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April is Pet Safety Awareness Month

April 24, 2012 by Tails Magazine in Lifestyle with 0 Comments

As we head into the spring and summer season, the American Red Cross wants to be sure all pet parents are prepared to take care of their pet children in case of weather-related or other emergencies.

HEAT STROKE
Heat stroke is one of the most common problems pets face in the warmer weather when they are not yet used to the warm temperatures. Remember, the inside of a car can quickly reach 120 degrees in warm weather. NEVER leave animals in a car, even during short trips. This can quickly lead to heat stroke. The signs of heat stroke include:
•    Heavy panting and being unable to calm down, even when lying down.
•    The pet’s gums may be brick red, they may have a fast pulse rate, or they may not be able to get up.
If you suspect your pet has heat stroke, take her temperature rectally. If the temperature is above 105 degrees Fahrenheit, cool the animal down. The easiest way to do this is by using a water hose. Stop cooling the animal when the temperature reaches 103 degrees. Bring the animal to the veterinarian immediately–heat stroke can lead to severe organ dysfunction and damage.

OTHER HAZARDS:
Open doors and windows in your home can be hazardous to a pet. The animal may try to get outside, increasing the risk of falling from windows or being hit by a vehicle.

Some plants and flowers can be hazardous. For instance, many lilies are very poisonous to cats. See the ASPCA list of plants and flowers that are poisonous to animals. If you think your pet is ill or may have ingested a poisonous substance, contact your veterinarian immediately.

PET FIRST AID
Courses are available at many Red Cross chapters on how to care for your pet. The Red Cross has also developed Dog First Aid and Cat First Aid Guides with DVDs that teach basic responsibilities like spaying/neutering and giving medications, to performing CPR and preparing for disasters. Visit 800.RED.CROSS to see when classes are available.

Follow these important steps to help keep your pet healthy:
•    Give pets plenty of exercise.
•    Make sure they have plenty of fresh, cool water.
•    Make sure they get regular yearly checkups with their veterinarian, and are up to date on vaccines, especially rabies.
•    Get pets spayed or neutered.
•    Keep dogs on leashes outside – another animal may be too much temptation
•    Know how to perform CPR and provide basic first aid until veterinary care is available

EMERGENCIES AND YOUR PET
Don’t forget to include pets in emergency plans for your home or neighborhood:
•    Make plans to take your pets with you if you have to evacuate.
•    Most Red Cross shelters cannot accept pets because of health and safety concerns and other considerations. Know which friends, relatives, hotels, and boarding facilities will accept pets in an emergency.
•    Assemble an easy-to-carry kit with emergency supplies for pets:
o    Leashes, harnesses and/or carriers
o    Food, drinking water, bowls, manual can opener
o    Medications and copies of medical records
o    Current photos of the pets

Download the Red Cross Pets and Disaster Safety Checklist today.

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