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Winter Pet Care Tips

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Pets should be brought inside when the temperature drops. If that is not possible, then shelter—a dog house, shed or barn—should be used to protect your pet from the wind, low temperatures, and inclement weather. Supply warm bedding material and make sure the doorway has at least a flap covering to keep out the wind.

Make sure pets have a clean and ice-free supply of water outside. Eating snow can cause diarrhea, so you want to have fresh water available. Just like people, dogs lose moisture when breathing in cold air—they can see their breath, too!—and although dehydration is more common during summer months, it can happen in cold weather as well.

Antifreeze is extremely toxic to pets, causing kidney failure. Unfortunately, it is also very appealing to them. With its sweet taste, dogs and cats will happily lap it up from the garage floor or parking lot. It only takes a little to be deadly. Clean up after getting your vehicle serviced, and watch for tell-tale green spills in public areas. There are environmental and pet-safe antifreeze products to use.

Snow- and ice-removal products can also cause digestive upset and topic redness or chemical burns on tender pads and feet. Wipe your dog’s feet with a damp towel if he/she has walked through de-icing products.

On a similar note, hair growing between the pads on the bottom of the foot can collect snow and ice. Keeping the hair trimmed will keep your dog from “skating.” Booties are available from retail pet suppliers to help protect feet from chemicals, snow, and cold.

Regular grooming during winter will keep your pet’s coat in top condition to fend off the cold. A groomed fluffy coat creates insulation against cold air. A dog with matted fur will get colder and suffer from hypothermia much faster than a pet whose coat is maintained with regular grooming. Your groomer may also recommend using a coat conditioner or moisturizer during a grooming visit—winter is often a time to see dry flaky skin on dogs as well as on people.

Dogs that are active outside in the winter will need to eat more. They burn more calories keeping warm as well as those needed for exercise.

We hope you find these tips helpful as you keep your dog safe and healthy this winter.

Clues to Winter Blues

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Clues to Winter Blues

Learn signs and tips for helping alleviate your pet’s winter blues

With fall drawing to a close, many of us are looking at the approach of cold, inclement weather, earlier nightfall and limited outdoor time. Regardless of where we live, the busier schedules of work and school, holidays and other commitments often leave us with less time to spend at home and outdoors, and less time to spend with our pets.

The sudden change in schedule can limit time for company, play and attention. These reduced opportunities for exercise can sometimes leave pets bored, stressed and even depressed.

How can I tell if my pet has the blues?

Not all pets will have the blues when winter rolls around. But there are some signs to look for to make sure your pet is just hunkered down, and not in distress or struggling. Find these signs and symptoms listed below.

Signs of the blues:

  • Sleeping more than usual can be a sign of stress, depression or illness.
  • Increased attention-seeking behaviors, such as scratching, chewing and other destructive behaviors can be indicators of a bored, understimulated or stressed pet.
  • Changes in regular eating, toileting or sleeping habits can also be a sign of illness, stress or depression in a pet.
  •  “High-strung” behaviors such as hypervigilance, problem barking, urgent, loud meowing, and repetitive behaviors can be indicators of a stressed, bored or anxious pet.
  •  For cats, not using the litterbox is a telltale sign of stress.
  • Cold weather can cause flare-ups in arthritis and other physical ailments, causing stress and pain, making activities less fun and contributing to the blues.


What can I do to help?

First, try to figure out what’s different. Are you and your family home less? Are you going on fewer walks? Are the kids away at college? Are you too busy to spend time playing? Is it just too cold to have much fun outside?

Next, think about what might help bring some enrichment back into your pet’s life. Rather than give them their meal in a bowl, capitalize on their natural instincts by using food dispensing toys, hidden stashes of edible goodies, and five-minute training sessions using some of their food as rewards (reward yourself, too, with a special treat so you want to do it more often). Set up mini-obstacle courses with cushions and cardboard boxes, teach them some useful or silly tricks and play nosework. Play fetch and hide-and-seek games up and down the stairs and throughout the house to help tire out more active dogs and cats. Another great option is signing your dog up for SmartPlay daycare at Paws & Pals. This innovation program will provide your dog just the right amount of physical, mental, and emotional stimulation in a fun and loving environment!

Finally, exercising your pet’s brain can be as rewarding as exercising their bodies. While this holds true any time of the year, it’s especially important in the winter months to keep their bodies and minds happy, challenged and free of the winter blues

Marjie Alonso, CDBC, CPDT-KA, KPA CTP is the Executive Director of the IAABC.


Understanding Fear in Dogs

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Every dog or animal with a reasonably developed central nervous system has fear. Fear is one of the basic drives, along with hunger, thirst, sleep, sex, and sociality. Out-of-control fear is as much of a problem as any other drive that is out-of-control. But fear in the normal amount is essential, as it helps to keep a dog out of harm’s way. However, like people, dogs are not born with fear.

In dogs, fear responses begin between 6 and 8 weeks of age. By three weeks after its onset, fear plateaus at a level normal for pups and for the specific genetic complement they have. There are three factors which alone or in combination act to determine the level of fear any given dog shows.

The first of these is genetic. The dog inherits a predisposition for a high level of fear. Thus, what would cause a mild startle response in a dog with a normal fear level will drive the over-reactive dog ballistic.

A second factor that causes uncontrolled fear is early environment. The typical cause is
improper or total lack of primary and secondary socialization during the period of 3 to 12 weeks of age. Simply stated, the dog is not exposed to people, various sounds, and short periods of separation from its mother and siblings. Therefore, the dog will forever fear these things that will normally occur every day of its life.

The third factor is learned fear. It develops by the chance association formed between some arbitrary neutral stimulus—say a slamming door—and a coincidental negative reinforcement, something painful—like stepping on a sharp object.

Dogs can express fear in a variety of ways. Because they have several options, a dog might show fear one way at one time and another way at a different time. This varies based on its mental state at the time, the type of stimulus and its intensity. The most common expressions of fear include:

• The dog adopts a submissive posture; head down, ears back, tail tucked tightly between its legs

• The dog might lie down and roll over on its side, lifting the top hind leg

• Shows a high level of excitability: panting, salivating, dribbling urine

• It may whine or bark while showing a low-level submissive posture

• The fearful dog might take flight if he is able to by running away

• If confined in some way, the dog might pace, circle or whirl in a “make believe” running away

The most dangerous expression of fear is aggression in which the dog might growl, raise its hackles, bare teeth and could even nip. Or, in the extreme, it could launch an all-out attack with vicious biting, especially if escape is not an option.

The cure for fearfulness will depend first on recognizing the underlying cause—
genetic, early environment, associative learning or some combination of thereof. Not surprisingly, genetic fear is the most resistant to change and is therefore nearly impossible to completely cure. However, it can be made to take a back seat. The first step is careful, gentle, behavior modification along with obedience training or retraining, starting right back with the basics. Ultimately, to be successful, the dog must gain self-confidence and self-reliance. With your patient and positive guidance, a fearful dog can learn to manage its responses to uncomfortable situations and live a happy life.

Separation Anxiety – Please Don’t Leave Me Alone!

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Back-to-school season is a time of transition for the whole family, as parents and children begin to adjust to a new routine. It’s also a difficult time for pets, who have grown accustomed to some extra attention during summer vacation. Dogs are social pack animals – they normally prefer being with others. Usually dogs learn to be alone for periods of time without a problem, but for some, being alone is unacceptable. Separation anxiety in dogs is much like a panic attack in a person. Symptoms usually start within 20-40 minutes after the pet parent leaves the home.

Signs of separation anxiety include urinating or defecating in the house, scratching, biting, and digging at doors (sometimes until they break nails or teeth), barking and other vocalizations whenever the dog is left alone. Pet parents sometimes come home to find pillows, furniture or other household items destroyed.

Separation anxiety is often triggered by a major change in a dog’s normal routine or by a traumatic event (from the dog’s point of view). A few examples are: a new job that takes the pet owner away from home all day; the death of a family member, especially one the pet was very close to; a family household relocation; or kids going back to school.

What to Do
• Keep arrivals and departures uneventful and low key – pets frequently recognize the signs of departure, so do not give them extra attention when leaving. Also, ignore the pet the first few minutes after returning. Exuberant displays of affection may actually encourage anxiety (the pet feels rewarded when you return). So stay calm.

• Give the pet something to do – mental and physical exercise is important to combat separation anxiety. Toys and physical activities provide mental and physical stimulation which help a dog gain confidence. A confident pet will rely less on human contact for stimulation. Try daycare. Avoid long lonely days at home with doggie daycare, where dogs play together in a safe, supervised environment that is helpful for dogs of all ages, sizes and breeds.

• Give the dog a mental cue that you are leaving – something consistent like using a word/phrase that the pet will recognize as something you say every time you leave and return.

• Practice leaving – get everything ready to go, then sit down. Get ready and go to the door, then sit back down. Get ready, go out the door, close the door for a few seconds and re-enter. The idea is to provide short stimulation in the act of leaving, but prevent the dog from going into a panic attack. Repeat each move several times until the pet feels comfortable. Then take the next step a little further. Once the pet can handle absences of a few minutes, increase the time periods gradually. Once an owner can leave for 30 or 40 minutes, separation anxiety should no longer be much of a problem. Be aware these steps will need to be done slowly and repeatedly for days to break the cycle.

• For severe separation anxiety, consult a dog trainer or behaviorist. In some cases, a pet sitter might be required so the pet is never alone.

• If all else fails, talk to your veterinarian to see if one of the anti-anxiety drugs available for pets might be right for your dog. The right medication combined with the one or all of the above suggestions should make a positive difference.

In the end, when treating a dog with separation anxiety, the goal is to resolve the dog’s underlying anxiety by teaching him to enjoy, or at least tolerate, being left alone. This is accomplished by setting things up so that the dog experiences the situation that provokes his anxiety, namely being alone, without experiencing fear or anxiety. Remember to be calm, loving and patient with your dog and to focus on making small steps of progress.

The Dog Gurus: Charter Member

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From The Dog Gurus:

As part of our 4th Anniversary of The Dog Gurus membership, we wanted to highlight a couple of our charter members. Charter members were facilities who joined The Dog Gurus as soon as we launched and have been with us ever since. We are thankful for their support and hope they have loved being a member as much as we love having them! For this post, we interviewed Konrad Gastony from Paws and Pals Pet Resort in Prior Lake, Minnesota.

Read The Dog Gurus Article >

Pet Owner Survey Says…

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IBPSA Member

Why do pet owners make certain pet care decisions? The National Pet Owner Preferences Study, released in April by the International Boarding & Pet Services Association (IBPSA), reveals why “pet parents” spend their money on pet boarding, pet sitting services and apps, and veterinary services. The professional trade association teamed with Merck Animal Health to commission the study of 652 pet owners to go beyond  the usual “how much” did pet owners spend to get to the “why” they make certain spending decisions.  The study revealed that reputation, recommendation, and certification all play key roles in pet care decisions.

“Understanding why pet owners make certain decisions provides invaluable insight for pet care business owners,” said Carmen Rustenbeck, Founder & CEO of IBPSA. “This survey reveals what the pet owner thinks.”

The 100+ page study, based on independent research conducted by Researchscape International, includes detailed analysis of the survey results. The following are just a few of the study highlights:
• The top considerations for selecting a boarding facility were safety and security and overall reputation
• Before deciding on a boarding facility or pet sitter, half of the respondents determined if the facility or sitter was certified and trained in caring for pets, including in emergency situations
• Eight out of ten survey respondents put very to extremely important value on vaccination requirements at boarding facilities
• Most pet owners surveyed discovered their pet sitter by recommendation of a family member, friend or neighbor, while the least common way was online

“Even as finding pet care becomes easier thanks to technology and growing competition, this study reinforces the importance to ‘pet parents’ of providing high-quality, professional pet care,” said Rustenbeck. Paws & Pals is proud to be a charter member of the IBPSA. All of our staff have completed the IBPSA educational programs and most have achieved their Advanced canine care certifications. We will continue to invest in our staff so that your pet receives the best care possible at Paws & Pals!


Top Summer Safety Tips

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Our pets love summer just as much as we do! For many, it’s the best time of year to be out, about, and enjoying all that the season has to offer. 

While there is certainly nothing wrong with taking your pet out for hikes, swimming, or running, keep in mind that warm weather can be dangerous. It’s hard for pets to keep cool when the sun is beating down, and animals don’t sweat like people do. Dogs do sweat, but not very much, and it does little to cool them off. As you probably know, dogs more commonly cool themselves down through panting. When there is only hot air for a dog to breathe, it’s a lot harder for that dog to keep cool. Read on to learn some important summer safety tips for dogs:

1. Never, ever, EVER leave your dog in a hot car 

Okay, you’ve probably heard this one before, but it’s so important that we still decided to list it first. It can take minutes – yes, MINUTES – for a pet to develop heat stroke and suffocate in a car. Most people don’t realize how hot it gets in parked cars. On a 78 degree day, for instance, temperatures in a car can reach 90 degrees in the shade and top 160 degrees if parked directly in the sun! Your best bet is to leave your dog home on warm days. If you’re driving around with your dog in the car, bring water and a water dish and take your dog with you when you leave the car.

2. Make sure your dog is protected from parasites like fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes

If not protected, your dog is at risk for heartworm, Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and a host of other nasty and dangerous conditions. And don’t forget, many of these diseases can be caught by people too!

3. Keep your dog’s paws cool

When the sun is blazing, surfaces like asphalt or metal can get really hot! Try to keep your pet off of hot asphalt; not only can it burn paws, but it can also increase body temperature and lead to overheating. It’s also not a good idea to drive around with your dog in the bed of a truck – the hot metal can burn paws quickly (and they can fall out to be injured or killed in an accident).

4. Your dog should always have access to fresh drinking water and shade

Our dogs get much thirstier than we do when they get hot, and other than panting and drinking, they really have no way to cool themselves down. Keep your pet in the shade as often as possible. While dogs and cats like to sunbathe, direct sunlight can overheat them (especially dogs) and can cause heat exhaustion or stroke.

5. Give your dog his very own “kiddy pool”

Dogs who love the water, naturally love it even more during the hot months, and getting wet keeps them cool. Providing a small, kid-sized pool will go over big.

6. Don’t assume your dog can swim well

Just because dogs instinctively know how to swim, doesn’t mean they’re good swimmers. And if your dog jumps in your swimming pool, he might not be able to get out without help and could easily drown. Make sure your dog can’t get into your swimming pool without you around.

7. Dogs get sunburns too!

Believe it or not, dogs can sunburn, especially those with short or light-colored coats. And just like with people, sunburns can be painful for a dog and overexposure to the sun can lead to skin cancer. Talk to your veterinarian about sunscreens for your dog (don’t assume a sunscreen for people is appropriate for your dog).

Perhaps the most important tip is to pay attention to your dog – you’ll know when he seems uncomfortable. Summer can be a great time to spend with your dog, but it’s important to keep these tips in mind!

Source of content: The Pet Health Network

Your Pets are in Qualified Hands at Paws & Pals!

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We know, more than ever, pets are considered part of the family and their “parents” want assurances they’re getting the very best care. Therefore we’re very proud to be the first pet care company in Minnesota to have staff achieve certification from the Professional Animal Care Certification Council (PACCC)! We’re also an early sponsor and active member. These credentials help clearly identify those professionals who are committed to and can provide excellent pet care.

What is PACCC and why should pet parents care?
The fact is, there is virtually no regulation or education required to open a pet care services business. PACCC was created to turn the tide! The Professional Animal Care Certification Council is dedicated to independent certification to help you identify premier animal care providers.

What does the independent certification mean to you?
Pet care business owners, management teams and individuals with this certification are qualified, knowledgeable, and committed professionals. They understand animal health and prioritize safe care practices. If your pet care team is certified through PACCC, you can rest easy knowing your furry family is in good hands.

What can you do to help?
As a pet parent, you can help us raise the standards for entry into the pet care industry by choosing pet care professionals that hold PACCC certification.

Where can you learn more?
Check out to learn more about PACCC’s efforts to recognize high quality providers in the pet care industry.


CPACP Certification: Congratulations Jenna!

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CPACP Certification: Congratulations Jenna!

Congratulations to Jenna for being the first person in Minnesota to achieve certification from the Professional Animal Certification Council (PACCC)!

The CPACP exam is for those in charge of the daily handling of the animals of a professional pet care business, overseeing every aspect of an animal’s well-being while in their care. To initially qualify to take the CPACP exam, the applicant must meet minimum education requirements, have a minimum of 500 hours of experience, and provide letters of reference from veterinarians and other pet care industry professionals.

The in-depth examination covers animal care topics including health, nutrition, dog fight and bite protocol, on-leash and off-leash interaction, sanitation, dog behavior and temperament, dog body language, dog training, animal and handler safety, vaccination protocol, workflow management, pathogen control, emergency and quarantine protocols, air quality standards, staff management expectations, and much more.

We know, more than ever, pets are considered part of the family and their “parents” want assurances they’re getting the very best care. CPACP credentials help clearly identify those professionals who can provide it. We’re proud to have Jenna on our team!

Avoiding Springtime Hazards

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By the time the cold winter winds and snowstorms are replaced by pleasant sun-warmed spring days, pets are more than ready to return outdoors. Although spring is probably one of the most welcomed seasons, pet owners need to keep in mind that with the change in weather and increase of outdoor activity comes an increase of dangers for their beloved animal friends. Owners should be aware of these springtime hazards some of which might seem trivial, but can have fatal consequences.

Fertilizer – The first thing many people like to do when they are sure winter is gone for good is get their yards back in shape. It’s common knowledge that many fertilizer products can cause serious problems if ingested by animals or humans. It is still important to pay close attention to what the product labels say. Just because you see the term “natural” does not mean the product is nontoxic. There are also less-obvious problems lurking in gardens and lawns of which pet owners might not be aware.

Mulch – Many people use mulch to complete their landscaping projects. However, there are certain types of mulch that pet owners should avoid. Cocoa bean mulch, for example, is known to poison dogs. Because this mulch is made from the hulls of cacao beans, it has a rich chocolate aroma that entices animals to eat it. Chocolate contains a substance called theobromine, which is a caffeine derivative toxic to animals and can even kill them if they ingest enough.

Insects – With the yard free of toxic fertilizer, there is still the increase of insects and other pests to think about. Tick-borne diseases, such as Lyme’s, may hospitalize your pet. And some fleaborne diseases, such as Bartonella, can also be detrimental to your pet’s health. There are many different products on the market to help control these little bugs. Pet owners should be sure to consult with their veterinarians before using these products.

Pesticide products are often a popular combatant to pest problems, but it is important that pet owners keep pets indoors for as long as the instructions suggest. If a dog or cat accidentally gets outdoors during pesticide treatment and eats the grass or even walks on it and then licks its paws, they could begin convulsing, vomiting, having diarrhea or internal bleeding and could even become unconscious.

Allergies – The change in the weather, pollination of plants, and toxic particles that sneak from yard to yard, could all be the cause of allergic reactions in household pets. Scratching, sneezing, losing excess amounts of fur, red or dry skin, constant licking and nasal discharge all are signs that the animal is having an allergic reaction to something. Pet owners should visit their vet for the allergy medicine or shampoo that will work best for their particular problem.

Springtime is a time for sunny days, beautiful blooms and enjoying the outdoors. Just remember that along with the warmer weather come some potential hazards for your furry friend. Your knowledge and awareness of these dangers will help keep your beloved pet healthy and happy.

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