Safety Tips When Driving with Your Pets

While many pets enjoy going for a ride in the car, others would much rather avoid one. Regardless of the reason for
having our four legged friends along for a ride, it is important to follow a few safety tips to ensure our furry passengers are safe during the journey.

By: Sloan McKinney

When we think of driving with our four-legged friends, we often envision a dog with his head sticking out a car window as it travels down the road. While this image may conjure up happy thoughts in many of us, leaving your pet free to “roam” about the car while it is in motion is not safe. Whether you take your pets for trips in the car for fun or out of necessity, following a few simple safety tips can help ensure that everyone arrives at their destination safely.

Front or Back?

Just like our two-legged children, the front seat is actually the worst place for them to ride. In the front seat, your pet is at risk from being injured from the possible deployment of an airbag. Additionally, they are more likely to be a distraction for the driver. When traveling in the car, the best place for your furry friend is in the back. Here are more safety tips to follow when transporting your best friend:

The Great Crate Debate

Some people and animal rights organizations don’t agree with the concept of putting an animal into a crate, but it is still the safest way for them to travel. Crate training your dog or cat is actually a relatively simple process, and many animals actually enjoy their own space. There are so many reasons they’re much safer in these homes with handles when they are in a car. Here are just a few:

  • Flying objects inside a vehicle can cause serious injuries in the event of a crash
  • If a collision does occur and you’re unresponsive, emergency personnel can quickly remove and contain your animal
  • Another danger resulting from a car accident is your animal escaping through a broken window where they could be struck by a passing motorist

If you’re completely against the concept of putting your critter into a crate, at the very least they should be harnessed and buckled in, just like other passengers. As a matter of fact, more states are beginning to institute laws and fines when it comes to pet transportation and distracted driving statutes when they’re travelling inside our vehicles.

Car Kit

Just like you may put together a kit for yourself to have on hand in the car, having some pet essentials on hand is always a good idea when traveling with your furry friends. Along with plenty of fresh drinking water, be sure to bring along a first aid kit, some toys, treats, and bowls for food and water. You shouldn’t feed your pet while the car is in motion, however, as this could cause them to become ill or develop motion sickness.

ID and Paperwork

Even if your pet is microchipped, be sure they have a proper identification tag with all of your contact information. When travelling across state lines, you should have your animal’s vaccination records on hand, especially showing their current rabies shot. Although this usually isn’t an issue in most cases, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Dogs in CarGraduate To Longer Journeys

Even if your animal is accustomed to driving to the nearby veterinarian’s office, before taking a long-distance journey, get him acclimated to driving greater distances. Gradually increase the time he spends in your vehicle before taking him on a cross-country adventure.

In closing, we all know better than to leave an animal alone in a parked car, not even for a few minutes, regardless of the outside temperature. Along with the risks associated with a vehicle that is too hot or cold, your precious pooch or friendly feline could also be stolen. Do whatever is necessary to keep your beloved pets safe whenever you’re travelling with them in tow.

A Spotlight on DAWS Volunteers

The July 8th edition of the Newtown Bee featured an article focused on Newtown residents who are also loyal DAWS volunteers.  This fantastic article provides great insight into the vital role that volunteers play at DAWS and highlights the dedication volunteers exhibit day in and day out.

The Newtown Bee highlighted the great work of volunteers at DAWS!  In a three-part series focusing on local animal organizations, contributor Alissa Silber shows readers of the Newtown Bee how their neighbors are choosing to make a differnece in the lives of animals in need.  The first article, published on July 8th, featured an article about Newtown residents who are also loyal DAWS volunteers.  This fantastic article provides great insight into the vital role that volunteers play at DAWS and highlights the dedication volunteers exhibit daily to making a difference in the lives of animals.  Check out the article!

Revised Legislation Protects Animals

On June 22nd, President Obama signed a revision to the Toxic Substances Control Act which includes a decree to minimize animal testing and create a clear preference for the development and use of alternative methods and strategies.  This is a great step forward in reducing animal testing and protecting animals of all kinds from inhumane treatment.

President Obama Signs a Measure That Will Reduce Animal Testing

On June 22, President Obama signed a revision to the Toxic Substances Control Act, a 40-year-old law that provides the EPA with authority to require reporting, record-keeping and testing requirements, and restrictions relating to chemical substances and/or mixtures.  The Act had not been updated in 20 years, but now this revision includes an explicit decree from Congress to minimize chemical testing on animals and requires the EPA to create and promote a database of alternative methods and strategies for testing.

The EPA will have two years to create and implement a specific plan to develop alternative testing methods that may include in vitro methods to test isolated human cells against chemicals, the use of computer modeling to understand a chemical’s effects on cells, and creating a database to better identify the chemicals we know are safe.

The portion of the bill relating to animal testing was championed by Cory Booker (D-NJ) and David Vitter (R-LA).  President Obama’s signing of the bill is a step in the right direction to transition away from outdated animal testing, thus sparing countless animals from suffering.

Read more about this important change in legislation.

Recognizing the Signs of Heatstroke in Pets

Spending time outdoors with our furry friends is a fantastic summertime activity. As thetemperature outside increases, so too does the risk of heatstroke.  Heatstroke is a form of hyperthermia in which the body temperature elevates dramatically, creating a medical emergency that can be fatal if not treated promptly and properly.  Recognizing the signs of heatstroke in our pets is important to averting potentially deadly consequences.

Recognize the Signs of Heatstroke in Your Pets

Extreme temperatures put pets at risk for heatstroke. While any animal can suffer from heatstroke, those at particular risk include the very old, very young, those who are overweight, have heart or respiratory disease, or those who are not conditioned to prolonged exercise.  Dog and cat breeds with short muzzles, including boxers, pugs, shih tzus and Persians, are also more susceptible to heatstroke.   Heatstroke is a dangerous condition that can lead to organ damage or failure, and even death.  Recognizing the symptoms of heatstroke and treating it rapidly is key to preventing dire consequences.

Signs of heatstroke in cats include:

  • Restlessness as your cat searches for a cooler spot
  • Excessive grooming
  • Panting
  • Sweaty paws
  • Drooling
  • Redness of the tongue and mouth
  • Rapid breathing
  • Vomiting

Signs of heatstroke in dogs include:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Excessive panting
  • Profuse drooling
  • Deep red or purple tongue
  • Red or pale gums
  • Thick, sticky saliva
  • Glazed eyes
  • Lethargy/Weakness/Unconsciousness
  • Lack of coordination/Dizziness
  • Seizure
  • Vomiting (sometimes with blood)
  • Diarrhea

What to Do?

Move your pet immediately to a cool area and start to cool him down to decrease his temperature.  Place cool, wet towels over the back of the neck, under the forelimbs, and in the groin area, or run cool (not cold) water over him.  Ice packs can also be applied.  Let him drink cool water or lick ice cubes.  Most importantly, take him directly to the veterinarian for care.

 

References:

https://www.petfinder.com/cats/cat-health/infographic-preventing-heatstroke-in-cats-summersafetytips/

http://www.drsfostersmith.com/pic/article.cfm?aid=1375

Summer Pet Safety Tips

cat in grass v2Summertime means fun and sun and an abundance of outdoor activities for most of us. But as much fun as summer can be, it is important to keep the safety of your pets top of mind so they stay healthy and happy all summer long.  Follow these simple safety tips to ensure a carefree season for the entire family.

Summer Pet Safety Tips

Adapted from The Humane Society of the United States and PetMD.com

The summer months can mean fun and sun for everyone in the family, including our pets, but they also can be uncomfortable and even dangerous due to the heat and humidity.  During the hot summer months, it is important to pay attention to a few key safety tips to ensure your pets remain safe, happy, and healthy throughout the season.

Never, ever leave pets in cars

Not even for a minute, not even with the car running and the air conditioning turned on. In the sun and warmth, your car acts like an oven and can heat up to excessive temperatures in just minutes, exceeding the temperature of the air outside. Many people think this only applies on hot summer days, but that’s not the case.  On a sunny, 72-degree day, the temperature inside a car can heat up to 116 degrees within an hour.  On an 80-degree day, a car can heat up to 99 degrees in just 10 minutes!  Rolling down the windows has no effect on the temperature inside a car. Exposing your pets to these extremes temperatures can lead to heat stroke and potentially irreversible organ damage or death.

Be mindful of humidity

It’s not just the ambient temperature that can affect your pets, it’s the humidity too.  Animals pant to evaporate moisture from their lungs, but when the humidity is high it is difficult for them to cool themselves.  This can cause their body temperature to rise dangerously very quickly.  Be mindful of this, and pay attention to your pet in the high humidity.

Provide shade and water when outside

Dehydration is a real possibility in the summer.  The signs of dehydration include dry gums, loss of skin elasticity, and excessive drooling.  To avoid this, it is important to provide plenty of shade and water anytime your pet is outside.  Tree shade or tarps can provide needed shade without obstructing airflow. Ensure that your pet has plenty of fresh water, and add ice to water whenever possible.  When playing outside, give your pets plenty of breaks and plenty of water. In the summer months, it is best not to leave your pet alone outside for more than a few minutes.

Limit exercise on hot days

Changing your exercise schedule, duration, and intensity level is key during the hot summer months.  On hot days, limit exercise to early mornings or evenings when it is cooler.  Take plenty of breaks, and have plenty of water available.  This is especially important for young kittens, senior pets, and short-nosed pets who typically have difficulty breathing. If your cat has just eaten, delay the start of playtime until she has had time to let her food digest.  Remember, asphalt gets very hot and can burn your pet’s paws, so walk your dog on the grass if possible.

Use sunscreen

Pets, like people, are prone to sunburn and skin cancer, especially those with light skin and short or thin coats.  Apply sunscreen if you and your pets are going to be outside for more than just a few minutes.  There are sunscreens available specifically for pets; you can consult your veterinarian about which is best.  Generally, they should be free of fragrance and contain UVA and UVB barriers.

Be wary of fertilizers and pesticides

Many lawns are treated with fertilizers and pesticides during the summer, which can be harmful to pets.  Find a safe spot for your pet to romp and play that is free from these harmful chemicals.

Avoid antifreeze

Antifreeze is a danger to pets all throughout the year.  During the summer, cars have a tendency to overheat more often and leak antifreeze.  Pets find antifreeze a delicious treat, but it’s a deadly one. Be attentive when walking your dog or letting your cat roam outdoors.

Being aware of the dangers of heat and humidity in the summer months and taking precautions to safeguard your pets is incredibly important.  Following a few simple safety tips is key to keeping the whole family safe and happy all season long.

June is Adopt-a-Cat Month!

Each year DAWS finds homes for nearly 300 cats and kittens. This is just a tiny percentage of the estimated 3.4 million cats that enter U.S. shelters annually, of which, only 37% of get adopted. Celebrate Adopt-a-Cat month this June and help us prevent this CAT-astrophe!

June is Adopt-a-Cat Month 

It is estimated that there are approximately 70 million stray cats in the U.S.  Each year approximately 41% of the 3.4 milion cats that enter U.S. shelters are euthanized.  You can help prevent this CAT-astrophe by:

  • adopting a cat from DAWS or another local shelter
  • ensuring your cats are spayed/neutered
  • volunteering to support a Trap-Neuter-Return program
  • encouraging friends and family to adopt a cat

On behalf of all the cats at DAWS – happy Adopt-a-Cat month!

Environmental Enrichment for Cats

Your cat is a sensory-driven creature who needs an outlet for her energy. If she is faced with a boring environment and no means to release tension, the consequences may be detrimental. Creating an enriching home environment is something every cat parent should focus on to keep kitty happy and healthy.

Keeping Cats Enriched

Environmental enrichment is something that cat parents may not necessarily think of when bringing a new cat home, but it is incredibly important to the well being of any cat. The finely tuned senses of cats have helped them to survive outdoors.  When we bring them indoors, (which is really where we want them), into an environment where there is little to do, a cat may find a way to release tension that isn’t so beneficial.  A boring environment can contribute to destructive behavior, aggression towards other cats, anxiety, or depression. This manifests in a variety of stress-relieving behaviors such as over-grooming, chewing inappropriate items, picking on companion pets, retreating into isolation, over-eating, self-mutilation, compulsive behavior and loss of appetite.

Play = Hunting

Patch Play v2_0Cats like being in hunting mode.  Dopamine is released in a cat’s brain when she is hunting, creating a feeling of eager anticipation.  This feeling of eager anticipation makes it less likely for her to feel bored, anxious, or depressed.  By providing enough toys and playtime, we can create the same feelings in our cats that they feel when they are hunting.

Cats benefit from both interactive and object play. Interactive play involves you engaging with your cat by holding a fishing pole-type toy or laser pointer that mimics some form of “prey” your cat can hunt. When you move the toy or dart the laser across or away from your cat’s field of vision, her prey-drive is triggered.  Remember, no self-respecting prey would plop itself right in front of your cat and say, “eat me for lunch,” so she will be less enthused by you dangling the toy right in front of her face.

Object play involves any manner of small toy (or for that matter, ball of paper) your cat can bat around and jump on.  When you place these toys inside various objects or locations, you can stimulate your cat’s curiosity.  Try re-purposing an empty tissue box as a hiding place for a furry mouse toy, or place a small ball inside a paper bag for some added fun.

Tunneling for Fun

Adding a tunnel for your cat to play in or hide can also be a way to add enrichment.  Fabric tunnels can be purchased or you can make one yourself by taping paper bags or boxes together.

Getting Vertical

Cats live in a vertical world and will often seek an elevated location for napping, to seek refuge, or even for security, especially in a multi-cat home.  Giving your cat the opportunity to get vertical can provide additional enrichment.  Vertical space can be created with cat trees, catwalks, or cat shelves and perches.

Hideouts

Every cat needs a place to hide. Regardless of the confidence level in your cat, giving her an option for sneaking away to hide is a good thing.  Donut or “A” shaped beds are suitable hideaways, but even a simple box turned on its side and lined with comfy bedding will suffice.

Cat TV

Visual enrichment for your kitty can also be a great thing.  If you have window perches set up for your cat, consider adding a bird feeder near the window so that your cat can be entertained by the birds that come to partake of the snacks you’ve left for them.  If that is not an option, consider investigating entertainment DVDs that showcase prey for your cats to watch.  You can even log onto YouTube and search “videos for cats” or “entertainment for cats” and find a plethora of videos of birds, squirrels, and other assorted wildlife that can keep you cats entertained.

Finding ways to create enrichment for your cat will ensure she stays happy and healthy.  That’s not just good for her, but also for the whole family.

DAWS Celebrates Another Pets for Patriots Adoption

Dolly2_1

We’re celebrating!  Dolly, a 6-year-old Coonhound mix, became the second DAWS dog to be adopted as part of the Pets for Patriots progam.

Pets for Patriots Adoption

On May 1st, the second Pets for Patriots adoption was finalized, and we’re thrilled!

Dolly, a 6-year-old Coonhound mix, became the second DAWS dog to be adopted as part of the Pets for Patriots program.  Dolly, a 70-lb. gentle giant, quickly wormed her way into the heart of her new dad when he met her at the 5K race on April 24th.  As a U.S. veteran, he took advantage of the program, which helped to expedite Dolly’s adoption.

Before Dolly met her soul mate, she won over the hearts of the staff and volunteers at the shelter with her nightly sing-alongs.  Dolly’s howls would encourage her fellow canine companions to bark and howl from their kennels, erupting in what we’re sure they believed was sweet, sweet music.

DAWS is proud to be a partner of the Pets for Patriots program, and we hope to match many more animals with loving families as a result of it.

Learn more about Pets for Patriots. 

Your Voice Can Make a Difference!

The voices of animal lovers throughout Connecticut wer heard! Desmond’s Law passed the House and Senate and is making its way to the Governor’s office for signing.  Three additional pro-animal bills need your support.  Learn how you can help.

Raise Your Voice for Animals

Thanks to animal lovers like you, Desmond’s Law (HB 5344) is on its way to be signed into law by the Governor.  There are three additional animal-related bills that are awaiting a vote in the House that need your support:

SB 227:  Cecil’s Law – would prohibit the importation of hunting “trophies”

HB 5578: would prohibit the cruel trade of elephant ivory and rhino horn

HB 5147: would increase the maximum penalty for malicious animal cruelty crimes

These three bills are awaiting action in the House of Representatives.  You can contact your State Representative and ask him/her to support these bills.  Look up their contact information and reach out to them.  Let your voice be heard in support of animals.

Is Your Pet Suffering from Allergies?

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The same allergens that can wreak havoc on your nasal passages can also cause discomfort in your pets.  Pets affected by allergies may suffer all of their lives because we don’t recognize the symptoms.  Knowing the signs of allergies in our furry companions can help alleviate that suffering.

Allergies in Your Pet

There are many types of allergies that can affect your pet.  Recognizing the symptoms of allergies in your furry friends can alleviate their suffering.

Atopy is an allergic reaction to environmental allergens that are inhaled or come in contact with skin.  This is the most common form of allergy in dogs and cats. Atopy is often seasonal and includes allergens that also affect humans, such as spring tree pollen, ragweed, and dust mites. Symptoms of atopy include:

  • Chewing at the feet
  • Constant licking of the side and groin area
  • Rubbing of the face
  • Inflamed ears or recurrent ear infections
  • Recurrent hot spots in dogs and pinpoint facial scabbing in cats
  • Asthma-like wheezing and respiratory problems (more likely in cats)

Contact dermatitis is an allergy to something your pet comes in contact with.  This form of allergy is less common.  Allergens may include carpet fibers, cleaners, or plastic. Symptoms of contact dermatitis include:

  • Red itchy bumps or blisters on sparsely-haired areas of the skin and those exposed to the allergen such as the belly, feet, or muzzle
  • Intense scratching
  • Hair loss (in chronic conditions)

Ten to fifteen percent of allergies in dogs and cats are caused by food. Symptoms include:

  • Itching, especially face, feet, trunk, limbs and anal area
  • Ear problems, often yeast-relates
  • Skin infections that respond to antibiotics, but then recur as soon as the antibiotic therapy ceases

Food allergies can be confused with food intolerances, which generally cause diarrhea and vomiting, but food intolerances are not true allergies.

If you suspect that your pet has allergies, visit your veterinarian who can determine how best to treat him.  It is the best way to relieve his suffering and help him live a happy, healthy life.

Adapted from:  http://www.drsfostersmith.com/pic/article.cfm?aid=75