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Keep Your Pet Safe Through Back-To-Work, Halloween, And Walks In The Dark

The days are getting shorter and cooler, people are returning to their workplaces, and veterinary clinics are reopening.

What does all this mean for the cats, dogs, and other pets who are part of Nevada families? A panel of experts answers these and many other questions. 

Discussion Highlights

On leaving pets alone after being home with them for months:

Christy Stevens: I think a pet is going to be more prepared for you to leave them home after they've been there with you all this whole time. They are comfortable. They know it is their space. Probably, (we're) going to see a lot fewer problems than people think because they've had time to really settle in with you.

But there are going to be some pets that experience separation anxiety. So try leaving them alone in small intervals at a time at first. Try to give them a treat when you leave so they feel rewarded. 

Support comes from

On crate training:

Stevens: One thing you want to make sure you never do is put a dog in a crate to punish them. If they've been a bad doggie, we don't ever want them to go into a crate.

What you want to do is have all positive re-enforcement and good feelings about the space. Keeping the door open. Maybe feeding them in the crate to get them used to going in and having something good.

Lots of positive re-enforcement about the crate, and then also, starting them with small increments of time.

Shadi Ireifej: The crate is not meant to be used for a shelf or a safe to keep your pet for your convenience while you're not home. It really should be their safe place.  

On help for pet food for people financially struggling:

Stevens: We're focused and other animal rescue organizations are focused on supporting bonded families during this difficult time. So (for) anyone who is having trouble with feeding their pets or feel they need to move and they can't afford a pet deposit, there are a lot of resources out there.

On feeding candy to pets:

Ireifej: It's a problem year-round not just in the holidays, but of course, you do see it in such exposure during the holidays for obvious reasons.

You really want to in general avoid any sweets. Animals' bodies are not made to digest sweets made for humans. There are different levels of dangerous snacks all the way to the very benign. 

If you do get in trouble, where your pet dives into candy or some other sweets that they're not supposed to be getting into, find vet services right away, either online through telemedicine or take them to a vet hospital. Don't try to self-diagnose or self-treat. Also, try calling ASPCA Poison Control for help

Instead of feeding pets human treats, take the food they normally get and turn it into a treat for them. There are recipes online to help.

On trick or treating with pets:

Lindsay Burgoon: I think it is really important to know your pets' personality before you decide to take them on a walk trick-or-treating. A lot of times the things we think are going to be fun for our pets are not always fun for them.

I would love to take my dog trick-or-treating but I know she will find the costumes and the noises intimidating and your dog may find that too, and they may be at risk for running or maybe even bite someone in a costume if they're fearful of it. 

Watch your pet's body language, have a flashlight, having something that makes you obvious when you're walking around and always have your dog on a leash.

To a caller who recently got a new puppy that is not getting along with her two older cats:

Burgoon: Start the re-introduction all over again. Put the animals in separate rooms or crates and slowly re-introduce them to each other and make it a positive experience. 

Maybe keep them across the room from each other in separate crates and introduce a positive reward to your cats while the puppy is there. Slowly move the crates closer to each other, giving them each a safe place to smell each other and really get used to visual of each other.

If there is negative or aggressive behavior, go back a step.

On microchipping:

Burgoon: Have your pet microchipped as early as possible. When they're puppies and getting vaccinated is a good time.

Another good time is when they're being spayed or neutered because they're already under anesthesia. It is never too late to get a pet microchipped.

It is easy to update the information on the microchip by going to the website of the company that supplied the chip. If you've lost that information, take your animal to a vet clinic. They will scan the chip and get you the website information where you can make any changes to your personal information.

On house-training a dog:

Ireifej: Diapers don't help unless there is an incontinence problem. It is about behavior modification. You're trying to get a routine going with your pets. You're trying to make it where the training experience is a positive one, everything from going outside and then getting a reward after they eliminate when you want them to, where you want them to. 

On a dog that gets car sick:

Burgoon: If the dog is under a year old, they may grow out of it because the inner ear of a puppy is still developing.

You can ask your vet for some anti-nausea medication. 

Also, it may not be truly car sickness. Instead, it may be anxiety about a car ride, especially if they only get in the car to go to the vet. If it is anxiety, try slowly introducing your dog to the car and positively re-enforce each step. 

It might be as small as walking them out to the car one day - give them a treat. Then the next day, you put them in the car - give them a treat. Take small steps and if at any point they start to resist, you take a step back again and you start the whole process over. 


Adopt a Pet


The Animal Foundation

Hearts Alive Village

Nevada SPCA

Animal Rescue Directory/Las Vegas Pet Scene Magazine




Lindsay Burgoon, DVM, the Animal FoundationShadi Ireifej, Chief Medical Officer, VetTriage.comChristy Stevens, Executive Director, Hearts Alive Village

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