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February 2009
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April 2009

March 2009

Jack and Ruby

As pet professionals, we all have dog and cat clients that have touched our lives. Jack and Ruby are two such dogs. The connection between them was amazing.  When you were around them, you could participate in their conversation.  Ruby was always getting Jack into trouble, but Jack would follow her everywhere.  When Ruby crossed the Rainbow Bridge, it was not surprising that Jack followed a couple of weeks later. A typical day for them went like this.

One summer evening, Jack, a black lab, who is as wide as he is tall, lay on his bed. His sister Ruby, a German shepherd lay next to him on her bed.

“Ruby, stop touching my bed.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Stop touching my bed.”

“My paw is clearly on the floor.”


“You’re such a baby. Knock it off before Mom comes.”

Mom came. At least once a day, Mom needed to move Ruby’s bed away from Jack. Somehow Ruby always managed to scoot it closer.

“Everytime Mom moves your bed, I don’t get a cookie.”

“You’re welcome, Fatboy.”

“Good night Ruby.”

“Good night Jack.”

Of course, whenever Ruby had an idea, it needed to be put into play.

“Hey Jack, let’s go outside.”

“No, go back to sleep.”

“No, really Jack, I just have to pee.”

“No, you don’t.”

“Yes, I do.”

“No, you don’t. Go to sleep before Mom comes down and makes me go outside too.”

Mom came down. When you have an older large breed dog and she announces she needs to go pee, it doesn’t matter what time it is. You get up and let them out. This fact was not lost on Ruby.

“Thanks, Ruby.”

“Since , we’re outside annyyywaaay, let’s go over to the pond.”

“No, Ruby. Mom said make it quick.”

“Mom is sleeping at the door right now. She won’t notice how long we take.”

“But Ruby.”

“I just want to look at it. I won’t go in.”

“Mom will get mad if we come in wet.”

“We won’t go in. Oops, I just walked in the water. My feet are all wet. Oh well, might as well go for a swim.” Come on in, Jack.”

“But Ruby.”

“Mom won’t notice.”

Jack and Ruby had a grand ole time. When they finished playing, they were covered head to toe in muck.

“Now Jack, follow my lead. Walk in the house like nothing’s wrong. Mom won’t notice.”

Mom noticed. A second set of beds were already in the garage. This was not the first time this had happened.

“Thanks, Ruby.”

“Hey sleeping in the garage is fun.”

“Stop touching my bed.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

On the other side of the Rainbow Bridge, you just know that Ruby is touching Jack’s bed. Jack wouldn’t have it any other way.

Spring Safety Tips

 Spring is around the corner.  While waiting for the daffodils to poke through, let’s familiarize ourselves with upcoming dangers for our pets. As the birds and buds become more abundant, so does the wildlife.

1.       Snakes

a.        Poisonous snakebites are extremely painful.  A muzzle should be handy. The bite may not be immediately noticeable due to hair coverage. Signs include redness and swelling at the site, nervous, weak or disoriented appearance, salivating excessively, vomiting, respiratory distress and seizures. If respiratory distress occurs, remove the muzzle. Since the symptoms of snakebite and anaphylactic shock are so similar, you should visually check for possible wound sites. Pets are very good at reading our emotions. If we appear excited or stressed, then they will follow suit. The poison will work faster in a stressed or overexcited pet.  Remaining calm will help. Remove collars or other restrictive clothing as body swelling may occur. Call your vet first and then transport ASAP.

There are two ways to treat a poisonous snakebite. The first is with anti-venom. Many vets do not stock this because it is very expensive and has an expiration date. Anti-venom can be as harmful to the pet as the snakebite itself. The second is to treat it as an allergic reaction with antibiotics, steriods and fluid replacement. The sooner you treat it, the better the chance of recovery. If you live in an area with poisonous snakes, a constricting band in your pet first aid kit would be a good idea. In addition, you may want to discuss your veterinarians’ protocols.

b.      Treat non-poisonous snakebites as wounds. Inform your vet, as he may want to prescribe a round of antibiotics.

c.       A poisonous snakebite will have two clear fang marks. A non-poisonous snakebite will have two semicircles of teeth marks.

2.       Coyotes

Though coyotes hunt mainly during dusk and dawn, females will hunt during the day to feed hungry pups. Do not think your 90lb. golden is safe. Coyotes can hunt in packs. You should leash your pet while walking and keep cats indoors during peak hunting times. I walk my dogs with an air horn.  You will find them at hardware and marine stores. It is small enough to fit in a jacket pocket. The loud noise will scare off a non-rabid coyote if you are confronted with one.

3.       Animal Bites

Bats, raccoons, skunks and other animals are out in full force. Rabies vaccines should be current. If bitten, the wound will need treatment. In addition, your vet will give your pet a rabies booster.

4.       Skunks

You have a short window to deskunk your pet. The skunks’ spray is oil based. The longer you wait, the more the spray becomes absorbed by the skin. A deskunking kit should be ready prior to skunk season. My kit contains a plastic bucket, scrubber, small box of baking soda, small bottle of hydrogen peroxide, eyewash and a small bottle of pet degreasing shampoo.  It will work better on a dry coat. I will rinse the eyes before and after the wash. Combine the rest of the ingredients with water and mix well. Scrub the area and rinse well. Throw away any cloth collars, as they are not salvageable.

5.       Insect Bites

Be mindful of insect, bee and spider bites. They can cause your pet to go into anaphylactic shock. This is life threatening. Do not use tweezers to remove a stinger as it will squeeze more venom into the body. Use a credit card instead. Place the card under the stinger to lift it up and then flick it out. Symptoms of anaphylactic shock include pain, redness and swelling at site, unconsciousness, seizures, excessive salivation, vomiting and respiratory distress. This is similar to snakebite. Keeping calm will help your pet to stay calm. Your pet may lick at the area. You should always investigate what your pet is licking. Your first aid kit should contain an antihistamine already dosed for your pet by your veterinarian. If you suspect anaphylactic shock, call your veterinarian ASAP for instructions.

6.       Gardening

a.       When planning your garden, know which plants, bulbs and shrubs are hazardous to your pets. The ASPCA’s website: has a comprehensive list of poisonous plantings.

b.      Many commercial types of mulch treat with chemicals that are hazardous to your pets. Cocoa mulches can also be toxic.

c.       Store fertilizers and pesticides in the original containers and away from your pets.  Keep pets away from treated areas. Your pets will absorb toxins through the skin or pads of feet. Pets may also lick their paws and ingest the poison.

7.       Poisoning

a.       Poison Control’s Phone Number is 888-426-4435. This number should always be handy. You can get a refrigerator magnet at their website:

b.      Frontline can be fatal for rabbits. As with any product, use it in its intended manner. The label must indicate it is safe for your pet.

c.       Keep Valentine and Easter candy out of reach. Chocolate contains Theobromine. It affects the heart and circulatory systems. Even small amounts are dangerous. They cannot process Theobromine and it builds up in their bodies. Sugar-free candy contains xylitol which is fatal to dogs and cats.

d.      Keep track of where you hide the Easter Eggs. You do not want your pets to eat a rotten one.

8.       Weather

a.       Spring storms bring thunder and lightning. It can be fearful for some pets. It may cause them to flee. Make sure your pet is well-identified. A well-identified pet stands a better chance of coming home.

b.      We will transition from cold to heat related injuries. A pet can suffer a heatstroke in a parked car when the temperature exceeds 78 degrees in 15 minutes. A pet suffering from heat stroke needs immediate care. You need to cool them off gradually using lukewarm water. Do not use cold water or ice as it will cause the capillaries to constrict and create a thermal barrier. This thermal barrier will hinder your pets’ ability to cool down.  Call your veterinarian ASAP for instructions.

9.       Miscellaneous

a.       Do you know where your emergency hospital is? Do you have their phone number handy? Calling them before you leave will give them time to prepare for your arrival. They will also give you any instructions that you may need. You should make a practice run so you will know their exact location. It is not a good idea to try to locate them in a state of panic.

b.      Do you take a first aid kit along when you hike? Here is a link to a previous article on pet first aid kits:

c.       Antifreeze leaks can happen any time of the year. They clean up easily with soap and water.

As we wait for the snow to melt and the buds to bloom, take a few minutes to Spring-proof your pets’ life. They will thank you for it.