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Tips to keep your pets safe from thieves

Pet theft is constantly on the rise, so it’s important to stay vigilant with your pet at all times. Leaving your dog unattended is never a good idea, and the cost of losing a family member is devastating.

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Photo by Jamie Street from Unsplash.com

Pet theft is constantly on the rise, so it’s important to stay vigilant with your pet at all times. Leaving your dog unattended is never a good idea, and the cost of losing a family member is devastating. Staying alert is key, whether you’re home or out walking your dog. Pet thefts have risen 40% since 2021, so it is increasingly important to take precautions to keep your pet safe.

The American Kennel Club and AKC Reunite are here to give you tips on keeping your pets safe from thieves.

  • Walk close. When you’re out on walks with your dog, keep them on the leash and in-sight at all times. This will reduce the likelihood of them wandering off or catching the attention of someone with the intent to steal.
  • Never leave your dog unattended in your yard. Whether your yard is in your front or backyard, leaving them outside by themselves makes them an easy target for thieves. Especially if your yard is visible from the street, they become an easy target if alone.
  • Avoid isolated routes. Especially early in the morning or late at night, avoid routes with few people and buildings if possible. If there are others around, your pet is less likely to be stolen, or in the case that they are, there are more likely witnesses.
  • Be wary of what information you give out. It’s fairly normal for strangers to approach you and admire your dog on walks, but giving out too much information about your dog can also put them at risk. Information like how much your dog cost, or details about where you live are not things you should share.
  • Vary your route. Walking the same routes with your dog every day might seem like a great idea, but it’s also a great way for someone looking to steal your dog to make themselves aware of your routine and where you go. Varying your walking route makes it harder for thieves to find you and your dog.
  • Don’t tie your dog outside a store. Leaving your dog tied up outside of a store unattended is extremely dangerous, even if you can see them from the window. It only takes moments for your attention to be elsewhere and someone to untie them and take them along. If you need to go in stores, go to dog-friendly establishments or leave your dog at home.
  • Don’t leave your dog in the car. Similarly to leaving them outside, leaving your dog in your car unattended is not only dangerous for the dog, but also can prompt thieves to break in, or steal your vehicle.
  • Be diligent. In the event that your pet is lost, post recent photos of your pet everywhere you can: social media, community pages, put up signs, etc. Make sure to also contact local shelters and vets so that if your dog does turn up, or someone tries to bring them in as their own, they can recognize your stolen dog.
  • Protect your dog with microchip identification. Collars and tags are important, but can be easily removed. Make sure your pet is microchipped with a permanent ID.
  • Always report to the police. Many don’t realize that reporting this theft to the police can make a huge difference, but it is a crime. If your pet is stolen, make sure to alert authorities so that they can also be on the lookout and even apprehend the person who stole them. In the event that your dog is stolen, also report this to your microchip company.
  • Update microchip contact information. Make sure your pet’s microchip is up-to-date in case your pet is ever stolen, as well as their collar tags. Keep AKC Reunite’s number, 800-252-7894, in your phone in case of emergency or if your pet is found.

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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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