With the recent devastation in Texas and Louisiana, the wildfires in the west, and Irma lurking in the Atlantic, it is time to review disaster preparedness for you and your pets. Below is a list of things that are recommended to help you and your pets survive a natural disaster.
- Microchip your pet. It is a permanent, traceable form of identification. Any animal can be microchipped. Make sure to update your microchip registration when you move, change phone numbers, or get a new emergency contact. Also keep collars with tags on all cats and dogs. In an emergency, there may not be access to a microchip scanner.
- Plan for a pet friendly place to stay if you need to evacuate. Consider pet friendly hotels, kennels, or loved ones. NEVER LEAVE YOUR PETS BEHIND IF YOU MUST EVACUATE. Some shelters are now set up to accept people with pets.
- Start a buddy system. Exchange keys with someone who can evacuate your animals if you are not home when disaster strikes. Give that person your pets’ information and your emergency contact information. Make sure that person is comfortable handing your pets.
- Identify an emergency vet outside of your immediate area.
- Plan to have to temporarily confine your pet. If your pet is not use to a crate or carrier, take time to get them use to them.
- Know where to search for lost animals.
- Take photos of you with your pets so you can prove ownership (this is where microchipping can eliminate this problem).
- Assemble a disaster kit.
- Food – a one week supply in an airtight, waterproof container. A can opener and spoon if you feed canned food. Rotate the food every two months to avoid spoilage.
- Water – a one week supply in an airtight container out of direct sunlight. Rotate every two months.
- Basic animal first aid kit. One week supply of any medication your pet is on, plus flea and heartworm medication.
- Proof of vaccinations and photos to prove ownership.
- Collar, leash, harness, crate, collapsible food and water bowls, blanket, toys, and treats.
- Paper towels, dish soap, plastic bags, litter trays with litter
You can visit RedRover.org to find more resources for disaster preparedness. Hopefully you will never need these tips, but it never hurts to be prepared.
Ann E. Bastian, V.M.D.
August 15th is Check The Chip Day! This is a day to remind people to have their pet’s microchip checked to make sure it is working properly. 1 in 3 pets will get lost in their lifetime. Without proper identification, 90% will not return home. According to the American Humane Association, only 17% of lost dogs, and 2% of lost cats will find their way back to their original owners. Four million pets are euthanized each year at nationwide shelters.
Microchips are inserted between the shoulder blades with a needle and is a relatively painless procedure. Microchips are tiny transponders made of a special plastic or surgical glass. They are encoded with a unique set of numbers and letters that when read by a scanner can be traced back to the owner through the company’s registration. Most microchips read for about 25 years. The reports that microchips are the cause of cancer are false.
Please remember to register your pet if you have a microchip, and update the information with the chip company if you move or change phone numbers. Unfortunately, I have encountered several animals that could not be returned to their rightful owners because the chip was never registered or had outdated information on the registry.
Our staff will be happy to scan your pet’s microchip at your next visit to make sure everything is working.
Keep your pet safe – chip them!
Ann E. Bastian, V.M.D.
How many worms, ticks, viruses, or fleas on your pet are OK with you? Ten? One hundred? One thousand? I am going to bet that your answer is zero. Unfortunately, parasites are a constant threat to our pets. Most parasites are microscopic, so the threat goes unnoticed. It is amazing how many people decline an annual fecal exam because “they don’t see anything in their pet’s stool”!
There is a very interesting website (www.capcvet.org) that breaks down the incidence of parasites in all the counties in the United States and Canada. The following are the current statistics for Berks county:
Lyme disease – 18.9% (1 of 6 dogs test positive)
Erhlichiosis – 1.81% (1 of 56)
Anaplasmosis – 8.36% (1 of 12)
Roundworms – 3.11% (1 of 33)
Hookworms – 2.46% (1 of 41)
Whipworms – 1.11% (1 of 90)
Giardia – 4.95% (1 of 21)
Heartworm – 0.04% (1 of 157)
FeLV – 1.97% (1 of 51 cats)
FIV – 5.7% (1 of 18)
In our practice, we diagnose dogs with Giardia on a regular basis. Currently we have 2 dogs that are undergoing heartworm treatment. So, the threat is real. Please bring in a fecal when your pet comes in for their annual exam. Our staff is ready to answer any questions about the threat of parasites to your pet, and will help you formulate a plan to lessen the risk to your pet.
Ann E. Bastian, V.M.D
Recently I performed a dental on a 16-year-old dog, after which I removed an infected eye from a one pound, four-week-old kitten. While the cases were very different, they had one common denominator. At one point or another, someone suggested the patients should not have surgery based solely on their age. Now I will admit, I kind of held my breath a little on the one-pound kitten. It wasn’t because of its age; it was because of its size. It was hard to dose the medication accurately; and even harder to get an IV catheter in. However, I trusted my staff, they trusted me, and the kitten did very well during the surgery.
Age is not a disease process. There are certain diseases that are more common in elderly patients; but the diseases, not the age, dictate whether anesthesia and surgery are plausible. As an emergency vet, all my surgery cases were very sick when they were placed under anesthesia. We didn’t have the luxury of waiting to anesthetize healthy animals. Are there times when an animal is too sick to have a routine procedure on them? Absolutely… but the disease, not the age dictates that.
While I was at the Western Veterinary Conference in March, I attended a lecture on anesthesia. The board-certified anesthesiologist described a phone call he got for a consult with a former student. The dog was healthy, all the pre-anesthetic bloodwork was normal, but the doctor was terrified to anesthetize the dog. When the specialist asked why, the local doctor explained that the dog was 27 (it was an AKC registered dog, so the age was accurate). With a gentle prod and a reminder that age is not a disease, the 27-year-old Bichon had his dental done successfully, and the owner was very happy. So, the next time you think your cat or dog shouldn’t have something done because it is older, remember the 27-year-old Bichon!
Ann E Bastian, V.M.D.
Although February 2017 is in the books, it was Responsible Pet owner month so I thought it was worth reviewing some basics of what is involved in being a Responsible pet owner
- Research various breeds to decide which breed is right for your family. Things to consider include size, activity level and grooming needs. Talk to breeders at shows, ask your veterinarian, read information about different breeds at akc.org or breed specific websites. Make sure if you decide to buy from a breeder they are reputable. Shelters and rescue organizations have wonderful dogs and cats as well.
- Know the cost of pet ownership. Besides the initial adoption or purchase price, there is food, vaccines, medication, and insurance.
- Keep up on your pet’s health. The staff at Willow Creek can make recommendations on needed vaccines and preventative medication that will keep your new family member healthy and happy. Preventative care can help you avoid some of the larger medical bills in the future.
- Feed your pet a healthy, balance, age appropriate diet.
- Spay or neuter your pet. Besides helping with the pet overpopulation problem, spaying or neutering pets can help avoid medical problems such as mammary tumors, infections and tumors of the uterus, testicles, and prostate.
- Make sure your pet has ID. Microchips are a way of permanently identifying your pet if tags or collars come off.
- Have a basic first aid kit, and know some basic first aid skills. Keep the ASPCA Poison Control phone number in an easy to find location (1-888-426-4435).
- Train your dog to be a good citizen. There are several excellent trainers in the area. We can provide you with a list of local trainers. Your pet will be easier to care for, and you will enjoy your pet more if they are well behaved.
With the right preparation, pets are a wonderful part of our lives.
Ann E. Bastian, V.M.D.