Ideas and tips to help you improve your beloved pet's safety this fall and winter.
For most Americans, their dogs, cats, and other large and small animals are members of the family. Here are some useful information and strategies you can use to help assure your furry and feathered "best friends" have long, healthy and happy lives.
Hazards to avoid around the house
The internet is a great source of information on pet safety. There are several good articles that offer tips on kitty-proofing and puppy-proofing your home. Here are some major hazards that may have escaped your notice.
- Keep electrical cords out of sight.
- Choose plants Many common plants like poinsettias, daffodils and lilies are highly poisonous.
- Watch out for cold cats under the hood on cold mornings. Bang your hood or hit your horn to scare them out.
- Keep chocolate away from dogs. Also raisins and grapes are highly toxic. Keep the poison control number handy.
- Clean up spilled antifreeze The sweet smell and taste can be a magnet for animals and it is highly poisonous.
- Avoid careless disposal of tobacco Nicotine can poison a puppy. Pick up butts on the ground and dump/clean any ash trays in your home.
- Be aware of your pet's hydration needs. Double up on water bowls so if one gets spilled, your pet still has access to water.
- Watch out for delicate paws and pads in winter. Purchase pet safe sidewalk and driveway de-icer products that won't burn paws.
You can find a comprehensive list of safety tips here.
A FEW SIMPLE SAFETY STEPS
- Secure your pet in the car with a harness and tether or in a pet carrier. In an accident, your pet could become a projectile and cause serious injury.
- Keep your pet's head and paws inside the car.
- Don't let dogs ride in an open truck bed.
- Check your pet's collar regularly. Affix ID tags and a GPS tracking tag.
- Don't let cats and puppies play with small toys, string or rubber bands. They may ingest them and choke or Inside cats get a serious internal blockage.
- Get your dog or cat spayed or neutered. Reduces the urge to "roam" away from home.
Keep your cat indoors. House-bound cats live longer, healthier lives.
Source: American Humane SocietyClick here for important information
WHAT IF YOUR PET GETS LOST
For most pet owners, having a pet escape your home or yard and "disappear" is one of their worst nightmares. Here are a few things you can do to be prepared should this stressful situation occur.
- Have a current photo of your pets. Should your pet become lost, you can use the photos on posters and on social media pages. Photos can also help prove ownership if your pet is stolen.
- There are numerous local groups that help find lost dogs. Search Facebook and research groups in advance, just in case.
- Microchip your pets. Your vet can do this at a regular checkup. There is a small yearly fee for most brands. Police and vets routinely scan the chips when they find a stray pet.
- Keep your contact info current on all tags, digital ID tags, etc.
- Check your leashes and collars before going on walks. Replace worn, chewed or damaged ones.
- Never leave your dog unattended This greatly increase the risk of being stolen or escaping your yard.
- Consider purchasing a GPS collar or tag to affix to your pet's collar. There are both dog and cat versions
- Have a plan for what you'll do if your pet becomes lost.
- Prepare for a disaster. What would you do if you had to evacuation your home due to fire, flood or storm damage. What would you do to keep your pet safe during the emergency? Where would he or she stay?
- Have a plan for your pet if you become incapacitated by illness or injury. Have someone lined up to care for your pets when and if you can't. Carry a wallet card that provides your information and lets police or fire first responders know your pets are home alone.
There are a great many ideas you may not have considered at this site.
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AVOID HOLIDAY HAZARDS
One of the most loved parts of the holiday season is the food! Even the best trained pets will be tempted to indulge, whether the morsel is inadvertently spilled on the floor or offered by unknowing friends and relatives. For example, Halloween is a fun time. But not if your dog or cat gets into the decorations or the chocolate candy.
On Thanksgiving, be careful what you feed your pets from the leftovers. Many human foods are toxic to pets, and lots of them are available during the holidays – things like sweets, avocado, onions and garlic, certain nuts, and fruits like grapes. Reduced calorie foods and drinks containing Xylitol are very dangerous. You don't always know the chemical is in there without reading the ingredients label. Especially avoid leaving alcohol or caffeine-based beverages around the house.
At Christmas, in addition to food challenges, there are the decorations. Tinsel is especially dangerous if ingested. Broken glass ornaments from the tree can cut delicate paws and cause major damage if ingested.
The ASPCA has a poison control hotline number you can call when your pets "get into" something and you're not sure what to do.
HALLOWEEN PET SAFETY
Dressing up your "furkids" in cute costumes for special occasions and the holidays can be lots of fun. Posting the photos on social media also brings lots of smiles to online friends and family.
But please, keep all your pets inside or under close supervision in your yard on Halloween. Each year there are news stories of terrible things being done to pets, especially black cats. Most shelters won't even allow any black cats to be adopted in October.
Just a word of warning. Please be extra careful.
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