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.
A new donation-based program called Pet Food Stamps wants to ensure that furry members of low-income families receive the pet food they need. The new program is open to anyone in the United States, and already more than 45,000 pets are registered, Marc Okon, the program’s founder and executive director, told ABC News.
Approved applicants to the program receive pet food from the retailer Pet Food Direct for six months, Okon says.
The program does not receive federal funding. “Should the government be willing to provide assistance further down the line, we will look into it,” Okon told ABC News.
Approximately 46.6 million people used the federal food stamp program in 2012, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Do you think food stamps for pets are a good idea?
Here at the ASPCA we often chat about how two cats are better than one. However, for a solo kitty who is accustomed to being king or queen of your castle, er, house, introducing a new feline friend to your home can be a bit stressful.
If you decide to bring a second cat into your home, proceed slowly and with patience. It takes most cats 8 to 12 months to develop a friendship with a new cat. By following these three steps, you can make sure that the transition goes smoothly:
Making the introduction: Allow the cats to smell and hear each other, without any visual or physical contact just yet. Give each cat his or her own food and water bowl, litter box, scratching post, and bed on separate sides of a door in your home. After a few days, switch the cats’ locations so they can check out each other’s scents. Try playing with the cats near the door. They might even reach under the door to play “paws” with each other!
Seeing eye-to-eye: After a week or so, assuming neither cat has shown signs of aggression (hissing, growling, etc.), let the cats meet each other face-to-face. You might want to put a baby gate or screen door between them. Set each cat down a few feet away from the barrier. When the cats notice each other, call out their names and toss them some tasty treats. Over the next few days, continue to offer treats, meals and playtime close to the barrier.
Together at last:Supervise your cats’ initial interactions very carefully. Allow them to spend time together when things are low-stress, such as after strenuous play. Keep a spray bottle on hand in case they begin to fight. As the cats become more familiar with each other, allow them to gradually spend more and more time together.
Valentine’s Day is just days away—and we’d be lying if we said we weren’t planning to spend at least part of it with the furry loves of our lives. If you’re looking for an excuse to spend some time with your pets on February 14, here are a few ways you can put some four-legged fun into the holiday:
• Take a romantic stroll. Getting active with your pets is a great way to strengthen your bond. Healthy adult dogs, for example, need at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise twice a day, so show your pet how much you love her by taking her on a jaunt through the park at sunset.