Rainy Day Fun With Your Cat

Kitten-indoor-playtimeWith Fall now in full swing, the rainy days have once again come to Upstate New York. However, just because you want to curl up with your favorite blanket and binge the latest season of your favorite show on Netflix, doesn’t mean that your feline friend wants to as well. So, here are some great ways to entertain yourself and your cat at the same time. Plus, you get to add to the multitudes of cat videos on social media.

The Treasure Hunt

Cats are hunters by nature, so an excellent way to stimulate your cat is to set up a treasure hunt for your indoor cat. You can hide special treats for your cat inside puzzle feeders for your cat to discover. Also, spread a few around the house so that they never know when they’re going to find a treat. This is a great option to break up boredom for the cats when left home while their humans are at work.

The Agility Course

Creating a homemade agility course for your cat sounds complicated but actually isn’t at all. Start by making a paper bag tunnel and then give them a treat when your cat goes through it. Then add a second obstacle, then a third, and so on. Cats love being active and love the exercise. More important though, is to make it fun and stress-free, for yourself and for the cat. One of the nice things about a homemade agility course is that you can customize it as you see fit and build it to match your cat’s physical abilities.

The Paper Bag

One of the great things about cats is that it doesn’t take much to entertain them. Sometimes, all you need is a paper bag and they’ll be entertained for hours on end. One thing you can do is take 3 or 4 and put them around the room and sprinkle a little catnip inside the bag and watch your cat dive, pounce and generally act silly.

iPad Playtime

If you’re feeling particularly tired from the day, you can also set up an app (yes, they have apps for cats) that lets them hunt after bugs and fish. Some of the apps, even interact when the cat catches a fish or bug.

Whatever indoor games you decide to set up with your cat, keep in mind that your furry feline friend was born to move, and they have highly tuned senses. While it’s important to keep them safe indoors, it is also very important to provide them with adequate stimulation and environmental enrichment. After all, indoor games and activities may go a long way in preventing behavior problems down the road due to boredom or separation anxiety.

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Tips For Choosing A First Family Pet

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Introducing a new pet to your household can provide your household with a loving companion that can teach your kids about responsibility and compassion as they and you help care for the animal. However parents, it’s important to remember that not all pets are created equal when it comes to compatibility with kids. Here are some tips that can help you select a first pet that’s suited to living with kids and won’t outgrow your home.

1. Consider Your Family’s Lifestyle

One of the most important things to first take into consideration is your family’s lifestyle as a whole when you’re choosing a pet. Is the house empty most of the day or is there someone at home throughout? If it’s empty most of the day, a puppy that needs to be taken outside multiple times might not be the most ideal choice.

2. Financial Responsibility

Any pet, big or small, requires a financial commitment from the family. Food isn’t free, and neither is healthcare for pets. That being said, some pets are much more expensive to care for and feed than others. Adopting a rescue might be a noble choice, but one that comes with preexisting health issues will also bring a slew of medical bills that might break the bank. Think about how much room there is in the family budget, and keep that in mind when you consider upkeep costs for the pet.

3. Allergies

Some pets are more aggravating to allergies than others, and living with an animal that triggers those allergies can be miserable. For example, no matter how much your child begs for a puppy or kitten, if someone in the home is allergic to pet dander, it’s just not a good idea to bring one home. However, there is a little caveat to this, there are cats and dogs that are hypoallergenic, it just takes a little research into which breeds (and how expensive they are) fall into this category.

4. Space Constraints

A small, cuddly, baby fluffball might be cute and extremely tempting to bring home, but sometimes, those cute little babies can grow up into large, unwieldy pets. An iguana might be small when you bring it home, but some can grow up to 6 feet in length! Similarly, a Great Dane might not be the best choice of canine companion for a small apartment.

Great Pyrenees being a goof ball

5. Animal Care Requirements

Every pet has certain care requirements that are non-negotiable and must be taken care of. Litter boxes need to be cleaned, dogs need to be walked, fish fed, and gerbil cages cleared. If the primary goal of owning a pet is to help introduce a level of responsibility for your kids, make sure that the animal care requirements aren’t beyond their ability to manage.

6. Be Realistic About Responsibilities

This next tip fits in with #5 above. You may have these grand ideas that your child is going to be a major participator in pet chores, however, be prepared to shoulder that burden yourself if the kids don’t hold up their end of the bargain.

7. Do Your Homework

The best way to choose a pet that will mesh well with your family is to simply do research about any type of pets that you may be considering. Don’t be swayed by the cuteness of certain baby animals, and make sure you don’t simply buy on impulse. Create a list of pet types that would be suitable for your home, and narrow down the options to find the one that will be a good fit for your family.

Also, make sure that if you get a four legged furry companion, that you have them properly identified. This will not only save you from heartache later, by making sure that they are always easily identified in case they get lost.

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Is A Great Pyrenees The Peer For You?

Once known as the royal dog of France with their stunning white coat and imposing presence, the Great Pyrenees is considered one of the most beautiful breeds today. The Pyr is a member of the working dog family, and has a rich heritage as a flock guarding dog used in the Pyrenees mountain range that spawned its name. Today, the Great Pyrenees is a family companion and is a great dog to have around kids and other animals. However, they do require a good deal of attention and training, so the question is; Is a Great Pyrenees the peer for you?

Great Pyrenees being a goof ball

Temperament and Personality

At their best, the Great Pyrenees is confident, gentle, and very affectionate toward their family, especially with children. However, their heritage as a guard dog makes them territorial and protective. Early socialization is essential to prevent this dog from becoming overly mistrustful or fearful of change. So if you do decide on a Pyr puppy, make sure you are bringing them with you on runs and other social outings where animals are appropriate. Great Pyrenees are also extremely smart and will pick up on nuances very quickly. When training, make sure to use positive reinforcement techniques and don’t make them repeat the same actions over and over, they will get bored very quickly if you do. Don’t get frustrated though, these dogs like to push the limits and then take a few steps past them. Just be patient and firm, these dogs might be stubborn but they will listen to their humans.

Pyrs generally get along well with other household pets. They’ll ignore the harassment from smaller dogs, and will only fight as a last resort. Additionally, two mature Great Pyrenees of the same sex will not get along together as house pets.

Grooming

The Pyr has a beautiful double coat that is usually white or white with markings. They also shed year round, so prepare to have to brush them weekly for about a half hour. Outside of that, standard care as needed (clean the ears, trim the nails, and bathe when necessary).

Feeding

This might come as a surprise, but Great Pyrenees don’t need a lot of food. Because of their temperament and low metabolism, they eat as much as a Border Collie or a Sheltie would. However, you’re going to have to get the big breed food for them.

Well, we hope that this helps you out with what you’re going to have to keep in mind before deciding on these giant balls of white fur. For any ID tag or Rabies tag needs, feel free to drop by our site, we’ll be happy to help!

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Tips to Keep Your Cat Healthy and Active This Winter

A couple weeks back, we featured Tim from Saratoga Dog Walker who was kind enough to give us a great post on how to keep your dogs happy and healthy this winter. Well, as a sequel to our canine friendly post here are our top tips for keeping your feline companions happy and healthy this winter season.

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Give Your Cat Some Company

While it’s true that some cats prefer to be the only fur love of your life, many do enjoy having a companion (read: minion) to play with. This should be done slowly and carefully, to make the experience the most pleasant for all residents, humans included. While most cats are aloof and seem less emotional than humans, it doesn’t mean that they don’t get lonely.

Make Mealtime Fun For Your Cat

If your cat’s routine is eat a lot and then sleep, and proceeds to repeat that cycle all day, that is a quick path to having a Garfield level roly-poly. To avoid this, you can try hiding food around the house/apartment or in feeding toys. This will help increase your cat’s activity and help hone their hunting instincts. Additionally, the game will make them more interactive with you, and studies show that animals enjoy their food more when they have to work for it.

Don’t Forget Treat Time Also!

Try playing a game of hide and seek with a catnip or treat toy. Start off by showing them where it is and placing it somewhere the cat can see. When they get to the toy, give them a treat (or let them get the treat out of the toy), and then start the game again, as they begin to understand the game more, you can proceed to make it more difficult for them to find.

Schedule Some Playtime!

One thing that should come intuitively is playing with your cat. While tossing the catnip toy can get them going for a little bit, if you devote some time to some serious play, you’re sure to give your cat (and maybe yourself) a good workout! Try taking 10 minutes out from your evening and get on the floor with some of your cat’s favorite toys and have some fun!

 Try Teaching Them Some Tricks

Just like dogs, cats can learn some tricks as well. Simple tricks such as come, sit, fetch and stay (contrary to the cat’s opinion and personality)! Start with a treat that your cat loves and practice for around fifteen minutes a day. You may need to break up the treat into small pieces, just to limit the cat’s treat intake. Once your cat performs the desired action reward them as soon as the action is done so that they associate the reward with the command.

It’s A Jungle In There!

Another great way to keep your cat active is to pick up a cat tree for them. Cats love climbing so that they can survey their kingdom (read: your home) better. Cat trees give cats new nooks to explore and places to relax in.

Cat in cat tree

Walking Your Cat, Yes You Can Do That

As crazy as it sounds, you can actually leash train your cat. Cats love exploring and can learn to walk comfortably with a harness and leash on. It can be a long and arduous process, and you’ll have to be more stubborn than the cat to teach them, but, if your cat is curious about the outdoors, this could be a great way to introduce them to it. Just remember, if you’re cold, then they certainly are. Make sure the strolls are simple and enjoyable for the both of you. However, be prepared to get them back into warmth quickly if need be.

Lisa Podwirny is the owner of Ketchum Mfg. Connect with her on !

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Featured Post: 10 Tips to Keep Your Dog Healthy This Winter

Today we had a special guest write us a post for our Blog. Tim Pink is the owner of Saratoga Dog Walker and was kind enough to write us a few tips on how to keep your canine friends healthy and active in the very sedentary time of winter.

dog-on-walkLife in the Northeast presents many challenges in the winter when it comes to the health and wellbeing of your beloved dog. Here are 10 tips to help keep your dog safe and healthy this winter.

#1 – Make sure your dog isn’t left outside (or in a car) for too long and keep an eye on his body temperate. Remember, the wind chill will make it even colder and dogs can also get frostbite. Keep a close eye on their ears and paws as they are most susceptible. If your dog starts walking funny, lifting his paws, or hunching over than it’s time to get him inside!

#2 – Use jackets. Depending on your dog’s coat and the amount of time you plan to spend outside he may need an additional jacket. They make jackets for all occasions but the best jackets will cover the chest, be water resistant and tight fitting, easy to put on and off, and have a reflective material.

#3 – Mushers Secret. This stuff is great for paws! It’s a wax based product that helps shield their paws from harmful salt and extreme cold. Always a good idea to wipe and clean off your dog’s paws after a walk so he doesn’t lick any salt that might be stuck on them.

#4 – Keep your dog well groomed. Your dog’s coat will perform its best when it’s well groomed. Extra fur and matting will not help its insulating properties. Also, be sure to trim the fur on his paws so snow doesn’t build up on them as this can be painful and debilitating to dogs.

winter dog walk

#5 – Salmon Oil and water. The lack of moisture in the air may leave your dog’s skin dry and flaky. To help your dog have healthier skin in the winter give him salmon oil. It’s healthy and he will love it! Don’t mix it in his dinner though, or he may start to demand it all the time. Also, just because it’s cold doesn’t mean your dog can’t get dehydrated. As always, make sure he always has fresh water available.

#6 – Be careful playing with your dog near ice. When playing on ice your dog could easily slip and injure himself (ACL etc.), cut his pad, or fall through the ice into a lake etc. Stick to areas that you know and steer clear of ice!

#7 – Holiday dangers. The holidays present a slew of new dangers for your dog. Take a moment to think of all the new things around your house that your dog could get into. Things like the tree (needles, tinsel, ornaments, lights), extension cords, gifts (for people or your dog), holiday nick knacks, as well asholly, mistletoe and poinsettia plants which are pet poisons. As a rule of thumb if your dog can get to it, assume he will and take the necessary steps to avoid tragedy. Oh, and don’t forget to keep the alcohol and chocolates out of reach!

#8 – Antifreeze. Dogs tend to be attracted to the smell and taste of antifreeze but it is highly toxic! Be sure not to leave any around and promptly clean up any puddles.

#9 – Extra food. If your dog spends much time outside in the winter he will probably need more food in order to keep his body temperature up. It takes more calories to keep warm, and the last thing you want is for your dog to lose weight in the winter.

#10 – Exercise! Keep your dog healthy physically and mentally by maintaining his exercise schedule through the winter. Tis the season for dog’s to start “acting up”. This is because they tend to get much less exercise in the winter which leads to excess energy and boredom. If you’re unable or unwilling to walk your dog in the winter call a professional dog walking service.

Well we hope that helps, if you’re curious about Tim and Saratoga Dog Walker, make sure to check him out at the link above, or if you’re in the Saratoga area, you can reach him at 518-390-8613.

Lisa Podwirny is the owner of Ketchum Mfg. Connect with her on Google+!

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Taking Care of your German Shepherd

German Shepherd Male

From their imposing size to the dark, intelligent eyes, German Shepherds are one of the most recognizable dog breeds for the last century. A versatile, athletic, and fearless dog, the Shepherd is the work dog’s work dog. It takes some dedication raising a German Shepherd, but if you have the time and energy, you will have a loving companion who will be there for you and your family (including the cat) for life.

Brief History of the German Shepherd

The German Shepherd’s roots trace back to 19th century Germany, where a member of the police force wanted to develop a dog that could be used for both military and police work. The result was the German Shepherd. During WWI the breed fell out of favor in the US due to them being used by the enemy, but these dogs braved artillery fire, land mines, and tanks to supply German troops in the trenches with food and other necessity. Today, the German Shepherd is quickly becoming one of the popular dogs again, right behind the Labrador Retriever.

Shepherding the Shepherd – How to care for your GSD

The German Shepherd is a very active dog, they will not be satisfied with being a couch potato. This dog requires multiple walks a day and training to keep their active minds sated. Whether this is through learning different tricks or giving them a job, make sure your GSD (German Shepherd) has something to do. If you ignore them, those constructive impulses can quickly turn to destructive impulses.

German Shepherds are smart, active dogs who do best with active owners who are able to give them attention, exercise, and training. In other words, lots of one-on-one time as these dogs are extremely intelligent and trainable. However, make sure that you can show that you are the dominant male in the house to the dog, GSDs do not suffer fools lightly, and will take advantage of their owner to a fault if they know they can get away with it.

How to keep your Shepherd Healthy

While all dogs have the potential for genetic health problems, German Shepherds are not only known for their beauty and intelligence, sadly, they are also known for their possible health problems, specifically hip dysplasia. When a dog has hip dysplasia, the head of the thigh bone does not sit properly in the hip socket and over time, will wear down the bone, which will eventually cause arthritis in the dog. Another unfortunate disease that can affect German Shepherds is degenerative myelopathy. Similar to MS in humans, DM is a slow, terrible paralysis of the dogs hindquarters, and will eventually prevent the dog from being able to move on their own. However, you can minimize the chances that your GSD can get these diseases. Regular exercise and vitamins, along with a healthy diet can help to minimize the chances of your Shepherd from getting Hip Dysplasia and can lower the chance that they develop DM later in their life.

German Shepherd and a Baby

Hannah Mae
Photo Credit: Cindy Holden

Finally, don’t forget to love your dog. This breed is extremely loving and needs it back. Cuddle and play with your dog daily. In the end, you’ll have a warm, loving, and loyal companion for you and your family.

Lisa Podwirny is the owner of Ketchum Mfg. Connect with her on !

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Taking Care of your Maine Coon

Maine Coon Cat Upside-downMaine Coons are one of the largest cat breeds and is considered an American original breed. Also known as the American Longhair, the Maine Coon can become over 36” in length and the males can reach an average weight of 14 pounds. That’s one big kitty! However, these cats are gentle giants, they love people and being able to socialize, and because of their curious nature they will often “help” you when doing housework or chores. But, with great size comes great responsibility. These cats need maintenance in their diet as well as exercise or they will become chunky monkeys given the chance. Here are some quick easy tips to remember when you have a Maine Coon or any other house cat really.

Brushing

When dealing with a Maine Coon, or any sort of longhair domestic breed of cat, you should brush them daily at most, weekly at least. This way you cut down on hairballs, and keep them from getting matted or knotted fur. Additionally, it helps to maintain their skin health. You normally don’t need to give a Maine Coon a bath due to having very good hygiene skills and will often clean themselves via a tounge bath.

Feeding

When deciding what to feed your Maine Coon, you are going to have to spend a little extra at the pet food store. Common cat foods like Iams, Purina, and others, contain wheat and corn. Domestic cats don’t actually have the enzymes to properly digest wheat and corn like humans do. These grains that are digested simply turn to fat and are like any high fatty foods for humans. Make sure to read the ingredients before you buy, anything that has wheat or corn by-product is something you want to stay away from. Again, while I do mention that this post is about Maine Coons, this advice can be used for any sort of domestic cat breed, not just Maine Coons.

Exercise

Maine Coons love to play! They often will invent games for themselves and are always excited to see their humans. Males are often more goofy than the females, but both are very active and will always be playful throughout their life. Some, even enjoy playing “fetch.” Maine Coons love attention but are not pushy so they won’t be hounding you all the time for you to play with them.

Maine Coon kitten

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One final note, these gentle giants are a great big furball of love. They are great with children and other animals, especially dogs. Be careful before you introduce your kitten/cat to another cat, especially if they are another breed! While Maine Coons get along with their own, you’ll have to gauge your other pets reactions before you fully introduce your new pet.

Lisa Podwirny is the owner of Ketchum Mfg. Connect with her on !

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Why Tattoo your Pets

Most pet owners know that a good secondary line of ID after a collar and tags, is to keep your pets safe when they are lost is to have a vet implant a permanent RFID chip so that if they are lost and then found, the vet or shelter can scan them and track down the pet’s owner. However, another method to keep your animal safe is by having them tattooed. It’s safe and has been routinely done since the sixties.

Tattoo vs. Microchip

Tattooing your pet is a great and permanent way to protect your companion if they ever get lost. This relatively painless procedure uses inks or pastes that won’t react with the animal’s blood or tissue. Also, unlike a RFID chip which needs to be scanned, the tattoo is visible to the naked eye. Additionally, implanted microchips can migrate within the animal, so when they are scanned, there is the possibility that no information will be found. Finally, tattooing your animal will protect them if they are accidentally donated to a research lab, as labs are prohibited by law to use tattooed animals in experiments.


Interested? Here’s a video detailing the procedure.

Where can I get my pet Tattooed?

While Ketchum doesn’t offer pet tattoo supplies, we do carry tattoo equipment and ink for identifying your cattle and live stock. For pets, tattoos can be done by veterinarians and then are registered. Different animal organizations (humane societies, breed clubs, etc.,) have registry procedures, ask your local vet on what the procedures are to get your pet’s tattoo ID registered. The largest organization that does pet tattooing is tattoo-a-pet.com, who has been providing a pet tattoo registry since the early 1970′s.

One Final Word

No single method can keep your pet safe. While tattooing is a great alternative to microchipping your animal, it does not guarantee their safety. You should always have multiple methods of identifying your animals. Collars and tags should always be your first line of defense when ID’ing your pets, these other methods should always be a back-up method. We have a full line of different pet collar ID tags and vaccination tags available on our website.

Lisa Podwirny is the owner of Ketchum Mfg. Connect with her on Google+!

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Think You Want a Guard Dog?

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“I think I need a guard dog” is a phrase we’ve heard people say time and time again. The reason for such a phrase is usually legitimate. People want a dog that will protect them or their family in case of, say, a burglary.

We’ll admit that getting a guard dog is not that hard. You can get one quick and easily. But there’s usually a lot more to think about.

Guard Dogs vs. Watch Dogs

First, it’s important to understand the difference between a guard dog and a watchdog.  A watchdog’s job is exactly like it sounds – to watch an area, and make an alert if need be. A guard dog is usually larger, and its job is to protect. Guard dogs will bite and attack a potential intruder.

Lisa Podwirny is the owner of Ketchum Mfg. Connect with her on Google+!

What Breeds Make Good Guard Dogs?

Most dogs have a natural instinct to protect.  However, there are some breeds that are a much better fit for the job than others.  Common guard dog breeds include Rottweiler, German Shepherd, Great Dane, Bullmastiff, Boxer.  For families, calmer breeds like the Bernese Mountain Dog or Newfoundland can work because of their sheer size.

Do You Really Need a Guard Dog?

Now that you know a little bit about guard dogs and the most well-known breeds, it’s time for the big question:

“Do you really need a guard dog?”

I’d be inclined to say most people do not.  Reason number one is that training is intensive and usually dangerous.  You need to remember that you’re training a dog to attack.  Most people get the idea that their guard dog will automatically “know an intruder” and be fine around everyone else.  This is not the case.  You know the old scenario where the dog attacks the mailman?  It’s realistic.  You really don’t want a dog that’s extremely aggressive to strangers. That’s just waiting for something bad to happen.

Reason number two is that a guard dog can only do so much.  Most criminals flee a scene because a dog barks – not because they’re scared of the dog.  And if a criminal does end up in a scuffle with a guard dog, there’s a chance they can find a way around the problem.  Also remember that a dog is, well, only a dog.  It isn’t the police.

So, You Must Get One?

Fair enough. After doing a lot of consideration on the subject, you may still be inclined to get a guard dog. Use this article from WikiHow as an introductory guide to training a guard dog.

Lisa Podwirny is the owner of Ketchum Mfg. Connect with her on Google+!

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