Tips on Improving Kitty Behavior

DSCN0006Did you know that when you make simple changes to enrich your cat’s life you reap the benefits as well? From eliminating outside the litter box to aggression, even inappropriate scratching, these and other behavioral disorders of indoor cats can be treated simply by making improvements to your cat’s environment.  Watch this month’s episode of Pet Talk, Dr. Sarah shares her surprisingly simple tips.

Top Toxins That Can Poison Our Pets, Do You Know What Is Or Is Not Toxic?

Trojan and Gitli near the fireplace

 

“Happy National Poison Prevention Week! In 2013, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) in Urbana, Illinois, handled nearly 180,000 cases of pets exposed to toxic substances, many of which are everyday household items.”

 

Read this great article from the ASPCA and learn more about common household items that results in frequent calls to APCC.

Winter Storm Preparations

Gitli dressed for negative temperatures in Southern Illinois 2014

Gitli dressed for negative temperatures in Southern Illinois 2014

 

I recently was on a radio broadcast with Peaceful Planet Pets and one of the topics of discussion was the fact that folks were leaving their pets out while the Blizzard Draco came rolling through.  At the end of 2013 winter season approached fast, were you prepared?  Does your disaster plan include winter weather?

Using wolves as an excuse to leave dogs out in these types of weather conditions ignores the evolution between wild and domestic dogs.  Wolves have adapted to these types of conditions but our domestic dogs have adapted to living with us.

 

 

 

I lived in Alaska for two years and really had to prepare for travel in subzero temperatures and part of my own preparations was  a winter emergency kit available and it includes things like extra warm clothing, blankets, dry shoes, a candle, a lighter or water-proof matches, food that doesn’t freeze, access to water, emergency flares and the list goes on.  Winter weather conditions can change on a dime, so plan your routes and stay alert to your weather reports, try to avoid the storms, and be flexible.  Sliding off the road and into a ditch will not help you get there anywhere quickly.

How do you prepare for winter?

Either purchase or build your own car winter kit and become familiar with everything in it, items to include (not all inclusive):

  • Have extra blankets, sleeping bags or space blankets in your care
  • Extra warm clothing
  • A Flashlight with extra batteries, there are flashlights available that will charge cell phones
  • A first aid kit for your car
  • Carry a knife, high calorie and non-perishable food, candles, water-proof matches, something to melt snow in for drinking water
  • Sanitary items like baby wipes, tissues, paper towels, garbage bags
  • Carry sand or cat litter for tire traction and a shovel to dig out with
  • Tool kit should include tow ropes, windshield scrapers, and jumper cable
  • A compass and roads maps, you may have to go another route
  • Emergency flares
  • A full tank of gas will keep ice from forming in the tank and fuel lines
  • Keep someone information of your schedule and routes
  • Winterize your vehicle before winter begins and this includes having good tread on tires, carry chains
  • Build your kit to your needs

Before leaving home, pound the hood of your car before starting.  Cats and other small animals may have climb in to seek warmth from the car.

Not all pets arctic breeds and can survive in harsh winter conditions.  Dogs and cats can also get frost-bitten.  When I lived in Alaska, my dogs were required to have covering for their feet because their paws could freeze to the ice, which could be painful for the dogs.  Even then I knew of sled dog owners when it hit zero and below brought their sled dogs in to keep them warm over the winter.  They could tell how cold it was by the number of dogs piled on the bed for warmth with their people.

Trojan dressed for negative temperatures in Southern Illinois 2014

Trojan dressed for negative temperatures in Southern Illinois 2014

 

 

If feral dogs and cats are in the area, encourage a temporary shelter so that they to can get out of the wind.  I can only imagine what these animals are thinking as they try to survive in conditions that are harsh for them and how many of them really just want to be safe, warm and fed.

 

 

 

 

Other cold-weather tips:

  • Know the signs of frostbite and hypothermia.  This can include: violent shivering followed by listlessness, weak pulse, and lethargy. The parts of the body that is mostly exposed to the weather are more likely to get frostbite and includes ears, tails, and feet. The treatment for frostbite is to apply warm (not hot) water soaks to the frostbitten part for 20 minutes but do not rub or massage those areas. Most importantly seek medical attention.
  • Winter ice melters can be harmful to your pet.  Rock salt can damage your dog’s paws, and worse and they ingest all of that harmful salt by licking off their paws. Chemical ice melters are dangerous to and if you do need to use it, prevent the pets from walking on it. Encourage your clients to use the pet-friendly products that can melt ice without salt.  Never assumed these products are safe if ingest.  Don’t forget to wipe off paws as pets enter the home.
  • Antifreeze is a deadly poison:  Wipe up any spills, store antifreeze out of reach, and double check that your car doesn’t have a leak.
  • Dogs and Cats love sleeping next to a warm fire. Screen off fireplaces so pets can’t get too close and risk being burned.
  • Stock up on supplies.  Winter weather can bring heavy snow or ice at happen anytime. Keep extra pet supplies on hand and encourage your clients to do the same for their pets.
  • Keep an Emergency Kit.  These can be tailored to your needs and the changing season.  Include in the kits: emergency food, water, blankets, flashlights, first aid supplies, medications, a weather radio, and other supplies that you would need. Be prepared!  Encourage your clients to maintain their own emergency kits and know where these kits are kept.

Emergencies happen and winter storms can bring power and water outages, fallen trees and massive limbs blocking roadways, even evacuation orders. Having emergency plans and kits in place will save time when in a crisis.

Be prepared for winter conditions.  Please encourage pet parents to be prepared and to bring their animals in during the winter including their cats.  If the pets are not able to come in provide appropriate shelter out of the wind that contains bedding for warmth and unfrozen and clean water for them to drink and food to eat.

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 Plans: Preparing Your Pets for Emergencies and Disasters.

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.

Protecting Your Pets from Getting Lost or Stolen

Trojan and Gitli aug 20 2012I have lost count to the many phone calls and emails from upset pet parents whose pets have gone missing and these call usually come several days if not a week later.  I ask the usual questions.  Does your pet have a collar with an ID tag?  Is your pet micro-chipped?  Do you have a current photo of your pet?  Have you put up flyers and contacted the vets, shelters, police, animal control in a 10 miles radius?

The usual answer to these questions is No.

One of the most frightening things that can happen to any pet owner is their pet disappearing. It does happen.  Some pets will run off to explore or hunt and then are not able to find the way home.  Some pet get out of their enclosures, slip off leashes, or even dart from the car or from an open door.  Some pets are lost after a vehicle accident or are stolen.  Dog theft is on the rise and the target is usually purebreds, hunting dogs or bully breeds.  The dogs get sold on the black market to labs, puppy bills, or even as bait dogs for dog fight training.

A responsible pet owner will protect, supervise, and know where their pet is at any given moment and yet after all the efforts made sometimes things just happen. We can take steps to protect our pets from becoming lost or stolen:

  • Keep color photos of your pet and of you being with your pet current.
  • Be diligent in checking the pets enclosure or fenced area to ensure that escape isn’t possible.  A fenced yard DOES NOT guarantee that your pet is safe and secure without supervision.  Dogs can dig under, jump over, and climb up and over fences.  Even a little hole can become an escape route for a determined pet or thief.
  • Most places have leash laws for dogs, follow the leash laws and do not let your dog run off leash in an unfenced area.
  • Some dogs and cats tend to run out an opened door, be careful when opening doors.
  • Avoid leaving pets alone in the yard, car, or tethered outside of a business. It really does take just a moment for a pet to vanish.
  • Make sure leashes and collars are secure.  I recently transported a dog whose collar was not fitted to him and he slipped out of it.  I am thankful the dog responded to his training and went right to the car to jump in.  I fitted his collar immediately.
  • Make sure your that the data on your pet’s collar and micro-chip are up to date.
  • Most communities issues rabies and license tags to pet owners, securely attach these to the pets collar.  Keep these tags valid, these can help trace the pet owner.
  • If your pet is tattooed make sure it’s visible and that the data at the Tattoo Registry is up to date.
  • Replace frayed, worn, or chewed collars, leashes, and cable runs.
  • Be careful with the retractable leashes, they do not normally give pet owners optimal control and when some dogs will dart when these are dropped because of the noise it makes hitting the ground and retracting.
  • Many pets turn up missing after a big noise event or loud parties, especially related to fireworks.   Make sure pets are secured during these events and never leave them outside and unattended.  Other loud triggers can be thunderstorms, construction noises like nail guns, big delivery trucks, other types of large equipment, motorcycles, gunshots, backfire from vehicles, sirens, and horns.
  • Traveling with your pets can be fun but travel safety is very important.  Take precautions and if flying the crate needs to be secure and properly identified.  Keep pets from running out of open vehicle doors and do not leave them alone in the vehicle.
  • Training your dog is important.  A solid foundation of obedience training can be essential especially a strong recall command.  Keep treats handy at all time for incentives.

Not all lost dogs will bark for help and some instinctively remain still and quiet to avoid getting the attention of wild or human predators.  Time is of the essence when a pet vanishes and pet owners must take immediate action:

  • If theft is a possibility call law enforcement immediately.
  • Post signs and flyers that has a current color photo of the lost pet and your contact information on it, be sure to include in large black letter “LOST DOG or CAT” and include a description of your pet.  If your pet is tattooed or micro-chipped mention that but do not mention what the tattoo or micro-chip number is.
  • Contact local animal hospitals, shelters, animal control, rescue groups, and other pet related businesses
  • Canvass the neighborhood and ask friends, neighbors and family members for their help.
  • Post lost dog ads in the newspaper
  • List your dog online at lost dog databases.
  • Act fast and do not give up hope
  • Don’t beat yourself up, even the best preventative measures don’t always work
  • Post on websites designed to help with lost pets.
  • Utilize Social Media like Facebook and Twitter and don’t forget to include your location which means include the city and state.  I have seen a lot of lost pet posts that don’t include this vital information.

There are criminals who will see your misfortune as an opportunity to make money so beware of scams.  Avoid posting the actual reward amount, tattoo and micro-chip information on the signs and flyers.  Do not give out your full name and address for your own safety.  If you receive a tip do not send any reward money until your pet is safely in your arms.  Never go out alone to pick up your pet from anyone you do not know and let your friends and family know where you are going.

Other tips to remember:

  • When your pet is spotted don’t chase this could cause your pet to run away whether it’s out of fear or being playful.  Make sure your search parts knows this and that they know how to approach or shy or fearful dog.
  • Leave fresh food and water, bedding with shelter and some favorite toys outside the pet’s home
  • Periodically visit each of the locations of where signs and fliers have been posted and replace as needed
  • Don’t forget to post a sign on your vehicle and ask friends and family to do the same
  • Keep tracks of all places you have posted sign and visited and remove signs immediately after your pet is home.  Keep a log of online listings as well and remove your listing when the pet has returned home.

Pets owners don’t expect to have their pets get lost or stolen yet assuming it could happen and taking steps to prevent it can help.  Sometimes all the preventive measure just isn’t enough.  Never leave your pet unsupervised in vehicles, tethered outside of business or even in their own yard.  If you think your pet has been stolen contact the police immediately.  If your pet becomes lost take immediate steps.  Most importantly, Don’t Lose Hope and Keep Getting The Word Out.

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.”

Murphysboro, Illinois Derecho May 2009

Trojan inspection
A derecho is a widespread, long-lived, straight-line windstorm that is associated with a fast-moving band of severe thunderstorms. Generally, derechos are convection-induced and take on a bow echo form of squall line, forming in an area of wind divergence in the upper levels of the troposphere, within a region of low-level warm air advection and rich low-level moisture. They travel quickly in the direction of movement of their associated storms, similar to an outflow boundary (gust front), except that the wind is sustained and increases in strength behind the front, generally exceeding hurricane-force. A warm-weather phenomenon, derechos occur mostly in summer, especially during June and July in the Northern Hemisphere, within areas of moderately strong instability and moderately strong vertical wind shear. They may occur at any time of the year and occur as frequently at night as during the daylight hours. Attribution: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Derecho

Below is a video of the storm damage that I received after a Derecho came through Murphysboro, Illinois May 8, 2009.

Have You Prepared Your Pets for Emergencies and Disasters?

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.

FREE Screening of Beyond the Myth

Saturday March 9, 2013

Time: 1:00 PM

FREE Screening of A Film About Breed Discrimination: Beyond the Myth

BeyondTheMythFlyer (2)

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.

GET READY Preparedness Fair

Pet Survival Kits BoothSaturday February 2, 2013

Time: 2:00 PM – 6:00 PM

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Old Highway 13, between Tower Rd. and Country Club Rd., Carbondale, IL 62901

Hurricane Sandy, Harrisburg, Joplin and now Newtown have these events heightened our awareness that an unexpected disaster can happen at any time. Would you like to have great peace of mind knowing your family is prepared for whatever may be in your future? Whether it is loss of job, derecho or earthquake, The Preparedness Fair Saturday February 2nd at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will help you begin your efforts to survive future disasters. Learn tips on weather advisories, responding to an active shooter, communication skills and much more. FREE & OPEN TO THE PUBLIC!  There will be many organizations and individuals with tips to help you begin preparing as well as scheduled presentations:

2pm Jim Rasor, WSIL TV3 chief meteorologist
3:15pm Larry Moore: Active Shooter Response
4:15pm U of I: Conflict Resolution Skills
5:15pm SIUC: The movie “Suddenly… on an Average Day ”

Attribution: Kara Dunkel

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.

Preparing Your Pets For Emergencies and Disasters Presentation

Pet Survival Kits BoothFebruary 23, 2013

Time: 10:30 AM – 5:00 PM

Preparing Your Pets For Emergencies and Disasters will be presented at the Harrisburg District Library located a 2 W Walnut, Harrisburg, IL 62946-1261, the book signing will follow the workshop.

 

 

 

Please RSVP to Harrisburg District Library by February 1, 2013 if participants would like an autographed copy of “Preparing Your Pets for Emergencies and Disasters.”

You have been informed that you have 15 minutes to evacuate and you have pets.  What Pet Owners WISH they had known before an emergency or a disaster strikes. Don’t evacuate without your pets.  Joyce Rheal author of Preparing Your Pets for Emergencies and Disasters will be presenting a workshop and book signing.  The work shop will consist of the importance of Preparing Your Pets for Emergencies and Disasters, don’t leave your pets behind when evacuating.  Joyce Rheal will facilitate pet owner in creating a disaster plan that includes their pets.

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.