Winter is one of the busiest times of the year for taking in lost animals. Making sure that animals are licensed, collared and micro-chipped helps tremendously in reuniting lost animals with owners, and we cannot stress enough the importance of taking those measures to ensure the safety of your animals. The winter season brings rain, wind, colder temperatures and other aspects that can harm your pets. Also, the destructive tendencies of winter weather can cause pets to become lost. There are some helpful steps you can take to keep pets safe and at home during the winter season.

1. Ensure that your pet is wearing an identification collar. The collar should ideally indicate your pet's name and who to contact if they are lost or injured.

2. Ensure that your animal is licensed and micro-chipped. Making sure your pet is licensed and micro-chipped greatly increases the likelihood of reunification.In fact, there's no better way to provide a path home for your pet if they become lost. Check our our Licensing Page for more information about how to license your pet.

3. Keep your pet indoors. Even if they spend the majority of their time outside, bring them in during the winter season. Many pets go missing during the winter because they are cold, and barriers can break down. If your pet has to be outdoors during the winter they must be protected by a draft- free shelter that is big enough to allow them to move around comfortably, but small enough to hold in body heat. The floor should be off the ground a few inches, and covered with cedar shavings or straw.

Please note: Keeping warm depletes energy, so pets that spend a lot of time outdoors during the winter need more food. Make sure to check your pet's water dish to make sure the water is fresh and not frozen. Please use plastic food and water bowls only as when the temperature is low, your pet's tongue can stick to metal.

4. Never leave your pets tethered or chained outside during loud events, or heavy storms. When animals become stressed, they will go to great lengths to escape their bonds and often succeed in breaking free.

8 Tips for Safe Car Travel with your Cat

Are you planning a road trip? Here’s an even bigger question… are you planning on taking your cat with you? For many cat parents, bringing kitty along on out-of-town trips is sometimes the only option. If that’s the case with you, here are some tips to help make the travel experience safer and a little less stressful.

1. Take the time to get your cat used to being in a carrier

Leave the carrier out and start conditioning your cat to become comfortable going in and out as well as having the carrier door closed. Work up to taking the cat (in the carrier) out to the car and then for short trips down the road. Every step of the process should be gradual because even just turning the car engine on could be upsetting to a cat who has never experienced travel.

2. Have identification for your cat

No matter how careful you are, accidents can happen and your cat can escape or get lost. The safest form of identification is to have her microchipped. This is a quick procedure your veterinarian can do. In addition to microchipping, it’s also a good idea to have a collar with identification. Cell phone numbers are the best ones to have on the identification rather than your home number so you can always be reached when on the road.

 

3. Pack a travel bag for your cat

The bag should include a supply of any medication your cat is currently on, foodwater, bowls, plastic bags (for soiled litter), litter scoop, litter, travel-sized litter box (can be a disposable one), grooming supplies (very important for long-haired cats), treats, toys, pet wipes and towels (for clean up).

4. Keep your cat in a well-ventilated carrier

Even if your cat is calm and very well-behaved, it’s not safe to have her loose in the car. A pet loose in the car is a distraction to the driver and can cause an accident. Additionally, if an accident does happen, a loose pet has a greater chance of injury and getting thrown from the vehicle. Line the carrier with a towel and pack some extras in case that one gets soiled.

5. Secure the cat carrier on the floor of the back seat

The safest carrier to use is a plastic kennel-type carrier.  Don’t place the carrier in the front seat because of the danger of the airbag. The Center for Pet Safety recommends small carriers be placed on the floor behind the passenger or driver seat. Don’t place the carrier on the seat and secure with a seatbelt. The Center for Pet Safety warns that unless the pet carrier manufacturer has provided crash test videos illustrating structural integrity of the carrier, the seatbelt might actually crush the carrier in an accident.

6. Never leave your pet in a parked car

In hot weather, the temperature inside a car can skyrocket in seconds. Even a car parked in the shade with the windows cracked open can get hot enough to cause heatstroke in an animal. If the weather is cold, temperatures can plummet enough to potentially cause your cat to freeze.

7. Feed your cat about four hours before leaving

Make sure your cat has eaten a light meal early enough and she has successfully used her litter box so the car ride will be more comfortable. If you’re going on a long trip you’ll have to provide access to a litter box during the ride. Don’t feed your cat in the car because it could upset her stomach.

Photo: Fotolia

8. Create a comfortable set-up for your cat at your destination

Whether your destination is a hotel room or grandma’s house, set your cat up in a small, safe area so she doesn’t escape and can get her bearings. Arriving at an unfamiliar location will be stressful so create a comfortable set-up so she can relax and feel secure.

Foods That Are Toxic to Dogs

Many of us are used to sharing some "people food" with our dogs. It's best to remember that dogs aren't the same as humans, though, and some foods that are perfectly safe for us can have devastating effects on them. Here, we explore some of the human foods that you should never give to your dog. Some of them may be surprising.

Onion, garlic, and chives:

Any form of onion (including raw, cooked, powdered, and dehydrated) as well as garlic, chives, and shallots can cause GI upset in a dog. Of even more concern, they can damage your dog's red blood cells. Damaged red blood cells result in anemia and all of the problems that come with it, including weakness, lethargy, and collapse. Baby food and human jarred meats can be a hidden source of these dangerous ingredients. 

Dairy/milk:

It may surprise you to find out that most adult dogs are lactose intolerant. A small treat of dairy occasionally won't likely be a problem, but too much can cause GI upset and lots of diarrhea. It can also trigger food allergies in dogs, which cause skin problems.

Chocolate:

Most of us know that chocolate can be toxic to dogs. This is because of the caffeine and theobromine that it contains. These are both members of the methylxanthine family of compounds that stimulate a dog's cardio and neuro systems. Chocolate can cause agitation, seizures, and death. Small amounts can cause pancreatitis, a painful and dangerous condition. Certain types of chocolate contain more toxic compounds than others and dark baker's chocolate contains the most. 

Coffee, tea, and other sources of caffeine:

Caffeine is dangerous to dogs. It causes restlessness, increased heart rate, agitation, high blood pressure, seizures, and death. It is present in coffee, tea, chocolate, diet pills, energy drinks, and many other human products.

Alcohol:

This is one case where your dog's body doesn't process the compound much differently than yours does. Alcohol affects a dog's brain and liver just like it does a human's. However, it takes much less alcohol to do serious damage to a dog. Alcohol causes vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, coma, and death.

Avocado:

Avocado contains a substance called persin, which is toxic to birds, cows, and horses. It commonly causes diarrhea and stomach upset in dogs. Avocado pits are very dangerous if ingested by dogs, because they can cause intestinal obstructions that require surgery to relieve.

Grapes, Currants, and Raisins:

It isn't understood exactly why, but grapes and raisins have the potential to cause kidney failure and death in dogs. Signs include vomiting, diarrhea, inappetance, and lethargy. Dogs may develop severe kidney failure several days after the ingestion, and even very small amounts of grapes, raisins, or currants can cause death.

Macadamia Nuts:

It isn't known how macadamia nuts cause toxicity in dogs, but they have a neurotoxic effect. The signs of toxicity vary with the amount ingested and range from muscle tremors to a dangerous increase in body temperature and hind leg paralysis. If dogs ingest baked goods containing macadamia nuts AND chocolate, the effects are worse and may include death. 

Raw Eggs:

Raw eggs present the same dangers to your dog as they do to you: bacterial infections such as Salmonella and E. coli. Your dog is not resistant to these bacteria and they can result in serious illness. Even if your dog does not contract a dangerous bacteria, raw eggs can cause trouble. Avidin, a protein in raw egg whites, blocks your dog's body from absorbing the B vitamin biotin. If raw eggs are fed over a long period of time, the avidin can result in skin and coat problems for your dog.

Raw Meat and Fish:

Raw meat and fish, like raw eggs, can contain bacteria that are harmful to dogs, such as Salmonella and E. coli. Dogs that eat raw fish from the pacific northwest of the United States are at risk of becoming infected with salmon poisoning. This is caused by a bacteria that is carried by a fluke in the fish. Salmon poisoning is extremely dangerous: it causes bloody diarrhea, vomiting, fever, seizures, and death in a large percentage of untreated dogs. 

Fat trimmings, fatty foods, and bones:

Fat and fatty foods are not metabolized by dogs the same way they are by humans. They can trigger pancreatitis, a serious inflammation of the pancreas that can lead to severe vomiting, inappetance, dehydration, abdominal pain and, in serious cases, death. It can also lead to chronic pancreatitis, a low grade, ongoing form of pancreatitis that is quite bothersome for the dog. Though it may seem like dogs are made to eat bones, they are not, and bones are dangerous in a number of ways. Bones break dogs' teeth, cause choking, become stuck in or pierce the GI tract, and become stuck in the rectum.

Hops:

Hops, a plant that is used for brewing beer, is poisonous to dogs both when it is fresh and after it has been cooked. Dogs that have been poisoned by hops may stagger and have tremors or seizures. They can develop a very high temperature that results in organ failure.

Bread dough:

Rising bread dough (containing live yeast), when eaten by your dog, continues to rise in the warm, moist environment of the stomach. This can result in a bloated stomach and, eventually, a GDV, which is a twisted stomach. This is an emergency situation that usually requires surgery. Also, alcohol is produced secondary to the consumption of sugar by the yeast in the dough. This can result in alcohol toxicity when the dough is ingested by your dog, which can lead to seizures and death. 

A Few Dangerous Non-Food Items

Plants:

Most plants, if eaten in large amounts by dogs, can cause GI irritation and vomiting. Some are toxic and can cause kidney, liver, and neurological damage. If you have houseplants, look them up on a toxic plant list before allowing your dog access to them. 

Some of the most common plants that are toxic to dogs are:

Adam-and-EveBoston IvyMarijuana

AloeButtercupMistletoe

AmaryllisCaladiumMorning Glory

American BittersweetCherry TreePeach Tree

American HollyChinaberryPhilodendron

American MandrakeChristmas TreePlum Tree

Apple TreeChrysanthemumRhododendron

Apricot TreeClematisSweet Pea

Arrowhead FernCreeping FigTomato Plant

Autumn CrocusDaffodilTulip

AvocadoDiffenbachiaWisteria

AzaleaFoxgloveYarrow

BegoniaHydrangeaYew

Please note that while we make all efforts to provide up-to-date, valid information, we cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information. Also, our plants list is not meant to be all-inclusive.

Hazards in the House to Watch out for Cats

 

1. The washing machine and dryer

If you have laundry equipment in your house, it’s a prime target for curious cats looking for a snug spot for a nap. Because front-loading washing machines need to be kept open in order to avoid mold growth, this is a particular hazard. In order to keep your kitty safe, check inside your washing machine and dryer before throwing clothes in and starting a load of laundry. If possible, keep the door to your laundry room closed.

2. The oven

If you leave your oven open even a crack after you’ve finished baking your favorite meal, food-motivated cats will probably find a way to sneak inside, risking burns and even entrapment in search of a tasty morsel.

3. The refrigerator

It’s astonishingly easy for a cat to sneak past you and hop in the fridge while you’re putting food on the counter. If the seal on your fridge door is dirty or worn, a cat could find a way to open that door and hop inside — and once the door closes, he may not be able to open it again.

 

4. The cleaning-equipment cabinet

Like small children, cats just have to get into everything, and the stuff you use to clean your house is just as poisonous to cats as it is to kids. To prevent toxic tragedy, consider installing childproof latches on your cabinets that contain cleaning products and other hazardous materials.

5. Unfinished construction

If you’re remodeling your home, be sure your cat can’t get into the work area. I’ve known more than one cat that crawled behind wall board or into exposed roof rafters and curled up in a nice soft bed of insulation, only to find that they had been trapped once the renovations were finished.

If your cat goes missing indoors, look in any of these enclosed locations first. Then move on to closets and bureaus, and behind and under furniture.

 

Check Your Car

When the temperature drops, our outdoor and feral feline friends will be looking for comfortable and warm sleeping places, making car wheel wells or hoods particularly cozy nesting spots.  Before starting your car, tap on the hood, check the wheel wells and honk the horn.

Even cats that primarily live outdoors shouldn’t be exposed to the extreme elements and temperature drops.  If possible, try to transition your outdoor cat to indoor living a few months before the cold weather begins.  Some cats, including ferals, only feel safe outside and cannot be transitioned to indoor accommodations.  These guys still need a warm, dry shelter once temperatures dip below freezing.  Shelters can be as simple as a cardboard box lined with blankets or old sleeping bags, or a little more luxurious like a store-bought pet bed.  Try to place the shelter in a somewhat warmer location like the garage, a covered porch, or beneath a carport.  Preferably, placing the shelter off the ground will keep it warmer than if placed directly on the cold ground.  Always check the shelter’s bedding at least once a day to make sure it isn’t wet or frozen.

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