Sick Kitty: What to Do When Pets Won’t Eat

Ever wonder why cats won’t eat, or why your dog snubs the bowl? All pets lose their appetite once in a while. It’s normal if pets won’t eat for a meal or two.

Some pets are just picky by nature, but healthy dogs and cats make up for a missed meal with the next serving. As long as the pet acts like he otherwise feels good, loss of appetite for one or two days isn’t cause for concern. Longer bouts of anorexia become serious.
pets won't eat

My Cat Refuses To Eat!

Magical-Dawg and Seren-Kitty were never finicky eaters, and ate pretty much anything we offered. Bravo had more discriminating tastes, and Shadow-Pup also prefers people food to what’s in his bowl.

But Karma-Kat is a bit of a glutton, and will scrounge for more when the bowl is empty. Since his recent multiple trips to the vet for routine vaccinations and dealing with his aural hematoma, he’s lost his appetite.

It’s important to know your individual pet’s routine and preferences. Read about how dogs eat and how cats eat for a baseline behavior. That way, you know a change in behavior points to a problem.

pet won't eatWHY PETS WON’T EAT

Nearly any illness can cause a pet to refuse to eat, though. Life-threatening diseases such as distemper or kidney failure, parasites such as hookworms, a sore mouth from dental problems, or just the stress of a mother-in-law visiting the family, could prompt anorexia. High outdoor temperatures also can kill pet appetite. Shadow-Pup once ate a dryer sheet and vomited all day, and refused to eat. Annual vaccinations also can affect the appetite for a day or so.

Any sudden loss of appetite that lasts over two days needs medical attention—sooner, if the pet acts sick. Puppies and kittens have fewer fat and fluid reserves and can’t go without food longer than about 12 hours before needing medical help. Toy breed puppies are prone to potentially deadly drops in blood sugar (hypoglycemia) if they skip a meal. Signs of hypoglycemia are weakness, drunken-type gait, and sometimes seizures. Lift the pup’s lip and put Karo Syrup, honey or something similar on the gums, and once he’s conscious, feed him.

Cats, especially pudgy kitties, can also become gravely ill with liver disease by skipping just one or two meals, so I’m extra careful about Karma since he’s packed on a bit of weight. For overweight cats, refusing to eat can start a chain reaction that moves fat cells into the cat’s liver. Hepatic lipidosis or “fatty liver disease” can kill the cat.

Snubbing the Bowl Requires a Vet Diagnosis

If your pet stops eating, you’ll need a diagnosis from the veterinarian to figure out why. But often it’s perfectly legal to tempt his appetite with healthy people food. Offer wholesome tidbits like a sliver of lean beef or chicken, or spike his kibble with no-salt meat broth. That will also help you decide if he’s just being finicky, or really has a problem that needs medical attention.

Cats suffering from upper respiratory infections often have stuffy noses. If they can’t smell their food, cats won’t eat. Use a humidifier in a small room to help open up the breathing passages or run a hot shower so the pet breathes steamy air in the bathroom for ten minutes a couple times a day. Warm water on a cotton ball gently cleans off the plugged nose to keep it unblocked.

anorexia

Eating the WRONG food or gobbling too fast can upset pet tummies and cause anorexia.

HOW TO TEMPT PET APPETITES

Tempt your pet’s appetite with pungent-smelling foods. Many cats relish tuna juice from a can of water-packed tuna, while dogs often live for liverwurst. You can also offer meat-based baby food. That’s not only very palatable for most cats and dogs, but is easier to eat if the mouth is sore from respiratory infections or dental problems.

Studies have shown that 95 to 98 degrees is the most attractive food temperature especially to cats. Warm the food and test it against your wrist–close to your own body temperature is the right range. Anorexic cats often will lick food off a spoon or your finger more readily than out of a bowl so hand feeding helps get nutrition in him until you can see the veterinarian.

Leaving food out in front of a reluctant eater for long periods at a time overwhelms and “wears out” the appetite centers. That will kill any appetite the pet may have left. Instead, offer your reluctant eater a small amount of food, and when he’s had his fill or refuses to eat, take it away and try again an hour later.

KARMA-KAT UPDATE

This morning, I warmed up some wet food and Karma lapped up two tongue-swipes of the food. He also drank some water and eliminated normally. His ear still tips over, but the swelling hasn’t increased. He also started inviting Shadow-Pup to play, so it’s clear he’s on the mend.

It’s also clear I need to teach the boys to play more gently, and avoid biting/tugging on ears. Oh, I’m already supervising meal times, since both of ’em seem to prefer each other’s food. There’s another opportunity for upset tummies!

Do you have pets that steal each others’ food? How do you manage the marauding maniacs? Do tell!

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I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? NOTE: Some links to books or other products may be to affiliates, from which I may earn a small percentage of sales, but I do not recommend anything unless I feel it would benefit readers. Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Karma’s Ear Boo-Boo: Aural Hematoma Cat Care & What to Do

Today, Karma-Kat visited the veterinarian for his annual wellness check. He’d lost a little over a pound (yay!), and the doctor said Karma looked like a two- or three-year-old kitty rather than a mature eight-year-old man-kat. We celebrated a great exam until I got home–and discovered the aural hematoma on Karma’s right ear.

aural hematoma cat

Karma-Kat’s right ear has a slight swelling of the inside-upper edge.

Aural Hematoma Cat Care

Hematoma refers to a swelling beneath the skin that contains blood. A blow or bruise causes hematomas, and they usually resolve by themselves. But large hematomas may require surgical drainage.

Aural hematomas, those occurring in the skin of the ear flap (pinna), often appear because of ear mite parasites or ear infection. They more commonly affect dogs with floppy ears, but cats also can develop the condition.

dog allergies aural hematoma dog

Fleas are more than itchy aggravations and spread tapeworm as well as cause skin disease. Scratching can cause an aural hematoma especially in floppy eared dogs.

Bruising prompts seepage of fluid which separates the ear cartilage from the skin. The pocket between fills with blood and fluid. This soft swelling usually develops on the inside but can be on the outside surface of the ear flap. Treatment requires addressing the cause for the injury, such as an ear infection or ear mites that prompt scratching.

Aural Hematoma Treatment

To prevent scarring of the ear cartilage, the veterinarian removes the trapped blood and serum. Drawing out the liquid with a syringe works for small hematomas. Firm bandaging of the ear aids healing and helps the ear keep a normal shape. But often, the ear simply inflates again in a day or two with more blood and serum.

Our veterinarian said Karma’s ear hematoma was the smallest he’d ever seen. Neither of us saw or felt it during the exam, and yet less than an hour later, it appeared. Karma has no ear infections, and hasn’t scratched his ears. Our best guess points to rough-housing with Shadow-Pup. They take turns play-attacking each other.

Without treatment, the fluid eventually reabsorbs. However, it also often leaves behind scarred, damaged cartilage, sort of a doggy or kitty “cauliflower” ear.

An Elizabethan collar keeps cats from further damaging the ear as the aural hematoma heals.

Aural Hematoma Surgery

Aural hematoma surgery provides the best results. Once anesthetized, the veterinarian makes a small incision in the inside surface of the cat’s ear to remove collected blood and other debris. Then the separated flaps of tissue get stitched together, leaving a narrow opening at the incision line. This opening allows fluid to drain as the incision heals and prevents the wound from re-ballooning with fluid. For large hematomas on big dogs, a drain may also be needed.

Because of the small size of Karma’s ear hematoma, our veterinarian suggested removing the fluid with a syringe to see if it would resolve on its own. He said in this special case, surgery would cause as much (or more) ear cartilage scarring as if left to heal by itself. In fact, he drew off only 1/2 cc of fluid. We’re to watch Karma-Kat for the next day to monitor if fluid returns, which could mean further surgical treatment.

Followup Care for Aural Hematoma

In severe cases, a soft padding of bandage minimizes deformity and helps the ear keep a normal shape as it heals. Typically, cats that undergo this surgery must wear a collar restraint like an Elizabethan collar to prevent them from scratching at the wound.

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I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? NOTE: Some links to books or other products may be to affiliates, from which I may earn a small percentage of sales, but I do not recommend anything unless I feel it would benefit readers. Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Ghost Cats, Ghost Dogs, and Visitations From Beyond

Has a ghost dog or ghost cat visited you? They have blessed me that way more than once, but never when I wish for it and always unexpectedly. Far from scary, the visitation from beyond brought me great comfort. I know my furry wonders live on–somewhere, somehow, and that I’ll see them again. It wouldn’t be heaven without them. In fact, one of my Pet Peeves radio programs discussed whether pets go to heaven.

ghost dog

Bravo appeared to me after his death.

When Bravo-Dawg died March 2021, our hearts ached. We second-guessed every decision made during his cancer journey. This gentle giant who never had a bad day (even in the aftermath of amputation), always made us smile during awful times. Our three-year-old baby-dog fought and defeated osteosarcoma, so how could another cancer take him from us? Not our Bravo!

The day after his death, when his slurpy-kiss across my face woke me, I reflexively reached out my hand to smooth his sweet face. He leaned against my palm. Warm. Real. His tail thumped and shook the bed. He had all four legs, and a happy satisfied grin–and then he disappeared. I like to think he knew I needed his reassurance.

I cherish his effort to once again comfort us. What do you think? Does pet death mean the end or will they come back to comfort us?

ghost cat

Seren became increasingly frail and confused. I wonder if that’s why she never visited after her passing.

Cats and Ghosts

Cats have long been thought to have a link with the “other world” or even to have feline ESP. In fact, popular urban legends hold that cats see ghosts—and their behavior certainly seems to support that notion. My cat Seren often plays “track the spook” games, maybe just to mess with my head. You’ll understand more when you read the last paragraph.

We built our house 25 years ago but maybe the site used to be an ancient burial ground that remains haunted by spirits of the departed. That would explain Seren-Kitty’s behavior when she used to fix her gaze on “something” and follow the motion up the wall, around the ceiling, and out the door. *shiver*

It’s not just my own vivid imagination, either. A letter to the “Occult Review” magazine of April 1924 tells of a ghost that appeared in a chair, also apparent to the humans present. A cat in the room seemed to recognize the spirit and immediately leaped into the spirit’s lap—and was dismayed when the insubstantial lap would not hold it. The popular movie Ghost featured a cat able to see the spirit of the murdered victim, played by actor Patrick Swayze.

ghost

Karma knew his best friend would die long before we did.

Can Cats Sense Death?

There also are many stories of cats wailing at the exact instant of a beloved owner’s death, even when separated by miles. How do the cats know? Do they “see” the spirit, or feel the psychic change at the sudden absence of their special human?

Cats (and dogs) have the physical ability to see certain wavelengths and color spectrums that people cannot. Perhaps this “remnant” of the dearly departed remains behind—or in fact the spirit portion remains visible for felines as well as ultrasonic sound communication.

Oscar the cat, a resident of Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Centre in Providence, Rhode Island, had an uncanny ability to predict which patient will soon die. Adopted as a kitten, he remained standoffish as an adult cat—until an individual neared the end of life. Then he’d scratch at the door and demand to be in the room, hop up on the bed beside the patient to sit vigil with them until they die.

Oscar’s prediction rate has been better than the nurses or physicians who care for the residents, who suffer with severe dementia. Experts speculate the dying simply smell different, and that alerts Oscar. Yet he is the only one of several resident cats that seems to care. Relatives have said they feel comforted Oscar spends time with their loved ones when they can’t be there.

ghost cats ghost dogs

Magical-Dawg died in September, and Seren-Kitty died in December. I don’t recall any visitation from either of them. Perhaps they’re too busy continuing to pester each other.

Do Cats Haunt Us? Will Pets Visit Us After Death?

When cats die, owners recount experiences of the kitty returning to comfort remaining pet friends and people that they’re okay. Sometimes the delicate paw-print tracks of never seen mourning “ghost cats” appear where the owner can find them. Very often one can feel the jarring “thump” of the ghost pet leaping onto the bed at night, snuggling across your ankles, or being seen out of the corner of your eyes.

When my first dog died, a day later I felt him jump up on the bed. He suffered from hip dysplasia and couldn’t jump while alive, so I knew he’d become whole in his new afterlife.

These invisible visitors may still cheek rub and head butt ankles, so that people can feel the brush of fur against their skin. Wishful thinking? Perhaps the mourning human so desperately wants one last contact that imagination takes over.

What About Ghost Pets Proof?

But what of the other pets who also detect the invisible cat’s or chase a transparent cat as she runs through a room only to disappear into a wall? Sometimes there’s also photographic proof that points to a kitty haunting a residence or person.

One early famous example is a 1925 family portrait taken by Major Allistone in Clarens, Switzerland that documented a woman restraining an infant from climbing out of a baby carriage, with an older boy standing in front holding a stuffed bunny in his left hand. But in the boy’s right hand appears the face of a white kitten—except that white kitten had died several weeks earlier.

More recent examples abound and can be including pictures and videos posted on the Internet. For example, one family admired and took pictures of a neighbor’s flowers and captured the image of a cat in the window—only the family doesn’t have a cat, so just who was the ghostly feline and (perhaps more importantly) did the cat allow him/herself to be photographed?

Do Spirit Cats Return?

On October 29, 1993 at 8:30 p.m. my first beloved dog passed away at age 12 years 5 months. At the time we lived in a tiny apartment and had to place his body outside in the entryway, to await burial the next morning. Shortly thereafter, we heard a strangely haunting sound at the door.

I found a cat crouching over my poor dog’s body, muttering and crying. The cat was a stranger, one I’d never seen before or since. I like to think that this eerie cat visitor arrived to pay feline respects at his passing. He’d always loved cats. It certainly couldn’t be my beloved dog’s spirit being hosted within this feline visitor. Or could it?

I never saw the cat again, although I heard the yowls each year on October 29th at about 8:30 p.m. Maybe I imagined it? All I know is the spectral cat cries stopped after my Seren-kitty adopted us.

Have you ever had a “visit” from a dearly departed pet? Have your cats (or dogs) “detected” an otherworldly presence? What did they do? If you had the chance to see a pet ghost, would you want to? Have you ever visited certain locations (or even people) that you’re sure had an animal ghost in residence? Please share!

Read these tips to prepare for your pet in case you pass away before they do.

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I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? NOTE: Some links to books or other products may be to affiliates, from which I may earn a small percentage of sales, but I do not recommend anything unless I feel it would benefit readers. Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Pets Car Ride Safe Travel with Pet Safety Harnesses

Pets car ride safe travel provides vital protection for dogs and cats. This post, originally written several years ago, needed an update about pet car ride safety. With Magical-Dawg, we used a pet gate to keep him safely in the back seat, and later a halter that buckled into the seatbelt. And because he suffered from car sickness, we also used a great seat cover to protect the car seat. Learn tips for teaching dogs to love car rides here.

Bravo never cared much for car rides. At 120+ pounds, we couldn’t keep him safely contained, so thankfully, he rested nicely on the Kurgo seat cover we still use (see below). These days, I have a smaller safety harness for Shadow-Pup that secures with the seat belt for safe rides.pet car safety

Why Pets Car Ride Safe Travel Matters?

After the long “stay-cation” because of the pandemic, many folks now choose road trips and perhaps take their dog for a car ride as well. So I’m revisiting the subject of pets car ride safe travels.

Pets loose in cars can interfere with the driver, cause distractions and potentially cause accidents. During an accident, they may turn into furry projectiles that injure other human passengers as well as themselves. During accidents, pets get seriously injured, paralyzed, lost, or killed.

pet car safety

Dogs love to ride!

Currently, the United States has no standards or any tests at all for pet travel products, yet many manufacturers advertise claims of successful testing. Distraction protection differs from crash protection. Some pet products companies take this responsibility seriously.

pet car safety

Shadow-Pup wears a harness that’s attached to the seat belt. That keeps him out of the driver’s way, and protects him from sudden stops (or accidents!).

Crash Tests & Pet Car Safety

A few years ago I met Linsey Wolko, founder and CEO of the Center for Pet Safety (CPS) at the BlogPaws event, and later interviewed her after Subaru partnered with them in 2013 to study the effectiveness of pet safety harnesses. There were mixed results among some of the most popular pet products on the market touted to provide pet car safety. NOTE: they used no living dogs in these tests, they conducted all with “doggy test dummies.”

The study chose eleven commonly available dog harness products to test that came in Small, Medium and Large sizes and advertised the product as tested for crash protection. Stuffed dogs served as the test dummies in the three size ranges, which a small 25-pound terrier conformation, a medium 45-pound Border Collie and a large 75-pound Golden Retriever, chosen to best mirror the conformation and weight of living dogs.

MGA Research Corporation, a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) contracted test facility in Virginia, performed independent, third party testing of the harness products. A minimum standard of performance was first tested, and the seven dog harnesses that passed went on to the “crash” phase of the test with the stuff dog dummies.

How the Pet Crash Tests Worked

The tests were created to result in a worst-case potential for injury. For instance, positioning the test dog dummy in a sit position increased the rotation/force in the crash. “The primary goal was to see if we can keep the dog on the seat,” says Wolko.

The “crash test” considers the potential “launch” of the dog from his perch on the car seat, rotation force, as well as how well (or not) the harness prevents doggy injury. Some tests not only resulted in catastrophic failure of fasteners and caused severe harness deformation/stitching failure, but also launched the test-dummy dog, stripped off the harness, or hung/strangled the test dummy. Shedding of the harness/leash also leaves the dog open to escape/becoming lost immediately after the accident.

Only ONE of the eleven company’s products passed the test with a five-paws-up ranking. See the results of the tests here. The Sleepypod ClickIt Utility Harness received Top Performer of those products tested. It controlled both launch and rotation of the test dummy dog in all three Small, Medium and Large product sizes. Note: Sleepypod also makes safety-tested carriers for cats and small pets.

pet car safety

Image courtesy of Kurgo

I am not being compensated for writing this post. Kurgo provided me with a free harness and seat cover in exchange for an honest review. Kurgo is not responsible for the content of this article.

What About Pet Car Safety for Big Dogs? 

I wanted to find a safety harness for Magic–but the Sleepypod product didn’t come in a large enough size. The one that seemed the best fit, Kurgo harness, initially failed the 2013 test, but the company was one of several that improved the design and enhanced quality control. I accepted a free Kurgo harness to review.

The materials and workmanship impressed me. The company really takes safety seriously. Unlike some other products, this isn’t simply a converted walking harness. Kurgo uses the same type of engineering design used by rock climbers who rely on buckles and tethers to keep them safe.

That said, because it has a ring on the front chest plate, the Kurgo Enhanced Strength Tru-Fit Harness works like a no-pull harness and turns your pup around if he does try to tug you along. For the all-important fit, you simply measure the dog’s neck and chest girth.

trufit-s.new-04

Image courtesy of Kurgo.

Fit for a Jumbo-size Magical- or Bravo-Dawg

I enjoyed having five places to adjust fit on Magic. However, the neck band at its smallest girth still ran loose on my GSD, but the company offers instructions how to make a DIY adjustment that worked like a charm. It’s also machine washable–kewl! Price ranges according to size, starting at $22 for the little guys and going up to $32 for the largest harness.

The chest pad reduces stress on the trachea and sternum and in the case of dangerous crashes, this spreads the force across the dog’s chest to reduce injury due to localized impact. The harness comes with a carabiner to attach the harness to your car seatbelt system. There’s also a 10-inch dog seat belt tether to allow more range of movement. Bravo inherited the harness and it also fit him (with adjustments).

pet car safety

Magic was a car-riding maniac. Image Copr. Amy Shojai, CABC

How Pet Car Safety Crash Tests Worked

The Kurgo Enhanced Strength Tru-Fit Smart Harness and its steel Nesting Buckles has been tested in both tensile strength, static line test, and finally in a crash test using a sled test (see video, below).

Dog Harness Crash test videos show a 50-lb dog (dummy) traveling at 30 miles per hour. They conducted and recorded the tests at the University of Michigan, an accredited National Highway and Transportation Administration lab, using Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 213 for child restraint systems.

Magic weighs nearly 90 pounds so I wouldn’t expect the test dog at this weight to be the same result. And nope, I NEVER had a crash with Magic (or Bravo) in the car. However, it’s the best option I’ve found for big dogs while on the road.

What About Pet Travel Safety for Cats?

For pet owners of smaller cats and dogs, the absolutely best safety tip I can offer is to secure your small pet inside a carrier and seat belt the carrier into the back seat. Wolko recommends placing the carrier on the floor in the back seat, which works well for the smallest carriers.

As with harnesses, there are no required tests or standards that define “safe pet carriers.” Plastic can shatter, metal can buckle, so conduct due diligence in choosing your carrier. Remember that air bags that go off have enough power to crush and severely injure or kill a small pet.

For big dogs like my Magical-Dawg that won’t fit in a carrier, I have him secured behind a dog gate so he doesn’t try to drive. Now I can also secure him with his Kurgo harness. That keeps him out of my hair and from trying to push the gas pedal, too.

pet car safety

Images courtesy of CPS

Center for Pet Safety Studies: Update

“After our findings in 2013 [on harness safety], we were eager to continue working to bring accountability to the pet products industry, while highlighting the products that will help improve safety for the entire family during their travels together,” said Lindsey Wolko, Founder and CEO of Center for Pet Safety.

The 2015 Crate and Carrier Crashworthiness Studies evaluated leading crates and carriers advertised as crash tested and/or recommended for a vehicle. They used no live animals during these tests. Instead, the tests employed specially designed crash test fake dogs that approximated the size and weight of real dogs.
pet car safety testMany manufacturers claim their products are crash-tested, safe and even protective for your pet, but today there are no substantiating tests or standards in the U.S. The data gathered from these studies will assist CPS in formulating crate and carrier testing and performance standards. Learn to train pets to accept crates in this blog post. They evaluated four crates and eight carriers, and on July 24, 2015 CPS announced that three top products emerged in the tests:CPS-Subaru-5-300x200

Winners Of the Tests

TOP CRATE: Gunner Kennels G1 Intermediate with 8’ Tie Down Straps

TOP CARRIERS: PetEgo Forma Frame Jet Set Carrier with ISOFIX-Latch Connection and Sleepypod Mobile Pet Bed with PPRS Handilock

The full product performance report studies can be found at CenterforPetSafety.org. You can also now look for the logo (on the left) for products that have been certified safe by the Center for Pet Safety.

Kurgo Seat Cover

I am not being compensated for writing this post. Kurgo provided me with a free seat cover in exchange for an honest review. Kurgo is not responsible for the content of this article. Image courtesy of Kurgo.

Seat Cover to Protect Cars

I received the Universal Fit Kurgo Bench Seat Cover for my Toyota Camry, list price $45. My first impressions were the material is soil resistant canvas with a plastic backing to make it waterproof. It comes in either charcoal or tan, and looks very nice.

There’s a Velcro-close pocket in the seat back and front bottom of the seat, supposedly for doggy storage items. There also are Velcro openings for seatbelts to come through, important when using the Kurgo Harness or another crash-tested product to keep your pet safe. It’s recommended to hand wash with cold water and mild detergent or on “gentle” with front load washing machines, and to hang dry.

This is a great product for keeping hair, mud, or other bodily insults like diarrhea or vomit from car sick dogs off the car upholstery. Because it is a “universal” size, for my car the fit is loose and slides around a bit. There are elastic tie-downs for each bottom/side of the seat, and elastic loops to hook over each headrest. Essentially, the cover hangs from the headrests and drapes over the seat. An exuberant pooch could get it scrunched up.

That said, for cars with back seats that fold down, the additional back-of-seat attachment would augment security. The Kurgo Bench Seat Cover is a solid and quality option for toting your dog around. Be cognizant of size differences and read the reviews on the site, since different car “benches” may not fit as well as others.

Do you use a harness, crate or carrier in your car when traveling with your pets? What about dealing with the mess, do you have a seat cover? How often do you take your cats and dogs for car rides? Shadow-Pup channels his Magical-Dawg predecessor and loves car rides. How about your pets? Do tell!

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I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? NOTE: Some links to books or other products may be to affiliates, from which I may earn a small percentage of sales, but I do not recommend anything unless I feel it would benefit readers. Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Puppy Proofing Tips: How to Keep Puppies Safe

Last summer, about the same time as Bravo’s cancer diagnosis, a stray puppy showed up. Shadow answered prayers we didn’t know we made. Sometimes God answers prayers in advance. So we once again needed to puppy proof the house.

puppy proofWhen we lost our 11-year-old German shepherd Magical-Dawg and 22-year-old Seren-Kitty within three months of each other, the sadness ambushed our emotions for weeks and months. It also haunted Karma-Kat, and he slept with Magic’s collar for a week between bouts of crying, increased clawing and other attention-seeking stressful behavior.

We wanted another pet, and my husband specifically wanted a puppy. After more than a decade with only adult pets, we took pains to prepare for the arrival and integration of our Bullmastiff baby dog. We puppy proofed the house. But Shadow took us by surprise. We repeated most of the same puppy proofing steps from when Bravo-Dawg arrived. That kept everyone’s stress levels low, and the whole family happy and safe. Here’s what we did for Bravo, Karma, and most recently, Shadow-Pup.

puppy proofing3 TOP PUPPY PROOFING STRESS BUSTERS

PUPPY PROOF DOG TERRITORY, CAT TERRITORY

Bravo arrived weighing 39 pounds at 12 weeks of age. He’d spent all his life outside with seven adult dogs (including his mother), seven siblings, and two cats. They’d already taught him pretty good dog and cat manners, thank goodness, but we still needed to control Bravo’s territory.

By the time Shadow showed up, Bravo weighed 123 pounds and adored Karma-Kat (the feeling was mutual). Thankfully, but the cat and Bravo enjoyed other dogs, and willingly put up with puppy antics. We have no history of Shadow’s experience, but he had excellent manners toward Bravo, and showed proper puppy deference. He wasn’t as polite to Karma, though.

introduce dogs to catsPet gates in the kitchen created a “puppy central” home base for Shadow. The gates also have smaller “cat doors” in the barrier’s bottom so that Karma continued to have access to the area. For safety, we never leave them unsupervised.

Slate floor in the kitchen proved easier to clean after the inevitable puppy accidents.

Private dining & sleeping in the large crate gives Shadow privacy to eat away from thieving cat paws and Bravo distractions. It also gave the other pets a respite from puppy antics.

The cat continues to have free access to the rest of the house, and especially the master bath where he’s fed on the counter out of reach of thieving dogs. We also locate Karma’s litter box in the bathroom for kitty privacy.

Shadow blessed Bravo with happiest of times during his last months with us.

In the evenings, when all eyes can watch the pets, we spend time together in the living room. Using a strap barrier product (The Door Buddy) gives Karma-Kat access through the bedroom door but prevents Shadow from entering.

Finally, the three cat trees provided for Karma give him elevated territory out of puppy nose-poke range. He can easily escape to safety, if need be, and lounge without stress in the same room as a rowdy dog baby.

TOOTHY TARGETS: PUPPY PROOF PUPPY CHEWING

Puppies chew. It’s in the puppy bill of rights. When puppy proofing, anything at puppy tooth level becomes a potential target. I recommend investing in knee pads and crawling around your house to get a puppy-eye-view of danger zones. Since living with dogs and cats for so long (cats chew, too!), most of our dangerous items were already out of harm’s way.

We rolled up door mats and stored them away, as well as large accent pillows. Otherwise, Shadow turned them into chew toys. We stowed any storage boxes behind closed doors. Afte

Dog dental treats benefit tooth health

Magic as puppy chewing dental treat.

r we learned Bravo could reach countertops and shred mail, we found a new place to store bills. Even Shadow-Pup learned to reach dish towels left too close to the edge of countertops.

We relegated cat toys to Karma’s domain to avoid dogs eating catnip mice or sparkle balls. My husband’s socks proved irresistible, and despite our best efforts, Bravo ate (and urped up) whole socks more than once. Shadow doesn’t eat them but will gnaw holes. Having a puppy turns one into a better housekeeper–or else!

PUPPY PROOF DOG AND CAT TOYS

We provide Shadow with lots of toys helps to keep him excited and happily focused on legal targets.  He’s now 16 months old and 26 pounds, and his toy preference has changed along the way. After Bravo passed away (nine months after his diagnosis), Shadow-Pup inherited many of his favorites.

Small soft plushies he snuggled a month ago now end up gutted with stuffing all over the floor. These days, he prefers more rigid chewies like pig snouts and stuffed hooves. We provide also him with lots of puzzle toys that offer treats when he “wins” the game. His favorite is the Kong Wobbler, which I use to feed him one of his meals. This toy has tooth marks from Magic, Bravo, and now Shadow, making it extra special.

A new puppy means turns people into vigilant caretakers. Shadow finds new toys everywhere, so bathroom doors now stay latched to prevent toilet paper theft, toilet lids stay lowered to prevent bob-the-toy games, and books or other paper get stored on high or behind solid doors. Predicting problems helps prevent – and reduce – potential stress, so that we can concentrate on the tail-wagging smiles Shadow brings.

For more information on pet proofing for holidays, check out this blog post.

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