One of the greatest things about living in Florida is the beach.  What dog doesn’t like to run along the sandy shore and dip their paws in the salty surf?  Many of my canine friends absolutely love exploring the sights and smells along the coast. But, for all its excitement, the beach can spell trouble, too. Taking time to prepare and knowing what to expect once you get there can make your outing fun – and safe.

Know the Rules

After choosing a hot spot to hang out, check the rules:  remember that beach rules are actually laws, and can be punishable by a citation or fine.

Some beaches only allow dogs on the beach in the early morning and after chow time while others grant round the clock access.  Also, make sure to follow the leash laws – not all dog-friendly beaches have an off-leash policy.  Not picking up poop can harm our coast, so always bring waste bags to clean up after potty breaks.  And stay off the dunes – prohibiting foot, and paw traffic helps protect our shoreline.

Not All Dogs Can Swim

Some dogs woof with excitement for water while others – not so much. Humans assume that all dogs can swim when the truth is, they can’t. You can test and see if your dog is capable of swimming by finding calm water to let him practice his doggie paddle before hitting the waves. When in doubt, it’s best to put them in a life vest for protection. And never let your pet enter the water unsupervised.  Pet parents should always be prepared to save their pets from dangerous conditions – and vicious sea creatures.

Don’t Drink the Water

It can be tempting for your dog to take a quick sip while walking along the shore, but guzzling too much salt water is a bad idea.  It can lead to beach diarrhea and make for a messy ride home.  Pack plenty of fresh, cool water to rehydrate your dog after romping around in the sand.

Block the Rays

Dogs are prone to sunburn just like humans, particularly those breeds that have short hair, white fur, and pink skin. Apply doggie sunscreen (yes, it’s a thing) to the nose, ears, and body at least half an hour before going outside. Do not use sunscreen that contains zinc – it can be toxic to dogs.

Also make sure to have a shady retreat.  Although it may not protect your pet from sunburn, it can help beat the heat.

Protect Your Paws

If the sand is too hot for your feet, chances are it’s also hot enough to burn your pup’s paw. Sharp shells, broken glass, and rough rock also pose a risk.  Use a paw balm or wax for pawtection and inspect your pet’s paws for cuts and scrapes when you get home.

Rinse Well

At the end of the day, rinse off your pet before heading home.  Remove salt and sand from their coat and give the insides of their ears a quick wipe to remove excess water.

Staying safe and maintaining consideration for other beach users, whether human or canine, is the winning combination for an enjoyable time at the beach.

The First Coast has miles of beaches for you and your pooch to spread out and relax. But there are new guidelines to consider during the pandemic. Beach visitors should stay at least 6 feet away (both in water and on land) from people who are not family. Face coverings should be worn when possible and are most essential at times when social distancing is difficult. And hand hygiene should be performed frequently to reduce the spread of bacteria and infectious illness, like COVID-19.

Now that summer is in full swing, our worst outdoor annoyance is back with a vengeance – mosquitoes! They swarm evening walks, steal blood, and leave behind an itchy reminder of their deed.  Most of us know mosquitoes are a nuisance, but these nasty little bugs carry disease.  Protecting your pet from this threat is key to keeping your canines – and cats safe and bite-free all summer long.


When you’re playing outside, make sure your human protects you from pests! – Davi

Don’t use human insect repellent on pets

Human bug spray might be useful to humans, but they’re toxic for pets.  Most insect repellents contain DEET as its main ingredient, which can cause vomiting, seizures, and skin irritation when exposed to pets.  And because dogs like to lick their owners, make sure you’re not wearing it around them or they could suffer from the serious side effects.

Do remove standing water around the house

Just like dogs, mosquitoes need water to live.  The first step in preventing pesky mosquitoes from multiplying is to restrict their access to water.  It only takes an inch of water to breed hundreds of mosquitoes.  Since they lay their eggs in standing water, it’s especially important to empty water buckets and keep fresh water in your pet’s dish.

Don’t walk during peak mosquito times

Mosquitoes are the bane of anyone who steps outside during the hours around dusk and dawn.  I’ve surely spent a night or two swatting at these buzzing pests with my tail only to end up with a welt on my forehead.  Very rarely do the insects feed during daylight hours unless the sky is cloudy, so if you want to reduce your chances of getting bit, do outdoor activities when mosquitoes are less active.

Do apply bug sprays designed for dogs

When it comes to protection from mosquitoes, it is safest, healthiest, and smartest to select products that are made for pets.  What’s more, most of these sprays are formulated to prevent not only mosquitoes but ticks, fleas, and other biting bugs.  You can also lessen the chance of mosquito bites by using a topical preventative that contains permethrin.  Remember, never use these products on cats, as permethrin is highly toxic to felines.

Don’t ignore natural remedies

If you’re not comfortable putting chemicals on your pet, there are plenty of natural remedies that work just as well.  Products made from lemongrass, citronella, geranium, and peppermint will give your pet a fighting chance against biting insects without irritating their skin.  You can also dilute and mix together these oils to make your own effective repellents.

If given the choice between a hairy dog and a juicy, relatively naked human, it’s likely that most mosquitos would choose the human to bite. But mosquitos do bite dogs, and dogs with very short hair, like me, can get chewed on pretty excessively.

Mosquitoes should not be considered as a summertime pest, but as a year-round health hazard, which means every effort should be made to avoid exposure. It takes just one bite from a mosquito infected with heartworm larvae to jeopardize your pet’s health. Heartworm disease is serious, and it can go unnoticed for a very long time. That’s why the absolute best treatment option is prevention.

Have you ever heard that owning a pet makes you healthier? It’s true!

The antidote to relieving stress and living a happy life can come from having a four-legged companion that is ready to give you unconditional love. Studies have shown that pet owners are less likely to suffer from depression than those without pets. Let’s examine five ways that pets can improve your health.

 1 – A Sense of Purpose

Caring for a living thing can give you a sense of purpose. Because pets have to stick to a schedule, it will give you a structured routine. Instead of staying in bed all day long, you would have to get up in the mornings to take your dog out and feed them breakfast. If you have a cat, well, sleeping in isn’t an option when food is on the line. This pushes people to also care for themselves because they are already up and taking care of their pets and being productive.

2 – Goodbye Stress

You may not realize what is happening while playing with a dog or cat besides that you are having a good time and it’s making you happy. Interacting with an animal for five minutes lowers your levels of cortisol, aka, the stress hormone. When playing with your pet, it increases the release of oxytocin, which is a chemical in the body that naturally reduces stress. Serotonin and dopamine also get released while you play, helping relax your nervous system. The same thing happens to your pet when you play with them and it helps reduce their fear and anxiety.

3 – Easy Exercise

Dogs need to be taken out whether it’s for them to do their business outside or go for a walk. Getting outdoors can benefit you because you are able to receive vitamin D from the sun and get a break from being inside.  Not only are you benefitting from exercise, but so is your dog. Taking them out for a walk helps your dog bond with you and release some of their energy.

4 – Social Skills

According to experts at Harvard, having a dog can make you more social. This is because when you’re out on a walk with your dog, more people tend to stop you and talk about your dog. Taking your dog to the dog park also gives you a chance to be social with other pet parents while your dog is also being social and getting exercise. It gives you a connection with people when you talk about your dog while relieving social anxiety because it’s a common and easy topic to talk about.

Photo by: Lauren Neal Photography at BrewHound Dog Park + Bar

5 – Constant Companions

Because of the unconditional love that our pets give us on a daily basis, it helps diminish the feeling of being lonely because having a pet can satisfy the basic human need for touch. Pets do not judge you for having a bad day or doing silly little things.  Although our pets cannot speak back to us in a language we understand, they know how to show love.

Caring for an animal can do wonders for your self-esteem. These different kinds of benefits from owning a pet do not only come from having a dog or cat. People who have a fish or a hamster can have the same benefits. If you are not too sure about adopting a pet for yourself, fostering is always an option to help dip your toes in becoming a pet parent to a dog or cat.

Check out the pets waiting to meet you or sign up for our foster program!

If you have questions about adoptions, you can reach out to our team at any time.

 

Written by: Briana Svagdis

Toilet paper has become a pretty hot commodity over the last several weeks, but did you know the cardboard tubes inside each roll can be just as useful as the paper itself? It’s true!

Cat and dog owners, you can easily upcycle your empty toilet paper tubes into a variety of fun enrichment items for your pets. Today we’re going to show you 5 things you can make for your cat or dog using an empty toilet paper tube.

Ready to get started?

Cat Toys

The cats at JHS love these toys! Some cats like chasing them around, others enjoying playing with and biting at the tabs.

What do you need?

How to make it:
1. Using scissors, make incisions all the way around each end of the tube, about 1″ in length. This will leave you with a circle of “tabs” at the end of each tube.
2. Use non-toxic markers to decorate the tube for your cat.
3. Fold the tabs at each end of the tube down so that they look like spokes on a wheel.
4. That’s it! You can throw the tube for your cat to chase or let them bat it around on the ground.

Mini Food Bomb for Dogs

Food bombs are a great enrichment activity for dogs, as they require pups to use cognitive skills figure out how to reach the deliciousness hidden inside. JHS dog Ember (pictured above) is a big fan!

What do you need?

How to make it:
1. Fold one end of the tube in to close it off (it’s okay if it’s not completely sealed).
2. Drop a spoonful of peanut butter inside the tube.
3. Add a spoonful of wet dog food.
4. Add some small dog treats or some Cheerios.
5. Fold in the other end of the tube.
6. Give to your dog and let them enjoy!

(Tip: You can make larger food bombs using paper lunch sacks!)

Cat Treat Dispenser

Who says we shouldn’t play with our food? This treat dispenser encourages cats to use mental and physical energy to treat themselves.

What do you need?

How to make it:
1. Decorate the tube for your cat using non-toxic markers.
2. Using scissors, poke small holes in the tube (holes should be large enough for a treat to fit through). (Tip: You can use your fingers to widen the holes!)
3. Fold in one end of the tube to close it off.
4. Add treats to the tube.
5. Fold in the other end of the tube.
6. Give to your cat and let them enjoy! Cats can bat the tube around to dispense treats.

(Hint: You could also dry this with your dog!)

Cat Treat Puzzle

Make snacktime fun and engaging with this simple-to-make cat treat puzzle!

What do you need?

How to make it:
1. Using scissors, cut the toilet paper tube into 4-5 rings.
2. Place one ring inside another ring and continue inserting rings until you have a ball (see photo).
3. Add cat treats into the ball.
4. Give to your cat and let them enjoy! Some cats my knock the ball around to try and dispense treats, others may opt to dismantle it entirely! The rings make a fun toy on their own.

Cat Treat Puzzle Board

This treat puzzle board is another great way to keep your cat mentally and physically active at treat or meal time.

What do you need?

How to make it:
1. Using hot glue gun, glue empty toilet paper tubes together to form a pyramid (or your preferred structure).
2. Glue your pyramid to a cardboard base.
3. Add some additional tubes in a vertical position to make the puzzle even more challenging for your kitty!
4. Add treats or dry food to all of the tubes.
5. Time to eat! Cats will have a blast reaching into the tubes to grab some treats.


If you decide to make any of these tube crafts for your pet, we’d love to hear all about it! You can email pictures to us at education@jaxhumane.org or just tag @jaxhumane in your photos on Facebook or Instagram.