For those of us on the East Coast, the destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy in October 2012 is still present and fresh on our minds. And most recently, persistent flooding in the Midwest has wreaked havoc on the lives of humans and pets alike. It’s important for pet parents in all parts of the country to be prepared to act in the face of a disaster—and that includes having an emergency plan in place for your pets.
That’s one of the reasons why we joined FEMA to recognize May 8 as National Animal Disaster Preparedness Day. We hope you’ll take this opportunity to learn more about the ways you can keep your furry friends safe in an emergency. Here are a few easy steps you can take:
1. Have a Plan. Your “all-family” plan needs to include how you will transport your animals in an evacuation, possible routes you will take and your destination/sheltering options. Practice that plan at least yearly and share it with your family and friends.
2. Build a Kit. Don’t forget a photo of your pet, medical records, vaccination records, and any special food or prescriptions.
3. Stay Informed. Keep an eye on the weather, follow a projected storm’s path and don’t get caught unprepared. Staying informed also means knowing which shelters house both people and pets, monitoring possible road closures and having alternate travel plans.
4. Know Your Neighbors. It’s best to form a relationship with your neighbors well in advance of a disaster situation.Develop a telephone tree and determine who is home and when. If a disaster occurs while you’re at work, your neighbor may be the only one who can reach your pets.
5. Vaccinate and Microchip. If you’re ever required to shelter your pets, you’ll want them protected against disease. And the single most important piece of advice we can offer is to microchip your pets. It is truly their ticket home.
Warm, spring weather means more than just tulips and tubetops. It’s flea and tick season! In addition to just being plain uncomfortable, fleas and ticks can cause some serious health problems for our furry friends. Ticks on pets can also transmit Lyme disease or Rocky Mountain spotted fever to humans. Ick!
These little parasites are tough to fight, but the ASPCA is here to help. Check out our top five tips for keeping your pets itch-free this spring.
1. Fleas and ticks LOVE long grass and shady outdoor spots. Ensure a pest-free lawn by mowing regularly, removing tall weeds and making it inhospitable to common tick hosts, including rodents, by keeping garbage covered and inaccessible.
2. Talk to your vet about choosing the right, species-specific flea and tick treatment for your pet such as a topical, liquid insecticide applied to the back of the neck. PetArmor, the official flea and tick sponsor of the ASPCA, is one option.
3. Never use products for dogs on cats, and vice versa. If you accidentally apply the wrong topical treatment to your pet, please call our poison control hotline (888-426-4435) asap.
4. Treat all of your petsfor fleas, not just those who show outward signs of infestation.
5. During warmer months, it’s also a good idea to check your pet for ticks. If you do spot a tick, take care when removing it to avoid spreading disease.
Spring Cleaning: Empty out the dark corners of your closets, basement and attic, but before throwing your dusty treasures away, call your local shelters and ask if they need old towels, bedding, leashes, litter boxes and pet toys.
The Power of Poop: Scoop dog poop with biodegradable bags instead of plastic bags from the grocery store. If you’re a suburbanite (or an urbanite with a lawn), do some research on doggie septic systems—they help keep your lawn free of smelly surprises and break waste down into a liquid the ground can absorb.
Garden of Delights: If you have space, consider growing your own garden for your fruit- and veggie- loving reptiles and small mammals. Before using insecticides, research mulching and other gardening practices that can help reduce the amount of insecticides and herbicides you might need.
Spot On: Should your furry love leave a little dribble (or more) on the carpeting or floor, don’t reach for the bleach. Use vinegar instead. This environment-friendly liquid can act as an effective odor-remover and can kill mold and bacteria.
Cut Back: There are plenty of small ways to cut back on energy and materials. Instead of using a blow dryer to dry your freshly bathed pet, towel or air dry her. Walk your dog to the doggie park rather than driving there. Or cut down on paper products—clean up with rags or recycled paper towels.
Are you doing something special for Earth Day? Tell us about it in the comments!
What’s in your Easter basket? Whether you’re celebrating Easter, Passover or the arrival of daffodils, it’s time to show our pets some extra love by keeping them safe from seasonal hazards. Here are a few ASPCA tips for a pet-safe spring!
• Beware of Easter lilies—they can be fatal if consumed by our furry friends. We recommend leaving lilies out of Easter baskets destined for homes with cats, or using safer flower varieties as substitutes. Some pretty alternatives include Easter orchids, cacti and daisies, as well as roses and violets.
• Keep candy bunnies in check—chocolate goodies are toxic to cats, dogs and ferrets. And any treats containing xylitol, an artificial sweetener used in many candies, chewing gum and baked goods—may be toxic, too!
• Decorations, especially Easter tinsel, may look festive but can be dangerous. Kitties love to nibble on plastic grass, which can lead to serious health issues.
• Baby chicks and rabbits are not Easter gifts. While these festive babies are adorable, resist the urge to buy; they grow up fast and often require specialized care. Thousands of ex-Easter bunnies and chicks are abandoned each year when their novelty wears off.
In 2012, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) in Urbana, Illinois, handled more than 180,000 cases about pets possibly exposed to poisonous substances—and some breeds seemed to make up a lot more of those calls than others.
Nearly 14,000 of APCC’s 2012 calls were from worried pet parents of Labradors. Domestic shorthair cats were involved in approximately 10,000 cases (the second-most popular breed involved in APCC calls). Mixed-breed dogs (8,000 cases), Chihuahuas (4,833 cases), Golden Retrievers (4,819 cases) and Yorkshire Terriers (3,800 cases) rounded out the top six.
No matter what kind of pets they had, thousands of pet parents called us about the same products last year. Here were the top five poisons that caused pet parents to call APCC for help in 2012:
1. Prescription Human Medications
APCC handled 25,000 cases regarding human prescription medications in 2012. The top three types of medications that animals were exposed to were: heart medications (blood pressure pills), antidepressants and pain medications (opioids and prescription non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).
While just 11% of all calls to the APCC are about insecticides, more than 50% of the calls to APCC involving cats pertain to felines exposed to insecticides.
3. Over-the-Counter Human Medications
This group contains acetaminophen, ibuprofen and naproxen as well as herbal and nutraceutical products (fish oil, joint supplements).
4. Veterinary Products and Medications
Veterinary products made up nearly 6% of APCC’s case volume for 2012. Both OTC and prescription veterinary products are included in this group. Watch out for flavored tablets!
5. Household Products
APCC fielded more than 10,000 calls about household products in 2012. Household toxins can range from fire logs to cleaning products.