We LOVE Our Pets!

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We are a multiple-pet household, and always have been. Our pets are family. We do our very best to make sure that they are happy and healthy. Today I am sharing my favorite photos of our fur-babies (and some non-fur animals). We still can’t get outside very much yet with our doggos due to the cold, but every week brings us closer to a thaw with warm, sunny weather. We all know that there are dangers we need to watch out for outside – things like ticks, heartworms, toadstools and mushrooms that can be a danger to our pets, but have you heard of some of these little-known dangers to pets that lurk right in our own homes?

Our household currently has three dogs that are part of our family – two big fur babies and a wee five pounder.

My two big babies. They are so bonded! Best buddies and are together all the time.

My two big babies. They are so bonded! Best buddies and are together all the time.

Is this not the cutest five pounds you have ever seen???

Is this not the cutest five pounds you have ever seen?

Our chihuahua has a chronic illness, so we are super-careful about his diet. Our two big dogs love the occasional treat, and when they have had any illness, the vet always told us to put pills in peanut butter. But be careful – peanut butter is just one product of many that now may contain a natural sweetener called Xylitol.

I love big mutts, I can not lie…

I love big mutts, I can not lie…

Xylitol is a natural sugar alcohol, used as a sweetener, that is rapidly gaining popularity. Typically found in toothpastes, vitamins, and sugarless gums and mints, it’s finding its way into more foods, and is sometimes listed in ingredients as a “natural sweetener” or “birch sugar”.

I was horrified to see that my “natural” vitamins list this as the first ingredient! I always keep them out of my pets’ reach, but I had not noticed this ingredient until recently.

I was horrified to see that my “natural” vitamins list this as the first ingredient! I always keep them out of my pets’ reach, but I had not noticed this ingredient until recently.

This substance can also be found in ice creams, so that innocent lick of the spoon can turn into a pet owner’s worst nightmare. Even the smallest amount can lead to liver failure and death in our canine babies.

Pip loves to go for walks, but I watch him like a hawk so he doesn’t pick up chewed sugarless gum. The tiniest bit would be deadly for him.

Pip loves to go for walks, but I watch him like a hawk so he doesn’t pick up chewed sugarless gum. The tiniest bit would be deadly for him.

Make sure if you chew sugarless gum, it’s always well locked away where your pups can’t get to it, and when on walks, be careful if your pup tries to grab a chewed piece someone has carelessly thrown on the ground!

“Exotic” pets are pets that aren’t typical dogs and cats. Most have special needs that need to be met, but aside from that, they can be fun, and most are low-maintenance, all things considered. However, one thing I can recommend fully before becoming an exotic-pet parent, is to check in with your vet. He/she may not be able to treat an exotic pet should a need or emergency arise. Not all veterinarians can treat exotic pets, or they have a vet that treats exotics, but only part time. Find a vet in your area that can treat your exotic before you need one in an emergency. 

We miss our pet lop-eared rabbit. She was our once-in-a-lifetime bunny. She lived a good, long life, but bunnies don’t live as long as most dogs and cats, and are actually very delicate. They should not be pets bought on a whim such as at Easter. 

Patches was our once-in-a-lifetime bunny.

“Patches” was our once-in-a-lifetime bunny.

Our bunny had a lot of personality! We lost her a few years ago, but we still think about and miss her. They are sweet pets to have, but they are good at hiding when something is wrong, so monitor them closely. Also, did you know you do NOT bathe a bunny?

A dear friend got me thinking about “Patches” this week, when she asked my advice on a pet rabbit with a fur mite issue. Immersing or bathing a bunny in a bath can lead to severe health issues such as shock, hypothermia, or severe skin infections. Bathing can be so severe to a pet rabbit that it can actually kill them! If a bunny has areas it can not clean itself, a damp washcloth is all you should use to wipe the fur clean, or like we used to do when our bun got older, a “dry shampoo” comb out using corn starch.

My daughter has taught me not to be afraid of all snakes. I’ve actually grown very attached to our pet snake, “Pie”. But just as with other exotics, snakes tend to hide when they are unwell. Knowing your snake’s routine is good; that way if they are acting strangely you know something is wrong before it is too late to seek a vet’s help.

Our boy, “Pie”

Our boy, “Pie”

Also, if a pet snake has recently eaten, they should never be handled for a few days right after so that they do not have problems digesting their meal. They need a warm spot to just relax for a short while. A snake that doesn’t digest its meal properly can require emergency surgery or its situation can turn fatal very quickly. 

We love our chickens. They give us eggs, and entertain us with their antics. We have trained them to get excited when we call out, “Treats”! They come running, knowing we have something special for them.

“TREATS!”

TREATS!”

Chickens are little eating machines – they will nosh on just about anything offered to them. Kitchen scraps often become a happy snack. But did you know that you shouldn’t feed your chickens white or red potato peels? Actually, anything from the Nightshade family (white and red potatoes, tomatoes and eggplant) can run the risk of giving chickens solanine toxicity. The amount that can harm a chicken varies from bird to bird, so just to be safe, throw potato scraps in the compost instead. 

No one wants to think about it, but have a plan in place for your beloved pets in case something awful happens. The Pandemic taught us that we are not immortal, no matter our age. It’s an awful thought, but too many times pets are broken-hearted and sent to shelters or pounds because a clear plan was not made by the pet’s owner in the case of an emergency. My mother’s dear friend, who was only in her sixties, died suddenly and unexpectedly (not from Covid). Fortunately, my mother was able to adopt her friend’s sweet pup, who just celebrated his eleventh birthday. He now looks so happy in his birthday photo, and I know my mom’s friend is smiling in Heaven! 

My beautiful Mama and her baby boy, Fluff on his recent 11th birthday.

My beautiful Mama and her baby boy, Fluff on his recent 11th birthday.

Cats are notorious for getting into and onto EVERYTHING. Norman is no exception.

This face looks angelic, but he can be a real stinker!

This face looks angelic, but he can be a real stinker!

Thankfully, it is March, and here in New England we will see signs (hopefully) of Spring soon. Flowers will bloom; there will be Easter bouquets in grocery stores and florists will be delivering bouquets for Mother’s Day. But if you have cats, take the lilies out of the bouquets and out of your home. It isn’t worth the risk.

Beautiful, but hazardous to kitties!

Beautiful, but hazardous to kitties!

The tiniest piece of any part of a true lily or a daylily (stem included) – even a little bit of pollen or a sip of water from the vase they are contained in – can kill a cat. The amount that is lethal to a cat is so miniscule. Their kidneys fail within one to three days. Even brushing up against a lily and licking a grain of pollen from their fur can prove deadly. While these flowers are beautiful, they aren’t worth having if you are owned by a cat! It is rare that a poor kitty can recover from being poisoned by a lily. I would rather not take the chance and keep my two kitties safe from harm. 

Mittens protests, “NO LILIES FOR KITTIES!”

Mittens protests, “NO LILIES FOR KITTIES!”

Having pets makes us happier, and can even help us live longer, less stressed lives. These facts aren’t meant to scare you, dear readers, but we love our pets so much, and we were surprised when we learned some of these! 

Pip is a real leprechaun in his fetching green sweater Mommy knitted for him to keep warm on cold March days!

Pip is a real leprechaun in his fetching green sweater Mommy knitted for him to keep warm on cold March days!

From my furbabies to yours, we wish you a Happy St. Patrick’s Day and a beautiful start to Spring! Remember to leave a comment so I know you stopped by! “See” you next month!

 

Until Next Time…Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

Leave a comment 24 Comments

  1. Kim says:

    This is a lovely post! As a former Emergency Vet Hospital employee, Thank You for mentioning things that can cause serious health issues in pets. As a current self-employed landscaper, thank you for mentioning Easter pets (specifically bunnies) and those enticing lilies. Personally, I won’t have them in my own yard and to date have had no requests to install them in someone else’s yard. Great topic and informative post.

    For a very long time I have really enjoyed reading things you write about.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Kim, thank you so very much! I write about things that are dear to my heart, and my animals are a big part! I am glad to hear that you are not getting requests for lilies in yards. I have a lily in my yard, but we do not have outdoor cats, nor do we have the type of yard where neighbor’s cats would be in our yard. However, if there was a chance that my cats would be near them (or anyone’s), I would rip them out! (Each year, I have actually started to thin and replace with things I prefer anyway). I had no idea about the lilies until a friend lost her cat to a bouquet of flowers. She had no idea it could happpen, and was so broken hearted!

      Yesterday we had a warmish day, so I took little Pip for a walk at the park. It drove me nuts – so many spit out pieces of gum everywhere on the trail, which was silly because there are many trash receptacles.

      Thank you for reading, and for commenting. Have a great spring! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  2. Christine Box says:

    Thank you for all the good information. We have a dog and cat and they are a great part of our family.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Christine, you are so welcome. These are such commonplace items that could cause major heartbreak! Give your dog and cat a pat from me! Thanks for “stopping by”! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  3. Juie says:

    Thank you for the helpful information about our pets…Alot Of things I didn’t know. Your animals are beautiful…
    Happy Spring!!! It can’t arrive soon enough.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Julie, thank you. I was surprised when I had learned some of these facts, and I have had animals for years, as well. I agree…spring can’t come soon enough. It is snowing as we speak, and my fur-babies are all snuggling on the couch. Think spring!!! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  4. Janice says:

    Great information – thanks!

  5. Maureen says:

    Very informative. We love our rescue kitty. Her antics bring so much joy! Will definitely be more aware of flower bouquets!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Maureen, aren’t rescues the BEST? Our pups and kitties are rescues and they love us with their whole hearts (and we love them, right back)! Give your sweet kitty a hello pat from me! Thank you for reading and commenting! Farmirl Hugs, Nicole

  6. Denise says:

    That was very insightful, thanks for all the tips. Your pets are all so cute!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Denise, thank you so much! Have a great start to spring! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  7. Beverly Battaglia says:

    This blog is fun to read. I also learned a lot about things that can harm different animals. Chickens were cute running to get their treats! I did not know they were so intelligent.
    Thanks for mentioning my sweet “Fluff”. Love,
    Mother

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Mama, thank you for sharing your adorable photo of Fluff on his birthday. Love you! – Nicole

  8. TERESA PAPADIMITRIOU says:

    Thanks not only for the valuable information, but also for the pictures of your pets, especially Pip and the kitties!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Teresa, thank you! They keep us laughing with all of their adorable antics. Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  9. Lori says:

    Thanks. Never knew these things.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Lori, thank you! I was pretty surprised by them, and felt it important to pass the info on. Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  10. Donna Gilbert says:

    I look forward to your stories they are always informative and fun! I live in CT so can relate to your weather and gardening stories. I never knew how poisonous lilies were to cats and will make sure at Easter not to give one to family/friends who have a cat. Thank you for the valuable information. Enjoyed the pictures of your fur babies…still not sure about the snake :)

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Donna! Thank you so much! Really neat to hear from a fellow Connecticut Farmgirl! I am glad you enjoy the blog…means a lot to me. Can you believe our weather lately? Next week looks better. We are almost there to spring! Thanks again for reading and commenting. No worries on the snake – I still am skittish when I see one in the yard, lol! I hope you will “visit” me again here! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  11. Deb says:

    Thanks Nicole for all the information and pictures of your pets. My daughter works with dog and cat adoptions and she mentions how important it is to plan and be prepared to care for these precious pets.

    My family has had pets over the years. A bunny, cats, hamsters, fancy mice, turtle, and a squirrel. I am also a grandma to a corgi and terrier.

    I always enjoy your article and pictures.
    Take care and spring is right around the corner.
    Debbie

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Deb! Thank you for reading and commenting! Your home sounds like ours with a great love of animals! Loved hearing about the many pets you have had – wow! A squirrel! I bet that was fun. I love to watch the squirrels in our yard. They crack us up. We have a black squirrel that lives in our woods we have named “Smoke Puff”. He has hung around our place for a couple of years now. We watched him hide from a hawk the other day – so smart! He sat perfectly still, flush against a shadow of a tree. The hawk never found him, thankfully! Take care and have a happy start to spring! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  12. Pamela Frey says:

    Hi Nicole, Love animals and never too late to learn new facts. Never knew about the poison in lilies or the Xylitol in peanut butter. Thank you for such important information. I put peanut butter in my Kong toy and Sarah loves it. Will now give her my peanut butter that our healthfood store grinds from peanuts. More expensive, but worth it!! Love, Love, Love all your animals. I’m the relocated New Englander from Kansas that so enjoys your posts. Have had a horse, chickens, ducks, and pet sat donkeys and parrots. Now, since I live alone and am getting old – lol I’m 72, I just have a golden retriever/lab rescue dog, a calico cat rescue and a kitten rescued from a country ditch. They are all wonderful animals and as you say keep us entertained with their antics. Thanks for your writing and please Keep up your colorful, informative and so..oo interesting posts!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Pamela, it is always so nice to hear from you! Love that you have rescues, too. One of mine was “ditched”, too, but now lives a very posh life here! I always feel like rescues “know” they were rescued, and love us back so much! Thanks for writing in…pats to your fur-babies from me and Farmgirl Hugs to you, Nicole

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