July 4th Safety Tips for Every Pet Owner

For many, the 4th of July means barbeques with the family, fun in the sun and of course- fireworks! While firework displays provide us with plenty of entertainment, they can be downright scary for our pets.  It’s not uncommon for cats and dogs to go to great lengths to escape upon hearing those booming noises and seeing those flashes of light. Because of this, shelters see an influx of runaway pets every year after 4th of July festivities.

Below are a few tips for keeping furry family members safe this 4th of July:

Keep pets inside during local fireworks displays: Keeping dogs and cats inside will not only reduce chances of them running away, but will also minimize stress due to unfamiliar sounds. If at all possible, it’s best to stay home with your pets.

Close windows, curtains and doors: This will help keep out as much sound and flashing light as possible.

Turn on the TV or some music: These more familiar noises might calm a pet’s nerves and drown out some of the loud noise from outside.

Make sure all pets are wearing secure collars with proper identification: It’s always better to be safe than sorry. Pets have been known to dig under fences, pop out screens and perform other tricky escape attempts upon hearing fireworks. Just in case your beloved pet does manage to get out, up-to-date identification betters your chances of  a quick homecoming.

What Should be in your Pet’s First Aid Kit

We take care of our pets. We shower with them love and affection. We try to keep them safe no matter what, but sometimes accidents happen. Trips to the vet and pet emergencies can become quite expensive. However, with a properly stocked pet first aid kit, you’ll be more prepared to handle some emergencies at home. You can buy a complete pet first aid kit, or if you like, you can also mix and match and create your own.

Bandages: With all that fur, it’s a little tricky to try and stick a normal Band-Aid on your pet. That’s why it’s best to have gauze and bandages specifically designed for use with pets.

Latex-free gloves, hydrogen peroxide, and tweezers: Gloves will protect both you and your pets. Gloves will reduce the risk of spreading infection. Hydrogen Peroxide is useful as a disinfectant and in some cases to induce vomiting in dogs.

There are some great tweezers out there designed for use on pets. Some of them even have magnifying glasses on them so you can better see what’s stuck in your pet’s paw. They can make spotting and removing those pesky ticks a lot easier. However sometimes tweezers should not be used on ticks, so I suggest you read ASPCA’s guide to effective tick removal.

Digital thermometer: Instant ear thermometers can work, but according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), they recommend a rectal reading.

Benadryl: Benadryl is an over the counter antihistamine that’s handy in situations involving allergic reactions such as bug bites or bee stings.

Towels: Keep a stash of towels and a blanket with your first aid kit. They can be used to stop bleeding or cover a wound. Wrapping an injured pet in the blanket can make carrying it easier.

Emergency phone numbers: You should definitely have your vet’s number on hand. Another useful number is the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, 1-866-426-4435. If your pet has swallowed or eaten something potentially dangerous, they can advise you 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Plus the ASPCA website has articles and information about common household products that are toxic to pets.

These are just a few things you should consider having in your pet first aid kit. Also there are several handy reference guides for dogs and cats that can help bring you up to speed on emergency care for your pets. While we never wish anything bad to happen to our pets, sometimes accidents happen. Being prepared can make handling a pet emergency a little more bearable.

Sweet Treats are No Good for Pets

Many people, even those who don’t own pets, know that chocolate is toxic to dogs. But what people don’t know is that there are many other common ingredients used in desserts and other sweet treats that are just as deadly to animals.

For those who don’t already know, chocolate, caffeine, and coffee are all toxic to pets because they contain methylxanthines, which are found in the cacao seeds used to make these products. Chocolate and related products can affect your pet’s gastrointestinal tract, kidneys and muscles, as well as their brains and hearts. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) clinical signs can include vomiting and diarrhea, panting, excessive thirst and urination, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures and even death. The degree of toxicity depends on your pet’s weight and the amount and type of chocolate consumed. Baker’s and semi-sweet chocolate are more toxic than milk chocolate. However all types should be kept away from your pets.

But’s it’s not just the chocolate in that pack of cookies that can be potentially fatal to your pet. Xylitol, which is a sweetening agent used in many sugarless gums and treats for diabetics, is also dangerous for pet consumption. Xylitol can cause a dangerous drop in blood sugar and liver damage in dogs. Some signs to look for include: depression, loss of coordination, vomiting, and seizures.

But what about treats that don’t contain chocolate or xylitol? Yes even that package of oatmeal raisin cookies isn’t suitable for your pets. The same goes for the macadamia nuts you just received as a present.

Both raisins and macadamia nuts are toxic to pets. Dogs that have ingested macadamia nuts may show weakness in their hind legs and are often unable to get up. Signs usually appear within 12 hours of ingestion and last approximately 12 to 48 hours. And while the actual compound in grapes and raisins that causes their toxicity is unknown, even ingesting a small amount can damage your pet’s kidneys.

All these ingredients are common in several types of cookies, brownies, and other sweet treats. While they may be delicious for us, they can be deadly for your pets. If your pet has ingested any of the above substances, contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center.

Protect your pets by keeping those cookies safely out of reach in their jar!

April is Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month

The ASPCA has designated April to be Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month to help raise awareness of the mistreatment of animals. As loving pet owners, one of the best things to do is lead by example. Treating your own pet with love and proper care  is one of the best things we can do to end cruelty to animals.

Another way to help out is to volunteer at your local animal shelter or to help out a local rescue. These organizations are fundamental in giving second chances to animals that haven’t had a great life. Also, making a commitment to report signs of animal cruelty is extremely important when it comes to getting animals out of dangerous situations. To learn more about recognizing signs of animal cruelty, click here.

Spread the word about Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month to help give more animals the chance at a happy life!

The Top 10 Mistakes Pet Owners Make

  1. Buying a Pet on a Whim:  Potential pet owners should take their time researching what kind of pet and which breed works best for their lifestyle. Attributes to consider are size, activity level, age, grooming needs and more. A good match is important to avoid owner frustration and to keep more animals from ending up in shelters.
  2. Not Opting for Obedience Training:  Saving some dough by skipping training classes may not be worth the headaches over chewed up furniture or inappropriate barking. Not very many of us are blessed with the natural knowhow to properly train a dog, so some professional advice is probably worth the investment.
  3. Not Sticking to the Rules: You can’t blame a puppy for being confused if one day he is allowed to sit on the couch and the next he is being yelled at for it! It’s best to set boundaries right away and stick to them.
  4. Handing out too Many Treats: Make Fido work for his goodies. The occasional yummy snack is okay, but most of the time, treats should represent a reward for good behavior.  
  5. Neglecting to Socialize Fido: Socialization at a young age is key to avoiding behavior issues. Dogs should be exposed to people, other dogs, and the outside world in general. Exposure to different situations from an early age helps alleviate anxiety and deters aggressive behavior.
  6. Skimping on Exercise: Canine and feline obesity is becoming an epidemic in this country, don’t let your lovable companion become a statistic. Overweight dogs and cats are susceptible to more health problems than pets who maintain a healthy weight. In order to have as many healthy years with your pet as possible and maybe avoid some costly vet bills, it’s best keep your pet active.
  7. Not Providing Enough Mental Stimulation: A bored pet can mean a destructive pet. Make sure your cat or dog is provided with a variety of toys. For kitty, you can even place a bird feeder outside the window to keep her alert while watching the birds.
  8. Not Puppy-Proofing your Home: This goes for cats too. Before bringing a new furry friend home, always remove dangerous household items from reach. Also make sure they have easy access to necessities, a cat that can’t get to her litter box will learn to just use the carpet.
  9. Too Much Alone Time: Too much time spent alone can cause separation anxiety and destructive behavior for some dogs. For dogs in homes where too much alone time is a daily occurrence, hiring a dog walker or considering doggy daycare might be a good option.
  10. Relying on Punishment: Physical punishment is inhumane and also ineffective, your pet will simply learn to fear you instead of learning appropriate behavior.  Yelling should only be used if your pet is caught in the act, in which case a firm “no” may help deter future incidents. The emphasis should be on training to prevent bad behavior, not on punishment after the fact.