Top 10 Puppy Proofing Tips to Save Dog Lives for National Puppy Day!

March 23 is National Puppy Day! Whether you plan to adopt a puppy, or already live with a cute puppy-kid, it’s important to know the top puppy proofing tips to save dog lives. I’m also formally announcing the re-issue of COMPLETE PUPPY CARE, a new oversize edition with detailed index (print version). Of course, the Kindle version is discounted…and you can borrow for free if you’re in the Kindle Unlimited program.
puppy book

WHAT IS PUPPY PROOFING?

Puppy proofing is the canine version of human baby-proofing when a new bundle of joy arrives, and it’s vital you know how to puppy proof your home and yard. Puppies explore their world with nose pokes, paw pounces, and chewing everything within reach.

For your new puppy, everything is a potential game. He uses his mouth the way infants reach out and grab. So tug-games with the curtains, keep-away when he steals your wallet, un-planting the potted palm or eating poisonous plants, and nosey sniffs of the candle flame get him in trouble.

During teething, he’ll want to chew even more to relieve the discomfort, but most dogs love to chew their whole life. Puppies not only damage your property, he could hurt himself or die from munching dangerous objects.

purebred rottweiler carrying a lucky bamboo on a white background

Think Like A Puppy

Anything that moves, looks fun or interesting, or dangerous will attract your furry delinquent. Get a puppy-eye-view of your home by crawling around on all fours to channel your “inner puppy” –it’s okay, you don’t have to wag or bark, just find and address the dangers. Remember, some pups aren’t really grown up mature dogs until 18 months or so, and even adult dogs can get into trouble. Here are some of the most common trouble spots.

5 POPULAR PUPPY TARGETS

  1. Kitchen and bathroom cabinets often house cleaning supplies that can be poisonous if swallowed. When cabinets are within puppy reach, be sure the baby can’t paw them open. Child-proof latches are a good idea.
  2. Toilet paper is a popular puppy toy. Drinking out of the toilet is another nasty habit that could be dangerous if a small pup falls in and drowns or ingests chemical cleaners. The easy fix is—shut the bathroom door, and/or always put the lid down.
  3. Pups jump up on window sills to look out. That may tempt them to grab curtains or play tug with the cords on the window blinds. Some pups have strangled in these cords so tie them up out of reach.
  4. Waste baskets can be incredibly rewarding for a puppy to pillage. Table scraps to old used tissues can be found so invest in waste baskets with lids, hide them behind latching doors, or set them on counter tops out of reach.
  5. Dirty laundry must smell like heaven to puppies. Concentrated beloved human scent found on worn socks and underwear or shoes can be very appealing. The pillow your head rests on when you sleep also smells like you. So protect the laundry basket, and close the closet door to keep puppy marauders from stealing and chewing shoes, purses or brief cases left on the floor. Puppies may confuse throw pillows with legal chew toys so make it easy for them to tell the difference and put forbidden objects out of reach.

naughty dog - barbet wrapped in danger tape on white background

5 PUPPY DANGER ZONES, BE AWARE & BEWARE!

  1. If you have cats, be sure the litter box is out of reach. Puppies like to snack on poop, especially kitty potty deposits and aside from the unsanitary issue, this will hiss off the cat and cause potential inter-pet problems. Most cats can leap onto a tabletop to find their litter box, which keeps it out of dog range.
  2. Electrical cords tempt puppies to chew. They can be shocked and sometimes even rescue breathing and CPR may not save them. Bad tasting products like Bitter Apple may help but don’t rely on these as some funny canines like the taste. It’s better to keep the cords out of reach by installing baby gates to make rooms off-limits, moving electrical items and their cords elsewhere, or bundle the cords together. Home product stores offer products designed to do this.
  3. Some common house plants are poisonous if chewed and swallowed. Even if nontoxic, your puppy may have great fun gnawing and dragging pieces around the house, or practicing his excavation technique. Either hang baskets or set houseplants on tables out of reach, or throw away if they’re of the toxic variety.
  4. Find a safe place out of puppy tooth range to store cell phone, TV remote or other such objects. If you’re paper training the puppy, remember that the newspaper, books, magazines or music left on the floor may invite puppy potty attention you don’t want.
  5. Puppies also spend time in the yard. Don’t think a fence makes him safe. Puppies can wiggle out of tiny openings or get caught and injured trying to escape. Anything that can be turned into a toy should be put out of reach. Lawn and garden chemicals should be shut in puppy proof rooms or boxes.

What have I missed? Are there DANGER ZONES unique to your neck of the woods? I cover a whole lot more in my book COMPLETE PUPPY CARE, and I’d love to hear what else has been a safety issue for your furry wonders!

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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!

PET POISON! 7 Top Toxins & Pet 1st Aid to Keep Cats & Dogs Safe

Easter Lily poisonous to pets

Easter lilies are highly toxic to pets, especially cats. Be safe this Easter season!

National Poison Prevention Week runs March 20-26, 2016, and is a wonderful time to learn how to protect pets from household dangers. Most cases of pet poisoning are accidental, and preventing accidents and knowing pet poison first aid saves pet lives.

Dogs are particularly prone to poisoning because like human infants, they put everything in their mouths. Cats are more discriminating about what they eat, but contact poison can affect any pet if they walk through something toxic or it spills on fur and is licked off during grooming.

Symptoms vary depending on the poison, amount of exposure, and the individual animal. You may see anything from drunken staggers and collapse, to salivation, seizures, or hyperactivity.

7 TOP PET POISONS & FIRST AID HELP

  1. Poisonings from human medications (both over-the-counter and prescription meds) has become the most common pet poisoning over the last several years. Dogs either gulp down tasty candy-coated pills, or owners give them human drugs without realizing the risks. Cats may play with pills, and accidentally swallow them. Be aware that pets don’t metabolize Tylenol, aspirin, ibuprofen or neproxin (Aleve) the same way people do, and can die from taking them. A single extra-strength Tylenol can kill a cat. Keep meds out of reach in pet-proof cabinets.
  2. Chemical toxicity used to top the list but the safer flea and tick products have reduced the numbers of overdosing. Problems still happen when you misunderstand directions. What’s safe for a dog may be deadly for a cat! Wash your pet immediately if you suspect toxicity, and call the vet.
  3. lilies poison pets

    WHAT’S WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE?!!!

    Plant poisonings are particularly dangerous to mouthy pets. Some varieties that can be harmful to pets include lilies, azalea, rhododendron, sago palm, kalanchoe and schefflera. Dogs fall victim most often because of their urge for recreational chewing. But some cats nibble leaves or paw-play with plants and may be poisoned when they later lick their claws clean. Beware of Easter lilies this holiday–learn more here!

  4. Pest baits also tempt dogs and cats, and can poison pets that catch or scavenge poisoned rodents, roaches or snails. The same cereal grains often used in commercial pet foods also are used in rodent baits so dogs may willingly eat the poison. Anticoagulants like warfarin prevent blood from clotting, and cause uncontrolled and fatal bleeding from the rectum, nose, and even the skin. Pest poisons may take 24 to 72 hours to induce signs, but once the dog or cat shows distress, treatment may not be as effective and can be too late. Veterinarians have antidotes for some, and others require gastric lavage and supportive care. Pets may be poisoned by eating dead varmints that have succumbed to pest baits, too.

BEWARE THE DANGERS OF SWEET POISON!

Keep poisonous grapes out of dog reach.

DANGER! Grapes are highly toxic and can quickly kill dogs.

5. Dogs love sweet flavors and often poison themselves by eating chocolate. Dark chocolate and Baker’s chocolate contains higher concentrations of the caffeine-like substance, theobromine, but even eating too much of that candy Easter bunny can prompt a bout of diarrhea and vomiting. Find out more about chocolate toxicity here.

6. Both fresh and dried grapes (raisins) are quite toxic in dogs. The exact poisonous substance that causes reaction isn’t known, and sensitivity varies from dog to dog. No dog should eat any amount of this fruit because even a small dose can be fatally toxic for your dog. Be particularly aware of wild grapes in the yard or fields.

The most dramatic and serious problem caused by grape/raisin toxicity is sudden kidney failure with lack of urine production. For unknown reasons, kidney failure is not seen in all dogs after ingestion of grapes or raisins. Researchers continue to investigate why some dogs die and others are not affected by the poison.

The first signs of distress often include vomiting and/or diarrhea with only a few hours of ingestion. After about 24 hours, you may see grapes or raisin pieces in the feces or vomitus. Affected dogs lose their appetite, become lethargic and unusually quiet. They may suffer abdominal pain, and “hunch” their back from the discomfort. Dehydration develops from the diarrhea and vomiting, but they only pass small amounts of urine. Eventually they stop urinating at all when the kidneys ultimately shut down. Prognosis is guarded, even when treated, and most dogs die once the kidneys stop producing urine. Grape/raisin toxicity is an emergency that needs prompt veterinary intervention.

7. Xylitol is a naturally-occurring sugar alcohol used for sweetening sugar-free products such chewing gum, candy, toothpaste and baked products. It also comes as a granulated powder. Both forms are highly toxic to dogs. Xylitol ingestion causes a rapid release of insulin in the dog, which in turn results in a sudden decrease in blood glucose levels. Depending on the size of your dog, a single piece of sugar-free gum may cause symptoms that result in death. The ingested substance may cause vomiting, incoordination, seizures, or even liver failure. Bleeding may develop in the dog’s gastrointestinal track or abdomen, as well as dark red specks or splotches on his gums. Usually the symptoms happen quickly, within fifteen to thirty minutes of ingestion, but some kinds of sugar-free gum may not cause symptoms for up to twelve hours.

FIRST AID FOR PET POISONING

If you see or suspect your dog has eaten toxic foods or substances, induce vomiting immediately (but only if the dog remains conscious). Take a sample of the vomitus or feces if available to help the doctor be sure of the diagnosis. You’ll find more tips on how to make pets vomit at this post.

If you suspect that your pet has been poisoned call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center’s 24-hour hotline at (888) 426-4435. Details on specific signs and treatments of various poisons are also listed in “The First-Aid Companion for Dogs and Cats.” For more information on the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center.

YouTube ButtonI love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have anew puppy 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!

Have You Howled Today? Why Dogs Howl & What it Means

Do your dogs howl? Lately, Magical-Dawg has begun howling more often. For northern breeds, dog howling comes very naturally, but for my aging German Shepherd, his howls are more unusual. Oh, he’s always howled when I sing certain notes (everyone’s a critic!), and the coyotes sing a chorus when the tornado sirens sound. This was different.

WHY DOGS HOWL

Magic began a low “ar-ooooo-woo-woo” and slowly cranked it up. This happened early in the morning, before we’d got up. My husband and I figured he needed out–he did–and didn’t pay that much attention to it. But then Magic also howled outside the bathroom door when my husband showered. He came into the room and howled during my shower, too.

This went on for three or four days, just prior to his yearly veterinary exam. We’d been a bit worried about some of Magic’s aging issues anyway (read about his check up in this post). And I now realize I never mentioned the howling to the vet.

But…once Magic was given medication for his achy 10-year-old arthritic issues, the howling stopped. Lesson learned–howling may be MORE than the “usual suspects,” which I cover in the short Ask Amy video, below. Enjoy!

Dogs bark and howl to communicate–so what’s he saying?

Dogs know how to communicate. You gotta go “low tech” to really connect with doggy wags, growls, whines and more. Do your dogs howl? When do they howl–and why? Have you howled today? Try it–for a terrific stress relief (and you might get your canine’s singing along). Lately the tornado sirens have stirred up the canine chorus at my house.

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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!

Ringworm: The Naked Truth & What to Do

Many years ago, I had my first run-in with ringworm when my German shepherd (age 12 at the time) developed ball patches. A dozen years later, my second personal experience happened when I adopted a stray kitten I named Seren. She had couple of crusty bald spots on her forehead. That’s actually pretty typical. Ringworm most commonly affects elderly or young pets.

Siamese kitten

Seren-kitty at about 5 months old showing off her nekid tummy after spay surgery. We’d had her about 6 weeks, and the bald spots on her head had already resolved.

Ringworm is not a worm, it is a fungal infection of growing hair, dry skin, and sometimes the nails. There are many types, but about 95 percent of feline ringworm cases are caused by Microsporum canis. The condition also affects dogs and people.

CAT FACTS, THE SERIES

You’ll find more detailed information about feline obesity in Cat Facts, The Series 18 (R): The Pet Parent’s A-to-Z Home Care Encyclopedia which includes these topics:

Rabies, Reading Food Labels, Reproduction, Respiration, Respiratory Distress, Restraint, Ringworm, and Roundworms.

I’ve broken the massive book into discounted catnip-size alpha-chapter sections. Folks can choose which ones they most need. Each chapter will release every other week. Of course, you can still get the entire CAT FACTS book either in Kindle or 540+ pages of print.

Join Amazon Kindle Unlimited 30-Day Free Trial

ringworm

Kittens and elderly pets are most susceptible to ringworm.

WHAT IS RINGWORM?

The name comes from the ring-like lesions typically seen in human cases. Ringworm is a kind of biological contact dermatitis in which skin inflammation is caused by a substance produced by the fungus. The inflammation makes the skin inhospitable for the fungus, so it moves on to greener pastures. In people, the fungus grows outward away from the initial central inflammation in ever-widening rings, leaving the center to heal.

In cats, sores also grow outward from the infection, but rarely produce the ring pattern found in people. Ringworm in cats can look like a variety of other feline skin diseases, but hair loss is the most usual sign. Bald patches may develop in only one area, several spots, or cover the entire body. Ringworm is the most common cause of hair loss in kittens.

The fungus, called a dermatophyte, lives only on hairs that are actively growing. Infected hairs eventually break off rather than fall out, leaving a stubby appearance to the coat. Mild to severe scaling or crusty sores typically develop with varying degrees of itchiness.

HOW DO PETS GET RINGWORM?

Cats and dogs are usually infected by coming in contact with infected hair, but ringworm can also be spread by contact with contaminated grooming equipment or from the environment. Contaminated hairs that are shed into the environment can remain infective for months, and provide a reservoir for reinfection of recovering cats.

All cats can get ringworm, and the length of haircoat has nothing to do with the risk. Both longhaired and shorthaired cats are equally affected. However, the most common victims are immune-compromised, young, and debilitated pets. Puppies and kittens are affected most frequently. Some cats carry the organism without showing signs themselves, and spread ringworm to other cats and pets. If one pet in the household is diagnosed, all should be treated whether they are showing signs or not.

DIAGNOSING RINGWORM

Ringworm in cats is diagnosed by identifying the fungus. The veterinarian may use a Wood’s Lamp to screen suspect cases; about half of M. canis cases will “glow” when exposed to its ultraviolet light. More cases are identified using a culture test which grows the ringworm fungus. A sample of debris brushed from the cat’s skin and fur is placed in a special medium designed to grow certain ringworm species. It may take up to three weeks before the test indicates a positive result.

RINGWORM TREATMENT

During treatment, infective animals should be quarantined from those not showing symptoms. Otherwise healthy cats tend to self-cure in nine months to a year, but during that time, can continually expose other animals (and people) to the fungus. People who are immune compromised, very young or very old are at highest risk.

Shaving ringworm-infected cats to aid treatment used to be routinely recommended but today is based more on the individual situation. Shorthair cats with fewer than five areas of infection may be effectively treated without a full body clipping.

Topical preparations of miconazole are helpful, but medicating the lesion before diagnosis may interfere with proper diagnosis. Miconazole alone or in combination with chlorhexidine is effective. Cats typically are bathed twice weekly, ensuring the product remains at least ten minutes on the cat’s fur. Treat only after your veterinarian diagnoses the condition, and follow his or her recommendation.

Drugs that have been shown to be effective include griseofulvin, terbinafine, ketaconazole, and itraconazole. After ingestion, the drug is incorporated into the growing hair where it slows the growth of the fungus. Pills are usually given once daily for four to eight weeks, and should be continued two weeks beyond the time symptoms have disappeared. A vaccine is also available that may reduce the symptoms of the disease, when used in combination with other therapies.

DEALING WITH RINGWORM AT HOME

Ringworm fungus can live in the environment for well over a year, where it can continuously reinfect cats. For that reason, this infected environment must also be treated; however, fungal spores are difficult to eliminate. Studies indicate that common disinfectants like chlorhexidine and water are not effective. Concentrated bleach or one percent formalin (a formaldehyde solution) have been shown to be effective, but neither are very practical in a home environment.

Daily cleaning of all surfaces using a diluted bleach solution (one part bleach to ten parts water), along with thorough vacuuming is the most effective and practical environmental treatment for most cat owners. Dispose of the vacuum bag by sealing in a plastic garbage sack and removing it from the house.

Has your cat (or dog) ever had ringworm? How did you handle it? Do tell! Now, for catteries and shelters, it can be even more of a challenge–any tips for those folks?

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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!

Dog Ticks & Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

I’ve written about dog ticks and tick diseases before, including ehrlichiosis. Another devastating condition transmitted by ticks is Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.

rocky mountain spotted fever transmitted by ticks

Ticks attach themselves and may be hidden by fur.

I’m sharing this entry about ROCKY MOUNTAIN SPOTTED FEVER, an excerpt from Dog Facts, The Series 18 (Chapter R) This chapter covers a lot of ground, and here’s the topic list:

Rabies, Reading Food Labels, Reproduction, Respiration, Respiratory Distress, Restraint, Ringworm, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Rolling, and Roundworms.

I’ve broken the massive book into discounted treat-size alpha-chapter sections. Folks can choose which ones they most need. Each chapter will release every other week. Of course, you can still get the entire book either in Kindle or 630+ pages of print.

Join Amazon Kindle Unlimited 30-Day Free Trial

WHAT IS ROCKY MOUNTAIN SPOTTED FEVER?

Rocky Mountain spotted fever is a rickettsial disease caused by the organism Rickettsia rickettsii. Rickettsiae are tiny bacteria-sized parasites that live inside cells, and most spend a portion of their life cycle in an insect vector which then transmits them to an animal host, or reservoir. People and dogs are not the natural host for most of these agents, but can become ill when infected.

Rocky Mountain spotted fever can be transmitted by several different kinds of ticks, particularly the wood tick and the American dog tick. The illness affects both people and dogs.

A young Magic loved wandering the fields…and easily picked up ticks.

HOW DO DOGS GET

ROCKY MOUNTAIN SPOTTED FEVER

The disease is seasonal, with most cases occurring from spring to early fall. It has been reported in nearly every state, but is most prevalent in the central states from Colorado west to the coast. Most infected dogs may not show any signs at all, but others can suffer severe illness and rapid death. For unknown reasons, Siberian Huskies appear to be most severely affected.

The agent is transmitted to the dog from the bite of an infected tick, and the rickettsiae travel from the tissues to the lymphatic system. They proliferate in the cells found in the walls of small blood vessels throughout the body. This prompts an inflammatory response that results in blood clotting and bleeding disorders, and organ damage.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF ROCKY MOUNTAIN SPOTTED FEVER?

Signs begin with vague illness and continue to get worse. Watch for :

    • fever of up to 105 degrees
    • loss of appetite
    • signs of arthritis
    • coughing or labored breathing
    • abdominal pain
    • vomiting and diarrhea
    • swelling of the face or extremities
    • thick mucoid discharge from the eyes and nose.

Neurologic signs are also common, and may include altered mental states, poor balance, and a rigid neck. Many of these acute signs are similar to canine distemper.

A week or two following initial signs, the dog develops bleeding disorders similar to ehrlichiosis. Nosebleeds, bleeding beneath the skin, or in the urine or feces may result in shock and multiple organ failure. Loss of blood circulation may lead to gangrene and death of affected tissue. Ultimately, kidney failure causes death.

HOW IS ROCKY MOUNTAIN SPOTTED FEVER DIAGNOSED & TREATED?

Diagnosis is sometimes difficult to make, but Rocky Mountain spotted fever should be suspected when these signs appear in a tick-infested dog during spring to fall. The diagnosis is best confirmed with tests, which are available in veterinary laboratories or schools.

When the disease is suspected, dogs should be treated immediately with tetracycline even before blood tests confirm the diagnosis. Dogs suffering from acute disease will respond with a reversal of symptoms within only a day or two of antibiotic therapy, which should be continued for two to three weeks. They may also require other supportive therapy, such as fluid replacement to combat shock and clotting disorders. Once they recover from infection, dogs appear to become resistant to reinfection.

HOW CAN I PROTECT MY DOG?

To prevent the disease, practice tick control with appropriate insecticides. In most instances, the tick vector must be attached and feeding for 12 to 48 hours before a rickettsial agent can be transmitted. Therefore, prompt removal of any ticks found on your dog will virtually eliminate chance of the disease.

However, the crushed tick that contaminates your skin may result in infection, so wear gloves and/or use tweezers to remove ticks from your pet, to protect yourself from exposure. Human signs of the disease include flu-like symptoms, and a rash on the hands, wrists, ankles and feet. See your doctor immediately if you suspect you’ve been exposed, because the disease causes death in 15 to 20 percent of untreated human cases.

Find out more details about digging and other “R” topics in  Dog Facts, The Series 18 (Chapter R).

Does your dog get ticks? Are you using tick treatment to protect him? Has your dog ever suffered from a tick-borne disease–or have YOU? Someone I know currently is going through long-term debilitating treatment to get rid of a tick-borne illness.

 

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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!