Category: Health and Safety

Top 5 Threats To Your Pet This Halloween

The candy bowls are filling up and everyone’s picking out their costume for the big Halloween bash! In amongst all the activity that October brings are our pets. Living their life along side us and the many hazards we are constantly dragging out!  So, aside from the candy, what do you need to watch out for? Here’s our Top 5 list of things you might overlook…

Top 5 October Pet Threats

  1. Chrysanthemums (mums) – Those pretty pots of red, yellow, purple and orange mums are filling popping up everywhere! They may be the most popular seasonal flower, but they are also toxic to dogs and cats! The flowers, stems, and leaves all can make your pet ill. Vomiting, diarrhea, rashes, excess salivation – all these are symptoms of chrysanthemum poisoning. If you decide to decorate your home or yard with these autumn beauties, display them out of your pets regular zone. If you suspect your cat or dog has partaken, contact your vet!
  2. Jack-O-Lanterns – Nothing says fall like the friendly (or not so friendly!) jack-o-lantern glowing on the porch! Is pumpkin okay for your pet to eat? Yup! Is a pumpkin that has been sitting on your porch for nearly a month with a candle in it okay for your pet to eat? No. Accumulated bacteria and the possibility of wax  likely won’t kill your pet, but they could make them not feel so hot. Also, be sure to keep your jack-o-lantern in a safe place where your pet won’t knock it over while lit!
  3. Candy wrapper – Everyone should know that candy, especially chocolate, isn’t good for your pet. Have you thought about the wrappers though? You or your child may be great about keeping candy out of reach, but don’t forget to be fastidious about keeping those wrappers up too.  The tempting smell or remaining bits stuck inside can be just enough to entice a pet into eating them and could cause some serious gastrointestinal concerns.
  4. Pet costumes – Will they look adorable? Sure! It doesn’t mean it’s a good idea though. Don’t prioritize your satisfaction over your pets comfort and safety. If you plan on dressing your pet up make some trial runs. Put the costume on and see how they react and how well they can get around. Is it a tripping hazard? Will they get tangled up in it? Are they going to chew on it and possibly choke? Keep all these in mind!
  5. Strangers – Halloween is a time of high activity! Halloween parties and trick-or-treaters can keep the door revolving and add a lot of excitement and/or stress to your pets life. Especially when those people may come dressed up like monsters! A protective pet may overreact, even to people they are familiar with, if they show up in an unrecognizable costume. It’s best to confine pets somewhere out of the way with some food, water, a soft bed and their favorite toy.

Think your own threats not covered in our top 5? Share them with us!

photo credit: Randy Son Of Robert Wee Westie Watching for Tricksters via photopin (license)
photo credit: Verity Cridland Great Yorkshire Show 2015 via photopin

Autumn Awareness – Beware of New Dangers

Summer may still be with us, but in two weeks the Autumn Equinox will be here! The crisp tinge in the air has a way of putting everyone in “prep mode” for winter. Hopefully, you’ve already secured your pets winter home (if not, check out our helpful blog here). As you’re prepping your own property against the coming cold,  keep these new hazards in mind!

Autumn Saftey Awareness

  • Antifreeze – Getting your vehicle ready for cold weather is an important step. Be sure to keep your pet out of the garage or area where your vehicle is kept. Antifreeze is deadly and irresistibly delicious to your pet. Store extra antifreeze out of your pets range, hose off any spills, and make sure there are no leaks.
  • Fall Decor – As wreaths and miniature pumpkins debut across the country, ensure you aren’t introducing any new choking or tangle hazards. Be cautious with potpourri and other scent items too!
  • Mouse Poison – As Autumn approaches, those little buggers love to try building snug little nests in our homes, basements, attics, and garages. If you put out any type of poison be certain it is not where your pet can get to it. Stay mindful of it too. It’s easy to forget that you put it out and then move something a month or two later, allowing your pet access.
  • Medication – With Autumn comes the cold & flu season. Keep cough medicines, antibiotics, inhalers, and all other related items are far out of your pet’s reach at all times. Many people are prone to leaving these items on the bedside table or bathroom counter – easy spots for a playful pet to access!
  • Heaters – If you use space heaters anywhere in your home, keep the cords safely tucked away! Be sure your pet can’t get burned if they get too close too. Do you have a fireplace? Make sure you have a screen to prevent your pet from approaching it!

Helping Your Pet Cope With Thunder

Does your pet lose all dignity when thunder and lightening strike? Cowering under furniture, growling, barking, hissing and running amok? Try out these tips help keep your pet calm and your house intact!

Banish That Fear of Thunder!

  • Safe Spaces – Make it a point when you get a new pet to both define a safe space for them and condition them to normal noises. A safe space may be a crate or the laundry room where you keep their bed. Really anywhere that your pet is left alone to relax away from activity. When the thunder rolls you can confine them to a comfort zone to minimize house damage!
  • Condition them when they are young – Consider purchasing a CD of a thunderstorm and playing it on low while doing normal, happy things with your pet. Gradually increase the volume and let your pet adjust and acknowledge these noises as occasionally regular occurrences with no threat involved.
  • Compete with it – If you have a rescue pet or an older animal, try competing with the noise. Play some music, turn up the T.V., or try confining them to an inner room where the thunder is muffled.
  • It’s okay to calm them – Some people say not to baby pets when they become frightened by thunder. You can calm them without babying. Try playing their favorite game, giving them a treat, or just scratching their ears. The key is to behave completely normal like nothing is amiss. If your pet sees you behaving differently they will perceive validation for their fear.
  • Consider a “Thundershirt” – These “shirts” have an 80% success rate with calming anxious dogs. They can be used for thunder or any other situations that produce anxiety in your pet.
  • Make sure people know – If you have a pet sitter or are anticipating guests when there is a chance for thunder be sure to disclose your pet’s fear. Pet sitters will need to know how to interact with and/or help your pet.

Do you have a fail-safe trick for helping your pet with thunder? Share it with us!

photo credit: under the covers via photopin (license)

Pet House Repairs – ‘Tis the Season!

Do you need to do some pet house repairs? We may be in the heat of summer but that cold weather is right around the corner! Now’s the time to assess your pets living situation (especially if it’s outdoors!) and make sure that their home is up to snuff for all the environmental challenges of the changing seasons. Here are some tips to make sure your pet is warm and cozy this coming fall!

Pet House Repairs

  • Assess the space around the pet house. Sometimes limbs may need trimming to prevent a falling hazard during ice or heavy winds. Do they have enough shade for summer or a wind break for winter?
  • Make sure the home is tight! Some pet houses will be fiberglass, some will be wood, and others plastic. Inspect the house for cracks and make sure the roof is solid with no leaks! Go a step further and make sure the pet house door isn’t facing the bitter north wind!
  • Check for hazards! If you have a heated floor for your pet, ensure that it’s in good condition with no exposed wires or dangerous wear. Also, make sure there are no jagged edges, exposed nails, or anything else that could harm your pet.
  • Make sure it’s dry. Ensure that moisture doesn’t pool under, in, or around the house. If it does, look into drainage options or relocating it all together. Furthermore, do a quick mold inspection and make sure that pet house is dry with good ventilation.
  • Replace the bedding. Make sure that your pet has fresh clean bedding regularly, especially in the winter. Hay is a great insulator, cheap, and good to stock up on!
  • Dress it up a little! Give it a new (non-toxic) paint job, plant some greenery around it (unless you’ve got a digger) and add a cute nameplate!

 

photo credit: full view of custom dog house via photopin (license)

Hot Car + Pet: Do You Know What To Do?

No matter how many reminders, news stories, memes and infographics warn about the dangers of leaving pets locked in cars on hot, or even mild days, people continue to do it. On a moderate day with temperatures in the 70’s, the heat can rise to 100-110 degrees in a parked car. In the summer when outdoor it’s in the 90’s, it takes just 10 minutes to hit 160+ inside a car.  As a concerned pet lover, what should you do if you see a pet left in a hot car?

Helping A Pet In A Hot Car

  • Assess the situation – Don’t assume the worst. Look around and see if you can locate the owner nearby. Observe the animal to see if they are in heat distress or not. Visual symptoms of heat distress are excessive panting and lethargy.
  • Wait a minute – Unless you perceive the pet to be in severe distress wait a few minutes to see if the owner returns. You may spend this time taking note of the vehicles make and model, and pulling up the local sheriffs number.
  • Get help – If the dog is in severe distress enter the business  you believe the owner to be in and give the manager the vehicles make, model and color and ask that they be paged. If the pet is in clear distress, call the local law enforcement and let them know the pets condition in the hot car.
  • Know your risk – Many people will break windows to rescue animals in hot cars. Know your states laws regarding pets left in hot vehicles. If it is legal, always look for a corroborating witness who agrees it is an emergency situation. There is a chance that you may face charges. Always contact the local law enforcement agency or humane society before you take action.
  • Know how to cool a pet down – Make water available, and if possible wet the animal, but not with ice water! You want to cool them slowly and not shock their system.

photo credit: Headrest via photopin (license)

Food Labels and Your Pet’s Needs

Food labels can be confusing – whether they’re for you or your pet! Do you know what your pet is eating?  Keep your pets fit, healthy, and trim by understanding those sometimes tricky labels!

Know Your Pet Food Labels!

  • Know the right quantity – Different pet food has different nutritional values. Talk to your vet and be sure you know what your pet needs for their breed and size, then follow the serving sizes accordingly!
  • Real vs “Flavored” – Know the difference between brands that contains real meat, vs meat flavor. Wording on the bag will let you know approximately how much meat it actually contains, thanks to AFFCO regulations. Food that contains 100% meat is easy to determine – it will say so! Wording gets a little foggier though as that percentage drops. If it drops to around 25% it will often be advertised as “Chicken Dinner” or “Beef entree”. Around 3% will be described as “contains” or “with”, and none at all will say “flavored”.
  • Know how to read the ingredients –  Lots of people don’t know that the order ingredients are listed in (this goes for people food too!) is important!  Ingredient lists are designed to start with the largest quantity, by weight, with the first item listed being the main ingredient and the last item listed being the smallest. The first three ingredients should be the top sources of protein. Most ingredients that come after “salt”, make up less than 1% of the food.
  • Dry vs Wet – Most adult pets eat a dry kibble, but you should know that there is a greater difference between dry and wet food than just the texture! This handy infographic will help you understand:

You are what you eat, and that goes for your pets too! Make smart choices and know your pets unique needs.

Summertime Quick-Reference Blog

Summertime officially kicks off on Monday, June 20th this year! Changing seasons herald in the need for unique pet care and pet dangers. Below is a quick-reference guide to some common summertime pet topics  with links to more details about each! Make this summer a paw-riffic summer!

Summertime Pet Care 101

  • Ticks, Fleas, and all the Woodland Buggers – Some pet owners let the flea and tick regimen lapse a little over the colder months. It’s important to get back on top of it as soon as possible once warm weather hits. Waiting too long puts you on the defense instead of the offense. Our former post here discusses extra steps you can take to keep the bug problem under control!
  • The Great Outdoors – Warm weather means more time outside in nature to many. Hiking, fishing, and camping are all summertime favorites. Each one can potentially put you and your pet in an environment you’re not used to. This means new threats that you need to know about! Check out our post on Wildlife Pet Threats!
  • Heat, heat, and more heat! – Yup, that means summer! Imagine you had to wear a fur coat all summer though?! That’s your pets reality! Find out about shaving them, tips for helping them beat the heat, and products that can help you out!
  • The car – I really hope we don’t have to go over the importance of NOT leaving your pet in the car during summer (or even some warm spring & fall) days. These tips will help you keep your pet safe while travelling!
  • Sun exposure, fireworks, water dangers and more – All these pose a  seasonal threat to your pet. Make summertime the greatest time ever by remembering and being attentive to your pets special needs!
  • Heat stroke – know the signs and know what to do!

Aggression – Causes of Your Dogs Behavior

Dog aggression isn’t something that’s fun to talk about. It’s also something that can’t be ignored if you expect to have a happy and healthy relationship with your pet. Aggression can be treated with medical care, proper training, and working alongside a behavioral expert. First, you need to understand the root cause:

Causes of Aggression

  • Pain or sickness – this is the most common form of aggression and can be one of the easiest ones to deal with. Remove the source and you remove the aggression. If your pet is suddenly asking aggressive for no apparent reason, be sure to call your vet ASAP. Some medical conditions can cause aggressive behavior too; if your pet is in pain, they are likely to be irritable and act out.
  • Fear – If your pet perceives a threat to themselves, you, or their puppies aggression will frequently be apparent. It is important to socialize your pet and yourself when they are young so they are not afraid of strangers approaching or touching them or you. Dogs frequently read our signals too. If you’re acting intimidated or threatened, don’t be surprised if your pet acts aggressively toward the perceived threat.
  • Genetics – A much-debated topic, the simple fact is that some breeds of dogs are far more likley to behave aggressively than others. Some varieties have been genetically engineered for fighting or protection. Make sure you understand your dog’s breed as well as any adopted pets history before bringing them home. It is especially important to focus on training and control with dogs who are genetically predisposed toward it.
  • Learned aggression – Sadly, some dogs are not only bred to be aggressive but taught as well. While it’s not impossible to re-train a dog, it does take time, dedication, and caution to remove triggers. Before taking on such a task, be sure to consult a veterinarian or training professionals.

Microchipping – Frequently Asked Questions

May is National Chip Your Pet Month! Microchipping your pet can sound scary. Whether your pet is chipped or not you may have lots of questions concerning this process. We’re here to help!

How Does Microchipping Work?

A small (think rice size) microchip is inserted into under your pet’s skin. This microchip has a unique identifying code that registers once scanned. If your pet is found and turned into a shelter or other authority, they can scan this chip, obtain the number, and enter it into the national database to find out who the owner is and how to contact them. This isn’t a “pet tracker” and it won’t find your pet lost in the woods, but it will help someone who does find them get them back to you!

Why?

Did you know that the chances of being reunited with an unchipped lost pet are about 1 in 5? That’s a pretty big risk and a lot of heartache. Lost pets often end up in shelters, and with overpopulation problems, some may be euthanized. Even if you have a collar that contains up to date information about contacting you, collars can fall off, or even be removed by thieves.

How Much Can I Expect To Pay?

Usually less than $50. Sometimes animals come from shelters with microchips already implanted. If this is the case it is VERY important that you consult the shelter for assistance in updating the microchip database ensuring that you and not the previous owner are listed as the contact. Always make sure to keep this information up to date every time your address or phone number changes!

Are there side-effects?

According to the AVMA:

Since the database was started in 1996, over 4 million animals have been microchipped and only 391 adverse reactions have been reported. Of these reactions, migration of the microchip from its original implantation site is the most common problem reported. Other problems, such as failure of the microchip, hair loss, infection, swelling, and tumor formation, were reported in much lower numbers.

These are pretty low odds, but it’s always good to monitor the injection site, especially if your pet is sensitive. Also, be sure to have your vet scan it regularly during check-ups to ensure it has not migrated and is working properly.

April Is Pet First Aid Awareness Month!

Would you know how to administer first aid to your pet in an emergency? Do you even have emergency numbers quickly accessible? You don’t need to have an accident prone pet to realize it’s just good policy to make sure that you’ve got an action plan in case of an emergency! This April, take some time to brush up on what you need to have and know – your pet’s counting on you!

Pet First Aid Refresher Tips

  • Get the App! Did you know that the American Red Cross has a First Aid app just for pets? It provides helpful information for both dog and cat owners in emergency and disaster situations!
  • Update your Pet First Aid Kit! Don’t have one? Get/Make one now! You should check your pet first aid kit annually to ensure that all the supplies are still properly packaged, any medications are not out of date, and nothing has leaked. If you don’t have one, this needs to be on your must list! There are a wide array of pre-packaged kits out there for sale. Bump those store bought ones up against this list from the Humane Society to make sure it includes everything you need. Or, use that list to make your own! Be sure to include comfort items for your pet too!
  • Know the basics! It’s apt that April is pet first aid month since Spring means more time outdoors for everyone! It also means that pets are at a higher risk for being victims of the native flora and fauna. Know what plants to keep your pets away from, and what to do in case of snake bites, bee stings, etc.
  • Vaccinations! Check your vet records to ensure your pets vaccinations are all up to date! This includes wormers, flea and tick prevention, dog flu, and rabies!
  • Check those emergency numbers!  Maybe you’ve changed vets? Or moved to a new location? Make sure that the numbers for both your regular vet and the nearest animal hospital are still accurate and quickly accessible for the whole family!

Don’t forget to share your emergency contacts and details about your first aid kit with any pet sitters you hire!
photo credit: Link’s Check-Up via photopin (license)

 

 

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