Flooding aftermath poses risks to our pets

Petplan pet insurance staff veterinarian Kim Smyth shares important tips about the hazards that those in the area affected by Hurricane Harvey (and flood prone regions) should beware of when it comes to the health of their pets in the weeks to come.

“In the aftermath of a natural disaster, both physical and mental health hazards abound. Overcrowding in pet shelters or pet-approved human shelters increases stress, which in turn decreases immunity. Your pet may be exposed to infectious diseases, both in flood waters and on dry land in crowded shelter environments. Pay close attention to your pet’s health as you navigate the long journey of recovery from a natural disaster. Post traumatic phobias in pets are common following natural disasters–changes in behavior, appetite, or appearance should all be addressed by a veterinarian as soon as possible.”

Water Woes – While the flooding that follows a significant storm poses immediate risks to the safety of our pets, the standing water left behind for weeks or months is just as dangerous.

  • Floodwaters can be tainted with toxic chemicals, as well as wildlife-borne diseases like Leptospirosis, a bacterial disease that is particularly problematic in wet conditions.
  • Says Smyth: “Pathogenic fungi are often displaced from their natural habitat during flooding. These fungi pose a health risk to those who may come into contact with it while wading or swimming through flood waters.”
  • Standing water also attracts mosquitoes, which can carry diseases and parasites, like heartworms, to unprotected pets. Keep pets away from floodwaters and keep a few months’ worth of heartworm preventative on hand at all times so you can stay up to date with doses no matter what.
  • Flooding can also alter landscapes and obliterate scent trails, which can confuse your pet and cause him to become disoriented. Don’t let pets roam outside off-leash, and be sure to keep contact information current on their microchips in case they get lost.

Adds Smyth: “Pets who have near-drowning accidents can succumb to fluid buildup in the lungs as much as 48 hours after the event. If your pet struggled to evacuate through flood waters, please keep a close eye on his condition for at least 48 hours, even if he seems normal.”

Dangerous Debris – Depending on the severity of the storm, debris from destroyed structures, downed trees and trash can hang around long after floodwaters recede.

  • Never let pets climb on debris or nose through trash, as they can suffer lacerations, abrasions or broken bones from falls.
  • Additionally, curious canines could find unsavory snacks that can lead to intestinal obstruction, bowel perforation or poisoning.

Stress Test – We’ve talked about how noise phobias can affect pets during storms, but plenty of stressors can make the aftermath just as upsetting for our furry friends.

  • Cats in particular are vulnerable to anxiety caused by changes to their environment, but even a usually plucky pup can find himself frazzled in unfamiliar situations – like if you are displaced, or if you foster displaced animals for friends, family or neighbors.
  • If you do take in additional animals, keep non-household members separate from each other to minimize the potential for negative interactions.
  • Take note of common canine stress signals like yawning, licking or chewing when no food is present, excessive shaking as if to dry off and freezing when touched. Cats signal stress through excessive vocalization, inappropriate elimination and even vomiting. Exercise and play can help alleviate anxiety, but it is a good idea to keep your vet’s number on hand to discuss any concerns that crop up.

Says Smyth: “Remember that you comfort your pet as much as he comforts you in stressful times. Do your best to stay together after evacuation, but if you must separate, make sure he/she is wearing up to date contact information or in a pet carrier that is clearly labeled. If your pet is microchipped, make sure the microchip company has up to date contact information for you.”

Spores of Trouble – Although toxic black mold poisoning has not been widely documented in pets, two cats who survived Superstorm Sandy succumbed to the toxin.

  • Because mold spores in the lungs can cause long-term respiratory damage and other health issues not just to your furry friends, but to your entire family, it is absolutely critical to have your house checked if you’ve sustained flood damage. If you notice your pets scratching themselves or chewing on their extremities or at their skin, or your pet exhibits extreme lethargy, wheezing, coughing, struggling to aspirate, bleeding from the nose or disruption in regular eating habits, your pet may be suffering the long-term effects of black mold exposure.

Says Smyth: “Waiting until a natural disaster strikes to think about evacuation plans puts your entire family at risk, especially your four legged family members,” says Smyth. “Have a disaster preparedness plan that includes pets in place, so if the worst happens, you know where you’re going and what you need to take with you. Areas that have been damaged by natural disasters may not be accessible for weeks–never evacuate without your pets.”

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12 interesting facts about cats that you might not know

Cats, along with dogs, are the most popular pet in the world. And it’s no wonder – these adorable, cuddly creatures are great at winning over our hearts. But even if we think we know them in detail, there are some things about cats that are not so widely known.

I have compiled a list of 12 facts about cats that many people might not know yet. You will be able to understand your cat and their behavior better by knowing some of these things.

1. Cats don’t have a sweet tooth

While us humans enjoy every bit of sweet candy, cats aren’t really interested in eating sweets because they can’t taste sweet. In their natural habitat, cats would eat meat and only meat. But today’s cat food often contains corn and other grains with a bunch of carbohydrates, which is why feline diabetes is so common.

2. Most cats are lactose intolerant

Even though cats and milk may seem like the perfect combination, it is most often not. Most cats lose their ability to break down the sugar in milk after they stop being nursed by their mom. In other words, they become lactose intolerant. That is why milk and dairy products are not something you should feed your cat to every day.

3. Cats have a blind spot under their noses and chins

If your cat doesn’t always notice a treat that is right under its nose, this is the reason! Cats are great at catching motions and often see movements that we can’t notice, but when it comes to seeing things right in front of their noses, they are not that good at it.

4. Spaying and neutering may prolong cat’s lifespan

Banfield Pet Hospital, the world’s largest veterinary practice has found some interesting facts about pet’s lifespan. According to their State of Pet Health 2013 Report, the lifespan of pets has increased from 10 years ago. Lifespan in 2012 was 20% longer than lifespan in 2002, which adds 1 year to a cat’s life. Hooray to that! They also found that spay and neuter may contribute to a longer lifespan. You can find more about it in their research linked above.

5. Kittens are growing while they sleep

When kittens are born, they sleep most of the day because only then is when the growth hormone is released. When cats turn 1, they are pretty much finished growing. A 1-year-old cat is like a 21-year-old human, and each additional year of life is like 4 human years.

6. Cats spend most of their lives sleeping

Cats really like to sleep in (well who doesn’t?). They sleep approximately 12-16 hours a day which makes 2/3’s of their lives! So, an adult 12-year-old cat will have spent 8 years of its life sleeping! They mostly like to be awake and active at dusk and dawn.

7. Cat’s whiskers have a big purpose

Many people assume that a cat’s whiskers are just ordinary hair. But that is far from the truth. Those pointy little thingies are actually touch receptors. They help the cat navigate and without them, the cat would be disoriented and scared. Whiskers also help cats judge if they can fit through an opening since they are as wide as their body.

8. Cats have sandpaper-like tongues

Their sandpaper-like tongues are responsible for good grooming sessions cats give themselves and other cats every day. Cats love to clean themselves and their tongues are designed to give them the best grooming experience and to clean themselves in detail.

9. Cats can make over 100 vocal sounds

While dogs are able to make only 10 vocal sounds, cats can make over 100! Those 100 different vocal sounds include a variety of meows, purrs and growls. I just wish we could interpret what each sound means!

10. Cat’s sense of smell is 14 times better than humans’

Cat rely on their sense of smell to locate the food, find a mating partner or to warn danger. My cat, for example, can immediately smell if I petted a random dog at the street. She starts sniffing my hand and looking at me all funny, like she is disappointed at me 🙂

Because of the cat’s strong sense of smell, you should be extra cautious in using essential oils and perfumes in front of your cat.

11. Cats can drink sea water

Cats have highly efficient kidneys that easily filter out the salt from the sea water. So, unlike humans, cats can stay hydrated from drinking sea water! But, of course, this doesn’t mean you should give sea water to your cats. Fresh water is always the best choice.

12. Extra toes are genetic

If a polydactyl cat (a cat with extra toes) and non-polydactyl cat have babies, there is 40-50% chance kittens will have extra toes too.

Polydactyly is a genetic mutation (adorable one I must say) and it is not harmful to the cat. Most polydactyl cats have one extra toe on each front paw, but they can have an extra toe on the back paws too. In some cases, cats can have up to 7 toes on each paw!

Conclusion

Well, I hope you learned something new about cats and that it will help you understand these cute creatures a little bit better! If you have an interesting cat fact to add, do tell us in the comments!

Author Bio
Monika is a huge animal lover, currently having two cats in her life. She is the owner of a pet blog called Animallama where she writes about pet care, pet tips and advice.

Posted in cats, guest post | 1 Comment

Easy-to-Make Dog Treats For Your Furry Best Friend

When it comes to cooking, you love to whip up an incredible meal for your family; from yummy casseroles, to delicious crock pot apple crisps. Your family appreciates your cooking, so why not create something special for your pet too? With just a few ingredients, you can bake easy-to-make doggie treats to show your pup how much you love them.

Make pupcakes for your dog’s next birthday, or treat them to a doggie donut after a morning walk. With a cooking time of 30 minutes or less, your pup won’t have to wait long to dig in!

Posted in DIY for pets | 1 Comment

Cats I’ve Known (and a giveaway)

We had the chance to read a fun new book called Cats I’ve Known: On Love, Loss, and Being Graciously Ignored. It is full of stories of all the cats the author has known and loved, each cat having it’s own section. Some cats are pets, others are cats that she meets in Philadelphia’s streets, alleys, houses, apartments, and bookstores. All of them have their own distinct personalities!

It’s a fun read, as each cat is so different, and yet they share qualities. This is something all cats owners are sure to already know, but I have a feeling you will see cats you love in each of the cats in the book too.

We have five copies to giveaway! You will get to read it before it’s even released in October. This giveaway will be open to those in the USA and Canada. Please enter using the form below:

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Posted in books, cats, giveaways | 6 Comments