Friday, December 19, 2008

Winter Care for Canines

General Concerns

Winter's cold air brings many concerns for responsible dog owners. Keep the following precautions in mind:
Don't leave your dog outside in the cold for long periods of time. Wind chill makes days colder than actual temperature readings. Be attentive to your dog's body temperature, and limit its time outdoors.

Adequate shelter is a necessity. Keep your dog warm, dry and away from drafts. Tiles and uncarpeted areas may become extremely cold, so make sure to place blankets and pads on floors in these areas.

Be extra careful when walking or playing with your dog near frozen lakes, rivers or ponds. Your dog could slip or jump in and get seriously injured.

Groom your dog regularly. Your dog needs a well-groomed coat to keep properly insulated. Short- or coarse-haired dogs may get extra cold, so consider a sweater or coat. Long-haired dogs should have excess hair around the toes and foot pads trimmed to ease snow removal and cleaning. If you do the trimming, take care not to cut the pads or other delicate area of the foot.

Feed your dog additional calories if it spends a lot of time outdoors or is a working animal. It takes more energy in the winter to keep body temperature regulated, so additional calories are necessary.

Towel or blow-dry your dog if it gets wet from rain or snow. It is important to dry and clean its paws, too. This helps avoid tiny cuts and cracked pads. A little petroleum jelly may soften the pads and prevent further cracking.

Don't leave your dog alone in a car. If the car engine is left on, the carbon monoxide will endanger your dog's life. If the engine is off, the temperature in the car will get too cold.
Health Tips

Dogs cannot talk to us when they are sick. As a responsible dog owner, it is important to pay special attention to your dog's well-being during the winter season. Remember the following health concerns:
Antifreeze, which often collects on driveways and roadways, is highly poisonous. Although it smells and tastes good to your dog, it can be lethal.

Rock salt, used to melt ice on sidewalks, may irritate footpads. Be sure to rinse and dry your dog's feet after a walk.

Provide plenty of fresh water. Your dog is just as likely to get dehydrated in the winter as in the summer. Snow is not a satisfactory substitute for water.

Frostbite is your dog's winter hazard. To prevent frostbite on its ears, tail and feet, don't leave your dog outdoors for too long.

Be very careful of supplemental heat sources. Fireplaces and portable heaters can severely burn your dog. Make sure all fireplaces have screens, and keep portable heaters out of reach.

Like people, dogs seem to be more susceptible to illness in the winter. Take your dog to a veterinarian if you see any suspicious symptoms.

Don't use over-the-counter medications on your dog without consulting a veterinarian.
Holiday Safeguards

The winter season brings lots of fun holiday festivities, but pet-owners should keep in mind the following special precautions:
The holidays are not ideal for introducing a pet into your family. New puppies and dogs require extra attention and a stable environment, which the holiday season doesn't permit. Also, a puppy is not a toy or gift that can be returned. Instead, the AKC suggests giving a gift representative of the dog to come, such as a toy, a leash, or a bed.

Holly, mistletoe and poinsettia plants are pet poisons! Make sure they are kept in places your dog cannot reach.

Review holiday gifts for dogs to make sure they are safe. Items such as plastic toys and small rawhide sticks may be dangerous.

Remove holiday lights from lower branches of your tree. They may get very hot and burn dogs.

Watch out for electrical cords. Pets often try to chew them and may get badly shocked or electrocuted. Place wires out of reach.

Avoid using glass ornaments. They break easily and may cut a dog's feet and mouth.

Refrain from using edible ornaments. Your dog may knock the tree over in an attempt to eat them. Also, commercial ornaments may contain paint or toxins in the preservatives.

Whether your tree is live or artificial, both kinds of needles are sharp and indigestible. Don't leave your dog unattended in the room with the tree.

Tinsel is dangerous for dogs. It may obstruct circulation and, if swallowed, block the intestines.

Alcohol and chocolate are toxic for dogs, even in small amounts. Keep unhealthy, sweet treats and seasonal goodies out of reach.

The holiday season is a stressful time for dogs. Try to keep a normal schedule during all the excitement.

Source: American Kennel Club

Monday, September 22, 2008

Feline Diabetes

For up to the minute information on Feline Diabetes check out
You can also find more pet articles in the October issue of Natural Health Magazine.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

According To The Humane Society of The United States

"Common sense tells most people that leaving their pet inside a parked vehicle on a hot, summer day could be dangerous after an extended period of time. But most people don't realize that the temperature can skyrocket after just a few minutes. Parking in the shade or leaving the windows cracked does little to alleviate this pressure cooker.

On a warm, sunny day windows collect light, trapping heat inside the vehicle, and pushing the temperature inside to dangerous levels. On an 85-degree Fahrenheit day, for example, the temperature inside a car with the windows opened slightly can reach 102 degrees within ten minutes. After 30 minutes, the temperature will reach 120 degrees. At 110 degrees, pets are in danger of heatstroke. On hot and humid days, the temperature in a car parked in direct sunlight can rise more than 30 degrees per minute, and quickly become lethal.

A recent study by the Stanford University School of Medicine showed that temperatures inside cars can rise dramatically even on mild days. With outside temperatures as low as 72 degrees, researchers found that a car's interior temperature can heat up by an average of 40 degrees within an hour, with 80% of that increase in the first 30 minutes. A cracked window provides little relief from this oven effect. The Stanford researchers found that a cracked window had an insignificant effect on both the rate of heating and the final temperature after an hour.

Pets, more so than humans, are susceptible to overheating. While people can roll down windows, turn on the air conditioner or exit the vehicle when they become too hot, pets cannot. And pets are much less efficient at cooling themselves than people are.

Dogs, for example, are designed to conserve heat. Their sweat glands, which exist on their nose and the pads of their feet, are inadequate for cooling during hot days. Panting and drinking water helps cool them, but if they only have overheated air to breathe, dogs can suffer brain and organ damage after just 15 minutes. Short-nosed breeds, like pugs and bulldogs, young pets, seniors or pets with weight, respiratory, cardiovascular or other health problems are especially susceptible to heat-related stress."

And to refresh yourself...try keeping a carafe of water (with sliced cucumbers) in the fridge. It is delightful on these HOT summer days.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Fishawack 2008

The day was a success :) Great weather ~ ok a bit warm. We met many nice folks and their four legged friends. We handed out many brochures, balloons, business cards and home~made whole wheat treats. Many pups stopped for H2o and many parent/clients stopped to say hello. We all had a great time.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Fishawack Festival June 14, 2008

The 21st Anniversary of the biennial Fishawack Festival will be held Saturday, June 14 in downtown Chatham. The word Fishawack was the Lenni Lenape Indian name for the Passaic River which they forded at Chatham en route from their home in northern New Jersey to the Jersey Shore where they spent the summers. Proceeds from the one-day festival are returned to town agencies and organizations such as the Emergency Squad, Senior Center, Community Band, Chatham High scholarships, Library Fishawack Book fund, etc. Nearly $200.000 has been returned to the community by the biennial festival since it's inception in 1971. Featured this year will be local artists, authors and artisans as well as kids' activities and an auto show featuring new and antique models. A wide array of food vendors serving lunch and supper will be available as well as on-going entertainment, performed on the green at the Gazebo all day. Events will culminate in the evening with a "Rock Around the Clock" jam session around the Centennial Clock in Reasoner Park with local bands of all ages. This year's them is "Show Your Colors" in connection with the celebration of Flag Day. It will truly be a Red White and Blue event. Source:

We hope you will come out and support the day, enjoy the entertainment and vendors and stop by our tent in the Post Office Plaza.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Pets No Pests

We love our pets. They are friends and family. Unfortunately, they aren't our only animal housemates. Sometimes rodents and insects visit and try to move in permanently. Not only are these pests unwelcome, they litter the home with nests, wastes, and dead bodies ~ and can leave behind a path of destruction ranging from moth-eaten woolens to structural damage. Luckily, there are ways to minimize the effort it takes to clean up after all your critters. And that means more time for fetch!

Primary care of your pet begins with feeding and watering. Whatever type of pet you have, it's important to clean the food and water bowls daily to prevent the buildup of dirt and bacteria.
Place pet bowls on a washable mat or tray to protect your flooring against spills and drips. Wash with hot, soapy water at least once a week or as needed. Disinfect the mat or tray periodically. *(Top Hat And Tails uses: biokleen ~ a grapefruit seed & orange peel extract product. We purchase this from Whole Foods).

Do not dispose of or leave pet waste in a ditch, storm drain, street, sidewalk or trail. It contributes to the pollution of nearby streams and lakes. *( Chatham Boro storm drains go directly to The Great Swamp. Chatham Twp storm drains go directly to The Passaic River).
Do not add carnivorous pet waste to the compost pile. The pile will not get hot enough to kill parasites and other disease-causing organisms. It may also attract all sort of vermin.

If you choose to flush cat feces, make sure only the feces goes down the toilet. Clay based litter can clog up the toilet and your septic tank.

Try using an all-natural enzyme-based cleaning product as an alternative method to removing pet "accidents" from carpets. The enzymes actually digest the stain-and odor causing proteins in the pet urine. To discourage a pet from resoiling a previously soiled area, lay a sheet of foil on the spot for a week or two. It will be unappealing for your pet to step on.

Pet-grooming wipes or baby wipes are great for cleaning dirt off paws and wiping away the dander and excess hail that can cause human pet allergies. Top Hat And Tails uses Musher's Secret paw protection on our own canines during the cold winter months and hot summer months.

If your pets have fleas, throw out or empty the vacuum bag outdoors after each vacuuming. Throw out or empty your vacuum bag when it is half-full, to prevent the vacuum from getting clogged with pet hair.

It is important that your Rabbit, Hamster or other furry friend have a clean, dry cage. Look for a cage with a solid-surface floor and a large door or a lid that lifts off. Deluxe hard plastic structures with prefabricated tunnels and chambers may look appealing, but can be very difficult to clean. Wash and refill water bowl or bottle daily. Clean up droppings with a wet paper towel; the dampness will keep dry droppings from turning into easily inhaled dust. Remove vegetable your pet has not eaten. Every other day, clean where your pet urinate. Remove dirty litter and replace. Clean the whole rodent cage and everything in it weekly to prevent the growth of mold in the soiled shavings, which can make your pet sick. Completely empty the cage, and wash and rinse the bottom of the cage with biokleen. Dry thoroughly before refilling the cage with fresh bedding. For easy cleanup, clip vegetable you feed to you pet to the wire frame of the cage. We use this method for our Cockatiel and Green Cheek Conure. You may wish to consider using plastic gloves to clean cages.

Birds are not the neatest of pets, so it is important to establish an everyday cleaning routine:
Use hot water and (again I recommend biokleen) to wipe feces off the cage, perches and toys. Change the paper lining on the bottom of the cage. Wash the food and water bowls and rinse thoroughly. Occasionaly put food and water bowls in the dish washer. Make certain the food bowl is dry before adding seed or pellets to prevent mold. Keep a handheld vacuum or a broom handy to clean up debris that has fallen from the cage. Minimize "fallout" with a cage apron or an office chair mat under the cage. NEVER use the self-cleaning feature of your oven around a bird; it can be deadly!

You do not need to remove fish to accomplish the weekly or monthly aquarium clening. Take these simple steps:

1. Scrape algae off the inside of the glass walls with an algae scrubber. Also scrub rocks or decoration with algae.
2. Trim excess growth and dead leaves on live plants.
3. Siphon off 15 to 20 percent of the water and replace it with clean tap water that has been allowed to sit in an aquarium-use-only bucket for at least 24 hours. You may want to consider using a gravel cleaner that vacuums up decaying organic matter.

Understanding pest behaviour and changing yours is the key to control. When tackling pest problems, always start with the least toxic method. Herbal solutions, such as peppermint or spearmint oils, can be used to repel insects. No toxic alternatives to pesticides also include a variety of traps and baits as well as ultrasonic technology, which uses high-frequency sound to drive rodents and insects from your home without harming human occupants.

Most insects and rodents prefer to live outdoors, but will often seek food, water and shelter in your home, especially in the colder months. Prevention is the best policy against household pests.

*Remove food and water sources and clean regularly.
*Make you home uncomfortable for pests.
*Employ-tight fitting windows and screens.
*Repair leaking roofs, chimneys and pipes. Insects love moisture.
*Keep the perimeter of your home free of leaves, wood, mulch, compost and heavy vegetation.
*Keep clutter to a minimum in garages, sheds, basements and other storage areas.

Tracks and droppings are sure signs of a rodent infestation. You might also see gnawed cables or electric wires or damaged walls, floors and doors. The sight of one mouse or rat is cause for action, because rodents reproduce rapidly; two mice can produce 2,500 heirs in just 6 months!!

A mouse can pass through holes as small as a nickel; rats can squeeze into holes as small as a half-dollar. Try to determine how these rodents are getting into your home by sprinkling talcum powder on the floor in the suspect ares. Footprints or tail marks will indicate activity.

Source: The One-Minute Cleaner Plain & Simple by Donna Smallin


Saturday, February 9, 2008

In Memory Of Buddy

We are sadden by the loss of Buddy last month. A faithful companion to both his human and canine family for 15 years. It is in his honor that we give a brief description of this breed.

The Old English Sheepdog is a member of the Herding Breed. In existence in Britain for centuries, it is believed to have been developed through the crossing of the Briard with the Russian Owtcharks, which in turn is related to the Hungarian Sheepdogs. It was used as a drovers dog and for defending flocks of sheep. In the early 18th century in Britain, drovers dogs were exempt from taxes and their tails were docked as a means of indentification, hence the nickname Bobtail. The Old English Sheepdog is a kindly dog that gets along well with people, children and other animals. It is fairly large, heavy and exuberant, and must be given sufficient space and be adequately exercised.
Source: the dog breed handbook by Joan Palmer 2005