Saturday, August 29, 2015

Preparing for Emergencies - The Hardest Part of Owning A Pet

Regular Veterinary Care

Preparing for Emergencies - The Hardest Part of Owning A Pet
by Amber Polo

Losing a pet is painful, but the worry no one likes to think about is who will care for our pets if we die, are hospitalized, or can no longer keep our dearly loved pets. Some animal lovers even forgo getting a pet because of fear.

How can you insure your dog or cat is prepared for an emergency?

Consider what you can do now to enjoy your pet more and ensure he or she (or they) will stay safe and happy even when you can’t provide all the caregiving.

Health and Safety - Keep pets clean and well-groomed with nails trimmed and up to date with checkups and immunizations. Neuter your pets and be sure they behave well while receiving veterinary treatment. Keep all pets at their ideal healthy weight. License and chip your dog or cat for quick return if lost.
Watch your pet's weight

Good Manners - Dogs need to walk politely on a leash. Proper collars and leashes prevent accidents or strains and make it easier for owners to keep dogs under control. Be sure your dog is comfortable in a crate for sleeping. And crated or safely restrained for travel. Teach commands for safety. “Sit” is useful in many situations. "Come" "Stop" or another word to get your dog out of danger is a life saver. "Back" and "Leave it" are also good commands for safety.

If you and your dog attended obedience classes, from time to time review what you learned. Even if a dog has not been formally trained, consider having your dog certified as a Canine Good Citizen, a test administered by an AKC Evaluator, to help prove to rental agents, etc. that your dog is exactly that.
Canine Good Citizenship Certification
Behavior Problems - Solve excessive barking, chewing, separation anxiety habits. Dogs who jump up on people are dangerous whether the dog is big or small. Even a small dog’s paws can cause serious scratches. All dogs need to be well-behaved with visitors and caregivers. If yours is not, contact a local trainer and ask for in-home lessons or help with behavior problems, then follow her advice consistently. Check for medical reasons for problems.

Outside the home, socialize your dog to a variety of people and situations: busy streets, outdoor cafes, dog parks, unusual noises. A confident dog rides well in a car, takes new places and people in stride, and shows neither fear nor aggression towards strangers, other dogs, cats, etc.

Test runs - Leave your dog for a short time with your pet caregiver. Get your dog accustomed to the new place first for a visit, then for a short time. Feed the dog in the caregiver’s home. Try a sleepover.

Formal and informal long term arrangements for pet care may include a Pet Trust or Letter of Instruction. Talk to friends and family about your wishes. Carefully choose a “godmother,” foster pet parent, or guardian who will love your pet for a short time or forever, if needed.

Disaster Preparedness – If you live in an area at risk for fire or flooding prepare a pet evacuation plan and have a kit of pet food and supplies handy.

Emergency Information - Create or find a form for each pet and write out instructions, veterinary and caregiver contact numbers, feeding, medical information, medication schedule, routines, and all the information needed to care for your pet. Add a photo of yourself with your pet in case an ID is needed. Post in your home in an easy-to-find place along with the location of food, collar, leash and supplies. Carry veterinary contact information and authorization for treatment in your car in case you are in an accident with your pet. Also consider carrying a card in your wallet stating you have pet/s at home and who to notify to for him them.

Hopefully, there won’t be an emergency, but thoughtful preparation will let you rest easy.

Previously published in the August-September issue of Flagstaff-Sedona Dog magazine.