Pet Safety: Keeping Your Pet Safe on Halloween

Pet Safety - Keeping your pet safe on HalloweenOctober marks the beginning of fall. This means cool nights, colder temperatures, and who can forget, Halloween! It is a time for our kids to become two legged monsters, ghouls, superheroes, and princesses, to enjoy friends, trick-or-treating and lots of candy. But what about our four legged kids? Loud noises, poisonous foods, and hazardous decorations are just a few reasons to keep an eye on your pet over the holiday. To insure everyone has a “fiendishly” good time here are suggestions for keeping your pet safe on Halloween.

Chocoholics, anyone? Sweets and treats are for the kids not the pets: This is one of the most common traumatic accidents that can happen to your pet on Halloween. Chocolate especially can pose a serious threat to your pets health. Pets who consume chocolate can experience vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst and urination, irregular heartbeat, tremors, seizures and even death. The ingredient that is most harmful to pets is theobromine. If your pet has consumed a large amount of chocolate or any other sweet, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Is your pet an escape artist? Watch them! With trick-or treaters coming and going all night you will probably be opening your front door several times. The constant screaming and/or costumes could possibly induce stress for your pet. Constantly check for your pet each time you open and close your door and be sure that your pet has identification tags should they take off after dracula. Additionally, know your pet’s tolerance for strangers at the door. Even the most familiar faces will be strange to your pet with masks and makeup.

Be considerate of your pet if you dress them up in costumes. According to the American Pet Products Association, pet owners will spend over $200 million this season on holiday costumes for pets, dressing up almost 11.5% of their furry friends. Costumes that limit mobility or visibility for an animal will certainly not make your pet happy. Depending on your dog’s breed and size, delicate costumes with beads and decorations should be closely monitored to make sure pets do not ingest things that they shouldn’t.

Don’t let decorations lead to disasters. Be careful with Jack-O-Lanterns and candles. They can easily be pushed over or burn your pet if left in reach. Also, wires and chords for decorations could be harmful. If chewed, a wire can damage your pet’s mouth from shards of glass or plastic, or deliver a potentially lethal electrical shock. A bit of common sense goes a long way when it comes to pet safety.

Cat owners need to especially watch for wrappers: Cats love to play with a lot of things they shouldn’t; this is no different for candy wrappers. (I catch my cat Noodles playing with wrappers all the time) If a cat ingests aluminum foil or cellophane it can cause intestinal blockage and induce vomiting or worse.

Costumes are cute, but be careful! Let’s face it, everyone loves a cute pet costume but make sure our pet does too! Make sure the costume does not limit their movement, comfort, hearing, sight or ability to breathe, bark or drink. Remember a simple Halloween bandana might be a better idea than dressing your pet from head to tail.

Being responsible with your furry children doesn’t mean they can’t have fun! A great idea is to keep your pets treats handy for when they want to indulge as well. Pet safety is always important, but especially during spooky times like Halloween!

Protecting Your Pet from Rabies and Other Diseases This Fall

Protecting your pet from rabiesFall season is in full swing and we will soon notice cooler temperatures and perfect weather to go outside and be active. Beware that fall not only brings climate change, but a wildlife change as well. Yes, this is the season to watch out for wild animals. It could be too easy for your dog or cat to get close to wildlife and contract a disease like rabies. Many pet owners are not aware of rabies and what it can do to our pets. Below is important information for pet owners about rabies.

What is rabies? Rabies is a disease that can be easily passed in pets, humans, wildlife and even livestock. The disease attacks the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord), and is most commonly transmitted through saliva.

What wildlife animals are known to have rabies? Raccoons, skunks, foxes, bats, jackals, mongooses, feral cats and wild dogs are the most common carriers of rabies.

Will I know when a wild animal has rabies? Sometimes yes and sometimes no. It is very important to remember that wild infected animals may not always show symptoms of rabies like aggressive behavior, confusion, or excessive anxiety. The disease can be asymptomatic.

Can I get rabies? Yes. The disease can be transmitted to humans. Almost every case of rabies has come from a bite by a rabid animal.
Can I vaccinate my pet? Yes. There are several different vaccines for your dog or cat. All pets should be vaccinated between the ages of 12-16 weeks old. If you plan on traveling internationally all rabies free countries and countries with low incidence of rabies require a rabies vaccination.

Rabies isn’t the only disease to watch out for this fall. Many people don’t know that just one bite from a mosquito could transmit heartworm, a serious and often times deadly parasite to your dog or cat. Also, flea and tick populations often increase around this type of year. This season brings all sorts of opportunities for infection, sickness, and disease for which every pet owner should be aware of. If you suspect your pet has been exposed to a disease, do not hesitate to contact your veterinarian right away.

For more information about your pet’s health and traveling with a pet, visit PetTravel.com

Sasha’s Story – Her first glance at the world

Pet Travel Sasha's First TripI found Sasha in a cage at the Humane Society. She was crouched in the far corner of the cage, trembling and very afraid. She looked around nervously at the people walking by, and I can’t imagine what she was thinking. I stopped and sat down by the front of the cage and beckoned her. She focused on me briefly, then her gaze returned to the traffic shuffling by her cage. After a while, when the people were gone, she ventured forward and smelled my hand then retreated to the far corner of the cage. Within an hour, all I got was a lick on the hand.

I spoke to the volunteers about Sasha and they told me that she had been there for a nearly a week. They were working on training her to walk but her fear was causing her not to trust her handler. I brought Sasha home that day and we started to get to know eachother. We spent a lot of time together, but my times away proved to be a disaster. Her separation anxiety caused me to have to crate her which actually turned out to be a very good thing. Happily, she is over that fear now and knows that, when I leave, I will be returning.

I have been working with Sasha for a year now and she has finally given her trust to me. She is a very loyal dog and quite loving but still distrustful of most all people. A few weeks ago, I decided it was time for our first trip together. After introducing her to the car and a few trips to a local dog park, we set off from Florida to North Carolina. Despite the long trip, Sasha did wonderfully in the car and enjoyed the closeness that we had. Rest stops were difficult. New people and places spooked her, but she knew why she was out of the car and afterwards, welcomed the opportunity to hop back in.

After a long day of driving we arrived at our destination in the mountains. Sasha paused at the end of the car looking around in wonder. She finally hopped out and walked around looking at the trees and hills. Then, in a moment, she took off, running up and down hills and through the woods, keeping me in her vision but taking her new environment in. After a few minutes, she came dashing up to me, tail wagging, and jumped in glee. A brand new world never before seen. A dog’s paradise.

After a few minutes, we went in the house to unpack which was another opportunity to explore. After checking out the house, Sasha was out on the deck looking at the world around her with such fascination. Tail always wagging and eyes open wide.

As it was late, a quick sandwich was made and as I sat eating it, I felt a nose push on my leg. It was Sasha looking up at me, eyes full of love and smiling large. She did not break her gaze as she sat down. I knew what she was trying to say; thank you for bringing me here with you. She understood that she was included in this journey and, for that, she was extremely grateful.

We had a wonderful vacation, full of long walks and adventures. Much time was spent on that deck watching fireflies, birds, and leaves blowing in the wind. For me, it was a better time because she was there. Now that we are home, I see that excitment in her eyes everytime we get in the car. Although it will not happen tomorrow, one thing I know for sure; Sasha will travel again.

Pet Travel – Traveling with an Older Dog or Cat

Pet Travel with an older dog or catWhether you are planning a short trip across town or a long trip around the world with your pet, there are certain precautions that need to be taken first, especially if your traveling companion is older. Unlike a puppy or kitten who have an endless supply of energy, older dogs and cats tend to slow down and need extra care and health check-ups. If you are planning to travel with an older pet in the near future, here are some tips to help you along the way.

Talk to your veterinarian about your older pet’s health: Talking to your vet, getting all the proper vaccinations and making sure your pet is fit for travel is not only recommended but required on many major airlines. In some instances, it might be best that your pet stay with a relative or pet sitter.

Acclimate older dogs and cats to crates: Whether you travel by car or by air, your pet will be safer and more comfortable in a crate. This particular part of pet travel may be harder for an older pet than a younger one, so it is crucial to start as soon as possible if your pet is not accustomed to being crated. Older dogs become very territorial of their surroundings. Older cats are accustomed to having their freedom. Both will need time to adjust to the crate. This preparation will significantly reduce travel and separation anxiety.

Feed your pet only lightly 2 hours prior to travel: It takes a dog approximately 3 hours to process food. That means they may need to eliminate starting from 3 hours after you feed them. Better to feed your pet very lightly or not at all. This will also help should your pet have any motion sickness. Remember that if you’re traveling by air, the airline does not let your dog or cat out of the crate under any circumstances. If you are traveling by car, be sure and give your pet time to stretch their legs along the way.

Keep familiar items with your pet during travel: This will help give your pet a sense of familiarity in an unfamiliar place. These specific toys and blankets will help ease the transition once you arrive at your final destination as well.

Older dogs and cats are susceptible to health issues such as joint and bone problems, metabolism reduction, and liver and kidney dysfunctions. These health conditions could make traveling with your pet risky. It is important to be familiar with your pet’s condition before you travel. If your pet is healthy, your trip together will be well worth the effort you take to prepare.

Pet Travel: Traveling with a pet in a pickup truck

Pet Travel with a pet in a pickup truckMost of us will see it time to time; a dog traveling unrestrained in the back of a pickup truck. At first glance, the pooch looks like they are having the time of their life, but who’s looking after their safety? The dog’s owner? It is estimated that at least 100,000 dogs die this way each year. Most of us don’t even think about the danger a dog (or any pet) faces when traveling unrestrained in a pickup truck (or any car where the pet can roam freely). Here are some myths and facts about traveling in a pickup with your pet.

I’m only traveling a short distance and I live in the country. It’s not necessary to restrain my dog in the truck.

FALSE Did you know the majority of car accidents happen within 5 mile radius of your home? Even the mildest fender bender can end with tragedy if your pet isn’t properly restrained. No matter how long or short your travel will be, secure your pet correctly.

I tied my dog’s leash to the inside of the truck bed. He won’t be going anywhere.

FALSE Improper tethering is one of the biggest misunderstandings in regards to auto travel. There are two major problems that deal with tethering. First, if the tethered leash is too long you are actually increasing the danger for your pet. They risk the chance of falling out of the bed and being strangled. Second, most tethering systems work from the dog’s collar. If an accident should happen, all of the impact pressure would direct at the pets throat. The Humane Society of the United States knows of no brand of harness that has been proven safe for truck transportation. Tethering isn’t the safest way for your pet to travel.

The safest way to travel with my pet in the bed of my truck is with an appropriately sized dog crate fastened behind the rear window of the truck.

FACT This is the safest method of transportation for your pet. If an accident should occur you significantly reduce the chance of injury for your pet. Make sure that the crate is fastened in the truck bed. A bed topper would be a great option to protect your pooch from the wind and other weather conditions.
Remember, letting your dog ride unsecured in the back of a pickup truck is not only unsafe and potentially deadly for dogs, it’s illegal in some states. Most states that don’t yet have legislation in place to protect dogs from this dangerous practice, are working on it. Regardless of the law, responsible pet owners have a moral duty to ensure the health and safety of their companion animals, especially when it comes to road safety.

Microchips for Dogs & Cats: Why should you microchip your pet?

Microchips for Dogs CatsWhy do we love our pets? It could be because their love and loyalty is so unconditional. Whether we have had a good day or bad, they are always there offering support. In return, they trust in us to provide for them.

Microchips for Dogs & Cats: Why should you microchip your pet?

Obviously, pets need to be fed, exercised and directed. They also need to be identified should they become separated from you. An open door, a hole under a fence, a simple distraction is all it can take for your pet to wander. As many as 80% of unidentifiable pets are never reunited with their owners should they get lost.

Throughout the month of September, the American Kennel Club celebrates AKC Responsible Dog Owners. Responsible dog ownership includes micro chipping your pet and keeping up to date on registration information. Below is a description of how the pet microchip process works.

Micro Chipping your Pet

A pet microchip is the most permanent form of pet identification available today. About the size of a grain of rice, it is inserted painlessly by your veterinarian between your pet’s shoulder blades. There are several different types of microchips on the market in the United States. The 15 digit ISO pet microchip is the world standard. Many countries require this type of pet microchip for entry. Even if you don’t plan to travel with your pet, animal control agencies in cities and towns all over the United States have microchip scanners that can read an ISO microchip, and that is the first thing they will do when capturing a lost pet.

Register Your Pet!

After micro chipping your pet, the next step is registration. All manufacturers have their own database with owner contact information associated with every microchip number. Some manufacturers charge pet owners for registering, but some don’t. Datamars is a manufacturer of the ISO pet microchip. Their database can be accessed at PetLink.net and provide pet owners with free registration and unlimited changes to their contact information.

Pet Identification

The concept of pet identification is quite simple but often misunderstood. It is the pet owner’s responsibility to be sure that their pet can be identified if they get lost. You must stay current on microchip registration information. If you plan to more or switch phone numbers, update your pet’s registration information.

Other Helpful Tips

• Keep rabies tags on your pet
• Keep a collar ID tag on your pet with your current address and phone number
• Keep the pet microchip manufacturer’s tag on your pet if they have one
• Always keep a picture of your pet handy (better yet, one of you and your pet) in the case that identification is necessary.

Pet identification is a simple thing. Ask your veterinarian about inserting a pet microchip. Additionally, don’t forget to register! If you microchip your pet, it could mean the difference between finding your pet or not.

Microchips for Dogs | Microchips for Cats

Dog Safety: Labor Day Dangers for your Dog

Dog safety - Labor Day dangers for your dogLabor Day is almost here and what better way to spend your last summer party than with your pooch? Good food, friends and fun are all essential for Labor Day celebrations, but is your dog prepared for the festivities? Here is a list of dangers for your dog to avoid this Labor Day to ensure he/she stays healthy and happy all weekend long.

Heat stroke – Hydration is crucial for dogs. Did you know a dog can overheat in just a matter of minutes? If your dog has a heavy coat they are more susceptible to heat stroke. Consistently monitor body temperature and be able to notice anything unordinary. Symptoms of heat stroke are panting heavily, a rapid pulse, glazed eyes, a deep red or purple tongue, vomiting, sticky, thick saliva, lethargy, or any unsteadiness or staggering. Heat exhaustion, stress, or stroke is extremely serious and can be fatal. Remember; NEVER leave your pet alone in the car even for a few minutes. This is the most common cause of heat stroke.

Paw burns – Have you ever walked on a scorching patio or beach without sandals? Imagine how your pooch feels this Labor Day when your porch is so hot you could cook an egg on it. Make sure there is a shady place near the party for your dog to hang out. Also, be careful while grilling. A hot grill plus a curious dog can lead to disaster. We recommend putting your pooch inside when the grill is on but if you insist, watch them closely. If you see him get burned or signs that he did (limping, licking his paws, cracked or blistering skin or pads), apply a cold, wet compress, clean the area with pet-safe ointment or aloe vera, and wrap with gauze.

Dogs get sunburned too! – Contrary to popular belief, your dog can get sunburned and needs protection. Hairless, light skinned, light colored, shaved, or pink-nosed pups are especially in danger of being burned. We recommend doing one of two things for pet sun protection. Pick up a non-toxic, fragrance free doggie sunscreen like Vet’s Best Sun Relief spray or another option is baby sunscreen. A lotion works best with heavy coated dogs since you can rub it through the coat to the skin. Essential areas are the ears, bridge of the nose, nose, and the underside of his body.

Swimming time – If your dog loves to swim, this section is for you. Most of us love to enjoy the water during Labor Day weekend, and your pooch probably does too. If they aren’t a good swimmer, a doggie life preserver would be a good idea. Never leave a dog unattended when swimming. Also, don’t let them drink pool or ocean water. Pool water contains chlorine and the ocean contains salt, both of which can be harmful and dehydrate your pet. Make sure you has fresh water available at all times.

Human foods are not for pets – Who doesn’t like barbequed food? But it’s not for dogs, and you must resist the urge to give them a treat from the grill. If you’re having a big Labor Day party, you might want to consider putting up a sign for your guests that says please do not feed the pets. Some foods are toxic to dogs like onions, grapes, mushrooms, avocados, lunch meat, and more. Plus, dogs have very sensitive tummies. Even the smallest amount of food can upset their stomach and cause diarrhea or vomiting.

Traveling by car – Many of us travel to friends or family by car during Labor Day weekend. If you plan to bring your pooch in the car you might want to consider a few things. If your dog has never traveled by car before, get them accustomed prior to travel. Making them feel comfortable will significantly reduce car sickness. Also, a pet restraint is always recommended. This will help keep the pet from being a distraction to the driver as well as keep them safe.

The long Labor Day weekend is meant to be enjoyed by both humans and pets. Be prepared, keep your pet safe, and don’t let one of these dangers for your pet put a damper on your festivities.

Airline Pet Travel: Clearing Airport Checkpoint Security

Airline pet travel - clearing airport securityIt’s everyone’s favorite part of airline travel – the security checkpoint. The crowded lines, removing articles of clothing, and emptying your purse and pocket contents into a box are all reasons why these checkpoints can be a hassle. Now imagine having to do all these things while traveling with a pet. Overwhelming? It can be. With a little preparation and the proper equipment, your next experience with airport security will be a breeze. Here are some helpful tips next time you enter a security checkpoint with your pet.

Pack Light and dress accordingly. You will want to be able to minimize the amount of tasks you will have to perform to clear security. Packing a laptop in a briefcase and a pet in a carrier while dressed in sneakers will make your experience at airport security a difficult one. You will have to remove both the laptop from the briefcase and untie and remove your sneakers before even dealing with your pet. Leave the heavy jewelry and change at home or pack them in checked luggage.

Know your airline’s pet policies! Please be aware that all pet policies are unique to each airline. Knowing your airline’s pet policy can only help during the security process. Find a list of airline pet policies.

Your pet carrier must be airline compliant* and will be X-Rayed. During the security process, your pet’s carrier will be X-Rayed. This is completely normal. Put all of your dog’s accessories into a clear plastic bag inside of your carrier. This will help prevent delays and holdups while scanning your bag. Try to avoid carrying any liquids or gels for your pet. The same restrictions for lotions and gels that apply to you also apply to your pet. (3.4 ounce containers in a one quart plastic bag)

Your pet will be screened by the metal detector. After you place your bag into the X-Ray machine, you will then proceed into the metal detector with your pet in your arms. It is important to remember that your pet might be distracted or distressed by all the people, noise and commotion. We recommend keeping your pet leashed during the time it is out of the pet carrier. This way, if the pet succeeds to wriggle out of your grip, you will able to restrain them from running. Additionally, having a small treat in your pocket may help in getting your pet back into the carrier quickly.

Allow extra time to check in and clear airport security. Delta, Continental and American Airlines will not compensate you for missing a flight as a result of airport security holdups. US Airways will reschedule travelers who have been held up at security only for passengers that arrived more than 2 hours prior to flight time at no extra cost.

Using a little common sense as well as being organized will go a long way to make traveling with your pet safe and fun for you both.

*Airline compliant pet carriers must have a waterproof bottom, adequate ventilation, secure fasteners, and must fit in the space under the seat in front of you. Your pet must be able to stand up and turn around in the carrier.

Senators Request Change in Reporting Airline Pet Cargo Incidents

Pet Travel: Airline Pet Cargo Incident Reporting

Airline pet cargo - reporting pet incidents by airlinesIt appears that the deaths of seven puppies in the cargo hold of an American Airlines jet earlier this month has incited a request from 3 senators, Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) and Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.), to clarify the word “animal” in congressional statutes when it comes to reporting pet incidents by airlines. In a letter to Ray LaHood, Secretary of the US Department of Transportation, the Senators state that it was the original intent of the statute to include commercially bred and show dogs as being included as an animal that was to be reported should a death or injury occur in transport, not just an animal that was kept as a pet. Not reporting incidents involving breeder puppies and show dogs would unrealistically skew airline safety records, making it harder for people to make informed decisions about airline cargo travel.

Although the deaths reported by the airlines monthly are single digit, we must point out that the Department of Transportation estimates that over 2 million pets and live animals are shipped each year. The numbers most commonly reported are cumulative (they are not stated as such, I might add). Losing an animal is bad press for an airline, and there are many airlines that treat their furry travelers as very special pet cargo. Read the Air Travel Consumer Report, select a month, and scroll down to the last report for the Animal Incident Report.

Certainly, reporting incidents regarding ALL animals under the responsibility of the airline will encourage even more empasis on safety on the part of the airlines.

Like to discuss? Respond here or join our forum community.

UPDATE: July, 2014 Starting in January, 2015, the Department of Transportation will expand the number of airlines that are required to report incidents involving pets. They will also require more information from the airlines including the number of pets they transport. This information will give pet owners a better picture of an airline’s record when it comes to transporting pets. Good news for traveling pets. Stay tuned for updates…

Dog Park Safety – How to Prepare Your Dog and Avoid Conflicts at a Dog Park

Dog park outings can become unpleasant at times. Know your dog's social limits before exposing your dog to other dogsEarlier this month a Siberian husky named Bear-Bear was roaming in his neighborhood dog park when he approached a leashed German Shepherd. The Shepherd was owned by an off-duty police officer. The dogs play began to play rough and the federal officer asked Bear-Bear’s guardian, his owner’s brother, to call off the dog. But before he could do anything, the officer pulled out a gun and shot Bear-Bear.

This tragic scenario might have been prevented. It is important for dog owners to be educated in proper dog park etiquette and safety. With a little training for yourself and your dog, dangerous situations can be avoided. In an article by Trish King, the Director of Behavior and Training at the Marin Humane Society, wrote, “Dog parks are like going to a party where everyone is drunk. It could be fun, or it could be a disaster.”

Here is a list of recommendations for preparing your dog to visit a neighborhood dog park.

Before Going to the Dog Park

Is your dog sociable? Does your dog behave well with other dogs and people? These are important questions to ask yourself before your visit to the dog park. The earlier you socialize the dogs, the better. If your dog has not been exposed to other dogs, then you may want to consider some socialization prior to going to the dog park. Walk your dog around your neighborhood and meet the other dogs in the area. This is a good way to see how your dog reacts to other dogs.

Vaccinations and shots for your dog must be up to date. Most dog parks require this, but it is also for your dog’s best interest. This will help prevent diseases and parasites. Also, flea medication is a must, or plan to flea bathe your pet after your visit. You certainly don’t want to bring home any unwanted guests!

Be sure your dog is trained in the basic commands. Commands like sit, stay, and come are crucial at the dog park. If an altercation occurs, your dog will be more likely to respond to you and abondon an altercation.

Familiarize yourself to your dog’s play habits. Be able to differentiate when your dog is playing or getting aggressive. Know when to remove your dog if play gets out of hand.

At the Dog Park

Before entering, observe the environment. If the park is over-crowded, or some dogs are not playing in a suitable manner for your dog, do not enter.

Watch for toys. Some dogs are very possessive of toys. This type of behavior could easily lead to a skirmish at the dog park.

No food or treats at the dog park. Have you ever heard the saying “food fight”? This could be taken literally when dogs are concerned. Food is one thing that a dog will fight to protect.

Supervision is key. Don’t be the naive dog owner who thinks nothing can happen at the dog park. While you’re both there to have fun, your dog relies on you to keep them safe.

If a Fight Breaks Out

Remove your dog from the situation. If you notice a situation get out of hand, remove your dog before a fight can begin. This is when a strong “come” command is essential.

Resolve the situation with the other dog’s owner. Be proactive! Never reach for a dog’s collar, even your own. Always keep your hands away from their heads.

Knowing all about your dog’s personality is the key to a successful outing to the park. Also, being aware of what is happening will help with staying ahead of any potential conflicts and insuring a pleasant experience for both you and your dog.

Discuss your concerns about taking your pet to a dog park at our forum.