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

What’s in the (Bye Bye) Bag?

Whats in the Bye bye Bag (1)

Fun and Functional

More people and pets spend time outside when the weather is nice. What items do you bring along for your canine companion when you’re spending quality time together away from home? Let’s take a look inside what I call the “Bye bye Bag,” which carried the essentials for Moose and Red when they had an active social life.

The Bag. I preferred a backpack to hold the boys’ gear. It’s easier to carry, especially if you’re juggling multiple leashes. Of course, it can be fun as well as functional. Since my dogs are male, their backpack is blue, with a cute bone-shaped keychain hanging from it. (Moose and Red had a bag charm before they became a thing).

Water Canteen. This is essential for travel. Mine has a detachable dish to make watering your pet a breeze, and the shoulder strap makes carrying it easy.

Bellybands and Pads. For males only, this garment protects the indoor areas, such as a friend’s home, from territory marking and incontinence. They wrap around the dog’s waist, covering the boy bits.

Hand Sanitizer. You never know when you will have to deal with something unpleasant, and sometimes water for hand washing isn’t readily available.

Flea and Tick Comb. I don’t think this is a necessity for Italian Greyhounds because their coat is so short, but I found it in the bag.

Car Sickness Preventative. I don’t recall if the all-natural remedy helped Red or not with his car sickness.

Tweezers. For tick removal.

Pill Box. I believe I had Benadryl in it, with dosage instructions from the vet along with the box. I carried this in case of any bug bites or stings, as I have seen Moose’s muzzle swell up first hand after a previous insect encounter.

Poop Bags. This should be one of the first items to pack. They are available in fancy refillable dispensers that hang from the leash, but plastic grocery bags work just as well.

Baby Sunscreen. I used this on both Moose and Red. Dogs can get skin cancer, and I would put this on their snouts, as well as the top of Moose’s head when his fur began thinning.

Collapsible Food Bowl and Container of Food. Because some playdates last into the evening, there’s no reason your pet should miss his or her scheduled meals (unless car sickness is an issue).

Spray Bottle with Water. I used this to break up minor skirmishes, or to cool other dogs’ unwanted romantic overtures towards my boys.

Baby Wipes. These are good to freshen up your dog after a long day of fun, and before heading home.

Of course, the contents of your bag may vary depending on the activity and breed of your dog. You should also consult your vet before packing anything that you plan to give to your dog orally or topically. (Please keep in mind that what I packed for my dogs may not necessarily be good for your dog, so use your judgment). With a little planning, you and your pet can have lots of fun together away from home.

Whats in the Bye bye Bag (2)

Bellyband

Red the April Fool

Red the April Fool (2)

A Sighthound? Maybe Not So Much

What do you do when you have a rescue animal with an unknown birthdate? In our house, we assign them a birthday. You could choose a date that means something to you, or you could choose a date based on the pet’s personality. Knowing Red as we do, we gave him the birthday of April 1, 2003 (the year is likely correct).

He never fails to amuse us with his hijinks, but his name is a misnomer. Although that was his name when we adopted him and his fur is a reddish brown, we learned early on that Linus or Timex would have worked just as well for names.

Just as Linus from Peanuts is attached to his blue blanket, Red is attached to his toys. Like a lot of dogs, he has an overflowing toy box, but still clings to his ratty stuffed rings, elephant, and platypus. He loves them so much that they end up in his bed, in our bed, the car, and even outside, as shown in the above photo. Sometimes he refuses to go for a walk unless he has one of these items stuffed into his mouth. It’s cute until he drops it mid-walk, leaving me to carry it the rest of the way.

Even when he’s creating a mess, we still laugh when we should probably be annoyed with him. When the pups were younger and attending playdates, you could count on Red to vomit in the car. Nothing we tried seemed to cure his car sickness, so his grandmother would sit in the back seat with him, a plastic bag at the ready. Every. Single. Trip. You can never question her love for her granddogs.

Red would later repay Grandmom for her kindness with a rather gross gift, a dead bird he brought into the house when she was dog sitting. He didn’t understand why she wasn’t grateful for his present, but I was glad that I wasn’t there for that spectacle. We called him Bird Face for a while after his avian encounter.

Red was never a graceful dog; long before he developed neurological issues, he was clumsy. I had a candle warmer on a living room end table, melting a 22-ounce candle. It was largely liquefied when Red managed to get caught in the cord and pull it down. Wax went everywhere, on the wall and carpet, and even in the outlet where it was plugged in. Worst of all, blue candle wax dripped from his red fawn coat, yet he was stoic about his predicament. I was so relieved that he didn’t burn his delicate skin, but I can tell you that wax removal from a dog is no fun.

Italian Greyhounds think they’re indestructible and Red is no exception. He managed to suffer a nasty chest scrape when he was running through the yard and failed to stop at the brick retaining wall. That had to hurt, but yet again he seemed unfazed.

Neither the wax nor wall incident bothered him. Remember Timex watches that take a licking and keep on ticking? That’s our Red, our April fool. He’s a small court jester in a fur coat.

Red the April Fool (1)

Cutest Elf Ever

Yearly Tune Up

Yearly Tune Up (2)

Is It Our Turn to See the Doctor? 

The pups recently had their annual well visit at the vet. Of course, it’s not one of their favorite places to be, but for them it’s a necessary evil. Moose is often open to visiting other patients in the waiting room, while Red tries to blend into the floor in hopes no one will notice him. It never works, but yet he tries.

We were ushered into an exam room. The boys were in for a bit more than a nail trim, but we included that service in the appointment. Red now has a heart murmur that was barely detectable through the doctor’s stethoscope. He is hard of hearing, and we know that he can still see, but we’re not sure to what extent. He is doing exceptionally well with his aquapuncture treatments that he receives from another practice. (As he will no longer stay still for the time required for acupuncture, he now receives aquapuncture injections instead).

Moose’s heart murmur is worse than Red’s, but remains unchanged since last year’s visit. He requires no treatment for it at this time. Although we believe he is a year older than Red, his vision and hearing are better.

While Moose needed one vaccine, Red needed two, as they are not on the same schedule when it comes to inoculations. I felt bad for both of them, but more so for Red because he had aquapuncture only four days before his checkup. The poor guy must have felt like a pincushion.

Since both dogs are microchipped, we make it a habit of scanning them at their annual appointment. Chips can migrate or become unreadable, but both were easily found and read by the scanner. I doubt if either of our boys would go missing given that they no longer have an active social life (playdates), but you can’t be too careful.

Next month they will both go in for their dental appointment. Red did not have a dental last year because he was in bad shape; he could not stand, let alone walk. Now that he has recovered, his mouth requires much needed attention. Of course, both dogs will have bloodwork done the day of the procedure to be sure it’s safe for them to undergo the dental. Their existing heart issues should not preclude them from having the procedure.

A couple days following the vet visit, we received a call that their stool samples tested negative for any parasites. At least this year their samples actually made it to the vet’s office. At last year’s appointment, we arrived only to discover that the paper bag containing their samples was missing. We know we left the house with it, but I think in the process of loading the car with dogs, the bag was put on top of the car and forgotten. Oops.

So now the boys have had their tune ups, and next month we await the dental appointment. The bottom line is I am happy to report that both dogs are in good shape for their ages, 14 and 15 respectively.

Yearly Tune Up (1)

“If I blend into the floor, the vet won’t see me.”

Happy 2018!

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Red and Moose Doing What They Do Best, Nothing

It’s been quite a while since I’ve visited this site, but here I am. I hope everyone’s New Year is off to a great start, holding in store for you far more mirth than madness. In fact, I’ve decided to take this blog mainly in the direction of mirth, involving my beloved pets.

Why the change? There is so much anger and negativity in the world, and I don’t feel a need to contribute to that. I found that I have become a much more compassionate person, and my attitudes towards things have changed. You never know what someone is going through, so it’s best to be kind. People can change for the better. I yearn to see a glass half full, instead of half empty and cracked. I hope I am growing in a positive direction, and see things in a more positive light. As a result, this site will be a lot about my pets, and with 4 cats and 2 dogs, I think they will provide me with plenty of content. (Sometimes I may offer a random, positive musing).

One thing that I feel blessed about is still having my two dogs (knocks on wood) after some difficulties earlier in 2017. I’m happy to report that Red is still receiving monthly aquapuncture (vitamin injections, as he no longer wants to be still for acupuncture) and is continuing to do very well. Moose now has a heart valve leak, but it does not require medication at this time. In fact, there is also a chance that it will never worsen, but we continue to monitor his condition.

Moose had a photo with Santa before we adopted Red, and they may have had a photo taken together early on, but I honestly can’t remember. Their combined age of 29 prompted me to take them in for a photo. The process was extremely well run, and I couldn’t be happier with the results. Also, proceeds went to an animal charity, which was great.

Moose is 15, and Red is 14. It’s tough seeing them grow old, knowing that their best years are behind them. I treasure the time we have together, and I try to spend as much time with them as I can, because I know I will be devastated when they leave me. My good friend growing up had a black lab/border collie mix that lived to 21, so my fingers are crossed for my boys’ longevity. Love those sweet seniors!

Belly Bands and Brothers

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You may know that I have two dogs, Moose and Red. You may also have noticed that they are always wearing an article of clothing in most of their inside pictures. So what is that material that wraps around them?

What the brothers are wearing are commonly known as belly bands, or weenie wraps, or squirt stoppers. As the names imply, these are specifically geared toward male dogs. In our house we call them man pants.

Their purpose is to be used as a housetraining tool. They also prevent your canine companion from marking his territory in inappropriate places, such as against the refrigerator or curtains; not that my angels have ever done such things. If you have an incontinent dog, they’re good for that, too. They’re not meant to be worn at all times, but . . .

Italian Greyhounds are a notoriously difficult breed to housetrain, unlike their larger cousins whippets and greyhounds. They do not like wind, rain, or the cold. Unless the conditions are optimal, there’s a good chance your little guy will run back into the house to do his business, no matter how long you have kept them outside on potty watch.

Because of their lack of reliability in the house training department, this is the reason they are most often surrendered to shelters and rescues. I hear they can be taught to go inside in a designated area, but that’s something I haven’t attempted.

Moose had very good potty habits when he was young. He was neutered at 6 months of age, and taught himself to ring the bells on the back door when he had to relieve himself. Nowadays he rings the bells and jumps on the couch to steal your spot when you get up to let him out.

Moose was three when we adopted Red, and that’s when the problems started. The Petfinder ad did mention that Red wasn’t housetrained but was smart and would learn quickly. Oh how wrong they were. Red’s arrival launched pee fest, with both dogs becoming leg lifters in the house, even though both were neutered.

We discovered belly bands, which enabled us to keep the boys in their forever homes. The brand we like uses fleece, and has elastic along both sides, similar to Huggies diapers. The fabric wraps around the dog, covering the boy bits, and is fastened at the top with Velcro. For extra absorbency we line the band with a feminine pad from the dollar store. Of course I would prefer them to go au naturel, but that’s not an option for them, especially in their advanced age. I think they’re adorable just the same.

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When Does Compassion Become Cruel?

 

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When Ozzy left me suddenly last June, I think he knew something I didn’t. I would need all my resources and energy to care for another ill fur family member. I believe Ozzy planned that time to go, somehow with the knowledge that one of his canine brothers would suffer ill health.

Red is our rescued Italian Greyhound, adopted into our family at the age of 1 or 2. We noticed recently that he “knuckled,” walking on the first bend of his paws, akin to human wrists. In fact, his paws bend all the way back, resembling flippers. He stumbled when he walked, which worsened quickly. To better accommodate him, we covered our kitchen floor with yoga mats for better mobility. We also moved a water dish into the family room, so he wouldn’t have to climb the two steps into the kitchen.

Our regular vet checked him and believed he suffered from a neurological problem. We consulted a specialist in Philadelphia, who believed Red’s issue was centered in his neck. This vet thought he had a herniated disc causing the problem. It was a better diagnosis than a brain tumor, but it was still disheartening.

There were two options to treat his condition. We could opt for medicinal help, using prednisone to see if that would give him any improvement in his mobility. We could try to keep him on the lowest dose possible. The other option was surgery. Red would need an MRI at the cost of $2,500 to see the exact cause of his problem. The specialist cautioned us that he would only operate on our dog if the problem were clear from the test and he thought surgery would help. Surgery would be an additional $3,000. Of course, he told us we had to decide if we wanted to put a 12, possibly 13 year old dog through that. We decided on the prednisone, reminding me of all the times I gave it to Ozzy. In fact, we still had some of his pills left to now give to Red.

We tried different dosages of the prednisone with varying degrees of success. One pill per day worked the best, but that wasn’t saying much. His conditioned worsened to outright falling over on his side. Back to our regular vet we went, where I asked how much prednisone he could tolerate. Two and a half pills per day would be the maximum, but it would cause muscle loss, his head eventually becoming misshapen. There was no way I could do that to him, I would see him euthanized first.

Although Red’s condition is shocking to anyone who sees him, other than this, he is healthy, and that is our dilemma. They say you know when it’s time to say goodbye, but I’m not getting that vibe from him. On one hand, he’s almost totally immobile at this point. His best times are when he first wakes up, he’s able to toddle around on his wrists. His back end isn’t much better, but it’s better than the front. He needs to be carried everywhere. When outside he sometimes needs to be steadied to relieve himself. He can stand most of the time to eat and drink, with a spotter nearby so he doesn’t fall over and choke.

We realize his best days are behind him and our time together grows short. Still, even though he has limited mobility, he has joy in his life. He loves to lay on our couch and snuggle with Moose, our 14 year old Italian Greyhound. He loves sleeping between us at night, secure that he won’t roll out of bed. He’s not missing out on walks (he never liked leaving his house), or running around anymore, as at his age he’s a couch potato. His appetite is as good as it was before he was on the prednisone.

The vet tells us he is not in pain. Every time we’re in the yard and he falls into a heap on the grass, I worry that the neighbors are calling the doggie version of DYFS. I feel judgmental eyes on me when I carry him into the vet’s office. We carry him everywhere he needs or wants to be; I’ve even Googled living with a paralyzed dog, although Red can feel and move all of his legs, he doesn’t know where they are, which is how our vet put it.

Two vets recommended against the surgery due to his age. Younger dogs have had the surgery and recovered, with another 10 years ahead of them. We know we don’t have that long with Red (although I had a friend whose dog lived to 21).

So it leaves me to wonder, when does compassion become cruel?

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