Category Archives: Pet Safety

Are Retractable Dog Leashes Safe?

By Dr. Nina Beyer

Ben_Jurgens_JackrussellterriërA lot of people use retractable leashes! For years, they’ve been very popular. Speaking as a veterinarian, though, I wish they’d never been invented. Wanna know why?

First, they give your dog the wrong message. When he pulls against the leash, he is able to move further away from you. He learns that pulling on the leash is a good thing to do! Compare this to a no-pull harness or head collar; these discourage him from pulling and reward him for not pulling. He naturally stays near you.

Second, they make your dog unsafe. She can quickly dart 20-25 feet away from you (that little button is hard to use, to stop the leash from unspooling), so she could jump into the path of a car, or run up to a dog that will hurt her. If you’re in the middle of a deserted area, that much freedom is fine, but in our typical neighborhoods and parks, that much distance makes it difficult to keep your dog safe. Also, if she takes off when you’re looking the other way, the awkward handle can be jerked right out of your hand. Now, your dog is loose and is being “chased” by the plastic handle, which is gaining on her because it’s retracting…a lot of dogs in this situation panic and keep running!

Third, they make you unsafe. I hope you’ve never grabbed the cord when your dog is running; if you have, you may have sustained a burn or cut from the friction of the cord (there are actually people who’ve lost a finger that way!). If they wrap around your leg, they cause a lot more pain than a flat nylon leash would.

There is nothing safer than a sturdy 6-foot leash with the loop around your wrist and your hand gripping it firmly.

Check out the rest of our blog for more pet care information and tips, provided by the veterinary staff here at Rhawnhurst Animal Hospital.

Keeping Your Pet Safe at Thanksgiving

shutterstock_4156369Here are the 5 Thanksgiving foods that your dog should avoid:

While it’s wonderful to include your pets in your holiday traditions, it’s important to remember that our canine companions cannot indulge in the same feasts that we prepare for ourselves. Some of the common Thanksgiving foods that fill our plate can actually be very dangerous for your pooch to ingest.

        1. Turkey bones are small and can become lodged in your dog’s throat, stomach, or intestinal tract. They may also splinter and cause severe damage to the stomach or puncture the small intestine.

            1. Fat trimmings and fatty foods like turkey skin and gravy are difficult for dogs to digest. In fact, consuming turkey skin can result in pancreatitis. Symptoms for this serious disease can include vomiting, extreme depression, reluctance to move, and abdominal pain.

                1. Dough and cake batter contain raw eggs, so the first concern for people and pets is salmonella bacteria. What’s more, dough may actually rise in your dog’s belly, which can lead to vomiting, severe abdominal pain, and bloating.

                    1. Mushrooms can damage your dog’s internal organs, including kidneys, liver, and central nervous system. Symptoms can include seizures, coma, vomiting, and possibly death.

                        1. Raisins and grapes, although the causes of their toxicity are unknown, can cause kidney failure in dogs.

                      The best way for your pet to partake in the holiday cheer? Stick with traditional treats that are safe for dogs! Food puzzles and interactive toys like a Kong filled with peanut butter are a great way to keep your canine entertained and feeling satisfied all holiday long.

                      Happy Catember!!

                      In case you didn’t know, September is Happy Cat Month. This was created by the CATalyst Council to improve cat wellness by focusing on happiness. Studies have been shown that a happy cat is a healthier cat. Providing opportunities for your cat to act on these feline instincts is a core component of an enriching environment.

                      Below is a list of the top 10 ways owners can keep their cats happy:

                      10 Ways to Make a Cat Happy

                      1. Provide toys. One of the easiest ways to make a cat happy is with a new toy. Not all toys have to be store bought. Paper sacks, wadded up paper and empty boxes will entertain cats for hours.
                      2. Train your cat together. Cats are smart as well as food oriented and can be trained to do fun tricks–the mental and physical stimulation is great for felines. Training your cat can strengthen the bond between you and your feline buddy.
                      3. Make your cat work for food. Feline obesity is a huge problem in this country and one way to combat it is to make cats work for their food. Food toys are available to channel a cat’s natural hunting instincts. The toy releases kibble in small amounts as the cat play with it. Another option is to hide a cat’s food in different places so that they have to find it.
                      4. Acclimate your cat to the carrier. Many cat owners find that the worst part about taking their cat anywhere is getting it into the carrier. The time to work with your cat on making their carrier seem like a safe, secure and inviting place to be is prior to veterinary visits or family vacations – not when you’re ready to get into the car.
                      5. Visit the veterinarian. Healthy cats are happy cats. Many veterinary practices are cat-friendly or have doctors who specialize in cats. Yearly wellness visits can help catch medical problems early.
                      6. Microchip your cat. In addition to a collar and identification tag, microchipping provides permanent identification in case your cat becomes lost.
                      7. Go outside (appropriately). Yes! There are ways owners can safely take their cats outside to allow them to broaden their horizons. Cats can be walked on a leash with a harness or confined in a special outdoor area—always under supervision, of course—so they can periodically and safely experience the world outside their window.
                      8. Provide proper scratching posts. Scratching is an important aspect of feline behavior. Cats should have places they are allowed to stretch and care for their claws. Providing a long and sturdy scratching post in a vertical, horizontal or angled position is a good way to keep your cat happy.
                      9. Provide preventive medications. No one likes fleas, ticks, mites or heartworms, especially your cat. Even if your cat is kept strictly indoors, they can still be attacked by these little creepy creatures. A parasite-free cat is a happy cat and preventive care will keep your family healthier, too.
                      10. Think about getting another cat. Cats are social animals, so you might want to consider visiting the shelter and adopting a best buddy for your current kitty. Cats love to play, and a playmate will make them happy—provided they are properly introduced and have the right places to eat, hide, play and go the bathroom.


                      I went for a walk with my pet. Now what?

                      The warm summer months lead to spending more time outside, which potentially results in more tick exposure. Many ticks harbor co-infections, meaning that they carry more than one disease such as Lyme disease. Did you know that only about 5% of dogs exposed will develop symptoms that are attributed to Lyme disease?  In order to best protect your dog from Lyme disease, you should: thoroughly check your dog for ticks after they’ve been outside and remove any ticks that are found, utilize a veterinarian recommended flea & tick preventative year round & make sure your dog is current on his or her Lyme vaccination.

                      Flea and Tick Prevention Tips

                      When checking your pet for ticks, brush or run your hands over your pet’s whole body, applying enough pressure to feel any small bumps or something the size of a pea. You may also use a brush or flea comb, stopping if you hit a bump or a snag to investigate. Most attachments occur in front of the shoulder blades, which includes the head, neck, and front legs. Make sure to also feel under the collar, under their armpits, between their toes, behind the ears, and around the tail. Ticks are attracted to dark, hidden areas and when attached can range in size from the size of a pinhead to a grape.

                      If you find an unattached tick, place it in alcohol and dispose of it. If you are uncomfortable removing the tick yourself, then call your veterinarian. While wearing gloves to protect yourself, use fine-tipped tweezers to grip the tick’s head as close to the skin as possible. Pull the tick straight out, slowly and steadily, without squeezing the body, then place it in alcohol and dispose of it. It is very typical for a small nodule to occur at the site of the attachment and persist for up to three weeks. Clinical signs of Lyme disease typically occur weeks to months following a bite and may include limping, lethargy, poor appetite, or fever. A very small percentage of dogs may also develop a fatal form of the disease that affects their kidneys. If the skin remains irritated or infected or you suspect something might be wrong, call us at 215-333-8888



                      National Pet ID Week – April 17-23, 2016

                      Is your dog or cat microchipped? In a study of more than 7,700 stray animals at animal shelters, only 22% of dogs and less than 2% of cats that were not microchipped were reunited with their owners. The return-to-owner rate for microchipped dogs was over 52% and for cats it was about 38.5%. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) have joined together to create a day for reminding pet owners to have their pets microchipped and to keep the registration information up-to-date. “National Check the Chip Day” is this Friday, August 15th.

                       

                      What Is Pet Microchipping?

                      A microchip is a small, electronic chip enclosed in a glass cylinder that is about the size of a grain of rice. Instead of running on batteries, the microchip is designed to be activated by a scanner that is passed over the area and then it transmits radio waves that send the identification number to the scanner screen. Microchips are also designed to work for 25 years.

                      Implanting the microchip is as simple as a quick injection between the shoulder blades and can be done in a routine appointment as no surgery or anesthesia is required. An additional benefit to having your dog microchipped is that you can purchase a lifetime license for your dog. This eliminates having to remember to purchase a dog license annually.

                       

                      Updating Pet Microchip Details

                      You can take advantage of the day by making an appointment with us to have your pet microchipped where we will immediately register the chip. If your pet is already microchipped, you can check the chip’s registration information by going to the manufacturer’s database and making sure everything is up-to-date. Most of the time if an animal is microchipped and not returned to their owner, it’s because the information is incorrect or there isn’t any information provided.

                       

                      Dog Tags vs. Pet Microchipping

                      A microchip does not replace identification tags or rabies tags. Identification tags are the easiest and quickest way to process an animal and contact the owner. If the pet is not wearing a collar or tags, or if either the collar or ID tag is lost, a microchip may be the only way to find a pet’s owner. Rabies tags allow to others to quickly see that your pet is vaccinated against the disease. It is more difficult to trace a lost pet’s owners with rabies tags as it can only be done when veterinary clinics or county offices are open. Microchip databases are online or can be reached through the phone 24/7/365.

                      You can use this useful flyer from the AVMA to keep a record of your pet’s microchip number and manufacturer.