206.323.4433 2115 - 23rd Ave. S, Seattle, WA 98144

5 Fun (and Funny) Ways to Help Your Senior Cat Exercise

Unlike their human counterparts, cats don’t look in the mirror and vow to lose weight and get in shape.

5 Fun (and Funny) Ways to Help Your Senior Cat Exercise | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

As cats enter their senior years, they become more sedentary, which makes them more prone to obesity. That, in turn, puts them at risk of serious medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and osteoarthritis.

To help your senior cat get moving, try these 5 enticements:

1. Toys

5 Fun (and Funny) Ways to Help Your Senior Cat Exercise | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

What kind of toys does your cat like?

  • Squeaky mice?
  • Funky feathers?
  • Dangly doodads?
  • Twirly tops?
  • Boxes or bags to hide in?
  • Ping-pong balls?
  • Crinkled-up pieces of paper?

As long as the toy interests her (and is safe for cats), she’ll likely play with it.

2. Exercise Wheel or Treadmill

There are exercise wheels made specifically for cats (they look like giant hamster wheels). You can also train your cat to walk/jog/run on a human treadmill, as shown in this hilarious video.

Begin the personal training when your kitty is young, if possible. Start at a slow speed and gradually increase the pace.

3. Cat Towers and Trees

Multi-tiered towers give your kitty lots of options for climbing, jumping, and playing. To encourage movement, place small treats in different parts of the tower (particularly high up).

4. A-Maze-Ing Hockey

Build a DIY hockey rink by putting a ping-pong ball inside a large cardboard box. Or cut holes in a bunch of boxes and create a maze, as in this video. Your cat (and the crowd) will go wild!

5. Take a Walk Outside

There’s lots of fun stuff to smell and explore outdoors, and some cats love to walk with a leash and soft harness. Others, not so much. But training your cat to walk with a leash is doable.

This video demonstrates how to help your cat get accustomed to a harness and shows cat moms (attempting to) walk their cats, with varying success.

We’d love to hear about exercises that work best for your senior kitty.

If you’re not sure which exercises are safe and appropriate, come and visit us. During your cat’s examination, we’ll check for physical constraints or health issues that may limit her ability to do certain exercises. And we’ll help you design an exercise regimen that’s purrrfect for your cat.

More Articles About Senior Cats

A ‘Senior Cat’ Q and A with Dr. Laura Monahan

Why is My Older Cat Meowing or Crying at Night?

Is My Cat a Senior? How to Care for an Aging Cat

Why Your Dog is the Perfect Workout Buddy

Why Your Dog is the Perfect Workout Buddy | atlanticvetseattle.comMany of us now work from home – perhaps permanently. One of the drawbacks of working from home is the allure of the cushy couch or recliner.

The “power nap” that becomes a full-blown two-hour sleepfest.

The ever-present tempting snacks.

These work-from-home “benefits” add up to a sedentary lifestyle, which can lead to related health problems.

Humans benefit from regular movement, and so do our furry friends. You and your pet can mutually improve your health by developing an exercise routine you can do together.

Whether you’re looking to make a lifestyle change or need an activity you can do with your pet during lunch breaks, include your pet in the fun!

Why Your Dog is the Perfect Workout Buddy | atlanticvetseattle.com

The benefits of daily walks

People and dogs burn energy at close to the same rate when walking. This energy (calorie) burn will help you and your pet maintain healthy weight. Your dog will enjoy joining you as a companion for a walk or run in the fresh air.

A daily walk with your pet will help you both develop overall fitness, which reduces the risk of diseases that affect quality of life.

Exercise and fresh air also improve quality of sleep—for both of you.

Dogs and people have similar walking speeds when focused.

Keeping up with your dog’s steady, undistracted, walking pace will provide both of you with an adequate aerobic workout.

Pay attention to your pet’s tolerance of exercise, and consult your veterinarian if you have questions.

Our pets are our companions, but we (and they) still need a change of scenery. It’s good to go outdoors and experience the neighborhood. This environmental stimulation is healthy for both of you, and may improve your pet’s behavior once you return home. In addition, you and your pet may meet and interact with others on your walk.

Why Your Dog is the Perfect Workout Buddy | atlanticvetseattle.com

You and your pet can motivate each other to exercise.

People and dogs are creatures of habit, and you’ll both find satisfaction in the routine. Your pet’s enjoyment of the exercise will help you enjoy it more, and vice versa.

A walk and/or outdoor playtime provides the perfect opportunity for quality interaction with your pet—which is what you both need. These experiences result in more than physical health; they contribute to overall well-being.

Why Your Dog is the Perfect Workout Buddy | atlanticvetseattle.com

Preparing to exercise with your pet

Consider your pet’s abilities and temperament when deciding how to exercise. Some pets love to run. Others will do better with a steady walking pace. Intervals of walking and jogging might provide extra intensity for you and beneficial “rest breaks” for your pet.

Keep your pet in mind when choosing a walking/running route. With the same route every day, you will know what to expect and become familiar with turns and surface nuances.

Varying the route, however, provides new sensory experiences for you and your pet. This might be more important in a neighborhood than in a natural setting. Each day the same path in nature can still provide new delights.

Spring and early summer is a great time to begin a new exercise routine with your favorite pet. Enjoy the sunshine together—along with many other benefits!

Related articles:

10 Tips for a Safe and Fun Off-Leash Dog Park Outing

It’s fun to visit a park—especially with our canine friends. We enjoy the opportunity to exercise together, and our pets also learn how to get along with people as well as other dogs in a group.

Here are 10 tips and tricks to make the experience even more positive.

10 Tips for a Safe and Fun Off-Leash Dog Park Outing | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

1. Vaccinate, spay, or neuter first

Dog park outings are most appropriate for dogs who have been vaccinated.

Puppies should not visit dog parks until two weeks after they’ve completed their puppy vaccine series (including bordetella and parvo vaccines) – usually, after 18 weeks of age.

Adult dogs should go to dog parks only if they are current on their core vaccines. For added protection, dogs may benefit from the canine influenza vaccine.

To prevent unexpected litters of puppies, make sure your dog is spayed or neutered.

2. Preview the park

If your area has more than one dog park, do a little homework to determine which would be best for your pet. You’ll want the park to be well-maintained, and you may wish to go during a more or less crowded time.

10 Tips for a Safe and Fun Off-Leash Dog Park Outing | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

Off-Leash Dog Parks near Atlantic Veterinary Hospital:

Genesee Dog Park

In Southeast Seattle, just south of the Stan Sayres Hydroplane Pits and just west of Seward Park on Lake Washington.

2.7 acres, completely fenced, with two double-gated entrances. The center 2 acres is covered in gravel, making it mud-free in winter. The park has a doggie drinking fountain and a small and shy dog area.

Westcrest Park Off-Leash Area

In Southwest Seattle, above and west of Boeing Field.

8.4 acres with open spaces, paths, shade, trees, and a doggie drinking fountain. There’s even a special little off-leash hiking trail for canines and their people. For people, the off-leash area provides benches, chairs, and a shady place to relax. A special, separated area for small and shy dogs is located on the southwest side of the main off-leash area.

Blue Dog Pond

In Southeast Seattle, near I-90.

Fully-fenced, wide, rectangular field on 1.7 acres with grassy side slopes that your dog can run up and down. There are interesting art sculptures throughout the park that make it unique, including a giant reposing “blue dog” at the entrance.

Dr. Jose Rizal Park

Just south of downtown, on the north end of Beacon Hill.

4 acres with spectacular views of Puget Sound looking west and to the Seattle downtown skyline looking north. There is water available for dogs to drink. The fenced area is accessed from a long set of stairs at the north end of the Park. It is ADA accessible from the bicycle trail. A trail runs through the middle of the off-leash area which is compacted gravel and follows rolling contours.

Locations of off-leash areas maintained by Seattle Parks & Recreation

Reviews of the top 10 off-leash dog parks near Seattle

3. Train your dog to respond to voice commands

Dog park experiences are most satisfactory for everyone if your dog responds to voice commands. You want to know he’ll come when called, and then stay by your side. This helps resolve quarrelsome situations.

4. Leave food—for you and your pet—at home.

Just as you have certain foods you prefer your dog eat (or not eat), so do other pet owners. A dog park offers plenty of new scents for dogs to explore without introducing new food scents as well. The exception might be a small treat in your pocket in the event you need an added incentive for obedience.

Do bring water for you and your dog; water may not be available or accessible at a dog park that day. Bring your pet’s leash and several dog waste bags.

5. Bring dog-friendly toys… maybe

If you bring a ball or disc to play fetch with, use only dog-friendly flying discs (not made-for-people discs that can break a dog’s teeth). Invest in look-alike tennis balls (not the ones with the fuzzy coating that wear down a dog’s teeth). You’ll find these toys in pet stores.

Be aware that tossing a ball or disc for your dog may create a problem with other dogs. Be sensitive and wise to how other dogs in the off-leash area react, and stop if you notice anything out-of-the-ordinary.

6. Be friendly and respectful.

When you prepare to go to the park, clothe yourself with a friendly, respectful attitude. Plan to be part of solution, not the problem, to make the visit fun and safe for both of you.

At the Dog Park

10 Tips for a Safe and Fun Off-Leash Dog Park Outing | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

7. Assess the situation before you enter.

How does your dog’s energy level compare with those who are already in the park? Notice where there are dogs similar in size to your dog, so your pet will have someone to play with. (Some off-leash parks have separate areas reserved for small and shy dogs.)

Familiarize yourself with the rules before you enter the off-leash area.

Be prepared to clean up after your pet.

8. Pay attention while in the park.

This is an outing for you and your pet to enjoy together. Stay focused—avoid reading, texting or talking on the phone, or chatting with your friends (whose pets may not be the best playmates for your dog, in size or temperament).

9. Avoid puddles, goose poop, and foxtails.

Some Seattle-area off-leash parks get muddy following a rainy day. Rain creates puddles teeming with dangerous parasites. And then there are those irresistible piles of goose poop! Dogs can contract leptospirosis or giardia by drinking or sniffing contaminated water or eating goose poop or feces from infected animals.

Watch out for foxtails, too! Last summer, we had a big problem with dogs contracting foxtails when sniffing around the edges of some local dog parks. The foxtail awns lodged between their toes, up their noses, and in their ears, eyeballs, and genitals.

Foxtail seeds act like a large splinter, causing a very painful and infected abscess which can result in chronic illness and even, death.

Learn how to identify foxtail and foxtail risks in this article on our blog

10. Know what your dog is doing at all times and read her body language.

Not every dog gets along with every other dog; squabbles will happen, and often your pet will sense the tension before you will.

The most important tip is to simply have fun and treasure the time outdoors with your pet!

Foxtail: Little Seeds that Cause BIG Problems

During the past week, we’ve seen eight dogs with foxtail awns lodged between their toes. The seeds act like a large splinter that a body considers “foreign,” causing a very painful and infected abscess. Dogs come to see us limping, licking their feet, with a swollen, painful foot that’s often draining a bit of pus.

Not only do these prickly seeds cause pain when they enter the skin between toes, they’re also potentially dangerous to dogs and cats and can cause infection, chronic illness, and even death.

Identifying Foxtail

“Foxtail” refers to several species of tall, wild grasses common along the West Coast. They weren’t overly common in Seattle until the last two-to-three years, but we’re seeing a spike in patients presenting with them lodged in their bodies.

Foxtails commonly grow along roadsides, trails, and in grassland areas. In summer, as the plant begins to dry out, the seed heads become brittle and fall off the plant. Awns are shaped like arrowheads.

Foxtail: Little Seeds that Cause BIG Problems | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

Each awn has a sharp point and several long bristles. Each bristle is covered with loads of microscopic barbs that act similar to a porcupine quill or fishhook, only allowing the seed to advance but not back up. When a dog or cat brushes by dry foxtail, or sniffs it, steps on it, or rolls on it, the barbs catch on the animal’s fur, feet, nose, or ears.

When a dog steps on foxtail, those nasty barbs embed themselves deep into the webbing between the toes, causing an abscess. The barbs can dig themselves into a patch of skin and then travel through tissue. Because these tough seeds can’t be absorbed by the body or digested, they cause pain and inflammation as they migrate through the body.

Foxtail barbs can also go up a nose, into an ear, behind an eyeball, and into the genitals.

  • An awn lodged in a pet’s nasal passage can travel into the brain and cause seizures, and even death. Bring your pet in immediately if you notice frequent and intense sneezing or discharge from the nose.
  • An awn in an ear can rupture the eardrum and cause chronic ear infections. If your pet is incessantly shaking its head, tilting it to one side, or scratching an ear, it could be a sign of foxtail embedded deep within the ear canal.
  • An awn in an eye can lead to blindness. Seek veterinary care if you notice squinting, redness, swelling, discharge, or pawing at the eye.
  • An awn in the genitals can be excruciatingly painful. Contact us if you notice your pet persistently licking its genitals.
  • When a dog or cat inhales foxtail, the result can be a perforated lung or infections that require major surgery.

Minimizing Foxtail Risks

Obviously, the best way to minimize the risk of foxtail invasion is to avoid areas where foxtail grows. That’s not always easy to do in our area, where the weed grows like a… well… weed. When walking your dog, keep him on a leash and on the trail, to lessen the chances of our pet sniffing around foxtails.

If you have foxtails in your yard, dig them up by hand and dispose of them in the trash (not in yard waste or the compost heap, where the seeds may be spread to other yards).

After walking your pet, brush its coat and thoroughly examine between each toe, underneath the feet, in ears, armpit, groin, and anal area.

When to Seek Veterinary Care… and What to Expect

If you notice any suspicious lumps, swelling, excessive licking, head-shaking, or sneezing, contact us immediately. If we suspect a wound is caused by a foxtail awn, we will try to remove it by flushing and exploring the wound (this can be painful, and usually requires sedation).

Often we’re successful in finding the seed, which allows the body to heal. Sometimes the seed has traveled a good distance from where it entered the body (such as several inches up a leg from the toes where it entered).

Other times, we are not successful at finding the seed. In these situations, we may need to refer a pet to a veterinary surgeon who can use advanced imaging to try to find the seed’s track through the body so it can be removed.

As global warming changes our environment, threats to our pets are changing, from different species of parasites (dog ticks, deer ticks, Lyme disease, heart worms) to different species of plants (foxtails) and fungal infections.

We stay abreast of these changes and update our recommendations. Stay tuned here for timely updates as new information arrives.

Giardia in Dogs and Cats: What It Is and How We Diagnose and Treat It

Giardia is a microscopic, contagious parasite common in the Pacific Northwest. It causes the gastrointestinal illness known as giardiasis.

Giardia is found in contaminated water (such as puddles), soil, and food that has been contaminated with feces (poop) from infected humans or animals.

Giardia in Dogs and Cats: What It Is and How We Diagnose and Treat It | atlanticvetseattle.com

Giardia can cause gastrointestinal signs such as diarrhea and vomiting, but can also be carried without signs in some cases.

Sources of Giardia Infection

A Giardia cyst can live for many months in the environment. A cyst survives in water and soil as long as it is relatively cool and wet.

Cysts are acquired from fecal-contaminated water, food, objects, or self-grooming (cysts can stick to feet and fur). After infection, it takes five days to two weeks for Giardia to be found in the stool. Diarrhea can precede the shedding of Giardia.

Diagnosing Giardia

In the past, diagnosis was difficult. However, a commercial ELISA test allows us to test for Giardia proteins and has dramatically improved the ability to detect Giardia infections.

Giardia-infected animals shed organisms intermittently and may be difficult to detect, so occasionally pets must be retested in order to find an infection.

Asymptomatic carrier animals are common. Humans can contract giardia infections as well, but it is not known if these infections can be shared between animals and people.

 Giardia in Dogs and Cats - What It Is and How We Diagnose and Treat It | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

Treatment of Giardia

No drugs are FDA-approved for treatment of giardiasis in dogs in the United States; however a two-drug combination is usually effective. Because cysts can stick to the fur of the infected patient and be a source for re-infection, the positive animal should be bathed at least once in the course of treatment.

Reinfection

Treatment failures may result from reinfection due to ingesting cysts from the pet’s coat or environment, inadequate drug levels, immunosuppression, drug resistance, and Giardia sequestration in the gallbladder or pancreatic ducts.

Certain immunosuppressed patients are abnormally susceptible to giardiasis and their infections are often difficult to cure. Reinfection is common in areas with high environmental contamination.

For More Information

3 Tips for a Successful Curbside or Virtual Veterinary Visit

How to Have a Successful Curbside or Virtual Veterinary Visit | atlanticvetseattle.com

Imagine driving 100 mph on a curvy racetrack with no guard rails – all day, every day, for over a year – while trying to keep a smile on your face and avoid a fiery crash.

That’s how health care workers – including veterinary staff – feel. Veterinary clinics nationwide have experienced a surge in demand as stay-at-home families adopt pets. While that’s a wonderful thing for animal shelters (many shelter pets have found forever homes), from a health care perspective, we’re seeing:

Increased emergency visits.

Emergency veterinary clinics nationwide are typically backed up 6-to-12 hours and are often forced to turn patients away.

Clinics such as Atlantic Veterinary Hospital are taking in more emergencies daily, because we no longer have the option of referring critical patients to emergency clinics.

Pet emergencies are time-consuming, and because emergencies require immediate attention, well-pet appointments sometimes have to be rescheduled.

Increased wait times to schedule appointments and increased time for the appointment.

Veterinary clinics nationwide are booked out anywhere from four days to three weeks. The increase in pet emergencies, combined with a shortage of skilled veterinary nurses and the inefficiency of curbside service, all contribute to the problem.

What you can do:

1. Understand that our pre-COVID world no longer exists.

Life looks so much different today than it did 14 months ago! Our staff is committed to providing top-quality care, and we are also committed to abiding by Washington State’s COVID-19 health guidance to keep you and our staff safe.

2. Think ahead. Be patient and kind.

We keep a number of same-day urgent care appointments available every day. These appointments are filled quickly, so call early if you think your pet needs to be seen right away.

Urgent care appointments have a higher charge than a regularly scheduled appointment. Learn more about typical conditions we see in urgent care.

We will continue to provide concierge curbside service, likely for the next few months.

When we are able to allow pet parents back in the hospital, only one adult client at a time (not couples or families) will accompany their pet.

How Concierge Curbside Service Works

  1. Complete all necessary online intake forms before your appointment time.
  2. You and your pet arrive in our parking lot and remain in your vehicle.
  3. Text us from the parking lot: 206-323-4433.
  4. Our staff will escort your pet into the hospital while you remain in our parking lot.
  5. Our staff and doctors will communicate with you via AirVet virtual visit or phone, provide care for your pet, and then return your pet to your vehicle. Please be prepared to answer the doctor’s call while you are waiting in your car.
  6. Payment can be collected via a hands-free device in the parking lot.

You’ll want to plan your pet’s visit well in advance, and be patient with us if you experience a delay.

3. Take advantage of virtual veterinary consultations.

Virtual visits are an alternative to curbside visits. We’ve partnered with Airvet, a service where you and your pet can have a consultation with a veterinarian from the comfort of your own home.

During the appointment, you and your pet are on a video call (similar to Zoom, FaceTime, or Skype), where you are virtually in the exam room with the doctor, nurse, and your pet.

When you use Airvet for a scheduled pet behavior consult, you will talk with the veterinarian with whom you scheduled the consultation.

Telemedicine is also helpful for pet parents who have after-hours questions and concerns. The Airvet system will attempt to schedule you with one of our doctors. If we’re unavailable, you will consult with one of our partnered Airvet doctors.

Airvet is a quick and efficient way to ask questions, do follow-ups, and sometimes, to get the reassurance you need during those moments of “I don’t know if I should be freaking out or not!”

Click here to learn more about Airvet works and to download the Airvet app.

We so much appreciate our pet patients and their human counterparts! Thank you for your continued patience and grace as we mutually adjust to “the new normal.”

The staff at Atlantic Veterinary Hospital

What You Need to Know About Fleas, Ticks and Parasite Preventives

More than an itchy nuisance, fleas are blood-sucking, disease-spreading insects.

What You Need to Know About Fleas, Ticks and Parasite Preventives | atlanticvetseattle.com

Flea bite anemia

When cats get infested with fleas, they can get flea bite anemia due to losing so much blood. Those suckers (literally) drain so much blood that a cat’s body is unable to function normally.

Cats particularly susceptible to flea bite anemia include:

  • kittens
  • small cats
  • elderly cats
  • cats with weakened immune systems
  • cats who have lost blood due to an injury
  • cats who have recently undergone surgery and required a blood transfusion

Cat scratch fever

Fleas also cause cat scratch fever, a mild-to-severe bacterial infection that cats can pass along to humans. Humans can get cat scratch fever when a cat infected with Bartonella henselae (a bacteria cats contract when scratching or biting at infected fleas) bites or scratches a human or licks an open wound on a human’s skin.

Cat scratch fever (also called cat scratch disease) in humans is most prevalent in the southern part of the U.S. and most common among teenagers and children aged 5-9. However, anyone who owns or interacts with a cat is at risk of contracting the disease.

Not-so-fun flea facts

Although tiny and flightless, fleas can jump 7-13 inches and show no respect for property lines and door sills.

April Showers Bring May Flowers – Fleas & Ticks Aren’t Far Behind | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

Female fleas can lay over 5,000 eggs in their lifetime and live up to 18 months.

A single pregnant flea can cause a population explosion of fleas on your pet and in your home.

Fleas have been around for millions of years, causing itchy misery and spreading diseases like tapeworms and life-threatening bacteria and viruses affecting animals and people. For example, fleas spread the bacteria that causes The Plague, a disease that killed thousands in Europe in the Dark Ages and is still found today in places as near as Eastern Oregon.

Get a flea preventive NOW!

We have amazing new parasite preventives that came out in the past two years. These preventives are better than anything you can buy over-the-counter. (They prevent ticks, too.)

Call Atlantic Veterinary Hospital at 206-323-4433 and ask about our flea and tick preventives. (Continue reading for more on flea and tick preventives.)

Ticks…A Growing Concern in the Pacific Northwest and Worldwide

What you need to know about ticks | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

Ticks are blood-sucking arachnids – not insects – and are implicated in the spread of a number of life-threatening diseases that affect humans and animals. They can harbor bacteria, viruses, and protozoal parasites, sometimes more than one at a time.

Slow-moving and unable to jump, they lay in wait on grass or leaves until their prey walks by, then grab on for the ride.

Ticks can transmit the bacteria that cause Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, anaplasmosis, and erlichiosis, to name a few.

Unfortunately, one of the many side effects of warmer temperatures is that ticks are increasing in abundance and geographical range throughout the world. Once a realm of warmer, humid southern areas of the US, ticks and tick-borne diseases have spread north and occur in all 50 states and Canada.

A similar phenomenon has occurred in Europe. Tick migration mostly occurs through the movement of animals upon which ticks feed. Small mammals can transport ticks short distances, but migrating deer and, especially, birds can carry the intrepid hitchhikers into new territories where they once did not exist.

Our Western Washington “Emerald Isle” has more ticks.

New Products Make Flea & Tick Prevention Easier for Pets

Fortunately, defense for pets against fleas and ticks continues to improve since the introduction of fipronil (Frontline) in 1995, a safe-but-messy topical that helped prevent fleas and ticks in cats and dogs.

Today, better products help prevent these parasites. Our favorites are the new oral chews that have come on the market in the past two years that quickly kill fleas and ticks.

No more messy topical medication or stinky collar, just a tasty “treat” that safely and effectively prevents fleas and ticks from 30-90 days, depending on the product.

Additionally, new laboratory tests help us spot tick-borne diseases faster, sometimes before they even cause disease symptoms.

You know the 4DX lab test we recommend for your dog every year? Well, test #1 screens for heartworm disease, but #2-4 are screens for tick-borne illnesses – Lyme disease, erlichiosis, and anaplasmosis.

Hey ticks, we’re watching.

Better Lyme disease vaccines are now available for dogs traveling to Lyme disease endemic areas – the Midwest, Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and Florida.

We recommend your dog begins the Lyme vaccine series 7-8 weeks prior to your trip back East, in addition to using one of the newer tick prevention products and taking precautions, such as keeping your dog out of tall grass or wooded areas if possible, and doing a daily tick inspection of yourself and your dog.

Dog Sharing: Is Co-Ownership Right for You?

We’ve all heard the phrase, “Caring is Sharing.” But when it comes to pets, is that really practical?

While connecting with pets helps us stay connected to our humanity, pet ownership can be challenging and costly. That’s one reason why pet sharing is gaining in popularity.

Dog Sharing: Is Co-Ownership Right for You? | atlanticvetseattle.com

Pet sharing is exactly what is implied: sharing the responsibility of caring for a pet through either a legally-binding or verbal agreement.

Who does dog sharing work for?

Pet sharing can be a good fit for animal lovers who aren’t sure whether they can take on the full responsibility of adding a furry friend to their household.

It’s a viable solution for people who are away from home most of the day or who have obligations that require constant travel.

Pet sharing is an option for busy families who own more than one pet. For example, the owners of a purebred Schnauzer who is used as a stud also have several other dogs and children. In order to give the papered pet the attention and socialization he needs, one of their friends (who runs a home-based business and does not have any pets), keeps the dog with her as part of her family. When the dog is needed for stud purposes, the owner has full rights and maintains the records. However, the friend is the one who cares for and keeps the Schnauzer full time.

A retired couple shares their dog with a young family. “Sammy” was raised around kids and loves being with children, but now that his owners are retired, life has a slower pace. Their neighbors, a family with three young daughters, wanted a dog, but debated how a dog would fit their busy lifestyle.

The retired couple asked the young family if they would like to keep Sammy for a few days. It was a wonderful experience for all of them. Sammy came home energized from being around children, the young family experienced what it was like to have a pet, and the retired couple was able to travel to see their kids without having to board their dog. Sammy continues to visit the young family’s home because of how much everyone benefits.

Balancing pet ownership responsibilities

Sharing a pet is not a canine version of the movie, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, where an inanimate object is passed around. Pets, just like their human owners, have physical and emotional needs that include stability.

In a pet-sharing agreement, responsibilities for expenses such as food, grooming, and veterinary visits must be clearly outlined.

And, because no one can predict what the future holds, the agreement should specify what happens if one family moves or can no longer care for the pet.

In lieu of setting up co-ownership, other options are available:

Dog Walkers

If your furry friend is in the house or kennel for long stretches, look into hiring someone to walk your pooch around the neighborhood. Some dog walkers are paid professionals, and some just enjoy having someone to take with them on their daily stroll.

Doggie Day Care

More expensive, but is usually fully insured and has a vetted staff. Their goal is to make sure your pet is well cared for and content while you are gone.

Pet Sitters

These can be paid professionals and franchises for long-term boarding, or friends who love your pet almost as much as you do and don’t mind caring for them while you are away.

Bark N Borrow is an app that connects people with other dog owners in their neighborhood.

Whether you share ownership of a pet with another family, or you need to make arrangements to help with pet parenting, it is nice to know that adding a furry friend to your family might be easier than you thought.

Microchip-Controlled Cat Feeder Helps Control Who Eats What

Does your dog eat the cat’s food?

Or perhaps your curious toddler plays with kitty’s food?

We’re certain you’d rather spend your day doing something other than playing Cat Food Police. That’s why we’re excited about the SureFeed Microchip-Controlled Feeder.

The feeder opens when it recognizes your cat’s microchip or RFID collar tag, and closes when the cat has finished eating.

Check it out… watch this video.

While reviews show it doesn’t work for everyone, overall opinions are very favorable.

This feeder could be a big help in controlling who eats what in a multi-pet household, particularly if you have cats on prescription diets. Or one who likes to help himself to everyone else’s food.

Has your cat tried this feeder? What did kitty have to say about it?

6 Steps to Introduce a New Dog to Your Current Dog

“Our dog needs a friend!”

Someone in your family is convinced a second dog would be the perfect companion for your current dog.

6 Steps to Introduce a New Dog to Your Current Dog | atlanticvetseattle.com

The thought stays with you as teasing, conflicting thoughts chase each other…

Aren’t you your dog’s “best friend?” He doesn’t need a companion. On the other hand, you can’t always spend as much time playing with your dog as you would like. Perhaps she’d like a puppy to nurture.

Your yard is large enough; two dogs could play together. Or, your yard barely supports the energy of one dog; two is out of the question.

You could take two dogs to the park as easily as one, but only if two carriers will fit in your vehicle.

The internal debate nearly drives you crazy, as family members plead for a puppy, or assert that a certain breed would be So. Much. Fun.

Before adding a second dog to your family, it’s good to look at as many factors as possible before making a commitment. To lessen the stress on everyone, follow these steps.

6 Steps to Introduce a New Dog to Your Current Dog | atlanticvetseattle.com

Step 1:
Consider your current dog’s temperament and prepare him for a new arrival

While some dogs may enjoy a playmate, other factors may make adding a second furry friend a negative experience, rather than a positive one. For example, if your current dog is shy, fearful, or anxious, he may not accept another animal in the household.

According to Kathy Santo, in a blog post for the American Kennel Club, “sometimes dogs can ‘pass’ their fear on to another dog, so then you could have two fearful dogs.”

A second dog will also not necessarily help socialize an aggressive dog.

Tip: Assess how well your dog interacts with other dogs in general. One way to do this is to take him to an off-leash dog park and observe how easily he makes friends.

Step 2:
Prepare yourself by thinking it through

Based on your current dog’s age, consider the ideal age for a second pet. Some people prefer their dogs to be similar ages, expecting the dogs to be playmates.

Dogs have different health needs at different stages of life, which is also a consideration. Depending on the age(s) of the dogs, expect to see behaviors in which an older dog is teaching a younger puppy social skills. Even if the dogs are the same age, one will have been with your family longer, and the other will be the “newcomer.”

Be aware of the financial aspect. Two dogs require more investment in food, supplies, and health care than one dog. Work with family members to plan and budget for a second dog.

Review information about dogs’ body language to better understand your dog’s reaction to the new arrival. Remember to verbally praise your current dog for good behavior, especially during the introduction period.

Tip: Create a simple chart listing the pros and cons of bringing a second dog into your household situation.

6 Steps to Introduce a New Dog to Your Current Dog | atlanticvetseattle.comStep 3:
Prepare your home before the new dog arrives

You’ll want to train a new dog to fit in with your family and lifestyle. Make sure you have supplies and areas ready to train your new pet in house manners and obedience. It may be easier to wait until your current dog is fully trained.

Tip: Consider your present situation in life. Are you willing and able to take the time and responsibility to train a second dog?

Step 4:
Prepare your family for a new pet

It also takes time to help a second dog acclimate and become part of your family. In the same way adding another person to a group of people changes the dynamic, the presence of another pet changes the dynamic of a household.

Tip: Make sure everyone in your family agrees with the idea. It’s especially important to realize the person who wants the dog may not take final responsibility for it. Consider creating a backup plan describing who will take responsibility if circumstances change.

Step 5:
Introduce your new dog gradually

Gradually introduce your dog to a “new puppy scent” by taking a piece of cloth when you meet your new dog before bringing her home. Allow your dog to smell any “new dog” scents from the cloth or your hands.

Set up a place for each dog to call its own (e.g., a pen or crate), and plan to use these areas in staggered rotation to help the dogs get used to each other. This may be done without the dogs seeing each other by strategically placing their private spaces and rotating which animal is with you or in their personal “safe” space. You may then wish to use a gate or screen to introduce the dogs face-to-face, allowing them to turn away after a brief meeting.

Respect and protect each dog’s needs. Arrange separate feeding areas to start, and allow each pet to have personal play time with you and other family members.

Tip: If possible, provide opportunities for each dog to become familiar with the other’s scent before or after bringing the new dog home.

6 Steps to Introduce a New Dog to Your Current Dog | atlanticvetseattle.comStep 6:
Continue the introduction process

Have someone help you introduce the dogs to each other “in person.” You might choose to take the dogs for a walk, each animal on a short, loose leash.

You can offer supervised play separately with each person, and then closer together as the dogs tolerate and accept each other.

Tip: Observe each dog’s behavioral clues, recalling the body language signals you reviewed earlier. Be ready to praise verbally and offer special attention to each dog at appropriate times.

The overall process will take time, so be patient. Be prepared to separate the dogs as needed, but keep working to gradually foster peaceful co-existence. If, over time, the relationship doesn’t improve, contact Atlantic Veterinary Hospital and ask about next steps you can take.

Remembering your pets’ temperaments and behavior signals will help you work with them for successful integration with your family.

Related Articles

Atlantic Veterinary Hospital in Seattle serves the following neighborhoods: Mt. Baker, Columbia City, Beacon Hill, Rainier Valley, Seward Park, Capitol Hill, Leschi, Central District, Madison Valley, International District, and Georgetown.