Alternative Pets for Allergy Sufferers

Pets are therapeutic – they boost your mood, alleviate stress and provide unconditional love. If you’re allergic to traditional four-legged friends, we have some great alternate suggestions that may be a good option, as long as you keep mold out of their dwellings!

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Simple Ways to Reduce Shedding

Think dogs don't shed as much in winter? Unfortunately, they do as their summer coats grow out and winter coats grow in. This guide can help you make sure excess fur doesn’t get in the way of your festive season fun.

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Reducing Pet Bed Allergens

Did you know your pet’s bed may be a haven for indoor allergy triggers beyond just pet dander? Well don’t fret just yet, we’ve got tips ready to help you reduce these triggers.
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Because animal allergens are sticky, you might want to remove the animal's favorite furniture and replace wall-to-wall carpet with bare floors or a lower pile carpet.

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  1. Allergy covers

    Treat your pet to a brand-new bed and protect it with a pet bed allergy cover. Look for one that is machine washable, has a zipper enclosure and is dust-mite proof. If you can find one that is waterproof, it can help to prevent mold from growing. Then, wash often to keep it nice and clean.

  2. Wash or Spray

    If your pet’s bed has a custom cover that you’d like to keep, wash it weekly in hot water (at 130° F). For other soft surfaces in your home that cannot be easily washed, like sofas and carpets, allergen reducing fabric cleaners may help.

  3. Think Silk

    The Allergy Foundation of America has certified some silk beds as allergy friendly. So be sure to look for a pet bed with a reputable allergy-friendly certification.

  4. Vacuum Regularly

    Looking to keep dust mites under control? Remember to vacuum each and every one of your pet’s favorite hiding places. Additionally, look for asthma friendly certified devices that are a bit more suitable for those with allergies since poor-quality vacuums often kick up dust.

  5. Keep pet beds out of the bedroom

    Doing so will help you combat allergens. Additionally, the use of dust-proof or allergen-proof covers on your bed, dog and cat beds will help to reduce both your exposure and theirs.

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Halloween Fun with Pets

Safe and Smart Halloween Fun for You and Your Pets
Dressing your pet up at Halloween can be highly entertaining for everyone, except your pet. The trick is to choose a costume that doesn’t bother them or make them anxious, and allows both of you to have fun.

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The colder months are a great time to attend classes with your pet, and it will ensure that you spend quality time together. You can choose between various disciplines and levels, from basic obedience training to agility classes.

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1. Costume with Caution

Choose a costume that doesn’t inhibit mobility. Pets are a little like toddlers: masks or costumes that hinder their movement aren’t safe. Think capes and decorated sweaters – even a scuba diver costume with a metal thermos as “oxygen tank.” Steer clear of small items that dangle from your pet’s costume. They might look cute, but they’re a choking hazard.

2. Same Goes for Decorating

The ASPCA warns against festooning your pet with streamers or ribbons. If eaten, they can cause an intestinal obstruction that requires surgical removal. While you’re at it, secure the cords to your animated decorations: dangling wires and cords can cause cuts, burns and electrical shock.

3. Consider Daytime Pet Partying

More and more communities are organizing late-afternoon “trunk or treat” activities, where families trick-or-treat from car to car in church or school parking lots while it’s still light. It’s as great for pets as it is for kids. Traditional nighttime trick-or-treating to houses and people your pets don’t know can be disorienting.

4. Try Fake-o-Lanterns

Consider filling your jack-o-lanterns with flameless LED candles, since kittens and puppies can be drawn to real flames. You’ll minimize the risk of singed fur and property damage and, as a bonus, they’re reusable and don’t make a mess.

5. Leave Allergy Triggers at the Door

If you suffer from fall allergies and take your pet trick-or-treating, remember to remove their costume when you take off your own – at the door. This will prevent you from bringing any of the outside inside.

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Back to School Tips for Pets

Keep Your Pets Safe and Happy During the Back to School Season

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If you use a dog walker, speak to them about the process of bringing your pet back indoors. If they walk through wet, wooded areas (a harbor for molds), or other high-allergen environments, they should wipe your pet down with a damp microfiber cloth.

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You’ve had all summer with your pet. They’ll have to adjust, as much as you and the kids will, to a busy fall schedule. We asked Dr. Katy J. Nelson, DVM, CVJ, from “The Pet Show with Dr. Katy” on News Channel 8 for tips on how to help your pet – and your kids – make a smooth transition.

Q. Do pets have to adjust to back-to-school time just as we do?

A. Absolutely. Everyone’s around all summer long and your pet gets used to all the attention. Once fall activities kick into gear, everything changes. You’ll need to find ways for everyone to calmly transition.

Q. What’s your top tip for reducing the shock?

A. Make sure that you carve out some time for your pet. An unemployed dog is going to find ways to be self-employed. Giving your pet attention is good for them, you and the furniture.

Q. Do pets’ physical needs change in the fall?

A. Pets are more active over the summer. If they slow down, they might put on weight. Talk to your vet about adjusting their ratios of food and exercise. If your pet is getting 20% less exercise at back-to-school time, you’ll want to account for that.

Q. What about the back-to-school toll on kids and pets?

A. Make sure that your kids also spend quality time with your pets. If your child has had a tough day at school, encourage them to play with their pet – it’s a good stress relief for both of them.

Q. What’s the most important overall way to make pets most comfortable with the change?

A. Have a plan in place. Nothing should be hectic – pets pick up on our stress. A dog walker or pet sitter should start coming a couple of weeks before the fall schedule starts. If you’ve paid for a half hour of exercise, make sure you’re getting it. What’s most important is that everyone sticks to a routine.

Also – check out this great article about daily dog exercises to learn some fun new ways to keep your furry friends fit.

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Guide to Pet-Friendly Stays

Get away, and take your pet with you. A growing number of hotels will welcome your pet (even your cat, hamster or lizard), and they’re easier than ever to find. However, before you sign on for the night, you’ll want to ask some questions – and take a few responsible measures – to ensure that both you and your pet have a hassle-free trip.

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Pet-friendly hotels handle room assignments differently from each other; while some may reserve a block of rooms for pet owners, others may not, and choose to do a deep cleaning or sanitizing treatment to pet rooms. If you’re a dog owner with an allergy to cats, consider asking the hotel if it accepts cats. The sanitizing treatment might not remove all the allergens from a formerly cat-inhabited room.

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  1. Finding pet friendly accommodations

    Many sites have search engines that allow you to find pet-friendly lodgings around the United States and internationally. Pet friendly hotels usually set aside a block of rooms specifically for pet owners, and they’re your best bet for exotic pets, too. But don’t just show up unannounced with your gecko or gerbil. Call ahead to explain your circumstances; even a dog-only hotel can sometimes be swayed.

  2. Surcharges and documentation

    Some hotels are delighted to have your pet – if it weighs less than 25 pounds. Ask about surcharges for pets (or larger pets), whether your hotel requires a hotel health certificate (ask for the form or call your vet), and if your hotel requires a refundable cleaning deposit – and if your pet didn’t make a mess,make sure the charge is removed from your bill at the end of your stay.

  3. Leaving your pet unattended

    A hotel room is a foreign country to a pet, and nervous pet travelers are likely to misbehave or make noise when you leave them alone. If you are going out to dinner or will be away for several hours, hire a pet sitter (a pet friendly hotel should have good contacts). Consider using a pet door hanger to alert guests and staff that a pet is in the room.

  4. Getting ample exercise

    Pet friendly hotels should be within walking distance of a good park, dog run or public area where you can take your pet out for frequent breaks. Take along at least two litter bags. Remember to keep your pet contained or on a leash; you might think your ferret is adorable, but not everyone will be a fan.

  5. Make stays a bit easier

    Request a ground floor room so pet walks are easier for you both. Before you leave, make a travel kit that includes their favorite toy, their pet health certificate or shot record from the vet, a first aid kit, ID tags, and carrier and/or leash, as well as ample supplies of food you know they can tolerate.

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Summer Pet Wellness Tips

You know how to take extra care of yourself during fun summer activities, but playing with your pet during the Dog Days requires extra care on your part, too. (How would you like wearing a fur coat in the summer?) There’s no reason to curtail exercising with your pet, but practicing a few extra wellness steps can make summer safer and more fun for both of you.

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Never leave your pet in the car. Even though it may seem cool outside, the sun can raise the temperature inside your car to 120 degrees Fahrenheit in minutes, even with the windows rolled down. Don’t take the chance.

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  1. Avoid the midday sun

    Schedule your outdoor exercise with your pet for the coolest part of the day – typically in the early morning or late evening to avoid overheating and even sunburn. Like you, your pet – especially pets with light skin and hair – needs sunscreen. Rub a bit of sunblock on unprotected areas like the tips of ears, skin around the lips and tip of the nose – on both of you!

  2. Take care on humid days

    Thank heavens for sweating in humans; it’s how we rid ourselves of excess body heat. Pets don’t have that luxury, which is why they pant. Panting picks up excess heat and moves it through the nasal passages, but when your pet is in a high-humidity area or in close quarters, panting doesn’t work as well. Move into an air-conditioned area.

  3. Drink plenty of water

    Both you and your pet will need plenty of water on hot days. Bring a water bottle for yourself and a collapsible water dish for your best buddy – so you can pull it out and refill wherever you are.

  4. Choose tarp over doghouse

    Just like a car – which can reach temperatures far above the heat outside – a confined doghouse can become a dangerous sweatbox for a pet. Encourage your pet to take his shade where you do – under a tree, tarp or overhead that allows plenty of air to circulate.

  5. Little extras count

    Little treats count for a lot on hot summer days; many pets love to play with a few ice cubes in their water dish, and even this little touch will help cool them down.

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Stage a Pet Show

You don’t need to attend the yearly “best in show” dog show to stage the ultimate party for pets and pet lovers. No matter what breed of pet the neighborhood kids own, you can create a fun pet event, with creative costumes, a walk (or a slither, or a hop) for the crowd, and trophies and a winners’ circle party – where everyone wins for something. Keep these tips in mind:

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On the day of your pet show, have a backstage tour where attendees can get an up-close-and-personal look at the pet contestants. But also make sure there’s a “safety zone” for allergy sufferers, where pets aren’t allowed to roam, and attendees wash their hands before entering.

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  1. Try for an outdoor location

    Plan your event for good weather, so you can hold your pet show in a park, on a church lawn, or even your backyard (get permission from city or church authorities). If you live in an area with hot weather, limit your show to a short period of time and set up a tent; better yet, wait until the end of the day when the weather cools off and there’s still light outside.

  2. Choose the events

    Mixing up the show for kids and different pet breeds will make it fun. Consider a talent portion, where singing dogs and hoop-jumping cats can be recognized. Or a fashion portion, where less demonstrative pets – like lizards – can still win a prize for their fun costumes.

  3. Plan party games

    If you choose to make the pet show completely noncompetitive, you might still plan some party games for humans and pets alike. Try an agility course with tunnels and jumps, a good game of fetch, or just a group fun run.

  4. Don’t forget “yappy hour”

    Enlist all attendees to contribute to a treat break for adults, kids and pets. Ask pet owners to bring their own pet treats that they know their animals can tolerate; and ask other attendees to bring iced tea and lemonade, and/or an edible treat that everyone can enjoy during a break in the action.

  5. Make safety a priority

    Let participants know exactly what kinds of pets will be in attendance, both for those who have anxieties and also those who have allergies. Make sure your outdoor venue has faucets so you can fill bowls to keep animals hydrated and ask human attendees to bring extra water. Make sure that animals in the show are separated, and accompanied by their owners at all times, so no chases or fights break out.

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Pick the Best Pet Groomer

A little spring pick-me-up can benefit anyone – including your pet. Plus, a good deep brushing, shampoo and nail clipping for your pet can reduce allergens in your home. You can do these things at home, but not all procedures are good for DIYers; for special breeds like Cocker Spaniels or French Poodles that require a special cut, you’ll need to find a professional groomer. Here’s how to research and find a good one.

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If you have pet allergies, a trip into a groomer’s shop – where cats and dogs of all breeds might be – likely isn’t a good idea. Ask the groomer if they have a pick-up and drop-off service; make transportation the job of a less allergic member of your family; or pay a neighbor teen to do the job.

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  1. Do your research

    Start by searching through the professional associations to which groomers belong. States don’t require groomers to have a license, but groomers who belong to the National Dog Groomers Association of America likely went to a dedicated school or interned in a grooming shop where they may have spent up to a year just learning how to bathe pets. Recommendations from friends are a good first step, and check with the Better Business Bureau for complaints.

  2. Take a tour

    You should keep just as keen a lookout for good conditions in a groomer’s shop as you would a kennel. Is it clean and does it have good lighting? Does it have a strong odor? Are the kennels for dogs and cats separated – and do different-sized kennels accommodate different sized animals?

  3. Look for Credentials

    If you want to take extra precautions, look for credentials. A master groomer certificate from the NDGA means the groomer has been tested against a national standard and understands correct health and hygiene practices; the anatomy of dogs; differences among breeds; proper dog handling techniques; and some medical care (at least first aid).

  4. Up-to-Date Shots

    Not all grooming establishments require that pets be up-to-date on a variety of shots, but taking your pet to a groomer that doesn’t could expose him to disease. Rabies shots are required by law, and look for groomers that require up-to-date bordetella (kennel cough) vaccinations.

  5. Special Circumstances

    Some dog and cat breeds have sensitive skin and will never enjoy grooming (ask your vet if yours is one of them). The Humane Society of the United States recommends owners alert a groomer to special circumstances, such as arthritis, sensitive areas, or hyperactivity around other animals.

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Explore the Special Abilities of Animals

Some dogs are expert diggers; some are born to swim. Your kids might have seen that the family pet has a special ability. To find out more about animal talents, take your kids to a local zoo or wildlife preserve.

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