Dr. Marty Becker, “America’s Veterinarian,” Shares His Tips to Bring Safety and Comfort to Pets This Holiday Season

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Dr. Marty Becker, “America’s Veterinarian,” Shares His Tips to Bring Safety and Comfort to Pets This Holiday Season

Halloween marks the beginning of the holidays and although it’s fun to include pets in the festivities, changes to their environment can cause unease, especially with senior animals. “America’s Veterinarian,” Dr. Marty Becker, the veterinary contributor on “Good Morning America” and “The Dr. Oz Show” and pet expert for Vetstreet,com, has lent his expertise on keeping pets safe and at ease during the holiday bustle.

Calming Agents: Pets may need a little extra tender love and care during the busy holiday festivities. When dealing with holiday parties, visitors or traveling, natural chemicals known as pheromones can provide a convenient and effective way to calm dogs and cats. “Products containing pheromones can calm and provide comfort to dogs and cats when they’re suffering from stress,” says Dr. Becker. “They come in all kinds of forms, including diffusers, sprays and Comfort Zone Wipes, from CLS.” The wipes are ultra portable or the pheromones can be delivered through a wall diffuser, a special collar with the substance or can be directly sprayed on bedding or a bandana worn by the pet.

Assist Arthritis: Senior pets may need some extra attention during the holidays. Just as in humans, pets also experience aches and pains as they get older. “I love hearing the little mumble of contentment a senior pet gives when settling into a new bed for the first time," said Dr. Becker. "And I love to see companies like Silver Tails developing so many items designed for those special older pets, great things like supplements, toys, cushioned bed covers and even infrared heated massagers."

"Veterinary-prescribed medications to manage chronic pain are a must for many pets during the colder season, and can truly make a pet feel and act years younger," Dr. Becker said. "Combine the power of the prescription pad with the loving touch of a pet parent, and your dog or cat might forget she even has arthritis."

Bundle Up: “What fun are the holidays without snow?" said Dr. Becker. "But cold weather can be hard on pets." Whether traveling first class, driving across town or cuddling up at home, keeping pets warm should always be a priority. “If pets are going to be out experiencing the elements, make sure to keep hair around paws trimmed so they gather less snow or water, which can freeze on them,” suggests Dr. Becker. “Booties are also a good idea to help avoid cracking of the paws and prevent contact with snow removal products.” For many dogs, especially older, smaller or the lean “greyhound types,” coats are more than a fashion statement – they’re essential to maintaining body temperature.

Offer a Cozy Bed: “Offering a couple different beds in separate rooms will give dogs both a way to catch naps and stay close to pet parents during the holidays,” says Dr. Becker. “If you're able to provide multiple beds, try mixing up the fabrics – dog’s favorites change depending on the weather and his mood.” Another great choice is Petco’s Memory Foam Bed. “It's a memory foam bed that conforms to your pet's in response to heat and pressure,” says Dr. Becker. The reclaimed memory foam fill creates a thick, therapeutic foundation for sleep and eases painful pressure points while cushioning achy joints and muscles. Beds give pets a safe haven to retreat after a long day of holiday activities or a comfortable option if they would like to take a quick snooze to re-energize for the festivities.

Familiar Friend: With celebrations galore, pets may feel uneasy if brought into new environments, says Dr. Becker. “Bring your pet’s favorite toy along to holiday parties so your pet can have a familiar object to help sooth any anxiety.”

Light the Way: Heading out at dusk on Halloween night means it is harder for cars to see pets and children. “Most trick-or-treating neighborhoods are fairly well lit, but to be safe when with pets or children, carrying a flashlight is always a good idea. Panther Vision even offers a headlamp, the Pup Power Cap, which has a built-in light to give pet parents a hands free way to keep an eye on their pets and trick-or-treaters,” suggests Dr. Becker.

Make Security a Priority: If holiday parties are part of the routine, be sure yards are secured with fences. A good fence is low enough to the ground to prevent digging under, high enough to deter jumping over and secured with a latch that dogs cannot open. “It sounds obvious, but it's important especially if there are multiple dogs and pet parents are focused on holiday festivities,” recommends Dr. Becker.

Travel Safe: In 2010, an estimated 92.3 million Americans traveled 50 miles or more from home during the holidays, according to the American Automobile Association. For safety in a car or plane and confinement in a hotel room, bring the pet’s crate so they have familiar surroundings,” suggests Dr. Becker. “While keeping pets safe in their crates is important, it's also crucial that pets have enough room to get comfortable. Something like the Expandispace Carrier is great because it's small enough to easily travel with and expands to give pets extra space when they're home or visiting.”

Exercise Indoors: “Winter weather often makes it difficult for our pets to get the exercise they need,” says Dr. Becker. The snow and frigid temperatures can make it difficult for pet parents to take their dogs on long walks. Dr. Becker suggests keeping your dogs active indoors with products like the PetZen Dog Treadmill. “An indoor dog treadmill makes it easy to incorporate daily exercise anytime, anywhere and in any weather,” says Dr. Becker. This portable device is easy to store in a small space and is safe for dogs to use. It provides the perfect solution for keeping dogs healthy and in shape during the winter months.

Participate in Positive Dog Training: Dr. Becker suggests enrolling dogs in a positive training course, especially during the holidays. “All the excitement of the celebrations causes dogs to act in a way they wouldn’t normally,” says Dr. Becker. “A program like Petco’s “Good Dog” campaign is beneficial for reinforcing good behaviors.” The program teaches polite manners such as resisting temptations like eating the Thanksgiving turkey, jumping on guests and knocking over the Christmas tree.

Keep Everyone Entertained: Dogs and cats aren’t the only ones who can get a little stressed out over the holiday season, “Animals such as hamsters or birds can sense the stress of their pet parent,” says Dr. Becker. Pets can feel the pressure of visitors in the house or may get lonely while pet parents are away. Keep birds entertained with cage accessories or treat hamsters to a Hamster Trail Kit. Hamsters opt for roomy cages with fixtures like wheels, rams and lofts. The Hamster Trail Kit is a great option because it offers these accessories and a silent wheel for peace and quiet.

*Help keep every pet safe this holiday through the Petco Foundation’s annual Tree of Hope campaign. Every year four million pets do not live to see the holiday season and Petco is encouraging those who are passionate about animals to donate from November 14, 2011- January 1, 2012 at their nearest Petco store, Unleashed by Petco store or online at http://www.petco.com/holiday. Donations help feed homeless pets in shelters, give lifesaving medical assistance, enable rescuers to grow their resources so that they can help ease the burdens of overfull shelters, and provide venues and grants to help usher those without a voice into loving homes who will continue to be their voices.

About Petco™
Petco is a leading pet specialty retailer that provides the products, services and advice that make it easier for our customers to be great pet parents. Everything we do is guided by our vision for Healthier Pets. Happier People. Better World. We operate more than 1,100 stores nationwide, including more than 30 Unleashed by Petco locations, a smaller format neighborhood shop, and http://www.petco.com. The Petco Foundation, an independent nonprofit organization, has raised more than $80 million since it was created in 1999 to help promote and improve the welfare of companion animals. In conjunction with the Foundation, we work with and support approximately 7,000 local animal welfare groups across the country to help find homes for more than 250,000 animals through in-store adoption events every year.

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Mia West