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Do you have a teen driver? If so, you need to check out the Drive Safe Challenge website

 

Passing a driver’s license test is a milestone for any teen driver. But, while teenagers gain a new-found sense of independence when they’re issued their license, parents are often left feeling a mix of excitement and anxiety.

The worry isn’t unfounded – teen drivers are the most inexperienced drivers on the road and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that the leading cause of death for teens is motor vehicle accidents. So, how can parents help keep their young drivers safe on the road? The best answer is education. Fortunately for parents, Mercury Insurance has created the Drive Safe Challenge website, a comprehensive resource designed to aid parents in teaching teens collision avoidance techniques and safe driving practices. The site also includes statistics, driving tips, a driving contract and more.

Many states require teens to have a minimum number of supervised driving hours and to complete a driver’s education course before they’re eligible for a license. New York, for example, requires teen drivers to finish a minimum of 24 classroom hours and 24 hours of behind-the-wheel instruction.

Currently, all 50 states have a graduated driver’s license program limiting driving privileges for teens. Most include a learning stage, an intermediate stage that limits unsupervised driving in high risk situations like driving late at night, and a full privilege stage. These restrictions have a positive effect: states with stricter guidelines for young drivers have seen a reduction in crash rates as reported by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Parents can work to reinforce the good driving practices taught through formal driver’s education by spending more time in the family vehicle with their teen. Providing guidance while teens are behind the wheel and leading by example are important aspects of driver education. The more driving practice your teen driver receives, the better. Visit the Drive Safe Challenge website to learn more about how you can help keep your teen driver safe on the road.

*This is a sponsored post. The opinions expressed are that of the author’s and do no necessarily reflect my own. 

 

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Cold Weather Woes – Here are 6 tips to avoid a chilly trip to the vet’s office

 

 

Our dog Espn enjoying the snow.

Our dog Espn enjoying the snow.

During these winter months it can be challenging to keep our pets healthy and happy. The cold weather often brings a slew of things to watch out for when it comes to keeping Fido and Fluffy out of trouble. 

Dr. Carol Osborne, DVM offers a few essentials to get your furry friend through these cold months without a trip to the vet’s office.

When using ice melting products like Rock salt and De-icing chemicals, spritz your pet’s feet with water when they come back inside to avoid irritation of their skin and paws. Signs of ingestion include excess drooling, depression and vomiting.

Antifreeze is deadly for pets. Clean up spills/leaks immediately and make sure that it is stored in a sealed container locked in a secured cabinet. If you think your pet has consumed anti-freeze, this is a true life or death emergency! Go to your vet ASAP and call ahead while you are on your way!

Keep your pets protected from the frigid temperatures (if it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for your pet. Offer a little extra food during the winter months because more calories are burned trying to maintain body heat)

Frost bite risk areas include your pet’s ears, nose, tip of the tail and ears. Frostbitten areas of skin initially turn a reddish color then become gray.  To treat frostbite: give your pet a warm bath and wrap him or her up in warm towels. Don’t rub an area that has frostbite!

Homemade meals for your pet are a healthy and cost effective way to ensure your pet is getting essential nutrients without the risk of indigestion, weight gain due to over eating and the high caloric intake of processed foods. Cuisine made of equal portions of a lean protein (chicken, turkey, beef, veal, duck, fish or eggs), long-acting carbohydrates (potatoes, rice, pasta or oatmeal) and fresh vegetables (broccoli, spinach, green beans, lima beans, peas and carrots) are ideal. Cats require more protein than dogs, so 80 percent lean protein and 20 percent veggies is perfect.

Rat and Mouse baits are usually used more often in cold weather. Place baits in areas inaccessible to your pets. Peanut butter baits smell good and are tasty to pets. Save labels, and if you think bait has been eaten by your pet, get to your vet ASAP. Call ahead while you are on your way! Most pets are treated with Vitamin K therapy and recover.

Cat Snow

About the author: 

Dr. Carol Osborne is an author and world-renowned integrative veterinarian of twenty plus years. After graduating she launched a very successful private practice and became founder and director of the non-profit organization, the American Pet Institute. Dr. Carol offers traditional veterinary care for dogs and cats with a softer, natural touch. For more information visit chagrinfallspetclinic.com.

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The Holiday Gifts You Hate Getting Can Also Sicken Your Pet

 

jack russel terrier and kitten

They say you should never look a gift horse in the mouth, but finding flaws in holiday presents could save pet parents an unexpected trip to the vet—and a blow to their budgets.

Petplan claims data shows that treatments during a holiday week can cost twice as much (or more!) than at other times of the year, mainly because pets end up at emergency vets when their regular docs close for holiday hours.

“Never has the phrase ‘the gift that keeps on giving’ been more ominous for pets,” jokes Petplan Veterinary Manager Elyse Donnarumma. “When you consider that the average claim paid for food poisoning is $585, or that foreign body removal surgery costs an average of $1,327, it is sobering to realize that those costs can easily double during the holidays.”

Which gifts top the naughty list? Many of the same ones you dread getting yourself!  According to Petplan, these are the top 10 gifts that can unwrap disaster:

  1. Bows & Ribbons

Most presents do come wrapped, but the danger of gift ribbon adds insult to injury with less-than-stellar gifts. Ribbons can easily become linear foreign bodies. Avoid an expensive surgery by tossing wrappings in the trash (whether you pitch the gift, too, is completely up to you).

Just ask Petplan policy holder Amanda Tollen, of Conshohocken, PA, about holiday ribbon. Her eight-year-old cat, Bella, racked up a $2,004.70 vet bill for a linear foreign body on December 27, 2015, when she got into the gift ribbon. (photo below)

bella-3

“I am so happy we got pet insurance for Bella,” said Tollen, who was reimbursed over $1,800 thanks to her policy option. “It really saved us a ton of money during one of the most stressful times of the year for our budget. You never know what your pet is going to get into or what illness they will come down with. Having Bella Petplan protected was one of the best decisions we ever made.”

  1. Fruitcake (and its modern-day equivalent, Panettone)

If it wasn’t bad enough that someone spoiled good cake by adding fruit, fruitcake contains a trio of ingredients that can make furry friends sick. Currants, raisins and nuts are toxic to pets, and the spirits the cake is soaked in can be deadly to dogs and cats.

  1. Holiday Plants

The fact that this gift will die in a few days isn’t even the worst thing about it. A snack on Christmas cactus can upset tummies. Christmas lilies can cause kidney failure in kitties. And while poinsettias aren’t as toxic as previously thought, its sap can cause an unpleasant rash.

  1. Scarf/Mittens Set

You probably have half a dozen sets of scarves and mittens, but you’re bound to get another one during the holiday season. Donate the duds before your pet gets his paws on them; yarn can become a linear foreign body if swallowed.

  1. Lottery Tickets

You may have a 1 in 14 million chance of winning your gift, but your pet is much more likely to suffer a foreign body ingestion if he eats the envelope and paper.

family, holidays, generation, christmas and people concept - smiling family with gift boxes at home

  1. Houseguests

There are inevitably some relatives who believe their presence is your present, but they’re not always welcome in the eyes of furry family. Extra people in the house can trigger stomach upset due to stress, and all that coming and going can make it easier for pets to dart out the door and get hit by a car.

  1. Coffee/Hot Chocolate

Coffee mug gift sets are a staple of office holiday giving, but whether there’s beans or cocoa inside, be sure to keep them away from your pet’s paws. The caffeine in coffee and chocolate can trigger hyperactivity, elevated heart rate, seizures and even death.

  1. Bath Products

Nothing says, “I bought this present on the way here,” like a basket of bath products like lotions and salts. It also poses the very serious threat of salt poisoning to your pets. Bath salts often contain magnesium sulfate (Epsom salts) and sodium chloride (table salt), both of which can kill or permanently injure furry friends.

Box of Chocolates

  1. Boxed Chocolates

While it can be argued that chocolate is always a good gift, even a diehard sweet tooth is on overload during the holidays. Extra confections lying around the house can be a recipe for disaster. Chocolate contains theobromine, which can cause illness or even death in dogs and cats.

  1. Socks

You don’t want them, you hate getting them, and you’ll loathe them even more when you’re forking over upwards of $1,000 to have them removed from your pet’s intestine. Socks take Petplan’s top spot for the worst holiday gift, whether you’re on two legs or four.

Donnarumma concludes, “For the safety of all involved—including your wallet—we suggest sticking to electronic gift cards for holiday giving.”

holidayhazards_infographic

For info about Petplan and more pet safety tips, point your paws to www.gopetplan.com.

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Pet Proof a home for the holidays

jack russel terrier and kitten

Shockingly it’s December already and too many pet owners may walk in on a similar scene as in the photo above. In addition to the wonderful holiday festivities, we need to consider the health and safety of our pets. Certified Humane Education Specialist and award-winning author, Diane Rose-Solomon has a quick list to Pet Proof a Home for the Holidays. She is available for interviews.

This year, Chanukah and Christmas fall on the same day. Here are some tips to create a save environment for everyone living in your home:

In the home…

  • Christmas trees and their decorations can be beautiful. Make sure the tree base is solid to avoid tipping over, or being knocked over by a rambunctious dog or a cat exploring tree branches. Yes, it’s hard to stop them from climbing, but a sturdy base will eliminate tree crashes and potential fires.
  • Wiring on the lights should be done properly and the wires should be in good shape. Any electrical wiring should stay far away from a curious pup- especially if he’s a chewer. Ornaments should stay high up away from dogs and cats. Way too appealing for a toy loving animals.
  • Get down on your hands and knees and check for safety from your pet’s eye level.
  • If you light candles make sure your dogs stay away while they burn and the candles aren’t left to burn unattended. Pets often to get up on the table to lick crumbs. With candles burning it could be disastrous.
  • Holly, mistletoe and poinsettia are all toxic to dogs. So is chocolate. Keep them out of your dog’s reach.
  • Will your family be unwrapping gifts? Wrapping and gift-wrap decorations along with toys with small parts, or any toys that can be chewed or even that pair of socks from Aunt Gertrude, can all pose a potential danger to your pooch or kitty.

Holding a holiday celebration?

  • If your dog isn’t too friendly to strangers, consider placing him in his crate and be sure to give him plenty of love and exercise prior to lockdown. Cats either hide or are fine with most guests, but can be food thieves. So no food can go out onto the table unattended if your cats are mixing with the party. It is a challenge!
  • When entertaining, Diane suggests you ask your dog walker if she can take the dogs out for a bit. It gets them out of the house, stimulated and it’s an alternative to the stress of having them here- at least for part of the time.
  • Will there be noisemakers or fireworks on New Years Eve? Dogs are rather sensitive to loud and sudden noises. Help reduce their stress and keep them from fleeing by using the crate.

Traveling over the holidays?

  • Traveling with or without your pup is a great option too. If you travel and Fido stays home, be sure to find a trusted pet sitter or doggie daycare to care for him while you are gone.
  • Bringing Fido along? Check airline regulations if you are flying and he is small enough to have in the cabin with you. If you are driving make sure he’s securely fastened in a crash tested car harness or car seat. Pack enough food, treats, leash, travel food bowls, a dog bed and his favorite toys for the adventure. And don’t forget poop bags. You will likely need them wherever you go!
  • Be sure the information on his tags and microchip are up to date with your cell phone number just in case he gets lost while you are traveling. Always know where the nearest emergency vet is located. The unexpected always happens at the worst time.

Once pet parents have the safety matters handled their minds will be free to enjoy a fun and joyous holiday.

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About the author:
 
Diane is a charming and relatable guest, a strong animal advocate and gracious pet lover who delivers helpful information with simple steps any pet parent can do. She lives in Santa Monica with her family and two rambunctious dogs.

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Pet Safe Holiday Tips

 

jack russel terrier and kitten

Keeping your furry family members safe during the holidays can be a difficult task. Many pet parents plan to include their furry companions in the festivities. This holiday season, it’s important to be mindful of your pet’s eating and exercise habits. Also, remember to steer pets clear from harmful toys and other gifts. Dr. Julie Hansen, DVM, cVMA is the Program Chair of the Veterinary Technology program at Argosy University, Twin Cities.

Here are Dr. Hansen’s tips for a Pet Safe Holiday:

Great DOG gift ideas:

  • Stuffed animals with squeakers (be sure to make sure the dog doesn’t “liberate” the squeaker and swallow it!)
  • Chewing treats: look for products with the VOHC (Veterinary Oral Health Council) seal of approval. These will help reduce plaque and tartar. See http://www.vohc.org/AcceptedProductsTable.pdf
  • Sweaters and coats for small dogs in cold weather
  • Boots for dogs that love to go for long walks in the snow
  • Tennis balls and soft frisbees for dogs that love to retrieve
  • Treats! But give in small quantities

Great CAT gift ideas:

  • Scratching posts and boxes
  • Hiding spaces – boxes, tunnels, cat condos
  • Anything with catnip!
  • Small balls to chase (but not if you also have a dog that might eat them!)
  • Treats, especially dental chewing treats!
  • Toys you can use to play WITH your cat

Gifts to avoid:

  • Any toy too small for your dog – choose toys that they can’t swallow
  • Deer or elk antlers – these natural chews are unfortunately too hard and can easily break teeth
    • If your dog is a big chewer, look for softer chewing items (Kong products are great) that won’t be able to be chewed apart easily
    • Don’t leave your dog unsupervised with anything they can chew apart
  • Human “treats” – especially anything with chocolate, raisins, and/or macadamia nuts – all of these are toxic to dogs
  • Avoid toys with strings or ribbons that your cat could ingest, unless they are always supervised while playing

kitten exotic shorthair and chihuahua

*This is a guest post. The opinions expressed are that of the author’s and do not necessarily represent my own. 

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How To Outwit “Porch Pirates” And Hackers During The Holiday Shopping Season

 

Delivering a Package

Americans’ love affair with online shopping continues to grow, and retailers predict a 7 to 10 percent increase in online sales this holiday season, according to the National Retail Federation.

While that news might make retailers giddy, security experts are reiterating their annual warnings that the convenience of online shopping comes with hazards. You could become the target of hackers out to steal your credit card or bank information, or “porch pirates” who prey on those packages left on your doorstep.

“Consumers need to take proper precautions if they don’t want their holiday merriment turning into holiday gloom,” says Gary Miliefsky, CEO of SnoopWall (www.snoopwall.com), a company that specializes in cyber security.

Changing all your passwords frequently is one way to protect what’s yours. Deleting smartphone or tablet apps you don’t use is another smart move, Miliefsky says, because many of those apps may be malware that spies on you.

Even porch pirates – generally seen as low-tech thieves who simply cruise neighborhoods looking for packages – can go high tech by infiltrating your smartphone where they can eavesdrop on your orders and deliveries.

“Both porch pirates and hackers count on people being lax with their defenses,” Miliefsky says. “But with a little preparation you can thwart their plans.”

He offers a few tips for doing just that:

Shop online only from websites you trust. If you don’t know where the merchant is located, don’t shop online there. If they don’t have a corporate address or are located in another country, it could be iffy whether you ever see the goods you think you purchased. Also, if their shopping-cart experience is not an HTTPS browser session, then everything you type in – your name, address and credit-card information – is going over the Internet unencrypted, in plain view.

Pay with credit cards rather than debit cards. If you experience identity theft, credit card laws allow you to keep all of your credit immediately, with no responsibility during an identity theft or fraud investigation. With a debit card, your bank’s policy can be to tie up your money in the amount of the fraudulent transactions for up to 30 days. Some have been known to take up to 60 days to resolve the issue.

Get permission to ship all your packages to work. That way they aren’t left unguarded at your doorstep for hours where anyone walking by could snatch them. If this arrangement works out, be sure to tell all your friends and family also to ship packages to your work address.

Ask a friend or neighbor to receive your packages for you. You might not be home on work days, but plenty of people are. Trusted friends who are retired or who work at home might be happy to let you have packages delivered to them for safe keeping.

“It’s wonderful that you can go online and track down those hard-to-find gifts that aren’t available in local shops,” Miliefsky says. “Just make sure you’re taking measures to help keep you and your personal information safe. The holidays will be a whole lot brighter if you do.”

canstockphoto1420241

About the author:

Gary S. Miliefsky is founder of SnoopWall Inc. (www.snoopwall.com), a cutting edge counter-intelligence technology company offering free consumer-based software to secure personal data on cell-phones and tablets, while generating revenues helping banks and government agencies secure their networks. He has been active in the INFOSEC arena, as the Executive Producer of Cyber Defense Magazine and a regular contributor to Hakin9 Magazine.

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