Guest blog by Paris Permenter and John Bigley of DogTipper
Is Adopt a Senior Pet Month inspiring you to adopt a senior dog? If so—or if your dog is reaching senior status—you’ll find that many dogs enjoy spending their retirement years just like we humans do: on the road!
We enjoy traveling with our rescue dogs, Irie and Tiki, now six years old, and intend to continue traveling with them as they mature. Healthy senior dogs can enjoy an active lifestyle that includes exploring new destinations.
Regardless of your dog’s age, you’ll want to do plenty of planning to keep your dog comfortable and safe. Preparations we always take include:
Bringing the comforts of home. A cushioned dog bed is especially important for older dogs to keep pressure off of joints as they ride.
Packing for success. Tummy troubles are no fun on the road. We help avoid stomach stress by packing our dogs’ usual food and treats.
Planning, not over-planning. We plan hotel stays and attraction stops, but we don’t try to stick too closely to a timetable. It’s important to leave plenty of time for frequent bathroom breaks, especially for seniors, and for walks to just sniff around and enjoy the new destination.
Preparing for problems. We pack a list of veterinarians along our route and at our destination. We plan for more routine issues including potty accidents. Along with paper towels and waste bags, we carry a urine remover like Rug Doctor Urine Eliminator™. (Rug Doctor also supports the ASPCA!) Thanks to quick cleanups, we’ve never lost a pet deposit on a hotel stay.
Perhaps the best preparation we make is to slow down and anticipate the pleasures of traveling with our canines. After all, taking time to stop and sniff the roses is what travel’s all about—regardless of our age.
Paris Permenter and John Bigley are the publishers of the award-winning DogTipper.com. The authors of 32 pet and travel books explored the Lone Star State with their dogs Irie and Tiki to fetch dog-friendly destinations for their latest book: DogTipper’s Texas with Dogs. Follow Paris and John on Twitter.
Are you ready? Halloween is just a week away. As most pet parents scramble to put the finishing touches on their own costumes, some are scrounging for the cutest or scariest attire they can find for their pets, too. But hold on—are Halloween costumes really okay for our furry friends?
It depends, say experts. Our vets and behaviorists weighed in and said putting your pet in costume is okay as long as you’re certain he’s comfortable in his holiday gear.
If you decide to have your pet wear a costume, here are three helpful tips to keep in mind:
Your pet’s Halloween garb shouldn’t constrict his movement or hearing, or impede his ability to breathe, bark or meow. Be sure to try on costumes well in advance—and if your furry friend seems distressed, try switching to his birthday suit.
Examine your pet’s costume and make sure it doesn’t have any small, dangling or easily chewed-off pieces that he could choke on. Also, ill-fitting outfits can get caught on external objects or your pet, leading to injury.
Make sure your dog or cat has proper identification on underneath that cute costume. If for any reason your pet escapes and becomes lost during Halloween festivities, tags or a microchip can be a lifesaver.
Are you planning to dress up your pet for Halloween? Let us know in the comment—and be sure to tag us @ASPCA if you upload any pics of your festive friend to Twitter or Instagram.
Jennifer Leary is a Philadelphia firefighter, the coordinator for the Philadelphia County Animal Response Team and founder of the Red Paw Emergency Relief Team.
In 1999, Hurricane Floyd claimed the lives of millions of animals, and thousands more were separated from their families. Many of these animals would have been saved if a pet-friendly coordinated response plan had been in effect. When Hurricanes Irene and Sandy struck, we saw that many counties had incorporated co-located pet shelters into their evacuation plans, but most people don’t know the amount of planning it takes to make this happen.
When a co-located pet shelter is developed, there are things an emergency planning committee needs to take into account:
The area where the animals are contained needs to be away from general population, but close enough so that the families can come by and care for their pets
There needs to be safe, outdoor access for dogs
A good source of ventilation is vital
The area needs to be pet-proofed and safe for all pets
As a volunteer for the Red Cross, I was assigned to a co-located pet shelter during Hurricanes Irene and Sandy. When a member of the community came to the shelter with their pet, the individual was greeted by a Red Cross volunteer who directed them to the temporary pet shelter. At pet check-in, a photo was taken of the family with their pet; along with proper paperwork, this helped maintain proof of ownership of the animal. The photo was also used to create special ID bracelets that were used as a visitor’s pass.
Emergencies come in many forms, and they may require anything from a brief absence from your home to permanent evacuation. Knowing their beloved pet has access to a safe haven helps families deal with the emotional tragedy of being forced out of their home.
Diabetes is a real problem for cats in this country, but the good news is that we now have a much better understanding of this condition, and even better, we can cure it in many cases. Best of all, we are learning how to prevent it, which is the ideal strategy for a healthy, happy cat.
Cause: It’s now believed that many cases of feline diabetes are caused by excess carbohydrates in the diet. Dry cat foods in particular can be high in carbohydrates. Cats are not designed to properly metabolize carbohydrates, and cats on dry food may become obese. Additionally, the excess of carbs forces the pancreas, the organ that produces insulin, to overwork. Over time, the pancreas can become exhausted, and lose the ability to make sufficient insulin. This lack of insulin causes diabetes.
Treatment: Most diabetic cats have not permanently lost the ability to produce insulin. In order to rest the pancreas and allow it to return to normal function, cats are given twice-daily insulin injections. It’s essential to carefully regulate diabetes so the cat receives the proper amount of insulin to restore the function of the pancreas while avoiding low blood sugar, a potential side effect of insulin treatment.
The second essential component of treatment is the cat’s diet. For the best chance of curing diabetes, most cats should eat a canned diet formulated for diabetes, or a canned kitten food. Be sure to consult with your veterinarian regarding the best diet for your own cat.
A note of caution: Cats who refuse to eat can become very ill. Any diet changes must be made cautiously, with careful monitoring of the appetite.
For optimal treatment of diabetic cats, it may be advisable to consult with a veterinary internal medicine specialist. We have two on staff at the ASPCA Animal Hospital: Dr. Pomrantz and Dr. Frank. To find a veterinary internist in your local area go to www.acvim.org.
Prevention: We all know that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” For diabetes prevention as well as urinary tract and digestive health, we advise feeding cats canned food in meals, rather than allowing them to graze on dry food. Just remember that when attempting to make any change in a cat’s diet, such as from dry to canned food, patience and caution are essential. Never allow a cat to “hunger strike,” which can cause serious illness.
Tomorrow, September 28, is International Rabbit Day, dedicated to arguably the most adorable animal with two ears!
Unfortunately, the sad truth is that they are also one of the most neglected animals. More often than not bunnies are only thought about during Easter-time festivities, but the range of cruelty they face never takes a holiday. From being slaughtered for their fur, farmed as food, used for product testing, and hunted for sport, bunnies endure endless cruelty.
Even rabbits kept as loving pets are regularly mistreated by being kept outdoors. Although an outdoor hutch has been the traditional housing for a rabbit, today we know better. A backyard hutch forces these social critters to live in unnatural isolation. Rabbits may be quiet, but they are extremely social and crave interaction. Another heartbreaking fact is that rabbits are very vulnerable to predators, and if frightened, can actually die from heart attacks!