Valentines Pet Dangers: TOP 5 Pet Safety Tips for Valentines Day

I’m often interviewed by media about various cat behavior and dog training issues, and of course Valentines pet dangers top the list this week. Pet hazards are common when our normal routine goes out the window, so pet parents are vigilant around the holidays. Pet safety issues for Christmas are similar to those for Valentine’s Day but it’s always good to refresh our watch list.

5 VALENTINES DANGERS DANGERS & WHAT TO DO

Valentines for Pets

“Got a hole in your heart? Pets fill it up with furry love!”

CHOCOLATE DANGERS

The top danger at Valentine’s for dogs is chocolate–in particular the dark chocolate and truffles-type candy. Chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine, and both can speed up the heart rate and in high enough concentrations, cause vomiting, diarrhea or even death. It takes about two pounds of milk chocolate to poison a 7 pound pet.

Baker’s chocolate has 10 times as much theobromine, so that 7 pound pet could get sick from eating only 2 ounces. Dark chocolate has a higher concentration, so is the more dangerous. Dogs are poisoned more often (cats don’t have a sweet tooth like dogs and people!), and if you see a dog lick the frosting off the cake or break into the Valentine’s truffles, induce vomiting immediately and then get vet care.

The best way to make dogs vomit is to first feed a small meal (that dilutes the poison and also makes it easier to induce vomiting). Then give 3% hydrogen peroxide (about 1-2 teaspoons/10 pounds of pet) to make him vomit. Use a turkey baster or squirt gun if you don’t have a syringe applicator. You’ll find more tips on how to make pets vomit at this post.

Valentine's Pet Safety

Make your pet love shine 365 days a year…not just at Valentine’s Day.

RIBBONS & STRING

The top danger for cats is swallowed ribbon/string type decorations associated with Valentine’s gifts. Oh, the packaging looks glorious and it may delight your playful cat just as much as it does you.

Cats play with any moving object, and while supervised play is fine, when swallowed, the string item can cut internal organs and/or create a blockage. Once the cat starts swallowing, she can’t stop…to make the tickle go away, she keeps gulping until it’s all inside. It may take a day or so before you even notice a problem, when the ribbon or string clog up the “plumbing.”

Again, if you see the cat swallow the string, immediately induce vomiting (same as with dogs). However, cats are harder to get to vomit, so after one dose, get the kitty vet help. Also…if you see string/ribbon hanging outside the mouth OR the anus, DO NOT PULL! The other end of the string may be caught on the inside, so tugging could cut the organs. Often, when cats swallow thread, a needle may be on one end, and the thread may wrap around the base of the cat’s tongue. The movement of the intestines (peristalsis, sort of like an inch worm) can make the tissue gather like fabric on the thread. A vet visit is vital. And of course, to prevent, just supervise ribbon play and dispose of dangerous items.

Valentine's doggy love

“You’re sweeter than Valentine’s chocolate!”

TOXIC PLANTS & PETS

Also be VERY careful of the types of Valentine’s flowers and plants are within paw-reach. In particular, lily can kill dogs and especially cats, causing kidney failure. Cats don’t even have to eat them–just drink from water in the container, or claw the plant and lick claws clean. Check out this PAW-some page with a list of 199 poisonous plants and what to do. 

Cat bag safety

Bags are great fun–but cut off the handles for cats!

BAGS, BOXES & PACKAGING

Cats love bags, right? And some cats adore licking plastic, which can be a BIG concern. Oftentimes, the plastic is a petroleum product derivative of some kind, and maybe that’s why cats like the flavor. Ingestion is a problem with both dogs and cats, so be sure to properly dispose of dangerous packing materials.

While bags (not plastic!) can be great fun for cats, be very careful of those bags with handles. A hiding cat that darts out of the bag can get the handle caught around his neck. That’s a potential choking hazard at worst, and also creates terror when the cat runs and the bag “chases” the kitty. That happened one time with Seren-Kitty when she was a kitten (20 years ago!) and was an early lesson for me. Now I throw out plastics, and cut the handles on any bags so they’re safe for kitty hide aways.

STRANGER DANGER

Another issue around Valentine’s Day for both cats and dogs is something I call ‘STRANGER DANGER.’ When a pet isn’t familiar with the new guy or gal you’re dating, that can put the pet’s tail in a twist. For some pets, that simply means they hide. Others, though, can become fearful and turn aggressive toward the new person. And the fear may actually prompt the pet to try and escape–and getting out of the house can mean a lost pet or hit by car or any number of things. The best prevention of course is to slowly introduce pets to strangers to ensure there’s a future love connection. And if you haven’t had time to do the intros, simply confine your dog or cat in a safe room away from the stranger. Click the book covers for my tips guides on the issue.

What about you? Have you “pet proofed” your Valentine’s Day plans? Do tell!

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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

Valentine’s for Texas Pet Lovers: Paw-tographs for Dog & Cat Peeps

Join me and my colleague DUSTY RAINBOLT for a pet book paw-tograph extravaganza!

book signing copy

BOOK SIGNING FOR PET LOVERS

Shopping ops for anyone who loves pets–at the GRAND OPENING of the new Pet Supermarket in Plano, Texas! Dusty and I will be happy to answer pet questions and/or publishing and writing topics, too.

Doesn’t the pet lover in your life want a paw-tograph a book, signed to THEIR furry friend? Or maybe you want one inscribed to the special cat or dog in your life.

Pet Supermarket is at 13420 Preston Road, in Plano, Texas. Call for more information at 469-453-0180.

 

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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!

Happy Birthday Seren! Happy Gotcha Day Karma!

A pets adoption day is a special event. Today is Seren’s 21st birthday–mee-WOW!

CatBirthday_49873051_original

Photo courtesy of DepositPhotos.com

HAPPY BIRTHDAY SEREN!

When a kitten was discovered asleep in a flower pot on a friend’s back porch about the first week of June, my friend called me for help. You see, her four-year-old daughter REALLY wanted this kitten, but my friend was allergic yet didn’t want to take the baby to the shelter. So it was Amy-To-The-Rescue.

As soon as I walked into her kitchen, this tiny baby with blue-jean-color eyes raced across the floor and climbed up my pant leg, put her paws around my neck, and it was all over. I was smitten. I wrote about this in Chicken Soup for the Cat Lover’s Soul. The veterinarian judged her to be about five months old, so we counted backwards to give Seren a February 1st birthday–which also happens to be my Mom’s birthday.

Complete Kitten Care bookSo today, in honor of that Seren-Kitty’s 21st birthday, I’m delighted to announce the updated edition of my award-winning COMPLETE KITTEN CARE which is now available FREE if you have Kindle Unlimited. For those who prefer physical books, the print edition is here.

My still-teeny Siamese wannabe will get as much lap-time and treats as she wants, including protection from the pester-cat, Karma. Oh, and yes, Karma-Kat’s picture is also in the updated book.

KARMA’S GOTCHA DAY

Four years ago, the day before Seren’s 17th birthday, we prepped for a horrible ice and snow storm set to shut down North Texas for several days. On Friday January 31st, Magical-Dawg saw “something” dash across the back patio. A hungry, not-so-tiny kitten with blue-jean-color eyes came to the window and paw-clawed to get inside, never mind that a big black doggy face stared back at him.

He wore a collar, too, so I thought he must belong to the new neighbor. When I opened the door, he ran–I followed, and called for him. He kept running until I meowed at him. He stopped, mewed back, and then can running back to me. And a week later I blogged about him when knew that Karma was home for good.

The veterinarian guestimated Karma to be about 7-8 months old, so we counted backwards and–holy cats!–assigned his birthday in July on the same day as Magical-Dawg’s birthday.

German shepherd puppy in party cone

Image courtesy of DepositPhotos.com

WHAT’S YOUR PET’S BEST GIFT EVER?

So what do YOU think? Is there some really kewl karma and serendipity and magic happening here? For Karma to arrive so timely for Seren’s 17th birthday when, frankly, my old lady cat had been so ill that I feared her days were numbered. I know Seren would argue that SHE never asked for a kitten for her birthday, but Karma certainly turned back the clock and gave her new energy when he arrived.

However, having Karma around means Magic no longer pesters Seren the way he used to. Magic would waggingly welcome the idea of sharing a birthday with his best cat buddy, Karma. He’d been trying to make friends with Seren for seven years to no avail–and suddenly discovered the joys of a kitty playmate that LIKES him.

Have you ever had new furry wonders arrive at JUST the right time in some weird-and-wonderful coincidence? What’s the best birthday or gotcha-day gifts your fur-kids ever got? Do tell!

In the play STRAYS, THE MUSICAL we included a very short, funny but poignant scene called INAPPROPRIATE PET GIFTS, in which a puppy asks an older dog about the best and worst gifts he ever received. Worst gifts include a hotdog costume for Halloween, and the puppy’s best gift was an old shoe that smelled like the owner–“Heaven!”

“What’s the best gift you ever got?” asks Puppy.

Old Dog answers with two words. “A home.”

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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!

Fat Cat? Fight Kitty Obesity with 8 Ways to Slim A Cat

Is your cat fluffy or fat? Kitty obesity is defined as exceeding ideal body weight by 20 percent, and today about forty percent of cats are considered overweight. Fat cats tend to carry a “pouch” of fat low in the tummy, but seem of average size otherwise. If you can’t feel the pet’s ribs, and/or she has a pendulous or bulging tummy, your pet is too plump.

I’ve been head-down busy working on the next book projects (shhh, news to come!) and haven’t posted in a while. But today, I released the next installment in my CAT FACTS, The Series, which covers feline obesity. So I hope today’s post is a help to you and your feline friends.

CAT FACTS, THE SERIES

You’ll find more detailed information about feline obesity in Cat Facts, The Series 15 (O): The Pet Parent’s A-to-Z Home Care Encyclopedia which includes these topics:

Obesity, Otitis, and Outdoor Shelter.

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

fat cat liver disease

Overweight cats that stop eating are at higher risk for fatty liver disease.

I’m fortunate that Seren-kitty has always been petite, a good eater but not overly pudgy. She doesn’t even have that tummy pouch. In her case, she’s always been very active and I think that’s one reason she remains so healthy even at nearly 21 years old.

Karma-Kat tends to put on the pudge, even though he’s very picky, compared to Seren. She’ll eat just about anything and never gains an ounce. Personally, my own metabolism is closer to Karma’s than to Seren. Drat!

If your tabby is tubby, why should you care? Obesity increases risk for diabetes, and is an aggravating factor in heart problems, arthritis, and skin problems.

fat cat thin cat

Common Causes for Fat Felines

Spaying and neutering won’t make kitty fat, but does reduce metabolic rate—how fast and efficiently food is use—by 15 to 20 percent. So unless food intake and exercise are adjusted after surgery, cats can gain weight.

Middle aged and older cats also tend to gain weight. Part of that may be due to changes in aging senses. While feline appetite is stimulated by scent, veterinary experts say a partial reduction in smell sense prompts cat to eat more food.

Indoor-only cats exercise less since they don’t have to chase mice to survive. Couch-potato pets fed high-calorie tasty foods often overeat either out of boredom or from being over-treated by owners.

8 Ways to Slim A Cat

Your vet should rule out potential health complications beforehand. Kitty crash diets can prompt deadly liver problems, called hepatic lipidosis. It’s best to aim for losing only about 1 percent of kitty’s starting weight per week. Medical supervision or a special therapeutic weight-loss diet prescribed by the vet may be necessary for obese cats. But for moderately overweight kitties, these tips work well.

  1. Curb Snacks. Eliminating or reducing treats easily cuts calories. Instead, reserve part of the kitty’s regular diet—a handful of kibble, for instance. Keep it handy to dispense as “treats” when Kitty pesters, or reward with attention, not treats. (Ooooooh I can hear the cats now yowling, “No fair!”
  2. Meal Feed. Rather than keeping the bowl full for all day nibbling, switch to meal feeding measured amounts. Divide the daily food allotment into four or even five small meals keep her from feeling deprived. Multiple small meals increase the body’s metabolic rate, so she burns more calories faster. (Hey, this works for me, too, when I can manage to do it.)
  3. Offer Diet Foods. Reducing diets typically replace fat in the food with indigestible fiber, dilute calories with water, or “puff up” the product with air. “Senior” diets typically have fewer calories, so switching older pets to an age-appropriate formula helps. “Lite” diets aren’t magical and only mean the food has less calories than the same brand’s “regular” food—it might have more calories than another company’s food. Some cats eat more of the diet food to make up for lost calories, so you still have to measure the meals. Be sure to check with your vet before deciding to make major nutrition changes, though.
  4. Go For A Walk.  Make twice-daily 20 minute exercise part of your routine. Cats won’t power walk, but a slow to moderate stroll at the end of the leash once or twice a day around the house or garden will help burn energy.
  5. Schedule Play. Interactive play is the best way to encourage feline exercise. Feather toys or fishing-pole lures that the cat will chase are ideal. Some cats learn to play fetch if you toss tiny wads of paper across the room or down the stairs. Entice your cat to chase the beam of a flashlight. Or toss kitty kibble for the cat to pounce and munch.
  6. Create A Hunt. Put food at the top or bottom of the staircase, or on a cat tree so kitty has to get off her pudgy nether regions to eat. If she can’t manage stairs or leaps, put the bowl on a chair and provide a ramp up so he’s burning a few calories. Setting the bowl across the house from Fluffy’s bed also forces her to move.
  7. Puzzle The Cat. Commercial treat balls and interactive feeders are great options. Place one or two meal portions inside kitty puzzles so he must work to get the food. This can solve portion control, exercise, and the pester factor all in one.
  8. Automatic Feeders. When you must be gone during the day, consider using an automatic feeder. Some have refrigerated units to offer fresh canned food servings from locked compartments at timed intervals

How do you handle your pudgy kitty? Does he or she eat a special diet, or do you try to increase exercise in some way? What tricks work for your clowder, please share! Obesity impacts more than looks. It’s also a longevity issue. Overweight cats have an increased risk for dying in middle age. A slim cat enjoys all nine of her lives.

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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!