WHY LEARN PET-FIRST AID?
Has your four-legged friend's tail ever been closed in a door, or have you discovered ticks on your gorgeous long-haired cat? What would you do if you find a dog left in a parked car or your pooch gets bitten by a rattlesnake or stung by a bee? Bandaging, removing parasites and treating heat stroke and stings are basic Pet First-Aid skills every pet parent should possess. Did Rover vomit from too many table scraps over the holidays? How about car rides...humans buckle up, but do your pets get the same attention? An unrestrained pet can be thrown from a vehicle when brakes are applied or cars collide, so dogs must be fastened with seat belts or ride in crates that are secured. Never let your pet sit in the front passenger seat where a deployed air bag could prove deadly, and never leave your pet alone in a parked car!
Statistics show that preventable accidents are the leading cause of death among our pets, and according to the American Animal Hospital Association, 25% more pets could be saved if just one Pet First-Aid technique were applied prior to getting veterinary care, so don't delay!
Pet First-Aid is the immediate care given to a pet that has been injured or suddenly become ill. It is the first and often most critical step to getting him well again. The most competent Veterinarian cannot bring your furry friend back to life once his heart and lungs have stopped, but by knowing rescue breathing and CPR, you can keep your dog alive until professional medical help is available; by knowing how to stop bleeding and bandaging a wound, you can prevent your pet from great blood loss and keep infection at bay; if you can reduce your dogs body temperature, you can prevent brain damage and death. Pet First-Aid is not a replacement for veterinary care. Together you and your Veterinarian should work as a team for the well-being of your pet.
Pet sitters, groomers and boarding attendants should also know these life-saving skills since they are your dogs guardian when you are away. "One day after learning pet first-aid, I saved a little dog from choking," asserts Pet Sitter Tina Kenny. Sid Shapiro came to the rescue of a dog that had been hit by a car only weeks after taking a Pet First-Aid Class. Many students report having used Heimlich-like thrusts taught in class to save choking animals, and Pet Mom Heidi Fielding contests that the biggest benefit of taking a Pet CPR Class is that it gave her "confidence to deal with any situation." Knowing what to do is of no use if you don't have the confidence to react.
NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTIONS...I RESOLVE TO:
Do a weekly head-to-tail check-up of my dog or cat and really get acquainted with his habits so that I can discover a small problem before it becomes a nightmare.
Schedule a visit with our Veterinarian to discuss any findings and have our Vet does his or her own examine, run tests, give any necessary vaccinations and let me know of any special needs my pet may have.
Check into Veterinary Insurance or have a "Plan B" (Credit Card or separate bank account) so that if my dog or cat needs medical care, I will be able to provide it.
Cut out table scraps (except for carrots, bananas, string beans and other pet-friendly human foods) and keep my dog or cat well exercised.
Brush my pet's teeth (or atleast wipe the teeth and gums) at least every other day to prevent bacteria from travelling through my pet's bloodstream.
Make sure my dog or cat has a microchip and identification on him at all times and will keep him safely in a fenced yard (with proper supervision) or walk him on a leash.
Enroll my dog in an obedience class (or give him a refresher on my own) so that he will be a welcome friend wherever we go together.
Provide my dog or cat with a comfortable place to sleep in a warm, draft-free area.
To give my pet at least as much unconditional love as he gives me and spend good quality time with him for that is the greatest joy of being a Pet Parent!!!
HOLIDAY & COLD WEATHER PET SAFETY TIPS
Put yourself in your dog or cat’s paws…At the end of each year, boxes are dragged from the garage or attic and unusual things happen in their home. A tree is brought INDOORS; shiny, dangly things are hung all around and there’s always food on the counter or baking in the oven while people come in and out shouting greetings!
Don’t block Pathways with Decorations. If your dog or cat watches the mailman everyday from a certain window in your home, DO NOT put the Christmas Tree or candle display in that window!
Critter-proof Your Tree! Don’t hang tinsel, candy, popcorn or cookies on your tree. Place breakable ornaments up high or don’t use them at all. Take care in what gifts you put under the tree. Anything with a scent is a temptation for your pet to unwrap. Monitor your pets around ribbon & bows. Spray wires from holiday lights with peppermint or hot sauce to deter chewing and tape extension cords to baseboards and conceal under the tree skirt. Consider attaching your tree to a hook screwed into the ceiling so that if the kitty should climb it, it won’t come down on your pets, the lights won’t ignite the carpet, ornaments won’t break and so on.
Take care in using candles anywhere around pets and take extreme caution around fireplaces.
Keep Holiday Plants out of paws reach…poinsettias, holly berries & leaves, pinecones and mistletoe can cause problems ranging from diarrhea and cramps to severe intestinal blockages and death.
Give guests a few rules about your pets such as making sure they close all doors and gates behind them; not to feed your pets or disturb them when they’re sleeping or eating. Ask them to keep suitcases zipped to avoid pets sniffing out medications or anything they should not consume. Devote time to play with your pets before guests arrive to remind your dog or cat that they are important…you may even tucker them out. Resist serving hors d’oeuvres with toothpicks that could be dropped and consumed by your pet. Get bones and trash tucked away in the garbage. Never feed them chocolate, alcoholic beverages, fried foods or gravies.
Remove tags from toys your pets acquire and make sure eyes or other parts can’t be chewed off and swallowed. Supervise pets around toys with squeakers and watch that they don’t ingest the cotton stuffing. Even whiskers on plush toys can scratch your pet’s eyes so consider cutting them off.
Don’t give pets as gifts. Instead give a pet-related book or video or a gift certificate for adoption, spay/neuter or pet supplies. Pets should be chosen by their guardians to ensure a forever home.
Don’t leave pets outdoors when the temperature drops. Most dogs and all cats are safer indoors, except when taken out for exercise. Regardless of the season, shorthaired, very young, or old pets should never be left outside without supervision. Short-coated dogs may feel more comfortable wearing a sweater during walks. If your dog is an outdoor dog, he must be protected by a dry,draft-free doghouse that is large enough to allow the dog to sit and lie down comfortably, but small enough to hold in his/her body heat. The floor should be raised a few inches off the ground and covered with cedar shavings or straw. The house should be faced away from the wind, and the doorway should be covered with waterproof burlap or heavy plastic. Pets who spend a lot of time outdoors need more food in the winter since trying to keep warm depletes energy. Frequently check your pet’s water dish to make certain the water is fresh and unfrozen. Use plastic food and water bowls rather than metal; when the temperature is low, your pet’s tongue can stick and freeze to metal.
Warm engines in parked cars attract cats and small wildlife who may crawl up under the hood to get warm. To avoid injuring any hidden animals, bang on your car’s hood to scare them away before starting your engine.
Salt and other chemicals used to melt snow and ice can irritate the pads of your pet’s feet. Wipe paws gently with a damp towel before your pet licks them and irritates his mouth. Antifreeze is a deadly poison, but it has a sweet taste that attracts animals. Take care to quickly wipe up spills and store antifreeze (and all household chemicals) out of reach. Better yet, use antifreeze-coolant made with propylene glycol; if swallowed in small amounts, it will not hurt pets.
Treat dogs & cats for fleas and ticks which can cause skin allergies as well as disease.
Observe your pet for bee stings and spider bites. If you notice swelling, redness or breathing difficulties, seek prompt medical attention.
Don't feed human foods many are poisonous including some fruits and vegetables (i.e.: grapes, raisins, peach pits, apple and cherry seeds, onions, tomato leaves and stems).
Keep pets well-hydrated and provide shade when outdoors. Outside food bowls should be placed in a pan containing a few inches of water to keep ants out of the food.
Check www.aspca.org or www.hsus.org to find out what plants in your yard may be poisonous to your pets. Lilies can be fatal to cats and some of the most poisonous household plants include: sago palm, narcissus/tulip bulbs, azaleas, oleander, castor bean, cyclamen, english ivy, kalanchoe and chrysanthumums.
READ LABELS...There are Pet & Wildlife Friendly Products on the market. Pets are poisoned every year by fertilizers and insecticides. Snail & slug bait pellets can cause seizures. Make sure your pet does not ingest or even get hazardous products on his paws or coat, as he will then ingest them when he grooms himself. Have phone numbers accessible for the ASPCAs Poison Control Hotline (888) 426-4435 and your nearest Animal Emergency Center.
Don't assume your dog can swim! Many pets drown each year, so install a fence or pool alarm and teach your dog how to get out of your pool by gently guiding him to the steps or ramp. Review this lesson every year, and if you take your pet to the lake or on a boat, get him a life vest and watch precious paws for fish hooks, sharp rocks and other dangers.
NO GREEN DOGS FOR ST. PATRICK'S DAY
The ASPCA's "Animal Poison Control Center" views on dyeing your pet green for St. Patrick's Day is clear. Don't do it. When asked "If, under any circumstances, is it safe to dye your pet green for St. Patrick's Day?" Dr. Hansen, a veterinary toxicologist and senior vice president of ASPC's Animal Poison Control Center, replied, "When dyeing animal fur, there is always a chance that animals may not tolerate odors or residues left by these products. Further, they may not react favorably to the change in response that humans will exhibit when they encounter strangely colored pets, or they could have allergic reactions or eye irritation depending on the product formulation." So go ahead and indulge in all of that green fair, but please leave Fido the color he was born to be! (Courtesy of the ASPCA)
COMMON POISONS AND WHAT TO DO TO SAVE YOUR PET
Dogs love to chew. However, that spray bottle, can or other container under your cabinet which may be viewed as a toy by your curious pooch, will definitely ruin the day if his canines puncture it and he ingests the liquid inside. Your cat may love to spend time pouncing in the greenery, but did you know that Lilies are particularly dangerous and can be fatal to our feline friends if consumed? Accidents happen any time of the year, but with Valentine’s Day and Easter comes an abundance of chocolate, flowers and perfume, all of which can poison you pet. Knowing what to do and having the necessary tools on hand can avert a minor injury or a major disaster.
Size does matter when it comes to poisoning. What could kill a Chihuahua may have no affect on a Saint Bernard since the detrimental power a toxin has is proportional to the animal’s body weight. Chocolate is poisonous to dogs, cats and ferrets! Although antioxidants in dark chocolate are considered good for human hearts, the darker the chocolate…the worse it is for your pet. The culprit is theobromine -- both a cardiac stimulant and a diuretic, which can speed up the heart while pulling fluids from the body resulting in vomiting, diarrhea, rapid heart rate, seizures and death. Every year, thousands of pets needlessly suffer and many die from ingesting substances in our homes and even from human food (just because it’s good for us does not make it safe for our dogs and cats). Learn what to do before its too late, and don’t foolishly think it won’t happen to you.
COMMON SYMPTOMS ASSOCIATED WITH POISONING
Depending on the substance, your pet may experience any of these signs:
Muscle tremors or seizures
Vomiting and/or diarrhea, sometimes with blood
Drooling or foaming.
Redness of the skin, ears, eyes
Lethargy or anxiety
Blisters on the mouth or skin where poison made contact
Pawing at the mouth
Elevated or decreased heart rate, breathing and body temperature
WHAT YOU CAN DO
- Examine your house & yard from your pet’s point-of-view placing harmful items out of reach.
- If your dog is curious, install childproof locks on cabinet doors.
- Read labels and purchase “Pet Friendly” chemicals.
- Have phone numbers for your Veterinarian & Poison Control easily accessible.
- ASPCA Poison Control Center Hotline (888) 426-4435
- Know the weight of your pet to properly administer solutions.
- Determine the type of Poison, how much ingested and how long ago.
- Check your pet’s Vitals (temperature, heart rate, respiration, capillary refill time, gum color).
- Observe symptoms (difficulty breathing, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, bleeding, etc).
REACT -- Read the Poison Label, call your Veterinarian or Poison Control and do as instructed:
- To induce vomiting, give your pet 3% Hydrogen Peroxide (1 tablespoon per 15 lbs. of pet’s body weight) with an eye dropper, syringe or turkey baster by dribbling the liquid onto the back of his tongue or into his cheek pocket until swallowed. Collect vomit and take it, the poison container and your pet to the veterinarian ASAP.
- To dilute caustic poisons, feed your pet large quantities of water or non-fat yogurt (most adult dogs and cats are lactose intolerant, so cow's milk will cause them to vomit or have the runs). Activated charcoal (or even burned toast) may be recommended to absorb the poison.
COMMON HOUSEHOLD POISONS INCLUDE:
- Alcoholic Beverages
- Antifreeze (Ethylene glycol – Propylene glycol is a better alternative)
- Detergents, Fabric Softeners and Cleaners of all kinds
- Fertilizers and Insecticides, especially snail/slug bait pellets and rat poisons
- Foods – Chocolate, Coffee, Tea, Grapes & Raisins, Macadamia Nuts, Onions, Bread Dough, Peach and other fruit seeds/pits, Gravies and high-fat foods
- Medications (remember, some have candy coatings making them appealing to pets)
Visit aspca.org or hsus.org for a more complete list of things that can harm your pet!
OTHER WAYS YOUR PET CAN BE POISONED:
In addition to what goes in their mouths, dogs and cats can be poisoned by toxins that are absorbed, inhaled or injected into their bodies. Therefore knowing what, where (which body part) and how much Fido or Fifi got into determines your course of action.
Absorbed Poisons are substances that get on our pet’s paws and coat and are absorbed through their skin. These poisons may also be ingested once the animal licks and grooms himself. Wash the area with large quantities of water and visit your veterinarian to prevent long-term effects and discomfort. For oil-based toxins (petroleum products) use a gentle dishwashing liquid or shampoo before flushing with water. For powdery poisons, dust or vacuum away as water could activate the toxins. If the irritant is in your pet’s eye, carefully flush the eye with water or sterile saline solution.
Inhaled Poisons include aerosol sprays, carbon monoxide, gases, and other fumes inhaled by your pet. Quickly get the animal into fresh air and administer Rescue Breathing if needed by holding his mouth shut and breathing into his nostrils – every other second for animals 40 lbs and more while twice as quickly for smaller animals.
Injected Poisons don’t just come in a needle. Venom injected through insect stingers and snake bites can poison your pet. Administer 1mg of anti-histamine per pound of pet’s body weight, apply cold pack to any swelling for short periods of time and get pet to the Veterinarian if he exhibits any signs of breathing difficulty or extreme swelling. (See BITE LIKE A RATTLER, STING LIKE A BEE on this page).
HOW TO HELP A CHOKING PET
If your dog gets a bone caught or your cat begins to choke on ribbon or yarn, you must know what to do before they go unconscious. Initially, give you pet a few moments to perform a cough which may expel the object, but if it does not…a careful sweep of the mouth with your fingers to dislodge the object is recommended. Always look at what you’re doing though-- don’t blindly reach into your pet’s mouth! You could push the object further down, tear the throat tissue or even get bitten.
If your attempt is not successful, try one of the two techniques below:
1. Doggie or Kitty Heimlich-like Maneuver -- Stand behind your dog or cat and place your arms around his waist keeping his head lower than his stomach. Close your hands together to make a fist and place your fist just behind the last rib in the soft part of the tummy. Compress the abdomen by pulling up in a quick and rapid manner similar to the technique commonly performed on humans.
This technique does have the potential of bruising internal organs, and since canine and feline ribs are more flexible than human ones, it doesn’t always create enough pressure to expel the object, so you may want to try…
2. Chest Thrusts -- Place your hands flat on each side of your pet’s chest and squeeze inward, pushing with your shoulders and elbows to squeeze the lungs. After two thrusts, give the animal a moment to cough and/or look in his mouth to see if the object is now reachable. If not, repeat.
Techniques like these are best learned in a Pet First-Aid & CPR Class where you can gain the confidence and skill to perform them properly. See SCHEDULE page of this website for a class near you.
HOWL-WEEN PET SAFETY TIPS
Things that go bump in the night shouldn’t include your pets, so follow a few simple tips to make sure Howl-o-ween won’t be scary or dangerous for canines or felines!
1. PREVENT A HOUDINI ACT
Know where your pets are at all times. Walk them before dark and it's best not to take them trick or treating. Many dogs get scared by the shrieks of ghosts & goblins on the streets or coming to their doors and dart in the path of cars. Keep them in a quiet back room, or if you are answering the door to trick or treaters, keep you dog on a leash safely at your side.
2. AVOID THE KISS OF DEATH
Candy wrappers can cause intestinal blockages and chocolate can be fatal to dogs, cats and ferrets. If you're putting out creepy treats with grapes or raisins masquerading as "eyeballs," make sure your pets do not get them as they can cause kidney failure. Keep plastic toothpicks that adorn festive cupcakes also out of reach, and take care that your pets can't chew or become entangled in wires or electric cords; that they steer clear of candles haunting the family jack o'lantern as well as fake spider webs and spray string. All of which can burn, choke or cause harm if ingested.
3. PETS IN DISGUISE OR NOT?
Unless Fluffy or Fido is truly comfortable in a costume, their own furry birthday suit might be a better choice. A festive bandana on your dog might just fit the bill. Pets aren't used to wearing elastic and definitely don't like masks covering their eyes or nose, so think of your four-legged friend and is that photo op worth them being uncomfortable. Should you have a pet willing to "dress up," make sure the costume doesn't have beads or strings which they may chew on and never leave your pet unattended in a costume!
4. EVIL IN THE NIGHT
Some people take advantage of the anonymity of costumes and partake in malicious pranks targeting black cats, dogs and other animals. Even if you don't normally do so, please, please, please keep your pets in the house on Halloween night. If you see anything suspicious regarding the treatment of an animal, immediately call your local Animal Control or Police Department. The phone number for the Los Angeles Animal Cruelty Task Force is (213) 847-1417.
And remember…even if you aren’t ready for Halloween yet, September and October can still be very HOT in some locations! Make sure your pets have plenty of shade and water. Never leave them unattended in a parked car and be certain that kennels, pet carriers and even rooms in your house are cool with good ventilation for your pets.
WHEN DISASTER STRIKES...BE PREPARED FOR YOUR PETS!
Do your research now and gather your tools, so that if an emergency occurs, you can turn tragedy into a success story for your four-legged family members.
Hopefully you will never experience a fire destroying your home, yet you plan ahead -- install fire alarms, smoke detectors and purchase insurance. You certainly hope never to be involved in a car accident, but you have airbags and wear a seat belt (and should safely restrain your dog as well). Being prepared makes sense as we can minimize potential injury to those we love. However, most people are not prepared for a major disaster. “Be Prepared” works for the Scouts, and it’s a motto we should carry into our adult lives. Planning ahead is the best way to keep yourself and your dog safe.
- Place a Pet Alert Sticker near you front door recording how many and what type of animals live there. If you aren‘t home when tragedy strikes, trained professionals will seek out and help your pets.
- Designate a Pre-Arranged Meeting Place for your family and identify several Places That Can Take Your Pets. Red Cross Shelters do not permit pets, so organizations like the Surf City Animal Response Team, United Animal Nations, American Humane Association, Noah’s Wish and the Humane Society of the United States are working hard to train communities to set-up temporary animal shelters, but it could still be days before these facilities are in place. Making arrangements ahead of time with out-of-town friends and relatives is your best bet, but have a “Plan B.” Susan Keyes, President of the Surf City Animal Response Team says, “Long-term housing and care for pets is the area we have found people to be least prepared.” Check with pet day care and boarding facilities as well as your Veterinarian to see if they will accommodate during a disaster. Compile a list of hotels where pets are welcome and set aside one credit card just for emergency use. It’s also a good idea to have cash (in bills smaller than 20s) easily accessible as ATM Machines will not be working.
- Stash the following for each pet in an easy-to-carry backpack or crate (that way you’ll have the carrier to evacuate in):
- A two-week supply of food stored in an airtight container and a manual can opener if needed; water (for medium to large dogs, one gallon per day); medication. Remember to exchange these items regularly so they are fresh when needed.
- A water-proof container with vaccination & micro-chipping records and photos of your pet with your family as proof of ownership.
- Treats, toys, bedding, food & water dishes; Collars/harnesses and leashes; Litter, scoop & boxes for kitties; specialty items for pocket pets, birds, reptiles and amphibians; Disinfectant for cleaning crates, paper towels, flashlight with batteries, zip ties, garbage bags and a well-stocked Pet First-Aid Kit.
Where To Put It All
Even with the best laid plans, life happens, so consider storing your goods in several locations in the event they are un-retrievable when the ground shakes, the flames rise or the mud slides. Positioning items close to an outside wall in your home will allow easier access should buildings collapse and you need to rummage through rubble to get to your supplies. Also, stowing duplicate items in your car is a good idea.
Don't Forget The Two-Legged Family Members
Also remember to keep a stash of food and other items for the humans including a battery or solar-powered radio, rubber-soled shoes and a flashlight near your bed so that you can help your pets and stay safe! A good place to check for human supplies is Earthquake Solutions.
Preparing for the worst may just prevent the worst from happening!
PET SAFETY TIPS FOR SPECIFIC DISASTERS
Planning ahead and knowing what do do when an emergency occurs just may save your four-legged family members, so don't wait until it's too late.
Although it is difficult to teach someone not to get stressed, being as prepared as you can be for any situation in life can help lessen the panic that sets in when the worst happens. Follow general Disaster Preparedness Tips, but also take special care depending on which of the following natural disasters are likely to occur in your part of the world.
The one good thing to be said about Hurricanes is that they are predictable -- The National Hurricane Center tracks weather patterns and notes possible disturbances long before they pose a threat. It's imperative that you monitor your local news channels and once a Hurricane Watch is issued, realize you have 24 - 36 hours before it hits, so do the following:
- Keep pets indoors and easily accessible should you need to suddenly pack them up and leave. Cats can sense impending doom and often hide, so get them into a carrier early.
- Stay tuned to news stations for evacuation routes and make sure you completely understand the plan.
- Have at least one week's food, water and any medications stored for your pets and prep your house for the storm (board-up windows, stow away items that can blow such as patio furniture, secure gates, etc.).
A Hurricane Warning is issued when the storm is 24 hours away or less. Complete all preparations before the rains and high winds arrive, and stay in your home only if it is safe. If you evacuate, take Fido and Fluffy with you.
Once underway, Wildfires can consume millions of acres and blow in changing directions. For this reason, you should plan several escape routes for you and your pets in the event the flames block your path.
- Create a “fire break” around your home by clearing away vegetation, especially dead brush, about 30 feet from all structures.
- Use fabric, rope or leather leashes and collars. Nylon ones melt when heated and can badly burn your pet.
- Take all animals with you. Monitor your pets for burns and smoke inhalation. Knowing how to perform Rescue Breathing & CPR could save your dog’s life!
Unlike most natural disasters, there is no advanced warning for an earthquake allowing no time for last minute precautions. In addition to covering the three steps above:
- Never position dog runs, crates or enclosures underneath objects that could fall during a tremor.
- Add a pair of bolt cutters to your disaster kit in case damaged cages or fencing need opening.
- Know where to turn off the gas to your house, barn or kennels.
- Include your pets in the family earthquake drill and make sure all family members know how to handle them realizing that a frightened pet may bite or scratch.
- If you board your pet, make sure the facility knows of your earthquake preparedness plans.
Should an earthquake occur, confine your pets. Dogs that escape sometimes return at mealtime, but there are no guarantees! Be prepared to handle cut and burned paws, know how to splint broken bones and stop bleeding in humans and animals alike. In other words, take a Pet First-Aid Class before you wish you had.
Floods can affect any part of the world and can even be confined to only your home or apartment building. Every year though hundreds of thousands of people are forced to evacuate due to rising water. Slowly rising water is usually due to rivers, streams or even a pipe leak in your home. Flash floods however can hit quickly caused by heavy rain or melting snow as well as failure to a dam or reservoir.
- Map out several evacuation routes for yourself and your four-legged family; don't rely on only one which may be in the path of the floodwater. Head for the nearest high ground with your pets, and it is always better to err on the side of caution and evacuate early. If it is a false alarm, you and your family have practiced a meaningful drill instead of the real thing.
- Never leave any animal behind or certainly don't tie up an animal if flood waters threaten. You can not anticipate how how water may rise, so even birds enclosed on high perches could perish.
- Remember that danger of disease can be an issue after a flood. Keep pets away from standing water. Have a good fresh supply of water on hand for everyone (1/2 gallon per day for small dogs; 1 gallon for larger animals) as even tap water may not be safe if contaminated water has entered the drinking supply.
Preparing for the worst may just prevent the worst from happening!
HOT WEATHER TIPS TO KEEP YOUR PETS SAFE...May-September/year round in some areas
Have plenty of fresh water available for your pet, inside & out. By using a heavy, porcelain or ceramic bowl, the water will stay 10% to 20% cooler. (Plastic and aluminum tend to get very hot, which in turn warms up the water.) Leave the water bowls in shady areas under overhangs to entice your pets out of the sun. Outside food & water bowls should be placed in a larger bowl or pan containing a few inches of water to keep ants out of the pets bowl.
Provide plenty of shade for outdoor pets. Pets do not sweat to keep cool as humans do. Installing a fan or mister on a shaded porch can prevent heatstroke -- of course, pets inside air-conditioned houses are the safest. If you cant keep your dogs indoors, get an insulated doghouse to help keep their temperature down. Keep birds from overheating by setting up a misting system in your aviaries.
Be sure your pet has current ID tags at all times. Keep a current photo & description of your pet on hand. It will prove useful in the event your pet becomes lost on vacation or at home. Don't plan a trip without thoroughly checking regulations for traveling with and/or boarding your pet.
Watch for spills of fertilizer, car coolant, garbage & yard trimmings -- ingestion could be fatal. Keep your pet well groomed and watch for ticks & fleas.
Always supervise your pet around pools & lakes. Beware of fishhooks, fishing line, sharp rocks and other dangers to your pet. Many pets drown each year in backyard swimming pools. Be especially watchful of kittens and puppies around the pool. Teach your dog how to get out of your pool by placing the dog in the pool with you and gently guiding it to the steps. Do this over and over until the dog can find its way out of the pool without your help. Review this lesson every summer. You can do this with cats too. Don't assume your pet knows how to swim. If you take your pet to the lake or out on a boat, get a pet life vest.
Find out in advance if YOUR local Emergency Clinic carry snakebite vaccine (anti-venin). If your pet gets bitten by a rattlesnake, subdue the animal, apply an ice pack, carry him to the car and immediately transport him to the Vet.
Keep you pet inside and secure during Fourth of July Fireworks! Many dogs & cats end up in shelters or hit by cars once scared by the noise.
Don't leave your pet unattended in a car! Even with the windows open, a parked car can quickly reach 150 degrees and higher!
Hot concrete & asphalt can burn precious paws! Exercise your pets early, during the cool part of the day and walk them on grass. Remember, if it's too hot for your bare feet, it's too hot for paws.
Don't take your pet to the lake/beach unless you can provide shade & fresh water.
Don't bike or roller blade with your pet for any length of time -- your pet could quickly get heat stroke which can cause permanent brain damage and death.
Never use rat poison (which will result in your pet's death), snail bait pellets (which can cause seizures) or moth balls -- all are poisonous to our dogs and cats!
FOURTH OF JULY
The weeks before and after the Fourth of July are the busiest of the year at Animal Shelters across the country. The rocket's red glare can be fun for you, but not for your pet! Loud booms and flashing fireworks scare dogs and cats from the safety of their homes. They become disoriented and end up miles away, and those…are the lucky ones. Many more meet their fate by running frantically into the path of a car.
Please keep all pets safely indoors. Close drapes and turn on a radio or television to mask noise and distract the pet’s attention from the pops and bangs. Double check that all doors, windows and gates are secure, and if your pet is easily agitated, make sure someone stays with him during the festivities.
Also remember this holiday brings cookouts with the chance of your pets being burned when stealing the last burger off the grill! The opportunity for them to eat foods not suited for a canine or feline diet (fried chicken; hamburgers, hot dogs and sausages containing too much salt and grease for their tummies and more). Keep all adult beverages out of reach and also take care with sparklers near fur and four-paws in insure a happy Fourth for one and all! Be mindful of other HOT WEATHER TIPS listed on this page...
HEAT STROKE AND YOUR PETS
Mary adored her Dachshund Daisy and always wanted her by her side. One 85°F day, while the “girls” were out for a car ride, Mary made a quick stop at the convenience store for a jug of milk. In the store, she encountered a new cashier who was having difficulty working the cash register. The line of impatient customers grew and Mary was delayed returning to the car and her precious Doxie. Ten minutes passed and although the windows were cracked open, the temperature inside climbed to 125 degrees! Daisy was in distress...she was panting profusely, her gums were bright red, her heart was racing, there was foam around her mouth - Daisy was suffering from Heat stroke.
It only takes a short period of time for an animal left in a car to get into a deadly situation! Pets don’t sweat to regulate their body temperatures (normally 100.4°F – 102.5°F). Dogs pant to exchange cooler outside air with the warm humid air in their lungs while cats don’t usually pant until they are overwhelmed by the heat. If the outside air isn’t cooler than their body temperature, an animal can succumb to Heatstroke which can cause brain damage, kidney failure, cardiac arrest and death. Old and overweight pets as well as short-nosed breeds are at the greatest risk.
Besides being left in a parked car, Heatstroke can occur if an animal is left outside without shade and water; from blow dryers and cage dryers at the groomers; from matted fur that traps heat close to the body; from crates or carriers that aren’t properly ventilated or even from exercise during the hottest parts of the day.
WHAT TO DO:
- Move your pet to a cooler environment. Indoors is best but even a shady cool sidewalk or grassy area can help.
- Place pet in a tub or wading pool, or use a hose to wet his skin, belly, arm pits, groin and paws. Think "FROM THE PAWS UP!"
- Remember on hot days water coming out of a hose can initially be very hot. Take care to let water run till cool before spraying on your pet.
- You can also cover animal with wet towels and use a cold pack around neck (30 seconds on one side and then 30 seconds on the other). Mix a clean spray bottle with 50% water and 50% rubbing alcohol and spray on skin (pads of paws, inner flaps of ears -- but don't get inside ears, belly skin). Avoid eyes, nose and mouth. As alcohol evaporates, pet will cool.
- Offer water or an electrolyte replenisher like Pedialyte or K9 Quencher, but don’t force your pet to drink. You could drown him if he aspirates the water into his lungs rather than into his stomach. Fluids may need to be given intravenously at the Vet.
- Check temperature under the tail every 5 minutes and stop cooling process at 103° F.
- Get to Vet or Emergency Center ASAP. Be prepared to treat for Shock and administer Rescue Breathing & CPR.
Fortunately for Daisy, Mary was trained in Pet First-Aid & CPR and knew what to do to save the life of her precious Dachshund. She learned her lesson though and never again took Daisy for a car ride if she’d have to be left alone for even a very short time.
VALENTINE'S DAY TIPS
Life is Like a Box of Chocolates...Unless You Are a Dog, Cat or Ferret!
The pathetic begging began and "the look" melted Milly's heart as she savored her Valentine Chocolates with her Sheltie Duchess looking on. For this loving pet mom, resisting those big brown puppy dog eyes and telling her furry angel, "No," grew increasingly more difficult as Duchess whimpered and whined, licking her tiny lips and cocking her head in the cutest way possible. Wanting what was best for her pooch, Millyy created a diversion by putting away the chocolates, and then taking Duchess for a car ride (safely strapped in her doggie seat belt) to the local pet bakery for some dog-friendly treats. Not only did Milly know that once a dog tastes chocolate, she will want more (well, who doesnt?!), but Milly was also aware that the sweet treat loved by humans everywhere can be deadly to our pets.
A study published in the 2006 Journal of Agricultual and Food Chemistry determined that chocolate is the third highest antioxidant source consumed in the U.S. following coffee and tea. According to Mark Stibich, PhD, "Chocolate is made from plants, which means it contains many of the health benefits of dark vegetables. These benefits are from flavonoids, which act as antioxidants which protect the body from aging caused by free radicals, which can cause damage that leads to heart disease. Dark chocolate contains a large number of antioxidants (nearly 8 times the number found in strawberries), and flavonoids help relax blood pressure and keep cholesterol from gathering in blood vessels."
Sounds good so far, but the benefits do not apply to the canine species! According to the ASPCA, its Animal Poison Control Center hotline receives an increased volume of calls around Halloween, Christmas, Valentines Day, Easter and Mothers Day all holidays where candy is abundant from worried pet parents. The problem isn't just the fat chocolate contains, but even worse is the caffeine-like substance known as Theobromine a naturally occurring stimulant found in the cocoa bean. An animal that has ingested too much chocolate can experience rapid heart rate, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures and death. The only good news is that it takes a fairly large amount of Theobromine to cause a toxic reaction in your pet. However, do realize that every dog is different and some are much more sensitive to toxins than others meaning they can suffer ill effects on even the smallest amount of a substance.
So how much is too much chocolate for your pet? The darker the chocolate, the more dangerous for your pooch! White Chocolate causes the least harm since it contains almost no cocoa and only 1mg of Theobromine per ounce. Milk Chocolate, the most common form, contains 60mg per ounce which means: one ounce of milk chocolate per pound of your dogs body weight can be toxic! For example: 1/2 pound for an 8 lbs dog or 4 pounds consumed by a 65 lbs dog would make him very ill or worse. The chocolate generally found in chocolate chip cookies, Semi-Sweet Chocolate, contains an even higher Theobromine concentration, so less than one ounce per pound your pet weighs can make him just as sick. Theobromine is found in still higher levels in Dark Chocolate, Cocoa Powder and Bakers Chocolate as well as Cocoa Mulch which often adorns potted plants and flower beds.
Once swallowed, there is no specific antidote for chocolate poisoning, so if you suspect your dog has consumed chocolate, induce vomiting at once by administering one Tablespoon of 3% Hydrogen Peroxide for every 15 lbs your pet weighs. Dribble it onto the back of his tongue with an eye dropper, needle-less syringe or even a turkey baster until he swallows. As an alternative, activated charcoal may help absorb the toxins in your pets stomach and buy you time to get to the Animal Emergency Center before the poison travels through your pets bloodstream. Once at the Animal ER, the Veterinarian will flush your pet's system, give intravenous medications to protect his heart and treat whatever symptoms occur. So like Forrest Gump always said, "Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're going to get." And for your dog or cat...it will never be a good thing, so NO CHOCOLATE FOR FIDO or FLUFFY! Also, since you never know what unexpected events will be thrown your way, be prepared by having a well-stocked PET FIRST-AID KIT along with the knowledge of what to do to help your pet in any kind of emergency.
BITE LIKE A RATTLER, STING LIKE A BEE
One Summer morning, two Dachshund pups were playfully exploring their fenced yard when Rudy caught Abigail off guard and bounded at her from behind the rose bushes. As Abby took a tumble landing dazed and confused, a bumble bee buzzed passed her. The twosome, quickly distracted by this new found fun, attempted to play a game of pounce with the tiny buzzing creature. Fun did ensue for a few moments, but it then turned nasty as the bee planted his stinger right onto the tip of Rudy’s nose! The pup pawed furiously at his face, and as it began to swell, Rudy started looking more like a Bulldog than a Doxie.
Generally dogs paw at and remove the insect’s stinger, but should you see one through your pet’s fur coat (or on his nose, lip, paw or elsewhere), scrape it away with a credit card, popsicle stick or similar stiff object. Pulling the stinger with fingers or tweezers could rupture the poison sac allowing the toxin to enter your pet’s body. Administer 1 mg Benadryl per pound of your dog’s body weight, and apply a cold pack (a bag of frozen peas works well) to any swelling. Should severe swelling or any breathing difficulties develop, get to your Veterinarian at once.
Black Widow Spiders terrify us all with their distinctive red hour-glass marking, but rarely are they fatal. Small dogs sometimes have bigger issues with the venom due to their size. Treat bites with ice and Benadryl as you would for a bee sting, and should your dog develop unusual redness, pain, difficulty breathing or paralysis…get to the Vet ASAP.
Brown Recluse Spiders tend to hide in dark, secluded areas and their venom is known to destroy tissue surrounding the bite. Approximately 1/2 inch to 2 inches long, the Brown Recluse can be identified by a distinctive fiddle-shaped mark on its back. When bitten, most dogs do not realize it, but after a while redness occurs. Clean the wound with hydrogen peroxide, chlorhexidine or povidone iodine. If your dog appears lethargic, develops a rash, fever, chills, vomiting or diarrhea or if the wound becomes larger or persistent drainage occurs, seek Veterinary assistance at once.
Another danger to our dogs comes in the form of venomous snakes. In California the eight species of Rattlesnakes are active year round. Their physical appearance varies, but all can be identified by a broad, triangular head, vertical pupils as opposed to round ones (though hopefully you won’t be close enough to evaluate this), and heat-sensing “pits” between the eyes and nostrils which help them locate prey.
Prevention is the best medicine! While out walking, your best safety device is keeping control of your dog on a leash. Stay on open paths, and don’t allow your dog to explore holes or dig under logs or rocks where snakes hide (yeah, right -- but doing so can prevent much pain, suffering and even death). Keep pets away from areas covered in ivy and wood piles where snake food (mice) hides!
If your pet gets bitten, assume it is a poisonous bite. Even if it isn’t, non-venomous snakes transmit bacteria (remember…they eat rodents and don’t brush their teeth) making Veterinary care vital.
First-Aid for Venomous Snakes
- Keep the wound at or below the level of the heart.
- Keep your dog or cat calm and carry him if possible. Increasing your pet’s pulse and respiration also increases the absorption of the venom.
- Immediately call your Animal Emergency Center to make sure they have anti-venin and let them know you’re on the way because not only do you want to be sure they have enough, it takes 30 minutes to mix and ideally, the anti-venin should start going into your dog within 30 minutes of the bite. Ask if you should administer Benadryl® (usual dose for snake bites is 2 mg per pound of pet’s body weight).
- If possible, identify the type of snake or be able to describe it, but do not get near it.
- cut over the fang marks or try to suck out the poison.
- move the animal any more than needed.
- place an ice pack over the bite which could result in the limb having to be amputated. Venom is caustic and immediately breaks down tissue and blood cells, so as much as don’t want it traveling to the vital organs, you also do not want the concentration of toxin frozen in one place.
Do you know where your nearest Animal Emergency Hospital is?
Don’t wait until it is too late to find out.
DID YOU KNOW?
Baby snakes can be just as dangerous as their full-grown counterparts. They are born with fangs and venom and generally give all they’ve got with each and every bite!
Snake Bite Vaccine can buy you time, but you’ll still need to get to your Veterinarian quickly if your dog is bitten. Vaccinated dogs typically develop protection comparable to a couple vials of anti-venin.
THANKSGIVING PET SAFETY
Giving your pets a small nibble of white-meat turkey is okay, just be sure it’s boneless and fully cooked. Bones can splinter and dark meat as well as greasy skin, gristle and gravies can cause severe stomach upsets and pancreatitis in your four-legged friends.
Sweet potato, cooked carrots and green beans—inside a Kong toy -- will keep canines delighted and too busy to come begging for table scraps.
Although sage makes stuffing taste yummy, it contains essential oils and resins that can cause pets to suffer stomach upset and possible depression of the central nervous system, so be sure to keep this herb out of reach.
If you're letting yeast doughs rise on the counter, make sure Fido or Fluffy don't come near. Raw dough in a canine or feline tummy continues to ferment and can result in alcohol poisoning in your pet!
Family gatherings bring relatives and friends who may not be as pet saavy as you! Politely give guests a few rules about closing doors and gates behind them so that your precious pets do not escape; provide a safe place for toothpicks that may be used with hors d'oeuvres as once dropped on the floor with the aroma of meats and cheeses, these sharp objects become desirable to our pets and can cause puncture and choking injuries.
Be sure to safely tuck away bones, foils and plastic wraps from your pets. The food remnants on these items will make them hard to resist and could cause obstructions, choking incidents and even suffocation to your pet.
The holiday season means lots of cameras, radios and other battery-operated electronics. Please don’t leave batteries lying around. If swallowed, they can cause choking or obstruction; if punctured, the chemicals in alkaline batteries can cause burns to the mouth and esophagus.
Finally, Holidays often translate to candies and sweets. Read above article on Chocolate Toxicity but also realize the wrappers and artificial sweetners in some treats can be extremely harmful to our pets. Also nuts such as Macadamia can cause temporary paralysis. Just because us humans eat it DOES NOT mean it is safe for our cats and dogs.
Count your blessings during this season of Thanks and be ever so grateful that a four-legged friend has chosen to share his life with you!!!!!
ANIMAL POISON CONTROL CENTER (APCC)
As the premier animal poison control center in North America, the APCC is your best resource for any animal poison-related emergency,
24 hours a day, 365 days a year. If you think that your pet may have ingested a potentially poisonous substance,
make the call that can make all the difference: (888) 426-4435.
A $55 consultation fee may be applied to your credit card.