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Trail Riding 101: Let’s Talk Etiquette

Trainer training women in riding horses at barn

When we think of a calming activity, trail riding is one of the first things that comes to mind. Taking in fresh air and beautiful scenery on the back of a horse at a leisurely pace is truly one of life’s simple pleasures… if it’s done safely and mindfully. If not, it can become dangerous for you, your horse, and fellow trail riders. New to trail riding? Not to worry! You’re in the right place. Here’s our quick safety checklist for these low key rides:

  • Only bring horses
    that are conditioned for trail riding.
  • Check all tack to ensure the proper fit.
  • Check your
    horse’s hooves and make sure they’re suited
    for the terrain.
  • Wear proper
    attire for horseback riding, including pants and boots.
  • Maintain at least
    one horse length between riders
  • Tie red ribbon to
    the tails of horses who kick.
  • Ride single file
    when passing other riders or hikers.
  • Youth and new
    riders should always wear a helmet.
  • Bring along a
    first aid kit and map.
  • Be sure at least
    one person has a working cell phone.
  • Allow horses the
    opportunity to drink.
  • Wait for other
    riders if dismounted.
  • Announce trail
    hazards like potholes, low hanging branches, dogs, hikers, or rocks.
  • Don’t litter.
    While this won’t threaten your safety, it’s just rude!

If you ask us, you can never be too safe when it comes to horses and other people so always air on the side of caution when it comes to preparation. Be sure to bring plenty of water for yourself and your horse and never shy away from resting if that’s what you or your horse need. We hope you have a wonderful summer full of laid back rides ahead!

Have you been trail riding recently? Show us a picture and tell us how you prepare on Facebook!

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National Egg Month: How-To Hatch at Home

chick

If you’ve ever considered hatching your
own chickens, spring is the perfect time to do it because it’s not too hot and
not too cold, making it easier for the new chicks to acclimate to the weather
once out of their shell. There are a couple of different ways to hatch
chickens, so we’re breaking out a step-by-step guide we hope is helpful.

Step 1: Obtain your Eggs. If you don’t
breed your own chickens,fertile eggs must be bought through hatcheries or
poultry farms. Be advised that shipped eggs (those ordered online) are
typically harder to hatch than those which are locally sourced.

Step 2: Incubator or Broody Hen? There
are pros and cons to each option; incubators allow total control during
hatching, but can be considered unnatural and may cause guilt or pressure if
things aren’t a total success. Using a broody hen, a female chicken who sits on
and tends to the eggs, is much more natural but can be unpredictable –
sometimes the hen isn’t feeling broody and can’t be forced to. Lastly, an
incubator yields more eggs but can be temperamental if settings aren’t perfect
or there’s a power outage.

Incubation Insight: Put your incubator in
a place where the temperature will remain consistent (away from windows or
doors with a draft) and be sure to read the manual cover to cover so you know
how it operates. The ideal temperature for incubation is between 99 and 102
degrees Fahrenheit (99.5 is often recommended) and humidity should be between
50 and 65 percent (60 being recommended.)

Step 3: Set the Eggs. After monitoring
the incubator for 24 hours for consistency, warm the fertile eggs to room
temperature to avoid too much temperature fluctuation when they go into the
incubator. Place the eggs on their side in the incubator, with the larger end
slightly higher than the pointed end to allow for proper alignment for the
embryo, which is important when it comes time to hatch.

Pro-Tip: Write down the date of
incubation, as most chicks will take 21 days to hatch; some may take a little
longer, but you want an estimate of when to expect them.

Step 4: Keep ‘em Movin’. The eggs should
be turned a minimum of three times per day at regular intervals, but five is
ideal. It’s recommended to lightly draw an X on one side so you don’t lose
track of which eggs have been turned, and make sure your hands are always
clean. Stop turning at day 18 to allow the chicks to position themselves for
hatching.

Step 5: Raise the Humidity. During the
last three days you’ll want the humidity around 65 percent, so add warm water
or a sponge as necessary to keep the humidity up.

Step 6: Prepare for the Hatch! Once you’ve stopped rotating the eggs, the most viable ones will hatch in 24 hours so place some cheesecloth under the egg tray to catch any debris and leave the incubator closed until the chickens hatch. Once hatched, the chicks will need to be kept warm and safely near their starter food and a shallow pan of water. As always, we recommend talking with a veterinarian or your local hatchery for further care tips.

Lastly, be prepared: you will have some roosters in your newly-hatched flock, which some communities have regulations against so be prepared to rehome any males in the brood; you may even be able to ask the place you got the eggs from if they’re willing to take in any males.  Have fun and enjoy your new chickens!

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You Want New Dog Collars for Spring? Oh We’ve Got Em!

We hope wherever you are that the weather is warming up and you’re able to pull out some fun new fashions to welcome the sun – and the same goes for your pet! In honor of springtime, we present to you some of our fabulous dog collar fashions!

For the more refined canines, the Pink Botanical dog collar offers a light, dainty, and clean floral pattern that doesn’t quite “scream” spring, but rather welcomes it courteously and offers it a cold beverage.

The Pink Retro feels a bit younger
than the lime retro, making it perfect for puppies or dogs with puppy faces. A
true tribute to spring with its neon pinks, greens, and blues!

Of course, the
classic Paisley Pattern is also a
happy-hued option. The yellow, red, and blue pattern pops on top of a beautiful
lime green – gorgeous!

And, for the
boys, we’ve got our Outdoorsmen Patterns – with
fish, mallards, and plenty of forest green to go around!

We love customer
feedback – tell us which spring pattern is your favorite, or what you’d like to
see in seasons to come on Twitter!

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Dog Walking Benefits: So Nice, You’ll Do It Twice!

man walking many dogs

February 22 is National Dog Walking Day, a call to action to get your pet leashed up and out in the fresh air for a little exercise. It’s easy to think walking the dog is a chore (and some days it is), but it’s time we remind you of all the sweet benefits that come from leashing up. They’re so great, in fact, that we challenge you to take your dog on TWO walks regularly and here’s why:

It’s Exercise.

This may not sweeten the deal for some, but getting your joints and body moving is SO important to long-term health. Getting your heart pumping and blood flowing just a little faster is so good for both of you, especially in comparison to sitting at home watching TV.

Reduced Heart Disease.

It’s proven. Even a short 20-30 minute walk 3x a week can reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

Losing or Maintaining Weight.

We all know that physical activity burns calories and boost metabolism – need we say more?

Fresh Air and Vitamin D.

No one can dispute that a breath of fresh air and feeling the sun can lift moods. We physically can’t live without sun or air, so why not get as much of ‘em as you can?

Burns Energy.

Allowing your pet to burn off excess energy can reduce destructive behavior, nuisance barking, and a number of other unwanted behaviors – simply because they’re too tired!

Enriches your Bond.

Spending this time together helps train your pet and strengthens the bond you share. As you two walk more and more you’ll learn about your pet’s curiosities, fears, and reactions to new stimuli they’d never get at home.

You can reap these
benefits with one walk a few times a week, but starting and ending your day
with a refreshing jaunt is such a great way for both of you to stay agile and
healthy – not to mention doubling the health-enhancing perks. How often do you
walk your dog? If you’ll be out and about on February 22, snap a picture and
post it to our Facebook page!

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Argyle Tuesday – Celebrate with Hamilton!

Hamilton Highland print is perfect for Argyle Tuesday!

Did you know that the first Tuesday in January has been dubbed Argyle Tuesday?

Shout out to the standout pattern that keeps socks, skirts, ties, and even collars classy. We love this classic pattern so much, that we have dubbed every Tuesday as Argyle Tuesday! A quick history on argyle: it’s derived from the tartan of an old Scottish clan hailing from Argyll. It became fashionable in the US after WWI, around 1918, and consists of a seemingly three-dimensional layering of diamonds and solid lines in any color combination you can imagine.

Including pets in the festivities is easy! Not only are there a million sweater options out there but our Highland collar can add a pop of fashion to your pet’s coat all year. And, the best news is, they don’t even have to be a Scottie! Durable, secure, and a snap to put on, all of our collars are thoughtfully made with all cuts finished away from the neck to avoid irritation.

Take this totally social media-worthy opportunity and post a picture of you and your pooch donning your favorite argyle accessories. Use the hashtag #argyleday and be sure to tag Hamilton Products!

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Can Dogs Get Hypothermia? What to Know about Pets in Cold Conditions

can dogs get hypothermia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can Dogs Get Hypothermia?

It’s a common misconception that, since they’re animals, dogs can withstand extreme temperatures better than humans can. The truth is that they can succumb to the same cold weather ailments we can – one of which is hypothermia.

Signs of Hypothermia

A dog’s normal body temperature is between 101 and 102.5 degrees, classifying anything less than 100 degrees as hypothermic. The first signs of hypothermia are shivering and paleness of skin, typically followed by listlessness and lethargy; if untreated, coma and heart failure can occur. Complications can be fatal and veterinary attention should be sought as soon as possible in the event of a body temperature decrease.

The good news is that hypothermia is completely preventable. The most common causes are prolonged exposure to cold temperatures, wet fur and skin, extended submersion in cold water, and shock due to circulation decrease – so keeping pets warm and dry in the winter months oughta do the trick. When outside, consider a weatherproof jacket and/or booties to keep most of their fur dry and insulated and be sure to take frequent breaks to warm up when needed.

If you see your pet exhibiting signs of a body temperature decrease, do your best to warm them up as fast as possible. If you can, warm a blanket in the dryer and wrap them in it. Get a heating pad on low or warm water bottle wrapped in a towel, and place in on their abdomen, being sure not to burn their skin. Check their temperature every ten minutes; if it drops to or below 98 degrees, seek immediate veterinary attention.

Do you live where it snows a lot? How do you keep pets warm and dry? Tell us more on our social pages! @HamiltonPet

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Watching Their Winter Weight: 5 Tips for Keeping Pets Fit in Winter

winter weight

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Winter Weight? 

We have some good news and bad news this winter… The good news is, humans aren’t the only ones who tend to gain weight. The bad news is, our pets are also prone to expansion when it’s chilly outside. Don’t blame yourself- it’s perfectly understandable to skip a morning walk when it’s 25 degrees outside, but that doesn’t change the fact that losing the weight once it’s on can be difficult for pets. While we’re well aware that cold weather provides fewer opportunities for outside activity, here are a few small ways to keep your pet’s weight in check this winter.

1. Consider Feeding (or Treating) a Little Less.

During winter months, consider scaling pets’ portions down just a sliver to account for less activity. Do your best to gauge the intensity of their normal activity and serving size against their winter activity level and bring it down to scale.

2. A little snow never hurt anybody.

In fact, most dogs really enjoy playing in powder. So get out there! Bundle yourself up (you may consider a weatherproof coat for any short haired pets) and spend an hour hiking, playing fetch, or just running around in the snow. When you get home, be sure to clear their paws of any ice and watch them snooze away in front of the fireplace.

*Pro-Tip: According to the SPCA, more dogs get lost in winter than any other season so make sure their chips and/or tags are up to date and secure.

3. Training or agility classes.

Not only will it refresh their memory on how to behave, but training your pet is a form of activity (plus it enhances your bond.) Whether you have a trainer come over, enroll them in a nearby class, or vow to train them for half an hour twice a week at home, training and agility will stimulate them physically and mentally.

4. Play dates.

Most dog people have other dog-loving friends, making winter play dates a great way for both of you to socialize and move your joints. You get to catch up with a pal and your dog gets to run around, play, and sniff new smells (which is good for mental stimulation, too.)

5. Slow Feeders.

For dogs who eat too quickly, a slow feeder may be the trick to help them digest a little slower and possibly feed them a little less. Look online for one that won’t frustrate your pup and see how they do at mealtime.

 

What are some winter activities you enjoy with your pet? Tell us on Twitter using @HamiltonPet.

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The Need-to-Know on Kennel Cough

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kennel Cough 101

If you’ve ever owned a dog, chances are they’re required to get a regular bordatella shot. And, if you asked what that is, chances are you were told it’s to prevent kennel cough. Kennel cough, or canine infectious tracheobronchitis, is caused when dogs inhale certain virus or bacteria particles into their respiratory tract, causing inflammation of the larynx and trachea. Common factors that weaken your pet’s defenses to kennel cough are crowded/poorly ventilated conditions, cold temperatures, exposure to excessive dust or smoke, and travel-induced stress.

Symptoms and Treatment

Unlike a reverse sneeze which can sound like a cough, kennel cough is a forceful, persistent cough that sounds more like a goose honk. We recommend checking with your veterinarian, but the good news is, it sounds worse than it is. Most cases of kennel cough resolve themselves without treatment, though medications exist to expedite the process and return your pet to their optimal self. Some pets may show other symptoms of being sick like sneezing, runny nose, and decreased appetite and/or energy level.

It’s important to know that kennel cough is contagious;

If your pet hasn’t been vaccinated or you think they may have it, be sure to keep them away from other animals until you’ve talked with your vet. Keeping pets in well-humidified areas and opting for a harness instead of a collar when walking can prevent furthering the cough. Most symptoms of kennel cough should subside in 3 to 6 weeks depending on the age and health of your pet, but serious ongoing kennel cough can lead to pneumonia.  It’s important to monitor the length of time that your pet’s exhibiting symptoms.

Lastly, be sure to keep your pet up-to-date on all necessary vaccinations to give them a leg up in avoiding sickness.

If your pet has a story about kennel cough you’d like to share, we’d love to hear it. Head to our Facebook page and tell us about it.

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Protecting Pets from Foxtails

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Infuriating Foxtails

If you have a dog and live in a place with high grasses, chances are you’ve heard of or had a run in with foxtails. Foxtails are a grass-like weed whose barbed seeds attach and burrow into your pet. Yes, you read that right. Foxtails don’t just cling to fur: they can go in your pet’s eyes, ears, nose, and mouth in addition to burrowing into paws and fur. The clincher about foxtails is that they only recede backward further into the area, they never extract themselves! That’s what makes them dangerous, especially if ingested. What’s more, these seeds don’t break down naturally so they can cause serious infection if not removed. 

What Can You Do?

Foxtail season is typically from May-December. If you and your dog venture through a grassy area, give them a once over either before you get in the car or at home. Check their eyes, ears, feet, nose, and genitals. If you see excessive licking, scratching, or discharge from any of these areas, chances are it’s a foxtail and, depending on the area, it will need veterinary attention.

Things to Remember…

Curly and long-haired dogs are more susceptible to getting foxtails in their fur so be sure to check around their face, ears, mouth, and paw pads – if you see any foxtails, immediately and carefully remove them with tweezers. If the foxtail is deeply embedded, swollen, or in an orifice you cannot safely remove it from, call your veterinarian. Remember that no matter where it is, foxtails MUST be removed to avoid a bigger issue.

Prevention.

As far as prevention goes, the most proactive thing you can do is avoid high grassy areas during foxtail season, which may be near impossible in some areas of the country. You can also consider trimming your long-haired dog during the season, as that will make it easier to see and remove the little buggers.

Don’t let a fun walk or hike turn into a painful infection or vet bill, be sure to survey your pet as soon as you get home to remove any foxtails as soon as possible. Do you have a foxtail story you’d like to share? We know our dog-loving Facebook community would love to know more.

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5 Tips for Adding a New Dog to the Pack

Thinking of getting a new dog?

Ok, so you’ve been grappling with the idea of bringing a new dog into the household and you’re just not sure if or how you should. We’re not going to sugar coat it: bringing home a new dog IS a big deal and it SHOULD be heavily considered, especially when you already have animals in the household. The good news is it’s totally doable and usually ends up being a wonderful addition to everyone’s lives. You and your pets have another playmate to love! But, before you rush to the shelter for the newest addition, here are 5 tips for bringing a new buddy into the brood.

1. Gauge Your Current Company.

Does your dog growl at other dogs when you’re on a walk together? Does your cat arch its back if it sees another feline through the window? If your current pet seems a bit antisocial, it may not enrich their lives to share their space or their affection. If, however, you’ve seen them play with other animals (even if they don’t always engage) then you have a chance they’ll come around to the right playmate.

2. Consider Important Similarities.

You don’t have to bring home a pet of the same breed, age, or even species, but you do need to consider things like play style, energy levels, and overall demeanor. If you have a sweet, submissive dog you certainly don’t want to introduce a domineering, rough-and-tumble companion to their space.

3. Get to Know the New Buddy.

Visit more than once and talk with the shelter about the potential pup and their quirks. Do they get along with other dogs and children? Are they territorial over food or toys? You can never be too thorough when it comes to introducing a new member of the family.

4. Do a Meet and Greet.

We consider this non-negotiable. Try to coordinate a meet and greet with the shelter either off-site or on the premises if your current dog will do okay. Understand that this is a trial run, everyone’s energy is going to be a little unsure and on edge, but you should be able to get an idea of whether or not the two will get along once the newness wears off.

5. Go Slowly and Be Proactive.

Some people find that a slow introduction, usually with your current pet in a crate or caged off area, is best so that the new animal can familiarize themselves with their new home, while others find it fuels anxiety and territorial feelings from existing pets. Many people think an off-leash introduction on neutral territory allows for free play and for existing pets’ guards to come down. The trick is to keep your existing pet in mind and be there for both animals. Stay nearby and correct any unacceptable behavior. The most important thing to remember is that you are the pack leader and your energy and commands will dictate the tone of the introduction.

And, of course, be patient and honest with yourself. If it’s simply not going to work, allow that to be the conclusion and keep your eyes peeled for another buddy. If there are small things to work through, diligently work through them for the sake of enhancing your current pet’s life with a companion. If you have a trick or story from when you brought a new pet home, we’d love to hear it! Click here and tell us all about it.

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