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July 15th: National Pet Fire Safety Day

Did you know that pets can often be involved in unintentionally starting a house fire? As a knowledgeable and proactive pet parent, here are some things to keep in mind to keep your home and your family safe.

Pet Fire Safety Day Best Friends Pet Care

• No open flames

Pets are naturally curious about fire and flames. That means they may want to bat at a fire or accidentally knock a candle over with an over-exuberant tail wag. Never leave your pet unattended near an open flame – be it a candle, a stove, or a fireplace. If you do use candles, make sure to purchase the flameless kind. They are a bit pricier, but well worth the peace of mind.

• Cover stove knobs

Curious paws can very easily turn the knobs on a stove and set something nearby (e.g., a dish towel or oven mitt) on fire. Jumping up to get something on the counter may be all it takes to accidentally turn a knob. You can decrease the risk of this happening by purchasing stove knob covers (such as those sold for baby-proofing) or by removing the knobs when you are not there.

• Beware of glass bowls

Did you ever try to set a leaf on fire using a magnifying glass and the sun? Well the same thing can happen with a water-filled glass bowl outside on a wooden deck. Be sure to use a ceramic or stainless steel bowl instead.

In the event that there is a fire in your home, be sure you have a rescue alert sticker in your window that will alert fire fighters that there are pets inside and how many there are. These stickers are available for free at Best Friends Pet Care, or you can purchase them at a pet supply store.

You should also be sure that your pets have collars with current contact information on them. During a chaotic time such as a fire, they will be panicked and try to escape and current contact information will increase the odds that they will be reunited with you.

From all of us at Best Friends, we hope you and your furry family members have a fun and safe summer!

 

All About Heatstroke in Pets

Summer is here, which means it’s about to get HOT, HOT, HOT! As we start to plan the ways we’re going to beat the heat this season, let’s not forget about our four-legged family members.

heatstroke in pets

Here at Best Friends, the upcoming months mean that we’ll see far too many cases of dogs that have spent too much time outside and have gotten overheated. In extreme cases, these dogs can develop a condition called heatstroke. Remember, dogs can’t sweat the way people do and panting alone may not be enough to get rid of excess body heat when it is hot and humid outside. In the case of dogs with heatstroke, their core body temperature becomes dangerously high and, if it is not corrected right away, this can lead to organ failure and death.

How do I know if my dog is experiencing heat stroke?

Dogs with heatstroke may pant excessively or have difficulty breathing. You may also notice that their gums are bright red and their saliva is thick and ropey. As the condition worsens, you may see bloody diarrhea or vomiting as well. If you can, take a rectal temperature. Anything >104°F is cause for concern. At the first sign of any of these issues, get your pet to a veterinarian right away!

Move the dog out of the source of heat and preferably into an air-conditioned area. You can also place cool wet towels on your dog to try and begin to lower their temperature while you get to the vets office.

How can I decrease the risk of my dog having heatstroke?

• NEVER EVER leave your dog in a car – not even for a minute, not even with the windows open

• If you are going to exercise with your dog, do it early in the morning or late in the evening. Even then, keep a close eye on your dog to make sure they don’t seem overly stressed

• Be aware that dogs with preexisting heart or breathing problems, or breeds with short noses (e.g. Bulldogs, Pugs) are at an increased risk for heatstroke

• Dogs that are overweight or have a very thick hair coat are also at an increased risk of heatstroke

• Make sure your dog always has access to shade and plenty of water if they spend any time outdoors

This blog post is brought to you by the SLVS team. If you have suggestions for future topics, please leave them in the comments section below.

 

Thunderstorm phobia: Tips to help your dog before and during a thunderstorm

Is your dog afraid of thunderstorms?
It is not uncommon for dogs to be afraid of thunderstorms (or any loud noises from above) but their reaction to these noises can range from merely being nervous and shaky to chewing through drywall or breaking through windows. Unfortunately, there is no easy fix but there are some things you can do at home to help.

dog-scared-thunder

If your dog has thunderstorm anxiety, first and foremost be sure that he has a place to hide during the storm. Having a safe haven is critical and will help your dog relax, especially if you aren’t home. If they have an area that they prefer to be in, as long as it is safe, let them stay there. If it is near a glass door or window, you may have to find a different spot for them. For example, dark room in the center of the house where the noise is muffled is a good option. If possible, also try to minimize the noise by closing windows and doors and providing background music or white noise. If your dog is willing, try to engage him in an activity like playing catch or using a food puzzle. Some say that consoling a dog during this time will only “reward the behavior”; however, behaviorists feel that, if it makes your dog calmer to pet them and speak quietly to them, you should do so.

Owners have reported some success with using a snug t-shirt or other garment (e.g., Thundershirt®) to soothe anxious dogs during a storm. These are thought to provide comfort similar to swaddling a baby and while it doesn’t always work, it might be worth a try.

In some cases, the anxiety is so extreme that medical management may be necessary. Drugs that reduce anxiety such as valium can be given immediately before the storm. Once your dog is very distressed or agitated however, they may not work. Pheromone sprays can also be used alone or along with a medication right before or during a storm. Be sure to talk to your veterinarian about whether medication may be a good idea for your dog and DO NOT ever give them medication that is not prescribed specifically for them.

Long-term management

The best way to treat a dog that you know has a thunderstorm anxiety problem is to try and modify their behavior over time with counter conditioning. While listening to recordings of thunderstorm sounds, you can direct your dog to their safe spot and practice redirection strategies. Be sure the recording is not too loud so that it doesn’t frighten your dog and gradually increase the volume over several months. Yelling and demonstrating any anxiety during this process will only make them worse so try to maintain a soothing and even tone during these exercises.

If these techniques don’t work and your dog’s anxiety is severe, talk to your veterinarian about other options or possible consultation with a behaviorist.

Thunder phobias can be very difficult to treat and will require a lot of patience on your part. Try to be proactive and pay attention to weather forecasts so you can do as much as you can to keep your dog calm and safe during a storm.

 

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