Tips for Weathering the Storm

Thunderstorm anxiety is one of the most common fears for pets.  Who can blame them?  Storms are filled with loud booms, gusting winds, flashing light, and even more subtle changes such as drops in barometric pressure.  If you have a pet that stresses over thunderstorms, try some of the following tips to alleviate some anxiety:

  • Make a “safe” zone.   A quiet, accessible area where doors and windows can be closed to limit your pet’s exposure to sounds and lights is ideal.  A source of white noise such as a fan or radio often can help lessen anxiety as well.
  • Distract your pet.  Try to take your pet’s mind off of the storm by engaging in play or training exercises.
  • Don’t be scared of drugs.  For some pets, pharmacological intervention may be necessary. For milder cases something like a pheromone collar or outlet plug-in may do the trick.  Other pets may need a prescription from a veterinarian for a sedative or anxiety-reducing drug.
  • Behavioral therapy can help!  Talk to your vet about exercises that you can do to get your pet used to storms. In extreme cases, consultation with a veterinary behaviorist may be necessary.

Storms can be scary, but luckily there are several things that you can do to make them less of a problem.  Finding the right combination will take time and patience, but most pets can learn to tolerate storms.



Do You Know the Dangers of Xylitol?

With Halloween and the holiday season just around the corner, it is important that pet owners recognize that xylitol, an increasingly common artificial sweetener, can be downright deadly for their pets.

Xylitol is found in many treats, especially gums and sugar-free items such as candies or even pudding.  While it is safe for people, even a small amount can kill a dog.  When ingested, this artificial sweetener causes a rapid release of insulin in the pet’s body, leading to a sudden decrease in blood sugar.  Affected animals may vomit, become extremely weak, act drunk, or become unresponsive.  Higher doses can cause seizures, coma, and liver dysfunction or even failure.

If you suspect that your pet might have ingested a product containing xylitol, do not hesitate to contact your veterinarian or the Animal Poison Control Center immediately.


Kneady Cats

Kneady Cats

We have all seen our cats knead (alternating pushing in and out with the right and left front paws) from time to time, but do you really know why?  The truth is that no one is really sure what this behavior means, however there are several theories.

  • It is an instinctive behavior that is comforting.  Kittens perform this behavior while nursing, so kneading may be a self-soothing behavior similar to humans sucking their thumb.
  • It is a behavior designed to help make a fluffy bed before settling down for a cat nap.
  • Kneading allows cats to mark their territory through the scent glands on the bottoms of the paws.

So, long story short, we simply do not know!  It may be rooted in one of these suggestions, a combination of them, or none at all.  As with so many other aspects of feline behavior, this one remains a mystery!



First Aid

Be Prepared!

If your pet were to become injured, would you know what to do?  Every pet owner should have some first aid basics under their belt.  Here are some of the big-picture concepts that you should be familiar with:

  • Be able to recognize that your pet is in pain or distress.  Typically these will be signs of restlessness- pacing, panting, drooling, not eating, and disinterest in normally engaging stimuli.  Know what is normal for your animal.
  • Don’t hesitate to contact a veterinarian.  When in doubt, call.  If there is no need to worry, your pet’s doctor will let you know.  Always keep your veterinarian’s contact information handy as well as information for nearby emergency clinics to contact should your vet be closed.  If you are travelling it is smart to obtain some contact information for local veterinary clinics.
  • Have some basic supplies.  Put together a little first-aid kit that includes basic wound care supplies, a rectal thermometer, and a muzzle or pillow case to confine animals that may be distressed and apt to bite.  A thorough list can be obtained from your vet.
  • Take a class.  The Red Cross offers pet first aid classes so that you can be better prepared.

No one wants to see their pet injured or sick, but knowing how to handle the situation can make all the difference in the world.  Educate yourself before there is a problem so be sure that you are prepared.