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ARCHIVED PET ARTICLES

Whether in your home, visiting a neighbor or taking your dog or cat on vacation, traveling with pets needs planning. the weather also plays an important part on your pet's health. These articles will make sure your family pet stays safe and healthy. For a list of all archived articles visit our Archived Articles List.

 



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HOLIDAY PET HAZARDS


Food Hazards

Reduce the temptation to feed your pet people food by feeding them their food just before guests arrive, so your pet will be less likely to beg and steal food. Inform your guests of the house rules regarding your pet, such as not feeding him scraps from the table. Also, if your guests smoke, be extra vigilant and keep nicotine and alcohol out of your pet’s reach. These can be highly toxic -- even deadly!

Below are some foods that can be harmful to your pet on holidays and year-round:

  • Rich, fatty foods, such as turkey skins or gravy can cause pancreatitis, an inflammation of a digestive gland, and can be very painful and serious, leading to hospitalization. Limit table scraps, and let your guests know as well.
  • Any kind of bone can tear or obstruct your pet's intestinal tract. Make certain all bones are disposed of properly. Poultry bones can be especially dangerous or even fatal to animals.
  • Onions are toxic and can destroy a dog's red blood cells, leading to anemia. Foods containing high amounts of onion powder should also be avoided.
  • Grapes and raisins are harmful to pets. Keep that cornucopia filled with fresh fruits out of reach. Grapes especially contain toxins that can cause kidney failure.
  • Chocolate -- especially baking chocolate -- can actually kill your dog, so keep all such goodies well out of reach.  
  • Coffee is also dangerous to animals. Watch out for grounds and whole beans.
  • Nicotine is a stimulant that can increase the heart rate leading to collapse, and in the worst case, even death.
  • Alcoholic beverages should be kept away from animals year-round.
  • Watch the string that ties up the turkey or roast, as well as the little red "pop-up" thermometers. Dogs and cats often eat these tasty things, causing intestinal blockage.

In addition, keep all leftover food out of reach in a closed container. Any garbage can contain toxins such as e-coli that can affect your pet's organs. This includes leftover tinfoil that, when chewed, can obstruct your pet’s intestinal tract.

If you suspect your pet has gotten into a potentially poisonous substance, call your veterinarian immediately! Have the telephone number to your local emergency animal hospital readily available, as well as the number for the national animal poison control center

Decorations

Holidays bring special cards, gifts decorated with ribbons, tinsel or yarn, and special decorations like Christmas trees. Unfortunately, animals appreciate these items, as well -- and many of them can cause serious damage.

Christmas trees

  • Anchor trees securely. Climbing cats and dogs with wagging tails can knock over your tree.
  • Hang breakable, glass ornaments well out of reach. The small glass and metal fastenings can be stepped on or even swallowed by your pet.
  • Keep tinsel, ribbons and garland out of pets’ reach, especially cats that are intrigued by them. These can become lodged in their intestines, cause obstructions and lead to surgery or death.
  • Clean up pine needles frequently. They can be toxic when eaten by your pet.
  • Prevent your pet from drinking water in the tree stand if you have added preservative chemicals. These can be poisonous to pets. Also, stagnant water can contain bacteria, which may lead to vomiting and diarrhea if ingested.

Holiday house plants

Although they add a warm touch, many plants can harm your pets. Keep these potentially dangerous bloomers well out of reach.

  • Lilies can be deadly to cats, and many types can cause cats to have kidney failure.
  • Poinsettias, although not as toxic as people often think, can upset your pet's digestive system.
  • Mistletoe, especially the berries, is highly toxic, can cause stomach upset and has the potential to cause fatal heart problems.
  • Holly can cause vomiting, diarrhea, nausea and lethargy.
  • Certain types of ivy, such as English ivy, can also cause severe harm.
  • Amaryllis can cause vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Hibiscus can cause diarrhea.

Lights, candles and fragrance

  • Keep lights and extension cords safely secured or covered to deter chewing, which can lead to electric shock or even electrocution. Better yet, invest in pet-proof extension cords, or spray with products such as Bitter Apple or Chew Stop.
  • Candles can be fragrant and enticing to pets. But they can be a fire hazard if knocked over by an exuberant pet, and the fumes can be harmful to birds.
  • Liquid potpourri and sachets, popular during the holidays, can be very dangerous. Exposure can cause skin or oral damage to your pet and may cause illness or death

 

 

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KEEP YOUR PET SAFE THIS WINTER

Posted: 12/26/2011 9:40 am
Amy Shojai, CABCA
Animal behavior consultant, author of 23 pet care books

People fight the cold with heavy coats, long underwear and wooly mittens. And if it's too cold for people, a fur coat won't protect pets from weather extremes, either. Just like people frostbite and human hypothermia, pets also can suffer from cold weather dangers, including frostbite and hypothermia.

Dogs and cats protect themselves by curling up in small shelters that can be warmed by their own body heat. Fluffed fur insulates the body the same way clothing protects people -- by trapping warm air next to the skin.

But wind strips away the protective layer of warm air trapped by fur. Getting wet makes the cold worse, when fur can't fluff to hold warm air. Even moderately cool temperatures can be dangerous. A 20 mph wind makes 40 degree weather feel like 18 degrees.

How Pets Stay Warm
Adult dog and cat body temperature ranges from about 100 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Puppies and kittens, though, have trouble maintaining body temperature. Huddling together shares warmth and reduces wind loss of heat, and shivering generates heat.

Short-haired pets have less protection but even wooly cats and dogs are at risk. Thinly-furred areas or body parts exposed to the wind or that come in contact with the icy ground have little protection from the cold.

Pets conserves heat by diverting blood circulation from the ear tips, toes and tail to protect the vital organs in the central part of the body. But reduced circulation to these extremities increases the chance for frostbite.

What Is Frostbite?
Tissue is 90 percent water. When frozen, cells rupture when the water expands just like ice cubes overflowing the tray. The resulting damage -- termed frostbite -- can be painful and severe.

Frostbite turns the skin pale white, gray or blue. Fur may hide the damage, but you'll notice pets limp from frozen toes, frozen ear tips or tails droop, and the skin will be very cold, hard and nonpliable.

Redness, blisters and serious infection develop days later. If it's really severe, the affected tissue turns leathery and insensitive to sensation. If not removed surgically, those areas fall off. All cases of frostbite need veterinary attention after first aid.

Frostbite First Aid
Pet first aid is similar to first aid for human frostbite. Thaw frozen toes or tails by dunking them in lukewarm water. Thaw frozen ear tips or scrotum with a warm wet towel held against the skin. Don't rub as that makes the damage worse and reduces any chance of recovery.

Tissue that's completely frozen may take up to 20 minutes to thaw. Less deeply-frozen areas turn bright red as they thaw. Apply an antibiotic ointment like Neosporin to the oozing area to help protect against infection, until your veterinarian can treat the pet.

Mild frostbite usually resolves within a week or so. Antibiotics, pain medication, bandages or even surgery to removed damaged or dead tissue may be necessary. It may take several weeks for the damage to completely heal.

What Is Hypothermia?
While frostbite causes discomfort and damage to the extremities, hypothermia happens when overall body temperature falls below normal. In people hypothermia is defined as body temperature lower than 95 degrees, and treatment is vital to survival. When body temperature falls too low in pets, they can die.

Hypothermia First Aid
Mild hypothermia happens if body temperature drops to between 95 to 99 degrees Fahrenheit. Pets act a bit sluggish and lethargic, and you'll see muscle tremors and shivering that serves to rewarm the body. Just bringing the dog or cat inside where it's warm usually allows him to recover.

Moderate hypothermia is more serious when the temperature falls to 91 to 95 degrees. Offer warm chicken broth to heat up the pet from the inside out. Wrap him in a towel or blanket heated in the clothes drier. It takes pets longer to recover from moderate hypothermia, but if he's able to shiver, he should recover.

Severe hypothermia is body temperature 90 degrees or less, and is an emergency -- take your pet to the veterinarian as soon as possible! Pets lose the ability to shiver if their body temperature falls to 90 degrees or below, so that's a warning sign. They may fall unconscious, and rescue breathing may be necessary. Veterinary treatment may include warm intravenous fluids, warm water enemas or airway rewarming using oxygen.

The best protection against people frostbite and hypothermia is to provide shelter from the wet and cold. The same holds true for pets. Bring cats and dogs inside during severe cold. Why not snuggle together, share body heat and protect each other safe from Old Man Winter's dangers?

 


SUMMER HEAT & PET SAFETY

We all love spending the long, sunny days of summer outdoors with our furry companions, but being overeager in hot weather can spell danger, ASPCA experts warn.  

"Most people love to spend the warmer days enjoying the outdoors with friends and family, but it is important to remember that some activities can be dangerous for our pets," said Dr. Camille DeClementi, Senior Toxicologist at the ASPCA's Animal Poison Control Center. "By following a few simple rules, it is easy to keep your pet safe while still having fun in the sun."

Take these simple precautions, provided by ASPCA experts, to help prevent your pet from overheating. And if you suspect your pet is suffering from heat stroke, get help from your veterinarian immediately. 

Visit the Vet 
A visit to the veterinarian for a spring or early summer check-up is a must. Make sure your pets get tested for heartworm if they aren't on year-round preventive medication. Do parasites bug your animal companions? Ask your doctor to recommend a safe flea and tick control program. 

Made in the Shade 
Pets can get dehydrated quickly, so give them plenty of fresh, clean water when it's hot outdoors. Make sure your pets have a shady place to get out of the sun, be careful to not over-exercise them, and keep them indoors when it's extremely hot. 

Know the Warning Signs 
Symptoms of overheating in pets include excessive panting or difficulty breathing, increased heart and respiratory rate, drooling, mild weakness, stupor or even collapse. They can also include seizures, bloody diarrhea and vomit along with an elevated body temperature of over 104 degrees. Animals with flat faces, like Pugs and Persian cats, are more susceptible to heat stroke since they cannot pant as effectively. These pets, along with the elderly, the overweight, and those with heart or lung diseases, should be kept cool in air-conditioned rooms as much as possible. 

No Parking! 
Never leave your animals alone in a parked vehicle. "On a hot day, a parked car can become a furnace in no time-even with the windows open-which could lead to fatal heat stroke," says Dr. Louise Murray, Vice President of ASPCA Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital. Also, leaving pets unattended in cars in extreme weather is illegal in several states. 

Make a Safe Splash 
Do not leave pets unsupervised around a pool-not all dogs are good swimmers. Introduce your pets to water gradually and make sure they wear flotation devices when on boats. Rinse your dog off after swimming to remove chlorine or salt from his fur, and try to keep your dog from drinking pool water, which contains chlorine and other chemicals that could cause stomach upset. 

Screen Test 
"During warmer months, the ASPCA sees an increase in injured animals as a result of High-Rise Syndrome, which occurs when pets-mostly cats-fall out of windows or doors and are seriously or fatally injured," says Dr. Murray. "Pet owners need to know that this is completely preventable if they take simple precautions." Keep all unscreened windows or doors in your home closed and make sure adjustable screens are tightly secured. 

Summer Style 
Feel free to trim longer hair on your dog, but never shave your dog: The layers of dogs' coats protect them from overheating and sunburn. Brushing cats more often than usual can prevent problems caused by excessive heat. And be sure that any sunscreen or insect repellent product you use on your pets is labeled specifically for use on animals.

Street Smarts 
When the temperature is very high, don't let your dog linger on hot asphalt. Being so close the ground, your pooch's body can heat up quickly, and sensitive paw pads can burn. Keep walks during these times to a minimum. 

Avoid Chemicals 
Commonly used flea and tick products, rodenticides (mouse and rat baits), and lawn and garden insecticides can be harmful to cats and dogs if ingested, so keep them out of reach. When walking your dog, steer clear of areas that you suspect have been sprayed with insecticides or other chemicals. Keep citronella candles, oil products and insect coils out of pets' reach as well. Call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 if you suspect your animal has ingested a poisonous substance. 

Party Animals 
Taking Fido to a backyard barbeque or party? Remember that the food and drink offered to guests may be poisonous to pets. Keep alcoholic beverages away from pets, as they can cause intoxication, depression and comas. Similarly, remember that the snacks enjoyed by your human friends should not be a treat for your pet; any change of diet, even for one meal, may give your dog or cat severe digestive ailments. Avoid raisins, grapes, onions, chocolate and products with the sweetener xylitol.

Fireworks Aren't Very Pet-riotic 
Please leave pets at home when you head out to Fourth of July celebrations, and never use fireworks around pets. Exposure to lit fireworks can potentially result in severe burns or trauma to curious pets, and even unused fireworks can be hazardous. Many types of fireworks contain potentially toxic substances such as potassium nitrate, copper, chlorates, arsenic and other heavy metals. 

 

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Information and recommendations are compiled from sources believed to be reliable. The Sheriff’s Office  makes no guarantee as to and assumes no responsibility for the correctness, sufficiency or completeness of such information or recommendations. Other or additional safety measures may be required under particular circumstances.

Last Revised:07/14