Tagged: “pet safety”

When the Heat is On

When the Heat is On

Nothing like a couple days in the triple digits to remind you how dangerous the heat can be – to both humans and animals!  These suggestions may be too late for the heat wave last week, but something tells me we will see more hot days ahead.  I was wondering with everyone working from home, most without air conditioning, and movie theatres closed, how people were handling the heat?  Now you know what it was like for your pet during the day when you were away at work!

There’s things you can do, of course, to reduce the heat in your home.  Closing windows and shutting all blinds and curtains to keep the sun out can make a huge difference.  If you have ceiling fans they can move enough air to make a cooling breeze which is nice.  You probably notice your pets congregating in the kitchen – it’s not that they are hungry but often that is the only room with non-carpeted floors.  Linoleum and vinyl is much cooler to lay on than carpeting for sure!  If your house gets very hot inside, you might consider freezing some water bottles and leaving them out for your pets to lay against.

Frozen water is absolutely essential for any caged pet that is outdoors (really bringing them inside is best!).  If you have an indoor caged pet bring the cage down to the floor level if it’s normally up on a dresser or such.  Hot air rises so the higher in the room the hotter it is.  A single frozen water bottle can cool the temperature in a cage considerably.  Too many rabbits and guinea pigs don’t make it through a heat wave because their options, in a cage, are limited.  We have to help them out!

Some people shave their pets during the summer to help them keep cool but be aware that the long-hair of some breeds actually protects the skin against sunburn and traps air close to the body to keep them cool.  Only shave a pet that lives indoors – outdoor pets need this protection.  Shaving the belly though can help them stay cooler without the sun risk.

Having plenty of water available to drink is very important and if you have multiple pets, be sure to have multiple water dishes.  Pets know when a resource is valuable and some might guard it from the other animals.  Have plenty of dishes around so everyone can get their fair share without worry.  Some cats will drink more out of the fountains and especially during heat waves you want to encourage water intake.  If you feed canned food you might mix an extra teaspoon or two of water in it to increase their water consumption.

Do I even need to say how dangerous it is to leave a pet in a car on a warm day?  The metal of the vehicle turns it into an oven and the temperature can get fatally hot in just a few minutes, even with the windows open a bit.  Be smart and leave your pets comfortably at home when you go out to run errands.  Everyone will be safer if check-out lines are longer than anticipated or you bump into a friend and get into a conversation.

And last but not least, only exercise your dog in the cool of the morning or after the sun has set.  You may not mind coming home from a run dripping with sweat but they can’t cool themselves the same as we can.  Heat stroke and exhaustion can kill so don’t test your dog’s limit by pushing him to run or walk during the heat of the day.

It’s finally feeling like summer around here – hot and dry.  Let’s help our pets weather through it by seeing to their needs!


Mushroom Alert! Toxic to Dogs

Mushroom Alert! Toxic to Dogs

What did you do last weekend?  I spent part of mine mushroom picking.  Not as in mushrooming for gourmet mushrooms to eat – rather getting rid of the little ones that started growing in my backyard after the rain we recently had.  Some of these fungi are poisonous to our pets and every year the emergency hospitals see cases of dogs sickened by eating them.  I don’t put anything past my dogs so I’m not taking any chances.

This is important especially if you have a new puppy or kitten in your home.  It’s easy to forget how mischievous they can be, especially if you’ve lived with a mature pet for a long time before getting a new little one; and you become complacent when you’ve lived with your pet for a while – but occasionally even an older pet can surprise you.  I was in my kitchen the other day when one of my older cats shocked me by casually strolling out of a cupboard!  It wasn’t even a food cupboard (fortunately) but what the appeal was that enticed him inside in the first place is beyond me!

Young puppies and kittens test out everything with their mouths (I’m sure you’ve noticed that!) and it’s easy for them to get into trouble.  Good thing to keep in mind as you decorate for the upcoming holidays as well as a good time to be sure you have a few essential first aid items on hand.

Dangers include things like electrical cords as you run lights around your house, the holiday tree, rich foods like turkey left out to defrost (or just cooked), other holiday plants like holly and mistletoe, gifts that might contain food items (don’t think wrapping paper will hide the scent!), tinsel and ribbon, candles and probably a hundred other things that I can’t think of at the moment.

A couple staples to have are hydrogen peroxide (to induce vomiting), benedryl (for allergic reactions), a good triple antibacterial ointment and a good antiseptic wash for small wounds.  You might ask your veterinarian if there is anything else they would recommend you keep on hand so you have a good first aid kit available if needed.  Something else to have close by is the phone number to the animal poison hotline run by the ASPCA.  That number is: (888) 426-4435.  They do charge a consultation fee, but it’s a small price to pay if it saves your pet’s life or saves you from a costly trip to the emergency room.  And of course, the phone number and directions to the closest veterinary emergency hospital, just in case.

Prevention is so much cheaper than treatment in all situations, but first you have to be aware of the danger and willing to put in the work to fix it.  It might mean installing a screen door so your little door dasher is cut off; putting up coyote rollers (tubes that roll around the top of your fence to prevent a dog from jumping out – or a coyote from coming in!), or an invisible fence around your yard if your pet has learned how to escape, repairing or replacing the fence if there are gaps and holes, putting baby latches on cupboards doors (that’s what my husband’s doing this weekend!), making sure electrical cords are hidden or covered, keeping toxins like paint remover and bug spray securely out of reach of our pets and more.  I’m sure if you look around your house with fresh eyes you will see something that needs improvement.

Get your home safe before the holidays and keep your pets in mind as you start decorating.  What are you waiting for?  The mushrooms are popping up and this weekend is as good as any to start these little projects.

Make it a safe holiday – pet-proof your home

Make it a safe holiday – pet-proof your home

By Mickey Zeldes  December 19, 2014

I spent a good portion of last weekend picking mushrooms. Not to eat, although I love them. I wouldn’t trust myself to know an edible mushroom from a poisonous one. But with the recent rains, mushrooms have been popping up all over my lawn, and I don’t want my curious dogs to ingest them. Mushroom poisoning has killed more than one dog in our area, and I certainly wouldn’t want my dogs to become a statistic. This is not the typical danger you hear about when we focus on the holidays, but this has been a bumper crop of ‘shrooms lately.

Other hazards to keep your pets away from include the rich holiday foods typically served on Christmas, such as turkey. Many dogs end up in the emergency room with pancreatitis from eating a big fatty meal. Chocolate is also toxic to pets and should be kept out of their reach. Don’t trust the fact they are gift-wrapped to deter a dog. They can smell the goodies right through the pretty paper, so don’t stash edible gifts under the tree.

The Christmas tree presents its own set of challenges to those of us with pets. In a comic I saw recently, it showed the dog reacting to the tree with the thought bubble “Yes, indoor plumbing,” and using the tree for his business. Makes sense to me – how confusing is it to walk your dog up to every tree outside and reward him for peeing and then get mad when he does it on the one tree you thoughtfully brought into the house? A foster mom, who raises kittens for us, sent a recent photo of her tree with kittens peeking out from all the branches. Cute as kittens but not exactly what you want your adult cat doing. And even the tree in the lobby of the shelter has no ornaments on the bottom half – thanks to our mascot cats. Ornament? Cat toy? All one and the same!

Poinsettias and holly have long been listed on the poisonous plant list (check out the full lists on the aspca.com website) for pets, so keep them up high where they can’t be nibbled. String, ribbon and garlands have all caused problems for our curious and naughty pets. Both getting tangled up in them and getting caught in their digestive system. A few years ago we unintentionally got a $4,000 cat toy. That’s how much it cost to cut it out of my dog’s intestine where it caused a total blockage. Of course, that could happen anytime of the year – it was just coincidence that it was a red and green toy.

We’re all so busy during this time of the year and there’s so much “stuff” in our homes – gifts to give, gifts we receive, baking, cooking, decorating, entertaining – that it’s easy to overlook something that is potentially dangerous. Please take a few minutes to look around your house and pet-proof things so this can be a safe and happy holiday season for everyone.