A Safety Plan to Save Your Pet
At the last count, Americans owned more than 175 million cats and dogs, and many millions of other animals. But only a tiny, tiny fraction of pet owners have any idea what they'd do if a natural disaster struck their home. How about you and your family?
Having a disaster preparedness plan for your pet not only helps to protect them but it could also save your life, or that of anyone who tries to rescue them in a dangerous situation.
Here's a 7-point guide to help safeguard your pet if you're unfortunate enough to suffer a disaster:
1. Make sure your animal is fully identified with tags, collars and/or microchips. Don’t forget to register the microchip.
2. Keep a pet carrier readily accessible at all times and practice catching your pet and placing it in the carrier.
3. Know where you'll go depending on the nature of the incident. This could be a room in your house, someone else's house or a local shelter. Ask your local emergency management office if they have accommodation for pets and owners. Otherwise, contact and make a list of boarding facilities
4. As far as possible, ensure wherever you go is pet friendly by removing toxic plants and materials and blocking off areas where frightened animals might hide and get stuck.
5. Create a pet disaster kit, including food, clean-up materials, medications and records. Here's a useful checklist: http://tinyurl.com/pet-kit-list
6. Keep your pet up to date on inoculations and other preventive treatment.
7. Download the free pet disaster pet preparedness app from the ASPCA. It's available for both iOS (Apple) and Android mobile devices and provides instant advice on what to do before, during and after an incident. You can also store and manage health records, create digital "missing pet" flyers, and keep up to date with latest news about pets and animal welfare.
Above all, it's important to make your plans now – well before any potential disaster strikes. Write them down and make sure everyone in your family knows about them. By the way, September is Disaster Preparedness Month for humans too! Learn more at www.ready.gov
How To Avoid Raw Pet Food Dangers
Here's another important check that's as important for your pets as it is for us humans – the safety of their food. In particular, raw or undercooked foods are at the same risk of carrying the salmonella and listeria bacteria. A recent two-year study by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found that more than 15 per cent of raw pet food samples tested were infected with one or both of these bacteria.
If your animal becomes infected, symptoms include nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, fever and loss of appetite. Contact your veterinarian if your animal has these symptoms.
You can minimize the risk of infection by freezing raw pet food until you need it and keeping it separate from other stored food. Don't rinse raw food either and, if you cook it, do so thoroughly.
It's also just as important to avoid cross-infecting your own food by:
- Thoroughly washing hands before and after handling raw pet food.
- Cleaning and disinfecting all surfaces that come into contact with the food.
- Avoiding kissing your pet around the mouth after it has eaten.
- Always clean-up poop carefully, disposing of it in a sealed plastic bag.