Lifes Abundance content relating to 'pets'

All You Need To Know About Bathing Your Pet

cat getting a bath

“You smell like a wet dog” isn’t much of a compliment, is it? While most of us know the rush of warm fuzzies you get from snuggling up close with a clean, fresh pet, most pet owners are also aware of the opposite end of the spectrum: the stinky side.

Perhaps you’ve spent the past year closer than ever to your pet, so you may be more familiar than you’ve ever been with their particular…fragrance, shall we say. Questions about your pet’s skin and coat are some of the most common conversation topics in the vet clinic, so let’s tackle some of the most frequently asked questions about what’s normal, what may need a vet visit, and what are the best things you can do at home to help your pet look and feel their best.

How often should I bathe my pet?

If the thought of struggling to get your dog in the bath on a daily basis gives you hives, here’s the good news: daily bathing is rarely the answer. For a pet with good skin and coat health, a good monthly washing may be all they need in order to clean away accumulated dirt and oil and get them smelling nice. If you have a cat, the answer’s even better: since they groom themselves, healthy cats may not need baths from you at all (everyone cheer).

The actual answer is: wash your pet as often as they need. If your pet gets dirty all the time because they’re constantly getting in the mud, there’s no reason you can’t bathe them more frequently. It’s important to use the right shampoo to avoid over-drying the coat, stripping out oils, or causing flaking. More frequent bathing may also reduce the effectiveness of topical flea and tick products such as Advantage and Frontline.

Pets with medical conditions often require more frequent bathing as part of their treatment. Whether it’s a pet dealing with infection, a pet suffering from conditions like seborrhea (think of it like a form of doggie dandruff), or a pet with allergies who needs to remove environmental allergens from their coat, there are many reasons a pet may require bathing weekly, or even a few times a week. Make sure to follow your vet’s recommendations as to the type of shampoo and how to use it- it may seem like a lot of work, but topical treatments can be very effective and much nicer than needing to rely on a systemic treatment!

dog getting a bath

What’s the best type of shampoo to use?

If your pet has a medical condition, you may be prescribed a special shampoo. Think of it less as shampoo and more as skin medication. Keep in mind these tend to work very differently than your typical shampoo which is just there to gently clean, so be careful to follow the directions and don’t use it for other pets in the house. Many medicated pet shampoos may not even have any cleanser in them, so if you’re not sure, ask your vet if you need to first use an over the counter shampoo before using the medicated one. Some of the most common medications delivered via shampoo format are:

  • antibacterials: chlorhexidine for skin infection
  • antifungals: ketoconazole for yeast infection
  • antiseborrhea: coal tar, salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, or sulfur to combat dandruff-like conditions
  • anti-mite: lime sulfur dips for topical parasites such as demodectic mange
  • anti-itch: oatmeal, hydrocortisone

For everyone else, shampoos designated for pets are your best choice. These shampoos have much less stripping action than human shampoos and are much gentler on the skin, so never use a human shampoo on your pet. If your pet has particularly sensitive skin, you may need to look for one with no fragrance added. For the rest of the crew, look for a gentle formula with conditioning properties like our very own amazing-smelling Revitalizing Shampoo. I’ve sniffed a lot of dog shampoo over the years, and this one takes the cake in the “wow your dog smells delightful” department. If you’ve tried it, you know.

What are signs my pet may need a vet visit?

Regular doggie-smell should resolve with a good cleaning. If they still feel oily or greasy, or still have a strange odor after bathing, make an appointment as this may be a sign of a problem that goes below the surface of the skin. Even smells that aren’t necessarily “bad,” but just strange, can be a sign something’s off (ever heard someone talk about their dog’s Frito feet? Yes, it’s a thing, and often means infection). Any red or raw patches should be evaluated as well, as these can be signs of allergies or infection.

Bathing is a good time to check your pet’s ears as well. While you don’t want to put shampoo and water in their ears, I like to clean my pet’s ears with a dedicated ear cleaner right before their bath. If your pet is prone to ear infection, you may also want to put a cotton ball in their ear before bathing to keep water out (Be gentle if you do this! There’s no need to stuff their ears full of the fluff).

So there you have it! Smelling like a wet dog might not seem like a compliment, but with the proper shampoo there’s no reason it couldn’t be. Here’s to a pleasant, snuggly summer!


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The Secret Ingredient To A Sweet Smelling Pet

Tips For Grooming Your Dog At Home

Keep Your Pet From Melting Down When You Return To Work

person petting sad dog

Rewind back to March of 2020 when many of us started making the transition from working in the office full time to mostly working from home. This was quite the adjustment for those who were used to the commute to and from work every day. Along with working from home, some people took up some new hobbies. Maybe for you it was gardening or cooking, and others it was home workouts or painting. While you were filling your time with these activities, there was one member of the family that got used to you being home all the time. Your furry, cuddly companion. Whether you already had a dog or cat, or got a so-called ‘pandemic pet’, they definitely got accustomed to having you around from morning to night. 

Now, as it’s time to return to work, you should start thinking about how your absence will affect your pet. They won’t be used to seeing you every minute of the day anymore so some pets, especially those you got during the pandemic, could develop separation anxiety. Symptoms of this include excessive drooling, destruction around the house, or howling. Not only is this stressful for you, but it’s just as stressful for your pet too. There are some tips to help them ease into the transition and lower their stress while you’re away.

Tip 1:

If you know you’re going back out to work soon, come up with a plan to train your pet how to be alone. The best way to do this is by leaving your house for small increments of time and then working up to 1, 2, 3 hours and so on. By doing this, your furry friend starts to feel confident that you’ll come back.Then, once you leave for work for a bigger chunk of time, they will already be used to it and feel more comfortable on their own.

Studies have shown that an action as simple as petting your dog or cat before you leave actually decreases their anxiety while you’re gone. Generally, dogs get nervous when you leave and those negative feelings worsen as more time passes. So, giving them this love and affection as you say goodbye could help them stay calm and lower their heart rate.

woman holding dog in arms

Tip 2:

Sometimes, you can train your pet as much as you can to be without you but fact is, some just get bored. They want to play and be entertained but if you’re not home, they have no one to give them that attention. The result? Maybe some chewed on shoes, or even worse - walls. If your dog loves to chew, or chews to relieve stress, give them something that'll occupy them such as a chew stick. The flavor and activity will satisfy their urge and provide them with entertainment.

Tip 3:

When you come home after your workday, it’s important not to overreact when you see your dog. We understand - you miss them and they miss you too, so it’s hard not to excite them as soon as you open the door. However, this can lead to a bunch of bad habits over time. They could start to jump on you (and other guests) as you enter, knock down anything you’re carrying, or bark excessively. The best thing you can do is be as calm as possible while entering and teach them to greet you in the same manner. Always remember to reward this good behavior!

Going back to work in the office won’t be out of the norm for just you. It will be a huge change for your furry friends too. Try your best to be patient with them as they work through this adjustment. Once you’re back home after a long day, you’ll both appreciate all the cuddles and playtime just a little bit more.


If you found this interesting, check out these related stories:

A Closer Look At Pet Anxiety

Tips For Calming Stressed Cats

Pet Safety While Traveling

woman holding cat near car trunk

The clouds are lifting - both literally and figuratively - as we head into summer. After what feels like a very, very long winter, people are chomping at the bit to get out of the house and back into the world. But what about your pets? Are you taking them with you?
 
Travel in 2021 won’t be entirely like it was before, but those very same travel trends set the stage for a dog-friendly trip. According to AirBnB, who experienced a 128% increase in customers looking for a home away from home during the pandemic, more than six out of ten people are looking to take a trip this year within driving distance from home. Paris and Rome, the darlings of 2019 travel, are out. Instead, people are eyeing the Great Smoky Mountains, Breckenridge, and Palm Springs.

Hotels are out, too. With more people working remotely than ever before, people aren’t looking for a spa-like indulgence nearly as much as they are a different view out of the front window. With rules and requirements changing from day to day, people are also waiting until the last minute to commit to a trip. That’s easier said than done when you’re also needing to plan for a pet.
 
Road trips with pets bring a whole different set of contingencies, but none more important than this: how do you keep dogs safe in the car?
 
For many people, the answer is: you don’t. And the results can be tragic. Here are three reasons you should consider a dog restraint, if you aren’t using one already:

  1. Injuries. According to BarkBuckleUp, a 60 pound dog traveling at 35 mph, which isn’t even freeway speed, becomes a 2700 pound missile during an accident. Not only is that catastrophic for the pet, they can also cause serious injury to other passengers.
  2. Distractions. A pet who panics and tries to get into your lap or under your feet can be a serious problem.
  3. Loss. The number one reason pets die in traffic accidents isn’t from injuries sustained in the incident. When first responders arrive at the scene of an accident and encounter a frantic, unrestrained animal, it is extremely common for them to escape and, sadly, run into traffic. I have seen this firsthand in the ER, and it’s horrible.

So now that we know “no restraint” is the worst option of all, what are our other choices?

"dog

BETTER. Keeping your pet in a crate in the car is better than nothing. I see this frequently, especially with larger dogs where seat belt restraints are more difficult to use. Although it may not be as good as other means of restraint in terms of preventing injury, a crated pet is much less likely to escape your car during an accident or even at a road stop. Ideally you will have your crate secured to the car to keep it stable.
 
BEST. Restraints and carriers specifically designated for dogs are the safest and most effective option for travel. If you have a small dog, you can buy a carrier with safety belt integration built in.
 
For larger dogs, you’re most likely looking at a harness that either connects to the car’s seat belt or hooks into a latch system. For my two large dogs, I find the harnesses a good compromise between safety and usability, as they often have a separate attachment for a regular leash to make it pretty quick to get them in and out for rest stops on a road trip.
 
So which choice is right for you? That can be a tricky one. Because pet harnesses and crates are not required to meet specific safety standards, you’d have no way to know as a consumer which harnesses actually keep the pet secured during an accident. The Center for Pet Safety, a non-profit dedicated to establishing safety standards for pet products, performed actual crash tests with a variety of harnesses and crates to designate those worthy of a CPS certification. Many restraints failed the test. You can find a list of approved products that received the CPS certification on the Center for Pet Safety.
 
But at the end of the day, the best option is going to be the one you actually use. Once you have that part squared away, you can get onto the fun part- deciding where to go!


If you found this interesting, check out these related stories:

Fire Safety And Prevention For Families With Pets

Leash Safety Made Easy

Pet Parent Tips From Life’s Abundance Employees

child whispering in dog ear

The past year has brought about lots of new pandemic pets and we are all for it! As pet parents ourselves, we understand that getting a new pup or cat can come with a lot of work. From getting all their essentials to training them, it can sometimes get a little overwhelming. So, we asked our very own Life’s Abundance employees for their top tips on having a furry friend.

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Want more? Here’s additional tips and tricks we felt you just had to know!

Nail clipping is so much easier with a second person holding an enticing treat level to the floor. It's a wonderful distraction to help keep the dog in place and distracted. Who knew they could love a pedicure?! - Arin

I try to get creative and make fun games for my dog, Tucker, to keep his mind busy. Like putting his food in a puzzle. - Alyssa

Establish pack leadership, pack mental health, and boundaries for the pack inside the house. - Jennifer

Don't free feed, give 2-3 small meals a day and always plenty of water. - Stephen

Entertain them when away at work. Lots of toys and I have an interactive camera so I can say hi to her and send her a treat. I also use a treat holder and I leave that in the morning before I leave to keep her a little entertained. - Denise

Make sure your dog is microchipped and has a collar on with his or her name and a phone number to call if they get lost. - Rocky

Do not start feeding your dog table scraps. It will be very hard to resume pet food after your vet yells at you for doing something you know you shouldn’t have started to begin with. Just don't do it. If you must, keep a bag of high-quality dog treats around and toss one out every so often. - Sasha

Whether you’re a new pet parent or an experienced one, we hope you learned something new!

What are your best tips you use for your furry friends? Comment below!


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Appreciating The Joys Our Pets Bring

puppy and kitten

I don’t know about you, but I’ve spent a ton of time lately with my dog’s head in my lap. I’ve lived with many dogs over the years, but it seems like no matter if I’m petting a lab, a Lhasa, or a coonhound, one fact remains- they always know when I need them there.

This has been an extraordinarily challenging time for everyone, no matter where you live or what you believe. Finding common ground and a sense of unity feels darn near impossible sometimes- until you start talking pets.

Like anyone who’s worked in a field where you interact with the public, I’ve met all kinds of people. One of the things I love most about veterinary medicine isn’t just that the medicine is cool- which it is- but to me, the joy is really in the immense honor and privilege I have in hearing the stories of what pets mean to us.

When I began working as an in-home hospice veterinarian, that took on an even deeper level. Unlike when someone brings a pet into the clinic, I was being invited into their homes to be present for a very momentous moment in their family’s life. I’ve sat on leather couches and corduroy; patio chairs and grassy blankets; sat in joy and sadness and dawn and dusk and no matter who, where, or when I was helping, I felt the same love and connection every time.

girl with pets

With COVID, this connection has taken on even greater meaning, as so many people find themselves spending much more time home in the company of their pets than they ever did before. Here in San Diego, our local Meals on Wheels partners with a rescue organization to deliver pet food to the seniors who rely on the program for healthy meals. Why? Because the volunteers realized many seniors were feeding their meals to their pets, choosing to do without themselves rather than have to give up the companionship of what is, for so many, their main source of emotional support.

When I feel frustrated with the state of humanity and start to wonder if things are as much of a lost cause as it sometimes feels like, I like to think that dogs and cats really do cause us to reveal our true natures. When no one’s watching, how do you interact with your pet? As hard and as rough as things can get, that answer remains constant. We all have the capacity to both give and receive a deep and unconditional love.

This belief has allowed me to be online talking with pet owners all over the world for over a decade, and allowed me to treat every family I encounter with the same dignity and respect. When it feels like there is so little space for common ground, nowhere to start and build upon, this love we share with our pets has consistently served me well for many years, and I hope it does for you as well.

When I first met the Life’s Abundance team and began writing and getting to know you all, I knew right away that this family felt the exact same way I did when it comes to how we honor and love our pets and each other. I’m so grateful to be here with all of you and get to celebrate all the little joys that our pets bring into our lives. Be safe and well!

Dr. Jessica Vogelsang, DVM

Dr V

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The Many Health Benefits of Living with Dogs

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The Importance of Pet Insurance

Near-term costs. Long-term savings. That’s exactly what pet insurance, just like your health insurance (if you’re fortunate enough have coverage), offers pet parents. And in difficult economic times, pet insurance may be the answer to escalating vet bills.

Veterinary charges continue to rise dramatically, in large part due to the fact that procedures that were once used exclusively for human diagnoses (like CAT-scans and MRI’s) are now much more commonly used in diagnosing companion animals.

Recent measures put the number of insured companion animals at 3%, but that’s double the number of covered pets compared to the previous year. 

Pet insurance represents a relatively inexpensive way to help families deal with the high costs of the veterinary care. Policies are available through companies like Veterinary Pet Insurance, Pet Health, Inc., ShelterCare and others, both for cats and for dogs, and cover everything from annual exams to specialized treatments. 

Before you buy a pet insurance policy, call your veterinarian office to find out what policies will cover costs there. After all, there’s no point getting a policy if it your veterinarian doesn’t accept it. 

Additionally, you recommend that you discuss with your vet which policy will best cover your companion animal’s needs. With the expert information you can receive from your vet, you should be able to make the best determination for your family’s needs.


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