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Keep your pets cool

American Humane reminds pet owners to keep their pets safe, hydrated and cool by following simple tips and being mindful.

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Photo by Karin Hiselius from Unsplash.com

As people across the country are sweltering amid a record-setting heat wave that is making its way across the nation, American Humane reminds pet owners to keep their pets safe, hydrated and cool by following simple tips and being mindful.

“With record-setting highs closing businesses and keeping folks indoors, American Humane encourages pet owners to prioritize their family’s safety over fun,” said Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of American Humane. “By putting in some time for safety and preparation, Independence Day celebrations can be fun for people and pets.”

Intense heat is pulverizing the American Northwest. Across Oregon and Washington, high temperatures will rise more than 30 degrees above normal, according to the National Weather Service. In many cities known for their temperate weather, this heat wave is not only setting records, but threatening communities. If you’re uncomfortable outside, then so is your pet.

Follow these safety tips to stay cool despite the heat:

  • Don’t exercise your pets in dangerous conditions. Regular exercise, surprisingly, can be dangerous for pets at this time of year. Even if your pets are active, get exercise every day and are in excellent physical shape, you may want to scale back their activities or change your exercise routine to the cooler hours of the morning or evening.
  • A pet in a closed vehicle is not cool.Pets are affected by heat much more quickly than humans are, and that leaving a pet in a car for “just a minute” can have a deadly outcome. Remember that cars heat up fast—even with the windows cracked!
  • At home outdoors, ensure that your pets have access to shade and fresh water at all times. Your trip to the supermarket or dentist’s office may take longer than you expect. Temperatures in your yard can increase to high levels in just a few hours, and heat stroke can become a serious issue.
  • Heat stroke requires immediate veterinary attention! Heat stroke can be deadly. Signs of heat stroke include excessive panting, dark or bright red tongue and gums, lethargy, stumbling, seizures, bloody diarrhea or vomiting, and coma. If you suspect heat stroke, you should seek veterinary treatment for your pet as soon as possible. You can provide some immediate treatment using cool (but not icy) water to lower your pet’s temperature by submerging the pet in a tub of water, wetting him with a hose or sponging him down.
  • Enjoy your spring-into-summer days with your furred friends—just be sure to take a few precautions and stay cool!

Pet Care

Tips for supporting pet health and wellness

It’s critically important that pet parents understand the varying life stages and how they can help their pets live their healthiest, happiest lives at each milestone.

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Four years since the onset of COVID-19, puppies and kittens adopted during the pandemic are now entering adulthood and pets adopted as adults are approaching their senior years. As a partner in complete pet care, Petco Health and Wellness Company Inc. is sharing veterinarian-recommended tips for supporting pets through life stage transitions.

“Just like humans, pets’ needs evolve throughout their lives and Petco offers the expertise, products and services essential to caring for their total wellness as they age,” said Petco’s Chief Veterinarian, Dr. Whitney Miller, DVM, MBA, DACVPM. “Across nutrition, activity level, veterinary care and more, puppies and kittens have very different needs from adult pets, and their needs change again as they become seniors. It’s critically important that pet parents understand the varying life stages and how they can help their pets live their healthiest, happiest lives at each milestone.”

Dr. Miller’s top tips include:

Vaccinations

Vaccines are an essential part of every pet’s whole health. Puppies and kittens will need extra attention in this area, but adult and senior dogs and cats still require regular vaccines to protect them from contagious diseases.

Regular Checkups

Schedule regular veterinary visits, at minimum once per year, to help prevent and identify conditions early. As pets enter their senior years, a trusted veterinarian can diagnose and treat issues to help pets live longer, healthier lives.

Nutrition

Pets’ nutritional needs change as they age. Puppies and kittens can benefit from unique calcium and phosphorous and specific formulations that help support their rapid growth and development. Adult pets may have new dietary sensitivities or needs and require a switch to a weight management or limited-ingredient food. As pets settle into their senior years, joint and fatty acid supplements can help ensure they are supporting mobility and skin and coat health. Petco offers a range of nutritional products to support every diet, budget and life stage.

Training

Training is a lifelong practice for pets, and pet parents should not stop at puppyhood. Behavioral issues can arise at any life stage, and it’s never too late to learn new skills. With patience and dedication, pet parents can help their pets adjust to new routines, especially if the past four years have increased their pet’s separation and social anxiety.

Grooming

A regular grooming routine is essential to maintaining a pet’s health & wellness. Not only will regular appointments keep pets looking their best throughout their lifetime but also targeted grooming packages can help address issues such as fleas, shedding and itching.

Home Integration

From puppy gates to a ramp for senior pets, it’s important to consider implementing simple adaptations at home to best support pets at each life stage. As dogs and cats age, they may get stiff laying on their old bed and feel more comfortable on an orthopedic bed. Both puppies and older dogs may need to have potty pads on hand, while adult dogs can benefit from engaging toys that help release their energy and strengthen cognition.

Safety Measures

One in three pets goes missing in their lifetime. Be sure to microchip pets, in addition to using an identification tag, for their safety. Also, register pets with a free national lost and found database that uses patented image-recognition technology to help reunite lost pets with their families. As more pet parents register their pets, this can help curb the increase in stray and lost pets coming into shelters across the country.

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Pet Care

8 Tips to keep your pets away from poison

Here are tips to consider to keep your pets away from posion.

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March is not just for madness — it also happens to be Pet Poison Prevention Month. To help sports enthusiasts remember to protect their pets while cheering on their favorite teams, the toxicology experts at Pet Poison Helpline have analyzed case data and developed a list of the Elite Eight Pet Owner Fouls.

1. Administering Human Pain Medications. 

Pet owners often give their pet human pain medication when the pet isn’t feeling well.

“No one wants to see their beloved pet in pain, so when you see them suffering, it is common to reach for your nearest pain reliever to help them feel better,” said Dr. Renee Schmid, a senior veterinary toxicologist at Pet Poison Helpline. “The problem is, animals are very sensitive to human pain medications, particularly NSAIDs like ibuprofen and naproxen, and only a small amount can be potentially deadly. Cats are particularly sensitive to these medications, leaving no room for error if they’re given these medications.”

2. Human/Pet Medication Mix-ups. 

Owners may store their medication in the same place as their pet’s medication and mistakenly give the pet the owner’s medication.

Do you have a specific place where you store all of the medication in your house?” Dr. Schmid asked. “If so, you are not alone! Many pet parents will keep their pet’s medication in the same area as their own medication and have been known to give their pet the human medication by mistake. Depending on the type of medication and amount, potentially fatal consequences can occur. This is especially true for skeletal muscle relaxants such as baclofen and heart/blood pressure medications.”

3. Home Treatment for Vomiting.

Owners may attempt to induce vomiting in their pet without the guidance of a veterinarian, leading to injury.

“Instructions on how to make your pet vomit are all over the internet,” Dr. Schmid warns. “Getting a pet to vomit, however, isn’t as carefree as Dr. Google may want you to believe. There is never a safe way to induce vomiting in a cat at home so it should only be done under the supervision of a veterinarian using prescription medication that has been proven safe for cats. Dogs may be able to have vomiting induced at home but only under the guidance of a veterinarian or poison expert, as giving too much hydrogen peroxide can cause severe consequences. Manually trying to gag your pet can result in nerve damage to the protective areas of the airway, salt can cause poisoning to your pet, and the myriad of other options you may read about are often dangerous and ineffective. There are also certain substances that may cause more harm if vomited.  Always work with a medical expert when considering if inducing vomiting is necessary for your pet.”

4. Inappropriate Storage of Household Cleaners.

Cleaning products, such as toilet bowl cleaner, being left out or in the bowl where pets have access to it can have detrimental consequences.

“Having to clean undesirable areas like toilet bowls often leaves us pondering the true meaning of life,” Dr. Schmid mused. “Cleaners are often poured into the toilet bowl and left to set for a bit to work their magic. If toilet bowl lids aren’t closed, or bathroom doors are left open, our curious furry housemates can find the bottle or water containing toilet bowl cleaner and take a dangerous drink or two.” 

Toilet bowl cleaners can cause corrosive effects to the mouth, esophagus, and stomach, leading to severe ulceration and pain.  Depending on the concentration and amount ingested, these effects can be life-threatening.

5. Garbage Can Temptations.

Moldy food left in the garbage can be a tempting treat for pets.

“The great refrigerator clean-out often contains moldy food products that we quickly throw in the trash,” Dr. Schmid said. “These moldy foods may contain tremorgenic mycotoxins that result in ataxia, tremors, and seizures.  Deaths can occur.  If moldy food is placed in the trash, remember to keep the trash can out of reach of your pets, or better yet, immediately take the trash out of the house and place in a larger, more secure trash receptacle.”

6. Dangerous Compost Access.

Allowing unsupervised pet access to compost piles can become an all-you-can-eat buffet.

“Food and organic material in compost piles may also allow mold with tremorgenic mycotoxins to grow,” Dr. Schmid explained. “If using a compost bin, be sure to fence off the area so your furry friend does not have access to any of the great smelling and tasting rotting material!”

7. Rat Poison Placement.

Placing rodenticides in an area accessible to pets can kill more than just rodents.

Sometimes, no matter how hard we try, rodents such as mice and rats get into our homes, our garages, and our sheds,” Dr. Schmid said. “In an effort to rid these areas of the pesky rodents, mouse and rat baits are often set out. These baits have varying active ingredients that can be fatal depending on the amount ingested. If using mouse and rat bait in the same area that a pet is around, be sure to keep the bait far out of the pet’s reach and only use in the bait station supplied by the bait manufacturer. While these don’t completely eliminate the risk that your curious pet may get into the bait, it can help make access a bit trickier. Also, if bait is not kept in the recommended bait station and left out loosely, it is possible that a rodent can carry the bait to another area that is more easily accessible to your pet.”

8. Convenient Cocktail Access.

Alcoholic and caffeine containing beverages left sitting out on a low table (coffee table, end table) are no reason to party for our 4-legged companions.

“It’s easy to get distracted while leaving your alcoholic or caffeine-containing beverage on a low table, giving your pet sufficient time to ingest just enough to cause poisoning,” Dr. Schmid warns. “Animals do not tolerate alcohol or caffeine in the same manner that people do, and small amounts can be enough to require a trip to the veterinarian, while larger amounts can result in death.”

“As humans, life gets in the way, and we make mistakes now and again. If you make any of these fouls, or your pets get into other things that may be toxic, contact your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline immediately,” urged Dr. Schmid. “We’re here to help save your pet’s life when potential trouble arises.”

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Pet Care

5 Common ways in which the health of homeless pet owners and their companions is improved

The most common ways in which homeless people are their pets are supported to live healthier lives include free veterinary clinics, join human/animal clinics, stigma reduction, interdisciplinary relationships, and pet-friendly lodging.

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A rapid scoping review has been conducted which reveals five common ways in which the health of homeless pet owners and their companion animals is improved.

Ten percent of homeless people keep pets. But little information exists on specific intervention strategies for improving the health of homeless people and their pets who are often the only source of unconditional love or companionship in their life.

The study, published in the Human-Animal Interactions journal, found that the most common ways in which homeless people are their pets are supported to live healthier lives include free veterinary clinics, join human/animal clinics, stigma reduction, interdisciplinary relationships, and pet-friendly lodging.

Lead authors Dr Michelle Kurkowski and Dr Andrew Springer said research on homeless people and their pets showed significant heterogeneity, but they stress that further programme intervention is needed to recommend intervention best practices.

Promising avenues for evaluating interventions and improving health

They suggest that joint human/animal clinics and interdisciplinary partnerships are promising avenues for evaluating interventions and improving health outcomes.

A study by Ramirez et al (2022) that investigated 44 homeless pet owners in Seattle, USA, for example, found that 61% of respondents were interested in healthcare for their pets, compared to 43% for themselves. Furthermore, 86% indicated they would attend a joint veterinary/human health clinic, with convenience frequently mentioned.

Studies that the researchers drew upon for their findings – from the PubMed and Embase databases – include those focused on homeless pet owners across the USA, Canada, and the UK.

Dr Kurkowski wrote the paper while at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Public Health (UTHealth) but is now a Veterinary Medical Officer for the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

A source of friendship and physical safety

She said, “Research has shown that companion animals are a source of friendship and physical safety, and homeless persons with pets report significantly lower rates of depression and loneliness compared to non-pet owners.

“Studies show that pet owners experiencing homelessness are also subjected to unique challenges in caring for both themselves and their companion animals. Individuals, for instance, are often forced to choose between accessing lodging and keeping their pets with them.

“Similarly, our review reveals that this group is less likely to utilize needing assistance, such as healthcare or career services, potentially due to difficulty using public transportation of lack of safe places to leave pets.”

However, Dr Kurkowski and Dr Springer said that despite the growing body of literature on both the benefits of pet ownership for the unhoused community – as well as the needs and challenges that homeless pet owners and their pets face – little attention has been given to developing interventions to address the challenges facing this group.

More comprehensive and effective care package

Dr Springer, associate professor of in the Department of Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences at the UTHealth, “Our purpose was to describe the study designs, measurements, and outcomes of relevant primary research studies to identify knowledge gaps in the body of literature on this topic.

“Additionally, common intervention characteristics were highlighted to create a ‘road map’ of prior interventions to assist individuals interested in creating similar programs.

“The ultimate goal of this assessment was to summarize key intervention strategies for pet owners experiencing homelessness to help direct future funding, research, and outreach efforts among this unique population.”

The researchers conclude that a more comprehensive and effective care package for homeless people and their pets will require the combined efforts of healthcare providers, social workers, animal welfare workers and governmental and nonprofit organizations to develop innovative One Health solutions for the challenges currently facing this population.

Written by Kurkowksi, M. and Springer, A., ‘Exploring Strategies for Pet Owners Experiencing Homelessness: A Rapid Scoping Review’ appeared in Human-Animal Interactions.

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