Did you know that the 4th of July weekend is the #1 weekend for lost pets taken to shelters in Springfield, MO and nationwide? Does your dog or cat have a noise phobia and become fearful, anxious, or stressed to loud noises such as thunderstorms, fireworks, etc? Are you making their anxiety worse or better? Here are some tips to try and create a more “Fear Free” holiday for everyone to enjoy:
- Remove your fearful pet from the environment if possible. It may be less stressful to take your pet to a friend or family member’s house that is away from the fireworks and noise. If that is not possible, check with your veterinarian or boarding facility to see if they have room to lodge your pet for the night or weekend.
- Create a sound-proof room or safe haven for your pets. Keep your pet in the interior most room in the home with no doors or windows to the exterior of the home. Basements make a great retreat as they are usually darker, well-insulated, and lack exterior doors or windows preventing a possible escape attempt which could lead to injury. If your pet is crate-trained, then place them in the crate with their favorite toy or blanket for reassurance. Then cover the crate with a thick towel or blanket to darken the environment and to also help buffer loud noises. Your pet will hopefully feel safe in this comfortable environment.
- Provide a musical distraction using sound therapy. Playing the radio or keeping the TV on can help muffle the sounds to outside fears and stressors. http://throughadogsear.com/ is a website that has an assortment of calming music for a variety of anxieties such as fireworks, thunderstorms, car rides, etc.
- Swaddle their fear away. Similar to swaddling infants, a thunder shirt ( www.thundershirt.com ) applies a gentle, constant pressure to help relieve stress and anxiety. It is a drug-free way to safely, effectively, and inexpensively calm your pet.
- Nutraceuticals to calm the fear away. Products that contain L-Theanine, L-tryptophan, and/or melatonin have been shown to provide a calming effect to pets. It’s better to start these products 1-2 weeks beforehand as these sometimes take time in order to reach therapeutic levels.
- Aromatherapy. Lavender and Chamomile can provide a calming effect when diffused into the room, but it is important to remember to never apply any essential oils topically to your pet without first consulting your veterinarian as some can be toxic to your pet. Feliway (www.feliway.com) and Adaptil (www.adaptil.com) are pheromones used to naturally reduce stress and anxiety in your pet and can be used for a variety of stressors. They are available in diffusers, sprays, and collars and have worked wonders for many of our patients with mild anxieties. These work best when paired with behavioral modification techniques and given for a longer period of time.
- Anxiolytics and other behavioral modification drugs. Sometimes, no matter what you do, it simply is not enough to help relieve fear, stress, and anxiety in our furry companions and that’s when you need to talk to your veterinarian about prescribing a medication to prevent the situation from escalating out of control. There are many short-acting medications that can be used such as Trazadone, Alprazolam, and Diazepam that can be given within a few hours of the anticipated events to safely reduce anxiety and will not have long lasting side-effects. We have used Trazadone for many of our boarding patients when they have become fearful of being away from home and it has helped tremendously with decreasing and/or eliminating stress-induced colitis resulting in bloody diarrhea. Talk to your veterinarian in advance as sometimes these medications need to be compounded in order to get cats to easily take them.
- “Ace” for your pet? Acepromazine was once commonly prescribed for thunderstorm and fireworks phobia because it is a great sedative. However, it may do little for the actual anxiety with noise phobias. In fact sometimes, it could make your pet more fearful and reactive to the situation. This medication is no longer recommended as a first-line therapy for anxiety and noise phobias. However when behavior modifications, nutraceuticals, and anxiolytic medications fail then it may be time to use this tranquilizer. This medication will help control vomiting as well so if your dog vomits in response to firework situations then this medication may be appropriate or another anti-emetic medication can be prescribed by your veterinarian.
- Collars, ID tags, and microchips. If all of the above fail and your pet does manage to get free and run away, make sure they have proper and up to date identification with your contact information so you can be quickly reunited. Microchips are a permanent identification that is placed under the animal’s skin so in the event if the pet’s collar or ID tag fall off or are not on your pet when they escape they can still be properly identified and returned safely home.
We hope this helps you and your pets to enjoy a safe and Happy 4th of July!
If you have any additional questions or concerns regarding your pet’s health or behavior, don’t hesitate to ask us. We are here to help!
Information for this blog post was gathered from the following websites: http://drmartybecker.com, http://throughadogsear.co/, www.thundershirt.com, www.feliway.com, www.adaptil.com, and the Fear Free certification program offered through www.Vetfolio.com.
Frosted windowpanes, candles gleaming inside, painted candy canes on the tree… The holidays are a time to eat, decorate and celebrate. However remember those same treats and trimmings can be potentially dangerous to our pets.
Sweets and chocolates can be poisonous. Chocolate contains theobromine –a potent cardiac stimulant. The highest doses of theobromine are found in unsweetened baking chocolate. Fortunately, milk chocolate has been “diluted” with sugars, creams and milk and contains much less theobromine. Milk chocolate ingestion can result in vomiting and diarrhea; it usually does not cause toxicosis unless a large amount is ingested. However, seizures and a dangerously elevated heart rate can easily occur when a 10 lb dog or cat ingests as little as ¼ ounce of baking chocolate. Xylitol containing sugar free chewing gum and candy can be hazardous. Xylitol ingestion can result in a sudden drop in blood sugar, resulting in depression, loss of coordination and seizures. There may also be a link between xylitol ingestion and liver failure. There was a 140 % increase in reports of xylitol poisoning from 2004 to 2005 at the Animal Poison Control Center.
Uncooked, yeast dough can cause alcohol poisoning in your pet. Alcohol is a breakdown byproduct of yeast and sugar fermentation. Rising dough can also bloat in your pet’s stomach causing severe abdominal pain. Many cases will require surgical removal of the dough and hospitalized supportive care.
Grapes and raisins when ingested can cause kidney failure in certain animals. Veterinarians don’t yet understand the causative agent or the exact mechanism of the kidney injury nor the exact amount ingested needed to result in kidney damage. Not all animals that ingest grapes or raisins become affected, but it is better to be safe than sorry. Take grapes and raisins off of your pet’s menu.
Holiday leftovers are often fatty, rich foods that can cause vomiting, diarrhea and lead to inflammation of the pancreas. Pancreatitis is a serious disease that usually requires extensive hospitalization. Never feed your pet left over bones. Bones can lodge in the roof of the mouth, esophagus, stomach and the intestinal tract. Smaller poultry bones can splinter and lacerate the gastrointestinal mucosa similar to glass shards.
Mistletoe and Holly berries are especially dangerous plants. Be sure to keep these out of reach of pets and children. Don’t forget that your cat can be a sneaky climber and reach unthinkable heights when drawn to a new plant. Use artificial substitutes of both of these instead. Contrary to popular belief, poinsettias are not toxic. Their leaves and branches can be very irritating to mucous membranes and thus may cause excessive salivation and vomiting but not toxicosis. Christmas tree tinsel, ornaments and needles can pose choking hazards. Ribbon and tinsel can cut the intestines and cause the loops to accordion onto themselves resulting in emergency surgery. Consider anchoring the Christmas tree to prevent curious cats from toppling the tree as they climb to the top. Remember most pets will help themselves to the Christmas tree water so don’t use additives or preservatives in the water.
To help protect your loyal companions, let’s revisit safety tips on common risks that arise for pets during the holiday season.
Many dogs love to play in the snow, like Keira here,
but even the biggest, wooliest pets are at risk when left outside unsupervised.
Chances are your beloved pets land right near the top of your 2014 Reasons to be Thankful list. We know our staff’s pets leave us all endlessly thankful. With a total of 11 dogs, nine cats, two fish, and one rabbit (among our many families, of course!), we have a bunch of cuddle buddies to keep us grateful. Along with all the smiles, pets come with a heap of responsibilities. That’s especially important to remember during the revelry and hustle and bustle of the holidays.
So you can give your pets the gift of Safe & Happy Holidays, we’ve put together the following set of useful pet safety tips.
All those family get-togethers in November and December can, at times, be downright overwhelming for people — and humans at least know when and why our daily routines will be tossed aside. Just imagine the stress pets feel with all that chaos invading their homes without warning! To help your dogs or cats cope, designate a cozy, peaceful place they can escape to for some much-needed quiet time. Keep that spot stocked with food, water, and their favorite toys. We also recommend spending snuggle time together there in advance, so your pet knows the safe zone is a reward, not a punishment.
As your trusted veterinarian in Springfield, MO, we have one last important Pet Stress tip for you: Remember to join your buddy for a quick visit to the safe zone when you need it! Sneaking away to pet your pet for a few minutes will trigger endorphins for you both, helping your pet relax and helping you find your inner happy place. We find that helps people remember how thankful they are to be hosting the big family dinner.
Special treats are terrific rewards for pets, and we’re all for including every member of the family in the feasting — if done safely. It’s easy to indulge your pleading pet without risking harm or even death. Simply reserve the people food for people and stock up on safe yet tasty treats for the four-legged folk.
“Yeah, but what’s the big harm in sharing leftovers with pets?,” you ask. The risks are very real. Older pets are at particular risk with any uninformed guests around. Conditions like diabetes and chronic kidney disease in dogs and cats require crucial diet restrictions that many people don’t know about. If your pet has similar health issues, be sure to let guests know it’s just plain dangerous to share people food.
Here are just a few foods, as listed on the American Humane Association (AHA) website, that pose a threat to animals if not disposed of properly:
- Chocolate can be deadly; it can also damage the heart as well as the central nervous system and urinary system. Like Dr. Ned warned last year, don’t forget pets can easily sniff out and unwrap gifts of chocolate, so keep those and other edible gifts put away.
- Bones can cause deadly damage by tearing your pet’s intestines.
- Onions from turkey stuffing can cause anemia in dogs.
- Grapes can cause kidney failure.
Cocktails, beer, and wine are dangerous for pets too, so be mindful to keep an eye on your glass when sipping a drink.
All That Glitters
Among those who celebrate Christmas, who doesn’t enjoy the shimmer and sparkle of a beautifully adorned tree? Not many. You know who really finds your Christmas tree irresistible? The cat and the dog. With all that shiny tinsel and the glittery ornaments, not to mention the pretty ribbons on gifts, the towering tree is downright taunting your pets. And they may very well retaliate if you’re not watching. It may seem like such a scene would be comical to see, like in the classic Christmas Vacation flick. In the real world, though, the outcome can be far from funny if a pet tangles with the tree or other decorations.
Here are a few important precautions — again, as noted on the AHA site—to take when decorating:
- Keep pets away from the tree water, which is often full of bacteria and/or poisons from preservatives used on the tree.
- Ensure the tree is stable, so it won’t fall if a pet jumps on it.
- Place any tinsel, ribbon, or breakable ornaments toward the top of the tree or on tall shelves, so pets can’t reach the would-be “toys” and risk swallowing them. Many pets have choked on these decorations or have needed surgery to remove obstructions once swallowed.
- Sweep, sweep, sweep those pine needles and any leaves from other holiday plants. Curious pets don’t know that pine needles and many leaves are full of toxins.
Oh, The Weather Outside is Frightful
Of course you love your pets too much to ever leave them out in the cold on purpose. But with all the shopping, cooking, gift wrapping, visiting, peacekeeping, and general preparing you have to do this time of year, the ol’ short-term memory can be taxed to capacity. That can lead to absent-minded accidents that put your pets at risk. To take proactive steps against that, you can use handy little tricks that remind you to check on your pet before leaving the house. Here are two tricks we suggest: Keep your keys next to a picture of your pet or leave a note on the door you regularly exit. Those reminders are simple but effective.
For additional tips on keeping your pets safe during the holidays, brush up on Dr. Ned’s 2013 Holiday Safety Tips, which still hold true. If your pet should fall victim to any risks that arise during the holidays, immediately contact your veterinarian or call the Animal Poison Control Center at 888.426.4435.
Finally, on behalf of everyone at Deerfield Veterinary Hospital, here’s wishing you and yours love, laughter, and lots of snuggle time throughout the season.
Every holiday season, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center fields calls dealing with several common holiday situations that put pets at risk.
Gifts are a surprising source of toxicities during the holidays. If you are going to wrap any food (especially chocolate), dog treats, or dog toys, keep the items in a safe place and well out of your pet’s reach until they are ready to be opened. Pets have a keen sense of smell and will often unwrap presents early and eat all of the contents.
Some snow globes contain ethylene glycol, a highly toxic substance to all pets. If a snow globe is broken, either by a person or a pet, the sweet smell can attract a pet to lick it up, leading to a potentially fatal intoxication. Snow globes should be kept out of reach of pets.
Pets are often not shy about taking food that is left sitting out on counters or tables. Pets should be kept away from food preparation areas or places where food will be left out. A few of the more concerning common food exposures during the holidays are chocolate, bread dough, fruitcake and alcohol.
There are often a large number of visitors during the holiday season, and pets often get into medications that friends or family have brought with them. These exposures can be prevented with a little advance planning. People who are not used to having pets in the house can often be unaware of how curious they can be. Pets will often investigate suitcases and can get into pill vials or weekly pill minders. It is safer to have the visitors put their medication in a closed cabinet that is not accessible to pets. Be sure that when they take their medications that they do so behind a closed door, such as the bathroom, so that a dropped pill can be found before the pet has a chance to eat it. A prewritten list of the names, milligram strength, and number of pills that visitors have brought is very useful in an emergency situation as well.
Ice melt, homemade play dough, and salt-dough ornaments (even when dry) can all be a tempting salty treat for pets, but can cause life-threatening imbalances in the electrolytes.
Pet owners should, of course, contact their local veterinary professional or the Animal Poison Control Center if their pets get into any of these substances.
Blog post, picture and safety tips provided by the ASPCA.
Also check out our other blog article on how to protect your pets from holiday hazards.
More than 60% of pet owners have said that giving gifts to their cats or dogs is an important way of bonding. But, with thousands of pet sites trying to sell toys or Internet rumors about the dangers of this treat or that bone, how can you find something that is just right for your pet?
For many, a gift for their pet should consist of something fun and entertaining, like a durable toy. Veterinary experts also recommend the use of interactive toys that encourage exercise and activity. This has the dual benefit of burning calories from overweight pets and also providing a needed outlet for highly active dogs, like the working breeds. After all, a tired dog is a good dog!
To help meet this need for entertaining toys, companies like Kong (www.kongcompany.com) and Pet Qwerks (www.petqwerks.com) have developed innovative new ways to keep our pets active. Many of the Kong toys, like the Bounzer or the Wobbler, will bounce in random directions when tossed and are made of very durable rubber. There’s even a wide variety of sizes for your tiny or massive pooch!
The Babble Ball from Pet Qwerks is an interactive toy that actually “talks” to the pet when moved or even simply sniffed. More than 20 voices or sounds are created, entertaining even the laziest of pets. Cat lovers will appreciate the Kitty Babble Ball as well.
One of the best and least expensive toys to keep that flabby tabby moving is any one of the wide variety of Kitty Teaser products. Found at most retail stores and many online outlets, these simple fiberglass rods with feathers, ribbons or swirls attached will attract the attention of any cat and provide lots of entertainment for the owner.
Keeping our pets from becoming bored or even challenging their intelligence is the mission for several other pet companies. Aikiou (pronounced “I-Q”) (www.aikiou.com) has created a line of interactive feeding stations that simulate hunting and foraging activities. Likewise, Premier Pet Products (www.premier.com) uses their Busy Buddy line of toys to reward dogs for playful, constructive behavior.
It’s also very easy to find an amazing array of designer clothing, leashes, collars and even special feeding bowls for your unique friend. But, beyond all of these material things, what other gifts can help make sure that your pet is healthy and well protected?
One of the simplest and best ways to keep your pets safe is to make sure that they have permanent identification. Far too many pets are lost or stolen every year and the vast majority of these animals never make it back home to their owners. Have your veterinarian implant a microchip and be sure to keep the registration information current.
Another helpful gift idea is a pet health insurance policy. Although Fluffy and Fido may not fully appreciate it, having a policy can really lessen the impact of a traumatic accident, serious injury or substantial illness. Millions of pet owners have already found pet health insurance to be invaluable and it’s certainly a great gift idea for other pet owners in your family.
When it comes right down to it, all of the special toys, interactive puzzles or unique pet sweaters won’t take the place of the most important thing you can give your pet…your time! Spend some time every day with your pet by engaging them in play or some quiet grooming. It’s the very best thing you can give and your pet will love you all the more for it.
Your veterinarian is also a great source of advice for finding the right activities for your pet’s abilities. He or she can suggest other safe toys that will help keep your pet physically and mentally healthy.