Friday, April 2, 2010

Holiday pet precautions--have fun, stay safe!

The holidays are upon us again! As with any occasion that involves special human treats, be careful to watch what your pets eat. Chocolate rabbits are a definite no-no, along with other candy, fatty or spicy foods, and the usual suspects: onions, garlic, macadamia nuts, parts of the avocado plant, grapes and raisins, and the popular artificial sweetener xylitol. Be careful with holiday plants, too--lilies (toxic for cats), daffodil and azalea bulbs, and other common plants and flowers can also be harmful.

Well-meaning guests sometimes slip pets treats without knowing they're potentially harmful, so if you're unable to keep both eyes on your furry family, consider putting them in another room during festivities. This will also avoid pets darting out the door when guests enter or exit, and will keep pets from becoming overwhelmed with the noise and bustle.

If your pets are welcomed into your friends' or families' houses during the holidays, you may want to bring a large crate with your dog's cozy, familiar bedding and toys, to give her a place to relax when she needs a little down time. Bring lots of chewtoys, a pre-stuffed Kong, or something else to keep her occupied while you visit (unless there will be other dogs there and you think it may cause tension). I like to have a "diaper bag" with lots of options to keep my dogs busy and quiet, just like I would bring a coloring book and crayons for a toddler. New places are very exciting for dogs, with new smells and interesting objects, and remember that dogs don't know what's okay for them to chew, explore, or play with until they're taught. Grandma's antique ragdolls in a wicker basket in the corner seem just like their toys and toybox at home!

Whatever your plans for the weekend, stay safe, be patient with your dog's misadventures with human culture, and have fun!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Spay/neuter now mandatory in Las Vegas

In a heroic effort to reduce pet overpopulation, Las Vegas city council members ruled that all pets over the age of four months must be sterilized, with exceptions for service and law enforcement dogs, animals with extenuating medical conditions, and show dogs registered under fanciers' permits.

Last year, 62 % of pets taken into shelters in Las Vegas were put to death--over 12,000 animals. The Humane Society of the United States says, "Many people believe that their pet's puppies or kittens would never become homeless shelter animals. But the reality is that every time the dog finds his way under the fence to visit the neighbor's female dog, or the indoor/outdoor cat comes back home pregnant again, the result is a litter of dogs or cats. Even if they are placed into homes, it is still possible for them to end up in shelters once they become "hard to handle," or for them to reproduce further and for the next generation of puppies or kittens to wind up homeless.

Many people are surprised to learn that nationwide more than 3 million cats and dogs are euthanized in shelters. Spay/neuter is the only permanent, 100-percent effective method of birth control for dogs and cats."

The Las Vegas spay/neuter ordinance was adopted in November, and goes into effect today. A similar mandate will go into effect in Clark County on May 1st.