Have a Fear Free Fourth

The Fourth of July is just around the corner, and as a licensed veterinary technician, visions of frantic pets running scared down the freeway enter my head.  Year after year, pet owners are warned about the potential dangers Independence Day pose on our beloved furry family members.  Last year I wrote about preventing pet anxiety on this freedom filled holiday.  Fortunately, there’s already ample information on the web pertaining to Fourth of July pet safety, so I’ve decided to take a different approach.

Most of us know if our pets need special care on this explosive, rumbling night, but if they do need special care…do we really know why?

FEAR.

It’s fear that causes pets to hide under the bed during the thundering firecrackers.  It’s fear that causes dogs to jump through window panes, only to find the outside world is what they fear even more.  And it’s fear that causes pets to frantically roam for hours with no destination in sight only to wind up tragically deceased on the side of the road.  But…what is fear?  When does fear start?  Why did it start in the first place?

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https://www.paulspoerry.com/

As an LVT at Lone Mountain Veterinary Hospital, I see fear every day, and it comes it many shapes, sizes and severities.  Terror, fright, horror, alarm, panic, agitation, trepidation, dread, consternation, dismay, distress…the list goes on.  In humans fear is a vital response to physical or emotional danger allowing us to protect ourselves from threats.  In pets it’s equivalent, but with a major language barrier; fear can be amplified by the slightest movement or sound. scared dog and cat

Both, environmental and psychosocial, factors can cause stress in your pets.  Stressors such as humidity, noise, pheromones, and odor contribute to environmental fear. Unfamiliar pets and people, as well as separation from his or her owner contribute to psychosocial factors.  If taken lightly the festivities surrounding Independence Day can encompass many, if not ALL, of these!

Thanks to newer insights and progressive veterinary practices, fear can be recognized sooner and hopefully be reduced.  Understanding your pet’s fear-induced triggers is first way you can help. If you observe signs or behaviors listed below, take time to record them and the circumstances surrounding them.

Signs Your Pet May Be Fearful or Anxious

Cats – Dilated pupils, arched back, open mouth (breathing through their mouth), thumping/flicking tail, hidingScared cats

Dogs – Dilated pupils, taught skin, furrowed brow, hunched back/rigid spine, tucked tail or high over the back wagging, closed mouth with lips short, lip smacking, yawning, and tense growling/snarling

Scared submissive dog
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We all know the cracks and booms of this year’s fireworks display will have many pets hiding, running or worst of all, dying.  If you think your pet may be fearful of specific circumstances or events, take the time to understand your pet’s fear and anxiety, so it can be reduced and/or prevented in the future.  Get your pet to the vet, or schedule a house call to have your pet assessed before tragedy strikes.  Ask your veterinarian about special treatment plans that may include sedatives and anti-anxiolytics to ensure you and your pet have a safe and happy Fourth.  This information isn’t meant to be boom, gloom and doom; it’s simply meant to empower you and protect your pet.

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For tips to keep you pet safe during this Fourth of July, check out my 2016 post!

Ten Ways To Bark in the New Year Purr-fectly!

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Our pets are clueless when it comes to the holidays, nor do they care about our need to ring in the New Year!  Try some of my tech tips and start you and your pet’s New Year right.

  1. Check your local listings for announcements about Fireworks displays and New Year’s celebrations. (Reno/Tahoe) (Carson City)
  2. Keep pets in a safe, secure place inside during outdoor festivities. Be sure doors and windows are secured.  Turn on the TV or Radio.
  3. Be sure they have current identification tags and that their microchip information is updated.
  4. When hosting or attending parties, keep pets at a safe distance and in a secure place. Festive noise makers, loud, laughing friends or unfamiliar faces could spook your pet.9cff457122ad4cae45c24215e5bc8052
  5. Keep toxic foods out of paws’ reach. Goodies like chocolate, raisin laden fruit cake, rich, fatty foods, meat bones, and alcohol could be fatal.
  6. Schedule a visit to your veterinarian for special medications to help with anxiety or noise aversion.
  7. Take them to a cozy boarding facility with fully enclosed kennels if you’re going to be out-of-town.
  8. Hire a pet sitter or friend to stay home with your pets, if you can’t be there with them to celebrate.
  9. Find a dog friendly celebration and bring Fido along!
  10. Watch Ryan Seacrest rock in the New Year in Times Square together.

By keeping your pets safe this New Year’s Eve, 2017 is sure to unveil a year full of playing and hiking, catnip and cookies…pet friendly cookies that is!

cool-catWhat will you be doing to this NYE to start it off PURR-FECTLY?

Protect your pets from winter’s harsh reality.

Winter is officially here. As the days get longer, so can the list of potential hazards. Protect your pets from winter’s harsh reality.

Protecting your pet during the cold weather is just as important as protection from the heat of summer.  Follow my tech tips to kick of your pet’s winter safely.

Keep them cozy inside. Cats and dogs should be kept inside during the cold months of winter.  Most pets need to do their “business” outside, but be mindful of the length of time spent out there or in unattended vehicles.  Adequate bedding inside is also necessary to keep pets comfortable on hard, cold floors.ruby-snuggled-for-blog-12-21

Bundle them up.  Shorter haired pets can wear sweaters or jackets to keep the warm during outdoor winter activities. Be sure pet clothing fits properly to avoid chaffing and discomfort.

Protect their paws.  Paws can be traumatized by the frigid ground, sharp ice and chemicals  found in commercial ice melts.  Use booties during icy conditions or when going for longer walks or hikes.  Find booties that fit your pet properly.   Even cats can benefit from booties, but may be more reluctant to wear them.  When wearing boots, check feet often and look for any sores or bleeding – we’ve all had a blister from breaking in a new pair of shoes!

Godiva in Boots

            Ruby and Godiva wear Ultra Paws Rugged Dog Boots!

Clean up spills.  Antifreeze is deadly to pets.  Toxicity happens quickly and is lethal in very small doses. Try Low Tox™ brand antifreeze which contains propylene glycol and is recommended for use in pet households. If you think your pet has consumed antifreeze, contact your veterinarian and the Pet Poison Animal Poison Help Line(855-764-7661)  right away!

Choose ice melt that is pet safe. Safe Paw Ice Melter is a safe salt free alternative. Make your own, but be cautious of the pros and cons.

Be prepared for emergencies. Whether you’re at home or on the road, always consider your pet’s needs too.  Power outages during frigid temperatures and storms could leave you and your pet in need for days. The AVMA suggests keeping a supply of food and/or medications to last at least 5 days.  Keep an emergency kit, additional blankets and clothes in your vehicle.

Monitor dietary wellness. Be sure your pet is staying hydrated and well fed during the cold months of winter.  Proper nutrition is important for thermoregulation all year long -just because its cold doesn’t mean they need to fatten up.  Provide fresh water daily. Dehydration can happen in the winter too! Snow consumption is fine for fun, but too much could cause intestinal upset.

Keep them healthy.  Talk to your veterinarian about keeping your pet safe and comfortable this winter. Discuss changes in behavior and/or activity levels.  Changes in weather can often show us signs of illness we hadn’t seen previously, such lameness, hypothermia or frostbite.ruby-and-godiva-in-coats-for-blog-12-21

What will you do to protect your pet this winter?  

Ruby and Godiva want you to submit picture or story of you and your pet preventing winter’s woes!