Pet Safety for Fall Months
By Dr. Bruce Little
Labor Day is over, which means fall is almost upon us. It might be beneficial to review some precautions pet owners should take as we head into this next season.
- If you haven’t already done so, get your pets vaccinated for rabies and other communicable diseases. Thursday, September 28 is World Rabies Day. Created in 2007 by the Global Alliance for Rabies Control, World Rabies Day is meant to bring attention to the fact that approximately 69,000 people worldwide die from rabies each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 99 percent of these deaths occur in Africa and Asia. Most dog diseases including rabies are preventable by vaccinations, so ask your veterinarian what your dog needs, and when they will need booster vaccinations to keep them immune to these diseases.
- The end of summer brings with it the highest number of external parasites because newly hatched fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, and mites are at their highest concentration. Fleas can give pets flea bite dermatitis that causes severe itching, scratching, tail chasing, and chewing. The entire house and yard must be eradicated of parasites before the dermatitis will subside. Consult your veterinarian for instructions on how to accomplish this.
- Fall is the time of year when dogs develop allergic dermatitis. This skin problem is caused by an allergic reaction to dust and pollen created by grass and foliage. Many dogs need medicated bathing and treatments to relieve the itchy, dry skin. If you suspect your dog has allergic dermatitis, contact your veterinarian
- Since children have gone back to school dogs might find their way out of the house and wander off to look for their playmates. Be sure to microchip your dogs and cats and check that their identification collar is firmly in place. Make sure your contact information is accurate.
- If you walk your dog in a park or along a walking/bicycle path near a lake, make sure they don’t jump into the water for a swim or to chase a duck or goose. Many lakes and ponds this time of year have algae that can be detrimental to your pet’s health. If you notice green algae growing on the water, be sure leash your dog and keep it from jumping in for a swim.
- If your dog runs off-leash, plan its outings during daylight hours. As the season continues into October and November, the night air is usually much cooler and might require additional clothing to protect from the cool air, especially for short-haired or older dogs and those compromised by physical conditions or disease.
- Pet owners should be aware of hazards that may occur around Halloween. Dogs and cats may take the opportunity, when the door opens for trick-or-treaters, to dart out an open door, run into the street, and potentially get hit by a car. Also, noisy, costumed children may cause an aggressive dog to bite if the child makes a sudden move toward the dog. Make sure to also keep candy away from pets. The candy and the wrapper can cause trouble if the dog or cat gets too much of either. Chocolate is toxic to dogs in large amounts. The wrapper, especially if aluminum in structure can block the digestive track of both dogs and cats. Perhaps the safest thing to do for your pets on Halloween would be to put them in a closed room with music or TV on. It may save you time, money and heartache. Your animals will appreciate it as well.
- Even though the air is cooler, it’s still not a good idea to leave your pets in the ca. The inside of a car is much warmer than the outside temperature, so it is not okay to leave the dog or cat in the car during any season. Don’t ever leave your pets in the car, at any time of year!
So, with these precautions in mind, here’s hoping your transition to fall goes well! Consult your vet if you have any questions. Visit Veterinarians.com to find a vet near you.
How to Recognize When Your Cat Wants to Play
When your cat wants to play, they may start to play on their own with random objects lying around the home. Or they could begin to dart around in sudden random movements. If you see your cat in a crouched position looking as if they’re ready to pounce on something, or if they have enthusiastic behavior, that’s a sign they want to play!
Cat Toys With a Kitten
Play can be used to develop social, communication and coordination skills in kittens. It will give them outlets for excess energy, and help to build a lasting bond between you. Most of the time, a younger cat is more playful than an older one. When you encourage a kitten to play, good manners should be taught as well. Discourage kittens from clawing, biting or scratching.
Playing With an Older Cat
Older cats enjoy games, too, they might just need to be enticed. Make sure play is suited to your cat’s level of mobility.
Keep in mind that your cat will become bored quickly if toys are always available. So, making sure they take part in different kinds of play is essential. Try to help them mimic their predator instincts. Imitate a toy scurrying away, hiding in a bag, or behind a chair. Letting your cat catch and “kill” it will help to keep their hunting instincts sharp.
Which Toys to Choose — Not Just Catnip
Thoroughly check all the toys your cat plays with to be sure they’re safe. They should be large enough not to be swallowed. Toys shouldn’t have any loose strings, buttons, bells, or small parts that your cat might think are a treat.
Some toys have a broad appeal to most cats, such as fur mice, climbing posts and fishing rods with feathers attached to the end.
Some cats enjoy playing with toys that roll and are lightweight, because they’re easier to bat around. You can also buy toys that can be filled with treats to reward your cat. If catnip affects your cat, toys filled with it can keep them busy for hours.
Games to play with cats need to appeal to all of their senses: sight, scent, touch, sound, and taste. Of course, your cat may have specific likes and dislikes. So experiment!
Playing Games With Cats
Below are some games you can play with your cat. They wouldn’t take too much of your time, as little as ten minutes, but can be hugely beneficial when you know your cat needs some stimulation.
- Fetch: Believe it or not, your cat can be taught to play fetch. Choose a toy that’s easy for them to carry in their mouths, and that you can throw across the room. Throw the toy and your will leap to chase it. If they bring it back again praise them with a treat. If they don’t, just go and pick it up and throw it again.
- Paper: Cats love to play with things that make a crinkle sound. Take a piece of paper, crumble it up and bat it around the floor. Your cat will chase it, catch it and wrestle with it, just make sure no loose pieces don’t get chewed or swallowed. When she’s done playing with it, toss it out.
- String and feather: You can buy one or make your own. If you make one, you’ll need a stick, a string, a bell or a feather. Attach the string to the stick and the feather or bell to the end of the string. Then slowly pull it away from your cat’s view. You can pull it over furniture, around corners or dangle it in the air.
- A paper bag: A paper bag will attract your cat’s attention quickly. Lay it on its side and let them investigate. Most likely, they’ll end up inside, and you can poke the bag with your fingers to get her to bat the movements from inside.
- Lights: Cats enjoy chasing reflections of light. If you can catch light off of any reflective surface, you can bounce it off walls and across floors. Before playtime is over, however, switch over to a toy that your cat can catch to avoid them becoming frustrated.
- Online games: There are even games for cats online, that you can download on your computer or tablet. The apps feature mice, fish and other graphics that move and will keep their curiosity piqued.
- Interactive puzzle: This is a DIY game that consists of a shoebox, some treats and some of your cat’s favorite toys. Cut different sized holes in the shoebox. Fill the shoe box with the toys, treats and even catnip. Tape the lid shut to secure it. Then place the box next to your and watch them play!
- Hide and seek: With this game, you can hide behind a chair, desk or around a corner. It will unleash your cat’s predatory side, and they’ll stalk you as though you were prey.
- Rabbit games: This type of game brings out your cat’s instinct to pull a toy to their bellies when they’re on their backs. They’ll kick it with their back legs and bite and shake the “prey.” Toys to use in this game are catnip-filled mice, lightweight fur toys, or toys with feathers. Throw the toy across the room and your cat will pounce on it.
- Cardboard box: Cats love cardboard boxes. In fact, if you put a cardboard box on the floor with the open side up, no matter what size, a cat will usually try to get inside it. Your cat may jump in and out, curl up inside or pounce on you and then jump back inside.
Another thing to think about is that cats become bored playing with the same toys. Keep their interest by swapping toys around every couple of days.
Dawn and dusk is the perfect playtime for your cats. Although this is also the time when you’re probably getting ready for work or coming home, if you spend five or ten minutes a day playing with your cat, they’ll be more content.
What types of games do you play with your cat? Talk to your veterinarian if you have any questions! Visit veterinarians.com to find a vet near you.