of course dogs pant to cool off, but it is also a common sign of stress.

Other common signs include looking away, turning away, pinning back the ears with a tense facial expression, low body posture, leaning backward, and tension.

2. Hugging

Hugging is a human phenomenon. Many dogs get used to being hugged by their family members and can even learn to appreciate it, but there are also dogs that never get used to it. Hugging a dog can make them feel threatened or challenged.

There are countless news stories where a child has been bit by the neighbor's dog - or even the family's own dog - and the parents say, "It came out of the blue. She was just hugging the dog." This misunderstanding between the species ends with a traumatized child and euthanized dog.

3. Patting on top of the head

While most dogs love to be petted, that's not the same as going up to a dog and patting them on the top of the head or on the face. Teach your children not to do this - especially not to dogs they don't know. While most dogs tolerate it, they might not like it, and some perceive it as a threat. They don't like a hand coming at them from above any more than a human would.

When you meet a dog, crouch and turn away a little - this means that you're not a threat. When the dog comes up to you, pet it on the side.

4. Staring into a dog's eyes

Most dogs are okay with gazing into their owner's eyes. However, don't approach a dog you don't know and stare into their eyes - this is a challenge in doggie language.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

And the winner is...

If you entered the 2014 PlexiDor photo contest you might be eager to hear who won. There has been many wonderful submissions, and if you didn't win, don't lose hope - the contest is likely to return in 2015.

Third Prize of a $25 Dunkin Donuts gift card goes to Tiffany Hughes in Arizona.

 When asked what she thinks about the PlexiDor she answered, "The PlexiDoor sounds incredible and we would love to have one! With the varying temperatures in Southern AZ (very hot during the day and cool at night), it would be great to have a doggie door that helps regulate the internal temperature of the house without letting the outside temperature interfere. Our last plastic doggie door flap at our old house completely broke and though we tried taping it back on with duck tape and plastic tape, it was a futile battle and it ended up as a gaping hole."

Second Prize of a $50 Dunkin Donuts gift card goes to Sean Selman in Texas.

When asked what he thinks of the PlexiDor, Sean answered, "Professionally engineered. Quality materials. Quiet. Energy-efficient. Completely secure. Long-lasting. Safe. Easy for pets to use. COOL FACT: Plexidor doggie doors are in Marmaduke. The Plexidor dog door is the door featured in Marmaduke when he moves to California. Last but not least! They are manufactured in the U.S.A.!!!"

First Prize of 1,000 pounds of Black Gold Dog Food with delivery goes to Penny Hamilton in Colorado.

When asked what she thinks about the PlexiDor, Penny says, "Our dog and we love the freedom that our pet doors gives. We live in Colorado high mountains so we made an 'airlock' with two pet doors. Our smart dog, rescued from a high kill area, just bounds through 'his' pet doors to our elevated deck with is elevated to keep him safe from mountain lions, bears and other mountain critters."

Congratulations to all the winners, and a warm Thank You to everyone who participated!

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Should my cat have grass?

Cats are carnivores and will get sick if they don't get meat in their diet. There are several nutrients cats cannot make themselves that they must get through digesting meat of animals that already created these nutrients.  So, why do some cats eat grass?

Cats lack the enzymes necessary to break down vegetables, but grass contains folic acid that is important to cats. It can also counteract cases of indigestion. Some scientists believe cats eat grass to relieve sore throats, others that the cats just like the taste of grass.

It is important to point out that eating grass doesn't necessarily mean your cat doesn't get the nutrients it needs, and the interest in eating plants varies from cat to cat. That said, you shouldn't let your cat eat grass from your or your neighbor's lawn - lawns are treated with pesticides, insecticides, and fertilizers.

Many cats turn to indoor plants, but this isn't a good option. Many common houseplants are toxic to cats and should not be ingested.

Instead, invest in some kitty grass. There are many kinds that provide safe options for kitty.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

How do I teach my pet to use a pet door?

If you're planning to get a pet door for your furry friends for Christmas, you need to know how to train them to use it. Most pets take to their dog door or cat door quickly. Pets love to go in and out, and will enjoy being able to move at will.

That said, some pets are intimidated by pet doors at first, but with a little patience your cat, dog, or even mini pig will learn to use the door. Most pets learn in between five seconds and five days.

The PlexiDor is different from traditional cat flaps and dog doors in many ways. The difference most important from the pet's point of view is that your cat or dog can see through the panel. Many cats and dogs like to lie just inside the door and peek out at what's happening outside. Being able to see through also makes it easier for many pets to learn to use the door - they can see the outside, and they want to get there.

If the pet doesn’t take to the door, try propping one of the panels open and tempting the pet with a treat. If the pet is still reluctant, start with propping both panels up.

Never force your cat or dog through the door, and give praise once they do come through. Be patient - they'll get it.

For the electronic door, it usually works well to put a treat on the bottom lip of the pet door. The dog or cat approaches to get the treat, and the collar key triggers the door to open. It doesn’t take long for the pets to figure out that the door will open when they come close to it.

 ~ Maria Sadowski ~

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Home made treats for diabetic dogs

Everyone likes to treat their pet a little extra, especially around the holidays, but if a dog has diabetes it can be difficult to find some good treats. These treats work for most dogs, and are easy to make.

If your dog has a health problem, check with your vet before feeding the pet anything out of the ordinary.

What you need: 

0.5 cup of whole wheat flour
2 eggs
1.5 pounds of beef liver cut into pieces

What to do:

Preheat the oven to 350 F and line a 10x15 inch pan with parchment paper

Chop the liver in a food processor. Add the flour and eggs and process until smooth. (If there isn't room in the food processor, transfer to a large bowl and stir with a wooden spoon.)

Spread the mix evenly in the pan.

Bake for 15 minutes. The center should be firm. Let it cool and cut into small squares with a pizza cutter.

Treats should be stored in the fridge.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Monday, December 15, 2014

Breed spotlight: Tibetan Mastiff

Tibetan Mastiff image from
The Tibetan Mastiff is an ancient breed originating in Central Asia, often used as a guard dog.  The dogs were often confined during the day and let loose at night, keeping family and livestock safe.

This intelligent, strong, and independent breed has roots back to 1100 BC. These dogs are believed to have traveled with Gengis Khan and Attila the Hun.

Tibetan Mastiffs are very large and can weigh up to 150 pounds. They are intelligent and easy to train, but also independent and known for getting bored quickly.

The dogs are protective and devoted to their family. It is a good idea to socialize them from an early age and help them get used to visitors and strangers. The Tibetan Mastiff is generally tolerant and patient with the children of the household, and they do well with other dogs.

According to the AKC, some Tibetans believe that Tibetan Mastiffs have the souls of monks and nuns who weren't good enough to enter Shambhala (the heavenly realm) or be reincarnated as people.

Also according to the AKC, Tibetan Mastiffs are traditionally kept with Lhasa Apsos, who would alert the larger dog to strangers.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Friday, December 12, 2014

Pets do not make good surprise gifts

If you're wondering what to give someone for Christmas and think a kitten, puppy, rabbit, hamster, ferret, guinea pig, or other animal would be a great idea, pause and think about it some more. Bringing a pet into a family can bring immense joy, but pets require commitment.

Every pet deserves a good home where they are loved and receive proper care.

If you want to surprise your own children with a pet, be aware that you as an adult will have the final responsibility to care for it. That includes making sure the children respect it and aren't too rough with it.

If you want to surprise someone else's child with a pet, discuss with the adults in the family and make sure everyone's on the same page.

Even if all the adults in the family are on the same page, Christmas morning isn't the best time a year to get a new pet. Everyone's tearing into gifts, there are loud toys, potentially dangerous ribbons everywhere, chocolate, and general chaos.

A new pet needs to land in calm environment where he or she can feel safe. You don't want a frightened, cowering animal that is overwhelmed by all the sudden attention, children squealing with excitement, and almost battling each other to hold it.

Here are some important things to consider before getting a pet:

  • Different animals have different tempers and needs. Research the type of pet you're considering, and make sure the animal is right for your family. If you're getting a dog, research breeds and get a breed that fits your lifestyle.
  • Do you have enough space? Enough money to get the equipment you need?
  • Are you prepared for a lifetime commitment? Even small pets like guinea pigs can live for five years. Dogs can live for fifteen years, and some other types of pets live for decades. If you can't deal with someone being dependent on you every day for that amount of time, don't get a pet.
  • All pets require attention, care, and training. Discuss the pet's schedule with the family.
  • If you're getting a dog, he or she will need walks every day. Puppies need to go out every time they eat, sleep, or play - even if it's in the middle of your favorite TV show.
  • Make a budget. Include food, toys, treats, vet costs, kitty litter, straw, and whatever else your new pet will need.
  • Plan for emergencies. Who can care for your pet if everyone in your family needs to travel somewhere? Create an emergency fund in case something happens and your pet needs urgent care.
  • A child should not be sole caretaker of a pet. As an adult, the pet is your responsibility.
Have you ever given someone a pet as a present? Did it turn out well? Is there something you as a pet owner wish you would have known before getting your pet?

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Pet-safe holiday tips

Beautiful, bright, and cheerful decorations are a big part of the holiday season, but cats and dogs can interpret the decorations differently than we do. That is, a Christmas tree can look like a huge and inviting toy. Here are some tips to make sure the decorations are safe for everyone - including our four footed family members.

Christmas trees with their lights and glimmering decorations are irresistible to some pets. Anchor the tree so your cats and dogs can't knock it over. Some dogs try to stand up against Christmas trees to check them out, and some cats love to climb in them.

If you have a real tree, clean up any fallen tree needles regularly. They are quite sharp and can cause pain and damage if they get stuck in a pet's paws or throat.

When decorating your tree, go for decorations that won't shatter if they fall, and try to find things too big for your pet to accidentally swallow. Also keep tinsel and ribbons off the floor. Tinsel looks harmless, but can cause serious damage along with a huge vet bill if eaten.

All the holiday lights are festive, but make sure to protect power cords so your pets can't chew on them or play on them. This is probably a bigger problem for cat owners than for dog owners, but puppies want to chew on everything. If you use candles, make sure they're out of reach so a pet can't knock them over, or get their fur singed.

The holiday season also comes with a range of decorative house plants. Any form of holly is toxic to cats and dogs. Keep mistletoe, rosemary, and holly out of reach, and contact a veterinarian if you think your pet might have eaten any part of the plant.

If your pet eats anything they shouldn't, is a great website where you can look up various plants, foods, and other products.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

What pet owners want for the holidays

As a pet owner, would you rather leave your pet home alone and go visit your in-laws for the holiday, or stay at home alone with your pet? 

VetIQ wondered the same thing - and made a survey. Turns out 96 percent of the 750 people who responded would prefer to stay at home with their pet.

Check out the rest of the results in their infographic:

  Infographic created by Pet Products From VetIQ Pet Care

How would you have answered the questions?

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Britain's fattest cat gets dog as personal trainer

Image from
Weighing the same as an average three-year old child, Ulric the cat is Britain's largest kitty. His owner has had him on diets, and even enrolled him in a pet weight loss competition where everything he ate was weighed to make sure he wouldn't overeat. He didn't lose a pound.

Turns out the Norwegian forest cat is quite good at stealing his sister's food, and getting into the cat biscuits.

When Ulric came close to the record of being the fattest cat in the world, his owner knew it was time to think of something new. She got a puppy.

Dennis is a mix between Pug and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, and he loves the big cat. Ulric might not be too happy about it, but Dennis keeps him moving throughout the day every day. The puppy chases him, wrestles, and plays.

After three months with a puppy personal trainer, Ulric has lost two pounds and his weight keeps dropping. He seems less than amused in the video, but the puppy is sure having a good time.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Monday, December 8, 2014

Rare Breed Monday: Alaskan Klee Kai

Alaskan Klee Kai. Image from Wikimedia Commons.
The Alaskan Klee Kai is a smaller version of the Alaskan Husky, created to be a companion dog. The Alaskan Husky isn't really considered a breed, because it is defined only by purpose and not by ancestry or appearance. The Alaskan Klee Kai has a breed standard, and has been recognized by the UKC since 1997.

There are some major differences between the Alaskan Klee Kai and the Alaskan Husky/Siberian Husky. The Huskies are usually happy-go-lucky, but the Klee Kai is reserved and cautious around strangers. They are loyal and alert, and make great watchdogs.

A typical Alaskan Klee Kai is an energetic, intelligent, active, and agile dog. They are affectionate with their family, but have a strong prey drive and it is important to introduce the dogs to other types of pets at an early age, so they don't think rabbits, hamsters, and cats are something that should be hunted.

Alaskan Klee Kais do well with children who respect the dog and treat it gently. Some dog breeds will put up with almost anything from a child, but these dogs aren't likely to tolerate being mistreated. That said, no dog likes having its tail or ears pulled, or little fingers poking its eyes, and small children should be supervised around animals.

This is a clever breed with a strong urge to please its humans, and the dogs do very well in obedience and agility.

There are three different sizes; Toy which is up to 13 inches to the withers, Miniature that is up to 15 inches, and Standard that is up to 17 inches.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Friday, December 5, 2014

Portland's first cat cafe opens soon

In January, Portland pet lovers will have a new haven; Purrington's Cat Lounge opens with various beverages - and cats up for adoption. Cat cafés are a big thing in Asia, and the USA has seen pop-up cat cafés in New York and California, but this is the first time for Portland.

Ten of the cats will live at the café, but all cats are up for adoption, and it costs $7 to visit with them for an hour.

The food service is in an area separate from the cats to adhere to the Oregon Food Code, but customers can take their drinks into the kitty lounge if they want to, or watch the felines through a glass divider.

The establishment is still under construction, but will be ready in time for the grand premiere.

The first cat café in the world started in Taiwan over a decade ago, and the concept spread over Asia. These establishments are particularly popular in Japan, where there is at least 150 cat cafés, giving people the opportunity to cure loneliness and relieve stress.

There are also cat cafés in Europe. Dinah's Cat Emporium in London had 20,000 people wanting to enter the 30-seat café when it opened.

What do you think? Is it a good idea? Would you visit a cat café?

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Young Americans choose pets instead of children

According to the US Department of Health, birth rates in the USA have plummeted. Meanwhile, Americans buy more and more small dogs weighing under 20 pounds, and the population of dogs in this weight group has doubled since 1999.

This could be a coincidence, but the decline in children born and increase in small dogs belong to the same age group. Dogs can give an outlet for the human instinct to care and coddle while maintaining independence and a career. Recent studies have also found that the bond between dogs and owners is very similar to the bond between babies and parents.

Naturally, this increase and the tendency to treat pets as family members mean wonderful times for the pet industry. Premium dog food has grown by 170 percent over the last fifteen years, and the most expensive kinds of dog food now account for nearly 60 percent of the overall dog food market.

There are pet clothes, pet strollers, special purses for carrying small dogs, pet jewelry, and almost everything one can think of.

The trend follows that of many European countries which have seen declining birth rates for long times, and where pets long ago attained family status.

What do you think? Children, pets, or both? Do you think this trend is here to stay?

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Cats or dogs?

Many people consider themselves as a cat person or a dog person, while some love both. Which you end up favoring might depend on where you're from. 

In Switzerland, Austria, and Turkey cats outnumber dogs three to one. On the other hand, in India pet dogs outnumber cats ten to one.

South America and large parts of Asia belong to the dogs, but cats rule the Middle East and parts of Africa. Brazil has more small dogs per capita than any other country - there are over 20,000,000 dogs under 20 pounds in Brazil.

Looking at the USA, the differences from place to place aren't that big, but there are a difference between cat loving and dog loving states.

The top three dog loving states are:

1 Arkansas 810,000 cats 1,097,000 dogs Dog to cat ratio: 1.35
2 New Mexico 533,000 cats 703,000 dogs Dog to cat ratio: 1.32
3 Texas 5,565,000 cats 7,163,000 dogs Dog to cat ratio: 1.29

The top three cat loving states are:

1 Massachusetts 1,593,000 cats 850,000 dogs Cat to dog ratio: 1.87
2 Maryland 1,677,000 cats 915,000 dogs Cat to dog ratio: 1.83
3 Maine 498,000 cats 300,000 dogs Cat to dog ratio: 1.66

Do you consider yourself a cat person or a dog person?

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Have you tried flyball?

Image linked from
Training for a sport can be a great way to strengthen the bond between dog and human. It's fun and it provides exercise. Flyball is a team sport with the added benefit of meeting other people and other dogs.

Each team has four dogs, and only one dog from each team will be on the course at a time. That is, the next dog isn't allowed to start until the previous returns.

The point of the game is for each dog to run a course with four jumps, reach a box where the dog has to release a tennis ball, catch the ball, and bring it back to the starting line - over the jumps. If anything goes wrong - for example a dog drops the ball, or runs to the side of a jump instead of going over - it must do the course again.

All dog sizes can participate. The jumps are determined based on the shortest dog in the team, so it's an advantage to have a small dog on a team.

To start training, search for a club and classes in your area. Your dog needs to have a good recall even with distractions - a flyball competition is a busy and noisy place with dogs barking, people running around, balls, and dogs running the course.

This is a great way to spend quality time with your dog, while making new friends.

~ Maria Sadowski

Monday, December 1, 2014

Breed Spotlight: American Eskimo

The American Eskimo is actually a German dog breed, and it was originally called German Spitz. Germany wasn't popular in the USA after the first world war, and the breed got a new name to boost its popularity. 

The Eskie is a popular watchdog and companion who also excels as circus performer.

There are three sizes of American Eskimo: toy, miniature, and standard.

Many confuse them with the Samoyed or the Japanese Spitz, but they are completely different dogs. The American Eskimo was originally bred to guard property and people, and they can be valiant watchdogs when the occasion calls for it.

The American Eskimo is a hardy dog with an average life span of 16 years. The thick coat needs regular brushing or they will shed profusely.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Friday, November 28, 2014

Exercise with your dog

Most people eat a little too much on Thanksgiving, and most Americans gain a few pounds. This is often the start of an eating extravaganza that doesn't end until the new year is here, and many pets are pulled into the eating frenzy too. It just doesn't seem fair to enjoy all these goodies without sharing. 

Take your dog for an extra walk, or go a little further than usual. It might be really exciting for your dog to just go the other direction than you usually do. Regular walks are great both for dogs and people - walking gives a stronger heart, more energy, lower blood pressure, and a lower risk of depression.

If you're more into jogging than walking, consider your dog breed. Some breeds love jogging, others are built for short distance sprints. Do five minutes of warm-up, 20 minutes of jogging, and five minutes of cool-down. If you're in a hot area, avoid jogging in the heat of the day, and stop if your dog shows any signs of not keeping up with you.

Dog dancing is another fun thing to try that will give both you and your four-footed friend some exercise. Dog dancing does not mean having your dog standing up on the back legs and slow dancing with you. This sport is also called musical freestyle, and you choreograph and train a dance routine with your dog to music.

Training for dog dancing will build a strong bond between you and your dog - and get you in shape as a bonus. Watch this video to get some ideas.


Swimming is another great workout, particularly good for dogs and people with arthritis. Swimming works many different groups of muscles, improves endurance, and improves both heart and lungs. Not all dogs like to swim, and some breeds aren't good at swimming, so make sure your dog is comfortable.

Do you exercise with your dog? What is your favorite type of exercise?

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

The big eating holiday has finally arrived, and around the USA families are stuffing turkeys, baking pumpkin pies, and decorating their homes for family and friends. Almost everyone eats too much, and that includes the pets. Here are some tips on making Thanksgiving safe and happy for everyone.

It's a good idea to set a pet feeding policy. If your guests are allowed to feed your pets, tell them what's okay to give, and to make sure to give small quantities. Pets are more sensitive to overeating than humans.

It's okay to share:

  • Well cooked and boneless turkey
  • Unsalted and unbuttered vegetables such as beans and carrots
  • Mashed potatoes - unless your pet is lactose intolerant
  • Macaroni and cheese - again, unless your pet is lactose intolerant
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Most fruits and berries

Pets should not have:

  • Turkey skin, bones, or undercooked turkey
  • Raw bread dough
  • Xylitol
  • Grapes or raisins
  • Any form of onion
  • Alcohol - not even beer
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Nutmeg
  • Sage
  • Chocolate

Have a great Thanksgiving!

~ Maria Sadowski ~ 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Meatloaf for doggies

If you're preparing for Thanksgiving and want to make something extra for the dog in your life, a dog-friendly meatloaf might hit the spot. 

If your pet can't eat wheat, you can leave out the bread slices and wheat germ. Instead, add oat bran and increase the oatmeal to twelve cups.

You need:

  • 1 pound of ground beef or ground turkey
  • 1 container of cottage cheese (24 ounces)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup of milk powder
  • 1/4 cup of wheat germ
  • 8 slices of oatmeal bread (crumbled)
  • 8 cups of cooked oatmeal
  • 4 cups of cooked brown rice

What to do:

Blend the ground beef and the cottage cheese. Add in the eggs, milk powder, and wheat germ. When those ingredients are mixed, add crumbled bread, oatmeal, and the brown rice. Mix well.

You can bake the mixture as one large meatloaf, as meatloaf muffins, or in smaller pans. It should be baked at 350F for an hour.

The meatloaf freezes very well.

Do you cook and bake for your pets? What is your favorite recipe?

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Make kitty cookies for Thanksgiving

This week many will spend extra time in the kitchen. If you have a cat, you might want to make an extra Thanksgiving treat for them as well. It's better to have a special treat for kitty than to just hand out food from the dinner table.

These cookies contain a lot of ingredients, but it's worth the effort, because most cats love them.

You need:

  • 1 cup of whole wheat flour
  • 2 tablespoons of wheat germ
  • 1/4 cup of soy flour
  • 1/3 cup of powdered milk
  • 1 tablespoon kelp
  • 1/2 teaspoon bonemeal
  • 1 teaspoon dried and crushed catnip leaves
  • 1 tablespoon molasses (unsulfured)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1/3 cup water or catwalk

What to do:

Mix all the dry ingredients. Add molasses, egg, oil, and milk/water. Roll out the dough flat and cut it into narrow strips. Bake on an oiled cookie sheet for 20 minutes at 350 F. 

Once baked, you can break the strips into small pieces.

~ Maria Sadowski ~ 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Rare Breed Monday: Icelandic Sheepdog

Image from
The Icelandic Sheepdog is a dog that came to Iceland with the Vikings around the year 900, and it is considered one of the oldest breeds in the world. It is related to the Karelian Bear Dog, but the breeds separated very long ago.

These dogs are versatile and lively, and have been used to herd sheep, cattle, and even horses. They have also been used as watch dogs and general working dogs.

A typical Icelandic Sheepdog is hardy, playful, agile, intelligent, friendly, and inquisitive. They're used to working on their own and figuring things out, and they learn very quickly. That means they're easy to train, but also that unsuspecting owners often teach the dogs things they're not supposed to know.

When it comes to temperament, these dogs are energetic when the occasion calls for it, but have the ability to calm down indoors. They are loyal and love being with family. They are also patient with children, and overall they make great family dogs.

The Icelandic Sheepdog can have long or short coat. Many have two dewclaws on each hind leg. They shed the undercoat twice a year and require a lot of brushing at that time, but other than that they're easy to care for.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Friday, November 21, 2014

Time is running out to enter the PlexiDor contest!

The 2014 PlexiDor contest is open just over one more week - last day to enter is November 30th. One grand prize winner will receive 1,000 pounds of Black Gold dog food, and runners up will get gift cards for Dunkin Donuts.

The food will be delivered to the winner's door - or to a rescue or shelter of their choice. To enter, visit this link, upload a photo of your dog using a dog door, and answer an easy question.

If you don't have a dog door, use your imagination. We love to see creative entries!

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Pumpkin everything is here!

Fall is the season of pumpkin, and everything comes with pumpkin spice. There is latte, bread, ice cream, yogurt, cereal, beer, and a plethora of other things pumpkin. Many of these products are tempting to dogs, but not all of them should be eaten by our four footed friends.

Pumpkin itself is fine for dogs to eat, in moderate amounts. It contains a lot of fiber, and most dogs love it. The problem is that pumpkin spice products contain a mix of spices - but no pumpkin.

Pumpkin spice normally contains cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and possibly other spices. When added to food, none of these should cause a problem. Unless your pet gets into your spice cabinet and eats a large amount, of course.

Never give your dog alcoholic drinks, and keep tempting pumpkin-spiced alcoholic drinks out of reach. Alcohol is much more dangerous to dogs than it is to people.

Cookies, cakes, pies, and similar can be too rich for a dog. Be observant for chocolate, raisins, xylitol, and macadamia nuts.

Yogurt and ice cream can be okay for a dog, it depends on the individual. Many dogs are lactose intolerant.

Keep an eye on your pumpkin flavored foods, and if you want to share, a spoonful of canned pure pumpkin is a great choice for the pets.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Rescue dog returns favor and saves owner

Image from:
When Todd Kibbey collapsed on the porch of his home because of a heart problem, his ten year old dog Tiger didn't waste any time; the pit bull - boxer mix went to get help.

Tiger ended up with Tami Michalak, who found Mr Kibbey's address and phone number on Tiger's collar. She tried calling, but no one answered, so she put Tiger on a leash and headed in the direction for Tiger's home. The large dog tugged all the way, and was clearly in a hurry to get back.

According to the Toledo Blade, Mr Kibbey remembers nothing from being on the porch of his home to waking up in a hospital.

Tiger was once rescued as a puppy in the Florida Everglade's, and his own act of heroics has not gone unnoticed. He will receive a Heroic Mutt Award from PETA that includes dog treats, a toy, a framed certificate, and a special harness to make walks comfortable. Only a handful of these awards are given out in a year.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Snack on fruits and berries

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and most pet parents have learned by now that dogs can't eat onion or chocolate. A few people still believe that dogs won't eat anything that's bad for them, but that myth is pretty much debunked. 

If you want to share delicacies with your dogs, fruits and berries are great choices. Most fruits and berries are okay for pets to eat, but some can be dangerous.

Apples Yes  The fruit is fine, but pets shouldn't eat the seeds since they can be toxic. Most dogs won't eat the skin, but will be happy to share a peeled slice without seeds.
Bananas Yes  If your dog likes banana, it's fine for them to eat. Peeled, of course.
Blackberries Yes Blackberries are filled with antioxidants and vitamins, and they are good for pets.
Blueberries Yes Blueberries are rich in antioxidants and fine for cats and dogs to eat. You might not want to give them a whole bowl, but a few berries is a good snack.
Cherries No All parts of a cherry plant except the meat in the fruit contain cyanide. The pit is toxic.
Coconut Yes Coconut meat and milk are fine for dogs to eat.
Grapes No Never give a dog grapes or raisins. Many dogs react adversely to them, and we still don't know why some dogs seem able to handle them better than others. If your dog has a bad reaction, they can become very sick and even die. Treat grapes like chocolate, and if your dog eats grapes or raisins, go see your vet.
Mango Yes Dogs can have a piece of mango flesh without the peel and the pit. Make sure your dog doesn't eat the pit.
Oranges Yes Citrus fruits are rich in vitamins and give no adverse reactions. Remove the peel and any seeds.
Peaches No While the meat of a peach theoretically isn't dangerous to a dog, the pit contains cyanide, and this is a deadly poison. Cyanide can seep out from the pit into the meat, and while that isn't enough to harm a human, it can be enough to harm a dog. Avoid peaches. 
Pears Yes The same thing goes for pears as for apples - the meat is fine, but remove the seed and core.
Pineapple Yes Many dogs love pineapple, and it is good for them to eat. (Remove the prickly husk, of course.)
Plums No Plums share the problem of peaches - the pit is dangerous.
Raspberries Yes Many dogs love raspberries, and they are fine for pets to eat.
Strawberries Yes Remove the leaves and stem, and enjoy with your pet.
Watermelon Yes Remove the seeds.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Monday, November 17, 2014

Rare Breed Monday: Australian Terrier

Image from
The Australian Terrier is a small and confident dog developed to help families in the harsh Australian Outback. The dogs worked side by side with settlers to control snakes and vermin, warn for intruders, and help care for cattle. 

The breed has been developed since the early 19th century, and stems from dogs brought to Australia from Great Britain. It was recognized as its own breed in 1868, and is the first breed native to Australia.

A typical Australian Terrier is courageous, alert, cheerful, and friendly to humans, but they tend to be bossy to other dogs. These dogs are bred to like humans and to be good companions, and they are happiest when together with their families - this isn't a dog that will be content alone in the back yard. They are known for being particularly fond of children and the elderly.

Australian Terriers are great jumpers, and their hunting instinct is deeply rooted, so the dog is very likely to chase squirrels, rabbits, cats, or other animals with the right size and speed. They are also natural watch dogs, and will tell you if a stranger approaches the house.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Friday, November 14, 2014

Pets are for life, please prepare accordingly

As we get closer to the holidays, many consider giving pets as gifts, and all too many of these pets find themselves homeless just after Christmas. Pets should not be a surprise. Talk through decisions like this with the whole family and make sure that everyone shares the idea of what should happen and how.

Deciding to get a pet is fun, but also a big responsibility. When picking a type of pet you should naturally try to find something that fits with your lifestyle and expectations, but it is also wise to consider its expected life span. Many older pets end up in shelters because their owners were unprepared for the pet's old age.

Good questions to consider include:

  • Are there expected changes in your life that will make it impossible for you to care for the pet?
  • Will you be able to carry the cost of food, vet bills, vaccination, toys, and so on?
  • As the pet ages, costs for veterinary care and special food can increase. Will you be able to handle that?
  • Will someone be there to care for the pet through all of its life? 
  • If something happens that makes it impossible for you to keep your pet, do you have someone else that can step in?

Indoor cats normally live between 12 and 18 years, but many get much older. The world's oldest known cat lived to be 38 years old. When it comes to dogs, the size and breed makes a big difference in expected life span. Smaller breeds generally live longer than larger breeds. The world's oldest dog was a sheepdog from Australia, and he lived for over 29 years.

Other types of pets can also have long and rich lives. You might not associate goldfish with longevity, but Tish the goldfish was recorded as the oldest goldfish in captivity 43 years after he was won as a prize. Normal life expectancy for goldfish is between 10 and 20 years.

Rabbits have an average life expectancy of 5-8 years, but they can become much older. The oldest known rabbit lived for 16 years.

The Chinchilla is another popular pet. They normally live around 15 years in captivity, but some make it well into their 20s.

Many avoid getting cats and dogs because their lifespans are so much shorter than ours. We're often closer to our pets than to other people, and the demise of a loved pet is difficult to bear. On the other hand, it's not so good if the pet outlives its human, and this is definitely something to take into account if you're looking at a bird or a tortoise. Parrots are known to get very attached to their owners - and they can live well over 80 years. Some types of tortoises live more than 150 years.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Feeding an older cat

Indoor cats generally live to be somewhere between 12 and 18 years old. Many live well into their 20s, and the world's oldest cat reached the venerable age of 38. Naturally you want to keep your kitty for as long as possible, and here are some tips on feeding a senior cat to keep him or her as healthy as possible.

Cats show visible changes related to age somewhere between the ages of 7 and 12. Their bodies change as they age just like ours do. Common health issues with older cats include loss of muscle mass, obesity, deterioration of skin and coat, intestinal problems, arthritis, dental problems, and a decreased immune system. 

Some changes are unavoidable, but many can be managed through the diet.

Start your cat on a senior diet around the age of seven. The main idea with the senior diet is to help kitty stay healthy and keep an optimal weight, while also preventing chronic disease.

Keep a daily routine and take your cat to the vet to assess health and any chronic diseases. 

Older cats are more sensitive to stress and changes in routine than younger cats so try to avoid stressful situations and implement changes in a gradual manner.

Do you have an older kitty? Do you have any tips to share on how to keep them healthy?

~ Maria Sadowski 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Three good dog training tips

A well trained and well behaved dog is nothing short of impressive. If you've been in a situation where your own dog pretends to be deaf and looks like the worst trained pooch on the block while the neighbors' dogs sit calmly next to their owners, watching the spectacle, you know what I mean.

What do these dog owners know that others don't?

Training is the basis of how your dog will behave both at home in your own yard and amongst other people and distractions. Here are three things easy to overlook that can make a real difference when training.

1. Practice in different environments

Dogs don't generalize well. If you learn something you know that the same thing is true no matter where you go. A dog might not make the same connection, and if you teach your dog a certain command in your living room she might not necessarily understand it in the kitchen.

If you want your dog to react the same way to the same commands everywhere, you have to practice in different locations. Practice in your house, in your yard, at Pet Smart, at the park, on your walk, and everywhere else you go.

2. It's okay to back up a few steps

Work on one part of a skill at a time. For instance, if you want your dog to sit pretty with the front paws up in the air she first needs to know how to sit. If you want your dog to sit and stay you first have to train sitting, then sitting until you say it's okay to move, sitting while you move away, and finally sitting while you move away and there are distractions around her.

If you're practicing something new and feel that you're not making progress, you might need to back up a bit. Or, if you and your dog hasn't done a certain thing for some time, you might need to go back and practice. Refresh your dog's memory by going back to a step you know he or she can perform and do that for a little bit. This will help keep your training sessions fun and positive too.

3. Use good rewards

If you're training at home in your kitchen, dry kibble might be enough to keep your dog's attention. In the park with other people and dogs around, you might need something more interesting. Dogs like smelly, stinky things, and gooey treats, cheese, or a piece of chicken might do the trick.

Is your dog good at listening to you? What is your best training tip?

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Dogs and language

Dogs naturally communicate with body language, but they're quite able to learn and understand language spoken by humans. Just remember that whatever language you speak is your dog's second language.

Any dog can learn the meaning of specific words and commands, for example sit, lie down, walk, and shake. Some dogs get confused when the familiar words are buried in sentences, and some get confused when we use different words for the same thing. Set your dog up for success by choosing one word or phrase for an action and make sure everyone in the family uses it.

The average dog can understand somewhere between 150 and 200 words. That's a decent vocabulary, and if you keep yourself consistent you can get a long way with that amount.

Some dog breeds are more attuned to human language than others. Many working dogs understand spoken commands, gestures, and sounds.

What type of language will dogs understand the best?

Words pertaining to objects or behaviors are the easiest for dogs to understand. That is, your dog can relate very well to words like sit, ball, car, and treat.

How many words can the smartest dogs understand?

Swedish Border Collie Turbo filmed in several countries and understood Swedish, English, and German - in complete spoken sentences. The dog scientifically tested on largest vocabulary is called Chaser. She is also a Border Collie and knows over 1,000 words and understands grammar.

Regardless of breed, every dog is an individual and will learn at their own pace. Many think older dogs can't learn new words or tricks, but they can learn just as well as puppies. It can take longer for an older dog, but with patience, consistency, and rewards, any dog can learn.

Do your dogs understand many spoken words? Have you actively taught them, or did they just get it?

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Monday, November 10, 2014

Rare Breed Monday: Brazilian Terrier

The Brazilian Terrier is a three colored dog related to the Jack Russell Terrier, and one of a handful of dog breeds native to Brazil. The breed stems back to the 1800s when Jack Russell Terriers were imported from Europe and bred with Miniature Pinschers and Chihuahuas.

Brazilian Terriers are known for being perky, intelligent, and alert. They love to play, dig, bark, and romp around. They also have a strong hunting instinct and like to chase small animals.

Being an intelligent and active breed, Brazilian Terriers need both physical and mental activity. They do best with experienced owners that can keep them occupied, and they need room to move. This is a great companion for a family who likes to hike, run, or power walk. Even with exercise, the dog is likely to be the first in the family to get up in the morning, and the last to fall asleep.

This is a fairly common dog in its homeland, and rare outside of Brazil. Owners often keep a Brazilian Terrier to alert for intruders, and a Fila Brasileiro to take care of the intruders.

When it comes to health, Brazilian Terriers have few hereditary problems and many live up to 15 years. They are easy to train, albeit very high energy dogs, and they don't require much grooming.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Friday, November 7, 2014

Dog of the Month: Chocolate Labrador

The Labrador Retriever is the most popular breed of dog registered in Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States. This Canadian breed is also the most popular choice for assistant dogs in a number of countries.

Labradors are typically athletic and love to swim; they even have webbed paws. They enjoy playing catch-and-retrieve games, and they're generally good with children. Many labradors work as guide dogs for the blind, and as police dogs.

The breed originated in Newfoundland, where the dogs helped fishermen pull in nets and catch fish. Since then they've been crossed with Spaniels, Setters, and other Retrievers, and the Labrador has become a perfect family dog.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Easy dog cookies

At this time a year, holidays line up, and many of them celebrate food. Most of the delicacies we humans eat aren't good for dogs, but there's no reason not to make some cookies for the furry friends too. 

This recipe is super-easy and quick, and you can delight your dog within minutes.

What you need:
  • 2 cups wheat germ
  • 3 jars chicken baby food - make sure you get one with no onions
  • 1 tablespoon water

What to do:
  • Preheat the oven to 350 F
  • Strain the baby food
  • Mix wheat germ, baby food, and water
  • If needed, add some more water, so you can form a dough
  • Roll the dough into 1 inch balls and place on a cookie sheet
  • Flatten balls - they look good if you press them down with a fork dipped in water and make a cross pattern
  • Bake for 20 to 25 minutes
~ Maria Sadowski ~ 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Teach your pet to use the pet door

Most pets are eager to explore the outside, and once they realize they have the option to go in and out as they please, they will jump at the opportunity. Teaching the pet to use a pet door generally takes somewhere between five seconds and five days.

Using the PlexiDor comes naturally to most dogs and cats, even if they are reluctant to use a traditional rubber flap door. They can see the outside through the clear panel, and the panel swings open easily.

If the pet doesn’t take to the door, try propping one of the panels open and coaxing the pet through with a treat. When it comes to cats, it generally works well to put something they want on the other side of the door.

Use something stinky and gross that they really want. Praise your pet every time they come through.

For the electronic door, it usually works well to put a treat on the bottom lip of the pet door. The dog or cat approaches to get the treat, and the collar key triggers the door to open. It doesn’t take long for the pets to figure out that the door will open when they come close.

Some pets need longer than others. It is important to stay patient and calm, and give praise once they do come through. When the get the hang of it, they’ll be happy to run in and out without having to wait for a human to get the door.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Man's best friend gets owner busted

Image from
Alabama dog Bo might be a bit more enthusiastic to see his owner than the owner would have wanted - Edward Henderson was hiding from the police, and Bo's fervently wagging tail revealed him.
The story starts when local police came to Henderson's house with a drug search warrant. The press release says, "As officers were pulling up to the residence, the suspect Edward Melvin Henderson fled on foot towards the rear of the residence. At the rear of his residence was about a 25-foot ravine. Henderson jumped off the ravine and continued running."
This is when Bo entered the picture. The  husky/pit bull mix came up to the investigators, who pointed at Henderson and told the dog to "go get him." Bo was happy to comply, and eventually found his master hiding in tall grass.
Henderson is now taken into custody on several charges, and Bo is staying with relatives. The police department has communicated through their Facebook page that Bo is being well cared for. 
They write, "It is our understanding that the Autauga County Animal Control Officer was contacted and went to check on Bo. Family members were taking care of him. Through several Facebook posts, the family member assures other readers that the dog is well loved and will not be harmed. We are requesting that the Autauga County Animal Control Officer keep a periodic check on Bo. Thanks for all your concerns."
If that doesn't work out for him, I bet he has a future in search-and-rescue!
~ Maria Sadowski ~

Monday, November 3, 2014

Rare Breed Monday: Belgian Sheepdog

The Belgian Sheepdog, also known as the Groenendael or Chien de Berger Belge, is an elegant, strong, and proud dog breed from Belgium that stems back to the 1800s. 

In the past, the dogs were herders, companions, and watchdogs. It didn't take long until their intelligence and trainability made them known outside of Belgium, and in the early 20th century many served as police dogs in France and even New York City. They also worked for the Belgian Customs and did an outstanding job at catching smugglers.

While many other breeds suffered during WWI, the Belgian Sheepdog thrived. They served on the battlefields and did everything from carrying messages to pulling machine guns, and in WWII they guarded military installations.

Today, the versatile breed is popular in search and rescue, as therapy dogs, and as guide dogs.

As you can imagine, this is an energetic working breed, and the dogs are happiest when they have a lot to do and get ample exercise. But, in contrast to many other working breeds these dogs have an "off" button and make wonderful, gentle, and devoted companions. They go well with (gentle) children

The dogs are intelligent and easy to train, and generally go well with (gentle) children. For those interested in dog sports, these dogs often excel in obedience and tracking.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween! We hope you have a great time trick and treating. While you do, here are some tips to keep your pets safe.

Pets should not eat human candy

Chocolate is toxic to dogs, and can in a worst case scenario lead to death. Xylitol is also toxic to dogs (often found in sugar-free candies and chewing gum). Not even natural treats are safe; dogs should not eat raisins. Make sure children don't get the idea to share candy with the pets.

Some dogs are known for chewing down tin foil and cellophane, so make sure all candy wrappers are disposed of at once.

Keep your pets inside or at least under supervision at all times

There are several reasons for this. Many pets are scared by strangers showing up in unusual costumes, screaming for candy. Some pets get anxious and defensive, others might run away. On that note, makes sure your dog has an ID tag on the collar, just in case.

Pets left outdoors can encounter tricksters. It's hard to believe for a pet lover, but according to PetMD some people think it's fun to tease, injure, steal, and even kill pets as Halloween pranks. This is especially bad for black cats, and in order to keep them safe, they should stay inside the entire week. (Many shelters won't even adopt out black cats during October.)

Even if visitors mean well, they might give a pet candy. Avoid a trip to the emergency room, and keep them in a safe place or well supervised.

Plan your doggie-walk

On Halloween, it might be wise to re-schedule the dog walk. Go for a walk before witches, fairies, Iron Man, and pirates appear. If you take another walk late in the evening, keep an eye on the ground so your dog doesn't eat dropped candy or wrappers.

Other good ideas for the evening walk is to carry a flashlight and use a reflective leash/harness. There are dog flashlights, and collars/leashes that light up as well. When lots of people are out and about, make sure they see your dog, for everyone's safety.

Use common sense

If a pumpkin is lit up by a candle, place it out of reach for pets. If a pumpkin is lit up by a glow stick, make sure the dog doesn't eat it. (Sounds far-fetched, but some dogs are veritable vacuum cleaners.) If you want your pet to use a costume, try it on a couple of days before Halloween and make sure it's comfortable. Some pets love wearing costumes and the extra attention that comes with it, others not so much.

~ Maria Sadowski ~