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Spring is a time for Renewal!

Woman on bench with dog

Spring is a time for renewal. The snow and ice melt away and the birds return to our backyards along with warmer weather, longer daylight hours, budding trees and eventually, beautiful gardens. Spring also brings us sweet puppies and kittens. There’s a spring in the step in everyone around us!

The Spring season also brings about new routines and chores, and as well as a list of “things to do” to ensure that we’re ready for the season. Having a pet (or pets!) means that there are some additional items on the list to make certain that they’ll remain happy and healthy during the season. Below are some of our key recommendations:

Winter weight gain:  Getting flabby over the winter can be just as problematic for our pets as it is for us. Many of us tend to avoid heading outdoors in the winter due to the cold and snow and we tend to eat more and exercise less. This means many of us and our pets may have experienced some weight gain. An increase of as little as two pounds for a cat or a small dog may not seem significant, but imagine if you increased your weight by 20% over the winter! This can lead to severe health problems. About one-half of all pets are overweight or obese, which may be directly linked to several illnesses, including behavioral problems, achy joints and arthritis, heart disease and some types of cancer.

Daylight Savings Time provided us with an extra hour of light in the evening, which is family walking dog in Spring.jpgideal for an after-dinner walk. Use the warmer weather as a great reason to head outside and discover some new routes on a daily walk with your dog. Don’t just make your dog sniff the same old spots, rather take a new route and work up a sweat by alternating your normal pace with a quicker one. From retrieving sticks to the simple toss of your dog’s favourite ball, running, catching, throwing and fetching provides a heart-pumping workout for you both….your heart will thank you! Make sure that you bring a thermos with some fresh water to keep you both hydrated during your walk. Even cats will enjoy being out in the garden, but please ensure that you stay with them lest they run off. Many Global Pet Foods stores have weight scales; we encourage you to take your pets in to be weighed regularly.

Spring grooming: Now that spring has sprung, it’s important to pay attention to your pet’s coat. It’s now time to groom your pet to remove the remains of her winter coat. For those with longhaired pets, you’re probably seeing tufts of pet hair all over the floor in your home. This is a key sign that you need to groom your pet on a daily basis. Your pets will enjoy spending some quiet time with you each day while you groom them. The Healthy Pet Care specialists at your Global Pet Foods can help you select the right grooming tools for your pet’s breed. Slicker brushes and brushes with dual level pins on a cushioned pad with a curved head are ideal (the long and short pins work together to remove the mats and dead hair).

Spring Cleaning: When you are giving your home a spring cleaning, remember to clean your pet’s products too. Worn out or torn products should be discarded and replaced with new ones to prevent your pets from biting and choking on torn pieces.

Ticks, fleas and heartworm – is your pet protected?  April showers bring May flowers as well as bugs! Make sure that your pet is on year-round heartworm preventative medication, as well as a Flea & Tick program. When your dog or cat has fleas, your home is soon to follow. Far from a minor irritation, fleas can wreak havoc on your pet’s life and pose a serious threat to his health. Fleas work around the clock to seek a host, and then they feast on enough of the host’s blood to equal up to 15 times their own body weight every day. Because of the challenges caused by fleas, prevention is always your best protection.

Once fleas establish residence in your home, they have no trouble firmly entrenching themselves. With suitable environmental conditions — warm temperatures, enough humidity, and at least one nourishing host — they can complete their life cycle in as little as 18 days. Flea larvae may develop anywhere your pet wanders: in your carpeting, rugs, furniture, and even in cracks in the floor, making it a challenge to treat the premises thoroughly enough. Moreover, flea pupae can be difficult to kill inside their cocoons so even with proper treatment, it can take weeks to successfully eliminate an infestation.

Prevention is the key! Anyone who has ever dealt with these troublemakers never wants to contend with them again. If you’d rather not fight the flea battle, get proactive and help prevent them from ever setting up residence on your pet in the first place. Simply give your dog or cat a monthly topical flea preventive, such as Zodiac® Spot On® Flea & Tick Control, to protect him from a flea infestation.

ZodiacMain

Fleas are responsible for a variety of problems ranging from simple itching and infestation to allergic skin reactions (Flea Allergy Dermatitis – FAD), the spread of tapeworms and some bacterial infections. Fleas have claimed more human lives than all wars ever fought. Contrary to popular belief, the female flea always lays her eggs on the pet. The adult flea is a blood sucking parasite that feeds only on the host’s blood, ingesting it through its piercing mouthpart. Adult fleas represent only a small percentage of the infestation. The vast majority of the flea population is actually not on your pet but appears in your environment in either the egg, larva or pupa stage (which you cannot see). Therefore, if you have an infestation you will need to treat not only your pets but also the environment your pet is in (home/car, etc.).

The flea life cycle consists of four very distinct developmental stages:

Adult Flea – biting, reproducing, and most annoying

Flea Egg – fall from your pet into your home and yard

Flea Larvae – worm-like, settles deep in carpet fibers, furniture, pet bedding

Flea Pupae – shielded by a cocoon, no treatment can control flea pupae

In as little as 15 days, the flea life cycle is completed. In 30 days, 10 fleas can multiply to thousands. If one pet in the household has fleas, assume that all of your pets have fleas. To get rid of fleas, you have to kill both the adult and their offspring.

Ticks: Are bloodsucking ectoparasites which may transmit various infectious diseases to animals and man (Lyme disease). There are two species; Soft Ticks (Argosidae) and Hard Ticks (Ixodidae), which are the most common. Ticks’ only meal is blood and they can take in up to 600 mg of blood but can survive two years without feeding (adult).

There are four stages in the development of ticks: Eggs, Larva (seed tick), Nymph (yearling tick) and an Adult. Most hard ticks take three hosts to complete all four stages. After feeding and mating on the host, the engorged female drops to the ground, deposits up to 3,000 eggs in a protected place and dies.

 NOTE: The key to a successful elimination of fleas and ticks is to target all of  those areas where the problem is to be found:

STEP 1 – Treat Your Pet: control adult fleas/ticks on your pet

STEP 2 – Treat Your Home: eliminate both pre-adult stages and the newly emerging adult

Need some help keeping your pets happy and healthy this spring?  Visit your neighbourhood Global Pet Foods store and speak to our Healthy Pet Care Specialists for product re recommendations and for receive answers to your questions about caring for your pets.  You can also purchase  Zodiac Flea & Tick products while you’re there.  We wish you a wonderful Spring!!

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Filed under Cats, Dogs, Eco-Friendly, Education, Exercise, Flea & Tick, Flea and Tick, Healthy Pets, love, Pet Care, Skin and Coat, Small Animal, Spring, Uncategorized

A new year and a new opportunity to improve our pets’ health

happy new year cat2016Happy New Year! A new year brings a clean slate and the opportunity to make improvements to key areas of our lives.

For some of us, the word “resolution” makes us cringe. The definitions for the word “resolution” are:

  • A resolve or determination: to make a firm resolution to do something
  • The act of resolving or determining upon an action or course of action, method, procedure, etc.
  • The mental state or quality of being resolved or resolute; firmness of purpose.

A resolution isn’t a bad thing.  Slowly implementing a few changes each day can make a significant different in people’s lives.  As Canada’s Healthy Choice for Pets, we want to help you incorporate some healthy routines into your daily activity for you and your pets.

Most people consider their pets to be family members.  We want to give our children the very best of everything, don’t we?   The most important thing to remember when you bring a pet into your home is that they do not grow up and “leave the nest” so you are responsible for their well-being for the duration of their life.   Your pet trusts you to feed him, keep her warm, healthy and safe, and it’s critical that you spend quality time with your pet every day.

We recommend that you do the following to improve the overall health and wellbeing of your pet in 2016:

Schedule a Wellness Consultation

Schedule a Wellness Consultation with a Global Pet Foods’ Healthy Pet Care Specialist who can provide feedback and product recommendations for the following questions:

  • What’s the right food to feed my pet (dog, cat, rabbit, hamster, etc.)?
  • Is my dog or cat overweight?
  • Is my pet shedding?
  • What can I do if my pet has difficulty with climbing stairs?
  • Is my pet drinking enough water?
  • Is my pet getting enough exercise?
  • There are changes to my pet’s water consumption, appetite, eliminations, or activity levels that concerns me. What steps should I be taking?

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Our Healthy Pet Care Specialists have the expertise to   answer the above noted questions.  They can also recommend the best brand of food, supplement, treat, toy, or any other pet product – along with great pet care tips – so that your companion pets are healthy and happy!

Are you concerned about whether you’re providing your companion pet with the best care?  Schedule a Wellness Consultation with one of our Healthy Pet Care specialists and at your appointment, they’ll do the following:

  1. Evaluate your pet’s diet (food and supplements) to ensure that it’s suitable for their age and activity level, and that it address their special needs, ie. weight, dental, joint, allergies, etc.
  2. Provide you with flea & tick prevention information.
  3. Create a grooming and general care plan for your pet(s).
  4. Provide exercise recommendations and any products needed to maintain your pet’s health.
  5. Answer any other concerns you have based on your pet’s individual situation.

Educate and empower yourself with this valuable pet health consultation which will help you make informed decisions about your pet’s wellness now and in the future.

NOTE: This should not replace an annual check-up with your veterinarian.

Go “Green”

You can be a “green” pet parent by purchasing eco-friendly toys for your furry children. Buy toys made with tough and sustainable hemp, or a bed made out of organic cotton. Avoid cheap plastics or material used in low-quality products which are typically made with harsh chemicals. CIcemelterhemicals inside or outside of the home should be a big no-no, especially if you want to keep your family healthy. This applies to pesticides,   chemical fertilizers and ice-melting agents. Chemicals can stick to pets’  paws which can result in burns, and since they tend to lick their paws, they can become sick. Use organic means to fertilize your lawn and control pests, and look for non-toxic ice melting agents for your drive way and sidewalks during the winter season at your neighbourhood Global Pet Foods store. Always clean your pet’s paws and under-belly before bringing them back in the house.

Biodegradable waste bags should also be a key staple for every pet parent.  We know that plastic bags are bad for our Earth.  It takes oil to make them, they sit around for over 100 years, they harm fish and wildlife, they plug drainage sewers in cities, and the list goes on. Biodegradable waste bags are made from a combination of corn and other renewable products.  There are no chemical additives to enhance decomposition. The bags degrade naturally when exposed to the earth’s elements and micro-organisms in the soil and usually decompose in a commercial composting environment between 60 and 90 days after use.

Commit to making one change in your buying habits that gets you one step closer to a greener household.

Variety is the “spice of life”

Nature did not intend for people or pets to consume one food for their entire lives.  Feeding your pet something different helps to ensure that he does not become bored and frustrated with his food. This will not make your dog picky.  We’re talking about periodic changes here, not serving up something different or adding goodies to tempt him every time he doesn’t like his dinner. And most importantly of all, variety helps to avoid the development of allergies. In a few extreme cases, people and pets may be instantly and violently allergic to something. This happens in a few extreme cases only – the vast majority of allergies build up over time and with constant exposure to an ingredient(s).

The best way to develop an allergy to something (chicken, for example) is to consume it daily for an extended period. It is no coincidence that the most common allergens are things that have commonly been used in pet foods for many years. The (modern) advice from nutritionists is that feeding a wide variety of different foods, preferably from a young age, can help your pet from developing allergies in the first place (that’s the advice given for humans too).  Commit to spicing up your pet’s diet by starting with adding a can of food, which is an ideal way to ensure that they are consuming water. Bulldog drinking water from dishBuying a different protein within the food brand that your normally purchase is also ideal.  NOTE: If you do plan on rotating your pet’s food, you should introduce the food gradually by mixing it the current food over a period of a week or two.

Staying warm during a cool fall season or cold winter requires extra calories and your pets may need more food or a change in their diet.  They may need to transition to a food that provides additional nutrients or protein.  Need some assistance?  Bring in the bag of food that you’re currently feeding to Global Pet Foods for a nutritional assessment.

Water, water, everywhere!

The cold weather doesn’t mean that your pets don’t need water.  Water is essential to all living beings and cats and dogs need fresh water and plenty of it.  Dogs depend on proper daily fluid intake to maintain good health.  Water makes up 80% of your dog’s body, and it dissolves natural and unnatural substances.  Water is essential for circulation, digestion, and waste removal.  Provide clean water at all times, and change it frequently to ensure freshness.

Monitor your dog’s water intake. Generally, dogs need at least one ounce of water for each pound of body weight per day.  Monitoring water intake is especially important if your dog is recovering from diarrhea, vomiting or other illnesses.

Cats are very finicky about their water; they like it fresh.   cat water fountainThe longer the water sits out, the more oxygen it loses.  Fall is the most common time of year for male cats to “block” where small “stones” form that block the flow of urine from the bladder through the urethra.  Please schedule an appointment with your veterinarian immediately if your cat that seems to be straining “to go to the bathroom”. Decreased fluid intake may cause future episodes of cystitis.

Don’t forget to wash your pet’s water bowl every day to prevent bacteria from forming.  

Daily Exercise

As the mercury drops and the nights grow longer, it negatively impact the moods and mental wellbeing for many people and pets. The natural mood elevator we receive during the long, sunny days tends to wane during the winter months. This makes it extremely important for adults, children and pets to get that endorphin-boost outdoor activity. A brisk walk will do the mind and body good for both you and your pets!

Woman walking dog

While many of us tend to avoid heading outside during the cold, snowy weather, it is important that you take your kids (if you have them!) and dogs outside for walks.  As long as they’re healthy and it’s not too cold outside arctic temperatures), ensure that you aim for a minimum a 30 minute walk outdoors with your dog. Outfit him or her with reflective collars so that you can see them if they break away from you or you let them run free in a park, and put a coat and booties on them to keep them warm if it’s bitterly cold outside and their paws safe from salted walks.

A bored cat may become destructive and aggressive, and result in excessive grooming or inappropriate litter box use, ie. urinate in other areas of your home.  Caring for a cat is a big responsibility as it’s difficult to keep them healthy in the same manner as dogs, who can head outside for walks every day.

Many pet parents keep their cats indoors for safety reasons (it helps to reduce death, injury and disease), which can pose other health risks for them if they’re not receiving enough physical and mental stimulation.  Keep your cats healthy with the following activities:

(a) play hide-and-seek games;

(b) Place bowls of small amounts of food on different levels throughout your home so that your cat has to use their hunting instinct to find them, which also gets them moving;

(c) Play hide `n seek by strategically placing toys such as fuzzy mice, balls, etc. around your home so your cat can “discover” them all over again. Continue to move toys to unexpected places throughout your home. This helps to keep your cat’s brain active as she walks through the house looking for them;

cat playing with green ball

(d) Try using a laser mouse so that your cat chases the red dot up and down walls and furniture;

(e) Your cat will love hunting down mechanical mice which also gets them running across the floor;

(f) Purchase a toy with a crinkle mouse attached to a string and suspended from wand. Dangle it up and down to get your cat jumping.

Not only is exercise beneficial to keeping your pets happy, active, and at their optimal body condition, exercising with your pets can also provide the same benefits to you!

It’s also important that your indoor pets (rabbits, small animals and cats) get regular exercise too using wheels, climbing equipment, etc. that can be purchased at your neighbourhood Global Pet Foods store.

Expand your dog’s horizons

People are creatures of habit.  As a pet parent, we know that taking the dog out for a walk is important but it’s very easy to get into the same Dog in snowroutine of walking the same route.  New experiences are important for you and your dogs’ mental health and social skills.  There are lots of places in every community for dogs to run and play, whether it’s a dog park or a school yard.   Commit to venturing out of your regular neighbourhood at least once a week.  NOTE: Please remember to stop and scoop!

Time-out to pamper: When you look good, you feel good!  We all like to be spoiled and in turn spoil our loved ones.  Your pets are no exception.  Grooming your pet regularly (at least once a week) is important.  A good quality brush is a great investment.

Some breeds have a seasonal shedding season in the spring when they lose their winter coats. As the winter rolls around, the dogs shed a second time to remove the summer coat and grow their winter coat.

Some pets shed a lot. What can you do to help get the hair loss under control?  The more hair you remove the less you will see it all over your house.  Brushing your dog once a day will greatly reduce the unwanted hair all over your clothes, carpet and furniture, especially during shedding seasons. Ensure that you complete a full brush-out of your dog’s coat to get rid of any loose fur and bathe the dog prior to the dog’s undercoat for the winter begins to grow in.  Brushing also helps to restore oils to a new coat, stimulates the skin and prevents matting, which can be painful.

It is not normal for your dog’s coat to thin as the dog gets older. If you think your pet is shedding abnormally, it is recommended that you speak to the Healthy Pet Care Specialists at your neighbourhood Global Pet Foods store.  If you see bald spots as a result of your pet’s hair loss is abnormal, take her to your veterinarian immediately.

Setting aside time each day to groom your pet is also a great time to bond with them. Whether it’s time spent brushing their coat, buying them a trendy new collar or a new bed, your furry children will love the attention.  Commit to pampering yourself after you’ve pampered your pet!

Keep your pets safe: Keeping your pet contained is healthier both for him and for the environment. In the case of dogs, who like to chase things like cars, a fence or a leash helps ensure their safety and survival. Domestic cats are also a huge predator of native birds, and can decimate local populations pretty quickly. You may not think of your pet as a natural predator, but he or she is more than capable of killing small animals.

Teach your children to be mindful about not accidentally letting the dog or cat to run out of the house unsupervised.  Keep your pets on a leash when you’re out and about in your neighbourhood.

Take more car rides with your pets

Some pets suffer from travel (motion) sickness or extreme anxiety in a car so dislike car rides. Further, many pets dislike being in carriers. Getting your pets become accustomed to car rides and being in a crate/carrier when they are puppies and kittens is very beneficial for them when you have to take them to the veterinarian or when you want to take them on road trips with them.

We cringe when we see dogs running loose in a vehicle or, even worse, sitting on the driver’s lap! All pets should be restrained in a seat belt harness, backseat barriers, pet kennels or crates, or pet carriers to keep them safe from injury if you are in a car accident.  Ensure that your pet has enough room to comfortably sit and/or lie down in it. All kennels or crates should be secured to the vehicle’s floor.

cat in carrier

Summary

We know that there are great psychological benefits from being a pet parent.  Pets can provide us with excellent social support, stress relief and other health benefits — sometimes more than other people can!

Resolve to be the best pet parent that you can be so that you both you and your pets remain healthy in 2016 and beyond.

Happy New Year!!

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Filed under Cats, Dogs, Eco-Friendly, Education, Exercise, Grooming, Healthy Pets, Pet Care, Pet Food, Skin and Coat, Small Animal, Uncategorized, Winter

Keep your Pets Safe and Cool This Summer

boy hugging dog with green

Welcome to summer – open windows, outdoor fun in the backyard or at the park, summer camp and vacation,
and simply soaking up the heat and sun and with our families – it’s a favourite time of the year for many of
us! Have fun and enjoy the summer season but remember to take some safety measures and precautions
to ensure that your companion pets remain healthy and happy.

Camping and Barbeques:

Summer is a wonderful time for barbeques and camping, but it can be dangerous for your pets if you don’t take the
necessary provisions to keep them on a very short leash.  Dogs may try to take a burning stick from the campfire and they’ll think that you’re playing if you chase after them. Running with a stick may result in your dog or other people in the vicinity being burned or injured. Dogs may also be tempted to lick the particles of food stuck to the barbecue after cooking, which could cause them to burn their mouths and tongues. Most importantly, remember to keep the lighter fluid out of reach from pets as it is a poison and if ingested, can lead to severe illness or death.

Harmful Chemicals:

Commonly used flea and tick products, mouse and rat baits, citronella candles, oil products, and lawn and garden products (ie. mulch and insecticides) can be harmful to cats and dogs if ingested, so please lock them away. Wipe your pet’s paws and underbelly to remove any chemical residue before heading back in the house.  While many dogs love to swim, chlorine can irritate a dog’s skin and upset their stomach. Rinse your dog with fresh water after swimming in a pool and do not let them drink more than a small amount of pool water. Call your veterinarian immediately if you suspect that your pet has ingested a poisonous substance.

Mind the Paws:

Sidewalks, streets, patios, sand and other surfaces can burn your pet’s footpads. We recommend that you walk your dog in the morning and at night when the outdoor surfaces are coolest. If you must take your pets outside during the day, place your hand on the patio or sidewalk for 30 seconds before allowing them to walk on them. If it’s painful or too hot for you, it will be too hot and painful for your pets. A pet foot pad balm is ideal for irritated paws.

Protect Your Pet From the Sun:

Even though your pet’s fur helps to protect their skin from the sun, they can get sunburned, especially those with light skin and hair. Dogs and cats will suffer from sunburn in the same way we do, and they can also be at risk for skin cancer. Try to keep your pets out of the sun between 10 am and 4 pm, and if you have to head outside, rub a bit of sunblock on unprotected areas like the tips of the ears, the skin around the lips, and the tip of their nose.

Water, water, water, everywhere:

Dogs and cats don’t have as many sweat glands as we do, nor can they cool off like we can. Dogs pant and cats can too. The water lost by panting needs to be replaced, so keep fresh cool water available for your pet at all times.

Grooming:

Give your dog a good, thorough brushing and a bath regularly, particularly since they’re outside more, rolling around in the sand and grass, and playing in the water. This will help keep her clean, cool, and comfortable all throughout the summer.

Summer flies by so quickly, so we encourage you to enjoy every moment of it. Global Pet Foods carries the best products that will help your pets enjoy the season too, and keep them safe and healthy. We look forward to seeing you and your pets in our stores!

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Spring…it’s the season known as the “Time for Renewal”!

Maine Coon Kitten

Ahhh…the sights and sounds of the Spring season are upon us. Many of us truly appreciate the season – more sunlight, warmer weather, the return of the birds, the new baseball season, long walks, open windows – these things put the “Spring” in our step! Spring also brings a myriad of “things to do” to ensure that we can fully enjoy the season. Having a pet (or pets!) means that there are some additional items on the list to ensure that they’ll remain happy and healthy during the season. Below are a few of our recommendations:

1.  Fleas and Ticks and other Pests!

Warmer temperatures usually signal the flea and tick season, which continues through the summer and peaks in the Fall. It’s imperative that you take preventative measures and check your pets regularly during the season. The key is to be proactive in protecting your pets and your home from an infestation. Fleas can make your life miserable, and they will certainly make your pet’s life miserable too. Fleas can transmit parasites and cause allergic reactions.  One flea bite can potentially cause your pet great pain from the constant rubbing and scratching of the irritated skin, if they are allergic to fleas. Also called “pruritus,” this unpleasant itching can become so intense that pets will actually scratch until the skin bleeds. Global Pet
Foods can recommend some products for flea prevention and treatment.

2.  Beware of Chemicals

Our pets (and our children) will be heading outside to play but the chemicals used to treat grass and gardens could put a damper on their fun and their health. Pets face many of the same health problems from chemical poisoning as people do. Dogs and cats lick themselves and have their noses to the ground, while kids typically have their fingers in their mouths, so they are at risk of chemical poisoning from lawn and garden pesticides. Make sure that you wipe your pets’ paws and bellies prior to bringing them back in the house. Choosing environmentally-friendly products can have many benefits, some of which carry over from the
protection of the environment to protecting the health of you and your pets. Compost material can also be hazardous to your pet’s health, so keep the compost bin and chemicals locked away and out of your pet’s reach.

3.  Set aside time for Spring cleaning!

The last thing you need is to have your pets escape through a hole in the fence, or be injured from a nail that’s sticking out from one of the boards. To prevent this from happening, examine your fencing and gates for any damages incurred during the winter and make the necessary repairs before you allow your pets to go out in the backyard. When you’re giving your home a spring-cleaning, remember to inspect your pet’s bed, food and water dishes, collars and leashes for any cracks, or rips and tears. Worn out or torn products should be discarded and replaced with new ones, as your pets could injure or choke if they bite off a piece. When you’re cleaning your home, remember to wash and clean your pets’ products too. You’ll feel so much better when everything is squeaky clean!

4.  Put a “Spring in your Step”!

Daylight Savings Time brings an extra hour of light in the evening, which is ideal for an after-dinner walk for you and your dog. Why not use the warmer weather as an excuse to take longer walks on new routes? Don’t just make your dog sniff the same spots, rather take a new route and work up a sweat by alternating your normal pace with a quicker one. From retrieving sticks, to the simple toss of your dog’s favourite ball, running, catching, throwing and fetching all mean a heart-pumping workout for you both. Make sure that you
bring a thermos with some fresh water to keep you both hydrated during your walk. Even cats will enjoy being out in the garden with you, but please ensure that you stay with them lest they run off.

The Healthy Pet Care Specialists at your neighbourhood Global Pet Foods store can help you and your pets enjoy the Spring season with the best pet products and pet care tips.  We look forward to seeing you!

Find a Global Pet Foods store near you via our website, www.globalpetfoods.com.

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Filed under Cats, Dogs, Eco-Friendly, Exercise, Flea and Tick, Grooming, Healthy Pets, Pet Care, Spring

Baby, it’s cold outside! Enjoy the outdoors with your pets this winter.

woman and dog in winter

Snow, ice, blowing winds, bone-chilling cold, parkas, boots, mittens and hats are the hallmarks of the winter season, especially in most regions of Canada this year.  The bitter cold temperatures, regular snowfalls and long nights tend to negatively impact some people’s moods and mental wellbeing, which in turn affects their pets.  For those of us who prefer warmth, shorts, sandals, and playing at the beach, we have a tendency to hibernate during the winter months.

Notwithstanding how we feel about winter, it’s important for people and pets to maintain our physical and mental health through daily exercise all throughout the year, not just during the warmer months.  It raises the heartbeat and generates those “feel-good” brain chemicals.

Regardless of how you feel about exercise, all dogs must be taken for a brisk walk and/or run each and every day.  Fish need to swim, birds need to fly, and dogs need to walk and run.

Playing with your dog in the backyard or heading to a dog park provides your canine with fresh air and the opportunity to mingle with other canines but it still isn’t a great substitute for a brisk 30 – 60 minute walk/run.

Exercise provides great benefits such as:

  • It tones your dog’s muscles and helps the body and metabolic system to function properly.
  • Prevents obesity.  Dogs will become overweight, and even obese, if they are not allowed to burn off the calories they take in during the day.  If you give your dog a lot of treats to compensate for lack of attention, the additional calories also contributes to weight gain.
  • Just as in people, exercise helps our pets maintain muscle tone and preserves joint flexibility.  Obesity puts a lot of stress on joints, ligaments, and tendons.
  • Overweight pets have a shorter lifespan and a lower quality of life.
  • Dogs that get daily walks are usually have better behaviour, are less destructive, obsessive or have separation/dominance issues.
  • The mental stimulation gained from investigating every smell, sight, and sound which they get when they’re on a walk/run.

family in park in winterExercise also provides the opportunity to practice obedience skills with her and reinforce your bond with her while you’re on a walk and the time for socialization and to practice social skills through encounters with other dogs or people on your route.

Aim for a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise every day for your dog, although Large and Giant Breed dogs, who are more prone to joint issues, should be out for at least 60 minutes every day.  Even senior dogs can be out for 60 or more minutes every day if they’re in good health, but start slowly with a light and short jog, and gradually build up to a quicker pace over a few weeks so that they don’t get injured.

If your dog is very active, she may need longer, more vigorous walks, perhaps even two or more times a day.

It is important not to overdo exercise because pets can easily sustain injuries, especially in deep snow. The last thing we want is for our pets to suffer.  Since we don’t speak the same language as dogs, it is important that you read their body language because they demonstrate pain differently than humans and are seldom vocal unless the pain is severe. Therefore, it is important to note that even subtle changes in behaviour or movement may signal a problem and watch for signs of discomfort in your pet such as:

  • Yelping, whining or whimpering.
  • Visible discomfort when lower hips are touched.
  • Irritability or aggression when touched in the joint area.
  • Wobbling rear end.
  • Reluctance to walk or play.
  • Stiffness or lameness after rest.
  • Difficulty getting up after resting.
  • Difficulty climbing or descending stairs.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Depressed or withdrawn.

Try gently massaging your dog’s painful joints to help restore blood flow. Just like us, dogs’ joints may become inflamed in damp or cold weather so a good bed will keep your dog warm, supports its bones, and help your furry friend get a good night’s sleep.  Invest in a good orthopaedic bed for your dog; there are many shapes and styles to choose from at your neighbourhood Global Pet Foods store.

Supplements containing glucosamine can be very helpful for dogs. Glucosamine is naturally present in animal bones and as a dietary supplement. It can help to promote new cartilage growth, relieve joint and muscle pain, and improve joint mobility.  Glucosamine and chondroitin are most commonly used to treat osteoarthritis in aging dogs.   Fish oils are also used to treat a wide range of issues from kidney disease and arthritis to high cholesterol.   Methyl sulfonyl-methane (MSM) is an antioxidant, cell rejuvenator, and joint healer.

Speak with the local Healthy Pet Care specialists at your neighbourhood Global Pet Foods about the right supplements(s) that can provide joint relief for your pets.

Since your walks with your dogs may take place when it’s dark outside, it’s recommended that you outfit your dog with dog with boots in snow accessories to make sure your dog is easy to spot by people driving their cars.   Further, pets lose most of their body heat through the pads of their feet, their ears, and their respiratory tract, so sweaters, coats ad booties can provide them with additional warmth particularly for short-haired or small breed dogs. Global Pet Foods offers a broad range of reflective collars, coats, leashes and leg bands, in exactly the right size and style to ensure your dog is safe and fashionable.

The other consideration during winter is the health of our dogs’ paws when walking on salted sidewalks or roads. Salt can irritate our pets’ paws which can be toxic if licked/or ingested, and even burn and dry them out. You can find sturdy dog boots or paw balm, for those dogs that like to go al fresco. Salt, sand and ice are no match for these paw protectors!

If you live near a pond or a lake, be very careful of ice.  Animals can easily fall through the ice and can rarely climb out on their own.  Keep your pet on a leash and stay with them when outdoors, especially if you live near water.

No matter what the temperature is, the wind chill can threaten a pet’s life.  Exposed skin on noses, ear and paw pads can quickly freeze and cause permanent damage.  When you’re outdoors with your pet, watch for the following signs: whining, shivering, appearing anxious, slowing down, stopping movement, looking for places to burrow.  If you notice these signs, take your pet back inside immediately and wrap them in a warm towel.

TIP: Throw a blanket or towel in the dryer for a minute or two before wrapping them up.

Remember the mantra, ‘Wintertime is Fun Time’.  Don’t let the cold keep you indoors.  Just take the proper precautions, for both you and your pets, before heading outside.  Maintain your dog’s physical health and mental wellbeing – and yours – by embracing the winter.

You’ll find all of the products, and expert advice, that you’ll need to keep your pets warm, happy and healthy during the winter season at your neighbourhood Global Pet Foods store.  Yes, it’s cold outside, but the right steps can help you to enjoy the season!  Use our Store Locator to find a Global Pet Foods store across Canada near you:  http://www.globalpetfoods.com/store-locations

Head out that front door with your best friend at your side, and walk away those “winter blues”!

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Filed under Dogs, Education, Exercise, Healthy Pets, Pet Care, Winter

New Year’s Resolutions for you and your Pets

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A new year brings a clean slate and the opportunity to make improvements to key areas of our lives.  For some of us, the word “resolution” makes us cringe. Some of the definitions for the word “resolution” are:

  • a resolve or determination: to make a firm resolution to do something
  • the act of resolving or determining upon an action or course of action, method, procedure, etc.
  • the mental state or quality of being resolved or resolute; firmness of purpose

A resolution isn’t a bad thing.  Slowly implementing a few changes each day can make a significant different in people’s lives.  As Canada’s Healthy Choice for Pets, Global Pet Foods wants to ensure that your pets are also incorporated into your New Year’s resolutions. 

Most people consider their pets to be family members.  We want to give our children the very best of everything, don’t we?   The most important thing to remember when you bring a pet into your home is that they do not grow up and “leave the nest” so you are responsible for their well-being for the duration of their life. Your pet trusts you to feed him, keep her warm, healthy and safe, and it’s critical that you spend quality time with your pet every day.

In an effort to assist with improving the overall health and wellbeing of your pet, we recommend that you resolve to do the following on a regular basis this year.

Schedule a Wellness Consultation with a Global Pet Foods’ Healthy Pet Care Specialist:

  • What’s the right food to feed your pet?
  • Is your dog or cat overweight?
  • Is your pet shedding?
  • Does your dog have difficulties with stairs?
  • Is your cat drinking enough water?
  • Is your pet is getting enough exercise?
  • What’s the best food for your hamster?
  • Are there any changes to your pet’s water consumption, appetite, eliminations, or activity levels that concerns you?

While we do recommend that you schedule an annual check-up with a veterinarian, our Global Pet Foods  Healthy Pet Care Specialists have the expertise to answer the above noted questions.  They can also recommend the best brand of food, supplement, treat, toy, or any other pet product – along with great pet care tips – so that your companion pets are healthy and happy!

Are you concerned about whether you’re providing your companion pet with the best care?  Schedule a Wellness Consultation with one of our Healthy Pet Care specialists.  They’ll do the following:

  1. Evaluate your pet’s diet (food and supplements) to ensure that it’s suitable for their age and activity level, and that it address their special needs, ie. weight, dental, joint, allergies, etc.
  2. Provide you with flea & tick prevention information.
  3. Create a grooming and general care plan for your pet(s).
  4. Provide exercise recommendations and any products needed to maintain your pet’s health.
  5. Answer any other concerns you have based on your pet’s individual situation.

Educate and empower yourself with this valuable pet care consultation which will help you make informed decisions about your pet’s wellness now and in the future.

Go “Green”: You can be a “green” pet parent by purchasing eco-friendly toys for your furry children. Buy toys made with tough and sustainable hemp, or a bed made out of organic cotton. Avoid cheap plastics or material used in low-quality products which are typically made with harsh chemicals.

Chemicals inside or outside of the home should be a big no-no, especially if you want to keep your family healthy. This applies to pesticides, chemical fertilizers and ice-melting agents. Chemicals can stick to pets’ paws which can result in burns, and since they tend to lick their paws, they can become sick. Use organic means to fertilize your lawn and control pests, and look for non-toxic ice melting agents at your neighbourhood Global Pet Foods store.  Always clean your pet’s paws and under-belly before bringing them back in the house.

Biodegradable waste bags should also be a key staple for every pet parent.  We know that plastic bags are bad for our Earth.  It takes oil to make them, they sit around for over 100 years, they harm fish and wildlife, they plug drainage sewers in cities, and the list goes on. Biodegradable waste bags are made from a combination of corn and other renewable products.  There are no chemical additives to enhance decomposition. The bags degrade naturally when exposed to the earth’s elements and micro-organisms in the soil and usually decompose in a commercial composting environment between 60 and 90 days after use.

Commit to making one change in your buying habits that gets you one step closer to a greener household.

Variety is the “spice of life”!  Nature did not intend for people or pets to consume one food for their entire lives.  Feeding your pet something different helps to ensure that he does not become bored and frustrated with his food. This will not make your dog picky.  We’re talking about periodic changes here, not serving up something different or adding goodies to tempt him every time he doesn’t like his dinner. And most importantly of all, variety helps to avoid the development of allergies. In a few extreme cases, people and pets may be instantly and violently allergic to something. This happens in a few extreme cases only – the vast majority of allergies build up over time and with constant exposure to an ingredient(s).

The best way to develop an allergy to something (chicken, for example) is to consume it daily for an extended period. It is no coincidence that the most common allergens are things that have commonly been used in pet foods for many years. The (modern) advice from nutritionists is that feeding a wide variety of different foods, preferably from a young age, can help to avoid the development of allergies in the first place (that’s the advice given for humans too).  Commit to spicing up your pet’s diet by starting with adding a can of food, which is an ideal way to ensure that they are consuming water. Buying a different protein within the food brand that your normally purchase is also ideal.  NOTE: If you do plan on rotating your pet’s food, you should introduce the food gradually by mixing it the current food over a period of a week or two.

Staying warm during a cool fall season or cold winter requires extra calories and your pets may need more food or a change in their diet.  They may need to transition to a food that provides additional nutrients or protein.  Need some assistance?  Bring in the bag of food that you’re currently feeding to Global Pet Foods for a nutritional assessment.

Water, water, everywhere!  The cold weather doesn’t mean that your pets don’t need water.  Bulldog drinking water from dishWater is essential to all living beings and cats and dogs need fresh water and plenty of it.  Dogs depend on proper daily fluid intake to maintain good health.  Water makes up 80% of your dog’s body, and it dissolves natural and unnatural substances.  Water is essential for circulation, digestion, and waste removal.  Provide clean water at all times, and change it frequently to ensure freshness.

Monitor your dog’s water intake. Generally, dogs need at least one ounce of water for each pound of body weight per day.  Monitoring water intake is especially important if your dog is recovering from diarrhea, vomiting or other illnesses.

Cats are very finicky about their water; they like it fresh. The longer the water sits out, the more oxygen it loses.  Fall is the most common time of year for male cats to “block” where small “stones” form that block the flow of urine from the bladder through the urethra.  Please schedule an appointment with your veterinarian immediately if your cat that seems to be straining “to go to the bathroom”. Decreased fluid intake may cause future episodes of cystitis.

Don’t forget to wash your pet’s water bowl every day to prevent bacteria from forming.  

Set aside at least 30 minutes each day for exercise with your pets: As the mercury drops and the nights grow longer, it negatively impact the moods and mental wellbeing for many people and pets. The natural mood elevator we receive during the long, sunny days tends to wane during the winter months. This makes it extremely important for adults, children and pets to get that endorphin-boost outdoor activity. While many of us tend to avoid heading outside during the cold, snowy weather, it is important that you take your kids (if you have them!) and dogs outside for walks.  It’s also important that your indoor pets (rabbits, small animals and cats) get regular exercise too using wheels, climbing equipment, etc. that can be purchased at your neighbourhood Global Pet Foods store.

A bored cat may become destructive and aggressive, and result in excessive grooming or inappropriate littertwo cats on cat tree box use, ie. urinate in other areas of your home.  Caring for a cat is a big responsibility as it’s difficult to keep them healthy in the same manner as dogs, who can head outside for walks every day. Many pet parents keep their cats indoors for safety reasons (it helps to reduce death, injury and disease), which can pose other health risks for them if they’re not receiving enough physical and mental stimulation.  Keep your cats healthy with the following activities:    (a) play hide-and-seek games; (b) Place bowls of small amounts of food on different levels throughout your home so that your cat has to use their hunting instinct to find them, which also gets them moving; (c) Play hide `n seek by strategically placing toys such as fuzzy mice, balls, etc. around your home so your cat can “discover” them all over again. Continue to move toys to unexpected places throughout your home. This helps to keep your cat’s brain active as she walks through the house looking for them; (d) Try using a laser mouse so that your cat chases the red dot up and down walls and furniture; (e) Your cat will love hunting down mechanical mice which also gets them running across the floor; (f) Purchase a toy with a crinkle mouse attached to a string and suspended from wand. Dangle it up and down to get your cat jumping.

As long as they’re healthy and it’s not too cold outside arctic temperatures), ensure that you aim for a minimum a 30 minute walk outdoors with your dog. Outfit him or her with reflective collars so that you can see them if they break away from you or you’re letting them run free in a park, and put a coat and booties on them to keep them warm if it’s bitterly cold outside and their paws safe from salted walks.

Expand your dog’s horizons! People are creatures of habit.  As a pet parent, we know that taking the dog out for a walk is important but it’s very easy to get into the same routine of walking the same route.  New experiences are important for you and your dogs’ mental health and social skills.  There are lots of places in every community for dogs to run and play, whether it’s a dog park or a school yard.   Commit to venturing out of your regular neighbourhood at least once a week.  NOTE: Please remember to stop and scoop!

A brisk walk will do the mind and body good for both you and your pets!

Time-out to pamper: When you look good, you feel good!  We all like to be spoiled and in turn spoil our loved ones.  Your furry children are no exception.  Grooming your pet regularly (at least once a week) is important.  A good quality brush is a great investment.

Some breeds have a seasonal shedding season in the spring when they lose their winter coats. As the winter rolls around, the dogs shed a second time to remove the summer coat and grow their winter coat.  Some pets shed a lot. What can you do to help get the hair loss under control?  The more hair you remove the less you will see it all over your house.  Brushing your dog once a day will greatly reduce the unwanted hair all over your clothes, carpet and furniture, especially during shedding seasons. Ensure that you complete a full brush-out of your dog’s coat to get rid of any loose fur and bathe the dog prior to the dog’s undercoat for the winter begins to grow in.  Brushing also helps to restore oils to a new coat, stimulates the skin and prevents matting, which can be painful.

It is not normal for your dog’s coat to thin as the dog gets older. If your dog’s hair loss is abnormal you will see bald spots. If you think your dog is shedding abnormally, it is recommended that you speak to the Healthy Pet Care Specialists at your neighbourhood Global Pet Foods store.  In a case where your pet has bald spots, take her to your veterinarian immediately.

Setting aside time each day to groom your pet is also a great time to bond with them. Whether it’s time spent brushing their coat, buying them a trendy new collar or a new bed, your furry children will love the attention.  Commit to pampering yourself after you’ve pampered your pet!

Keep your pets safe: Keeping your pet contained is healthier both for him and for the environment. In the case of dogs, who like to chase things like cars, a fence or a leash helps ensure their safety and survival. Domestic cats are also a huge predator of native birds, and can decimate local populations pretty quickly. You may not think of your pet as a natural predator, but he or she is more than capable of killing small animals.

Kent, UK - Snow falls in Whitstable

Teach your children to be mindful about not accidentally letting the dog or cat to run out of the house unsupervised.  Keep your pets on a leash when you’re out and about in your neighbourhood.

We know that there are great psychological benefits from being a pet parent.  Pets can provide us with excellent social support, stress relief and other health benefits — sometimes more than other people can!  Resolve to be the best pet parent that you can be so that you both you and your pets remain healthy.

Happy New Year!!

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Filed under Cats, Dogs, Eco-Friendly, Education, Exercise, Grooming, Healthy Pets, Pet Care, Pet Food, Skin and Coat

Enjoy the Dog Park!

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Dog Park Etiquette

For most people, going to the dog park is a fun way to let your dog get exercise while socializing with other dogs and lets you socialize with other pet parents (while keeping an eye on your dogs). We all need to be mindful of proper dog park etiquette during our visits in order to keep the park safe and fun for everyone.

Once you and your dog get to the dog park, it may be tempting to just stand back and watch all the activity while your dog runs around. Everyone will have a much more rewarding time if you observe some basic “dog park” etiquette. And while many of the suggestions below are more common sense than anything, it’s often observed that they’re not heeded regularly.

Things not to do:

  1. Bring a dog that is under 4 months of age. They won’t have had all the necessary inoculations that allow them to play safely with other animals.
  2. Take your dog if she is sensitive to other dogs, where the park is enclosed, and if there are more than approximately two dogs per every 180 sq. ft. of space.
  3. Bring or use treats and toys when other dogs are nearby.
  4. Allow dogs to form loose packs.
  5. Allow a dog to bully another.
  6. Ever let your dog off-leash in an unfenced dog park he/she is not responsive to your verbal commands.
  7. Worry if some dogs don’t play with other dogs in a dog park.
  8. Bring your dog if he/she has not be spayed or neutered yet. If your male dog is not neutered, he may constantly try to mount other dogs.
  9. Spend your time talking on a cell phone. It’s important that you supervise your dog at all times and be able to give your dog your full attention.
  10. Don’t scold or touch someone else’s dog. You wouldn’t want them to do that to your dog.

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Things to do:

  1. Keep your dog on-leash until you get to the off-leash area. This is not just respectful to other park users, it’s much safer for your dog.
  2. Close all doors to the dog park after entering or exiting.
  3. Observe the dogs in the dog park to see if there are any potential health or behavior problems before entering.
  4. Clean up after your dog.
  5. Supervise dogs when they are playing and interrupt any rough play.
  6. Be willing to leave the dog park if you feel that your dog is being a bully or being bullied, the play is getting too rough, or your dog is just not having fun.
  7. Check to be sure that there aren’t a large number male dogs who are un-neutered at the park.
  8. Be cautious about taking advice from other park patrons who are not canine care professionals.
  9. Be friendly with other pet parents. It’s more enjoyable everyone is nice to each other.
  10. Always observe all of the rules posted at your local dog park. Each town has its own set of by-laws.
  11. And finally, have fun!!

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Filed under Dogs, Exercise, Healthy Pets, Spring, Summer