Thursday, July 20, 2017

Stray Animals

When you see an animal loose and apparently all alone, what do you do? Do you immediately stop to help, or do you drive off and hope that its owner is close by? If you are like me, you  instinctively have the urge to see if you can help in some way. Although the safest method is often to call for backup (animal control, for example), here are some tips on what you can do if you find a stray while you’re alone and want to try to help out.

  • First, if you are driving, find a safe place to park. You don’t want to cause an accident while trying to save an animal. Make sure you look in all of your mirrors and blind spots before pulling over and do not stop in the middle of the street. Turn off your car and put the hazard lights on.
  • Remember that a frightened and potentially sick or injured animal can behave unpredictably. Be cautious and expect that any move that you make can potentially spook the animal, causing him to run or hide. If at any point the animal looks or acts threatening, or if you feel uneasy about the situation, stay a safe distance away, or go back to your car and call for help. Your local shelter or veterinarians office should be able to help.
  • If the animal is quiet enough for you to approach, speak calmly and make sure the animal can see you at all times as you get closer. Try to entice the animal to come to you (food may help) rather than approaching it directly.
  • Ideally, try to coax the animal directly into your car. Do not corner the animal or attempt to grab him suddenly, as this may make him panic and try to bite.
  • Call for backup. Call either the police department or your local animal control center, and report the situation. They will come out to help.  
  • Scan for a microchip. Any vet or animal shelter should have a scanner. If the pet is microchipped, that is the fastest way to locate his owners. (For more info about microchipping, check out our Chip Your Pet! post).
  • Take the animal to a safe place. This may be the local shelter (which is often the first place a worried owner will look), or some people opt to take the animal home until its owner is located. Just be extra careful, as there is no way of knowing how the animal may react to other people, pets, or a strange, new environment. 
  • Post signs around the area where you found the animal as well as on local social media to raise awareness that the animal is safe and is looking for its home. If you turned the animal into the shelter, it is ok to check in periodically or leave your contact information in case the owner is not located right away.

We all want pets to be returned to their homes as quickly and safely as possible. By following these steps, you can help make sure a lost pet is reunited with his family without endangering either of you. Just remember, if the animal is growling or looks angry, its best to call in the professionals.

Monday, June 19, 2017

June is National Pet Preparedness Month

June is National Pet Preparedness Month, a time dedicated to making sure if a natural disaster strikes, you have an evacuation plan in place for the whole family including your pets! Predicting when (or how badly) weather may strike is very difficult. But having a plan in place ahead of time makes for much safer and smoother sailing if the weather tables turn and you have to evacuate.

If you already have an “Emergency Bag” or evacuation pack ready, great! Here's your reminder to replace any old food and medication, update photos, and check emergency contact information. Don't have an Emergency Bag yet? Here are some items yours should include:

  • At least 7 days worth of food and water for both you and your animal
  • Extra food and water bowls
  • Medications
  • Extra collar or harness and a leash, plus a carrier for small pets
  • Clean up supplies (i.e. disinfectants, towels or paper towels, plastic bags)
  • A flashlight
  • Blankets
  • Toys and chews
  • Updated copies of medical records and a recent photo of your pet
  • Contact information for local veterinarians, pet friendly hotels and shelters, and out of town family members willing to take in your pets in case of an emergency
  • First aid kit with pet-specific supplies

Don't forget to store your Emergency Bag somewhere easily accessible and ready to take at a moment's notice. It won't help anyone if your bag is stored in the back closet behind all the holiday decorations! Also, don’t forget to rotate any water or food regularly, and try to buy canned food that has a pop-top for easy opening.

For more information, visit

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Happy Chip Your Pet Month!

Pets with microchips are more than twice as likely to find their way home than pets that aren't. Unfortunately, the vast majority of America's pets still are not microchipped. If those pets get lost, they can't tell whoever finds them where they live. A microchip can. Here's how it works:

A microchip is a tiny implant about the size of a grain of rice that is implanted under the skin between the shoulder blades. Each microchip is coded with unique ID number, almost like a social security number for pets. Unlike a collar, tattoo, or tag, a microchip will never wear out, break, or become difficult to read, and its information cannot be altered. Although microchips don't work like a GPS, meaning you can't use them to track down your pet's exact location, a microchip can be quickly scanned by a universal scanner at any shelter or vet's office, instantly linking your pet with your contact information so they can be returned home safely.

Is it safe? Microchips are specially designed to stay in place and not migrate through the body. They also are made with nonreactive materials so the body doesn't even know one has been implanted, and they do not contain any batteries or chemicals. A microchip only emits a signal when in the presence of a microchip scanner.

Does it hurt? The implantation process itself is actually very similar to a routine shot and only takes a few seconds. In fact, it can be done during a regular office visit. Your pet will feel a brief pinch from the needle, and that's it! There is no recovery time or side effects, other than some mild soreness at the injection site.

Is it expensive? Microchipping generally costs around $30-$50 including registration.

Is there an annual fee to stay registered? There is a one-time registration fee for any chip in order to store your contact information. This fee covers lifetime registration for your pet in the online database. After that, many companies will offer extended protection packages that include things like distributing "Lost Pet" flyers to local shelters on your behalf or transporting your pet back home after he is located, even if it is several towns (or states!) away. These extras are simply that, though, extras. After the first year, which automatically includes these freebies, don't feel obligated to pay a subscription fee if you don't want to.

If your pet is not already microchipped, we strongly encourage you to think about it, and not just because it is "Chip Your Pet" Month. If your pet goes missing, there is no more reliable or affordable way to make sure he gets returned to you safe and sound. Call us today to schedule an appointment!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

6 Common Pet Emergencies and How to Handle Them

April is National Pet First Aid Awareness Month. So, since emergencies can and do happen unexpectedly, here are key things you should know about 6 of the most common emergency situations. Of course, you should always contact your veterinarian as soon as you notice that something is wrong with your pet. The tips below are great for providing short term aid until you can get your pet to a professional, but please do not try to fix the problem yourself!

1. Choking or Airway Obstruction.

Airway obstruction is one of the most common pet emergencies. Sometimes there are obvious signs, such as extreme difficulty breathing, gagging, or coughing. In other cases the symptoms may be more subtle, like excessive pawing at the mouth. Although you don't want to waste time if your pet is in serious distress, the first step is to look into your pet's mouth to see if you can spot any foreign objects blocking her airway. If you see something and your pet can still pass some air, call your vet for advice. They may recommend that you try to gently remove the object with tweezers or pliers, but be very careful! You don't want to push the object further down or put your fingers in your pet's mouth where you might getting bitten.

If no air is passing through, you can attempt to dislodge the object with a few sharp whacks between the shoulderblades or quick abdominal thrusts, similar to the human Heimlich maneuver. If you have a small dog or cat, carefully inverting your pet so her hind end is upward and her head is down will allow gravity to help you out as well. Don't want waste too much time trying to solve the problem on your own, however, if your pet is in distress. Your best bet is to seek immediate medical attention.

2. Fractures.

Severe lameness or the outright inability to use a limb is usually the first sign of a fracture. Pets with potential fractures should be seen immediately, especially if you notice any bleeding! If you suspect a fracture, muzzle your pet before you try to move him or her. If you don't have a muzzle, some old pantyhose or the sleeve of a sweatshirt can do the trick. Fractures are extremely painful and may cause even a docile dog to try to bite. Then, call your vet and head right over. Try to move the fractured area as little as possible. A stretcher (or a makeshift stretcher out of a door or a rubbermade container lid) may come in handy.

3. Seizures.

Seizures look really scary, but your best course of action is to let the seizure run its course. Move away any hard or heavy objects, like tables or bookshelves, so your pet doesn't bump into them and comfort him by resting a hand on his side. You can also place towels or blankets near him for added protection. DO NOT attempt to restrain your pet or reach into his mouth, as this may cause injury to one or the both of you. Seizuring pets are in no danger of choking on their tongue. However, they may flail or unintentionally bite you since all of their muscles clamp down tightly during a seizure. Do your best to remember key details about your pet's behavior during the seizure so you can inform your vet: What did it look like? Was your pet paddling, drooling, stiff? How long did the seizure last? It often feels like seizures last for hours, but the more accurately you can time them, the better. As soon as it’s over, call your veterinarian to get instructions on what to do next.

4. External Bleeding.

Muzzle your pet first, then try to examine the injured area. It is important to keep your pet as calm as possible, as the more active he is the more he will bleed. Apply firm pressure to the affected area using gauze or clean towels for at least 3 minutes or until bleeding stops. If there is severe bleeding from one of your pet's legs, you can try to use an elastic band around a clean t-shirt as a tourniquet (place it above the wound) while applying direct pressure to the wound itself. Once you’ve stopped the bleeding, seek veterinary attention as soon as possible.

5. Poisoning.

Poisoning is much more difficult to identify, as there are a wide range of symptoms depending on the toxin. Vomiting, convulsions, diarrhea, and weakness are some of the most common symptoms. Take action right away and call your local veterinarian or ASPCA Poison Control if you have any suspicions that your pet may have gotten into something he shouldn't have. If you know the source of the poisoning, bring it with you to the vet or snap a picture of the product label. It is very important to provide your vet with as many details as possible, including the exact product name, how much your pet may have ingested (and how long ago), and a list of active ingredients, among others.

6. Collapse.

If you discover your pet to be unconscious, administering CPR can save his life. First, look/listen to see if your pet is breathing. If not, begin rescue breaths by placing him on his right side, gently extending his neck, holding his jaws closed, and forming a seal by placing your mouth over his nose (or nose and mouth, for small dogs and cats). Blow into his nostrils every 3 seconds, enough so you see his chest rise. Make sure that no air escapes between his mouth and nose.

If you also don’t feel a heartbeat, deliver chest compressions over the left side of his chest (feel for the heartbeat along the left side of his chest just behind his elbow or on the inside of his rear leg where it meets the body). Give 3 chest compressions every two seconds, aiming to depress the chest 1/4 - 1/2 way down each time. DO NOT attempt chest compressions if there is a heartbeat! Continue alternating chest compressions with rescue breaths, about 10-15 compressions between each breath, as you travel to the nearest animal hospital or until your pet begins breathing again on his own.

Most information gathered from the American Red Cross article "Pet CPR" originally published

Thursday, March 16, 2017

10 Less Common Ways to Lend a Paw to Your Local Shelter

When it comes to helping our local shelters, a monetary donation is often the first thing to come to mind. But for those of us that either don't have the money to give, or who would like to help in some other way, here are a few less common (but certainly not less appreciated!) ideas:

Volunteer/Spread the word: Shelters are always looking for people willing to volunteer their time. Hanging up fliers, transporting animals, and sharing adoption profiles on social media are just a few examples. In addition, many shelter animals don't get much one-on-one time with people. These pets definitely appreciate being able to get out for a walk or snuggle up for an impromptu cuddle session!

Donate Wish List Items: Every shelter has a wish list of items, whether it's food, toys, bedding, litter, crates, or cleaning supplies. Just ask!

Scan Websites for Freebies: Websites like Freecycle, eBay, or Craigslist often post free or low cost items that would be useful to a shelter.

Call Local Hotels: Local hotels often have older bedding or towels that can't be used by paying customers but would still make a plush bed for a shelter pet. They may also have cleaning supplies that they would be willing to donate.

Office Supply Stores: Nearby office supply stores may also have items they are willing to donate toward the human side of the shelter (think office items like printer paper, ink, envelopes). 

Get Crafty: Turn your old bedding, t-shirts, or jeans into cozy blankets for the animals!

Donate Professional Skills: Shelters could always use the help of a lawyer or an accountant. Even if they are not-for-profit, shelters still need help with paperwork and keeping track of expenses.

Dog Trainers: A dog that knows basic commands is more likely to get adopted than a dog that doesn't. Volunteer your time to teach some of the animals at the shelter basic rules like sit, lay down, and how to walk on a leash.

Writers: Offer to help update pet’s profiles on their adoption page or contribute to their newsletter.

Photographers: A picture is work a thousand words, especially to a shelter pet who's profile pic can mean the difference between getting adopted or not. High quality photos show off an animal's personality and are indispensable on adoption profiles, but many shelters can't afford to hire a professional photographer. 

How will you help?