Blog – Pet Life Saver Jacksonville

Pets & Pot – Really

If your cat or dog suffers from cancer, pain, anxiety, seizures, hot spots, inflammation, etc., canine/feline cannabis could be the solution.  Traditional pain killers often have adverse side effects on our pets, but canine/feline cannabis can offer relief without the nasty side effects.  The cannabis can be infused in treats or food, so it is easy to administer to the pet.  Not to worry, cannabis does not alter your pet’s mind and create a state of being high.  A holistic vet can prescribe the cannabis and provide direction on proper dosage for the ailment, after a blood check.  Regular follow up visits should be maintained to ensure the cannabis is properly addressing the situation (just like any other medicine that is prescribed).  Pain management is the number one reason canine/feline cannabis is used.  Often, the pet shows signs of reduced pain almost immediately after receiving the cannabis.  Arthritis patients often have increased mobility within a few days.  Seizures are sometimes reduced in frequency and duration.  Cancerous tumors have been known to shrink or vanish after being treated with cannabis.  An anxious pet can be greatly calmed, and not to the point the pet is drowsy.  While canine/feline cannabis is a newer concept, it has shown tremendous strides in increasing the quality of life for our pets.

Pets and Storms

Hurricane season is upon us.  When making preparations for possible evacuations, it is important to plan for our furry family members also.  The last thing you want to do is leave your pet home in an emergency to fend for him or herself.  Pre-planning takes much of the stress out of an emergency situation when it arises.  Before the storm is approaching, do some research on animal friendly shelters.  Know your evacuation routes and scope out hotels that are pet friendly.  Keep their contact information handy so that you can book a room as soon as you know you will need one.  When disasters are imminent, rooms (especially pet friendly ones) book up quickly.  Keeping your pet up to date on vaccinations is not only good for their health, but up to date vet records is often a requirement for bringing an animal to a shelter or hotel.

Evacuating as soon as possible will greatly reduce your travel time.  The closer people wait until mandatory evacuations, the more congested the roadways get.  When traveling with your pet, you will want a minimum of three days worth of medications, food/treats, toys, water, a towel or blanket, litter and a litter pan (for cats), a first aid kit, paper towels, trash bags, carrier, and leash/harness.  Keeping these items in a large bin takes one item off your to do list when an emergency strikes.  Everything is already together (except for the perishables that need to be packed last minute), and you can simply grab the bin.

If you do not plan to travel with your pet, have several boarding options available.  Do research ahead of time to know which vet offices and boarding facilities will board during a disaster.  Make sure you have their 24 hour contact information handy, as one can never be sure when a disaster will strike.

If you decide not to evacuate for whatever reason, figure out the safest room in your home and set up camp together there.  Make sure there are no unsafe areas where frightened pets can run off to, hide in, and escape your reach.  Keep poisonous substances out of your pet’s reach.  Bring any outdoor pets inside at the first sign of approaching danger. Keeping dogs on leashes and cats in carriers prevents you from having to round them up if you need to leave in a hurry.  Monitor the situation via radio, television, or cell phone regularly, and do not leave your home until it is safe to do so.

Sometimes disaster can strike while you are away, and you cannot get to your pets at home.  It is always advisable to have someone trustworthy that can access your home and care for your pets in the event you are unable to.  Carrying a card on your person at all times with instructions on who to contact in the event of an emergency is helpful to emergency personnel if anything were ever to happen to you and you could not get to your pets.

The first line of defense against a pet getting lost is ensuring proper identification.  Ideally, two forms of identification should be on the pet at all times.  A permanent form of ID (such as a microchip or tattoo) is recommended.  Since these are permanent, they cannot be removed from your pet.  A veterinarian can read these and get in touch with you.  Additionally, a collar with identification tags containing the address and phone number to the pet parent increases the likelihood that someone who finds your pet will be able to reach out to you.  It is critical to keep the contact information up to date at all times.  GPS trackers that are located on your pet’s collar are also becoming quite popular.  In case you ever need to show proof of ownership, it is a good idea to always carry a photo of you and your pet.  When it comes to our pets, we can never be too cautious.

Always being prepared for a hurricane would come in handy if any other emergency were to come about as well.  We never know when a fire, flood, tornado, break in, terrorist attack, etc. could happen.

Maintaining Your Furry Friends Body Weight

Whenever a pet is 15-20% or more over their ideal body weight, he or she is considered to be obese. Even though chubby cheeks on a pet can look cute, the health risks are dangerous. Hypertension, cardiac fatigue, pancreatitis, diabetes, colitis, joint problems, aggravated arthritis, and hip dysplasia are just a few of the risks associated with obesity in pets.

Tips to get pets to a normal weight:

  • Avoid allowing your pet excessive food consumption.
  • Check with your veterinarian about healthier food alternatives.
  • Do not feed your pet table scraps.
  • Limit the amount of food treats you give your pet.
  • Take your pet for a walk.
  • Play with your pet for at least 15 minutes twice a day.
  • Provide interactive toys for your pet throughout the day.
  • Consider a second pet for a playmate if you have a single pet household.

How to Prevent an Overheating Pet

With summer just around the corner, it is important to recognize the signs of an overheating pet and what to do when these signs are present. To avoid our pets becoming overheated, schedule walks and outdoor activities in the morning or evening when the temperature is not at its peak, never leave your pets in a closed car, and be sure to provide your pet with plenty of cool water to drink when it is hot.

Signs of overheating:

  • Uncontrollable panting.
  • Bright red gums and tongue.
  • Rapid heart rate.
  • Foaming at the mouth.
  • Lethargy.
  • Vomiting.
  • Loss of consciousness.

Steps to take when you recognize signs of overheating:

  • With cool water (not cold), bathe or hose the pet.
  • Put the pet in a cool, well ventilated area.
  • Place a cold sheet or towel around the pet.
  • If the pet is not showing signs of improvement within 5 minutes, rush the pet to an emergency veterinary hospital.

Are Pet Emergencies Common?

Being Prepared For Your Animal
Being Prepared For Your Animal

Just how common are pet emergencies?

The question I get asked most often is how common is it for a pet to have a medical emergency?  The American Veterinary Medical Association estimates that 92% of all pets will experience a medical emergency during their lifetime. Granted, not all of these emergencies will warrant the need for CPR, but many could become a life or death situation if not handled properly.

Ask yourself if you would know what to do in the following situations:

  • While at the dog park, another dog bites your dog and draws blood.
  • You get home from work to find your cat has knocked over the trash can, rummaged through the contents of the trash, and is now acting very lethargic.
  • Your dog is chewing on his favorite toy. The next thing you know, you notice the toy is no longer in sight and your dog is gasping for air.
  • During a high-speed chase around the house, one of your cats falls off the book shelf and lands with a thud. You notice your cat is not moving and her leg is bent at an unnatural angle.
  • On your afternoon walk, your dog quickly yelps in pain but then seems fine. Minutes later, you notice his nose is starting to swell.
  • Your cat gets down from sitting on your lap and starts convulsing.

If you would not know how to handle any of the above situations, seriously consider taking a pet CPR and first aid class.  Your pet will thank you when you can confidently and efficiently handle the unexpected.

Taking Your Dog for a Walk/Run

Running/Walking With Your Dog

We all know that exercising our dogs is important to their health.  Just as with humans, every dog has a different level of being fit.  This is why one form of exercise may work for one dog but not another.  Here are some tips for walking and/or running with your dog:

-Make sure your dog at least has identification tags. Micro-chipping is highly recommended.  Carry a picture of your dog with you in case it were to get away from you.

Start slow. If your dog is not used to walking or running, begin with short distances and work your way up to longer distances once you are sure your dog can handle it.

-Hydrate! Take water breaks.  Whenever you are in need of a drink, give your dog a drink also.

-Avoid walking during the hottest parts of the day. Watch for signs of heat exhaustion – uncontrollable panting, rapid heart rate, foaming at the mouth, vomiting, bright red gums, lethargy, etc.

-Always take a first aid kit with you, no matter where you are. Be sure you know where the nearest animal emergency hospital is in case an emergency were to happen.

-Once you have completed your exercise, check your dog to ensure no injuries have occurred or that your dog has not picked up something along the way (like a tick).

How Good is the Food You Are Feeding Your Pet?

We all want what is best for our pets, but finding the ideal food for our pets can be overwhelming.  The Whole Dog Journal has some suggestions on how to read the ingredients in pet food, what ingredients to look for, and what ingredients to avoid.

Look for foods that contain a lot of high-quality animal proteins.  Ingredients are listed by weight, so ideally a food will have one or two animal proteins (meat, poultry, fish) in the first few ingredients. Understand that whole meat (chicken, beef, lamb, etc.) contains a lot of water weight. If a food list starts out with chicken (rather than chicken meal), and there is no other animal protein listed until 5th or 6th on the list, the food does not actually contain a lot of animal protein. Look for chicken or another meat with a meal in the second or third spot.

Reject any food containing meat by-products or poultry by-products.  There is a much wider range of quality in the by-products available for pet food manufacturing than there is for whole meats.

Reject foods containing fat or protein not identified by species.  “Animal fat” is a euphemism for low quality, low-priced mix of fats of uncertain origin. “Meat meal” could be practically anything.

Look for whole grains and vegetables.  Too many grains or vegetables on the upper side of the ingredient list lessens the quality of the food.

Eliminate all foods with artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.  A healthy product full of top-quality ingredients shouldn’t need non-nutritive additives to make it look or taste better.

Eliminate all foods with added sweeteners.  Dogs like people, enjoy sweet foods. Like people they can develop a taste for these nutritionally empty calories.

“The proof is in the pudding. If your dog does not thrive on the food, with a glossy coat, itch-free skin, bright eyes, clear ears, and a happy, alert demeanor, it doesn’t matter if we like it or not-switch!” Always make your vet a partner in your choices, but read that label and ask questions about the food you select.

Real World Pet Life Saving Skills

It is human nature to think that emergencies will not happen to us and our own pets.  The reality is that an average of one student per Pet Life Saver class proudly reports back how he or she was able to utilize the skills learned in the Pet CPR and First Aid class within a few months.  Each time, the students were grateful they took the class and did not fall into the mindset of emergencies only occurring to others.

In most cases, students report ways in which they were able to avoid an emergency from occurring in the first place.  One student was in the habit of bringing home leftovers when dining out and feeding them to her dog.  Many of the meals included ingredients such as garlic and onion, which are detrimental for the long term health of dogs.  After taking the class and learning which foods are toxic to our pets, she is now making healthier choices so that her dog can lead a longer, healthier life.

In other cases, students have been able to literally save the life of their pet in an immediately life threatening situation.  One student was feeding her dog when he suddenly started choking on his dinner.  She was able to quickly and calmly assess the situation, administer chest thrusts, and clear her dog’s airway.  Since her dog gets excited when eating, she has since decided to feed her dog smaller kibble that will be less likely to get lodged in her dog’s throat and restrict the airway.

One of the most extreme cases occurred when a dog was playing in the yard.  In a fluke accident, the dog landed on his leg wrong and broke it while simply running around.  This student immediately recognized the signs of a fractured limb and knew she had to take instant action to prevent harm to herself and further harm to her dog.  She calmly muzzled the dog so that he would not lash out at her in pain, splinted the leg, and transported the dog safely to the emergency vet.  The vet was super impressed with how the situation was handled.

Pet emergencies can happen in the blink of an eye.  Make sure you are prepared to save your pet by signing up for a Pet CPR and First Aid class today!

Learn Pet First Aid from an Expert

Don’t believe everything you see on the Internet, especially when it comes to the safety of your pet. Learn Pet CPR and First Aid in one of my PetTech™ classes. Our class material comes straight from veterinarian journals, so you can trust the information to be accurate. While there are many well-meaning individuals who truly care about the safety and well-being of our pets, there are many who unknowingly offer advice that is simply (and dangerously) not accurate.

Choking is one of the most common pet emergencies.  You may have seen the videos on how to do the Heimlich Maneuver on a dog.  While people sometimes experience good luck with this, it is not the recommended way to save your dog if he were choking.  Dr. Heimlich himself cautions against using his techniques on animals, as the Heimlich Maneuver was designed solely with human anatomy in mind.  The manner in which a human breathes is different from how our pets breathe.

Chest thrusts from the side at the widest part of the pet’s chest are much more effective, since they work in accordance with the way our dog’s bodies operate.  It is important to know that if a pet can cough and gag, the pet has a better chance of getting the object out on their own.  You would want to confine the pet to a small space and watch for signs that the situation is deteriorating.  Only at that point would you initiate chest thrusts.  Once the object has been cleared from the airway, you want your vet to inspect the pet to ensure no damage was done to the airway.

It is imperative to take a complete Pet CPR and First Aid class so that you can know exactly what to look for in certain situations and immediately know what life saving technique to apply.  When the emergency arises, that is not the time to start researching what to do to save your pet’s life.  Time is of the essence and you want to make sure you are already equipped with the proper skills to jump right into action.

Why Pet CPR & First Aid is Important

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, an estimated 92% of all pets will experience some type of severe medical emergency situation over the course of their lifetime. Many pet parents are simply not aware of the many dangers that exist for their four-legged family members, and then they have no idea how to help their pet when something goes wrong. That is why it is so important to be trained and current in Pet CPR, First Aid & Care.  Would you know how to save your pet if he or she were choking, got into poison, got bit by a snake, showed signs of heat stroke, had a seizure, or was found unconscious? When a pet has been injured or suddenly taken ill, time is of the essence and you want to already have the lifesaving skills in your knowledge base.

Learning Pet CPR and First Aid can mean the difference between life and death, temporary and permanent disability, expensive veterinarian bills and reasonable home care, and between rapid recovery and long recuperation for the pet. The sooner your pet receives the proper first aid care, the less severe the situation will end up.

In addition to you as the pet parent, make sure all the pet professionals in your pet’s life have been hands on trained in Pet CPR and First Aid within the last two years also.  Check with your groomers, doggy daycare staff, trainers, pet sitters, etc. to find out. It could make all the difference for your furry family member if they experienced a life threatening emergency while in the care of others.

We have lots of classes coming up, but we can always schedule onsite training for any groups or facilities that would like to host a class. The classes emphasize prevention and the importance of being proactive in your pet’s health. You will be taught through lecture, demonstration, and hands on skills practice.  Because you are a caring, conscientious, responsible, and loving pet parent, it is our mission to work with you and improve the quality of pet’s lives one pet parent at a time.  Sign up for a class today.