Steven the Dog Survives Coyote Attack

Helena Lazaro didn’t think she had any reason to be concerned when she heard her dog Steven barking from her hillside yard back in July 2012.

“He always barked at other animals and dogs that passed by,” says Helena. “So, when I heard him and another animal barking, I didn’t think anything of it.”

Following her usual routine, she called Steven back inside after several minutes, and when he didn’t come right away, she decided to give him some extra time.stevencrosspaws

“Lots of times when he would go out, he would ignore me and not come back. That night, when I went out and called him back in, he wouldn’t come,” Helena says. “Thinking that he was just ignoring me again, I decided to give him more time–something I’ll never forgive myself for.”

After a little while Helena became frustrated and went outside with a flashlight to find Steven and bring him back inside. But rather than finding her dog exploring the hillside terrain, she discovered him in a terrible state.

“[He was] torn to shreds and barely alive, leaning against a tree,” Helena says. “I’ll never forget his face as he turned to look at me, like he had really been doing his best to try to listen to me and come home, but couldn’t.”

Steven had been attacked by a coyote. He had broken eight of his ribs, his body was torn open in three places, and he had a piece of tree bark embedded in his hind leg.

“The vet said that during the attack, the coyote had probably picked Steve up from overhead, shaken him several times, and thrown him into the tree with such force that the bark became embedded in his leg,” Helena says. “They were not hopeful for his survival and recommended we let him go, but I wasn’t prepared to do that.”stevenbandaged

It was the 4th of July weekend, and Helena had a difficult time finding facilities that could offer the life support services that Steven needed until surgeons became available. But with persistence and determination she was able to locate a suitable place for Steven to rest and begin to recover, and once a surgeon became available, Steven underwent several operations.

“All with a very bleak prognosis,” Helena adds.

It was a stressful time for Helena, as it would be for any pet parent. Steven’s recovery was difficult, and he required around-the-clock care for over a month. Helena stayed home from work to care for Steven during that time and when her sister returned from her bartending job each morning, she would take over so that Helena could get some sleep. The sisters alternated this way throughout Steven’s long rehabilitation.

Though the time commitment and worry about Steven’s prognosis were already a lot to handle, Steven’s medical bills also loomed in the background. His treatments cost nearly $5,000.

Helena depleted her savings account, applied for a grant through RedRover, and her sister set up a tip jar at work.stevenhome

“But the real saving grace was the fundraising page,” Helena says.

This was before fundraising sites had become as popular as they are now, and Helena was amazed to see the response from the animal-loving community who saw the page she set up on FundRazr.

“Money poured in from family, friends, and total strangers,” Helena says. “Their messages of hope were deeply inspiring and their support made it possible to bring Steven home, get the medication he needed, and make sure we didn’t go into debt.”

Ultimately, Steven recovered and regained his ability to walk. And when he began disobeying Helena again, she knew everything was going to be OK.

Helena and her sister clearly went above and beyond to save Steven’s life. But for Helena — who has a history of depression — she was simply doing for Steven what Steven had done for her so many times.

“Steven saved my life on more than one occasion,” Helena says. “In my times of deepest despair, he gave me a reason to get out of bed in the morning. He made sure I got sunshine and exercise, and that I felt loved. Taking care of him mattered even when I had stopped taking care of myself, and so it was that he pulled me through the years-long chronic depression that no medicine could remedy.”

Today both Helena and Steven are doing well. Several of Steven’s ribs were not able to be put back into place, so his midsection is misshapen and he walks a little funny. But despite those issues, Helena says that he is as bold and as spirited as ever.

“This June, we went for a picnic at the Santa Fe Dam and he saw a horse for the first time. He actually dragged me across the ground with his force as he tried to take down an animal twenty times his size,” Helena says. “He hasn’t learned his lesson at all. But now I know it’s my job to make sure he stays out of danger, to make sure I have a plan in case of emergencies, and to always exercise caution in areas with unfamiliar animals.”

To thank Helena for all that she’s done for Steven, we are giving her a free trial of PetPlus so that she can save on Steven’s medications, food, supplies, vet visits, and more.

Thanks, Helena!

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Have a story you’d like to share or know a pet-family deserving of a complimentary trial of PetPlus? Contact the Pet Savvy editors at content [at] petplus {dot} com or leave a note in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!

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When Is It OK To Shave My Dog’s Coat?

When it starts getting hot out, we start to look at our dogs and think “how do they stand it under all that fur?” And while their fur may make them a bit hot, for some a shaved dog is more of a problem than a solution.

It seems logical to think that less fur equates to a cooler pet, but the reality is that many dogs have long hair for a reason. Not all long hair pups, but many out there should never be shaved dogs.

RELATED ARTICLE: DIY Dog Grooming Tips by Breed

When a Shaved Dog is OK

To start, lets go over the two major types of long hair coats: the single and the double coat.

The terms are fairly straightforward — a single coat consists of one type of hair all over your dog’s body. A double coat, on the other hand, is made up of a coarse outer coat with a soft, dense undercoat.

How does this apply to shaving? Let me explain.

Dogs with a long, single coat are totally fine to be shaved. Heck, they’ll probably thank you for it! Overtime, their hair will grow back and everything will be fine. If you have a hot dog with a single coat, tell the groomer to go nuts.

RELATED ARTICLE: Should You DIY Cut Your Dog’s Hair?

When a Shaved Dog is a No No

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Now a double coat, that’s a different story. Dogs with a double coat were generally bred to be able to withstand harsh climates (typically the cold).  A double coat functions is like this — the coarse outer coat protects your dog from sunlight, pests, burrs, and other types of environmental irritants, while the soft undercoat insulates them against wind and cold.

Because of their heavily protective nature of a double coat, these types of dogs tend to have especially sensitive skin, which is why they should never be shaved. Also, direct exposure to sunlight greatly increases their risk for sunburn and skin cancer;  much higher than it would be in single coated dogs.

Also, since a double coat consists of two different kind of hair, they grow at different speeds. The soft undercoat will end up growing in much quicker than the longer, coarse hair of the outer coat, leaving them exposed to the elements even longer (and giving them a rough, spotted, almost mangy kind of look).

As such, the outer coat of a double coated dog should never be shaved, or even cut. If you have a double coated dog, the best way to help them cool down is to brush away any excess fur in the heat-trapping undercoat. Typically during the warmer months, double coated dogs will “blow” their coat. What that means is they are genetically predisposed to ridding themselves of the bulk of their undercoat during the spring and summer, growing it all back by the fall.

RELATED ARTICLE: When is Dog Shedding Season

The Takeaway

If your dog has a double coat, give them a thorough brushing with a special undercoat brush and remove as much of that fluffy white stuff as possible. Beyond that, keep tons of water on hand and a shady place to retreat.

And if your dog has a single coat, shave away!

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8 Tips to Keep Your Pet Safe During Home Remodeling

Many people use their summer vacations to remodel their homes, and if you’re planning to spruce up anytime soon, don’t forget to think about your four-legged friend. Depending on the project, remodeling can be stressful for a pet and even dangerous. So how can you keep your pet safe and comfortable while you rejuvenate your space?

1. Have Your Home Inspected First

Before doing any serious remodeling, you should have your home inspected to check for lead-based paint, mold, and asbestos insulation. These things require special handling and removal as they can really irritate a pet’s respiratory system.

2. Supervise or Contain Your Pet

If you plan to have workers in your home, don’t expect them to look after your pet, keep doors closed, or be aware of safety hazards, such as loose nails or open paint cans. Supervise your pet when you can and contain them when you can’t. For very busy or loud days, you may also want to consider taking your pet to daycare or dropping them off with a responsible friend or family member.

3. Ask Workers to Alert You When Using Hazardous Materials

Remodeling may involve sprays, fumes, paints, and other toxic or irritating substances that could harm your pet. Ask workers to tell you if they are using anything dangerous, and if they are, remove your pet from the house for the day. If you’ll be doing projects yourself, try to select products that are natural and pet-safe.

RELATED STORY: 5 Tips for Pet Safety Around the Home

4. Work Outside When Possible

Is there cutting, spraying, or painting that can happen outside of the house? This will help to reduce dust and irritants inside.

5. Offer a Safe Space For Your Pet

If your pet will be home while work is taking place, offer them a safe and quiet place to rest, such as a private room with a closed door. Move your pet’s essentials (such as crate, food, water, and toys) inside of the room, and place a sign on the door indicating that it should stay closed. This not only provides your pet with a place to escape loud noises and commotion, it will also protect your pet from dust and odors that could irritate them or cause an allergic reaction.

6. Alleviate Your Pet’s Stress

A safe space is one way to alleviate the stress that can appear during remodeling, but there are other things you can do to help calm your pet:

  • Try to keep to your pet’s regular schedule as much as possible, with walks and meals happening at the same times that they normally do.
  • Visit with your pet throughout the day. Check in and give them a scratch, or take a few moments to toss a toy.
  • Consider putting on soothing music or the television. This can help to drown out construction noise and distract your pet from the activity.

RELATED STORY: What’s Wrong Here? 6 Common Pet Safety Hazards

7. Remove Paint From Fur

Even if you try your best to avoid it, your pet may still end up with a spot of paint here or there. It is important to remove it right away, as ingested paint can be harmful to a pet, and many pets are prone to licking unfamiliar substances on their fur. If the paint is latex-based and not fully dry, use soap and water. If the paint is fully dry, the best thing you can do is clip off the area of fur. When in doubt, contact your veterinarian.

8.  Check The House at The End of The Day

After work is done for the day, check around the house for items that could harm your pet (such as nails, staples, and toxic substances) or escape routes (such as open doors or windows).

Have you recently remodeled your home? How did your pet handle it? Leave a comment and let us know, and sign up for PetPlus, a benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, vet visits, boarding, and more.

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What Pregnant Women Need to Know About Cats

Pregnant Woman With Cat

Pregnant mamas, are you concerned about your cat? The list of things expecting moms need to avoid is long, but rest assured, cuddling with your cat is not verboten. During pregnancy, you should take a few very simple safety precautions when it comes to your cat’s care, but in general, most of your relationship to your cat can remain unchanged.

RELATED STORY: Top 5 Misconceptions About Owning a Cat

What’s the Risk?

Any risk that cats present to pregnant women is as a carrier of the parasite Toxoplasma gondii, which can cause birth defects or miscarriages to pregnant women. Toxoplasma gondii is one of the most common parasites around, and can be contracted through raw or undercooked meat, soil, litter, or vegetables planted in contaminated soil. If your cat eats meat with this parasite, they will become a carrier. If infected, cats will go on to shed Toxoplasma gondii in their droppings.

RELATED STORY: The Truth About Toxoplasmosis in Cats

How to Avoid Contact With Toxoplasma gondii

For indoor cats fed on canned wet food or dry food, the risks of Toxoplasma gondii are extremely low. Outdoor cats are more at risk for contracting the parasite, as are cats that eat raw meat. In general, pregnant women should avoid a cat’s feces and cleaning the litter to remove the risk of exposure to the parasite. If no one else is available to tackle the responsibility, wear plastic gloves while changing the litter, avoid any direct exposure during the task, and wash your hands thoroughly.

While it’s cats that get the bad rap for spreading toxoplasmosis, in reality, the most likely way this disease will be contracted is through eating undercooked meat. Other precautions for pregnant women to follow: wearing gloves while gardening, using a separate cutting board for raw meat and vegetables, and making sure the litter is changed frequently.

RELATED STORY:Litter Box Training for Your Cat

PetPlus is a new benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, vet visits, boarding and more.

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Grow a Garden For Your Cat

Gardening is a wonderful hobby. It not only gets you outside for some fresh air and exercise, it also offers a sense of accomplishment once your hard work pays off and plants and flowers start to bloom.

Many cats are fond of gardens too, and enjoy snacking on grasses and other vegetation. However, not all plants are safe for cats to consume, and if your cat munches on the wrong ones, it could land them at the emergency clinic, or worse.

If you’re looking for a safe way to satisfy your kitty’s desire to forage, consider planting a cat garden. Here are five plants your cat will love.

1. Cat Grass

Cat grass is a fast-growing, easy-to-care-for option for cats who love to graze and cat parents who don’t want to worry about a high-maintenance plant. Cat grass is made up of cereal grasses such as wheat, oats, rye, and barley. While cat grass isn’t loaded with health benefits, it does add roughage to your cat’s diet, which can aid in digestion and loosen hairballs. Cat grass seeds are available at most pet stores.

2. Catnip

No cat’s garden would be complete without catnip. This minty herb contains a mild hallucinogen and is famous for throwing cats into euphoric frenzies; they love to rub against it, roll on top of it, and even chew its leaves. Catnip is very easy to grow and maintain, and it even grows like a weed in some places, spreading quickly over large areas. If you plan to plant catnip outside, just keep in mind that neighborhood cats might not be able to resist! For this reason, many people grow catnip indoors or in a hanging basket.

RELATED STORY: 5 Ways to Entertain Your Cat With Catnip

3. Valerian

Valerian is an herb that most people associate with relaxation and a good night’s sleep. For cats, however, valerian does the opposite — it acts as a stimulant. This makes valerian an excellent choice for chunky kitties who could stand to lose a few pounds, but need a little boost of energy to get them up and active. In addition, valerian is a great alternative for cats who don’t respond to catnip.

RELATED STORY: Maintaining a Healthy Cat Weight

4. Lemongrass

Lemongrass is a popular herb in Asian cuisine, and while they won’t be using it in soups or sauces, cats go crazy for it. Lemongrass has a sweet-yet-grassy aroma, and like catnip, it is soothing to Mr. Whiskers. The stalks of the herb make a hearty treat; just avoid giving your cat lemongrass essential oil, which can be toxic.

5. Cat Thyme

Despite what the name suggests, cat thyme is not related to herb commonly used in Italian cooking. Instead, cat thyme is a perennially growing plant with lovely pink-hued flowers. It has a minty, musty, pungent smell that cats adore, but humans may be less fond of. If you can get past the odor, however, your cat will be happy to soak up the plant’s soothing effects (which are similar to those produced by catnip).

Do you keep a garden for your pet? Leave a comment and tell us what’s in it. And if you’re looking for another way to care for your four-legged friend, consider signing up for PetPlus. Find out if PetPlus is right for you, and get more information on the members-only benefits, which include discounts on food and vet visits, as well as boarding discounts.

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Cigarettes a Proven Cause of Cancer in Dogs and Cats

Smoking Causes Cancer in Dogs

Not only is smoking bad for your health, but the secondhand smoke can be very dangerous for those around you and can cause cancer in dogs.

Now, while that is something that has been known for a while, what many people aren’t aware of is that the dangers of secondhand smoke extend to our pets. It is now believed that cigarettes are responsible for a number of cases of cancer in dogs and cats.

A number of studies are coming out, one from Colorado State University and one from Tufts, stating that cigarette smoke can be tied to various cases of cancer in dogs and cats. The tests have linked smoke to both nasal and lung cancer in dogs, and lymphoma and allergies in cats. Both species respond to smoke with intensified respiratory problems.

As it stands, cancer in dogs and cats has the highest mortality rate among any veterinary condition. The Morris Animal Foundation and veterinarians everywhere have known this for years. So if exposure to cigarette smoke increases their chances of contracting this life threatening disease, why smoke in front of them?

When Cancer in Dogs Hits Home

Cancer in Dogs due to Smoking

Shirley Worthington had been smoking for the better part of her life. She started when she was a young teen, and continued to smoke heavily — and indoors — throughout her dog’s entire life.

One day when her dog Tigger started bleeding from the mouth, Shirley rushed over to the vet only to find out that the diagnosis was cancer. Unfortunately, Tigger did not make it. And what is worse is that Shirley knew that the disease was brought on by her habit.

A silver lining to this story exists, however. Shirley, along with her mother and sister, all quit smoking after Tigger’s passing. And while her mother still passed after a lifetime of smoking, Shirley and her sister are both cancer free.

The Takeaway

Cancer in dogs caused from humans

While it will take a few more years to uncover just how large a role second hand smoke plays in the development of cancer in dogs and cats, we can be certain that it is a substantial amount — where there is smoke there is fire.

So if you smoke cigarettes, for the sake of your pet’s (or anyone’s) health, keep it an outside habit. Their tiny lungs will thank you.

PetPlus offers a budget-friendly way board your pets while you’re out of town. Find out if PetPlus is right for you, and get more information on the members-only benefits, which include discounts on food and vet visits, as well as boarding discounts.

Source:
ABC News – Second Hand Smoke as Harmful to Pets as People

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Tips for Camping With a Dog

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Summer is the perfect time to dust off your camping gear and explore the great outdoors. And if you have a furry friend, you might be thinking about taking them along. Camping can be a great experience for many dogs, with lots of new sights, sounds, smells, and adventures. However, bringing a dog on a camping trip requires some preparation and understanding of potential hazards. Read on to learn how to safely enjoy Mother Nature with your best friend.

Before You Go Camping With Your Dog

If you’re planning to take your dog on a camping trip, there are certain things you will need to do before you can pitch a tent.

Pre-Camping Check-Up

Take your dog to the veterinarian for a check-up to ensure that they are both physically and behaviorally prepared for a camping trip. Camping can be physically taxing, especially if you plan on hiking or being in hot weather, and certain dogs (like senior dogs or those with ailments) may not be up for it.

In addition, you should consider your dog’s behavior. Will they be barking excessively while you and other campers are trying to sleep? Do they become aggressive or fearful in new situations? If you aren’t sure if your dog will have a good time while camping, it may be better to leave them behind.

RELATED STORY: The Annual Vet Visit Cost: What to Expect

Vaccinations and Parasite Protection

Make sure that your dog is up to date on all of their vaccinations. Tell your veterinarian where you and your dog will be going so that they can recommend any additional vaccines that may be useful. For example, if you’ll be camping in the desert, your vet may recommend the rattlesnake vaccine.

Your dog should also be protected from fleas and ticks, as these pests can be found in abundance in certain camp areas and may carry life-threatening diseases.

ID Tag and Microchip

Your dog should wear a collar with an ID tag at all times, and if your dog has a microchip, check to make sure that their contact info is up to date before you leave for your trip. Also bring a recent photo of your dog that you can show to other campers or a park ranger if your pal wanders off.

Prepare a Pet First-Aid Kit

Having a pet first-aid kit on hand can help you treat superficial wounds while you’re off the grid. You may also want to consider taking a pet first-aid class such as the one offered by the American Red Cross.

Pack Your Pet’s Supplies

What will your dog need while camping? Everything they need at home, plus some. This includes a leash, food, fresh water (never let your dog drink from lakes, rivers, or ponds), bowls, poop bags, a bed or blanket, a brush or comb (so you can check for ticks), any medications they might need, and if you’ll be in the sun, pet sunscreen and a place for your dog to find shade (such as a large umbrella or a covered crate).

RELATED STORY: Made in the USA Pet Supplies Showcase

Locate the Nearest Veterinarian

Before leaving civilization, locate the nearest vet to your campground and write down their address and telephone number. In case of an emergency, you’ll know where to go right away.

While Camping With Your Dog

Your dog passed their physical with flying colors, they have their vaccinations and flea and tick protection, their ID tag and microchip are up to date, and their supplies are packed. You’re ready to start your adventure! So how can you keep your dog safe once you reach the campsite?

Never Leave Your Dog Alone, and Use a Leash When Necessary

Leaving your dog alone in nature puts them at risk for injury or getting lost. Keep an eye on your dog at all times, and if you’re near other campers or in an area with less-than-friendly wildlife, keep them on a leash.

Check For Ticks

Ticks abound in forest areas and tall grass. Check your dog at least once a day. If you find a tick, remove it with tweezers or a tick removal device. Never attempt to “drown” the tick with dish soap or burn it with a match; these homespun methods can actually increase the likelihood of infection.

RELATED STORY: Types of Ticks in the US

Offer Exercise Breaks

Camping often involves hiking or long walks. Give your dog plenty of breaks to avoid straining their muscles and joints, and if the weather is hot, take steps to prevent heat stroke. Find shady areas to rest and keep fresh water on you at all times. If your dog is showing signs of exhaustion, let them sit out activities for the remainder of the day.

Try Dog Boots

Consider outfitting your dog with a pair of dog boots. Dog boots protect your dog’s paws from cuts, scrapes, and foreign objects between the toes. They also keep feet warmer in cold weather and cool when the weather heats up. Most dogs aren’t too fond of dog boots the first time they wear them, so practice with your pal before you go camping.

Do you take your dog camping? Leave us a comment and let us know how you keep your pup safe. Another way to protect your pet? Sign up for PetPlus, a benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, vet visits, boarding, and more.

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How to Identify Heat Stroke in Dogs

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Heat stroke is a serious emergency that occurs when a dog’s body temperature rises to a dangerous level. When the weather heats up in the summer months, your four-legged friend is especially at risk. So just what is heat stroke, and how can you protect your pal?

What is Heat Stroke?

A dog’s fur serves them well in the winter months by providing a cozy layer of insulation. However when warm weather rolls around, this fuzzy feature soaks up the heat. Additionally, dogs don’t sweat (except minimally through their paws), so the primary way that they cool down is through panting. When the temperature outside gets close to the temperature of your dog’s body, panting usually isn’t enough, and heat stroke can set in.

What Causes Heat Stroke?

Any situation that raises your dog’s body temperature can set them up for heat stroke. Common situations include:

RELATED STORY:The 7 Breeds Most Likely to Become Fat Dogs

What are the Symptoms of Heat Stroke?

Heat stroke generally starts with panting and difficulty breathing. The tongue will appear bright red and the saliva will be thick. Oftentimes, a dog will vomit. As the condition progresses, the dog will become unbalanced and have bloody diarrhea. Without treatment, the lips and mucous membranes will turn gray and then the dog will collapse, suffer seizures, go into a coma, and die. RELATED STORY: The Dog Symptom Checker

What to Do About Heat Stroke

If you suspect that your dog is suffering from heat stroke, take steps to begin cooling them down right away:

  • Move your dog into the shade, away from the heat, and into an air-conditioned area if possible.
  • Take your dog’s temperature with a rectal thermometer. If it is above 103°F, you will need to start cooling them down with water.
  • Spray your dog with cool (not cold) water from a hose or place them in a cool bathtub.
  • Offer your dog cool water to drink.
  • Apply an ice pack to their groin area or the top of their head.
  • Do not attempt to give your dog aspirin to lower their temperature; this could result in other problems.
  • Check their temperature every few minutes and continue cooling until it drops to 103°F or below. Do not continue cooling for too long or the dog could suffer from hypothermia.

Once your dog is stable, take them to the veterinarian for an examination and further treatment if necessary.

Want to learn how to keep your dog cool as a cucumber even on the hottest days? Check out our article 5 Ways to Keep Your Dog Cool in Hot Weather

Has your dog ever suffered from heat stroke? Leave a comment and tell us about it, and sign up for PetPlus, a benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, vet visits, boarding, and more.  

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4 Tips For Taking a Dog to a Party

If you’re a dog owner, one of the decisions you’ll have to make when heading off to a BBQ, birthday party, or dinner is whether or not you should bring your four-legged friend along. While in some cases it may not be appropriate to make Fido your plus-one, there are times your pal might be a welcome guest. Taking your dog to social occasions can aid in socialization, zap their energy, and stimulate their active minds.

So how can you decide if you should take your dog to a party, and if you do, how can you ensure that they’ll be invited to the next event?

1. RSVP

If you’re thinking about taking your dog to a party, first make sure they will be gladly received. Ask the host if they would be willing to have a dog at their event, and if they say yes, follow up with questions to determine if it makes sense to take your dog along. Are there any venue rules? Do any attendees have serious allergies? Will there be small children? Other dogs? Any potential safety hazards? Doing your homework before you go can save you from trouble (or even having to leave) once you get there.

2. Teach Your Dog Manners

Even if a gathering sounds dog-friendly, you need to decide if your dog is party-ready. A dog who runs around like a bull in a china shop, steals food off tables, plays rough with children, or otherwise misbehaves will be a nuisance to guests and to you, and could cause serious damage or even injuries. Before taking your dog to a party, make sure they know some basic commands like “sit” “stay” and “come”. If your dog is prone to being fearful, aggressive, destructive, rough with children, or hyperactive in new situations, deal with those issues before subjecting a party to their furry presence. If you need help, contact a trainer or animal behaviorist.

RELATED STORY: Try an Indoor Training Class With Your Dog

3. Bring a Dog Party Kit

If you decide to take your dog to a get-together, bring a dog party kit along. The kit should include items that will make your dog feel comfortable, keep them from becoming bored, keep them safe, and distract them if necessary. For example, bring your dog’s bed or a blanket and set it up in the corner of a quiet room. You could also bring their favorite toy, a new and engaging toy, or toys that guests can use to play with the dog (such as a tennis ball or frisbee if there is a backyard). If you want to distract your dog while the group eats dinner, bring a chew toy or Kong stuffed with peanut butter. And don’t forget a water dish, poop bags, and a dog first-aid kit.

RELATED STORY: Pet First Aid: How to Treat Dog Wounds

4. Supervise Your Dog

Your dog is your responsibility no matter where you go. When you arrive at a party, don’t let your dog off their leash and then forget about them for the rest of the evening. Remember that people who don’t own dogs may not be as tuned into their needs as you are, and may not know to let your dog out to use the bathroom, keep the garbage bin secured, or stop your dog from consuming poisonous foods left out on a table. Keep an eye on your dog, check on them regularly if they are hanging out with other guests, and when necessary, attach a loose leash to keep your pal by your side.

Do you take your dog to gatherings? Leave a comment and tell us about it, and sign up for PetPlus, a benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, vet visits, boarding, and more.

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What to Do if Your Friend Is Allergic to Your Pet

woman with cat allergies

woman with cat allergies

Here’s a conundrum: You’ve been planning to have your new friend over for a  game night for weeks, and just found out that he is allergic to your pet. Do you have to call off the gathering? Unless your friend’s allergies are quite severe, most likely, your home does not have to become entirely off-limits. With a bit of advance preparation, you can help your friend ward off sniffles, watery eyes, and other symptoms, so that you can both focus on games, conversation, and fun.

RELATED STORY: How to Live With Cat Allergies … And Your Cat!

Try an OTC Solution

Remind your friend that Fido or Fluffy is one of your favorite roommates before this visit. This way, he can take an over-the-counter medication, such as Zyrtec, Benadryl, or Claritin, before coming over. It’s a great idea to keep some of these over-the-counter solutions available in your home, in case folks forget to dose in advance. But remind friends, family, and allergy sufferers that when it comes to allergy medications, taking them before exposure to the allergen is best.

Use Your HEPA

If you have a HEPA air purifier, let it run before your visitors arrive, and continue to keep it on while they are at your home as well. Vacuum your home thoroughly, preferably with a vacuum that has a HEPA filter. Using a HEPA air purifier will help to remove dander from the air within your home.

Go Dander-Free

Speaking of dander: When it comes to pet allergies, it’s the dander that’s the causes the biggest problem. Pet dander is made up of the tiny flakes of skin that your cat or dog sheds. According to the American Lung Association, the allergens from dander remain in the air even longer than other common allergy-triggers, such as dust mites. The more dander you can remove from your home, the better experience your allergic guests will have.

As mentioned above, using a HEPA air filter can be helpful. You’ll also want to vacuum thoroughly, and if possible, wash cushions and other fabric around the home — focus on tackling items that your pet is in frequent contact with, and that your guest is also likely to touch. For instance, if your cat tends to perch on a cushion on your couch, think about washing the cushion’s cover or maybe just removing it from the living room.

RELATED STORY: What You Should Know About Pet Dander

Bathe Your Pet

Before your friend comes over, it could be a good idea to give your cat or dog a bath. This helps with the dander problem. Give your pet a thorough brushing as well.

RELATED STORY: How to Wash Your Cat

Avoid Contact

If it’s possible, keep your pet in a separate room or area of your home. Of course, a visit from your friend shouldn’t feel like a punishment for your cat or dog, so make sure that wherever they’re kept, your pet is comfortable. Finally, your friend probably already knows, but remind your buddy not to cuddle or hug your cat or dog. Affection and contact increase the chances of allergies starting.

Of course, as much as you scrub and aim to remove your pet’s dander, you can’t make your friend allergy-free. It’s possible that even with all of these strategies, your friend may still experience some symptoms — hopefully, your pal will be spared a full-blown attack, and you’ll both be able to enjoy your time together.

Tell us how you handle guests with pet allergies in the comments. And, if you’re looking for a discount on pet shampoo and other commonly used pet-care supplies, consider being a part of PetPlus, a new benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, vet visits, boarding and more. 

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