Be pet prepared all summer long!

Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.

None of us want to think about a natural disaster or emergency situation striking our family, but if and when a crisis does occur, it’s best to be prepared as possible to safely and calmly get through the situation.  Since our pets are beloved members of our family, it’s only natural that we also be ready to help them through an emergency as well.

With June being National Pet Preparedness Month we thought this was a great time to provide a refresher on pet first aid awareness and give you some summer safety tips to help you get through the lazy, hazy, (and sometimes crazy!) days of summer without a hitch.

During the Red Cross’ Pet First Awareness campaign in April, we provided some ideas on how to become “Red Cross Ready,” including having a family disaster plan,  knowing some basic first aid care and symptoms, and creating a pet first aid kit.  We invite you to read this article in its entirety, but in the meantime, here are some highlights:

Pet First Aid Tips

Some basic pet first aid knowledge can make all the difference in saving your pet's life in the event of an emergency. Information source: http://www.redcross.org

Some basic pet first aid knowledge can make all the difference in saving your pet’s life in the event of an emergency. Information source: http://www.redcross.org

Create a Pet First Aid Kit

Pet First Aid Kit Infographic_high res

Every pet owner should have a basic first aid kit on hand at home or when traveling with pets. Don’t forget to include any medical-related items or medicine related to your pet’s specific needs.

And once you’ve assembled a basic first aid kit, think about what you’d need in case of an evacuation.  Here are some suggestions:

Pet Preparedness-EvacKit-highres

Microchip Your Pet

You are diligent about outfitting your dog with a collar and ID tags, and you’re cat remains indoors at all times – nothing to worry about then, right?  Unfortunately, accidents can happen to even the most conscientious pet owners.  Collars can break or fall off and doors can be left open.  The only permanent form of identification in the event that your pet goes missing is a microchip.

A microchip is a small, implantable computer chip that contains a unique identification number.  The chip is about the size of a grain of rice (12 mm) and is implanted beneath the surface of your pet’s skin between the shoulder blades.  The implantation process is fast and painless and can be done at any office visit. In fact, it’s very similar to getting a routine vaccination. Once your pet is microchipped, he or she has a permanent ID for life.

At Leesburg Veterinary Hospital, we use HomeAgain microchips.  These microchips are made from biocompatible materials that will not move or degenerate over time.   They are not tracking devices and do not require a power source like a GPS.  Rather, they use radio frequencies to identify pets.  When a microchip scanner is passed over your pet’s shoulder blades, the scanner emits a low radio frequency.  This frequency is not harmful in the least but provides enough power to transmit the microchip’s unique ID code and positively identify lost pets.   We strongly recommend microchips for all of our patients – including indoor cats.  According to HomeAgain, a recent study showed that less than 2% of lost cats without microchips were returned home.  However, the return-to-owner ratio for microchipped cats was 20 times higher than non-microchipped cats.

Home Again Microchips

An overview of how pet microchipping works and HomeAgain’s process of recovering your pet if they should ever go missing. Image source: HomeAgain.com

When your pet is microchipped at LVH, you’ll fill out a form that contains your pet’s ID and your contact information. We’ll send the form into HomeAgain for you, automatically enrolling your pet for one year. Membership with HomeAgain is extremely valuable.  Here are some of the annual member benefits:

A permanent listing of your pet’s microchip ID and your contact information is added to HomeAgain’s National Recovery Database.

When a lost pet is scanned, the ID number is called into the pet recovery database.  Almost all veterinary practices and animal shelters use scanners that can read these codes, so you’re pet can be identified no matter where or how far away from home they are found.

Lost Pet Network and Alert System

As soon as a pet is reported lost, HomeAgain sends a lost pet alert with your pet’s information and photo to members of the HomeAgain Pet Recovery Network within a 25-mile radius.  This network includes over 1,000,000 veterinary practices, animal shelters, and volunteer Pet Rescuers nationwide.

Travel Assistance for Found Pets

HomeAgain loves happy reunions and wants to ease the burden of expensive travel costs associated with reuniting pets with their families.  Annual membership includes coverage up to $500 in pet airfare if a pet is found over 500 miles away.

Access to ASPCA’s 24/7 Emergency Medical Hotline

One of the nicest perks of HomeAgain’s annual membership includes free, anytime telephone assistance to ASPCA’s Emergency and Poison Control Center Hotline.  This is a great resource – we recommend this hotline to all of our clients during our closed hours anyway.  Under normal circumstances, each call to the hotline costs $65.00.  However, as a HomeAgain member, all calls are free.  (We charge $59.00 for the microchip and first year of membership, so one call to the hotline pays for itself!).

Why Microchip-for web

Hot Dogs are meant for the grill, not the car!

Did you know that car temperatures rise at a much faster rate than the outside air temperature and can be a very deadly place for our pets on hot days.

Did you know that car temperatures rise at a much faster rate than the outdoor air temperature?  Take a look at the chart above – even on an average day when the outside air temperature is 75 degrees, car temperatures can reach 94 degrees in just ten minutes and a stifling 109 degrees in a half hour, making them potentially deadly places for our pets.  For more in-depth information on the dangers of heat-related stress and how to recognize and respond to heat stroke, read our article here.

Paws off hot surfaces!

Our pets’ paws may be tough, but pavement, metal, and tar-coated asphalt surfaces get extremely hot in the summer sun – in fact, much hotter than the air temperature – and can do some serious damage. The best way to prevent burned paws is to avoid these hot surfaces.  Walk and play on grassy areas; if you have to walk on pavement like sidewalks, do so in the early mornings or late evening when the sun is not at it’s strongest.

If asphalt and other surfaces are too hot for you to walk on, then they’re also too hot for our pets paws. Asphalt absorbs and retains heat from the summer sun, making it much hotter than the air temperature.

Because paws pads are not exposed to our eyes, initial burns may not be obvious.  If your pet’s paws have been exposed to hot surfaces, it’s important to inspect the pads for injury.

Signs of burned paw pads include:

  • Limping or refusing to walk
  • Licking or chewing at feet
  • Redness or blisters

If you suspect your pet has burned paws pads, wash with cool water or apply a cold compress.  Your veterinarian should examine the pads to look for signs of deeper burns and to determine if antibiotics or pain medications are needed.

Water-sensitivity

Our local canine friends had a blast at last year's Ida Lee Dog Swim, but their paws took a beating on the pool's surface.

Our local canine friends had a blast at last year’s Ida Lee Dog Swim, but their paws took a beating on the pool’s surface. Water can significantly soften paw pads.

Does your dog love to swim in streams and lakes or even take a dip in the pool?  Time in the water can soften paw pads, making them weaker to the bottom of rocky stream and lake surfaces, to harsh concrete in and around pools, and extra sensitive to hot surfaces.   We saw this firsthand at the Ida Lee Dog Swim last September.  Many of our local canine friends had a blast – swimming and romping around til their hearts’ content – but their pads sure took a beating.  Thankfully our doctors and techs were there to offer some first-aid relief but it was definitely a reminder that water can significantly soften our pets’ pads.

Dr. Kloer and our LVT, Kimberly, provide some first aid relief this cute canine's paws at last year's Ida Lee Dog Swim.

Dr. Kloer and our LVT, Kimberly, provide some first aid relief to this cute canine’s paws at last year’s Ida Lee Dog Swim.  If you think your pet has injured or burned their paws in the summer heat, please schedule an appointment with one of our vets to determine the severity of the wounds and to see if antibiotics or pain medications are needed.

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