Pet Safety on the Fourth of July

Happy Birthday USA!  This year, for the first time, you will be able to celebrate our country’s 239th in Georgia with fireworks, legally.  Who doesn’t love fireworks?  fireworks21

Your pets.  More pets are lost over the 4th of July holiday than at any time of the year.  Pets get spooked by the loud noise and run off.  Even if they are kept in a fenced in area, they get agitated enough, they will find any way they can to escape.

I have posted a lot each year about keeping your pets away from fireworks displays, whether it’s a big, formal fireworks show in your town or just shooting off firecrackers and things in the neighborhood.  With fireworks sales being legal now in Georgia since Wednesday, I thought I may need to do it again.

Not all dogs are affected by fireworks.  If your dog gets scared during thunderstorms, there’s a good chance it will get spooked by fireworks.  Make sure you keep your dog in an inside part of your house.  That way it’s harder to get out and it’s harder to hear the fireworks as well.  Also play some relaxing music if possible.  That’s another way to try and drown out the sound of the blasts.  Don’t leave the TV on a regular channel.  Put it on a soothing music channel.  It’s also a good idea to exercise your dog during the day, so it will be tired and ready to sleep.

Nearly all pets have a safe area in their homes.  That’s a place they go when they are scared.  It could be a closet, a corner, a bed or under the bed.  If you know where your pet’s safe place, great.  If not, test your smoke alarm and see where the pet goes.  This is good to know, because if there is a fire or something in your house, you won’t have to waste time looking for the dog, you can go to the safe area and get it.

It’s great to celebrate America’s birthday with family and friends.  Pet owners love to have their pets with them and usually that is part of the fun.  But this is one time where it may be best to leave the pets behind.  Keep them where they are safe and comfortable and won’t be spooked and can’t run off.  Nothing spoils a celebration like having to look for a lost pet.

Fetch! Pet Care provides pet sitting, dog walking and cat care services for Roswell, East Cobb, Marietta and Woodstock, GA.  You can see the happy pets by checking out our Instagram page at http://instagram.com/fetchnwatlanta/.

Heat Safety Awareness Day

    Regardless of your opinion of weather forecasters, the National Weather Service got this one right.  The day that could be the hottest day of 2014 is Heat Safety Awareness Day.   You can follow that link to a lot of great information about heat, how it affects you, and what advisories and warnings the NWS issues.  Memorial Day is the unofficial beginning of summer, too.  ImageYou probably have outdoor plans for the holiday weekend.  If you are including your pets in those plans, I have some suggestions to keep the weekend enjoyable for everyone.  

     It’s important for you to take care of yourself on a hot day because if you begin to succumb to heat when you are walking your dog, you are putting your dog in jeopardy.  Many of these things involve common sense.  You shouldn’t take your dog on extended walks during the hottest times of the day.  Not only can the sun get to them, but the hot asphalt can damage their paws.  Try and stay on grass or concrete sidewalks.  Of course, grass can be dangerous if it’s been treated with fertilizer or pesticide.   If you are lucky enough to have a shady trail available to you, great. Image You shouldn’t be running during the hottest part of the day, but you want to run then, don’t take the dog.  I’m sure you know that dogs cool off by panting because they don’t sweat.  When they are breathing hard because they’re tired, it’s even harder for them to cool off.  Other than that your dog is pretty much like you and it needs a lot of water.  Portable bowls are available that can fold up in your pocket or attach to your belt.  You can share a bottle of water this way. 

      I hope I don’t have to tell you not to leave your pet in the car, Imagebut I took this picture in early September last year, on a very warm day.  The NWS has some great information about how quickly temperatures can rise in a parked car.  You can’t do it, even for a short time.  Another important thing to realize is that breeds with pug faces, bulldogs, pugs, etc. are even more susceptible for heatstroke and even in moderate temperatures.

     Okay, you’re following directions; you’ve moved the long walks to the cooler times of day, you’re getting your dog plenty of water, but being out in hot temperatures is unavoidable.  How will you know if it’s getting heatstroke?  The most obvious symptom is uncontrollable panting.  It may also start to foam at the mouth, become agitated or lethargic and even vomit.  First Aid for heatstroke in your pet is to reduce its body temperature.  Typically the first thing you do when performing first aid on a dog is to muzzle it, so it won’t bite you.  However, when a dog is muzzled, he can’t pant, so only use that as a last resort.  Ideally you want to give it cool water to drink, spray it with a hose, and get it in a wading pool or something. Image You don’t want the water to be too cold, because it could shock the system.  You can also wrap it in a cool, wet sheet or towel.  You should get it to your vet as soon as possible. 

     This doesn’t have anything to do with the temperature, but dogs can get sunburned.  White skinned dogs or dogs with thinning hair are most susceptible to sunburn.  Keep these dogs under cover.   

      One of the great things about owning a dog is being outside with it in the nice weather.  Just be aware of the conditions, use common sense and keep a close eye on your pet and you won’t have your afternoon ruined by an emergency trip to the vet. 

           Fetch! Pet Care provides pet sitting, dog walking and cat care services for Roswell, East Cobb, Marietta and Woodstock, GA.  You can see the happy pets by following us on Pinterest at http://pinterest.com/fetchnwatlanta/  

Preventing Pet Poisonings

    Now that all the green beer has been consumed and the green shirt you wear once a year has been restored in the mothballs, we can get down to the serious event of the week.  ImagePoison prevention week.  Pet owners may be surprised of all the items that are toxic to pets that are lying around the home.  You don’t have to throw everything away, or spend all day reading all the labels on everything you buy.  There is plenty of good information out there to make your home safe for your pets and maybe even the rest of your family. 

    I found this blog from the Oregonian in Portland, Oregon that has a list of many of the items that are dangerous to pets.  You may not even be aware that some of the most toxic items can be your houseplants.  I have a client that has a cat and dog, and when I’d go over there to walk the dog, I could tell the cat had eaten some of the leaves on plants and had gotten sick.  Lilies are especially dangerous.  Here’s a list of plants that are harmful to pets if ingested.

     There are many dangerous things in the kitchen too.  Dog owners know what spots on the counter are not safe from their dogs.  It’s harder to keep things away from cats because they can get almost anywhere.  That’s why it’s important to know what is dangerous and to keep it in the pantry or a cabinet and that those doors are kept closed.  If you smoke, it’s important to empty your ashtrays.  You don’t want to leave cigarettes lying around either.  Second hand smoke is toxic to pets just as it is to humans, so you may want to do your smoking in a place where your pets can’t go. 

    The Pet Poison Helpline has a great website with a lot of wonderful information about making your home a safe environment for your family and your pets.  If your pet does ingest something that you are afraid could be dangerous to it, they have a number to call for help.  There is a $39 fee for this, but it includes follow up calls.  You may want to put the number in your phone: 800-213-6680.  It is monitored 24/7.

    As you do your spring cleaning, keep some of these tips in mind and you may find some things that can be easily fixed.  Hopefully you’ll never need to call the hotline.  This is another instance that preparation can prevent a problem or at least make it less likely to happen. 

           Fetch! Pet Care provides pet sitting, dog walking and cat care services for Roswell, East Cobb, Marietta and Woodstock, GA.  You can see the happy pets by following us on Pinterest at http://pinterest.com/fetchnwatlanta/  

Fireworks Spook Base Running Dog

   I hate to say I told you so, but I told you so.  I doubt very seriously that anyone from the Durham Bulls baseball team has ever read my blog, but maybe they should have.  I posted a story last month about how many dogs get spooked by fireworks and run off around the 4th of July.  Many of these dogs never make it back home and wind up in shelters or worse. Image

     Today I came across this story about Deuce, a 1 year-old border collie that runs the bases during Bulls games along with his brother Ace.  After the game, the dog’s owner, Gene Lonsway, was putting the dogs in his van when the fireworks show started.  Ace was in the van okay, but Deuce was spooked and ran off.  As of Tuesday morning he still hadn’t been found.  Lonsway says he hopes Deuce ran into one of the nearby neighborhoods and was picked up by a family.  The story has gotten a lot of attention in the Durham area, so hopefully it will have a happy ending.  I’ll keep you posted.  Please be careful if you’re using fireworks around your pets.  You never know how it will act when it is exposed to a new situation, especially if it’s stressful.  Lonsway is apparently an experienced dog trainer who has been providing dogs for the Bulls for several years, so it can happen to anyone.  Here’s a link to Deuce and Ace in action.

   Fetch! Pet Care provides pet sitting, dog walking and cat care services for Roswell, East Cobb, Marietta and Woodstock, GA.  You can see the happy pets by following us on Pinterest at http://pinterest.com/fetchnwatlanta/  

National Pet Fire Safety Day

    Today (July 15) is National Pet Fire Safety Day.  The American Kennel Club started the day 3 years ago to spread awareness about how pets can start fires and how to prevent them.  Pets can also be victims of fires they didn’t start and preparation can help firefighters to save them.  The National Fire Protection Association estimates that 500,000 pets are affected annually by home fires each year.  Nearly 1000 house fires are accidentally started by pets inside the home.

      The AKC website has some tips to try and reduce the risk of your pet starting a house fire.  Most of them are pretty obvious and the first is to not have your pet unsupervised around an open flame.  ImageOne other thing today does is to increase the awareness of the importance to have cling signs at the entrance ways to your home letting fire fighters know how many pets are in your home.  It’s best if you can put how many of each type, like 3 cats and 1 dog.  If you don’t have these on your home already, they are available at most pet stores.  Two links in the AKC article on Pet Fire Safety Day that said you could get free signs from the National Volunteer Fire Council and ADT did not provide that info.  If you are served by a volunteer fire department the signs may be available at your local firehouse, but you may want to call them in advance.

      You also want to know where your pet’s safe haven in your house is.  This is where your pet goes when it’s scared.  If you don’t know, or want to double check, test your smoke alarm and watch where it goes.  If you can put this on the cling sign, it gives the rescue workers a place to go and they won’t waste time looking for your pets.  These seconds could make a difference in them being able to save your pets. 

       Fetch! Pet Care provides pet sitting, dog walking and cat care services for Roswell, East Cobb, Marietta and Woodstock, GA.  You can see the happy pets by following us on Pinterest at http://pinterest.com/fetchnwatlanta/  

 

Pet First Aid Awareness Month

    The American Red Cross has designated April as Pet First Aid Awareness Week.  Would you know what to do if your dog is injured on a walk, or you find your cat has eaten something it shouldn’t have and has gotten sick?  Most pet owners have our vet numbers in our phone, but what if your vet office is closed or you are out of town with your pet?  I became certified in Pet First Aid and CPR Imageshortly after I opened my Fetch! Pet Care franchise.   I’ve already written a blog post  about what you need in your pet first aid kit.  You should also know the emergency vet clinic closest to you.  In my territory there are 3 emergency vet locations, in Cobb County and Cherokee County as well as in RoswellGeorgia Veterinary Specialists is in Sandy Springs off of Abernathy Rd.  Many in-home problems with pets have to do with poisoning, so you should also have a poisoning control number handy as well. 

     The American Red Cross offers pet first aid classes, although I couldn’t find any scheduled anytime soon in the Atlanta office. Image Pet tech is a company that also holds classes and you can find classes that are being offered on their website.  The classes are usually about 4 to 5 hours and the certification lasts for 2 years.  Most of my sitters have taken the class as well.  

    Another important item in being prepared to take care of your pets is to put Imagestickers on your doors to notify emergency workers how many pets are in the house.  The ASPCA will send you these stickers as well as a magnet with their poison control number on it. You can find where your pet’s secret hideout is by watching where it goes when you test your smoke alarms.  Each time you test it, check to make sure it’s going to the same place.  This is where you can go to rescue it if the need ever arises. Also you could tell emergency workers this in case of fire or something where you couldn’t get them yourselves. 

 Fetch! Pet Care of NW Atlanta provides pet sitting, dog walking and cat care services for Roswell, East Cobb, Woodstock and Kennesaw, GA.  You can see the happy pets by following us on Pinterest at http://pinterest.com/fetchnwatlanta/

The Dog Days of Summer (and how to keep your dog cool)

Why are these hot days called the dog days of summer?  Your dog seems to not want to spend very much time outside because it’s so hot.  This time of year gets its name because this is the time of year that Sirius, the dog star and the brightest star in our sky beside the sun, is visible in the Northern Hemisphere.  Sirius is in the constellation Canis Major, one of the hunting dogs for Orion.  Orion, the hunter, has the well known three-star belt that is so visible.  Sirius is visible below Orion in the pre-dawn hours right now.Image

Whatever the reason, it’s no doubt hot outside and it’s not very comfortable for your dogs.  Be sure to limit their time outside, and try and walk them on dirt or grass instead of the asphalt.  One thing you can do to cool down your dog before you take them out is to run water over them.  You can use water from a hose, or if you don’t have a hose, a squirt bottle with water in it can be used to spray off their underside.  This is a very effective way of cooling down the animal.  The water doesn’t have to be very cold either.  This works well after the walk and it’s not as messy when you let them back in the house.  Get them to rise up on their back legs and you can give them a couple of sprays of water.  Some of you may use a squirt bottle for discipline with your dog, so you may need to find another way to wet it down without confusing it.

Fetch! Pet Care of NW Atlanta provides pet sitting, dog walking and cat care services for Roswell, East Cobb, Woodstock and Kennesaw, GA.  You can follow us on Pinterest at http://pinterest.com/fetchnwatlanta/

Pets and Fireworks

Most of us love a fireworks show.  Few things are as American as a fireworks display.

But there may be someone in your home who doesn’t like the fireworks.  Many dogs and cats get scared by the bangs.  The bright flashes and loud bangs, also associated with thunderstorms, are terrifying to some pets and can cause anxiety, stress and even escape. Normally calm pets may become distressed, destructive and even bite in an attempt to get away from the noises.  While running, they are at risk for being hit by a car, becoming lost or encountering another animal that might be aggressive.  If your pet doesn’t like thunderstorms, don’t take it to the fireworks show, even if the rules permit pets.

Even if you stay home with your pets during the next few days, there could be people in your neighborhood setting off fireworks and even that can scare your dog.  One of our sitters was staying with a dog over Memorial Day and one of the neighbors was setting off some firecrackers.  The dog gets scared during storms and was spooked by the bangs.  If you see your pet is afraid, make sure to calm and reassure them.  If you leave your pets at home when you enjoy the fireworks show or go to a party and you think your pet could get scared of the noise, leave some music on.

Fireworks aren’t the only problem that pets, especially dogs, have to deal with during the summer.  I hope all of you know better than to leave your dog in a car.  Try and walk the dog in grass as much as possible.  Another Fetch! franchise posted this picture on their page today. 

The summer months are flea and tick season.  If you take your dog for walks in the woods, make sure you check it for ticks, especially dogs with long hair like golden retrievers.

If you find your pet disoriented, panting excessively or collapsed in the yard, move him immediately to a cooler environment. Use cool wet towels over his back, armpits and groin to help bring his temperature down. Fans are often helpful too. DO NOT USE ICE! Then, get him to your veterinarian immediately so that they can assess his status and begin life saving treatments.

July 4th celebrations  and summer evenings are supposed to be fun.  By taking some basic preparations, you won’t have your fun spoiled by a pet emergency.  Happy 4th everyone!

Fetch! Pet Care of NW Atlanta provides pet sitting, dog walking and cat care services for Roswell, East Cobb, Woodstock and Kennesaw, GA.  You can follow us on Pinterest at http://pinterest.com/fetchnwatlanta/

Keeping Your Pets Safe

June is National Home Safety month, and as you take steps to make your house safer, it’s important to include your pets in your plan as well.   The first and most basic thing is a window sticker to let firefighters know how many pets are in the house.  ImageSeveral of my clients have these posted.  They should be on every possible entry to the house.  Another thing to do is to find where your pet’s safe haven is.  You may already know it, but if you are not sure, set off your smoke detectors.  Watch to see which room they run to.  If it’s a closet or if there is a bed or something they hide under.  This could be written on the sticker or it’s just important for you to know if you are home when disaster strikes and you don’t want to waste time getting out of the house looking for your pets.  It’s understandable you want to save your pets, but you could be endangering your life or others in your family by staying in a house during a dangerous situation. 

     Hopefully you also have a severe weather plan for your family and your pets.  You can go here to find the things you need to do when your area is under a tornado warning.  To keep your pets safe, you need to have their crates handy and put them in the crates during the warning period.  This way the crate will protect them if there is damage to your house, they can’t run away if there is damage in your house, and if you need to leave, they are already packed up.  Obviously if you have a lot of pets or several big crates this could be problematic.  Ideally you have a basement for your storm shelter and they crates can stay there. 

      If your pet appears to have a thunderstorm phobia, ask your vet what to do.  I have several clients who deal with this in different ways.  Here’s an article about it.  Everyone has dozens of pictures of their pets on their phones, but you need to have some recent pictures printed out.  This can help you identify a pet that may be lost during a storm.  If there will be long periods without power in the aftermath of the storm, you may need to save your phone power.  These pictures should be kept in a safe place with your other important papers. 

    Hopefully you’ll never be in a situation when your house is damaged during a storm.  Take the time now to get a plan ready for your family and your pets so you will be prepared if something does happen.  It’s not a bad idea to do a drill either.  In many places the National Weather Service do drills once a month, so that may be a good time for you to do a dress rehearsal for your plan. 

     Fetch! Pet Care of NW Atlanta provides pet sitting, dog walking and cat care services for Roswell, East Cobb, Woodstock and Kennesaw, GA.  You can follow us on Pinterest at http://pinterest.com/fetchnwatlanta/

Caution around strange dogs

One of the most viewed stories on YouTube and the internet this weekend has been the story of the Denver news anchor who was bitten in the face by a dog on her show Wednesday morning.  This serves as a way to remind us not to put our face in the face of a dog, especially a dog they don’t know well.

Kyle Dyer, the KUSA-TV anchor was doing something we all do when loving on a dog, putting our face in front of the dog and talking “doggie talk” to them.   A few months ago I was visiting with Xalina Labarge, a dog trainer and co-owner of Dog School 101 in Marietta.  One of their clients brought in a dog and I asked for permission to pet it, the owner said sure, so I bent over and started petting the dog.  The dog was about 40 pounds or so and very friendly and I didn’t feel threatened at all.  The dog seemed to enjoy my affection.  After they left, Xalina told me that I should never put my face near the face of a dog that I don’t know.  This could possibly trigger a stress response in a dog, which may cause a dog to bite.  Most bites are due to a stress response based on fear, unfamiliarity, or even a pain reflex.  It’s best to extend out your hand, and allow a dog to come to you first for meet and greet.  I thought about how many times I have done that.  How many times have we even dropped to a knee to pet a dog?  Dyer learned the hard way not to get in a strange dog’s face.   Now before you call me a hypocrite for the picture I have on the blog, this was a dog I was familiar with at the dog’s home.

Many TV stations frequently have pets in the studio, usually they are brought in by someone from a humane society or adoption agency and they maintain control over the animal.  I’ve spent many years around TV studios and regardless of how nice and homey they may look on TV, it’s not the best environment for a pet.  It’s very bright because of the lights, it’s usually very cold because of the lights and there are a lot of things going on off-camera.  The reason Max, an 85 pound Argentine Mastiff, was on the show was that he was rescued from icy waters the day before and the rescue was a big story.  KUSA wanted to show that Max was fine.  Max’s owner released a statement after the incident stating that they were sorry Dyer was injured and wish a quick recovery for her.  They agreed to do the interview at the station’s request to thank the rescue workers.  Sunday night Max was serving a 10 day quarantine, at the end of which his fate will be determined.  KUSA is reporting it is doubtful Max will be put down when it ends.  Dyer was released from the hospital on Thursday after undergoing plastic surgery on her face.  It’s not known when she will be able to return to the air.