The holidays are in full force and Christmas is just around the corner. if you’re anything like us, there are plenty of errands left to run, family plans to schedule, and gifts to be bought. When it comes to your cat or dog, we can help you with that last one. From stocking stuffers to doggy treats to cat toys, we’ve compiled a guide of 10 holiday gift ideas to simplify your search for the perfect present. In line with our love for animals and the planet, the following items are responsibly made with the environment in mind.
West Paw’s Heyday Dog Bed
Named “One of the Best Small Companies in America” by Forbes Magazine, West Paw makes carefully designed pet products using a sustainable manufacturing approach. Their Heyday Bed is no different, and it’s one of the most durable dog beds on the market. Handmade in the U.S., stain resistant and machine washable, the Heyday Bed is covered with extra soft micro suede fabric and guaranteed free of harmful chemicals. And like all of West Paw’s pet beds, this bed is made from the company’s IntelliLoft eco-fiber, a stuffing that helps reduce waste by repurposing plastic water bottles.
Kids ‘N’ Pets’ Instant All Purpose Stain & Odor Remover
The trick with stain removers is finding one that’s both safe for use around pets (and people) and actually effective. Kids ‘N’ Pets’ Instant All Purpose Stain & Odor Remover checks off all the boxes. From pet stains to spills and everything in between, this all purpose stain remover can be used on carpet, mattresses, bedding and more. Best of all, it’s non-toxic, biodegradable and as the company states “completely safe for people, pets, and plants.”
Only Natural Pet’s Holiday Duck & Cranberry Biscuits
Your dog can eat like a king (or queen!) with Only Natural Pet’s Holiday Duck & Cranberry Biscuits. Made from a high-quality grain-free mixture of duck broth, cranberries and just a hint of mint, these biscuits will have your dog sidestepping the holiday dining table for his very own dog bowl.
Paw Street Barkery’s Winter Wonderland Organic Gift BoxIf you’re hoping to really spoil your pup this holiday season, look no further than the Winter Wonderland Organic Gift Box. Made from all organic ingredients, this gorgeous gift box includes a sampling of gourmet treats courtesy Paw Street Barkery: including dog-friendly Peanut Butter Cups, biscotti-like dog treats and various pup-safe cookies.
Dezi & Roo’s Hide and Sneak Cat Tunnel
Affordable, biodegradable, and handmade in the U.S by a team of veterinary professionals, the Hide and Sneak Cat Tunnel is a perfect gift for any cat or cat owner. Cats love its crinkly sounds and catnip-infused material, you’ll love its eco-friendly design and reasonable pricing.
Amazon Basics Dog Waste Bags with Dispenser
Deemed the best dog poop bags in the world by the New York Times product-vetting resource Wirecutter, Amazon Basics Dog Waste Bags are the ideal option for the majority of dogs and dog owners. Because dog poop bags aren’t really compostible or biodegradable in the traditional sense (dog poop should not be composted, and you don’t want dog poop loose in a landfill due to a biodegraded plastic bag), these bags are among the very best in the market. They’re durable, easy-to-use, include a leash clip, and come in large enough quantities to prevent frequent reordering—which cuts down on the product’s overall eco-footprint. However, if you absolutely must go biodegradable, we recommend Pets N Bags as an alternative.
West Paw’s Hurley Dog Bone
Another West Paw Design, the Hurley Dog Bone is an ultra durable, teeth-safe, dishwasher-safe, non-toxic (BPA-free, phthalate-free) chew toy guaranteed to last—if it doesn’t, they’ll replace it! And because it’s made from West Paw’s patented eco-friendly Zogoflex material, it’s endlessly recycable. Send it back to West Paw, and they’ll even recycle it for you.
Cedarcide Original Pet-Friendly Insect Repellent
Ruffwear’s Summit Trex Dog Boots
Dog boots are essential to protecting your dog’s paws during outdoors activities like hiking, as well in the winter when deicing salts and cold weather threaten their delicate pads. Made by performance dog gear company Ruffwear, the Summit Trex Dog Boots are a sustainably manufactured dog boot engineered for durability and extreme temperatures. These boots are tough enough to withstand the most demanding trail conditions, yet small and flexible enough to fit into your pup’s stocking.
At Cedarcide, pet photos are our favorite type of holiday photo. Capturing these photos is usually fun and memorable, but it’s not always easy. By considering the following tips, you’ll save yourself a lot of time and sanity, and score some terrific shots, too. And when you’re done, surf on over to our Facebook page and share them with us—we’d love to see your cat or dog!
Familiarize Your Pet with the Camera
Ever met a dog that just doesn’t like cameras—maybe he barks every time it flashes or clicks, maybe he even nips if it gets too close? Chances are the owner never got his pup familiarized with the camera. After all, all those noises and flashes can be scary to unfamiliar pets. Before taking holiday photos—maybe a few days or a week in advance—spend some time getting your cat or dog used to being in front of a camera. Rewarding them with a treat after every practice photo can do wonders—this will help him or her associate the look and sounds of a camera with something positive. Before you know it, they’ll be just as excited for holiday photos as you are.
Turn Off the Flash
Pet photos are often plagued by blurry or glare-filled eyes. The cause? Flash. To achieve the ideal look for holiday pet photos, skip the flash and go with natural lighting instead.
Take Improv and Action Shots, too
Sitting and standing still for long periods of time is difficult for most pets. Capturing them in a more natural setting—playing, sleeping or running, for example—will make things easier and more fun for both you and your pet. You might be surprised: action shots often deliver far better results than traditional holiday-card-style portraits.
Change Your Perspective
Lowering yourself down to your cat or dog’s level can produce some gorgeous holiday pet photos. For whatever reason, photos taken at the same eye-level as your pet just tend to be a little cuter.
Go with a Calm, Familiar Setting
Distractions are the most common reason pet photos go awry. Choosing a calm setting free of unnecessary distractions—like extra people, other pets, and toys—will make things go much smoother. A room in your own home is usually the ideal location, as unfamiliar locations can be the biggest distraction of all. If your pet is not comfortable, you’re far less likely to snap a decent picture. However, if your pet generally does well in public settings, consider taking them to a special holiday location—pet photos with a local Santa Claus can be especially unforgettable.
When there’s holiday decorations to get tangled up in, family running amok, and dozens of errands left to run, staying patient is not the easiest thing in the world. But finding just a little extra patience when tackling pet photos can make your task all the easier. The logic’s simple: the more time you allow for taking photos, the more priceless memories you’ll likely end up with.
Play with the Focus
Toying with your camera’s focus settings can turn a good picture into a great one. Specifically, capturing your pet in sharp focus against a blurry backdrop will create a beautiful, professional-style shot. If you have a newer smartphone, check for a setting called “portrait style.” This essentially does the same thing, rendering closer objects in focus and the backdrop out of focus. The stark contrast will really make your holiday pet photos pop.
Grab Their Attention
From squeaking toys behind the camera to luring their attention with a treat, using something to get your pet to look into the camera will make taking holiday photos a much less stressful activity.
If they’re not too much of a distraction for your pet, holiday props like sweaters and santa hats can really spice up a holiday photo. Give it a go, you might be surprised by what your cat or dog lets you get away with.
Pick the Right Time of Day
Consider what times of day your pet is most relaxed and docile. For younger dogs this might be towards the end of the day, when they’ve sufficiently tired themselves out. Whatever time you go with, make sure your pet has been well fed, out to the restroom, and exercised before starting a photo session. Doing so will make your life much, much easier. You’re certain to get far better photos, too.
From large family gatherings and comfort food to holiday decorations and crackling fireplaces, winter is an amazing time of year. But amid all the gift buying and meal preparation, don’t forget about your pets. Winter might be a magical time for us, but it presents unique hazards for our cats and dogs. By making yourself aware of these dangers and planning accordingly, you can save your pet a terrifying visit to the vet—and maybe even save their life, too. Here’s 6 winter dangers every per owner should watch our for.
Hypothermia (or extremely low body temperature) is one of the most serious dangers your pet faces during winter. Coma, organ failure, and even death can result if not promptly treated. Sick, underweight and older pets—as well as those with little fur—are especially vulnerable to hypothermia, and should be kept indoors during winter when at all possible. It’s important to monitor your pet during winter, as early detection is crucial to tackling hypothermia. Here’s the common symptoms to look out for:
- Intense shivering
- Difficulty breathing/shallow breathing
- Loss of appetite
- Muscle stiffness
- Weak pulse
If you fear your pet may have hypothermia, contact your vet immediately. To help raise your pet’s body temperature, you can place warm water bottles wrapped in towels under their armpits and chest. Wrapping them in a blanket warmed in the dryer is also effective. (Never use methods such as hair dryers or electric blankets, as these can cause burns to hypothermic animals). To prevent hypothermia, never let your pet endure cold weather for extended periods of time, and consider bundling them up in warm clothing whenever the temperature drops.
Freezing of the skin and tissue, commonly known as frostbite, is one of winter’s scariest threats. Exposed to sub-freezing temperatures and chilling winds, your cat or dog can succumb to frostbite in only a matter of minutes. From permanent tissue damage to loss of limbs to death, frostbite should be at the top of every pet owner’s mind as fall and winter roll around. Frostbite symptoms include:
- Red, gray, blue, white or pale skin
- Shriveled skin
- Pain in the ears, tail, paws or other extremities
- Skin that remains cold to the touch over long periods of time
You can help prevent frostbite by quickly removing ice and snow from your pet’s paws after they’ve been outside (pay special attention to any snow or ice balls that may have formed in between their toes). If you worry your cat or dog may have frostbite, contact your vet right away. Applying warm—but not hot—water to frostbitten extremities can provide relief. Be careful not to rub or massage areas suspected of frostbite, doing so can cause irreversible damage.
From small spills to slow vehicle leaks, antifreeze can kill your cat or dog. And unfortunately, due to its sweet smell and taste, animals often confuse the substance for something edible. If you suspect antifreeze poisoning, and your pet seems disoriented, is excessively drooling, or simply acting abnormal, consult a vet immediately. Remember to always store antifreeze out of reach of your pets, regardless of the season.
In winter, cats and smaller dogs will occasionally seek warmth near running vehicles. While most will curl up next to the exhaust, some kittens have been known to work their way under the hood of a vehicle for added heat and shelter. To guard you and your neighbors’ pets from possible disaster, check your car before taking off each day. You might just save a little life by doing so.
Salts used to melt snow and ice pose several health risks to pets. If ingested, these substances can cause mouth burns, painful gastrointestinal distress, and in rare cases even death. More commonly, these salts will irritate or damage your pet’s paw pads and skin. Thankfully, there are ways you can help protect your pet from such injuries:
- Place waterproof booties on their feet before walks in snowy or icy weather
- Using warm water, wash your pet’s feet, legs and underbelly after winter walks
- When treating your own sidewalks and driveway, choose pet-safe de-icers—like sand, gravel or kitty litter
- On walks, avoid areas that tend to be heavily salted
- Contact your local city officials about switching to pet-friendly de-icing methods
As the cold returns and pests move indoors, homeowners commonly arm their houses with rodenticides, poisons intended to control rats and mice. Sadly, rodenticides represent one of the most common sources of pet poisoning during the fall and winter months. For the sake of your pets (and family), we suggest going natural with your rodent control instead. Regardless of what direction you choose, never place rodenticides in areas accessible to your cat, dog or other pets. (Similarly, we suggest going non-toxic with your insect control, too).
Winter can be tough on our dogs. Being cooped up all day not only robs them of their usual outdoor entertainment, but it makes it difficult for them to get the exercise necessary to maintain their health. Given that 54% of U.S. dog are dangerously overweight, it’s important to seek alternative means of exercise to help your pup stay fit through the winter months. Here’s some quick and and easy ways to give your pup some added physical activity when the weather makes it unpleasant to go outside.
Sign Your Dog Up For a Class
From social skills to increased fitness, canine classes are a quick way for your pup to learn some new skills and get some exercise in the process. Swimming courses, socializing classes, obedience and agility training—there’s tons of options to choose from. It will take a little research to see what’s available in your area and what’s right for your dog, but you’ll both be glad you did it.
Winter is the ideal time to teach your pup some new tricks. Not only can this be done in the comfort of your own home, but it’s a fun way to get your dog some needed exercise in the colder months. Remember to stay upbeat, positive reinforcement is the most effective way to educate your dog.
Bring Fido Along For the Ride
Whether you’re heading to the pet store, visiting friends or just running errands, bringing your dog along for the ride is an easy way to get your pup out and about when it’s cold outside. As long as your pet is well-mannered, consider visiting pet-friendly coffee shops, restaurants and bars, too. Your pup will love the extra attention. (Remember to make sure your dog’s safely secured before taking them anywhere in your vehicle).
Schedule a Playdate
Playdates are one of our favorite ways to exercise our doggies during the cold season. Call up your pup’s favorite pal and see if they’d like to meet up at a local dog park, an indoor space, or even in your own backyard. Just be sure to monitor the weather and dress your puppy friends accordingly (including dog boots if your neighborhood uses salt or other anti-ice chemicals that might irritate their paws).
Turn Mealtime Into Playtime
To add a little fun and exercise to your dog’s daily winter routine, make your pup’s meals (and snacks) into a game. One option is to hide treats throughout your home like a scavenger hunt. Another is to use a food puzzle toy (like a Kong) to feed your pup. The thirty-or-so minutes of extra playtime might not seem like much, but any extra winter exercise is well worth the effort.
Simple indoor games like tug-of-war are an effective way to supplement your dog’s exercise routine when it’s too cold to go outside. Fetch, wrestling, hide-and-seek—the possibilities are endless. As a precaution, make sure the space you’re using is pet-friendly and free of potential safety hazards, such as sharp objects, open flames, and steep inclines like staircases.
As every dog owner can attest, dogs make our lives better. They make us feel better, they love us unconditionally, they protect us, and they’re always there for support when the world gets us down. But it turns out they do more for us than we might even realize. From improved mood and fitness to longer lives, here’s 10 ways dogs make us happier and healthier.
Lower Your Blood Pressure
From stroke to heart attack, high blood pressure can have lethal, life-changing consequences. Did you know owning a dog can help lower your risk of blood pressure and blood-pressure-related health issues? In one study, researchers at the University of South Carolina, Columbia found that simply petting or speaking to an animal was enough to lower one’s blood pressure. When both petting and speaking to an animal, subjects’ blood pressures dropped even lower.
Lower Your Risk of Heart Disease and Improve Your Chances of Surviving a Heart Attack
While scientists are still working out the details of why, studies consistently show pet owners are less likely to suffer from heart disease. In addition to lower cholesterol and healthier hearts, dog owners are also more likely to survive a heart attack should one occur.
Help You De-Stress
Dog owners have long recognized the therapeutic rewards of their pups. After a long, stressful day at the office, those warm puppy greetings and loving smiles are just what the doctor ordered to help you unwind. A study conducted at Virginia Commonwealth University has now confirmed this, finding that spending time with dogs can significantly lower your stress levels. Fortunately, our doggies benefit from the interaction, too—research has shown dogs experience less stress after enjoying one-on-one time with humans as well.
Make You Fitter
On average, pet owners live healthier, more active lives. From daily walks and park visits to activities like hiking, having a dog can significantly raise your cardiovascular activity. But by how much? The international Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity reports that dog owners enjoy 50 more minutes of physical activity each week than those without pets.
Strengthen Your Immune System
Do you commonly suffer from colds, infections and other annoying illnesses? Owning a dog might help. Research suggests owning a dog increases one’s secretion of immunoglobulin A, an antibody crucial to immune system health. Furthermore, it was found that children raised in homes with a pet are sick less often than those who weren’t.
As you might have guessed, loneliness and depression can be alleviated by owning a dog. Research shows that when humans interact with dogs, certain hormones are released into the bloodstream, including oxytocin, serotonin and prolactin, all of which are tied to improved mood and decreased depression.
Reduce Chronic Pain
Following surgery or catastrophic accident, patients often require prolonged use of pain medication to treat their symptoms. Sadly, these medications come with serious side effects, not to mention the risk of addiction. Owning a dog, it turns out, can help lessen your dependence on such medication. A study conducted at Loyola University Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing found that joint replacement patients needed less pain medication following surgery when their therapy included animal interaction.
Increase Life Expectancy
Given all the health benefits associated with dog ownership, it should come as no surprise that pups help increase our life expectancy, too. By lowering the risk of depression, stress and heart disease, and by helping increase the frequency of exercise and immune system health, dogs allow us to live longer, healthier lives. It’s not just physical health, either. Owning a dog has also been shown to help prevent cognitive decline, such as dementia.
Improve Your Relationships
Ever wonder why people with pets tend to be more friendly? Research has found those with strong animal relationships enjoy better social lives and more stable relations with fellow humans. A study conducted by the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University concluded that people with close animal bonds are typically more involved with their community and more empathetic toward others.
They Can Help Recovery From Trauma
Several traumas—from assault to warfare—are known to be helped by consistent interaction with animals, dogs in particular. For example, soldiers suffering from PTSD have shown drastic, life-saving improvements on account of animal therapy. Scientists believe the hormone oxytocin—which is released into the bloodstream when humans engage with animals—is likely the cause. Oxytocin is associated with increased trust, social activity and improved mood.
In honor of Pit Bull Awareness Month and Pit Bull Awareness Day (Oct 28), we caught up with Aften Bell, Founder of The Love Pit, a non-profit pit bull rescue located in Dallas, Texas. Built upon the mission of “reducing the homeless pit bull population through rescue, rehabilitation, training and advocacy,” the Love Pit is helping raise the bar for rescues the nation over. Covering everything from pit bulls’ unique personalities to the Love Pit’s inspirational beginnings, read our interview with Aften Bell below.
Can you give us a little background on the Love Pit: How long it’s been around, what inspired you to start it, how it all came together?
It really all started in 2015. I was coming home from work and I saw a dog walking into oncoming traffic. I got out and called to her, “Come here Sweet Pea.” For whatever reason, that name just came out. She slowly walked over to me, and as she got closer I saw the damage to her face. Basically, a big part of her face was missing—it had been chewed off by another dog. Seeing something like that can really change your perspective.
Once we got to the vet, I took some photos. I posted a single photo on Instagram, and within 48 hours, we had raised close to $5,000. It really inspired me to take a bigger step, not only to help dogs, but also to work with people who shared my vision. It took $1,500 of surgeries to get her fixed up. Then we took the rest of the money and rescued 13 more dogs from euthanasia in Ft. Worth. I ended up adopting Sweet Pea, and she’s still with us today.
Rescue is obviously a worthy cause, by why pit bulls in particular? Is it because Sweet Pea is a pit bull?
I was actually already fostering 4 pit bulls prior to finding her. Originally, I started with a general breed rescue. But after fostering more pits, I fell in love with their personalities and the breed in general. Also, after getting involved with other pit bull rescues, I got more educated about what was going on with pit bulls at shelters.
“Of the 1.4 million dogs euthanized at shelters every year, 40% are pitbulls. That’s nearly 500,000.”
” What a difference rescue, compassion and love make!” -Photo courtesy of The Love Pit Facebook Page.
What do you think makes the breed so special—What do you love about pit bulls so much?
It’s simple: It’s how much they love. They give so much of themselves to please their human, more than most breeds I’ve worked with. Their loyalty and affection is my #1 favorite thing. They’re also some of the easiest dogs to train. Last but not least, it’s their goofy personalities—those floppy ears and big smiles!
Has running the Love Pit changed your outlook on dogs, on people? If so, how?
As far as changing my perspective on dogs, mostly it’s just made me love and understand them more. As far as people go, I never realized how much rescue can affect people’s lives. I’ve had volunteers who suffer from depression and social anxiety—where they can’t be around crowds—but now, because they have a purpose and moral mission with these dogs, they’re able to go out to adoption events and connect with other volunteers. Rescue opens up this whole new world to people.
What do you say to those still apprehensive about pit bulls? How do you approach the misconceptions surrounding the breed?
I could tell you facts about pit bulls all day, but it’s not going to matter until you have an interaction with a pit bull firsthand. Until someone has that positive experience, it’s hard to change their mind.
I used to be afraid of pit bulls myself in high school. Then I met my first pit bull. He was a friend of mine’s dog, about 100 lbs, very intimidating looking. But he was a complete goofball! There was no aggression in him whatsoever. After that, everything I thought I knew about pit bulls went out the door. I wouldn’t have changed my mind had I not experienced that for myself. I encourage people to come out to our events. You don’t even have to volunteer. Just come out, see what we’re about, visit one our pit bull kissing booths, get a “I kissed a pit and I liked it” sticker, and come pet a dog. And then if you want to volunteer, by all means volunteer.
Rachel, long time TLP volunteer and adopter of #TLPalumni Cleo says her favorite part about the breed is: “They are always there for you and give you tons of hugs!!! And accept your hugs all the time!”
What is the rehabilitation process like for the pits you rescue?
We look at the rescue model differently. We don’t rescue based on how many dogs we can save, it’s more about quality over quantity. We invest 100% in every dog we rescue, from rehabilitation all the way to post-adoption. All of our foster parents are required to come to weekly training classes. Every dog has their own training plan, because every dog is different. Out of the 300 pit bulls we’ve fostered and rescued, we’ve never had to euthanize one for behavioural issues.
Maegan Carlile, fitness coach, volunteer for TLP and long time Pit Bull advocate, is pictured here with one of her recent fosters, Ella.
What are some ways that people can support or otherwise get involved with the Love Pit?
We are a 100% volunteer-based rescue, so donations are big for us. We’re very focused on transparency. We want you to know where your money goes. We also do not use boarding or kennel facilities, which means the number of dogs we can save depends on how many foster homes we have. Foster parents are basically the heartbeat of our rescue. When you foster parent with us, you’re not alone. You have your your own trainer, your own medical coordinator. We cover all bedding costs. We also offer to pay for all dog food.
Is the Love Pit doing anything special for Pit Bull Awareness Month?
Yes we are! We have quite a few things going on this month. We just started a new education program called Keep Calm, Bully On. A big part of our mission is not only rescue, training and rehabilitating, but also advocating and educating. After two years, we’re now finally able to start the educational portion of our mission. We’re launching this for Pit Bull Awareness Month.
We’re going to be down in Houston at Spinal Tap Brewery on Pit Bull Awareness Day as well for a Pit Bull Awareness festival, which we’re hosting in partnership with Brave Bully Rescue and Good Lif3 Bully Rescue.
If an earthquake, tornado or hurricane were to suddenly rip through your neighborhood, would you be ready? You might have a plan to ensure your family’s safety, but what about your pets? What would you do with your dog or cat if you had to evacuate; what supplies would you need to keep them safe during the ordeal? Every pet owner needs the tools and information necessary to prepare for large scale emergencies and natural disasters—because it very well could save your dog or cat’s life. Don’t let a disaster catch you unprepared: here’s how to keep your pet safe during extreme weather and other emergencies.
Prepare an Emergency Kit
First things first, you need to prep an emergency kit of supplies, as you likely won’t have time to assemble one in the event of an actual disaster. Store this kit close to your preferred exit, and make sure everyone in the home knows its location ahead of time. While it’s important to be thorough with your supplies, make sure the kit remains light enough to be easily portable. At the minimum, here’s what your kit should contain:
- Durable leashes/harnesses/carriers/collars for each pet
- Additional tags, with personal and vet contact information
- Pet Blanket
- Food for several days
- Water for several days
- Collapsible food/water bowl
- Necessary medications, medical records, and a waterproof bag to keep them in (most facilities require vaccination documentation before admitting pets)
- Small, pet-specific first aid kit
- A photo of you and your pet to verify ownership
- Thundershirts in the event your pet is easily frightened
- Non-toxic insect repellent
- A short, instructional care sheet: including feeding & medication schedules, behavior issues, and contact info for your vet
Never Stay at Home When an Evacuation Order is Given
If an evacuation order has been given, never stay at home with your pet just because you have no place to take them. This is unsafe and potentially life threatening for both you and your pet. To avoid a situation like this, you need to arrange accommodations for your pet before any such emergency occurs. More on that below.
Make an Evacuation Plan and Practice It
Once disaster strikes, it’s too late to make and execute an evacuation plan efficiently. If you’re a pet owner, you should outline an evacuation plan and route as soon as possible, and begin practicing it soon thereafter. It’s a good idea to include your pet in these practice sessions, so they won’t be startled when it comes time to enact them. At the minimum, your evacuation plans should include:
- A plan to bring your pet inside at the first sign of an emergency or extreme weather. This goes for official weather and emergency broadcast warnings, too
- A clearly chosen route of escape from your area, with one backup route at minimum, including a list of pet-friendly hotels along the way
- Verifying that your pet’s collar and tags remain intact and up to date just before leaving
- Remembering to collect the emergency kit you prepared for your pet in advance
- Calling and reserving, or verifying, any necessary boarding plans with your chosen facility, hotel or loved one
- Letting friends, loved ones and neighbors know that you’ve safely evacuated with your pet
- A plan of escape that allows you, your pet and family to evacuate in under 30 minutes in the event of immediate disaster
Arrange a Safe House For Your Pet
Knowing where to take your pet during a disaster is arguably the most important step in prepping your pet for an emergency. Most public storm shelters do not allow pets, so you’ll need to make other arrangements long in advance. First, contact your vet to inquire about local kennels and shelters that foster pets during emergencies. Second, see if any friends or relatives would be willing to care for your cat or dog in the event of an evacuation. Third, make a list of pet-friendly hotels along your evacuation route. At the minimum, have a primary safe house and a backup just in case. Tip: If your safe house options include a friend or relative’s home, take your pet there beforehand so they can familiarize themselves with the environment and their temporary caregivers.
Get a Rescue Alert Sticker
A rescue alert sticker is an easy precaution to take in order to help protect your pet from possible disaster. These simple decals let rescue workers know how many and what types of pets are in your home. Rescue alert stickers should be placed in a highly visible location, such as the front door. While alert stickers can be purchased at most local pet shops, the ASPCA offers them free through their website, which can be found here. Tip: if you and your pets are forced to evacuate in the face of an emergency, write “evacuated” on your alert sticker to let rescuers know you’ve already left.
Closely Monitor Your Pet After the Disaster
For pets, the days following a disaster can be just as stressful and dangerous as the disaster itself. Their normal living environment might suddenly look and smell differently, which can be disorienting. For these reasons, you need to pay special attention to your pet after a disaster. At the minimum, monitor the following:
- Aggressive behavior is not uncommon following a traumatic experience like extreme weather. For both your pet and others’ safety, closely watch your cat or dog when around other animals and people soon after a disaster.
- During a disaster, things like fencing and gates might have been damaged. To prevent your pet from getting lost, keep them close until you can check that all such structures remain intact or are repaired.
- Following a natural disaster, your home and yard will likely look much different than they did before. From harmful debris to spilled pollutants like pesticides, the area surrounding your home could be littered with potential hazards. Do a sweep—checking for possible dangers—before you let your pet back inside or outside your home after a disaster.
Additional Tips for Weathering a Disaster With Pets
- Stay calm during an emergency situation—pets picks up on our energy and will react based on how you react
- Take your pet to any facilities they might frequent during an emergency, acclimate them to the surroundings and staff if possible
- Double check that your pet’s vaccinations are up to date
- Consider microchipping your pet for additional protection in case they become lost
- Choose an alternative caregiver who can go to your home and collect your pets in case an emergency occurs while you’re not at home.
Our environment is filled with harmful contaminants. Widespread use of chemical-based pesticides plays a large role in our planet’s ever increasing toxicity. Because avoiding daily pesticide exposure is now all but impossible, it’s important to take steps to decrease the amounts of these toxins in our bodies. By lowering pesticide levels in the bloodstream, you can decrease your chances of experiencing the many horrifying effects of pesticide exposure—including cancer, diabetes and infertility. Here’s 9 things you can do to lower your risk of pesticide poisoning.
Eat Organic (and Reduce Dairy and Meat Intake)
Eating organic has been shown to greatly decrease pesticide exposure. For instance, in one swedish study, which looked at pesticide levels in the bloodstream both before and after switching to an organic diet, it was found that eating organic foods lowered certain pesticide levels by nearly 95%.
Reducing dairy and meat intake has also proven helpful. Because pesticides and other harmful chemicals accumulate in fatty cells, and because meat and dairy are more likely to be contaminated with GMOs than produce, limiting your intake of animal-based foods is a fairly easy way to lower your risk of pesticide poisoning.
Switch to Non-Toxic Pesticides
Clearly, personal pesticide use represents the most direct source of pesticide exposure. Switching from chemical-based pesticides to naturally sourced alternatives is a smart choice, not just for you and your family, but also for your pets and the environment.
While not all experts agree on dry brushing’s effectiveness, many swear by it as a method to detox the body of chemicals—including pesticides. Considering how many pesticides we’re exposed to daily, the concept of deep cleaning the skin to remove residual exposure seems like a no-brainer step to take. For more info on dry brushing, and how to do it properly, click here.
Shoes Off in the House
Shoes are a common vehicle for pesticides to enter our homes. We walk around every day unknowingly collecting pesticides on our clothing and shoes, and when we bring those things into our homes, we’re bringing the toxic chemicals along with them. An easy way to decrease this source of pesticide exposure is to take your shoes off before, or just after, walking through the door.
Drink Lots of Filtered Water
Switching from tap to filtered water, and drinking lots of it, is a smart way to ensure your body’s capable of naturally detoxifying itself—sufficient hydration is essential to that process.
Eat More Cilantro
Cilantro isn’t just delicious, it’s good for your health, too! Several studies have revealed the herb as an incredible detoxifier—including the removal of heavy metals, pesticides and herbicides.
Exercise and a healthy organic diet are crucial to your body’s detoxifying processes. Firstly, regular exercise increases healthy blood circulation, which in turn increases the rate at which toxins are flushed from the body. Secondly, toxins like pesticides are often stored in our body fat, and regular exercise is a natural way to break up fat cells and eliminate the stored contaminants.
Increase Your Fiber Intake
Fiber is conducive to digestive health. In short, it helps things move more quickly through your system—and that includes chemical contaminants such as pesticides and herbicides. For a list of fiber rich foods, click here.
Eat More Citrus
Eating more citrus is an easy way to encourage your body to flush insecticides and herbicides out of your system. Pectin, a fiber naturally abundant in citrus fruits, has a long history of medicinal uses. From helping prevent colon and prostate cancers, to diabetes and acid reflux relief, pectin offers countless health benefits. But above all, pectin is known as one of nature’s most gentle yet effective detoxifiers, heavy metals and pesticides included.
Dog parks are the playgrounds of the canine world—they’re fun, full of cute dogs, and the easiest way for your pup to socialize. Like actual playgrounds, without proper supervision and common sense, your animal child could get hurt. Read the following dog park tips & tricks to make the most of you and your dog’s precious play time.
At the minimum, bring the following items when visiting a dog park.
- Cell phone for emergencies (and documenting cuteness, too, of course!)
- Animal deterrent spray or air horn to protect both you and your pup from attacks
- Poop bags
- Cool, filtered water
- Your dog’s collar and leash
Leave the Treats and Toys at Home
While some dogs know how to share toys and treats successfully, others don’t. Introducing desirable objects like stuffed animals and snacks into a dog park is a powder keg waiting to blow. Aggressive defensiveness and fights over toys is almost a guarantee, and you or your dog could get hurt in the process.
Consider the Size of Your Dog
Some dog parks divide small dogs and large dogs to avoid potential confrontations. Others just throw every age, breed, and size all into one space. If your local park is of this last type, there’s a few things to watch out for. First, if you’re a large dog owner, never let your pooch scare or play too rough with smaller dogs—in fact, be cautious about any interaction with dogs much smaller than your own. If you’re a small dog owner, it’s probably best you find a small-breed-specific park, or find one where small and large dogs are kept separate.
Leave In-Heat and Pregnant Females at Home
Like with treats and toys, in-heat and pregnant females should never be brought to the park. For obvious reasons, this could lead to aggression, defensiveness and outright fighting.
Don’t Bring Puppies
Dog parks can be a rough environment for inexperienced, non-socialized dogs. That’s why puppies younger than 4 months should never be brought to the dog park. Young dogs are also more susceptible to infectious diseases, something dog parks are often riddled with.
Spay, Neuter, and Vaccinate Your Dog
Never, and we mean never, bring an ill, un-vaccinated, un-spayed or un-neutered dog to the dog park. This is a quick way to ruin the experience for everyone.
Master the “Come Here” Command
Do not take your pup to the dog park until you have consistent vocal control of them. Considering nearly every dog park is leash-less, the “come here” command is essential to ensure the safety of your dog. It’s best to hold off on visiting your local park until your animal friend understands and adheres to this command regularly.
Pick the Right Dog Park
If you have responsible dog owners as friends and relatives, ask them what dog parks they use most often, and which ones they recommend for your type of dog—this is often the best way to find a suitable park. (Pet Friendly Travel’s dog park locator works well, too). On the first visit to your selected dog park, carefully observe the setting before allowing your dog to enter. Are the grounds poorly maintained? Is there dog poop everywhere? Is it overly crowded? If “yes” is the answer to any of the above, keep looking—you haven’t found that perfect dog park yet.
Exercise Your Pup Beforehand
Recently exercised dogs are more relaxed, less aggressive, and overrall in a better state of mind. It might seem counterintuitive, but exercising your pup before visiting the dog park will almost always improve the experience.
Safeguard Your Dog From Fleas, Ticks and Parasites
Dog parks are notorious breeding grounds for fleas, ticks and parasites. In fact, a single, unprotected dog park visit could bring a full blown infestation to your own backyard (and living room!). Before and after dog park visits, be sure to spray both your pup and yourself with a natural, non-toxic insecticide and repellent. After your visit, you’ll need to check for ticks, too.
Size Up The Other Dog Owners
Dog owners—not dogs—determine the quality and safety of a dog park. Before letting your dog into the park, take a look around. Do the people at the park seem responsible? Do they have good control over their pups? If the answers are “no,” we advise you seek out another dog park or return another day.
Be Wary of Children
Bringing kids to the dog park is not ideal. Children’s erratic behavior, sudden movements, and general loudness can scare unfamiliar dogs, causing them to act aggressively. If you encounter children at the dog park, be wary of allowing your dog near them—the risks are simply too great. If for some reason you must bring your own child to the dog park, keep them near, watch them closely, do not allow them to run or scream, and keep them away from the other dogs.
Observe Your Dog’s Body Language
Always keep a close watch on your pup when visiting a dog park, and pay special attention to their body language (Sorry—but that means no excessive cell phone use!). Confrontations can usually be avoided simply by observing your dog’s mood. Signs of nervousness, defensiveness, or fear is the cue to relocate your dog to a safer, quieter space to play.
Know How to Break Up A Fight
It’s not fun and no one wants to think about it, but sometimes fights break out at dog parks. Knowing how to handle such a situation could save yourself an injury and maybe even your dog’s life. First, you must understand and be able to recognize the difference between playfulness and aggression: Dogs at play wag their tails, bounce on their paws, and otherwise look loose and relaxed; aggressive individuals look stiff, raise their hackles (those hairs running down their back), and appear intensely alert.
If the worst happens and your pup gets tangled in a fight with another dog, attempt to remain calm, and firmly command them to come back to you. Do not attempt to break up the fight yourself, you could be seriously injured. Instead, use the aforementioned air horn or animal deterrent spray—after all, you packed them for this exact situation. Afterwards, move your pet to another area or simply leave the park and return another day.
Remove The Leash
If your chosen park is leash-free, do not leave your dog on the leash. Dogs on leashes tend to feel less safe when surrounded by other leash-free pups, which can potentially cause aggressive defensive behavior. Plus, in a fast-paced, playful environment with dogs running around everywhere, leashes represent a serious safety hazard for both humans and other dogs.
Loudness and anxiety are things your pup and surrounding dogs will pick up on. Yelling commands at your dog, or generally acting distressed, can cause unwanted excitement among the dogs in the park, which can in turn lead to aggressive behavior. Just chill out, remain relatively quiet and relaxed, and everyone will have a much better time.
Spiders are everywhere. A recent study found that on average each square meter on our planet contains approximately 130 spiders. Which means if you’re reading this in a cubicle or kitchen nook roughly the size of a mattress, you’re being watched by about 1,040 beady, spider eyes! Their vast numbers are shocking, but nothing compares to spiders’ appetites. New research found that spiders consume upwards of 880 million tons of prey each year; by comparison all 7 billion humans on earth consume just 400 million tons of meat and fish combined. In fact, the amount of meat spiders consume each year outweighs the total biomass of all humans on our planet—in other words, spiders could, theoretically, consume every human on earth in just one year.
The numbers are shocking, but in truth, spiders are all but harmless to humans. Without question, our lives would be overrun with insects were it not for the spider, nature’s ruthlessly efficient exterminator. It’s for this reason that spiders are considered beneficial. And unless you’re absolutely terrified by them—or commonly seeing venomous individuals like black widows or brown recluses—we encourage you to leave them at their work. If you fall into the above category, though, we’ve got you covered. Here’s 10 all natural ways to get rid of spiders.
Clean & Remove Clutter From Your Home
Clutter and disorganization are a spider’s best friend, giving them ample space to hide and hunt. Consistently vacuuming, dusting, wiping down countertops, and de-cluttering your house will deter both spiders and their natural insect prey. When organizing your home, use sealable plastic containers instead of items like cardboard boxes, which do not adequately seal, providing spiders with yet another place to set up camp.
Clean & Remove Clutter From Your Yard
Brush, stacked wood, unused flowerpots, gardening equipment—spiders will make a home out of any outdoor clutter. Unkempt shrubbery, trees, and overgrown gardens also make ideal homes. Removing unnecessary clutter and keeping the lawn trim will reduce your spider population.
Seal Your Home
Even the smallest openings are a welcome mat to spiders. Windows, baseboards, doorways, light-switches, outlets, fixtures, wall & foundation cracks, chimneys, vents—all are potential spider entrances. Seal your home by remedying these cracks and openings using caulk—don’t forget to check basements and attics, too. The same process should be repeated outdoors as well, paying close attention to the roof and any foundation/wall cracks & holes. Screens or seals should be used to ensure windows, vents, chimneys, and doorways always remain firmly shut.
Turn Off The Lights
Traditional outdoor lights are irresistible to most insects, which makes them a dinner bell for spiders. Switching off these lights at night can do wonders for reducing spider populations. Indoor lights whose glow reaches outside are also a liability. For the former, consider trading your bulbs for yellow sodium vapor lights (which do not attract insects). For the latter, plan on installing additional window dressing to limit indoor lights from bleeding outdoors.
Get Rid of ALL the Bugs—Including Spiders
The most effective method for deterring spiders is to remove their food source—this entails adopting a general pest and insect control regimen, both inside and outside your home.
For outside: Using a non-toxic, plant-safe pesticide, thoroughly spray your entire yard, including all shrubbery, bases of trees, and anywhere else insects and spiders might be hiding. We advise spraying front, back and side yards all in one session. To prevent pests from re-entering your yard, carefully spray along fence lines and foundations to create a repellent perimeter around your home and lawn. Repeat this process weekly—or as needed—until you no longer see spider activity.
For indoors: Using a non-toxic pesticide/repellent, treat doorways, windowsills, baseboards and other suspected spider entry points. Continue treating these areas until your spider problems are resolved.
DIY Vinegar Spray
Spiders can’t stand vinegar—in fact, a direct spray is often fatal. Mix equal parts white vinegar and water to make a safe, all natural spider repellent. Using a spray bottle, apply this solution to doorways, window sills, known spider hangouts, and other possible entry points once a week until your spider problem’s resolved.
DIY Mint-Based Repellent
Spiders actively avoid the strong smell of peppermint, making it an effective solution for spider control. 5-10 drops of peppermint oil in 16 ounces of water will give you a handy spider repellent you can use throughout the home. As with the aforementioned vinegar, spray this solution in and around possible entry points and spider problem areas.
Citrus oils and peels are a highly effective method for repelling spiders. With a lemon oil spray or actual citrus fruit peels, you can deter spiders from entering your home. Place fresh peels skin-side-down along window sills and other spider problem areas, such as bookshelves, cabinetry and shelving. (Tip: citrus peels can also be used in your garden to limit spider activity).
For spider control, this chalky natural pesticide does double duty—killing and repelling not only spiders, but also spider-attracting insects. DE is highly abrasive, containing nearly microscopic edges which injure bugs that come in contact with it. Placing DE along spider problem areas and potential entry points will keep spiders at a distance.