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2022 New Year's Resolutions - Again!

Out with the old and in with the new! Are you ready? This year let's focus on healthy pet resolutions (they will help humans too). Most of us are ready for renewed hope in 2022! Of course, for us people, just having a pet in our home is a great start since we know many of the health benefits. Studies show that pets lower our blood pressure, make us happier, and keep us moving. Let's build on that!

A healthy weight is as important for your pet as for us. Leaner is healthier. So let's measure our pet's food every time we feed them. It's easy to eyeball the amount and pour it into their bowl, but that often leads to a slow weight gain creep. Also, check your buddy's food to be sure it's healthy. The first ingredient should be meat. As they age, they will most likely need a diet change: fewer calories and perhaps not as much protein.

Be sure you have a first aid kit in your home (for pets and people); check it this month to be sure it's well-stocked. There are a lot of websites that sell complete first aid kits or have a checklist of what to include; this is a good place to start. We suggest adding an index card with your vet's phone number, the number of your local ER vet, and the phone number for poison control.

Add some pet-friendly touches to your home if you don't already have them. Maybe it's a cat tree/condo for Fluffy or a second litter box. Fido might enjoy a new or second bed, and you can play some calming music or white noise at bedtime for him (or when you go out). Both Fluffy and Fido would love a new toy, especially if you play with them for a few minutes each day.

If you don't take your pets to the vet at least once a year (more often for pups and seniors), let's start this year. Going to the vet is expensive, but catching a medical problem early is almost always less costly than waiting, and preventative care is often a lifesaver.

Get outside and have fun more often. Daily activity is not only healthier for you and your pet, but the lack of it is often the root of certain behavior problems in both cats and dogs. Go to the park and toss a frisbee for your dog. Teach the cat to walk on a leash and take her out for a stroll in your yard. Try taking a long walk once a month with your dog and add more frequent playtimes with the cat. Even if your dog is well trained, a new class might be fun. Consider agility, lure coursing, swimming, obedience, or a Canine Good Citizen class. Teach your kitty a new trick, and don't forget to use treats! We're happy to help you with this plan should you need it!

Finally, this year let's start brushing our best friend's teeth.

These are easy, no-stress habits that don't take much to incorporate into your schedule and will grow the bond you have with your pet. Jot down your goals and put them on the refrigerator, so you don't forget! Happy 2022!

Hi, Paws First Family!!!

Goodbye 2021! Hello 2022!

Wishing you all joy and fur love every day!

Help, My Dog Eats Anything and Everything!

Ask any vet; eating yucky or crazy things is a very common problem, and it's not just a problem with puppies. Some dogs never seem to outgrow chewing (and swallowing) just about anything. If this describes your buddy, you are probably looking for a solution. Check-in with your vet to ensure there isn't a medical reason for this behavior. If there isn't, the answer is management and training.

Management means keeping dangerous things away from your dog. Put the trash away (maybe in a closet or cabinet), pick up socks and shoes, put away batteries, ant traps, soap, crayons, diapers, branches in the yard, and so forth. If your dog can't get at them, he can't eat them. Inside you may want to use baby gates to keep your best friend in a safe area. Some people try deterrent sprays like Bitter Apple; feel free to give them a try, but they don't always work well on committed "eaters."

Sit down with your family, explain how important this is, and then enlist their help. Schedule a pick-up time every day, perhaps after dinner but before everyone settles in for the evening. Ask everyone to spend 5 minutes cleaning up items the pup could eat.

Next is training. A convenient command is "leave it." It's easy to teach but takes some practice to master. If you've tried this one and your dog is only selectively responding to it, you may want to enlist the help of a trainer to take this command to the next level.

Another command is to ask Fido to pay attention to you. You could use the word "watch" or "look." When you say it, he should turn and look at you. Practice and delicious treats will help make this command reliable. Until he "gets it," try to walk in areas with fewer temptations - on the sidewalk or in the street (as long as it's quiet and safe).

People with dogs that eat almost anything often train their dog to wear a basket muzzle when they go for a walk. The muzzle acts as a barrier. It must fit correctly, so it is not only comfy but large enough to allow your dog to fully pant. This is a sure-fire way to keep your dog from getting into trouble and may be an excellent solution to use while your buddy is still learning the "leave it" command. However, do not leave a dog unattended or alone with a muzzle on; it could get caught on something and hurt your buddy.

Finally, many dogs chew when they are bored and not getting enough exercise. We can help you get Fido moving.

We'll keep our paws crossed that these tips will help you manage your pup that seems to snarf up everything in sight!

Ouch, Did My Cat Just Bite Me?

Your cat may bite for many reasons; certainly she is trying to communicate something to you. It's essential to figure out when and why a bite happens so you can avoid them in the future. Often, bites occur during petting or playing. 

A common cat parent complaint is a sudden bite that seems to happen out of the blue. But is it actually that unexpected? Often these sorts of bites happen when you're simply petting your kitty. It can be hard to tell when she has had enough, so try and learn her body language.

For example, when she's finished with stroking she may: put her ears flat, vocalize (other than purring), flick her tail, raise a paw, put her claws out, move her whiskers forward, or have a stiff body posture. These are all signs that you've petted her enough. If you ignore her body language, there may be trouble ahead. That's when she may resort to a swat or bite to get her point across, so pay attention.

Learn to pet her in a way that she enjoys. Many cats only like petting around their heads; some prefer a back scratch. Once you know Fluffly's petting preferences, respect them.

If bites happen when you're playing with Fluffy, it may be that she's become overstimulated. Make sure to keep play sessions short and sweet if your kitty gets worked up easily. Sometimes during rough play, her hunting instinct will kick in, and by biting, she's just naturally following through with the "hunt." This seems to happen a little more frequently with indoor cats that don't get to hunt outside. So, bring the play down a notch, and a bite may not happen.

Reward her when she uses her mouth and paws in play correctly (no scratching or biting) with a tasty treat. This will teach her what behavior is acceptable during play.

Additionally, you could stop after a few minutes and let her calm down, then start the play again. Better yet, don't use your hands for play - use toys instead. This shows her that your hands are NOT toys. Lastly, if you see her getting wound up, give her a toy that she can attack (like a catnip mouse). When she's done, reward her for using her toy and not your hand (treats again).

If you take the time to learn your cat's likes, dislikes, and triggers, you'll be able to get this biting under control.

Great Pet Links!

January is:

Walk Your Dog Month
National Train Your Dog Month

January 5 - Train Your Bird Day
January 24 - Change a Pets Life Day
January 29 - Seeing Eye Dog Day

Tips to Train Your Bird
Which Vaccines Does Your Cat Need
How To Pet A Dog

Should You Groom Your Dog In Winter
Does Your Cat Have A Sensitive Tummy

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