It’s well-nigh impossible to calculate the emotional benefits our pets provide us. Unfortunately, however, some days it can be almost as difficult to give them the loving care they deserve. We’ll suggest some tips for making the most of your relationship with your furry, scaly, feathery, slippery, and finny friends.
Pets and Holiday Stress
Health and Safety
Hot weather can make many household pets (and people!) sleepy: that’s perfectly normal. However, if your pet demonstrates unusual behaviors – such as lethargy, excessive panting, or drooling – you should seek medical attention immediately, as this can indicate heatstroke.
All pets need special care in the heat – but those who spend time outside are particularly vulnerable. Protect your outdoor-going cat or dog from heat exhaustion, dehydration, and sunburn while outside: make sure each animal has plenty of cool water and access to a shady space. Also, limit the time each pet stays outdoors, if possible.
Stay up-to-date on your pet’s medications (including flea and tick control)! Fluffy will stay healthier, and you’ll have one less thing to worry about.
Dog owners often find that switching from daylight to standard time means that they’re walking their pet in full darkness. Be sure to carry a flashlight and wear reflective attire (both of you), and be wary of slippery leaves, high curbs, and other hazards. It’s a good idea to stick to a familiar route after sundown and save your explorations for another day. Finally, using a leash after dark is safer for you both – save the off-leash action for a daytime trip to the dog park.
Keeping your pet’s coat brushed neatly can benefit you both. Your pet will appreciate the smooth, gentle strokes of a soft comb or brush, and you’ll enjoy spending peaceful time addressing a true friend’s needs. As a bonus, a well-groomed pet will shed less abundantly – so you’ll have less cleaning to do!
Pollen problems? In many areas, allergy season can cause outdoor-going pets to develop a fine layer of green dust over an otherwise clean and healthy coat. Try wiping your pet with a dry floor-cleaning cloth, like those made by Swiffer: the grains of pollen will be trapped by the cloth, and your pet won’t need a bath! This simple trick helps cut down on your allergy symptoms (as well as your pet’s) and keeps your house cleaner.
Bathing a large dog (or almost any size cat) can be difficult on a fibromite body: the bending, the wiggling, and the water everywhere! If your pet isn’t too filthy, try giving him or her a dry shampoo. Simply sprinkle on the powdery “shampoo”, rub it in, and wait a few minutes – then gently brush your pet to remove the residue. While these shampoos are available at pet stores, you can easily make your own blend or just use cornstarch – the homemade versions are less likely to trigger sensitivities in you or your pet.
Food and Drink
Is it warm out? At night, half-fill your outdoor-going pet’s water dish and place it in the freezer. In the morning, top up with cold water and put it outside as normal. This can help your furry friend stay safer during a heat wave.
If you commonly give your dog a toy stuffed with peanut butter or a food paste, try putting it in the freezer first. Dogs love frozen foods! Plus, it’ll take the dog longer to consume the treat, buying you more distraction-free time. Two things to remember, though: ice cubes can crack dogs’ teeth and should not be given as treats, and the toy should be put into a plastic bag before freezing to avoid contamination.
Bending down is the bane of many fibromites’ lives. Instead of feeding cats and smaller dogs on the floor, consider feeding them atop a particular piece of (inexpensive) furniture, such as a card table or low bookcase. A cat activity tower or other play structure can also work well.
If your dog or cat wants to play but you just can’t muster up the strength, distract him or her with a laser toy – your pet gets to chase around the light and burn off excess energy, and you get to stay in your comfy chair. Our favorite model simply requires a flick of the “on” switch for 15 minutes of pet heaven.
Does your dog need a lot of attention, even when you’re feeling down? Try putting his or her meals into a food-dispensing toy. Since it’s an effort to retrieve the food, the dog stays focused and engaged – allowing you the time you need. You can buy food specifically designed for toy use, or you can fill the toy with whatever your dog prefers. Our favorites: the Monster Mouth and the Busy Buddy Squirrel Dude, both of which are made of rubber and are dishwasher safe. [If you don't have a dishwasher, note that you'll need a bottle brush to clean out the Squirrel Dude, especially if you fill it with food pastes or peanut butter.] A bonus: your dog can be trained to bring you the toy on command, so you don’t have to bend down to grab it.
Placing your cat’s litter box on a table can eliminate some of the hassle associated with changing the litter.
Do you find it difficult to clean your pet’s litter box as often as you’d like? Consider investing in a self-cleaning litter box, which seals away the waste for you. Alternately, you could try a Cat Genie, which both cleans and flushes itself. Or you could even teach your pet to use the toilet!