Notes From the Janery Studio
Pet Care Tips
Flea and tick season has returned to much of the United States, which means many pet owners are looking for the best flea, tick, and parasite preventative medications for their cats and dogs.
We're paying closer attention to our dog Amber, checking her for ticks after hikes in the woods. We’re also using a carefully-chosen, veterinarian-recommended flea and tick preventative for Amber and our cat, Aretha. We want to keep them - and our house - safe from the pests.
But with the warm weather comes the danger of inexpensive flea, tick, and parasite preventatives.
A cat video went viral a few summers ago, and not because it was cute. The cat was suffering from burns and seizures most likely caused by an inexpensive topical flea treatment such as Hartz or Sergeant.
Here’s how you can safely find the best flea and tick solution for your pets:
1. Use veterinarian-approved flea & tick prevention
Your veterinary office should offer a wide variety of flea, tick, heartworm, and intestinal parasite preventatives. But you may wonder about the cheaper options you see on the shelves of your grocery or pet store.
They’re cheaper for a reason.
In a previous life, I worked in veterinary medicine - as a surgical tech and a hospital manager. During my time in emergency medicine, I saw first hand how many pets suffered devastating effects from “cheap” flea and tick preventatives. Burns. Seizures. And yes - sometimes death.
The worst part? The suffering. And the second worst: emergency treatment always ended up costing the pet parent far more than a 6-pack of veterinarian-approved flea and tick medicine.
2. Stick to your dosing schedule, especially for heart worm prevention
Fleas are a pain. Ticks carry the risk of Lyme disease. Heartworms can be the scariest parasite to treat.
While I choose to treat my pets for fleas in spring through fall, I am vigilant about the monthly, year-round dosing schedule for heartworm & intestinal parasite preventative. I accidentally missed 2 doses of Amber's heartworm meds this summer and she ended up with two types of intestinal parasites. Medical treatment of the worms cost over $300.
I won’t make that mistake again. The price is just too high, and I’m not just talking about the vet bill.
3. Work with your vet to find the best solution for your family
This spring I switched Amber to NexGuard chewable for fleas and ticks, leaving the old Frontline topical liquid behind. Fleas seem to be evolving to be more immune to the old Frontline, and my vet explained that clinical trials are showing much better protection with the newer NexGuard. There have been very few side effects reported, as well.
It was the right choice for Amber, but it may not be the right choice for your pets.
Flea and tick prevention isn’t one size fits all. Every pet is different and their needs vary - you wouldn’t buy the same size of dog bed for a Great Dane and a Chihuahua - why would you buy them the same medicine?
It’s imperative that you talk with your vet before making a change. If you don’t know how to start the conversation, the American Veterinary Medical Association has some great questions for you to ask.
4. “Natural” doesn’t necessarily mean safe
“Natural” remedies have become popular, and while there are some fantastic natural remedies for different issues, you can't assume that “natural” means safe.
Take essential oils, for example. They’re wildly popular and often touted as a “healthy” alternative to traditional science-based medicine. But they are often unsafe for pets - especially when it comes to flea and tick prevention. I've seen natural flea remedies that include Tea Tree Oil, but it - like many other essential oils - is not safe for pets.
Another "natural" flea remedy that many vets caution against? Garlic capsules for dogs. They are in the Allium family with onions. Even chronic consumption of small amounts can poison a dog.
I know I sound like a broken record, but I’ve seen too many sad cases in the emergency room. Always talk with your trusted veterinarian before trying any new “natural” treatment. Many great vets are now trained to blend the best of both traditional and alternative / herbal therapies, and they have your pet’s best interest at heart.
How to Choose Flea Prevention:
- Always work with your vet to determine the best preventative treatments for fleas, ticks, heart worms, and intestinal parasites.
- Avoid Hartz brand and any other “low cost” over the counter flea product. Hartz is actually being sued because their products are suspected of killing pets.
- Exercise caution with “natural” remedies. Remember: Grapes and onions are natural, but they are poisonous to dogs! Not all essential oils are safe for pets, even in diffusers.
- Never use a dog product on a cat or a cat product on a dog. Both inactive and active ingredients may vary and may pose risks to your pet.
- Avoid online pharmacies that promise steep discounts. They have been found to be counterfeit, expired, or otherwise ineffective or dangerous. It’s not worth the risk.
Remember, a dangerously cheap solution can end up costing a lot of money, not to mention the life of your pet, in the long run.
In a nutshell, you can buy your [fabulously cute] underwear and your [organic, gluten-free] bread at Target, but you should never buy your pet’s flea, tick, and deworming meds there!
You've bought the fabulous pet bed to protect your furniture. You've made sure they have the best food to keep their coat shiny and healthy. But let's face it - shed happens. So how do you keep your furniture pet hair free?
I’ve had up to 5 pets at a time in my life, and loved them all dearly - but their hair? Not so much! While I've come to understand my love of animals means that I'll never have a fur-free home, I’ve also come to know a thing or two about easy fur removal. Here are a few of my favorite ways to keep the shedding to a minimum and to keep my furniture looking (almost) showroom new. (Now if I only I could stop myself from spilling red wine and coffee ;)
10 Simple Fur Fighting Tips
1. Use a Rubber Glove to Remove Fur Easily
I discovered this tip when my sweet old man cat Doctor enjoyed curling up in my favorite relaxation spot. It's as easy as putting on the rubber glove and smoothing your hand over the furniture in one direction until the fur balls up and then tossing! This method has worked better for me than a dozen store-bought tools - even for my cat Aretha’s fuzzy black fur.
2. Try an Upholstery Brush
Much like my rubber glove, a good upholstery brush will remove pet hair quickly from sofas and side chairs. You can usually find one at any home or big box store.
3. Give Your Pets a Haircut
The first time I shaved the fur off my shepherd mix Merlin, my veterinary friends raised an eyebrow or two. But then they tried it with their dogs and cats, and discovered I was on to something. This reduction in hair can make a huge difference, even with dogs and cats with only medium-length hair. As a bonus, it keeps pets cooler in the summer as well.
4. Groom and Brush Your Pet Regularly
A clean pet is a low-shedding pet! Whether you do it at home or hire a groomer - it doesn't matter! A regular bath and brushing can significantly reduce pet hair and dander. I like to bathe our pets in the shower using a simple handheld attachment for easy bathing. I have this one but any decent handheld sprayer will do.
5. Invest in a high-quality bagged vacuum
Investing in a high-quality bagged, not bagless, vacuum is great for pet hair but also for trapping other dust and allergens. Having a closed HEPA filter system will ensure that pet fur, dander and other dust and debris are closed and easily disposed of without putting them back into the air. This is a must for people with allergies. (No, really. Our friend with life-threatening allergies just invested in a Miele and says it was literally life-changing.)
6. Keep Up with Pet Fur by Using a Robotic Vacuum
Want to stay on top of the pet fur on a daily basis? Try a robotic vacuum. It will start and stop at the same time every day and keep fur and dander to a minimum with little effort! We’re currently shopping for a new one, and eyeing this Wirecutter article for good, detailed, and unbiased reviews.
7. Protect Your Furniture In Style
Your cat (or dog) probably has a favorite spot on the furniture, and protecting that spot can help grab the fur before it makes itself at home. Use a fabulous bed or faux fur throw blanket to avoid a decorating style that can best be described as “disheveled chic.” (Might we suggest our Catnip Mat ?)
8. Trap Airborne Fur on Fan Blades with a Pillowcase
When’s the last time you checked your ceiling fan? Fur and dander magically travel through the air, collecting - shockingly fast, if you ask me - on things like your ceiling fan. To quickly clean ceiling fan blades, simply wrap them in an old pillowcase and pull the dust away. The dust and dander will be trapped in the pillowcase, which you can wash and reuse over and over for cleaning.
9. Invest in Regular Steam Cleaning
If you have wall-to-wall carpet, make sure you steam clean regularly. Invest in a high-quality home steam vac, but also have carpets professionally steam cleaned at least once per year.
10. Change Your HVAC Filter Regularly
We change ours every two months and use an allergy-trapping HEPA filter from a big box store. Keep in mind that Spring and Fall are the two biggest shedding seasons so you’ll want to change it more often then.
It might take a little effort, but by being proactive you can keep your furniture from becoming fur-niture.
Helping new pets feel at home in your home is a bit of an art form, and no one knows that better than we do. Inspired by my first rescue dog, Charlie, my soft spot for animals now give pets a soft place to land--with pet beds pretty enough to place in every room.
Here are 5 ways to you can help your new dog feel welcome in their new home.
1. Embrace the form.
Dog beds often get shoved out of sight in dark corners, since they are traditionally kind of frumpy - and that’s putting it nicely. The more the bed looks and feels like a beautiful accessory in the space, the more you'll show it off, and the more your dog will feel like he belongs, too.
2. Keep it fresh.
If there’s one thing pet owners have in common, it’s a love of animals--and an aversion to a house that smells like them. Seek out beds with waterproof, odor-resistant liners and modern, washable, upholstery-weight fabrics that can withstand wear. One way to make pets comfortable and welcome in every room is by providing a conveniently-placed bed that complements your decor, so they aren’t compelled to hang out on your furniture.
3. Find what fits their needs.
Pets come in different sizes and shapes, and they all sleep differently. If you are wondering how to find the right size dog bed, pay attention to their position. Some small dogs like to stretch, some big dogs like to curl into a small donut, and some dogs don’t like to sleep alone. Your dog’s weight is a good starting point for choosing the right bed, but his sleep shape matters just as much.
4. Create consistency.
Firm rules and structure help dogs know where they fit in and how to function happily in the family. Finding a dog bed that works--and sticking with it--gives your dog a sense of security. Cheaper, conventionally manufactured dog beds aren’t meant to last; the filling gets bunched, the seams rip, and most fabrics can’t be washed effectively. Think about how you’d feel if someone kept switching out your mattress just as you got comfortable--it’s not a great feeling.
5. Give some space.
While it’s important to help your pet feel at home, it’s just important to give them their own space. Give your new dog a stylish-yet-functional dog bed next to a couch or tucked in the corner, so pets are close enough where they feel like they are in on the action, but far enough away to get a rest if they need it. Lightweight washable pet mats can also help cover sofas and chairs for pets who are invited up.
Of course, even if you find the perfect dog bed and put it in the perfect spot, it may take some time for your dog to make an instant connection to your home. Rest assured, this transition phase will pass, and it won’t be long before you--and your dog--can’t remember a time when you didn’t belong together.
Wondering why you should avoid online veterinary pharmacies? Your quest to save money could cost your pet’s health a whole lot more.
Remember the old adage, “You get what you pay for?” When we talked about safe flea and tick prevention for your pets, we mentioned the dangers of grocery store flea products. But there’s another danger - the appealing cost savings offered by popular online pharmacies.
Again I’ll cite my years in the veterinary industry, and be blunt: You should always get your pet medications from your vet’s office or a pharmacy that they specifically recommend. Here’s why:
1. Questionable sources may provide counterfeit medications
Most major pharmaceutical companies refuse to sell directly to online pharmacies and encourage customers to obtain the drugs only from their local veterinarian.
How, then, do the online pharmacies get their product?
They hide behind the phrase “trade secrets”, refusing to divulge the sources of the medications they stock. That’s a cause for concern. They may get some from vets who sell in bulk to them. But there are numerous reports of counterfeit, expired, and even overseas product (Chinese labels covered by stick-on English labels) being received when customers order from online pharmacies.
2. Unethical business practices can endanger your pet’s health
Some of the most well-known, widely-advertised, and “certified” online pharmacies have been known to fill prescriptions after the vet’s office says not to. This is unethical and can be dangerous for your pet.
Consider heartworm disease. Your vet requires an annual heartworm test before refilling prescriptions. That’s because, if your dog has contracted heartworms, a preventative medication like Heartgard could actually kill your dog. If your vet refuses to approve an online prescription refill because your dog needs the test, that’s for the safety of your dog. Would a truly ethical pharmacy ignore their request and refill it?
3. Online pharmacies void the manufacturer’s guarantee
When you purchase heart worm, flea, and tick medications directly from your vet, they are guaranteed by the pharmaceutical company if something goes wrong. They will cover the cost of treatment. If you buy it from an online pharmaceutical company, the pharmaceutical company does not honor the guarantee. Again, this is because the pharmaceutical company cannot guarantee the efficacy of the medication.
4. Local vets are not in it for the profits
A locally owned veterinary hospital is a small business, just like mine. Vets have extensive medical training, just like human doctors, yet they receive significantly lower salaries. The cost of veterinary medicine is not subsidized by grants or widely-held insurance. Have you ever compared the cost of pet surgery to that of human surgery?
I often heard my vets worry out loud whenever a client said they couldn’t pay for a surgery or medication. But the vet’s worries were always for the health of the pet, not for the health of our profit margin.
Note: If your pet is on long-term medication, speak with your vet about possibly getting it at a lower price from a reputable pharmacy like Costco. Most vets are happy to accommodate this request.
And finally: learn to identify counterfeit pet medications
Counterfeit pet medications are a dime a dozen, especially on sites like Amazon. I know some people who use the veterinary-recommended Seresto flea collar but have received counterfeit products when ordering online at a discount.
The EPA compiled this comprehensive guide on how to spot counterfeit pet medications. Signs include:
- Lacks directions in English (or comes with no directions at all!)
- Doesn’t come in child-proof packaging
- Weight of package doesn’t match printed weight
- Stickers covering the packaging - especially the brand name
- Foreign language on the packaging or labeling instead of English
We know that being an educated pet parent makes you the best kind of pet parent. You’ve done a lot for your dog in the name of comfort, from getting her human-grade food to lining her crate with a Merlin Mat. You want only the best for your four-legged friends and so do we!
Is your four-legged friend your Valentine this year? There’s nothing wrong with that! If you want to make your pet feel extra special this Valentine’s Day, I’m sharing some fun, fabulous ways to safely spoil your pets with love.
Sure, to someone who isn’t a pet lover, this might seem silly, but we all know the secret - pets are just unconditional love in a furry little package.
While we all know that chocolate is a no-no, there are things you can do to show your pet you love them and make them feel like an important family member (because that’s exactly what they are!).
5 Ways to Show Your Pets Love
1. Treat your dog to a hike or a longer walk
I’m a huge fan of hiking with dogs - in fact, my first blog was called Hiking Dogs. All of our dogs have loved long walks (especially Amber), and many times we’ve taken them to the mountains to burn off excess energy. Luckily, we love it as much as they do!
If you aren’t able to do a hike, try a nice long walk through the neighborhood. New scents will stimulate them, and the energy they burn will mean a nice long nap when they get home.
2. Treat your feline friend to a Catnip Kicker
Our Catnip Kickers are new and improved for 2018, and have gotten plenty of pawsitive reviews from our customers. Cats love our organic, stemless catnip and you can rest easy knowing that our kickers are durable and ready for play time.
3. Janery Dog Treats
Did you know that Janery now offers gourmet, human-grade dog treats? I am so happy to now offer North Woods Animal Treats in our shop. Our pups loved them - and I love the story behind them and the way the company employs people with intellectual disabilities.
4. Stimulating Toys
The other day, I shared a video on Facebook of a fun treat dispensing dog toy DIY. While I love a good DIY project, I realize that not everyone can put together something that elaborate for their pet. Luckily, you can invest in high quality, stimulating dog toys that will keep your pup sharp from puppyhood to retirement age. Some of our favorites can be found here. (Bonus: You can sort by products Made in the USA, something very important to me.)
5. Something Homemade
You don’t have to be an advanced baker or gourmet chef to make a delicious treat for your dog or cat this Valentine’s Day, but you do need to make sure what you’re making is safe and veterinarian approved. We found a yummy peanut butter pumpkin dog treat here and 5 scrumptious cat treat recipes that I can't wait to try here.
If you want to keep it simple and make Fido think he’s getting people food, check out this list of acceptable snacks you and your pet can share - they’ll never know it’s good for them!
Beware: Always check your peanut butter's ingredients before sharing with your pup. Some brands contain Xylitol, which can be deadly to dogs.
Note: Always ask your vet before treating your furry family member to something new. Treat in moderation.
There is nothing better than treating your most snuggly family member to something special, as long as it’s safe, fun and fabulous. Happy Valentine’s Day!