5 Things You Didn’t Know About Your Pet’s Safety

As pet parents, we always want to do the best for our furry friends. Here are a few things we’ve learned along the way from the pet industry and wanted to pass along to you!

1. Microchips don’t guarantee your pet will come home safely

Microchipping is an important part of pet ownership, but it’s only part of the solution. Three factors need to come together for a microchip to work. To start, your animal needs to be recovered by a vet or animal shelter (and they must have the correct microchip reader). This gives them the chance to scan the microchip to identify the pet. Then the shelter or vet can contact you, but only if you’ve registered your pet’s unique microchip ID along with your personal information in their database. This system has many places where things can go wrong, and the numbers show it: of the 7.6 million cats and dogs taken in by shelters each year, only 26% of dogs and less than 5% of cats are returned to their owners.

The good news? Technology has made it possible to track your own pet with a GPS tracking device.

2. Your pet can travel far and fast

On average, dogs travel nearly 2 miles (3km) from home before they are rescued. While this doesn’t sound very far, a little bit of math shows that if your dog can be 3km in any direction, it could be anywhere within 10 square miles (or 27 square kilometers)! That’s a lot of ground to cover during a search for a lost pet. Furthermore, dogs can get panicky when they’re lost, so they might hide themselves from people (yes, including their owner), making an already difficult job much harder.

Escaped cats won’t usually run far away like dogs, but they are masters of hiding. Your cat can bolt a few houses down in the blink of an eye, and then hunker down in a nook for several days. With that being said, cats – particularly indoor cats that depend on humans for food – will start to beg at neighbors’ doorsteps when they get hungry, so make sure to put up signs or ask around if your cat goes missing.

Sources: Petfinder, Missing Pet Partnership

3. Your medications are the most common pet poisons

If you suspect your pet is in pain, the absolute worst thing to do is give them human painkillers. Nationwide pet insurance found that more animals were poisoned by human medication than all other chemicals combined in 2015. Human biology is very different to animal biology, so it’s foolish to assume that drugs intended for humans will work the same for pets. For one, you are probably significantly larger than your pet, so even half a human dose can easily overdose your animal. Also, pets’ bodies don’t necessarily process and react to medication the same way ours do, so your drugs could have devastating side-effects. It’s important to never give your pets any medications without first consulting a veterinarian.

Source: Nationwide Insurance

4. Obesity is the #1 health problem among dogs

Some years ago, the Australian Veterinary Association estimated that a whopping 40% of dogs in Australia are overweight or obese. Even worse, many times dog owners don’t even know when their dog is becoming unhealthily overweight. Obesity is bad for dogs for many of the same reasons it’s bad for people: organs are overworked, joints and ligaments are subjected to extra stress, blood pressure increases, hearts are more likely to fail. Too much chest fat can also restrict your dog’s ability to breathe and some studies suggest a link between obese dogs and cancer.

You can probably guess the best ways to protect your dog from obesity. For one, put a little less food in the bowl. Two, exercise your dog every day – it’s good for you, too! There are products currently on the market to help you manage your pet’s fitness.

5. Holidays can be the most dangerous time for pets

For pets, holidays can be as dangerous as they are festive. Not only can fireworks physically injure and burn your pets, the loud noises can make them panic. Decorations – tinsel, string lights, and other flashy streamers look like the perfect playthings for cats, but they pose choking hazards and in the case of lights, can cause electrocution. Your food can be dangerous, too; if you eat chicken or turkey during your holidays, make sure to dispose of the greasy strings and fragile bones in a bin that is out of reach of your animals. Finally, remember to keep an eye on the chocolate – it’s extremely toxic to most animals.

Having friends and family over for the festive season? You might consider keeping them in a safe spot in your home or putting a tracking device on their collar in case someone leaves a door ajar.

Source: East Side Fire Department