Wednesday, February 28, 2018

There's an App For That Too - Pets

There's an app for that - a phrase you've heard countless times over the years, only now it seems there really is an app for just about everything under the sun, including companion animals. Nothing is more important to devoted pet parents than the health and well-being of their babies. They give them the best of everything they can, and now technology helps take things a step further.

One of Christy's babies, Scout

Most people who are smart phone or tablet users already know that mobile apps can help us get from place to place, exercise, find restaurants, "name that tune," and even chat with friends, but they can also help pet parents gain access to everything from important, life-saving health information to the ability to set up playdates.

If you follow us on Twitter, you'll occasionally see an update that says "Not sure what your pet ate?" with a link to the Pet Poison Hotline. A follower once responded to that tweet that sure you could call, but you'll pay a substantial fee for assistance. Enter the mobile app. At the cost of $1.99, it allows you to get answers quickly when you do know what substance your pet ingested. Internet access is not required to access all features and it also provides one-touch access to the veterinary staff 24/7 if you need it. Unfortunately, it's still only available for ios.

On the other hand, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center offers a free app that provides quick access to the information pet parents of dogs, cats, horses, and birds need to know about over 300 substances potentially harmful to their babies, as well as a calculator to help determine the health threat based on the amount consumed. Not only is this one free, it's also available for Android devices. We included a link to a review of the app in a previous blog post on pet health care and first aid last summer.

The Red Cross also offers a valuable app pet parents can download for free. Features include access to text and video information for dozens of common pet first aid issues, including instructions for pet CPR, as well as emergency preparedness.

Does your pup like to have fun with other dogs? Meet the social network for your BFF that Barkpost says is reinventing the play, er pupdate. Pupular is a locally created app that helps friendly, outgoing canines connect with other Nola area dogs. The app's creator, Harry Boileau, was inspired by his own dog, Bobbie, who he said is always happier when she gets to have a good play session with another dog.

A "safe, easy, and comfortable way for awesome dogs and their humans to connect and meet up for positive social interactions," the app is only available on ios devices.

Do you have a favorite app that helps you and your fur/feather baby navigate through the week? Leave a comment below and let us know about it!


Sunday, January 21, 2018

Yes, It's Winter!

Brrrrrrrr! Fur baby, it's cold outside! New Orleans hasn't seen this much consistent hat, glove, and heavy coat weather in years - so much for mild winters and pets not needing sweaters... if the early cold snap and subsequent bouts of freezing temperatures didn't clue you in, it seems Jack Frost has decided he's been neglecting the Gulf South.

"Sneaux Day" 2018 photo courtesy of Nola harpist Jesse Autumn.

Some animals are perfectly at home in cold weather while others just want to cuddle up someplace warm. Is your BFF showing signs of wanting to hibernate? Refusing to go outside for a potty break? Whining or acting a bit more clingy? There's a pretty good chance they are feeling the cold.

Turning up the heat when you're home is easy enough, but most of us work during the day, and that means fur babies and other companion animals are home alone for several hours with a need to stay warm. Regulating indoor temperatures is easy enough if you have central heat, but for many of those in drafty old houses, space heaters are the norm and that presents a number of potential safety issues from burns to fire.

Christy's Cat Harold doesn't have an undercoat and is not a fan of the cold.

The best way to keep your baby warm when you're away is to take steps to make sure that no heat can escape from their "holding" area. Eventually the inside temperature will drop after you leave as the indoor air starts to fall to match the outdoor air. How soon things change depends on the size of your home and the steps you take to keep winter from creeping in.

If there are drafty areas in your home it's going to be that much harder to keep the temperature indoors above the temperature outdoors. Make sure you've sealed up any problem spots. If possible, close all doors to rooms not in use to help hold the heat in the part of the house where your BFF will be hanging out in your absence.

Since the usual measures to provide extra warmth to your home like space heaters can't be employed when you're not there, your fur baby will need another means of keeping warm. They'll also need to stay hydrated so make sure they have access to water.

PPC client, Brody, cozily snuggled up under a blanket.

Are there areas of your home that naturally stay warmer than others? Place rugs and extra bedding in spots where animals can take advantage full of advantage of their use and limit exposure to cold surfaces such as tile floors. Use draft dodgers, towels or even old sweats at the base of doors to help hold in heat.

As long as the temperature stays at around 40 degrees most house pets will be fine without heat until you return. (Try to not leave them alone for several hours when the indoor temperature can drop below freezing.) Freely roaming animals such as cats and dogs will naturally seek out the warmer spots in your home, but animals in cages will need help from you.

So how can you tell if your home is warm enough? Put thermometers in every room - the old school kind. You'll have instant access to information right at the source when trying to determine which areas stay warmest.

Our client, Girlie, staying warm in her home's linen closet.

Make sure you know what is too cold for your animal to handle. While some pets will be okay if it gets a little chilly, if rabbits get too cold they can experience a life-threatening condition called gastrointestinal stasis. Hamsters will go into hibernation if the room temperature drops too low around them, and that temperature for a hamster varies according to type.

As a precaution, you can place extra nesting materials in a corner of your hamster's cage; if they start to significantly increase the size of it's nest, this is a sign it may be too cold for them. Birds, like animals with undercoats, have layers of feathers that may insulate them, but sudden drastic changes in temperature could cause hypothermia.

Our client, Wolf, sitting on his window seat; note the padding.

Cats will tuck their paws and noses when they are trying to stay warm. Dogs may similarly curl into a ball to try and conserve body heat. Pay attention to your pet's activity and call your vet if in doubt, especially if you see signs of lethargy. As you're trying to provide opportunities for your fur baby to stay warm, be aware that human heating pads are not designed for continuous use and are not recommended for pets. There are, however, self-heating beds and heating pads designed specifically for dogs and cats that are usually incorporated into a bed or a cat "house."

Remember that when you're away you're trying to maintain the temperature that is comfortable for your pet not for you. Just as you don't want to expose them to temperatures that are too cold, you don't want to overdo it either. Air that is too warm and too dry can actually cause skin or respiratory problems.

If your dog or cat wears a sweater to stay warm, make sure to have more than one on hand. If the sweater gets wet for any reason it can lose its warming effect. Having an additional sweater will allow your baby to stay warm while the wet one dries. Even with the sweater you'll still want to leave rugs or mats for them to lie on to avoid losing body heat. Lying on the bare, cold floor can expose them to hypothermia.

For more info on taking care of pets in winter, see our Pinterest board, Winter Pet Care.

Useful links:

Cold Weather Pet Safety

How to Keep Your Indoor Cats Comfortable During the Winter

How Cold is Too Cold for Your Dog?

Ideal Temperature Ranges for Parrots

9 Ways to Keep Your Home Warm Without Turning Up the Heat

Thursday, November 30, 2017

A Roundup of New Orleans' Dog Parks

New Orleans is a great city to be in if you're a pet parent to a dog. It's green all year long and there are a number of great places to walk, run, and explore. That last one is really key to a canine - explore. We all know there's nothing dogs like to do more than get out of the house and investigate. Fortunately there are now a growing number of officially sanctioned places in New Orleans where our four-legged BFFs can explore to their heart's content off-leash.

City Bark Off-Leash Dog Park

Over the past two years we've been taking you virtually to the area's off-leash dog parks. After hurricane Katrina, there was an ambitious plan by city officials to create as many as twenty parks across town; that plan was reduced significantly, but so far only a few have been realized. Of the four Orleans parks we visited, only three were city projects.

Earlier this year reported a series of meetings had taken place between NORDC officials and residents in the French Quarter and Irish Channel about developing dog runs in those areas. While a dog run isn't quite a dog park - a park requires an area of at least one acre, having a place in one's own neighborhood to let Rover romp freely, is still highly beneficial - to all residents.

When we started posting about Nola's dog parks, it was with the intent to start with the smaller parks/runs, work our way up to the largest, and then subsequently compare and contrast the features of each. While there are a a handful of other dog parks in the area besides the ones we've covered, they are not in Orleans Parish and therefore out of Petit Pet Care's service area.

Crescent Park Dog Run in Bywater

One concern when taking your animal to the dog park is the size and behavior of other dogs. Even if large breed dogs are friendly they can still intimidate, antagonize, or even injure a smaller breed dog while off-leash. Of course it's helpful if a dog park has a separate area for large and small dogs. One of the advantages of Little Paws, the small, private citizen developed, neighborhood "park" in the upper ninth ward, is that it is only intended for use by small dogs. This advantage doesn't mean anything, however, if you live completely on the other side of town.

Unfortunately, neither the run at Wisner uptown or the one at Crescent Park downtown have a separate area for small dogs. Hopefully this is something that can be addressed as more parks/runs are added across town. Both have rules posted for the runs, but seem to work on an honor system, whereas the key-card-access-only City Bark is diligent in being sure all park rules are observed.

Though located in a very nice, well landscaped, 1.4 mile space, the fenced dog run at Crescent Park only has a couple of benches and no real shade. Also, the run is at one end of the park and the public restrooms are at the other. Woops. It does have bike paths though, an advantage for those who ride with their dogs running alongside them. All the parks offer complimentary pet waste bags and at least one drinking fountain, however Wisner does not have restrooms.

Little Paws small dog park.

It's almost unfair to compare the smaller parks/runs with City Bark, which has plenty of space and lots of trees, as well as shade pavilions. To put it in perspective, a minimum of one acre is required to qualify as a dog park vs a dog run. The fee-based City Bark is almost five acres, naturally it has the best amenities.

Remember that ambitious city plan that had to be scaled back? While the planners' collective eyes may have been larger than the budget, there is also another problem - available land. It seems to make sense to continue adapting existing park/playground spaces to accommodate dogs - on and off-leash. However, every time there's a meeting to discuss giving citizens what they want, the park/run plans are met with opposition.

If you search online for dog parks in New Orleans many web sites list at least five facilities; not all of these are actually in Orleans parish. Some of them, like Markey Park in the Bywater and the levee uptown near audubon were utilized by dog owners, but were never actually sanctioned as off-leash parks. According to Yelp reviews, off-leash dogs are no longer allowed at Markey Park or Cabrini Park in the French Quarter. The reality of the situation is that they never legally were.

The Dog Run at Wisner Park

"The Dog Levee" uptown is not only not a sanctioned off-leash dog park, but it is neither a public park, or an off-leash area for dogs. The city's ordinance clearly states that all dogs must be on a leash at all times unless they are in a fenced off area. That includes dogs at home or walking through their own neighborhoods.

Why is that important? The controversy over dogs parks has escalated to the point of a security detail being hired to enforce the rules at Cabrini park. Rules that residents complain aren't being followed at other facilities across town, which is the main objection to adding dog areas to existing parks.

With only three true "officially sanctioned" off-leash facilities for dogs, the presence or absence of amenities isn't really the issue. The planning commission did vote last year to add a run to Cabrini Park, and they are working on adding an area to Annunciation Park. Until funds are raised for the former and objections are settled for the latter, residents will have to continue to make do with only three public places in Orleans Parish for dogs to safely and legally be off-leash.

So which of the existing three parks/runs is best for you and your BFF? City Bark has the most amenities, hands down. Of course, it requires purchase of a permit, and depending on where you live it may not be the most conveniently located.

Another perspective:

Guide to Dog Parks and Runs in the New Orleans Area

Previous dog park posts:

A Glimpse at the Dog Run at Wisner Playground

NOLA Dog Parks Part 2: The Crescent Park Dog Run

Exploring the Upper 9: A Visit to Little Paws Dog Park

Frolic Under the Oaks: New Orleans City Bark

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The Truth About Black Cats

It's October in New Orleans and that means transitioning to fall weather and routines, the impending end of longer daylight hours, and the kick off to the holiday season with the arrival of Halloween. Pumpkins are making their way onto porches and front steps around town while skeletons and the like are popping up on lawns of particularly enthusiastic households.

This time last year we talked about Feline Fitness and posted information on Fall Pet Health and Safety shortly after in November. While autumn specific topics and holiday safety are still very important issues which we can't say enough about, we thought we'd focus this month's blog post on an age old October icon - the black cat. Celebrated in some cultures, maligned in others, human history with black cats goes way back - at the very least, all the way back to ancient Egypt.

Christy's cat Gonzo regally reclining.

For centuries black cats have been at the center of an array of superstitions and blamed for any number of maladies from deadly plagues and night dangers to flat out human "bad luck." Somewhere in the Middle Ages (mid fourteenth century) in Europe black cats began to be associated with fairies and witchcraft. As a result, a plethora of misinformation as well as widespread fears has led to a host of inhumane horrors, including the persecution of caretakers of these poor humble felines.

The irony in this is that in many European countries, black cats are actually symbols of good luck. In Scotland, for example, (home of the soul stealing Cat Sith legend) black cats are a sign of prosperity. In parts of England, black cats are considered a bridal good luck gift. Also, English sailors once found black cats to be so lucky that acquiring one became cost prohibitive and their offspring were sometimes victims of kittnapping.

Our client, Merlin perched atop his tower.

Black cats get their coloring from a pigment called eumelanin. However, the dominant fur pattern in cats is tabby; that means in order for a cat to be born "truly black," both its parents have to have the dominant color gene. Interestingly enough, more black cats tend to be born male than female.
The earliest "domesticated" cats, descended from the African Wildcat would likely have had tabby markings like their ancestors. That would have made the first occurrences black cats pretty special.

In ancient Egypt (around 3100 BC) black cats were revered and kept as pets as an homage to the goddess Bastet. These beauties (and all other cats) were held in such high regard that it was even illegal (a capital offense, no less) to intentionally kill a cat. Of course their excellent abilities in pest control were of huge benefit as well to keep such undesirable critters such as rodents and snakes out of food stores and from threatening human life as well.

Our client, Nubba.

Asia has its fair share of ideas about cats and luck as well. For instance, it's believed in Japan that single ladies who keep a black cat companion will attract more than their fair share of suitable mates. In Chinese Feng Shui, placing your black cat's bed in the north portion of your home can ward off evil.

Ever wonder about those waving cat figurines in Japanese restaurants? Maneki Neko lucky "fortune cats" come in a number of colors (each with a different meaning) with the black ones being used to ward off all manner of evil, including stalkers. Have a friend who's allergic? Send some luck their way with a black cat figurine.

Our client, Stumpy, apparently aghast.

The most common/easily recognized black cat breed is probably the Bombay. Of the twenty-two breeds of cats than can possibly have a coat of black fur, this yellow-eyed hybrid beauty, nicknamed the "parlor panther" is the only breed of which there are only black cats. It may surprise many to learn that black cats are believed to have a better immune system than their otherwise colored counterparts. In fact, their genes may some day help solve some of the medical problems associated with human health.

Since it's October and the month of Halloween, we'd be remiss in not mentioning that according to, black cats are still the number one costume choice for elementary aged school girls as well as college freshmen. If you have little ones at home (the two-legged human variety), cater to trick-or-treaters, or plan on entertaining grown up style, be sure to keep alcohol and sweets - especially chocolate, out of reach of your fur babies.

Being that we're also a few weeks into autumn, we'd also be remiss in not mentioning that fleas reach their height at this time of the year. As the weather changes so do concerns for fall allergies, acorns, and other potential hazards. For information on fall pet care be sure to see our Pinterest board, Autumn Pet Care.

Useful links:

5 Pawsitively Fascinating Facts About Black Cats

8 Hair-Raising Facts About Black Cats

Black Cat Breeds and History

The Mystique Behind Black Cats

7  Ways Black Cats Bring Luck Around the World

Friday, September 29, 2017

Nola's House Call Veterinarians

An animal doctor that makes house calls? You bet! The greater New Orleans area now has a number of veterinarians that will come to you in your time of need to treat your pet with a range of services from annual exams to vaccinations, and even hospice-type care.

This growing trend in pet health care is a huge advantage for non-drivers and others who have difficulty getting their animals to a veterinary office. It is also of particular benefit for households which have multiple pets. Older animals, particularly those that are arthritic and have difficulty getting in and out of a vehicle can benefit immensely from a vet that comes to them instead of the other way around.

Any number of things from illness to managing kids, to tight work schedules can make it difficult to get an animal to a non-emergency clinic appointment in a timely manner. Having the option of your pet being seen at home is more than just convenient, it's practical and efficient.

Visiting a patient in the comfort of their own abode allows the vet to get a firsthand look at the home environment and easily asses lifestyle, usually at a time that is more convenient for the pet parent. Not having to struggle to get an animal into the car, and then inside a veterinary clinic in turn, makes the house call option a lot less stressful for everyone as well.

House call veterinarians tend to have more flexible schedules than clinic-only pet doctors. Because they work solo or within smaller practices, you and your animal will most likely see the same care giver at each appointment.

Ready for a veterinary house call visit? (See the sampling of local providers below.) Confine your four-legged child to a small area such as a bathroom just before their scheduled appointment. This will save time as you won't have to spend the beginning of the session corralling them. Budget an additional thirty minutes in your calendar just in case your care provider gets delayed in traffic (or Nola street construction!)

New Orleans area mobile vets:

Metairie Small Animal Hospital

Canal Street Veterinary Hospital

Fur de Lis Mobile Veterinary Service

Healthy Paws Mobile Veterinary Service

Pamela Doskey Mobile Vet - Gretna

For more information on pet health and veterinary care, please be sure to see the Petit Pet Care Pinterest boards, Pet Health and Safety.

Useful links:

Is a House Call Vet Right for You?

Heals on Wheels

Mobile Veterinary Service For Dogs and Cats

Monday, August 14, 2017

Pet Microchips: What You Need to Know

August 15 is National Check The Chip Day, so this month on the Petit Pet Care blog we're providing you with the information you need about pet microchipping. If your fur baby already has a chip, now is the time to be sure your registry info is up to date. If your four-legged (or feathered) family member doesn't yet have a chip, read on - there are a number of good reasons for you to consider getting one.

It's a pet parent's worse nightmare - a fur baby gone missing. No one wants to ever be in that position and yet thousands of families experience this heartbreak every year; in fact, it is estimated that somewhere a pet is lost every seven seconds. Thankfully, technology has a solution that can help return lost animals safely to their homes.

A door or gate left ajar, even an open car window can provide an easy escape for a curious pet to dart out and to take off - usually to give chase after another animal, and end up well away from home. All it takes is a split second when no one is looking for a beloved family pet to slip out of eyesight or even be snatched up by someone.

Heartbreaking, stressful, traumatic, frightening, and yet preventable. Microchips are implantable computer chips that transmit an encoded number to a special scanner that allows a pet to be easily identified. They take moments to insert under the skin and last for the lifetime of your pet.

While many have questioned the health safety to animals of microchipping, it is a widely held belief in the veterinary medical community that the risk of cancer from chip implantation is "very, very low," and that the benefits outweigh the risks.

The process is quick and fairly simple; a vet places a tiny microchip about the size of a grain of rice under the animal's skin with a needle. It should  not cause your pet any more pain than receiving a vaccine. After implantation, you register the chip, which contains a special digital number that can be used to identify your pet and obtain your contact information.

Here's a great video from ExpertVillage with Jenn Fadal explaining all about the microchipping process:

According to the ASPCA, lost cats are less likely to be found than dogs. In a study conducted by the agency, it was determined that 15 percent of found dogs had been located through their implanted chips. Microchip ID Systems, Inc. claims that over 38 percent of cats and and 52 percent of dogs in shelters found to have chips have been reunited with their caregivers.

Dogs and cats are not the only animals which can be microchipped. Fish, ferrets, horses, alpacas, birds, even laboratory and zoo animals such as elephants and snakes can and do get chipped. If you travel with your companion animal(s) regularly, you will more than likely want to get them implanted with a microchip. In some countries, it is actually now a requirement that animals be chipped.

More and more, microchips are becoming an important identification tool for pet parents. Collars break, tags get lost, but chips are long lasting and the cost has gone down (on average around $10), making them more affordable. Chips are quickly becoming an essential part of disaster preparedness as well.

While chips and scanners can be purchased online, implanting them is not something that can or should be done casually. Believe it or not, anyone can learn in a brief online course how to implant a microchip. However, the only way to be sure a chip is implanted properly - and therefore will not migrate or cause problems - is to have it done by a vet or properly trained shelter personnel.

Because your fur baby's safety is paramount, always ask about credentials, and always choose an experienced hand. An improperly implanted chip can be difficult to get a read from in addition to causing unwanted medical problems. And again, once a chip is implanted it absolutely must be registered.

Microchips do not replace collars and tags, and most importantly they are not lowjack. They don't work with GPS, but they can interact with pet doors and feeding dishes to allow pets a little more independence.

If ever you misplace your microchip paperwork or number, all you will need to do is have your vet scan the chip to recover the digital ID number. You can then input the number in the online lookup tool for a national registry such as AAHA Universal Pet Microchip Lookup to find out which company your chip is registered with. Note that you will have to contact that company directly.

While most shelters now have universal scanners to detect the three main chip frequencies commonly used in the United States, it is still possible for there to be an error reading a chip. Microchips are built to last 25 years, but like all things, it's possible for them to fail and that is how "Check the Chip Day" came about.

In New Orleans, the Louisiana SPCA is holding a Walk-in Microchip Clinic on Saturday, August 19, 2017, from 12-4 pm. They will implant chips for $10 or scan existing chips free of charge. If you would like more information on the clinic, you can visit the Facebook Event, or call 504-368-5191.

Even though microchips are an important means of protecting your four legged family member, a collar is still the best way for someone to identify that he or she belongs to someone should s/he somehow get away from you. And while a chip is one important tool in your toolbox, it should be noted that merely having a chip does not provide proof of ownership of an animal.

Useful Links:

Microchipping 101: Why is it Important to Microchip My Pet?

How Safe Are Pet Microchips?

Do Microchips Migrate?

The Facts About Microchipping Your Dog

Keep Your Microchip's Info Up-to-Date

Bonus Benefits of Microchipping Your Pet

Free Pet Chip Registry

HomeAgain National Pet Recovery Database

Sunday, July 30, 2017

In Case of Emergency - Pet First Aid

An injured paw, an open wound, an allergic reaction; these are just a few of the potential situations you might encounter with a pet that would require immediate action. What would you do? Would you know how to administer first aid? Having a basic knowledge of pet first aid procedures and how to perform them could reduce the severity of an incident and even mean the difference between life and death for your four-legged (or other) family member.

Christy's kitten, Scout.

In last month's pet health and safety post, June Means Hurricane Season - Are you Prepared?, we focused on the steps you should take to be ready should a storm impact you and your pet. Taking things a step further, this month we want to focus specifically on what to do if your pet gets hurt - information that is applicable at any time of the year. (Next month we'll take it a step further and explore pet microchipping.)

Pet injuries and illnesses present a unique problem since we cannot talk to them to discern what's wrong or ask them if or where it hurts. Some things are easy to detect, such as a bleeding cut or wound, or obvious limping. Handling an incident that will require giving your pet first aid begins with preparation and prevention.

According to Squad FiftyOne, the ten most common pet emergencies are: dog bites, allergic reactions, poisoning, blunt force trauma, coughing and choking, vomiting and diarrhea, difficulty urinating, seizures, difficulty breathing, and pain. It's important to know how to assess, treat and stabilize your pet ahead of time. Be sure to check for house call veterinarians or 24-hour emergency animal hospitals in your area and keep the telephone number(s) handy. (The side of the fridge, your car's visor or glove box, and your mobile phone are good places.)

Make sure your home is safe and free of potential dangers as much as possible by following the steps in American Humane's online fact sheet, Pet-Proofing Your Home. Next, purchase or assemble a first aid kit with pet-friendly items such as gauze, tweezers, and antibacterial cream. (See the ASPCA graphic below for additional kit items.) Depending on the size and breed of your fur baby, you may need a specialized kit such as those manufactured for small or large breed animals.

If your dog regularly rides in your car, make sure it won't become an accident zone. Keep him or her properly restrained and make sure there are no poison or choking hazards. Many of us lead rather busy, very active lifestyles and our vehicles can contain workout gear, tools, even the remains of meals on the go. According to the article, Common Pet Toxins in Your Purse, Backpack or Gym Bag, 50% of pet poisoning calls are due to exposure to human meds such as antidepressants and OTC pain killers.

Getting in and out of a car or truck, especially one that is high off the ground, could lead to strains or sprains, especially in older dogs. (Be sure to check paws thoroughly after being outdoors.) Something as simple as forgetting to cover the well for the spare tire could lead to a sprain or even a cut paw before you've even started the engine to go anywhere. Always check the interior before letting your dog jump into your vehicle.

Paws can become cracked and dry or sustain cuts, and foreign objects can become lodged in between the pads. The best treatment for dry or cracked paws is prevention; check paws regularly and apply paw balm as needed. Never use human hand moisturizer on dry paw pads.

When it comes to taking care of small cuts on your dog's paw, Web MD suggests cleaning with antibacterial wash and then covering the foot with a bootie. Don't use peroxide or alcohol, as these can potentially cause tissue damage.

Our client, Ramona, after injuring her foot.

A simple slip or fall, or even normal jumping during active play can cause strain to your pet. Muscle sprains are a common puppy injury; while trauma is often the cause, they can easily over exert themselves or become injured during rough play. Knowing the symptoms and causes of sprains (and the difference to a strain) will ensure your pup avoids injury (as much as is realistically possible) and receives proper care should something happen.

Soft tissue trauma can also occur in cats, especially in kittens that don't yet know their limits. Just because a cat can leap like a Superhero, it doesn't mean it should. All that jumping leads to heavy landing that can potentially cause sprains, strains and pulled muscles. Make sure cat towers are safe and try to discourage high climbing for kittens and senior cats.

If you think your fur baby has suffered a strain or sprain, call your vet immediately to find out if you can take care of the situation at home with anti-inflammatory meds and bandaging, or if you need to bring them in to be examined in person.

Did you know the Pet Poison Helpline answers over 100,000 calls annually from frantic pet parents whose animals have become victims of accidental overdose or toxic substance poisoning? There are a plethora of human foods and medications, house and garden plants, cosmetics, cleaning products, and other common chemicals in our everyday lives that are poisonous to pets lurking in homes, cars, and even suitcases that can lead to an emergency situation.

Please be aware that there is a $59 USD per incident fee if you call the helpline.

It's important to note that poisoning can result from inhalation and absorption as well as ingestion. Symptoms are not always obvious, and the treatment window for poisoning is very small, so once again, prevention is the best option. Animals can't be watched 24/7 so knowing the signs of poisoning is extremely important.

Vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, loss of coordination, respiratory distress, drooling, twitching, tremors, and seizure in dogs and cats are all possible signs of exposure to a toxin. If you know what substance your pet has ingested, you may be able to get answers to your emergency quickly via your mobile phone with the Poison Helpline app.

Download the Pet Poison Helpline app (itunes) to instantly access a database of common household toxins from foods to chemicals that are poisonous to pets. The app also provides one-touch direct dial contact to the 24/7 Helpline's veterinary professionals. The ASPCA also has an app (an Android version is available for this one), you can read more about it here. Note that there is also a cost associated with calling their helpline.

One of the most difficult health emergencies is a non-responsive pet. The iheart dogs web article, Do You Know What to do if Your Dog Stops Breathing?, provides useful information on what to do in an emergency situation where your pup might need CPR. The procedure for compression would be the same for humans, but there are some safety concerns you should be aware of before attempting the procedure.

This Youtube video from Hallmark Channel's Home & Family, featuring Dr. Courtney Campbell, shows step by step how to help your pet if you have determined they require CPR.

Knowing just what steps to take will help you stay calm and feel confident in the event you notice your pet has a minor injury that does not require the immediate emergency care of a professional, or if your pet needs to be stabilized in order to be transported to the nearest pet ER.

Keep in mind that an injured pet is most likely in pain and may bite or scratch. Use caution and be gentle, that whole not speaking English thing makes it difficult for your fur baby to say "Ouch, that hurts!" Always keep extra gauze (or even panythose) on hand in case you need to improvise a muzzle.

At Petit Pet Care, we love animals! We care for your pet as if it were our own and that is why Christy is Red Cross Pet CPR and First Aid Certified. To locate a Pet First Aid and CPR class near you visit the Pet Tech PetSaver™ Program page.

Two final thoughts on pet safety in July -

July is Pet Hydration Month - see our Facebook page for several posts on how to keep your pets hydrated in summer and the rest of the year, as well as our Pinterest boards on pet health and safety and summer pet care.

July 15 was National Pet Fire Safety Day. Make sure smoke detectors are working and that you've taken the necessary steps to protect your babies in the event of a fire.

Helpful Links:

AVMA Pet First Aid Brochure

Create a Pet Poison First Aid Kit

Can I Treat My Pet's Wound at Home?

How to Create an Emergency Muzzle

Wound Treatment for Cats

When to Take a Dog to the Vet ASAP

Strains and Sprains Spell Pain for Dogs

Soft Tissue Injuries in Kittens

Additional Resources:

Paws on Safety: One Minute Pet Clinic Videos

ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center Monthly Podcasts

Prevent Accidental Medication Exposures in Pets

Top 10 Paw Care Tips for Dogs

Rabbit First Aid Kit

50 Page FREE Pet First Aid Downloadable ebook