Relatives of ticks, chiggers pack one of the most irritating bites on the planet. To make matters worse, they’re nearly microscopic and you won’t know they’ve bitten you until hours after it happens. Even just a few moments in chigger-infested grass can leave you host to blisters, rashes, and hives that can last for months. Trust us, having your body covered in dozens of swollen, itchy bites can really put a damper on pool and beach season, not to mention long summer days spent with family and friends.
Also known as harvest mites and berry bugs, chiggers live in grassy areas during the spring and summer months, just waiting for an unsuspecting victim to walk by so they can hitch a ride and feed. Contrary to hearsay, these arachnids don’t actually burrow into the body. Instead, they inject you with digestive enzymes that allow them to drink up your skin, leaving tell-tale clusters of red bumps commonly found on waistlines, ankles, armpits, and the crotch region.
In short, you don’t want these bugs anywhere near your home, family, or pets. We’re here to help you make that happen. Here’s how to get rid of chiggers with Cedarcide in 3 simple steps.
Preventing chiggers from setting up camp in your lawn comes down to 4 main things: deterring wildlife, wearing chigger repellent when necessary, maintaining your yard, and limiting outdoor moisture.
Common wildlife like birds, reptiles, and rodents can not only introduce chiggers into our lawns but also attract them. Reducing unnecessary clutter like unused or outdated equipment, keeping shrubbery trim, and sealing attractants like trash cans will help limit the number of wild animals you experience in and around your lawn. Installing fencing will also help considerably.
WEAR CHIGGER REPELLENT WHEN NECESSARY
It’s not uncommon for chiggers to hitch a ride on our own bodies, clothing, and pets. If one of those happens to fall off into your lawn you could have a thriving chigger population in no time. To avoid this, apply Cedarcide Original to you, your family, and pets before entering wooded spaces and areas with tall grass.
MAINTAIN YOUR YARD
Like most pests, chiggers love areas that offer dense vegetation to hide and breed. In other words, the more overgrown your lawn, the more likely you are to get chiggers. Do yourself a favor, and regularly mow, trim, weed-eat, and clear brush as needed during the warmer months of the year.
Without moist vegetation or consistent water sources, chiggers will not be able to live in your lawn for very long. Anything that adds extra moisture to your yard—such as leaky faucets, hoses, sprinklers, and items that collect rainwater—should be repaired, replaced, or removed.
You don’t have to resort to scary chemicals to keep chiggers out of your lawn. Applying our family-safe lawn treatment PCO Choice to your yard and garden monthly will kill and repel chiggers along with many other common, unwanted pests.
Application is easy. To prevent chiggers before they become a serious problem, spray your entire front and back yards with PCO Choice monthly, including shrubbery and small trees. For warmer regions, applications should be done every month unless the temperature drops below freezing for more than several weeks. If you live in a colder climate, we suggest spraying monthly through October and then starting up again in early March.
If you’re currently experiencing those horrible chigger bites and seem to be facing an ongoing population in your yard, start by spraying your entire outdoor space twice, two weeks apart, and then move on to monthly preventative applications afterward.
Because PCO Choice is plant-based and family-safe, no downtime is necessary. You, your family, and pets can enjoy your yard immediately after application!
For additional chigger protection, we strongly suggest broadcasting Cedar Granules throughout your lawn and garden, especially in the areas where you’re experiencing the most chigger activity.
This is the big one. After all, none of us would likely mind having chiggers around if they weren’t so keen on biting us all the time.
Meet the only chigger repellent you’ll ever need: Cedarcide Original. It’s family and pet-safe, and can be used on clothing, footwear, outdoor gear, as well as your cat or dog. Simply apply before outdoor activities like dog walks, hikes, jogs, or backyard time to prevent chigger bites. For best results, reapply every 5-7 hours and after getting wet. That’s all there is to it.
The ugly truth is that tick season is never over.
In most regions, these scary pests can survive all winter long, even in freezing conditions.
Don’t worry, we have your back. Here are 3 tips to prevent potentially life-altering bites and keep ticks away from you and your pets through fall and winter.
Protect Yourself and Pets
Apply Cedarcide Original to you and your pets before walks, hikes, dog park visits, and other outdoor activities to prevent bites.
Need deep woods protection? Try Extra Strength Tickshield instead.
Get a Tick-Free Lawn
Spray your entire yard, shrubbery, and bases of trees with PCO Choice monthly to kill and repel ticks. For larger tick populations, spray twice, two weeks apart, and then monthly after that.
Because PCO is both family and pet safe, you can start enjoying your yard immediately after application.
Check for Ticks
Ticks removed within 36 hours rarely cause disease or infection. After outdoor activities, get in the habit of checking yourself, children, and pets for ticks as soon as possible (ticks are about 2/3 of an inch, brown or red).
Unfortunately, no matter how diligent you are with pest control and applying repellents, bug bites are still going to happen. That’s just the world we live in. Thankfully, just as there are natural approaches for preventing bites, there are natural options for soothing them once they occur. The next time a bug leaves you with a red, itchy bump, try one of these 6 natural bug bite remedies.
Not only is oatmeal moisturizing and soothing, but research shows it’s also an anti inflammatory capable of relieving skin irritation caused by bug bites. To use: Make a paste by mixing equal parts oatmeal and water and apply it directly to the bite site. Allow the mixture to sit for 10-15 minutes, then simply wipe it off with a wet cloth.
Bug bites and stings cause your immune system to release compounds called histamines, which typically leads to an itchy reaction. Aloe vera has antihistamine, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties, which can do wonders to relieve this irritation. For this approach: Cut open an aloe vera leaf and apply the plant’s gel to the irritated skin. Reapply as needed.
Lemon balm, an herb in the mint family, has natural antihistamine properties, which makes it awesome for alleviating bug bites and stings. To use: Finely crush fresh lemon balm leaves and spread liberally on affected areas.
It smells incredible, improves mood, and to top it off, it also helps soothe bug bites. Take advantage of lavender oil’s anti-inflammatory and antiseptic qualities by diluting it with a carrier like coconut oil and spreading in on bug bites or stings.
Ice or Ice Packs
Ice works to calm the itching of bug bites in two ways. Firstly, the cold constricts blood vessels, decreasing inflammation and the body’s natural histamine response. Secondly, the ice will numb the site, reducing the urge to scratch. Using a cloth or similar barrier, apply the ice or ice pack to the bite area. Remove after 5-10 minutes.
When applied topically, Chamomile has restorative, anti-inflammatory effects. In fact, one study found that it both reduces pain and helps lesions heal more quickly. To use: Steep a chamomile tea bag in a glass of water in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. Squeeze out the water, and apply the tea bag directly to the affected area. Remove after 10 minutes.
Ever notice how mosquitoes tend to bite some individuals more than others? From the sweetness of your blood to what you eat and wear, the internet is abuzz with rumors about what does and does not attract mosquitoes. Well, we’re here to help set the record straight. Some myths, some facts, here are 5 common beliefs about mosquitoes and mosquito bites.
Although some studies have suggested mosquitoes prefer Type O blood to others, the vast majority of scientists have disregarded these findings as baseless, concluding instead that mosquitoes are fairly non-specific with their victims. For years, rumors have argued that certain types of blood—sweeter diabetic blood, for example—are more likely to attract mosquitoes, but there’s really no reputable science behind such claims. In reality, mosquitoes need the protein, not the sugar, from their hosts, and so the flavor and type of blood really makes no difference whatsoever.
It’s not hard to see how this old wives’ tale probably got started: mosquito bites are much more obvious on fair skinned individuals than on those with darker skin. In fact, those with fair skin readily suffer more intense reactions to mosquito bites, too, only further complicating the issue. But, no, mosquitoes do not prefer one skin tone over another.
There are over 3,500 species of mosquitoes on our planet, but not all target humans. Of the ones that do, only females bite, which they do in order to gain the nutrients necessary for breeding. All female mosquitoes that bite humans are capable of transmitting disease, but in reality only a small number of these individuals commonly carry disease. Some species, however—such as the tiger mosquito and marsh mosquito—are more likely to harbor disease than other types, especially when it comes to West Nile virus, yellow fever, and malaria.
Research has found that mosquitoes prefer larger individuals to smaller ones, such as adults over children. But why? One way mosquitoes home in on their targets is through carbon dioxide emissions, and bigger humans simply give off more of the gas than their smaller counterparts. Heat also attracts mosquitoes, and—you guessed it—larger people also emit more warmth than smaller folks. This same logic has led some researchers to believe pregnant women might also be more attractive to mosquitoes, as they tend to give off more warmth and carbon dioxide, too.
Studies have indicated that mosquitoes seem to prefer people who have more uric acid in their blood, which is increased by meat and saturated fat consumption. Other preliminary research has suggested that mosquitoes might also target individuals with higher levels of potassium and ethanol. Alcohol consumption can increase ethanol and body heat (another mosquito attractant), and studies have seemed to back up the belief that drinking alcohol makes you more appetizing to mosquitoes, too. Meat, saturated fat, alcohol—no wonder BBQs are notoriously good events for collecting mosquito bites.
While the details are uncertain, researchers believe darker colors—like black, blue and red—make you more visible to mosquitoes and therefore more likely to be targeted by them. While these colors don’t necessarily make you more attractive to mosquitoes, it’s believed that they do make it easier to find you when other modes of detection—like skin bacteria and carbon dioxide—fail.
Heat is the biggest risk your dog faces in the summer. Overheating can come on quickly and the results can be devastating, including organ failure, stroke, heart attack, permanent neurological damage, and even the loss of your pet. Understanding the risk factors, signs, symptoms, and how to prevent heat stroke could very well save your pup’s life. Here’s what you need to know about overheating in dogs.
What Does Overheating Look Like?
Overheating, dehydration and heatstroke are fairly easy to spot if you know what to look for. All of the following signs/symptoms are associated with overheating in dogs:
- Excessive panting
- Excessive, unusually thick drooling
- Dark, dry or pale gums
- Faster than normal heart rate
- Fever above 105° F
- Noisy, labored breathing
- Difficulty walking/standing
- Seizures or convulsions
- Sunken or glassy eyes
What Dogs Are at Risk of Overheating?
Any canine in a hot space can overheat, but some dogs are more at risk than others. Lack of shade, lack of water, too much exercise in hot or humid conditions, and lack of ventilation also raise the likelihood that your pup will overheat or become dehydrated. The following types of dogs are more vulnerable to overheating:
- Dogs with extremely thick or long coats (but do not shave them, doing so can cause sunburn)
- Obese dogs
- Dogs kept primarily outside
- Senior dogs
- Dogs with medical issues, such as breathing problems or heart conditions
- Dogs with short noses: such as Shih Tzus, pugs, boxers, bulldogs, french bulldogs, Boston terriers, Pekingese
How to Prevent Overheating
Overheating is scary, but the good news is that it’s quite easy to prevent. Here’s how to help your pup avoid dehydration and overheating this summer:
- Avoid walking, hiking or other exercise with your dog during the hottest times of the day. Go with early morning or evening instead.
- Ensure your dog has plenty of ventilation, including indoors and when traveling in a car (never leave your dog in a car unattended).
- Provide your dog with plenty of shade, rest breaks, and water when outside (offer water at least once every hour). Additionally, bring water on every walk, hike or any other outdoor activity you share with your pooch.
- Keep the inside of your home cool, too.
- Lastly, closely monitor your pet for the signs and symptoms of overheating mentioned above.
What to Do if Your Dog is Overheated
First thing’s first: At the first sign of dehydration or overheating, move your dog to cooler space immediately. Then, follow these 3 simple steps:
- Cool down your dog using cool—not cold—water. A bathtub, shower, garden hose, wet washcloth, pool or natural body of water all work. If using a hose or cloth, place special focus on the head and neck area, and under the armpits.
- Offer your dog cool—but again, not cold—water to drink. Let them drink as much as they like. Giving them water that’s too cold can lead to shock and vomiting, which will only make their dehydration and overheating worse.
- Lastly, get your dog to a vet ASAP. Even if you feel your pet is now O.K., overheating and heat stroke can cause hidden complications, such as organ damage, blood clots and swelling of the brain. If you feel your dog’s condition is serious (especially if they’re unresponsive), call the vet ahead of time to let them know you’re bringing in an animal that needs emergency medical attention.
Swimming is easily one of the best things about summer. Swimming with your dog, however, might be the best thing about summer! After all, what’s more fun than cooling off while sharing some exercise and relaxation with your pup? But if you fail to take the proper precautions, swimming with your canine can turn un-fun very quickly. Whether cruising the beach, jumping in the pool, or exploring outdoor areas with rivers and lakes, here are 5 swimming tips to keep your dog safe this summer.
Don’t Assume all Dogs Can Swim
Contrary to popular opinion, not all dogs know how to swim. Actually, not all dogs can learn how to swim either. Athletic breeds like retrievers and labs tend to pick it up fast, but denser breeds and those with flat faces like bulldogs and pugs simply aren’t suited for the water (though you’ll occasionally spot an exception!). In fact, according to one popular American Bulldog Guide, drowning is the leading accidental cause of death among both Bulldogs and American Bulldogs—which only shows how closely we need to monitor our pups when they’re playing in or around water.
Similarly, micro breeds like chihuahuas can tire easily, leaving them vulnerable to drowning, especially in natural bodies of waters with waves. If your pup fits either of the above categories, outfit them with a dog-specific life vest or consider skipping the water activities altogether in favor of a safer option like a kiddie pool or sprinklers.
Ask Your Vet About Prevention
Adventure dogs—especially those that frequent rivers, ponds, lakes and oceans—are more susceptible to various illnesses and diseases. If your next outing involves natural bodies of water, visit a vet beforehand. Serious illnesses like Lyme disease and waterborne bacteria like Leptospira can sometimes be prevented with vaccinations. We suggest checking with your vet to ensure you’ve taken all possible precautions before your next water-filled outdoor excursion.
Never Let Them Drink the Water
Drinking salt water can lead to what’s commonly called “beach diarrhea,” a serious condition that can dehydrate or even kill your pup. Pool water contains chemicals, and drinking water from rivers, ponds and lakes exposes your dog to countless waterborne parasites and illnesses—like giardia for instance. Under no circumstance is it a good idea to let your pup drink from unfamiliar water sources, so keep a close eye anytime they approach the water’s edge. Because accidents happen, monitor your pet in the days after water activities, looking out for any signs of disease or infection—such as lethargy, diarrhea, fever, or loss of appetite. If you spot anything suspicious, visit your vet immediately. Quick tip: Thoroughly bathing your pet after swimming can help reduce their chance of suffering a waterborne health complication.
Beware Blue-Green Algae
Cyanobacteria, commonly called blue-green algae, is a bacteria that forms in both fresh and saltwater. Thriving in warm conditions, this bacteria can be extremely toxic to humans and pets alike. Sadly, for our canines ingestion is often fatal. When exploring outdoor spaces with natural bodies of water, always be on the lookout for blue-green algae, which typically floats on the water’s surface (if you don’t know what it looks like, click here). If you come across water covered in what looks like blue-green algae—even if you’re unsure and cannot confirm either way—it’s best to find another spot to play.
Learn Doggy CPR
Even if you do everything correct as a pet parent, accidents can still happen. That’s why it’s crucial that every dog owner learn canine CPR. While brief CPR guides can be found online, we suggest taking a course in person from your vet or a local animal organization for more thorough training.
Summer’s here and with it comes one of the best times of year to explore the outdoors with your pup! Swimming, hiking, road-tripping, camping—there’s no end to the thrilling activities you can share with your animal buddy. But summer also presents some unique challenges and health concerns, principally intense sunshine and extreme heat. To keep the fun flowing and emergency vet visits at bay, here are ten Essential Summer Safety Tips for Dogs.
Keep them Cool
This is the most obvious but also most important rule of the summer. Here are some quick tips to ensure your pooch stays cool during the summer months:
- Before walking, hiking, visiting the dog park, and other outdoor activities, consider the temperature and humidity. As a guide, if the humidity and temperature add up to more than 150, it’s too hot for your pup. (For example, if it’s 95°F and the humidity is 60%, which adds up to 155, it’s best to wait till it’s cooler.)
- Always bring along water and take plenty of breaks when exploring the outdoors.
- Ensure there’s a shady space and plenty of water when your pup’s in the backyard.
- Keep your house cool, too (whether through A/C or fans).
- If your doggo exhibits signs of exhaustion—weakness, excessive drooling, heavy panting, glazed eyes, vomiting—end physical activity immediately and consult a vet ASAP.
Watch Out for Heat Stroke
Typical canine temperature is between 100°-102.5. Heat stroke, which can permanently damage organs and even kill your pet, takes hold around 105°F. So, if worse comes to worse and your pup experiences heatstroke, you’ll need to be able to recognize the signs and symptoms quickly. Your dog’s life could depend on it. Here’s what to look out for:
- Bright red gums, or gums that appear dry
- Thick or excessive drooling
- Loss of balance
- Heavy panting
- Rapid heart rate
- Dark stool
- Lack of urine
If you witness these symptoms, transport your pup to a cooler space as soon as possible and wipe them down with a cool, damp cloth. Have them drink cool—but not cold—water to avoid vomiting, which will only worsen dehydration and overheating. As soon as your pup is stable, visit a vet ASAP.
Keep the Bugs Away
Fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes can ruin otherwise enjoyable summer days. To protect your pet from pests and to avoid toxic pesticide exposure, apply a non-toxic, pet-safe bug repellent to your dog when venturing outside this summer.
Do Not Shave Your Dog
While shedding hair can help humans stay cool, our dogs are a bit different. In fact, a dense coat can actually help keep your pooch cool, protecting them from the sun’s harmful rays. Shaving your dog’s fur makes them more vulnerable to a litany of heat-related complications, including heatstroke, sunburn and dehydration. For this reason, avoid shaving your dog during the summer season, or at any time for that matter.
Practice Good Hygiene
From swimming to hiking, our pups tend to get much grimier in the summer season. Apart from the unpleasant odor of a dirty dog, poor hygiene can allow bacteria to build up on your pooch’s skin, causing irritation and in some cases illness. A filthy coat can also make your dog more susceptible to biting bugs. As a guide, bathe your pup monthly throughout the summer, more often if they’re adventurers or outdoor dogs (but not too often, over-bathing can dry out your doggy’s skin). To avoid skin issues or exposure to harmful chemicals, always use a non-toxic pet-safe shampoo.
Never, Ever Leave Your Dog in a Hot Car
We’ve all heard this before, we all know it, and yet it still keeps happening. Even in temperatures as low as 80°F, your pup can suffer a stroke or perish in a hot car in just a few minutes—that’s all it takes! Under no circumstance, ever leave your pooch in a warm or hot vehicle. No excuses.
Did you know skin cancer is one of the most common kinds of cancer in dogs? And just like with humans, sunburns can develop fast without notice, resulting in serious pain for days, even weeks. Especially if your dog has a short coat, apply pet-safe sunscreen every 3–5 hours when you and your pup go outside. Pay special attention to the ears, belly, and other areas with little to no fur. We strongly suggest using only non-toxic, chemical-free sunscreen options.
Protect Your Dog’s Paws
Ever burn your feet on hot concrete? Yeah, it’s no fun, and the painful blisters can persist for weeks. Ouch! Well, your pup is not immune to this condition either. To protect their paw pads from cooking in the summer heat, avoid asphalt, concrete and other hot surfaces (including the metal beds of pickup trucks). To test whether a surface will harm your doggo’s paws, place the back of your hand on the surface for approximately 10 seconds. If it’s too hot for your hand, it’s too hot for your dog. Dog booties are another option for guarding your pooch’s feet during the summer months.
Avoid Unfamiliar Grassy Spaces
Avoiding unfamiliar grassy lots can greatly reduce both your dog’s and your family’s exposure to chemical-based pesticides. Many outdoor spaces—such as public parks, local dog parks, and neighboring yards—are regularly treated with these harmful toxins. Unless you’re familiar with the space and how it’s maintained, it’s best to find another place for your dog to play. The risk is simply too great.
Closely Monitor Water Activities
From bacteria and parasites in natural bodies of water, to chemicals and drowning hazards in pools, water activities can be risky for pets and pet owners. We’re not saying avoid the water outright—swimming with dogs and visiting the lake are some of our favorite things about summer—but you need to watch your pup closely when in or around water. Monitor your dog to ensure they don’t drink unfamiliar water, including that of creeks and chlorine-saturated pools. Also, be sure to rinse off your pup’s fur after they’ve been for a swim to remove chlorine, natural water contaminants, and to check for parasites like leeches.
Did you know over 1 billion pounds of synthetic pesticides are used worldwide every year? Even scarier, over 95% of these chemicals end up somewhere other than their target destination—such as in oceans, forests, drinking water, our food, and inside our homes, pets, children, even breast milk! By choosing Cedarcide, you’re helping combat this worldwide problem, and taking steps toward a brighter, less chemical-dependent future. Here are 6 reasons you can feel good about switching to Cedarcide.
From flea collars to yard treatments to personal bug sprays, traditional pesticide use can have a serious impact on you and your family’s health, especially in the long term. Not to freak you out, but many synthetic pesticides have been linked to all of the following health conditions:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Non-vascular dementia
- Breast cancer
- Female infertility
- Male infertility
- Hearing loss
- Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
- Parkinson’s disease
- Type 2 diabetes
By switching to a non-toxic alternative like Cedarcide, you’re helping minimize you and your family’s pesticide exposure. Children and pregnant women stand to benefit the most from this switch. Studies show that children with parents who use chemical-based pesticides are at higher risk of behavior issues, brain damage, lower IQs and several types of childhood cancer. Because of their tendency to put their hands in their mouths and proximity to flooring (most floors are tainted with pesticides), children absorb considerably more pesticides from their environment than adults. And because of their low body weight, our kids are much more likely to be harmed by this exposure.
As public health scientist Miriam Rotkin Ellman has said, “with a pesticide it doesn’t take very much to cause effects that will stay with kid[s] for the rest of their lives.”
Much like children, our pets are extremely vulnerable to pesticide poisoning. Unfortunately, from flea collars to yard sprays, our pets have countless opportunities for exposure. Choosing naturally sourced yard sprays and pesticides over traditional chemical-based options helps limit that exposure.
Think about it: Your pets live and play in your yard (they sometimes eat its grass, too!). Studies have shown that dogs exposed to lawn pesticides have up to a 70% higher chance of contracting potentially fatal canine malignant lymphoma. Other studies have found that bladder cancer is also associated with lawns treated with synthetic pesticides, with even indirect exposure from adjacent lawns raising your pet’s risk of this cancer. Chemical burns, gastrointestinal complications, organ failure, even death—all have been associated with use of traditional flea and tick medications. In addition to using pet-safe bug repellents, we suggest consulting a vet or holistic vet to find the healthiest flea & tick options for you and your pup.
A big issue with traditional pesticides is that they contaminate your home and lawn with toxins. Whether used inside or not, pesticides almost always find their way indoors. Pesticides applied to your lawn, for example, are easily introduced inside via windows, vents, shoes, and even your pet’s paws. Studies have found that within a week after outdoor pesticide treatments, pesticide residues are commonly found on indoor surfaces—including flooring, kitchen countertops, and tabletops. By choosing non-toxic options like Cedarcide, you’re helping reduce the levels of pesticides both inside and outside your home, doing a big favor to the environment, wildlife, and your neighbors in the process.
Wildlife—especially marine life and birds—have been hit hard by traditional pesticide use. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, over 72 million birds die in the U.S. each year as a result of pesticide poisoning. Because many types of pesticides are bioaccumulative—meaning small, incremental exposures can can build up to toxic levels within an organism over time—they have the potential to disrupt entire food chains, affecting nearly every living thing on the planet.
But what can homeowners like you do to help minimize the impact of pesticides? A lot, actually! The average homeowner uses ten times more pesticides per acre than farmers do on industrial farmland. So in many ways, it’s in the hands of people like us to start reducing pesticide use for the sake of animals and families everywhere.
Without you we could not support the causes that inspire us! Animal welfare is one such cause essential to the Cedarcide mission. In addition to supporting animal rescues and founding the Cedarcide Horse Rescue, our team spends a great deal of their personal lives fostering and volunteering for disadvantaged cats, dogs and other animals.
Veterans, soldiers, and first responders also play a big role at Cedarcide. These real life heroes inspire us every day, which is why each year we support and participate in Dallas’ Carry the Load March. This 20-hour walk honors military service of all shapes and sizes, with proceeds benefiting corresponding charities.
As mentioned earlier, pesticides nearly always end up somewhere other than intended. Wind, runoff, and over-application are the obvious culprits. In addition to wildlife, the environment pays the highest price for this widespread pesticide contamination. But just how extensive is pesticide pollution? According to one study by the U.S. Geological Survey, pesticides were found to contaminate every stream in the United States, and over 90% of all wells researchers tested. Unbelievable, right? By adopting non-toxic pesticides and engaging in responsible pesticide practices—like careful application and avoiding overuse—you can have a real impact on the health of your family and community.
You’ve probably heard of hiking with dogs, but did you know hiking with cats is also a thing? Adventure cats are quickly becoming a hot topic in pet circles, especially for those who spend considerable time outdoors. We know what you’re thinking: “there’s no way I could get my cat to hike with me!” But you might be surprised. With a little patience, training and experience, many cats come to love exploring the outdoors with their pet parents. Hiking can also be super beneficial for cats, supplying them with much needed mental stimulation and exercise. Like with any new activity, you’ll need to adequately prepare to enjoy a successful hike with your cat. Here are 6 tips to get you started.
Bring the Proper Gear
Bottom line: If you don’t pack the proper gear, your excursion will not be successful. At the minimum, bring the following:
- Water: Always bring enough for both you and your cat. Never allow your cat to drink from natural water sources like ponds and streams, the risk of parasites and bacteria is simply too great.
- Snacks/food: Hiking burns lots of energy, so you’ll both need to refuel. Consult a vet to find the ideal food for hiking with your cat.
- Harness: The type will depend on your cat’s unique needs, consult this resource for help choosing the proper harness.
- Cat-safe bug repellent: flea, tick and mosquito protection is essential when exploring the outdoors.
- Collar with ID tags (we also suggest microchipping your cat).
- Cat-safe sunscreen (especially if your cat is short-haired, no-haired or fair-haired)
- Cat pack: For when your kitty gets too tired to walk on their own
- Pet-specific first aid kit
- Foldable litter box and/or poop bags (cat poop contains harmful bacteria and should never be left in the wild)
Stay on the Trail
Veering off the trail exposes you and your adventure cat to countless safety hazards. Poison ivy, toxic plant life, hungry predators, dangerous terrain—all lurk just off the trail. The environment can also suffer from walking off trail, as delicate ecosystems can easily be disturbed by trampling feet and curious cats. For the benefit of nature, you, and your fur bae, stick to the designated trails.
Transforming your cat into an adventure cat doesn’t happen overnight. It takes patience, training and lots of treats to get your cat ready to hit the trail. First thing, you need to get them used to using a harness and leash (here’s a helpful tutorial for that). Spending a few weeks using the harness around the house and in the backyard is a must. Training your cat to come when called is also important, as accidents and other dangers can occur on the trail without warning.
The sooner your cat gets acclimated to adventuring, the more likely they are to enjoy it. In fact, kitties are often better at wearing a harness and being walked than adult cats. Before hitting the trail with your young cat, consult your vet to ensure they’re physically ready for hiking (make sure they have all the necessary vaccinations, too!).
Beware of Dangers
Nature is fun, but it’s also wild. Owls, eagles, hawks, coyotes, parasites, snakes, biting insects, domesticated dogs—all pose a threat to your cat while hiking. Be prepared to face these risks and plan accordingly. As a rule, always keep your cat close, harnessed, leashed, hydrated and well fed. Apply pet-safe insect repellent and cat-safe sunscreen (for fair, shot-haired and no-haired breeds) to guard against bites and burns. As a precaution, read up on the signs of exhaustion and heat stroke, too.
Prepare to Carry Your Cat
Even veteran adventure cats get tired faster than most dogs. Whether from exhaustion or nervousness, at some point you’ll have to pick up your kitty if you take them hiking (hence the cat pack in the suggested equipment above 😉). Simply put, cats tend to feel safer on high ground, so especially at first, your cat might want to “hike” sitting on your shoulders or safely tucked in their cat pack. For these reasons, make sure your cat is comfortable being carried and that you’re physically capable of towing them around before hitting the trails.
Not only is dog man’s best friend, he’s man’s best workout partner, too! Think about it: They need exercise, we need exercise, they’re almost always up for it, and unlike your friend from work, your pup won’t call to cancel at the last minute. In fact, a study from Michigan State University found that dog owners are 34% more likely to meet the recommended amount of weekly exercise compared to those without dogs. Plus, in general, our dogs could use a lot more exercise. According to the Association of Pet Obesity and Prevention, over 50% of dogs are overweight—and over 20% are obese! By joining forces, you and your canine can fend off heart disease, arthritis, and even depression together. Here are 5 Ways to Exercise with Your Dog.
Before starting a new workout routine, have your dog checked at the vet to ensure they’re healthy enough for the chosen exercise. Similarly, we suggest having yourself checked over by your family physician just as a precaution.
Walking, jogging, running—all healthy adult dogs can do at least one. Some pups, like greyhounds, are awesome at sprinting, but don’t fare well on long distances. Others, like labs, are efficient joggers, but can’t sprint like the aforementioned greyhounds. Thankfully, all adult canines without preexisting health conditions can enjoy modest morning walks, which still help improve cardiovascular and immune system health. For best results, avoid running/walking during the hottest and most humid times of the day, and if you have a short-nosed breed like a pug or bulldog, keep the distance under five miles. Click here for help finding the right breed for your style of running or jogging. Want to learn more? Check out these 7 Tips for Running with Your Dog.
Many dogs take to swimming immediately, which is great, because it’s an incredible exercise you can share with your pup. Swimming is a particularly wise choice for older humans and canines, as it’s low-impact and therefore a good fit for individuals with arthritis and other joint complications. Swimming is also a two-for-one workout, in that it not only improves cardiovascular health but also strengthens muscles. Just remember to never leave your pup alone in the pool unsupervised, even strong canine swimmers can suffer accidents when left unattended.
Hiking is one of our favorite ways of exercising with doggies, and thankfully they love it, too! There are a million smells to smell, plenty of fresh air to breathe, and lots of nature to explore. Plus, hiking is usually so totally entertaining, you hardly notice you’re exercising at all. Like with all exercises, check with your vet beforehand, start slow, and see how your pup handles the activity before tackling any serious trails. Unlike most exercises on this list, hiking requires several pieces of equipment to do it correctly (including canine-safe bug repellent!). For a list of essential hiking gear, click here. More tips for successfully hiking with your dog can be found here.
If your dog prefers faster runs or is way ahead of you in the fitness department, cycling might be the right exercise to share with your pup. As you can imagine, cycling with a dog comes with many potential pitfalls and requires a strong ability to multitask, so we definitely recommend reading up on the subject first. For a list of necessary equipment (body harnesses, special leashes, etc) and tips for getting started, check out this helpful resource.
Stair climbing is a good option for those living in locations where extreme weather makes outdoor exercise difficult. From strengthening the lower body to cardio and weight loss, climbing stairs offers many benefits for dogs and their owners. If you access to an indoor staircase, simply walk or jog up and down the stairs at a safe pace for both you and your pup. Avoid stairs with openings that could trap your pup’s feet or legs, and use a body harness instead of a neck leash to avoid choking. If your canine is quite small or suffers from arthritis or other joint problems, stair climbing might not be the right workout for your dog.