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Informative Articles

Here's where to find up to date information on the care and feeding of your pet, new products, events and specials. 

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Heat Advisory 2017

Posted on July 19, 2017 at 12:45 AM Comments comments (0)

Summer is here. It’s the time of year when we want to pile the kids and pets in the car for a road trip. Or perhaps you just need to run some errand and no one wants to be left behind. Think twice before loading up the entire family. Of course everyone wants to go but do they need to go? Our pets always want to be with us but we can show our love for them by leaving them at home.

You would think that an article like this would be unnecessary but every year when the temperatures rise there are more stories about children and pets left in hot cars to perish. If you are familiar with the facts, remind someone who needs a refresher.

It only takes a few minutes in the summer heat for things to go horribly wrong. A quick trip to the store for that “one thing” can last a lot longer than you think. Personally, I can never get out of the store with just “one thing”. As items get added to your list, the minutes tick by. And what happens when you run into your neighbor and stop for a word? Sure, your conversation only lasts a few minutes but add that to your growing grocery list and you’ve easily been away from your vehicle for twenty to thirty minutes. 

It takes only minutes for a pet left in a vehicle on a warm day to succumb to heatstroke and suffocation. Most people don't realize how hot it can get in a parked car on a summer day. However, on a 78 degree day, temperatures in a car parked in the shade can exceed 90 degrees -- and hit a scorching 160 degrees if parked in the sun!

Even when the outside air temperature is in the 60s, temperatures inside some vehicles can reach the danger zone on bright, sunny days. Many experts recommend not to leave pets or children in parked cars even for short periods if the temperature is in the 60s or higher.

Rolling down a window or parking in the shade doesn't guarantee protection either, since temperatures can still climb into the danger zone. And if the window is rolled down sufficiently, the pet can escape.

Want numbers? An independent study showed that the interior temperature of vehicles parked in outside temperatures ranging from 72 to 96° F rose steadily as time increased. And cracking the windows doesn't help.

Elapsed time Outside Air Temperature (F)

70   75   80   85     90     95

0 minutes 70   75   80   85     90     95

10 minutes 89   94   99   104  109   114

20 minutes 99   104 109  114  119   124

30 minutes 104 109  114 119  124   129

40 minutes 108  113  118 123  128  133

50 minutes 111   116  121 126  131  136

60 minutes 113   118  123 128  133  138

> 1 hour 115   120  125 130  135  140

Temperatures can exceed 100 degrees in moments. Factor in humidity/heat index and results are more horrifying. Consider that the average daytime temperature in Arkansas this time of year is typically in the mid to upper 90's. Is it really worth the risk?

Symptoms of overheating in pets can include increased heart and respiratory rates, drooling, and excessive panting. Particularly at-risk populations include animals with flatter faces (such as pugs, bulldogs, and Persian cats), elderly or overweight pets, and animals with previous heart or lung conditions.

Love your pet enough to leave them home. If they must go, plan well so that there is no instance when your beloved pet might have to be left alone in the vehicle.


Ticks, Summertime Pest

Posted on May 16, 2017 at 3:35 PM Comments comments (0)

Just about every pet owner living in Arkansas knows at least a little something about ticks. Any time our pets spend time outdoors, there is the chance that they may come into contact with the pesky buggers. After the mild winter we had, this year is shaping up to be a bad one for the pests.

     Ticks are external parasites that live on the blood of mammals, birds, and sometimes reptiles and amphibians. Dogs and cats can pick up ticks from almost anywhere, but most commonly from walking in tall grass or woods, where they can lie in wait for months. Ticks belong to a different group of parasites (arachnids) and are related to mites, spiders and scorpions. The most common ticks in the United States include the brown dog tick, American dog tick, Rocky Mountain wood tick, deer tick and Lone Star tick.

     Ticks feed on many different animals during their life cycle, including rabbits, squirrels, opossums, dogs, cats, cattle, deer and humans. And for that reason, ticks are very good at transmitting disease: they feed for long periods of time, take in large amounts of blood and are usually distributed over wide areas of the country.

     Ticks can carry an array of harmful diseases that can infect your pet and their bites can cause reactions and irritations that will make your dog uncomfortable and unhappy. But it’s not just your pet you need to worry about – ticks aren’t picky! Not only will ticks attach themselves to your pet, they also like humans, and the diseases that they carry can affect you too. Although tick bites can become infected the main concern is that they are vectors (a disease carrier) and transmit both bacterial and viral diseases.

     They can transmit Lyme disease, the number one vector-borne disease –– a disease transmitted from one host to another by an insect or arachnid ––of humans in the United States. Ticks may also carry Colorado tick fever, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and a number of other diseases. You should protect yourself and your pets from ticks year-round, particularly if you live in the country or rural areas; or if you walk your pet near wooded areas or places with tall grass. Ticks are most active in the warmer months, from April to September.

     The milder temperatures and increased humidity in the summer provide ideal conditions for survival and increased reproduction rates for these problem pests. Also, pet owners and their pets are more likely to encounter fleas and ticks during warm-weather strolls or outdoor events. Fortunately, there are many safe and effective flea and tick preventive products that can help us control these parasites.

     Ticks are repelled with DEET or Permethrin. Use repellents that contain 20 to 30 percent DEET on exposed skin and clothing for protection that lasts.

     Over the counter spot-on medicine (Like K9 advantix II) can be bought from your retail pet store and should prevent ticks from biting your pets. To get the most effective treatment, follow the repeat application procedure at the set time. Some medicines last for up to 3 months, but in the summer, or if your pet is particularly prone to tick bites, it’s best to use a monthly treatment.


     Using a special shampoo that contains medicated ingredients will help to prevent ticks attaching to your pets. This is a less expensive method, but you will need to repeat the process regularly. The active ingredients won’t last long!

     The CDC recommends that, if your dog spends time outdoors, check them for ticks daily. Also, check your felines, whether they are indoor or outdoor cats. You can check your pet for ticks by running your hands all over their fur. If you notice any strange lumps or bumps, carefully part the fur to examine. Be sure to check all the favorite places where there’s plenty of blood supply and not much fur – in and around the ears, on their bellies and the inside of their legs. Ticks come in all shapes and colors, usually between the size of a pinhead and a fingernail.

     Tips for tick removal:

• Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin's surface as possible.

• Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don't twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouth-parts with tweezers. If you are unable to remove the mouth easily with clean tweezers, leave it alone and let the skin heal.

• After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub or soap and water.

• Dispose of a live tick by submersing it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag or container, wrapping it tightly in tape or flushing it down the toilet.

     One of the best ways to stop your dog contracting a tick is to avoid the places they are likely to be. Ticks normally live in tall grass and woods, waiting to jump onto the first warm blooded creature that brushes past. To avoid this, try to keep your dog to paths and routes with short grass. This is unlikely to be the best solution, as we all know a dog loves nothing more than running through long grass on a hot day.

     Additional Control Measures

• Vacuum indoor carpets and solid surfaces using a vacuum with a rotating bar.

• Vacuum furniture using appropriate attachments.

• Wash bed linens, pet bedding and rugs frequented by pets.

• Mow lawns regularly.

• Clear brush, leaves and tall grass from around houses, gardens and walls at property margins.

• Stack wood off the ground in a dry location away from the house.

• Clear gardens, including remains of perennial plants, after the growing season.

• Consult with your veterinarian and a licensed pest-control specialist to assess the need to use pesticides in selected areas in and around your home.

     Follow these suggestions and keep up with regular treatment for pest prevention to ensure a healthy and happy summer. 


Preparing a Place for Your New Reptile

Posted on April 12, 2017 at 12:50 AM Comments comments (1)

Reptiles! The very word conjures up a variety of responses, ranging from “Eeeeww, gross!” to “Way cool!” Fueled in part by changes in international wildlife importation laws, the resurgence of interest in dinosaurs and increasing numbers of two-paycheck families that have less time and live in smaller spaces, reptiles have been the fastest-growing segment of the pet market. 

     When it comes to reptiles, cold-blooded is a way of life, not a character trait. Reptiles are capable of recognizing people by voice, sight and smell; many are capable of learning. Some species actually benefit from interaction with humans. When cared for properly, all live as long or longer than mammalian pets of similar size.

     There is no generic reptile. Reptiles have adapted over time to an amazing range of habitats and lifestyles, from underground to the tops of trees, from below sea level – and in the sea – to high up in the mountains. They are endlessly fascinating.

     As the guardian of a reptile, you get to learn about everything from adaptation, behavior and the environment, to nutrition, camouflage and reproductive strategies. Learning about the natural history and proper captive care of these animals just might change your world outlook and get you thinking more about the environment as a whole.

     Finally, before bringing your new reptile home, be sure that you have already set up an enclosure for it, complete with appropriate substrate, lighting, heating and furnishings. Don’t make your reptile wait until you have time to get everything together or can afford to get what he needs. (Melissa Kaplan, Petfinder)

     Reptiles – even captive-bred specimens – are wild animals who must live in a simulated version of their natural habitat. Different species require vastly different husbandry parameters, although the most important aspects to address for most species are the enclosure size, temperature, lighting, humidity and furnishings. In most cases, reptiles do not require a habitat that visually resembles their natural habitat; most merely require a cage that functions like their natural habitat.

Habitat Size

     Your pet reptile will spend the majority of his life inside his cage. Accordingly, it is important to provide a suitably large habitat to ensure your pet has enough room to get adequate exercise and to engage in typical behaviors. A cage that's too small can be detrimental to mental health.

     Different species require different amounts of cage space. As a general rule, some of the most common small reptile pets – such as (Python regius) and kingsnakes (Lampropeltis spp.) – require 2 to 10 square feet of cage space. Cages of these sizes are readily available commercially, but for larger species it may be necessary to construct your own cages. Some common pet species, such as green iguanas (Iguana iguana), water monitors (Varanus salvator) and Burmese pythons (Python bivittatus) require closet- or room-size cages.

Heating the Habitat

     Most pet reptiles require habitats that are warmer than the temperatures at which most people keep their homes. A variety of commercial heating products exist – consider heat lamps, heating pads, heat tapes and radiant heat panels, which make it possible to manipulate the temperature of your pet's cage. Whatever heating device you decide to use, place it at one end of the cage. This allows you to establish a thermal gradient, giving the animal access to a variety of temperatures.

     The warmest side of the cage – the basking spot – should be between about 85 and 125 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on the species you keep. Typically, forest- and mountain-dwelling species prefer lower temperatures than desert-dwelling reptiles do. In all cases, use a high-quality digital thermometer to monitor the cage temperatures.

Habitat Illumination

     Some reptiles do not require any supplemental lighting; the ambient light from the room is sufficient. This is true of most snakes and nocturnal lizards – especially those who naturally live under the permanent shade of a forest canopy. Conversely, turtles and diurnal lizards almost invariably require high-quality full-spectrum lights to remain healthy. These lights must not only produce bright visible light, they must also produce ultraviolet rays – specifically those in the UVA and UVB frequency ranges.

     Keep the lights on a consistent schedule by plugging them into an automatic timer. If your pet hails from the tropics, keep the photoperiod consistent all year long. However, it is wise to adjust the light schedule for temperate species to reflect the changing seasons. For example, give your North American green anole (Anolis carolinensis) about 14 hours of light in the summer, 10 to 12 hours of light in the spring and fall, and 8 hours of light in the winter.

Habitat Humidity

     Different reptile species require different humidity levels to thrive. Most species that hail from forests require higher humidity than those evolved to live in drier climates. Increase cage humidity by incorporating a larger water bowl in the habitat, dampening the substrate or misting the cage with water. The best ways to lower cage humidity are to reduce the size of the water bowl or increase the amount of ventilation in the cage.

Furnishing the Habitat

     Now that you have an enclosure with proper temperature, light levels and humidity, you must add substrate, a water dish and any furnishing necessary. The substrate's primary job is to absorb liquids and facilitate cage cleaning. In many cases, this means that you do not have to use the same kind of substrate your pet lives on in the wild. Instead, you can use paper towels, newspaper, hardwood mulch or shredded aspen. Burrowing animals require a particulate substrate, but surface-dwelling or arboreal animals often thrive on a newspaper substrate.

     Additionally, almost all reptiles require hiding places. These can take the form of natural-looking items such as hollow logs and pieces of bark, or utilitarian items like plastic tubs and cardboard boxes. You can add decorative items, such as, photographic backgrounds or faux rock walls, but these are primarily beneficial to the keeper rather than the kept. Arboreal species require suitable climbing furniture. (Habitats of Reptiles by Ben Team)

     However you decide to decorate, make sure that all items are properly cleaned and sanitized before you add them to the enclosure. This will reduce the chance of introducing bacteria and pathogens that may be harmful to your reptile friend.


Posted on March 3, 2017 at 7:20 PM Comments comments (0)

When you think of extra nutrition for your dog or cat, you may not always think of goat milk. The truth is that goat milk is a nutritionally complete food. It actually has a nutritional profile quite similar to human mother’s milk. Goat milk is generally well tolerated by humans, cats, and dogs. The American Journal of Medicine states that goat’s milk is “the most complete food known”.

     Though traditionally thought to be good for cats and kittens, cow’s milk is not. It stimulates the production of mucus and is much harder to digest. Goat’s milk, however, is easily digestible because of its’ smaller molecular size. Goat milk has been touted to counteract inflammation and contain some anti-viral properties that may benefit and enhance the immune system.

     According to Rescueguide.com, orphaned kittens should be fed goat’s milk. Over the past century, milk from cows and other species has been closely studied and analyzed for its nutrient content, as well as for specific micro-nutrients. Researchers have found that the basic composition or macro-nutrients in milk varies from species to species. Dog and cat milk, for instance, has a higher fat and protein content than the milk from most species like cows and sheep. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, because carnivorous cats and dogs differ from cows and their physiology and dietary needs.


     Goat milk, not cow milk, is actually the most consumed milk in the world. When we think of milk, we think of cows. But throughout history, people around the world have enjoyed fresh, raw and fermented milk from a variety of species including yak, camel, reindeer, donkey, water buffalo, sheep and goat.

     Often referred to as the universal mammalian milk, goat milk is now gaining popularity in the United States, for both people and our pets. Can something so simple actually be beneficial for our dog and cat’s nutrition? That’s the case with Raw Goat’s Milk!

A short list of the conditions it can help with includes -

• Skin conditions

• Allergies

• Urinary Tract Infections

• Kidney Disease

• Kidney Stones

• Cancer

• Obesity

• Diarrhea

• Constipation

• Poor Digestion

• Picky Eaters

• Anti-Cancer


     Goat’s milk contains vitamins, minerals, electrolytes, trace elements, enzymes, protein, probiotics, and fatty acids. At Safari Pets, we carry PRIMAL RAW GOAT MILK. Raw means unpasteurized. Pasteurization destroys all the enzymes, diminishes the vitamin content, denatures milk proteins, and kills beneficial bacteria. PRIMAL adds natural spices and probiotics to enhance the nutritional benefits for your pet.

Spices added to the goat milk:

• Cinnamon is added as an antibacterial/anti-fungal and can assist with arthritis and muscular inflammation in older animals.

• Ginger is added as a digestive aid and natural antioxidant.

• Turmeric is added as natural anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, detoxifier and anti-cancer herb.

Probiotics added to the goat milk:

• Lactobacillus Acidophilus– Increase immune resistance against harmful bacteria and fungi such as Candida albicans, Salmonella, E. Coli, and Staphylococcus aureus; Helps control intestinal infections, which reduces the potential of diarrhea and other infections or diseases.

• Lactobacillus Lactis: Able to synthesize both folate and riboflavin, two key B vitamins. Produces large amounts of lactic acid.

• L. salivarius- In one study printed in the American Journal of Gastroenterology (1998). L salivarius, was able to produce high amounts of lactic acid (urease) and completely inhibited the growth of H. pylori in a mixed culture; H. pylori is the main causal agent of duodenal ulcers.

• Enterococcus Facium- Provides important nutritional support in the event of diarrheal diseases, especially in cases when such pathogenic microbes, as rotavirus, invade the bowel. A transient bacterium, E. faecium needs to be replaced continually. In several studies, it has proved resistant to a wide variety of antibiotics and proved to be more effective than L. acidophilus in shortening the duration of diarrheal episodes.

     Primal Raw Goat Milk is a great tool to help with digestion but it also helps pets obtain their daily need for moisture. Dogs’ and cats’ bodies are about 65% moisture and unlike humans, they are designed to obtain the majority of their water from the foods they eat. By adding raw goat’s milk (which is 88% moisture) to the pets’ diet they will gain needed moisture as well as the benefits from raw nutrients.

     Primal Raw Goat Milk is sold frozen, and should be stored in a freezer prior to use, thawed and served within 10 days.

Let’s break down the different ways raw goat’s milk can benefit your pet!



• Digestive Issues (colitis, diarrhea, IBS, and more!): Raw goat’s milk is packed with probiotics. In fact, there are over 200 species found in raw goat’s milk. There are also prebiotics which are the nutrients probiotics need to thrive. Those, mixed with the enzymes found in raw goat’s milk help the gut to establish healthy flora (bacteria, microbes, yeast, viruses, and protozoans) that will ease digestion and help alleviate any digestive issues. Raw goat’s milk is so easily digestible, the digestive system requires little work and absorbs it within 20 minutes.

• Underweight or malnutrition: Since raw goat’s milk is a great source of easily absorbable protein (raw goat’s milk forms a soft curd which makes it rapidly digestible), it’s perfect for pets that need to pack on a little extra weight. It’s also incredibly palatable so it’s also the perfect food topper for pets that may be a little picky. Raw goat’s milk is an excellent replacement milk for kittens and puppies.

• Arthritis or other joint problems: The enzymes that also help to relieve digestion issues can also help to alleviate inflammation, swelling, and pain related to joint issues. They help speed up tissue repair and improve circulation, alleviating arthritis symptoms.

• Allergies: Raw goat’s milk contains high levels of caprylic acid. This acid helps to fight yeast that often builds up in response to allergies. Allergies can make that yeast multiply which is why a dog who has allergies will often chew at their paws, among other things. (Grain based foods and especially pet food containing corn is often the culprit here. Corn and grains often promote the growth of yeast in the system.) Also, like the good flora that gets built up in your pet’s GI system, raw goat’s milk will also help that healthy flora to establish on the skin and in the ears which will help curb any infections that often are linked to allergies. Raw goat’s milk is also a natural antihistamine.

• Cancer: Many researchers have found that carotene (or Pro-Vitamin A) contains cancer preventing properties. The milk fat in goat’s milk contains a higher evolved carotene that is readily available for the body to absorb. There is also a fat in raw goat’s milk, called conjugated linoleic acid (or CLA), that is known as the cancer fighting fat. CLA has actually been shown in some cases to shrink cancer tumors.


     Raw goat’s milk can be fed to both dogs and cats. Worried your pet might react badly due to lactose-intolerance? Pasteurization removes the enzyme lactase which combines with lactose to make simple sugars that are easy to digest. If the lactase isn’t there, the lactose remains harder to digest. If you use raw goat's milk, since it’s not pasteurized, there should be no issues. Stop by the store this week to pick up a bottle of Primal Raw Goat Milk for your pet!





PET DENTAL HEALTH (1st published 2/15)

Posted on January 13, 2017 at 5:35 PM Comments comments (0)


We all (hopefully) think about feeding our pet the best food and making sure that they have fresh water. We take them to the groomer to get their hair done and keep their nails trimmed. We talk to them and sometimes even sleep with them cuddled up next to us because we love our pets. But often, even the most loved animals suffer from serious health issues because we neglect their teeth.

Periodontal disease is the most common clinical condition in cats and dogs. The sad fact is that it is also absolutely preventable. 80% of dogs and 70% of cats have some level of oral disease by the age of 3 years. Unchecked, this can lead to more than just bad breath. The build-up of tartar, plaque and bacteria in the mouth can result in infection, severe pain, tooth loss, and even damage to the liver, heart, and kidneys.

Signs of periodontal disease include unusually bad breath, bleeding gums, throwing up undigested food (because they eat without proper chewing), increased salivation, or pawing or rubbing their face. If your pet is avoiding hard food or crunchy treats, it could be an indication of tooth pain or gum sensitivity.

Regular visits to your vet are a must. The good doctor can let you know when it is time for a dental cleaning. This procedure involves sedating your pet and removing tartar and plaque build-up on the teeth and under the gum line. There is, however, a lot you can do to reduce the problems and lessen the number of cleanings needed.

Daily brushing of your pet’s teeth can be a tremendous help in preventing periodontal disease. No, your Oral B and Aqua Fresh won’t do the trick. There are brushes made especially for cats and dogs as well as tooth paste in flavors to their liking. In most cases, gentle daily training over the course of 3 to 4 weeks will have your furry friend accepting their daily brushing. Of course, it is best to start when they are young as with any training, and consistency is key.

There are a number of dental chews and dental treats specifically designed to clean your pet’s teeth. These products can reduce plaque and freshen breath. Some also have vitamins and minerals beneficial to your pet’s health. Some toys are dental specific, designed to promote chewing and fashioned to clean the teeth. There are also dental sprays and water additives. All of these are good supplements to pet dental care. Your pet store should have a variety of these items.

We all do so many things to keep our furry family members happy and healthy. Let’s not neglect their smiles.





Posted on December 2, 2016 at 3:05 PM Comments comments (0)

Our Aging Pets: Hip and Joint Pain

One of the most common issues seen in aging dogs is hip and joint discomfort from normal activity and exercise. It can break your heart to see the pet you love in pain. Older dogs, especially larger breeds, often experience joint pain just doing their normal daily activities.

     Causes of hip and joint discomfort in dogs vary. Aging is one cause but do not think that a young dog cannot suffer from joint pain. Some dogs develop hip and joint issues as early as six months of age. Most dogs will develop some joint discomfort by the age of twelve. In many cases, degenerative joint issues affect the hips specifically. Sometimes it is due to abnormal conformation and misalignment of the hip and thigh joints. The cartilage around the joint wears away faster than it can regenerate. The joint will become swollen causing stiffness and pain. Dogs experiencing pain of this type move less, adding to the problem. Long term stress on a joint due to injury is another possible cause for pain. Poor immune function can also contribute to pain related problems. And of course, overweight pets suffer greatly from joint issues.

Some signs that your dog may be experiencing hip and joint pain:

• Difficulty rising from a sitting or resting position

• Reluctance to take walks of usual length

• Stiffness (that may seem to go away once he gets going)

• Problems climbing stairs, getting into the car, or hopping on to furniture

• Limping

• Licking a specific joint

• Soreness when touched or even the rare case of aggression when touched

• Acting withdrawn, not wanting to play or interact with family as much as before


     There are several things you can do to assist your dog in keeping that bounce in his step. Feeding a high quality, premium food is a good start. It will provide the nutrition your dog needs to maintain good overall health and immune function. Do not overfeed or be too generous with treats or “people food”. This can quickly lead to an overweight pet. As our dogs age, they may slow down a step. You should continue regular exercise, even if you have to opt for a walk instead of a run. The time spent with your pet is precious to them and will go a long way in promoting overall good health.

     There are supplements that you may add to your dog’s daily routine that can alleviate pain and joint problems. A high quality fish oil supplement (omega 3 fatty acids) support the functions of joint and connective tissue. When choosing a fish oil, whether in liquid or pill form, make sure it has been purified to remove any toxins. Oils that are not purified may contain contaminants like mercury which can, over time, damage the nervous system.

Other natural supplements which are beneficial to your dog’s health may include:

• Glucosamine – a natural compound found in healthy cartilage, supports healthy soft tissue

• Boswellia – used for centuries as an anti-inflammatory

• Green-lipped mussel – a natural source of Omega 3 fatty acids

• Turmeric – beneficial as a strong anti-inflammatory, has excellent antioxidant properties

• MSM – considered a building block for cartilage repair, enables cartilage to soak up water and act as a cushion for bones

     Our animals rarely complain, even when they are in pain. It is up to us as responsible pet owners to make sure that their basic needs for health and longevity are met. With proper care, feeding, exercise and supplementation, our pets can stay healthy and happy for many years.


Can My Dog Catch the Flu?

Posted on November 13, 2016 at 9:05 AM Comments comments (0)


Flu season is upon us once again. Every doctor’s office and pharmacy has posted the signs reminding us to get our flu shots. But what about Fido? Does your pooch need a flu shot? Can dogs even get the flu? The answer is yes. Your dog can get the flu, but not from you.

     Canine influenza, H3N8, or dog flu is real but you can’t catch it. It is a contagious respiratory infection which can be spread through respiratory secretions like panting or sneezing. It may also be passed around when your dog comes into contact with contaminated objects or people. To prevent the spread of the disease; toys, feeding and water bowls, bedding or humans who have been exposed to an infected animal should all be washed and disinfected before making contact with healthy animals.

     Symptoms of canine flu are similar to kennel cough but instead of a dry cough, it is a moist cough. It may be accompanied by fever, runny nose, lethargy, loss of appetite, and respiratory infection. The majority of canine influenza cases tend to be mild and are treated with supportive care. This may include antibiotics and fluids to prevent dehydration. Veterinarian Shari Brown explains. “Just like human flu, we will treat with antibiotics to help protect against secondary infections. With the severe form, dogs show signs of fever and pneumonia. These dogs sometimes have to be hospitalized. ”Most dogs recover in two to three weeks if no secondary infections develop.

     There is a H3N8 vaccination that can help protect against certain strains of canine influenza. The best way to prevent the dog flu is to keep your pet away from infected animals. Also be sure to clean and disinfect clothing, surfaces, and hands if you feel you have been exposed to an infected animal.

     Keep in mind that although we tend to have a flu season during the colder months, canine influenza can occur year round.



Posted on October 12, 2016 at 4:05 PM Comments comments (0)

Halloween Safety for Your Pets


Halloween can be a fun time for the whole family. That includes the family pets. Dressing up in costumes and going door to door collecting candy or staying home to pass out candy to the throngs of ghosts, goblins, and super heroes that come to the door may not be as much fun for the family pet as you imagine.

     The sights and sounds of Halloween may be frightening to your dog or cat. Strange noises and costumed strangers parading through the neighborhood may cause fear or agitation. Halloween decorations including pumpkins and corn can be a health hazard for dogs and cats. And as we should all know, candy is not for pets. Ingestion of your sugary treats can cause anything from tummy aches to death in your fur babies. Here are a few hints to help you keep your pets safe and healthy during the Halloween holiday.

     If the trappings of this noisy holiday tend to make your pet extremely anxious, the best thing for them and you may be to crate them or designate a room just for them until the festivities are over. If you choose to let them participate, take precautions for their safety.

     Halloween decorations and plants can be a hazard. Though non-toxic, ingestion of too much pumpkin or corn can cause gastrointestinal upset. The last thing you need during a Halloween party is a dog with vomiting and diarrhea. Now that would be scary! Also watch out for fire hazards. Keep pets well away from open flames such as candles or jack-o-lanterns. Curious cats or dogs can singe off their whiskers or knock them over and start a fire. Glow sticks solve the problem of the open flames but may present other hazards. Dogs or cats may choke on chewed plastic. Also the contents of glow sticks can cause pain and irritation in the mouth. Watch for mouth pain, excessive drooling and foaming at the mouth.


     Costumes are fun. And there is nothing cuter than a Westie in a tutu or a Yorkie dressed as a hot dog. Just be sure your pet enjoys dressing up as much as you do. Try the costume out a few days in advance to make sure that everyone will have a good time. The ASPCA warns; “For some pets, wearing a costume can cause undue stress.” They recommend that if you dress up your pet for Halloween, “make sure the costume does not limit his or her movement, sight, or ability to breathe”.

     Candy. Candy. Candy. Most pet owners know that chocolate can be very dangerous for dogs and cats. It is not the only treat that may prove dangerous for your pets. Candy corn and other high sugar candies can cause severe gas and diarrhea. High sugar content can cause pancreatitis, which might not show up for two to four days. Chocolate contains methylxanthines, similar to caffeine. This may cause vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy or agitation, increased thirst, elevated heart rate, and seizures.


     Just because it is healthier for kids does not mean it is good for pets. Raisins and other grape products can cause severe kidney failure. And sugar free gum, candy, and baked goods may contain xylitol. Xylitol is a sugar substitute that is very hazardous for pets. Xylitol can cause a severe drop in blood sugar within moments of ingestion. Pets may become lethargic or unable to walk. Xylitol can cause seizures, liver damage and potentially fatal liver failure.

     And it is not just the ingredients in Halloween treats that may cause problems for pets. Wrapped candy may be a hazard because plastic and foil wrappers can cause choking or intestinal blockage that could require surgery. Bite sized hard candies and lollipop sticks may also cause choking or obstruction in the gut.

     Finally, make sure your pet has proper identification. The strange sights and sounds of Halloween may cause your pet to become frightened and bolt out the door. Finding them is much easier when they wear proper ID.

     In case of accidental ingestion of decorations or candy call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Poison Control Center (888-426-4435).

     Enjoy a safe and Happy Halloween.



Posted on July 7, 2016 at 11:35 AM Comments comments (0)

Arkansas summers can be brutal with temperatures easily reaching triple digits. Every pet owner must be vigilant in watching out for our furry and feathered friends. Animals can sustain brain damage or die from heatstroke in just a matter of minutes in excessive temperatures.

   Although we love our fur babies and want them with us all the time, it is irresponsible to take them anywhere you might have to leave them in the car for even a moment. It is much better to have them pine away for you in the AC at home.

   Hyperthermia/overheating can occur whenever a pet is trapped in an environment that overwhelms their ability to cool themselves by panting. This might be a car, the beach, a kennel or crate in a hot area, or an Arkansas back yard with insufficient shade. Some pets are more susceptible to the heat than others. Pets with compromised upper airways have a harder time removing heat from their bodies. These include any of the flat nosed breeds such as bulldogs, pugs, Pekingese, or Persian cats.

   “When temperatures outside range from 80 to 100 degrees, the temperature inside a parked car in direct sunlight can quickly climb to between 130 to 172 degrees.”(Center for Disease Control and Prevention)

   “Never leave your pet in a parked car when the outside temperature is above 70 degrees. Not even with the windows part way down, not even in the shade, not even for a quick errand. Dogs and cats can’t sweat like humans, so they pant to lower their body temperature. If they’re inside a car, recycling very hot air, panting gives no relief, and heat stroke can happen quickly.” (Michael Dix, DVM, Medical Director, Best Friends Animal Society)

   Signs of heatstroke in dogs may include restlessness, excessive thirst, thick saliva, heavy panting, lethargy, lack of appetite, dark tongue, rapid heartbeat, fever, vomiting, and lack of coordination. If you think your dog is suffering from heat exhaustion or heatstroke get them in an air conditioned environment if possible. Provide plenty of cool (not cold) water to drink. Spray with or immerse in cool (not cold) water to bring their temperature down gradually.

   Cats may also suffer from the heat. Shaving your cat does little to help beat the heat and a close trim may leave them with no protection from overheating and sunburn. Brushing your cat more often helps remove loose or dead hair and can help prevent overheating.

   When spending time with your dog or cat this summer also remember how hot the pavement may get. When air temperatures are at 87 degrees, asphalt can reach 140 degrees. Burns and blistering may occur at 150 degrees. In Arkansas summer heat pavement, parking lots, and sidewalks can easily reach dangerous temps. Test the pavement yourself before putting your dog or cat down. Take your walks early in the morning before everything heats up or late in the evening after the cool down.

   Ferrets, Guinea Pigs, rabbits and any other of our caged pets will appreciate a frozen water bottle placed into their cage for them to lean against when the temperatures rise. Keep the cage out of direct sun, on the floor where it is coolest, and in a well ventilated area. Marble or ceramic tile placed in the cage for them to recline upon helps keep them cool. Provide them with fresh cool water twice a day. Give them plenty of fresh veggies to munch on to aid with keeping them hydrated.

   Rabbits, especially can benefit from a thorough brushing to remove excess loose fur from their coat. Also, rabbits dissipate heat through their ears. Gently mist with water to help them chill.

   Birds may also suffer in extreme temperatures. Birds have no sweat glands. They cool themselves with rapid breathing through the mouth and holding their wings out to the side of their bodies. Keep the cage out of direct sunlight in a well ventilated area. They need fresh water for drinking and bathing. Circulate air with a fan in the room but not blowing directly on them. You may also mist your feathered friend with water.

   The main thing to remember is that if you are hot, they are hot. You can go to the fridge for a cold drink and go to the pool. Out pets rely on us to keep them safe and comfortable.





Anxiety and Your Dog

Posted on June 13, 2016 at 5:30 PM Comments comments (0)

Anxiety and Your Dog

Anxiety is common among dogs for a variety of reasons. Separation anxiety and travel anxiety are just two examples of things your pet may find upsetting. Sometimes situational, sometimes based upon personality, anxiety may be expressed in several ways. Anxious behaviors include, but are not limited to:

• Excessive whining, barking, howling

• Unusual aggression

• Withdrawal, trying to escape or hiding

• Excessive energy, panting, shaking, trembling

• Excessive licking or grooming

• Panic attacks

• Changes in potty habits (When I was a kid, we had a poodle who peed on my mother’s pillow whenever she thought we left her too long.)

• Some engage in destructive habits as well; chewing or destroying clothes, shoes, carpets, furniture, even walls and doors

Many anxieties and phobias can be helped through training and conditioning. Separation anxiety is the most common fear/anxiety among dogs. For pack animals, like dogs, being alone is not a natural state. Separation anxiety (the fear of being left alone) is extremely common and can often be improved or even eliminated by gradual conditioning to being alone with positive reinforcement. However, some dogs are simply anxious in their general disposition, or they need help calming down enough before training can even begin. For these dogs, there are a handful of natural solutions you may try. They still need training, too; there is no magic fix for fearfulness and anxiety.

When considering treating your dog for anxiety, it is important to know the source of the fear. Separation anxiety is often (but not necessarily always) the result of a history of abandonment, having multiple owners, rehoming, or previous neglect. (Sometimes they just really miss you.) Is your dog anxious about being left alone? Being confined? Is the anxiety caused by loud noise, or travel, or sudden changes in his environment or routine?

Some dogs have phobias of certain objects, types of people, or specific situations. The source greatly informs the treatment. For example, calming music might help a dog with separation anxiety, but won't do much to help a dog who has anxiety about walking in crowded places. There are pharmaceuticals available from veterinarians, but to minimize medicating your dog and experiencing any potential side-effects, try other options first. Medication should be used only as a last resort in severe cases.


Just as exercise is a great stress reliever for humans, so it is for dogs. Exercise accomplishes a couple of things when helping a dog deal with anxiety. First, it stimulates the production of serotonin, that feel-good chemical that we humans also get when we work out or go for a hike. Second, it gets rid of pent-up energy and tension that can exacerbate anxiety. Burning off all that extra energy can go a long way toward reducing anxiety or nervous tension. A lively game of fetch, a hike, or a long walk daily may be just what the doctor ordered.


If your dog is nervous because of certain situations, such as fireworks or thunderstorms, or even being in a crowd, then distraction can work wonders. Engaging your dog's brain in work will help him focus on you and things he knows, rather than what is frightening him. Though not a time to begin new training, it is a great time to practice things your dog already knows. Try rewarding him with treats for simple commands. Heel, sit, speak, down or other easy commands he is comfortable doing are a good place to start. Another possibility, especially for dogs who are highly food motivated, is distracting your dog with puzzle toys like a treat ball or a frozen Kong toy stuffed with peanut butter. This can also help him associate frightening things, like loud noises or strangers visiting, with highly valued rewards. (A friend of mine rescued a beautiful white German Shepherd. He had been abused and neglected. Every time she picked up the fly swat to get a fly, Gabriel would cower in fear. She would call him over and pet and love on him excessively to assuage his fear. It wasn’t long before picking up a fly swat signaled Gabriel to come get loved.)


The Thundershirt is a popular solution for dog anxiety. It is a tightly fitting garment that wraps around your dog. The idea is that the feeling of continuous pressure can help calm a dog's nerves for things like travel anxiety and, as the name implies, noise anxiety among other issues. The effectiveness of the Thundershirt may depend on when and how it is used, and the particular personality and needs of the dog.


Pack animals like dogs and cats instinctively calm down when in the presence of another beating heart. That is why getting a second pet often calms your lonely canine. Unfortunately, getting a second pet is not always an option. New puppies who have never been away from Mom and the rest of the litter often suffer greatly from the loneliness of being left on their own. SmartPetLove provides pet products that provide warmth and/or a simulated heartbeat to help alleviate loneliness or separation anxiety. These products are a vet recommended alternative to medication.

Whatever combination of training, treats, distractions, SmartPetLove, and / or Thundershirt you decide upon; spending quality time with your pooch and returning the unconditional love he shows you will go a long way towards giving him the confidence and comfort he needs to keep calm.