October 2, 2012

Wag’N Halloween Pet Safety Warning for 2012

For pets, Halloween exerts a lot of strange, non-natural and abnormal behavior, attitudes, smells, food and clothing.  As much fun as the holiday is, pet parents need to be mindful of certain hazards that may have a devastating effect on their pet’s health. Wag’N Enterprises encourages pet parents to create a Halloween safety plan.

The safety plan should include extra precautions needed for protecting your family, trick-or-treaters, and the pets. Every year, hundreds of pets become frightened by noises and strangers and ran outdoors during the "trick or treating" activities. It is best for dogs to get a long walk during day light prior to zombies, princesses and Charlie Sheen look-alikes start invading the streets.

Pets may be scared or spooked by the noise and strange looks of new oddly dressed strangers and may choose to bark aggressively, jump on, bite or bolt out the front door. All that while trying to defend or out of fear.

Wag’N cautions that open doors will provide for escape routes, children to scare and chase pets, as well as hazardous treats.  Wag’N recommends pets are kept in an enclosed room away from the racket, crated, or in a dog pen hindering access to the home’s main entrance.

Whether the pet goes out or stays confined at home there will be many chances for it to run off or try too. All pets should wear up-to-date pet tags and be micro chipped before guests and/or trick-or-treaters start showing up. If for any reason the pet escapes and gets lost, a collar and tags and/or a microchip can increase the chances the pet will be swiftly reunited with its family. Owners of black cats should consider keeping their cats inside starting one week prior to Halloween to protect them against people that may want to snatch them for strange practical jokes.

Trick or treating with dogs is not recommended for most pet parents. Some normally sociable pets may get spooked. Should the pet parents choose to dress up their pet, the costume needs to be fitted comfortably ensuring that the pet can see and breathe well. If the costume includes a face mask, there should be no lose hanging parts that may be ingested and areas near the snout and mouth need to allow for easy breathing and drinking.

Inside the home, dog tails can knock over candles. Keep candles, jack-o-lanterns, decorations and ornaments out of reach of both pets and small children. Halloween lights can cause digestive upsets or electrocution if swallowed, while electrical cords can cause electrocution if chewed.

Children and adults in your household should be reminded of how dangerous candy and chocolate can be to pets. Bromamine, found in chocolate is extremely toxic to dogs. Leaving unsupervised pets with chew toys such as raw hides, bones, pig ears and greenies is not recommended as pets may choke on them and the lack of supervision may be deadly to the pet. Candies containing the artificial sweetener Xylitol can be poisonous to dogs. Even small amounts of Xylitol sweetener can cause a sudden drop in blood sugar, leading to lack of coordination, seizures, low blood sugar and liver failure within hours. Xylitol is found in candy and gum. Other hazardous foods and items include tin foil, cellophane candy wrappers, meat strings, toothpicks, cookie dough, cooked bones and alcohol.

Once the trick-or-treaters are gone, pets can be rewarded with short walks, few treats and some TLC. Late night walkers must remain cautious of sneaky humans spooking pets and passersby as well as left-over-goodies on sidewalks.

Wag'N highly recommends pet parents keep important life saving phone numbers both in their cell phone registry and displayed on paper copy in a prominent well travelled area of the residence. Important numbers include their emergency veterinarian's phone number, the ASPCA Poison Control Center Number (888) 426-4435 and the Regular Poison Control Number (800)222-1222.

Unlike many other holidays, Wag’N reminds pet parents that human logic is not common pet sense! Awareness and caution will keep tails wagging this holiday season. For more information about Wag’N Enterprises, visit www.wagnpetsafety.com.

March 20, 2011

National Poison Prevention Week 2011


ASPCA Poison Control Center (888) 426-4435 ($65 Consultation Fee)
Pet Poison Helpline 1-800-213-6680 ($35 Consultation Fee)
Nationwide Standard Human Poison Control Center 1-800-222-1222 (FREE)
All 3 numbers are available 24/7 year round.

More than 2 million poisonings are reported each year to the 61 Poison Control Centers (PCCs) across the country. More than 90 percent of these poisonings occur in the home. The majority of non-fatal poisonings occur in children younger than six years old. And, poisonings are one of the leading causes of death among adults.

In 2010, the ASPCA Poison Control Center handled more than 167,000 cases of pets exposed to toxic substances, many of which included everyday household products.

Below are the 10 most common pet toxins of 2010 as outlined by the ASPCA and PetPoisonHelpLine.com

1. Human Medications are once again at the top of the list of pet toxins for 2010. Almost 25 percent of ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (AAPC) calls concerned human medications accidentally ingested by pets. The most common culprits include over-the-counter medications (ibuprofen, acetaminophen), antidepressants and ADHD medications. Other common examples of human medications that can be potentially lethal to pets, even in small doses, include: Pain killers, cold medicines, anti-cancer drugs, vitamins and diet pills. PetPoisonHelpLine.com warns against Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like Advil®, Aleve® and Motrin®; acetaminophen as found in Tylenol® and antidepressants like Effexor®, Cymbalta® and Prozac® that can cause serious harm to your pets when ingested. NSAIDs can cause serious stomach and intestinal ulcers as well as kidney failure. Acetaminophen can damage red blood cells in cats, limiting their ability to carry oxygen, and in dogs, it can lead to severe liver failure. Ingestion of antidepressants, which, of all human medications account for the highest number of calls to Pet Poison Helpline, can lead to neurological problems like sedation, in coordination, agitation, tremors and seizures.
For the Top 10 Drugs that can poison your pet click here.

2. Insecticides. About 20% of the calls to the APCC were about insecticides. Insecticides are commonly used on our pets for flea control and around our houses to control crawling and flying bugs. The most serious poisonings occurred when products not labeled for use in cats were applied to them. Always follow label directions.

3. Rodenticides are baits used to kill mice and rats, mostly grain based. Not only does this attract rodents, but it attracts dogs and cats. There are several different types of rodenticides that can cause seizures, internal bleeding or kidney failure. Rodent baits typically can result in blood clotting disorders, brain swelling or kidney failure, while snail and slug baits can result in severe tremors or seizures. Always make sure these items are placed in areas that pets cannot access.

4. People Food. Xylitol, grapes, raisins, onions and garlic are commonly ingested by our pets. Grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure in dogs, while onions and garlic can cause anemia if enough is ingested. Xylitol, a sugar alcohol used to sweeten sugar free gums and mints, can cause low blood sugar and liver failure in dogs. Many sugarless gums, including some Trident™, Orbit™, and Ice Breaker™ brands, contain xylitol. Candies, flavored multi-vitamins, desserts and baked goods may also be made with xylitol. Even small amounts when ingested can result in a life-threatening drop in blood sugar, or with large amounts of ingestion, liver failure. Signs of xylitol poisoning include vomiting, weakness, difficulty walking, tremors and seizures.
To read more about the risks of xylitol click here.

5. Veterinary Medications although made for our pets are flavored for ease of giving. Unfortunately, that means that animals may ingest the entire bottle of medication if they find it tasty. Common chewable medications include arthritis and incontinence medications. Contact your veterinarian if your pet ingests more than his proper dose of medication.

6. Chocolate contains methylxanthines(a relative of caffeine), which act as stimulants to our pets. The darker the chocolate, the more methylxanthines it contains. Methylxanthines can cause agitation, vomiting, diarrhea, high heart rate,hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm, muscle tremors, seizures and death. Baker’s chocolate and dark chocolate pose the biggest problem. The darker and more bitter the chocolate, the more dangerous it is to our pets.

7. Household Toxins such as cleaning supplies (bleach, acids, alkalis and other detergents), can cause corrosive injury to the mouth and stomach. Other household items such as batteries and liquid potpourri can cause similar problems. Always keep these toxins behind securely locked doors. Rule of thumb: If it has a warning label on it keep out of the reach of children and pets. Other toxic household items include; Fabric softener sheets, mothballs, post-1982 pennies (due to high concentration of zinc)

8. Plants. Both house plants and outdoor plants can be ingested by our pets. Certain types of lilies including tiger, day, Asiatic, Easter and Japanese lilies, are highly toxic to cats, while sago palms can cause liver failure in dogs and cats. Severe kidney failure can result from ingestion of even a few petals, leaves, or even the pollen. In addition, ingestion of certain spring bulbs (e.g. daffodils, tulips) can cause severe vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. More serious reactions include abnormal heart rate or changes in breathing. Keep house plants and bouquets away from your pets.  
For a full list of plants poisonous to dogs and cats click here.

9. Many herbicides have a salty taste, and our pets will commonly ingest them. Always follow label directions and keep pets off treated areas until they are dry.

10. Outdoor toxins such as antifreeze, fertilizers and ice melts are all substances that animals can find outdoors. Keep these items in securely locked sheds or on high shelves where pets cannot get to them. Fertilizers are basic gastrointestinal irritants. However, some are often combined with dangerous chemicals and compounds called organophosphates or carbamates, which can be harmful or deadly to pets. Ingestion can result in drooling, watery eyes, urination, defecation, seizures, difficulty breathing, fever and even death.

What information will I need when I call poison control?
Whether you call your regular, emergency veterinarian or any any of the suggested poison control centers always have the following information available:
- the species, breed, age, sex, weight and number of animals involved
- the animal’s signs (Animals can't tell us symptoms. Tell them what you notice)
- information regarding the exposure, including the agent (if known),
- the amount of the agent involved
- the time elapsed since the time of exposure.
Have the product container/packaging available for reference.
Collect in a sealable plastic bag any material your pet may have vomited or chewed.
Use extreme caution when handling some of the chemicals. Wear non-latex gloves if at all possible.

I think my pet has ingested something potentially dangerous, but she seems normal. What should I do first: call the poison control centers or rush it to my local emergency veterinarian?
If you suspect that your pet may have become exposed to a harmful substance, but is not showing signs of illness, stay calm! Contact your local veterinarian or any of the above mentioned Poison Control Centers first. Not all exposure situations require an immediate trip to the clinic. Remain calm. Pets can sense your agitation and may become excited, which will raise their blood pressure and may contribute to spreading the poison through the bloodstream faster.

What should I do if I think my pet ate something poisonous?
Remain calm and composed. If your animal is having seizures, losing consciousness, is unconscious or is having difficulty breathing, telephone ahead and bring your pet immediately to your local veterinarian or emergency veterinary clinic. If necessary, he or she may call the Poison Control Center. Bring the suspected substance with you.

Additional Resources:
PetEducation.com - First Aid for ingestion of toxic products by pets. Click here (GREAT RESOURCE)
American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Household Hazards (PDF File here)

- Your cell phone directory
- Home  and Office phonebook
- In black & white hard copy in your car, kitchen and in the garage.
Why in black and white? Electronics fail, batteries die, phones don't like liquids, people forget to plug the phone, etc. If you have a hardcopy you can use any phone at any time and still make the call.

ASPCA Poison Control Center (888) 426-4435 ($65 Consultation Fee)
Pet Poison Helpline 1-800-213-6680 ($35 Consultation Fee)
Nationwide Standard Human Poison Control Center 1-800-222-1222 (FREE)
All 3 numbers are available 24/7 year round.

No matter what article you find on the internet and no matter who wrote it that provides advise on what to do in case of poisoning - human or animal

Peroxide CANNOT be used for ALL cases of poisoning in cats and dogs. 
Some chemicals and toxins may counteract negatively with the ingested substance. 
In other cases some poisons should not be coming back up by forcing the animal to vomit. 
Poisons can be ingested, inhaled and injected. 
If you have a doubt, there is no doubt. Call Poison Control! 
Even the human line can help in most pet cases.

February 20, 2011

Tooth Fracture

February is National Pet Dental Health Month. I was going to write a piece on the importance of keeping your pet's health clean, brushed and supervised to ensure your pet never gets through the pains of periodontal disease. Well I guess Gypsy beat me to it...with a slight 'edge'.

It's Sunday around 12:30AM (2/20/11)....that is 3 days after Gypsy's humanoid (aka. me) got her 4 wisdom teeth extracted. Finally off my pain meds I make my way to sleepy land...Gypsy is lying on my side of the bed, on my pillow no less. That's weird. Weird/abnormal in Gypsy world requires further investigating. So I start the Snout-To-Tail Assessment. Nose ok. Eyes ok. Mouth...ooops. Left side is ever so slightly swollen. Peekaboo. Gums ok. 4th Pre-Molar (aka Carnassial tooth) not so dandy (see picture below). Fractured vertically. Upon touch we get the wiggles.
First question: How and when did that happen Gypsy? Answer: Kisses.  
Second question: Does it hurt? Answer: Head tilt.
Ok, so not getting much out of that interrogation. She could have been in pain all day or half the day, hard to tell since she inhales her food any puppy way. That's the glitch with pets. She might have been trying to tell me but my limited Doggish kept me from hearing it.

Two assumptions wag at me: 1)  it hurts and 2) it will have to be extracted. Armed with my fully loaded Rover Respond'R kit in the glove box we head on out to the Hope Center in Vienna. My Rover Respond'R kit includes all their Pet Passports and with that a special page with previous notes from one of the attending regarding her allergy to one of the many anesthetics...kind of important when I expect them to have the tooth extracted. Long story short they take a look, inform me that the tooth cannot be extracted on site because its not immediately threatening her life but help me answer question number 2: Yes it probably hurts a lot.

The extent of a tooth fracture may only involve the outer enamel or it may involve deeper structures such as the dentine or pulp (nerve and blood supply) and in this case the wiggles is exposing the pulp. So now my boo is quietly in pain. Your lesson to be learned: If and when it happens to your pet, take at least a few minutes to call them - the emergency vet - and describe the problem. Not all fractures are the same and not all conditions are the same. A few factors will have to be determined but for the courtesy of recognizing that just because they don't whine as much as we do when we are in pain does not mean they are not! They could in most cases appreciate the pain meds and the antibiotics to keep an infection from biting your quiet hero. You can get a head start on the bloodwork (generally needed prior to submitting your pet over 6 years of age to anesthesia) and getting a dental veterinary referral.

She ends up on antibiotics and pain medication. I also get two referrals for veterinary dental specialists in the area. A dental  radiographs ( X-rays) will have to be performed and is considered essential in most cases to make an accurate diagnosis.  That is the basis for the prognosis and in deciding how to treat her. Contacted my primary veterinarian to expose the problem and ask for her opinion on the referrals I was given - Dr Knode from House Paws via email around 3AM (didn't want to wake up the world that early with a call) and have an answer by the time I wake up: Go see Dr Chamberlain from the Animal Dentistry and Oral Surgery center in Leesburg, VA .

Did you know that there are veterinary specialist out there able to provide Endodontic, Periodontal, Orthodontic, and Restorative procedures for our furry companions? Did you know that cast metal crowns, composite fillings, aesthetic bonding and bridge crowns is not just only for humanoids? I am always up to learning new things...just not always thrilled about the conditions in which I have to learn about them. So this is your chance to look into it before you are facing the inevitable.

So back to question one: How did you do that Gypsy? Although she may never sell the bone on that, pets most often break/fracture their teeth following a trauma (hit by a car, ball, or rock) or due to chewing on hard objects like raw hides, bones, sticks, etc. The most common teeth that are broken are the canine (fang) teeth in the dog and the cat, and the upper fourth premolar (large tooth on the top in the back) in dogs. What did Gypsy have access to today? A pathetic looking stick during the neighborhood walk...and then whatever I didn't get an invite on earlier or later that day.

We are not so different: "After a tooth is fractured, bacteria from the mouth will gain access to the pulp (root canal) and infect the tooth. Eventually, the tooth will die and become a bacterial haven. The bacteria will then leak out through the apex (or bottom) of the tooth, and infect the bone in that area. Eventually, the bacterial byproducts and white blood cell enzymes will cause bone destruction around the root tip. Next, the blood vessels in the area will pick up the bacteria and spread it to other areas of the body. Most specifically, to the liver and kidneys which filter the blood, and possibly to the heart valves. They will form micro-abscesses on the organs, and over time will decrease the efficiency of these vital organs." Source here

So brush your pet's teeth weekly, supervise bone, stick, raw hide and all sorts of chewing to prevent chocking and notice sooner rather than later should something go awry. Cannot emphasize the importance of a Snout-To-Tail Assessment! Sure keeps working on Gypsy! To learn more about the Snout-To-Tail Assessment and on how it recently made a difference for my Gypster, click here. The skills are taught in our Pet First Aid Classes. To register or learn more click here. To find a Pet Tech instructor in your area click here .

Will be posting Gypsy's follow up adventures here below.

2.21.2011 - Emergency Veterinary Dentist Morning Update
Gypsy went in to see Dr Chamberlain at 9AM at The Life Center in Leesburg this morning. He agreed to take her in for emergency surgery later on today. Not sure you can make it out easily on the picture posted here above but that 4th Premolar has 3 roots that go up pretty deep in the jaw. Cringe! Tooth will have to be completely extracted.

2.21.2011 - After Surgery Update
They called way early this afternoon around 1:30PM. Retook bloodwork because the Hope center test results were still missing. They gave her the pre-surgery meds to make her sleepy. What was nice was that she got to stay with me (or vice versa) after the shot and it took about 30 minutes to take effect. Once she went back they ran Xrays and did then proceeded with the surgery. She was out by 5PM but stayed in observation til 5:30 or so. Now home and whining. Still not eating. Mayday petrified of her. Mommy happy. In the process learned that there is 3rd root for that tooth - can't see it on picture as it runs up behind the teeth. Sigh.
Was told that tooth had been fractured for more than 2 days and more along the lines of 2 weeks. I'll accept the week and a half since I brushed both Gypsy & Mayday's teeth when we got back from our holiday weekend at Deep Creek Lake. Note to self: When you perform the weekly Snout-To-Tail assessment remember to check all teeth individually.

2.22.2011 - Morning Update
What a night! She refused to eat or drink until about 9PM. Her tummy was empty and making gurgly sounds.
After a phone conversation with the emergency vet she was allowed to receive some more anti pain meds...and then she accepted milk and yogurt and some wet food. No more gurgly sounds. Still some whining and pacing. She finally laid down but those eyes stayed open for a long time. She got some more milk and watered down 'yogurty meat' around 3AM. By 9AM she was still a bit swollen on the surgical site but altogether rolling in the snow and begging for breakfast.

February 5, 2010

Snow Storm/ Blizzard Travel Tips - Driving in Snow - Residential & Pet Safety

One of the best ways to get through bad snow storms is to stay inside. If you know that a major snow storm is headed in your direction, make sure that you have enough supplies for a few days.

Because we cannot protect successfully against all fire hazards, make sure you mark fire hydrants in your community. If snow plows cover them make sure to prioritize these spots. Make notice on paper where all the hydrants are in your area. Should they be covered you will at least be able to communicate with your fire department and locate them faster.

During very severe snow storms, it is possible for the power to go out. In order to prepare for this, it is good to have flashlights, replacement batteries, candles, and matches on hand. Candles must however be handled with extreme care to reduce fire hazards.

National Weather Service reminds us of the following:
Winter weather can cause power lines to fall to the ground. Never touch, move or go near any kind of downed or hanging line, even if it looks harmless.
Use extreme caution! Stay away from any downed lines because it may be dangerous. Getting near it could cause serious bodily injury or even death. In fact, anything touching a downed line may be dangerous. Warn others to stay away. Immediately report a downed line to your local utility company emergency center and in addition call your local police. Do not assume that the downed line is merely a telephone or cable television line. Do not put your feet into a puddle where a downed line is laying. In some instances wet or snow-covered ground can conduct electricity. Don not try to move tree limbs that are on or near power line. Remember, only knowledgeable utility company employees or someone under their supervision who is protected by the appropriate safety equipment should touch or move a downed line.
If you see someone who has been shocked and is in direct or indirect contact with a downed power line do not try to touch the person. Efforts to pull an electric shock victim away could make you a second victim. Never attempt to remove a power line. The only safe procedure is to immediately call your local police or emergency services and your local utility company's emergency center.
If a power line falls on a car, you should stay inside the vehicle. This is the safest place to stay under the circumstances. Honk your horn to alert passers-by. Roll down the window and warn people not to touch the car or the line. Ask someone to call the local utility company and emergency services. The only circumstances in which you should consider leaving a car that is in contact with a downed power line is if the vehicle catches on fire; open the door, but do not step out. Make sure that you jump completely free of the vehicle with both feet together to avoid contact with the live car (metal) and the ground at the same time. Hop as far away as possible from the vehicle keeping both feet together.
Remember, winter storms can bring down power lines. When line are down, stay away. Warn others to stay away and call your electric company or emergency services.

Tails and children should not be able to easily access the candles. The candle holder should be completely noncombustible and difficult to knock over. The candle should not have combustible/flammable decorations around it.
Keep matches out of reach of children and pets. They can start a fire in the hands of kids and be poisonous to pets.

It is best to purchase large candles that either come in or can be placed inside of a slightly larger glass jar. Taper candles that fit into candlesticks have open flames that can cause a fire hazard. Large votive candles inside of a fire-proof container are less likely to cause a problem. Be sure, however, to keep all candles away from curtains and any flammable material.

Candles are naked flames, so handle them very carefully:
>> Don't leave them burning in a room with no one in it.
>> Don't put them in or by plants, flowers or foliage, blankets, curtains, etc
>> Make sure they're in holders that won't fall over.
>> Put night lights or tea lights on a heat-resistant surface.
>> Keep them away from curtains and furniture, and not under a surface, like a shelf.
>> Don't put them where they could be knocked over easily or where people could burn their clothes or hair on them.
>> Make sure they're completely out - not smoldering.
>> Keep children and pets away
>> Keep candles at least 4 inches (10 cm) apart 

If you must venture out of your home during a snow storm, be sure to wear warm clothing and sensible shoes. It is best to wear boots with strong rubber treads. If you are going to go a far distance on foot, it is advisable to bring a thermos of some warm liquid such as tea or coffee with you. Drinking warm liquids can help you to stay warm on your journey. It is also advisable to bring a mobile telephone with you so that you can make an emergency call if necessary.

If you have to travel by car during a snow storm, tell someone that you are leaving from POINT A (address) and what route you are planning on taking to POINT B (destination). Do not deviate. Give them an estimated travel time. The chances you will be found are greater if someone knows you are traveling and what routes you are taking. Make sure that your vehicle has the appropriate tires and that they are in good condition (enough tire pressure). You may want to invest in chains that you can wrap around your tires if you get stuck in a snowdrift. Check your state law. Chains are illegal in many states.
Avoid driving in blizzard conditions with non four wheel drive vehicles! 

First of all, don't break on ice! Your reflexes need to be kept in check. Treat your breaks gently.
Decelerate rather than brake. That means get your foot OFF the accelerator rather than brake. Then Shift to Lower Gear.
A majority of cars have gears lower than Drive. Gear under the "D" is generally 3rd or 2nd. The one below that is 1st. You get better performance in snow the lower you place your gears. Third and/or Second are preferred. First Gear should only be use at very slow speeds or to achieve braking faster.
Drive slowly. Your Jeep can make it to 60mph but when you that icy spot you'll be sliding out of control at 60mph. So keep it near 30-40mph if must travel faster on snow covered roads.

Do NOT counter steer if the car starts sliding on ice. Here is why. If you are traveling in a straight line and the car starts sliding, your tires are still straight. When the slide ends the car will keep going straight (were you left it). If you counter steer your tires will now be dramatically pointing left or right and when you regain control those tires will now take you to an extreme left or right. That's how you end up in the ditch, tree or traffic.
Be sure that your windshield wipers are in good condition as well. It is important for you to drive with the best possible visibility during a snow storm.Windshield wiper fluids should be replaced or mixed with winterized fluids to sustain sub-freezing temperatures.

Never leave without a full tank of gas. Refuel along the way to ensure you remain above 1/2 a tank.

Run your car for about 10 minutes each hour. Turn off the lights and radio when the car is not running to avoid running the battery down. Keep flares in the car. If you find yourself stranded in a remote area, don't go venture out. You will be much safer inside the car.
** If you are stuck once the snowstorm has passed, raise the hood of your car to signal an emergency. You can also post a flag or tie the handkerchief to the antenna to signal you need help.
** Ration your supplies. Eat small snacks every hour or so to give your body an energy source with which to generate heat. Drink about 4 ounces (half cup) of water every hour or so to prevent dehydration.

Important car emergency kit components include:
>> Blankets
>> Flashlight
>> Extra batteries
>> Towels
>> Shovel
>> Windshield scraper and small broom
>> Keep hand warmers
>>  Thermal heat blankets
>> Battery powered radio
>> Water (at least 1 Gallon per person)
>> The food you keep must be non-perishable & eatable without cooking or heating necessary and with high protein content. Avoid foods high in sodium content (you'll need to drink more and will dehydrate you faster)
>> Matches
>> Extra snow hats, socks and mittens
>> Snowboard or ski pants (if possible to keep your lower body dry if you try to dig yourself out. Body temperature is lost in head, neck, under arm, groin area and feet)
>> Duct Tape
>> Necessary medications
>> Tow chain or rope
>> Road salt and sand
>> Booster cables
>> Emergency flares
>> Fluorescent distress flag
>> Seat Belt Cutters (keep them in center console)
>> Snow Boots
>> Sleeping bag
>> Toilet Paper
>> Keep an empty plastic container for inside the car bathroom breaks
>> Newspaper (to place inside clothes to maintain body warmth)
Consider carrying your emergency kit in a small duffel bag and storing it in the passenger's footwell, where it can be easily accessed by the driver (and where it won't become a projectile in a collision). 

Winter storms don't just affect you - they also affect your pets. And your pets depend on you for their safety. There are many ways to be "Pet Prepared," but you must think ahead and start planning NOW. Also, consult our All-Hazards Preparedness Checklist for Cats & Dogs, and for small animals so that you can be prepared for any weather emergency. During a winter storm, if you see an injured or stranded animal that needs help, contact your local animal control officer or animal shelter. Get that number pre-programmed in your phone NOW while you have power. 

Some pets are better suited than others for living outdoors. There is a common misconception that dogs will be "fine" if left outside. This is not true! Pets are not wolves. All pets need adequate shelter from the elements and insulation against cold weather. Pets should not be left outside for long periods in freezing weather - like humans, they can suffer from hypothermia and frostbite.

Certain breeds, such as Huskies and Samoyeds are better suited to very cold weather, but the majority of dogs and need your help and intervention. That does not mean you can leave them outside if they are not used to the elements.
Indoor accommodations are best during extreme temperature drops, but if that is not possible, set up a suitable house in an area protected from wind, rain, and snow. Insulation, such as straw or blankets will help keep in body heat. If your animal is prone to chewing, do not use blankets or material that can be ingested. Cedar shavings can be irritating to the skin, so use with caution depending on your pet's hair coat.

DO NOT use a heat lamp, space heater, or other device not approved for use with animals. This is a a burn hazard for your pet and a fire hazard. Pet supply vendors sell heated mats for pets to sleep on or to be placed under a dog house, but read and follow directions carefully before use.
Fresh water is a must at all times! Pets are not able to get enough water from licking ice or eating snow. A heated dish is a wonderful tool for cold climates. The water stays cold, but doesn't freeze. Caution needed for animals that may chew.
If you have "NO PETS INSIDE THE RESIDENCE" policy please consider the barn and a garage or laundry room as an emergency exception.

Dogs walking in snowy areas may get large ice balls between their pads, causing the dog to limp. Be sure to keep ice clear from this area. For dogs that have a lot of hair between the pads, keeping it clipped shorter will help with ice ball formation. Dog boots offer protection to those dogs that will tolerate wearing them.

Pets who walk on sidewalks that have been "de-iced" are prone to dry, chapped, and potentially painful paws. This will encourage the pet to lick their paws, and ingestion may cause gastrointestinal irritation and upset. Wash off your pet's feet after an outing with a warm wet cloth or foot bath.

Animals don't realize what "thin ice" is. Once they fall in, it is very difficult for them to climb out and hypothermia is a very real and life-threatening danger. "Ice skating" dogs are prone to injuries such as cruciate tears if allowed to "skate" with their humans. This is also true of icy walks.

Thirsty and curious pets will lap up antifreeze. Just a few licks can be fatal. All antifreeze containers have warnings. The best way to mitigate a pet emergency is to ensure that your pets are not placed in direct contact with any container that has safety warnings. So lock up antifreeze containers and clean up spills immediately.
Place ALL chemical containers out of your kids and pets reach. Especially if you decide to leave the pet in the garage as your pets may get bored and decide to chew up what's left available. Same applies to electrical cords. Also, do NOT start the car in a closed garage - for your safety and your pet's safety - carbon monoxide poisoning is a silent killer.

Cats and little critters will seek warmth where they can get it, and that may be the warm engine of a car just parked. Before staring your car, knock on the hood or honk the horn to scare off any cats - and prevent tragedy.

Arthritis is worse during cold and damp weather. Take special care to handle your pet gently, watch out for icy walks, provide soft (and possibly heated) bedding, and administer any necessary medications.Do not leave these pets out in the cold for longer periods of time.


1. Keep your cat inside. Outdoors, felines can freeze, become lost or be stolen, injured or killed. Cats who are allowed to stray are exposed to infectious diseases, including rabies, from other cats, dogs and wildlife.

2. During the winter, outdoor cats sometimes sleep under the hoods of cars. When the motor is started, the cat can be injured or killed by the fan belt. If there are outdoor cats in your area, bang loudly on the car hood before starting the engine to give the cat a chance to escape.

3. Never let your dog off the leash on snow or ice, especially during a snowstorm-dogs can lose their scent and easily become lost. More dogs are lost during the winter than during any other season, so make sure yours always wears ID tags.

4. Thoroughly wipe off your dog's legs and stomach when he comes in out of the sleet, snow or ice. He can ingest salt, antifreeze or other potentially dangerous chemicals while licking his paws, and his paw pads may also bleed from snow or encrusted ice.

5. Never shave your dog down to the skin in winter, as a longer coat will provide more warmth. When you bathe your dog in the colder months, be sure to completely dry him before taking him out for a walk. Own a short-haired breed? Consider getting him a coat or sweater with a high collar or turtleneck with coverage from the base of the tail to the belly. For many dogs, this is regulation winter wear. If you did shave your dog recently make sure to take them out for walks with a coat!

6. Never leave your dog or cat alone in a car during cold weather. A car can act as a refrigerator in the winter, holding in the cold and causing the animal to freeze to death.

7. Puppies do not tolerate the cold as well as adult dogs, and may be difficult to housebreak during the winter. If your puppy appears to be sensitive to the weather, you may opt to paper-train him inside. If your dog is sensitive to the cold due to age, illness or breed type, take him outdoors only to relieve himself.

8. Does your dog spend a lot of time engaged in outdoor activities? Increase his supply of food, particularly protein, to keep him-and his fur-in tip-top shape.

9. Like coolant, antifreeze is a lethal poison for dogs and cats. Be sure to thoroughly clean up any spills from your vehicle, and consider using products that contain propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol.

10. Make sure your companion animal has a warm place to sleep, off the floor and away from all drafts. A cozy dog or cat bed with a warm blanket or pillow is perfect.

11. Keep the Regular Poison COntrol Center # and the ASPCA Phone # in your phone.
ASPCA Poison Control # is (888) 426-4435. A $65 consultation fee is be applied to your credit card.
Regular poison control # is 1-800-222-1222 and is free. In most cases they can also help your pets.

You can download the Wag'N Winter Pet Safety Hazards here

December 29, 2009

Pet New Year Safety Tips: Starting off 2010 With a Wag

How was your 2009? How about we make 2010 better? Ok. So let’s let’s take a wag at how we can keep our furry friends safer during the upcoming festivities.

Thunderstorms and fireworks are the leading cause of pet anxiety. Remember however that party favors & popping champagne corks can be just as traumatizing to some pets and may lead to a lifelong Loud Noise Syndrome (perpetually afraid of loud noises whether natural or manmade)

Signs of stress in dogs due to fireworks include:
* scratching at doors
* not wanting to go outside in the dark
* digging at the carpets
* hiding/dashing under/behind furniture
* running away
* salivation
* shaking
* house soiling
* nervousness easily startled or is jumpy
* trembling
* incessant noisemaking like barking or whining
* restlessness. Pet constantly moving around, fidgeting, and reacting to every single noise.
* freezing. In this case, the dog is so stressed that he cannot move.
* overeating,
* appetite loss,
* poor concentration(can’t focus on what you ask him/her)
* destructive behavior
* aggressive behavior

NOISE SOLUTIONS: If you are hosting a New Year’s Party, make sure your pets are placed in a comfortable area that is separate from the activities. Make sure they have plenty of water and are comfortable. While you're at it, you may want to consider a ban on the horns and noisemakers that are so popular at New Year's celebrations. Bringing that kind of stress into your house is not a Wag’N Good Idea!

If you know your pet is afraid of fireworks here are some solutions:

Natural Remedies (talk to your holistic vet or wag out Bach Remedies) Prescription Meds (talk to your veterinarian), Anxiety Wraps, Mutt-Muffs, Sound Therapy, Desensitization (Takes time. Make that a New Year training resolution. Talk to your dog trainer). Remember: What works for some does not work for all.

Always check with your veterinarian and behavior specialist before using any drugs or tranquilizers. Internet posts are not your pet health bible. A simple post typo could seriously harm your pet.What works for their pet may not work for yours as you may have to consider weight, medical history, breed and being aware of possible side effects may not make it worth your while.

Remember that as some pets age they might lose or gain phobias. It only takes one new bad experience to change the game. With that in mind refrain from keeping them outside, as fireworks and other neighbors celebrating can lead to sound trauma and exposes them to fire hazards should something go wrong next door.





To make sure that your pets do not run away, exercise them on New Year Eve afternoon. be aware that fireworks may be set off before dark so keep a shorter leash and secure the collar on your pet in case it gets startled while outside. Tags buts be updated and on the pet during that walk. Make sure they get a good work out or walk. Feed them early and then let relax in a “safe room of sorts” where you play music or let the TV run.

If you are hosting a party make sure your pets stays in that room by posting a note on the door. Let your guests know to stay clear of that area. That goes back to training your guests into your house rules.

Make sure that the room you leave the pets in does:

- not allow for easy escape (cracked open windows),

- not provide them with potentially hazardous things to destroy (xmas tree, multi plug power outlets, food reserves, medication cabinet, garage poisons like fuel, paint etc)

As guest come and go the front door is a great escape route. Either way keep your pet’s tags on the pet! Make sure the information is current. Microchipping your pet is a great general rule. There also make sure the information is up-to-date.





- Beware of alcohol! Many pets can be drawn to glasses of beer or liquor that has been left behind after the celebration is over. Consumption of alcohol can be highly dangerous for animals, and even deadly. Make sure to thoroughly clean up the area before you allow your pets to enter. Always keep a close eye on them, and never give them any alcohol as a treat or joke.

- Keep party decorations like balloons, streamers, party hats or confetti away from pets as they may cause physical harm if ingested. So while decorating for your party, keep the animals in a separate area where they do not have access to the decorations. If they do get into them, consult a veterinarian immediately.

- Keep candles away from tails and little hands…and drunk hands. Click here to read more on holiday fire safety. Make sure you know where the fire extinguisher is and how to use it!

- Party food and party guests. When cooking maintain a “no pets and children in the kitchen” policy. See holiday post for more on food safety.

- Hazardous “feel better keep you busy toys”. Rawhides, pig ears and the like are not going to be your best option as pets need to be supervised when eating them. It takes only a few minutes to choke in silence alone surrounded by noise. So consider those a NO NO as asphyxiation is not a good way to end or start anything.





December 9, 2009



The Christmas Season is upon us! Take a deep breath and relax. It is easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of preparing gifts, decorations, meals and sleeping arraignments (for those of us hosting family members and their 4-legged companions). Why not take a minute to ensure the safety of pets (visiting and live-in) this Christmas by reviewing some pet hazards?


Pine needles pose a great danger to pets. They may get lodged in an animal’s esophagus, making for painful and difficult swallowing. Mistletoe may get you kissed, but should your pet consume this holiday green it will likely cause a drop in blood pressure, vomiting and a swollen throat. Other holiday foliage, including Holly and Poinsettias, contain toxins that could lead to severe stomach problems, as well as skin, mouth and eye irritation. Worse yet, Yew is extremely toxic, and one mouthful could be deadly.

Some pets like to drink tree water, which under can be dangerous. The problem lies in fertilizers that may have been added to the water, which can cause diarrhea and vomiting, as well as certain types of pine sap that are poisonous. Furthermore, stagnant water at the base of the tree can have extremely high bacterial content, which can cause similar side effects as fertilizers and sap.
Old artificial trees may release toxic fumes if placed near heat (like a fireplace or space heater). Worse yet, some of the plastics used may dissolve into dust, making it difficult to spot. If you own an older tree replace it soon – It poses a danger to your entire family!

Shiny decorations and candles don’t mix well with curious pets. Make sure that you do not leave any tinsel, ribbon and ornament hooks where they may be accessible to your furry pals. Wag’N also recommends that you do not keep unattended flames at any time, especially in the vicinity of pets. Remember, just because your dog does not usually climb or jump onto furniture it does not mean that it never will. Electrical lights pose their own hazards, such as pets chewing on the colorful cords or tripping – make sure to tape all exposed cords to walls or floors to prevent accidents. Glass ornaments should be kept out of reach as they may be broken by pets. Glass shards are extremely dangerous if consumed by a hungry pup.

Yule logs are popular in the holiday season as they provide us with colorful flames. These logs contain heavy metal salts, which are toxic to pets if ingested. Naturally, any open flame also presents a danger to pets.

Should your pet eat something that it is outside of its usual diet it may cause intestinal inflammation, as well as vomiting and diarrhea. Side effects depend on the type of pet you have, as well as their size, weight and eating habits.

There are, however, certain food items that may cause life threatening conditions on your pet such as:
>> Alcoholic beverages, chocolate (of any kind), coffee and onions. Ham and other fatty items can cause severe gastrointestinal distress if eaten in even small amounts. Please keep all of these items out of reach at all times, and instruct your guest not to feed your pets any scraps or leftovers.
>> Do not feed pets cooled drippings – The combination of human seasonings and rich stock can easily upset your pet’s digestive system.


Bring in your pets when the temperature reaches 30 degrees with the wind chill. Dogs and cats can get frost bitten ears, nose and feet if left outside. Many people think that dogs with heavy coats can resist temperature changes much like wolves and other wild animals. Dogs evolved from wolves over 15000 years ago and the differences don’t end there… (read on)

>> Keep antifreeze out of reach of all your pets. Antifreeze may taste sweet to pets but it contains ethylene glycol which in a matter of minutes can cause permanent kidney damage if ingested even in small amounts.
>> Deicers (also known as ice melts) are used to melt ice and snow on slippery sidewalks, roadways and driveways. Salt is used often as a deicer, as it is efficient and affordable. Unfortunately, salt is very irritating to foot pads of dogs and cats. Some pets may ingest the deicer as they lick their paws, or they may eat it directly off the ground. Side effects range from drooling and diarrhea to more serious complications such as excessive thirst, fainting, seizures, comma and even death.
>> Use a salt-free deicer on your own driveway and walkways, such as Safe Paw.
>> Batteries contain corrosives. If ingested they can cause serious ulceration to the mouth, tongue and intestines.

Keep in mind that seasonal hazards may be slightly different in your area and that the best gift your can offer your pets this holiday season is good health and some extra love and attention.

Happy Holidays!

November 12, 2009

Thanksgiving Pet Hazards

Wooooof! That ooh so sweet aroma of a fresh mouthwatering roasting turkey, cornbread stuffing and that sweet, spicy pumpkin pie teasing your scavenger doggy lips? Yum Yum!

Remember that although this is the season of giving…you do NOT want to end up giving your vet a visit!

No matter what kind of diet your pet is on, Thanksgiving is not the time to change that diet. Remember that any NEW food diet introduced should be done in a controlled manner. Not under the table!

"Pets Out-Of-The-Kitchen" Rule
The kitchen will be ground zero for children and pet hazards the days prior, of and following Thanksgiving. Tripping, counter surfing, and burn hazards make the kitchen an accident waiting to happen. Prevention is your best asset. No access No Problem!
See Thanksgiving Fire Hazards for more convincing!

Secure Your Garbage
Every hazard listed here below will in some shape or form end up in the trash. Pets can get in trouble not only with the food they scavenge away but also with the wrappings, such as aluminum foil, tin foil, plastic wrap, wax paper, meat strings etc. The swallowing of such coverings can cause intestinal obstruction.

Fire Hazards
Watch out for the decorations. Pets are curious and new items lying around the house might attract their fancy. Candles should be placed away from the reach of children (2 legged) and pets….beware of the super Wag’N pet and the new fancy candles…pet fur can singe your pet’s fur in a Wag’N minute!

Table Scraps/Sudden Diet Change Hazards
Rich, fatty foods (turkey skins, gravy, etc,) can contribute to pancreatitis. This inflammation of the digestive gland is painful and can be serious--requiring emergency veterinary assistance.

If you think that left over would be unhealthy for you it will be unhealthy for your pet!

Bone Hazards
Remember that cooked turkey, duck, geese and other bird bones are dangerous to your pet. These bones are generally are hollow and break and splinter easily. Because they are so easily breakable, dogs usually won't chew them thoroughly….especially if they end up playing chase or catch with the Turkey! When swallowed, the sharp pieces can choke the dog or block, tear the intestines. A pet that has a bone or fragment of one lodged in his intestine may not even show symptoms for a few days. When they do occur they may include loss of appetite, depression, vomiting, or diarrhea. Sometimes the bone will pass by itself; other times it may need to be surgically removed. So make sure all leftovers and throw away and out of your pets' reach!

Dessert Hazards
CHOCOLATE, macadamia nuts & grapes/raisins are poisonous to dogs, cats & ferrets! Just make sure your pet only trick or treats for pet cookies. Human candy can be extremely dangerous to your pet!

Train Your Guests
So you’ve implemented all those rules. Great! The only problem left are the people that don’t know the rules, including kids and adult guests. Maybe because the spirit of sharing and the guest guilt kick in they will have that tendency to “satisfy that puppy face” Seriously a no no. You know the hazards and you know your pet’s tricks best. Train your guests. Let them know the pet already ate and that feeding without your permission will cause more harm than good.

Wag'N Recommendations

>> Like for all big celebrations maintain your pet’s feeding and exercise schedule … unless it conflicts with the hazards…pets like their routine. You may want to extend the walk to ensure that all excessive energy is dissipated on younger dogs.

>> Make sure you provide enough water for them. Some pets deal with stress by drinking a bit more. Others chose destruction to get attention and pacify themselves. Give your pet something to do. That does not mean leave pet in non attended room with a rawhide! There are plenty safer toys such as Kongs, Treat Dispensing Chew Toys (Pet stage puppy occupy, Puzzler Treat, Woofie Wobbler, Busy Buddy, etc) and Pacifying Toys (like rope toys, Nylabones).

…Note that you purchase non-flavored rope toys and flavor them yourself by letting them sit in watered down tuna water etc (just keep the sodium and fatty levels low) then freeze it and provide it frozen…

>> Make sure that they get a quiet refuge away from “guest commotion”. A crate or a room where they can rest and not be bothered in. Make sure they have access to water. This also gets back to the “Training Your Guests” to make sure everyone knows to give the pet space in that safe zone.

Foods to Keep Away From Your Pets
- Turkey fat
- Poultry Skin
- Bones from fish, meat, or poultry (turkey included)
- Uncooked meat, fish, and poultry
- Onions in holiday stuffing may lead to canine anemia
- Garlic
- Raisins and Grapes toxins can cause kidney failure in pets
- Macadamia nuts
- Uncooked yeast dough
- Alcohol
- Coffee/Tea
- Alcohol
- Rich, fatty foods (gravy, grease, chips)
- Sweets (especially chocolate)