PAL’s Guide to Gift Buying

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It’s December! Which means Christmas and Hanukkah are only a few weeks away… While some of you may already have your holiday shopping done, some of us just don’t know what the heck to buy for certain people, which can make shopping a real pain in the tail.  But we’re here to let you in on a little yuletide secret: when it doubt, buy for their pal! Seriously! It’s kind of foolproof because, to a pet lover, it’s incredibly considerate to think of their animal and they’re not stuck with another set of Christmas socks or goodies they simply don’t need. If you have friends, neighbors, and coworkers with pets, a gift for their animal is a thoughtful, functional gesture that you can still tailor to the person you’re buying for. So here’s our ruff guide to holiday shopping for the people you just don’t know what to get.

For Teachers/Coworkers

A festive toy, scratcher, or chew
Gourmet seasonal treats
A puzzle feeder or other game for pets

If They’re an Athlete/Health Nut

A leash with matching collar or harness
Lean, healthy treats
Booties for trail safety or a backpack to maximize their workout

For the Traveler/Road Tripper

Travel bowls
Travel bed
Reflective leash, collar, or harness (for pit stops)
A kitty crate or safety booster for small dogs

How do you decide what to buy for the people (or pets) on your list? Share with us on Facebook!

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Do Pets Need Pals?

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Many pet owners often wonder if bringing another pet into the home will enrich or essentially ruin their current pet’s life – and it’s absolutely a fair consideration. November 19 is National Get a PAL for your Pet Day, an awareness holiday established by an incredibly amazing nonprofit (hehe) in an attempt to get people thinking about bringing in a companion for their pet. Unless your pet is downright antisocial (and we’re sure you’re aware of such), they can most likely benefit from the companionship of another animal. In honor of Get a PAL for your Pet Day, we’re presenting a few pros to multiple pet ownership and some tips on choosing your pet’s pal.

  • Beating loneliness. The same way having the support of a best friend helps people in their daily life, having a four-legged friend can help pets feel less lonely which is emotionally enriching and reduces stress. It also makes pets more sociable, which always makes life easier.
  • Prompting play. If your pet’s starting to slow down a little, a youthful counterpart may be the perfect antidote to their sedentary lifestyle.
  • Certain similarities matter. You don’t have to get your pet a companion that’s the same age, breed, or even the same species, but certain things – like how they play and how often they like to relax – should be considered. If your pet’s submissive then don’t get them a companion that’s too domineering and rough; if your older dog likes to nap, consider a 4- or 5-year-old buddy, rather than a hyper young pup. A meet and greet between the two is essential to pinpointing these behaviors and will help determine if they are a fit.
  • Talk with the shelter.The shelter should gladly tell you everything they know about the pet you’re interested in, but be sure to flat-out ask if they are good with other animals and if they have any playtime quirks, like doing better with similar-sized dogs or exhibiting aggression over toys or food bowls.
  • Introduction – After the meet-and-greet, and once you’ve determined your pets can be playmates, it’s time to introduce your pet to the household. There are a few different ideas on how best to do this, but you know your [current] pet best and should do whatever is best for them. Some pets may not feel territorial over the home while others may have a strong reaction; we suggest doing your research on various ways of introducing two animals and tailoring it to your animal’s temperament.
  • Monitor and Enjoy – It’s up to you to play referee in the beginning. Make sure you’re closely monitoring both pets’ behavior and correcting it accordingly. Other than that, enjoy! Watching your pet goof around with a new friend is as heart-warming as it is entertaining and you should know you just did something great for your pet’s well-being.

If you’ve recently gotten your pet a playmate, we want to see and hear all about your experience so get to sharing!

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Forget New Tricks, Old Dogs are the Best!

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Maybe it’s just us, but we find older pets to be among the most endearing animals on the planet.  November is Adopt a Senior Pet Month, intended to bring these oldies but goodies to the forefront and get them into loving forever homes. It’s a sad fact that not only are older animals given up for adoption, but they’re often overlooked for younger shelter mates – giving them a sometimes sad and heartbroken last chapter to their story.  We know that caring for an older animal can be a considerable undertaking, but we’re dishing up 5 reasons senior pals are the best.

  1. No games. There’s no guessing with older pets, their personalities and physical traits are already established and anything you need to know about them is already known and available.
  2. They know their stuff. Older pets have already learned what’s appropriate to chew, pee, and snack on, making them easier to incorporate into your household than a puppy or adolescent dog.
  3. They’re calm. A senior pet won’t be bouncing off the walls for a morning walk or breakfast. All they really want is to relax. Ah, perfect.
  4. They’re loving. Not only do older pets have years of experience in being buddies, they are some of the most appreciative adoptees at the shelter. It’s fair to assume almost all senior pets have experienced a loving home at some point in their life so they recognize and appreciate the chance at another one.
  5. Talk about rewarding. Knowing you gave a senior pal a loving last chapter is a unique and fulfilling feeling. While it’s certainly not for everyone, adopting a senior pet is undoubtedly saving a life… and we guarantee it makes the world of difference to that animal.

Show us your gray-faced lovies on Facebook!

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Therapy Animals and Service Animals: What’s the Diff?

2If you need an example of just how smart, capable, and necessary animals can be, look no further than service dogs and therapy animals. From navigating the streets, providing comfort in stressful situations, and even detecting and preventing seizures for their owners, there’s simply no denying how incredible these animals are. Some people use the terms ‘service’ and ‘therapy’ interchangeably when talking about animals,  but there’s a pretty big difference and you can think of it like this:

A service dog serves one, therapy animals serve many.

Allow us to explain. Service dogs are working dogs – they have been trained to perform a very specific, and often life-saving, task for their owners and require the space and respect to perform those duties. If you see a dog wearing a service animal vest, it’s best to ignore them and let them do their job. If you simply CANNOT resist the need to pet a dog in public (believe us, we get it), then be sure to always, always, always ask their handler if you can pet them to avoid being a dangerous distraction. Most of the time, though, their vests will explicitly say “Service Dog at Work” or something along those lines to let others know they aren’t here for everyone.

Therapy animals, on the other hand, are literally there to be pet, and their sweet little vests will usually indicate such – typically with the words “Pet Me” or “Therapy Animal – Please Pet”. More and more high-stress places, like airports and universities, are allowing therapy dogs (or cats!) to come in for the exact purpose of letting everyone decompress in the company of an animal. Any pet with a great temperament and patience with people can get certified as a therapy animal, whereas service dogs go through a stringent vetting and training process to serve their human.

In thinking about these incredibly capable and therapeutic canines, it oddly makes us realize how much our dogs bring to our lives even if they can’t fetch us a bottle of water from the fridge. From emotional support to family protection and daily affection, we know every dog services their human(s) in some way – which is pretty impressive for a single species, if you ask us.

 

 

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Caped Canines and Festive Felines: Easy Costume Ideas for our Pals

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It’s here! It’s here! Halloween is here and we are bursting with excitement to decorate our homes, ourselves, and our pets. (Yes, we said our pets.) Of course, not every pal is super keen on being dressed in a costume (and we can’t blame them, some days it’s a struggle for us just to put on pants), so we’ve come up with a few easy ideas for them to paw-ticipate…

Harry Paw-tter – Pick your favorite Hogwarts house colors, get a scarf in the same hues,  print or order a patch with the house emblem and expecto patronum! You’ve got yourself a magical mascot for the night. (Bonus points if you can figure out how to work a pair of costume glasses into it.)

Scooby Doo – This one is super simple: all you need is a bright blue collar (or you can wrap your pet’s existing one in fabric) and make a cartoon-ish SD tag out of cardboard. Granted, certain breeds pull this one off better than others but we love any and all efforts to be festive.

Lifeguard – Does your dog have a life vest? Then you’ve got a costume. Tape the white lifeguarding symbol on it and a whistle around their neck (if you can) and consider your pup transformed.

A Simple Cape. Seriously, a little goes a long way. Bonus points if it’s personalized to make your pet into their very own caped crusader.

Pet Paint – Oh yes, it’s a thing, and it’s a great way to zhoosh up your pet’s exterior with zero discomfort to them. Be sure to test the paint on a small area of their skin first and, if everything’s okay, go for it! Turn them into a camouflaged soldier, a spotted leopard, or even draw a superhero’s emblem on their chest; just be sure to keep it below the neck and watch for their eyes while spraying.

We’re dying to see your pals’ costumes, even if they’re from last year – so be sure to share on Facebook!

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SPF: Sun Protection for Fido

1Did you know that pets can get sunburnt too? Yep, a day in the sun for certain dogs can burn their skin just like humans (especially long haired dogs who’ve been shaved down for summer.) The truth is the sun can be just as dangerous to our dogs as it can to us and, while it may seem over-the-top and worrisome to consider sun protection, if your dog frequently accompanies you on a boat, to the beach, or even hunting, you may want to consider these sun protection favorites.

  • Yep, doggy sunscreen exists, primarily for their nose and inner thighs where the fur is thin but will undoubtedly get exposed to the sun. Make absolute sure there isn’t any zinc oxide in the product, and test it on a small part of their skin before full application.
  • We love doggles – they make us laugh, make pups look like bosses and, most importantly, protect their eyes from the sun. An absolute must for dogs who frequently go on boats or motorcycles (yikes! But we’ve seen it!) with their owners.
  • Another functional product that’s good for a laugh as dogs get used to them. While these aren’t necessarily protection from the sun, they will save your pet’s paw pads from the ground that’s scalding because of it.
  • UV Shirts. Yep, just like the ones you see on kids at the beach. If your dog has skin issues or a something like a healing cut but can still have fun at the beach, consider a rash guard – just remember it won’t protect their inner thighs.
  • Shade, Duh. The most obvious sun protection is shade – and it’s an absolutely must anywhere your pet may be (especially, your backyard.) If your pet often accompanies you to sunny places, consider an umbrella or shade structure – not just for your pet, but for you too! (And, of course, don’t forget lots of water, pals.)

Show us how you and your dog fun in the sun on Facebook!

 

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5 Signs of a Responsible Breeder

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While local pet store owners should know exactly where the pups are housed before receiving them, most of them either don’t care or take the ‘wholesalers’ word that the animals are happy and healthy. The plus side: more and more cities are taking steps to either ban pet stores or enforce stricter rules on where they obtain their animals. (PS: You can get involved too. Tell your local officials that you support animal welfare laws – like those limiting the amount of pets a person can own and breed, and establishing standards of care for anyone intending to sell animals for profit. Seriously, it can’t hurt and may even elevate your community.)

Backyard breeders, on the other hand, are a little easier to spot, as they’ll have an abundance of “designer” breeds available ‘right away’ (usually around the 6-week mark, when 8-10 is recommended), they’ll be very evasive when asked questions, and will probably want to meet off site. We want you to get a happy, healthy companion from someone who cares about the integrity of their animals. If you are getting a dog or cat from an independent breeder, here are 5 things to look for to ensure they’re responsible:

✔ They don’t have multiple litters available at once; most breeders who care about the wellbeing of their animals usually have a wait list.

✔ They let you see where the puppies are housed and ‘meet’ the parents.

✔ Can explain their medical background and care up until they become yours.

✔ Don’t pressure you in any way to purchase from them.

✔ Ask YOU questions, as that’s a clear indicator they care where the pup is going.

The best way you can help is to be informed and share the information with anyone who may be considering bringing a purebred pal into their life. Protect Pet Choice is a phenomenal resource in educating yourself about breeding standards and the evolution of laws and legislation regarding such. And, of course, never forget about the amazing breed-specific rescues out there – not only will you get the dog of your dreams, you’ll be giving them a new lease on life!

Don’t get us wrong, we’ve got nothing against purebred pals – so show us your beauties online! (Even if they’re not pure, we’d still love to see their floofy little faces!)

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