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Monday, July 26, 2010

Dog Days of Summer are Upon Us

Last year, we had a very wet summer in the Northeast when most of June was rained out. This year, the temps have been so high, the days have been described as “scorchers” by most meteorologists.  We are truly in the “Dogs Days of Summer,” which according to the Farmer’s Almanac, are “the 40 days beginning July 3 and ending August 11,” meaning we could have yet another three weeks of this hot, humid, Husky un-friendly weather.
 
During these hot days, a large number of folks run their A/Cs and fans constantly. Please remember to always do a safety check: Are the filters cleaned? Are the cords intact and not frayed or split (or in many canine homes, chewed)? Are the outlets overloaded? The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has put out a Home Electrical Safety Check List that is worth reading.

And, if your dog is barking, please go check it out. Don’t assume everything is OK. Please don’t yell "be quiet" to your canine without first checking out why he or she is barking. I recently read an article in a newspaper where a Siberian Husky barked to alert her owners that there was danger: their house was on fire. The dog managed to wake the family who were all able to escape. Unfortunately, the Sibe did not make it. If she had not alerted her family, the outcome could have been even more tragic. This Sibe is truly a canine hero. Her first instinct was to save the family she loved, and that she did honorably.

So let’s all remember to do a thorough check when turning on cooling equipment to avoid any accidents. Here are a few safety reminders (in no particular order):
  • Have an escape route planned for both family and pets.
  • Have window clings for your children AND for your pets. These vinyl window signs adhere to a window alert fire personnel of your pets’ whereabouts in the home and the number of pets; dog, cat, or other.  (See my blog on National Pet Safety Day to find out how to get the pet window clings).
  • Have a fire extinguisher nearby.
  • Keep unused outlets closed with child safety caps to keep pets out of the sockets.
  • Keep emergency numbers on hand, such as the fire department.  Have the numbers programmed in your cell phone so you can call when you are safely out of the house.
  • Keep your pets’ leashes and medications nearby so you can grab them on the way out, and leash your pets once outside so they don’t run away during all the commotion.
But most of all, listen to your furry best friend. What they are trying to tell you could save your life.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Where's the Pumpkin???


Back in the mid-80s, Clara Peller used to belt out across the TV airwaves, "Where’s the beef?" in the Wendy’s ads. Well, today, almost 30 years later, my Sibes are barking out across the country asking, "Where’s the pumpkin?" 

Pure pumpkin has become an important staple food in our Siberian Husky household. Gibson, my four-year-old, suffered several grand mal seizures a year-and-a-half ago, and has since been medicated for Canine Epilepsy with a combination of AEDs (anti-seizure drugs): Phenobarbital and Potassium Bromide, both have helped him in managing the seizures. Some side effects, however, include lethargy and weight gain. Both of which has affected him, especially the weight gain to the tune of 19 pounds! Yes, my big wooly boy tips the scales at 113 pounds. While he has good checkups from the vet and routine blood panels to monitor his meds, I am concerned with the weight gain for both his hind legs (which are just not long enough to handle the weight) and just his overall health. So, a key part of his diet – which consists of my cutting back on his regular food and replacing some of it with lean food, as well as pureed steamed green beans, carrots, and the now-coveted pure pumpkin. 




Benefits of Pure Pumpkin Pureé

The "pumpkin diet" is actually not only good for dogs for weight issues as it helps achieve that full feeling, but it is a high source of fiber that is not upsetting to a canine’s stomach. Additionally, it is recommended by some veterinarians to aid in preventing anal gland flare-ups by helping to maintain a healthy stool consistency. KEY: be careful you buy only "100% pure pumpkin" and NOT "pumpkin pie filling," which contains sugar our beloved pooches do not need. 


Last fall I thought I hit the jackpot when I walked into our neighborhood wholesale store and discovered to my sheer delight they sold cases…CASES...of my favorite pure pumpkin. I piled my cart as full as I could with them and happily drove home and stored them for future use. Well, they ran out by Thanksgiving, but I was feeling good as I still had many cases left. When those were gone, I fell in love with another area chain supermarket as they were the only other store in the area to sell it by individual cans. Loading up my cart with the entire shelf supply, I did catch some odd looks. The cashier girl even laughed as she said we must love pumpkin pie. The expression on her face when I told her it was for my Huskies was, well, just priceless. I wish I had my camera with me for that picture-perfect moment! Well, now all those cans are gone and the "future" is now here. I’m down to a precious two, yes just 2, cans of the pureéd gold in a can.  

Apparently, due to the wet crops of last year, no store, not even Internet ones, including the company’s own, has any in stock until this fall. I don’t think I can stretch the last two cans that far, but I’ll give it the ol' Girl Scout try! In the meantime, I WILL find some!



Until next time, I think I’ll go plant some pumpkins of my own.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

You scream, I scream, even Sibes scream for ice cream!

July is National Ice Cream month, and yummm-eee…today is an especially delicious holiday – National Ice Cream Day – as our anipals at Tails of the Tundra Siberian Husky Rescue pointed out earlier in the day. What a great holiday, don’t you agree??? While you grab yourself some of that cool and creamy tasty treat, don‘t forget our canine pals love it also! So pop open your freezer or jump in the car (or take a walk if it’s not too hot where you live) and surprise your furry pals with a nice special summertime treat in honor of today! As a matter of fact, we have a whole month to enjoy it!

At the FiveSibes abode, the fave flavor is vanilla, either a soft-serve vanilla cone from our local drive-through or spoonsful from a carton of all natural vanilla ice cream. Did I mention yummm-eee? Pictured above, Harley and Gibson share a cone at our neighborhood MickyD’s after a nice cool car ride. Hmmmm…no wonder they really enjoy car rides, they know what’s at the end!

If you’re wondering where and how in the world this sweet treat was bestowed with its own holiday, we have our late former U.S. President Ronald Regan to thank! It was back in 1984 when he designated July as an American ice cream “holiday!” Thank you President Regan, and we hope you are enjoying a scoop of your favorite flavor in the big ice cream parlor in the sky.

Some additional ideas and good uses for ice cream for our Sibes (as if we need an excuse to have it!) is to buy a pint and form it into a bone shape, add an unlit candle – and voila! A canine birthday cake! 

Or, place a scoop in a cupcake wrapper for individual servings. Pictured here are some photos from past  birthday parties showing our FiveSibes enjoying some ice cream cake and cupcakes! 

And the best part? Even us Hu-parents can have a spoonful or two before dishing it out!

Mmmm, I’m hungry now for some, so let’s all go and have one scoop or two in honor of today. Enjoy! 

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Today is National Pet Fire Safety Day


Today is Pet Fire Safety Day, and the purpose is to bring prevention awareness to pet owners. The National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC), ADT Security Services,  and the American Kennel Club have partnered together to bring a fire safety awareness to all pet owners. According to the NVFC, there is “an estimated 500,000 pets affected by home fires each year,” and “nearly 1,000 house fires each year are accidentally started by the homeowners’ pets,” according to the AKC and the NVFC. Here is a list of tips courtesy of NVFC to keep our pets from starting house fires:
  • Extinguish open flames: Pets are generally curious and will investigate cooking appliances, candles, or even a fire in your fireplace. Ensure your pet is not left unattended around an open flame and make sure to thoroughly extinguish any open flame before leaving your home. 
  • Remove stove knobs: Be sure to remove stove knobs or protect them with covers before leaving the house – a stove or cook top is the number one piece of equipment involved in your pet starting a fire.  
  • Invest in flameless candles: These candles contain a light bulb rather than an open flame, and take the danger out of your pet knocking over a candle. Cats are notorious for starting fires when their tails turn over lit candles.  
  • Beware of water bowls on wooden decks: Do not leave a glass water bowl for your pet outside on a wooden deck. The sun’s rays when filtered through the glass and water can actually heat up and ignite the wooden deck beneath it. Choose stainless steel or ceramic bowls instead.
  •  Pet proof the home: Take a walk around your home and look for areas where pets might start fires inadvertent
 And, in order to keep your pets safe, please:
  • Keep pets near entrances when away from home: When leaving pets home alone, keep them in areas or rooms near entrances where firefighters can easily find them. 
  • Secure young pets: Especially with young puppies, keep them confined away from potential fire-starting hazards when you are away from home, such as in crates or behind baby gates in secure areas.
  • Practice escape routes with pets: Keep collars and leashes at the ready in case you have to evacuate quickly with your pet or firefighters need to rescue your pet. 
  • Consider using monitored smoke detection services – As an added layer of protection beyond battery-operated smoke alarms, smoke detectors connected to a monitoring center help save pets who can’t escape when left home alone. 
  • Affix a pet alert window cling: Write down the number of pets inside your house and attach the static cling to a front window. This critical information saves rescuers time when locating your pets. Make sure to keep the number of pets listed on them updated.                                            

Let’s all remember that preventative measures means keeping our beloved pets safe. For more information on Pet Fire Safety Day, and for a list of distribution places (both actual and online) where you can obtain pet finder window clings, please check out the following websites:

ADT Security Services at https://www.adt.com/resi/programs/pets/ 

Another great website, as suggested by fellow animal lover and blogger The Thundering Herd, is Be the Change for Animals. Their mission is to "provide a platform to amplify the voice of animal advocates, mobilizing a focused and powerful movement behind one cause at a time. Through this vehicle, we can generate exponential change by forming a wave that turns the tide." Visit today!
Until next time, stay safe, happy, and healthy!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Summer Lovin' Sibes Havin' Some Fun...



Wow…the heatwave has been brutal in the Northeast, with temps hitting scorching triple digits. Definitely not Siberian Husky weather, that’s for sure!  During the brutally humid days, our FiveSibes stay inside in the fan-blowing, A/C roaring, cool house where they rule the kitchen as their own personal domain as they bask, play, and tear up sections of the flooring to keep busy. Occasionally, when big brother Gibson gets tired of the three pups, he will take himself downstairs to the Sibe bedroom, and make himself comfy on the cool waterbed inside his kennel (we keep the door open so he can go to-and-from). Yes, there is A/C in their bedroom too! Naturally, when nature calls, they need to go outside, even when it’s 103F! To make it more fun for them, we fill up the kiddie pool, toss in some water toys, and hook up the hose to one of the deck beams and make a sprinkler just for their cooling pleasure! Pictured here big brother Gibson dives in first, followed by little bro Wolf. Fun was had by all!

While the heatwave continues to ripple across the countrysides and cityscapes, let’s all keep in mind ways to ease the heat for our pets and keep them safe, happy, and healthy during the hot season:
  1. Keeping plenty of cool, fresh water available at all times.  
  2. Giving ice chips, which make a great hot-weather (no-calorie) treat.
  3. Letting them chew on cloth bones you wet and freeze.  
  4. Letting them splash around in water-filled plastic kiddie pools.
  5. Turning on the sprinklers to allow cool water to cascade down on them. (Be sure to keep their ears dry – or dry them after they are done).
  6. Brushing their coats to rid of excess fur and aid them in blowing out that thick undercoat, such as the ones Siberian Huskies have! (Not to product endorse, but the FURminator is my personal favorite tool. It totally ROCKS on my Sibes' undercoat.)
  7. Exercise them in the early AM or late PM when there is no or low humidity. Skip the days when the humidity is high.
  8. Keep them off the blacktop on roads/streets. Walk them along the grassy or dirt edge. The roads get too hot for their paw pads.
  9. Feed them in the AM/PM before it gets too hot. If you feed outdoors, please remove the dishes when they are done if there are any remnants of food. Please don’t leave it out in the heat – it will spoil leftover food causing the dogs to get sick if they decide to go back later on and munch some more, or, it will become bug infested – and they certainly do not need to ingest those nasty critters! Yuck.
  10. If you let your beloved pets cool off in the garage – please be sure there are no toxic items around (i.e. antifreeze) that they can sniff out and ingest.
  11. While plants and trees look pretty, they could be deadly for your pet. Check your pet’s surroundings for poisonous plants, shrubs, berry bushes, and trees, and keep your pets away from them! (For a list of toxic and non-toxic plants, check out the ASPCA’s website at: http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/poison-control/plants/).
  12. Keep the ASPCA Poison Control telephone number handy for emergencies. -(888) 426-4435 – put it into your phone contacts, write it on your message board, stick it to your fridge, memorize it.
  13. Keep Benadryl on hand in case of allergic emergencies, itchy rashes, bee stings, etc. (Contact your vet for proper dosage).
  14. Keep up on vet check-ups.
  15. Create a first-aid kit for your pet that contains important contact information (i.e. vet, emergency clinic, Poison Control, etc.), any medical info, medicines, wipes, Benadryl, anti-anxiety or calming aids (such as Rescue Remedy, Comfort Zone), bandages, portable water dish and food dish, etc.) that you can take with you on trips, etc.
  16. When indoors, be careful there are no A/C or fan wires hanging about they can chew on or trip over (and thereby pulling down a moving fan onto them).
  17. Keep up on their heartworm, other worms, flea, and tick preventatives.
  18. If you take your pet for a ride, please use a pet safety belt or a secured crate. And please don’t let them travel in the back of a pick up!
  19. Never, EVER leave them in a parked car – it doesn’t matter if the windows are down and the car is parked in the shade. Cars heat up quickly and so do dogs. Even if you think you’ll only be in the store for five minutes, don’t bring your dog along. Leave them home until the cooler weather arrives. Please. Please. Please.
The horrendous heat (I know we’re not supposed to complain, it is July, BUT…)has hit many sections of the country (and around the globe). What kinds of things do you do for your canine companions to help them keep cool?

Until next time, stay cool, stay safe, and have lots of warm weather fun with your pets!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Happy July Fourth! Will your dog enjoy the fireworks?


With the Fourth of July almost upon us (and our Sibe "Wolf" is all ready for it!) many folks are thinking of picnics, trips to the lake or beach, parties, and fireworks. In the midst of all this fun, it’s important to keep in mind the sensitivities of our beloved pets. Some folks take their dogs along, while others leave them safely at home. With the celebratory fireworks of the season, it is important to keep in mind that some canines are troubled by the loud snap, crackle, and bang. Our late Akita-Shepherd Chelsey, was petrified of fireworks. She would cry and pace and try to hide in the farthest corner of the house. If she was outside when they started, she would try to gain entry into the house by any means she could, including chewing and ripping the aluminum door off the back of the house, along with the surrounding vinyl siding. Naturally, this behavior is not good for the dog or for the house. While the siding and door can always be replaced, the dog cannot be. For our poor Chelsey, who grew worse with loud sounds as she aged, the twice-a-year firework celebrations in our city were just devastating. We tried everything from snacks to music to using calming aids, but nothing worked. The best we could do was close all the windows and run the A/C’s on high to help drown out the sounds. (Sadly, our beautiful Chelsey has since crossed over the Rainbow Bridge as a result of severe complications from the canine Alzheimer’s.)
Our FiveSibes fortunately, could care less about fireworks, loud noises, etc. They take it all in stride, so we are quite lucky with this loving pack. During the city’s annual carnival, the kickoff is a fireworks show that can be seen from our own backyard, so we enjoy hanging out on the deck with our “kids” and watching the night sky light up with the beautiful display of fireworks.
Now some dogs are like our Sibes, and that is just wonderful, however, some others are like our sweet Chelsey was. If your dogs do not like fireworks, please remember that they are extremely hearing sensitive, so don’t “make” them be present for it. There are many good tips out there to help with keeping dogs calm this Fourth of July, but here are a few of our thoughts if your dog is fearful:


1) Definitely do not expose them to the great fireworks show in the sky. They will not enjoy it, even if you will.


2) Do not “reward” them for scared behavior as this will only make it worse.


3) Do not scold them for their fretful behavior, it’s not their fault they feel scared.


4) Sometimes there may have been something in the dog’s past that scared him/her. Before a loud event, try positive-reinforcement by having him near you and test out different sounds – for example: a bottle opening, a drum banging, a loud knocking, a textbook falling onto the floor, snapping bubble wrap, etc. Reward your dog if he/she does not react. If he/she does react, distract him right away with something else to change the frame of mind.


5) Try different distracting/enticing things while the fireworks are going off – treats, calm talking, a nice walk, or if need be, keep him inside and let him just hang with the family, picking up on the overall calm vibe, or as Cesar Milan calls it “calm assertive energy.”


6) Administer natural calming aids, such as Rescue Remedy. In extreme cases, your veterinarian can prescribe a calming medication.


7) Some dogs prefer to stay in their room or kennel when feeling nervous, if this is where they prefer to be, let them. Just be sure there is nothing around that can hurt them (electric cords, etc.)


8) Try playing some music or TV while the fireworks are going off. We found that music and TV were great calming tools with our FiveSibes when they were puppies, although they each have different taste in genres! Two do not need anything, two enjoy cartoons, and one just loves rock music. Sometimes, when they were all together, we would settle on the Weather Channel as it has talking, music, and “cartoons” (the 7-day forecast with the cute yellow sun or white snowflakes comes close!).


However you and your dog(s) choose to spend this Fourth of July, may it be a great one. Until next time, we wish a happy, healthy, safe, and peaceful holiday for all canines and their Hu-families.  


This blog is dedicated to our Chelsey (adopted 1993; passed 2006) whom we miss every day. May you enjoy the great fireworks display in the sky in peace over the Rainbow Bridge.