Common dangers lurking in your home

Are yTrojan and Gitli near the fireplaceou familiar with some of the dangers lurking in your home?

Do you know how to best to protect your pet kids?

Common dangers lurking in your home: Chocolate, Xylitol, Over-the-counter medications, Prescription drugs, Rodenticides, Grapes or Raisins, Oxygen Absorbers, Flea products, and Household Plants.

Click here to learn how these dangers affect your fur children and what to do if you suspect your fur child as gotten into these dangers.

Never hesitate to get help as soon as possible, immediate treatment could save your pet’s life!

Preparing Families With Pets For Hurricane Season

Image courtesy of Mike Trenchard, Earth Sciences & Image Analysis Laboratory , Johnson Space Center.

Image courtesy of Mike Trenchard, Earth Sciences & Image Analysis Laboratory , Johnson Space Center.

Katrina veteran and Best Friends’ emergency response manager John Garcia discusses the importance of being prepared.

Click the link below to learn

What’s the number one strategy to keep pets safe if you are in the path of a hurricane? 

Should I dress my pet for Halloween?

talk2theanimals_ver2_300px“Our animal pals can experience being dressed in costume quite differently from how we humans experience it. Your buddy is dressed in an odd, usually constraining outfit, with different feelings, different smells, different everything about it. We humans act differently both as we’re dressing our buddy in costume, and afterwards, when s/he is in the costume.



This whole experience can range from very confusing to even terrifying for your animal buddy. “Click her to read more “does my animal palwant to dress up for Halloween.”

Pets and Poison


Protecting our pets from being poisoned can be tricky.

“We animal care givers can find it difficult to even *think* about our beloved companions accidentally getting into poisonous or toxic substances.  However, should this happen, here is a listing of the information the medical care giver will be asking you.”

New Strain Of Tougher Heart-worms In The Mississippi River Valley Region

Trojan and Gitli with toys“Heartworms are a leading cause of death in dogs and cats in the US. Heartworm disease is transmitted by the bite of infected mosquitoes. For the past few years, veterinary researchers have been tracking a particularly tough strain of heartworms in the mosquito heaven known as the Mississippi River Valley region.


Dogs in this region have been reported to develop heart-worm infection despite using preventives.” Drug-Resistant “Super Heartworms” Force Change in Treatment by Dr. Ernie Ward, DVM  Posted July 31, 2013 at Pet Health Network.  A new strain of super heartworms are evolving and are increasingly resistant to the most common heartworm preventive drugs – “macrocyclic lactones (ML), which includes all of the major active ingredients of heartworm preventives like ivermectin, selamectin, milbemycin oxime and moxidectin.”  To learn more click here.

Summer Heat Preparations For Pets

Mega in a stream


When summer officially kicks with the summer solstice, you’re already feeling the heat.  Summer weather can be extremely dangerous to pets. Professionally it’s our job to keep them safe and healthy!



Taking our client’s dog out for summer jaunts in the middle of the sweltering heat can take its toll on their dog.

Dogs Do suffer from heat stroke

They can quickly come down with heat stroke but unlike people, dogs have very limited ability to cool off by sweating.  There sweat glands on their foot pads only so the way for cooling down is panting and it can be insufficient to lower body temperature on a very hot day.

Signs of heat stroke include:

Heat Stroke or hyperthermia happens when a dog severely overheats and if the heat stroke hasn’t advanced to fair (more than 104 degrees F you can still help your dog recover).

  • Signs or Symptoms:
  • Collapse
  • Body Temp is 104 degree F or above
  • Bloody diarrhea or vomit
  • Capillary refill time is too quick
  • Depression, stupor (acting drunk), seizures or coma
  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased respiratory
  • Mucous membrane color is redder then normal
  • Salivation
  • In severe cases lips begin to turn pale blue or gray.
  • Seek vet care even after you have gotten the temperature of your pet down

Tips to cool down a pet in the heat:

  1. Always supply your pet with fresh clean water and make sure the dish is out of the sun. Put ice in to keep it cooler, longer.  Keep water with you regardless not only for their well being put for yours.
  2. Take your dog swimming or hose them with water on hot days but not all dogs are born swimmers.  Swimming with your dog is great exercise and can also provide relief from summer heat. Theoretically all dogs can swim, however, some breeds such as Bulldogs, Basset hounds and Pugs have more difficulty than others so it’s important to know its physical ability, stamina, body shape, condition and breathing ability. Fit your dog with a PFD (personal flotation device) if you are not sure about his swimming ability or if you plan on taking him boating.  These are made for dogs to keep their head above water and have a handle on the back to make it easier to grab them out of the water. Never force the dog, take is slow, have reasonable expectations and have fun. Never let your pet drink the water in which it is swimming.  Don’t forget to hose off your pet after swimming.  If your are boating with your pet remember: dogs get seasick too so be prepared, make sure your pet has proper identification or is micro chipped in case it falls overboard and is picked up by another boater or swims to land, and have a plan for the dog to go to the bathroom.
  3. Walk dogs in the early morning or late hours of the day when the sun is least harsh. Carry water during these walks.
  4. As summer nears, it’s important to provide your pet with proper treatment for the prevention of heart-worms, ticks and fleas.  Check your pets for ticks and fleas. Purchasing a pet-safe bug spray if they spend a great deal of time outdoors.  Make sure your vet knows all of the products you are using as well as all the medication your pet is on to prevent any drug interactions. If your pet spends a lot of time outdoors, also look into purchasing a pet-safe bug repellent to prevent annoying insect bites.
  5. Don’t take your pets to crowded summer events like parades, festivals, farmers markets, and carnivals.  The heat, noise, crowds and the general excitement can be emotionally and physically draining for your pet and this can result in anxiety and stress.
  6. Walk your dog on grass or dirt to avoid burning their paws on hot pavement.
  7. Groom your pet properly and ensure they are free of mats. Do your home before shaving your pet.  Many pet owners believe it’s best to shave their dogs and in some cases it’s a good a idea and other it is not.  Leaving about an inch of fur can prevent sunburn, protect the pet from biting flies and mosquitoes.
  8. Provide access to shade at all times.
  9. The UV rays can also give your dog a nasty sunburn, peeling skin, painful inflammation and increase the risk of sun cancer.  Fur can provide some protection from the sun.  But the bridges of the nose, ear tips, skins around the lips and other area that lack pigmentation are highly susceptible to the sun.  There is specially formulated sunscreen that can be used on pets depending on the location of the sensitive skin. Use care in picking the product as cats and dogs are prone to licking themselves and should not ingest most lotions.
  10. If you have a rabbit, keep the hutch in the shade, wild rabbits spend the hottest part of the day in their underground burrows where it’s cool.  Never leave your dog in the car, even with the windows open for any length of time. This is the No. 1 cause of heat stroke in dogs remains being left in a hot locked car, it takes only a few minutes for the internal heat to increase forty degrees or more above the outside air temperature… especially in direct sunlight.

A dog’s normal body temperature is 101 degrees; at 104 degrees and above, the dog is subject to heatstroke and can die in minutes. The most common cause of dogs dying from heatstroke is from being left in overheated cars.

What Can You Do If You Notice A Pet In Heat Stroke

  •  Get the dog out of the direct heat
  • Check for Shock
  • Take the dog’s temperature normal temperature is 101 degrees F
  • Spray dog with cool water.  If it is an outdoor hose run the hot water out of it first
  • Place water soaked towels on the dog’s head, neck, feet, chest and abdomen
  • Turn on a fan and point it at the dog
  • Rub rubbing alcohol 705 on the dog’s foot pads to help cool down and do not use large quantities it can be toxic if ingested
  • Take the pet in for veterinary treatment immediately

The goal is to decrease the body temperature to about 103 degrees F in the first 10 – 15 minutes and stop the cooling process because the body temperature will continue to decrease and can easily plummet to a dangerous level.

Even if you get the body temperature get the pet to the veterinarian as soon as possible other possible problems could arise if the condition is not treated:

Abnormal heart rhythms

  • Destruction to the digestive tract lining that can lead to bloody vomiting and/or diarrhea
  • Kidney failure
  • Neurological problems, including seizures and swelling of the brain
  • Problems with blood clotting
  • Respiratory arrest

Dogs that are most prone to heatstroke include pups and older dogs; overweight dogs, and dogs already sick or recovering from illness or surgery, preexisting medical conditions.

The dog breeds that are most prone to heatstroke include short-faced breeds; the double-coated breeds; and dogs bred for cold climates.

Short face breeds:

These dogs have the “pushed-in faces” on relatively-broader heads. They have an elongated soft palate in the throat along with narrowed nostrils and  includes: Boston Terriers, Boxers,  Bulldogs, especially the English Bulldogs, Pekinese, Pugs, and Shih Tzus.

Double-Coated and Cold Climate Breeds include:

Akitas , American Eskimo Dogs,  Anatolian Shepherds,  Bearded Collies,  Bernese Mountain Dogs, Bouvier des Flandres  Chow Chows, Collies, German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, Great Pyrenees, Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs, Huskies, Irish Wolfhounds,  Malamutes , Newfoundlands,   Norwegian Elkhounds,  Old English Sheepdogs, Pomerians, Samoyeds, Shelties, Shibu Inus

Please listen to Peaceful Planet Pets, LLC as I talk about protecting pets during the summer heat. on June 2, 2013:

Joyce Rheal is based in Southern Illinois and is a nationally certified pet care consultant, trainer, and the author of “Preparing Your Pets for Emergencies and Disasters” and “Disaster Plan: Preparing Your Pets for Emergencies and Disasters.”  Joyce Rheal is also an active volunteer with the Emergency Management Agency.

Moving to a New state or Country

Moving to a new state or country can be really stressful on both human and pets and it becomes even more stressful on the pets when the humans do not check on various legislations on importing dogs including Breed Specific Legislations (BS) and/or quarantines.

Why is this important to know?


If a pet dog is on the BSL list and goes into an area that they are either banned or restricted then the owner has unknowingly put their pet into danger.  If the dog breed is banned, usually the band consists of taking the dog and euthanizing it or if a personality test is administered and the dog passes it, then the is restricted.

Hawaii and a few other countries have quarantines for pets being imported.  The current quarantine period in Hawaii is 120 days, 30 days, or up to five days, depending on what rabies testing is done BEFORE the dog arrives in Hawaii.  If a pet qualifies for the 5 days or less quarantine these guidelines are required:

  • the dog must have received at least two rabies vaccinations, not less than three months apart and the most recent must be between 90 days and a year before arriving in Hawaii
  • the dog must have had a microchip identification implanted by a veterinarian, and
  • a blood sample, identified by the microchip ID number, must be tested for rabies antibodies 120 days to 18 months before arrival

There are a lot of detailed rules about what paperwork is required and when fees must be paid before importing a pet. It is the owners responsibility to get all that information well in advance – keep in mind that there’ is a 120-day waiting period after the blood test – so that the process goes smoothly.  Not only is the owner and the dog separated for 120 days, the owner has to pay for the all of the costs of the quarantine which can start at $1,080 for 120 days, $655 for 30 days, or $224 for five days or less.  This is payable when the dog arrives in Hawaii and the Airlines deliver the pets directly to a state holding facility.  The state then takes them to the quarantine station on the island of Oahu. Dogs are kept in individual outdoor runs and the owners can visit their dogs during afternoon visiting hours but cannot take the animals out of the kennel.

It is very important for the owners to arrange this ahead as well as arranging for a private animal hospital to provide emergency veterinary care during the quarantine because the quarantine center handles minor ailments, but it does not have facilities for major medical problems. Unless a veterinary hospital has agreed in advance to accept an ill pet, the state will not take the animal to a private hospital.

Let us not forget traveling by airline with your pets.  Small dogs upon airline approval and with a paid fee can usually ride up front with its people.  Larger dogs are treated like cargo and must ride below and a fee must be paid.  It is important for dogs owners to arrange proper and safe transport of their pets.  There are pet transports that maybe able to assist in getting the pet to the new home but again this must be thought out ahead of time.

If the dog is a service dog again be prepared and do your homework and make sure to have the appropriate paperwork and other requirement completed ahead of time.

Pet owners really should do their homework and plan ahead before making that big move jump if then intend on taking their dogs with them otherwise this move just might end in a disaster for their dogs.

Joyce Rheal is Emergency Planning Committee chairwoman of the National Association Professional Pet Sitters and with Pets-life. Joyce is also a federally certified for FEMA’s “Animals in Disasters” program, and a certified pet care consultant based in Southern Illinois.

Ending Breed Specific Legislation (BSL)

German Shepherd

Megabyte is one of the breeds that insurance companies won’t insure

It’s past time to end Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) which are laws and ordinances to control specific breeds of domesticated animals, usually certain breeds of dogs. These legislations are in response to a number of well-publicized events that involves bully and wolf-hybrid breeds.There’s population of dog owners who loves these specific breeds, but a few bad owners have ruined it for these breeds because of the lack of proper supervision, socialization, bad training, training to fight, or even mistreatment.




These laws range from outright banning the possession of these dogs, resulting in euthanizing the dogs unless a grandfather clause is included, to various forms of restrictions and conditions for ownership, and establish the dogs as legally “dangerous” or “vicious” even if the dogs have no record of attacking. As a response, some state governments in theUnited States prohibit or restrict municipal governments from enacting breed-specific legislation.

It appears Belfast, Northern Ireland has a BSL that they have no clue how to properly implement. There BSL is “The Control of Dogs Regulations 1998 place controls on 10 breeds of dogs, namely the American Pit Bull Terrier; English Bull Terrier; Staffordshire Bull Terrier; Bull Mastiff; Doberman Pinscher; German Shepherd (Alsatian); Rhodesian Ridgeback; Rottweiler; Japanese Akita; Japanese Tosa and to every dog of the type commonly known as a Ban Dog (or Bandog). The controls, which must be observed when the dog is in a public place, require that these dogs, or strains and crosses thereof, must be securely muzzled and kept on a strong short lead [only up to 2 metres long] by a person over 16 years of age who is capable of controlling them. Dogs that are not kept under control will be euthanized.”

After following the case of Lennox in Belfast Ireland I looked more closely at BSL. A brief history of Lennox, who was supposedly killed July 11, 2012 by the Belfast City Council on the false allegations of Lennox being a pit bull type: from my understanding Lennox was forcibly removed from his home May of 2010 in Belfast, Northern Ireland under the assumption he was a pit bull. The Barnes family did everything they were instructed to do and even had an approved license from the city for Lennox.

During a hearing the council even refused DNA tests showing that Lennox was not a pit bull. They ignored two qualified dog behaviorists including Victoria Stilwell who said nothing was wrong with Lennox, and went with an unqualified opinion by Peter Tallack who is not a trained and certified behaviorist. Since then a really good article came out by Jim Crosby a trained and certified canine behaviorist and he has a video link showing that Lennox did pass the aggression test with David Ryans.  In the video the warden who claimed she was afraid of Lennox was actually interacting and petting him, which is evidence enough to show she lied under oath. This article also indicate Lennox have a swollen leg as a result of some injuries. Interesting he’s got a leg injury and he’s in confinement and there are a few more pictures of Lennox in horrible condition while under the care of the council. Lennox drew world wide attention and the First Minister Peter Robinson got involved and yet nothing could save him. The council was standing by the unqualified opinion that Lennox was dangerous and unpredictable. Although I cannot prove it, I suspect Lennox was already dead before the deadline. The council also refused to allow Lennox to be placed in a sanctuary. Belfast City Council backed out of allowing the family one last good-bye before his scheduled execution and they even refused to return Lennox’s body saying they would only send the ashes. The council will not even return Lennox’s collar. This last minute change by the council leaves me doubting the actual condition ofLennox. It also appears that these people did not tell the Barnes family directly that Lennox was dead, they found out through another source. I know there is more to the story and this really isn’t the place, I am not the spokes person for Lennox and this article is more about BSL then it is about Lennox.  Lennox is not the first (victome) incident dog who has suffered and was murdered under the BSL laws.

When I lived in Colorado Springs between 2000 – 2004, the state started to implement the BSL and we were notified that our German Shepherd was to be muzzled when she was out on walks. She never bit anyone.  After some heated mail exchange, leaving the state of Colorado was more then acceptable. Even Denver, Colorado at that time had a reputation for taking bully dogs away from even those visiting Denver and euthanizing the dogs because of their BSL. I don’t know if Denver is still currently practicing this or not but they do still have the BSL.

As part of the BLS, these are the top eleven breeds for which insurance companies will either charge a higher rate or refuse to insure if residing on the property:

  1. Pit Bulls & Staffordshire Terriers
  2. Doberman Pinschers
  3. Rottweilers
  4. German Shepherds
  5. Chows
  6. Great Danes
  7. Presa Canarios
  8. Akitas
  9. Alaskan Malamutes
  10. Siberian Huskies
  11. Wolf-hybrids

It’s past time to end BSL. There is no scientific proof that these laws are effective in preventing dog bite fatalities and injuries. It is not the breed of the dog that determines if they are aggressive or not. A few bad people have ruined it for the whole population of dog owners who loves these specific breeds. So instead of punishing those who are actually responsible, the breed of the dog gets the blame. Any dog can bite, especially little dogs, and yet some folks laugh when little dogs bite. Little dogs biting isn’t funny, and if they bite in the right place the bite can still cause significant damage.

I don’t have a problem with banning or restricting certain breeds from certain people, especially if the people have a record already, but I totally disagree with BSL. In fact my own mother was almost killed by a pit bull attack, we later found out that dog was TRAINED to do this. I completely disagree that certain dog breeds are a public safety issue meriting banning ownership or euthanasia, especially for dogs that do not have a history of biting.

If someone is looking into owning a specific breed of dog it is best check to see if the resident state or municipality has a BSL otherwise heartbreak is sure to come around.

The following have BSL and I know this list is not inclusive: The United Kingdom and specifically Northern Ireland (Belfast), Republic of Ireland, Venezuela, Ukraine, Turkey, Switzerland, Spain, Singapore, Romania, Portugal, Poland, Norway, New Zealand, Malta, Germany, France, Ecuador, Denmark, Bermuda, Brazil, Australia: (New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Victoria, Western Australia); Canada (Ontario, Manitoba, Winnipeg); The United States (Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Kansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Ohio, Puerto Rico, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin) along with the All four major branches in the military ban the following from living on base: pit bulls, bull terriers, rottweilers, dobermans, chows, wolf hybrids, akitas, American bulldog.

I honestly believe that Lennox was long dead before the deadline. To the Barnes family, I can only imagine what you have and continue to go through. I love my dogs as much and would fight up to the end for them as well. My heart goes out to you and I hope the fight for Lennox will save the lives of dogs who are improperly breed labeled and/or labeled as dangerous and vicious. I pray Lennox’s plight will bring awareness to those legislative bodies to understand BSL are not effective and the breed of the dog cannot be blamed. A few bad people have ruined it for the whole population and this is the result. Any dog will bite giving the right circumstance and even little dogs can inflict serious damage when they bite in the right spots.

It is not the breed of the dog that is the problem and BSL’s do nothing to address the root of the problem.

Joyce Rheal is Emergency Planning Committee chairwoman of the National Association Professional Pet Sitters and with Pets-life. Joyce is also a federally certified for FEMA’s “Animals in Disasters” program, and a certified pet care consultant based in Southern Illinois.