March2011

The Importance of Keeping Your Cat Indoors

Many people let their cats run around the neighborhood because they believe cats want to be outside. While many cats do enjoy going out, you should know that letting your cat out is risky.

At the Nebraska Humane Society, we see stray cats enter the shelter with all sorts of injuries and diseases. We know that at some point, they were someone’s pet because they are well socialized and enjoy attention, but they have met with difficulty when on their own.

Most cats do enjoy prowling and hunting outdoors, but the fact is, they live longer, healthier lives inside. On average, indoor cats live 16 years, while strictly outdoor cats live just 2 to 5 years. Indoor/outdoor cats fall in between, with an average lifespan of 6 to 8 years. The reason is simple. They are not as protected from outside forces, which include:

  • Running into the street and being struck by a car. Cars hit and kill hundreds of cats in the Omaha metro area each year
  • Ingesting pesticides, rat poison and anti-freeze
  • Exposure to contagious diseases like feline leukemia and parasites like worms, mites and lice
  • Attacks by wild animals, roaming dogs and other cats
  • Being trapped by a neighbor, either in a trap, or, unintentionally as a garage or shed door is shut
  • Being mistaken for a stray
  • Getting lost and unable to find home
  • Encountering someone with cruel intentions

To keep cats happy indoors you can provide all sorts of enrichment with toys, hiding places, multi-level perches and windows to look out. Some cats enjoy “kitty videos” of bugs, birds or other outdoor activities that you can play on a television. Growing your own grass or cat-friendly plants can give your cat a taste of the outdoors. Plus, giving him different surfaces for kneading and scratching will help curb those desires to sharpen claws on trees. Scheduling play time in a couple of 10 minute blocks can help keep your cat entertained indoors so he won’t be so intent to get out.

For more information, visit the Nebraska Humane Society website.

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Food is coming to Properpet.com!

Properpet.com spent some time looking into pet food providers and we have finally found someone who we believe will be a good fit for the ProperPet.com website. We are pleased to announce that in the next couple of weeks we will start to add pet food, treats and other pet supplies from Natura® manufacturing. Some of the brands that Natura makes are Innova®, the first “true” holistic pet health food, EVO® a line of grain free pet food, California Natural®, a pet food for food sensitive pets, Health Wise®, pet food with balanced nutrition, Mother Nature®, healthy pet treats & Karma®, organic dog food and dog treats.

Enjoy the Outdoors with Your Furry Friend

As the weather hopefully becomes warmer and we drift into the spring season, we get the urge to spend more time outside, Golden Retreiver Puppyenjoying the fresh air. One great way to enjoy the nicer weather is spend some time playing outside with your furry friend, who has also been cooped up during the cold winter months.

This spring season be prepared with a few essentials for playtime outside with your dog or puppy.

1. A collar is always a necessary basic with a dog or puppy. Having a fun, brightly colored or patterned collar is a great way to keep your dog or puppy looking stylish and it provides a way to keep track of him or her in a big dog park. Collars are also the essential in attaching leashes.

2. Speaking of leashes, they are another great basic while enjoying the weather. Luckily, we offer a great selection of leashes from cotton to chains to even fashionable ones. Depending on your dog’s personality and needs, you are sure to find a great leash in our wide selection.

3. While enjoying your time outdoors, be prepared with waste clean-up products for your dog or puppy’s bathroom breaks.It sure would be no fun to be stuck on a walk or in the park without having anything to clean up after them.

4. While toys may not be considered essential for outdoor fun, they can sure add to it. We have a section specifically designated for fetch toys, which are a great way to enjoy the weather, while giving you and your furry friend some exercise.

These are just a few of the basics in enjoying time outside with your dog or puppy. You can find all you need at properpet.com and be sure to enjoy the upcoming spring season.

Craft Corner: Do-It-Yourself Cat Toys

I’m not very skilled when it comes to making crafts or pretty much anything artistic, but since I love cats and enjoy watching them go nuts over a new toy, I decided to make a couple of cat toys. I spent this past weekend fashioning some quick and easy toys for my boyfriend’s cats. I included easy-to-follow directions and some photos for those interested in recreating these toys. It takes less than 5 minutes to make each of these.

Cardboard Spoke Wheel

Materials:
-cardboard toilet paper roll
-scissors

Instructions:
1. Pick up the toilet paper roll and with the scissors, cut several 1”-long segments on both ends of the roll.

2. Fold each of the segments back so they resemble spokes.

It should look like this when you’re done folding:

3. Roll it on the floor and watch your kitty play.

Food/Treat Dispensers

Materials:
-plastic Easter egg
-cat treats or dry cat food

Instructions:
1. Open a plastic egg and fill it with 3 or 4 pieces of dry food or treats.

2. Close the egg, and roll it on the floor.

Your cat will be engaged by the rattling sound it makes. He/she can bat it around until it opens, and then eat the treats or food:

  1. 3 Ways to Save Money on Pets « Proper Pet Care: [...] to play a game of fetch, long walks or playtime with the family.  For cats, you can even make…

Health Benefits of Owning a Pet

Life is full of ups and downs. We often experience spurts of stress for short and prolonged periods. We try to take care of our health and do the best we can on a daily basis keeping up with our busy routines and schedules. We also look for ways to relieve some of that stress in our lives – to experience a little more calm, a little more relaxation to keep our minds and spirits in good condition for all the activities and goals we need and would like to accomplish. A great stress reliever and a way to boost our health and spirits is having a pet. Pets are a great way to both experience health benefits for the body, mind and spirit.

Having a pet can help reduce the stress in your day, boost your mood and encourage a light-hearted spirit. A pet can help to combat loneliness, especially if you live by yourself. Coming home to an empty apartment after a hard day compared to coming home to a friendly and furry face can make a difference in your mood for the remainder of the evening. A pet is great companionship because they are often full of unconditional love. Spending time with a pet, playing or just relaxing, can help you elevate your mood and put smiles on both of your faces.

Having a pet, especially a dog, can also serve as a great motivator to exercise, which has been shown to reduce stress and improve mood. Because dogs require walks and runs, you have no choice but to participate. And while you are in the park,  you can both get some exercise playing fetch.

Not only can the ownership of a pet help you to boost your mood and spirit, according to a womensday.com article, owning a pet can help you socialize as well. Whether on a walk around the neighborhood or playing in the park, your precious pooch is often a great and easy conversation starter. You can also head to a dog park, where you can meet fellow pet owners.  And if you are looking for a date, having a pet could help, according to a webmd.com article. Remember the scene in “101 Dalmatians” where Pongo and Perdita met in the park and consequently their owners met and fell in love? That could potentially happen in real life as well.

These are just a few of the many benefits that pet ownership can serve in reducing stress in our jam-packed schedules and routines. Owning a pet is a big responsibility and a decision that should not be taken lightly. Here is a helpful article on what to think about before getting a dog.

No More Stink: Keep Your Cat’s Litter Box Fresh and Clean

It’s every cat owner’s pet peeve: a smelly litter box. Sure, you probably scoop the cat box daily to avoid that gross odor fromcute kitty permeating the rest of your house, but the stench can still linger. But don’t fret: there are a number of affordable and easy tips you can follow to eliminate that unwelcome funk from your home.

First, figure out if the cat litter you purchase is scented. There are all sorts of cat litter varieties that feature a variety of scents. It could be that the scent of the litter you buy is contributing to the smell. Try out different brands to see which scent is best, or you can opt for unscented litter.

Check and see if the heat in your home is affecting the smell of the litter box. Heat can amplify unpleasant odors, so it’s a good idea to keep the litter box in a cool, dry room. Keep it in your basement, downstairs or in the coldest room of your home.

Wash the litter box regularly. It’s messy and a hassle, but it beats living in a house that reeks of rancid cat litter. Make it a point to completely dump out the dirty litter and then give the box a thorough wash with hot water, bleach and soap every week. Dry the box and then wipe it with a generous amount of white vinegar. Vinegar is especially effective at eating up the dirty cat litter smell. Once you’re done giving the box a vinegar wipe, line it with newspaper, then pour in fresh litter. The paper will absorb any leftover vinegar and will prevent any soiled litter from sticking to the box.

It’s also a good idea to leave a dish of white vinegar near the litter box too. It can help neutralize odors caused by dirty litter. Cats won’t mess with vinegar because of its strong smell, but if you’re worried, you can always leave the dish on a high shelf or platform that your cat can’t reach.

Periodically sprinkle some baking soda over the litter. It has an excellent deodorizing effect, so it’s perfect for minimizing the smell that dirty cat litter can cause. For maximum effect, pour an entire box of baking soda into the litter.

It’s also important to dispose of dirty cat litter immediately. Scoop your cat’s litter box at least once a day, more often if you have multiple cats. Many times, if you scoop the dirty litter into a trashcan and just leave it in the room, that contributes to the bad smell. Be sure to empty the trash every couple of days, so the used litter smell doesn’t linger. You may have to empty the litter trash can more frequently, depending on how many cats you have and how often they use the litter box.

Be sure to replace your litter box when necessary. Many cat owners will keep the same litter box, never wash or replace it, and then wonder why it smells so bad. If you make it a point to replace your cat box every few months, you’ll notice a vast improvement in how your home smells. Regularly washing the litter box extends its life, and you can use it for much longer. But if it’s time for a replacement, there are many affordable cat litter boxes that are available.

So the next time you notice your cat’s litter box is stinking up the house, employ these techniques. If you consistently maintain a clean litter box, your home won’t be known as the one that always smells like kitty litter anymore. And that’s a definite plus!

How to Massage Your Dog

Massages aren’t just for people. Your pooch can benefit from a good rub down too. It can be quite soothing for your dog, especially if he has sore muscles or arthritis. Just like with humans, massage provides numerous health benefits for dogs by increasing circulation and stimulating blood flow. But you don’t have to take your dog to the vet or to an expensive pet spa to give him the benefits of a massage. It’s something you can do conveniently at home. Just set aside ten to fifteen minutes. So how do you go about giving your canine pal a massage?

First, check to see if your dog is relaxed. Don’t try to get him to sit still or lie down if he’s in an excited mood. It depends on your dog’s personality, but wait for when he is calm and have him lie on the floor on a mat or rug with you sitting next to him. Make sure the surface is comfortable for him. If you have a small or toy-sized dog, set him on your lap as you sit on a chair or couch.

Start like you would normally pet your dog, but make the strokes longer, more connected and softer. That way it feels more soothing for him. Don’t press too hard; begin softly and adjust the pressure to your dog’s liking. If he seems more responsive to softer strokes, stick with that. If he likes a firmer touch, go with that. Be careful if your dog has arthritis or very achy muscles. Usually a softer touch works best in those cases. Stroke along the length of his body, from his head, along his back, to his tail. Spend several strokes doing this to set your pooch at ease and help him relax.

Then focus attention on his head, and scratch behind his ears (most dogs love to be scratched behind the ears). Take two fingers and stroke at the top of his head between his eyes to relieve tension, moving from the eyes to the base of his head all the way to the base of his neck. Stroke under his chin too. Take each ear between your fingers and gently rub.

Knead the tops of your dog’s shoulders if you sense a lot of stress and tension in his muscles. You can also use your fingertips and rub in small circles over his shoulders. Then open your hands, place them on your dog’s chest and then rub in a slow, circular motion. Move to your dog’s legs and gently stroke them, starting with his front legs, working all the way down to his paws. Pet each of his paws or give them a gentle squeeze in the palm of your hand (depending on if your dog likes his paws handled), then stroke his back until you reach his back legs. If you sense tension or stress in your dog’s thighs, repeat the circular fingertip movements you used on his shoulders. Then stroke his hind legs and back paws.

Repeat these movements over your dog’s body as many times as you want. Be careful not to put any direct pressure on your dog’s spine or sore joints. It’s essentially like you are petting your dog, but in a slower, more deliberate and soothing manner. Pay attention to how your dog responds as you massage him. He should appear relaxed as you stroke him. If he seems uneasy or agitated, wait until he’s more relaxed, and then try again later.

So the next time you’re spending quality time with your pooch, turn it into a massage session. All you need are a few minutes of free time and the desire to soothe your pet. Make it a point to massage at least once every couple of weeks, once a week if you can. You will be amazed at how much calmer and happier your dog will appear when you take the time for massage.

5 Easy Ways to Show Your Cat Some Love

We didn’t forget about you cat owners out there. As a follow-up to our previous post about how to show your dog some love, we’ve compiled a list of simple and easy ways to do the same for your cat. Cats and dogs are very different creatures, but they both need love from their owners. You may not need to spend as much quality one-on-one time with a cat as you would a dog, but your feline pal still deserves affection. Here are some ways to show your cat you care.

1. Chin Scratches. Every cat I’ve encountered loves to be scratched under the chin. It’s a good way to please your kitty, give him a little extra moment of TLC and let him know that you haven’t forgotten about him. So when you see your cat throughout the day, take a few seconds and give him an enthusiastic chin scratch. Make it a point to do this regularly, at least a couple times each day. Even if you are busy running around the house or darting in and out, it’s easy to make the time for it. He’ll be very appreciative.

2. Catnip. What cat doesn’t love to go crazy playing with catnip? Treat your cat to a fun catnip toy. It will provide him with hours of non-stop fun. Plus, it’s always entertaining to see your feline friend go crazy on catnip.

3. Nuzzle Up. If you’re a cat lover, not much beats an adorable nuzzle from your cat. When you’re sitting on the couch with your cat on your lap, gently rub your face or forehead against your cat’s face. Most cats love this and will happily nuzzle you back. Be sure to pet him while you nuzzle to let him know that he is cared for and appreciated.

4. Play Time. Making time for interactive play with your kitty is a great way to show that you care. There are tons of things you can use to play with your cats. Break out the string, balls or toy mice for a rousing play session. If you don’t have any cat toys, use a plastic milk jug lid or link together a paper clip chain. Pretty much anything can be improvised into a cat toy. Set aside five to ten minutes every day to have interactive play with your cat. It’s a fun bonding time with your feline friend and it helps keep them stimulated.

5. Brushing. Not every cat loves to be brushed, but for the ones that do, it’s a great way to show them some love. You can use a regular cat brush or a lint roller if you have an especially fuzzy or long-haired pet. It’s a great way to spend some time with him while minimizing the amount of cat hair that accumulates in your home.

So even if you’re having an especially busy day, devote a little bit of time to your cat. All of these activities can be done in less than a few minutes. Plus, they are fun bonding moments between you and your pet that ensure they feel loved.

Fight Cabin Fever with Fun Dog Toys

PuppyDoes your dog have a serious case of cabin fever after being stuck inside for most of the winter? Sure, the weather is getting warmer, which means your pooch will be able to spend more time outdoors. But for those times when he’s stuck inside, stave off boredom by trying out some of the toys we carry that are specifically designed to stimulate your dog.

Puzzles
Mentally stimulate your pooch with a puzzle. The puzzles we carry have stuffed animals that you place inside their “homes” for your dog to dig out. Some of the puzzle toys have squeakers to further engage your pet. They effectively sharpen your pet’s cognitive and problem-solving skills, and also improve memory. They are great for dog breeds that enjoy chasing small prey and burrowing, since the plush animals imitate real-life animals.

Check out our selection of puzzles.

Treat Balls and Dispensers
Treat balls and dispensers are a healthy way to feed your canine pal while keeping him entertained. Just fill them with your pooch’s favorite food or treats, toss it on the floor and let him have at it. Your dog will love pawing at and wrestling with this toy to get more goodies. It also dispenses the food and treats slowly, which causes your dog to eat slower. This improves digestion and increases nutrient absorption to benefit your pet’s health. Plus, your dog is exercising as he eats, since he is constantly moving the ball around and chasing after it, trying to retrieve the food and treats.

Check out our selection of treat balls and dispensers.

Agility Kits
If you’re eager to whip your dog back into shape after an inactive winter, try an agility kit. They are easy to set up, and are a great way to improve your dog’s obedience skills while bonding with him and exercising him. It enables your dog to learn how to quickly weave back and forth, jump high and run through tunnels. It can be used as a challenging obstacle course, or as a way to leisurely exercise your pet. Either way, simply set it up in your yard, and your dog will love playing with it, especially after spending the winter months cooped up inside.

Check out our selection of agility kits.

So the next time you notice your dog is getting a bit antsy, spring for one of these toys. They are loads of fun to play with and will keep your dog occupied, stimulated and happy.

5 Easy Ways to Show Your Dog Some Love

Admit it: in today’s crazy busy world, spending time with your pooch can fall by the wayside. When you have work, family, errands, appointments and a busy social life to keep track of, it’s easy to forget about your dog. But he needs love too, and there are some simple and easy ways to remind your dog you care. So the next time you’re feeling strapped for time, follow any one of these five tips to show you love him.

1. A Friendly Scratch. What dog doesn’t love a good scratch behind the ears or on the belly? Most dogs are blissfully happy to be pet, so make sure to pet him frequently. Get in the habit of giving your pooch a good ear scratch or a belly rub when you arrive home. It doesn’t take more than several seconds, and once you get into the habit of it, it will become second nature.

2. Massage. It may sound weird, but spending ten minutes or so massaging your pooch is a wonderfully relaxing way to show him you care about his needs and want to spend time with him. The next time you’re sitting on the couch with your dog, gently massage his body with long, connected and soothing strokes. Don’t press too hard; just stroke his back, shoulders, legs, ears and paws slowly and deliberately. You can even knead the tops of his shoulders if you sense a lot of stress and tension in his muscles. Adjust the pressure depending on how your dog responds. He should appear relaxed while you massage him. Some pooches will like more gentle pressure while others prefer a firmer touch.

3. Treats. Man’s best friend is always game for a treat. Toss him one after you’ve walked him or when he’s obedient. It also helps reinforce good behavior and will be an incentive for him to continue to behave well. Just don’t overdo it. You certainly don’t want a dog with a weight problem as a result of overindulging him with too many treats, so set a limit to a few each day.

4. Hug It Out. Who says you can’t hug your canine pal? Most dogs love to be in physical contact with their owners, so they would welcome a hug from you.

5. Quality Time. Spending time with your dog is one of the best gifts you could give him. Dogs need love and attention, just like people, and when you neglect them for an extended period of time, they can become sad or anxious. Even if you’re busy and don’t have the time to block out an hour of your day to play with your dog, include him in your daily activities. Take him outside with you when you check the mail or get the morning paper. Let him sit on the couch with his head in your lap while you pet him. You can even take him with you for a jog, that way you both get good exercise and spend some time together.

Even during your busiest day, you still have time to give your dog a good scratch or hug. If you make it a habit to do one or a few of these tips every day, your dog will always feel loved.