Pet Emergency Preparedness

Pet Emergency Preparedness (2)

Ozzy Goes Where Red Goes

Our power went out for a few hours on July 3 after a nasty storm blew through. Because Moose has a heart issue, we decided to leave the house so that he could be in air conditioning. We loaded up Moose and his brother Red for company, and ran some errands with them until the electricity was restored. I knew from experience that power outages are infrequent in our area, and that time without power would be minimal. As for the other fur kids without health issues, the house was comfortable, so we felt safe leaving them at home. Rest assured, had we thought the house was too uncomfortable, we would have left with everybody.

This ordeal had me thinking about pet emergency preparedness. What if we lived in an area prone to natural disasters? If we had to get out fast with the animals, what would we bring? The following is what I would bring for my own pets.

Vaccination Records. My animals are up-to-date on their vaccines, including some that may be considered optional, such as the kennel cough vaccine. That is sometimes required at boarding facilities, and you never know when you may have to put your dog in such a place in an emergency. Cats may also be required to have certain vaccinations.

Carrier/Leash/Identification. Sturdy carriers are a must for cats and small dogs, as well as for small pets like our bunny. Our parakeet Priscilla has a cage that can be lifted out of its stand and be transported. All my fur kids have their own carrier, because even the best of friends can lash out when stressed. (Photo disclaimer: Ozzy voluntarily walked into the crates with the dogs. He was only in them long enough for a quick photo before being ushered out). The dogs have secure collars and leashes, and are microchipped, because identification tags can fall off collars, making it more difficult to be reunited with you should you become separated. Our cats wear breakaway collars and are microchipped, too.

Plastic Bags/Disposable Litter Pan/Litter. I would bring plastic bags for doggie cleanup, and disposable litter pans and litter for the cats. Should we wind up at a hotel, or a family member or friend’s place, they will appreciate our cats having their own spot to eliminate.

Medications. As of now, Red would need his anti-anxiety medication, and Moose needs his heart prescription. I would also bring their chondroitin/glucosamine supplement, and heartworm preventative.

Food/Water/Bowls. I can’t forget the obvious.

Blanket/Toys. If we have the room, my pets would probably enjoy having their favorite blanket or toy with them. They will be stressed, too, and something familiar to them may bring them some comfort. I can count on bringing a stuffed ring, elephant, and platypus for Red.

Everyone’s list will be different, and mine is far from exhaustive, but these are just some items that I would bring for my own animals in the event of an emergency. Use your judgment for your own animals.

Pet Emergency Preparedness (1)

Ozzy Shares Moose’s Crate

The Moo Boo-Boo

The Moo Boo Boo (2)

Treat Time

Italian Greyhounds are a dramatic breed. The most benign injury can elicit a blood-curdling sound that is commonly known among owners as the Iggy death scream. While I’m not sure that I’ve heard the scream, I have heard my fair share of yelping and whining. Moose is our drama king. He lets it be known to anyone within earshot that he doesn’t like his brother Red stepping on him, or nail trims. The trims rarely result in bloodshed, yet he still carries on in his imaginary distress. Sometimes he starts his singing before the first nail is even touched.

Last month we found him holding up a leg, hobbling around on his other three legs. We didn’t see what happened, but we were spared the shrill scream. We think he hurt himself either jumping onto or from the couch. He limped for a bit but seemed to recover quickly.

A couple days later, when he and brother Red were enjoying treats, I thought I saw irritation along what would be Moose’s elbow. On further inspection, his armpit was raw and an angry shade of red.

My first instinct was to slather it with an ointment that I keep on hand to soothe irritated skin. However, Red had just recovered from a nasty skin infection, so I didn’t want to put anything on the area in the event that Moose also had the same affliction. Since the discovery was made on a Saturday, and our vet’s office is closed on Sunday, we decided to show up sans an appointment to see if anyone could spare a minute to look at the spot in question.

We couldn’t have timed our visit any better. There was no one in the office when we came in, and we saw the vet on duty in a matter of a few minutes. After her examination, it was determined that there was no skin infection, but she thought it may have been a result of the leg injury that he sustained. Not only was there redness under his front leg, but it was also on his side, radiating from the leg.

The treatment was rest and a short course of an anti-inflammatory. Moose walked out of the practice his usual happy self, making friends with a Golden Retriever on the way out. I’m happy to report that he has made a full recovery.

As bad as it looked, it could have been a lot worse. Italian Greyhounds are prone to leg breaks, but that is something we have fortunately (knocks on wood) never experienced. Moose’s once blue-colored head is mostly white now, but if he keeps hurting himself, the white on my head may rival the amount on his.

The Moo Boo Boo (1)

Armpit Closeup

Canine Cardiac Care

Canine Cardiac Care (2)

Moose the Young Man

This post was supposed to be about a charity dog walk that we were scheduled to participate in. As it turned out, the rain was relentless up to and including the day of the event. As a result, we did not attend due to the inclement weather. Instead, I will explain why Moose wasn’t cleared for the one-mile fun walk anyway.

Other than age-related hearing and vision loss, and a rare seizure, he’s in good shape for approaching 16. Although we thought he would be okay for the walk, his cardiologist thought it best that he remain a spectator.

Last August Moose had a heart murmur that jumped in severity overnight. Heart murmurs in dogs can fluctuate, but an increase so sudden raised alarm, so much so that our vet suggested that we make an appointment with a canine cardiologist immediately. It was all so sudden, and we were afraid we were losing him.

Moose underwent a battery of tests at a veterinary hospital, and at that time he was diagnosed with having a leaky heart valve. He didn’t require medication at the time, but his condition required monitoring and follow up. At a subsequent appointment in April, we learned that his condition worsened to where he was just in need of medicine for his degenerative chronic mitral valve disease. The drug he will take for the rest of his life should slow its progression, perhaps up to a year and a half. Given that Moose will be 16 in November, it’s possible that something besides his heart will take his life. The specialist assured us that Moose is nowhere near heart failure at this time.

So, out of an abundance of caution, it was the vet’s opinion that Moose skip the dog walk. While he was almost certain that Moose would be just fine, the fact is that he has been inactive for some time. Just as greyhounds are couch potatoes, so are their smaller counterparts, the Italian Greyhound. Moose and Red haven’t been to a playdate in years, and their walks around the neighborhood are few. We certainly didn’t want to put any undue strain on his heart, so we chose to exclude him from the walk. We couldn’t be happier with the treatment that Moose is receiving from the cardiologist. (Our primary vet rocks, too).

Moose’s heart may be beginning to fail, but I don’t think it’s through disease. His heart isn’t big enough to hold all the love he has to give. As the saying goes, to know him is to love him.

Canine Cardiac Care (2)

Moose the Old Man

Mother’s Day Madness

Mothers Day Madness (1)

Annie – Never a Mom

Happy Mother’s Day! Since my cats and dogs are all spayed and neutered, none of them have ever been parents, at least not since they came to live with us. However, when I was a kid, our pets sometimes came with surprises.

The first family cat I remember was Puff, a stray tabby with a chronic ear condition taken in by my parents. One day my mom was holding her when she felt something wet run down her arm. To her surprise, Puff’s water had broken, and we were about to have more than one cat in the house. It now made sense why Puff was spending so much time in a closet, as she likely planned to bring her babies into the world in the secluded space. She had three kittens, who later were all rehomed, and the new mom was spayed soon after to prevent any other unplanned pregnancies. (Puff was an indoor/outdoor cat at the time, which was common in those days). In fact, she had her surgery when we still had her kittens in the house. Our family dog, a male Beagle named Sam, took charge of her little ones in her absence. If any of them wandered too far, Sam would retrieve it, returning the wayward baby to the rest of its siblings.

When I was growing up, pet stores were the place to go for pocket pets. Today care is taken to identify the sex of the animals for sale. Some retail chains will carry either male or female, but not both. This was not always the case back then, when we brought home a golden hamster, a male I named Teddy. One day I asked my mom, “What are those pink things in Teddy’s cage?” It turns out that Teddy wasn’t the male hamster we expected. Those “pink things” were tiny, hairless babies. We kept Teddy, but her kids were taken to the pet store when they were old enough to be separated from her.

As I got older, the pets got bigger. Graduating from hamsters, we brought home a brown and white guinea pig I named Lucy from a local pet shop. It turns out that she was indeed the female I was promised, but we didn’t realize that she was carrying an added bonus when we brought her home.

One day I noticed that Lucy had a smaller version of herself in her enclosure, a tiny brown and white baby. She only had one little piggie, and when we verified that it was a female, we named her Suzy and kept the mother and daughter together.

If my memory is correct, that was the last time I got more than I bargained for when it came to pets and their unexpected offspring. Currently we have a parakeet that sometimes lays eggs, so I should probably change her name from Elvis to Priscilla. Unless she has been entertaining birds in her cage late at night, the eggs will never hatch, as she is the only bird in the house. So, no matter how many kids you may or may not have, I hope your Mother’s Day is filled with more mirth than madness.

Mothers Day Madness (2)

Tiki – Also Not a Mom

The Case of the Missing Tabby

Tiger the Gotcha Day Lump (1)

The Lovable Lug

Not to be outdone by brother Moose, Tiger celebrated his own Gotcha Day recently. February 22, 2018, marked nine years since the orange tabby with attitude came to live with us. However, in that time he’s sometimes given us quite a scare.

We have learned that Tiger has a unique skill, something not done by any cat we’ve ever had. Perhaps he picked up this talent from watching his canine siblings. Italian Greyhounds love to burrow in their blankets, but what about cats?

When Tiger first came home, he was a dreaded door darter. This is not unusual for a cat who was allowed both inside and outside by his previous owner, but it is a problem since all of our cats are kept strictly indoors. Tiger got out our back door three times into the yard, and three times I was able to grab him and thwart any notion of freedom that he had. It seems he has since lost interest in this pursuit, but you have to remain vigilant when it comes to open doors. We live on a heavily traveled road, so a positive outcome for an escapee is unlikely.

We do a head count of the fur kids as a matter of course in our house. I also tend to do this when I’m doing the laundry, because I worry about a kitty taking an unintended ride in a Whirlpool. Every time we go out, and before bed, we check everyone’s location. Prior to implementing this practice, poor Tiger once spent a chilly night in the laundry room closet before being discovered the next morning.

One night during our rounds before lights out, we couldn’t find the cranky orange tabby. After checking the usual hiding spots and coming up empty, panic began to set in. Did he sneak down the basement stairs unnoticed? Worse yet, did he slip outside the safety of the house? That’s my biggest fear, one of the cats getting out the door and losing them forever. We continued the search, but still couldn’t find him. I called his name and even shook the treat bag, which summoned all the cats except Tiger. Where was he?

It seems our boy got tired and maybe a little chilly and called it a night early. A close inspection of our bed found a mysterious lump beneath the comforter. Peeling back the bedclothes revealed a blinking orange tabby, oblivious to the chest pain he was causing his pet parents. His hiding spot uncovered, he calmly stretched and walked into the other room, relinquishing the queen-size bed to its rightful owners.

I have since observed Tiger burrowing under the covers. He will also disappear under the comforter on the bed, or under the throw we keep on the couch for the dogs. You have to be careful where you sit or you could wind up with a claw to the backside. I wonder how the dogs feel about sharing their blankets, and I also wonder if I should have a cardiologist on speed dial.

Tiger the Gotcha Day Lump (2)

Hiding in Plain Sight?

Red Dog in a Blue Cone

Our two Italian Greyhounds recently had a routine dental procedure and while they were sedated, common canine growths were removed.  This is all part of their annual routine care, but it is an upsetting ordeal nonetheless, at least for my husband and me.  Sighthounds are sensitive to anesthesia, and it seems like an eternity passes before the vet calls with a post-surgery report.

Our boys were brought to us following a briefing with the vet.  Each had tooth extractions, but only Red had lumps removed necessitating an Elizabethan collar to prevent him from removing his stitches.  The collar was a soft blue cone, and I wondered how he felt about it.

He looked silly.  It was too large for him, and it appeared to swallow his head.  From the side you couldn’t see his muzzle, he resembled a lampshade with a dog body.

I wonder if he felt as ridiculous as he looked.  Did he cringe as we left the vet, passing other dogs on the way out?  I don’t think he cared, as he was still under the influence of the anesthesia.  Was our other dog Moose now embarrassed to be seen with him?  I don’t think he cared, either, as he was also still a bit loopy.

When all of his faculties were restored, Red ran through the house with a swoosh.  If curtains could run, this is the sound they would make.  Swoosh.  Then a crinkle.  It took Red a bit to adjust to the size of the cone.  He would scrape it along doorways and walls as he ran.  SwooshCrinkle.

Red answered my unspoken question as to his affinity (or lack thereof) for the cone.  I came home one day to a Red dog missing a blue cone.  It was left in a wad on the crate floor.  Red was pleased with himself, wagging his tail at me, but I was not pleased to discover that stitches from one wound were removed, exposing bone.

Off we went for repairs, the blue cone in tow.  Not only did Red receive three staples in lieu of stitches, but the blue cone was tied even tighter.  Poor boy.  One more week to go until he is the Red dog no longer in a blue cone.

Red the Dog

Red the Dog