Disasters don’t plan ahead, but you can!

September is National Preparedness Month, and Mother Nature has wreaked destruction throughout the South during the past month, with Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Hurricane Irma in Florida. Officials continue to emphasize the importance of preparedness to help people and pets remain safe during severe weather events. Disasters don’t plan ahead, but you can!

The first step when faced with any emergency is to keep informed. Pay attention to mass warning systems that inform on weather conditions, and remember that during a disaster, what’s good for you is good for your pet. Always keep a pet indoors at the first sign or warning of a storm or disaster…. Never leave him chained outdoors. If you must evacuate, take your pets with you if at all possible, planning for the worst-case scenario. Even if you think you may be gone for only a day, assume that it could extend as long as several days or even weeks. If left behind, your pet may be lost, injured—or worse. According to Ready. Gov, plan options should include:

  • Create a buddy system in case you are not home. Ask a trusted neighbor to check on your pets.
  • Find pet friendly hotels along your evacuation route, locate boarding facilities or animal hospitals near your evacuation shelter, and keep a list in your pet’s emergency kit.
  • Locate a veterinarian or animal hospital in the area where you may be seeking temporary shelter in case your pet needs medical care.
  • Make sure all pets wear collars and ID tags with up-to-date identification. Microchipping will be a more permanent form of identification.

Basic disaster survival kits should be prepared with the following recommended items:

  • A one-week supply of the food your dog is accustomed to eating, and a one week supply of water. Include bowls for both water and food.
  • Pooper scooper, and plastic bags or other means of disposing your dog’s waste.
  • Paper towels, liquid soap for washing the bowls, and disinfectant for cleaning crates and carriers.
  • A crate or carrier is usually needed during an evacuation and afterword, especially if you will be staying somewhere for awhile. The crate should be large enough for the dog to lie down comfortably and allow room for a food and water dish.
  • An extra harness and leash.
  • A temporary identification tag that you can write your temporary location or in case the dog is separated from you. Current photos of your dog , preferably with you to prove ownership if you are separated. It will also allow others to assist you find your pet.
  • A two-week supply of any medications your dog is taking, and medical records including vaccination documents
  • Familiar items, such as treats, toys and bedding can help reduce stress for your pet.
  • A minimum first aid kit should include:
    • a basic first-aid guide book
    • cotton bandage rolls
    • bandage tape and scissors
    • antibiotic ointment
    • flea and tick prevention
    • latex gloves
    • isopropyl alcohol
    • saline solution.
  • A blanket
  • A flashlight

You should also have an emergency kit for the human members of the family including: batteries, duct tape, flashlight, radio, multi-tool, tarp, rope, permanent marker, baby wipes, protective clothing and footwear, extra cash, rescue whistle, important phone numbers, extra medication and copies of medical and insurance information.

Your pets are totally dependent on you for their safety and well being. … if it is not safe for you to stay in your home during an emergency, it is not safe for your pets either. Don’t wait for a disaster…have a plan…being prepared can save their lives as well as yours.

 

August – Last Chance to Get Away

A majority of American families consider August as the last chance to get away before school starts, anticipating a fun-filled time of enjoyment for all. Maybe…maybe not…if you have seen National Lampoon Vacation, you understand how the best laid plans can go awry. “This is no longer a vacation…it is a quest for fun. You’re gonna have fun, and I’m gonna have fun…we’re all gonna have so much fun we’re gonna need plastic surgery to remove our smiles.” Avoiding the pitfalls of a stressful vacation requires some advance planning, and dog caregivers need to decide whether to take the family pet along, or leave her home.

Where you are going, your mode of transportation, how long you plan to stay, what you plan to do, and the temperament of your dog are all factors to help determine whether you decide your pet goes along or stays home. The most important thing to consider about traveling with your dog is how accustomed he is to the type of travel you will be doing. Even dogs that are well behaved at home can have difficulty in a new environment, and your dog doesn’t understand that he should behave as a guest, and may surprisingly behave in ways that are unacceptable.

Most vacations require leaving the pet alone for extended periods of time, and dogs are seldom comfortable left alone in a strange place. Even with the best of care and attention, some dogs are homebodies and never become good travelers, which means that your wonderful vacation can become a National Lampoon sequel. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Will your dog be welcome at the vacation destination? (If you are staying in hotels. be sure to alert them in advance that you are bringing a four-footed guest.)
  • Will your dog enjoy the trip or would he be happier left home?
  • Is your dog in good health, both physically and emotionally? If you decide that it’s a go for your dog, you need to prepare to make the adventure as smooth as possible:
  • Take him for a veterinary check-up and obtain a health certificate and documentation of inoculations. Ensure he is up-to-date on vaccinations and has current identification, with a recent photo, and contact information for you, and your vet, just in case he gets separated from you.
  • Use a pet carrier or crate large enough for her to stand up, turn around, and stretch out. No NOT allow the dog to roam free inside the vehicle! Driving without your dog restrained is an accident waiting to happen. (If your dog is not accustomed to a crate, start acclimating her to it for several weeks prior before the trip.) If you don’t have room for a crate, there are a number of tethering devices that can be used as an alternative to a crate.
  • Plan to make regular stops at rest areas along the route to stretch and take a potty break. Do not allow your pet off leash at rest areas. No matter how well-trained he is, this is a new experience and an accident could happen.
  • NEVER, under any circumstances leave her alone it a parked car. It takes only minutes for an animal to develop heatstroke.

Every dog needs his own suitcase packed with essential dog things:

  • Be sure to include his familiar bedding. We suggest not washing his favorite blanket. It will have the scent of home on it.
  • Don’t forget dog food. For special diets, take extra along in case you can’t find it along the way…if you use canned food, take along a can opener if it’s not in pop-open containers. Include bowls for water and food, and any grooming tools you might need. Be sure to have an extra supply of any meds or supplements – just in case you are gone longer than planned.
  • We suggest using bottled water. Water differs in different areas and may contain minerals that could create stomach upset.
  • A basic dog first aid kit including a first aid book would come in handy in case of a minor injury.
  • Clean up bags – responsible pet caregivers always clean up droppings!
  • And then there are toys. Take along his favorite ones from home, even though you will probably splurge for new ones.

Taking your dog with you on vacation has its challenges, but it can be a wonderful experience for both two-legs and four-legs. The better prepared you are, the fewer surprises, there will be, resulting in a rewarding adventure and happy moments. American adventurer, Peter Kulkkula, founder of August as American Adventures Month, encourages everyone to enjoy the byways, waterways, highways, and skyways of America to experience great adventures and create awesome memories for both two-legs and four-legs.

Fourth of July – Not a fun day for dogs

The Fourth of July is an exciting holiday for most humans, but even with the delicious smells of grilled meat wafting in from every yard, and children carelessly dropping goodies, from a dog’s perspective the day is more of a nightmare than a dream….holding a plethora of dangers for pets who do not enjoy the blasting booms and flashing lights.

Just put yourself in your dog’s place…. Your humans have left and you are just relaxing on the couch. You’re kind of bummed that they didn’t take you along, but you’ve got your basket of toys to keep you company. Then all of a sudden, the sky explodes as thunder and fire shatter the darkness. The celebratory pops and flashes are downright scary for most four-legs. Noise phobia turns some dogs into chewing, defecating, trembling messes, and their behavior may include chewing through a door, jumping through a window, digging under a fence, or running into traffic. Did you know that more dogs go missing on the Fourth of July than on any other day of the year?

NEVER leave your pet outdoors on a chain, or even in a fenced yard. If he panics, he could injure himself by getting tangled in the chain, or he could run away, only to end up lost and alone. Keep him indoors in a quiet, sheltered area. Ideally someone would stay home with her, but if this is not possible, make the room a comfortable sanctuary with a soft bed, food and water, and a couple of his favorite toys. Shut the windows, close the blinds or curtains, and turn on the radio or television (or maybe both). Since many frightened animals become destructive, be sure to remove any item your dog could destroy or might be harmful if chewed…a couple stuffed Kongs will give him something good to chew.

We have found a CD that is super for calming dogs…I have several shelves full of books and tapes on “how to cure any behavior problem imaginable” , and most of them are what I consider “snake oil,” but I discovered a specific lullaby music, incorporating the rhythm of an actual human heartbeat that has a calming effect on babies, and it also works with dogs. If you have a nervous or easily frightened dog, Go to www.caninelullabies.com or call Terry toll free at 1-800-537-7748 for information on this CD that is effective not only for fireworks, but for other inappropriate behavior.

Wrapping a baby snuggly in a blanket, or “swaddling”, is a common practice for helping to calm an irritable or upset baby, and a ThunderShirt for dogs calms a dog with that same gentle pressure, and is an easy, safe solution for any noise anxiety, and many other anxiety, fear, and over-excitement issues. Simply wearing a ThunderShirt helps most dogs reduce or eliminate anxiety. For more information, go to www.thundershirt.com

There are also several flower essences formulated to relieve stress. Rescue Remedy is one of the best known and is used to create a calming effect in any stressful situation, or when your dog needs help overcoming a variety of emotional or behavioral problems.

Do not take your dog to any firework festivity, even if he is a mellow dog, or if you plan to leave him in the car. The temperature in a car—even with windows partially open—can be deadly, and if the dog panics, he can destroy the interior of your vehicle. Never set off fireworks close to where a dog is…don’t let the kids think it is “fun” to set off even the small, supposedly harmless variety. “Harmless” often results in injuries, both for the animals and the children. It is much better to attend events organized and supervised by professionals, and forget the backyard fireworks. Every year, dogs, cats, (and humans) are lost, injured or even killed as a result of fear and excitement during the festivities.

Make sure your pets have identification tags with current info, so that if they do become lost, they can be returned promptly. Two forms of ID are always best when it comes to protecting your pet—a physical tag and a microchip are recommended. If someone finds your dog, the first thing to look for will be a tag, and if she is taken to a shelter or pound, she will be scanned for a microchip.

By taking a few proactive steps, the holiday known for its rocket’s red glare and bombs bursting in air won’t cause your dog too much distress.

Heatstoke Can Be A Deadly Killer

Hot weather has arrived, and as the temperature rises, so does the danger of heatstroke. People have efficient ways to keep cool during the summer months, with air conditioners and fans, and we sweat, but dogs don’t have air conditioners that they can turn on and off, and they don’t even have the ability to sweat. They rely primarily on panting to regulate their body heat, and sometimes their natural temperature-lowering mechanisms don’t work well, especially if they have been exercising too much or been confined in a hot, stuffy environment. The result is heat exhaustion which can pose serious health problems, and if the condition progresses to heatstroke, the consequences can be fatal. A dog’s normal body temperature is 100.5 to 102. Degrees Fahrenheit.

If it rises to 105, the dog is at risk for developing heat exhaustion, and if the body temp rises to 107 degrees, he has entered the dangerous zone of heat stroke, and it can happen quickly even if it doesn’t seem to be that hot out. Dogs can be fine one minute, running and playing, and then suddenly begin panting and progressing toward heatstroke.  Dogs who have a thick coat, heart and lung problems, or a short muzzle are at greater risk, as are puppies, overweight dogs, ill dogs, and dogs with short, wide heads, like pugs, bulldogs, and Boston Terriers.   If your dog is overheating, he may appear sluggish and unresponsive, or possibly disoriented. Excessive panting, hyperventilation, rapid or erratic pulse, weakness, confusion, vomiting and diarrhea, indicate he is in trouble, and if he continues to overheat, breathing efforts become slowed or absent, and finally seizures or coma can occur. Call your veterinarian immediately, and move the dog to a cool environment, preferably into air conditioning.  Begin cooling procedures by soaking her body with wet, cool towels. Do not use ice or ice-cold water because it can constrict blood vessels and actually worsen the condition.  Get her to a veterinary clinic right away, even if she seems to be recovering.

  • Dog caregivers can significantly reduce the threat of canine heatstroke by taking appropriate precautions.
  • Be conscientious about keeping your dog cool, hydrated, and well ventilated, and avoiding too much exercise on hot, muggy days.
  • NEVER leave your dog outside without plenty of shade and plenty of fresh water, and if you are uncomfortable in the heat, your dog is likely very uncomfortable. Do not leave him tied up outside!  *Avoid walking him during the hottest time of the day when the pavement is hot and the sun’s rays are intense.
  • NEVER leave your dog alone in a car, regardless of the temperature, for any reason at any time, as the temperature inside a car can reach a dangerous level in a matter of minutes. Leaving dogs in a car during warm weather is the most common cause of heat stroke. For more information, check out this video by veteranian Dr. Erin Ward who spent just 30 minutes inside a hot car to see what it felt like to be a dog: http://www.ivillage.com/never-leave-your-pet-hot-car/7-a-544003?ivNPA=1&sky=stu|ivl|hh|leavepetincar|
  • If you see an animal left in someone else’s parked car, notify a store employee and call law enforcement right away.

Be aware that, as temperatures soar, so do the chances that your dog can become severely overheated, and remember that the best treatment for heatstroke is prevention!

Planning a Trip with your Pet?

So you are planning your vacation, and you think it would be great to include your favorite four-footed companion. Maybe…maybe not.  A vacation with your dog can be an enjoyable bonding experience…or it can be your worst nightmare. It depends on many factors.  The trip can be fun only if it will benefit both you and your pet, and adequate preparation is essential, not only to ensure a good time, but also for the safety of both the humans and canine involved. BEFORE planning a long trip, ask yourself whether or not your dog is in good health and will really enjoy the vacation. (Some vacations are more suitable for dogs than others.) It is important to consider how accustomed your dog is to the type of trip you will be taking.  If traveling by car, make sure he is relaxed on long rides, and can settle down quickly, and if your vacation involves hiking, backpacking or extensive walking, it is essential that she is fit enough to handle your walking expectations. City holidays have become quite popular, but  will probably require leaving the pet alone in a hotel for extended periods of time while you enjoy the shows and museums, and although many hotels and bed and breakfasts are pet-friendly, that doesn’t mean that your dog will be comfortable left alone most of the time in a strange place.

  • Get a health check from your veterinarian prior to any vacation trip. If you are doing interstate traveling or using public transportation, a health certificate is required. Be sure to have an up-to-date copy of his records so any emergency veterinarian knows his background. If your dog needs medicines, be sure to fill any needed prescriptions ahead of time.
  • Make sure your dog has proper identification.  Two different forms of ID are suggested….a physical tag on his collar, and a microchip. (Dogs do get lost and collars and tags can be slipped). Be sure to have a clear photo of her with you, just in case!
  • Make any reservations well ahead of time to find out specifically what is expected of you and your dog, so that you avoid any unpleasant surprises. Travelpets.com recommends booking a ground-floor room for easy access to the outside, and reminds travelers to keep dogs from eliminating on flowerbeds, manicured landscaping, and swimming in public pools—behavior that other guests do not appreciate.
  • Some dogs only feel comfortable eliminating at home, so before you leave, spend a few weeks developing a potty cue.  Whenever your dog is on the verge of eliminating, say a phrase like, “Get busy,” or “time to go”. When he’s done, praise him and give him a treat, so that by the time you hit the road, saying your cue should get him to do his business on demand.
  • For a dog not comfortable with traveling, begin adjusting him several weeks in advance.  Start with short rides to familiar locations, and as your dog becomes more comfortable, go on longer rides. (Like humans, some dogs suffer from car sickness, which can present major problems on a trip)

Vacations are wonderful  (but usually hectic, sometimes stressful) times, and with careful planning, your dog can be a part of them, but your canine companion depends on you to make wise choices, and if you are not totally convinced that your dog would be a good traveling companion, it may be best to leave her home with a pet-sitter.

Fido not a Traveler? – Dog Friendly Options for Boarding Your Dog

For those of you have been honest about yourself and your dog’s personality and have concluded that both the two-legs and four-legs will be happier if the four-legs stay home, there are many dog-friendly options for boarding.  Traditional boarding kennels usually have an area for each dog with an attached run or exercise area. The place where the dogs spends most of his time may be a comfy, roomy area, or something more like a crate.  Whether it’s a loving staff, convenient location, or cost consideration, make a list of things essential to you, and be sure to visit any facility you consider using in advance of your travel to make sure the kennel meets your expectations. Four basic requirements to look for:

  1. Security…look for kennels with security systems and adequate fencing heights to prevent escape. Check for double gates that prevent your dog from slipping out when another dog is being moved.
  2. Supervision…dogs should be supervised at least most of the day. Staff should be trained to understand basic dog behavior, and recognize signs of distress or illness.
  3. Safety …dogs need a safe, temperature-controlled enclosure that is protected from outside elements. There should be walls or barriers to ensure that your dog cannot be stressed by other nearby dogs.
  4. Sanitation…Dogs need clean beds and toys, and fresh food and water daily. Many dogs are stressed in a new environment and may have accidents. It is important that kennels be kept clean.

Kennel owner Barb Gibson offers the following tips:

  • Make a “test run” at the facility of choice for just a night or two. It is worth paying for a short stay that might reveal any potential issues before you leave for an extended trip. Some dogs find it difficult to adjust to the unfamiliar.
  • Be upfront and honest about your dog’s habits and quirks.  If your dog is a barker, or a biter, or if he’s prone to chewing, tell the staff. The more they know about him, the better care they can provide.
  • Make sure your dog has two forms of ID. His collar should have an up-to-date, well-secured tag, and he should be implanted with a properly registered microchip ID or tattooed with information that can quickly lead a rescuer to you.
  • Take your dog’s regular food with him, so that he will eat his own food and have his own routine. A change of food or an addition of treats can induce gastrointestinal upset. Pack his bag to include his blankets or bed, favorite toys, and anything that will make him feel more at home.
  • Make sure you provide clear instructions for feeding and any required medications. Give specific guidelines on what you expect of his activity, playtime, and interaction with other dogs. Also be sure to provide good contact information in case of an emergency.

Experts agree that if you experience a dirty facility or inattentive staff that you should run, not walk, to another facility. It is reasonable to expect a burst of barking when a human or dog travels through the kennel area, but continued barking likely points toward a bigger problem such as a lack of exercise, lack of mental stimulation, inadequate potty opportunities, or an overall high stress/anxiety level.  If you see inappropriate handling such as physical or shouted “corrections”, find a different facility. Experienced dog handlers don’t need to hit or “alpha-roll” dogs, ever! If for any reason you feel uncomfortable with a facility, regardless of its glowing recommendations, trust yourself and your ability to know what’s best for your pet.  All boarding facilities are not equal, and your gut instinct is usually right!  Peace of mind is important while you’re on vacation, so research boarding kennels carefully!

Including your dog in your Vacation Plans

As I researched the idea of including your dog in vacation plans, I concluded that, for most dogs, staying at home is the better option.  Traveling with a pet involves more than just loading him up and taking off, especially if you will be driving long distances or plan to be away for quite a while. Even with the best care and attention, some dogs are home bodies and never become good travelers, which means that your wonderful vacation can become a nightmare. However, I also know that many caregivers are going to take their furry friend along with them, so please do some careful planning and take safety precautions to make your travel enjoyable for both four legs and two legs.

Every dog needs his own suitcase, packed with essential dog things. Include in your doggie bag:

  • Bedding (we suggest NOT washing his favorite blanket…it will have the scent of home on it)
  • Bowls for water and food
  • Brush and any other grooming tools that you regularly use
  • Dog food; for special diets, take extra along in case you can’t find it in stores at your destination. (If you use canned dog food, include a can opener if it’s not in pop-open containers.
  • Plastic jug of water or bottled water for your dog to avoid possible upset stomach…water in new areas may contain minerals that a dog needs time to adjust to.
  • Supplements that are given and any prescribed medications.
  • Crate or seatbelt restraint system for traveling in the car.  Practice using your chosen system before the trip. Keep your dog out of the front seat. Air bags can save a human life in the event of an accident, but they can be deadly for dogs.
  • Leashes and halters. An extra set is suggested
  • Keep identification tags with current information and your cell phone number on your dog at all times. We encourage you to have your dog micro chipped and registered prior to the trip. In the event of an accident, your dog may get loose and consequently lost in a strange place.
  • Ramp for senior dog or one with joint problems.
  • Towels for muddy paws… small scissors, nail clippers and tweezers. Paper towels can be used in many situations.
  • His favorite toys (and possibly a few new ones)
  • Her vaccination records and vet health check report. Include your veterinarian’s telephone number, just in case it is needed.
  • Basic first aid kit including a first aid book. A good pet first aid book is the American Red Cross
  • Spiral bound book, Dog First Aid
    Amazon Error.
    • This book even features a section in the back where you can record phone numbers of your vet, a poison control center, and other emergency info.  Copies are available through Amazon for about $l2 (And remember if you use the above link, we receive a portion of the profit at NO extra cost to you!). And it is well worth the cost. Eye wipes and ear cleaning solution, and an antibiotic ointment should be included as well as sterile gauze pads and rolls, and tape for securing wraps or bandages, cotton balls, and swabs. Do NOT use human adhesive bandages such as Band-Aids on pets!
  • Clean up bags.  Responsible pet caregivers ALWAYS clean up droppings.

Traveling with a pet has its challenges and requires a caregiver to be as prepared as possible. The more homework you do, the fewer surprises there will be, resulting in a safe and rewarding adventure for everyone, whether two-legs or four-legs.

Traveling with your dog

While road trips with the family dog can bring much enjoyment, there are many mishaps that need to be avoided if you decide to take your dog on an extended vacation adventure. The truth is that your dog is at risk when you are traveling because accidents happen, and some dogs are not suited for travel because of physical impairment, illness, or temperament.

So before planning a trip with your dog, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Will your dog be welcome at the vacation destination?
  2. Is she in good health?
  3. Will she enjoy the trip?

If you can honestly answer “yes” to these questions, you need to devote some extra time to prepare for the trip. Unless she already enjoys long car rides, begin taking her on short rides every day, gradually increasing the length each time. ( If she is nervous or tense, it might be wise to leave her home with a pet sitter or at a boarding kennel that you have carefully checked out!)

  • Free –roaming dogs are a hazard both to themselves and to the humans in the car with them, and it is important to practice with the system that you will be using to restrain her while traveling. Two major options are a seat belt or a crate. Crates are great as long as the dogs are comfortable in them, but some dogs have had previously bad experiences and live in fear of them, and seat belts need to be introduced slowly to a dog.
  • Don’t start out in the car, but take fun walks as your dog wears the harness part of the restraint system attached to his leash. Remove the harness when the fun time ends and praise him, so that he associates the harness with fun. Then move to riding in a car. Most dogs will acclimate to a seat-belted harness very quickly.
  • Keep him out of the front seat. Air bags can save human lives in the event of an accident, but they can be deadly for dogs.
  • Keep his head inside the car. Dogs love to stick their heads out the windows of a moving car, but this is downright dangerous. Eye injuries are most common among dogs riding with their heads out the window.
  • On the road, stop to let your dog stretch his legs about every two hours. Always attach the leash BEFORE opening the door of the vehicle, and keep him leashed at all times.
  • Offer water, and be sure to clean up any droppings. Dogs usually do not eat, drink or eliminate the same as they normally do at home, and it is important to monitor them carefully when around other dogs or humans.
  • Be sure to pack a doggie bag especially for your four-footed traveling companion.

Doggie Road Travel Bag:

  • Extra Bedding
  • Dog food and bowls for food and water (include a can opener if you use canned food)
  • Any medications that the dog may be on.
  • Identification tags with current information securely attached to the dog, and a folder with registration papers
  • A photo of your dog, and other identification aids
  • Your veterinarian’s telephone number, and any other info that might be needed in case of an emergency.
  • Clean up bags and paper towels for muddy paws and general clean up.
  • Treats, and toys (a few of her favorites from home)

Keeping these tips in mind will help ensure a safe, enjoyable vacation for both you and your companion animal.

The Dangers of Letting Dogs Ride in Pickups

I see dogs riding in the bed of moving pickup trucks on a regular basis, and I am always uneasy. Sure, the dog looks like he is having fun… ears flopping and noses testing the wind, with the freedom to look around , seemingly enjoying the trip. This common practice is NOT safe.

When you transport your dog in the open bed of a pickup, you endanger your dog and other motorists. If you have to suddenly step on the brakes , or swerve to avoid an obstacle, your dog can easily be thrown out onto the road. Tethering the dog with a restraint is not the answer. Documented cases tell of dogs restrained by leashes or harnesses that have been strangled or dragged after being thrown from a truck bed.

The American Veterinary Medical Association conducted a survey of veterinarians in Massachusetts and learned that 71% of those surveyed, reported treating almost 600 dogs the previous year as a result of riding in a truck bed. The AVMA concluded that all 592 dogs could have avoided their injuries had their caregivers had not placed them in the bed of pickups.

Some of the hazards a pet may experience while riding in the open bed of a pickup are:

  • slipping around and hitting the sides or slamming into the cab of the truck
  • falling or jumping out of the bed
  • flying debris can hit the animal

Please secure your furbaby whenever you travel.

Pet First-Aid

You’re probably prepared to handle everyday emergencies that come up with your family and children, but what about your pets? The American Red Cross has named April as National Pet First Aid Awareness month, and stresses that everyone who shares a home with a dog should have a basic first-aid kit on hand.

Dogs, like humans, can become injured or get illnesses that need treatment. You know your dog, and are in the best position to observe behavior and health changes that may signal an emergency. If you notice unusual crying or whining; coughing; bleeding; dizziness; confusion; vomiting; diarrhea; increased urination; excessive drooling; uncontrollable panting; or difficult breathing; consult your veterinarian.

However, because many minor pet injuries can be treated with common sense and basic first-aid, having supplies on hand is advised , and although there are many commercial pet first aid kits on the market, it is better to put together your own kit, designed for your specific dog.

Get a water-resistant container that opens and closes easily, yet securely. It should be big enough to hold all the necessary items, and for added protection, put products in seal-able plastic bags inside the box.

Items to include in your kit are:

  • A good pet first aid book . The American Red Cross has an excellent spiral bound book , Dog First Aid, which has a section in the back where you can record phone numbers of your veterinarian, a poison control center, and other important emergency information. It’s a bit spendy, but Amazon usually has copies available for about $15.00.
  • A pair of heavy gloves to prevent getting bitten
  • A muzzle or strips of cotton to use as a muzzle if needed.
  • A digital rectal thermometer (your dog’s temperature should between 99.5 and 102.5 degrees)
  • Bandage materials (do not use human adhesive bandages such as Band-Aids on pets). Include sterile gauze pads and rolls, and tape for securing wraps or bandages, cotton balls, and swabs.
  • An ordinary ruler can be used if a splint is needed.
  • Towels and sanitary wipes for cleaning wounds and yourself
  • A compact thermal blanket. If you do not have a thermal blanket, be sure to have a regular blanket available.
  • Hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting if you suspect your dog has been poisoned. Contact your vet or poison control center BEFORE inducing vomiting or treating an animal for poison. Hydrogen peroxide can also be used for cleaning minor wounds.
  • Antibiotic ointment for minor scrapes or cuts
  • Betadine (iodine)
  • Antiseptic lotion or spray.
  • Eye wipes, saline solution to flush eyes, and sterile eye ointment.
  • Ear wipes and ear-cleaning solution
  • Plastic eye dropper or large syringe without a needle to give oral treatments or flush wounds;
  • Small scissors,
  • Nail clippers
  • Tweezers.
  • Spare leash to transport your pet if he is capable of walking without further injury.

Prevention is always the best solution, so pet proof your home and make sure medications, cleaners, electrical cables, and other dangerous items are out of reach. If an accident does happen, it is important for you to keep your cool so that you can properly care for your pet. When thinking of pet first aid, the two most important words are “be prepared.”