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Poison Prevention Week – Keeping Pets Safe

It’s National Poison Prevention Week, so it’s a great time to review the signs of poisoning. Knowledge is power, and recognizing the signs of poisoning in pets can literally be a lifesaver. The sooner you can act, the more likely a good outcome.

If your pet exhibits any of the following signs or symptoms, call your vet immediately!

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Drooling
  • Convulsions
  • Depression
  • Lethargy
  • Black or bloody stool

HOW TO PREVENT ACCIDENTAL POISONING

Lock away toxic chemicals. Cleaning fluids, weed killer, antifreeze, pesticides, and fertilizers are just a few of the items you probably have around your home and garage. Keep them out of reach of pets and little hands.

Keep medications out of reach. Medications are meant to heal, however, they can also harm. Blood pressure, heart meds, antidepressants, and pain killers like NSAIDs and acetaminophen are some of the common medications that are very toxic to animals (and children!). Best to keep them in a high cabinet.

Restrict access to foods and plants that are harmful to dogs and cats. While it’s tempting to slip your pets treats from your plate, many foods can be toxic to animals. Don’t forget, many plants can be hazardous too!

Foods That Can Be Poisonous to Pets
Plants Toxic to Pets

Pet Poisons from A to Z

Be prepared in case of a pet poisoning emergency. Keep hydrogen peroxide and activated charcoal on hand in case of an emergency. Post the numbers for your preferred vet clinic and other emergency numbers near your phone. Don’t forget to program them into your phone to save valuable time. Speaking of phones, there are many pet health and emergency apps available for free download at the Google Play Store and Apple Store.

Outside of your vet, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) is your best resource for any animal poison-related emergency, ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center: 888-426-4435

Pet Suffocation Hazards in Your Home

Recently we’ve seen a few videos making the rounds featuring pets with food bags or other items stuck on their heads. While many people find these videos cute or funny because the animals are seeking treats or people food, the truth is these animals are in serious danger!

Cats and dogs who forage for food can easily get their head stuck in a bag. As they breathe in, the bag will quickly form a vacuum-like seal around their head. The pet will begin to panic from being stuck and not being able to breathe normally. Without immediate intervention, it will die from asphyxiation in just a few short minutes.

Sadly, pets of all ages, strengths, and sizes die from asphyxiation more often than you might think, and it’s completely preventable.

Chips, cereal, crackers, pet treats and other tasty foods are usually packaged in plastic, Mylar™ or foil-lined bags. These bags can be deadly for pets and children, too! Other common suffocation hazards include bread bags, cheese bags, and hard plastic/cardboard containers. 

Biggest Suffocation Hazards
Snack (e.g., cracker, popcorn, etc.) or chip bags (69%)
Cereal bags (8%)
Pet Food bags (8%)
Pet Treat bags (5%)

Where Pets Find These Bags
In or near the home trash can or recycling (32%)
Grabbed off a coffee table or side table (21%)
Grabbed off a counter (11%)
Found under a bed (7%)

Safety Precautions to Protect Your Pet
Store all snacks and foods contained in bags safely away from pets and kids
Serve your snacks in bowls instead of eating out of the bag
Make sure your trash cans are sealed tightly and your pets can’t get into them
Keep a close eye on pets during parties or gatherings where snack foods are served
Cut or tear food bags along the bottom and sides before discarding

Remember, ANY pet could get ahold of a snack bag and get stuck – without help, your beloved pet could suffocate within 3-5 minutes. Take the time, rip the bags, and save the heartache.

World Rabies Day – September 28

World Rabies Day is the 28th of September. It was created to both inspire activism and raise awareness of the disease.

What is Rabies?
Rabies is a viral disease that infects the central nervous system of humans and animals and causes inflammation of the brain. It can be deadly to animals and humans, so it’s important for pets to be vaccinated.

In Arizona, Maricopa and Pinal County laws require dogs to be vaccinated against the rabies virus. Puppies should receive a rabies vaccine at 16 weeks, and a rabies booster the following year. Once a dog has completed the puppy rabies vaccination series, they should be vaccinated against rabies every three years.

How does it spread?
Typically rabies is spread by other warm-blooded animals infected with the virus. Rabies is most commonly found in bats in Europe, North America, and Australia, and in dogs in Asia and Africa.

From the Arizona Department of Health Services:

In Arizona, the principal rabies hosts are bats, skunks, and foxes. These animals carry their own distinct rabies virus variants or “strains”. When rabies activity within these animal groups increases, rabies can “spillover” into other mammal species, such as bobcats, coyotes, javelina, cats, dogs, horses, cows, etc.

Every year, approximately 30 people are exposed to rabid animals in Arizona. People who are exposed must receive vaccine and anti-rabies serum treatment to prevent infection.

In Arizona, bats present the most common source of rabies exposures to humans because rabid bats often fall to the ground where they are easily accessible to people and pets. Bats are generally not aggressive. Exposure to rabid bats usually occurs when people pick up or handle a sick or dead bat. Other rabies exposures occur when people try to approach or feed wild animals, or in some cases, are attacked by rabid animals such as foxes, bobcats, and skunks. Most rabies exposures can be avoided by simply leaving bats and other wild animals alone.

How can rabies be prevented?
A simple vaccine from your vet will help ensure the health of you and your pet. Dogs, cats, ferrets, rabbits, and other domestic pets should be vaccinated. Arizona law requires dogs to be vaccinated against rabies and licensed.

Get your pet protected! The Arizona Pet Vet FREE Vaccines for Life program can help keep your pets safe from infectious diseases. Find more information here.

Emergencies Happen – Are You Prepared?

emergency preparedness, emergency planning, disaster planningEmergency situations can arise at any time, and nobody is immune. This is why it’s so important to have a plan in place for your family and your pets.

Aside from children and the elderly, pets are our most vulnerable family members, and they are completely dependent on us to keep them safe. Over the next couple of weeks, we’re going to look at ways you can prepare for emergencies and natural disasters.

We’ve all seen the heartbreaking images from the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma. The devastation is unimaginable. Many have also seen the reports of pets left to fend for themselves or lost in the flood waters, which is distressing for everyone. Advance planning can take much of the worry out of disaster preparedness.

Ready.gov has some helpful resources:

Get Informed

  • Know what disasters could affect your area, which could call for an evacuation and when to shelter in place.
  • Keep a NOAA Weather Radio tuned to your local emergency station and monitor TV, radio, and follow mobile alert and mobile warnings about severe weather in your area.
  • Download the FEMA app, receive weather alerts from the National Weather Service for up to five different locations anywhere in the United States.

Make a Plan

Remember, during a disaster what’s good for you is good for your pet, so get them ready today. If you leave your pets behind, they may be lost, injured – or worse. Never leave a pet chained outdoors. Plan options include:

  • Create a buddy system in case you’re not home. Ask a trusted neighbor to check on your animals.
  • Identify shelters. For public health reasons, many emergency shelters cannot accept pets.
    • Find pet friendly hotels along your evacuation route and keep a list in your pet’s emergency kit.
    • Locate boarding facilities or animal hospitals near your evacuation shelter.
    • Consider an out-of-town friend or relative
  • Locate a veterinarian or animal hospital in the area where you may be seeking temporary shelter, in case your pet needs medical care. Add the contact information to your emergency kit.
  • Have your pet microchipped and make sure that you not only keep your address and phone number up-to-date, but that you also include contact info for an emergency contact outside of your immediate area.
  • Call your local emergency management office, animal shelter or animal control office to get advice and information.
  • If you are unable to return to your home right away, you may need to board your pet. Find out where pet boarding facilities are located.
  • Most boarding kennels, veterinarians and animal shelters will need your pet’s medical records to make sure all vaccinations are current.
  • If you have no alternative but to leave your pet at home, there are some precautions you must take, but remember that leaving your pet at home alone can place your animal in great danger!

 

Fleas & Disease – How to Keep Your Pets Safe

“Health officials are urging people to take precautions after a second Arizona county in two weeks confirmed that fleas in the area have tested positive for plague.

The announcement by Navajo County Public Health officials on Friday comes one week after Coconino County officials found prairie dogs in the area to be carrying fleas with the plague — the infectious disease infamous for killing millions of Europeans in the Middle Ages.

People are advised to take certain measures to reduce the risk of exposure to this serious disease, which can be present in fleas, rodents, rabbits and predators that feed on these animals.

The disease can be transmitted to humans and other animals by the bite of an infected flea or by direct contact with an infected animal.”

READ MORE

From the Center for Disease Control:

  • All ill animals, especially cats, should be seen by a veterinarian.
  • If you live in areas where plague occurs, treat pet dogs and cats for flea control regularly and do not allow these animals to roam freely.
  • Make your home rodent-proof. Eliminate sources of food and nesting places for rodents around homes, work places, and recreation areas; remove brush, rock piles, junk, cluttered firewood, and potential food supplies, such as pet and wild animal food.
  • Pet owners: do not pick up or touch dead animals.

What to Do When a Pet Gets Fleas

Step 1: Treat the pet’s environment. You must kill fleas and ticks where they live when they’re not on your pet. Hire a professional exterminator. Be sure to explain that you have a flea or tick problem and that you have pets.

Step 2: Kill fleas and ticks that are on your pet. When used as directed, flea and tick control products are safe and effective at preventing re-infestation of your pet. There are several excellent products available for cats and dogs. Ask your vet for a product recommendation that will be suitable for your pet.

Step 3: Prevent re-infection. Treatment with a product like Frontline Top Spot will kill and repel ticks for one month, and fleas for up to three months. Use Frontline Top Spot topical treatment on dogs as young as ten weeks of age and cats as young as twelve weeks of age. Pet beds, carpets, blankets and other items must also be sanitized to kill any eggs that may be hiding.

Step 4: Break the reproductive cycle of fleas. In the past, controlling fleas and ticks has been difficult, however, new products are available which make external parasite control manageable. Your vet can recommend a safe and effective product for your pet.

Remember – fleas and ticks are NOT just summer time problems. While it does get cool enough during the winter to decrease flea and tick activity, it does not get cold enough to kill them. Fleas and ticks can live very happily indoors during the winter months, so be aware and check your pets frequently year round.

Questions or concerns? Talk to your veterinarian.