Holiday Pet Safety

Trojan with bow Crop

Gitli with bow

The Holidays are upon us and these events can be rather hectic for our pets.  We need to stay alert to possible dangers to them.  These threats can be things like consuming an excessive amount of rich and harmful foods, inappropriate or even toxic items which can be the seasonal decorations, ornamental lighting and plants.

While having fun with family and friends, don’t forget your companion animals and have  fun with and protect them during the holidays festivals.

“Watch this month’s yuletide episode of Pet Talk and find out what holiday trimmings are on the nice list and which ones are on the naughty. Your heightened awareness could help prevent everything from unintentional fire hazards to unwanted ingestion of plants that are safe for humans but poisonous to pets. Simply by following these helpful guidelines, your pet kid could avoid gastric upset and serious injury.”

Please watch the video of Dr. Sarah, you can advice you on how to make sure your pet’s holidays are safe as well as jolly.

Merry Christmas and have a Safe and Happy Holiday!

To Stay Active Outside During Winter Select Proper Clothing

Trojan dressed for negative temperatures in Southern Illinois 2014

Trojan dressed for negative temperatures in Southern Illinois 2014

Many of us have seen Christmas Story and the scene that Ralphie is so well insulated that his arms are stuck up as he has been bundled for his walk to school.  He whines “I can’t put my arms down” and his mom comments “ can put your arms down when you get to school.” When I work in locations that require walking dogs in snow and ice, I can’t be bundled up like Ralphie.  When we are out playing with our dogs in winter areas that has snow and ice, we need to be able to move about safely and stay warm.

I lived in Alaska for two years and really had to prepare for travel in subzero temperatures.  Part of that ritual was having my own traveling winter emergency kit available.  It includes extra warm clothing, blankets, dry shoes, a candle, a lighter or water-proof matches, food that doesn’t freeze, access to water, emergency flares, a first aid kit, and the list goes on.  The biggest challenge was dressing for winter.  I had to learn to layer so that I wouldn’t be walking around like Ralphie.  One of the important layers is two pairs of breathable socks or a pair of heavier breathable or insulated socks, if your feet got cold or wet there can be problems.  Then the first layer was the layer closest to the skin after the undergarments and socks.

Trojan hiding behind pole

In Alaska that first layer was a polypropylene top and bottom, this is also called long johns, long underwear, or a base layer. From that I would put on the normal outerwear garments: pants, blouse, or sweater.  I got into the habit of wearing two tops one being a turtle neck and then something on top of that.  That way if I got to hot inside I could remove a layer of clothing.  From there came the coat (my coat in Alaska was gauged for minus weather) or a jacket that covers the butt.  I sometimes will double layer under the coat with a fleece vest.  To protect myself from the wind a light weight pair of ski pants to cover the bottom.  I like to double layer my hands, head, and neck.  For the hands my first layer would be a light weight pair of contact gloves and either another set of heavier gloves on top or a pair of mittens.  There are also gloves out where the wearer can remove the top to expose the fingers just in case one can’t use the fingers with gloves on.  For the neck/chest area I would put a scarf under the jacket and a neck gator that would cover a portion of the neck, mouth and nose.  I use to double layer the head gear as well, using a warm hat and either on or under the hat I would wear ear mittens.

The final dress wear before going out in snow and ice is the shoes.  Your type of shoes will determine how warm and dry your feet are and wearing normal tennis shoes in snow or ice will maintain this goal and will be slip resistant.  Using waterproof shoes or boots that are lightweight will help.  Coating those with a water repellent fabric treatment can help waterproof shoes.  Traction is very important on ice and snow, I keep a pair of slip-on cleats to put on the bottom of my boots, these are similar to the ice shoes worn by those who climb glaciers.  Don’t forget polarized sun glasses to block the glare of ice or snow, it’s important that you see where you going.

In 2013 Southern Illinois got a lot of negative weather temperatures and I actually layered well enough that my main layer was a hunter’s jacket (camouflage on one side and orange on the other) all winter long.

Gitli dressed for negative temperatures in Southern Illinois 2014

Gitli dressed for negative temperatures in Southern Illinois 2014

Take care of dog paws, some dogs won’t put up with dog boots on their feet so using a petroleum jell on their feet will help protect the paws just be sure to wipe off when your back from walks.  Do your best to protect the paws form getting cut by ice or the salt while out walking.  Rinse the paws in warm water to remove ice pellets and other ice melt products, so not to send the body into shock.

Winter can be a wonderful season to be out in about walking dogs and taking care of pets. Take care of yourself and dress appropriately during the winter to protect yourself.  Don’t forget to take care of pet’s paws when out walking.

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.

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.

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.”

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.