(Family Features) Costumes and candy make Halloween a highly anticipated event for children and adults alike, but the holiday can be particularly spooky for pets. Some of the same things that bring humans joy on All Hallows Eve can lead to poisoning, stress or anxiety, which may cause four-legged family members to run away or react aggressively.
To help ensure Halloween is fun for every member of the family, take note of these safety tips
from the experts at VCA Animal Hospitals, which has more than 1,000 locations across North America that cared for more than 4.5 million pets last year. Talk to your veterinarian if you need assistance dealing with pet anxiety.
Create a safe space for your pet at home. If your neighborhood is particularly busy on Halloween and the sidewalks are overflowing with exuberant trick-or-treaters, it may be best to leave your pet at home. Pets can be thrown off by extra people on the street or at the door in frightening costumes, which could lead to uncommon reactions such as growling or biting if they feel threatened. Even if your pets are mellow and enjoy greeting guests, consider keeping them inside as you sit by yourself near the door or outside to greet trick-or-treaters as they knock or ring the doorbell. Otherwise, consider keeping your pet in a room away from the frenzy with a TV, radio or white noise machine to dull the sounds.
Be cautious when taking your pet trick-or-treating. If you do decide to venture out with your pet, make sure he or she is always close to you on a secure leash (avoid retractable leashes). Observe your surroundings and assess people – especially friendly, excited children – approaching you and your pet, because physical contact from strangers in costumes may instigate a fearful or aggressive reaction.
Consider skipping the costume. It’s best not to dress up your pets for Halloween, but if you choose to, it’s important for pets to wear safe, comfortable costumes. They should be loose enough to provide freedom of movement but not loose enough to be a tripping hazard. On the other hand, costumes that are too tight can restrict breathing and make movement difficult. Make sure your pet’s costume does not interfere with vision or hearing. Also beware of small parts, like buttons or loose strings, that could be chewed off and swallowed.
Keep treats away from pets. Resist the temptation to share Halloween candy with your pet. In fact, keep all candy safely out of reach. Chocolate, candy or gum artificially sweetened with xylitol can be dangerous for dogs. Plus, cellophane or foil wrappers can cause problems if swallowed. Even natural treats like caramel apples should be off limits as eating items not normally on the menu can cause upset stomachs, GI blockages or pancreatitis.
Decorate with safety in mind. Festive decorations help set the mood, but they can also create health risks for your pet. While non-toxic, pumpkin and pumpkin seeds can upset stomachs, especially when consumed in large quantities. Lit candles in Jack-O-Lanterns may pose fire hazards if toppled by a curious four-legged friend. Decorative lights can brighten your porch but should be kept out of your pet’s reach as nibbling on electrical cords can cause electrocution.
To learn more, visit vcahospitals.com, where you can search for additional tips to make Halloween safe and fun for your furry friends.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images
VCA Animal Hospitals
6 tips to prepare your home for winter weather
(Family Features) Winter weather, while often beautiful, can prove challenging for homeowners. Snow and ice accumulation can cause damage or disruption to many components of homes and properties, including heating systems and appliances, communication and access to and from property.
Utilizing a reliable, efficient and affordable energy source like propane can help power critical systems – home heating, cooktops, ovens, fireplaces, boilers and water heaters. Because propane is stored on-site, it’s resilient enough to withstand some of the dangers of winter weather, such as power outages that interrupt access to the electric grid. Available in a variety of capacities to fit the needs of any size home, propane-powered generators can provide supplemental power in as little as 10 seconds after an electrical grid failure, ensuring vital systems like home heating, cooking and smoke and fire detection systems are not interrupted when you need them the most.
Consider these tips from the experts at the Propane Education & Research Council to help prepare your family and home for winter weather and find more resources at Propane.com.
Get to Know Your Propane System
If you’re unfamiliar with your propane system, take a few minutes to review it. Identify core components, including the tank, regulators, meter, piping and supply valves, as well as any appliance vents. Locate the main gas supply valve in case you need to turn off the propane in the event of an emergency. Call a propane professional to inspect the system before restoring it.
Ensure an Adequate Supply of Propane
Establish a regular delivery schedule with your propane provider – particularly during the winter months – or call to schedule a delivery when the tank gauge reads 30% to give your provider enough time to make a delivery and ensure you have an adequate supply in your tank.
Mark Your Tank
Especially if your home’s propane tank is buried, be sure to mark its location with a brightly colored stake or flag taller than the maximum anticipated snow depth. This will help propane suppliers easily locate your tank, ensuring they can refill it during scheduled appointments.
Ready Your Furnace
If it’s time to upgrade your home’s climate control system, it’s a smart idea to do your homework and explore all options. Consider propane-powered furnaces, which last 50% longer than electric heat pumps for a lower lifetime investment. Propane furnaces also provide warmer air than other heat sources (115-125 F), are less impacted by outdoor temperatures and produce 50% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than electric furnaces and 12% less than fuel oil furnaces.
Take Advantage of Your Fireplace
The warm glow of a fire isn’t only comforting; it can be a practical and effective way to increase the heat inside your home. Not only do propane fireplaces offer 5-6 times the heating capacity of electric fireplaces, they’re also more energy efficient, environmentally friendly, convenient to use and easier to install than woodburning models. They also emit less soot and other emissions.
Install Gas and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Installing UL-listed propane gas detectors and carbon monoxide detectors can provide you and your family with additional peace of mind. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding installation, location and maintenance.
Propane Education & Research Council
Efficient ways to warm your home
(Family Features) Creating reliable and efficient heat for your home during the winter months may be easier than you think. Using propane appliances like furnaces, water heaters, fireplaces and kitchen appliances alongside other energy sources, like electricity, can help reduce the strain on the electrical grid.
With the capability to power all major systems in a home, propane offers homeowners an affordable, comfortable, reliable and efficient energy source. It’s a clean, low-carbon option that is made in the United States and available right now.
Consider these energy-efficient, propane-powered appliances and their benefits compared to other energy sources, according to the experts at the Propane Education & Research Council.
Not only are propane-powered furnaces more efficient than other energy sources, but they can also provide a lot of comfort. They heat air to 115-125 F, making the indoor air feel consistently warmer than other options. Heat from air source heat pumps often supply temperatures lower than 100 F and are more affected by outdoor temperatures.
A propane-powered furnace has a 50% longer lifespan than an electric heat pump, reducing its overall lifetime costs to a homeowner. Energy Star-qualified propane furnaces can save up to $75 in energy costs each year and are 15% more efficient than standard propane models. In addition, propane-powered residential furnaces emit up to 50% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than electric furnaces and 12% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than fuel oil furnaces.
A propane-powered fireplace is a great source for secondary heat and can be used in all climates. They provide 5-6 times the heating capacity of an electric fireplace and emit less soot and other air-polluting emissions than wood-burning fireplaces.
In fact, some parts of the U.S. have banned wood-burning fireplaces due to their negative effects on the environment. What’s more, traditional wood fireplaces are about 15% efficient as secondary sources of heat while high-efficiency propane fireplaces are up to 90% efficient.
Many homeowners appreciate the versatility of propane boilers, which offer high-level performance and space savings while also providing heat, hot water and even snow melt capabilities. This versatility also extends to the type of heating delivery system propane boilers serve, including hydronic baseboard systems, in-floor hydronic systems or even forced-air systems, in which hot water from the boiler (instead of a furnace) acts as the heat source.
Propane boilers have an expected lifespan of up to 30 years, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, but many boilers can last longer if serviced and maintained properly. Thus, the initial investment can provide long-term value beyond other heating alternatives. High-efficiency propane boilers also result in significantly reduced carbon dioxide emissions compared with those fueled by heating oil.
Learn more about how you can rely on propane to heat your home at Propane.com/ForMyHome.
Dog grooming advice to keep pets clean, healthy
(Family Features) Regular grooming can keep your dog looking and smelling his or her best, but it’s also important for maintaining health. If you choose to groom at home rather than opting for (often expensive) professional care, it’s also an opportunity to examine your pet for potential concerns.
A proper grooming routine starts with the right tools. Consider these suggestions from The Humane Society of the United States:
- Dog-friendly nail clippers
- Rubber-bristled brush
- Dog-friendly toothbrush and toothpaste
- Dog-friendly shampoo and conditioner
- Cotton balls
- Blunt-ended shears or small clippers with guides
- Microfiber towel
When your dog’s nails nearly touch the ground, it’s time for a trim, typically every 3-4 weeks. Trimming the part of the nail that turns down helps prevent pain and damage to paws.
If your dog has white nails, avoid cutting the “quick,” the pink part that’s visible on white nails, which bleeds when cut. For dark nails, simply trim a bit at a time until evidence of the quick is visible.
Bathing and Brushing
Frequency for baths and brushing depends on your dog’s coat type – be sure to research optimal grooming schedules based on his or her breed. In general, The Humane Society of the United States recommends these guidelines:
- Short, smooth or wiry coat: Brush once a week with a rubber-bristled brush.
- Long, silky or curly coat: Brush once a day with a rubber-bristled brush or wire slicker brush. Use a steel comb to prevent tangles or mats, if necessary.
- Double coat: Use an undercoat rake or de-shedding tool to gently de-shed once a week in addition to regular brushing routines.
When it’s bath time, use a shampoo formulated for dogs and a damp cloth or cotton ball to clean around the eyes and ears without pushing anything into the eyes or ears. Dry with a microfiber towel or hair dryer on a low setting.
Be careful and work slowly to avoid mistakes and keep your dog calm and comfortable. Brush, bathe and completely dry prior to cutting fur with blunt-ended shears or small clippers with guide combs. Specifically trim hair covering the eyes and private areas and between your pup’s paw pads. It may be helpful to watch a tutorial online to ensure success.
You can prevent gum disease and plaque buildup by brushing your dog’s teeth with a soft toothbrush and dog-friendly toothpaste. Make sure your pet is comfortable and start slow, staying on the outside surfaces of teeth and gently rubbing back and forth. Focus on the area where the tooth surface meets the gum.
Visit eLivingtoday.com to find more pet health advice.
Photo courtesy of Unsplash
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