Emergency Planning For You and Your Pets

Photo courtesy of Olsen Vet Clinic

Wildfires, hurricanes, floods, and other natural disasters can strike anywhere, anytime. When trouble strikes, you need a clear action plan to get you and your pets to safety in times of trouble.

Have a plan! This 2-page checklist is one of the best I’ve seen; print a copy and keep it with you. For more information about pet-focused disaster planning, check out this page.

Create a list of pet-friendly hotels, motels, and campgrounds along your anticipated and alternate routes to safety—even if you’re planning to stay with family or friends. You can search online at Pets Welcome or Dog Friendly websites. Hotels and motels are not legally required to accept pets—even during natural disasters or a mandatory evacuation, so check websites and then call ahead to be sure your pet can stay. Some may accept pets for an additional fee, and others may have a limited number of rooms available for travelers with pets.

Build a go bag for your pets. Use a backpack, tote, or even small wheeled luggage to stash items you may need. Refer to the checklist and add other items as needed. Keep ID tags current. Microchips are one smart way to ID your pets. My Sasha and Buddy The Wonder Cat are both microchipped and registered with AKC Reunite. Make sure you complete your registration and keep contact info current.

Take photos today of your pets. Photograph them standing, left and right profiles, and straight-on head shots. Take additional photos showing you with your pets—that’s essential if questions of ownership arise. If you can tag or add metadata to each photo, that’s even better. (To learn how, click here.) Save copies to Dropbox and/or email them to yourself and others. That way, if you lose your phone or computer, you can easily retrieve them.

The not-for-profit  American Veterinary Medical Association has a wealth of information to help you develop a plan to care for your pets before and after disasters. Here’s a great video (less than 5 minutes) worth watching:

Build go bags for the rest of the family.  Children, older adults, and anyone with physical limitations may have special needs, so take those into consideration when planning your go bags. You can buy family-sized emergency kits or save money and make your own. The South Carolina Emergency Management Division has a comprehensive family emergency kit online. Find more resources and info at ready.gov and the American Red Cross (great quiz at that site, too!).

Keep your bags accessible so you can grab and go.

If you must evacuate and have a vehicle, add extra jugs of water, towels, tarps, ropes, and bungees. Duct tape, small hand tools, and plastic bags can be easily stored beneath a seat. Add tarps, ropes, and bungees; these may be some of the most important survival items you’ll need; they take up very little space and can be stored under the seat of your vehicle. If you have to be on foot, roll up the tarp and fasten it to your go bag with those ropes or bungees. Tarps are a lightweight and inexpensive way to provide shade and protection from rain. Pop-up tents are another option if you can afford the higher cost. They usually come in their own tote bag, which is handy.

It seems ironic, but water is often the most difficult resource to acquire in flooded areas. If you have space in your vehicle, add extra jugs of water–essential in all emergencies. If you run out of water you brought from home, the CDC offers a quick “how to” for making water safe for drinking here and here

Communicate. Let family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers know your plans. Social media can be a great tool to help you stay in contact. Always have a back-up plan, to include alternate routes and destinations. And remember: cell towers and Internet providers may be impacted by disasters, so share info ahead of time and take print copies with you in waterproof bags.

From the American Kennel Club:

Remember that you might not be home when disaster strikes. Plan for being away from your pets and/or being unable to get to them. Consider making arrangements with someone who can get to your dog when you can’t like a neighbor, dog walker, pet sitter, or local doggy daycare. And place a rescue alert sticker at your front door to let people know there are pets inside your house. Be sure it includes the types and number of pets you own as well as your veterinarian’s phone number. If you are able to take your pets with you during an evacuation, please write “Evacuated” across the sticker if time allows so rescue workers don’t waste precious time at your home.

Practice! If you had to leave home without advance notice, how long would it take you to grab your gear and herd people and pets into your vehicle?  Tip: keep travel crates, carriers, leashes, and go bags where you can quickly grab them.

When you think you have everything ready, run a drill. (Remember those fire drills from your school days? Same concept.) Practice in the daytime. Practice in the dark. If your pets don’t like their crates or balk at the idea of the vehicle, turn this into a game and reward them for playing along. The more often you practice, the easier it will be when an emergency does occur.

Plan ahead. Practice. Be safe!

Celebrate!

It’s National Dog Day!

In years past, we’d celebrate with a long walk through the meadows or the woods. This year, though, with heat and humidity pushing the thermometer past the high 90s and into the 105-110 °F range, we’re finding other ways to enjoy ourselves.

Treat time is always a morning hit, followed by squirrel patrol, play time when the sprinklers come on, and checking out the garden. We have a bumper crop of hybrid cucumbers that are so sweet you could almost believe you’re eating watermelon.  And since cucumbers of any kind are Sasha’s idea of the perfect treat, she gets all she wants through the hot summer. Add some Feta cheese to her meals and she is one happy dog.

Morning naps under a ceiling fan, afternoon naps on the cool tile floor, or evenings spent dozing in her bed beside me–she’s got a good life and she knows it!

Do You Know The Danger Signs?

Courtesy of Dogster.com

Did you know that hot temperatures can be dangerous for your dog? Add in high humidity and that danger can turn deadly. Here’s what you should know…

Feel confident you know the signs, but want a quick refresher? Check out these 11 Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion in Dogs, courtesy of Noah’s Ark Veterinary Hospital.

Want more info? The AKC’s Canine Health Foundation  has an easy-to-read bullet list of contributing factors, signs, prevention, and management in heat stroke situations.

UCDavis Veterinary Medicine shares the clinical signs of heat-related illnesses and risk factors for heat stroke in dogs. They note:

Causes of heat stroke may be non-exertional or exertional. Non-exertional heat gain is the result of being in a hot environment, such as a hot car, or spending time outside in direct sun. Exertional heat gain is due to exercise, such as playing catch or running. It is important to note that increased body temperature due to heat stroke is not the same as fever, which is caused by the body’s reaction to an infection or other disease process.

If you’re interested in learning more from an academic perspective, check out Today’s Veterinary Practice.

And one more infographic (click once to enlarge; click twice to read all the small print). Save and share!

Be safe!

Houseplants and Health

Buddy & Sasha

Whether you’re new to sharing your household with cats and dogs or they’ve long been a part of your life, it’s a good time to remind ourselves of potential issues houseplants may pose for our pets. I’ve compiled a “top 5” list of some of my favorite websites with photos and vital information about houseplants you might want to learn more about. Many of these sites include the scientific/botanical names as well. And just to keep it balanced, I’ve included a link to science-based information regarding the benefits of plants in your home.

Houseplants and Pets:

From Rover.com: 15 Common House Plants Poisonous to Dogs

(Includes list of suggested alternative plants to consider.)

Pilea.com: 10 Toxic Houseplants to Avoid

(Great photos & helpful safety tips.)

Farmers’ Almanac: 30 Common Toxic Houseplants From A-Z

(One of my favorite go-to sites for all sorts of information.)

Trees.com: Keep Kids & Pets Away From These Poisonous Houseplants

(This new-to-me site is exceptionally well organized–worth bookmarking!)

Balcony Garden Web: Beware of Plants Toxic to Dogs

(This site includes short descriptions, photographs, and notes about associated toxins, severity, and symptoms. Plus: you’ll learn which part of the plant is malicious. Mystery writers, take note!)

 ***

I’ve had many of these plants in my own home–still do–and none of my cats or dogs have ever suffered ill effects. In fact, like many people, I’ve found houseplants to be a beneficial addition to my home, and support good health and boost creativity. For more information about the positive effects of houseplants (including some listed on the website above), check out healthline.com’s article “7 Science-Backed Benefits of Indoor Plants.”

Wishing you good health and happiness with pets and plants!

Celebrate!

 

My Sheltie Sasha’s best friend is Buddy The Wonder Cat, and he’s 10 years old today!

Buddy the Wonder Cat came to us as a feral kitten, 10 weeks old and weighing just 2½ pounds. Since he joined our household, we’ve discovered he’s a champion jumper (as long as he doesn’t have to jump higher than the laundry room counter). He’s capable of holding a grudge when he thinks he’s been wronged, and he mumbles and grumbles and flat-out worries whenever Sasha goes to the vet clinic or groomers without him.

He’s taught Sasha how to play hide-and-seek as well as the muffin tin game. Since I started teaching Sasha tricks, Buddy has turned into quite a coach. When Sasha achieved Novice level, Buddy promptly claimed the ribbon and dragged it up the stairs. (Upstairs is HIS territory.)

Our boy is an avid TV fan, too. He loves to watch The Detectorists, The Brokenwood Mysteries, and Midsomer Murders with the original Chief Inspector Barnaby. And he never misses the Westminster Kennel Club dog show  or a soccer tournament. (Sasha, on the other hand, sleeps through it all.)

When he’s not watching TV or chasing catnip treats, you can find Buddy tending to his collection of strings. He keeps them by his kibble dish and likes to drag them, one at a time, into his food dish or water bowl. His current obsession, though, is sliding and surfing across the oak floors on sheets of shipping paper.

In celebration of life ongoing, here’s a slideshow of the best of Buddy the Wonder Cat through the years.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.