What A Pain! Understanding Pet Pain & What to Do When Pets Hurt

We know pain hurts, but pain in pets and treating pet pain when pets hurt confuses us. They can’t tell us they feel pain, or where it hurts. Not like humans.

Because I get to work at home, there are certain perks I enjoy–such as going barefoot to work. But one afternoon last fall I moved too fast and kicked the whey outta my big toe. This wasn’t just a stubbed toe, either—it lifted and peeled the nail back to the quick, bled everywhere and hurt like the devil! Yes, I said a few choice words as I hobbled down the stairs from my office (trying not to leave a bloody trail) to get bandage material. Ooooooh, that puppy throbbed and made me whimper and howl, let me tell you.

shepherds prone to hot spots

Magic was always ready for a treat!

Pet Pain Matters, Too

I understand how Magical-Dawg felt several years ago. After a run in the field playing fetch, he started shivering when he came inside. The ninety-degree weather argued that he was not chilled. I checked him head-to-tail, and found nothing wrong. But later in the week, he again started shivering, and even growled at me when I asked him to move—very uncharacteristic.

FCC noticeFinally, after several days and two vet visits, we figured out his problem. He’d torn a dewclaw back to the quick. it hadn’t come off, so the injury remained hidden. Seren-kitty had this happen once, too, when her claw caught on bedding as she leaped from the pillow. She hid. But Magic’s short temper, shivers, and hyper-alert behavior resulted from being in pain.

I recently attended an online conference co-sponsored by Fear Free Pets and the San Francisco SPCA (you can still register/view the on-demand sessions). A session led by Dr. Ralph Harvey titled The Behaviors of Pain: Assessment, Scoring, and the Impacts of Animal Pain, offered information important for practitioners and pet parents to know.

Dr. Harvey noted that the gold standard for assessing human pain is self reporting. We’re asked, how bad is your pain on a scale of one-to-ten? Animals can’t do that, so veterinarians need to determine discomfort in other ways.

dog painSIGNS OF PAIN IN DOGS & CATS

The onset of pain can be sudden (acute) or chronic (ongoing). Pet parents may not notice discomfort when it progresses. You might attribute your dogs’ behavior changes to old age. Today, veterinarians consider the presence (or absence) of pain as a vital sign, and keep track of it. Pet parents can (and should!) do the same. Watch for changes in:

  • Temperament
  • Vocalization
  • Posture
  • Locomotion (movement)
  • Severe and dramatic behavior changes

What does that mean? Dogs in pain might whimper, whine, cry, or yelp when touched. They may hold up an injured leg, limp, hunch their backs, and beg for attention. Friendly pets shun attention or hide, while shy animals become more demanding. Feline pain symptoms look like fearful behavior, with the cat staying still and quiet, or trembling. Cats often hide; when you touch them they nail you. In addition, pain increases arterial blood pressure and heart rate, increases stress, and affects neurological activity.

PET PAIN BEHAVIORS

Pets in pain display a suite of signs. Dog pain signs include any one or combination of the following.

  • Hunched or prayer position
  • Glazed facial expression
  • Attention-seeking and whining (the bond with you may influence that)
  • Licking the painful area
  • Usually won’t hide the painful body part
  • Appetite rarely affected

Cats are not small dogs, and display their own pain signs:

  • Poor or lack of grooming
  • Hissing or aggression upon manipulation of painful part
  • Hide the painful part to look “normal”
  • Dissociation from environment
  • Vocalization is RARE as a sign of pain
  • Isolation or hiding
  • Hit or miss litter box issues
  • Pain faces—Feline Grimace Scale

If you love cats but haven’t heard of The Feline Grimace Scale you MUST check it out and become familiar with this. Dogs have very expressive faces–cats not so much. So providing pictures for comparison helps enormously when trying to figure out if (and how much) discomfort cats feel. You can download the fact sheet (below) plus a four-page detailed training help at https://www.felinegrimacescale.com/

cat pain feline grimace scale

Pain Varies from Pet to Pet

Pain tolerances vary from pet to pet just as in people. A one-size-fits-all program won’t work. Experts say there is a five-fold variation in pain tolerance for the same surgical procedure in humans. So if a condition would be painful in a person, assume it’s also painful in your pet.

Dang, I had no idea! My toe-throb injury kept me awake the first night despite multiple doses of Advil, and only subsided to a dull roar three days later. I waited a week before I got up the courage to look under the BandAid…Ew. Not pretty. I retired my sparkly sandals early and hoped socks and bandages would keep the loose nail from tearing away. About six weeks later, the dead nail lifted off. I said “ouch” many-several-times. And increased the dose of Advil.

cat painWhat Is Pain? The Technical Version…

How does pain work? Damaged tissue releases chemicals that sensitize nerve endings. Aggravated nerves send pain signals up the spinal cord to the brain. The brain recognizes the sensation and shouts, “Dang, that smarts!” and triggers a protective reflex. This “learned avoidance” teaches Kitty to pull back her nose from the candle flame, for instance, and urges Poochie to hold up his hurt paw so it heals.

Not all pain is severe or sudden, or requires pain drugs. For instance, antibiotics relieve pain by curing a sore throat. Heat lamps relieve chronic arthritis pain. Water is a natural anesthetic for your pet’s burning skin allergy pain.

Extreme pain, though, causes a more complicated natural response that depresses immune function, interferes with blood clotting and wound healing, and negatively affects the cardiovascular system. Extreme pain can also permanently rewire neural pathways to create a “pain memory” that keeps pets feeling pain long after the injury has healed. It’s as if the normal highway nerve impulse travels must repeatedly “detour” from the safe path and instead leap off the same painful cliff.

How to Treat Dog Pain and Ways to Relieve Cat Pain

But pets require specific dosages and metabolize drugs differently than people—human pain medicines may be dangerous to pets. For example, dogs can develop ulcers from human-type aspirin products. Cats can DIE if given people- or dog-specific pain medicines. Pain control options from your veterinarian are always the best and safest choice for cats and dogs.

Narcotic pain relievers for severe pain, such as morphine, codeine and Demerol, are available only by prescription. Veterinarians can compound some medicines into peanut butter or fish paste so your pet willingly accepts it. After surgery, drains can deliver continued pain relief into the chest and abdominal cavity, the joint, or even into the bloodstream. Chemotherapy and radiation relieves certain kinds of cancer pain. A “pain patch” delivers an opioid drug transdermally (through the skin). After we had to amputate Bravo-Dawg’s leg due to bone cancer, pain medication kept him comfortable. In most cases, your veterinarian prescribes the drugs for your pet. Once approved by the doctor, you can order them at online sources such as Chewy.

There are quite a few products for chronic arthritis pain in dogs. Not so much for cats. However, recently the FDA approved injectable Solensia (frunevetmab) specifically for cat arthritis pain. It’s the first monoclonal antibody drug approved for animals. Hurray for cats! If you have a senior feline friend, chances are the cat could benefit from arthritis pain relief. Ask your vet if this treatment is right for your cat.

Ask For Pain Relief–Advocate for Your Pets!

Depending on the condition being treated, pain medication may—or may not—be included. Ask your veterinarian about pain policies and procedures, and if there might be an extra cost or if it’s part of the fee. Any time your pet has a sudden change in behavior, please have him checked by the doctor. Treating a health issue that prompts behavior change usually solves the problem.

Some animal hospitals cut costs by eliminating pain medicine. Be aware that while anesthetics and tranquilizers keep pets asleep during a treatment, they do not relieve pain once your pet wakes up. If your veterinarian doesn’t mention it, ask about pain relief options for your cat and dog.

Over the Counter Pain Pills for Pets?

Yes, there are OTC pain treatment options for pets. Since every dog and cat needs different things, always run things by your veterinarian first.

CBD products offer a popular and effective way to address chronic pain for such things as arthritis. I recently learned about products from ElleVet, available only from veterinarians or direct from their store (click the link, below). Cornell University has clinically tested these for dose effectiveness. Even better, one product ElleVet’s Feline Complete Paste has been developed specifically for cats, in a chicken liver flavored paste that cats love. It’s suggested for joint discomfort, stress, and neuro support.

What About Magical-Dawg (and my) Toes?

We took Magic to get his boo-boo fixed. The veterinarian sedated him, clipped off the torn nail, bandaged his paw, and prescribed dog-safe pain meds with antibiotics while he healed. And the pain in my big toe also went away, and after six months, a new nail grew to replace the damage (yay!). Whether human or furred, no creature should suffer pain. Providing proper pain medicine helps pets recover more quickly and completely.

Learn about other home remedies that safely help relieve pet pain!

It’s also the right thing to do.

Have your pets ever needed pain medication–after surgery or an injury? How do you know when your pet hurts? And have you ever had an injury similar to your pets, like me?

I’m keeping my fingers (and toes!) crossed that Shadow-Pup and Karma-Kat never need pain meds! Or that a heating pad or cold compress does the trick for minor whoopsies (as discussed in the natural healing book).

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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?  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!

6 Easy Fresh Breath Tips & How to Brush Doggy & Kitty Teeth (Without Getting Bit!)

Do you brush dog teeth? The AVMA sponsors National Pet Dental Health Month every February.

According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, 80% of dogs and 70% of cats show signs of oral disease by age 3.

But it’s never too late (or too soon) to get your pets’ pearly whites checked out by your veterinarian. Often the doctor has some great tips for keeping cat teeth clean and dog breath at bay, including how to brush doggy teeth.

Does the thought of brushing dog teeth make you cringe, roll your eyes, whimper, slink away–and feel guilty? You’re not alone. But once that puppy-sweet breath morphs into curl-your-eyebrows stench, it’s long past the time to address that stink-icity.
Reach pups early to accept teeth brushing

Why Brushing Dog Teeth is Important

FCC noticeBy the time dogs (and cats!) reach the age of three, most of them have some amount of dental disease. Pets will benefit from toothy attention all year round. After all, pets don’t brush their teeth, and they tend to gulp—not chew—their food. Just think what your teeth would look like in three years if you never brushed!

Dogs (and cats) share a lot of the same dental issues with humans. A veterinary dental visit involves anesthesia, ultrasonic scaling, polishing, and sometimes fluoride treatment, or antibiotics, especially after removing teeth.

Dr. Jan Bellows, a board-certified veterinary dentist, says your veterinarian can use a plant-based gel called Vetigel that stops the bleeding from pulled teeth within seconds. Veterinary dentists also may use professional sealants like Sanos Dental Sealant, that helps prevent plaque from attaching under your pet’s gums for up to 6 months.

You can reduce the number of veterinary dental treatments (and your guilt factor) with easy home care tips. Here are 6 no-guilt tips to freshen up your dog’s breath.

Healthy treats for dog dental health

6 Easy Fresh Breath Tips

    • Dry food won’t “cure” dental disease, but it doesn’t stick to teeth as readily as wet foods. Crunching dry food can reduce dental problems by about 10 percent, though, so offering your dog “crunchies” after moist dinners can help. At my house, Shadow-Pup and Karma-Kat love Greenies. You can get tiny fish-shaped Greenies treats for cats, and different treat-sizes Greenies for dogs. At Karma’s last exam, our veterinarian said his teeth looked like a one or two-year-old (he’s actually nearly nine!).
    • Many dogs relish healthy people foods like raw veggies or fruit, and chewing on these “detergent” foods can help scrub teeth clean. Offer dogs carrots or apple slices for healthy natural dental snacks. Make ’em big pieces, too, so he must gnaw off a piece rather than gulp it whole. Here are some safe people foods for pets.
Dogs love apples & it's good for teeth.

Eating “detergent” foods like apples is good for dog teeth.

  • Special “dental diets” and treats available in grocery stores or dispensed from the veterinarian can help, especially with dog breeds that seem more prone to dental issues like the Yorkshire Terrier. Look for the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) seal of approval on the food or treats. That affirms the product has passed stringent requirements and dogs what it claims. Here’s the list of cat-approved and tested products. And here’s the list for dog products. I particularly like the Science Diet Oral Care for Dogs and for Cats, but ask your veterinarian for a recommendation.
  • Most veterinary dentists dislike cow bones, pig hooves, and other hard chew objects that may break your puppy’s teeth. Sterilized bones designed for doggy dental care, though, may be just the ticket. Lately, Shadow-Pup has enjoyed these trachea “bone” dog treats, fully digestible and crunchy.
  • Puppies love to chew. Offer your dog a legal object that also has dental benefits, like the “dental toys” that contain a nubby surface designed to scrub the teeth. Please supervise, though. Too many of the so-called “indestructible” chew toys get eaten, and cause blockage problems.
  • A wide range of commercial dental chews (rawhide, ropes, treats) available for dogs may also prevent doggy breath. Some are infused with special enzymes that kill bacteria and help prevent plaque. Also, look for dental rinse products from your veterinarian. Ask your vet for a recommendation, as the professional products work best.

brush cat teethHow To Brush Kitty or Doggy Teeth (Without Getting Bit!)

Adult dogs often object to tooth brushing. It’s best to start puppies with a dental hygiene program while they’re too little to argue. Just turn it into a tasty game and your pooch will BEG for the attention. Here’s how.

  1. Mess With His Mouth. Over several weeks, get your dog used to having his mouth handled. You can get pups used to having something inserted into their mouth by flavoring your finger with low-salt chicken broth, or peanut butter (yum!).
  2. Treat With Toothpaste. Offer doggy or kitty toothpaste as a treat. Special meat-flavored toothpaste is available that gives pets the incentive to open wide. Never use human toothpaste. Pets can’t spit so they end up swallowing the foam, and swallowed fluoride can be dangerous and damage your dog or cat’s internal organs. Dr. Bellows recommends the PetSmile brands, since they also have the VOHC seal of approval. These pet toothpastes come in London broil, rotisserie chicken, and cheese flavors!
  3. Use Toy Props. Once they accept mouth handling and like the toothpaste, try propping the puppy’s mouth open with a favorite toy. Simply encourage him to bite on a chew object, and wrap your hand around his muzzle to hold it in place. That gives you access to his open mouth and also gives him something to do with his teeth. Use the same toy each time, so he identifies it with tooth attention–and getting a GREAT reward afterward. Practice doing this several times and praising him while giving toothpaste treats before you introduce a toothbrush.
  4. Choose Pet Brushes. Special pet toothbrushes are smaller and may be designed to better fit the dog’s or cat’s mouth. A soft child’s toothbrush works well.
  5. “Finger” The Teeth. Some puppies better accept your finger. Finger toothbrushes are available for brushing pet teeth, or simply wrap a damp cloth over your fingers and use that to scrub the outside of his teeth. Puppy tongues clean the inside surface of teeth so you won’t have to worry about poking too far inside the mouth.
  6. Praise The Performance. Experts recommend you brush after every meal, but two to three times a week is good. Always be sure to praise and throw a happy puppy-kitty party afterwards so your pet finishes with a good taste over the experience—literally!

Keeping breath fresh goes beyond good dental hygiene, too. Pungent breath makes you avoid dog kisses and purring lap snuggles (awww, you hurt his feelings!). It also points to potentially painful, dangerous dental problems that can damage your dog’s and cat’s organs. Yes, it’s THAT important.

So…do you brush your dog’s or cat’s teeth? What about offering “dental-friendly” foods and treats? How do you keep your pooch  and kitty kissable fresh? 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 Pets Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book giveaways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Dog Flu, What You Should Know About Canine Influenza

It’s flu season for people (on top of all the COVID crappiocca). But what about pets? Is dog flu a problem and do our pet dogs need flu shots? I first wrote about canine influenza in this post back in 2015 when dog flu hit the news. Has anything changed since then? In a word, yes.

People catch viruses from other people. During the past couple of years, with many activities suspended, we’ve stayed at home and our dogs also became home-bodies. But soon (please please please, paws crossed!) when the weather improves and we’re comfortable mingling, many of our dogs will accompany us on outings. Very young, very old, and immunocompromised dogs have the greatest risk for contracting any infectious illness.
dog flu canine influenza

Are Dogs At Risk for Canine Influenza?

Dogs don’t interact with bunches of other dogs every day, the way people expose themselves riding buses or during work and social events. Show dogs and other performance canine athletes, as well as those visiting dog parks, boarding facilities, or daycare risk more exposure by coming in contact with other dogs. Proper vaccinations help protect pets if exposed.

What about dog flu? Back in 2015, a localized outbreak in Chicago affected about a thousand dogs. Since that time, they have identified cases in almost every state. Unlike people, dog flu isn’t seasonal and can happen at any time. Organizations that track the canine influenza virus reported outbreaks in 8 states in late 2021, in northeast states, in California and Florida, and in Texas.

TWO DIFFERENT DOG FLU VIRUSES

Just as with people, there are different kinds of flu that affect dogs. Canine influenza A (H3N8) virus is closely related to a common flu virus found in horses for over 40 years. It’s thought that the virus mutated and became infectious to dogs, with first reported outbreak ten years ago in 2003 in Greyhounds. Today, they considered H3N8 a dog-specific canine flu.

A newer strain caused the Chicago outbreak of dog flu. That was the first appearance of Influenza A H3N2 strain of the virus in North America; however, it was first detected in 2007 in dogs in South Korea.

It’s thought that this a “bird flu” adapted to affect dogs. Canine H3N2 virus has since appeared in China and Thailand where it also can spread to and from cats as well as dogs. However, studies indicate that neither virus transmits well to other companion animal species. Further, it is different from human seasonal H3N2 viruses. There have been no reports of dog-to-human transmission, and it is not considered contagious to people.

HOW DOGS CATCH FLU

Dog flu is highly contagious between dogs, in part because it’s so new and few dogs have immiunity. Up to 90% of dogs exposed to the virus get it–but 10-20% contract the virus but don’t show symptoms. However, about 1 out of every 5 infected dogs suffer severe illness and need hospitalization. Sadly, up to 8% of dogs die from complications of the illness.

The virus spreads through direct contact with bodily fluids—sneezing, coughing, sniffing, licking. That means dog-to-dog contact can spread the virus, or aerosol infection from a sneeze/cough. Dogs also catch dog flu from licking toys after contagious dog has mouthed them. Stress caused by travel, confinement or interaction with strange dogs increases your dog’s susceptibility.

SIGNS OF DOG FLU

Both strains of dog flu can cause high fever, loss of appetite, coughing, nasal discharge, and lethargy. Some dogs develop red or runny eyes, and in most cases, there’s a history of contact with other sick or “carrier” dogs.

  • MILD FORM: Dogs with mild symptoms may have a “wet” cough (resembling “kennel cough”) with nasal discharge. In mild cases, these signs last 10 to 30 days and usually go away on their own. Cough suppressants and/or antibiotics may be prescribed if a secondary bacterial infection exists. According to Cornell, some infected dogs won’t show signs at all (some experts say probably 20% are asymptomatic). However, they are still contagious and can spread the disease.
  • SEVERE FORM: Symptoms may be more severe in cases caused by the H3N2 virus. Signs may be a high sudden fever (above 104 degrees Fahrenheit), followed by hemorrhagic pneumonia, coughing up blood and difficulty breathing. Illness can be complicated with bacterial pneumonia. Hospitalization with aggressive treatment with antibiotics, fluids are vital. Isolation to protect other dogs from contracting the disease is important.

DIAGNOSING CANINE INFLUENZA

Diagnosis starts with symptoms. If your dog has a cough, runny nose, and lethargy, ask your veterinarian for an exam. Further tests to confirm a diagnosis may include blood tests, or PCR of nasal secretions or lung tissue. Cornell has further information on current tests.

A vaccine (NOBIVAC® CANINE FLU BIVALENT) is available for protection against both known strains of dog flu. Many boarding and daycare facilities now require this preventive vaccine to protect your dog and others. Your veterinarian will advise you best whether dog flu affects your neck of the woods, and if vaccination is a good idea for your dog.

For more information about dog flu, refer to these links:

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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? NOTE: Some links to books or other products may be to affiliates, from which I may earn a small percentage of sales, but I recommend nothing unless I feel it would benefit readers. 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 giveaways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Cold Weather Pet Protection

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Cold weather pet protection becomes more important this time of year. Here in North Texas we’re bracing for temps to drop. Wind chill makes it even more uncomfortable or even dangerous for our dogs and cats. Refer to these blizzard tips from the ASPCA for additional help.

Outside animals, like feral cats or stray dogs, suffer greatly. House pets used to warm indoor temps need extra help, too. It seemed like a good time to remind everyone about cold weather pet protection.

COLD WEATHER PET PROTECTION

Here in Texas, the weather stays HOT HOT HOT well into November and December. Now it’s the first weeks of February, and it’s the coldest part of the year. For cats and dogs that will spend a lot of time outside during the cold winter months, it’s important to get ’em ready now.

It takes time for that winter coat to grow. And it’s not fair to the dog to expect him to “get hairy” overnight when the first frost freezes. The video below, from a past KXII-TV pet talk, still has good information with suggestions and cautions for prepping pets for the colder weather to come.

furry chow chow prone to hot spots

Thickly furred dogs like the Chow have more cold weather protection.

How do you get your dogs ready? Slow, incremental exposure to cold weather. That helps build up the pet’s adaptive ability, including fur growth. And if your pet has little furry protection, provide a warm sweater or coat for insulation.

Magical-Dawg always loved cold weather, and would stay out in the wind and wet if we’d let him. Karma-Kat, on the other paw, has a very good idea about how to stay comfy and already has the warmest spots staked out for snoozing in sunny puddles on the carpet. Or under the stained-glass lampshades.

Shadow-Pup also has some undercoat for insulation. But his short fur risks frostbite or worse, if exposed to wind and cold for more than ten minutes or so.

Magic adored snow!

COLD WEATHER PET PROTECTION FOR CATS

Feral cats and community cats (those who roam neighborhoods without one special family) don’t have that luxury. They need extra help. Many of the tips, below, work equally well to create safe outdoor spots for your dogs, too.

cold weather cat dangersI wrote about keeping outdoor cats safe, and received lots of comments here and on Facebook. That discussion had more to do with choosing whether to allow cats outside. But what if you have strays that refuse to come inside, or a feral colony you care for?

My colleague Louise Holton of Alley Cat Rescue shared some PAW-some tips with our Cat Writers Association group and gave me permission to also share it here. What are some other ways to help keep kitty safe? Many of these also apply to keeping outside dogs winterized and safe. Here’s Louise’s suggestions.

Image Copr. Alley Cat Rescue; The lid of the storage bin forms the “ceiling” and the cat’s body warmth fills the small area to keep kitty protected.

OUTDOOR PET SHELTERS

A feeding station will help to keep food and water dry and will help with freezing weather. For Bedding you should use straw or a synthetic fleece material such as that used to make horse saddle covers. Blankets, sheets and towels retain moisture and remain damp and should not be used during winter.
If you cannot build a shelter, you can use any type of strong box or crate, or buy a dog “igloo” from your pet supply company (doors set off to the side protect from the wind). The styrofoam ice chests work great for cat shelters, with thick walls that provide some insulation. The ecoFlex Outdoor Feral Cat House (below) is another option.
outdoor cat houseMylar insulation made of polyester and aluminum reflects radiant heat. It is used to keep houses cooler in summer and warmer in winter. I normally used this type of insulation in attics and is a perfect material to use to insulate outdoor cat shelters. You can also nest a smaller container (as above in the picture) in a larger one, and fill the spaces between with straw or even styrofoam peanuts.

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TIPS FOR WINTERIZING FERAL CAT COLONIES & COMMUNITY CATS

  • You should insulate the shelter with thick plastic or other material such as Mylar mentioned above to keep out wind and cold.
  • You could buy a doghouse and modify it, blocking off part of the larger opening to make it smaller and therefore warmer inside for the cats.
  • Size should be approximately 3’ x 3 ’ and 2′ high.
  • Cats will cuddle together inside for warmth.
  • Build enough shelters so that around 6 cats can stay in each one.
  • Use straw for the bedding NOT HAY or blankets or towels.
  • It is safer to have 2 small openings for the cats to enter and be able to get away if danger presents itself. Put the openings on the side of the shelter that is protected from the wind. Two openings will give a chance at escape should a pesky raccoon, for instance, or any other animal try to enter the shelter.
  • Raise the shelter off the ground by placing it securely on bricks or on a wooden pallet. If left on the ground, it will retain moisture and will rot.
  • Clean shelters each spring and autumn by replacing the bedding with fresh straw.

FIRST AID FOR FROSTBITE

This is an AUDIO FILE ONLY, an excerpt from my audiobook THE FIRST-AID COMPANION FOR DOGS AND CATS, now available. I figured folks could sure use the tips now–so feel free to share this with anyone who needs the help. The advice comes from veterinary emergency experts.

COLD WEATHER PET PROTECTION & PREPARATION

This is an older clip from my Pet Talk segment, but the information still applies. How do YOU keep your furry wonders safe in this BRRRRRRRRRRRR frigid weather? 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? NOTE: Some links to books or other products may be to affiliates, from which I may earn a small percentage of sales, but I recommend nothing unless I feel it would benefit readers. 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 giveaways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!


5 Blizzard Tips from the ASPCA to Save Your Pets Life!

In the past I’ve blogged about cold weather dangers for pets and this past week North Texas has enjoyed some sunny, warm days. But in other parts of the country–yet another blizzard threatens.

Bizzard tips for pets help you prepare and keep cats and dogs safe during the worst weather. Thank you to the ASPCA for sending this important and insightful infographic designed to keep your dogs and cats safe!

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For the love of doG, bring your outdoor pets INSIDE!

COLD WEATHER ISSUES FOR PETS

When cold weather descends, it impacts more than the shiver reflex. Last week the blog covered what constitutes old age in cats, and in fact our senior citizen dogs are most susceptible to cold temps.

Old dogs get less cold tolerant as they age, because they lose muscle and fat mass that insulates, increases their metabolism, and keeps them warm. Aging skin and fur also tends to get thinner. Little dogs have less body mass to generate natural heat, too, and often benefit from a doggy sweater especially when they must do outdoor bathroom duty.

Dog dressed with hat, scarf and sweater

Warm sweaters help keep lightly-furred dogs warm. You can find an assortment of sweaters at pet products stores (I wouldn’t recommend hats!). This Frisco cable knit sweater (for dogs OR for cats) comes in multiple sizes.

Pets stay warm by burning fuel—the food they eat. They need more calories to generate increased body warmth, too, especially if they’re outside pets and can’t rely on your warm lap. You can feed adult dogs a puppy food which increases the calories—or feed a “performance” diet. Just remember to switch back to a maintenance diet in the spring or you risk adding pounds and can end up with a fat Fido. When the temperature drops overnight, people pull on sweaters. Dogs don’t have the benefit of pulling something out of the closet to wear.

blizzard tips for pets

Shadow’s ready for cold weather! The Ruffwear Quinzee Jacket comes in four colors. Easy on with click-release side buckles, an elastic gusset for better sizing, and leash/harness opening in the back.

5 Blizzard Tips from the ASPCA to Save Your Pets Life!

You’ll find life saving first aid tips for hypothermia, frostbite, CPR, even cat fan belt injuries and more in The First Aid Companion for Dogs & Cats — including information about carbon monoxide poisoning.

But prevention trumps after the fact every time. This infographic from January 2016 still holds true. So please SHARE this post far and wide, and get our fur-kids the protection they need!

ASPCA_1ASPCA_2ASPCA_3ASPCA_4ASPCA_5

 

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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!