First Aid Safety

A String of Errors

If you saw a cat playing with a spool of thread, would your reaction be “Oh, how cute!”, or would you say “Good heavens, get that thread away from that cat before she swallows it!”

The second reaction is the right one. Allowing a cat to play with string can be a serious mistake. Once a cat begins swallowing the end of the string, she cannot extract it and continues to swallow. Soon there may be several feet of string “down the hatch.” The intestines try to pass the string along, but can’t get a grip on it because it is so thin. They work harder and harder, until they may start telescoping on themselves, a painful experience that can require surgery to remedy. Surgery on the digestive organs can lead to peritonitis, an infection of the abdomen.

Cats are attracted to the movement of all types of string, thread, yarn, tinsel, ribbon, shoelaces, etc. If you are there to supervise the cat’s play, you can let him chase the string safely, but don’t leave him alone with it. Dogs don’t chase string like cats do, but many would swallow string that has been used to tie a roast or turkey for cooking, and puppies may swallow anything once they start chewing.

If you find that yo ur pet has swallowed string, take it immediately to a veterinarian. If you see an end hanging from his mouth (or rear) don’t try to pull it out. The pulling could cause the taut string to saw through an intestinal wall, possibly subjecting the animal to peritonitis.

Cats are playful pets-protect yours by giving it toys that can’t be swallowed.

Buckle Up And Keep Them Inside The Car

When you and your family go for a ride, everyone “buckles-up” for safety. The same should go for your family pet.

Animals should never ride loose in the car (or in the back of a pickup truck). First, small animals can crawl behind gas or brake pedals and cause you to have an accident. Or animals sitting on the lap of the driver can easily interface with steering. Second, in your accident, your pets could be injured or thrown from the car, because they are not secured. Third, because your pets will be frightened in an accident, they could easily get loose and run into traffic.

Special seat belts to accommodate a dog’s size and shape are now available from most pet-supply stores. Human seat belts can be very dangerous for dogs, since they are made to secure the human figure, not something with four legs. Crates are available for cats and dogs who won’t sit in a seatbelt.

And make sure your dog rides completely inside the car, just like everyone else in the family. Pets who ride with their head out the window are in danger of injury from debris flying into their eyes, nostrils, ear canals, or throat. Common signs of injury to the eyes include watering, redness, swelling, or rubbing with their paws or against the floor or furniture (like the side of the bed).

Your Pets Need You Even More When Disaster Strikes

When disaster strikes a community, phone lines go down, public facilities become overwhelmed, and essential services–like water–are often unavailable. So what can you do to ensure your pet is cared for during and, especially, after a disaster?

First, don’t leave your pet behind! If it’s unsafe for you, it’s certainly unsafe for your pet. But evacuation shelters rarely accept animals, so plan now. Gather the addresses and phone numbers of hotels, friends, pet sitters, kennels and veterinary offices—outside of where a disaster is likely to hit–that could take your pet in case of an emergency.

Second, make sure your pet wears a current ID tag and is microchipped in case you’re separated. You might even put an out-of-state contact on the other side of the tag, since you may not be at your home after a disaster.

Third, keep a copy of your pet’s vaccinations handy, so you can board your pet or leave the state.

And finally, keep essential pet supplies—food, water, medications, leash, and pet carrier—on-hand.

If you wait until disaster strikes to consider these things, you’re likely to overlook something essential or may not have the resources or time to solve the dilemma (like who can care for your pet). Please, plan now.

Every year thousands of pets are lost or get loose from their homes within this general area. Statistics show 1 out of every 3 family pets will be lost. Unfortunately only about 1% of the animals entering the shelter have some form of identification. We can’t get them back home if we don’t know where they came from. Without identification, we must rely on owners to look for their animals and reclaim them.

The current reclaim rate of animals from the shelter is 53% of dogs and 16% of cats. These animals have all been owned by someone so the reclaim rate should realistically be somewhere around 80% for both dogs and cats. But, pet owners often think their pet will come home on its own or is lost forever and don’t always put the effort into locating the animal.

Although animal licenses are required to be on your animal’s collar, animals do lose their collars or get out when they are not wearing a collar. Microchip identification can help. Most animal shelters, veterinarians, and research labs now scan all animals coming into their facilities for microchips. If an animal has a chip, the scanner will display a number that belongs specifically to you and your animal. State and local laws require that an owner be notified immediately if any form of identification is found.

A microchip may be implanted by your veterinarian. The procedure is similar to your animal receiving a vaccination. The injection is given into the nape of the neck-no surgery is required. This is generally an inexpensive, painless procedure that may save your animal’s life. Please contact your veterinarian or the animal shelter today about microchipping your animal for the permanent identification you can rely on.

Include Pets in Fire Safety Programs

Pets belong in your fire safety program. Install smoke detectors and plan your family’s (including your pets’) safe evacuation in advance. Remember your pets’ usual hiding and sleeping places. During a fire, they’ll be terrified, and are likely to hide in their favorite retreats.

If possible, escort your pets to safety on leashes, or in crates or cages. In an emergency, a cat can be safely carried inside a pillowcase. Obedience-trained dogs will be more likely to cooperate with their owners during the evacuation and ensuing chaos.

Include some of your pets’ food in your family’s emergency kit. Pets’ health records should also be included, as a boarding kennel will require these documents.

Always identify your pets with collars and current license tags and vaccination tags. Proper identification is crucial if pets and owners are separated during or after the fire.

Take your animals to the veterinarian as soon as possible. Pets can suffer from serious smoke inhalation in a matter of minutes, and may also have burns underneath their fur or feathers.


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