Money-Saving Tips for Traveling With a Dog – by guest blogger Nick Burton

As dog owners, our canine companions enrich our lives in many ways, and it can be heart-wrenching to set out on a trip without them. Luckily, we don’t have to say “bye” if we make the right preparations. If you’re a dog owner who is planning to travel, these money-saving tips will help ensure that you and your pup have the best experience possible.

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Photo Credit: Unsplash

Reserve a Pet Sitter

Traveling with your dog provides a great opportunity to spend quality time together in a new and exciting place. However, that doesn’t mean they’ll be able to join you for every single activity during the trip. For the times when you must leave your pup behind for a bit, it’s important that they’re not alone, as it can cause them severe anxiety. That’s where a pet sitter comes in. Research area pet sitters that fits within your budget and can keep your dog company. Just make sure the person is reputable and trustworthy.

Pack All the Things

 The more stuff you pack for your dog, the more comfortable they will be and the less you will have to buy when you arrive at your destination. Be sure to bring along the essentials:

You can find many of these items for a good price from online retailers like Amazon. When you place your order, use a promo code for Amazon.com to knock the price down even more.

Strategize the Destination

Choosing a destination for you and your pup may take a little more work than if it was just you. Not only do you have to make sure it’s a place where you can have fun and relax, but you also have to consider your dog’s needs as well. Wherever you decide to go, make sure there are dog-friendly activities within a reasonable distance. For instance, if you plan on dining out quite a bit, you’ll want to make sure there are dog-friendly restaurants around. You also may want to look for open spaces where they can safely run and play. Dog parks and beaches that offer pet-friendly areas can be great options at no cost to you.

Strategize the Lodging

 Along with your destination, you’ll want to consider your dog’s needs as you choose the lodging during your trip. One of the easiest ways to do this is by searching online for pet-friendly hotels. However, if you already have lodging in mind (e.g., a hotel, bed and breakfast, vacation home, campground, etc.), you can contact the facility and ask about their pet policy. You can typically find pet-friendly places to stay wherever you go; you’ll just need to make sure you understand the rules. Once you’ve gone over the pet policy, be sure to abide by the guidelines so that you, your dog, and the other occupants can all enjoy your time.

Warm Your Pup Up to Traveling

Another budget-friendly way to plan your trip with your dog is to warm them up to whatever mode of transit you’ve chosen. For example, if you’re driving and your pup is not used to riding in a vehicle, take them for some short trips in your vehicle to break them in. If you’re flying or taking a train or bus, take them to the airport or station and let them see and smell the surroundings. Also, if you’re using a travel carrier, having them spend time in the carrier and lining it with some of their bedding before you leave can help them get comfortable with it.

Traveling with your pup can provide a lot of quality time together. Just be sure to hire a pet sitter if you have to leave your dog behind for an activity, and pack all of the necessary supplies. Keep your dog’s needs in mind when you choose your destination and lodging, and try to ease them into the traveling process. The extra time and effort it takes to plan a trip with your dog will prove well worth it when you’re enjoying a new place together.

NOTE From Sue: These tips can apply to any pet that goes traveling with you.

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Asthma and Pets

In a new study conducted by the Nationwide Children’s Hospital, if parents and children follow the NAEPP (EPR-3) guidelines for asthma control in children, pets and secondhand smoke does not increase their symptoms. This is important to those people who love pets because it means that a family does not have to get rid of a pet if a family member develops asthma.

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This is also important because if a child suffers from asthma, a pet can be a big comfort to them if the asthma interferes with other activities.

However, it is important to work with your health care provider and follow the NAEPP (EPR-3) guidelines. The study shows that asthma treatment is more important than exposure to elements in the environment.

Pet Health Insurance

I am often asked by clients if they should purchase pet insurance. This is a tricky question for several reasons however, I have a few suggestions that might help you decide if pet insurance is right for you.

 

  1. Can you afford the premiums. Most pet insurance policies are flexible as to the amount of coverage that you can carry, the deductibles and what they cover. To help make that decision you can consider the following questions.

 

  1. Is your type of pet prone to illnesses? Certain breeds of dog are more likely to have genetic illnesses than others. The same is true for cats and other pets. Will the pet insurance cover the illnesses most likely to affect your pet?

 

  1. What is your pet’s lifestyle? If you are active with your dog, horse or other type of pet, or if you cat is an indoor/outdoor cat, your pet may be more likely to have an injury.

 

  1. If your dog is a larger breed of dog, he may be more prone to inherited problems such as canine hip dysplasia which can be corrected with surgery.

 

  1. If your pet is prone to a certain disease or inherited issue, find out what treatment costs then compare it to the estimated years it will take for the illness to manifest itself and see if the insurance is worth the cost.

 

  1. Consider the life span of your pet. Most pet insurance rates go up as the pet ages. Some insurance will not cover your pet after a certain age. Of course the most likely time you will need the insurance is in your pets old age when coverage may not be an option.

 

  1. Consider a personal savings plan to cover catastrophic health issues. If you take the projected life span of your pet and the amount of the yearly insurance fee, then multiply it, you will get an idea of how much the insurance will cost over the life of your pet. What you can do is set up a separate savings account and either yearly or monthly, deposit the amount that insurance will cost per year, and do not touch it for any reason. In all probability you will save enough money to cover any medical bills that your pet will have, especially if your pet is healthy into old age. If you do not need the money set aside for your pet by the time your pet passes, you will have money to put toward the new pet.

 

I hope I have given you some helpful suggestions. There is a good web site that can help you review different pet insurance companies if you decide that is the way to go.

https://365petinsurance.com/reviews/

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Homemade cat food

In the first of its kind study by researchers at the University of California, Davis they found that the recipes found on-line, even those written by veterinarians, did not meet the nutritional needs of cats. Some lacked proper instructions, did not clearly identify the ingredients and some even contained products that are toxic to cats.

 

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According to the article, about a decade ago toxic substances were found in cat food that was imported from China. This caused cat owners to stop using commercial cat food and switch to homemade food. (The same happened with dog food.)

The researchers point out that it is OK to feed your cat commercial foods. I suggest that you google sites that evaluate all brands of cat (or dog) foods to see which the best is. Avoid any food that is not made in the US and especially food that comes from China and possibly other countries. Since there has been contamination of produce for humans that originates from Mexico, I would be concerned if any pet food ingredients originate in Mexico as well. This is just my opinion. Keep in mind that the smaller the pet, the less toxic substances it will take to make the pet sick or cause death.

A possible cause of endocrine disorders in older cats

Dr. Miaomiao Wang, of the California Environmental Protection Agency has published a study of older cats in Northern California that suggested a link between higher levels of per and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) substances in cats with hyperthyroidism.

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PFAS is found in chemicals that are used in industrial processes and consumer products. These chemicals are found in many household products such protective coatings for carpets, furniture and apparel, paper coatings, and  insecticide formulations, just to name a few products.

More research is needed but it is a good idea to keep this in mind. If there are health issues from this chemical in cats, we have to suspect dogs as well. Dogs are more likely to chew these products than cats are.

Do cats respond to their name?

Professor Toshikazu Hasegawa from the University of Tokyo with Atsuko Saito, Ph.D., who is currently an associate professor at Sophia University in Tokyo conducted a study to see if cats recognize their own name. The researchers felt that since cats are not as social as dogs and other mammals, that they may not respond to their name the way more social mammals do.

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What they found is that cats do respond to their name if their owners use the cat’s name often. It is interesting that previous research has shown that cats do distinguish between their owner’s voice and a stranger’s voice, can follow a person’s pointing finger to find hidden food, and may change their behavior depending on their owner’s facial expressions.

In my experience I have successfully taught my cats to come when called, sit and stay and do other things. This required that they understand and respond to their name as well as other words. I am glad that some researchers are looking into ways to validate the intelligence and abilities of cats. As for cats not being social in my experience some are very social, and some are not so social. I have owned cats that behaved more like dogs than cats. More research needs to be done.

Do animals grieve the loss of a loved one?

There are many people who have seen what appears to be a grieving process in their pet when a loved one, human or animal, dies or otherwise leaves the home.

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I personally have seen this in both my dogs and cats from time to time. There are no set rules about how a pet will grieve, but the owner or caretaker will see a change in the pet’s behavior.

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Some signs are:

Panting, pacing, whining, fidgeting, weight loss due to a loss of appetite, becoming clingy when the pet was not that way before, wanting to touch another pet or person more than normal and a general sad behavior. I have had pets look for the lost companion, and generally mope around the house.

I have had more than one dog bond with another dog only to have to re-home the dog or the dog dies. Some people let the pet that is alive see the dead pet. They claim this helps. In my case I have often replaced the pet that passed.

The most dramatic incident that I have witnessed was something that I still cannot explain. Our Rottweiler Dempsey, had hip dysplasia and seemed to be in quite a bit of pain. I called our veterinarian and arranged to pick her up on my lunch hour to take her for x-rays. When I took her out of the front door, our Border Collie, Ness,  did something he never did before or after that incident. When I closed the front door, he threw himself at the door and screamed in a way I had never heard a dog do. I was puzzled since I had taken the Rottie to the groomers on a number of occasions in the same manner, picking her up on my lunch break and taking her for a bath, especially the time she got skunked. So the Border Collie had experienced this before.

Unbeknownst to me, she had very bad bone cancer and upon examining the X-ray, the veterinarian called me at work to tell me what he found. Her thigh bone was completely perforated, and the cancer had spread, so we decided she needed to be put to sleep. How did the Border Collie know? He was not the same after losing his buddy.

About a year later, we picked up another puppy that a friend had brought for me from France. We had the Border Collie with us at the airport when we went to pick up the new puppy. As my husband carried the puppy to the car, the Border Collie gave him a look that would have killed. It was as if the Border was saying, “How could you bring another dog here.” The story had a happy ending because it did not take long for Ness  to accept the puppy and they became fast friends.

What makes it difficult is that we cannot explain to the pet what has happened and why. We have to let them work out their grief in their own way and in their own time.

What we can do to help our pets when they grieve is to be there for them. Try not to change their routine. Let them cuddle if that is what they need. Give the pet extra play and exercise if possible. And in some cases a new companion may be the answer.

It is important to understand that all animals have feelings similar to ours. They understand that someone is missing. In cases where there is a sudden death of a person, the pet may not realize that they are gone right away. This is true if the person spent days away from home due to work or regular vacations. In time the pet will realize that the person is not coming back. That means the caretaker(s) of the pet, or the family left behind must keep an eye on the pet to watch for signs of grief which may not show up right away.

If the family is grieving the pet will react to that and it may be difficult to tell if the pet is grieving or reacting to the emotions of the people around him which can make his own grieving stronger.

There is no easy answer or solution to the problem of pet grief. Although it is a common phrase that is true, time will help, time will heal.

Maternal separation affects rat’s brains and changes adult behavior

Associate professor of psychology Christopher Lapish at the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis School of Science has shown that if a baby rat is taken from its mother for 24 hours when the baby is nine days old, it changes their behavior as adults.

The study showed that there was memory impairment and less communication between brain regions as well as other neurological changes in the rat’s brain. Rats that were separated showed significant behavioral, biological and physiological, brain abnormalities in adulthood.

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The findings in this study have a bearing on humans as well. According to co-author Brian F. O’Donnell, professor of psychological and brain sciences at IU Bloomington, “children exposed to early-life stress or deprivation are at higher risk for mental illness and addictions later in life, including schizophrenia.”

This research is also supported by the findings that if kittens are taken from their mothers before they are weaned, they tend to show more aggressive behavior as adults. I know that children who are taken from their mothers at birth and put up for adoption have a higher rate of attachment disorder as a result.

Because rat brains have similarities to human brains, this study can lead to further findings. It would be interesting to study the behavior of all animals that are bottle fed by humans and even those that are fostered with a different mother to see if there are differences in their behavior from those that are raised by their birth mother.

Munchausen by Proxy for pets

Although it is rare, veterinarians should be aware of Munchausen by Proxy since it can involve pets.  To understand Munchausen by Proxy it is necessary to understand the Munchausen disorder.

Munchausen is a mental illness that involves faking, producing or prolonging an illness. People who have this disorder will go to great lengths to hide it. It is important to note that this disorder does not include faking illnesses to get out of going to work, winning a lawsuit, and it is not the same as hypochondria where the person actually believes that he is sick.

Munchausen by Proxy is when the mentally ill person fakes illnesses in a child, elderly person or pet to gain sympathy. There is not much data on Munchausen by Proxy in pets, but by understanding how it manifests itself in humans; a veterinarian may be able to detect it when it involves pets.

Here are some of the characteristics of this disorder:

The illness does not fit the classical picture

The Illnesses do not fit well together or do not relate

The caregiver is too helpful

The caregiver is often involved in the medical field

Complications can arise from the injuries

There are dramatic stories about the medical problems

Frequent visits to the doctor/veterinarian

Vague symptoms

Inconsistent symptoms

Conditions that worsen with no apparent reason

Eagerness for testing and surgeries

Extensive knowledge of medical terms and conditions

Frequenting many different medical professionals

Made-up histories

Faking symptoms

Self-harm or inflicting harm

Preventing healing

The persons most likely to have Munchausen disorder are those who:

Experienced a childhood trauma including sexual, emotional or physical abuse

Had a serious illness in childhood

A relative with a serious illness

Poor self-esteem or identity

Loss of a loved one early in life

Unfulfilled desire to be in the medical profession

Work in the health care field

According to the statistics, more males and young or middle-aged people are most likely to have Munchausen disorder.

What should you do if you suspect that your client has this disorder? First try to diagnose the illness in the pet with tests to be certain that it is real. Go for a cure rather than treat symptoms.

Talk to your pet’s owners and being aware of the symptoms listed above.  Listen to your gut feelings if they tell you that something isn’t right.  Most people try to second guess themselves when their first reaction was correct. If you suspect that a client may have Munchausen by Proxy you can alert your local animal cruelty organization. Munchausen by Proxy is a form of cruelty. It is better to be safe than sorry.

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A way to preserve a loved one’s ashes

I have boxes of ashes from quite a few of my pets. Because we move so often, I did not want to bury them and then have to leave the ashes behind. I investigated a pet cemetery and the cost was prohibitive. Then I came across another option for those of us who have lost a beloved pet, or a family member.

The ashes can be incorporated into a beautiful glass object. It can be any type of object that you wish, something for the mantel, desk, dresser, curio cabinet or even a piece of jewelry. The size, shape and colors are limitless. The process does not require a lot of ashes, so you can scatter, bury or spread most of the ashes and keep some in a glass object. I hope this will help some of my followers. Glasslight Studios can send the glass anywhere in the world.

For more information contact, Glasslight Studios, PO Box 310, St. Peters, PA, 19470, or email them at glasslightstudio.com@gmail.com or go to www.glasslightstudio.com

The photos are examples of some of the objects that they have made.

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