Snow Matter What, Protect Your Pup’s Paws

Winter has blown in and the country is feeling the effects of snow, ice, and cold north winds. To keep people safe on roads and sidewalks, many communities salt the ground to help ice melt faster. But the combination of snow, ice, salt, and cold weather can really do a number on your dog's paw pads. Consider the following suggestions for keeping his feet healthy during the cold months.

Keep walks short.

You might think that your dog's natural winter coat and tough paw pads would keep him comfortable even when the snow falls, but you'd be wrong. His coat is probably not thick enough or long enough nor are his feet as tough as you think. 

Keep your walks short---just long enough to "do his business" and have a short bit of exercise. During extreme cold, you might skip the outside exercise, too. If it's too cold for you to enjoy a walk or jog, it's too cold for him, too. Being outside in the cold can lead to frostbite for your canine pal as easily as for you. 

Consider a blanket or coat for him when you venture outdoors.

Put a towel by the door.

As soon as you get back inside, dry Fido off completely, including his paws, his nose, and his ears. If your community uses salt on sidewalks and roadways, use warm water to dip his paws in when you return to the house. Toweling him off in the house will make him much more comfortable and reduce the damage ice or salt between his toes can do.

Paw Balm

Even before you head out the door, rub some paw balm into his pads. Salt can cause dry skin and damage to his paws, but paw balm creates a barrier between his feet and the elements. Store bought or homemade, rubbing some balm in after you dry him off will help keep his pads soft and supple.

Footwear for dogs

So maybe you think dogs in booties look weird. That's okay, but don't let it stop you from buying a good set that will keep him comfortable outside. You wouldn't think about going outside barefoot in the winter, right? Don't make him do it, either. 

Best buys for pooch presents

The holidays are upon us. Pack your pooch's stocking with some of our favorite products and give him the best holiday ever!

Puppy: Cute Fun Ways To Surprise Your Family With a Puppy at Christmas

Christmas is a time for spreading cheer and a puppy will always bring joy around. It is hard to find someone who doesn't get excited when a puppy is looking up at them with a wet nose and trusting eyes. Gifting a new puppy to your loved one during Christmas is sure to make them happy and you can make the event even more enjoyable by planning it as a surprise! The puppy is soon to win them over with lots of wet kisses and cuddles and it will be the beginning of a meaningful relationship.

Here are some cute ways in which you can surprise your family or a loved one with a puppy at Christmas.

Delaying the Surprise

Yes, the best way of making the surprise even better is to delay it. There might be several occasions when your friend or a family member has gone looking for puppies at pet stores. When this happens again, tell them why taking a puppy is a bad idea at that moment. Being familiar with the person will help you come with all the reasons why they might not want a puppy, like anyone to take care of it when they are out for work.

They are going to be immensely disappointed at first and you have to deal with this phase. However, tell the caretaker of the puppy secretly that you are interested, and then go back alone to get it right before Christmas. The surprise and joy on their faces when they finally lay eyes on the puppy will be worth all this effort.

Puppy in Gift Wrapping

While this might seem like a clich to many, there is a reason why this is done so many times. Putting the puppy in a present box never fails to make an impact. This works best as a Christmas present, as you put the puppy inside a box and place it under the Christmas. Wrap the box in pretty paper with a bow on top! When the 'present' is unboxed, the squeals of joy will not stop anytime soon!

Of course, you have to careful while placing the puppy inside the box or basket. Make sure you put the puppy just minutes before you are about the spring the surprise. This will avoid any discomfort from the puppy's side. However, a typical puppy can still make cute noises from the moment they are put inside the box, so you could put in a treat or two with him, or a toy to keep him quiet.

Even if he does make some sounds, it still makes for a great surprise as everyone is startled by puppy noises in the room. Make sure you leave a gap in the box for ventilation. Putting a small Santa cap on the puppy is sure to melt everyone's heart.

Surprise Visit

You can make the puppy the star of your Christmas dinner! Gather everyone around for the grand Christmas meal and make everyone is in the same room while they are eating. Confide in a friend and let him slip the puppy into the room. Everyone is sure to be caught off guard when they see a puppy exploring the room all by himself. There are going to be frantic inquiries while some will leave their seats to cuddle the little bundle of joy.

After the puppy has managed to surprise everyone, introduce it to the family. This surprise always works the best with children because not knowing that the puppy is already a part of the family, they will insist on keeping the puppy that has just walked in. Tell them they cannot, and you have to return the puppy to whoever it belongs- maybe a neighbor. Then, when you finally tell them the truth, they are most likely to shed tears of joy.

Treasure Hunts

Can there be a treasure hunt better than the one which involves a puppy? Surely not. Organize a treasure hunt for Christmas and leave clues around the house for everyone, telling them this is how they find their gifts. In the meantime, hide the puppy in a well-ventilated basket and place it in a safe corner of the house.

As the clues lead your family towards that spot, they are sure to be intrigued by that basket, which in all probability, will also be swaying a little. Tell them to open it and the boundless joy on the faces as they greet the new puppy is going to be the best Christmas gift for you ever.

Car Surprise

With all your Christmas shopping just about over, ask your family to help you with all the bags that you have in the car. Tell them to open the car door carefully, because you have some very precious shopping inside. As they open the car door, Tada! There is the puppy, sitting snug on the backseat, looking all pretty with a bow! This surprise is sure to bring all your neighbors to your driveway because of course your family would be screaming in joy!

With a car surprise, remember to keep the windows down when the puppy is inside by a couple of inches. However, the doors should be locked so that they do not accidentally open while you are telling your family to get the bags. You should also avoid doing this if it is very hot or very cold. Some Christmases can be freezing, so you could consider leaving your car heater on. But overall, do not leave the puppy inside alone for more than a few minutes. You could also confide in a friend to hold the puppy if it is very small or is particularly restless.

With these ideas, you are sure to surprise your family in a novel way. While there is no dearth of gifts on the shop shelves for the festive season, a puppy will bring your family way more joy than you could have ever imagined. It will be your best Christmas ever.

National Cat Lovers Month: 10 Reasons We Love Cats

It's National Cat Lovers Month! Time to celebrate everything we love about our little furry friends. There are good reasons why dogs and cats are the standard pet of choice.

While both make great pets, many have a great deal of love for cats in particular. So whether you already own a pet cat or getting one, here are ten reasons why they’re often the pet of choice.

They're Independent

Some consider cats to be arrogant as they go about their business like they own the place. But they still have their ancestral instincts, often cautiously looking out for themselves. They don't constantly need your attention or approval.

They Clean Themselves

Due to their independent nature, cats will happily clean and groom themselves so you don't have to. They can spend half the day cleaning (if they're not sleeping), which means your cat is happy, comfortable, and most of all, clean.

Quiet Creatures

A dog can drive you bonkers with barking. But a cat is barely audible at all. They might meow when hungry, but they move around gracefully and quietly. When they're not, they're probably sleeping, so they're far more peaceful than a puppy.

Cats Are Curious

Cats are curious about everything. They love to explore the great outdoors as well as every nook and cranny at home. This makes them interesting, and oftentimes hilarious to watch as they discover something they didn’t expect.

They're Intelligent

While they don't work the same way as dogs, cats can be trained, just not in the same way. They behave in accordance with how you treat them and will communicate this to get what they want. They know just how cute to be when they want attention or food!

They Help You Relax

After a long day, it can be nice to sit down and stroke your cat while it happily purrs away. Science has shown that this positive bonding, rhythmic stroking, and focused attention is a great way to relax and relieve daily stresses.

Good For Our Health

They also play a huge part in our mental and physical health. Interaction with them helps lower blood pressure and releases dopamine and serotonin. This helps improve our mood, immune function, and reduce the risk of illness and disease.

Majestic and Adorable

The way they move and position themselves can be both adorable and funny. They have elegant agility at times and can bend themselves into all sorts of shapes, making them interesting and fun to watch.

Excellent Reflexes

They can climb almost anything and fit into any small space. Some like to play fetch and some like to catch bugs. They're so quick they can even catch and dispose of pesky flies, making them great pest controllers.

They Show Love

They may not jump about and lick us like a dog, but they show their love in other ways. Whether it's rubbing against your leg, meowing, or cuddling up on your lap, they can be very lovable and affectionate.

More Than a Standard Pet

As you can see, cats are wonderfully adorable and intelligent animals and are so much more than just a standard pet. With all of their quirks and peculiarities, they are the majestic moggies we've come to love.

Good for our health and great for our soul, making them one of the most loved animals in the world. For more about pets, come and check out our blog today.

Top Dog Breeds for a Busy Family

What to do, what to do? Your family wants a dog, but with work, school, social and sports commitments, how do you work in owning a dog and what breed would be the best? Since each family is different, the answer to that question isn't a one-size-fits-all response.

What is a low-maintenance dog?

What is low-maintenance for one family is a huge hassle for another. Defining low-maintenance is a subjective exercise. Does it mean the breed needs little exercise? No grooming? Tolerant of being left alone? No shedding or easily trained? No dog breed is maintenance-free, but because purebred dogs have been specifically bred for certain traits, choosing a dog based on the needs of its breed can be more satisfying. Here's what the experts say.

Large Breeds

Mastiff

If your heart's set on a really big dog, the Mastiff may be just the dog you're looking for. This giant breed actually has low energy, so lazing around is its idea of heaven. In fact, Mastiffs have low endurance, so long walks are not something they look forward to. They are happy alone for long stretches of time and are generally docile in temperament. Not aggressive, they do tend to be somewhat aloof and prefer the company of their family. The Mastiff likes pleasing his people, so training is fun and easy. His short coat does not require much grooming. Like most large breeds, however, the life span is somewhat short, from about 8-10 years. Height 27 – 30 inches, weight 120 – 220 pounds.

Bullmastiff

Still quite a large breed but smaller than a Mastiff, the Bullmastiff enjoys his daily walk as long as it's not too far. Endurance, like its larger cousin, is still quite low. His short coat requires little maintenance and he loves to lie around watching the big game with you. Affectionate with his family and very tolerant of children, he nevertheless makes a formidable guard dog. Training him is different from most obedience training with other breeds, but not difficult. His lifespan is on par with the Mastiff at about 8 -10 years. Height 24 – 27 inches, weight 100 – 130pounds.

Medium Breeds

Greyhound

Contrary to popular belief, the racing greyhound doesn't have a lot of exercise needs. They really make wonderful couch potato companions. A daily walk and occasional run are plenty for this incredibly sweet-natured hound. Easy to train, gentle and quiet, this elegant breed might take over your couch but will not demand constant attention. Their short coat requires only minimum grooming. Greyhounds live 10-13 years. Height 25-30 inches, weight 60-80pounds.

 Basset Hound

Bred to be a working dog, on the field the Basset Hound is very active. In the home, however, this gentle, calm dog is a totally different dog. His long, soft ears and droopy expression captivate dog lovers the world 'round. A once-daily walk is sufficient to keep him happy and his grooming needs are quite low. He is most content when with his people, and is friendly and accepting of strangers and other pets. Early on, training is a necessary part of owning a Basset Hound so his natural propensity to stubbornness is overcome. Standing just under 15 inches, he is a medium sized breed due to his weight, 40 – 60 pounds on average. The average life span is 8 – 12 years.

Standard Poodle

Except for grooming, this may be the best option for busy families or even seniors. The Standard Poodle is calm and gentle, very intelligent and easy to train. A daily walk will satisfy their exercise needs. Their coats don't shed and are hypoallergenic, which is often the deciding factor for families who suffer from allergies. A plus is that this excellent breed doesn't mind being left alone while his family is away from the house. Weighing in at 45 – 70 pounds and standing over 15 inches tall, the Standard Poodle's grooming needs can be taken care of by dropping him off at a grooming salon and picking him up later. Although his life span is relatively long at 12 – 15 years, some Standard Poodles have lived up to 17 years. 

Small Breeds

Dachshund

Although Dachshunds are energetic little dogs, they can get too much exercise, which can affect their long backs. Climbing stairs and jumping off of things can also injure them, so keep that in mind if you have a two-story home. The short-haired variety has very low grooming needs, and all three varieties (short coat, long coat, and wire coat) stand under 9 inches. The miniature variety is even smaller. Weighing in at between 11 and 32 pounds, the sometimes clownish Dachshund is a favorite everywhere. Early training is important as they can be stubborn if not brought up to obey. The lifespan of this sweet-natured dog is from 12 – 15 years. 

Papillon

The Papillon (French for butterfly) has beautiful, erect ears that trail long tresses that fan out to look like a butterfly. Some have drop ears as well, looking less like a butterfly but just as beautiful Although his single layer coat is long, brushing a couple of times a week is adequate and he doesn't require hair cuts. With no doggy odor and hypoallergenic coat, he is considered low maintenance on grooming. This breed loves to play and is affectionate with children and other pets. A daily romp in the backyard or at a dog park along with his daily walks will keep him healthy and happy. He's a tiny spaniel, half lap dog and half court jester. Perhaps a little difficult to house train (as are most toy dogs), he is highly intelligent and learns easily with consistency. He stands just 8 – 11 inches high and weighs 6 – 10 pounds, a bundle of energy and love. With a long life span of 14 – 16 years, he is there for the long haul.

Easy DIY Cat Toys

We're sure your cat loves some of the random things laying around the house. In that case, why spend a ton of money on cat toys? Here are 15 easy breezy cat  inchestoys inches that you probably already have at home.

Cat toys made with household recyclables.

  1. Easiest cat toy ever. Wad up a ball of aluminum foil. It's lightweight and skitters across a room with the gentlest touch of a paw.
  2. Wine corks, feathers and jute glued into a cork with a hole in it will keep your kitty entertained for hours. How-to here.
  3. An empty paper bag or cardboard box is preferred by cats of all sizes and ages. Cut holes for them to poke their paws through and let them at it!
  4. Toilet paper tubes with straw poked through them will demonstrate your feline's more interesting antics which are guaranteed to make you laugh out loud.
  5. With little more than an old t-shirt, a couple of wire coat hangers and a piece of sturdy cardboard, you can make a cat tent that rivals the expensive ones sold in pet supply stores. Here's the how-to.
  6. Another way to use toilet paper tubes is to cut the tube into four rings, inserting one inside the next until you have formed a ball. Stuff treats inside and watch Fluffy go to work trying to get them out.
  7. Pull yarn through an empty thread spool and tie knots so that the yarn doesn't come out. Leave the yarn long enough to make ribbons.
  8. Cut the top and bottom off of an empty soda bottle and then cut the rest into a spiral. Cats find this irresistible!
  9. Cut the bottoms off of three (or more) paper bags and link one inside the other to form a tube. Toss some catnip or kibble into the tube to entice the kitty in.

Crafty cat toys

  1. Make a wand from a dowel, some string or yarn, and a homemade pom-pom. Your cat that prefers to pounce instead of chase will love you for it!
  2. Instead of pom-poms, attach ribbons and jingle bells to the dowel for a more lively attraction. Cats seem to love the tinkly sound of the bells.
  3. Use a clear plastic food storage container to make a cat puzzle toy. Cut holes in the top big enough for Fluffy's paws to go through and put ping-pong balls (or other small toys) inside the container. Secure the top and shake it where Fluffy can see the balls inside.

Other things cats love to play with

  1. Give second life to a plastic easter egg by enclosing a couple of beans inside. Cats love things that rattle and are light enough to bat around.
  2. Drip tubing makes a great tease toy! Cut a piece 18 inches to 25 inches long and wave it near Kitty's nose. Its movement will entice her to swat at it.
  3. Laser pointers are among the most beloved of all cat toys (dogs love them, too). Point it at a wall and move it around. Just be careful not to aim it into your cat's eyes.

Puppy: A Guide for First Time Puppy Parents

Yes, they are adorable. The little pitter-patter of their tiny feet as they follow you around, the tiny yips and barks, even the puppy-breath smell is irresistible. So arm yourself with knowledge so you know just what you're getting yourself into.

What about the costs?

The cost of obtaining the puppy is only the beginning. Even if you are given the puppy for free, owning a dog is not. Let's look at what expenses are involved so you are fully prepared to bring your puppy home!.

You'll need some equipment. 

  • Start with a crate. Dogs are by nature den animals, and once your puppy is used to the crate, he'll go there on his own anytime he wants some alone-time. (Never use his crate as punishment. NEVER.) 
  • You'll also need some steel or ceramic bowls to feed and water him. (Always keep his water bowl full of fresh water. FRESH.) 
  • He'll need a good leather or canvas leash of about a six-foot length and a soft, leather collar. Rolled leather collars will not break the hair on his neck. (NO CHAIN OR SPIKED COLLARS!) 
  • Get him a bed (or two so you'll have one for when you're washing the other). 
  • Buy a few high-quality chew toys (but avoid rawhide, which can be swallowed and cause intestinal blockages). 
  • Lastly, you will want to invest in a pet gate (or a baby gate) to partition off areas where you don't want him to go or to keep him confined to a "safe place."

Puppy-proof your home before you bring him home.

  • Get down on his level. What does he see? Can he chew on it? Can he knock it over? Can he get tangled up in it? If any of the answers are yes, change the environment so that all the answers are no.
  • Get a trash can he can't open. Believe me, if you don't, he will.
  • Put his new crate in your room, near your bed. It may make for a few nights of sleeplessness, but in the long run, you'll be glad you did.
  • Watch the clutter. If you're in the habit of leaving your shoes by the door, don't. Shut doors to rooms that have expensive furnishings. Close closet doors and keep your stuff out of his reach.

Sign up with a vet and consider pet insurance.

If you have friends with dogs, ask for their recommendation on veterinarians. Make an appointment to meet the vet and ask about pet insurance. Get his or her advice on puppy food and routine vaccination schedules. Then set up your first appointment to bring your new puppy in for a check-up. It is best to schedule this visit within two or three days of bringing your pup home.

Supervise your new puppy!

Your puppy should only be out of his crate or a small area you have set up for him (his room) when you can watch his every movement. By supervision, I mean your eyes on him. No telephone calls, TV, or other distractions. The second you take your eyes off your puppy, he'll get into trouble or disappear. If you must take care of something else, put him in his safe place first.

  • Take him outside to his "potty place" every time you let him out of his crate. Carry him outside and wait for results. 
  • Set a routine and stick to it. Potty training goes much easier if your puppy knows what's coming next. Feeding and immediate play outside should be the same time every day so that digestive upsets are minimized and potty training is easier.

Make sure everyone is on the same page.

Don't leave a child with the sole responsibility of caring for your new puppy, and be sure that every member of the family knows the rules and routine for his care. It's fine to have more than one person caring for your pup, but designating one person as the main caretaker will smooth the transition from pup-less to puppy as a member of the household.

Don't expect good behavior unless you train him to know what that means.

Enroll your new puppy in a "kindergarten" class. In these pre-training classes, puppies and their owners learn how to socialize with other dogs. This is a very important part of dog-training so that your puppy develops a confident, non-aggressive social personality. Without this kind of training, your puppy could end up being timid or aggressive around strangers or strange dogs. DON'T SKIP THIS ONE!

After your pup "graduates" from kindergarten, enroll him in the next training class so that you can learn how to train him to be a happy, healthy member of your household. It's best to have one person doing the training. Don't switch out another family member because it's as important for the person training the puppy as it is for the pup to learn the details and develop the techniques that will result in a well-trained dog.

Embarking (pun intended) on your new adventure with a puppy will be immensely rewarding. You will gain a friend that will love you no matter what, loyal and constant. Throughout his life, you and he will find out what other dog-owners before you already know. A dog is man's best friend.

Road Trips with your Dog!

So you're off to visit Grandma and Grandpa for Christmas, but you don't want to leave your four-legged buddy at home. If your relatives are amenable to having your pet visit with you, make sure that he's welcome back next year, too. Here's how.

Preparation

To get ready to travel anywhere, you prepare for your trip, don't you? Now you just need to add a few extra preparations to make sure your dog is welcome wherever you go. Here are some handy tips to help you do just that.

  1. Ask. Don't assume that pets are or are not welcome when you travel. Check with the hotel you plan to stay in. Ask specifically what their pet policies are and if you decide to stay there, abide by those rules.
  2. Pet apps can help you find places that welcome Fido. Consider these: 
    • All Trails. This crowdsourced app has the largest collection of trail maps with a search function that helps you find dog-friendly trails.
    • Bring Fido. This is the best travel-with-your-dog app available. Every one of the places this app finds has the Bring Fido Guarantee, so you know you're seeing the truth when it says dog-friendly, whether it is a hotel, a restaurant, a trail, or any of a host of other attractions and places that welcome Fido.
    • Pet First Aid by American Red Cross. A guide for step-by-step instructions for common pet emergencies, it also helps you locate the nearest emergency animal hospital.
  3. Pack the essentials. 
    • Food and water. Food goes without saying, but bringing the water he is used to can well prevent an upset stomach.
    • Bowls. The collapsible ones pack easily and don't take up much space.
    • Toys. Let Fido chew on his favorite toys to alleviate both anxiety and boredom.
    • Bed. He'll sleep best if his own bed is packed. 
    • Crate. A crate is the safest place for your dog to travel in a car. Be sure to put it on a flat surface (not a seat) where he can lie comfortably. Secure the crate so it doesn't go flying in case of a collision or accident. Alternatively, you can purchase a dog "seat belt" that secures him on the seat and allows him to lie down safely. A warning, though. Keep an eye out to make sure he isn't chewing on the seat belt!
  4. Pack his medical records and be sure he is microchipped and his vaccines are current.

Make him the perfect houseguest.

If you want to be welcomed back next year with Fido along, follow these suggestions to turn him into the ideal houseguest.

  1. Let Fido say thank you with a gift. Bring a host/hostess gift from your dog. Any dog-themed item such as hand towels or coffee-table books will be welcome. If your host has dogs, bring them something, too. Maybe a bag of gourmet dog biscuits!
  2. Find a neutral place to introduce Fido to your host's dog. Meet at a dog park or around the corner where they can walk together before "invading" the other dog's territory. Occasionally give Fido a break from resident dogs so that his alert-level can be let down.
  3. Stick as close to his schedule at home as possible, especially when it comes to feeding and potty breaks. Take the time zone into consideration. A dog who never has accidents at home may not be as trustworthy in another place, particularly if there is another dog already living there. 
  4. Even if the host has a fenced-in yard, go outside with him to make sure he "did his business" and then reward him for a job well-done. 
  5. Don't assume you know the rules. Ask what their dog on the furniture preferences are and whether there are any off-limits spaces in the house, like the dining room or upstairs. Is there a specific place you should take him to potty or any places in the yard they'd prefer Fido didn't visit? Your best bet of being asked back next year is by following the rules.

What if he just won't behave?

If issues arise while you're visiting someone's home, be prepared to keep Fido tethered near you so he can't sneak off and get in trouble. Increase the number of times you take him outside and utilize his crate when you can't supervise him. Preparation, training, and socializing your dog before your road trip should make you and Fido welcome. 

Why We Love Our Pets So Much – American Culture and Its Pets

Have you ever heard the term "anthrozoology"? In 1990, biologist John Bradshaw, an honorary research fellow at the University of Bristol in England, coined the term to define a field of study that deals with how humans think about their animals. Since that time, researchers have spent a lot of time exploring "human-animal interactions" or "the human-animal bond." 

Bradshaw authored a book called "The Animals Among Us: How Pets Make Us Human" in which he explains this fascination with pets. A century ago, animals were useful and although humans appreciated their usefulness, they didn't normally keep them as pets, at least not in the numbers we do today. "Pet-keeping," he writes, "is an intrinsic part of human nature, one rooted deeply in our own species' evolution."

It has been widely reported that pets make us live longer, and there is some truth to the claim that they reduce stress, a component in many fatal diseases like heart disease. 'Good interactions," he says, "do have quite a profound effect, causing changes in oxytocin and in beta endorphins. Those are actual changes going on in the body of somebody who is stroking a friendly dog." 

Having a friendly dog makes you instantly more trustworthy in the eyes of a person you're meeting for the first time. Animal-assisted therapy also benefits from this explanation, because it makes the therapist more approachable.

Regardless of the research Bradshaw has done. When SurveyMonkey did a survey of pet owners, the majority believed the research that was done in Sweden was more reliable. That study suggested that owning a dog is linked to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and death when demographic data on 3.4 million Swedes aged 40-80 years was compared. Time Magazine cited several studies leading to the conclusion that science says your pet is good for your mental health.

If you just aren't sure about which study to believe, I offer you my own personal experience. When my daughter outgrew the abilities of her retired Western Pleasure horse, she decided to donate her to an assisted therapy organization near us. We visited Image often, and each time we were met with astounding stories from the parents whose children had benefited from their interaction with this gentle, beautiful horse. Two teenage boys who had never spoken began to verbalize when they were with Image. To me, the science is settled. I've seen it with my own eyes. So I join the ranks of those Americans who are totally in love with their pets.

Happy Healthy Cat Month!

Hey all you cat moms and dads! Did you know that September is the official month for celebrating your feline companion? Cats are family too, and it’s important to keep them healthy. Take care of your kitty's needs so that you can spend as many years together as possible.

Practicing Prey Instincts

Although they spend much of their time indoors, cats are still naturally inclined to live and behave as they once did in the wild. Felines will always be natural born hunters, and much like their domesticated canine counterparts, that internal need must be satisfied. If not, they get bored and become destructive.

While it does depend on your cat's specific energy levels, many felines aren't opposed to going for walks. You can find cat harnesses online or at just about any pet store. Be sure to avoid retractable leashes as they can become tangled if your kitty decides to climb up a tree.

Cat owners who spend a lot of time at work may find it difficult to give their companions enough exercise. If this sounds like you, don't worry! A laser pointer or motion toy works just as well for the days when you're just a little too tired for a walk.

Meowlitosis and Other Dental Issues

Whew! Does your cat's breath smell a little worse than usual lately? If so, it could be one of the first signs that something is wrong. Periodontal disease is one of the most common problems that veterinarians see in felines. While it is a natural part of aging, more severe issues such as tooth resorption can arise. 

Small lesions form around the gumline, sort of like what you'd see with gingivitis in a human. If left unchecked, the inflammation increases over time causing a breakdown of the root tissue, and the tooth eventually retracts. 

Veterinarians are still unclear as to the exact reason behind tooth resorption. What we do know is that there's a direct link between poor oral hygiene and the gum inflammation that initiates root destruction. If it’s been awhile since your cat has seen the dentist, make an appointment this month!

Preventing Feline Leukemia

Did you know that Feline Leukemia Virus is the most common cause of cancer in cats? This disease is spread through bodily fluids such as urine, saliva, and blood. Feline Leukemia progresses similarly to the way that AIDS and HIV do in humans. It is incurable, and slowly destroys your cat's immune system.

The good news is that a vaccine does exist, and it can be administered to kittens as early as nine weeks of age. Believe it or not, FLV is most often spread through mutual grooming and milk. So, if there's any chance your female kitty might become a mama, make sure she's vaccinated against the virus first!

Even if your cat tests positive for the disease someday, it doesn't necessarily mean that the end is nigh. Many felines live for three plus years after being diagnosed, and with a great quality of life I might add.

Great DIY Pet Projects to Create at Home!

Cat lovers love their homes, too, and sometimes their BFFFFs (best four-footed forever friends) shred their furniture, making them have to choose between their homes and their cats. In days-gone-by, declawing was the way many people solved the dilemma, but today we know that declawing actually amputates the first part of every one of the cat's toes, a cruel and unnecessary process.  The cruelty is obvious, but why unnecessary? Because you can easily make a great-looking cat scratcher that kitty will much prefer to your sofa and will not look like "cat furniture." We found this project on we-are-scout.com.

Creating this wonderful cat scratcher starts with the IKEA Rast bedside table ($14.95) and a few other supplies. All the instructions are available on we-are-scout.com. An easy evening or weekend project and your decor is safe from kitty's claws!

Cats aren't the only pets that can be destructive. When dogs are left at home for an extended period of time (like when you're at work), they can get bored and look for ways to entertain themselves. Sometimes, they get destructive. Even if Spot isn't destructive, if he likes to chew, here is a way to make a no-sew chew toy that will allow him to entertain himself for hours on end.  It  may look complicated, but these easy-to-follow tutorials will have you churning out these delightful chew toys in no time. You can find the tutorial here

Cats love to get inside things, as all cat lovers know. An empty box or paper shopping bag is alluring to cats, but they are kind of, well, trashy-looking lying around your home. Instead, find a brightly colored t-shirt at your local resale shop (or recycle one only our own), add a piece of cardboard and a couple of wire coat hangers and voila! A great-looking cat hide-out that is as much fun to look at as it is for kitty to hide in. To find the simple tutorial, just follow this link. Make several to go in every room your cat lives in to match or complement the colors and patterns in the room.

With a few tools and some imagination,the folks at The Owner Builder Network have put together this fun self-groomer for cats, but small dogs would love it, too. It comprises a board, a couple of toilet-bowl brushes, and a little time that produces this innovative groomer that takes some of the grooming chore off your hands and puts it in the cat's paws. Fun and useful, and it only uses basic tools and techniques. 

To find even more pet projects to make great things for your cat and dog, why not check out Pinterest? There's a wealth of fun things to make and do for you and your BFFFF's!