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Whether you are home, a pet sitter is staying with your pets, or you or traveling with your pet, a first aid kit is essential. Here are some Veterinarian and ASPCA recommended items for your DIY kit. Make sure to check your pack every few months to make sure nothing has expired or needs to be replaced.
Having a pet get lost is an awful, terrifying experience. Even with microchip technology, only 1 in 3 ever make it home again. Having been a pet parent that was fortunate enough to have my cat be 1 of those 3, after 9 days of not eating and not sleeping, I wanted to share some tips on door and window safety. These tips also apply to dogs, who like to race out the door to chase a dog or squirrel they see going by!
Use Baby Gates as Window Guards
Chewy.com actually sells these cheaper than I found anywhere else (pictured here). They are spring mounted to stay in place but we also put benches against them so the cats have a seating area (since the window sill is blocked) and there's no way they can burst out the screen. Originally we relied on screws driven through the screen frame into the siding, but what we found out can happen, is a large cat in the midst of a fight with another cat can actually hit the screen so hard the fabric pulls out from the frame and they're gone in an instant. So now any windows we open have these gates in front of the screen. If the window is closed, you can simply pop the gate out until needed.
Use Dog Exercise Pens as "Airlock" Systems
Cat Cafes work because they have airlock systems to ensure the cats don't get out as patrons come in and out. This is the same idea, but thousands of dollars cheaper! We're talking $20 vs $2,000. I use the 48" because I have cats that are Olympic jumpers and the 24" and 36" they'd clear with little effort (pictured here). Create an enclosed area just inside the exterior door, so if you are trying to come in, someone racing down the hallway after a toy or another pet doesn't leap out the door as it opens. Or get startled when jumped by their "brother" and leap and end up leaping out the door as it opens. If someone comes to the door, I always step outside and shut the door behind me; I never talk with the door part way open - that's just asking for a lost pet.
Institute Pet Checks Before Opening the Exterior Garage Door
We do a pet check before we open the exterior garage door. Our kitchen door opens into the garage. We go in and out to get tools, or empty trash, and it's always possible someone darts into the garage and we don't notice. So before opening the door to the outside, we do a "pet check". We take a quick walkabout the house, and ensure we see each dog and cat and no one is anywhere near the kitchen door we're about to go back out through. Only then do we open the door to the outside. Word to the wise - when you leave, DO lock that door from house to garage. The suction from the exterior door opening can pop open a doorknob, and suddenly the door to your house is open while the exterior door is open, and things can happen fast. That dog or cat could be down the street before you get your car shut off. We always turn the deadbolt so that can't happen.
Make a Temporary Pet Room
If you're having guests over or a party, move a couple litter pans, some toys, beds, food and water into a spare bedroom and lock the cats in until the guests are gone. Also do the same with the dogs or put them in an exercise area in the backyard if the weather is good. An open front door is something to go investigate to a dog, who will happily trot off down the street and it could be hours before you realize your dog is gone. I once caught a guest deliberately trying to let my cat out. They weren't invited back - ever. Even if someone isn't that bad, people not used to pets may let one out without thinking, or just leave doors ope as they go in and out.
There are 2 choices, and the ability to choose depends on if there is advance notice of
the impending natural disaster or emergency. For example, warnings of tropical
storms and hurricanes (and the accompanying flooding) occur often weeks in advance,
allowing planning time such as locating boarding facilities in other cities, and/or pet friendly hotels.
However, tornados, earthquakes, and even blizzards and ice storms come unexpectedly and you may find yourself having to shelter in place. Or you may need to because you have enough animals or types of animals that cannot simply go to a boarding facility or hotel. I recently had to shelter in place with all my pets, rescues, and ferals for 8 days in near 0 degree temperatures with impassable roads, no power (so no heat), and no running water. Here's what I did and learned so I can be more prepared next time.
Shelter In Place Tips and Lessons Learned:
Notes on generator size:
Each generator specifies the total amperage it can support. There are 3 important things to remember about that total:
Notes on gas stoves:
Gas stoves made after 1990 have a lockout feature that will NOT allow the burners to be manually lit. The safety feature added to them locks the gas valve so it will not flow to allow a manual light. I discovered this much to my consternation. Next time I'll buy a vintage stove!
DO NOT LEAVE YOUR PETS BEHIND. If it isn't safe for you, it isn't safe for your pets. They may become trapped, abused, or die. They will NOT "be OK on their own". They MIGHT get lucky and be taken in but the odds are against them.
Not all people shelters accept pets - in fact most don't. So disaster planning is essential. Just as you may have plans in the event of an earthquake, be sure to include your 4 legged family in those plans:
PREPARING AN EVACUATION KIT
Have a PREPACKED container with:
Encountering an animal in need can happen anywhere: a grocery store parking lot (as I once discovered), an office complex, a field, a festival, a gas station, the side of a freeway....you get the idea. Sometimes you aren't prepared; and when you go back later the animal is gone. This can be heart breaking especially if the animal was in desperate need like the kitten I found in the grocery store parking lot trying to eat a piece of mulch she was so starved at that point. This was 20 years ago but I remember it well:
I was new to animal rescue, and unprepared because I'd gone to buy my weekly groceries not rescue cats! It was 40 degrees out, she was weak with hunger. I had a friend with me who I sent into the store to buy a can of kitten food and a plastic bowl. I opened it and she ate the whole thing in seconds. I sent him back into the store for more cans, while I stayed with her to ensure she didn't run off. I opened the next can, while he went back into the store and came back with a laundry basket with a lid (thankfully it was a grocery store that had more than milk and dry goods!) and a large dishtowel. We turned the laundry basket into a cat carrier, abandoned the weekly grocery shopping, and took her home. We paid for her vaccinations and tests, and the local Shelter put her into their adoption program and two weeks later she had a forever home.
After that, I began keeping things in my car in case I encountered a situation like that again. Here's what you'll need to build an emergency rescue kit:
Remember to always use caution and common sense. You may need to call for help. The animal may not have had a Rabies vaccination; if you get bit, go to the ER so they can administer any necessary shots.
Every pet is different on the temperature they can endure. Older or overweight dogs, and brachycephalic (short nosed dogs such as bulldogs) are at greater risk for heat stroke and heat exhaustion which are life threatening. Dogs that are recently moved to a different climate and were previously not acclimated to heat will struggle and may always be more sensitive to high temperatures. The thickness of the coat doesn't necessarily matter. Even those with short, thin coats can become overheated.
MYTHBUSTER: Cats do NOT tolerate heat! They are just as susceptible to heat stroke as dogs and people.
Signs of heat exhaustion in cats are rapid breathing, redness of the tongue, vomiting, lethargy, stumbling, staggering gait. As their body temperature rises, the cat will collapse and have seizures or slip into a coma.
Vigorous exercise in high temperatures can bring on heat exhaustion or stroke especially when the dog is not used to vigorous exercise or the temperatures have suddenly changed from cold or cool to very warm.
Always bring plenty of water along for the dog when you go to a park or take the dog for a walk on a hot day. Pet stores have refillable drinking bottles for dogs. Dehydration can add to the danger of heat exhaustion and stroke.
In warm weather, their water bowl will need to be filled more often as they will go through their water much faster than previously and running out of water in warm temperatures can be life threatening.
Symptoms of heat exhaustion are lethargy and listlessness, excessive panting, and anxiety followed by diarrhea and vomiting which is followed by going into shock. Do NOT put cold water or ice packs on the animal because it makes it harder for them to cool off. Dogs cool themselves through shade, drinking water, and panting.