Category Archives: safety

10 ‘Do Not Ignore’ Symptoms in Dogs and Cats

By Dr. Becker

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When your cat just Ain’t Doing Right (ADR) or your dog seems a little off his game, it can be difficult to know whether to take a wait-and-see attitude, or tuck your pet into his carrier and head to the nearest veterinary clinic. This is especially true when your furry family member’s symptoms are commonly seen in disorders at both ends of the spectrum, from benign to life-threatening.

To offer you some guidance, I’ve compiled a list of symptoms that fall into the category of “Do Not Ignore.” They may or may not mean your pet is seriously sick, but they should be investigated right away by your veterinarian or an emergency animal clinic.

10 ‘Do Not Ignore’ Symptoms

1.  Fainting, collapsing

When an animal collapses, it means she has suffered a sudden loss of strength that causes her to fall and be unable to get back up. If a collapsed pet also loses consciousness, she has fainted. Either of these situations is an emergency, even if your pet recovers quickly and seems normal again within seconds or minutes of the collapse.

All the reasons for fainting or collapsing are serious and require an immediate visit to your veterinarian. They include a potential problem with the nervous system (brain, spinal cord or nerves), the musculoskeletal system (bones, joints, muscles), the circulatory system (heart, blood vessels, blood) or the respiratory system (mouth, nose, throat, lungs).

2. Difficulty breathing

A dog or kitty in respiratory distress will have labored breathing or shortness of breath that can occur when he breathes in or out. Breathing difficulties can mean that not enough oxygen is reaching his tissues. Additionally, pets with heart failure may not be able to pump enough blood to their muscles and other tissues.

Respiratory distress often goes hand-in-hand with a buildup of fluid in the lungs or chest cavity that leads to shortness of breath and coughing. If your pet has sudden undiagnosed breathing problems, he should see a veterinarian immediately.

3. Bloody diarrhea, urine or vomit

Digested blood in your pet’s poop will appear as black tarry stools. Fresh blood in the stool indicates bleeding in the colon or rectum. Either situation is cause for concern and should be investigated as soon as possible. Blood in the urine, called hematuria, can be obvious or microscopic. There are a number of serious disorders that can cause bloody urine, including a blockage in the urinary tract, a bacterial infection and even cancer.

Vomited blood can be either bright red (fresh), or resemble coffee grounds (indicating partially digested blood). There are a variety of reasons your pet might vomit blood, some of which are relatively minor, but others are serious and even life threatening.

4. Trouble urinating

This includes discomfort while urinating, straining to urinate and frequent attempts to urinate with little success. If your pet cries out while relieving himself, seems preoccupied with that area of his body or is excessively licking the area, you should make an appointment with your veterinarian right away. There are several underlying causes of urinary difficulties, some of which can result in death within just a few days.

5. Coughing

Coughing in pets, unless it’s a one-and-done situation, generally indicates an underlying problem. Examples include a possible windpipe obstruction, kennel cough, asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia, heartworm disease, heart failure and tumors of the lung. All causes of coughing require investigation, and in most cases, treatment.

6. Fever

If your pet’s temperature spikes, it usually means his body is fighting an infection. The normal temperature in both dogs and cats is 100.5 to 102.5 degrees F. If your pet feels warm to you and his temp is higher than normal, make an appointment with your veterinarian.

7. Lethargy or extreme fatigue

A lethargic pet will appear drowsy, “lazy” and/or indifferent. She may be slow to respond to sights, sounds and other stimuli in her environment. Lethargy or exhaustion is a non-specific symptom that can signal a number of potential underlying disorders, including some that are serious or life-threatening. If your pet is lethargic for longer than 24 hours, it’s time to make an appointment with your veterinarian.

8. Pacing, restlessness or unproductive retching

When a pet paces and seems unable or unwilling to settle down, it can signal that he’s in pain, discomfort or distress. One very serious condition in dogs in which these symptoms are common is gastric dilatation volvulus (GDV), also called bloat. Bloat is a life-threatening condition that most often occurs in large breed dogs and those with deep chests.

9. Loss of appetite and/or weight loss

Often, loss of appetite is the very first sign of an underlying illness in pets. There can be many reasons your dog or cat isn’t hungry or refuses to eat, but not eating can begin to negatively impact his health within 24 hours. And for puppies and kittens 6 months or younger, the issue is even more serious.

Weight loss is the result of a negative caloric balance, and it can be the consequence of anorexia (loss of appetite) or when an animal’s body uses or eliminates essential dietary nutrients faster than they are replenished. Weight loss exceeding 10 percent of your pet’s normal body weight will be a red flag for your vet. There can be several underlying causes, some of which are very serious.

10. Red eye(s)

If the white area of your pet’s eye turns bright red, it’s a sign of inflammation or infection that signals one of several diseases involving the external eyelids, the third eyelid, the conjunctiva, cornea or sclera of the eye. Redness can also point to inflammation of structures inside the eye, eye socket disorders and also glaucoma. Certain disorders of the eye can lead to blindness, so any significant change in the appearance of your pet’s eyes should be investigated.

Some symptoms of illness in cats and dogs are best handled by simply giving them a chance to run their course, for example, a temporary gastrointestinal (GI) upset resulting from indiscriminate snacking. Other symptoms can be so sudden, severe and frightening that you know immediately you need to get your pet to the vet or an emergency animal hospital.

The 10 symptoms I’ve listed above can fall somewhere in the middle, so hopefully I’ve provided you with some good info in the event your four-legged family member develops symptoms that point to a potentially severe or life-threatening illness.

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How You Can Help Animal Shelters in the Aftermath of a Natural Disaster


September 18, 2017

Natural disasters are devastating, leaving many people without a home, and their personal belongings and family memories forever destroyed.  Animals of all species also fall victim to these horrendous events when they’re left to fend for themselves or accidentally become separated as families attempt to travel to safety.

With the help of search and rescue teams, the animals are brought to the safety of shelters and makeshift facilities in hopes of having them reunited with their families. But the influx of incoming animals can place a strain on resources and displace animals already in the shelter, leaving workers scrambling to find a place for everyone to go. Because of this, donations and support are critical after a disaster, and there are several ways you can help, whether it’s on-site or from afar.

Adopt or Foster a Shelter Animal

How You Can Help Animal Shelters in the Aftermath of a Natural DisasterDave Parker/Flickr

Being inundated with rescued animals is hard on shelters of any size, but it’s especially burdensome on smaller shelters with limited resources and those without a network of foster homes.  And despite their best efforts to house as many animals as possible, some are faced with no other option but to euthanize those already in the shelter to make room for incoming animals.  After a disaster, rescue organizations across the country band together to help take in animals from overwhelmed shelters, but they can’t do it alone.

One way you can help shelters make room – and save lives in the process – is to adopt or offer to be a foster home for animals.  People often make the mistake of thinking that shelters are adopting out animals rescued from the disaster, forever separating them from their families in the process, but that isn’t the case.  The goal in these situations is to move the animals that were already in the shelter, making room for new animals until they can be reunited with their families.

If you don’t live near the disaster area, or you’re unable to adopt, you can always check with your local rescue organizations to see if they need foster homes – and chances are, they do.  Fostering provides relief by creating an opening for the organization to take in additional animals, and you can feel good about knowing that you did your part to help save a life.

Donate

The cost of providing food and medical care for animals can add up quickly, putting a financial strain on shelters that aren’t prepared to care for a large number of animals. Monetary donations are always welcome because shelters can use the funds to purchase what they need most, whether it’s food, blankets, medical supplies, or crates to house extra animals.  Unfortunately, donation scams are common after a disaster, so always do your research to make sure your money is going directly to the organization.

Food, treats, litter, gas cards, and cleaning supplies are also a helpful donation if you prefer not to send money.  Before you go shopping, contact the shelter or rescue to see exactly what they need, or see if they have an online “wish list” of donated items.  A large donation of puppy food, for example, won’t benefit an organization that has taken in several litters of kittens.  Checking with them first will help ensure that your donation benefits as many animals as possible. (NOTE:  View K-9 Angels Rescue’s donation options HERE.)

Volunteer

How You Can Help Animal Shelters in the Aftermath of a Natural Disaster

FEMA/Wikimedia

The first thing any animal lover wants to do when there are animals in need is offer to volunteer.  But before you plan a road trip to a devastated area, it’s important to have a plan in place.  Disaster areas are incredibly dangerous, and first responders and other agencies are busy trying to save people and animals.  If you want to lend a helping hand, check with national organizations that have a system in place for disaster relief volunteers.  You can also reach out to local organizations to offer assistance with transporting animals from shelters or gathering donated supplies.

Keep in mind that thousands of people step up to help in these situations, so even if an organization doesn’t need your help right away, that doesn’t mean they won’t need it later.  Many organizations located in disaster areas will continue to need help for several months (if not longer) as they recover from the devastation and work to reunite pets with their families, so be patient until an opportunity becomes available.  Interested in volunteering with K-9 Angels Rescue in Houston, TX?  Find more info HERE!

Whatever you decide to do, know that your help is appreciated more than words can ever express.  No good deed is too small, and it’s often the simplest of acts of kindness that have the greatest impact.

 

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What to Do if You Suspect an Animal Is Being Abused

The good news: all fifty states have laws against animal cruelty.  The bad news: the law is only as good as the people who report animal cruelty.  If you witness an animal being abused or suspect cruelty, it’s imperative you report the abuse.  More likely than not, you’re the only hope for the animal to get help, as well as for charges being filed against the abuser.

And animal abuse is not something to take lightly, by any means.  Animal abuse typically signifies other types of abuse. For instance, one study found that animal abuse occurred in 88 percent of homes where child abuse had been discovered.  Another study found that up to 83 percent of women entering domestic violence shelters report that their abusers also abuse the family pet.  In fact, animal abusers are five times more likely to abuse people.

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If you do witness animal abuse, what exactly are the steps to take?  Who should you call? Seeing an animal be abused is traumatic, but being prepared helps.  Here is a handy breakdown of what to do.  Remember it’s important to always speak up but please be prepared so you don’t put yourself (or others) in dangers!

First, Call Your Local Animal Control Agency

Always contact a professional first.  If you are unfamiliar with local organizations, dial 911.  Animal control agencies are required to investigate if a report of alleged animal cruelty is made, according to the Humane Society of the United States.  One Green Planet also offers the largest database of local hotlines to help rescue abandoned, injured, stranded, sick, and lost animals in need.  It’s important to contact a professional first before you potentially endanger yourself.  While it’s hard to see animal abuse, don’t try to steal the animal because then you could be charged with trespassing.

Document the Abuse 

Documenting the abuse in as much detail is crucial.  Take note of dates, times, any specific details.  Any photos or videos can also be helpful when agencies conduct an investigation.  But please don’t put yourself in danger.  Don’t enter someone else’s property and use caution when approaching an animal who may be frightened or in pain, according to the ASPCA.

Follow Up

Be persistent!  If you’re not getting answers from law-enforcement officers, ask for their supervisor’s contact information.  According to PETA, if you have personally witnessed an act of animal cruelty, you can go directly to your local magistrate or police commissioner and ask for a warrant to summon the abuser to court.  The animal rights organization also notes that expert witnesses can be helpful, such as a veterinarian signing a statement that in his or her “expert opinion”.

And what exactly is animal cruelty?

The ASPCA also offers a comprehensive list of physical signs, as well as environmental signs of cruelty to be on the look out for.  Be sure to review the below lists so you know animal abuse when you see it!

Physical Signs of Cruelty

  • Tight collar that has caused a neck wound or has become embedded in the pet’s neck
  • Open wounds, signs of multiple healed wounds or an ongoing injury or illness that isn’t being treated
  • Untreated skin conditions that have caused loss of hair, scaly skin, bumps or rashes
  • Extreme thinness or emaciation—bones may be visible
  • Fur infested with fleas, ticks or other parasites
  • Patches of bumpy, scaly skin rashes
  • Signs of inadequate grooming, such as extreme matting of fur, overgrown nails, and dirty coat
  • Weakness, limping or the inability to stand or walk normally
  • Heavy discharge from eyes or nose
  • An owner striking or otherwise physically abusing an animal
  • Visible signs of confusion or extreme drowsiness

Environmental Signs of Cruelty

  • Pets are tied up alone outside for long periods of time without adequate food or water, or with food or water that is unsanitary
  • Pets are kept outside in inclement weather without access to adequate shelter
  • Pets are kept in an area littered with feces, garbage, broken glass or other objects that could harm them
  • Animals are housed in kennels or cages (very often crowded in with other animals) that are too small to allow them to stand, turn around and make normal movements

Animal Cruelty Seen on the Internet

The Internet can be a wonderful place for helping dogs find homes, get cat care tips and more but unfortunately, the Internet also always for many dangers for our furry friends.

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First, you’ll have to find the background information for the particular website.  You can visit WhoIs and perform a search of the site.  Then, contact the website’s ISP (Internet service provider) to report the animal abuse.  If you believe the animal is an immediate danger, contact the offender’s local FBI branch, based on the WhoIs search.

You Are Their Voice 

Just the thought of animal abuse is enough to bring any animal lover to tears.  Tragic stories involving humans abusing animals seem to make headlines on a daily basis. Reading these stories can be difficult and make you feel as if no progress is being made to save and protect all the animals humans interact with or take responsibility for. Without voices to speak up for themselves or proper laws (and enforcement of the laws that do exist) to shield them from neglect or physical abuse, it is up to us to step in and do all we can to end the violence.  This involves speaking out and raising awareness for animals who are the victims of abuse and also even working help get laws changed or improved on a state or national level.

Please share this article within your network so others can also learn what to do if they see animal abuse!  It’s important to always speak up for those we cannot.

Lead image source: behumann34/Pixabay

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Heatstroke Prevention and Summer Safety

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Phew!  It’s hot outside!  While humans sweat to cool off, a pet’s fur prevents sweating, thereby trapping heat which causes a rapid rise in internal temperature.  Heatstroke can occur when a pet’s internal temperature rises just a few degrees, and can cause serious problems and/or death.  While we have heard not to leave pets in a car on a hot day, there are several other situations which can cause heatstroke in any kind of pet.  Do you know the signs and symptoms, as well as some emergency first aid to help if heatstroke occurs?

Your pet relies on YOU!
Keep them safe in the heat of summer!

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If you believe an animal is being cruelly treated…

REPORT CRUELTY

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The Houston SPCA has nine full-time, highly-trained animal cruelty investigators and responds to over 7,000 cases primarily in Harris, Brazoria, Chambers, Fort Bend, Galveston, Liberty, Montgomery and Waller counties. If you believe an animal is being cruelly treated, please contact us and complete the Online Animal Cruelty Report or call 713-869-7722.

Accurate information is critical to our response. You can help us by providing the following information:

  • Nearest major intersection.
  • Suspect address, city, zip code and county.
  • Apartment complex name or subdivision name.
  • Major concern (lack of food, water, shelter, no medical attention, etc.).
  • Animal species, breed, color, number of animals on the property and their location.
  • Your contact information if we have any questions about the report.

What is animal cruelty? Penal Code Sec. 42.09.- 42.105.

To report animal cruelty, complete the Online Animal Cruelty Report or call 713-869-7722.

If the county or state you’re contacting us about is outside our jurisdiction, please contact the animal control organization, animal shelter or local law enforcement agency for that area. We cannot respond outside our jurisdiction unless requested by law enforcement.

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More states say ‘yes’ to breaking into cars when a dog is at risk

Calendar Icon June 20, 2017
by Wayne Pacelle

Sixteen states now allow certain public officials to rescue animals in hot cars and 10 states allow members of the public to rescue animals in hot cars, provided certain steps are taken.  Photo by iStockphoto

Yesterday, I wrote about Chinese authorities stopping a truck jam-packed with 800-plus dogs bound for slaughter.  Today, I read a story about a truck with nearly 1,000 small animals crammed inside — including birds, chickens, bunnies, and guinea pigs – and left in the searing heat in Fresno County, California.  The temperature inside the truck surged to 107 degrees.  By the time the police arrived, notified by neighbors who reported an odor coming from the truck, the heat had claimed 18 animals.  Ten more died after authorities got into the vehicle and started pulling them out.

These animals were not bound for slaughter, but for sale at pet stores.  It’s a reminder of our home-grown problems here in the United States.

It’s also a reminder that with the first day of summer coming tomorrow, there are acute hazards for animals in transportation.  Cars and trucks heat up extraordinarily fast, even with the windows down, as temperatures soar outside.  Even on an 80-degree day – which residents of many parts of the country would beg for this time of year – the temperature inside a car can climb to nearly 100 degrees within 10 minutes.

Summer after summer, we shake our heads as we see a cascade of news stories about dogs dying after being left in hot cars. First responders on the scene to rescue animals left in hot cars make heartbreaking discoveries: claw marks left on the door, ripped seats, nail particles strewn in the vehicle.

In addition to building awareness that prompts better behavior, we are also attacking the problem from a policy angle.  In recent years, we’ve convinced more than half of the states to pass laws to allow private citizens to break into cars and free animals from life-threatening circumstances.  This year, lawmakers in Arizona, Colorado, and Indiana took final action on these so-called “Good Samaritan” measures, and Oregon Governor Kate Brown can sign the bill on her desk to do the same.  Sixteen states now allow certain public officials to rescue animals in hot cars (Nevada passed a bill this year to improve and expand their provisions) and 10 states allow members of the public to rescue animals in hot cars provided certain steps are taken.  Even more states grant immunity to first responders who must rescue animals in distress or prohibit leaving pets unattended altogether.

Intervention is carefully defined and kept as a last resort only to be used when all other options have been exhausted and the animal is in visible distress.  But all responsible pet parents would sacrifice a car window to save the life of their animal.  When it comes to property versus the life of an animal, that’s not a close call.

The safest thing you can do for your pet this summer is to leave him or her cool at home while you run errands.  Take the pledge to never leave your pet in a hot car.

The post More states say ‘yes’ to breaking into cars when a dog is at risk appeared first on A Humane Nation.

 

Source: A Humane Nation

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Deadly Trust

by Karen Peak

One of my early clients tragically lost her dog.  He was a sweet boy.  Very responsive, a dream to work with and the owner did her work.  We had discussed safety, using leashes on walks, etc. over our sessions.   She liked to have her dogs off leash when she hiked.  Well I used to hike with my dogs, off leash, specific areas where it was allowed at the time, and my dogs had a lot of training, proofing and testing.  Even at that, often my dogs were on leash.  That was also over twenty years ago and I have changed my views a lot since then about general safety.  You see, I knew my dogs’ limits but I cannot control other elements such as oh…  Other loose animals.  So now, I keep my dogs on leash unless it is a competition requiring off leash work.

Uhura Lure course 9 crop

One weekend this owner took her dog hiking and decided to let him off leash.  Rufus was a young guy – not even a year old.  He had just begun training.  He was far from ready for any off leash work.  As luck would have it, Rufus saw something.  He took off in the direction of a parking lot and access road.  No amount of calling got him to return.  At that moment, another vehicle pulled into the lot.  Rufus was killed.

I was called, and I have mentioned this case in other writings, to evaluate some larger dogs that killed a smaller dog.  Well the smaller dog was off leash and ran underneath the leashed larger dogs.  The smaller dog nipped and challenged the larger dogs.  The larger dogs responded.  Sadly the lawyer for the owner of the smaller dog kept interfering with my ability to get into see the dogs (I had to do the evaluation on a weekend due to the distance away and the lawyer refused to work on a weekend.)  Had the smaller dog been leashed, he never would have gone after the larger dogs.

I see many off leash dogs in my area.  Some are walking with owners while some are allowed to roam front lawns and the bordering properties.  I have watched a couple wander into the street while owners are watching.  All it takes is one incident that could have been prevented with a leash for your dog to be gone.  Another loose dog, a leashed dog your dog goes after, a child races up to pat the dog and is bitten, a squirrel…  Is it worth the risk to assume you can 100% trust your pet off the leash?

There are too many cases where a dog is fully entrusted with a child and tragedy happens. No matter what you are told, there is no real “Nanny dog” nor any breed developed to instinctively protect children.   In my research of hundreds of breeds, not one breed was developed for the sole purpose of caring for your child.  Even breeds developed for protecting hearth and home, livestock and residents needs their inherent behaviors honed.  This still does not mean the dog will be 100% tolerant of anything your child will do.  With memes and posts on social media, it is easy to see how people may be lead to think that XYZ will be the “perfect” caretaker for your child.  Then you see the stories: bites, mauling and fatalities by a family dog.  I see many dangerous things children are allowed to do that dogs are expected to tolerate.  It is frightening.  I have seen dogs expected to allow children to climb all over them, poke, hit, annoy the dogs while eating, etc.  Just because you think a dog should allow a child to do anything because of what you were told about the type, dogs in general, or your own assumptions, is not reality.

Eventually even the most tolerant dog can feel he has no other recourse than to stop the problem – his way. Now owners are shocked when a bite happens.  We should not be shocked.  These are dogs: not babysitters or toys.  They are living, thinking, responding animals.  Chances are the dog gave warning long before the bite. Is it worth the risk to assume 100% of the time your dog will never respond?

Here is where I trust my dogs 100%

I trust my dogs 100% to be dogs. I trust they will do dog things.  They will do things others find gross.  They may steal food if left unattended where they can get it.  They will chase squirrels.  They will growl when something is wrong or when playing.  If pushed too far, they may nip.  They are dogs.  My job is to have them build trust in me so they feel comfortable letting me know what is going on.  My job is not to trust but to work to increase safety for my dogs and the community. This means leashes, observation, recognizing situations that could set them up to fail and not demanding them to tolerate unfair treatment.  My duty to my dogs is to remember they are a different species with different communication and behaviors trying to exist in my life.  I can only trust that I will do all I can to make this a good relationship.

Trust is NOT a bad thing. It is how we apply our trust and our expectations that determine how situation may play out.

Karen Peak is the owner of West Wind Dog Training in Virginia and the developer of The Safe Kids/Safe Dogs Project – started in 2000.

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Source: https://westwinddogtraining.wordpress.com/2016/01/14/deadly-trust/

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