Monday, October 30, 2017

Pet and Disaster Preparedness

Hurricanes.  Tornadoes.  Earthquakes.  It could be a snowstorm.  Or a flood.   You've made it through safely, but what about your pets?

Follow these tips to make an emergency plan for your pets:

1. Microchip your pets
Microchipping is one of the best ways to ensure that you and your pet are reunited if you are separated.  Include at least one non-local friend/relative emergency number, and always keep the microchip registration up-to-date.

2. Keep a collar and tag on all cats and dogs
Keep a few working phone numbers on your animal’s identification tag. Identification on indoor-only cats is particularly important. If your home is damaged during a disaster, they could easily escape.

3. Plan a pet-friendly place to stay
Seek out and keep a list of out-of-town pet-friendly hotels and boarding facilities.  You’ll find lots of them by doing an internet search.  Contact out-of-area friends and relatives and agree to a housing exchange plan

4. Use the buddy system
Exchange pet information, plans and house keys with a few trusted neighbors or nearby friends.  If you find that you are unable to get back to your home, your friends and neighbors can help save your pet’s life. 

5. Prepare an emergency kit for each animal
Stock up on the items you may need during a disaster so you do not get caught unprepared. Below are basic items you should include in your pets' disaster kits. Think “Go Bag” for pets; supplies should be placed in an easy-to-move container.  Store your disaster kit supplies in an easy-to-grab container.
One-week supply of food. Store it in a water-tight container and rotate it every three months to keep it fresh. Don’t forget to include a can opener, if that’s your food of choice.

One-week supply of fresh water. Water unsafe for humans is water unsafe for animals.  Follow American Red Cross guidelines for storing emergency water for your family and your pets.
Medication. A replacement supply may not be easily available following a disaster.

Copies of vaccination records
Photographs of you with your pets to prove ownership
Photographs of your pets in case you need to make "lost pet" fliers
Pet first aid kit
Temporary ID tags. If you've evacuated, use this to record your temporary contact information and/or the phone number of an unaffected friend or relative.
Carrier or leash for each animal

6. Identify emergency veterinary facilities outside of your immediate area
If a disaster has affected your community, emergency veterinary facilities may be closed. Make sure you know how to access other emergency facilities. Ask your vet if they have an emergency plan to provide services for disaster relief. 

7. Plan for temporary confinement
Physical structures, like walls, fences and barns may be destroyed during a disaster. Have a plan for keeping your animal safely confined. You may need a tie-out, crate or kennel.

8. Soothe your animals
Your animals will appreciate your calm presence and soft, comforting voice if they are stressed following a disaster or while evacuated, and you may find it comforting to spend time with them, too. Interact with them on their terms. Some animals may find toys, especially long-lasting chew toys, comforting.

9. Know where to search for lost animals
When animals become lost during a disaster, they often end up at a local shelter. Keep a list of all area shelters; phone numbers and addresses.   

10. Take action
Get the family, neighbors and the entire town involved in a pet disaster preparedness plan.  If there is a plan in place, be sure you have all the information. 

If a disaster hit your town, would you be prepared to care for your pet? Assemble your kit and have a plan now.  Your pet is depending on you.

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Thursday, October 26, 2017

Beloved Best Friends - Our Favorite Dogs in Literature

The kids are back in school.  The days are growing shorter.  Soon, a cold wind will blow and we’ll be spending more time indoors.  Put the remote down; it’s time to pick up a good book and hunker down in a comfy chair.

Kids and adults alike love a good story that has a great dog in the plot.  From the classics to the modern, here are a few of our preferred dog stories.  Read something you’ve never read before, or re-visit a tried-and-true favorite.

Spoiler Alert!  In some cases, we may be giving away the ending.

Argos, The Odyssey, Homer
He may be the first dog ever noted in Western literature.  Argos waited 20 years for the return of his master, Odysseus, and was the only one to recognize the man.  Knowing his master is home, safe and sound, the old dog peacefully dies, becoming a symbol of never-ending love and fidelity.

Toto, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum
L. Frank Baum described Toto as “a little black dog with long silky hair and small black eyes that twinkled merrily on either side of his funny, wee nose. Toto seems average enough but, in later books, he and other animals reveal that they’ve always had the ability to communicate with humans.  Why didn’t they reveal their secret earlier?

Buck, The Call of the Wild, Jack London
A powder puff living the good life in California, Buck is sold into dog sled slavery and must face the hard life of winters in Canada.  Having gone virtually wild, he is tamed when he meets gold miner/outdoorsman John Thornton, and is reminded of the power of love, even in the face of tragedy.

Lassie, Lassie Come Home, Eric Knight
Though most people probably know Lassie from her on-screen appearances (“What’s that girl?  Timmy fell down the well?”), she originated in a 1938 Saturday Evening Post story by Eric Knight.  The full-length novel was published in 1940, which chronicles the dog’s journey to get back to the boy she loves.   The beloved collie spawned additional books, radio programs and an entire series of movies. 

Old Yeller, Old Yeller, Fred Gipson
A story that makes the most hard-hearted well up.  He hunts, saves the family from a bear and loves the 14-year-old hero of the book.  Yeller makes the ultimate sacrifice for the Coates family; he’s lost but never forgotten.  This is probably the first tragedy that youngsters experience; it deserves high marks for what it teaches all of us about love.

Fang, Harry Potter, J. K. Rowling
We have a soft spot for Hagrid’s bumbling boarhound. Sure, he’s a big, drooling coward — but when the plot calls for him, he’s ready to take the stupendous spell. 

So, head to the library, download an eBook, or check the dusty boxes in your attic.  Who better to help you enjoy the shorter days than man’s best friend?

Friday, October 13, 2017

Protect Your Horse From Autumn Health Hazards

With the start of autumn, new challenges arise for breeders, owners, and boarders. You need to be aware of a variety of conditions from colic to worming, atypical myopathy to mud fever. 

 Equine colic is defined as a condition of severe abdominal discomfort characterized by pawing, rolling, and sometimes the inability to defecate. The change in weather can increase the risk for a number of reasons.  Horses may start to be stabled for longer periods of time, resulting in a change in routine, feeding and activity levels. Making sure that fluid intake is maximized with stress minimized can reduce the risk of an impaction occurring.

Ways to reduce the risk
-Soak hay to help hydrate horses
-Add water to hard feeds to help increase water intake
-Ensure buckets/troughs are not frozen
-Make any changes in feed gradually
-Make sure teeth are routinely rasped to avoid potential pain as well as to ensure the horse can adequately chew roughage prior to swallowing  

Autumn/winter is the time to treat horses for tapeworm and red worm. The best way to monitor a horse’s worm burden and generate a worming plan is to carry out worm egg counts (WEC) at routine intervals throughout the year.

Ways to reduce the risk
-Perform a WEC every 3-4 months throughout the year to monitor worm burdens.  Speak with your vet and determine when and if your horse needs a worming.   
-Let nature be your guide.  After the first frost (November/December) is a good time to fight both tapeworm and red worm.  Your vet can offer advice on best products. 

Atypical Myopathy/Seasonal Pasture Myopathy
This is a condition linked to the ingestion of sycamore seeds, leading to severe muscle damage. AM affects full-time pastured horses and is more frequently reported in the autumn, immediately following inclement weather such as cold, humidity and rain. Horses that develop AM are usually kept in sparse pastures with an accumulation of dead leaves, dead wood and trees in or around the pasture, are often not fed any supplementary hay or feed and have less-than adequate exercise.  Animals 3 years and younger are especially susceptible.

NOTE: This is a potentially fatal condition and so early recognition and hospitalization are vital.

Signs of atypical myopathy:
-Severe muscle stiffness/weakness, shaking and collapse
-Red or brown urine
-Reduced appetite

Ways to reduce the risk
-Check pasture for sycamore seeds.  Fence off trees (seeds can travel a long way on the wind so the absence of a tree in the field does not mean there won’t be seeds)
-Supplement poor pastures with hay
-Reduce stocking density in paddocks (overcrowding leads to bullying and horses at the bottom of the pecking order are more likely to resort to poorer areas of pasture with a higher concentration of seeds)
-Reduce turnout time if sycamore seeds are found and there is no alternative pasture.

Mud fever
Mud fever, also known as scratches or pastern dermatitis, is a group of diseases of horses causing irritation and dermatitis in the lower limbs of horses. Cases of mud fever are much more common in autumn/winter as horses’ legs are more likely to be wet for long periods of time. The severity of mud fever can vary and not all cases will require veterinary attention.

-Avoid excessive washing of legs; bacteria thrive in damp areas
-Brush legs instead of washing legs 
-Use cold water and dry thoroughly.   
- Mud fever scabs shelter bacteria.   It’s important to remove scabs (either by softening with an antibacterial wash or an emollient cream).

If limbs become swollen, hot, and painful or lameness is seen your vet can provide systemic and topical treatment.