Ah spring is finally upon us! The temperatures are warming up, grass and trees are getting green, and the birds and bugs are out. And that includes ticks.
Ticks have become a bigger concern more recently than they ever were in previous years. Besides the fact that they are gross and bite you and bury their head under your skin to suck your blood (ew!) certain types of ticks called deer ticks carry Lyme disease. Ticks can attach to you or your pets so you need to take precautions to prevent getting bitten. Ticks have specific climate needs (humidity and temperature) which sees them most in the Spring and Fall seasons. Specific information about ticks in Ontario
For your pets you can consult with your veterinarian about using a preventative medication to protect your pets from tick bites. Another good idea is to always check your pets (and yourself) after any walk or hike that might take you close to an area with ticks. Here is a link to help identify areas on your pet that you might find ticks
After a short hike with two of my own dogs last weekend on part of the Bruce Trail in Caledon East I unknowingly brought home a hitchhiker 😦 I was working in the afternoon and felt an itch on my outer thigh that wouldn’t go away. A short while later I checked the site where the itch was and much to my surprise (and dismay!) I found a tick had bitten me and was stuck in my leg! It must have attached to me earlier in the day on my hike and had been making its way up my leg inside my pants all day – how gross is that!?!? I have removed ticks from my pets in the past so knew I had to get the whole thing out including the head and I have sent it to Public Health to be tested.
The hitchhiker I brought home…
Anyone who knows me knows how much I love animals, especially dogs. There is just something so special about a creature who pretty much spends their life wanting to please you, wanting your love and attention and in return giving unconditional love. There is nothing the same as the greeting you get from a dog when you get home, even if you were only gone for five minutes. In the event of a natural disaster I would definitely be that person standing on the roof of my house with all my pets refusing to leave them behind.
Saying goodbye to our pets is never easy. In my own life I’ve had to say goodbye to two family dogs, two family cats and one dog of my own. All were a different yet difficult experience. The passing of my own dog was the complete opposite of how I imagined it would go and it was devastating. I was recently invited to be present with someone who was saying goodbye to his dog. I knew the dog well and loved him like my own. I was honoured to be asked to be there with him and his owner. He was a good dog and he lived a good, long, happy life. His owner made the excruciatingly difficult decision to help his dog in his time of need. A medical issue he had all his life, that had been well-managed and taken care of, had surfaced again. Combined with his age and other medical issues the owner considered the dog’s quality of life as the most important thing and made the most compassionate decision we have to make as pet owners. For years the owner knew he would have to make this decision as he never wanted to see his dog suffer. He also knew how he wanted the entire situation to go – at home, peacefully in his own comfy dog bed. And that is how it went. And it was so peaceful. It was a very different experience for me, yet again, and I only hope I can make that decision for my remaining and future pets. I am very fortunate and grateful for the experience and to be included. Thank you.
I know many people who have loved and lost pets and never wanted to experience that feeling of loss again and therefore refused to get another pet. As much as the loss hurts, the love our pets give far outweighs the loss in my eyes and my heart and I cannot imagine my life without any pets in it. When the hurt is lessened by time and healed a little by the good and even the bad memories, hopefully another dog will be able to share a good, long, happy life with you. Now I’m going to find some kleenex and my dogs to snuggle.
Well the holiday season is well under way and as we prepare our homes for family and other guests we must remember to keep things safe for our furry residents as well. The holidays are an exciting time with celebrations galore, breaks from school and work, decorating and gift-giving. Our pets feel that excitement and energy from us, they notice the smells of baked goods, the giant tree (what? there’s a tree in the house!?), the decorations on the tree and the packages under the tree! The excitement can make them curious, make them want to investigate these new things and new smells some of which could be dangerous for them. Here are a few things to keep in mind over the holidays to keep our pets safe in our homes:
- holiday ornaments, gift wrapping and tinsel can look like bright, shiny toys to our pets so ensure they are unreachable and up high on the tree or the tree somehow blocked with a baby gate when you can’t supervise your pets near the tree
- holiday plants such as lilies, holly, mistletoe and pointsettias can be toxic to pets
- alcohol should be supervised and kept away from pets as well as any baked goods containing alcohol
- holiday foods such as chocolate, baked goods and fruitcakes with grapes and raisins, sugarless gums and candies containing xylitol can all be toxic to pets
- leftovers and table scraps can be fatty and cause pancreatitis as well as the risk of cooked bones can splinter and cause intestinal damage
It is a good idea to know when your regular veterinarian is open over the holidays and to have a back up plan for when they are closed. It wouldn’t hurt to find out where your nearest Emergency Vet is and what their hours are, even if you don’t need them for your own pet a family member or guest visiting with their pet might! Another good resource is the Pet Poison Hotline. They can advise you in advance based on what you are able to report to them if your pet should be rushed to an Emergency Vet in the case of an incident. That number is 855-764-7661. There is a fee and you will be given a case reference # to take to the vet if they feel your pet needs immediate veterinary care.
Even once the holidays are over there are a few extra things we need to be careful around with our pets over the remainder of the winter. Some things to remember for winter: keep antifreeze up high and away from where pets can get it, beware of what ice melters/salt you are using, checking vehicles for cats sleeping in the engine space or wheel wells to keep warm, get your dog a coat and/or boots for extreme cold days. Our pets still need to get out and get exercise but in the cases of extreme cold I’m sure they’d be quite happy to potty in the yard and spend some time with you indoors.
The better prepared you are the easier the holidays will be for all! Merry Christmas from me and my fur family to you and yours!
Back in July I was introduced to an app called ResQwalk which I have been using on a daily basis while walking my own dogs as well as all my client’s dogs.
It’s a pretty neat idea that benefits animal rescues and registered animal welfare organizations based on how many kilometers you walk (run or bike, any activity that can be tracked by a GPS). You get to choose the rescue you would like to walk for and can change that as often as you like. I chose to walk for a rescue called Ruff Start New Beginnings which is where I got my dog Widget from.
The way it works is donations from corporate sponsors are given to the ResQwalk group who proportionately distribute those donations each month based on the mileage walked for each rescue. You can set weekly goals and additional prizes and special offers may be given for meeting your goal! It’s like a Fitbit with a purpose! You can follow other walkers, they can follow you, you can post photos and ‘like’ other walkers’ posts and photos.
If you run a rescue you can contact them to have your rescue added. At first I was skeptical but was informed by someone who runs a rescue that is on the app as well as someone who works in a veterinary clinic and has knowledge that some of the corporate sponsors providing the donations are pharmaceutical companies, that the app is legitimate.
So while out walking your dog everyday, or running or cycling, you can be raising funds for your favourite rescue! Not only are my dogs helping me raise funds but yours are too when they are out on walks with Wags & Wiggles! It’s a free download on iOS or Android and the GPS does not use any of your data so you have nothing to lose and the rescues have everything to win from it!