Labor Day is fast approaching, and many of us are looking forward to a long weekend full of block parties, barbeques and soaking in the last few drops of summer sun.
We know you’ll agree that holidays are much more fun when we celebrate with the four-legged members of our family, but pet parents should note that many beloved Labor Day festivities and foods can be downright dangerous to our animal companions. So this weekend, as you say goodbye to summer, keep your pets happy and healthy with these safety tips in mind:
Mind the dog days of summer. It may be September, but the weather is still hot, hot, hot. Animals can become dehydrated quickly, so be sure your pets are getting plenty of water over the weekend—especially if they’ll be enjoying the holidays outdoors. Make sure your pet has a shady place to escape the sun, and avoid letting your pup linger on hot asphalt. Your dog’s body can heat up quickly and sensitive paw pads can get burned.
Stash the sunscreen—and the bug spray, too. Ingestion of sunscreen products can result in serious problems for pets, including drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst and lethargy, while the misuse of insect repellents that include the chemical DEET can lead to neurological problems. Keep citronella candles, insect coils and oil products out of pets’ reach, too. And never apply sunscreen or insect repellent to your pet that is not labeled specifically for use on animals.
Grilling? Keep matches and lighter fluid out of paws’ reach. Certain types of matches contain chlorates, which can damage blood cells and result in breathing difficulties or even, in severe cases, kidney disease if ingested. Lighter fluid can be irritating to the skin and, if ingested or inhaled by a curious pup, can produce gastrointestinal irritation, central nervous system depression and aspiration pneumonia.
Leave the treats to the humans. Labor Day is the perfect time for backyard barbeques—and the tasty treats that come with them. While it may be tempting to serve your pup some scraps from the grill, remember that any changes to your pet’s diet can result in severe digestive ailments. Keep them away from raisins, grapes, onions, chocolate and sugar-free products made with the sweetener xylitol, as these holiday favorites are toxic to pets—and never leave alcoholic beverages unattended where your pet can reach them.
Celebrating Lakeside? Buy your dog a life jacket—and use it. If you’ll be boating or spending time by the beach, lake or pool, never leave your pets unsupervised around the water. Just like with people, it’s easy for your pup to develop a cramp in her leg while swimming, become exhausted too far from shore or get overwhelmed by tides. Please consider purchasing a life jack for your dog. It’s easy to become distracted, and a life jacket can save her life.
Fireworks and pets don’t mix. Loud noises like the ones caused by fireworks can be frightening for pets. In fact, one in five pets goes missing after being scared by loud noises. In addition, exposure to lit fireworks can result in severe burns or trauma, and many types of fireworks contain potentially toxic substances like potassium, nitrate and arsenic that can be deadly when ingested. Keep your little ones calm and safe from the noise in a quiet, sheltered and escape-proof area at home.
On a recent Sunday evening, New Yorker Oscar Q. was watching his three dogs play when he noticed something unusual about his five-year-old Shih Tzu, Buddy: The dog’s left eye was dangling from its socket.
Oscar immediately took Buddy to the Animal Medical Center, who referred him to the ASPCA Animal Hospital (AAH) the following day. At AAH, Buddy was assessed by Drs. Kristen Frank and Anna Podgorska, and on Tuesday, Dr. Maren Krafchik removed his eye.
Displacement of the eyeball out of the eye socket is a condition known as proptosis, and it often occurs after fighting with a larger dog or following trauma to the face or head.
“I wanted to save his eye, but as long as he’s alive, that’s what more important to me,” said Oscar, adding that Buddy often plays with other dogs, but such a thing had never happened to him before.
Eye proptosis is not unusual in brachycephalic dog breeds—those with bulging eyes, short snouts and shallow eye sockets—like Shih Tzus, Pekingese, Pugs, Lhasa Apsos and Boston Terriers. For these breeds, even mild restraint or play can result in eye proptosis. Dog breeds with long noses and deep-set eyes are less likely to experience proptosis.
Because proptosis occurs most commonly after trauma, there are no real preventative measures pet owners can take. “Owners of brachycephalic breeds should be aware that their pet is predisposed to this condition and seek medical attention immediately in the event of proptos,” said Dr. Frank. “In certain cases, [eye removal] can be avoided with prompt medical and surgical intervention by a veterinarian.”
As of August 31, 35 eye removal surgeries have been performed at AAH this year for a variety of reasons, including infections and deformities of the eye, diseases of the eye, and trauma like Buddy’s.
On the bright side, eye removal is usually tolerated well by dogs and cats, and Oscar says Buddy is recovering well. “We treat our dogs like kids,” he said. “And Buddy is adored by everyone.”
We are excited to announce that the ASPCA is granting nearly $1 million to Los Angeles Animal Services and the County of Los Angeles Department of Animal Care & Control to facilitate life-saving adoptions of homeless pets in LA.
A portion of the funds will waive cat adoption fees for qualified adopters. This includes cats over four months of age in Los Angeles’ six city animal shelters, as well as all cats and kittens in the six county animal shelters.
The grant will also cover “make-ready” fees typically incurred by qualified rescue groups when they retrieve cats, kittens, pit bull type dogs and Chihuahuas from city and county shelters. These animals are most at-risk in the Los Angeles area, and this funding will improve their chances of finding safe and loving homes.
“Despite the best efforts of city and county shelters and rescue groups, the situation for cats in Los Angeles remains dire—over half of the cats who enter city and county shelters never come out,” said ASPCA President & CEO Matt Bershadker. “ASPCA research has shown that waiving cat adoption fees drives new and responsible prospective owners to shelters, dramatically impacting the lives of thousands of shelter cats whose futures are endangered.”
The funding, which will provide $520,000 to the County of Los Angeles Department of Animal Care & Control and $400,000 to the City of Los Angeles Animal Services, will go into effect immediately. While fees will be waived, all adoption policies and procedures remain in effect, including existing criteria for potential adopters.
Disaster can strike at any time, so it’s important to be prepared to take action at a moment’s notice. But have you considered what to do with your pet? September is Disaster Preparedness Month, and we’re taking this opportunity to make sure that pet parents are ready to respond if necessary.
Here are three ways to make sure your family is prepared to handle any emergency: