Don't Forget About Pet Safety This Halloween

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You and your children know that Halloween is just a fun holiday to dress up in costumes and get a lot of treats. However, your pets have no way of understanding this. To them, Halloween can be stressful and confusing. There’s a steady stream of people at the front door, but they don’t look like people at all. Even before October 31 arrives, your dog or cat is sure to notice the treats and decorations that he’s not supposed to touch. The good news is that you can take several actions to reduce your pet’s anxiety and increase his safety on this holiday.
 
Secure Your Pet at Home
Many people like to take their dog with them everywhere they go, but Halloween night is one time when your dog should stay home. Taking her along while trick-or-treating could cause behavior issues that you didn’t expect because she doesn’t know what to make of everything. The last thing you want is for your dog to attack a child or to run away from you in fear.
 
On Halloween night, we recommend preparing a quiet, comfortable room in your home for your pet that’s far away from the front door. That way, your dog won’t bark with every knock at the door and your cat won’t run and hide. 
 
Keeping your pet safe at home also protects him from people who steal animals or play pranks on Halloween night. This is especially common with black cats. In fact, animal shelters put a temporary ban on adoption of black cats on and around Halloween for this reason. It’s always a good idea to make sure your pet has microchip identification in case he does slip out the door.
 
Don’t Give Animals Treats Meant for Humans
It’s hard to resist those sad eyes looking up at you or hear the whine of a pet who wants to share your treat. Your dog or cat doesn’t understand that artificial sweetener, chocolate, and other common ingredients in Halloween candy can make her seriously ill. Typical symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting, and low energy. Seizures and breathing difficulty are some of the more serious effects of consuming candy. If you really want to share a treat with your pet, consider ordering from our online store. This ensures that your pet receives a safe treat made just for his species.
 
Decorations Can Create a Choking or Fire Hazard
Placing a lit candle in a pumpkin where a pet can get at it is never a good idea. It only takes an enthusiastic tail wag from a dog to knock it over or a cat sniffing at it to burn her face. If you want to light a jack-o-lantern, be sure to use a non-flammable light source instead. Additionally, keep all decorations out of your pet’s reach. His curiosity could cause him to chew and possibly choke on them.
 
Should Your Pet Wear a Halloween Costume?
Few things are as adorable as children and pets in Halloween costumes. If you do choose to buy or make a costume for your pet, it shouldn’t cover his mouth, nose, or eyes. He should also be able to move freely while wearing it. For safety’s sake, plan to supervise your pet whenever he wears the costume.
 
Help in an Emergency
Sometimes a dog or cat’s curiosity may get the better of her no matter what you do. If you have an emergency this Halloween season, call Grantsburg Animal Hospital at 715-463-2536 or Wild River Veterinary Clinic at 320-629-7474 during regular business hours. After hours, please call  Affiliated Emergency Veterinary Service at 763-754-5000. You can also reach the Pet Poison Helpline 24 hours a day at 855-764-7661. The agency charges $59 per incident.

Photo Credit: Cynoclub / Getty Images

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October 15 to 21 is National Veterinary Technician's Week

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National Veterinary Technician’s Week takes place the third full week in October, which starts this year on Sunday, October 15 and runs through Saturday, October 21. It’s an opportunity for our veterinarians and support staff, as well as our clients, to let vet techs know just how much we all appreciate them. We would be lost without the hard work and dedication of Lacey, Emily, Missy, Jessica, and Jennifer. 
 
The veterinary technicians at Grantsburg Animal Hospital and Wild River Veterinary Clinic aid in your pet’s care by preparing and giving vaccines, taking your pet’s vital signs, preparing laboratory samples, and much more. However, the most important thing our vet techs offer is comfort and compassion for pets who may feel anxious about the visit.
 
How This Appreciation Event Got Started
National Veterinary Technician’s Week is the brainchild of the National Association of Veterinary Technicians. The organization started the event in 1993. Almost 25 years later, the goals of the campaign remain the same. These include:
 
-Ensuring that pet owners understand the role of veterinary technicians in promoting good health and longevity.
 
-Making sure that veterinarians and other clinic staff understand the immense value of skilled veterinary technicians. That’s something we have always known at our two clinics.
 
-Providing pet parents and clinic staff with the opportunity to recognize outstanding technicians for their compassionate care of animals and the relationships they have developed with clients.
 
No Two Days Are the Same in the Life of a Veterinary Technician
When it comes to caring for animals, having the day not go as planned is more of the rule than the exception. Our technicians must remain flexible to deal with emergencies, procedures that took longer than expected, scared pets that try to run off, and much more. Nevertheless, a typical day in the life of our veterinary technicians might look something like this:
 
A client comes in with his dog for a preventive care exam. Our technician greets him and then brings client and dog back to an exam room. The first thing she does is ask if there have been any health changes since the last appointment. If so, she records that information for the doctor.
 
Lacey, Emily, Missy, Jessica, or Jennifer then weighs the dog, takes her temperature, and records any other important vital signs. The technician briefs the veterinarian on details provided by the client and of her own findings so far. She then assists the doctor with the remainder of the appointment, which typically includes securing and comforting the animal so he can complete the necessary procedures.
 
Educating clients on pet care is another essential role of our veterinary technicians. You will receive information on best practices for pet care at home as well as details on specific procedures your pet may need. Much of the work that our staff does happens when clients don’t see it. Some of these duties include cleaning up potty accidents, preparing pills to fill a new prescription, and cleaning exam rooms. 
 
Feel Free to Express Your Appreciation
It doesn’t have to be National Veterinary Technician’s Week to let our staff know how much you appreciate their efforts. You can say thanks anytime you want. We also want to let you know how much we appreciate our clients and the trust you have placed in us to help care for your beloved pets. 

Photo Credit: Thinkstock / Getty Images

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September is Happy Healthy Cat Month

Healthy Cat Month
 
One of every three households in the United States includes a cat. When you consider their playful, affectionate, and independent natures, it’s easy to see why. Cats have a way of making us laugh with their crazy antics and can dramatically increase our sense of well-being. In return, they depend on their human family for health and happiness. The CATalyst Council sponsors Happy Healthy Cat Month each September to raise awareness of how people can give their cats the best possible life.
 
Tips to Ensure Your Cat’s Health and Happiness
Cats sometimes seem to have a logic all their own. The CATalyst Council came up with these tips to help you understand and provide a comfortable environment for your pet:

Hiding places: Cats need a place to retreat when they feel stress and just enjoy having new places to curl up and take a nap. They also desire privacy at times. Cat furniture with built-in hiding places can help to meet this need. 

Mental stimulation and physical activity: A bored cat can become overweight and depressed, but that doesn’t mean you need to spend a lot of money on cat toys. Waving a piece of string in front of your cat or tossing a toy mouse helps get him moving and makes him solve problems as well. It also gives you the chance to interact with your cat and deepen your bond.
 
Scratching opportunities: Your cat isn’t trying to destroy your furniture when she scratches on it. She is simply releasing her natural instinct to scratch. You can protect your furniture by placing several scratching pads around the house and redirecting your cat there when she starts to scratch. If the scratching gets out of hand, try placing soft claws over your cat’s claws to protect your furniture and other items.
 
Nutritious foods: Learn to read pet food labels so you understand whether the product offers quality nutrition or mostly fillers. It’s also important to limit treats and not give your cat food meant for humans.
 
Consider an indoor only policy: Cats who remain indoors avoid fights with other cats, picking up various diseases, and getting hit by a car. Creating an enriching indoor environment will help decrease your cat’s interest in going outside. If you do let your cat outside, make sure you supervise him and keep him contained in a fenced-in area. Since even indoor cats can sneak out, we recommend getting microchip identification for all cats.
Schedule Regular Preventive Care Exams
 
According to the American Association of Feline Practitioners, veterinary visits for cats decrease substantially after the first year of life. However, adult cats need regular check-ups just as much as kittens do. Cats between one and seven years old should come in at least once a year and older cats should visit us bi-annually. These appointments are just one more way you can ensure that your cat remains happy and healthy. To schedule an appointment, contact Grantsburg Animal Hospital at 715-463-2536 or Wild River Veterinary Clinic at 320-629-7474. 
 
Photo Credit: Olezzo / Getty Images
 

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It's National Disaster Preparedness Month

National Disaster Preparedness Month
 
The recent images from the Texas and Florida floods and the Montana wildfires are heartbreaking. Streets overflowing with water, burning forests, entire families displaced, and rescued pets sent to shelters in other states are hard for us to grasp so far away. At a time like this, it seems only fitting that the Centers for Disease Control sponsors National Disaster Preparedness Month every September. The organization urges all Americans to pre-plan for natural disasters caused by severe weather, acts of terrorism, and other causes. This requires a bit of extra effort for pet owners.
 
What to Include in an Animal Disaster Kit
While you might view yourself as calm and collected, it’s hard to think of gathering supplies for your pet with a disaster on its way. That’s why the CDC recommends preparing a disaster kit before you need to use it. For pets, it should include the following:
 
  • Your pet’s regular food placed in airtight container
  • Bottled drinking water
  • Bags for waste
  • Extra litterbox and litter for cats
  • Grooming supplies
  • Your pet’s regular medications
  • A carrier for each pet
  • A leash and/or harness
  • Your pet’s favorite pillow, blanket, or other bedding
  • A few toys
  • Your pet’s vaccination records
  • Written care instructions that direct others how to care for your pet if you become separated
Other Disaster Planning Tips to Keep in Mind
If you have put off getting a microchip for your pet, consider how handy it would be in a natural disaster. Your dog or cat could lose his tag and collar easily amidst all the stress and chaos. If he has a microchip, anyone who finds him can take him to the nearest animal shelter or veterinary clinic to scan for your contact information. It’s also important to label the carrier for each pet with his name, your name, and a telephone number.
 
The extreme stress of a natural disaster can cause some pets to run towards danger instead of away from it. Even a normally obedient dog or cat could take off the other direction when you call her. The best way to avoid this is to keep a harness or leash by each exit in your home. This keep your pet with you and under your control.
 
Listing where you would seek shelter in a disaster is also an important part of planning. It makes it easier to evacuate quickly when you know where you’re going. Pet owners should also include the names and addresses of animal shelters where they can bring their pets temporarily if they’re unable to stay together. If the disaster is not so severe that you must leave home, create a safe space for your pet in one area until things get back to normal.

Natural Disasters Are Breeding Grounds for Disease
When disaster strikes, people only think about escaping it. They’re not necessarily considering how quickly disease can spread due to things like stagnant water and exposure to hundreds of other people and animals. 
 
If your pet is behind on vaccines, we urge you to contact Grantsburg Animal Hospital at 715-463-2536 or Wild River Veterinary Clinic at 320-629-7474 to schedule an appointment. It’s also essential for your pet’s well-being to get regular preventive care exams. Both of these make it much more likely your dog or cat won’t become seriously ill in the aftermath of a disaster. 
 
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