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Does Your Dog Need a Pet Passport to Travel to Other Countries?

March 26th, 2010 No comments

Traveling Internationally With Your Dog

If you are planning on traveling to another country with your dog, it is best to do some careful homework well prior to your planned trip.  Most countries have very specific rules concerning pet immigration.  Making advance arrangements and checking out the laws of the country of destination will help avoid problems when you try to take your pet abroad.

Create a Pet Passport for Your Dog Prior to Traveling Internationally

Create a Pet Passport So You Don't Have to Leave Your Dog Behind When You Travel

A pet passport is a set of all identifying and health-related documents the destination country requires for pets to enter the country.  Again, different countries have different requirements concerning what is demanded.  But travelers who do not have all their pet’s documentation in order may end up having their pet placed in quarantine upon arrival in the destination country.  

For members of the general public traveling outside the United States with pets, the U.S. Department of State recommends the following:

  • Contact the appropriate embassy in Washington to confirm the destination country’s entry requirements.  Some embassies will provide forms in English for your veteranarian to complete.  Note that some countries do not permit pets to enter at all and others mandate quarantine in all instances. 
  • Review the list of International Animal Export Regulations compiled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. 
  • Check the destination country’s requirements to see how close to departure any required veterinary examination, vaccinations and tests must be scheduled. 
  • Arrange with your veterinarian to have the required vaccinations and certifications completed within the specified time period.

Pet Travel provides pet passport, immigration and quarantine information on more than 100 different countries and is an excellent resource for people wishing to take their dogs along when they see the world.

Additional Resources:  Visit Dog-Friendly Rotterdam in The Netherlands; Visit Dog-Friendly Gothenburg, Sweden

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Make Pet Safety a Priority This Christmas

December 10th, 2009 3 comments

The Best Christmas Gift for Your Dog is a Safe Environment

The Best Christmas Gift for Your Dog is a Safe Environment

Give Your Dog the Gift of Safety for Christmas

Those of us who celebrate Christmas like to share the good times with all our loved ones, including our dogs.  But it is a good idea to keep in mind that some of our favorite Christmas traditions could potentially be dangerous for our pets if we are not careful.  Here are some things to keep in mind when celebrating Christmas in a household with dogs.

Christmas Ornaments

Christmas ornaments of any kind can pose a safety hazard for your dog.  Glass, plastic or beaded Christmas ornaments look beautiful hanging from the tree or decorating a table setting.  But these items could prove irresistible to your pooch.  If your dog plays with Christmas ornaments, serious injuries could result – from cuts to her paws and mouth to choking to intestinal blockage and bowel obstruction.

Therefore, it is best to make every effort to keep your dog away from Christmas ornaments and accessories entirely.  And while you are at it, keep the tinsel and the metal ornament hangers out of reach for the same reasons.

Christmas Lights

Christmas lights can give your holiday a warm glow.  But your dog will thank you for removing the temptation to chew on the electrical cords.  According to Dr. Foster, if a dog chews through the rubber coating on an electrical cord, it will receive a severe electrical shock when its teeth come into contact with the wires.  This can result in painful burns in and around the dog’s mouth, which can lead to redness, irritation and possibly infection.

In severe cases, the electrical current may travel through the dog’s body and cause damage to his lungs.  Dogs that have experienced damage to their lungs will show signs of difficulty in breathing as their lungs fill with fluid.  Left untreated, such damage can be deadly.

Keep Your Dog's Health and Safety in Mind This Christmas

Keep Your Dog's Health and Safety in Mind This Christmas

Christmas Tree and Other Holiday Plants

If you use a natural Christmas tree, you will need to place it in a tree stand filled with water.  And in order to keep the tree fresh and beautiful through Christmas Day, many people mix fertilizers and other solutions with the water in the tree stand.  If your pet drinks the water in the tree stand, she may end up with mouth and stomach irritation from the additives.  So consider investing in a tree stand that comes with a cover so your dog cannot drink the water.

Poinsettias are often cited as a dangerous holiday plant for pets.  It usually takes the ingestion of quite a large amount of the plant to cause a problem.  But if your dog has been nibbling at the poinsettia, look for signs of vomiting, loss of appetite and lethargy, and contact your veterinarian if they occur.

Mistletoe berries, in contrast to poinsettia, can be highly toxic to dogs even in small amounts.  The ingestion of only one or two mistletoe berries can be fatal to your dog.  If you are hanging mistletoe around the house, be sure and keep the berries away from the dog.

Feeding Your Dog Unfamiliar Foods

Although we look forward every year to our big Christmas feasts, it is best to maintain your dog’s normal diet during the holidays.  Fatty table scraps can cause intestinal discomfort at best for your dog, and cooked turkey bones present a serious choking hazard because they can splinter and stick in your dog’s throat.  Chocolate, caffeine and alcohol can also create health risks if your dog ingests them.

Consider a Dog Safety Gate

An emergency trip to the veterinarian at Christmas could spoil your family’s holiday celebration.  So consider taking the following safety precautions to keep your dog safe this Christmas.  You may find that an investment in a dog safety gate could be your best friend’s best friend this holiday.

  • Separate your dog from Christmas decorations by putting up a dog safety gate.
  • Encase exposed electrical wires in PVC pipe to prevent your dog from chewing on them.
  • Make sure everyone in the household, including visitors, knows not to feed the dog any table scraps or other food item that might sicken the dog.

Additional Resources:  Tips for Avoiding Dangerous Dog Toys, Top Five Reasons Pets Visit the Veterinarian on Christmas Day

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Categories: Dog Health

Tips for Avoiding Dangerous Dog Toys

December 3rd, 2009 4 comments

Some Dog Toys Are Can Be Hazardous to Your Dog’s Health

Although it is important to provide your dog with adequate exercise and stimulation through play, there are some popular types of dog toys that you should either supervise very closely or avoid altogether.

Tennis Balls Do Not Make Good Dog Toys

Tennis Balls Do Not Make Good Dog Toys

Tennis Balls Do Not Make Good Dog Toys

Dogs love tennis balls.  They bounce.  They are somewhat chewy.  They can be catchable.  But tennis balls are bad news for dogs.  Smaller tennis balls, like any small toy or ball, can be a choking hazard for big dogs.

Additionally, some veterinarians say that the nylon fuzz on tennis balls is too abrasive for dog’s teeth and can wear down the tooth enamel leading to potentially painful and expensive dental problems down the road.

Moreover, tennis balls can be chewed apart and the pieces swallowed, creating a risk of choking or intestinal blockage, either of which could be deadly.

Any Dog Toy That Is Too Small for the Dog or That Has Small Pieces

Small toys that can fit entirely into the dog’s mouth can create a choking hazard for your dog.  That may seem like a no-brainer, but if you have several dogs of different sizes–say a Chihuahua and a Boxer in the same household–you need to think about keeping toys around that are safe for all the dogs.  If you keep tiny toys around for your tiny dog, be very careful to keep the small toys away from the bigger dogs in the household.

Prior to purchase, it is important to inspect any dog toys for small parts that could fall off or be chewed off and swallowed.  If a dog toy poses a choking hazard for children under the age of three, it is also not safe for your dog.

Stuffed Squeaky Dog Toys May Be Hazardous

Squeaky Dog Toys Can Be Fun, But They Require Diligent Supervision

Squeaky Dog Toys Can Be Fun, But They Require Diligent Supervision

Stuffed toys with a squeaky mechanism inside are very popular, and dogs do love to bite them and make them squeal.  But stuffed toys are easily chewed apart by rambunctious dogs.  Once the toy has developed a hole or two, the stuffing can end up all over the place and both the stuffing and the squeaky mechanism can be pose choking hazards.  If swallowed, they can cause potentially deadly intestinal blockage.  Any play with stuffed squeaky dog toys should be closely monitored at all times.  It can take only a moment for a determined dog to rip up the toy and swallow the insides.

Rawhide Chews

Rawhide chews for dogs are very popular, but they present a couple of potential dangers to your dog’s health.  First, if larger pieces break off during chewing, the dog could try to swallow them whole.  Large pieces of rawhide pose a real threat of choking or intestinal blockage if swallowed.  Carefully supervise your dog as she enjoys her rawhide chew, and be ready to retrieve pieces that break off.  When the chew gets small enough to be swallowed whole, take it away from the dog to prevent swallowing.

Second, rawhide chews manufactured in some countries outside the United States may not be safe for your dog at all.  As this dog owner’s experience demonstrates, rawhides manufactured outside the U.S. may contain salmonella bacteria, arsenic, lead and pesticides.  Health problems from rawhide chews may include sore throat, choking, intestinal blockage and acute pancreatitis.  So, if you are going to use rawhide chews, make sure you purchase them from a trusted manufacturer.

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Categories: Dog Health

The Case Against Retractable Dog Leashes

November 24th, 2009 3 comments

Why Retractable Dog Leashes May Not Be Your Best Choice

Retractable Dog Leashes Are Not the Best Choice for Training or Safety

Retractable Dog Leashes Are Not the Best Choice for Training or Safety

The mere fact that retractable dog leashes have earned the love of personal injury attorneys and the ire of dog trainers should tell you something.

What is a Retractable Dog Leash?

A retractable dog leash is a leash that is supposed to allow the handler to be able to adjust the distance the dog is permitted to wander away.  The leash itself consists of either a very thin or a webbed cord that is commonly about 16 feet (5 m) or 30 feet (9 m) in length.  The handle is usually plastic and contains a mechanism that allows the dog handler to stop the extension of the leash by pressing a button on the handle.  A clip on the leash attaches to the dog’s collar.

A Classic, Sturdy Six-foot Dog Leash is Best

A Classic, Sturdy Six-foot Dog Leash is Best for Dog and Handler

What is Wrong with Retractable Dog Leashes?

Retractable leashes have two big strikes against them:

  • They are not effective for training one’s dog.
  • They pose serious safety issues for humans and dogs.

Retractable Dog Leashes are Ineffective Dog Training Tools

The very characteristic that makes retractable dog leashes seem so attractive to dog owners is what renders them ineffective as a dog training tool.  The flexible mechanism allows the dog to wander away from the handler up to the length of the leash fully extended.  This encourages the dog to stop paying attention to her handler and to pursue whatever interests her.

Theoretically, the handler need only push the button to stop the leash; however, when you’ve already lost the dog’s attention and focus, it may be difficult to “reel” her back in, particularly if she has scented something much more interesting to her than your commands.  The flexibility of the leash gives the dog the erroneous impression that she is the master of her own destiny on the walk.  If you want to effectively train the dog to focus on and follow your verbal and physical commands, allowing her this sort of freedom on the leash is not the way to do it.

Many retractable dog leashes have a locking feature that stops the leash at a certain length.  However, if the leash has gotten damp or is starting to wear out, the locking mechanism may be difficult to engage.

Retractable Dog Leashes Pose Safety Hazards for Dogs and Their Handlers

Consumer Reports notes that retractable leashes have caused cuts, burns and even amputations when the cord came in contact with skin or became wrapped around part of the owner or the dog.  According to the report:

In 2007 there were 16,564 hospital-treated injuries associated with leashes, according to Consumer Union’s analysis of statistics collected by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Of those, about 10.5 percent involved children 10 and younger; 23.5 percent involved injuries to the finger. The CPSC’s data does not parse the leashes into types but it’s likely that the amputations were caused by retractable leashes.

Other injuries have been reported as well.  For example, in September 2008, the Slydog brand retractable leash was recalled due to complaints that the metal clip would break and fly off.  A Texas teen has sued the manufacturer after the retractable leash she was using snapped back and punctured her eye.

Safety Tips for Using a Retractable Dog Leash

This Puppy is Better Off Without a Retractable Leash

This Puppy is Better Off Without a Retractable Leash

If you must use a retractable dog leash, keep the following safety tips in mind:

  • A retractable leash should be used, if at all, only on well-trained dogs that respond immediately to voice commands.
  • Make sure to use the appropriate size leash for your dog’s weight.
  • Check the locking mechanism prior to each use of the leash to ensure that it will engage instantly if needed.
  • Do not allow children to use the retractable leash.
  • Read and heed all manufacturer warnings for the leash.

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