Prevent Pets from Fleeing in Fright

Summer social gatherings and celebrations involving fireworks can add up to a lot of fun for humans, but it’s an equation that may test the limits for a fearful pet. The break in day-to-day consistency and the chaos that comes with festivities can cause pets to escape in search of solace, which often times results in them leaving their loved ones behind.

“During the summer months, we tend to take a step away from our usual routines and that can be very unsettling for a pet,” said David Haworth, DVM, PhD, president of PetSmart Charities. “While July 5 is known as a day of high intake for local animal welfare organizations due to the noise and chaos associated with the Fourth of July holiday, even small barbecues and other summer events can cause distress that results in a pet fleeing for perceived safety.”

In honor of National Pet Loss Prevention Month, the experts from PetSmart Charities recommend these tips to prevent your pet from running off.

Practice effective “stay” techniques with your pet: Pets and pet parents who participate in behavioral training courses can learn effective ways to communicate during times of leisure or stress. Knowing simple commands like “stop,” “sit” or “stay” can help prevent a pet from running away.

Ensure your pet has proper identification: Microchips are a great way to ensure your pet is armed with the proper identification. To help decrease the number of pets that enter shelters each year across North America, PetSmart Charities supports low-cost microchipping programs in local communities. Whether you use tags, embroidered collars or microchips, make sure you update the information provided at least once a year to ensure the latest contact information is available to those who may find your pet.

Secure your pet’s surroundings: To prevent your pet from running away, provide a comfortable, yet contained environment that he or she may safely explore. This could include a fenced-in backyard during a family barbecue, the use of a leash at a local parade or access to favorite toys for a soothing escape. Don’t forget an ample supply of shade and water to help your pet stay cool and comfortable in the summer heat.

Inquire about calming solutions: Just like pet parents, pets can become sensitive to unexpected events and develop anxiety over time. Symptoms may include, but are not limited to destructive behavior, excessive barking or panting despite lack of exertion. If your pet is exhibiting extreme behavior, ask a veterinarian if calming solutions are a fit ahead of a large gathering.

Know how to handle a lost pet: If you see a lost pet, check his or her tags and contact the pet parent. If the pet shies away from contact, reach out to your local animal control department for assistance. If you lose a pet, contact your local animal control department or your neighborhood shelter to request assistance.

For more information about helping local pets in need, visit (Family Features)


PetSmart Charities

Tips for Welcoming a Feline to the Family

Introducing a feline into the family can be an exciting time, but it’s important to remember that a new home is often a big change for a little cat. Whether it’s a kitten or an adult cat, providing your new pet with proper nutrition, the comforts of a good home and engaging playtime are just a few of the key things to keep in mind.

Try these simple tips from the experts at the TEMPTATIONS™ brand to help ensure a smooth transition for your new four-legged family member.

  • Cat-Proof the House – In addition to being constantly curious, cats are also instinctive climbers, meaning no surface is out of reach for your new pet. Make sure any potentially dangerous items – such as wires, cleaning supplies and sharp objects – are behind closed doors and inaccessible to your little climber. You can also provide a scratching post to help prevent your cat from scratching unwanted things, like your furniture.
  • Playtime is a Must – As little as 15-30 minutes of exercise and activity per day can help your cat stay energetic and in shape. Encourage your cat’s natural curiosity with engaging toys, such as the TEMPTATIONS™ SNACKY MOUSE™ Toy. Simply fill the mouse-shaped wobble toy with your cat’s favorite TEMPTATIONS treats and watch them entertain themselves by trying to knock the treats out of the toy and gobble them up. Playing together can also help strengthen the bond between owner and pet.
  • Create Some Comfort – Make your new friend truly feel like part of the family by giving him or her a personal spot in the house. A simple bed to call his own, a cat tree to view his new surroundings and some soft toys to play with are all it takes to provide the initial comfort to make your pet feel safe and welcome in a new home. For cats that prefer privacy when they’re not playing, a covered or hooded bed is a great option.
  • Fuel Your Feline – Taking care of your cat’s health starts with proper nutrition. Be sure to find a high-quality cat food that has recipes that are nutritionally tailored to meet the specialized needs of your cat. A brand like IAMS™ Cat Food fits that bill and has dry and wet cat food options for all stages of life, from kitten to senior, as well as options to aid in oral care, hairball care, high protein, digestion and metabolism.
  • Offer Affection – Always remember to show your cat you care. Whether it’s a scratch behind the ear, a nice brushing or a sweet cuddle session, your cat can feel loved and safe, knowing he or she is in good, caring hands.

For more tips on taking care of a new kitten or cat, visit (Family Features)


5 Ways to Keep Your Dog Healthy in the Heat

Warm weather calls for outdoor activities with your pup, such as hiking, traveling and spending time in the park. While more outside playtime can be great for increased exercise, it’s also important to keep your pet healthy, inside and out, especially during the hot months.

Maintaining your dog’s hygiene – including cleaning his ears, bathing him and cleaning his teeth – is a critical component of helping him live a healthy lifestyle, from head to tail.

These five tips can help keep your pup hygienic and cuddle-worthy throughout the hottest time of the year.

  1. Sit, Stay, Hydrate

Be sure to have fresh water accessible at all times to keep your pet hydrated, especially in warm weather. If you’re thirsty, chances are your pet will be, too.

  1. Bond Over Bath Time

After a day in the sun with your pup, a bath is typically a must. Not only will it get your pup clean, but it can help cool him down from the hot weather. When bathing your dog, don’t forget about his sweet puppy-dog eyes and face. Moisten a soft washcloth or sponge with room-temperature water and gently wipe your dog’s face clean.

  1. Throw Some Shade

Warm weather can make you want to spend the whole day outside. While your dog may love the extended outdoor playtime, make sure to fetch a spot that has a mix of sun and shade for when your dog needs a rest and a quick drink of water.

  1. Make Nap Time Cozy and Clean

Your dog’s bed may be where he feels most comfortable, which is why it’s important to keep it nice and clean during the dog days of summer. Any bugs, fleas or germs your dog may pick up will follow him into the bed. Choose one with a removable cover to make cleaning it as simple a quick load of laundry.

  1. Keep a Clean Smile

When considering your dog’s health, don’t forget about his oral care. Dental treats such as GREENIES™ Dental Treats or PEDIGREE® DENTASTIX™  Treats help freshen breath and clean your dog’s teeth down to the gum line, helping to keep bad dog breath from getting in the way of snuggling with your pup all summer.

For more information and tips for your pet’s oral care needs, visit and

Photos courtesy of Fotolia



Dietary Solutions for Pets

Understanding and treating food intolerances in pets

If your four-legged friend is exhibiting some unusual symptoms, there’s a chance a food sensitivity may be the culprit. Even for pets that don’t have a full-blown food allergy, food intolerance can create problems that are easily remedied with a change in diet.

“The length of time a pet has been on a food does not seem to affect the risk of developing adverse food reactions,” said Dr. Jennifer Adolphe, PhD, a companion animal nutritionist and registered dietitian. “A pet can react to a food after just one feeding, or after many months or years on the same food. Just like people, every pet is different, so the degree of sensitivity to an ingredient can vary.”

Knowing the warning signs is the first step toward understanding whether your pet is suffering from a food-related intolerance.

Cats with food intolerances may show symptoms such as:

  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Bloating and related symptoms, such as gas
  • Skin irritation, which is typically rare in cats

Dogs may display these symptoms if they are suffering from sensitivities to certain foods:

  • Excessive paw licking or chewing with paws often turning red as a result
  • Chronic or recurrent ear infections
  • Visible fur loss
  • Itching and rashes, especially around the dog’s face, feet, ears, forelegs or armpits
  • Vomiting and diarrhea

If your pet is experiencing any of these symptoms, it could be a sign he or she has a food intolerance. First, consult with your veterinarian to rule out any health conditions. Once your pet receives a clean bill of health, switching the food your pet eats may help alleviate his or her symptoms.

Home-Cooked Elimination Diets

An elimination diet is a specialized diet that is fed to pets and excludes all suspect ingredients. Once a diet is found that resolves the symptoms, a pet is then fed potentially aggravating ingredients to see if symptoms reappear. If they do, an adverse food reaction is confirmed. The elimination diet will need to be closely monitored by a veterinary professional and followed for approximately 6-8 weeks to determine success.

Limited Ingredient Diets

A limited ingredient diet (LID) offers a single source of meat protein with as few additional ingredients as possible to meet the nutritional requirements of your pet. Options like GO! Solutions recipes from Petcurean are formulated especially for pets with specific dietary needs and food sensitivities, and carefully prepared with premium-quality meat proteins, unique carbs and essential omega oils.

To determine whether a limited ingredient recipe will work for your food-sensitive pet, you should eliminate all treats and other food sources. You may notice immediate improvements, but your pet should stay on the new food for 8-12 weeks to ensure it is the right choice.

It may take some trial and error to find a food that works for a food-sensitive pet, but patience and persistence can help your pet live a happy and healthy life. Learn more about food options for pets with special dietary needs at (Family Features)


How to Prep Your Pup for Winter

The colder months are approaching, and it’s not uncommon to lessen focus on diet and exercise, and the same goes for furry friends during the cooler seasons. To keep your pup healthy this winter, it’s important to establish proper nutrition habits – which start by feeding your pet the right type of food.

“Whether it’s the increase in holiday parties or the decrease in temperature, healthy eating routines typically fall to the wayside during winter – for humans and pets,” said Dr. Jeff Weber, veterinarian and IAMS™ spokesperson. “In addition, it’s common for pet owners to stay indoors and out of the cold weather, which can negatively affect the daily activity and exercise required for dogs.”

Despite all the distractions and temptations of the season, it’s important to keep your dog on a steady diet that includes high-quality ingredients, each serving a purpose in his or her overall health.

“I recommend looking for a dog food with high-quality ingredients,” Dr. Werber said. “I like IAMS™ dog food because it offers quality protein and essential vitamins and minerals for your furry friend to stay healthy and active during the winter months.”

To provide these benefits, Dr. Werber recommends an option like the IAMS™ diet, which can help you see the following visible differences in your dog:

  • Healthy skin and coat: A rich source of omega-6 fatty acids from chicken fat promotes excellent skin and coat health.
  • Healthy energy: A customized protein and carb mix contributes to healthy energy levels.
  • Healthy digestion: Beet pulp helps maintain intestinal health and aids his or her ability to absorb nutrients.

Heading into the colder months it’s also important to sustain your active habits. Bundle up, head outside and let a high-quality diet fuel both you and your dog to make the most of the colder months.

For more tips and information on healthy habits for your pup, visit (Family Features)


Pet-Friendly Practices for Fall

As scorching temperatures fade and pest season passes, pet owners may breathe a sigh of relief. Although the seasonal risks of summer are gone, your four-legged friend may need some special attention this autumn, as well.

Cold-weather pests. Though the dangers associated with ticks, mosquitos and other creepy, crawly critters lessen as the temperatures drop, those same colder days bring other creatures scurrying inside and that can present a whole new set of problems. Rats and mice tend to migrate indoors in search of warmth and the poisons used to eliminate them can be highly toxic to pets. Be sure pesticides are used in areas inaccessible to your animals.

Stay alert. Ticks may be less prevalent in the fall, but that doesn’t mean they’re gone completely – especially if hospitable environments remain. Keep yard and garden debris to a minimum and continue administering repellents for any pets that spend time outdoors.

On the move. Seasonal changes mean wildlife is on the move, making changes to settle into winter. Snakes are often more mobile during autumn months and inexperienced pets may risk bites if they tangle with intruders.

Shiny, new things. Kids aren’t the only ones attracted to a collection of new school supplies. Curious pets may dive into a pile of crayons, markers, rulers and other supplies, and although the items likely aren’t toxic, they can result in digestive blockages or damage from sharp, broken edges.

Anticipate energy needs. Colder temperatures can mean your pet has to exert more energy to keep warm and that may warrant bumping up meal serving sizes. Consult with your veterinarian about the appropriate feeding amounts for your pet’s specific breed, health and lifestyle needs.

Auto-related issues. Many car owners use the change of season as a milestone for car maintenance and winterizing, such as changing oil or antifreeze. Antifreeze in particular is highly toxic; a small quantity can kill pets and, unfortunately, the sweet smell makes it quite attractive to curious creatures. Clean spills thoroughly and take added precaution by keeping pets away from your work area entirely while handling these substances.

Not so fun-gus. Damp conditions can bring about a surge of mushrooms. Although only a small percentage of mushrooms are toxic, they can be hard to distinguish from the non-toxic variety. A good rule of thumb: keep pets clear of areas where mushrooms may be found, or if that’s not possible, conduct regular checks and remove any temptation that pops up.

Comfort foods. Most pet owners know chocolate is dangerous for pets, but many other foods that are common in the fall can also be problematic. Keep pets away from rich, savory foods that can upset their digestion and leave Fido at home during your annual jaunt to the apple orchard; apple stems, seeds and cores can create plenty of digestive havoc. If you want to indulge your pet with a little seasonal flavor, instead try offering fresh or canned pumpkin.

Find more pet parenting tips for fall and all year long at

4 Benefits of Personalized Dog Food

For dog owners, your pet is often your world and there are few things more special than the bond you share. From playtime to mealtime, you never settle for “good enough,” and your dog’s health is no different.

When deciding which dog food works best for your pet, keep personalized foods like Just Right by Purina in mind, which can help address your dog’s unique needs. It combines your firsthand knowledge with nutritional expertise to create the best dog food blend for your dog. By answering a few questions about your pet’s breed size, eating habits and more, you can create a personalized blend of food that includes your dog’s name, photo and feeding recommendation that gets shipped directly to your door.

Feeding your dog personalized food could help yield these benefits:

Healthy skin and coat

By providing important details about your dog’s skin and its needs, certain ingredients can be included in order to avoid dry and itchy skin. Omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil, along with vitamin A and linoleic acid, can help keep your pup’s skin refreshed and can give your dog’s coat the nourishment it needs to be shiny and healthy.

Ideal body condition

Being the right weight can contribute to a lot of different health factors, but having an ideal body condition can be about more than just the amount of food you feed your pet. The right amount of fats and proteins can help keep your dog right where he or she needs to be. Just as important, each dog has different metabolisms and different caloric needs, so personalized feeding instructions like those offered by Just Right by Purina can help your dog reach his or her ideal body condition.

Joint health and mobility

Many dogs are often on the move – walking, running and playing. Having healthy bones and joints can support your dog’s overall health. Choosing a formula with proper amounts of calcium and phosphorus can help support joints and bones.

Brain development

Puppies need all the help they can get when it comes to growing and supporting life-long health. Giving them foods that include nutrients like DHA that support brain and vision development can inspire your puppy’s curiosity about the world.

Young or old, big or small, every dog’s nutritional needs are unique. Find more ways to benefit your dog at mealtime at (Family Features)


Make Your Pet’s Mealtime More Enjoyable

Mealtime is one way to bring more happiness to your dog’s life. In fact, according to a survey conducted by OnePoll for CESAR® Dry Dog Food, 75 percent of small dog owners said mealtime makes their dogs the happiest. By turning boring kibble into delicious meat-first meals with a variety of flavors – like Filet Mignon Flavor & Spring Vegetables Garnish – even the fussiest eaters can enjoy CESAR® Dry food. Learn more at (Family Features)


Make Cat Chores a Cinch

Although most cat owners agree the companionship and entertainment make it worthwhile, being a cat parent requires a fair bit of work. Aside from regular feeding, grooming, and litter box maintenance, even well-behaved cats can generate some messes.

Whether you’re a newbie to cat ownership or looking for some fresh ideas to streamline your cat clean-up routine, the experts at Arm & Hammer Cat Litter have a few ideas to help keep your furry friend happy and help make tackling those chores a cinch.

Cat hair

For many homeowners, the constant battle against cat hair is simply a way of life. Frequent vacuuming can tame the largest volume of wayward fur while detail work will probably be necessary, too. A lint roller, damp rubber glove or rubber-edged squeegee can also capture stray hairs on most surfaces.

Litter box

More than half of cat owners describe cleaning out the litter box as “tedious,” “dreadful” or a “nightmare.” In fact, a survey by the maker of Arm & Hammer Cat Litter found that 75 percent of cat owners would rather do another chore than clean the litterbox. A product like Arm & Hammer™ SLIDE Easy Clean-Up Clumping Cat Litter can help make the chore easy and hassle-free. The cat litter features EZ Clean technology that allows used litter to slide right out of the litter pan with no scrubbing or sticking, and it comes with a seven-day odor-free home guarantee.

Food and water dishes

Your cat may be a healthy eater that licks the bowl clean, but even the cleanest dishes accumulate bacteria from contact with your cat’s mouth. Even if you can’t see much dirt or debris, it’s important to regularly wash feeding dishes to eliminate potentially harmful bacteria. Rather than waiting to clean out food and water bowls and leaving yourself a deep-cleaning chore, opt to simply refresh water each day and dump out old food more often for a quicker, easier solution.


Providing a special place your cat can call its own creates a sense of security and belonging. However, over time, those cozy cushions and pillows grow dirty. For easiest cleaning, invest in bedding that can run through your laundry. To freshen up between washings, sprinkle cushions or bedding liberally with baking soda, wait 15 minutes, then vacuum it up.


Just like kids’ toys, cat toys become soiled from repeated use, especially those that get carried in the mouth. Eliminate grime on plastic and rubber toys with a solution of 4 tablespoons baking soda dissolved in 1 quart warm water. Run plush toys though the laundry, or give them a dry shower by sprinkling on some baking soda then brushing off after 15 minutes.

Learn more at or look for Arm & Hammer on Facebook and YouTube. (Family Features)

The Petcasso Brings Together Pet and Art Enthusiasts for a Successful Evening of Giving

Sandra Rascon & William Jackson attend the Petcasso
Photo courtesy of John Pesina

On Sunday, April 6, we were thrilled to attend once again the Petcasso. The eclectic soiree benefiting Animal Trustees of Austin attracted hundreds of philanthropic party goers at the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center.  Several attended with their furry four legged family members who certainly made the evening entertaining.  For the eighth year, KXAN-TV chief weathercaster Jim Spencer was the master of ceremonies and was accompanied by his family dog Kaxan who walked the runway like a pro. 


What is Petcasso?  Petcasso is the signature fundraising event for Animal Trustees of Austin. This annual event is a fun, creative evening of live music, a fabulous dinner, and a silent auction filled with luxurious items and features a live art auction of paintings created by Austin animals. The four-legged artists strut their stuff on the runway while the auctioneer conducts the bidding. All proceeds support the programs and services of the Animal Trustees of Austin clinics.


It’s always pleasure to witness firsthand the generous spirit of the Austin Community.  Thousands of dollars were raised, benefiting the programs available at the Animal Trustees.  In fact, attendees at our table donated close to $10k with young children participating in the giving.  Equally impressive is how well pet and artist enthusiasts mingle toward a common cause. 


Learn more about the Animal Trustees of Austin at