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Preparing Our Pets for an Emergency or Disaster

We rarely see natural disasters in the state of Pennsylvania, so when they hit it often sends people into a state of panic. Like troops, we assemble at the grocery store at the sheer mention of snow. During flooding we evacuate after moving our most valued positions to the second floor. The outcome is never certain, but one thing that is certain; in a state of panic our pets can be forgotten. How do we keep our pets safe and prepared during these stressful times? It is best to be prepared for these various situations, and it is a lot easier than most people may think.

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Storm image referenced from wikipedia and originally posted by Gewitter

What to do First
Start by getting your pet microchipped. Microchipping is one of the easiest ways to identify your pet in case it should be separated from you. Collars with ID tags are great, but pets can get out of a collar. Microchipping can be done at veterinary offices, pet supply stores (when a clinic is held), and some local shelters. In the event that you have your pet microchipped, make sure that the information is current! If you move, change your name, change your phone number, or change ownership update the microchip. Some people may do this service at no charge or a small fee, but you can easily do it online at no cost to you. Most microchips do not cost very much ($15-$20), so it is a small price to pay in order to protect your pet.  Learn more about the importance of microchipping here.
Be sure to keep vaccines current too. Pets may roam for a while before they are discovered by a passerby, or show up in a public location. During this time, your pet is at the mercy of the wilderness. Your pet could be exposed to wildlife, various food and water sources, and a wide range of viruses. Stress also creates a weakened immune system. While having your pets up to date on vaccinations is not a guarantee of their safety, it is extremely beneficial to their survival.

teddy-242851_640Build a Pet Emergency Kit
Emergencies can happen at any given time, so it’s best to be also prepared for these given situations. Come up with an evacuation plan, and have drills with your family and pets. In case of injury, or loss of shelter, purchase a ready-made first aid kit or make one on your own. Be sure to place the kit in an accessible area. If you would like to make your own kit, here is a list of materials that you will need.

 

 

 

 

Emergency Contacts List
• Pet’s regular vet contact info and address
• Emergency vet contact information, in case your vet is not available or close by
• Poison Control Phone Number

Supplies
• Clean towels (both cloth and paper)
• Cotton balls and swabs
• Disposable Gloves
• Heat pack or hot water bottle
• Lubricant jelly (mineral oil, KY)
• Nail Clippers
• Kwik-Stop powder or gel
• Hemostats
• Small penlight or flashlight
• Rectal Thermometer
• Scissors
• Syringes of different sizes
• Tweezers
• Wire Cutters
• Bandage Wrap
• Gauze of different sizes
• Band-Aids
• First Aid Tape
• Non-stick pads
• Unflavored Pedialyte
• Saline Solution
• Triple antibiotic ointment for skin
• Probiotic gel (BeneBac, LactoBac, Probios, or Fastrack)
• Wound Disinfectant (Betadine, Povidone)
• A plastic bag of their food
• Blanket
• Favorite toy
• Crate/carrier
• Spare leash and collar
• Any current medications

Some of these items may expire over time, so be sure to check your first aid kit often so that items can be replaced or replenished. While this kit serves as an emergency kit, it can also be used while traveling. Be sure to get your pet proper medical attention as soon as you are able to. Remember that our pets will feed off of our energy. If we are calm, our pet will be calm. In the event that your pet appears to be anxious, be sure to give them their space. Scolding your pet at this time will not benefit either party.

No one wants to be involved in a disaster of any kind, but they do happen.  It is best to be prepared, remain calm, and ensure the safety of yourself and all of your loved ones.

 

How To Tell If Kittens Are Abandoned

Hello, my name is Tricia K. I currently own 3 cats, Bubba is 5, Firefly (aka Bug) is 3, and Scrappy is 7/8 months old. I have been volunteering for a rescue called “Lost Paws of Lancaster” for about 3 years, fostering for about 2 years. I have worked at That Fish Place – That Pet Place for almost 2 years as a cashier. I enjoy learning new things about all animals and applying what I learn to help others.image

When you volunteer for a cat rescue, the season of spring is more commonly known as “Kitten Season”. This is the time of year that we begin getting phone calls asking us to take in pregnant or nursing moms and their litters of kittens. The more common call, however, is for “abandoned kittens.” I put quotes around it because more often than not the kittens aren’t really abandoned.

Unlike human children, who are rarely without a parent in sight, kittens can be left alone for hours at a time and the mom usually isn’t far off. In fact, mom may even be watching you. People often don’t realize this and tend to automatically assume that mom has left the litter to starve. They then decide to take things into their own hands and “help” which isn’t always in the best interest of the kittens.

 

How To Tell If Kittens Are Abandoned & Need Your Help

  • Unless the kittens are in immediate danger, don’t move them. Mom may just be out getting some dinner, or taking a break. (You’d need to take a breather too if you had so many babies at once!). If you have to move them, make sure it is nearby where mom can see or hear them calling for her.
  • Keep an eye on the nest from a distance for 12 to 18 hours to determine if they’re truly abandoned. Depending on how old the kittens are, moms can stay away for hours at a time. It can be hard to tell if mom slips in and out when you aren’t looking. A way to help tell if the mom has returned is to sprinkle flour around the area. If mom comes back she will leave paw prints in the powder.
  • Don’t be alarmed if some of the kittens go missing. This is probably a good sign. Active Moms will move their kittens from place to place if they feel they are in danger.
  • If hours pass and the babies are dirty, fussy and loud, it is safe to consider them abandoned. It’s important to remember to wait an appropriate amount of time and to stay calm. A lot of people panic and want to scoop the kittens up and care for them right away. However, caring for kittens, especially young ones that don’t eat solid food, is a lot of work that most people aren’t prepared to take on. It is also more dangerous for kittens growing up without a mom and the comfort and milk she provides. Whenever possible, keep mom in the picture.

What if Mom Doesn’t Return? What now?20150502_220009

  • If you have truly abandoned kittens, and you are not prepared to take on the responsibilities of motherhood, feel free to call your local rescues. Please keep in mind that kitten season is a very busy time of year. Rescues exhaust their resources very quickly and you may be declined. Fosters for bottle babies (kittens without mommas that cannot eat solid food yet) are always in short supply because they are a lot of work.
  • If you are able to foster the litter the rescues may have a waiting list that you can be put on to help your kittens and lighten your load.

Even if the rescues can’t take in your litter they may have tips and tricks to make your go at being a momma cat much easier.

This Kitten season, Please be patient and do what you can to help appropriately. While it’s hard to resist a pile of adorable, cuddly kittens, letting Mom handle their care is sometimes the best option.

 

Porcupine Problems – How to Handle a Pet that has been Quilled

PorcupineDogs love to run, play and explore. Their rambunctious ramblings and curiousity may well be some of your favorite attributes about your pet. Personally, I love to watch my dogs off-leash in the countryside where they can run free, roll around and really live life to it’s fullest, even if it’s only for a few hours each week. While we love to let them roam and investigate new places and things, there is always the possibilty that they may run into something unfamiliar or even dangerous in the wild frontier.  A single encounter with today’s creature of topic can result in a face full of painful pricks. not to mention anguish (yours and your dogs) and the potential for a hefty vet bill.  Let’s talk a little about the prickly porcupine. Read More »

Rabbit Health: How a Misaligned Jaw Almost Killed my Pet Rabbit

Despite being partially blind, Matthew the rabbit is easily one of the liveliest pets in my house. His outgoing personality, penchant for mischief, and insistent foot stomps for attention are both endearing and frustrating. So, when boisterous Matthew huddled in the back of his cage one night and refused to eat or play, we knew something was wrong. When his head suddenly listed to one side and his muscles tensed minutes later, we were terrified that we were losing our little mischief-maker.

Fortunately, Matthew survived. Quick online research confirmed what we already thought; Matthew had suffered a stroke, though minor enough that he regained most of his muscle control. We scheduled a veterinarian appointment and monitored him carefully in the meantime. While he could nibble some of his pellets and try to chew with his right, the left side of his face seemed locked and stiff, and he could not move his lips enough to grasp hay or fully close his right eye.

We figured this was a result of the stroke only, but our veterinarian found a root cause that surprised us. After determining that Matthew’s lips still had circulation and feeling, he used a scope to view Matthew’s back teeth, which are tightly positioned back by the cheeks and almost impossible to examine otherwise.  After this check, our vet informed us that Matthew’s jaw was slightly misaligned, causing one of his back left teeth to wear improperly. This created a sharp, uncomfortable point that discouraged him from using that side correctly for a while. The area underneath this tooth became infected, and the infection’s swelling had likely triggered the stroke. While the movement of his left facial muscles would slowly return, the pain from the tooth and infection was discouraging him from using them. Matthew required a few weeks of antibiotics to overcome the infection, along with some rabbit-safe painkiller and anti-inflammatory to encourage proper use of the pointed tooth.

While the vet explained that sedating Matthew and physically filing the back tooth was an option, he did not recommend this after such a high health risk as a stroke. He explained that the location and of the tooth and current discomfort made filing without anesthesia impossible, and our safest bet for Matthew was to see if we could get him to use that side again himself. He also recommended purchasing rabbit-safe cardboard tubes to chew. Unlike normal wooden chews, these would be softer and help prevent making the sensitive area sore. If Matthew still could not wear his tooth enough to be comfortable, sedation and filing was still an option, but it would indicate that he would likely need it every couple of months. Placing a sensitive animal such as a rabbit under anesthesia so frequently is in itself risky, and he suggested we wait on that option unless it seemed necessary.

We left the vet’s office both fearful and optimistic, armed with information, medicine, and a powdered probiotic food to maintain Matthew’s digestive system after his time spent with inadequate eating. As his poor muscle control made using a water bottle difficult, we also boosted his fluid intake with feeding syringes. Providing dishes of water was a poor idea for Matthew; with his poor vision and compromised health, he merely kept his distance from the unfamiliar shape.

After a few days, slow improvements began to show. Matthew’s energy was returning, and he no longer sulked in the back of his cage. He began eating his pellets more regularly and could use his water bottle again, and we stopped the supplemented feed soon after he began his first clumsy bites of hay. He could fully blink his left eye, and movement returned to the left side of his face.

As of today, Matthew seems to be recovered and shows no difficulty grasping, chewing, or biting. While there is no way to correct his conformation, the medications assisted him enough to begin wearing the tooth more properly. I’ve seen many different health conditions in rabbits, but I never expected such an unusual cause as a poor jaw alignment jaw to potentially cause something as serious as a stroke. The vet suggested keeping a close watch for any changes in behavior, as infections as he had can be difficult to truly eliminate in rabbits and might eventually reoccur. For now, Matthew is himself again: stomping for attention, digging at the floor, and watching the activity around him with an alert curiosity.

 

 

A Legacy of Cats in Rome From Antiquity to Present Day

Cat Mosaic from PompeiiDomesicated cats have a deeply rooted history in culture. Most of us are familiar with depictions and roles of ancient felines in Egyptian society, but did you know that cats were also prevalent in ancient Rome?

Domesticated cats were carried to Europe by Phoenician trade ships about 3000 years ago. This African subspecies mingled with European subspecies giving rise to the domestic cats we still keep today. There is some debate whether, in ancient times, cats were considered pests or prized predators. It is evident that these pets were valued for their hunting prowess, often tolerated for keeping rodent populations at bay and left free to roam temples and estates for the same reason. Roman soldiers transported cats on conquests to keep grain stores safe. There are also other positive associations of cats in lore that supports that they were more than just a presence, though not perhaps favored as pampered pets as much in Roman society as dogs, birds and other exotic pets at the time. Cats are associated with the goddesses Diana (goddess of the hunt) and Libertas (goddess of freedom). Regardless of how the Romans of that age felt about cats, their place in culture had been established. Read More »

Investing in Pet Insurance

 CockatielRecently, my 14 year old female cockatiel, Charlie was pacing at the bottom of her cage (her usual method of begging to be let out) when she got her leg caught in the grating of the cage. Panicked, I raced forward to help her, but unfortunately my bird’s panic took over and she injured her leg trying to free herself. I knew immediately she had broken it because she could not use it at all and there was blood on her perch, indicating that the bone had gone through the skin. I rushed her to the emergency vet and 4 hours and $360 later, she was ready to go home, dressed in a splint and bird sized e-collar. She’s recovering well, which is great news, however the cost of this endeavor got me to thinking: would pet insurance be worth the investment? Read More »

Bouncing Baby Bunnies – Wild Rabbits in the Spring

We all know that Spring is prime time for many wild animals to bring their babies into the world. We can see new fawns, bear cubs, hatchling birds, and many other new arrivals soon after they make their way into the world. Last year Frank Indiviglio wrote an article on “orphaned” babies in the Spring and what to do (or not do) about them, but one animal that may require a little more info is one of the most common babies found in backyards this time of year…baby rabbits, or “kits”.

People often mistake young rabbits as helpless and abandoned, ususally because their found alone and in the open. Several times each year we have patrons that present us with wild rabbits they come across while mowing the lawn, or that were discovered by the family dog or cat and rescued before becoming a mid-morning snack. While people have the best of intentions, removing the babies from the area where they are found often creates even more of a problem for the little guys. Read More »

Pet First Aid – Handling Common Emergencies

In my last blog, I gave you a list of items you should have in your pet’s first aid kit. This time I would like to go over how to handle some of the more common health emergencies associated with dogs and cats. As always, please call a veterinarian for serious or life threatening situations. When in doubt, they are your best bet for providing proper care to a sick or injured pet. Always remember that animals in pain may bite out of fear, so approach injured and sick pets with caution and NEVER touch wild or unfamiliar animals without assistance from qualified wildlife handlers. Read More »

Stress-free Homes Improve Health and Behavior of Cats and Rabbits

white rabbitTwo recent studies have highlighted the role that stress and boredom plays in pet behavior and health.  Although carried out on research colonies of cats and rabbits, both contain important lessons for pet owners.  Steps as simple as establishing a routine substantially reduced the pain associated with serious illnesses.

Novelty vs. Routine

Experience has taught me that stress plays a major role in the health of all captive creatures, be they insects or elephants.  While novelty and new experiences may be positives, established routines also have their uses.  Read More »

First Aid for Pets – Creating an Emergency Kit

Emergencies can happen at any time, and it is important to be prepared if they do. Lots of stores, including That Fish Place, sell ready-made first aid kits for dogs and cats, but I’ve composed a list of materials you will need in case of medical emergencies. Remember to store all of the listed items in a waterproof plastic container and keep it in a readily accessible place. Read More »

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