When I got my first puppy, I only had a general idea of what it took to take good care of her. Through trial, error and a few panicked calls to my local veterinarian I’ve learned some great tips on keeping my pet safe and happy. I never gave a thought to animal first aid, that sharing my dinner might be detrimental or how to wrangle a runaway dog back into the house. Learn from my experiences and try to avoid a few disasters of your own!
Keep hydrogen peroxide on hand. About a year ago, my Wheaten Terrier puppy, Maggie May, found a bottle of aspirin. She must have decided that all of those pills shaking around sounded like a really fun toy. She ended up eating an entire 500 count bottle.
Since this happened over a weekend when my veterinarian office was closed, my only option was to take her to the emergency vet clinic. Luckily, I decided to call first. It was the best phone call I’ve ever made. Over the phone, the vet gave me great advice: Feed her a can of food and give her a cap full of hydrogen peroxide.
Not even a minute after following this advice, all of the pills were lying on the floor in puddles. I had never been so happy to see a sick dog. I was advised to make sure my puppy was doing everything else normally for the next several hours and days and if anything seemed amiss to bring her in. I’ve used this twice in my Terrier’s life – once for the aspirin and once for rat poison she’d found in a friend’s garage. Both times this fast-acting method has saved my best friend from serious agony and me from serious vet bills.
Walk, don’t run. Maggie May somehow wriggles out the front door on occasion. She loves people and is always excited to see passersby. I’ve discovered that running down the street after her when she escapes can turn into a really fun game for her. She will normally let me get within a two feet of her and then take off at a full run, crossing neighborhood streets at random. I worry that she will dart out in front of a car during these escapades.
A trainer gave me a very valuable tip for such a situation: To avoid a starting a chasing game, walk slowly toward it while getting the pet’s attention with a commanding tone of voice. If walking calmly instead of running doesn’t help, to turn in the opposite direction and walk home. Leave some tasty treats leading up to the door. Eventually, she will come back.
Protect your pet on hot days. You have probably heard countless stories about dogs dying when they are left alone in cars on hot days. Extend that warning to not leaving your pooch outside for extended periods of time on hot days as well. Dogs are susceptible to sunburn, heat stroke and heat exhaustion, just like people. Avoid a trip to the vet by making sure your friend has access to a shaded area and plenty of cool, fresh water.
Remember that hot pavement, sand or decks can hurt your his paws. Try to avoid this by carrying your dog to a shaded, grassy area or by wetting the area she will walk through. As a general rule, if you feel the temperature is too warm for you to be outside, it is too hot for your four legged friend as well.
Don’t give your dog dangerous food. While some people prefer to cook for their pets, rather than feeding canned or dry food, everyone should avoid feeding any table scraps that could negatively affect the health and wellness of their pets. Some foods can be dangerous to dogs; for a comprehensive list, check out the ASPCA’s list of foods to avoid feeding your pets.
I give Maggie May real bones on occasion, but I only do so under constant supervision. Monitor your dog while she is gnawing on a delicious treat to make sure no pieces break off or become very sharp and hazardous. Also, never give animals chicken or bird bones. Since they are hollow and will snap easily in your dog’s jaws, they can quickly become hazardous.