What to Do for Fire Hazards & Pet Smoke Inhalation

I wrote about disaster preparation on the blog back in August to address hurricane issues, but now another disaster with fire hazards and smoke inhalation issues has sent parts of the country into a tail spin. Too many folks have already lost homes, property, and even the lives of human and animal loved ones. Some of my Facebook friends asked me to post about smoke inhalation information (you can read that thread here), and I wanted to expand on that. Knowing what to do should your cat or dog suffer fire-related injury could save their lives.

fire smoke inhalation tips

Most cases of smoke inhalation involve situations where the pet cannot escape. Dogs and especially cats tend to hide when frightened, and may not make an effort to get out of a burning building until too late. But the recent wind-fanned flames of grass fires move quickly, produce a lot of smoke, and can catch outdoor pets unprepared.

SIGNS OF PET SMOKE INHALATION

Pets who breathe smoke gasp or cough, and may faint from lack of oxygen. Their gums can turn pale or blue for lack of breathable air. This is an emergency that requires prompt vet attention.

Soot and ash causes irritation and can clog lungs but it’s the invisible gasses that often kill. Gasses like acrolein, benzene, formaldehyde and carbon monoxide danger, even after the pet seems to recover, and can affect pets hours to days after the initial inhalation. Keeping pets on the first floor, low to ground, helps because smoke rises. Getting them into fresh air immediately also helps enormously. If people need to evacuate, so do the pets.

burned house dog smoke inhalation

WHAT TO DO FOR PET SMOKE INHALATION

Dogs and cats with history of respiratory problems, such as flat-faced breeds or pets with asthma, may suffer health problems even with mild exposure to smoke. With mild cases of smoke inhalation, moving the cat or dog into clean air may be all that’s needed.

People with access to oxygen may be able to “rig” an enclosed kennel space with more breathable air for at-risk pets. Don’t hesitate to ask EMTs about oxygen help for your pets as well as yourself. These days, many come equipped for just such a situation.

But all pets require veterinary attention because even if they seem to recover, smoke can kill hours to days after it’s inhaled.

IF YOUR PET STOPS BREATHING, REFER TO THIS POST ON PERFORMING RESCUE BREATHING AND PET CPR.

pet fire smoke inhalation

FIRE HAZARDS & FIRST AID FOR BURNS

With burns, the fur often hides the damage, so be sure to carefully examine your pet if you suspect he’s been in the vicinity of a fire. Remove his collar, and trim the fur short with blunt scissors around and over the area of the burn.

First-degree burns cause red marks and can be treated with simple first aid. Flush the burn with cool water for 5 to 10 minutes to temporarily anesthetize and clean the injury. Burns continue to “cook” the tissue even once the heat source is gone so prompt attention stops the damage. Use a garden hose for outdoor pets or bring smaller pets into the bathtub or sink and use a spray bottle or handheld showerhead. You can use aloe vera ointments or vitamin E directly on mild burns to help speed healing. These won’t cause problems if the pet licks them off. Mild burns won’t need bandages.

Burns that cover 25 percent of the pet’s body lead to shock (that can kill him!) and applying cool water makes shock worse. Instead, apply a bag of ice to the burn (frozen peas or corn works well), wrap the pet in a towel and get him to the vet immediately. You can estimate percentage of body mass the burn involves by knowing that each limb represents about 10 percent of the pet’s total.

In these windy, dry days, protect your furry family members–and yourselves–from the threat of fire. But should the unthinkable happen, be prepared.

More first aid tips are available in the book, THE FIRST AID COMPANION FOR DOGS AND CATS. I hope you’ll never need it.

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I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE

How to Deal with Pet Loss Grief: Love Lives Forever

I’ve often before about pet loss, the grieving process for both owners and pets, and even whether we can expect our animal friends to be with us in heaven. Whatever your personal belief system, the universal commonality is if you love pets, it hurts to lose them.

Magic and Amy

Spending last glorious days just hanging out in the sunny grass–building memories.

TEARS ARE GOOD–WASHING AWAY PET LOSS

As many of my readers know, last February’s vet check for our dog raised questions and worries about when normal hurts. We were able to relieve the hurties to a degree, and in July our Magical-Dawg celebrated his 11th birthday. But as of today’s posting, it’s 15 days since we said goodbye to our Magical-Dawg.

I’ve been in the hospital now for 7 days (should get out today) but felt it important to post. This is the first I’ve been able to write, other than the tribute lyric here. But I was put here to advocate for pets and those who love them–so yes, this is for me, but also for you. May a bit of this help as together we walk through this deep valley.

Magic and Karma

Remembering the fun–“A cat that LIKES me! Sniffing friend, tag buddy, tease-kitty, my furry best friend!” Seren-Kitty never liked him, so Magic had to wait 7 years to get his dream-kitty…and he rescued Karma. Match made in doggy heaven.

REMEMBER THE LOVE–IT NEVER ENDS

It still hurts, and will for a very long time. Now my husband and I have begun to share memories, and smile a bit through the tears. But emotion ambushes you at the oddest moments.

…leftovers at the restaurant we now leave behind instead of taking doggy bags, for instance. Or a funny poignant TV commercial featuring a special canine. Or . . . my Pastor bringing me a “Prayer Bear” to my hospital room, and knowing that Magical-Dawg’s all time fave toy was his Bear-Toy. My Karma-Kat also suffers grief, with no easy way to explain where his best friend has gone.

STAGES OF GRIEF–NO WRONG ANSWERS

I suspect most readers are familiar with the Kubler-Ross stages of grief: denial, anger, depression, bargaining, and acceptance. I’ve read that for some, the grief process is a soul journey of seven stages, progressing from lost soul to becoming re-enchanted with everyday life. And that the soul is the deepest, most precious part of us, and where we encounter God, and that, we must listen to our soul to help us move through this process and leave our hearts singing again. Just turn within, and listen. I’m trying. I really want to be happy again.

The steps can be experienced in any order and various lengths of time, depending on the individual. They are: feeling alone after the death; dealing with “why me?” learning to receive and offer compassion; realizing an overall purpose; sorting through past life experiences; returning to daily life; and committing to a new level of aliveness and reality.

dog on towels

Spoiling the boy–a nice long up-to-his-neck wade in the pond, followed by lots of towel attention. Bliss!

KNOWING WHEN TO SAY GOODBYE

All of us who love and care for dogs and cats understand that we will outlive our pet, and ultimately have to say goodbye. But knowing that doesn’t make the reality any easier. I knew as early as last December that things had changed for Magic. Oh, how I hoped to be wrong. But in some ways, it was a gift to have the time to come to terms–and to ensure Magic’s last months were happy and pain free.

Quality care for aging or ill pets can prolong their lives only for so long, and not all pets die in their sleep. When the joy of living is gone, when pain replaces pleasure, and when your dog or cat is ready to leap forward into the next adventure beyond your side, you can grant her the greatest gift of all – a merciful death. That’s what we regretfully gave to our precious baby-dawg.

PET LOSS GRIEF–LIVING WITH BEREAVEMENT

Grief is normal, and a testament to the many years of love you shared. When a beloved animal friend nears the end of life and ultimately dies, grief can be overwhelming and paralyzing. I’ll be putting some of this together into a future Quick Tips booklet, too, as I’ve been asked to share guidance how to understand deep sorrow, move through it, and eventually use the power of that emotion to transform lives.

Friends reached out to me, sharing their empathy and sympathy, support and love. It can be hard to accept–almost picking at that wound–but open your self as much as you can and accept the love you’re given. It helps, it really makes an incredible difference. And offer your own support back. That is the beauty of pet love, after all, sharing in the funny/sad/whimsical/hurtful/uplifting/glorious memories our family members bring to us.

For myself, writing is therapy, and trying to give back. I gave his nearly full bag of dog food to the local shelter, donated left-over meds to his caring veterinary team, and we submitted blood work to a university study that may help future dogs avoid Magic’s untimely death. His legacy lives on.

cat with dog collar

Karma is more quiet now, doesn’t pester quite so much. Bereavement (as for people) is a process and he’s still working through things. My being gone a week impacts him, too. *sniff*

WHAT ABOUT GRIEVING PETS?

For pets left behind like Karma, the grief is just as real and intense, and often more confusing. How do you tell your other animal companions they will lose or have lost one of their family, and that he isn’t coming back? It’s not unusual for these pets to search and cry for the missing love one.

When we’re working through our own pain, it’s hard to know how to help. If the departed pet was ill, often the surviving animals may already know. I think Karma suspected for longer than we did that Magic’s time was short. And when it’s possible, I recommend allowing surviving pets to view the body, sniff and examine (or ignore) and in that way, KNOW that there’s no need to search and cry. We placed Magic’s collar on his bed, left his toys out for a week, and Karma chose to nuzzle and roll, lick and groom and ultimately sleep with Magic’s collar. Cue more tears…

We also talked to Karma, not that he’d understand the words, but certainly the emotions would resonate. Things as simple as, “We miss Magic, too. We’re sad too, and it’s not your fault.”

Dogs and cats grieve different, just as people do, and there’s no right or wrong. There is no timeline limit on grief, for any of us. And we all choose what’s right for our circumstances, with the knowledge we have at the time.

If nothing else, please share this message with anyone who needs to hear–Such painful but loving decisions made with the heart cannot be wrong.

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I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE

A Thousand Tears . . . Song For A Magical-Dawg

Magic portrait

Magic von Fernheim: 7/24/06–9/19/17

A Thousand Tears — Song For A Magical-Dawg

A thousand tears I shed each night
Since Magic left that bitter day,
He took away a special light
And turned my world to gray.

We knew a gift that shined so bright
Would burn too fast and go away
More quickly than is ever right
Yet still we loved, and now we pay.

Swift sweet joy, condensed delight,
Great love is magnified that way.
The years sped by, we couldn’t fight
The deal we made, we had no say.

If we could, you know we’d fight
To keep him here just one more day.
Because we loved with all our might
We let him go, his wish obey.

In time the tears I shed each night
Will shimmer bright, I pray.
For all who mourn love out of sight
Sweet memory holds sway.

A thousand tears I shed each night
Since Magic left that bitter day.
But in each tear, his special light
Shines rainbows, washing grief away.

(music to come. . . for a Very Good-Dog who touched the world)

Amy Shojai WIPIN Pet Industry Awards Video #poweredbyindie

I’m a Women In the Pet Industry (WIPIN Pet Industry Awards) FINALIST for Solopreneur of the Year. I posted about this incredible honor in a previous blog post here. I’m proud to say this would never have happened if I hadn’t gone “indie” with my publishing–creating books via CreateSpace, Amazon Kindle and even “voicing” my own titles on Audible. With 30 nonfiction books, three thrillers in a growing, popular series and another novella series, I’ve just begun!

As part of the competition for Pet Industry Woman of the Year we were asked to produce a 60-second video about what we do and our story. I congratulate my fellow nominees and the winners, and feel incredibly blessed that my work has been recognized in this way.

Here it is–(you’ll agree, that the pets are the stars!). As promised, I’m honored to share it with you. I’ve also included part of my Q & A interview from the competition that the judges reviewed–it actually helped me figure out some things–where I’ve been, how I got here, and the directly I’m going. You helped make this possible – thank you!

WHO IS AMY SHOJAI?

Amy Shojai Consulting (Amy Shojai, CABC) empowers pet parents with expert information and advice, to allow them to make informed decisions for their cats and dogs. This is accomplished with a combination of writer-icity, bling-worthy media appearances, one-on-one pet behavior and writing/publishing consults, and select pet industry consulting.

  • CREDENTIALS & MISSION: Vet tech experience inspired a 20+ year journalistic focus on pet health care and behavior, leading to certification (CABC) through IAABC.org and Fear Free Pets. Resolving behavior and health challenges to improve/save relationships is the core mission. Expanding beyond one-on-one consults, however, makes a greater impact in creating a positive difference in pet lives.
  • SHORT-FORM WRITING & MEDIA: Fee-based print and online content provides prescriptive help for select clients to share with their own client base. Free content is also available via Amy Shojai’s BLING, BITCHES & BLOOD blog, Pets Peeves newsletters and podcast, Ask Amy YouTube channel, social media outreach, weekly P’ETiQuette newspaper column, and a twice-monthly Pet Talk (KXII.com) television segment.
  • BOOKS, SPEAKING & THEATER: A pet care library of award-winning prescriptive pet books (more than 30) published by the FURRY MUSE PUBLISHING imprint provides an A-to-Z catalogue of information covering first aid, behavior, natural healing, puppy/kitten information, senior pet care, and even heartwarming “chicken soup” titles available in print, Ebook and audio versions. September & Shadow Thrillers (with an animal behaviorist main character) and STRAYS, THE MUSICAL also focus on dog and cat issues. Unusual venues reach pet lovers (and others) who otherwise would never seek pet behavior or care advice. A variety of pet- and writing-focused seminars are available for select events. Amy Shojai Consulting continues to seek innovative ways to reach cat and dog lovers and help them help their beloved pets.

HOW DID YOU GET WHERE YOU ARE TODAY?

Oh my doG, what a question! Where am I today? is perhaps a better one. I’ve not yet “arrived” and the journey continues. I’m where I am due to a perfect storm of pet-love, frustration, boredom, and lack of funds. *s* Oh, and luck, a whole lot of furry good luck.

When I was a kid, Mom told all her friends, “When Amy grows up, she won’t have babies—she’ll have puppy dogs and kitty cats.” Mom was right.

THE ACCIDENTAL PET WRITER

My career began when my husband and I moved to Eastern Kentucky where I applied for a job as a veterinary assistant. The interview happened during a Chihuahua’s C-section, with the doctor handing me puppies to resuscitate while I answered his questions. I got the job (maybe because I didn’t faint and LOVED the experience!). I fell in love with veterinary medicine…and discovered just how much I had to learn. The hunger grew to share my pet passion with veterinary clients, explaining the doctor’s “medicalese” terms in language pet parents more easily understood. With no TV reception in the mountains, I turned to writing to relieve my boredom, and shared personal experiences as a vet tech. After collecting a boatload of rejections from the pet press, (remember Dog Fancy, Cat Fancy and Dog World magazines?) an editor took pity on me, and explained what I’d done wrong—and done right (er, write?). After that, I sold and published dozens of personal experience stories.

PET JOURNALIST

I like to think my editors liked my writing because I always beat deadlines, wrote to the requirements, and touched readers’ emotions. For sure, I often cried remembering some of those early vet tech experiences. My editors began giving me assignments that required interviews with experts from around the world. I learned how to interview, find experts, and (gasp!) make friends with famous pet peeps! Bliss! It was like attending a master class when I could ask questions of the movers-and-shakers creating vaccines and special nutrition, pick the brains of those who could explain the mysteries of cat and dog behavior, innovative training breakthroughs and more. At the time I worked a 9-5:00 “real job,” so telephone-tag interviews (this was before email) took place during lunch hours and after work. I wrote until 11:00 pm every night and all weekend. Little sleep, lots of work, but the JOY of it is still addictive, especially, when the work reaches someone and makes a difference.

BOOK CONTRACTS

A Bantam/Doubleday/Dell editor happened to read my articles, and called to offer me my first two book contracts, wow! Those titles, published in 1992, launched my book publishing career. I quit my day job to write full time, producing 30-50 articles a year, and continued writing books.

CAT WRITERS ASSOCIATION

Although I wrote equally about dogs and cats, the kitties didn’t seem to get the same respect. I contacted my cat magazine editors and proposed creating the Cat Writers Association (CWA) to give the topic the same level of professionalism and mentorship I enjoyed a member of the Dog Writers Association of America. Four of us met at a cat show in November 1992, and CWA was born. I was named the first president, and served in that role for the first 9 years the first time (I returned for a 10th year some years later). I was able to use established writing connections with pet products companies to enlist their support of new organization, garnering many sponsorships to fund first the annual contest and later conference events. Serving as CWA president kept me in the forefront of the pet world, and that made a positive difference in my career.

MEDIA

The publishers of Cats Magazine and Dog World Magazine created a promotion THE GREAT PET DEBATE during a presidential election year. Because of my credentials with the magazines and CWA, I was tapped to argue the “cat side” whether cats or dogs would be the better White House Pet (Socks Clinton vs Leader Dole). The tongue-in-cheek debate appeared on ESPN and the Today Show, with a call-in vote. Cats won, of course. *s* That experience helped garner other media appearances, including a Disney TV show appearance as a pet expert and more recently Animal Planet expert segments (DOGS 101 and CATS 101). The tables began to turn, and suddenly instead of me interviewing experts, I began to get calls as the expert for interviews. Holy cats & dogs!

LITERARY AGENT

My previous publications and contacts with pet products companies proved attractive to a high power literary agent, and my book publishing career leaped forward with the sale of the PURINA ENCYCLOPEDA OF DOG CARE and PURINA ENCYCLOPEDIA OF CAT CARE hardcover titles. Together we sold another dozen or so pet care titles, including a book that I’m very proud to say has saved many pet lives, THE FIRST-AID COMPANION FOR DOGS AND CATS. My grateful my agent helped me get rights back on my backlist books, which helped immeasurably in launching my indie publishing career including audio. The First-Aid audio book book will be published under my own Furry Muse Publishing imprint.

SPOKESPERSON

After working with Purina via CWA and the books, I was offered a spokesperson position, touring and speaking at shelters in the Purina Kitten Chow Lifetime of Love promotion. As a music/theater double major, I enjoy public speaking, so for me this was brain candy—talking about my passion and playing with kitties. The next year they built the Cat Chow Way of Life Tour around me. BLISS! I got to teach cat behavior training at shelters across the country over the next 4+ years, appearing on TV and radio in hundreds of markets across the United States, and wrote a weekly online column for Cat Chow for more than a dozen years.

PUBLISHING DIES

Yes, for a time I stopped writing and publishing. After September 11, everything changed including my career. News became more serious (rightly so), with warm-and-fuzzy pet segments no longer welcome. People searched Google for cat and dog information (much of it bad or dangerous), rather than reading books. A book released a month after 9-11 tanked, and the Purina tour I’d taken for granted was cancelled. My agent explained editors no longer wanted pet books. Several of my titles went out of print, and I got the rights back, but hadn’t a clue what to do next. The one bright spot was my friend Marty Becker brought me on as co-editor for two Chicken Soup books, but once completed, I took a job teaching high school choir. I believed my career was over.

SOLOPRENEUR, FOR REAL!

I loved teaching, but after working for myself, discovered I’m no longer suited to the restrictions of a “real job.” My frustration with the new day-job poured out in writing of the pet-centric novel I’d always wanted to read. I went back to my beginnings, writing in my spare time before class, during lunch, and until midnight.

A weight lifted once I gave notice prior to the end of the school year, although I had no writing prospects. This leap of faith paid off within three weeks, when a book offer came my way (The American Pit Bull Terrier). As soon as I delivered that manuscript, a colleague invited me to write online behavior content for cats.About.com, which led to me creating the entire puppies.about.com site. Poetic justice, eh? The Internet stole my career, and once I stopped lamenting and fighting the injustice, I took back control by creating my own online content. My Bling, Bitches & Blood Blog took off, an E-newsletter was born, and I planned new ways to leverage the out-of-print books I still owned.

FURRY MUSE PUBLISHING

Ebooks revitalized my publishing career. Rather than be ruled by acquisition editors deciding what merited publishing, I listened to my audience and self-published what they wanted and needed. Amazingly, my royalty percentage earned far more than any New York deal ever had. I also partnered with a small independent press for updated print versions of out of print books, and also wrote new nonfiction titles. Together we launched my fiction writing career with the book I wrote during my choir teaching tenure. Finally this past January 2017, I parted ways with the indie-publisher and by May 2017 had updated and reissued all my books under the Furry Muse imprint. That has allowed me to better plan marketing campaigns, schedule updates, and take control of pricing and income factors in my business. My royalty income, especially in print nonfiction titles, has quadrupled during a time when “traditional” publishing continues to say pet books won’t sell. The difference, I truly believe, is I listen to what pet parents want, and provide that infotainment with respect for their needs.

I’m where I am today because I know—truly without reservation—this is what I was put on earth to do. I no longer doubt myself. I write what I want, publish when and how I wish, revise work when breakthroughs emerge, voice my own audio books in my home studio, make up fiction stories infused with facts that instruct as well as entertain, and interact with my audience—awesome pet enthusiasts no different than me, who simply want the best for their cats and dogs.

That’s how I got here—asking the question, how can I help pets? May it always be so.

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I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Note: Upon occasion, affiliate links to books or other products may be included in posts, from which I earn a small amount with each purchase from the blog. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Kitten Play Aggression: Stop the Madness!

It never fails when a new kitten arrives. We oooooh and ahhh and the lil’ snuggle baby seduces us with purrs and sweet whisker kisses, and looks so darned innocent when she falls asleep on our lap. But kitten play aggression is on the horizon.

kitten play aggression

Kitten play aggression can be relentless.

Yep, that wide eyed wonder turns into the DEVIL CAT with claws out ambushing ankles and launching from hidden spots. When Seren was a baby (gosh, that was 21 years ago!) she used my legs as move-able scratching posts. Now Karma-Kat does the same thing, Ouch!

KITTEN PLAY AGGRESSION

The spring crop of kittens by now has reached the age when kitten play aggression takes over. If you don’t have other cats for her to learn better claw-and-teeth manners, you’re in for a rough few weeks. But she WILL outgrow the behavior. Meanwhile, the Ask Amy tips below will help you keep your sanity.

I’ve lots more kitten care tips in the book Complete Kitten Care as well as the ComPETability: Cats behavior book. Your turn. I know a number of very cat-savvy folks follow this blog. What tips can you share about managing the kitten’s juvenile delinquent behavior? Do tell!

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I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Note: Upon occasion, affiliate links to books or other products may be included in posts, from which I earn a small amount with each purchase from the blog. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!