Category Archives: Pet Parent Resources

APHIS Launches New Pet Travel Web Site

USDA-LogoThe U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service today launched a new Web site dedicated to international pet travel and helping travelers and accredited veterinarians easily determine country-specific requirements. APHIS’s previous site was designed for accredited veterinarians and other animal health professionals who were familiar with interpreting technical regulatory language. Because of this, hundreds of callers a month called APHIS seeking info on pet travel. The new site is specifically designed to be easy for anyone to use.

“We know pets are members of the family, and our goal is to ensure pets meet the requirements to relocate with their families internationally – whether temporarily or permanently,” said Dr. Jack Shere, Deputy Administrator for APHIS’ Veterinary Services (VS). “We recognize each country has different entry requirements, and our new Web site makes it easy to understand and meet those requirements so travelers can avoid last-minute problems.”

The Web site provides information about taking pets from the United States to other countries and bringing pets into the United States, and applies to the following pets: dogs, cats, birds, ferrets, rabbits, rodents, hedgehogs and tenrecs, reptiles, and amphibians.

National Pet Fire Safety Day

With July being the heart of the summer, outdoor dry conditions sparking wildfires, and much of the country in the midst of summer heat it is a good time to reflect upon fire safety for our pets as well. July 15th also marked the celebration of National Pet Fire Safety Day and we received a most informative and useful resource from Emma Bailey that she posted on Security Systems Houston’s web site.  As a writer and a pet parent, Emma put together a big list of pet fire safety tips and information that we all can all benefit from. As Emma remarked, “Considering summer’s heightened risk for fire hazards, I thought this resource would be a very helpful addition to your site,” and indeed it is!

An adorable 8 month old baby girl is bundled up in a sweater and wearing a winter earflap hat looking lovinlgy at her pet German Shepherd dog as they sit and laugh ouside on a cold fall day.

For the seventh year running, the United States is set to observe National Pet Fire Safety Day on the 15th of July. This commemorative event was started by the American Kennel Club to help protect beloved furry family members from dangerous fire-related incidences.

Active, curious pets can cause trouble for you and your family (and themselves too) if they aren’t supervised. Just a few smart precautions can make a world of difference in terms of potential safety hazards. This year, we’ve highlighted the most important tips and tricks you can use as a pet owner to make sure your four-legged family members stay far away from smoke and fire.

Check, Check and Double-Check

  • Check up on smoke and carbon monoxide detectors twice a year to ensure they are working properly. Place smoke detectors outside every room in the home. Curious pets can accidentally start fires on their own, so consider installing monitored smoke detectors to help firefighters quickly respond to a house fire even if you’re not there.
  • Check around your home for fire hazards like loose wires and stove knobs, discarded paper products, and other flammable junk. Outside, clear dry brush away from the house and keep pet pens away from any dry leaves or vegetation that could easily become fuel in a fire.
  • If your pet can stand up tall enough to reach the counter, place kitchen appliances up high and remove stove knobs whenever you leave home. If your animal can get to cords and electrical wires easily, they may be tempted to give them a good chew – make sure those are out of sight and out of mind too.

When In Doubt, Put It Out!

  • Cats and dogs are attracted to light and motion – including open flames from candles and fireplaces. Make sure to keep an eye out on your pets whenever there is an open flame in the room and extinguish it when you leave. If you must leave the flame on without your supervision, get your pets to a different room and make sure they can’t get to it.
  • Use flameless candles whenever possible. They may be less romantic and aromatic than regular candles, but they are battery-operated and therefore less likely to start a fire if knocked over onto carpet or fabric.

Protect Youngsters and Outdoor Pets

  • Small pets and puppies and kittens can get through very tiny openings, so make sure your pet is in a secure place if you are unable to keep your eye on them at all times. Young pets are notorious troublemakers – keeping them in a crate or pen will reduce the likelihood of their setting the house ablaze while you’re away running errands.
  • Outdoor pets should be given special attention too. If they run away from your yard during a fire, it’s important that they have some form of identification, either in the form of a collar or a microchip.

Shop for Fire-Stoppers

  • Purchase a pet alert window cling from a pet store or get a free one online from the ASPCA. These stickers tell firefighters how many pets are inside the home, and help remind them to make sure everyone has made it out okay.
  • Already popular with some pet lovers, a home security “pet cam” allows you to monitor your animals while you’re gone at work or on a brief vacation. Pet monitoring systems are becoming more and more sophisticated, and can now alert the proper authorities if a fire starts.

Emergency Rescue Plans

  • Your family evacuation plan should include instructions for the animals as well. Decide in advance who will be responsible for each pet if a fire breaks out. One handy tip is to store your pets’ leashes, treats, extra toys and some food inside a washtub near an exit. This keeps it all handy in one place and, if you have to evacuate because of fire, you won’t be caught empty-handed for Fluffy or Fido. Always evacuate your pets on a leash or in a carrier. They will likely panic at the smell of smoke and loud noises, and if they take off without you they may be impossible to find.
  • If your pet is kenneled while you’re away, make sure that the kennel is in an easy to find location in the home. Know your pet’s preferred hiding spots, they may run and hide there if your home has caught fire. Put their cubbyholes on a map of your own escape route.

According to the National Volunteer Fire Council, approximately half a million pets each year are affected by fires in the home. Do your part as a pet parent to protect your beloved animals from the dangers of smoke inhalation and flames!

Celebrate National Pet Fire Safety Day this year on July 15th, and visit the ASPCA websitefor more information about how to keep your pets safe all year round.

Is Your Dog Type A or Type B?

How can you find that perfect companion? It often starts at the basic level of what makes up your dog’s personality. Resulting from negative publicity associated with certain dog breeds and recent breed-specific dog legislation, temperament testing for dogs is gaining in popularity. One such organization, The Temperament Test Society ( provides dog people a means for evaluating temperament and provides insight into their dog’s behavior. How is this insight achieved?  Personality and temperament evaluation is done through administering the ATTS Test on a dog.

According to the society, “testing can have an impact on breeding programs and in educating owners about their dog’s behavioral strengths and weaknesses as well as providing a positive influence on dog legislation.” ATTS states that, “temperament testing evaluates an individual dog’s temperament through a series of tests that measure traits including stability, confidence, shyness, friendliness, aggressiveness, protectiveness, prey instincts, play drive, and self-defense instincts, and ability to distinguish between threatening and non-threatening situations.”

So what exactly comprises a dog’s temperament?  Temperament is defined as the general attitude a dog displays towards other animal and humans; it is the combined inherited and acquired physical and mental traits that influence the dog’s behavior. Much of a pet’s temperament is hereditary. An equally important contributing factor  is the dog’s environment including the actions of the pet parent. Both of these factors can directly impact a dog’s behavior.

In some instances, animal behaviorists, pet parents, breeders, trainers, and animal shelters/rescue organizations  integrate temperament testing as a way to assess the temperament of an individual dog. This type of testing helps to identify each dog as a candidate for adoption, therapy or assistance animal work, search and rescue, or other purposes. Temperament testing helps serve as a predictive tool of how the dog might act and react in various situations and provoked circumstances.

It is also interesting to note that certain countries such as Germany require temperament testing be performed on certain restricted breeds. In the wake of deadly attacks by dogs, German state governments have banned or restricted many dog breeds. Potentially dangerous dogs can be owned, imported, bred, and sold if they pass a temperament test and are free of aggressive actions for three years.

What Does Adult Temperament Testing Involve? Ideally, the tester should be a canine behavior specialist trained in temperament testing. He or she should not be someone familiar to the dog and two people should be present at the test for safety and objective observation. A wide variety of testing exercises are conducted including length of time for responsiveness, reaction to certain stimuli, reaction to eye contact, reaction to sudden movements, reaction to being touched or approached, response to food and toys, and overall reaction to the evaluator.

During the evaluation, personality traits are observed and noted.  Observations are noted on the certain reactions such as whether the dog is timid, confident, active, hyperactive or calm, dependent or independent. The dog’s interest level is also noted in regards to people, moving things, and the overall area.  Many professionals feel that puppy socialization, handling and training of the puppy, and the everyday environment that the pet parent provides is more important than puppy temperament testing.