Author: Jasmine Cabanaw (page 1 of 2)

7 Reasons to Adopt a Senior Dog

Guest Post by Alexandra Seagal from Animalso

Most vets consider a dog to be “senior” at 7 years or older, though it does depend on size; small and toy breeds age more slowly and reach their senior years later in life. Animal shelters are full of healthy, active senior dogs who are often overlooked, as people tend to choose puppies and younger dogs. Older dogs can also make great pets, however, and they usually require less work from the owner.

Here are seven good reasons to dopt a senior dog:

1. You can save a life

Since most people prefer to adopt a puppy, shelters are full of senior dogs that often end up being euthanized due to overpopulation. By adopting an older pooch, chances are you will be saving that dog’s life.

2. They’re already trained

Most older dogs already understand basic commands, such as “sit” and “stay,” and they know what behaviors are expected of them. So chances are you won’t have to go through repetitive training sessions, as the work has already been done.

Older dogs are also usually house trained, so nor will you have to endure the (messy) process of toilet training. Sound appealing? There’s more… That typical puppy habit of chewing up shoes, or anything else she can get her mouth around — older dogs have already been there, done that, got the T-shirt.

3. No surprises

Senior dogs have already grown into their adult bodies and personalities, so there won’t be any surprises in store. You will be able to deduct whether she is a good match for your family and your home in terms of her activity levels, temperament, size, and whether she gets along with children and other household pets.

4. Less demanding

Puppies demand lots of time and energy; they need attention and monitoring 24/7, a play partner, regular feeding of puppy food, and, as they’re settling in, they may even wake you up at night.

You can make the job easier for yourself by adopting a senior dog, who doesn’t need you there at all times, and who is likely to settle in more quickly due to previous experience of living in a pack. Plus, they tend to be much calmer and less energetic, which means less demand on you, and a more peaceful life together.

5. “Senior shelter dog” does not necessarily equal “problem dog”

There is a misconception that all older dogs in shelters are there because they have behaved badly. Actually, senior dogs often lose their homes because their owner could no longer keep them, which can be due to several different reasons, including the novelty wearing off, the death of a guardian, allergies, moving away, a new baby, and various other lifestyle changes. Senior dogs are in need of a home just as much as the youngsters.

6. An old dog can learn new tricks

Ignore that old saying – old dogs can learn new tricks. According to dog trainer Pat Miller, senior dogs are perfectly capable of learning, which is something she has proved with various senior members of her pack. In fact, she encourages people to continue positive training with their dogs even in senior years, as training keeps a dog’s mind and body active, and “enriches their lives.”

So, if you’re worried about getting an older dog because she’ll be set in her ways, that is simply not the case. You can change a dog’s behavior through training at any point in their life, through patience and reward.

7. Less costly

Puppies can cost a lot – what with multiple vet visits for vaccinations and spaying/neutering procedures, and – if you’re unlucky – you might have to replace some furniture, pairs of shoes and socks, and who-knows-what other household items.

The point is, senior dogs have already been through all of this and come out the other side. That means you don’t have to make a dent in your wallet going to the vets OR the home department store.

Are You Ready to Adopt a Senior Dog?

So, if you’re thinking about adopting a dog from your local shelter, don’t look past the senior dogs. They can make just as great pets as puppies and younger dogs, and they’re usually less demanding of your time and energy. And the big plus – you can save that dog’s life.

Things to Consider Before Getting a Pet for Your Child

Guest post written by Kevin Davies from

Children and pets just naturally go together, right? That may be true in some instances but certainly not in all. There are many things to consider when deciding whether to adopt a pet for a child. First and foremost, realize that, as the adult, the ultimate responsibility for the pet lies with you, not your child. It’s perfectly fine to ask your child to help with pet chores as appropriate but don’t assume that your child will not need help and/or supervision in these tasks. If you wouldn’t entrust the care of your child to another child, and the same goes for an animal companion.

When choosing a pet, dogs and cats are often the first species considered. However, there are many other species of animals that make also make good animal companions. It was with interest that I read a post detailing ten pets that are not suitable when you have children featured on Babysitting Jobs. The list brings up some great points. It’s well worth the time to read through it if you have children. I would like to add a few more thoughts regarding the list.

●       I agree that primates and big cats (i.e. lions, tigers, etc.) are not appropriate pets for children. In fact, these animals are not suitable as pets even in a household without children.

●       Turtles certainly can and frequently do carry salmonella. If a turtle is chosen as a pet, attention to hygiene is essential. However, the same is true with any pet. Even with dogs and cats in the household, proper hygiene protocols should always be followed (frequent hand washing, etc.). Even without pets in the picture, these procedures are warranted to prevent influenza and other infections.

●       Like many other species of animals, each hamster has its own personality traits. Some are more friendly by nature. The issue of their nocturnal activity having the potential to affect a child’s sleep is well-taken. As a child, my brother had hamsters as pets and this was an issue in our home also. Moving the cage into another area of the home is a potential solution to this problem that is pretty simple to implement though.

●       The post mentions snakes as unsuitable pets for children also. I agree that the feeding habits of many snakes may be traumatic for some children to witness. The concerns mentioned about the ultimate size of some species is valid as well.

●       Birds are not listed in the post. However, birds do not always make appropriate pets for children either. Larger bird species can cause severe injuries. Their beaks are designed for cracking nuts and seeds. Imagine the damage that beak could do an unsuspecting child that wanders too close. Smaller species of birds can be fragile and must be handled with care. Birds also have special care and diet requirements that must be met .

●       Special environmental and care needs are mentioned as drawbacks for several animals on the list. However, it is important to remember that, whatever the species, parents must be able and willing to provide for that animal’s care and well-being for the entirety of the animal’s life. It’s true that some species are more difficult to care for than others. But it is never acceptable to ignore the needs of any pet. For instance, cats require environmental enrichment in the form of perches, scratching posts, toys, and more. Ignoring these needs can result in a pet that becomes bored and destructive. In some cases, the pet may even become ill and suffer as a result. Always do your homework before you bring a pet home and make sure you can meet that pet’s needs, regardless of species.

●       Another important point to remember is that all young children need to be supervised by an adult when interacting with a pet, regardless of species. This is for the protection of both child and pet.

When children are involved, choosing an appropriate pet is an important consideration. There are some species that are not suitable as pets under any circumstances. However, in many cases, parents will need to take into consideration the likes and dislikes of the individual child as well as the family’s ability to care for the pet in question and the compatibility of the pet with the child.

Lastly, we always recommend to adopt, not shop, when considering an animal companion.


6 Fun and Healthy Activities to Do with Your Dog in the City

Do you or your dog need a quick mental boost? Then spend some time outside doing activities together. You’ll both benefit from being active outside, feeling healthy, and interacting with other people.

You don’t need to live in the countryside to feel active outside and do healthy exercises together. City dwellers and their pooches have many options available to them.

  1. Dog Parks

Many cities have dog parks which allow dogs to either roam free or ramble around on-leash. With many interesting smells to explore, your pet will love to walk, run, or play in the park with you.

Off-leash parks are perfect for playing ball or Frisbee. Before you buy a disk, though, make sure your dog is fit enough to play Frisbee. Since it involves a lot of jumping, this activity may not be ideal for older dogs. Should you opt for running or playing Frisbee, always increase the exercise level gradually for newly active dogs.

  1. Urban Hiking

There are many sights to see in the city, whether you choose the concrete or green areas, and what better way to enjoy it than with man’s best friend. Grab a local map and mark off a path you’ve never traveled before. Go on a fun adventure with your dog!

  1. Dog-Friendly Hiking Trails

Many cities have hiking trails or wooded areas that allow four-legged hikers. Connect with your pup and nature at the same time, soaking in the beautiful views, fresh air, and lush green beauty. Hiking with your dog is like food for the soul.

  1. Dog Beaches

If you live in a city next to the ocean or a lake, make sure you find out whether there are any doggie beaches nearby. Some beaches will camp off a specific area for dog lovers and their pets to play, either on- or off-leash.

On warm days, swimming is an ideal pastime. Swimming is a fun and low-impact exercise – perfect for dogs with arthritis or recovering from injuries. Make sure you pack sunscreen, for yourself, and a life jacket for your dog, and stay hydrated.

Not all dogs like swimming. Don’t force your dog to swim and always go into the water with him. It’s more fun swimming together.

  1. Running or Cycling with Your Dog

If your dog is fit enough, you can teach him or her to run alongside you or your bike. There are special leash hooks available that can be attached to the bicycle frame, allowing your pup to keep close without the leash getting entangled in the spokes or pedals.

  1. Winter Activities

Don’t let winter slow you down. Go for a walk outside if the weather permits – most larger dogs love the snow. Indoor options include:

  • Running on a treadmill. Go at a slow pace at first to help your dog get familiar with the strange machine. Before long, he’ll love to run with you.
  • Indoor games, such as playing hide and seek, can keep your furry friend busy and active for a while.
  • Running up your building’s stairway is a great way to stay in shape. First, start at a slow pace and increase your speed over time. Don’t run down the stairs as it can be heavy on the knees and easy for dogs to slip and fall.

Safety Measures When Taking Your Dog on an Urban Excursion

Make sure you take the necessary precautions to protect your pup and the people and animals you get in contact with when going out:

  • Make sure you know how to control your dog. If he gets into a fight, will you be able to break up the fight with your voice commands? If not, make sure you and your dog go for training to learn the essential skills.
  • Always clean up after your dog. There’s nothing worse than stepping into poo unsuspectingly when walking in the park.
  • Make sure you always have a leash handy, even if you’re at a park that allows free roaming. You never know when you might need it.
  • Keep you and your dog hydrated and remember that you may need to drink more water than usual on hot days and when you’re active.
  • Research the dog-friendly area before you visit and make sure you understand the rules of the urban area. Always follow the regulations – that way we can keep dog-friendly areas open.

Who said being healthy and active can’t be fun? Scout out your local dog-friendly areas so you and your pet can get some fun, active time together.

About the Author

Payal Bhandari M.D. is a holistic family physician at her practice, Advanced Health. She provides personalized, comprehensive primary care to families and individuals of all ages in San Francisco since 2005. Her integrative style blends the best in western and eastern medicine to effectively transform health.

Cycling Safely with Kids and Pets

Guest Post By Bay Area Bicycle Law

Autumn is a wonderful time for cyclists. In many places, the oppressive summer heat is letting up, giving way to a crispness and clarity in the air, and the paths and trails are emptier, save for the gentle dusting of leaves. For many cyclists, this is the best time of year. Add to that the children starting school one grade higher, and the pets (like their owners) busying themselves answering an evolutionary memory of the preparations for the coming winter, and many cyclists will find themselves biking with dogs leashed around their waists, or children towed in wagons, or even learning to ride alongside their parents.

Cycling is freedom, a blending of man with machine, and sharing that experience with a child or a pet is an unparalleled bonding experience.

However, all of that freedom must be matched by cognizance and responsibility on the part of the experienced cyclist. Sharing the road with cars (bicycles are vehicles, remember, and obey all traffic codes) can be a dangerous compromise, and a responsible cyclist will be able to ride safely, confidently, and proactively in order to participate smoothly in traffic.

While many cities have begun to develop bicycle lanes (with varying degrees of success), or even bicycle-first streets or districts, a cyclist will almost undoubtedly have to negotiate traffic with drivers as well. For instance, even with a dedicated cycling lane, drivers will have to block that lane to turn right. Similarly, cyclists will have to lane-change to the left, perhaps more than once, to make a left-hand turn. Even if every party is driving or cycling in good faith, it can be a tricky system. Consider the chaos that would ensue if drivers were able to turn right from a center lane, blocking traffic on their right. This is the daily reality for cyclists. Still, a dedicated bicycle lane is well worth the trade-off, since it keeps a clear path for cyclists who might otherwise have to weave in and out of the flow of traffic to avoid parked cars.

Ultimately, it’s every party’s responsibility to be watchful, methodical, and aware of his surroundings, but, since cyclists will be approaching the car’s flank in the case of a right-hand turn, it’s incumbent upon the cyclist to slow down, or yield the lane to the car if the car has already entered into the turn. Simply put, respectful cycling is about knowing where, when, and how to position oneself to ease traffic flow – just as it is for cars.

It’s the “how” that gets tricky. Cyclists should have a bell or horn, to announce themselves as appropriate, and to signal their moves with gestures (as was common for drivers prior to the advent of the illuminated turn signal.) For a right turn or lane change, the left arm is to be extended, bent at the elbow with the fist straight up, while a left-hand move is signaled by the left arm extended, unbent, perpendicular to the cyclist and to the bike. An unsignaled turn or lane change is an illegal turn or lane change, and a cyclist is as responsible as a motorist for obeying all applicable traffic laws.

But enough about roads. Traffic laws are dry and procedural, and, in this fine autumn weather, you’d much rather get out on the trails and paths, with your dog at your side, and your children in tow. Still, a cyclist is responsible for more than just obeying traffic laws. Cycling with pets brings on a whole host of unexpected complications and risks, and it’s up to the cyclist to anticipate them.

Cycling Safely with Dogs

Dogs love to run, but many cyclists do not consider the turf or terrain that they will be leading their dog to run on. Cement, concrete, asphalt, gravel, and so on can be seriously harmful to the pads of a dog’s paws, especially at cycling speeds. If your dog is allowed to run freely, this may be less of an issue, especially if there is grass alongside the bike path, but a leashed dog may not be given sufficient scope to avoid road hazards and may be unintentionally suscepted to injury. Further, a dog on a leash, if the cyclist is unmindful, may be overrun and overexerted, which can cause cardiovascular or respiratory distress. A responsible cyclist will attend the environment, the conditions, and the state of the animal in his care.

Conversely, an animal may unintentionally unseat a cyclist, if the proper precautions are not taken. An ill-trained dog, leashed to a cyclist’s waist but suddenly chasing a wayward squirrel, can topple even the most seasoned rider with ease. Leashes are sold with embedded springs for exactly this sort of purpose, to limit the suddenness of the dog’s pull. It’s kinder to the dog, who is granted a limited scope to pull, and to the cyclist, who is less likely to be suddenly and unexpectedly destabilized.

Cycling Safely with Children

As for children, while many parents make certain allowances when it comes to bicycle etiquette, like letting children cycle on sidewalks, any cyclist, even on training wheels, should employ the full suite of safety features. That means bells, reflectors, functioning brakes, safety-certified helmets, and a clear understanding of traffic rules.

For parents, children, or both, or just cyclists in general, it’s often best to plan a route that bypasses major streets, or takes into account difficult intersections. On smaller streets, the traffic etiquette is considerably less intensive, and there is much more leeway for pets, slower cyclists, wagons, children, and so on.

Still, despite the best of precautions, accidents do happen. A proactive cyclist is aware of his legal responsibilities, and his legal recourse in case of crash, mishap, accident, collision, or other damages. For those in California, Bay Area Bicycle Law is the leading bicycle –crash law firm, exclusively specializing in bicycle crash cases. If you have any questions about laws governing traffic, bicycles, or cyclists with pets and children, give us a call, and if you’ve been involved in a bicycle crash, our team of bicycle lawyers, with extensive experience working bicycle accident cases, can get you the help you need. Give us a call today, at (415)-466-8717, or look us up on the web at

How Pets Can Be Reading Buddies

Guest Post By: Emma Lawson

Recently, many people and constitutions have implemented reading clubs, in which children read books to animals, as a way of promoting literacy among youngsters and creating a valuable bond between children and their pets. This is the general idea:

The Goal

The programs are designed as a two-way idea that would help both children and animals simultaneously. The idea began a couple of years ago in different locations and with a different purpose. Certain programs were made as therapy sessions in schools for children who are mentally undeveloped, because the furry companions managed to create a relaxing and stress-free environment where children could practice learning. There have also been other programs focused solely on reading to abandoned animals in shelter homes, as a way of helping these furry friends get accustomed to people, their new environment and helping them get ready for a new home. The general idea is to encourage children to improve their literacy skills in a safe, non-threatening environment, all the while helping animals become more sociable.

What Are the Benefits?

There have been a lot of speculations about whether these programs are actually effective or not, and in what way can they benefit children and their pets. In a recent study, children were asked to read in front of three groups: adults, other children and, lastly, animals. Researchers have shown that stress levels of these children were significantly lower when reading to animals, presumably because pets make great listeners and actually provide excellent interactive feedback. This results in higher confidence levels in children, helps them develop their communication skills, motivation, and creativity but also the will to learn and develop further. Animals, on the other hand, can benefit from the mutual acceptance, feel encouraged to interact with their human buddies, and learn about the value of companionship.

Who Is It Intended for?

While these programs are not strictly limited to a specific group, they are generally designed for children aged 6 to 15. This is the period when children grow the most, not only physically, but emotionally and mentally as well. That is why this experience can greatly help them in their future development process, especially during this age period. On the other side, most people believe that these reading clubs are focused solely on dogs and cats. While there are a lot of initiatives for reading in dog and cat animal shelters, studies have shown that other animals (such as birds, hamsters and rabbits) can also be great reading buddies.

So Far So Good

A study conducted at the University of California has showed remarkable results – in terms of improving children’s literacy skills, confidence levels and class participation – in children who have spent 2 months reading to animals at least once a week. These programs are gaining global recognition and many people have been inspired to take the initiative in their own surroundings. Of course, if you are willing to start something on your own, Stefmar offers a wide array of pet supplies and advice about animals, that you could find useful in your new venture.

For centuries now, people have been spending their lives in the company of these furry friends, whose presence has made significant impact on our lifestyle. Dogs, cats, guinea pigs, rabbits and birds have become an integral part of our lives for a number of reasons. Not only do these animals count as loyal companions, but they are known to provide excellent comfort during hardship, protection in times of need and now they are even praised as amazing reading buddies.

Benefits of Coconut Oil for Your Dog and Cat

Guest Post By Payal Bhandari M.D.

There’s been a lot of buzz about the health benefits of coconut oil lately. It’s not just a marketing stunt; over 1,500 studies support this trend. But as a pet owner you may wonder: is it really healthy for my pet, too? Absolutely! As long as you don’t overdo it, your pets can also reap the benefits of this amazing fruit.

Coconut oil contains more than 85% Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs) which are easy for the body to burn and convert into energy. This plant-based oil doesn’t contain any cholesterol, and helps us maintain a healthy weight.

Coconut Oil Benefits

Here is a list of some of the benefits your pet can gain from eating coconut oil:

  • Coconut oil is good for the digestive system. It’s easy to digest, increases the absorption of nutrients, promotes the growth of healthy bugs, successfully treats inflammatory bowel disease, and even improves bad breath.
  • Coconut oil successfully treats skin allergies and irritations while it soothes wounds and helps them heal quickly. We all know pets like to lick their wounds, which can be a problem when ingesting some salves, but with coconut oil, there is no risk.
  • If your pet suffers from arthritis or ligament problems, coconut oil can help soothe the pain.
  • Coconut oil can give your pet a healthy skin and coat. Apply coconut oil directly to the coat and skin, let it absorb for five minutes, and then rinse. This will leave the coat sleek, soft, and glossy. This treatment also minimizes odor.
  • The MCTs in coconut oil support weight loss, improve metabolism, and help to burn fat. MCTs also balance insulin levels which can prevent and control diabetes.
  • Coconut oil is a natural energy booster. The quick acting MCFA fats in coconut oil increase a pet’s energy level.
  • Coconut oil can prevent infections by fighting against parasites, bacteria, and fungi.

How Much Coconut Oil Does My Pet Need?

It will take some time for your pet’s body to adjust to coconut oil, so start slowly and build the dosage up over two to three weeks. If you give your pet too much coconut oil, it will cause diarrhea and a greasy stool. If you see that happen, cut back on the dosage.

Suggested dosage for your dog: Start your small dog or puppy off with ¼ teaspoon per day, and 1 teaspoon for larger dogs. The optimal dose is 1 teaspoon of coconut oil daily for every 10 pounds of weight.

Suggested dosage for your cat: To start with, feed your kitten ¼ teaspoon of coconut oil per day. An adult cat can start with a ½ teaspoon. The optimal dosage is 1 teaspoon for a kitten, and between 1 and 3 teaspoons for an adult cat.

Why not try coconut oil out for your pets? Your pets will thank you when they feel more energetic and have the sleekest coats on the block.

About the Author
Payal Bhandari M.D. is a holistic family physician at her practice, Advanced Health. She provides personalized, comprehensive primary care to families and individuals of all ages in San Francisco since 2005. Her integrative style blends the best in western and eastern medicine to effectively transform health.

Health Benefits of Cinnamon for You and Dog

Guest Post By Payal Bhandari M.D.

Don’t you just love the smell of cinnamon? Whether you add it to your cappuccino, sprinkle on top of rice pudding, or devour a cinnamon bun, the fragrance and taste of cinnamon are irresistible. Not only does it smell and taste great, but there are also many health benefits to eating cinnamon for both you and your pet. Sprinkle some cinnamon on top of your dog’s food so he can enjoy the perks too.

Cinnamon comes from a variety of evergreen trees that are part of the Cinnamomum family, of which the Cinnamomum verum (Ceylon) and Cinnamomum cassia (Cassia) are the most common. The inner layer of the bark is dried and rolled into sticks from where it can further be grounded into a powder. Cinnamon trees are grown in Sri Lanka (where 80-90% of the world’s cinnamon is produced), Indonesia, China, Vietnam, Burma, Brazil, and India.

Health Benefits of Cinnamon

Cinnamon has been used as a spice, as well as for medicinal purposes, for thousands of years. The best part is that it does not taste like medicine! Here is what it can do for you and your pet if consumed on a daily basis:

  1. Cinnamon regulates the blood sugar and reduces the body’s insulin resistance. This is particularly beneficial to people with diabetes and overweight dogs.
  2. Cinnamon has antifungal properties. It treats respiratory tract infections that are caused by fungi, and can combat Candida Albicans, the fungus that causes yeast infection. You may not know this, but dogs with allergies are prone to yeast infections.
  3. The antibacterial properties of cinnamon slow down spoilage of food and inhibit the growth of certain dangerous bacteria like E.Coli, Listeria, and Salmonella.
  4. Cinnamon is anti-inflammatory, fights infection, and repair tissue damage. Half a teaspoon cinnamon and one tablespoon of honey mixed with warm water can do wonders for senior dogs and older people, as well as individuals suffering from conditions such as arthritis.
  5. Cinnamon can reduce the risk of heart disease. It lowers the blood pressure and LDL cholesterol, which are some of the factors causing heart disease. Recent studies have shown it can also slow the growth of leukemia and lymphoma cancer cells.
  6. Cinnamon is extremely helpful in fighting gastrointestinal problems such as nausea, flatulence, and diarrhea.
  7. The abundance of antioxidants found in cinnamon, such as polyphenols, can protect the body from oxidative damage caused by free radicals.
  8. Early studies have shown that cinnamon protects neurons, normalize neurotransmitter levels, and improves motor function. This is especially good news for people suffering from neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

The Two Types of Cinnamon

There are two types of cinnamon: Ceylon and Cassia. Ceylon is often called “true” cinnamon and is lighter, healthier, and more expensive. Cassia cinnamon is the most common variety found in supermarkets and is also cheaper. Cassia contains a compound called “coumarin,” which can be harmful in large doses.

How Much Is Enough?

A study carried out in Norway suggests the maximum Tolerable Daily Intake of coumarin is 0.07mg per kg of body weight, which translates to about 5-6mg for an adult person, 0.4mg for a small dog, and 2mg for a big dog per day. In their 2006 publication, The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BFR) estimated that 1kg of cassia cinnamon contains between 2.1g-4.4g of coumarin. If converted to a single teaspoon of cassia cinnamon powder, it could contain between 5.8-12.1mg of coumarin. This is much higher than the Tolerable Daily Intake for a smaller individual, as well as dogs.

If you can, stick to Ceylon cinnamon; otherwise, make sure you don’t overdo it.

About the Author
Payal Bhandari M.D. is a holistic family physician at her practice, Advanced Health. She provides personalized, comprehensive primary care to families and individuals of all ages in San Francisco since 2005. Her integrative style blends the best in western and eastern medicine to effectively transform health.

Kids and Pets: 5 Creative Ways to Organize Your Home

Guest Post By: Danielle Lazier, Founder, SFhotlist Team, Top-producing San Francisco real estate agent.

Organizing and decorating your home when you’re single is one thing, but throw pets and kids into the mix and the state of your home can quickly unravel. Of course we love them to pieces, but when pets and kids are underfoot, it seems as soon as you clean one mess, another one is waiting. Yet with just a few creative ideas, your home can be organized in pet-friendly, kid-friendly ways that will have the whole household organized and content. Try these five creative ways to organize your home for pets and kids to create just a little bit more order in your life:

1. Start with the entrance

Let’s face it, pets and kids are messy. So start at the beginning and optimize your entrance. A shelf and hooks on the wall is an easy solution to discarded coats, clothes, toys, collars, and leashes. Rather than these items ending up on the floor, you can hang them tidily and within handy reach. Use the shelf for storing towels that can be used to clean dirty paws, hands, and feet. By dealing with the messiness right at the start, you’ll prevent it from getting trekked into the rest of your home. It’s a good idea to have a laundry hamper by the entrance, too, so that dirty clothes can be immediately put where they belong instead of strewn across your floor. Additional ideas for the entrance include having a place for hand sanitizer and/or baby wipes, to prevent sticky hands from staining walls and dirtying door knobs.

2. Invest in stain resistant furniture

There’s no use crying over spilled milk, but it would be nice if it didn’t leave a stain. Four types of stain resistant fabrics are leather, vinyl, pleather (if you can find some high quality versions, so that it still looks classy), and Crypton, a nearly indestructible, synthetic fabric that’s resistant to stains and smells. While some of these may still suffer scratches and tears from paws and fingernails, at least you can minimize the mess left from spilled liquids and muddy paws. Another alternative, if you want to stick with other types of fabrics, is to choose darker colored material, so that stains are less likely to show.

3. Embrace the power of bins

If you have pets and kids in your home and you haven’t yet discovered the joy of plastic bins, it’s time to embrace the convenience they afford. Since they come in all shapes, sizes, and materials, you can place bins in every room in your house if you’d like to. They’ll keep your rooms looking neat and organized, even if the contents of the bins are a haphazard mess. Bins are a convenient and easy way to store clothes, toys, games, and more. Just be sure to label them so that you don’t get the kid toys confused with the ones meant for Fido.

4. Create a kitchen play space

Most households spend the majority of their time in the kitchen, but this is especially true for households that contain kids and pets. While it can be amusing to let your kids tear apart your tupperware drawer, this can get old after a while. Plus, where are the pets supposed to play? Teeth marks on your tupperware are not exactly a desired feature, either. The solution is to create a play space in the kitchen, complete with toys, pillows for lounging on, and room to get messy. Tuck the play space under a counter island, convert a pantry into a play nook, or designate a corner for the critters and munchkins.

5. Design a reading nook

Reading nooks are a delightful way to organize some of your children’s books and toys, and pet toys, too. Studies have shown improved social skills in kids who read to animals. By designing a reading nook, you’ll give your kids a quiet little enclave where they can read to and bond with their favorite animal companions. Line the shelves with children’s picture books and include a jar of pet treats so that the kids can reward the pets for good behavior. Reading nooks can be so inviting, you may even want to cozy up in there yourself!

It’s important to consider both your kids’ and pets’ lifestyles when organizing the layout of your house. The above ideas are just five creative ways you can organize your home for kids and pets. What other creative organizing ideas can you think of? Reach out to me on Twitter at @sfhotlist… I’d love to hear your thoughts!

About Danielle Lazier

Since 2002, I have been a leading San Francisco Real Estate Agent. With hundreds of past transactions, I am a well-regarded Realtor and an industry innovator. In addition to my deep connections throughout the San Francisco real estate community, I am the founder of one of San Francisco’s first real estate teams, At the SFhotlist Team, we aim to deliver top results and an enjoyable experience every time!

I attribute my success not only to my passion for real estate, but also to my intuition regarding the psychology of buying and selling. My clientele works in diverse industries with an emphasis on technology, finance, medicine, law, business and the arts. My business has grown successfully and consistently thanks to the repeat business of happy clients and their introductions to friends, family and neighbors. This track record is only possible because I deliver both results AND an enjoyable experience.

Learn How to Do Yoga with Your Cat

Guest Post By: Payal Bhandari M.D.

Yoga is all about discovery and self-awareness while reducing stress and anxiety. What better way to do this than with your feline friend?

Cats are wonderful companions, and according to studies their purring has a therapeutic effect on humans. For instance, the risk of heart attacks is 40% lower in cat owners. Their calming effect helps to lower your blood pressure.

It is a different and wonderful experience to de-stress, breathe, and move together. Here are a few yoga poses you can do with your cat that will bring you closer together and enable you to communicate deeper. While doing these poses, be mindful of your cat’s needs. Don’t stress if your companion doesn’t want to sit still with you. It will get easier over time.

1. Breath Awareness

Start off with a gentle breath awareness exercise. This exercise will quiet and calm your nervous system, reduce anxiety and stress, and improve self-awareness.

Lie on your back with your feet flat on the floor and the knees bent. Your feet should be hip-distance apart. Breathe comfortably while listening to your breath. Try to make your breathing as smooth and relaxed as possible with slight pauses between breathing in and out. Continue this for about 12 breaths.

Your cat is a natural at breath exercises, so listen to the breathing of your cat to guide you. Take these moments to let go of distractions and focus on your time together.

2. Warm Up

In a seated position, bring the soles of your feet together while enfolding your cat with your legs. Place your left hand on your right knee and your right hand behind your back. Look over your right shoulder behind you while keeping your shoulders down and your spine long. Repeat this on the other side. Next drop your chin towards your chest to release tension on your neck. For an added stretch you can interlace your hands behind your neck and let the weight of your arms give you a deeper stretch.

Let go of all tension and anxiety and focus on the calmness of your cat.

3. Warrior Pose

Stand with your legs 3 to 4 feet apart. Turn your right foot 90˚ out while turning your left foot slightly in. Bend your right knee 90˚ to come into a side lunge. Make sure your knee doesn’t extend over the ankle. Gaze over your right shoulder while holding your cat in your arms. Hold for a minute while feeling the strength you garner from each other. Repeat on the other side.

4. Downward Dog

Start on all fours with your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Walk your hands a few inches forward and spread your fingers. Slowly press your hips towards the ceiling until your body resembles an inverted V. Your feet should be hip-width apart and your knees slightly bent. Keep your shoulders away from your ears. Hold this pose for three breaths.

5. Child’s Pose

Sit comfortably on your heels. Roll your torso forward and bring your forehead to rest on the floor, while lowering your chest as closely to your knees as possible. Extend your arms in front of you while enveloping your cat in your hands. Hold this pose for a few moments while you relax together.

Practicing yoga with your cat will give you the opportunity to share time and relax with a being that you love. Over time, you’ll feel more relaxed, and you’ll see a deeper relationship developing between you and your little friend.

About the Author

Payal Bhandari M.D. is a holistic family physician at her practice, Advanced Health. She provides personalized, comprehensive primary care to families and individuals of all ages in San Francisco since 2005. Her integrative style blends the best in western and eastern medicine to effectively transform health.

Here’s how animals are good for heart health!

Guest Blog Post By Payal Bhandari M.D.

We all know dogs are man’s best friend. But did you know dogs can also be your heart’s best friend? Studies have shown owning a pet – especially a dog – can lower your risk of cardiovascular disease.

There are many reasons that can explain this link, but the general understanding is dog owners tend to exercise more regularly and lead a healthier lifestyle. Pets provide social support to their owners and help them stick with a new habit. So if you start the healthy habit of walking your dog on a daily basis, you can be sure your dog will hold you to it.

A scientific statement released by the American Heart Association (AHA) describes how studies found ownership of dogs can reduce the risk of heart disease.

Physical Activity

An online survey in which 5,253 Japanese adults participated revealed that dog owners are physically more active than non-owners, and was 54% more likely to get the recommended level of physical activity.

Physical activity can lower your blood pressure and decrease the likelihood of becoming obese, which is good for your heart health. A daily 30 minute walk with your dog, and occasional bouts of playing fetch will increase your health.

Lower Stress Levels

Animals are very good at lowering your stress levels. Pets have a calming presence and are natural mood enhancers. They’re also very good listeners. When you feel stressed and have to get something off your chest, your pet will be happy to listen to your vent without judgment. Walking with your dog, petting, and hugging your pet will also reduce stress and lower your blood pressure.

Research suggests dog-owners’ heart rate and blood pressure go up less and return to normal quicker during times of stress, compared to non-owners.

Mental Health

Pets can even have a positive effect on your mental health, and people who are mentally healthy tend to live longer.

Pets have helped many people suffering from anxiety or depression get better. When you have to care for a pet, it shifts the focus away from your own problems. Pets love their owners unconditionally, helping you feel better about yourself.

Pets also make you feel less lonely, making them the perfect companion for older and sick people, as well as single children. You’re also bound to be more social – strangers are more likely to interact with you while walking your dog.

Improve Your Heart Health with a Pet

The companionship a pet provides has many health benefits, but don’t get a pet just to reduce your heart disease risk. You need to be sure you’ll be able to provide, care, and play with your pet.

Few things are so uplifting than the excitement your pet shows greeting you when you come home. The powerful bond which can exist between pet and owner is therapeutic; pets are tuned in to understand your behavior and emotions, and know when you need extra love and support.

Consider adopting a pet if your heart health concerns you, or if you have a family history of cardiovascular disease. Your new best friend might just be the answer to living longer and being healthier.

About the Author

Payal Bhandari M.D. is a family physician at Advanced Health. She provides personalized, comprehensive primary care to families and individuals of all ages in San Francisco since 2005. Dr. Bhandari delivers integrative, holistic care which looks at the whole person. She is consistently able to understand the root cause of any illness and effectively transform health.

Photo credit text: {Photo credit: SplitShire}

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