Tails from the Front Line

Official Blog of Guardian Angels for Soldier's Pet


Pet Tips

Tis the season to keep your pets safe and happy

The holiday season is fast approaching!  As we look forward to gathering with family and friends and enjoying the glorious feasts, treats and decorations, it is also important to remember our furry friends.  A general rule of thumb is to try to keep your pet’s eating and exercise habits as close to their normal routine as possible and below are some more great tips from

1. No tricks, no treats: That bowl of candy is for trick-or-treaters, not for Scruffy and Fluffy. Chocolate in all forms—especially dark or baking chocolate—can be very dangerous for dogs and cats. Candies containing the artificial sweetener xylitol can also cause problems. If you do suspect your pet has ingested something toxic, please call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.

2. Popular Halloween plants such as pumpkins and decorative corn are considered to be relatively nontoxic, but they can produce stomach upset in pets who nibble on them.

3. Wires and cords from electric lights and other decorations should be kept out of reach of your pets. If chewed, your pet might suffer cuts or burns, or receive a possibly life-threatening electrical shock.

4. A carved pumpkin certainly is festive, but do exercise caution if you choose to add a candle. Pets can easily knock a lit pumpkin over and cause a fire. Curious kittens especially run the risk of getting burned or singed by candle flames.

5. Please don’t put your dog or cat in a costume UNLESS you know he or she loves it (yup, a few pets are real hams!). For pets who prefer their “birthday suits,” however, wearing a costume may cause undue stress.

6. If you do dress up your pet, make sure the costume isn’t annoying or unsafe. It should not constrict the animal’s movement or hearing, or impede his ability to breathe, bark or meow. Also, be sure to try on costumes before the big night. If your pet seems distressed, allergic or shows abnormal behavior, consider letting him go au naturale or donning a festive bandana.

7. Take a closer look at your pet’s costume and make sure it does not have small, dangling or easily chewed-off pieces that he could choke on. Also, ill-fitting outfits can get twisted on external objects or your pet, leading to injury.

8. All but the most social dogs and cats should be kept in a separate room away from the front door during peak trick-or-treating hours. Too many strangers can be scary and stressful for pets.

9. When opening the door for trick-or-treaters, take care that your cat or dog doesn’t dart outside.

10. IDs, please! Always make sure your dog or cat has proper identification. If for any reason your pet escapes and becomes lost, a collar and tags and/or a microchip can be a lifesaver, increasing the chances that he or she will be returned to you

1. If you decide to feed your pet a little nibble of turkey, make sure it’s boneless and well-cooked. Don’t offer her raw or undercooked turkey, which may contain salmonella bacteria.

2. Sage can make your Thanksgiving stuffing taste delish, but it and many other herbs contain essential oils and resins that can cause gastrointestinal upset and central nervous system depression to pets if eaten in large quantities. Cats are especially sensitive to the effects of certain essential oils.

3. Don’t spoil your pet’s holiday by giving him raw bread dough. According to ASPCA experts, when raw bread dough is ingested, an animal’s body heat causes the dough to rise in his stomach. As it expands, the pet may experience vomiting, severe abdominal pain and bloating, which could become a life-threatening emergency, requiring surgery.

4. If you’re baking up Thanksgiving pies, be sure your pets keep their noses out of the batter, especially if it includes raw eggs—they could contain salmonella bacteria that may lead to food poisoning.

5. A few small boneless pieces of cooked turkey, a taste of mashed potato or even a lick of pumpkin pie shouldn’t pose a problem. However, don’t allow your pets to overindulge, as they could wind up with a case of stomach upset, diarrhea or even worse—an inflammatory condition of the pancreas known as pancreatitis. In fact, it’s best keep pets on their regular diets during the holidays.

6. While the humans are chowing down, give your cat and dog their own little feast. Offer them Nylabones or made-for-pet chew bones. Or stuff their usual dinner—perhaps with a few added tidbits of turkey, vegetables (try sweet potato or green beans) and dribbles of gravy—inside a Kong toy. They’ll be happily occupied for awhile, working hard to extract their dinner from the toy.

1. Securely anchor your Christmas tree so it doesn’t tip and fall, causing possible injury to your pet. This will also prevent the tree water—which may contain fertilizers that can cause stomach upset—from spilling. Stagnant tree water is a breeding ground for bacteria and your pet could end up with nausea or diarrhea should he imbibe.

2. Tinsel – kitties love this sparkly, light-catching “toy” that’s easy to bat around and carry in their mouths. But a nibble can lead to a swallow, which can lead to an obstructed digestive tract, severe vomiting, dehydration and possible surgery. It’s best to brighten your boughs with something other than tinsel.

3. By now you know not to feed your pets chocolate and anything sweetened with xylitol, but do you know the lengths to which an enterprising fur kid will go to chomp on something yummy? Make sure to keep your pets away from the table and unattended plates of food, and be sure to secure the lids on garbage cans.

4. Looking to stuff your pet’s stockings? Choose gifts that are safe.

  • Dogs have been known to tear their toys apart and swallowing the pieces, which can then become lodged in the esophagus, stomach or intestines. Stick with chew toys that are basically indestructible, Kongs that can be stuffed with healthy foods or chew treats that are designed to be safely digestible.
  • Long, stringy things are a feline’s dream, but the most risky toys for cats involve ribbon, yarn and loose little parts that can get stuck in the intestines, often necessitating surgery. Surprise kitty with a new ball that’s too big to swallow, a stuffed catnip toy or the interactive cat dancer—and tons of play sessions together.

5. Holly, when ingested, can cause pets to suffer nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Mistletoe can cause gastrointestinal upset and cardiovascular problems. And many varieties of lilies, can cause kidney failure in cats if ingested. Opt for just-as-jolly artificial plants made from silk or plastic, or choose a pet-safe bouquet.

6. Fatty, spicy and no-no human foods, as well as bones, should not be fed to your furry friends. Pets can join the festivities in other fun ways that won’t lead to costly medical bills.

7. Don’t leave lighted candles unattended. Pets may burn themselves or cause a fire if they knock candles over. Be sure to use appropriate candle holders, placed on a stable surface. And if you leave the room, put the candle out!

8. Keep wires, batteries and glass or plastic ornaments out of paws’ reach. A wire can deliver a potentially lethal electrical shock and a punctured battery can cause burns to the mouth and esophagus, while shards of breakable ornaments can damage your pet’s mouth.

9. Make sure all of your medications are locked behind secure doors, and be sure to tell your guests to keep their meds zipped up and packed away, too.

10. If your celebration includes adult holiday beverages, be sure to place your unattended alcoholic drinks where pets cannot get to them. If ingested, your pet could become weak, ill and may even go into a coma, possibly resulting in death from respiratory failure.

11. Give your pet his own quiet space to retreat to—complete with fresh water and a place to snuggle. Shy pups and cats might want to hide out under a piece of furniture, in their carrying case or in a separate room away from the hubbub.


All information obtained from

How to Read a Pet’s Behavior during a Home Transition

This post was written as a guest post from the law firm of Skousen, Gulbrandsen & Patience, PLC of Mesa, Arizona as a way to provide guidance on transitioning a pet into a foster home and issues that the Foster Home should be aware of when taking care of a pet that is not theirs.

Separation anxiety is not only for humans. Your pets can have it too. There are always concerns when you have to leave your pet at home for extended periods. It could be worse though. You could be a member of our armored forces and not know the exact particulars of when you will return home to tend to your pet’s needs. That is where organizations like Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet come in. The kind individuals who volunteer for this and similar organizations help arrange foster homes for pets of soldiers so that they can get appropriate care and attention during their human’s absence.

The transition, however, may not be as easy as it seems.

Pets require that three core needs be met when transitioning into a foster home —comfort, fun distractions and perceptive caregivers.

While it has been documented that a dogs’ intelligence is similar to that of a toddler, dog owners know that their emotional intelligence goes much deeper. Sudden changes in a dog’s environment can lead to anxiety, depression, separation anxiety and even fear-aggression. If you are a family that is looking to foster a pet for a soldier, it is important to remember that many factors go into easing the pet’s confusion of unfamiliar surroundings. When transitioning into a foster home, it is not uncommon for dogs to act aggressively out of fear. Not only is it important to provide a temporary safe home for your new furry foster friend, but it is also important to ensure that the dog feels safe and secure, both for the dog’s sake and for the sake of members of the foster family.

When a child goes for a sleepover at a friend’s house, they likely take their own pillow or blanket. Taking items that guest post - shutterstock_160983011are familiar to the pet to the foster home can also provide some comfort as they cope with their temporary loss of
their human. Be sure to learn ahead of time whether the soldier’s pet is comfortable with other animals and small children. This will also help the transition process. If the pet does not feel comfortable or recognize familiar items such as their favorite dog bed, snacks or toys, they may slip into depression or even exhibit fearful and aggressive behavior. When the pet first arrives to your home, be sure to allow it plenty of space and allow it to meet other members of the family, including other pets, on its own terms. Provide a safe place for the pet, such as a familiar crate or room, that the pet can “escape” to when it wants some alone time.

Fun Distractions
Great foster families will be able to provide the pet the distractions it needs, whether it is another four-legged guest post shutterstock_222772792companion to play with, or frequent outings such as walks and trips to the dog park. It especially helps if the foster family lives in the same neighborhood because their foster pet will have their favorite spots to sniff! Granted, the distractions will not always prevent moments of sadness or depression, but it will help to make the transition easier – just like a child at camp or with a family member leaving home to live on-campus at a college.

Perceptive Caregivers
Caring for a pet is very similar to caring for another human. As humans, we have a sixth sense, so to speak, to be keen on when someone around you is suddenly upset, sad or angry. We also tend to pick up emotional cues from changes in body language. Take aggressive dogs for example. Common signs of a dog feeling aggressive include the following:

  • bared teeth
  • raised hair on their backs
  • stiffened limbs
  • lowered heads in an attempt to seem intimidating
  • Fixated stare
  • growling

When a dog shows these behavioral traits, they are feeling aggressive or threatened in their “territory.” This behavior can be expected from protective or possessive dogs as well as dogs that are experiencing fear. Failure to heed these warning signs can escalate the situation. The dog is clearly warning everyone to stay away, but if nobody listens, the dog may feel it has no choice but to bite. In order to prevent this from occurring, the caregiver must first take care to avoid triggering an aggressive reaction (see more on that here). If the dog begins to exhibit these behaviors, immediately jump into action. They could take the following actions:

  • Call the pet away (if the pet will listen)
  • Stay calm (don’t get panicked) and avoid eye contact with the dog
  • Walk away from the dog slowly and instruct everyone else to give the pet some space
  • As soon as the dog stops growling or baring its teeth, offer a high-value treat such as a small piece of cheese or meat.
  • Take things at a slower pace and reward the dog for interacting positively with members of the household.

If a dog bite has occurred, take the following actions:

  • Do not overreact – keeping calm will help calm the pet down. Do not punish or discipline the dog, but if possible, gently escort them to their safe area of the home, so they can calm down.
  • Separate the aggressing factors (such as two opposing dogs) to help neutralize their feelings or emotions. Most dog fights are over in seconds with very little damage done, so it is important to not make a big deal out of it, and simply keep the dogs separated at any time where you cannot supervise.
  • Get identification information from all involved as well as two witnesses, if, for example, you are in a public place. Helpful identification factors include name, address, phone number and even insurance information in case medical care is sought.
  • Treat the bite (some bites are minor and only require antiseptic solutions and bandages; other bites are more serious and require medical attention)
  • If you are the owner or caregiver of the biter, seek legal representation in anticipation of any legal charges.

Fostering a pet for someone else will come with its challenges, but anticipating the potential issues will help make you prepared for any and all possible scenarios. By attending to the pet’s core needs, you will help make their transition to your home the best it possibly can be.

logo2Skousen, Gulbrandsen & Patience, PLC of Mesa, Arizona provided this guest post as a courtesy to increase awareness of how dog bites occur. Our law firm has excellent perception into dog bite cases as well as those regarding other serious personal injuries. If you would like additional insight into your injury case, please seek our legal representation by filling out our contact form today!


Pets & Children

• Pets and kids go together like peanut butter & jelly; they are great playmates, guardians, and confidants. But, children must learn proper handling and discipline, and pets must learn self- control so that they do not play too rough.

• Children must be supervised and taught that dogs are beings, not dolls or toys to dress-up or handled constantly. Teach children not to tease or rile up the pet unnecessarily. This includes chasing around the house, which can scare a pet, who may snap or try to scratch if cornered or frightened.

• Make sure your children know that it is not the pet’s fault if a dog chews up toys that are left out. Keeping doors shut & toys in toy boxes can help minimize damage. Make sure the pet have their own toys, and keep them in the same place all the time (like in a basket, or in the dog’s crate.)

• Children like the idea of caring for a pet, but the daily work of feeding, bathing, brushing, and cleaning up after the pet is not really suited for them.

• Recognize that the initial enthusiasm will wane quickly, and the true responsibility of caring for the pet will fall to the adults in the household. Young children should not walk foster dogs, as, even if the dog is easy to walk, the child cannot really handle any encounters with other dogs or cats that are bound to happen.

• Children should not play unsupervised with foster pets. For smaller pets, teach proper handling (pick up by the body, not the limbs), and limit interaction.

• Children need to be taught that a puppy’s mouthing is not biting, and that the puppy is not trying to hurt them. Perhaps most importantly, children must learn to properly discipline the foster dog/puppy (a sharp “no” or squirt with a water bottle). Children may think that squirting the pet is fun, and need to learn to only use it sparingly. Children often react to a dog’s bad behavior by hitting or trying to kick the pet, which is unacceptable.

The Butter Incident

Warning… the following story is not for people with a weak stomach.


Earlier this year I fostered Rusty and Piper for four months for Courtney and Adam, a military family that was relocating to the UK.  The dogs needed to wait a prescribed amount of time after their vaccinations and also the very expensive cost of their traveling was prohibitive at the time and they needed to wait to get their tax return check to be able to afford it.  I happily fostered two of the sweetest dogs I’ve ever met.

Unfortunately, Rusty – a very large Rhodesian Ridgeback – was extremely prone to counter surfing when no one was looking.  He developed an unhealthy taste for butter and no stick was safe from him no matter how far back on the counter it was.   Mostly he just nabbed half sticks or less so no harm, no foul.  One day I was baking so I took a pound out of the freezer and left on the counter to soften.  It was still wrapped and in its box so I thought it was safe.  Foolish me.

I was in the living room relaxing with Piper and my dog, Ramush, when I realized I hadn’t seen Rusty for a while and things were suspiciously quiet.  I went looking for him and found him in the kitchen finishing up the last stick of an entire pound of butter!

The vet said it might cause diarrhea but otherwise he should be fine.  Unfortunately, we weren’t that lucky.  About an two hours later, he vomited the entire pound all over my handmade carpet from Afghanistan.  I bet you didn’t know that butter turns rancid after sitting in a stomach for that long, did you?  Neither did I until I got close enough to try to clean it up.  When I got near the steaming puddle, I was subjected to the foulest, most disgusting, gut wrenching stench I’ve ever had the misfortune to encounter.  The smell was so overwhelmingly hideous that I promptly horked up everything in my stomach (not butter, thank God!).  Having watched many crime shows, I remembered that detectives often put Vicks under their nose to counteract the smell of rotting bodies – which have nothing on the stench of rancid butter mixed with stomach acid and bile, believe me!  After applying a generous helping of Vicks under my nostrils, I then had to tie a bandanna over my face and donned elbow length rubber gloves (which I had to throw away).  For future reference, partially digested butter is a gelatinous greasy goo that is virtually impossible to pick up.  I went through an entire roll of paper towel trying to get it off the rug and then used the carpet cleaner with deodorizing shampoo about four times trying to get the smell out.   Even after all that, the stench stayed in the house for a couple of days and it was well over a month before I could eat butter again.  And, of course, Rusty was perfectly fine and couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about.

Unbelievably, I actually miss him – apart from his voracious butter appetite, he was a sweetheart.

– Written by Robin, previous foster mom in New Hampshire.

Spring has Sprung…

Spring has come quickly to most of the country.  With pollen levels at crazy high’s and temperatures quickly heating up, what needs to be done to prepare your four-legged friends for the change in season?  Here are a few things you can do:

  1. Secure windows and screens:   We all love the fresh air that comes with opening the windows in the house and the car.  Make sure that the screens are securely in to protect your pets who might want to push their noses against it.
  2. Check for pests:   With more outdoor activity comes more change for unwanted pests.  Protect your pets by checking for pests every time they come back inside.  Ask your vet about flea/tick preventive options now.
  3. Bathe with care:  Make sure that the soaps that you use on your pets will not harm them.
  4. Stay off the grass: Fertilizers, insecticides and herbicides may create healthy plants and lush lawns, but their ingredients can be toxic to our four-legged friends. Avoid formal lawns with “pesticide treated” signs or altogether as the chemicals can irritate paws and if licked off by cats or dogs can be extremely toxic.   Make sure to keep animals off the grass the allocated amount of time after you use products on your own lawn.
  5. Buckle up:  Taking your pet on a drive?  Make sure they are buckled up for that car trip.  It’s for your protection and your pet’s. Always secure pets in a comfortable harness or crate when traveling.
  6. Groom for the season: Most cats and dogs “blow coat” at this time of year, with longer-haired breeds prone to tangling and matts as the dry, dead winter hair fights to drop out. Regular brushing helps restore oil to the coat and your vet may recommend an Omega 3 fatty acid supplement to keep coat and skin in good shape.   Coats protect from both heat and cold, so leave at least an inch or two of coat for insulation from sun, heat and insects.

What other tips do you have?   Leave a comment and tell us about it!

– Written by Jessica Semon, National Marketing and Communications Director

OH NO… Where’s Buddy?

So you are a foster home for a soldier’s pet and everything is going great.  Until one day you let Buddy outside to get some exercise and turn your back for one minute only to discover…. Buddy’s gone!   It’s every pet owner’s nightmare and being a Foster Parent you have the added pressure…You’re taking care of someone else’s dog!!

Don’t panic.  Take a deep breathe.   There are many things that you can do to locate Buddy.   Swift action, paired with some resources that you have kept in your back pocket will increase the odds of Buddy coming home before dinner time.  The important thing to do is to get information out there.

Send out the Initial Search Team

As soon as you notice that Buddy is missing, talk to other people in the house.  When was the last time someone saw him?   Check the house – maybe he came in without you knowing.   Call his name and bring out his favorite toy as a way to grab his attention.

When your sure that Buddy’s not in the house or in the backyard – start walking around the neighborhood.  Start with your neighbors – maybe he jumped the fence and is hanging out on your neighbor’s back porch.   Bring a photo of Buddy with you in case your neighbors need a reminder of what Buddy looks like.   Get a team of neighbors together and check every nook and cranny – Buddy could be under a bush or in a shed hanging out till he is found.

Work the Phones

Your first calls should be to all the animal control agencies, and shelters groups in your area; one of them could have Buddy already thanks to a complete stranger.   Also give your state Foster Home Coordinator or State Director a call and give them a heads up that Buddy is missing.

Get the Word Out

What next?  Create a “lost pet” flyer to canvas the neighborhood with. We recommend sticking with one design, as repeated viewings of a consistent message are more likely to stick in people’s minds. You’ll need to include a lot of info on your flyer, so use your limited space wisely:

  • A big, bold headline that people can read from a distance: “LOST DOG”
  • Under the headline, a photo of Buddy is ideal. Make sure he’s still well-represented after the picture’s been photocopied or printed. List his breed, sex, color, age, weight, distinguishing features, and where and when he was last seen. It is very important that Buddy is described accurately.
  • Provide your name and two phone numbers; yours, of course, and a back-up in case you cannot be reached (we recommend using your state Foster Home Coordinator as a back-up)

Blanket the Neighborhood

With your flyers in hand (and hopefully, a team of supportive helpers), it’s time to blanket the neighborhood. Good places to post your flyers may include:

  • Dog runs and parks
  • Pet supply stores and pet grooming shops
  • Veterinary offices
  • Various commercial establishments, such as grocery and convenience stores, gas stations, Laundromats, bars, cafes and restaurants.
  • Lampposts and trees. Cover extra heavily the areas where you think your pet was lost, as well as busy commercial and pedestrian sections of your town.
  • Around schools, at kids’-eye level. Children can be more observant than adults, especially when it comes to animals.

When posting flyers at business locations be sure to ask permission before posting your flyers!

Hit the  Internet

The Internet was made for networking. Send descriptive emails about your lost pet to your local friends, colleagues and family members, and ask them to pass on the info to anyone they can. Use social media platforms to further increase your reach.

Don’t Give Up!

This one’s important! And remember that many lost animals have found their way back home.

We hope that this doesn’t happen with any of our foster pets.  But if it does, we hope that these tips help to make the situation less stressful.

-Written by Jessica Semon, National Communications Director

Traveling with Your Pet

When you are in the military, traveling is a part of life and no matter how organized you are it’s still a very stressful time. And if you have pets, it can be downright daunting.  A million things run through your head, “I need to find housing that takes pets,” “How will I get my pet to the new city?” “How will they handle the move?”

The first plan of action is to be armed with as much information as you can. Here’s where the internet can be invaluable. It doesn’t matter how near or far away you are traveling; you can find the information you need for that area. Here are a few things to make sure you know before you leave:

  • What are the pet policies at your new location?
  • Does my pet need shots? And if so, you will need to find out this information in advance as this can take some time to coordinate.
  • Are there any pet friendly hotels where we can stay? In case you need to find a place to live once you arrive.
  • Are there any special animal laws in that state or country? Mandatory quarantines, etc.
  • What veterinarian is nearby? Military or otherwise.
  • What certificates do I need in order for my pet to travel? Typically there are two, a health certificate and a rabies certificate. Your military veterinarian can give you the information you need.

Next, call your airline to see if there are any restrictions and what paperwork you need to make sure your pet makes their flight. Consider talking to your veterinarian to see if there are any special circumstances for your pet’s breed that would need to be managed during transport.

Also, your pet must be crate trained to travel on public transportation and most often, to be allowed to stay in a hotel. So if your buddy isn’t used to a crate, start training them right away so they are used to the situation. It’s a good idea to have some personal item of theirs or yours in the crate so they feel less stressed. A shirt or blanket can make a big difference.

Air Mobility Command offers space-available flight, commonly known as Space-A travel, for military families and their pets.

For more detailed information, visit Military OneSource. They have numerous checklists and samples of a military pet care plan. 

– written by Kathy Brinck, CA Communications Coordinator

Holiday Pet Safety Checklist

Just because Christmas is over, it is not time to forget that your pet may be in danger of those holiday decorations you have around the house.  You can help keep pets safe during the holiday season by following the tips below.

  1. Many holiday plants can lead to health problems in dogs and cats. Among the plants to keep out of reach are holly, mistletoe, poinsettias and lilies. 
  2. Snow globes often contain antifreeze, which is poisonous to pets.
  3. Pine needles, when ingested, can puncture holes in a pet’s intestine. So keep pet areas clear of pine needles.
  4. The extra cords and plugs of holiday lights and other fixtures can look like chew toys to pets. Tape down or cover cords to help avoid shocks, burns or other serious injuries. Unplug lights when you are not home.
  5. Anchor Christmas trees to the ceiling with a string to keep it from falling on pets.
  6. Do not let pets drink the holiday tree water. Some may contain fertilizers, and stagnant tree water can harbor bacteria. Check labels for tree water preservatives and artificial snow, and buy only those that are nontoxic. Some folks use screens around trees to block access to electrical cords and gifts.
  7. Very important: do not put aspirin in the water (some folks do this thinking it will keep the tree or plant more vigorous). If a pet ingests the aspirin-laced water, his health or even life can be at risk.
  8. Pets, particularly cats, can be tempted to eat tinsel, which can block the intestines. Hang tinsel high and securely to keep it out of reach of pets.
  9. Keep other ornaments out of reach of pets. Ingestion of any ornament, which might look like toys to pets, can result in life-threatening emergencies. Even ornaments made from dried food can lead to ailments. And remember, shards from broken glass ornaments can injure paws, mouths and other parts of the body.
  10. Put away toys after children open their gifts. Small plastic pieces and rubber balls are common causes of choking and intestinal blockage in dogs. Ingested plastic or cloth toys must often be removed surgically.
  11. Avoid toxic decorations. Bubbling lights contain fluid that can be inhaled or ingested, snow sprays and snow flock can cause reactions when inhaled, styrofoam poses a choking hazard, tinsel can cause choking and intestinal obstruction, and water in snow scenes may contain toxic organisms such as Salmonella.
  12. Keep candles on high shelves. Use fireplace screens to avoid burns.
  13. Place sticky mats, crunchy aluminum foil or bubblewrap on or around the area you want to protect … tie balloons around the area … put some pennies in empty plastic drink bottles and balance the bottles on the bottom branches of the holiday tree or plant so that they’ll noisily tip over if a cat or other pet jumps at or on the tree.
  14. Holiday guests and other activity can be very stressful and even frightening to pets. It can also trigger illness and intestinal upset. Make sure pets have a safe place to retreat in your house. And make sure they are wearing current I.D. in case they escape out a door when guests come and go.
  15. Reduce stress by keeping feeding and exercise on a regular schedule.
  16. Always make time to care for your pets. Some folks get lax about walking their dogs, and a few resort to letting pets out on their own. This puts the animal in danger, while also leading to nuisance complaints and dog bite incidents. Remind pet owners not to take a holiday from responsibly caring for their pets.
  17. When pets are stressed by holiday activity or during travel, they may require more water. Dogs typically pant more when they feel stressed. Keep fresh water available for them to drink.
  18. Rescue Remedy, a Bach flower essence available in most health food stores, is a natural stress reliever that many folks keep on hand at home and in travel kits. It can often help both people and animals recover from injury, fright, illness, travel fatigue, chocolate ingestion and irritation. Put a few drops in the dog’s water bowl or portable water container. For stressed or injured animals, rub a drop on their ear or put a drop on the towel in their crate or carrier. Flower essences are free of harmful effects and can be used along with conventional medicines. Another safe, nontoxic Rescue Remedy-like product is Animal Emergency Trauma Solution, available from, where you can also get Flee Free to combat fleas nontoxically. Other flower essence sources include and
  19. Do not let guests feed your pets human food. There are many holiday foods, including fatty meats, gravies, poultry skin, bones, chocolate and alcohol, that can cause illnesses from vomiting and diarrhea to highly serious pancreatitis and other toxic reactions. In addition, candy wrappers, aluminum foil pieces and ribbons can choke pets.
  20. Keep pets away from gift packages as well as your gift wrapping area. Ingested string, plastic, cloth and even wrapping paper can lead to intestinal blockage and require surgical removal. And pets have been severely injured by scissors and other items left on floors and tables.
  21. Keep pets away from the garbage. Use pet-proof containers.
  22. If you suspect that your pet has eaten something toxic, call your veterinarian and/or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center’s 24-hour emergency hotline at 1-888-4-ANI-HELP.
  23. If your pet ingests glass, broken plastic, staples orother small, sharp objects, call your veterinarian. In the meantime, you can give your dog supplemental fiber in the form of whole wheat or other high-fiber bread, canned pumpkin or Metamucil, any of which can help bulk up the stools the help the foreigh material pass through the dog’s digestive system. Dosages depend on the size of the dog. For Metamusil, try a teaspoon for a small dog, a tablespoon for a big dog. For pumpkin, feed one-quarter to two-thirds of a cup. Some folks recommend feeding the dog cotton balls to help pass the foreign objects, but others in the veterinary field caution against this since cotton balls can compound the problem.

How to keep your pets cool as the temperatures climb

The blistering heat has been shattering records all across the country, which indicates that it’s time for a reminder of how to keep your pets safe when it’s sweltering outside.

Since dogs don’t sweat, they are at grave risk for overheating. Please use common sense with your dog as well as any other kind of pet in this immense heat. Exercise should be done only during the cooler hours of the day such as early morning or evening. But if where you live is hot 24 hours a day, forgo the daily walk for some hugs and loves inside where it’s cool and keep potty breaks as short as possible. Remember, dogs don’t wear shoes and the pavement can get extremely hot for them to walk on.
Jonnie enjoys his foster homes’ swimming pool.
Keep pets hydrated with plenty of available water. Once an animal is dehydrated, it’s very hard to hydrate them again. Putting ice cubes (small ones to avoid choking) in their water will ensure that they will receive a cool drink when they need. There’s nothing worse than drinking something warm when you’re hot.  But water is for hydration and keeping them inside where there’s a fan or A/C is the only way to cool their body temperature.
Take your pooch for a dip! Swimming is not only a great way to cool off your pet; it’s also wonderful exercise and good for their backs.  Since a walk in high temperatures is not the best idea, this kills two birds with one stone. If you don’t have easy access to water, a kiddy pool or good old fashion hose water works just as well and can be just as fun.

You can also put ice packs or frozen water bottles wrapped in towels for them to lay on to keep them cool.

Want extra tail wags and kisses? Make ice cubes out of chicken broth for a special treat.  You can also buy doggie ice-cream at most groceries stores these days.

Ranger enjoys the ocean to cool off.

Did you know dogs can get skin cancer? If you are the proud owner of a habitual

Sunbather (like me), make sure to rub them with sunscreen, especially on their tummies. And when you think they’ve had enough, make them come inside.  Dogs don’t know what’s best for them.

Your pet will thank you if: you shave their fur in the summer/hot weather. Who wants to wear a fur coat all year round? But make sure not to get too close to their skin as they do need protection from the sun. See above.

On a more serious note: PLEASE leave your pets at home rather than taking them to run errands and leaving them in a hot car – even with the windows cracked.  They would much prefer to be at home than left in a car unattended.
– Written by Kathy Brinck, CA Communications Coordinator

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