Vol. 17, No. 07 – Dec 27, 2023 – Jan 9, 2024 – The Pet Page

• Urgent From PETA: Flood Survival Tips for Animals

Since your area is (was) under a flood warning and evacuation orders and warnings are in effect for parts of Ventura County— will you include in your coverage a reminder that people should never leave dogs tethered or penned outside and always take their animal companions with them if they have to evacuate their homes?

Every time there’s a natural disaster, many dogs and other companion animals are left outside to fend for themselves and even left behind when humans evacuate. Dogs kept tethered will swim to exhaustion and drown—and there are tethered dogs everywhere. PETA’s Animal Rescue Team has witnessed firsthand the trauma that animals endure when left behind to face floodwaters and flying debris. During previous storms, we have found dogs dead. We have also found them up to their necks in water, unable to sit or lie down, and in almost-submerged crates inside houses and seen animals who have been flung around by high winds. Animals are terrified in weather conditions such as these.

Will you please share this lifesaving information with your audience?

Keep all animals indoors with you if you choose not to evacuate. Never leave them tethered, penned, or crated.

If you evacuate, plan your destination in advance and don’t leave animals behind or unsupervised in a car.

Be prepared: Use secure carriers, leashes, and harnesses. Bring along water and food bowls, a favorite toy, a blanket, a towel, and enough food for a week. Have your animals microchipped and attach legible ID tags securely to their collars.

Watch for other animals in trouble. If you see any animals in distress but can’t help, note their location and call the authorities immediately.

• As the days inch further and further into winter and frigid temperatures, Dr. Pavlovsky, director of the University of Illinois Veterinary Medicine South Clinic, has important winter safety tips for those caring for pets.

Cold Winter Temperatures

Just like humans, our pets can develop hypothermia, or a drop in their body temperature, after being outside in cold temperatures for too long. Hypothermia becomes even more likely for dogs that are housed outdoors.

“There is no straightforward answer to how cold is too cold and how long is too long to remain outside, because there are so many variables,” Dr. Pavlovsky says. “For most dogs, it is probably safe to be outside for a very short period—just enough time to eliminate—even in extreme cold. However, to be safe, it’s probably best to discuss this with your veterinarian, because there may be individual recommendations fitting one pet but not another.”

Likewise, how long dogs can be outside in relatively cold temperatures depends on the individual pet. However, Dr. Pavlovsky points out, “It is reasonable to assume that prolonged direct contact with snow and ice is more likely to result in frostbite.”

Owners should consider size and length of their pet’s fur coat when gauging how long an animal can remain outside. Shorter fur offers less protection against chilly temperatures, so those pets may benefit from some extra help.

“If your dog tolerates clothing and footwear, it’s probably best to put those on,” says Dr. Pavlovsky, “especially for short-haired and small breeds. These protections can help minimize heat loss and exposure. For example, good-quality footwear that does not cause discomfort can allow a dog to spend more time outdoors without getting frostbite on the feet.”

• It is common for us all to indulge in some high-calorie foods during the holidays, but what about our pets? Can they join the feast? Oklahoma State University assistant professor of behavior science Dr. Leticia Fanucchi advises against it and offered five tips to consider when it comes to food and pets this holiday season:

The No. 1 culprit is my favorite item … chocolate.

Chocolate contains methylxanthines like theobromine and caffeine. These two are the reason why we love it so much, as these substances have a stimulant and calming effect all at the same time. However, chocolate is not well metabolized by pets, accumulating in the body and making them sick. Chocolate intoxication can be very serious and cause tremors, vomiting, diarrhea, agitation, increased heart rate and even seizures. Keep those chocolatey treats away from dogs and cats.

2. Grapes mean good luck for the new year in some cultures, but they’re bad luck for pets.

Both fresh grapes or raisins, very common items in holiday dishes, can cause kidney disease in pets due to the tartaric acid present in them. The most common signs you will see are vomiting, diarrhea and increased water intake. Acute kidney disease is a serious medical emergency and time is crucial to start treatment with IV fluids if you want to save your pet’s life. Keep the grapes in the fridge, and do not leave them spread around coffee tables or food trays. They are sweet and pets are attracted to sweet stuff.

3. Fatty foods

Are you a fan of roast turkey with gravy? So are pets! However, the fat contained in gravy and turkey skin … not to mention bacon and butter, can cause a condition called pancreatitis. This acute disease can affect other organ systems such as the liver and kidneys, leading to more serious consequences such as blood clotting. Vomiting and diarrhea are the first signs, so do not ignore these signs especially if you know your pet stole that turkey leg or went to town in the gravy boat. Emergency help is paramount as pets can perish quickly from an acute pancreatitis crisis.

4. Who knew garlic and onions could be bad? But wait, bread rolls too?

Yes, garlic, onions and chives are healthy for people, but really bad for pets. Allium species are toxic and can cause hemolytic anemia, which means decreased red blood cells. Signs normally appear after a few days of ingestion and include vomiting, diarrhea, jaundice and lethargy. Yeast-risen foods are delicious, but also bad for pets. The yeast can ferment in the stomach and produce toxic levels of ethanol … yes, alcohol! Ethanol toxicity leads to metabolic acidosis which makes the blood glucose drop significantly causing seizures, respiratory depression and even cardiac arrest, so keep the bread in the pantry.

5. Last but certainly not least, sugar-free treats.

Pets cannot metabolize xylitol, the artificial sweetener in most sugar free foods, causing low blood sugar, which leads to ataxia (incoordination), seizures and even death from hypoglycemia. No sugar-free treats for pets this season … or ever.

Several foods we love can be very harmful for our beloved pets, so let’s get some special cat and dog treats for them this year and keep human food away from their reach. If you notice vomiting and diarrhea after the holiday, it is a sign your pet may have gotten into something it shouldn’t have, so do not think twice, take them to the vet. Time is crucial for preventing long-term damage or death.

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