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Pet Travel News

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Disaster Prepardness
Be ready for a disaster evacuation with your pet! Disaster preparedness has been a hot topic with all the natural disasters making the news lately. Hurricanes and tsunamis have wreaked havoc all over the world. Owners are still slowly being reunited with some of their pets lost to Katrina while others have no chance of getting their pets back at all. When a disaster of large proportions strikes, the primary emphasis is on rescuing and saving our own species (not unjustifiably especially since most rescue operations are funded from tax dollars). The responsibility for our pet’s safety is dependent on us and a little preparation can make all the difference for a happy outcome. Here in our rugged mountain environment we are subject to the forces of Mother Nature during most of the year. Fires in summer and fall, blizzards any time, and even the possibility of a significant earthquake (albeit remote) may create the need for an unexpected evacuation from our homes with or without our pets. Develop an evacuation plan in advance. Practice! Give a copy of your plan to everyone in your family and have it handy. Have carriers for smaller pets and Tupperware or equivalent containers for food and water ready to go. Place a Pet Alert sticker on your door. Give a copy of your evacuation plan to a trusted neighbor in case you are not home. Your veterinarian should have a permission slip authorizing him/her to provide emergency treatment for your pet if you can’t be located. Establish a meeting place which allows pets. Forming a neighborhood group can be helpful; when some are not present others can pitch in and get pets to safety; hence the importance of the meeting place. Your pets should always wear properly fitting collars, personal identification, rabies, and license tags (cats can wear collars with tags of appropriate size too!). Make sure all the information on the tags is current. Each pet needs to be current on vaccinations. Keep copies of your pet’s health records including vaccination certificates and prescription medications with a current photo stored in a zip-lock bag. It may be helpful to copy all the information (including photographs!) onto a CD or DVD which can be taped to a carrier and a copy placed in a briefcase, purse, or glove compartment so it is always with you as well. Getting your pets microchipped provides you another reliable means of pet identification that is hard to lose or remove. Each of your pets should have its own pet carrier. Familiarize your pet with the carrier or cage before an emergency. Keep a leash handy for each pet in your home. Maintain a disaster preparedness supply kit for each of your pets. The kit should include your pet’s health record and your veterinarian's information, two weeks' supply of food and water, non-spill food and water bowls, and any medications your pet may be taking with dosing instructions. An emergency pet first-aid kit is essential and can be purchased online or in some pet stores. Be familiar with the contents and instruction booklet. There are some other items that can make life easier during an evacuation that should be brought along. Pepto Bismol or a generic in liquid form, Benadryl (diphenhydramine) in appropriate dosage for your pets, and Pepcid (famotidine, also available generically) can make a huge difference for an upset stomach or diarrhea. Your pet’s favorite blanket can provide comfort, warmth and familiarity and a favorite toy can be calming. Now that you are thinking along the lines of preparation this is a great opportunity to get your own kit in order with water, food, first aid etc. Practice for your pets and yourselves and keep your disaster kit in a handy location that is accessible in any weather or condition. It is tempting to have all of your water and items in one container but if you are separated from your pets one of you will go without. With any luck none of us will need our emergency preparations to be tested by the real thing but if we are faced with an evacuation it will be much less stressful knowing our pets are [...]

Winter Recreation and Your Pet's Health
Are there special precautions I need to take when out walking my dog in winter? Dogs love water and no matter how smart they may be it is hard to warn them of the dangers of thin ice. My own dog has fallen through; fortunately close to shore. Whether ambling along the lakeshore, skating on the pond or out ice fishing, if your dog comes along he or she should be on a leash or watched closely at all times. The same holds true for roads with snowbanks. Dogs lunging over the top of a snowbank into the road are pretty much unavoidable targets.

Traveling with Your Diabetic Pet
Bringing our pets along on trips adds both a dimension of enjoyment and one of challenge. One would think that having a diabetic pet would make it all the more difficult but in fact that is usually not the case, though it may not be best for the pet and each must be assessed individually.

Most of us that have diabetic pets that are on insulin (like one of my cats) actually have a pretty strict schedule of insulin and feedings and a diet that the pet is used to and regulated on. That makes it easier. Keeping the insulin chilled is one of the biggest challenges in all reality. Whether dog or cat one of the most important components to diabetic management is a consistent environment and activity level, and changes in either can change insulin needs fairly significantly. For that reason many of us that travel choose to leave our diabetic pets at home and have a house sitter come in.

If you are going to travel with your diabetic pet obviously bring along plenty of insulin and syringes and a safe way to contain the used syringes. Know where any emergency facilities are along the way and at your destination and bring a copy of your pet’s record and any recent bloodwork with you. Carry an adequate supply of your pet’s normal food and some safe treats like carrots and green beans or low cal dog treats. Bring a source of sugar in case of hypoglycemia (too little blood glucose usually from getting insulin and not eating afterwards at the appropriate time). If at all possible bring your cat’s usual litter box and litter and plan on pit stops along the way or a space in a carrier for a box. I always recommend carrying a day’s worth of fresh water for everyone in the vehicle in case of an emergency. If your pet is properly regulated theoretically he or she shouldn’t be drinking and peeing excessively but realistically that isn’t always the case and bringing extra water for a diabetic is a good idea. Bring toys for cats and a leash for dogs and give them as much exercise as they are used to. This will help keep their metabolic rate and insulin needs more steady, and help keep you in shape too. Remember that you may enjoy the local cuisine and special treats and food can even be the reason for a trip but the diabetic dog and cat don’t need to know about that so no “doggy bags”.

R Brooks Bloomfield, DVM for Mountain Moms

The Healthy Pet Halloween
Halloween is my daughter’s favorite holiday; more for the dress-up and trick or treating than the candy. Our dogs and cats on the other hand have no active interest in pet health. Our American Water Spaniel has my nose for sweets and must be watched diligently. Our cats like to tear at the bags and wrappers which aid and abet the dog’s behavior. How do we keep our pets healthy when Halloween presents so many different challenges?

Some dogs and cats are frightened or overwhelmed by the mix of costumes and constantly ringing doorbells and voices. If you know your pet gets stressed on Halloween then see your vet in advance and get some help and give it well in advance of the first ring of the bell. Keep all dogs and cats indoors or tied up safely as the traffic poses extra risks and little goblins aren’t always as well behaved as they might be. Dogs are also best left at home not coming along with all the costumes in the dark.

Chocolate is both attractive and toxic to dogs. The darker the stronger and it can cause heart arrhythmias, seizures and death. Sugar overload in dogs and cats can not only cause serious diarrhea and stained carpets but also a huge workout for the pancreas which is designed for a carnivorous diet in our dogs and cats. Lock the candy away behind child proof doors and beyond the cat’s reach because we know they are secretly in league with each other. If your pets must participate then by all means dress them up at home and give them carrots or green beans or pieces of beef jerky as special treats.R. Brooks Bloomfield, DVM for Mountain Moms

What if a snake bites my pet?
The following are general guidelines to help you with the health challenges of pet ownership Non-poisonous snakebites should be watched for infection as all snakes have a wide variety of bacteria in their mouths. Pit viper snakebites, such as those from a rattlesnake, vary in severity depending on the species or sub species, the location of the bite, and how much venom is injected. Gentle cleaning of the wound is indicated along with gentle pressure to stop bleeding if necessary. Keep the patient as quiet as possible and transport him or her to a veterinary hospital. Antivenin and supportive therapy should be instituted at the earliest possible point. Animals suspected of snakebite should be hospitalized and watched for 24 hours. Pit viper (rattlesnake, copperhead and cotton mouth or water moccasin) bites are deep and cause severe local reaction and often later organ damage. Signs of envenomation may take place quickly or be delayed several hours. Coral snake bites cause less local reaction and are more superficial but more lethal. Immediate aggressive therapy and antivenin treatment is needed. First aid is unrewarding and intense medical support with expedient use of antivenin for any poisonous snakebite offers the greatest hope. Gila Monsters can also impart a poisonous bite. The lizard should be stopped and pried off as soon as possible because the degree of poisoning is related to the amount to time the lizard has to grind in the venom with its teeth. Broken teeth should be removed, and a veterinarian should provide supportive therapy as soon as possible. Llamas bitten in the nose should have hair curlers placed in the nasal openings to keep them from swelling shut and closing off the airway. If you live in an area populated with rattlesnakes there is a vaccine made by Red Rock Biologicals and available through your veterinarian that may greatly reduce the reaction to snakebite envenomation and the need for antivenin.

Copyright © 2005, R. Brooks Bloomfield, DVM Mountain Moms®