Keeping Dogs Safe During Hunting Season

Regardless of one’s belief of Hunting season, it is coming upon us and ensuring our pets safety is essential especially for dogs.  Whether the dog is bred to hunt or is just a companion house dog hunting season can be very dangerous.

Pet owners should take appropriate safety measure to prevent injuries and deaths during hunting season.  Dogs can be injured running through fields, caught in snares and leg traps, or even mistaken for game.




Non hunting dogs should be kept on a leash, tied out, or in a fenced-in yard and not left unattended during hunting season.    This will prevent the dog from roaming far away from home and possibly conflicting with hunters.  Some hunters are known to climb over fences and hunt on private property, though the majority of hunters abide by the laws.  Hunting is usually allowed during the daytime only, so that would be the most dangerous time of the day yet avoid letting your pets roam at night.  Become familiar with the hunting laws as well so that a clear understanding on what hunter are expected to follow is obtained.

Consider adding a bright-colored vest, sweater, bandana or a reflective and orange gear to the dog’s collar especially while in the woods.  A bell can be easily added to the pet’s collar that would allow it to be identified.  Make sure pets are current on vaccination, tags on collars, or microchip data.

The majority of hunting dogs are kept as family pets and can be found lounging around the house, on the sofa or bed or even resting in a kennel.  Keeping these dogs health in top condition all year round will allow them to effectively work during hunting season.  Actually keeping all dog’s health in top condition is essential to a long life.  Regularly exercised dogs will prevent stiffness, sores or injuries.

Have a veterinarian exam hunting dogs prior to the beginning of hunting season and make sure its vaccinations are up to date.  As part of its health regiment, ensure that flea and tick preventative is used to avoid any infestation, these parasites can cause various illnesses.  Feed dogs a higher quality of food to encourage high performance and better health and don’t allow dogs to become over or under weight.

Hunting dogs should also have a reflective orange collar and bright organize vest.  This will allow the dog to be safe and alert other hunters of their presence.  Collars and vest should be made of materials to will prevent burrs, foxtail, etc from sticking to the collar or dog.  Also consider adding a bell so that you know where the dog is. There are bells that make different sounds that can be used if there is more than one hunting dog.  If the dog tends to roam attach him to a brightly colored long lead to keep the dog nearby and safe and use a lead whenever the dog needs walk near a busy road.

When working the dog in the field keep the dog’s health and safety a priority.  Bring plenty of fresh clean water and snacks for the dog too and stop periodically to allow the dog to rest and drink so that the dog can cool off.  Hunting dogs can create a lot of body heat when working, even if it is a cool day.  Try to hunt during the cooler parts of the day for short durations.  Overheated dogs are a common problem.

Before setting out on the hunt with the dog know the area to avoid injuries including knowing where barbed wires, porcupines, skunks or rattlesnakes are.  Try to avoid these at all times.  If the dog does interact with these be prepared by brining a first aid kit for you and your pet and have a way to get extracted from the hunting grounds immediately if needed.

Dogs can be kept safe during hunting season by preparing for the season.  Keeping your dog healthy and protected and being prepared, you and the dog can make it through another hunting season safely.

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.

Include Pets in Your Emergency Preparedness Plans


September is FEMA’s National Preparedness Month and FEMA encourages us humans to get prepared for emergencies and disasters.



Way to often we hear from survivors of a catastrophic event say, “I never thought this could happen to me.”

Don’t put yourself or your pets in that position and create an emergency preparedness plan that includes your pets.

Leave no pets behind, they can’t survive without you.  They can get in the way of first responders, starve, or become victims of other events.

In 2006, The Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards (PETS) Act was passed after the devastation inflicted by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Many folks chose to stay with their pets because they were not allowed to bring them and many of the pets left behind were not reunited with their people.

The PETS Act requires law enforcement to incorporate animals into their community’s emergency plan, but many pet businesses and owners still do not have an individual plan for their pets in the event of an unexpected crisis.

One easy way to prepare your pets for emergencies is to place a sticker on the window closest to your front door.  This sticker identifies the pets and includes names, breeds, the number of pets, it can include where leashes, crates, evacuation and first aid kits are located.

Being prepared is as simple as preparing a pet emergency kit with some of the following items:

  • One-week supply of food stored in a water-proof container for pets and people. (Rotate regularly.)
  • One-week supply of fresh water for pets and people.
  • Hard copies of each pet’s updated vaccination records and other important documents including how to identify the pets.
  • Extra supply of medication.
  • People and Pet first aid kit.
  • List of regional pet-friendly hotels.
  • Carrier or leash for each animal.

Create a family emergency plan that includes your pets.

Don’t leave your pets behind, prepare to take them with you.

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.  Joyce is also author of Preparing Your Pets for Emergencies and Disasters.

Dealing with Dogs With Storm Anxiety

Prior to May 8, 2009 my dogs Trojan (Carolina Dog) and Gitli (Lab mix) were not fearful of storms.  While I was at work on May 8, 2009 a severe storm came rolling through town.  It was straight line winds called a Derecho.



I left work as soon as I could to get home and check on the status of my dogs, who were bouncing off the wall in fear.  It would be two weeks before having electric again.

Soon after this dangerous storm had passed, many more storms of various intensities came through and I noticed that the dogs had become fearful of storms and the tornado sirens even when the sirens were being tested.

I did some research and realized that my dogs had developed a storm anxiety or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  The symptoms can vary greatly from dog and can include bury his head at our side, diving under the bed, hiding, trembling, whining, drooling and pacing.  In severe cases the dog panics and will chew furniture, tear drapes, breaks windows or cause other types of damage or harm to themselves.

Some dogs can identify a storm hours before the storm arrives.  Behaviorists are not sure what parts of the storms are scarring the dogs but it can be the sudden drop in air pressures, the electrical charge in the air, reacting to lightning, sounds of thunder, wind blowing or the sound of rain hitting.

There are a couple of theories about storm anxieties one of those theories is that dogs born in fall and winter when storms are not as active become fearful of storms in the spring and summer because they were never exposed as a puppy.  I have my doubts about this theory because Gitli was born in the spring, when storms were active and she was already hiding under furniture when she could fit.

Another theory is that some breeds have a predisposed tendency to storm anxiety.  An article printed in the July/August 2001 issue of the Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association actually describes an internet survey of owners who have dogs that are storm phobic.  The author of this articles indicates that certain breeds may be predisposed to storm anxiety like herding dogs like collies, German Shepherds, hounds like beagles and basset hounds.  Some breeds of dogs have been bred to react quickly to stimuli but not to their own natural strong predatory drive.  This drive has suppressed their natural tendencies, leading to high levels of anxiety.

Another part of the study showed that dogs that have been rescued and adopted from shelters or rescues are more likely to develop storm anxieties.  They may have been less socialized, have had unpleasant or scary experiences prior to being adopted.  They may have been abused or abandoned by a former owner or even exposed to a wide variety of sights and sounds.  These types of experiences can make dogs more anxious and prone to various phobias.  Trojan and Gitli were both adopted from shelters.

Dogs that have storm anxiety also experience chronic stress that has a negative impact on their immune system and overall health that can include heart attacks.

The first thing before giving the dog any medication or home remedy is to talk to the veterinarian.  Your veterinarian can help to develop a program to gradually retrain your dog to adjust to storms through behavior modification, called “systematic desensitization”.  This can involve exposing the dog to gentle reminders of thunderstorm like a soft tape recording of thunder or flashing light and then rewarding the dogs with lots of treats and positive reinforcement.  If this doesn’t work there is prescription medications that the veterinarian can prescribe.

If your more into the holistic methods for storm anxieties Bach’s Five-Flower Formula, Bach’s Rescue Remedy, Perelandra ETS for Animals Plus, or the Thundershirt might be of assistance for some dogs.  When using Bach’s Five-Flower Formula or the Bach’s Rescue Remedy I usually apply it into the dogs water  hours before the storms arrive.  I apply the ETS on a dog cookie to encourage them to take it.

Other suggestions to mitigate storm anxieties in dogs:

  • Create a safe spot that is dark, quiet, and easily accessible for the dog(s).  This can be a closet, bathroom, a small room, a crate and furnish it with pillows, dog toys, blankets, a dog bed and treats.
  • Try to drown out the noise from the storm by playing music or the TV.
  • Get the dog inside as soon as you are aware of the approaching storm and keep the dog there until the storm is gone and have someone stay with the dog to prevent possible destruction.
  • Play with your dog(s) before and during the storm and do this with the other distracting noises from the music or TV.

I have since found the Thundershirt.  My dogs anxieties include two 70 lb dogs attempting to bury themselves into my lap, whining, heavy breathing and shaking when storms begin to approach.  I acquired a Thundershirt to see what type of response both dogs would give when wearing it and the response is amazing.  The shirt is being worn my the eldest dog during storms and along with the Bach’s Five-Flower Formula I have noticed a huge difference.

Dog owners should do their research and choose a method that works best for themselves and their pet(s) when dealing with storm anxieties.  The most important thing for dog(s) owners to remember is to remain calm, comfort your dog(s) when it is needed, and keep your dog(s) secure and safe when storms are in the area.

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.

Ensure a Happy and Save Halloween for your pet(s).

Many humans find All Hallow’s Eve fun but for our pet(s) Halloween can become quite unnerving, stressful, and even dangerous. Take some precautions and ensure a HAPPY AND SAVE HALLOWEEN for you and your pet(s).

The increase in foot traffic, loud noises, and additional knocks or door bell ringing can rattle many pet’s nerves. The spooky altered appearance of friends, family members and strangers can cause pet(s) to act unpredictable. Avoid mishaps or incidences by removing pet(s) from the loud noises and festivities and keep them in a secured room. Check on your pet(s) regularly and comfort them when they seek it. DO NOT force attention on your pet(s); allow him or her to approach willingly and on their own terms during these festivities.

Your pet(s) might not enjoy dressing up for Halloween….DO NOT force them to wear a costume if they appear uncomfortable, sheepish, or resistant. For those pet(s) who enjoy costumes, be very wary of costumes you purchase for your pet(s). Costumes containing rubber bands can harm your pet(s) by getting entangled in objects, pulling out hair or digging into the skin. Some costumes can have the potential for being a fire hazard or contain toxic materials. Do not allow pet(s) to chew on and ingest parts of their costume because it can be potentially harmful or contain toxic substances.

Keep all decorations out of reach of your pet(s) because they can be toxic to them including:

  • Jack-o-lanterns
  • Candy wrappers
  • Candles
  • Chocolate

Halloween can be made special for your pet(s) by making special homemade pet(s) treats like dog biscuits and cat treats.  Please read “Thirteen Ingredients to Avoid in Dog Food”. These also can be handed out to friends and family who have pet(s).

Halloween can be terrifying and even life-threatening for pet(s), especially black cats. Superstitions and myths abound targeting black animals as the bearers of misfortune and evil. Some black animals have been horribly tortured and maimed, severely abused, and even killed during Halloween!

To prevent such horrendous acts from happening to your pet(s) it is highly recommended that all pet(s)s be brought in starting the night prior to Halloween and during All’s Hallow’s Eve. To be even more cautious it is advised that pet(s)s be brought in two weeks prior to Halloween.

It is unfortunate that those cruel, misguided souls have made this holiday a concern for caring, devoted pet(s) owners but for the safety and peace of mind of all involved these precautions should be implemented.

Pet(s) Safety Tips for Halloween:

  • Bring your pet(s) inside, using dog(s) to keep pranksters away from your home puts them endanger especially since there is no way for the animal to escape anyone who wants to harm, tease or taunt them.
  • Prevent anxiety and stress by placing your pet(s) in a quiet, secured, indoor room away from the loud, boisterous festivities. Secure them away from trick or treaters so they don’t run to or out of the door when opened. Secure them in a different room, behind a baby gate and be sure that you have taught your dog the stay command.
  • Comfort your pet(s) whenever your pet(s) seeks it on your pet(s)s terms but DO NOT force it.
  • Keep decorations, jack-o-lanterns, candy wrappers, and candles out of reach of your pet(s).
  • Chocolate is not good for dogs and can kill them.
  • Keep candy, alcohol, and other potentially toxic foods out of reach of your pet(s).
  • Click on Provide or Make healthy treats for pet(s) to view “Thirteen Ingredients to Avoid in Dog Food” if there are plans to making your pet(s) treats.
  • Avoid dressing up your pet(s) if they appear uncomfortable, stressed, or sheepish.
  • If you do purchase a costume and your pet(s) is receptive to the idea, avoid customs with rubber bands, and ingestible items. These may cause potential health risks to your pet(s) and always supervise your pet(s) to avoid possible mishaps.
  • Keep Electrical cords out of reach of pet(s) by covering them or tacking them down.
  • Keep your pet(s) inside two-week prior to and throughout Halloween night, especially black animals including cats.
  • Microchip your pet(s) and keep the information current and Identification tags should be current and legible on each pet(s).
  • Maintain regular and feeding routines to avoid undue stress, yet avoid allowing them outside without supervision.
  • Secure your pet(s) so that they not able to escape outside through an open door or window.
  • Some dogs scare easily, desensitize them to hats, big wigs and masks or be sure that they are secured and away from the trick or treaters.
  • Keep your pet’s identification tags and vaccinations up to date.
  • Keep the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center number handy, which is (888) 426-4435.

These simple precautions will help to ensure that you and your pet(s) will avoid the potential dangers and enjoy this holiday together. Happy Halloween!

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.