Tips for National Pet Dental Health Month

February is National Pet Dental Health Month and we’re celebrating by going over some of the best ways to ensure your dog or cat are getting the best care for their oral health.

The American Dental Association recommends adults and children brush at least twice a day after meals and floss regularly. They also recommend regular visits to the dentist and provide guidelines on healthy eating habits and foods and drinks to avoid to keep teeth healthy.

For pets, it can be easy to forget that they too need some routine and attention when it comes to oral care. The month of February serves as a great reminder to put a plan in action for your pet’s dental care.

Here are some of our top tips.

Brushing at Home is a Good First Step

While there are many products on the market that claim to help keep your dog’s breath fresh and clean their teeth, there’s really nothing that can match the benefits of a good old toothbrush and toothpaste. Be sure to use a small brush and veterinary-grade paste and reward them with a treat once you’re done. This positive reinforcement will help train them so they are willing to sit through the cleanings each time. It is recommended that teeth are brushed every 1-3 days for the best results. Cats can also benefit from regular cleaning of their teeth and specially designed paste and gauze on your fingertips to clean their choppers.

Hard Chew Toys Won’t Help

Just like treats and toys won’t work to clean the teeth, they should also be avoided because some can actually do more harm to the integrity of the teeth and gums. Especially super hard toys that scrape against the tooth, there is an increased risk of cracking a tooth while biting down or even tearing into the gum line and loosening the teeth unnecessarily. As with all toys and treats, never leave your pet unsupervised and if they’re extreme chewers and have started to break apart the toy, it’s time toss it in the garbage.

Treat Your Pet’s Dental Visits Seriously

Both cats and dogs should be taken for regular dental check-ups just like their human owners. Whether an exam is done while at their vet check-ups or you set aside some time for actual dental cleanings and procedures, this is the best way to protect them from future health issues. Maintaining a quality diet and taking your pet to be checked out at the first sign of discomfort are also great ways to keep their teeth clean and safe.

At Dogwatch of Western Mass, we care deeply about your pets and want to be sure they’re always safe and healthy. Happy cleaning!

Tips to Protect Your Special Furry Valentine

February is the month for love. Whether you’re taking someone special out for a dinner and sending chocolate and flowers, or if you’re spending the day with friends sharing in each other’s companionship, don’t forget about your furry Valentine at home.

The one who’s there waiting for you each day to get home and snuggle. These special Valentine’s deserve some appreciation for Cupid’s holiday too. In addition to being an important day to fill them up with kisses and affection, it can also be a dangerous day for pets.

With all of the chocolate and other hazards lying around the house, there’s an increased chance your pet will ingest something dangerous.

Follow these tips to keep your special four-legged, love-bug safe this holiday.

Keep all chocolate high-up and safely tucked away.

You’re likely already aware that chocolate is a no-no for dogs. On Valentine’s Day, when you or your kids are coming home with cardboard hearts filled with these treats, you might easily place it on the kitchen counter or forget it’s sitting in your open bag that you put down.

To your dog, it smells sweet and they’d like to check things out, but the problem is that chocolate contains theobromine which works much the same as caffeine in our systems, causing their hearts to race and could lead to seizures and death. All kinds of chocolates from cheap to expensive, dark to sugar-free are all of extreme danger. Exercise caution when you bring them into a home with pets.

Clean-up any candies that fall to the floor.

While most people are aware that chocolate is dangerous for dogs, other candies less commonly talked about being toxic include low sugar gummies and hardened fruit candies. These are very dangerous and could easily be missed if they fall to the floor and your pet eats them. The problem is that many have artificial sugar in them (xylitol) that increases insulin in the pancreas and can lead to liver damage and blood clots if consumed. If your child eats candy around the house or you hear a piece fall to the floor when you’re picking at your Valentine loot, move quickly to clean it up before your pet eats it to keep them safe.

Understand which plants and flowers are toxic.

Just behind candies as a gift on Valentine’s Day, are flowers. Some lovers might deliver a bouquet of traditional roses, but others might be unique and choose a bouquet with an arrangement of different blooms. It’s important to know which might be harmful to your pets before you bring them into your home. When it comes to cats, lily’s are toxic; for dogs daffodils, azalea’s and tulips are a few that can cause problems.

The best way to protect your pet from these unintended harmful situations is to be vigilant about creating a safe home for this furry member of the family to enjoy.

Setting indoor boundaries that allow pet’s access to only certain parts of the house can also help curb concerns.

DogWatch Hidden Fences of Western Massachusetts can come in and guide you through the process of setting up a containment system that gives your pet ultimate freedom. The indoor hidden fence system includes safe wireless technology so you don’t need to put up baby gates or worry what your pet is getting into when you’re not home.

Get in touch today to get started!

Cold Weather Dangers for Pets

Here in New England, we’re having some of the coldest weather days ever. Not only should we be careful to bundle up outdoors, check in on the elderly and safely use space heaters, we should also be giving some extra care and attention to our pets.

It’s easy to think that they are built to adapt to colder climates and that their layers of fur will protect them from feeling the sting of the cold temps, but that’s not entirely true. Domesticated animals who have become more and more a part of our homes are not the same as those who survive in the wild and they too should be given special care when temps drop below freezing.

Here are some cold weather dangers to consider when it comes to our four-legged friends.

Frostbite and Hypothermia

Just like humans, exposure to freezing temperatures can lead to frostbite or hypothermia for pets. Once their body is no longer able to stay warm, they will begin shivering and shaking and are at extreme risk. The other problem is created by prolonged exposure to the freezing cold for their extremities. The risk is even greater for small breed dogs, puppies, and kittens that cannot withstand such cold extremes.

Slips & Falls

With all of the ice on the ground, it can be easy for your pet to slip and hurt themselves. Even if you’re only letting them out to relieve themselves, the areas they normally run along can be much more slick and dangerous right now. Use a leash  and help guide them to a safe area to use the bathroom.

Paw Damage & Poisoning

The other issue with cold temperatures and the ice storm we recently experienced is the amount of salt laid down to help melt some of the ice. While it may work to lessen the ice on the ground it can be very poisonous and damaging to pet’s paws. When going outdoors protect their paws with booties, use an ointment or Vaseline and then wipe them clean as soon as possible before your pet can begin licking the harmful chemicals.


Pet Ownership on the Rise

Here at Dogwatch of Western Mass, we love our four-legged friends and it looks like most of the population does too. A new study “2017-2018 Pet Ownership and Demographics Sourcebook” by the American Veterinary Medical Association, says having pets is on the rise today with dogs topping the list as our most popular companions.

The study found that around 38 percent of households across the nation own one or more dogs. This is the highest it’s ever been since beginning its annual study back in 1982. And have no fear feline lovers, cats came in as the second most popular pet with 25 percent of U.S. households owning them.

There’s more.

Another study conducted by Kelton Research for Banfield Pet Hospital uncovered that most C-suite executives today attribute their professional success to the bond they shared with a pet as a child.

They also touted benefits to having a pet for building better relationships with coworkers and clients as well as getting big business ideas while walking their dog.

We love hearing this news and know that responsible owners welcoming these furry friends into their homes want to keep them safe while also offering them freedom.

dogwatch hidden fence system

That’s where our hidden fences can offer the most value. With DogWatch Hidden Fences you choose the boundaries you want your dog or cat to stay within (indoors or outdoors) and they can play freely (without getting into the trash or jumping on the couch). It’s a win-win for all!

Contact DogWatch of Western Massachusetts

Keeping Your Dog Safe During Noisy New Year Celebrations

Celebrations for the New Year will kick off this evening and in many locations last well into the weekend. While it’s a great time for making resolutions and moving on from the year past, we cannot forget those mesmerizing fireworks while appealing to humans are also troublesome for most pets.

The loud, unexpected booms tend to evoke anxiety in most dogs and can really put a damper on New Year’s celebrations.

And it’s not just dogs, even cats and other animals display distress during the time of year when fireworks are being set off so it’s important to keep our furry friends in mind as we plan for the night.

To make it a relaxing and enjoyable experience for all, here are our top tips for keeping dogs safe during the upcoming celebrations.

Keep Pets Indoors and Distracted

One of the best ways to keep your pet safe during the celebrations and noise happening outdoors or at a party is to keep them indoors, confined to their usual spaces and distracted by chew toys or other noise-drowning sounds that won’t disturb them.

Go for an extra walk earlier in the afternoon to tire them out and get them a new toy they can enjoy. You might also want to leave the TV turned on or add some relaxing music as background noise in the room.

Even if you feel okay with leaving them behind while you go out for the night, having indoor boundaries set-up can give them the freedom they typically enjoy without you needing to worry about what they’re getting into to while you’re away.

Never Ignore Fear

It can be easy to dismiss odd behaviors from your pet on nights like this with so much commotion happening but it’s important to never ignore signs of fear or distress. Oftentimes with dogs, it can lead to aggression or an otherwise preventable accident. Be on the lookout for signs such as barking, growling, raised hair on the back of their necks or even flattened ears. Extra cuddles and comfort are a great deterrent to stress!

Anxiety Meds

If your pup has already shown extreme signs of stress from fireworks during past holidays your vet may have recommended anxiety meds to help curb the issue. If you know there will be parties and fireworks likely going off this New Year in your neighborhood, plan in advance for the anxiety meds and be sure to administer them in time to assist your pet during the celebrations.

Have a safe and terrific New Year!

5 ‘Paw-some’ Gift Ideas for Pets this Holiday

The holiday season has officially arrived. If you’re scrambling for ideas to complete the shopping list for your loved ones, don’t forget the four-legged friends we spend so much time with throughout the year.

Here are 5 ‘paw-some’ ideas for the pets in your life.

1.      Give the Gift of Comfort

Aside from running around and playing, most dogs and cats really enjoy lounging around the house, napping, and snuggling. If you prefer your pets didn’t add fur to the family couch, consider giving them their own space to lay. There are lots of options for mini couches, pet beds, and even cat hammocks. Opt for one made of quality materials and beds that include therapeutic support for maximum comfort.

2.      Treats for Days

Outside of what we mentioned above as top activities, some of our feline and pup family members love food and treats. In moderation, treats can be a great way to reinforce positive behaviors and to show appreciation. If your pet is a lover or treats consider loading them up on some as a gift this year that you’ll provide responsibly over the year as they complete required tasks. There are also many subscription options out to consider if you’d like some surprise treats and toys to arrive on your doorstep each month.

3.      Grooming Bliss

A visit to the groomer is something that’s necessary for pets. Proper hygiene is critical for overall health and makes them all that more enjoyable to cuddle with. Consider taking your pup for the works as a gift this holiday. If they usually go in once a month for a wash, make this gift extra special and take them in for a wash, special conditioning, nail trimming, and haircut to make them feel ultra-pampered.

4.      Snuggle Time

Some of the best gifts are those that aren’t bought at all. The same is true for our pets. Most of them appreciate attention and time more than any gift. If you’re constantly on the go and haven’t found as much time to bond with your dog or cat this year, consider giving them the gift of extra time this holiday. They’ll be sure to purr and wag their tails in excitement at the gesture.

5.      Freedom!

If you’re looking to give your pet more freedom around your yard or in your home without putting their safety or your valuables at risk, then consider buying a hidden fence system as a gift this season. As a pet containment system, it helps you to offer boundaries where they can roam freely without concern, while still leaving them out of harm’s way. Think about the peace of mind this will give you when you’re at work or if you want the family to enjoy the outdoors in summer and don’t want to use a leash in your own yard. The possibilities are endless.

DogWatch of Western Mass provides the Pioneer Valley and surrounding areas with professionals that have years of experience in installing, training and providing excellent customer service to pet owners. Get in touch today!

Happy Holidays!

Planning a Pet-Safe Thanksgiving Meal

We’re just 10 days away from Thanksgiving and the start of the holiday season. If you’re hosting dinner for the family that day, it’s now crunch time. As you’re thinking about the dinner menu this year for loved ones to gather around the table to enjoy, you might also have your pet on that list. After all, they are our companions, friends, children and family members too.

If you’re planning on including your pet in this year’s Thanksgiving meal, be sure to not only cook their food separately with no sodium or spices but also become familiar with the list of foods that could be downright dangerous and toxic. While appetizing to us humans, there are foods that could actually cause our pups and kitties and become ill or worse.

Here’s a closer look at what to serve and not serve to this very special guest at Thanksgiving dinner.

Seasonings Can Wreak Havoc

While it’s true that our pets can eat certain foods served on this day – like turkey and even pumpkin or sweet potatoes, that doesn’t mean its okay for them to ingest it the way you have prepared it for the family. Spices, onions, and garlic can be very dangerous for pets. If your turkey has been smothered in butter, salt and flavorings, it is not okay for your dog or cat to consume.

Ham is Not Safe

In addition to turkey being a potential issue, ham is a definite no-no. The fatty, pork can quickly add up to extra calories your pet does not need and the bones can become splintered and cause harm to your pet’s stomach and digestive system.

Exercise Caution around Sweets

Chocolate is one of the most known foods that are dangerous to dogs. Keeping desserts off the floor, out of reach from pets and being vigilant to sweep the floor when guests leave is important. Other sweets can be deadly too. Grapes, artificial sweeteners like Xylitol – all known to be deadly. Be very careful with these items around your pets this holiday.

So What Can they Eat?

Fresh, wholesome natural foods cooked separately from your other meals can work well if incorporating your pet into Thanksgiving dinner is a must. Sweet potatoes, turkey and even pumpkin puree cooked simply in water with no additional spices or flavors will be tasty to your pets and a welcome treat. Remember to adjust their other feedings so you’re not overdoing it calories wise.

Have a terrific Turkey day!

Daylight Savings Tips for Pet Safety

This past weekend we turned back our clocks an hour for daylight savings. This was established as a way to make better use of daylight for farmers and those who relied on the daylight for their daily tasks. Whether you’re happy to add in an “extra” hour of sleep or are sad to see the darkness come more quickly a night, the truth is changing our clocks can take some getting used to for most.

Not just humans, but especially our four-legged friends can become confused when they suddenly realize dinner time is happening later and your return home from work looks much different out in the yard.

Here are tips to help keep your pet safe and healthy with daylight savings.

Adjust Slowly

Planning in advance for schedule and time changes makes sense. Animals are creatures of habit and if you’re suddenly planning on taking your daily walks earlier in the day before it gets dark, this could throw your pup off. Instead get them slowly accustomed to the changes by starting your walks earlier weeks before to give them time to get used to the new schedule. The same is true for feeding time. Both cats and dogs seem to know when it’s time to grub. If you miss the deadline you’re likely to hear the whines and purrs as they wait. If you’ll be feeding them later or earlier start doing that gradually as well.

Stay Safe on Evening Walks

If you plan to keep the same walking schedule in the late afternoon and will now be out in the darkness it’s important for your safety and the safety of your pet to ensure others on the road can see them. Use reflective gear like collars and harnesses to help them be seen and always bring a flashlight or other flashing device to ensure they and you can be seen.

Positive Reinforcement & Training are Key

As with any new changes and positive behaviors your pet is able to take on, it’s important to always give them praise and appreciation so they know they are right on track and doing good. It’s not only a great way to bond but it also increases the likelihood they’ll repeat the correct behaviors in the future.

Some training might be needed if your pup is still young and extra patience may be needed for older pets, but with the right attention and love, adjusting to less daylight can be a breeze for your family and pets.

Want to give your pet freedom and safety? Consider having a hidden fence installed. Offer them the ultimate freedom where they can roam around the house or the yard in the boundaries you set.

Get in touch today to learn more!

Trick Or Treat: 3 Ways To Keep Your Dog Calm This Halloween

For us humans, Halloween can be an exciting time. Dressing up and handing out candy to the neighborhood kids can be a lot of fun. To dogs, however, Halloween can be somewhat stressful. Even if your pup is a true “people dog,” the rapid influx of new scents making their way to your doorstep can be quite overwhelming.

What’s more, you don’t want to risk scaring away those cheerful little ghouls either. As friendly as your canine companion may be, it’s hard for strangers to distinguish a “nice” bark from a “mean” bark when they ring the doorbell. Therefore, it’s best for both parties if Fido is sufficiently contained during peak trick-or-treating hours.

Here are 3 tips you can use to keep your dog calm.

1. Take Them For A Run

Take your dog for a brisk walk or run before the night begins. Giving them a good workout will help to tire them out. Once they’re exhausted, they’ll be less interested in investigating the many knocks on your door.

2. Occupy Them With Toys & Treats

Children aren’t the only ones who deserve treats on Halloween. After taking them for a run, reward your dog with a well-deserved snack. If they still have a lot of spunk left, then distract them with their favorite toys. While many dogs do tend to trade toys for new visitors, you could always try purchasing a brand new toy for the occasion. Remember that new toys are just as much fun for them as they are for us, so pick something good!

3. Use An Indoor Dog Fence

Ideally, you should keep your dog as far away from the front door as possible. While dogs will be able to sense incoming visitors, the distance will help muffle their barks of excitement, which will make trick-or-treaters feel more at ease.

Try Pet Boundaries By DogWatch

While it’s important to keep your dog contained, there is no need to keep them so restricted that they can’t enjoy the night too. DogWatch’s pet boundaries use wireless technology to keep your dog safely out of the way. There’s no need for baby gates or closed doors: these wireless devices establish an effective boundary line that prevents dogs from roaming beyond their specified limits.

If you’re interested in our pet containment systems, or you need help setting them up, then contact DogWatch Hidden Fences of Western Massachusetts today!

Top Tips for Puppy Proofing Your Home

If you’ve made the decision to welcome a four-legged friend into your family, congratulations. The years of companionship, loyalty, and warmth these pets bring to a household is undeniable. If you’ve also taken the plunge as owners to a newborn or young puppy, hats off to you! Much like young children, puppies require attention, extra care and careful assimilation with others in the household.

With the right steps you’ll be on your way to a house with an additional family member everyone loves and soon those chewed up slippers and accidents on the floor will be long past.

Here are our top tips for puppy proofing your home.

Keep Things Tidy

Puppies are curious creatures. They love to explore and they love to chew. If you’ve got belongings you care about, you should exercise caution when leaving them behind. Don’t keep them in reach of the puppy and be sure to hide dangerous wires, plants or other small objects that can present a hazard for these little fellows. Even if you can’t keep a close eye every second keeping a tidy and neat space for them will eliminate some of your concerns.

Learn to Share the Space

One thing most families don’t consider when opting to bring home a pup is that they will now become part of the shared space in your home. Teaching toddlers to pick up their toys, to respect the dog’s space and to avoid chasing or antagonizing them is key to growing successful relationships and bonds.

Start Training Early

One of the best ways to show dogs how they can be comfortable with their family members is to offer them obedience training early. This teaches them proper tools for commands, communication and even how to be understood by their owners. Trainers work with canines on socialization, enrichment and primary behaviors they should know.

Set Boundaries

One of the best ways to protect and give your pup a sense of security is to set boundaries for them. There is speculation about whether or not crate training is needed but even if you’re not going that route, giving a young dog free reign of the home isn’t the right choice. With indoor hidden fences, you can set up safe boundaries so that your dog and roam freely inside and still protect them when you can’t be there to monitor their every move. Keep them off the couch and out of the trash with ease.

Contact DogWatch of Western MA for a free estimate.