Basic Safety For Your Pet

If you love your pet these are essentials:

Your cat or dog should ALWAYS wear a collar with a tag that has your name and telephone number on it. If your pet is lost this is the only way you'll ever get it back. A vet can also insert a tiny microchip under your pet's skin (neck) which is scannable by pounds, vets, or research labs for identification.

The best collar for a cat is a flexible one that will allow the cat to escape if the collar is caught on something like a tree limb. I use regular elastic and tie it in a knot (leave collar slightly loose). However, they do come off and have to be replaced, so check periodically.

Dogs should ALWAYS be on a leash when outside your home or yard (even if trained). This is for the animal's protection to keep it from running into the street in front of a car, or running off chasing another animal and getting lost.

A cat should ALWAYS be carried in a carrier (hard-side or cardboard) when away from its normal surroundings. This is essential to protect the cat. Although you may feel safe carrying the cat in your arms, the slightest thing can scare the cat and cause it to jump down and possibly run away. And tag or no tag, you may never find it again.

The best way to keep your cat safe is to keep it inside the house. If it goes outside, it should be inside at night to avoid fights with strays or being hit by a car. Shelter should be available outside.

Cars parked outside should always have the windows rolled up high enough that a cat can't get inside. If it gets in a visitor's car it can be driven off before anyone realizes it and it's gone. Happened to me, but I got it back because I had a tag on the cat's collar!

Dogs may be kept outside during the day if weather permits, but should be inside at night. A dog which stays outdoors should have adequate shelter at all times from the elements (also see our Special Care in Winter/Summer, link below). Dogs are basically companion animals which prefer to be part of the family, which means spending time inside with the owners. Don't isolate your dog in the yard alone all the time; this amounts to negligence.

Believe it or not PET THEFT is a big business. (See our Pet Theft, below.) Pets can be easily stolen unless they are a ferocious breed of dog. Nice, friendly dogs and cats are perfect targets for "bunchers", people in the business of selling animals to research facilities nationwide. These people do live in your community. It's a quick way to make money, and they don't care about the owners or the animals. Protect your pet by keeping it inside the house, or inside a high, well-locked fence.

Basic safety includes proper health care too. Protect your pet from diseases by getting it immunized as recommended by your vet. One of the most important ways to protect your dog is to have it tested for heart worms and then keep it on monthly preventative medicine. Don't kid yourself--even if a dog is outside briefly it can be bitten by mosquitoes which carry the heart worm eggs. This is a very unpleasant way for a dog to die. If you live in Texas, your pet is at risk. In other areas, ask your vet how widespread the disease is. Cats are particularly at risk from feline leukemia as well as other diseases and should be immunized at an early age as recommended by your vet.

Never give your pet chocolate. It is toxic and may be life threatening in certain amounts. If your pet eats chocolate accidentally, contact your vet immediately with an estimate of the amount ingested.

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