The Pet Effect: Boosting Our Mental Health

The Pet Effect: Boosting Our Mental Health

We’re coming up on a year of the pandemic, and one of the biggest side effects has been loneliness and isolation. For some, that’s especially trying during Valentine’s Day (on the heels of the winter holidays!). Stress, anxiety, and depression are among the top adverse mental health effects emerging from a year of lockdowns and quarantine.

For many pet owners though, their furry family members have been a solace – even a source of joy and grounding – during an unprecedented time of difficulty. This is no surprise to scientists, who have long studied how animals help combat loneliness and provide companionship. Here are some of the ways our four-legged (and other!) lifesavers have been helping us emotionally and boosting our mental health.

 

purpose

They give us a sense of purpose

Having a routine and caring for another being gives us a sense of meaning and purpose. Animals don’t know we’re in the middle of a pandemic, so there’s comfort in seeing them carry on life, as usual, content and happy in the moment.

 

companionship

They provide companionship

They’re our friends and companions – making us laugh, inviting us to be present, and loving us no matter what. And for so many of us, they’re suddenly our new workmates, bombing our zoom calls and taking over our keyboards. They offer their steady presence – at the bedside in the morning, in our laps as we’re trying to read, underfoot at dinner time. No matter what happens in our day, they’re there for us.

 

dog

They keep us active

Well, at least in the case of dogs, who will keep us to a walking schedule (whether we like it or not!). Once out and moving, we can reconnect with nature, wave to neighbors, and fill our lungs with fresh air. They can help us break up the monotony of the day with some movement and downtime.

 

horse

They’re our family

No matter how big or small, there a reason we call them our “babies.” We form deep, emotional attachments to our pets, a neurological bonding process that goes back to our pre-history of animal domestication. They have a seemingly endless supply of love to dole out and are there for us whatever mood we’re in. For children and teens, this can be especially important during the pandemic.

 

rabbit with owner

We’re wired for connection

Pet and animal therapy have been proven to help the elderly and those with cognitive conditions. We may not fully understand the science, but it’s well-known that just being around animals helps so many. It can lower stress, improve emotional self-regulation, decrease pain symptoms and boost positive hormones.

Given all the benefits pets bring us, it’s no wonder pet owners are feeling extra grateful these days and that pet adoptions have been skyrocketing. If you’re thinking of adopting, do your research, make sure you’re ready to commit long-term, and be a responsible adopter.

 

This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.

Being a Responsible Pet Owner

Being a Responsible Pet Owner

It’s no secret our pets bring us so much joy, but owning a pet – especially one that’s young – is a lot of responsibility. Like children they are not something that can be brought home and forgotten about, they require your time, effort, and care.

February is responsible pet owner’s month, and whether you’re bringing home your first pet or your 6th, it’s always good to be reminded how to be a responsible and caring owner.

Here’s are 10 responsible pet owner tips that will help you and your furry friend adjust to this new life together.

1. Recognize they are a commitment. Your lifestyle may have to adjust based on the needs of your pet. Make sure you are ready to make this commitment before you bring them home.

2. Create a safe space for them. Pet-proof your home to avoid accidents and give them a space that is completely their own, with a bed, toys, blankets, food, and water.

3. Give them time to adjust. When you bring them home they may be timid or wild, but give them the time and they will learn their new home and your routine.

4. Visit the vet. Even if they hate it, preventive care is essential in making sure your pet stays happy and healthy.

5. Make them tags. Microchip and/or give them ID tags with your name and number on them, in the event that they escape, you will be notified if they are found.

6. Train them. Don’t give up on your pet if they aren’t acting like you thought they would, as their owner it’s your responsibility to put in the time and effort to train them or have them trained.

7. Create a healthy lifestyle for them. Feed them a healthy pet food and be sure not over or underfeed them. Exercise is also very important, especially for young pets that need to exercise to release their extra energy.

8. Socialize them. Let them play with friends and family, and also other pets. If they are too scared or anxious you may have to work on socialization with your vet or trainer.

9. Give them love & affection. Like humans, pets crave your love and attention and need it to be happy in your home.

10. Make them feel like part of the family. Most importantly, treat them like a member of your family, because they are 🙂

Don’t forget to make sure your new pet is covered! Pet health insurance helps you pay for expensive veterinary bills, so you don’t have to. Pets Best pet insurance is available to all California Casualty members at a 5%* discount. Click here for your quote.

We know that bringing home a new pet can be just as scary as it is exciting, but don’t worry, you’ve got this!

For more new pet tips click here.

 

This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.

Keeping Pets Safe This Holiday Season

Keeping Pets Safe This Holiday Season

From Mr. Kitty’s stocking on the mantle to themed doggie sweaters and chew toys under the tree, no holiday is complete without our beloved pets. The more meows (and zoomies), the merrier!

As you start decking the halls and crafting your holiday cooking list, remember there are some foods, décor, and holiday novelty items that may put your pet at risk. Check out these tips to keep them safe, happy, and healthy during all your seasonal festivities.

 

holiday pet safety

 

Christmas Tree Safety

Traditional Christmas trees and their trimmings can pose an array of safety and health threats to pets. Here are some common ones to be aware of.

    • Tinsel is irresistible to many pets, and if ingested, can cause intestinal blockages. Ditch the traditional silver stuff and look for pet-friendly alternatives.   
    • Avoid glass and other ornaments that are sharp. Cats especially will be tempted to swat them off the tree, where they can break and cut paws.
    • Flocking and artificial snow can be toxic if consumed in larger amounts, so it’s better to avoid them altogether.
    • Keep ornaments on the upper parts of the tree, out of reach.
    • Tree water often contains chemicals that extend the life of the tree. These chemicals, in addition to any fertilizers, insecticides, bacteria, and flame retardants, can make the tree water dish a toxic soup. Cover the stand with a tree skirt, aluminum foil, or other material to block off access from pets.
    • If your pet is partial to chewing pine needles, which can cause intestinal upset, consider a faux tree.
    • Anchor your tree with a sturdy base, and perhaps even fishing line attached to eye bolts in the ceiling or wall for added stability, to prevent a climbing-and-toppling hazard.
    • Don’t put gifts under the tree that contain food, as these might be too tempting and sicken a curious (or food-driven) dog.
    • Consider using a baby gate to keep pets away from the tree.

 

holiday pet safety

Decorations and Seasonal Plants

Take care in selecting decorations and plants around your home by keeping the following in mind.

    • Poinsettias, pine needles, mistletoe, and holly can cause gastrointestinal upset and other problems, and lilies are toxic to cats and can cause kidney failure. Silk and other faux plants make great alternatives.
    • Glues and adhesives can be toxic, so keep them out of reach.
    • Watch out for yarn, string, and ribbons, which are often attractive to pets and can cause intestinal blockages.
    • Switch out live candles/flames for LED lights, which add plenty of holiday warmth without the risk of fire or injury.
    • Potpourri often contains oils that can be toxic to pets if eaten.
    • Chewing on electrical cords can cause harm or even death. Unplug cords when not in use and spray them with anti-chew solutions such as Bitter Apple. Check out pet-proof extension cords as well.

 

 

Holiday treats

 

Food Dangers

Some pets will go to great lengths to sneak food. In the best cases, this means a holiday dish goes missing; in the worst cases, it can mean sickness or even death of a pet. Stay one step ahead of would-be food thieves with these precautions.

    • Keep chocolate and other sweets well away from pets – preferably in a cupboard, the fridge, or somewhere else that’s secure.
    • Do not leave food or alcohol unattended; stealthy pets can swipe them in no time and experience harmful effects.
    • Avoid bringing home leftovers for pets. Human food – often containing fatty, spicy, or bones – can be hazardous to your pet. Some top offenders include chocolate, coffee, citrus, onions, grapes, nuts, coconut, dairy, and yeast dough.
    • Being careful doesn’t mean you have to leave your pet out of the festivities – there’s plenty of store-bought or homemade options for special pet treats. Stock up on those for the holidays so they can join the fun.

 

 

holiday pet safety

Entertaining

If you’re planning to host a few guests, remember that get-togethers can stress pets out or upset their routine. Here are some ways to keep them safe and calm.

    • Give pets a room or space of their own, where they can retreat to if feeling stressed or overwhelmed. Stock it with fresh water, a bed, and their favorite toys.
    • If celebrating at New Year’s, keep loud noises to a minimum.
    • Animals sometimes will take advantage of the commotion or act out by getting into cabinets they don’t usually disturb, so be sure to hide away any medications, which can be extremely dangerous to animals.

Keeping your pets safe this season just takes a little creativity, forethought, and a new habit or two. And happily, the pet industry makes all kinds of pet-safe products and novelty items, so keeping the holidays safe for all family members should be easier than ever. Happy holidays!

 

 

This article is furnished by California Casualty. We specialize in providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.

Halloween Safety Tips for Pets

Halloween Safety Tips for Pets

Halloween can be an extra-scary time for our four-legged family members. Our pets don’t understand why the doorbell keeps ringing or why strange creatures- that kind of resemble humans- keep yelling and trying to come into their house and yard.

These factors and more can cause our pets to become anxious and start acting out of the ordinary with their behaviors like, panting, crying, running, jumping, and even becoming aggressive. That is why it is important to keep your pet (and Trick-or-Treaters) safe this Halloween by following these Five Simple Halloween Safety Tips for Pets.

 

1. Keep Your Pet in a Separate Room

Bring pets indoors and lock them in a separate room, far away from the commotion, with a TV or noise machine on during prime trick-or-treating hours (6pm- 8:30pm). This will give you peace of mind that your pet will not harm or scare away trick-or-treaters and you don’t have to worry about your pet escaping every time you open the door.

2. Keep the Candy Out of Reach

Most Halloween candy is toxic to pets, especially chocolate, so make sure bowls of candy are stashed in a cupboard or a shelf high enough where they cannot reach them. If your dog or cat does ingest any candy or wrappers contact your vet immediately.

3. Don’t Put Your Pet in a Costume Unless They Love It

Dressing your pet up could cause extra anxiety for them, and if they try to escape their costume and get stuck, they could seriously injure themselves. If you decide to dress them up, keep it comfortable for them and let them try on their costume before Halloween to make sure they love it and have time to get used to how it feels.

4. Watch the Decorations

Using a real flame to light a Jack-O-Lantern is rare these days, but if you do make sure it is placed somewhere your pet can’t accidentally run into it. Be sure to also keep any decoration that could harm your pet like, plastic, fake spider webs, and lights/electrical cords out of your pet’s reach.

5. Keep Your Pets Identified

Always make sure your pet is wearing a collar with tags that are up to date and that they are microchipped, just in case they do happen to escape.

 

Have a safe and Happy Halloween with your fur-babies! 🙂

 

This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.

How To Keep Your Pets Safe This July 4th

How To Keep Your Pets Safe This July 4th

It’s that time of year again — time to light up the grill, gather family and friends and celebrate American Independence. If yours, your neighborhood’s or your city’s plans include fireworks, then there’s one group that won’t necessarily be in a celebratory mood: household pets.

Every year, July 5th is the busiest day at animal shelters across the country. They receive an influx of dogs and cats who fled their homes the night before, trying to escape the sound and explosions of fireworks. When scared and pumping adrenaline, pets can scale high fences and break loose from leashes and chains.

If your pet is scared of loud noises, take these precautions to ensure that they stay safe and sound this July 4th.

 

Before the Holiday

    • If your pet is especially nervous, consult your veterinarian about tranquilizers or drugs that can help with anxiety. Talk with them about giving a “practice” dose of medication before the event to see how your pet responds.
    • Work with an animal behaviorist or trainer. For some pets, positive reinforcement and behavior modification training around their fears can make all the difference.
    • Make sure your pets’ ID tags are updated with your current contact information and that tags are securely affixed to their collar.
    • Update their microchip registration and pet license information. If they aren’t yet chipped, this is a good opportunity to do so.

 

On July 4th

    • Move them to a room and put on soothing music. Cover windows to minimize the sound and flashes of light.
    • An anxiety vest — or even a snugly fitting t-shirt — could help calm them.
    • If they are especially anxious, make sure someone checks in on them frequently. That person should act calm and reassuring — animals look to their humans to gauge danger.
    • Noise anxiety is not as common with cats as it is with dogs, but it can happen. Cats tend to hide (very well) when scared, so make sure you check in on them too. Keeping them indoors (and in a room of their own) is a good idea.
    • If for any reason your pet is outside during fireworks, keep them away from any lit fireworks, which can result in burns to the face, nose, lips, eyes, or inside of the mouth.

 

After the Festivities

Whether or not you ignited fireworks on your property, search your front and back yards for unignited fireworks or spent remnants. Remember that some may have landed in your yard from neighbors. Immediately remove any you find — fireworks contain many chemicals and heavy metals that are toxic to animals. Do a second cleaning sweep in the morning before letting animals access your yards.

If you’re not sure if your pet may have been exposed to or ingested fireworks — lit or unlit — watch for the following signs, which vary depending on the type and amount ingested. Contact your vet immediately.

    • Abdominal Pain
    • Vomiting
    • Bloody diarrhea
    • Seizures
    • Tremors
    • Shallow breathing
    • Jaundice
    • Acute kidney failure

Having a game plan to keep your pets safe during the holiday ensures that you won’t spend July 5th searching the streets and shelters. If your dog or cat could talk, they’d thank you for it.

 

 

This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.

Heat Safety for Pets

Heat Safety for Pets

Just as hot summer days can be dangerous for people, they also put our 4-legged companions at risk of heat stress.

When the temperature soars this season, follow the 9 tips below to keep your pets safe and healthy.

  1. Never Leave Pets in a Parked Car

In just 10 minutes, the temperature inside your car rises almost 20°F. In 20 minutes, it’s up by 30°F, and in 60 minutes — it’s almost 40°F hotter than the temperature outside. So, even when windows are cracked, your car’s in the shade or “it’ll just take a minute,” never leave your pet in a parked vehicle.

  1. Keep the Water Dish Full

Making sure your pet has plenty of fresh, clean water is important all the time, but especially when it’s hot or humid out. They can get dehydrated quickly, so keep an eye on their bowl (or put an extra out). And on the topic of pet bowls, what’s the gold standard for cleaning? A daily wash with hot water, air-dry, and once-a-week sanitizing.

  1. Watch the Asphalt

On hot days, a rule of thumb is to put your hand on the pavement and wait 7 seconds. If it’s too hot, that means it’s unsafe for your dog’s paws, which can suffer burns. Also, remember pets’ bodies are much closer to the ground, so absorb more of the radiating heat and can overheat.

  1. Mind the Fireworks

They’re why the Thundershirt® was invented. Though some pets are oblivious to fireworks, many are scared and some even terrified. During fireworks-heavy holidays, keep your pets in a quiet, secure area of your home (not outside). And never use fireworks around them, as they can potentially get burned or traumatized.

  1. Don’t Shave Your Dog

Owners of long-haired dogs sometimes get side-eye while out for dog walks in the summer months, but it turns out that dogs’ coats have evolved to protect them against cold and hot temperatures. Leaving his coat au naturel will help him better regulate his temperature and protect against sunburn. For cats, you can brush them more often during hot weather to help them shed.

  1. Know How Pets Cool Themselves

Dogs use panting, not sweating, to keep cool. They’ll also seek shady spots and drink a lot of water to replenish moisture lost through evaporation. A cat’s first line of defense is finding a cool surface or dark place to wait out the heat. They’ll also lick their coats more often, which allows saliva to evaporate and cause a cooling effect.

  1. Watch for Signs of Overheating

Symptoms of overheating include excessive panting, difficulty breathing, weakness or collapse, glazed eyes, increased heart rate, excessive drooling, or vomiting. Their body temperature rises above 104°F and their gum coloration turns bright red, pale or blueish purple. If your pet is overheated, take steps to cool them down (douse them in room temperature water, move them to shade or A/C) and contact your vet immediately. Animals with flat faces (e.g. Persian cats, pugs) are more susceptible to heat stress.

  1. Keep Exercise Light

Limit your pets’ exercise on especially hot days. Shift walks to the early morning or evening and always carry water to keep your dog from dehydrating.

  1. Mind the Humidity

It’s not just the temperature, but the humidity, that affects animals. They pant to evaporate moisture from their lungs (thus cooling themselves), so when the water content in the air rises their cooling system is affected. The more humid, the greater risk they face for overheating. Use extra caution on humid days.

 

Once you know what to look for and pay attention to, keeping your pets safe in the heat becomes second nature.

 

 

This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.

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