Beware of These Autumn Safety Hazards for Your Pet
You might not think these tips apply to you if you have an indoor pet, but some dogs and cats are determined to get outside no matter what you do. Potential outdoor dangers include:
- Rodent traps: With the weather getting cooler, it’s common for mice and other rodents to attempt to get inside a home for shelter. Homeowners typically place rodenticide along the exterior of their homes to keep the critters out. However, the poison used to kill rodents can also have a toxic or fatal effect on your dog or cat. We recommend looking for a pet-safe rodenticide and supervising your pet closely while outdoors.
- This is also the time of year that Virginia residents drain the air conditioning coolant from their cars. If the coolant drips on the ground, your pet may mistake it for drinking water. This substance is highly toxic and can make your dog or cat extremely ill. If you’re unable to keep your pet indoors when removing the coolant from your car, switch to one made from propylene glycol.
- A small percentage of mushrooms are fatal or toxic to companion animals. Since you don’t always know which ones are safe and which ones are toxic, don’t allow your pet to chew on any mushrooms growing outside.
Your pet may feel stressed or lonely after the kids go back to school. He is also likely to investigate the contents of your child’s backpack that potentially contains toxic items like markers and glue sticks. To avoid an emergency, make sure your child keeps the backpack in another room and closes the door.
Do You Know How You Would Care for Your Pet in a Disaster?
Create a Separate Disaster Kit for Your Pets
It’s hard to predict how you might act in times of severe stress. That’s why advanced preparation is so important. Here is what the CDC recommends including in your disaster kit for a pet:
- Pet food in an airtight container and fresh water to last for two weeks
- Plastic bags to place dog waste and a litter box for cats
- Cleaning and grooming supplies
- Enough of each pet’s medication to last for two weeks
- Secure pet carriers
- Pet harness and leash
- Toys and personal bedding
Your pet’s tag and collar could easily come off amidst the chaos of a natural disaster, so it’s a good idea to have a microchip implanted. This allows anyone who finds your dog or cat to bring him to a shelter or veterinary clinic where the staff can scan him to retrieve your contact information. Be sure to label each carrier with the pet’s name as well as your name and contact details.
You may have no choice but to separate from your pet if you need to evacuate your home. In that case, having a list of nearby boarding facilities and shelters can make things a little easier.
Remember That Disease Can Spread Quickly
During a natural disaster, your pet may be exposed to severe weather, standing water, wild animals, other pets, and large numbers of people. Unfortunately, disease spreads more quickly in these situations. Keeping up with your pet’s preventive care exams and vaccines is the best way to ensure his health in the aftermath of a disaster. Please contact Battletown Animal Clinic at 540-955-2171 if you need to schedule an appointment.
Pets and Human Medication Don't Mix
Although it might be more convenient for you to place your pills in a plastic bag, it’s too much of a risk to your pet’s safety. Plastic bags are much too easy for a dog or cat to scratch and bite to get to what’s inside. Their natural curiosity drives them to investigate anything new, but they have no way of knowing that chewing or swallowing the pills could be dangerous.
Companion animals most commonly chew or swallow these types of human medications:
- Acetaminophen: This drug is especially dangerous for cats because it can damage the red blood cells to the point that it becomes difficult for the cat to transport oxygen. It also causes liver failure and red blood cell damage to dogs in larger doses. You probably know it as Tylenol.
- Anti-depressants: An overdose of any human anti-depressant medication can cause incoordination, tremors, seizures, and other serious neurological problems. If the medication has a stimulant effect, it can cause a dangerously high heart rate in pets.
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug: These common drugs, including ibuprofen and naproxen, can cause kidney failure, intestinal ulcers, and other serious stomach issues in pets.
- The Life Centre, located in Loundon County, 703-777-5755
- Valley Veterinary Emergency Service, located in Shenandoah Valley, 540-662-7811
- Pet Poison Helpline, available 24 hours a day, 855-764-7661
August is National Vaccine Awareness Month
In addition to a rabies shot, puppies need a series of vaccines against adenovirus, distemper, and parvovirus starting at six weeks of age and ending at four months old. This involves getting a combination of vaccines and boosters every couple of weeks until the four-month mark. Certain breeds of dogs may need extra immunizations because of their size or other unique factors.
Since it’s rare to hear about new cases of rabies and other vaccine-preventable diseases, some pet owners assume that it’s no longer necessary to get their animals vaccinated. However, these diseases do still exist and can return in epidemic proportion if enough people fail to get their pets vaccinated against them. It’s similar to the herd immunity concept in people.
- Discomfort where he received the injection
- Reduced appetite and level of activity
- Slight fever
- Coughing, runny nose, sneezing, and other respiratory symptoms
Rabies is Deadly and Preventable
The image many people have of rabies is that of a previously calm animal turning rabid and foaming at the mouth. It’s really no surprise that many people fear the disease because of this image and misinformation that continues to circulate about it. While you don’t want to subject your pet to needless risk, it’s also important to know what is true about rabies and what is a myth.
Myths You Might Have Heard About Rabies
Some people believe that an animal doesn’t truly have rabies until the disease affects the brain. However, your pet would have rabies from the first moment that an infected bat, racoon, or another type of wild animal bit him. You wouldn’t know it right away because it can take 10 days to two months for the rabies infection to travel to his nervous system. This is called the incubation period. The more severe the bite, the shorter the time until the infection starts to cause extensive damage.
Another common misconception is that a pet won’t contract rabies unless she receives a direct bite from an infected animal. Sadly, it only requires contact with the saliva of the animal with rabies for your pet to acquire it too. An example of how this can happen is when a rabies-positive animal scratches your pet with claws covered in its own saliva.
The foaming at the mouth that many people associate with rabies doesn’t happen until the late stages of the disease. Some of the earlier indications that your pet may have been infected with rabies include:
- Refusal to eat
- Paralysis of the hind legs
- Confusion and disorientation
- Unexplained seizures
- Extreme changes in behavior
How to Prevent Rabies in Companion Animals
A vaccine is the easiest way to prevent rabies and is also required by law. We give rabies vaccinations as part of your pet’s preventive care exam at Battletown Animal Hospital. After receiving the initial vaccination as a puppy or kitten, your pet should get a rabies booster every three years. Not allowing your pet to roam free is another important form of rabies prevention. This is especially important if you live close to a wooded area or know there are wild animals in your area.