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How to Prevent a Pet Tick Infestation

Ticks are no joke! These parasitic insects will latch onto people and other animals and feed on their host’s blood. They often move between different types of animals in each phase of their 2-3 year lifespan. There are a few varieties of ticks, each of which tend to prefer different host animals. There are many varieties of ticks in North America, however only a handful are of serious concern to your pets. Although it’s less common than with dogs, cats are also at risk of contracting ticks and the ensuing potential diseases. For both cats and dogs, the ticks they’re most likely to encounter in BC and the West Coast of Canada are: 

  • Rocky mountain wood tick
  • Western blacklegged tick
  • Brown dog tick 

Other common ticks found in parts of Canada and North America are Lonestar ticks, Gulf coast ticks, etc. Tick species can vary widely depending on which part of the world you live in, so you should always do your research or ask your veterinarian about local species that are potential concerns for the health of your pet. Knowing more about these parasites can help you understand how to prevent a pet tick infestation from happening in the first place. 

Why you need to prevent pet tick infestations

Tick bites and infestations aren’t just an annoyance. Even one or two tick bites puts your pet at risk of contracting a tick-borne disease, some of which can be very serious or even life threatening. These diseases include: 

Lyme disease

This is the most infamous tick-borne disease and for good reason. Lyme disease originates in a tiny bacterial organism, which lives inside of the tick. When a tick carrying this bacteria bites your pet, there’s a high chance of it being passed along. Lyme disease is most likely to affect dogs and humans, and the disease can be transmitted between the two. 

Thankfully, it’s exceedingly rare for cats to contract lyme disease from a tick, but it’s still not impossible. Symptoms of lyme disease include lethargy, fever, long-lasting joint pain leading to lameness, loss of appetite, and fatigue. It can also lead to more serious issues, such as kidney or heart disease. Symptoms of lyme disease may also not present themselves for days or weeks after the initial tick-bite, making it more difficult to identify the problem. 

Ehrlichiosis

Ehrlichiosis is a blood infection transmitted by a tick infected with a specific bacterial organism. The infected tick will bite another animal, passing the organism on and transmitting the disease. It’s most commonly seen in dogs and humans, and is very rarely seen in cats. 

This disease moves through three stages, each becoming more severe, so it can be difficult to identify. However, it’s vital to diagnose and treat ehrlichiosis as early as possible in order to protect your pet. The symptoms of the disease’s first phase, known as the acute phase, include weight loss, swollen lymph nodes, spontaneous hemorrhaging or bleeding, respiratory issues, and fever. The disease can progress all the way to much more serious problems, including major bleeding episodes, anemia, excessive swelling in the limbs, lameness, and sight problems that can include total blindness. 

Anaplasmosis

Like with other tick-borne diseases, anaplasmosis is primarily a concern for dogs, but it can also be contracted in humans and cats. This disease can come in two forms, each affecting different parts of your pet’s blood. It’s important to know that an animal can have both types of the disease at the same time, so don’t rule out one if you notice signs of the other. 

Granulocytic anaplasmosis is an infection of the white blood cells, which can lead to symptoms such as lameness, lethargy, and fever. In more serious cases, granulocytic anaplasmosis may cause diarrhea, vomiting, and coughing or other respiratory issues, but these symptoms are less common. This type of anaplasmosis can be very hard to identify, since many dogs who contract it only show vague symptoms, if any. However, if the disease is caught early enough, there’s normally a good prognosis for your pet. 

The other type of anaplasmosis is known as infectious cyclic thrombocytopenia, which affects the platelets in your dog’s blood. Less is known about this disease, but it has been found in ticks and is thought to be transmitted to dogs via bites. Like the other type of anaplasmosis, symptoms of this disease can include loss of appetite, fever, and lethargy. Unlike the other form of the disease, however, this version can also cause bruising on your dog’s gums and abdomen, as well as nosebleeds. Thankfully, the prognosis for infectious cyclic thrombocytopenia is also usually good if caught early enough. 

Rocky Mountain spotted fever

Rocky Mountain spotted fever, also known as RMSF, is a serious disease caused by yet another bacteria that lives inside of some ticks. The bacteria is passed via a tick bite, and can lead to serious symptoms including fever, lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, lack of appetite, and in some cases, heart issues, pneumonia, kidney failure, liver damage, or serious neurological problems such as seizures and a general lack of coordination. 

RMSF is primarily a concern for dogs and humans, but it is also sometimes seen in cats. If an animal successfully overcomes a RMSF infection, they’ll generally return to normal health and be immune to future infections. However, if the disease has progressed enough, it is more difficult to treat and may require your pet being hospitalized.

How to prevent tick-borne illnesses

Currently the only vaccine available for tick borne diseases is the Lyme Vaccine, however a proactive and preventive approach is needed to keep you and your pet safe. Furthermore, your dog can still bring ticks into your home, putting you, your family, and your other pets at risk. That’s why veterinarians recommend an ongoing treatment for overall pet tick prevention. 

For most of the above diseases, the tick must be attached for at least a few hours, and sometimes up to one or two days in order to transmit the bacteria. This means that there are a few tick prevention treatments that can protect both you and your pet. 

For dogs, many people choose a topical treatment that kills ticks and fleas on contact, meaning parasites don’t ever get the chance to bite your pet. This provides the best protection for your pet and minimizes the risk of them contracting a disease. You should never use flea or tick prevention medicine intended for dogs on your cat, since the chemicals in these treatments can sometimes be extremely harmful for felines. In general, always defer to your veterinarian’s advice when choosing a tick prevention treatment. 

In addition to keeping up with medications to prevent infestation, you should regularly check any pets that spend time outdoors for tick bites. Most treatments aren’t one hundred percent effective, so you should get in the habit of thoroughly and regularly checking your pet. Ticks are attracted to warm, moist areas of the body, so pay special attention to these areas: 

  • In and around the ears 
  • Around the tail 
  • Near the eyes 
  • Under your pet’s collar 
  • Under the front legs and between the back legs 
  • Between the toes 

Do everything you can to minimize your pets’ exposure to ticks in the first place. Your veterinarian will be able to tell you which species of ticks are of the most concern in your area and what kinds of places you should avoid when with your pet. 

If you’ve found a tick on your pet, you can remove it at home, or you can get your veterinarian to do it for you. Regardless of the option you choose, you should always take your pet into the vet for a full examination after finding a tick infestation or bite. Your veterinarian will perform urine and blood pathology tests, blood smear tests, and a full clinical exam to check for signs of any of the above tick-borne illnesses, which is vital in order to catch these diseases early and keep your pet safe.

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Hastings Veterinary Hospital and a clickable link back to this page.

Can All Dogs Swim? And Other Dog Swimming Tips Worth Knowing

Does your dog love the water? Many dogs will do anything they can to go for a swim, while many others will do everything in their power to stay dry. There’s no consensus among dogs about whether they like the water. Here’s a big question, however: can all dogs swim?

Understanding different breeds and their abilities to swim

There are a handful of dog breeds that have been selectively bred to be experts in the water. For instance, retrievers have been trained for generations to go into the water to grab birds for hunters, while dogs such as Irish Water Spaniels have developed waterproof coats so they can work in the fields. 

These breeds are generally believed to know how to swim the second they lay eyes on a body of water, and will usually be happy to do so since their physical structure is perfect for swimming. Other breeds often prefer not to swim, or simply don’t see the point. 

Some of the dogs that most love the water are:

  • Labrador retrievers
  • Toller retrievers
  • Portugese water dogs
  • Irish water spaniels
  • Poodles
  • Newfoundlands
  • Irish setters

Regardless of whether your dog likes to swim or not, you should know that with a little preparation and training, all dogs are capable of swimming. This is especially good to know in the summertime, when dogs are at a higher risk of overheating and dehydration. If you can safely get your dog accustomed to being in the water, they’ll have a good option to keep cool in the warmer months. Swimming is also great exercise for dogs, and is a fun time for everyone involved. 

So for those of us with dogs who aren’t natural swimmers, how can we safely introduce them to swimming and get them more comfortable in the water?

How to teach your dog to swim

It can be a little difficult getting your dog into the water especially if they’re not accustomed to swimming, but once you do, you’ll both be experiencing the benefits in no time. So where to begin?

There are a number of avenues you can take when teaching your dog to swim, and choosing which one to use depends mainly on your dog’s breed. While some dogs, like the ones mentioned before, are natural-born swimmers, others are just not able to excel in the water due to their biology. Bulldogs and Dachshunds, for instance, often don’t have the physical build to keep themselves afloat, and will likely need extra help with a floatation device. 

Even if your dog is meant to be a capable swimmer, each pup is a little different, and yours may not be as keen on swimming as they’re ‘supposed’ to be. Whatever the case, it’s important that you understand your dog’s lineage and capabilities, set your expectations accordingly, and don’t be disappointed if your dog still prefers dry land over water.

Invest in a life jacket for your dog

When introducing a dog to the water for the first time, it’s vital that the dog finds swimming fun and not scary. You want to do everything you can to get your dog feeling confident in the water, and one great way to do that is to ensure they can’t sink. Life jackets for dogs come in all shapes and sizes for a variety of breeds and weights. Assuming their life jacket fits well, your dog will be able to focus on the mechanics of swimming, rather than struggling to stay afloat. 

Even if your dog is a capable swimmer, a life jacket is never a bad idea. Even the strongest swimmers can get tired, and if you’ve ever thrown a ball for certain breeds, you know that many dogs will over-exert themselves to the point of danger if they’re allowed to. A life jacket allows them to not work as hard while still staying afloat, which will keep them safe as well as feeling confident.

When choosing a life jacket, ensure it’s the right size, and that it can be adjusted to fit your dog perfectly. Bright or reflective material is also a plus, since they’ll help you spot your dog in the water more easily. You should also look for a life jacket with a sturdy handle on the back. This will allow you to pull your dog out of the water if they’re struggling, guide them as they learn to swim, or even simply keep hold of them on the beach. 

Make a plan for swimming lessons

Once you have all the equipment, it’s time to figure out your method for teaching your dog to swim. Every dog is different, so you’ll know better than anyone what you need to do to keep them feeling comfortable. With that said, a good idea for all dogs is to ensure that they’re the ones to enter the water. This can be achieved by throwing a floating toy into the water, or getting in yourself and encouraging them to come out to you. When a dog enters the water on their own terms, they’ll be less likely to become afraid. Start in the shallows, and don’t try to make your dog move deeper until they seem comfortable. 

Every time your dog comes out of the water while they’re learning, you should reward them with a treat, a toy, or affection. This will help them form a positive association with swimming, and encourage them to get in the water next time.

Give your dog a demonstration

If you know anyone with a dog who’s already a confident swimmer, consider arranging a time for your dog to watch them swim. With your dog in a life jacket, they’ll be able to follow the other dog around, observing their technique and having a great time while doing it. After a few playdates in the water, your dog may feel more confident about swimming on their own.

Keep water safety in mind

Beyond the risk of drowning, there are a handful of other potential hazards for your dog in the water. 

  • Cold water. Too much exposure could lead to hypothermia, which is dangerous. 
  • Swallowing too much water. This is possible while your dog swims and grabs toys. If your dog is regularly vomiting after swimming, they’re swallowing too much. To counteract this, try to keep swimming sessions to about ten minutes, and choose a water-toy that they can easily pick up without ingesting too much water in the process, such as a flat, floating disc.

Don’t push your dog too far

Despite our best efforts, some dogs never really take to swimming. Even with all the floatation devices, training, and safety measures, some dogs simply don’t like the water. If you’ve been trying to get them interested in swimming for some time and aren’t making any progress, it may be that your dog just doesn’t like to swim. If that’s the case, don’t feel the need to continuously push them. There are still ways you can help your dog enjoy the water and keep them cool in summer.

Hopefully these tips will help you and your dog to enjoy the water in the warmer months. With some time, care, and preparation, most dogs will gradually come to love swimming. If you have more questions about how to safely teach your dog to swim, or anything else pet-related, feel free to contact us today.

The Benefits of Pet Insurance You Need to Know About

As a pet owner, you have the responsibility of the health, happiness, and overall well-being of your animal. Much like any other life partner, your duties to a pet are in sickness and in health, good times and tough times.

One important part of this responsibility is being prepared in case something happens to your pet. Perhaps your dog swallows something they weren’t supposed to, or your cat falls ill. These problems often require professional veterinary care, and depending on the necessary procedures, the costs can quickly add up. 

Even with a dedicated savings put aside, certain health issues with your pet might put you in a difficult financial situation—that’s where having pet insurance comes in.

Pet insurance is best recommended to get while the pet is young. This is to avoid any medical exclusions. While it is best to get while young, older pets can still very much benefit from pet insurance.

What is Pet Insurance?

Pet insurance is a health policy that an owner puts in place for their pet. In exchange for a monthly premium, your insurance company will provide reimbursement for a multitude of procedures and treatments at the veterinarian. While we always hope to never need to use pet insurance, it remains one of the best ways to protect the finances of an owner and the safety of the pet. 

Not every pet owner is completely prepared to foot the bill for necessary treatments. Pet insurance allows people to take the stress of finances off the mind of pet owners, allowing them to simply make the best decisions for the health of their pet.

Perhaps you’re looking into getting a pet, or you’ve recently adopted a new one, and you’re wondering if pet insurance is a worthwhile investment. If you ask us, it’s one of the most important ways you can protect your pet and yourself. With that said, here are the six biggest benefits of pet insurance and setting up a policy.

1. Save money at your veterinarian’s office

Saving money is one of the biggest reasons people choose to set up pet insurance. Depending on your policy of choice, your plan could be paying for itself in just one or two urgent visits. Although you’ll have to pay the cost of your vet visit up front, you’ll be able to get reimbursed for your portion. At the most basic level, pet insurance simply makes good financial sense.

2. Gain access to the best possible pet care

Rather than being forced to choose between the most advanced, effective treatments and your pocketbook, pet insurance gives you access to options when it comes to pet healthcare. In recent years, technology in the veterinary field has been advancing rapidly, and there are now many more options for the owners of sick or injured pets than ever before. Chemotherapy for instance is an effective way to treat cancer in pets, but it can often be very expensive for people without insurance. Having a policy in place beforehand allows you to think about what the best option for your pet would be, rather than concerning yourself about what you’ll be able to afford.

3. Pay a small, regular fee instead of saving for emergencies

It can be difficult to keep a sizable emergency fund aside in case of a health issue with your pet. Rather than saving every spare dollar in case of the worst, you can pay a small monthly premium to your insurance company in exchange for pet healthcare coverage, which opens up more financial options for you. 

4. Choose a flexible policy for your pet

Because people’s pets are so varied and unique, pet insurance offers many flexible policies for all kinds of animals, breeds, and ages. Just because your pet is older doesn’t mean you won’t be able to get pet insurance for them, and doing so will often pay off down the road. Furthermore, with lots of competition in the pet insurance market, you’ll be able to get a variety of quotes and find something affordable.

5. Gain peace of mind

The number one reason people choose to set up a pet insurance plan is for peace of mind. We know how much you love your pet and want to provide them with the best care possible. As a pet owner, you are responsible for ensuring that they’re well looked after in even the worst case scenario. Pet insurance allows you to rest easy knowing that providing your pet with the care they need won’t be an issue, regardless of the necessary treatments and procedures.

As a pet owner, you have countless duties when it comes to looking after your four-legged family member. Whether it’s taking them for exercise, feeding them right, or cleaning up after them, we perform these responsibilities as an act of love for our pets—insurance is no different. By setting up a good pet insurance policy from the outset, you can be confident in knowing that your pet will have access to the best possible care no matter what, allowing the two of you to have a long, healthy, and happy life together.

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Hastings Veterinary Hospital and a clickable link back to this page.

How to be Proactive about Protecting Your Pet from Fleas

There are fewer words a pet owner wants to hear less than “your pet has fleas”. Fleas are pesky parasites, and in addition to being a major annoyance for us humans, they can cause serious problems for the unlucky animal playing host. 

Thankfully, flea treatment and prevention has come a long way, and now, with the right measures, these irritating creatures can be mitigated fairly easily. Addressing fleas before they become a problem will not only save you time, money, and hassle later on, but it will ensure your pet’s safety and comfort at the same time. Here are some proactive flea prevention tips for your pets.

How to Identify a Flea and Causes of Infestation

Most of us are aware of fleas and understand what they do, but do you know what a flea infestation looks like? Fleas are small, wingless insects that survive by feeding off of the blood of larger animals. They are reddish-brown in colour, usually just a couple of millimetres long, and can exist almost anywhere in the world. They don’t fly, and instead get around by jumping (relatively) massive distances. They survive by feeding off the blood of mammals, and sometimes birds.

It’s possible for a home to become infested with fleas year-round – in Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, fleas are around all year. Typically, fleas enter the home with other animals. Since dogs tend to spend more time outside, they are at a greater risk of contracting fleas, but outdoor cats can provide an unwitting ride for the tiny insects as well. Additionally, fleas can enter the home with people, visiting animals, or in some cases, on the backs of unwanted animals, such as mice and rats.

There are a number of issues that can be caused by a flea infestation in your pet:

  • Fleas can cause a lot of discomfort in your pet from all the bites
  • Your pet will likely scratch and bite at their skin repeatedly to try and get some relief, leading to irritated skin and other wounds. 
  • Additionally, fleas can carry tapeworms, which can be passed onto your pet as well. 
  • Some animals are allergic to flea bites, which can be very serious if left untreated. 
  • Additionally, constant scratching can lead to infections, creating an even bigger problem.

Fleas can bite people, but they tend not to actively live on them in the same way they do with other animals. Fleas prefer furry animals, making cats and dogs obvious targets. Once on an animal, a flea will remain there until they are killed or die off naturally. However, they’re also capable of laying eggs in the fur of an animal, which will eventually hatch and start the whole frustrating process over again.  

Now that you know a little more about fleas, you’re probably wondering how best to prevent them from becoming a problem with your pet, and by extension, in your home. Thankfully, there are a number of steps you can take to be proactive about flea prevention, addressing the problem before it’s too late.

Watch for the Signs of a Flea Infestation

One of the best ways to ensure your pet is flea-free is simply to keep an eye on their behaviour and take note of anything unusual. Pets that have fleas on them will be very uncomfortable, so it should be fairly easy to tell if there’s an infestation in progress. Here are some things to look for when watching for fleas in your pet:

  • Excessive scratching, chewing, licking, and grooming
  • Red, irritated skin, especially on the neck, belly, and hindquarters
  • Dark brown ‘flea dirt,’ which is the flea’s excrement, present in your pet’s fur

If you notice any of these signs, confirm your suspicions by brushing through your pet’s fur with a fine-tooth comb. You may spot some moving spots, which are fleas, but it’s more likely you’ll see more ‘flea dirt.’ You can confirm that this is flea excrement and not regular dirt by brushing it onto a wet piece of paper towel. It will turn red, indicating that this is dried blood sucked from your pet and passed on by the flea.

Check Your Pet Regularly

It’s good to routinely check your pet for fleas. You can purchase a flea comb from your local pet store. Having your pet on a monthly flea product can prevent the hassle of checking—while flea baths can help soothe your pets skin, flea shampoos are not 100% effective. Your veterinarian is the best resource for effective external parasite prevention based on your pet’s lifestyle. 

Choose an Appropriate Preventative Flea Medication

For dogs and outdoor cats, your vet may recommend a preventative flea treatment. These can vary widely depending on your pet, but they tend to be a topical solution or oral tablet intended to be taken regularly. Be wary of over-the-counter flea treatments, as these can differ drastically in their effectiveness and safety for your pet. If your vet identifies your pet as being at-risk for fleas, they’ll make the necessary recommendations for preventative treatment.

One very important thing to note is to never use flea medication intended for a cat on a dog, or vice versa. Preventative flea formulas for one animal may actually be toxic for another, so always follow your veterinarian’s advice to the letter.

Keep Your House Clean and Sanitized

A great way to prevent a flea infestation is to keep your home clean. 

  • There are some chemical products intended to treat an environment for fleas, but be cautious with these, as some can be harmful to the people and/or animals they’re intended to protect. 
  • Deep clean your carpets, towels, blankets, and other fibrous surfaces. Fleas will sometimes take refuge in all of this, particularly if they come into frequent contact with your pet. 
  • Vacuum carpets, pet-specific blankets, towels, and pet beds frequently to decrease any fleas or flea eggs hiding out there. 
  • Always empty your vacuum canister outside and wash it with soap and water afterwards to ensure no hangers-on are reintroduced to your home.

Maintain a good routine of regular hygiene for your pet

It is typically recommended that you treat all your pets every month for fleas, as fleas can lay dormant in your home and in British Columbia they are around all year. This is in addition to their regular bathing and grooming. 

Take your pet to see your veterinarian regularly

The best thing you can do to ensure your pet’s health is to simply take them in for their routine vet check-ups. Of course, you do your best to run checks on them and ensure they’re free of any pesky pests, but there’s nothing better than a comprehensive veterinary examination. Your veterinarian can recommend the proper flea and tick medication based on your lifestyle.

Fleas are a common fear for many pet owners, but with proper preventative care, they don’t need to be a huge concern. It’s very important to take the proper precautions to mitigate the risk of fleas and other parasites, and when done right, you’ll sidestep a lot of potential issues down the road. Not only will your home be free of fleas, but your pets will be healthy, comfortable, and happy.

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Hastings Veterinary Hospital and a clickable link back to this page.

Creative Ideas to Keep Pets Out of Christmas Decorations

If you’ve ever raised a cat or dog, you probably know that the holidays tend to bring new levels of challenge when it comes to keeping your furry friend safe. With all the exciting decorations, delicious food, and new people coming and going, the holidays can be an overwhelming time for pets.

One of the most common causes for pet injuries around this time of the year involves some kind of holiday decoration, whether it’s a Christmas tree or a strand of lights. Avoid unplanned visits to the veterinarian this winter with these creative ideas to keep pets out of your Christmas decorations.

How to Pet-proof Your Decorations

There are a number of decorations in the home that can be hazards for your pets. Of course, every animal is different, and what might be completely safe for one could be a serious danger to another. However, here are a few common Christmas decorations to keep a watchful eye over:

  • Christmas trees are a cherished and classic holiday decoration. However, because of their height, and the fact that they’re normally loaded with enticing, dangling decorations, they’re also one of the most common causes for holiday pet accidents.
  • Christmas lights are beautiful, but pose a couple of safety risks to many pets. The light bulbs, being so colourful and exciting, might be a temptation for a bite-happy dog. Likewise, playful pets might bite right through the cord, risking electric shock or even a fire. Finally, animals of all kinds have been known to get tangled up in the strands of lights, which could lead to injury.
  • Garlands are often seen in the home around the holidays. Whether they’re artificial or real, these decorations can be hazardous to keep around mischievous pets. Your cat or dog might get tangled up in the garland, possibly injuring themselves in the process. Also, the needles on some garland’s might shed, especially if you’re using the same decoration year after year. If your pet ends up getting these needles in their mouth, they could be a choking hazard.
  • Candles are a great way to set the holiday mood. Unfortunately, many animals find them alluring for the same reasons as humans, and could end up burning themselves or even knocking the candle over and starting a fire. 
  • Wrapping paper can be a hazard as well. If your pet is prone to eating little bits of whatever they can find, be sure to properly dispose of even the smallest scraps of wrapping paper after the gifts have been opened.

These are just some of the more common holiday hazards that could wind up causing trouble for your pet. Keep your cherished decorations in good shape, and keep your pet safe by taking a few simple precautions.

Choose Decorations Wisely

There are a huge variety of decorations available for trees, and taking the time to choose the right ones will go a long way in ensuring a safe holiday for everyone.

  • Fragile hanging baubles and glass decorations can be risky temptations, particularly for dogs who like to try eating whatever they can get their paws on. 
  • Since these decorations are liable to shatter, we advise keeping them off the tree, or at the very least, ensuring they’re higher up so your dog can’t reach them. 
  • The same goes for cats, since many are enticed by dangling objects. If you have a particularly mischievous cat, we’d recommend avoiding any tempting decorations entirely, since they’re likely to try and climb the tree to get at whatever catches their eye.
  • We also advise against any food-based decorations, such as strings of popcorn. These are just another temptation to most animals, and could be the thing to send them after your Christmas tree.

Consider the Pros and Cons of Real Trees

A real Christmas tree is a beautiful and nostalgic piece of holiday decoration, but you should consider carefully if it’s the right choice for your pet. Needles from a real pine or spruce tree can be a hassle and a hazard. Not only will your pet likely track them all through the house, but also they could be choking hazards for smaller animals, or possibly even be mildly poisonous depending on the type of tree and any chemicals present on the needles. In general, an artificial Christmas tree is likely to be the safest option for your pet.

Make a Barrier Around the Tree to Protect it from Nosy Pets

If you can’t seem to shake your pet’s interest in your Christmas tree, consider blocking access to it in some way. You could use a baby gate or a moveable play-pen to enclose it, or even block the way with larger gifts if your pet is small enough. The more you do to keep your pet away from the tree in general, the less likely they are to run into trouble.

Use Sprays to Deter Pets from the Tree

Pet deterrent sprays are available at most pet supply stores, but if those don’t work, or you’d prefer to make something at home, you can try spraying it with a concoction of water and turmeric. We recommend consulting with our veterinarian first to find out the safest way to deter your pet without bringing risk to them or your family.

Keep Electrical Cords Safe and Secure

Electrical cords pose a major hazard to pets, particularly to dogs with a knack for biting on things they shouldn’t. If possible, route Christmas light cables and extension cords high up so your pet doesn’t have the chance to chew on them. If this isn’t possible, you could always securely tape the cords to the floor. Just make sure to keep an eye on your pet to ensure they don’t try to pull the tape off in order to get at the cable.

Ensure the Tree is Well Secured

If you’re going to put a Christmas tree in your home with your pet, you should ensure it’s as securely placed as possible. Even small animals can climb up the tree, push it, or get tangled up in the branches, causing it to topple over. Not only can this injure your pet, but also it could hurt a family member, or at the very least wreck the tree, the decorations, and other objects in the room. 

Avoid this by ensuring the tree is well-secured to its base. It’s even better to have an additional point of contact, ideally at the top of the tree that’s fastened to a wall, ceiling, or curtain rod, to ensure the tree can’t be knocked over—no matter what.

Secure Your Decorations to the Tree

Another great way to ensure your decorations stay on the tree is to securely fasten them when you place them. You can use twist ties, clips, string, or stiff wire to do this. It’s best (and easiest) to do this for every ornament as you’re hanging them, and it’ll go a long way in keeping your decorations out of the mouth of any curious pets.

In General, Choose Safe Decorations Around the House

We all have our favourite seasonal decorations, but it’s important to keep your pets in mind when choosing them. There are a few decorations that can be major hazards to your pets, and should either be placed with extreme care or avoided entirely. 

Candles are a common choice for holiday decor, but are quite risky to keep around pets. The flickering flame is likely to catch the interest of your pets, particularly if you have an especially curious cat in the house. No matter what kind of pet you have, be very careful with candles, as they may try and play with it, potentially burning themselves or even knocking the flame over and starting a fire. If you want to achieve the same look, consider battery-powered candles with no heat or open flame. 

As you can see, decorating a house for the holidays with a pet in the equation comes with a few extra considerations. However, with a little extra thought and preparation, you can keep your home looking festive and beautiful, just the way you like it, while ensuring your pet has a safe and comfortable holiday as well. 

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Hastings Veterinary Hospital and a clickable link back to this page.

How to Keep Your Cat Happy and Safe During Christmas

Christmas is the busiest time of the year for everyone. There’s so much to do, especially if you are planning to have family and loved ones visit this year. The tree needs to be decorated, there’s planning and shopping for gifts to do, there’s food and baking to prepare for…the list goes on.

What about your pets though, particularly cats? A reality all cat owners must face is a huge number of hazards to watch out for during this busy time of the year. Luckily, we have some cat care-based solutions. These tips will help you both enjoy the holiday season without throwing an emergency trip to your veterinarian into the mix!

Problem #1: Christmas Trees

Who doesn’t love Christmas trees? They’re a classic symbol of the Christmas season. Unfortunately, your cat is also a fan of them. It’s hard to keep a cat from playing with Christmas trees and their decorations. Glass balls, garlands, beads, fake snow, ribbons, strings of Christmas lights, candy canes…you name it, it’s all hazardous for kitty. Your kitty may also get the bright idea to climb up and into the tree!

The type of tree you decide to decorate can also pose problems. If you chose to put a real tree in your home for Christmas, your kitty may want to drink the water from the tree stand which contains tree oils that are toxic to cats. Accidents such as bowel obstructions and poisoning can happen when Christmas trees and cats are mixed together, leading to an emergency trip to the veterinary hospital.

Solutions: Aside from keeping a close eye on your kitty during the day, it’s best to put up your tree in a confined room where the door can be shut. Keep your kitty distracted while the tree is being decorated by providing them with toys and even a few treats away from the excitement. You may even need to put kitty in a separate room with the door shut when it’s time to decorate. You will need to confine your kitty away from the tree whenever you are not at home or sleeping as well.

If your cat’s encounter with a Christmas tree is unavoidable, there are ways to cat-proof your tree. Try using a citrus repellant to spray on or near the tree; it can add a pleasant smell for you and keep your cat away (cats hate citrus smells!). You may need to re-apply the spray whenever necessary. If you insist on using a real tree for Christmas, find a covered tree stand to keep any kitten from drinking the water out of it or conceal your current one.

One creative solution we can offer is to vary your form of Christmas tree this year. For example, if you own a lot of books, why not make a book tree this year? There are lots of great ideas for how to make a book tree online if you don’t know already. You can set it up wherever your kitty can’t reach, leaving you ample room for decoration!

Speaking of such… let’s talk about ornaments for a minute.

Problem #2: Decorations

We’re not only talking about the ones you find on a Christmas tree, but also around the rest of the house. Tinsel is still sold in stores and used as a decoration, but it’s the number one hazard for cats! Basically, anything that glitters, glows, dangles, and spins will all convince kitty to play. Even the ribbons on top of your Christmas presents under the tree can be a choking hazard.

Solution: Plastic decorations are a good alternative to the fragile glass ones offered in stores. Any decorations that are matte, less shiny, and less than likely to dangle will also be less appealing to your cat. Be sure to fasten your decorations as securely as possible and to hang them out of kitty’s reach. When it comes to gift wrapping, it’s best to avoid adding ribbons and bows entirely. Try using a marker to write on your wrapped gifts instead of adding a tempting bow.

Problem #3: Christmas Plants

Poinsettias are another classic Christmas symbol, but did you know they’re actually highly toxic to cats? Holly, mistletoe, pine needles, amaryllis, and Christmas cactus leaves are also bad for kittens and could result in poisoning if ingested. If you see any signs of poisoning in your cat such as excessive drooling, vomiting, lethargy, breathing problems, diarrhea, or tremors, take them to your veterinarian right away!

Solution: Just like with decorations, there are plastic variations of Christmas plants that won’t bring harm to your cat, and you won’t have to give up decorating your home. If your kitty can’t reach certain areas in the home and you simply must have Christmas plants, keep them out of kitty’s reach just as you would with your regular decorations.

Problem #4: People Food

Both dogs and cats are guilty of trying to eat the same food humans do, especially roast turkey with gravy or ham. The smells are so enticing they can’t help but nibble. Unfortunately, human food is not okay for pets, and Christmas is another one of those holidays where pets may try to nibble on chocolate, much like on Halloween and Easter.

Solution: Offer your kitty some turkey or chicken-flavoured wet food that’s vet-approved instead of allowing them to eat human food (the tins wet food comes in usually contain gravy, so bonus!). Feed your kitty away from where you’re having Christmas dinner. If you have kids or are expecting children visitors, it’s a good idea to take them aside and show them exactly what they can and cannot give kittens as far as treats and food go.

We understand that these are a lot of precautions to worry about during Christmas, but don’t let this get you down! You can still have a wonderful holiday season by following our cat care advice. This is the time of the year where being with the ones you love matters the most. If you include your cat in the mix, we’re sure you won’t miss the other stuff at all!

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Hastings Veterinary Hospital and a clickable link back to this page.

Home Care Tips for Pets

Even though lockdown restrictions are being lifted in Canada, pet owners and their families are still required to practice safe protocols such as social distancing and self-isolation. If you own a pet and must remain in quarantine or are practicing self-isolation, you mustn’t forget to take care of your pets as well as your family and yourself! Here are some good home care tips for pets you can apply to your routine.

1. Have your vet’s contact info on hand

Post the phone number of your pet’s veterinarian on your fridge or have them on speed dial on your phone if need be. Having that kind of information on hand now is better than to struggle to look it up while there’s an emergency taking place at home.

Even if you’re self-isolating, there are ways to bring your pet to your veterinarian’s office in case an appointment is needed. Several veterinary hospitals (including ours) have set up safety protocols to avoid spreading COVID-19, and from the look of things, it’s tough to say when these protocols will be lifted even while lockdown is being released. You can view our protocols here to see what kind of precautions vets are taking right now to ensure you and your pet are kept safe.

2. Get creative with indoor games

Just because you must self-isolate does not mean your dog or cat or both still don’t need to exercise. Keeping your pets active will prevent future problems such as obesity from happening sooner than later, plus it keeps you active and going too.

Try getting creative with indoor games for you and your pets with some or all of these ideas:

  • Walk around the house together with your dog, as if you’re out on a walk. Do this as often as needed. If you have a backyard where you won’t be exposed to lots of people and you take precautions such as wearing a mask or cover-up if you’re sick, you can play with your dog outside.
  • Move around some furniture and create ramps out of books, chairs, or bulky household items, then guide your pet around and on them with a favourite toy or treats (not too many). They’ll be quite curious about this new environment and may be as eager to play as you are!
  • Try hide-and-seek with pet treats; hide them in places where your pet will have to grab, jump in and out of, or walk to get them. Empty boxes or laundry baskets are a good start for some. Be sure not to go overboard with feeding them treats though!
  • Tug-of-war is a classic, even post-COVID-19. Use any toy that is good to tug on and won’t break apart easily. Be sure to play within a wide open space and move furniture out of the way if you have to. Above all, play safe!
  • Try three cup. The objective of this game is to test your dog’s sense of smell. Get three cups and line them in a row in front of your pet. Put a treat under one of them while your dog is watching, and then give them the ok to show you which cup is the right one. When they choose right, praise them and let them have the treat. Once your pet gets the hang of it, feel free to make it more challenging by mixing the cups around after placing a treat under the correct one.

Need some more ideas? Check out our previous blog post about indoor activities for dogs. Feel free to adapt them to cats if you’re a cat owner.

3. Keep walking your pooch

Dogs still need to be walked regardless of whether or not they must stay in quarantine. Though your daily routine may have been changed by everything that is happening right now, having a schedule in place for your dog can help give your life some structure. After all, your pet needs to be cared for no matter what happens next.

Do keep walking your pooch outside, but stay safe and follow the protocols outlined in your neighbourhood, such as physical distancing and wearing a mask if you’re sick. Try to find public spaces where there aren’t a lot of people in the same area.

4. Nail trimming and grooming

Pet nails and fur never stop growing! Again, having a schedule for this sort of pet care at home can help you get back a sense of balance to your daily routine, even if it’s been radically changed.

  • Groom your pets regularly per your veterinarian’s instructions. Make sure you integrate it into part of your daily routine so you remember too. Brush your pets more often if they’re long-haired and less frequently if they’re short-haired.
  • Likewise, it’s a good idea to mark down dates when it’s best to have their nails trimmed.
  • Keep an eye out for anything out of the ordinary; some symptoms of hair loss and over-scratching the ears can be red flags for problems such as ear mites or stress.

Be sure to check out some of our videos on some of our care tips for pets at home!

5. At-home dental care and exams

Although veterinary dental care is the best kind of dental care for pets, owners can still practice good hygiene while they’re in quarantine. Check on their mouths periodically by gently lifting their upper lip to get a look at their teeth, from front to back. You can ask for your vet to provide you with pet-friendly toothpaste and a toothbrush if needed at your next appointment, or pick some up from your local pet store. Follow the instructions from your vet if you need to brush their teeth yourself.

6. Diagnosed with COVID-19? Here’s what to do

Sadly some pet owners in BC have been diagnosed with COVID-19. If you’re experiencing the symptoms such as a fever or shortness of breath, here’s what you absolutely must do:

  • Leave all pets out of your bedroom, but inside of the house to prevent exposure to others.
  • Quarantine yourself in your home for 14 days upon arriving home from traveling or upon initial detection of symptoms—your pets must do the same too.
  • Wash your hands for 20 seconds before and after touching pet food and water, or your pet’s toys.
  • Wear a mask at all times to prevent spreading the disease to your pets and loved ones.
  • Do take your dog outside to the bathroom, but you absolutely should wear a mask before going outside, and wash your hands before and after your dog has done its business.

We’re here for all of your at-home pet care needs! Please contact us if you have any questions or concerns.

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Hastings Veterinary Hospital and a clickable link back to this page.

5 Useful New Year’s Resolutions for Pet Owners in 2020

A new year approaches, and it’s a very special one: 2020. It’s not only the end of another year; it’s the beginning of an entirely new decade. Because of this, many are opting in to make New Year’s resolutions more so than ever.

Just as many of us make resolutions for ourselves at the start of every year, we should also make and keep resolutions for our pets for the same reasons. Consider what we are trying to achieve for ourselves by making resolutions: we want to improve our health, happiness, safety, comfort, and to feel good about ourselves. Why not keep these goals in mind when making resolutions for your pets? Here are five New Year’s resolutions for pet owners that you can put to good use for 2020.

1. Ensure Your Pet is Eating a Nutritious, Appropriate Diet

Humans receive nutrition from milk and then graduate to solid foods with an emphasis on particular nutritional needs at various ages, and for control of health problems, too. As we age, our activity decreases and the amount of food we eat must decrease as well. Diets and nutrition for pets follow these similar patterns. Resolve to be careful about your pet’s nutritional needs and make sure you stay on track:

  • Keep yourself informed about the best diet for your pet, and be prepared to alter it as your pet grows older.
  • As pets age, they are often prone to diseases of old age, just as humans are. Your veterinarian can help you choose the best diet for your elderly cat, dog, or bunny.
  • Diets can help control arthritis by easing joint pain and increasing joint function.
  • Obesity is dangerous for any pet and can lead to arthritis, diabetes, liver disease, and heart problems. The cure for obesity is diet and exercise, just as it is for humans. Your pet will not willingly cut down on his or her food intake, and won’t willingly exercise either. It’s up to you to see that these problems are controlled and better still if you anticipate the patterns that lead to obesity.
  • Avoid being led astray by myths spread by people or companies that can profit from our eagerness to give our pets whatever they need to lead long and healthy lives. If you are urged to buy, say, high protein food for your pet, check with your veterinarian first before you commit to your decision. Don’t make radical changes to your pet’s diet without professional advice.

2. Follow Age-Appropriate Health Guidelines

Pets need their owners to see that their basic health care needs are met, and these must be adjusted as pets go through different stages and as they age. Are your pet’s vaccinations up to date? Have you arranged for an annual checkup in the last 12 months? Resolve to take care of the most important concerns as soon as possible:

  • Annual checkups are the key to good health and the welfare of your pet. Your veterinarian will provide a full comprehensive exam and may opt for adding some additional testing to screen for problems such as altered cell counts, liver problems, hormonal changes, kidney disease, diabetes, and many more; the physical exam includes checking for lumps, swelling and signs of pain, breathing difficulties, tooth decay, and problems associated with your pet’s age and breed.
  • Our furry companions of all ages need to receive vaccinations and booster vaccinations to protect them against diseases. Your veterinarian is the best source the most current vaccination recommendations for the life stage and life style of your companion.
  • Your pet is also counting on you to see that flea control and parasite protection is made available so that terrible suffering isn’t the trigger for you to remember, “Oh, right, I should have prevented that.” See to it that your pet is protected from an insect or parasite infestation before it happens, this maintains a good quality of life for them.
  • There are desirable ages at which your pet should be spayed or neutered in order to live longer, happier, and healthier lives. Spayed females are spared from heat periods and are protected from uterine and mammary cancer; neutered males are spared the urge to fight, roam, mark territory, and are protected from the risk of prostate and testicular cancers. Ask your veterinarian about these procedures and when they should occur if they haven’t already.

3. Improve Safety Conditions for Your Pet

Find a veterinarian trained to care for your particular pet: dog, cat, or an exotic pet like a rabbit. Introduce yourself and your pet soon after you have adopted him or her. Pick a safety resolution from the following list that you haven’t already implemented and adopt it as soon as possible to ensure your pet’s safety.

  • Start keeping phone numbers handy not only for your veterinarian, but also for an emergency animal clinic or hospital, and names and numbers for after-hours emergency help. Make sure these phone numbers are keyed into your cell phone, and addresses and routes handy if you are in a tearing hurry to locate urgent help.
  • Assemble a pet first-aid kit for your home and a smaller version of the kit to take on pet outings, walks, hikes, or vacations. It should include a list of serious symptoms so that you will know how quickly you have to respond to some mishap.
  • Make sure your pet has a collar with a nametag that includes your name and phone numbers, so that you can be contacted if your pet becomes lost or is injured. This is especially important for outdoor pets. An ID microchip that can be inserted painlessly by your veterinarian is a really good idea. Pet hospitals and shelters routinely check for ID chips now and the chip carries a number that identifies your pet with all the pertinent information about the owner’s name and contact numbers.
  • Invest in a pet carrier and introduce it gradually. A good idea is leaving the carrier open in a common space such as a living room so your pet can roam freely in and around it. This can make) taking a trip to a hospital or a visit to a friend’s home less traumatic.
  • Do a regular check of your pet’s environment, inside and outside at home and in the yard, and keep an eye out for dangers in pet parks, or any place your pet is likely to wander. Make sure poisons, toxic chemicals, cleaning supplies, electrical implements, batteries, and unsuitable foods and plants stay out of reach.

4. Engage in Regular Grooming to Make Pets Happier

We humans feel better when we pamper ourselves with luxuriously soaking in the bathtub, a visit to a steam room, a pedicure and manicure, regular brushing and washing of our hair, and taking good care of our skin. Pets are happier, too, when owners fuss over their needs, and take time to brush, stroke them and keep them well groomed. Make pet grooming a habit:

  • If you are nervous about any necessary procedure for keeping your pet well-groomed, take your pet to an animal groomer for baths or nail clipping. Make sure you supply the means for your pet to keep teeth clean with chew toys if your pet doesn’t want you to brush his or her teeth or if you don’t feel comfortable about it. Eventually a dental cleaning under anesthetic may be needed if brushing is not allowed by your pet.
  • Purchase a good brush and comb and make time to keep your pet’s hair or coat brushed and combed daily or as often as you can. Pets love having their owners brush their coats and massage their skin.

5. Make Time to Love Your Pets!

Pets need to feel loved just as we humans feel happier when we know we are loved. Everyone responds well to caring relationships. Make sure your pets know they are loved by taking time to play with them, and/or walk them, talk to them, massage them, groom them, and show you enjoy their companionship. Pets can become very attached to their owners and respond to them with love and attention, too. Make time for playtime.

Most of these resolutions are easy to implement. Put together a list and post it where you will have a daily reminder of your New Year’s pet resolutions. It will make 2020 a good year for you and your pets!

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Hastings Veterinary Hospital and a clickable link back to this page.

Happy ‘Doggieween’: Halloween Treats for Dogs Do’s and Don’ts

Halloween can be fun for dogs too, if they’ll let you dress them up. But if they get into the “human” treats, it can mean an emergency trip to the vet. There are treats you can give your pooch, but be wary of the ingredients. Any kind of human Halloween treat, candy, etc. are forbidden for dogs! Lollipop sticks can get stuck in their throat and candy wrappers can cause obstructions.

This is a good time to use that obedience training. Using the command “Leave it,” if you spot your pup sniffing around; this command can be especially helpful if any candy or chocolate lands on the floor. If you see your dog ingest something they shouldn’t have, call your vet or poison control immediately!

Halloween Treat Don’ts

Carefully read the ingredients in all treats you plan on giving to your dog. Sugary, high-fat candy can lead to pancreatitis, and symptoms may not show for about 2-4 days. You may not know it, but raisins and grapes are toxic to dogs too.

The artificial sweetener, xylitol, that is in a lot of “sugar-free” treats can cause sudden drop in blood sugar, subsequent loss of coordination, and seizures if ingested by your dog. Some treats contain white chocolate, which is still chocolate and a big no-no for dogs. Theobromine is the main ingredient in chocolate, which is harmless to humans but toxic to dogs.

Signs of Chocolate Poisoning:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Rapid breathing
  • Increased heart rate
  • Seizures

Should you see any of these signs in your pup take them to your vet straightaway!

Halloween Treat Do’s

All treats for your dog should be only given for training purposes or on special occasions. Don’t let treats replace their meals and don’t let your dog overindulge on the good treats. If your dog has allergies or is on a special hypoallergenic diet, talk to your vet about what you can give them for treat options.

Don’t forget, your dog can have treats that are beneficial to their health. Dogs can get bad breath, plaque, tartar formation, and tooth decay. You can give them dental treats that cleans their teeth, freshens their breath, and controls plaque and tartar.

Don’t forget their coat and skin either! There are treats you can give your pooch that contain Omega-3 fatty-acids, which are good for their skin and coat health.

For pups who prefer really crunchy treats, feel free to give them bite-sized pieces of raw carrots! There are other certain fruits and vegetables you can give your dog too.

Halloween Treat Ideas for Dogs

Not only can you find treats in the store to buy for your pooch, but you can also find many recipes to make homemade dog treats, including online. It can be fun to make treats from scratch and there are some that you can enjoy eating too along with your pooch.

Pumpkin is an okay treat for dogs, but only in small portions. Unless your pup is allergic (which is unlikely, as pumpkin is not a common allergen), baked pumpkin makes a good treat idea. Peanut butter is also a tasty option (again, be sure it’s only given to your dog in small amounts). There are plenty of peanut butter-flavoured treats you can find in the store!

Speaking of treats, it may be handy to keep a bag of dog treats handy during this time of the year. That way, your pup will not miss out on the festivities and they receive treats that are appropriate and safe.

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Hastings Veterinary Hospital and a clickable link back to this page.

Prevention Tips for a Safe and Happy Halloween for Your Cat

October is a busy time of year, isn’t it? Not only do we have Thanksgiving to celebrate (for us Canadians, anyway), but also Halloween! We get turkey and treats in the same month. How cool is that?

However, we must remember that not everyone is enthusiastic about this time of the year. In this case, we’re talking about our feline friends. Halloween may mean trick-or-treating to some, but Halloween for your cat could mean being alarmed by the sound of fireworks going off, fake cobwebs to get tangled in, and even treats that can make them sick. Not to mention just because you think kitty looks adorable in a witch’s hat, that doesn’t mean your kitty will agree!

There are all sorts of problems you may not realize can be a hazard to your kitty as well as to you, the owner, on this holiday. That’s why we’re here to help. If you want to keep your kitty happy and safe this Halloween, here are our top prevention tips to do just that.

Scenario #1: Escaping from Home

If your door is constantly opening and closing as you give out candy to trick-or-treaters, your cat may feel tempted to escape from your home. On a night when lots of people in costume are walking around and traffic grows heavier at night, it can be frightening to find out your cat has run away from home—and in the dark, it’s almost impossible to find them.

Solution: Prevent your kitty from having the chance to escape by keeping them in a room away from the front door; a bedroom should do fine. This can be their haven for the evening, complete with food, water, a clean litter box, toys, and bedding. It’s a good idea as well to check up on your kitty occasionally while they’re shut inside of the room so they don’t feel too lonely or unhappy.

If you know your cat is definitely going to want to escape, have them wear a collar with identification or get a microchip or a tattoo placed on your cat by your veterinarian. If your cat escaping is a huge concern, consider overnight cat boarding as an option instead, or not indulging in trick or treating.

Scenario #2: Noise Phobia

Halloween is fun for everyone unless loud noises are a problem…and for cats, that’s a big one! Noise phobia is exactly what you think it is: the fear of loud noises. Cats are exceptionally sensitive to sound given how excellent their hearing can be. If your cat has noise phobia, they may reveal the following signs: excessive pacing, shivering, hiding, and even drooling in some cases. If you’re having guests over for a Halloween party, too many people and noises in the room will definitely be too much for kitty to handle (especially if your guests love cats!).

Solution: Remember that room we mentioned before? Try giving your kitty a specific box or a designated area where they can hide in. Cats prefer to be as far away from stressful situations and loud sounds as possible, and tend to go into hiding when they’re stressed, in pain, or scared. If their noise phobia is especially bad, try giving them other solutions such as a natural pheromone collar or spray, anti-anxiety medication prescribed by your veterinarian, and of course a lot of TLC!

In the case of guests, it may be disappointing to let them know kitty won’t be joining them. Of course it’s okay to let your kitty socialize or let them come out of the room if there are a few people, but again, keep an eye on them in case your guests leave the front door open or if they’re getting overly anxious. Don’t force your kitty to be social if they don’t want to be. When all the excitement has died down, that’s when you can let your cat out of the room to roam around as usual.

Scenario #3: Black Cats

We love kitties of all sizes and colours; black cats are no exception! The black cat is one of many iconic Halloween symbols; in pictures you either see them riding on a broomstick with a witch or lying next to a jack ‘o lantern. Unfortunately black cats still have quite the reputation for being perceived as bad luck, and even the sweetest, gentlest black cat may fall victim to pranks being pulled on them, or worse. If a black cat ends up escaping out of the house, they’re as good as invisible outside at night, making them prone to all sorts of dangers.

Solution: Like with any cat, if your cat’s coat is black or dark-coloured, you should keep them situated in a room in your home safe from the outside. You can also make sure their collar is bright and colourful (neon yellow would work best, or a reflective neon orange if you want to be festive and safe!) so that they are more visible in the event they do escape outside. Again, a microchip and ID will work wonders if your black cat gets lost.

Scenario #4: Decorations

As the saying goes, “Curiosity killed the cat” and nothing makes a cat more curious than the different Halloween decorations on display in your home. Fake cobwebs, streamers, lit jack o’ lanterns…all these things are likely to cause kitty to try to play with them. This is a problem in many ways; most Halloween decorations are made of foil and plastic, all of which spell trouble if your kitty wants to nibble! Fake cobwebs in particular can be a problem because the ones you buy in the store are usually made of cotton balls or strings, or spray from a bottle—all of which are toxic or dangerous to cats. And don’t get us started on the dangers of cats and lit candles! Thankfully, there is also the saying “Cats have nine lives!”

Solution: Try getting creative with your decorations this year by skipping the cotton cobwebs and go for rubber instead; avoid them altogether if your kitty is prone to chewing on certain types of objects as chewing on rubber would be just as big of a hazard. For your jack o’ lantern, ditch the candle this time and use an LED light you can find at the store. If you simply cannot live without decorations, make sure they are all out of your cat’s reach and away from their climbable perches. You can distract kitty from any decoration by giving them their regular toys.

Scenario #5: Treats

Treats that are okay for kids and adults on Halloween night are more like tricks if your kitty gets hold of them! Plastic wrap has that crinkly sound that cats can’t resist since it’s also the sound accompanying their bag of cat treats. Batting those wrappers around could lead to swallowing them by accident, and that’s not something you want to deal with! And you may think dogs are the only ones who go after chocolate, but unfortunately so too do some cats, and it’s just as toxic to either pet.

Solution: Basic supervision should be enough to deter your kitty from nibbling on snacks that aren’t good for them. If you have kids, teach them about the sorts of treats that are good versus not good for their cat so in the event they want to spoil kitty, they won’t give them their own treats by accident! Store away any treats wrapped in plastic in the cupboard that you think your cat will be tempted to snack on. Keep any treats for trick-or-treaters sealed; a mixing bowl with a lid should work just fine. As for good treats, only offer the kind you know are good for kitty such as dental chews or other vet-recommended treats.

Scenario #6: Costumes

Like we said before, just because a witch’s hat looks cute in photo ops doesn’t mean your kitty will agree with you. Trying to dress them in costume may work for some kitties, but it all really depends on their personality or comfort level with foreign objects being placed on them. Most of the time once you put a hat on their head, they will do everything in their power to get it off of them! And if you’re thinking of dressing them up as ghosts, please don’t; not all kitties like being wrapped in sheets or towels. The idea may seem cute, but in actuality not being able to see is terrifying to them.

Solution: Ditch the costume ideas altogether if your cat is uncomfortable with wearing one. Opt instead for a festive collar. That way your cat will be able to see where they’re going and they won’t be hindered from moving around. A bowtie is okay (so long as it’s not too tight) and can make for some cute photos!

Halloween for your cat should be fun, not stressful. We hope our prevention tips ensure you both have a great time. Happy Halloween!

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Hastings Veterinary Hospital and a clickable link back to this page.