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Family Matters: Foraging Treats for Pet Rodents


While searching for treats for small pets, I came across an absolutely ingenious idea that is not only a food reward for your small rodent (rat, mouse, guinea pig) but also a great foraging activity as well.

Start with a bell pepper. Cut a small hole in the side, leaving the top intact. Remove seeds and pith through the hole. Stuff the bell pepper with a few baby carrots, some 2-inch sections of celery, some sugar snap peas and chunks of the removed piece of bell pepper. Hang the stuffed pepper from a string in your rodent’s habitat, and let him forage in it to get his treats. Remove when vegetables begin to get limp, before they spoil.

 

TIP: Only offer this treat on an occasional basis, as too many fruits and vegetables can cause intestinal distress in rodents.



Family Matters: Pet Bird Treats


Help keep your pet bird cool this summer, even if he is an indoor pet, with some frozen treats that will keep him chilled and help his foraging skills.

Simply freeze some chunks of berry, banana and apple in an ice cube tray. Add in some birdseed if you wish. Let harden, and then give your bird a cube when he needs some good, cool fun.

He’ll enjoy pecking out the parts he likes, and he’ll stay cool doing it.

You can even freeze one of his favorite small toys inside an ice block, and let him chip it out with his beak.

TIP: Peel a banana, and freeze the fruit itself for another way to let your bird enjoy a cold, tasty treat.



Family Matters: Frozen Chicken and Apple Dog Treats


It’s so hot outside, and I can’t even imagine what it feels like to have a layer of thick fur on when you spend a couple hours a day outside.

My pup has plenty of shade and water when he has to be outside during the day, but it’s also great to be able to make him some cold, tasty treats to enjoy to help him beat the heat.

This super-simple recipe is nice for him to enjoy when he is outside in the hot, summer sun.

Frozen Chicken and Apple Dog Treats

Ingredients:
2 cups chicken stock (prepared without onion)
1 apple, thinly sliced

Directions:
Place multiple apple slices in the compartments of an ice cube tray. Pour chicken stock on top of apple slices. Freeze until solid. Serve to your pet one at a time when he’s outside to help cool him off.

TIP: Substitute fresh green beans or shredded carrots for the apples or coconut water for the chicken stock.



Family Matters: Catsicles


I recently adopted a cat. More accurately, he adopted me. He was abandoned by a neighbor who moved away. After a few months of seeing him wander the neighborhood sadly, I couldn’t take it anymore, and he became mine. He’s mostly an outdoor cat, so he needs to stay cool and healthy in the summer heat.

He loves this catsicles, and I’ve learned that they sell milk for cats (don’t use human milk! Your cat can’t digest it well, no matter what myths you see and hear!)

Keep some of these in your freezer, and your cat will come running.

Catsicles

Ingredients:
2 bananas, mashed
2 cups cat milk
1/4 cup dried cat food, crushed

Directions:
Combine the mashed banana and cat milk in a bowl; mix until smooth.

Crush the cat food, and place in the bottom of a small paper cup (like the kind you use in a bathroom). Pour banana mixture on top. Freeze cups until mixture is firm. When ready to serve, peel cups away from catsicle, and let your cat enjoy it outside.

TIP: Your cat might also enjoy eating wet cat food frozen. Simply freeze a pate-style food in a paper cup. When ready to serve, peel cup away, and let your feline enjoy it outside.



Family Matters: Keep Your Small Pet Cool


Keep Your Small Pet CoolSmall pets, especially those in cages or glass tanks, need special care in the summertime when the weather heats up.

First of all, move their habitat out of direct sunlight. Most small pets aren’t big fans of bright lights anyway.

Secondly, if their habitat has a cover, make sure it’s well-ventilated and air circulates well through their living space. You might want to add a small fan nearby to help circulate air (just don’t point it directly at your pet) to help keep them cool.

Provide plenty of fresh water for drinking and play, if appropriate for your pet. Make sure the water is clean and doesn’t attract insects.

If your small pet has an outside habitat, you might want to consider an inside space on the hottest days.



Family Matters: Grilling Out with Your Dog


Grilling Out with Your DogWhenever we cook out, my dog sits faithfully right next to the grill, waiting, hoping and praying for us to drop something, preferably a ribeye.

Sadly for him, it has yet to happen.

That’s also a good thing, as cooking out around your pup can mean some hidden dangers for him.

Make sure your grill is sturdy. You don’t want your dog to be able to knock it over and get burned, start a fire or injure someone else. If he’s prone to jumping up on things or putting his paws up on countertops or tabletops, make sure the grill is in a protected area where he can’t access it at all.

Keep charcoal, matches and lighter fluid away from your dog. Any of these can be fatal if ingested.

Don’t let him eat the scraps, especially if you’re serving something with bones. Most people food that has bones isn’t good for dogs. The bones are too soft, and they can splinter and fragment in a dog’s jaws too easily.

During a cookout, don’t leave alcohol unattended around your dog.

Make sure citronella candles and sprays aren’t in your pups reach, either.



Family Matters: Traveling with Your Cat


Traveling with Your CatSummer is here, and it’s time for a vacation road trip!

Cats are pretty portable, so you might want to take your feline friend on vacation with you. Before you do, have your cat checked out by your vet to make sure he’s healthy enough to travel. Have him weighed, and get your vet’s recommendation on what to do if he gets carsick. Many recommend human Dramamine®, and knowing his weight will also tell you the correct dose to give him.

Make sure he’s wearing tags with updated contact information. Better yet, get him a microchip as well, in the horrible event he gets lost during the trip.

If your cat isn’t accustomed to riding in the car, take him on short jaunts to prepare him for the longer journey. If he’s not accustomed to being in a crate or carrier, practice keeping him in one of those as well. Put familiar toys or blankets in the carrier to help him feel comfortable.

Bring a leash and teach your cat how to use it for pit stops. You might want to pack a portable litter box for bathroom breaks if he’s not accustomed to using the potty outside.

Of course, bring food and water with you, and never leave your cat alone in the hot car.



Family Matters: Keep Your Bird Cool in Summer


Keep Your Bird Cool in SummerTemperatures are heating up, and it’s time to pay closer attention to keeping your bird cool in the summer heat.

Birds don’t have sweat glands like humans do, and they don’t regulate their body temperatures the same way we do. Unlike mammals, a bird’s body temperature runs a little higher on average.

To cool down, birds will pant rapidly, breathing through their mouths. They will also vibrate their throats. They also lose water through evaporation on their feet and skin surface.

During the summertime, it’s important to keep your bird out of direct sunlight during the hottest times of the day. Keep his cage in a place that provides light but also provides shade and adequate ventilation. This might mean providing a fan nearby to keep air circulating, extra water in his cage or water bottle, or shading nearby windows during peak hours.

Misters and birdbaths are also options, and they provide a playful option for your bird to stay cool.

Birds don’t need as much fuel during summer months, so don’t be surprised if your bird doesn’t eat as much.



Family Matters: National Pet Month – Small Animal


National Pet Month - Small Animal

May is National Pet Month and a great reason to celebrate all the people out there who take care of small pets like hamsters, guinea pigs and rabbits.

The goal of National Pet Month is to promote the benefits of owning a small pet, support the adoption of small pets, raise awareness of the benefits of owning a small pet for both owners and furry friends, increase awareness of services available from professionals who work with pets, and draw attention to the valuable contribution of working companion animals to society.

So, let’s talk about owning a small animal.

The first benefit is space! You don’t have to have a lot of it, or a yard, or an outdoor space to keep a small pet happy and healthy! They don’t tend to break furniture, chew up your shoes or need to go on walks.

Small pets tend to be fairly clean and keep themselves clean with little effort on your part. They don’t eat a lot and don’t tend to be very expensive, either for initial cost or upkeep. Small animals are also independent, and they’re a great choice if you want the companionship of a pet without having to keep one constantly entertained.



Family Matters: National Pet Month – Dog


National Pet Month - Dog

May is National Pet Month and a great reason to celebrate man’s best friend.

The goal of National Pet Month is to promote the benefits of owning a dog, support the adoption of dogs, raise awareness of the benefits of owning a dog for both owners and furry friends, increase awareness of services available from professionals who work with pets, and draw attention to the valuable contribution of working companion animals to society.

There is a reason dogs are called “man’s best friend.”

If you get a dog, the chances are that the dog is going to love you for life. Dogs are loyal, committed, protective, territorial and playful. They can have a variety of talents and skills. Some dogs will hunt with you. Others are great for herding. Some varieties are great for farms, and others are perfect for your lap.

Dogs, like humans, come in all shapes, sizes and personalities. It shouldn’t be hard to find one that suits you and your lifestyle. Dogs are great with families and with children. They can help protect your house. They will ride in the car with you. They love to be petted, walked and played with.

My dog, Astro, is a 100-lb lap dog. He thinks he’s a lap dog, anyway. He is thrilled when I walk through the door at night. He stands beside me if the doorbell rings. He alerts me any time someone walks into the front yard. He cleans up any food that I drop on the floor. It’s a hard job, but someone has to do it. He brings so much joy to every day. I can’t imagine not having him around.



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