How to Find Lost Pets

April 23 is National Lost Dog Awareness Day. Last night, we had both thunderstorms and New Year fireworks, and I know some scared pets ran away. Also, with our Shadow appearing as a lost baby I wanted to remind folks on tips to find lost pets. Now, chances are he didn’t get lost on his own, but for many adult dogs and cats that get scared, they run away from the scary stuff.

Whether it’s summer fun, or winter vacation, we often want to include our pets in the adventure. Nothing stops the fun faster than lost pets, so it’s vital to create a pet-safe plan. Thanks to the ASPCA for the fun infographic that can save you heartbreak. Read on for more tips to prevent pets going AWOL and how to find a lost pet.

WHY LOST PETS RUN AND HIDE

Fireworks offer great fun for us—and not so much for the pets. In fact, you can go to this blog for a tips post about dealing with fireworks fears in pets. But what happens if your scaredy cat or dog has already taken off, and gotten lost? A rash of lost pets almost always follows fireworks fun. A safe enclosure and proper fence (learn more here) can help prevent tragedy.

lost pet

Panic leaves no room for thinking. A terrified dog may run for miles, while a cat may hide nearby under the back porch–but remain frozen, unable to cry for help. Pets that may be friendly around you and the house may become so scared, they refuse to come to strangers–or respond to you, because they’re so darned scared.

How can you find lost pets if your dog or cat does the doorway dash or escapes the backyard fence? Even experienced pets may not have a clue how to find their way home, and puppies and kittens are at even greater risk of being injured by cars or picked up by well-meaning people who find them. According to the ASPCA, nearly one in five lost pets go missing after being scared by fireworks.

lost pet

IDENTIFY YOUR PETS!

Identification is vital for happy reunions. Thankfully, today there are many options for providing identification for your pets. Besides microchips (Shadow-Pup and Karma-Kat have microchips), you can also invest in tracking collars to keep tabs on your pets. You can learn about one such service on this blog post. That technology had a big role in my pet-centric thriller series, to track down lost animals.

Microchips contain detailed information about your pet in a tiny rice-size surgical glass capsule. It’s placed beneath the pet’s skin similarly to a vaccination. Most pets don’t even notice. Once the dog or cat details are registered to that specific microchip, pet parents can access the information. That’s invaluable should your pet be lost or stolen, because shelters, veterinarians and rescue organizations can “scan” for the chip to reunite you. Some of the best-known microchip sources include HomeAgainAKC Reunite and Avid.

lost cat

HOW TO FIND LOST PETS

VISIT THE SHELTER. People often take strays to the local shelter. Don’t call and ask about a missing Great Pyrenees puppy. Baby dogs often look different from adults of the breed, and the shelter staff may not always know recognize your verbal description. You should visit several times to see if somebody has turned him in, and don’t take the staff’s word for it–insist on eyeballing the dogs. Your white fluffy baby may have rolled in the mud and now look brown, and you’re in the best position to recognize your furry wonder.

ID YOUR PET. July 1st is ID YOUR PET DAY…but this is important all year long. It’s ideal to have your pet wear some type of identification. Up to seventy percent of animals that arrive at shelters have no identification, and as a result a great percentage are euthanized. A metal or plastic tag with your contact information attached to the dog or cat’s collar offers the simplest method of identification. A rabies tag serial number with clinic contact information also helps. People can call the clinic, where they look up the serial number to identify the pet and his owner. Tattoos and microchips are also common and effective forms of pet identification.

BE SPECIFIC. Avoid describing pets as a Labradoodle or “whatever” cross when the combination can vary. Will other folks know what a “silver shaded tabby cat” looks like? (HINT: that’s my Karma-Kat…) Offer specifics: curly chocolate color fur, one ear up and one down, 45 pound neutered male, floppy (or erect) ears, docked tail — answers to “Spiffy” and dances and spins when you say “wanna cookie?”

lost pet cryingTELL THE WORLD

VISIT THE NEIGHBORHOOD. Alert your neighbors to be on the lookout for a lost pet. Kindly pet lovers may take in a friendly stray and watch for “lost” ads in the newspaper before taking them to the shelter. Go door to door, and ask permission to check out buildings, under porches where frightened dogs or cats might hide or become trapped in an infrequently used garage. Holidays, when neighbors leave town, may mean the pet becomes trapped and not noticed for days or weeks.

ADVERTISE. Make posters or fliers to leave with neighbors or at the shelter that includes several photos documenting a close-up of the face, full-body shots from both sides and the back, and any distinguishing marks. Lots of folks have a Labrador or Golden Retriever or calico cat but yours may be the only one with three pink freckles in a triangular pattern on a white tummy. Check with local newspapers about posting “lost pet” notices–often they do this for free. Use social media. Facebook friends and twitter followers organized to spread the word about a lost furry wonder to help reunite lost pets.

TRACKING SERVICES

TRACK HIM DOWN. Search and rescue dogs trained for years to find missing people lost in disasters, or that have wandered off due to illness or simply becoming confused. Today, specially trained dogs also are available to track down missing pets. One example is Dogs Finding Dogs, but you may find similar organizations in your neck of the woods. One time when Karma-Kat got out (EEEEEK!) and he wouldn’t come to us, we put his best friend on a leash, and Magical-Dawg used his excellent tracking skills to find his cat-buddy.

Cats also can track missing pets. And lost cat behavior differs from lost dog behavior. Refer to this excellent resource to become familiar with lost cat behavior, provided by expert Kat Albrecht (yes, that’s her name!). She also has cats that track missing cats. Felines’ ability to climb, and to access tinier spaces that much bigger tracking dogs make them an ideal choice in some situations. In fact, I used the concept of tracking cats in my latest thriller HIT AND RUN, based on this information.

Because a pet’s scent can fade over time, it’s important to contact a tracking dog organization for help as soon as possible. You’ll be asked to provide the pet’s favorite toy, a blanket or brush that smells like him for the tracking dog to scent and know what he’s looking for.

 

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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 recommend nothing unless I feel it would benefit readers. To stay up to date on all the latest, just subscribe to the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pets Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give-aways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Win Or Lose by Amy Shojai Releases January 2

I’m excited to announce the release of my 6th thriller WIN OR LOSE in my September and Shadow THRILLERS WITH BITE series. It’s available on all Ebook platforms and in trade paperback.

WIN OR LOSE: A September & Shadow Thriller #6

“Colorful characters, including the unusual perspective of Shadow the dog, make this series an enjoyable read for any animal lover.” ~Toby Neal, USA TODAY Bestselling Author of the Paradise Crime Mysteries & Thrillers

ADVANCE PRAISE FOR AMY SHOJAI’S WIN OR LOSE!

  • “If I could give this book more than five stars, I would. I loved this book! For everyone that loves dogs, cats and a fast moving mystery, this is a book for you.” ~Wanda S.
  • “This story has so many twists and turns it made me dizzy and the suspense was intense. I could not put it down!” ~Julie Y.
  • “A fast-paced thriller with the endearing pet roles. This page turner will keep you glued to the book…it’s riveting.” ~Petra H.
  • “This is not a cozy, though it does show great relationships between animals and their humans. I read the first two books in this series a few years ago and enjoyed the thriller action as well as the viewpoint of the “good dog” Shadow.” ~Jacque S.

 A kidnapped girl. A merciless killer. Can this stressed-out dog trainer stop a callous murderer claiming innocent lives?

September Day can’t shake her mounting wedding-planning angst. Too overwhelmed to pick up a dropped-off shelter dog she once trained, she finally leaves the house to check in on a missing vet clinic employee. But when she gets there, she’s terrified to find the girl’s brother hanging on the edge of death and the poor young woman abducted.

Discovering the hound got dumped by the same vicious criminal, September and Shadow race out of town on a dangerous rescue mission. But when a body surfaces and the kidnapper seizes more victims, September fears she may be too late to prevent further bloodshed.

With the clock ticking against them, can September and Shadow deliver justice?

Win or Lose is the riveting sixth book in The September Day thriller series. If you like engaging heroes, fearless animal companions, and non-stop action, then you’ll love Amy Shojai’s page-turning tale.

Read more about the writing of WIN OR LOSE in this interview on TheBigThrill.

Buy Win or Lose to play a deadly game today!

Read about the NAME THAT PET winners who appear in the WIN OR LOSE book. Each of the four winners will receive a print copy of the book once it releases (Paws crossed for good mailing karma!).

DOG WINNER! Nothing slows down Lefty, the Great Pyrenees, nominated by Linda.

Cat Winner! Tigger, nominated by Crystal. A second “Tigger” (huge black and white tuxedo) was nominated by Rose. STORMAGEDON (not pictured) was the Cat Runner-up in the contest!

DOG WINNER RUNNER-UP! Kami, the German Shorthair Pointer helped her injured person Nancy get home, and recover during healing.

 

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I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. NOTE: Bling, Bitches & Blood sometimes shares affiliate links to products that may help you with your pets, but we only share what we feel is appropriate.

Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? 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!

2022 New Year Goals–from the Pets

Each year, rather than making New Year resolutions, I plan for goals—and hope that the journey along the way proves equally rewarding. Rather than say, “lose weight” I instead want to strive for good health. All plans for the past two years flew out the window, though.

Our family came out the other side quite bruised, after first losing Bravo-Dawg in March and then my 93-year-old Mom in October. Still, we’re better off than many others. I treasure my resilient family–my husband, y’all know as “M,” my brothers and their families, including a delightful great nephew and great niece, and my young-at-heart 94-year-old artist father.

We have high hopes for 2022—and the hope shines strong in part because of the special pets of our past, our present, and sometimes the surprise pets that show up when you need them most.

It’s also become a tradition to take stock of the past year from a pets’-eye-view, and the year to come. Throughout the challenges, our pets keep us laughing even through tears. Look for the surprise blessings that bring joy despite the heartache. So here are New Year Pet Goals from Karma-Kat, Shadow-Pup, and a couple from the spirits of Bravo-Dawg, Magical-Dawg, and Seren-Kitty, with commentary by Amy.

2022 New Year Goals–from Magic

New Year goalsMagical-Spirit: “I will remind my humans daily to cherish each joy, and remember me with smiles.”

Amy: He loved fetch clear up to his last day with us, and found joy in every sniff, sound, treat, touch or game. I take it as a message to us to lighten up…and even wrote a song about him (someday I’ll get it recorded). So my new year pet goals include being more like Magic and to pay attention to everyday miracles of the touch of soft fur, smell of rain in the wind in my face, to find music in every brash or quiet sound, relish each taste whether tears or treats, and open my eyes to every glorious sunrise, storm cloud and rainbow in my life.

2022 New Year Goals–from Seren

Seren-Spirit: “I will remind my humans to ignore pesky aggravations like cat-brothers, stare down intimidating challenges (even if they’re 15 times your size like Magic), and find a sunny place to doze in every situation.”

New year resolutionsAmy: Seren remained in charge, the Queen of the house, to her last breath. A bit of a curmudgeon despite her tiny size, Seren ran our house and hearts with a benevolent paw. Read about her Christmas gift here… She never let arthritis stand in the way of a smidge of chicken, constantly reminded Karma who held the sharpest claws, and taught Magic—and her humans—what aging gracefully means. My new year pet goals include living like Seren, focusing on goals rather than roadblocks, to stop complaining about age (not everyone gets the blessing of a long life), and give myself permission to turn off work and take a sun-puddle nap.

2022 New Year Goals–from Bravo

bravo hope for 2021Bravo-Spirit: “I will visit Amy in dreams to remind her that now I always catch the RED-DOT-DEMON. And I get to play bity-face tooth-fencing with the spirit of a special German Shepherd Boy who sometimes lets me win. And I miss treats, but don’t need them anymore, but I always cherish and live on because of the memory of our love.”

Amy: Bravo began the year after successfully completing all his chemo, and remained a gentle, goofy sweetheart despite losing 21 pounds (and his right front leg) due to cancer–we thought he beat it. During his months of treatment, he kept his boundless energy. Bravo moved as fast with three legs as four, and let nothing stand in the way of a good time—especially lap-cuddling, chasing cats, or wresting the Shadow-Pup. The day after he passed, Bravo returned to me with a slurp across my face, and stayed long enough for me to see him whole, healthy, and happy. So my new year pet goals include letting nothing get in the way of enjoying life–spending time in the garden, creating and enjoying music and stained glass, sharing laughter with family and friends, and treasuring even the sad memories that leave tear-tracks of past joy on our hearts.

2022 New Year Goals–from Karma

Karma-Kat: “I will stalk and tease and pounce on Amy’s feet, play “gravity experiments” on tabletops, take towel-surfing rides across the carpet, rattle window blinds, paw-dig at the TV screen, and wrestle and tooth-fence with Shadow-Pup, what fun! Oh, and eat treetz, lotsa treetz.”

Amy: Karma always loved his dog brothers–and was rescued by Magic. When Bravo got sick, Karma worried over him, snuggled down next to the big dawg’s painful shoulder. He stopped his teasing while Bravo recovered from his amputation. Karma didn’t appreciate Shadow-Pup at first. He finally decided if Bravo liked the pup, he must be okay. He now teases and wrestles Shadow to get him in trouble. Having a pair of rowdy pets zooming around the furniture offers treat entertainment for them. Shadow and Karma sleep together each evening. But Karma needs more one-on-one games, too, where he doesn’t need to compete with the cat-food-stealing pup. More new year pet goals are to play interactive chase games with Karma each day, and add more bird feeders and baths by the windows for better cat-TV fun he craves and deserves.

2022 New Year Goals–from Shadow

Shadow-Pup: “I will play-play-play, chase Karma up the cat tree, catch him and play squish-the-cat. And I will slurp away Amy’s tears when she’s sad, and do head-stands in her lap, and zooooooooom around the fenced yard! Then I’ll do it again. And again. And …”

Amy: Shadow appeared, a dumped puppy, at our front gate on May 31st ten days after we found out about Bravo’s cancer. During a time of unrelenting fear and anxiety, this joyful puppy brought boundless fun into Bravo’s pain-filled world. And gave us all hope. Like most pups, he has no off-switch and his “escapes” have brought us some scary moments. Last year’s goal included a secure fence for a safe play area. And this year’s new year pet goal continues the project, updating the landscaping and including a memory garden for past pets. He’s also as smart as Magical-Dawg. We also intend to invest in the “talking” buttons to see what Shadow-Pup has to say (I think Karma-Kat may also throw in a few words).

Some Final 2022 New Year Goals–from Spirit-Pets

Magic-Spirit, Seren-Spirit, Bravo-Spirit: “We will train Amy that there’s more to nine lives than paw-tapping and staring at a boxy computer-thing. Like catnip, and whisker-kisses, lap snuggles and ball-tug games. And we will train Amy that playing with pets is more fun than anything else. AND we will train Amy that there’s no such thing as too many treats–or of love that ever ends. But time together—however long or short the time—is the best thing of all.”

Amy: My ultimate New Year pet goals are to listen to my furry muses. What about you?

PAST NEW YEAR POSTS:

I started to delete these, and then decided to save them here. After all, some of my furry muses commented on these posts.

New Year 2021

New Year 2020

New Year 2019

New Year 2018

New Year 2016

New Year 2015

New Year 2014

New Year 2011

New Year 2010

 

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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!

Fear of Fireworks & Thunder? How to Calm Pet Noise Fears

Does your dog fear fireworks? What can you do for a cat or dog scared of fireworks? What about earplugs for dogs? Cats aren’t immune so New Year’s celebrations, Memorial Day (or graduation hijinks), July 4th fireworks, and thunderstorms can turn pets into shivery bundles of fur when BOOMS, bright lights, or even wind and rain noise fill the sky. Pets can be scared of all kinds of loud noises, and I get asked for advice all the time.

I share this information twice a year in time for July 4 fireworks, and the New Year fireworks. With the holidays winding down, and a new decade looming, it’s still important to pay attention to pet safety. Check out these holiday safety tips that work other times of the year, as well.

Noise Fear A Common Problem

Up to 20 percent of dogs fear noises, and pets scared of thunder also fear fireworks. The typical reaction is to hide or run away from scary noises. More pets become lost on July 4th than any other day of the year. Fireworks fears can destroy your fun holiday celebration, when pets panic, break through windows or escape fences. Learn how to find lost pets here.

scared dog Trembling, crouching, and lip licking can be signs of fear.

I’ve got my furry wonders microchipped, and they wear tags on their collars. But in order to be found, the pet has to be willing to come to a stranger. Terrified pets don’t think. That part of the brain shuts off during panic, and cats may dash through doors or scale fences. Frantic pups pull down window blinds, collide with screen doors or crash through windows, while others simply shiver and moan.

Even safely contained pets feel worse with each noisy boom. You may not see quivering scaredy cats, but the stress from noise phobia increases risk of hit-or-miss litter box behavior. Find out more about cat fear here. It’s vital to learn how to calm thunder phobias and noise fear in pets.

scared cat Scared cats crouch and may hide under the bed.

6 Ways to Calm 4th of July Noise Phobia

There are several ways to help reduce noise and fireworks fears in dogs and cats.

  • Behavior help with counter conditioning and desensitization
  • Happy smells with pheromone therapy
  • Comfort clothes that snuggle the pet
  • Muffle the noise
  • Training & brain games to distract
  • Antianxiety medications

Behavior Help for Dog Fireworks Fears

It can take weeks or even months for desensitization and counter-conditioning techniques to teach fearful pets that noises won’t hurt them. Behaviorists recommend desensitizing pets by exposing them to recorded sounds of the scary noise played at a very low volume and rewarding him for staying calm. Gradually, you increase the noise level, to help the pup “get used” to the noise–desensitize him–so he can learn to tolerate it.

Densitization programs for fireworks fears and storm phobias are not particularly realistic for most pet people. Pets suffering from storm phobias also may react to the sounds of rain. Even the sensation of humidity or barometric pressure can trigger behavior problems, and you can’t do much to control humidity or barometric pressure.

If you start counter-conditioning your fur-kid as a baby, it can help him stay calm during all kinds of scary noises, from thunderstorms and gunshots to fireworks fears. I’ve done this with both Magical-Dawg, Bravo, and even Karma-Kat. Each time the loud noise caused a “startle” or flinch reflex, I threw a  PUPPY-PARTEEEEE! And I’d exclaim, “WOW, WAS THAT LOUD, WHAT FUN!” and treats rained down everywhere.

Happy Smells to Calm Dog Thunder Fear

Comfort Zone with D.A.P. (dog appeasing pheromone) is an analog of the pheromone mom-dogs produce to calm nursing puppies. It calms the fears of dogs of any age, from puppy to aging oldster. Pheromones are chemical substances made by the animal’s body that act as a form of communication that, when inhaled by your dog, talks directly to his brain. It comes as a plug-in product, or spray that can be spritzed on a collar or bedding.

The Sentry Calming Collar for cats also employs a pheromone that calms fears in nursing kittens and works on any age cat. Cats also benefit from Comfort Zone with Feliway. That’s an analog of the cheek pheromone that tells cats their environment and territory is “safe.” Feliway also comes as a plug-in or spray. For sensitive cats, getting them “drunk” on catnip or silvervine-type products may help reduce kitty fear.

july 4 Get kitty “drunk” on catnip…

The nice thing about pheromone products is they won’t “drug” your dog or cat into a magic cure. It instead helps put a damper on fear long enough to “think” so that your behavior modification/training techniques can work. You’ll need to have the pet wear the collar or have the product plugged in for several days in advance for it to offer your dog or cat the best benefits. When the weather report indicates thunder in the offing or fireworks are scheduled, plan ahead with these products.

Comfort Clothes to Calm Dogs Scared of Fireworks

Fearful cats and dogs may instinctively look for tight-fitting cave-like places to hide. They often squeeze between furniture and the wall, and dogs try to hide their eyes in your armpit. This applies a comfortable “hug” pressure sensation that seems to calm them, so let your pet seek his own shelter. If kitty dives under the bed, leave her alone. Shut the door and be grateful she’s not outside running for the next county!

Another option is The Anxiety Wrap that applies even pressure to the dog’s body and helps him better manage his stress. A similar product for both cats and dogs that applies pressure is the Thundershirt Jacket for Anxiety. They make these now for cats, too, and the snug vest helps pets calm down during stressful events. Your pet may also benefit from a weighted blanket to snuggle under.

Some dogs benefit from the Storm Defender Cape that reduces static electricity from thunderstorms that prompts some behavior problems. In addition, the Calming Cap seems to help some pups through stressful, anxious situations by hiding their eyes. A new product called The Rein Coat combines a harness, rain-shedding properties and calming relief for anxiety, fear, and aggression and fits dogs (and cats) from 5 pounds to 250 pounds. Because each Rein Coat is custom fitted, it’s a bit pricier than other options.

thunder fears Dogs frightened may not know how to find their way home.

Muffle the Scary Fireworks Noise with Earplugs for Dogs

Cover up the sound with white noise. Use a white noise machine or a radio tuned to static works well.

Play soothing music. Certain types of music can prove calming, by “entraining” the pet’s heart, respiration, and brain waves to slow down and match the soothing rhythm. Harp music has a unique sedative effect on pets because the rhythms and sounds mimic brain waves and help calm the fear. Harp music may prompt you to nap, too. I’m a fan of PetPause.

earplugs for dogs Ear protection for dogs can help muffle the noise of fireworks.

Earplugs for dogs that mask the sound may also help. My veterinarian once told me that when a client’s dog went crazy after they moved near a gun range, the phobia calmed during treatment for an ear infection because the thick ointment muffled the sound. He suggests cotton balls or earplugs as a temporary solution to help muffle the noise. Ask your vet to show you how to safely place anything in the dog’s ears, though, so you don’t damage the pup’s hearing and plugs are easily removed after the upsetting sounds subside. I wouldn’t attempt this with cats, though. Rebecca Sanchez says CrittEar products work great for her furry wonders!

Earmuffs designed for dogs are another option. Hearing protection for dogs can help, but you will need to get your dog used to wearing such things in advance of the noise.

Calm Fireworks Fears with Training Games

If you engage the doggy brain, your pet won’t be able to think and perform obedience commands and panic at the same time. If he has a special toy, ask him to find the ball, or play fetch. Maybe offer a treat-stuffed puzzle toy to reward your dog for staying calm.

The best option is to prepare weeks or months in advance and counter-condition fearful pets to potentially scary noises so they learn to associate something good–a happy game or car ride–with it instead of fearful feelings.

Engage The Brain

The brain can’t think when in a state of panic. But the opposite holds true as well—when thinking, the brain won’t go nutso and turn your pet into a shrieking escape artist. So just before the fireworks start, drill your dog—or your cat—on favorite commands and tricks with lots of special yummy rewards or games. Continue the games throughout and throw a happy-dance party for him staying calm.

Dogs can’t panic when using their brain for something else such as “work” so give your dog a job to do just before and during the thunder and lightning display. Drill him on obedience commands and special tricks, or ask him to play fetch and carry around a favorite toy. That engages his brain into productive activity rather than thinking about the scary noises.
lost cat

Reduce Noise Phobia With Medication

Avoid giving your dog or cat a sedative, because it won’t reduce his fear. He just won’t be able to do anything about it, which can make his anxiety even worse. Your vet may prescribe anti-anxiety medication based on your individual pet’s needs which may also help with separation anxiety.

Supplements containing CBD oil may prove helpful to reduce fearful behaviors in dogs. Just do your research to be sure the product is safe for your pets. Learn more about CBD oil for pets in this article.

A natural supplement of melatonin may help–a substance similar to a chemical produced in the brain that helps regulate sleep. Melatonin helps reduce the panic attacks in noise-phobic dogs, but it won’t sedate the pup. It lasts several hours with a cumulative effect over several days. Plan ahead for known scary events like 4th of July. Find products with Melatonin in health food stores, pharmacies, and some supermarkets. Always check with your veterinarian for the proper dosage for your size and breed of dog.

Make It A Safe Holiday!

Whatever you do, be sure that your precious pet stays safe. Bring outdoor pets inside the garage or the house during the July 4th or New Years Eve celebration. Provide a crate or confinement in a pet-proofed room.

Move horses into securely fenced areas—or better—barns that will safely contain a frantic animal without the chance of injury. And just in case, microchip all your precious pets or have other permanent and reliable identification for recovery if they do the desperado dash when the rocket’s red glare fills the sky.

Just as car rides soothe human babies, a road trip may soothe pets that enjoy the car and take their mind off the noise. Just be sure your cat or dog LIKES car rides. Safely secure him in a carrier or restraint in the back seat during the ride.

Find many more tips on dealing with fear in the books ComPETability (Dogs) as well as ComPETability (Cats).

Do your dogs — or cats — become terrified over fireworks or storms? How do you manage the problem? What has worked for your pets? I hope you’ve never lost a dog or cat but if you have, what steps did you use to be reunited? Please share–it could save somebody else heartache.

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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!

How To Give Pets As Gifts

Giving pets as gifts prompts discussions every time the subject comes up. Most recently, we got our “gift puppy” and “gift kitten” when they adopted us, and we’re so glad Karma-Kat and Shadow-Pup are part of our holidays. But for many folks, this year means a new puppy or new kitten for Christmas. Learn how to gift pets–and please share your experiences in the comments!

puppy with ribbon

Pictures courtesy of Deposit Photos

The professionals used to say that the holidays were a TERRIBLE time to get a new pet–that impulse adoptions could leave the cat or dog without a home after the cute-holiday-thrills wore off. More recently, though, the ASPCA conducted some surveys and discovered that when done properly, these adoptions can be lasting, loving adoptions. So I had to re-think my advice.

Holidays tend to be hectic times when normal routines go out the window. Whether a baby, adult or senior rescue cat or dog, new animals need the stability of knowing what to expect. In fact, some holiday schedules may allow you to be home more during this time to help the new kitty or pooch adjust.

Holiday pets take more work, true. But just think: you’re not only giving the pet to a person—you’re giving a special human to a waiting cat or dog, a fur-kid hungry for a loving, permanent home. Happy holidays, indeed!

Everyone who adores puppies and kittens wants to share the furry love affair but not everyone is ready to receive puppies as gifts. Maybe the recipient will appreciate your thoughtfulness. But don’t gamble with a pet’s life.

Sure, Grandma is lonely and needs a wagging lap-warmer to keep her company. But she may have other plans, such as visits to the grandkids. Will the new kitten climb the Christmas tree and land in kitty jail? A puppy that eats Aunt Ethel’s hat collection will cost you favorite nephew status. A busy new parent may want a pup or kitten for their kids, but have other demands that take priority.

small cute kittenGiving Puppies and Kittens As Gifts

Before you put a bow around his neck, ask yourself these questions. Will the new owner have the time, ability, and funds to care for the dog or cat over the next 10 to 20 years? Is their space better suited for a Chihuahua, Persian or Great Dane? Do they already have a fenced yard? Will Uncle Jim’s knees keep up when hunting with that Pointer pup? Does your mom really want to chase Junior Cat off the mantel every day?

Children delight in pets as gifts but living things can’t be shoved under the bed and forgotten when the latest must-have-kid-gadget has more appeal. Remember—even if Fluffy is for the kids, the ADULT ultimately holds responsibility for the well-being of the pet. Will the child’s parents have the time to spend on one-on-one attention a new pet needs, and deserves? Be sure that the recipient truly wants and is ready for a puppy or kitten.

pet proof holidays to keep pets safe

Be sure to PET PROOF your decorations for the new baby!

I Want A Puppy/Kitten!

What if the kids, your spouse, Aunt Ethel, or a best friend have made it clear they want a furry wonder, are prepared for the responsibility and feel ready RIGHT NOW for a furry loved one in their life? You’re sure, and so are they. What can you do?

The time, the place, the person, and the pet must be right for love to bloom into a lifetime commitment. The selection should be made by the person who will live with, care for, and hopefully fall in love with the baby for the next decade or more. You still want the recipient to make this important choice, so give them that gift. Here’s 6 tips for giving pets as gifts.

6 Steps for Giving Pets As Gifts

  • Plot With Professionals. Contact the professional breeder, shelter, and/or rescue organization and explain the situation. Ask them to conspire with you—arrange to pay a deposit, or fund the purchase FOR the recipient, with the puppy or kitten to be chosen later. Perhaps also pre-pay puppy clicker training classes for the new family member, or fund the cost of the kitten’s first veterinary visit.
  • Avoid Puppy Mills. Those cute babies sold in some retail environments are born and raised in horrendous conditions. The ASPCA urges you to know what you’re getting, and pledge to avoid supporting that awful system.
  • Go Shopping. Create a “puppy or kitty care package” for the big day. Fill a puppy bed with treats, food, training and grooming equipmenthow to give pets as gifts and lots—lots!—of appropriate toys. Don’t forget to include a book or two about the pet’s breed, training or behavior tips, or other fun information.
  • Get Creative. Why not make a “gift certificate” that details this special surprise, and have that ready to present on the big day. Perhaps it could be packaged inside a pet carrier, or in an envelope attached to the collar of a stuffed St. Bernard or Siamese Cat toy.
  • dog life coverTake Your Time. Holidays can be hectic when normal routines go out the window. New puppies and kittens–even newbie adult pets–need the stability of knowing what to expect. But you can “gift” with the certificate on the special day, and the recipient can choose the best time to bring the pet home. Hopefully you also have the fun of accompanying the person later, when they choose their own furry wonder.
  • Keep Them Safe. Be sure to “pet proof” your holidays.

When you do it right, gifting with a pet can be magic. You’re not only giving the pet to a person—you’re giving a special human to a waiting fur-kid.

Have you ever given–or received–a pet as a gift? How did you prepare? What was the result? Please share! I’d love to hear your experiences.

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