Here a Danger, There a Danger. Everywhere a Danger!

We are all concerned for the safety of our beloved pets, so it is important to realize there are many household and personal items that can be dangerous to them. The kitchen is probably the main room were our four-footed friends get into trouble, because they associate that room with pleasant smells and tastes. They are always on the lookout for a treat to snatch, and, besides food, there are always medications, cleaning products, and trash bins that pose threats. Keeping items off the counter, and keeping lids on trash bins are important if there are pets in the home.

We know that goodies containing raisins, grapes ,or currents can cause kidney problems in dogs, but It isn’t only food that poses a threat to pets. Batteries, plants, and fragrance products that are found throughout the house are common dangers. Laundry detergent pods, and dryer sheets are both hazards. It is important to keep laundry products in a closed cabinet and pick up any dropped dryer sheets or detergent pods

While most dogs love to feel the wind on their faces, allowing them to ride in the beds of pick up trucks or stick their heads out of moving car windows is very dangerous. Insects and flying debris can cause ear or eye injuries or even lung infections, and abrupt stops or turns can cause major injury. Pets should always ride inside the cab of a pickup, and even inside a car they should be secured in a crate or wear a seatbelt harness designed for them.

Garages can be extremely hazardous places for our four-footed companions. Most people store a variety of chemicals in the garage which pose serious concerns for pets, and often times rodenticides are stashed there. All chemicals should be securely closed and placed up, out of reach of curious paws.

Pets love spending time outdoors so watch out for poisonous plants. Toxic species common at this time of year include lilies, daffodils, and azaleas. Daffodils can be toxic, especially the bulbs, but the flower heads can also cause diarrhea, vomiting and lethargy. All parts of bluebells are poisonous to dogs and will cause discomfort with the risk of heart beat irregularity if a significant quantity is ingested. Dogs who eat ivy commonly develop diarrhea and vomiting. Even contact with ivy can cause skin reactions, itchiness, and skin rashes. Other spring flowers, such as crocuses and tulips, are considered less toxic, but it is best to seek veterinary advice if you suspect your pet has eaten them.

While it is great to have company while working in the yard, be aware of the actions of your dog. Fertilizers, insecticides and herbicides keep our plants and lawns healthy and green, but their ingredients may be dangerous if ingested. When using any chemicals on your yard, it is best to keep your pets away until it is completely dry or watered in.

Just like people, dogs can develop allergies to plants, pollens, grasses and many other spring time substances. Allergies in pets normally appear as itchy skin and ear problems, sometimes with hair loss or inflamed skin. Some will suffer respiratory signs or runny eyes, and need vet attention.

Another common outdoor danger is lighter fluid and charcoal briquettes used for outside grilling. If you are having a springtime barbecue, make sure your pets are kept at a safe distance. Bones, kebob skewers, and alcohol can be dangerous. Warmer weather. and closer contact among animals, encourage the spread of disease. Make sure your pets are up to date on important vaccines. Be aware of the common pests in your area, and use the same common sense you would use for your pets as yourself. By following basic springtime safety tips, you can avoid springtime hazards that could make springtime miserable for your pets.

Halloween is a Nightmare for your Dog!

Scary costumes, spooky music, and chocolate treats all make Halloween lots of fun—for people, but those same things can create frightening and stressful experiences for your animal companions. The noises, trick-or-treaters at the door, and people in weird costumes can stimulate even the calmest dog to become fearful or aggressive.

Halloween dress-up for your dog has given pet stores and on-line pet supply sites another lucrative opportunity to make money, and every year I remind people that this is a commercial venture targeted to humans, not for the enjoyment of the dogs who prefer their birthday suits rather than cutesy costumes. Dogs are dogs; they do not need to be dressed up– most are not thrilled about wearing a costume and , however adorable they may be, most are uncomfortable, annoying, and potentially dangerous. It is easy for her to get tangled up, or become frantic, while all dressed up. My advice is always to FORGET DOG COSTUMES , and spend a few bucks on a safe toy–maybe a new Kong– that your dog will enjoy for months to come. If, however, you are determined to see your dog in a Halloween outfit , please consider these tips for keeping him safe , and hopefully stress free.

  • Make sure the outfit doesn’t restrict his movements in any way. Tightness around your dog’s neck, paws, legs, and torso, or tight elastics can pinch his body and be very uncomfortable. He’ll have to walk, run, and take potty breaks, so the costume needs room in the legs, and not get in the way when nature calls.
  • Keep in mind that your dog is probably not used to a costume, so don’t leave him dressed up for an extended period of time. He could get uncomfortable and irritated enough to shred the costume or even lash out with a bite or scratch.
  • The costume should not restrict his sight or hearing, and should not impede his ability to breathe or bark.
  • As cute as they might be, some elaborate costumes can cause your dog to overheat. Consider the temperature, and your dog’s coat to be sure that the outfit is not too heavy for the weather.
  • I browsed through a costume section, and it was obvious that many of them would most likely hinder a dog’s vision which could be very dangerous. Many of them also had small dangling accessories that the dog might chew of and swallow. Buttons, ribbons and tassels could cause intestinal blockage or choking if swallowed.
  • Most costumes are made from cheap, scratchy material to which your dog could have an adverse reaction, possibly causing an itchy rash, and possible infection. If your dog tries to scratch and rub the outfit off, please forget it.

It is important to have a couple dress rehearsals prior to the big night. Let your dog examine the outfit before you put it on him. Place the costume one the floor, and allow your dog sniff it…then drape part of the costume over his back, repeating this process several times before your actually put it on him. Take it on and off several times, and if your dog is distressed, allergic or shows abnormal anxiety, please don’t force him to wear it. Animals want desperately to please their caregivers, but we need to be concerned about their feelings, rather than our amusement. It is up to us to make sure that our dog’s Halloween doesn’t turn into a nightmare.

Fall is in the Air

Fall is in the air now… time to .say good-by to summer. Birds are migrating; trees are changing garb, with leaves transforming from golden to brown. Hopefully fall will bring calm after all the summer storms, but fall also brings many hazards for your pets:

  • Antifreeze—antifreeze typically contains ethylene glycol, an odorless but sweet-tasting chemical that is toxic to pets Ingesting just a small amount can potentially lead to kidney failure, seizures, and even death for your animals. The ASPCA Poison Control Center reports that every year thousands of dogs die from ingesting traditional ethylene glycol-based antifreeze. Do not keep antifreeze where dogs (or children) can reach it, and remember than antifreeze sometimes collects on driveways and roadways. We recommend that you check out propylene glycol-based antifreeze. It is more expensive, but is less toxic and tastes somewhat bitter, making it less attractive to dogs.
  • Rodenticides—the use of mouse and rat poisons increases in the fall, so it is imperative to make sure that none remain within reach of your pets. Many common products such as grain-based pellets or wax blocks are highly toxic to pets and can be fatal if even a small amount is ingested.
  • Mushrooms—mushrooms have been abundant this fall because of the wetter weather. It is difficult to differentiate between poisonous and nonpoisonous…they look very much alike and often grow together. Make sure that your pet is kept away from all mushrooms, and if you think your pet may have eaten one, contact your veterinarian right away.
  • School items—school backpacks are filled with pet dangers—glue sticks, crayons, and markers, and although they may not be extremely toxic, they can cause stomach distress and pose choking hazards. Lunch leftovers, medications, and sugar-free gum (which may contain zylitol) are also potentially dangerous items that a curious pet my find in an open backpack. Keep all school items in closed backpacks or areas where pets do not have access.
  • Decorations—fall decorations with corncobs can cause intestinal blockage, and if your dog has access to an outdoor play yard, be sure to check for any corncobs that the squirrels may have carried into the pet area. Your decorations may look like toys to your pets, so be cautious with the types of decorations you use. Avoid strings or ribbons dangling enticingly from the decorations.
  • Outdoor grilling—Barbecues can be a dangerous place for your pets. They may ingest skewers, or they may get into potentially toxic foods or alcohol Most pet caregivers are aware that chocolate is toxic to pets, but bones, raw bread dough, grapes, raisins, and onions can also present health problems. Hard candies, candy wrappers, lollipop sticks also pose choking or intestinal blockage threats.
  • Fatty foods can lead not only to an upset stomach but also to inflammation of the pancreas which can be quite dangerous. Pancreatitis can cause severe pain, lethargy, and vomiting, and in some cases can be life-threatening. If your dog shows these signs, you need to call your veterinarian right away.
  • Household medications—Be sure to keep medications out of reach of your pet’s reach. Acetaminophen can be toxic, and decongestants can cause elevated heart rate, possibly leading to seizures. Many pets will happily lap up any pills that may be dropped, and if a pet has ingested medication meant for humans, or something potentially toxic, don’t spend time trying to decide what to do. Call your vet right away.

Prevention is always the best approach. Be alert to dangers that may be encountered, and pet-proof your home from these hazards, so that you can safely enjoy the fall season with your dog. Vigilance is the key to keeping your pet safe this season and all year round.

 

Summer Dangers for Dogs

Summer is a time for cookouts, pool parties, and fun vacations, but it is also a time when dangers to pets increase, so pet caregivers need to take special precautions.

Unlike humans, dogs cannot regulate their body temperature by sweating, so they are more prone to heat exhaustion and heatstroke. Signs of heatstroke include weakness, rapid panting, and thick sticky saliva. It is important to check on your pet often on hot days and keep him cool, as heatstroke doesn’t take long to develop, and quick response is necessary. Get him into a cool place immediately, and, if available, provide a fan to provide a breeze. Apply a cold towel or an ice pack to the head, neck and chest, or immerse him in tepid (not ice cold) water. Don’t discourage your dog from panting…It’s the canine air-conditioning system, and no matter how labored it is, it means that your dog is working to expel heat from his body.

YouTube videos may show us dogs having great fun in the water, and many dogs love water, and water play is a great way for dogs to stay cool in summer and wear themselves out at the same time, but bodies of water often hold hazards that are not immediately visible. One water-borne risk is from giardia, a microscopic protozoal parasite that infects the intestines, often through drinking contaminated water. Giardia is one of the most common intestinal infections that attack dogs, and the best way to help prevent this problem is to ensure that your dog doesn’t drink potentially contaminated water. If you are camping or hiking, carry fresh water, or filter, or boil it before giving it to your dog. Blue-green algae is a toxic bacterial mix that can cause respiratory problems, affect the liver and neurological system, or cause death if he drinks it. Dogs can ingest the bacteria when they drink lake water or lick themselves after swimming in contaminated water. Keep your dog out of any water that you suspect has a harmful algae bloom, and if he hops in, rinse him thoroughly with fresh water as soon as possible.

Ear infections are especially common during summertime, especially among dogs that swim frequently. These infections are often caused by water entering dogs’ ears while swimming. Help prevent this by using a vet-prescribed ear leaner to clean and dry their ears after swimming.

The buzzing of bees and wasps seem to motivate your dog to investigate, and while curiosity may not kill him, it can result in a painful sting. Watch how your dog responds to the sting. If there is a lot of swelling, and she becomes irritated and scratches at the stung area, you should call your vet.

Everyone loves barbecues and cookouts, especially your dog who will usually get a little of this and a taste of that, but many barbeque favorites can pose problems for your dog. Many meats are seasoned with garlic and onions, both of which are toxic to dogs. Food with bones can be very dangerous, as they may splinter and injure their GI system, sometimes even piercing their bowels. Corn on the cob is a grilling staple, but digesting corn cobs is difficult and may be a choking hazard. An overlooked toothpick or skewer can pierce or make a hole in the intestines.

As a pet caregiver, you can reduce the risks of summer dangers by monitoring your dog closely, and being aware of the dangers that may be present. Take the right precautions, and you and your companion can relax and enjoy the summer in comfort and safety.

Summer Fun & Safety

This really hot, humid weather can make anyone feel uncomfortable, including our four-footed friends. Responsible pet caregivers understand basic safety rules:

  •  Do NOT leave your dog in a car….even a few moments in the heat can turn your car into an oven.
  • Do NOT shave your dog down to the skin because shaving him down inhibits his ability to deal with temperature changes. Leave the hair length at least an inch long to protect his skin .
  • Ticks are thriving right now……Check regularly for ticks, especially under the tail, on the stomach, in the ears, and between the toes.
  • Always make sure to have cool, clean available water available at all times.
  • Keep your exercise routines in early mornings or evenings when it is cooler.
  • We disapprove of tying a dog outside in any weather, but it can be fatal in this kind of weather. Find a place where he can be comfortable and out of the sun.
  • When walking your dog, steer clear of all areas that may have been sprayed with insecticides or other chemicals. Be alert for coolant or other automotive fluid leaks which can be fatal if ingested.
  • Stay alert for signs of overheating, which include excessive panting, drooling and mild weakness.
  • It it’s too hot for you outside, it’s too hot for your dog!!!

Everyone enjoys a summer treat, and your dog is no exception. If you want to make summertime frozen dog treats, just remember these basic steps:

  1. Start with a liquid base
  2. Mix in a favorite ingredient (blueberries, apples, bananas, peas….the options are endless)
  3. Freeze and serve.

Here are a few recipes for quick and easy treats for your favorite canine:

FROZEN YOGURT-PEANUT BUTTER BITS

An easy two ingredient dog treat can be quickly made with just two ingredients:

  • Combine 1 cup creamy peanut butter (softened)
  • 32 ounces of plain yogurt until combined and smooth
  • Drop 2 tablespoon mounds of the mixture onto a greased baking sheet,
  • Place in the freezer until completely frozen.
  • Transfer the treats to a freezer-safe container or zip top bag and store in the freezer for up to 2 months.

 FROZEN PUMPKIN TREATS

  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 ¼ cup pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie mix)

Place all ingredients into a food processor and process until smooth. Pour mixture into mini molds or ice cube trays and freeze.

Celebrate the season and keep your dog happy and healthy by taking just a few precautions, and offering a few cooling treats!

 

Summer Hazards

Because hot humid summer weather brings potential problems to our four-footed friends, we have been limiting our walks to leisurely strolls in the shade. Under the hot summer sun, asphalt on sidewalks and streets can heat to a temperature that can burn a dog’s paws. Always put your hand down on the asphalt for about thirty seconds—if you need to pull your hand away after about 30 seconds because it is so hot, it is too hot for your dog to walk on without hurting his paws. Walk your dog early in the morning or in the late evening when the streets have cooled off.

Because a dog perspires very little, hot weather creates many problems, and it is the responsibility of the humans to keep her safe by providing lots of cool, clean, fresh water. Consider preparing low sodium chicken broth or yogurt ice cubes to increase the moisture content of your dog’s diet. Doggie Fro-Yo is a quick and easy summer-time treat: Just blend 2 cups of low fat yogurt, 1 banana, 1/3 cup peanut butter and 1 tablespoon honey. Mix until smooth, poor into an oiled mini-muffin tin, place in the freezer and freeze for at least an hour.

Summer is the season for fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes…pests that present discomfort to your dog, and may be life-threatening or cause self-mutilating behaviors There are many preventatives on the market, but we recommend that you do NOT by over the counter products. Check with your vet and see what he recommends for your dog….and don’t wait until you see a flea; prevention is much easier than treatment! Heartworm infection is a serious problem, and it takes only one infected mosquito to infect a dog, so it is extremely important to be consistent with preventive treatment for these dangers.

Heat prostration is a common cause of illness that kills many beloved pets each year. Some of the worst summer tragedies involve pets that are left in vehicles. NEVER leave your animal in a car—temperatures inside can rapidly climb to more than l00 degrees and can cause death in as little as ten minutes. (If it is 95 degrees and you leave your windows cracked, the temperature may rise as high as 113 degrees. This is a recipe for disaster for your dog.

Your dog may be allergic to seasonal items such as grass, various plants, and mold. If you suspect your dog may have seasonal allergies, is scratching and perhaps losing fur, a visit to your vet is recommended.

Many of our lawn care products and pesticides are potentially toxic to pets. After treating lawns, be sure to restrict pets from those areas until the product has TOTALLY dried. Remember too, that many types of summer foliage such as hydrangea, wisteria, foxglove, privet hedge, and delphiniums, can be toxic to pets.

Freshwater ponds, lakes and streams can be deadly to your dog if they contain toxins borne by blue-green algae. If the water looks cloudy, with a green or blue-green case, it is very possible that there is a dangerous overgrowth of blue-green algae, and it is important to prevent your dog from ingesting this contaminated water. Although some of the algae blooms are not toxic, it is difficult to determine which ones are poisonous, so it is wise to keep children or pets out of any water that appears to have the blue-green algae.

Another warning is regarding cocoa bean shell mulch, which is a by-product of chocolate production and is becoming a popular mulch for landscaping. However many dogs find the mulch attractive and will eat it, which will result in gastrointestinal upset, muscle tremors, vomiting, and diarrhea. If large amounts are ingested, life threatening problems may develop. The ASPCA Poison Control Center recommends that cocoa bean shell mulch never be used in landscaping around unsupervised dogs.

By following common sense rules, you will be able to help your dogs beat the heat and stay safe and comfortable in hot weather.

 

 

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.

 

Keep Backpacks and School Supplies Out of Reach

“On my back I carry all my treasures…..crayons, ruler, scissors too. And yes, a little Elmer’s glue…pencils, paper, and sometimes Mom adds a note and a chocolate bar…. Yup, on my back a pack.., I carry in it, all my treasures.” The “back to school” season presents specific risks for pets, so it is important to keep back packs and school supplies out of reach of our curious four-footed friends. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, many of common school supplies have the potential for GI upset or even a blockage.

PetMD compiled a list of the l0 most commonly used school supplies that present a potential choking hazard to pets:

  • Erasers
  • Glue sticks/bottled glue
  • Coins
  • Action figures/small toys, especially those with batteries
  • Small bouncy balls
  • Crayons
  • Markers
  • Pencils (even small splinters can get lodged in the mouth and esophagus)
  • Pens and especially pen caps
  • Paper clips

The biggest danger if your pet eats a school supply item is the possibility of an intestinal blockage that can prevent your dog from digesting his food. If it’s large enough, it can actually cause the intestine to burst, resulting in a serious bacterial infection known as sepsis. If you know or suspect he has ingested a foreign object, it’s important to see your veterinarian or emergency animal center.

The Center for Health, Environment and Justice (CHEJ) reported just this year that there are still school supplies on store shelves containing dangerous chemicals. Phthalates were banned in toys in the United States in 2008, but remain in some other items that fill children’s everyday lives, posing a threat not only to our dogs, but to our children. CHEJ sampled products including backpacks, binders, raincoats, and rain boots and found that many of them contained phthalates, chemicals that have been linked to birth defects, ADHD, asthma and other chronic health problems in children, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention agree that there are effects of phthalates, which are used to soften vinyl plastics, but the health effects of phthalate exposure are far from proven. Phthalates were banned from children’s toys and teething rings in 2009 because of their potential to leach out from plastic that’s chewed or sucked., but some experts say that theories about phthalate exposure from school supplies and rain gear don’t hold water.

Dr. Marcel Casavant, chief of pharmacology and toxicology at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio asserts that “Presuming kids are not eating, sucking, licking or chewing on these products, I imagine the risk is pretty small.” However, dogs do eat, suck, lick and chew on just about anything, so keep the vinyl lunchboxes, backpacks and other supplies out of reach of curious pets.

A few general recommendations for safe school supplies….safe for both the two-legs and four-legs … offered by Branchbasics.com include:

  • Avoid PVC, phthalates, and vinyl school supplies. Avoid backpacks with the word PVC or “vinyl” on the label. Choose natural fiber or synthetic fibers such as nylon and polyester.
  • Avoid solvent based, alcohol based and fragranced markers, as dogs seem to be attracted to them. Choose water based, unscented markers with an “AP” label.
  • Avoid plastic lunch boxes and water bottles which may contain the hormone-disrupting chemical BPA. Dogs love to chew on plastic boxes and water bottles!
  • Avoid colored paper clips –they are coated with PVC plastic, and keep ALL paper clips out of paws’ reach.

We have resources today that allow us to make informed choices for our children and our pets. Consumer awareness may result in some minor changes in your buying habits, but it is worth it for the welfare of your family.

 

The Fourth: Whoosh, Bang. Boom!

Shel Silverstein wrote one of my very favorite books, The Giving Tree. If you are unfamiliar with the book, please put it on your reading list – a very short, thoughtful expose’ of life. Silverstein also wrote “The Fourth of July: Oh, crash! My bash! It’s bang! The Zang! Fourth Whoosh! Of Baroom! July Whew” enthusiastically portraying the Fourth of July from a human’s point of view. However, from a dog’s perspective, his poem “Mr. Grumpledump’s Song” probably more aptly describes how a dog feels about this celebration:

“Everything’s wrong. Day is too long. Sunshine’s too hot. Wind is too strong! Kids are too noisy! Folks are too happy, singin’ their songs. Why can’t they see it? Everything’s wrong.”

The Fourth of July is an exciting, fun holiday for humans, but unfortunately it holds a plethora of dangers to our four-legged pets, and can be a dangerous and frightening time for them. In addition to the risks of injuries and burns, many pets are fearful of the excitement and noise associated with the day. They may act irrationally and panic, and when in distress, pets can run incredibly long distances, lose their sense of direction, and end up far from home. According to Mypet.com, more dogs go missing on the 4th of July than on any other day of the year because of fireworks. The loud noises are scary and confusing, and even painful to some animals. NEVER leave pets outside, even in a fenced yard, and especially not on a chain. In their fear, pets that normally wouldn’t leave the yard may escape and be lost or become entangled in their chain, risking injury or death. Thoughtless, “fun-loving” humans have been known to deliberately toss firecrackers at dogs, and even allowing your pets near fireworks can lead to serious burns, even after the fuse has burned out, and unused fireworks pose a danger to curious pets who like to chew.

A few tips to keep your dog safe and happy when those fireworks start lighting up the sky:

  •  Take your dog for a walk early in the day, before the festivities, and be sure to keep her on leash, because some people do set off fireworks before it gets dark.
  • Do NOT take your pet to fireworks displays even if you plan to stay in your car with him. The explosions that are loud to human ears are much louder to a dog, whose hearing is more sensitive than humans….certainly do not leave your dog unattended in a vehicle. Partially opened car windows do not provide sufficient air for your dog, and if he becomes frightened, he would likely become destructive
  • Plan ahead to keep your pet indoors in a quiet, sheltered spot. Keep the curtains closed, and leave the radio or television (or both) on to keep him company while you are enjoying the celebration. We have found a CD that is super for calming dogs….I have shelves filled with tapes and books on “how to cure behavior problems,” and most of them are what I consider “snake oil”, but once in a while I discover a real winner. I observed that some specific lullaby music, played to the rhythm of an actual human heartbeat, is being used in many hospitals, especially for newborns and preemies, which actually has a calming effect on the babies, and it is also effective with dogs. If you have a nervous or easily frightened dog, I recommend you 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
  • A commercial product, the thundershirt, has been used with great success to calm anxious dogs. It was created by behavioral experts using a concept similar to swaddling an infant. The thundershirt is great in many stressful situations, and info on them can be found at thundershirt.com or on Amazon.
  • If you have neighbors or friends who normally keep their dog outdoors, please visit with them about the dangers involved. Perhaps they have not even thought about the distress that fireworks can cause the animals.
  • Make sure your pets are wearing complete updated ID…just in case. If someone finds your animal, the first thing to look for will be an ID tag. If he is taken to a shelter or pound, he will be scanned for a microchip.

Exercise caution, common sense, and compassion and keep your dogs away from the whooshes, barrooms, and bangs, while you enjoy a safe, festive Happy Fourth!

 

Spring Into Action!

“The snow has not yet left the earth, but spring is already asking to enter your heart. If you have ever recovered from a serious illness, you will be familiar with the blessed state when you are in a delicious state of anticipation, and are liable to smile without any obvious reason. Evidently that is what nature is experiencing just now. The ground is cold, mud and slush squelch under foot, but how cheerful, gentle and inviting everything is. The sun is shining brightly, and its playful, beaming rays are bathing in the puddles along with the sparrows. The river is swelling and very soon will begin to roar. The trees are already living and breathing – It is spring!!!”

–Anton Chkhov

Spring has officially arrived – a time of fabulous re-awakening from the doldrums of winter weather and confinement, but while spring is an awesome time of year, it also presents dangers for pets which are not as prevalent in the winter months, so it is important to spring into action for you four-footed companions..

  • Springtime is often breeding time for many animals, and if you have not had your pet altered, don’t delay any longer. Unfortunately millions of animals end up in shelters every year, many the result of unplanned (and unwanted) litters. Do your part to prevent overpopulation.
  • Fleas, ticks, and other parasites become really active in Spring. Though these pests can be present year-round, their populations tend to increase drastically in spring time and they are more than just a nuisance. Diseases such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and many others can be transmitted by ticks, and fleas can transmit diseases such as tapeworms. By preventing these problems, your pet, as well as you and your home , will be healthier.
  • If your dog isn’t on year-round heartworm preventative, it is important to start up again, and your vet will probably want to run a quick blood test to ensure that he is heartworm negative. . Heartworm disease is a potentially devastating disease that can cause heart failure and potentially death if left untreated Treatment is costly and can be difficult. Prevention is the key in heartworm disease,
  • Warm weather will mean more visits to dog friendly places, so it is important that dogs are up to date on all vaccinations. Spring is also a great time to have an overall health check up!
  • Spring is the common time to fertilize your lawn. Be sure to use pet safe products, and still keep your animals off the grass for the entire time recommended. Make sure that your garden is safe, and be careful if you use any pellets, pesticides or other chemicals. Avoid using cocoa shell mulch, as it is toxic to dogs.
  • Many household cleaners used for spring house cleaning are downright dangerous to your dog, containing contain chlorine, ammonia or foaming agents that are harmful to pets, so it is important to use them carefully, and store them in a secure location away from curious animals.
  • Some plants and flowers are toxic to dogs…species common at this time of year include lilies, daffodils, tulips, spring bulbs, and azaleas. For a complete list of toxic plants, google ASPCA..poisonous plants.
  • Most cases of wasp or bee stings are not emergencies, but with a bee sting, check and remove the sting if it is still in place…then bathe the area in a mixture of one teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda in a cup of warm water. With wasp stings, bathe the area with malt vinegar or lemon juice. If your dog is stung in or on the mouth or neck, you may need to seek veterinary help.
  • Just as with people, spring-time can bring on allergies for many dogs…they may develop allergies to plants, pollens, fleas, and many other substances. Allergies in dogs most commonly show up as skin problems, and scratching may cause hair loss or inflamed skin. Respiratory symptoms or runny eyes may also occur, and will require vet care.

“Spring is far more than just the changing of seasons. It’s a rebirth of the spirit for both two legged humans and four legged canines. Spring is a welcome, wondrous, sensory overload.”

–Toni Sorenson