hindsight

How many people are being truthful when they say they have no regrets?  The clichés ‘If I could go back in time and fix all the mistakes I made, I wouldn’t because it has made me who I am today’ and ‘There are no mistakes in life, only lessons’ may provide comfort to some, however anyone who has experienced an accident or tragic wrong-doing to a beloved pet, will replay the incident over and over in their mind and analyze the options they had at that time. ‘Could’ve, should’ve, would’ve…….’

(in no particular order, a list of avoidable incidents and general tips)

Pet CPR is a worthwhile course offered by many doggie daycare facilities and veterinary offices.  An afternoon well spent in my opinion.

Travel Safety

Every day we get into our cars and buckle up before heading off to our destination.  Why do you buckle up?  Because it’s the law?  Most of us realize this practice increase our chance of surviving an accident.  What happens to our pets in such an event?  It’s not pretty and sadly, accidents happen.  The best way to ensure the safety of your pet is to settle them comfortably in their crate and secure the carrier with a seatbelt.  A dog’s crate is meant to be a safe and cozy space.  Flipping around a few times within this space does far less damage then flying from one side of the backseat to the other whilst strapped to a short lead or line.  The impact of a dog against a window may result in more than a few broken bones – that’s best case.  A dog, completely loose in the back of a car could go straight through the front windshield!

I was recently told of an elderly couple driving along at only 60km, the woman had her young daschund on her lap and as it was a beautiful day, the window was down.  The couple turned a corner, on which a group of youngsters stood eating pizza.  The dog didn’t think about the moving vehicle in which he travelled, rather, the idea of a scrap of pizza.  Not even a minute later, the dog was out the window, hanging from its leash, with a broken neck.  The dog lost its life, the elderly couple and the children who witnessed the event all traumatized.

Climate Control

We’ve all seen the SPCA advertisements comparing a vehicle to a microwave oven.  Sadly, the ads did nothing for so many dogs which, died of heat exhaustion either inside the car, or being taken/left outside without adequate shelter or water.  Also, the water needs to be checked/changed REGULARLY.

As we know, not all owners are responsible.  When we visit shops let’s keep an eye out for dogs in vehicles that may be experiencing distress.  What are the signs of heat exhaustion? Exaggerated panting, lethargy, bloodshot eyes, red gums and tongue, elevated temperature and/or hot paw pads.  DO NOT shock their systems by giving them ice-cold water or ice cubes.

Blistered paws don’t always draw attention until they become raw and weep.  This often occurs due to hot asphalt and sand.  Grass is the better option.

Cold weather – frostbite, raw, burned (salt), cracked and bleeding pads are treated regularly at veterinarians during the winter months.  Salve and special balms are available to condition the skin.  The sand and salt used to de-ice roads and walkways are brutal to our furry friend’s feet.  Booties and jackets are not just a fashion statement in Ontario, they are a necessity.  Salt and anti-freeze (from driveways and parking garages), can also cause upset tummies for your pet.  Draft-free shelter and heated water containers are available if you have to leave your dog outside for more than just a potty break.  Towel off bellies and feet during and after walks.  Dry fur is definitely warmer than damp, wet fur.

Playtime

Indoor and outdoor, playtime should be supervised.  Recently, in my community two small dogs, on two separate occasions, were scooped from their backyard most likely by coyotes.  I’ve gone out to check for raccoons and skunks prior to letting Henry & Reese out to do their evening business.  More than once, we’ve gone out the front door instead.  I realize not everyone is a fan of dogs however; it saddens me to hear of stories of dog poisonings and malice.  I don’t live in an area with sidewalks and the other traffic we see are other neighbors and I don’t believe any of them would throw tainted treats over the fence for my dogs.  In many neighborhoods, it does happen.   Another story recently in the news, was of Heidi the schnauzer, hanged in her own backyard by some sick s.o.b who will, no doubt continue to prey on helpless animals until their mental illness escalates – heaven help us all.

Pools are another danger for what are hopefully, obvious reasons.  Even good swimmers may panic and find themselves in trouble if they can’t focus to find their way out of the pool.  Swim time should be supervised.  If your dog swims in chlorinated water, they should be rinsed well.  Placing half a cotton ball in each ear prior to a swim or bath with help prevent yeast building up.

Lack of fencing.  I certainly don’t trust Henry off-leash.  The squirrels in my community taunt the hell out of my dogs and it might only take one comment from the fluffy little bugger across the road, and Henry would tear after him.  We don’t live on a busy road but I’m not willing to take the chance of my dog ending up like many of the squirrels that don’t look both ways before crossing over (eww, bad pun.  Sorry).

All toys are not created equally and the tags are for the person not the dog.  As well as removing the tags and other choking hazards (loose ribbons, noses, eyes), monitor the durability of the toy and even place out of reach, substituting for a ‘non-stuffed, no squeaker’ version when you leave the house.  Everyone wants to come home to a waggy-tailed greeting not a tragedy.

Walks

Safety first.  My dogs would love to run and frolic off-leash however, as I mentioned previously, the squirrels in my neighborhood taunt the heck out of the dogs.  I will not risk the timing of a car coming around a corner at the very same time Sammy runs from tree A to tree B across the street.

There was an ad recently posted on Kijiji about a missing dog.  He and his sister had been playing off-leash, something spooked them and the dogs took off.  Only one was found.

Garbage day and random littering is also a concern.  I was walking home and my mind drifted for only moments.  Henry requires my FULL attention.  That’s all it took and Henry had something in the strong grasp of his jaws.  I have a trainer booked and one of the things we will be working on is ‘Release’!  An older gentleman from my community had been walking behind us and rushed up and with great authority, demanded I pry whatever it was from Henry’s mouth (the man was so anxious, he didn’t realize I WAS trying to dislodge said object).  After a slight struggle, I managed to show Henry I meant business and that was that.  The man then explained to me how, one day while out walking his dog, the same situation occurred and whatever his dog had consumed killed him.  Poisoned after what should have been quality time walking with his best friend.

(repeating from above)

Blistered paws don’t always draw attention until they become raw and weep.  This often occurs due to hot asphalt and sand.  Grass is the better option.

Food & Treats

We all love to spoil our pets.  Keep in mind however, fat sticks to the organs of our pets before we start to see the change externally.  Overweight pets are at risk for disease and early death.  In my opinion, anyone who purposely feeds an animal to ‘fatten them up’, is abusing their pet.  Yes, I’ve heard of people who consider their pet cuter as a chuba bubba!

Feeding a small dog larger kibble to slow down their eating may, in fact, only cause them to choke.  If you’re concerned about the speed of consumption, there are bowls made with built in grommets that your dog will have to work around to find his food.  Another option is to place the food in a Kong and have your dog work to access the goodness.

Free feeding is a huge concern.  It doesn’t register with all dogs when they become full.  Sadly, I’ve heard of owners going out of town for the weekend and leaving enough food down for spot.  Upon return, the dog was found lying dead beside his dishes.  Over-eating and/or over-drinking can lead to ‘Bloat’.   The enlarged stomach puts pressure on other organs, can cause difficulty breathing, and eventually may decrease blood supply to a dog’s vital organs.  Further details on ‘Bloat’ and other related conditions can be found on the ASPCA website.

For a list of food items that are poisonous or may cause tummy upset for animals, visit;

http://www.peteducation.com/

Nature

For a list of poisonous plants in Ontario visit;

http://www.ovma.org/pet_owners/pet_care/poisonous_plants.html

(Google poisonous plants for a list relative to your region)

General Health

If you commit to owning a dog, you commit to the vet bills incurred including, regular checkups and vaccinations.  Lyme disease, heartworm, fleas & ticks, rabies and even dental disease if not treated can be fatal.  My dogs don’t love having their teeth cleaned but I do it anyway.  I read a promotion for the teeth cleaning spray ‘Leba III’ recently and learned it had been inspired by the heartache of dog owner Lise Guerin after losing her dog Mercy in for a routine procedure.  Regular cleaning not only freshens breath, but good dental health also protects against heart, liver, and kidney disease.  Dental disease is also associated with diabetes.  So for the health of your pet, request a dental exam during your regular checkup.

Holiday Celebrations

Growing up near the border we had the privilege of enjoying firework displays on July 1st and the 4th.  This caused our cat, a great deal of anxiety.  In addition to medication which may be prescribed by a veterinarian, there are alternative options such as thunder shirts and rescue remedy (a plant based homeopathic spray or drop).

Halloween may be great fun for children; however it can be terrifying and dangerous for animals.  Be sure to keep candy, chocolate or other, away from animals.  Even the smallest amount can be harmful. Sweeteners can kill animals.  Dogs and cats may become spooked by the costumed children and noises, including the repetition of the doorbell.  It may be best to crate or shut them comfortably in another room during festivities.  I remember my mom leaving a bowl of candy on the front step with a note which read ‘Goblins and Elves, help yourselves’.   Sadly, the month of October brings out those that believe ghosts and devils and black magic is more than stories and make-believe.  It is most important to keep our feline friends, especially those that are dark coloured, safely inside during the month of October.  Unfortunately they tend to fall into the wrong hands during this time of year and could be harmed.

I love decorating for Christmas.  I omit the tinsel which, irresistible to pets, can become lodged in their throat and/or digestive tract and cause fatal blockages.  My ‘bare-bottomed’ tree is also ornament free around the bottom third.  Henry, like a Magpie it seems, cannot resist the shiny objects.  As with Halloween, it is important to monitor scraps of holiday food.

Another couple of quotes I’d like to share;

Can you leave it all behind? Cause you can’t go back.

Yes, the past can hurt but the way I see it you can either run from it or learn from it.

If you have suggestions to add to the ones above, please share in the ‘comments’ section or email me.  I will gladly add them to the post.

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