While we’re busy seeding the yard, buying Halloween candy, and planning Thanksgiving dinner, we don’t often think of the potential hazards lurking for our pets. Here we have outlined some of the more common pet hazards associated with fall. Please contact your veterinarian if you are concerned your pet has encountered these hazards or is experiencing any other health problems.
Knowing what these hazards are and taking precautions to avoid them can be the difference between life and death.
Antifreeze: Most radiator antifreeze/coolant contains ethylene glycol and is highly toxic. It has a sweet taste and is readily consumed by children and animals. Five teaspoons can kill a 10-pound dog, less will kill a cat. It is very fast acting and results in kidney failure and death in as little as four to eight hours. Newer products that contain propylene glycol are generally considered safe. Store antifreeze in its original container, out of reach of pets and children. Keep the empty container or a record of the product used so that if your car leaks and your pet finds it before you do, you can tell your veterinarian what was consumed. Dispose of old antifreeze in a sealed container; don’t hose it down the driveway. Always have plenty of fresh water available for your pet. A thirsty pet may relieve its thirst with antifreeze that a neighbor left out or hosed down the driveway. If you think your pet has consumed antifreeze, call your veterinarian right away.
Rodenticides: Poison meant to kill rats and mice hoping to winter in your home can also kill your pet. They cause severe bleeding, kidney failure, and death. There are no safe rodenticides. Whether out of hunger, boredom, or curiosity, pets will consume these products. If rodenticides are used in your home, put them in places inaccessible to pets and children. Keep a record of the product used and in case of accidental poisoning, contact your veterinarian immediately.
Chocolate: Chocolate is a favorite people-treat at Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas but it is toxic to dogs and cats. The initial signs of chocolate poisoning are those of stomach upset, vomiting, and diarrhea. If sufficient chocolate is consumed, an animal will become restless and uncoordinated and will suffer heart failure and/or respiratory failure. As little as one ounce of baking chocolate or eight ounces of milk chocolate can kill a 10-pound dog. Like other poisonings, chocolate poisoning requires emergency medical treatment.
Thanksgiving dinner: Rich foods can cause sudden pancreatitis or bloat. Keep holiday meals, leftovers, and table scraps out of reach of your pet. Bones from turkey can also get stuck in the digestive track, or worse pierce a section of the bowel. If your pet insists on participating in the feast, cooked vegetables (without the butter and salt) or commercial dog treats are safe in small amounts.
Cold weather: Indoor pets not acclimated to winter temperatures should not be left outside in cold weather for long periods. Ice or salt can cause severe irritation when caught between your pet’s toes.
For more information on the care of pets, contact your local veterinarian.
source: Pet Travel Center
If you’re planning to take your pet with you on trips in the car, start early when the pet is young to get used to the routine. Short jaunts across town and back or easy day trips will get your pet used to the ride. A carsick pet can make the trip miserable for everyone.
Be sure to bring along cleaning supplies to avoid having to search out a place to purchase them at the last minute.
Make your pet travel experience fun and enjoyable by following these simple, common sense pet travel tips:
- Safely secure your pet while traveling. An unrestrained pet can become a deadly projectile in the event of a sudden stop or crash, causing serious injury (even death) to passengers. For example, an unsecured, 25-pound dog in a 40 mph crash becomes a 1,000-pound mass (half a ton) flying uncontrollably inside the vehicle.
- Dogs should be restrained with either a seatbelt or harness designed for pet travel. Smaller dogs can be secured in pet car seats, which allow them to also see out, while being properly restrained.
- Never attach a restraining device to the pet’s collar. Always use a harness to prevent injury.
- Cats should be contained in a crate, cage or pet car seat that is secured with a seat belt. Never allow a cat to roam freely in the vehicle, as it could get tangled around the driver’s feet or get in the driver’s sight of the road.
- Do not allow your pet to ride with its head outside of the window. An obstacle close to the vehicle could potentially strike your pet’s head, causing injury or death, or dirt particles could get into your pet’s ears, nose, eyes, or throat, causing health problems.
- It’s a good idea to stop every couple of hours for your pet and you to stretch and walk around. Be sure to have your pet’s leash handy to have control and so your pet doesn’t run away in unfamiliar surroundings.
- Have your own supply of cold water, as fresh water is not always handy or convenient when you need to stop.
- Have your pet consume small amounts of food and water, but don’t allow to overeat or drink if you still have more traveling to do. Reserve your pet’s main meal for the end of the day.
- Leaving a pet in a parked car is never a good idea. Temperatures in confined spaces in the summer time can heat up fast, causing heatstroke — even death — to a pet. Extremely cold temperatures in the winter can be just as threatening, so be sure not to leave a pet in the car if the temperature is near the freezing mark.
- A pet first-aid kit is an essential item to pack when venturing out and should contain things such as antiseptic cream, assorted bandages, tweezers, eye drops, gauge, tape, and the like. Aldie Vet’s phone number, the National Animal Poison Control Center hotline (1-888-466-3242) and hit prompt 2), and emergency vet hospitals in the areas where you plan to travel should be taken along.
- A travel tag on a pet’s collar will help someone locate you should you and your pet become separated. The travel tag should contain information about where you are staying locally (while away from home), including addresses and phone numbers. A cell phone number is also a good idea since most people have one with them, especially when they travel.
Bus or Train
- State and local restrictions usually prohibit pets from riding on buses or trains unless they are assisting visually impaired or physically challenged persons. Always check in advance with these transportation providers to find out what regulations they may impose.
April is “Prevent Lyme Disease in Dogs” month. Although cats can get Lyme disease, cases are rarely reported because there’s not a test that can confirm the diagnosis. Also, many times cats will not show any symptoms that are visual to their pet owners.
This is not the case in dogs. We do have a test for Lyme disease and the number of dogs that have tested positive has increased 50% in the last two years for the Northern Virginia area alone.
So, is your dog at risk? Depending on the answers to these five questions will determine the answer:
- Is your dog mostly inside and not very active when outside (limited outdoor access & regularly walks on leash)?
- Are you applying a tick preventative each month to your pet dogs and cats?
- Do you take your dog to a Veterinarian every year for a tick-borne disease (e.g., Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, anaplasmosis, etc.) screening?
- Has your dog been vaccinated against Lyme disease?
- Does your dog stay home every time you travel?
If you answered “No” to any of these questions, your dog is at greater risk for Lyme disease. To minimize these risks, we offer the following Health Tips:
- There are numerous products and medications available to keep ticks off your pet. At Aldie Vet, we suggest putting a topical medication (Frontline) on your pet, including your pet cats, every 30 days.
- Because most vector-borne disease infections show few if any early signs, comprehensive annual testing is the only way to know for sure if your dog has been exposed. In addition, no preventive or vaccine is 100% effective, which makes annual checkups even more important to your pet’s health. Vector-borne disease testing is fast and easy on your dog. At Aldie Vet, ours screens for three separate tick-borne diseases in one test.
- Another preventative service Aldie Vet recommends is to vaccinate your healthy dog every year for Lyme disease.
- When you travel with your pet to different areas, be aware that they can be exposed to different ticks and diseases than those found near your home. Visit the Companion Animal Parasite Council’s Parasite Prevalence Maps before you travel.
If your pet does test positive for Lyme or another tick-borne disease, Aldie Vet will determine the individual treatment program that’s best for your pet’s health.
“Have a Heart for Chained Dogs” will be observed this month from February 5-12, 2012.
What’s Wrong With Tethering? Dogs are social beings that thrive on interaction with humans and other animals. Tethered dogs are often the victims of abuse and neglect, suffering from sporadic feedings, empty water bowls, inadequate veterinary care and exposure to weather extremes. They are forced to eat, sleep, urinate and defecate in the same confined area, which goes against their natural instincts. Tethered dogs also suffer neck injuries from collars that have become embedded into their skin—some even strangle to death when chains become entangled with other objects. Chained in place, they are also helpless to defend themselves against abusive people, stray dogs and wild animals who may invade their space. In addition, unaltered, chained female dogs are likely to attract strays, leading to unwanted litters.
What Are the Effects of Long-Term Tethering on Dogs? Tethering for short time periods, using appropriate equipment, in an animal-friendly environment (access to water, shelter and toys, for example) is generally harmless. However, keeping a dog on a tether for the majority of the day often leads to negative behavior changes. Tethered dogs run a high risk of becoming “stir crazy” due to the inability to release their energy and socialize with others. With dogs, boredom often leads to frustration, which, in turn, often leads to aggression. An additional contributor to aggression is that, given only a small area in which to dwell, tethered dogs are known to become irrationally protective of that area because it is essentially their whole world. Studies have shown that chained or tethered dog is nearly three times more likely to bite than a dog that is not chained or tethered.
“Chaining and Tethering.” ASPCA.org. American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Web. 5 February 2012. < http://www.aspca.org/fight-animal-cruelty/advocacy-center/animal-laws-about-the-issues/tethering.aspx>.
There are laws in our quad-state area that specifically discuss tethering or chaining your dog and the penalties for not obeying the laws. Below are excerpts from each state.
Virginia – Class 4 misdemeanor, VA ST§ 3.2-6500
Each owner shall provide for each of his companion animals adequate space. For purposes of tethering “adequate space” means a tether that: is appropriate to the age and size of the animal; is attached to the animal by a properly applied collar, halter, or harness; configured so as to protect the animal from injury and prevent the animal or tether from becoming entangled with other objects or animals; ius at least three times the length of the animal, as measured from the tip of its nose to the base of its tail.
Maryland – Misdemeanor subject to imprisonment not exceeding 90 days or a fine not exceeding $1,000 orboth, MD CRIM LAW § 10-623
A person may not leave a dog outside and unattended by use of a restraint that unreasonably limits the movement of the dog; Or one that uses a collar that: is made primarily of metal; is not at least as large as the circumference of the dog’s neck plus 1 inch; that restricts the access of the dog to suitable and sufficient clean water or appropriate shelter; in unsafe or unsanitary conditions; that causes injury to the dog.
West Virginia – Misdemeanor with fine of not less than $300 nor more than $2,000 or confined in jail not more than six months, WV ST§ 61-8-19
It is unlawful for any person to intentionally, knowingly or recklessly cruelly chain or tether an animal.
For the purposes of this section, “cruelly chains” means attaching an animal to a stationary object or a pulley by means of a chain, rope, tether, leash, cable, or similar restraint under circumstances that may endanger its health, safety, or well-being. Cruelly chains includes a tether that: Causes the animal to choke; does not permit the animal to reach food, water, shade, dry ground; does not permit the animal to escape harm.
Wisch, Rebecca F. “Overview of State Dog Tethering Laws.” animallaw.info. Animal Legal & Historical Center. Michigan State University College of Law. 2009/2011. Web. 5 February 2012. < http://www.animallaw.info/articles/ovustetherlaws.htm>.