Category Archives: Pet Safety

Pet Safety Tips for Fourth of July Fireworks

Can you guess the busiest day of the year for many animal shelters in the United States? According to the American Humane Association, it is July 5th—that’s right; the day after the Fourth of July. This year, make a “pledge” that your pet will not be among the many that flee their homes in a panic after unsettling firework celebrations begin. Here are just a few tips, including some from the AVMA, to keep your pet safe this Independence Day.

1. Make sure that your pet has a properly fitting collar with an attached ID tag and that all the information is up to date; likewise, check that all microchip information is current.

2. Take a picture of your pet so that you have a current photo just in case.

3. Earlier in the day, take your dog for a walk or run (but be vigilant about the summer’s heat and don’t overdo it). Exercise will help calm him and tire him out before the fireworks start.

4. Don’t take your pet to firework festivities or set off fireworks around your pet. Keep your pet indoors where he is safe; if possible, bring your outdoor pet indoors.

5. Keep exterior doors, pet doors, and windows shut to prevent a terrified pet from escaping outdoors and running away from the fireworks.

6. Lower blinds and cover windows so the bright lights of the fireworks don’t distress your pet.

7. Make sure your pet has a safe place in an interior room where he can retreat. Your pet may prefer a small, enclosed area to “hide” when he’s scared.

8. Place your pet’s favorite toys or familiar blankets nearby for comfort.

9. Turn on a calming television show, soothing music, or even a fan to help block out some of the firework noise.

10. Provide your dog with a safe chew toy to distract him and ease anxiety (and make sure cords are out of the way so they don’t become chew toys).

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Keep Cool! How to Protect Your Pets This Summer

Bring on summer! What activity does your pet like best? Maybe it’s the simple pleasure of rolling around blissfully in the grass, leaping into the air to capture a Frisbee in his teeth, or sprinting after a neon yellow tennis ball. Soak up the fun, but keep these summer pet safety tips in mind.

We’re Having a Heat Wave
Though a walk around the neighborhood can be relaxing for you and your pet, common sense dictates that it’s not always a possibility in the summer. Avoid the midday swelter, and opt for early morning or late evening strolls. Shorten your walk when necessary, and keep your pup hydrated. Remember that your pet’s feet aren’t protected by sneakers, so lead him away from scorching pavement that can burn his paw pads. In addition, never leave your pet alone in a parked car.

“Paws” at the Pool
Splashing around poolside or taking a dip in the cool water might be the epitome of summer fun for you, but not necessarily for your pet. When possible, teach your dog to swim and consider outfitting him in a bright life vest. Even if your pet is wearing a life vest, stay vigilant.

Keep your furry pal from drinking chlorinated water, especially large amounts. The AKC recommends that you rinse him off after he exits the pool and dab his ears with a dry towel. Remember that pool-time might be a challenge for puppies, short-legged dogs, arthritic or debilitated pets, and pups with vision loss, so consider spending quality time indoors.

Chemical Reaction
While you’re slathering yourself in sunscreen, keep in mind that the common zinc oxide formulation is only intended for you, the pet parent. PetMD recommends that you protect Fido’s ear tips and nose with a pet-safe sunscreen created specifically for dogs.

Where, Oh Where, Can He Be?
Summer brings with it all sorts of curiosities and even a few scares for your pet. Even calm pets might scamper after a taunting squirrel, or flee after a bout of thunder or fireworks. Bring your pet indoors before stormy weather or a pyrotechnic display that might cause him discomfort. Make sure his ID tags and microchip information are up to date.

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March Is Pet Poison Prevention Awareness Month

Are you starting to get the “spring cleaning itch” but feeling a little overwhelmed at the prospect? Why not start by making sure that potentially harmful foods, medicines, and household chemicals are out of the reach of your pet? After all, spring with your pet should be a happy time!

Recommended by PetMD and the ASPCA, here are just a few steps you can take to protect your pet:

1. Keep pet medications and human medications stored separately so there’s little chance of a mix-up.

2. Take the time to read the label carefully before giving your pet medicine.

3. Keep medications locked in cabinets, rather than on the counter or table.

4. Review the ASPCA’s list of “people foods” that can be toxic to pets. Make sure these items are kept away from your pet.

5. Make sure household cleaners, paint, automotive fluids, and even cosmetic items like nail polish remover are not accessible to your pet.

6. Be aware of which plants can be dangerous to your pet, including household plants, seasonal decorations, and lawn and garden greenery.

7. Research safer insecticide alternatives. Read the labels of lawn and garden products to determine if they are toxic to pets, and follow instructions carefully. Store these products out of the reach of pets.

8. Keep pets out of garbage cans and compost bins. Ensure that your garbage can is tamper-proof and that your pet can’t open it.

9. If you must use a rodenticide, follow instructions carefully and make sure your pet cannot reach the treated area. Properly dispose of dead rodents before your pet can get to them.

10. Know the symptoms of pet poisoning. Have a plan in case of accidental poisoning, and be ready to act fast. Keep your veterinarian’s information and other emergency numbers, like a pet poison hotline, readily accessible.

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Pet-Safe Alternatives to Halloween Treats

Halloween might look a little different this year, but one thing’s for certain—there will still be treats! As tempting as it is to include Fluffy or Fido in the mix, remember that most human treats are best left to humans.

According to the Pet Poison Helpline, the top food-related hazards to pets at Halloween are chocolate, candy, grapes/raisins, and candy wrappers. Foods with the artificial sweetener xylitol can also be poisonous to dogs (and are not recommended for cats either) according to PetMD.

So, how can you treat your pet this Halloween? 🎃

1. Homemade dog “ice cream”

Mix up some canine-friendly ice cream using recipes from PetMD. Here’s one to try (as long as your dog isn’t lactose intolerant): one half can of your dog’s canned food with a quarter cup of plain yogurt and a quarter cup of plain applesauce. Blend using a mixer or a blender, then pour it into a Tupperware container and pop it in the freezer.

2. Wet cat food

If your cat typically receives dry food, consider treating her to her favorite canned food. The first ingredient should be meat, says PetMD, and the food should not contain fillers like rice or corn.

3. Quality time
Will Halloween be a low-key holiday this year? All the better for your pet! Set aside some time to brush your pet, play together, or show him affection.

4. New pet toy
Stimulate your pet’s mind and discourage boredom with a new toy. The Humane Society of the United States and Paws.org have compiled guidelines for choosing safe pet toys; read them here and here.

5. Activity/exercise
Have a game of tug of war, or play indoor fetch with your dog. Let your kitty explore a cat tree or empty cardboard boxes. Remember to keep pet activities in a separate room and away from the front door if you are expecting Halloween visitors this October.

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June Is National Pet Preparedness Month

Your pet is a part of your family, and preparation for an emergency is important. As a pet parent, it’s your responsibility to include your pet in your emergency and disaster plans. When making or revising your emergency and/or disaster plans, know where your pets are going and have anything they might need ready to go. For more details and a comprehensive list of emergency kit necessities, visit the CDC web site.

  • Plan ahead. If you live in a disaster-prone area, learn what kinds of problems those disasters can present for both you and your pets. If your pets can’t go with you during an evacuation, don’t just leave them at home. Pets need a safe place to stay in an emergency, so find out where they can go ahead of time, and be prepared for the possibility of multiple pets being unable to stay in the same place. Remember: if it’s not safe for you, then it’s not safe for your pet.
  • Create an emergency kit. You’ve made one for your family, but your pet needs one, too. Include food, water, bowls, medications, a litter tray/litter or disposable bags, extra leashes/harnesses, and toys that are easily transportable. Include veterinary information, medical records, and current pictures of your pet in a waterproof container.
  • Stay up-to-date. Make sure the information on your pet’s collar, carrier, and in the disaster kit is current. If your pet is microchipped, ensure that information is up-to-date as well, in case your pet gets lost. Have your pet’s vaccinations updated often, and check clasps on collars regularly.
  • Sheltering in place. Some emergencies require you to take shelter in your home, so establish ahead of time which room is the safest place for you, your family, and your pets to shelter in. The ideal room will have few or no windows and be free of anything that could be toxic to your pet. For small animals, make sure to block off any small spaces they could get stuck in.
  • Returning after an emergency. Changes in routine can make pets irritable, defensive, or aggressive, so keep a close eye on your pet when establishing the new normal. Tell family and any visitors that your pet isn’t his or her usual self so your pet has less reason to lash out, and be aware that the disaster may have disoriented your pet by destroying or changing scent markers.

Pets often mean as much to us as the rest of the family, so make sure you’re including them in your plans, kits, and drills. The more comfortable they are with the routine in case of emergency, the easier it will be to ensure their safety along with your own. For special considerations for animals such as horses or birds, check out the ASPCA web site.

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Bound Into Spring! How to Get Your Pet Ready

Spring is coming! Soon you’ll be cleaning and organizing, or finally hauling those Christmas decorations back into storage. During this time where happiness spreads with warmer and sunnier weather, remember that your pet needs some help with spring cleaning, too.

In the spring, you can help your pet shed its winter coat so hair isn’t trailing throughout your home. Your pet relies on you to be aware of how the coming season can affect it: from bugs carrying parasites, to lawn chemicals or plants that can cause harm, to seasonal allergies. Here are a few ways you can help your pet get ready for the season.

1) As your pet begins to shed more than usual in preparation for warmer temps, help her out. Give her a bath and regular brushings to remove loose hair. Not only will this keep her cooler, but it will help keep your home clean and your furniture fur free. And while you’re spring cleaning, wash up her bedding and toys so they smell fresh.

2) Pets can have seasonal allergies, too, although they often show via skin irritation. Watch out for excessive scratching, biting, or licking and contact your vet for how to best treat him. Keep an eye out for grass munching, as well, since some yard treatment chemicals will make him sick. According to Project Pawsitivity, some common seasonal plants like daisies are also toxic to pets. Check out a full plant list here.

3) Warmer weather brings those pesky bugs: fleas, ticks, and mosquitos. As if bites from these bugs weren’t bad enough, they can also carry parasites that could affect your pet’s health. So, before the warmth really sets in, ensure that she has preventative medication for heartworms, fleas, and ticks.

4) Before taking your pet out to enjoy sunny days, make sure his shots are up to date. According to Petcube, having his shots recently updated will cause him less problems if he encounters animals who haven’t had their shots. Also check that his tags and microchip have current information and are readable, and that leashes and collars still fit and aren’t fraying.

5) While humans can exercise throughout the winter in gyms, that’s not always true for our pets. As warm weather rolls in, give her time to adjust to a more active lifestyle. Start with short walks and don’t force her to play if she looks tired. Just like us, your pet’s muscles take time to strengthen.

Pets are just as happy as the rest of us that the sun is shining brighter and the temperature is climbing. But just as we have preventative measures against bugs and allergies, so should our pets. Give them love, care, attention, and help as they prepare for sun-filled days in the ways only they can.

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Make These Pet Resolutions for the New Year

Include your pet in your New Year’s resolutions. Improve your pet’s life alongside your own and find some stress relief along the way. Once there’s a new established routine with your pet, keeping those resolutions will be a little easier!

• Add more playtime or walks to your daily routine. Use feathers on strings to keep your feline’s hunting instincts sharp, or take longer walks to give your dog more socialization time.

• Help your pet with her hygiene—trim her nails, brush her fur, and give her regular baths. Aside from keeping your pet healthy, this gives you a chance to spot any skin or fur issues early on.

• Strengthen the bond between you and your furry friend by showing him more affection. By petting him often and giving him more belly rubs, both of you will benefit emotionally.

• We always want our pets to stay safe, so make sure your pet has a collar and updated ID tags. Get her microchipped in case she wanders off, and avoid anything that might be toxic to her.

This year, think about that little (or big) friend you keep near and make his or her life a little better along with your own. Happy New Year!

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How to Keep Pets Safe During the Holiday Season

With all of the activity over the holiday season—buying gifts, decorating the tree, and baking—it’s easy to forget that some of our favorite things about this festive season can be hazardous to our pets. Even though there’s that long to-do list before the big day, take some extra time to look out for your pet’s comfort and safety.

Baby, it’s cold outside. The weather this time of year is just as cold for pets as it is for us. Leave your pet’s natural coat long and well-groomed so she stays warm. Brushing your pet not only removes dead hair, but it helps with blood circulation so she stays toasty on frostier days. Cut back on her baths during this time so she retains oils that help her skin stay smooth and moisturized.

Let it snow! Snow can easily cover up scents, and walking your dog on a leash will prevent him from getting lost. Consider a jacket and booties to help short-haired breeds conserve warmth. Give outdoor pets a waterproof, insulated house they can keep warm in and provide them with plenty of fresh water. And remember to always bang on the hood before starting your car to keep sheltering outdoor kitties safe.

Deck the halls. Christmas decorations make the season merry and bright, but some of those crafting and decorating items can be dangerous for pets. Secure the Christmas tree so it won’t topple, cover the water tray on real trees, and avoid tinsel and low-hanging ornaments pets can break or choke on. Consider artificial alternatives for holly and mistletoe so your pet doesn’t chew on them. If you’re a crafter, keep an eye on pets and supplies. Curious animals can ingest craft supplies that are harmful to them.

Careful with sweet treats! Many sweets, including chocolate and the artificial sweetener xylitol, can make your pet sick. Begging eyes aren’t easy to ignore, but before giving your pet any special treats, check this list from the ASPCA for what to avoid. Keep those cups out of reach, too, since alcohol has deadly effects for four-legged family members.

I’ll be home for Christmas. Even if your pet is a happy-go-lucky people-loving soul, holiday celebrations can provide too much stimulation. Cozy up a small space for her to retreat to, complete with food, water, comfy blankets, and favorite toys. Each canine and feline has his or her own personality, so be sure to cater to your pet’s needs. And don’t forget to establish with guests the proper etiquette for interacting with your pet so everyone has a fun time.

Christmas is a time to enjoy, have fun, and see family—just remember to ensure that your pet has a safe, fun Christmas as well! Check out the ASPCA web site for more tips to keep your pet safe during the holidays.

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September Is National Service Dog Month + Proper Etiquette

September is National Service Dog Month! Have you seen a service dog team lately? Were you unsure of the proper etiquette? Service dogs provide valuable, sometimes life-saving assistance to their handlers, so “paws” before you’re tempted to interrupt them! Brush up with these helpful tips and reminders from PetMD and Canine Companions for Independence.

1. Always speak to the owner first.
Address the owner first, rather than the dog. Treat him or her with respect and sensitivity, and avoid asking personal questions about the nature of his or her disability.

2. Do not pet or touch the service dog without permission.
Refrain from whistling or making other sounds too. Keep in mind that the dog is working on behalf of the handler; confusing or distracting the dog may prevent it from carrying out commands or devoting its full attention to its handler and surroundings.

3. Don’t be insulted if you cannot pet the service dog.
The handler may choose not to “release” the dog from work mode so that you can pet it. Be sensitive to the fact that the dog is performing critical tasks, and it may not be a good time.

4. Do not feed the service dog.
The service dog is performing an honorable task, but don’t be tempted to intervene with a treat or snack as a reward. Food can distract even the most well-trained dog. In addition, the service dog may be on a particular diet or eating schedule.

5. Keep your dog away from the service dog.
To be on the safe side, keep your dog away from the service dog so that it can work without extra distractions. If you must approach them for some reason, speak to the handler first to make sure it’s okay.

6. Ask before offering help or assistance.
The service dog team is quite capable, but if you think they need help, be sure to ask first. Don’t attempt to grab the leash or harness away from the handler. If the owner rejects an offer of help, respect his or her wishes.

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August 15th Is Check the Chip Day

Perhaps just as important as Love Your Pet Day, Check the Chip Day is a reminder to make sure that your pet’s microchip information is up to date.

This pet “holiday” was created by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA). These two organizations encourage you to take time to verify that all of your pet’s microchip details (especially phone number and address) are correct.

You can read more about Check the Chip Day by clicking here.

If you’re interested in learning more about microchipping, the AVMA has an FAQ page here.

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