What is important to know?
If you have pets, you love them and are concerned about their welfare. What do you need to do to make sure they are healthy and safe? What about if you don’t have pets, why should you be concerned about animal safety? How do you protect yourself against an attack from an animal?
Deciding to getting a pet is no small decision and shouldn’t be taken lightly. It is important to consider your schedule and whether or not you have time to care for a pet. It is key to do research about type of pet, breed and disposition before getting one. This will make sure that you are ready for a pet and that they will fit in with your lifestyle. For your pets’ safety, it is vital to make sure your home is a safe place for your pet by putting things away that could harm them, such as chemicals, strings and cords. Once you have a pet, you need to keep their immunizations and preventative medications up to date. It is essential to use flea and tick treatments and keep them current with their check ups to ensure they remain healthy. By microchipping and using tags that have accurate contact information, your pet will be more likely to be returned to you in the event they get lost. It is important to treat pet food the same as people food. Don’t leave wet food out to the point it gets dry. Change your pets water frequently, at least twice a day. Be sure not to feed your pet human food, especially chocolate or raisins, as it can be poisonous to them.
If you have children and are getting a pet, teach your children not to provoke or tease animals, especially not to pull on the animal’s ears, tail or feet. Also, teach children that animals that are in pain, afraid or feel threatened are more likely to bite or scratch, so don’t wrestle roughly or restrain animals against their will. If an animal is hissing or growling, that is their way of saying to leave them alone. It is usually a good idea to not try to pet an animal when they’re eating, sleeping or caring for their young. Often, they are focused on what they are doing and likely to be surprised by the contact and could unexpectedly lash out. Explain to children that loud, high-pitched sounds, like screams, or sudden movements can startle an animal. It has been found that pets that are spayed or neutered are typically calmer and less likely to bite. Do not keep dogs chained permanently as they are often more aggressive than dogs who aren’t chained all of the time. Obedience classes can be helpful at training pets on how to behave appropriately. If you have a pet and are having a baby, it is a good plan to get your pet prepared for the baby. You can do this by spraying things with baby powder scent to get the pet used to the smell. It is also a good idea to play a CD or audio file that has the sounds of baby, particularly crying. Once the baby has arrived, don’t force interaction between your baby and pet. Don’t allow your pet to sleep with the baby…use gates to keep your pet out of the baby’s room. This allows the pet to see you and the baby to prevent them from feeling isolated that a closed door might cause. It is important to spend time with your pet after the baby is born in order for them to have enough attention.
There are certain things that are key to providing a safe environment for your pets in all situations. One way to do this is be aware of the weather. When it is warm outside, it is key to remember that your pets are affected by the heat too. Pets can become dehydrated, so it is essential for your pet to have plenty of water. Do not leave pets in hot cars as they can quickly become overheated. Remember that pavement gets hot and to be aware of your pets’ paws on it. There are certain things to consider during cold weather as well. Bring pets inside when it is cold. Store antifreeze in places that pets will not find it and don’t let your pet lick wet spots outside. After going outside, wipe your pets’ paws to remove any salt or other solutions from them. Check under your car and inside the engine compartments for animals…cats like to sleep in warm places and might crawl up in there. (Note: due to their love of warm places, every time you use your clothes dryer be sure to thoroughly check it to make sure that your cat didn’t sneak in there.) Another special consideration are the holidays. When it is Halloween, don’t leave candy out where your pet can get ahold of it. Be careful with placing candles in places that pets might accidently knock them over. If you get a costume for your pet, make sure that it doesn’t restrict their ability to move. For Christmas, try to put the tree out of the way and keep tinsel/lights out of reach. Keeping gift wrap supplies, especially ribbon, out of reach is vital. Be careful with holiday plants (ex. holly, mistletoe, poinsettias and tree water) because they are poisonous when ingested by pets. With all holidays, provide a quiet space for your pet to escape the noise and ask guests not to feed them human food. If you are traveling, it is important to bring your pets’ vet records and any medications they might need.
The easiest defense against an animal attack is prevention. The best way to do this is to teach children, and follow yourself, certain behaviors, such as asking the animal’s owner if it is ok to touch it. Once given permission, use the see and sniff method. This means making sure the animal can see you approaching and offering your hand for them to sniff prior to actually touching them. Don’t hug an unfamiliar animal, especially around the neck, as they may feel threatened. Keeping your pet on a leash or in a fenced-in yard at all times is a good way to prevent them from approaching strangers without you present. If you are approached by a strange animal, especially a dog, don’t run as this usually encourages them to chase you. If an animal attacks you, try to get something other than your body in their mouth, such as a purse, wallet or jacket. If you are knocked to the ground, curl into a ball and cover your ears until the animal leaves. Both these techniques are essential to teach to children.
It is important to be safe around all animals and having a pet can be an amazing and rewarding experience. Pets are easily members of the family and should be taken care of as such. If you would like more information about taking care of your pet, please visit the ASPCA at https://www.aspca.org/