5 Poisonous & Potentially Deadly Items In Your Handbag

How often have you (or your wife / girlfriend) arrived home, plonked down an open handbag on the floor or couch (within reach of any fur-kids). It’s a perfectly normal and innocent thing to do, however there could be seemingly innocuous items in the handbag that could prove deadly to your pets.

 

Here are 5 items that may be enticing, but harmful to your pets:

1. Sugarless Chewing Gum

If you have sugar free chewing gum, sugar free mints or nicotine gum in your handbag, chances are it contains xylitol. Ingestion of even the smallest amount of xylitol (1 or 2 pieces of gum) can send a dog into hypoglycemic shock, which is life threatening, or worse liver failure. Symptoms include loss of coordination, depression, collapse and seizures in as little as 30 minutes.

2. Hand Sanitizer

These have become fashionable products in most handbags and are used to quickly sanitise hands when soap and a tap are not easily accessible. The alcohol level in hand sanitizers is dangerously high. Whilst that’s good for killing germs, it’s dangerous if ingested by your pet as it could cause hypoglycemic shock (a dangerous drop in your pet’s blood sugar level) which could lead to coma and death.

3. Cigarettes & Nicotine Products

We all know that smoking and nicotine is bad for us; however few people know that a small dog can die from ingesting just 3 cigarettes. This makes nicotine gum extremely dangerous as it not only contains nicotine, but also xylitol.

4. Headache Tablets & Anti-Inflammatories

Most pills come in plastic bottles / containers which when tossed around make an intriguing noise to most inquisitive dogs or cats. Once chewed open the pills inside are sometimes candy coated which makes them palatable and seemingly tasty treats. Tablets containing Ibuprofen are EXTREMELY toxic and emergency medical attention will be required. Symptoms include vomiting, loss of co-ordination and balance, stomach ulcers and liver failure.

5. Asthma Inhalers

If your dog bites into an asthma inhaler it will result in life threatening poisoning. When the inhaler is punctured it dispenses a large dose of albuterol into the dog’s mouth and nose. This massive dose causes toxicity by quickly elevating the heart rate to life-threatening levels, drops potassium levels dangerously low and leads to extreme weakness, lack of coordination. If not treated urgently by a veterinarian, death could result.

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Weighty Issues : How Much Should I Be Feeding My Pet?

The label on the bag of pet food provides a guideline on the amount of food recommended for your pet. However that is just a start, as you also need to take into account your pet’s age and activity level. For example pets that are highly active, pregnant or nursing young have higher requirements than the average couch-potato.

Puppies and kittens require food at more frequent intervals than their adult counterparts. They therefore need to be fed three or four times per day, depending on their age. Keep in mind that in winter the energy expenditure of your pets is likely to drop, especially with indoor pets, as they’re less active. This means that you would need to feed slightly less than you would during the summer months to maintain your pet’s current body weight. An outdoor pet however would be burning off more energy just to stay warm, thus requiring a slight increase in food portions.

In the PetPickings.com household we typically feed one-third of the daily ration in the morning, and the remaining two-thirds in the evening. Since pets have a tendency to sleep after meals, this technique works especially well for us as our pets sleep with us, so they are less likely to become restless during the night.

Dividing daily rations into 2 or 3 meals is especially important in dogs, more specifically large dogs (although not exclusively), as it lessens the chances of your dog developing ‘bloat’ / gastric torsion, which is a potentially fatal medical emergency.

Some people can get away with letting the dog decide when and how much she eats by constantly keeping a supply of dry pellets available (free-feeding). In our household however this would never work as Kira (our Jack Russel) would simply eat herself into a diabetic coma. Free feeding also rarely works in a multiple dog household, as it often creates competition and food issues.

Another reason not to free feed is that it becomes difficult to pick up when your pet’s eating pattern changes or appetite drops, which could be an early warning sign of illness.

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Boomie Boy Charlie – Learning The Ropes

Charlie’s first night with us has gone surprisingly well, considering he is only 5 months old, in a new environment with 2 new foster siblings who still aren’t too sure who this stranger is in their midst.

Having a puppy again in the house after so many years is a bit of an adjustment – lots of toilet breaks. Luckily my job is being made easier by Kira and Bruno who are eager to teach their underling a  thing or two, like sitting quietly before their supper is put down and peeing quickly when asked to ‘pee-pee’ so that play-time can ensue. Charlie, being a bright boy, is a quick study and is catching on quickly.

Learning to wait quietly and patiently for supper with foster brother Bruno.

Putting their plates down for supper was a bit of challenge last night, as I had to make it clear to Boomerang Boy Charlie that diving into foster sister Kira’s plate and then foster brother Bruno’s would be potentially life threatening and just plain rude!

What has become clear through the day is that Charlie hasn’t been taught anything during his time with the other family. In fact he doesn’t even know his name. The saddest part is that his reactions tell us that he has been beaten, rather severely and most often by the man of the house. To see a puppy cower and collapse in a quivering heap with a simple verbal reprimand is just gut wrenching. When my husband first witnessed it last night, he scooped Charlie up in his arms and just held him close whilst soothing him. Charlie’s reaction was to nip and mock bite at his hands in initial panic, until he realised that no one was going to hurt him and that he was safe.

We made it through the night with no toilet “accidents” and absolutely no interruptions. Boomerang Boy Charlie slept soundly through the night. The breakfast round this morning went a little easier than the supper round last night. Before I let the cats out, I had Charlie burn off some energy in the garden.

Well rested and full of energy!Kira having fun with her new buddy, but not sharing her tennis ball! Notice our Boomerang Boy Charlie sporting a new collar.Kira still not sharing her tennis ball despite Boomerang Boy Charlie’s cute little dance.Giving up? … or tired?

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Our Foster Pet Blog

My husband and I have been fostering rescued pets on an ongoing basis for over a year now. I had fostered some years ago, but wasn’t able to continue due to my work travel commitments as I worked for a global IT company at the time. Having left the IT industry it made sense to get back into foster mode.

Fostering is an incredibly rewarding and fulfilling experience, that allows us to provide a safe home to abandoned, abused and unloved animals, some of whom have never felt the loving touch of a hand. We offer them a place where their rehabilitation can begin and trust re-established before they move onto their adoptive homes.

Whilst fostering is rewarding it can also be fraught with it’s challenges at times, but there’s always those special moments that makes it all worth while. We thought we’d start sharing our foster stories to shed some light on what it takes to be a foster parent and what exactly happens behind the scenes – the good, the bad and the sometimes challenging!

To read stories / updates on our foster fur-kids, hover your cursor / pointer over on the “Our Foster Pet Blog” tab on the menu bar at the top of the page and select the story you want to read. Enjoy!

 

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Boomerang Boy Charlie’s Arrival Home & Introductions

There is a reason we choose to foster kittens and not dogs. For one, kittens are easy. They can be litter trained in less than a week and as long as they have enough toys and things to amuse themselves with, they can be happily contained in the kitten nursery (one of our spare bedrooms). Another reason is that we have a house full of our own fur-kids:

  1. Kira our dominant female Jack Russell (aka Duracell Bunny)
  2. Bruno our dominant male rescue “Pet Bull” (aka Brunocerous)
  3. Smokey, Elliot, Chewbacca, Sylvester and Sweetpea our five rescue kitties
  4. Fiona, Yoda, Liewe Heksie and Momento our four rescue tortoises
  5. A myriad of Koi fish

Adding a dog to this mix, albeit temporarily, is tricky and requires some vigilance. Despite this, when Charlie’s plight was brought to our attention this week during a time when all of the registered Aniwell foster homes are full, I didn’t hesitate. My thoughts are that we can manage or make a plan, even if it is just for a few nights, until we can find a suitable foster family to take him in.

I first introduced Charlie to Kira and Bruno through the security gate. I knew Kira, being a well socialised Jack Russel, wouldn’t be a problem. Charlie is merely be a new novel toy for her. Bruno on the other hand, as a rescued Pet Bull, doesn’t have the same outlook on life having missed out on those precious puppy socialisation classes. If this isn’t a challenge enough, at 5 months Charlie isn’t yet neutered which I knew Bruno would not take kindly to. What happened next however surprised me. There was no barking, no growling, not even hackling. They all sniffed eachother through the security gate bars and in no time I had them together in the back garden with Bruno in his harness in case I needed to pull him off! Sure enough, Bruno was doing his usual dominant male posturing which Charlie thought was a bit of a game and was submitting to each and every time – a good thing!

This was my update to the rescue organisation today:

“Charlie is gorgeous and settled in at home with us. Even our Pit Bull doesn’t seem too disturbed by him. Charlie’s not used to cats … or anything that moves for that matter, so he’s being introduced slowly to the cats and the tortoises on a lead. Poor thing hasn’t been socialised at all and is frightened of any sound, movement, foreign object and strange people. He has his heart in the right place so I think he’s going to be easy to rehabilitate. He just needs some structure and discipline … and he’s a quick learner.”

After an exhausting day, we are all settled for the night with Charlie loving his new bed kindly supplied by his foster Granny who had it lying around unused. One has to wonder how anyone could return a special little guy like this!

Our exhausted Boomerang Boy Charlie.

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Charlie The Sweetest Dog

After receiving the very disturbing email regarding Charlie’s list of ‘sins’ yesterday, I headed out this morning to rescue him for the second time in his short life. As I was not sure what to expect I took our housekeeper with me – just in case Charlie proved to be totally uncontrollable in the car on the way home. On arrival my heart shattered into what felt like a thousand pieces. What I found was a confused and very frightened puppy who lacks confidence, has been physically abused in the two months he has been with his adoptive family and whose wish list of just 2 items is to understand what is expected of him and to be loved. On the drive home, I felt a wave of relief wash over me knowing that Charlie was not going to be subjected to that man nor his appalling family any longer and my maternal instincts have kicked in to heal his emotional scars.

The drive home

As you probably guessed, the drive home was uneventful although I had a million questions running through my head. How could this happen? How could this be avoided with future adoptions. The rescue organisation has a strict screening process which includes a home check when homing the rescues. I was the one who did Charlie’s home check, which has been weighing heavily on my mind. In rescue work, our biggest fear is having to rescue an animal twice. What did I miss? I missed meeting the husband and the children during the home check. Needless to say the policy has now changed to include meeting the ENTIRE family that will be living with the adopted dog or cat, which will hopefully shed more light and narrow the margin for error.

In the meantime, the introductions into our rather large family are happening!

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Boomerang Boy Charlie Intro

A lengthy email was received by the rescue organisation we volunteer for Aniwell South Africa. The mail was from an irate adopter claiming that the puppy named Charlie he had adopted 2 months previously hasn’t turned out anything like he’d imagined and that he wanted to return him – pronto. Other than not appearing ‘pedigreed’ enough, the list of wrong doings and ‘crimes’ committed by the now 5 month old puppy painted a picture of an uncontrollable and aggressive dog that was putting the man’s children in imminent danger. The mail landed in my inbox in the late afternoon of 26th January and as Charlie had been homed in our neck of the woods, I volunteered to fetch him.

This is his story!

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PetPickings.com “No Kill” Revolution Starts Today!

Nothing happens without leadership. Current media reports indicate that over 10,000 dogs and cats are euthanized in shelters across South Africa each week due to the lack of homes available for them. This equates to 40,000 per month and close on half a million every year. Simply because there aren’t enough homes to adopt them.

The difference between them being dead ... or sleeping ... is YOU!

So what can be done about it? We all need to quit sitting on the fence and thinking that there is nothing we can do to assist homeless dogs and cats, as there is ALWAYS something you can do. Achieving “No Kill” success in our communities depends on individuals willing to take responsibility. This does not mean looking for “someone to do something.” That “someone” is you. You need to make the decision to take the lead and recruit your family, friends, colleagues and acquaintances. Through this blog and our PetPickings.com Facebook Page, we’ll show you how to become a warrior and most importantly a hero in our revolution.

“Individually we are one drop, but collectively we are an ocean.” ~ Ryunosuke Satoro ~

“We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.” ~ Mother Teresa ~

Due to the lack of available accurate and up to date collated statistics in South Africa, PetPickings.com is currently undertaking a study / research project to consolidate up to date information on the animals across shelters in South Africa. Once the study is complete, this information will be published in this blog.

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PetPickings.com Laws To Responsible Pet Ownership

Many people sadly underestimate what is involved in taking proper care of a pet. Being a  responsible pet owner is so much more than just providing adequate water, food and shelter for your pet. In this blog entry we are going to share what we consider to be the 20 “laws” when it comes to being a responsible pet parent.

  1. Owning a pet is a lifetime commitment. If you can’t make the commitment, don’t get the pet. Its really that simple and there are no excuses.
  2. As the saying goes, “Don’t buy a puppy if you don’t want a dog”. Puppies are for life. All puppies grow up and eventually become old, requiring special care in their golden years. The same rule applies to cats and all other pets.
  3. Choose a pet that fits your lifestyle. Don’t get a highly energetic dog, if you don’t have the time to exercise him. He’ll only end up channelling his energy toward ‘creative’ things that you will interpret as destructive and annoying behaviour! eg: digging up the garden, chewing the garden furniture, incessant barking etc …
  4. If you can’t afford regular grooming or can’t do the grooming yourself, pick a low maintenance dog or cat with a short and easy coat to maintain.
  5. Don’t make your pet a “backyard pet” – otherwise why have one? Pets, especially dogs, thrive on companionship and need to be with their human pack. Make them part of your family! It’ll be so rewarding :-)
  6. Spay or neuter your pets. There are thousands of homeless animals who die each year in shelters across the country. You don’t want to add to the problem. Despite the added health benefits of sterilising your pet, believe us when we tell you that your garden wall is no barrier for Fido when discovers his inner Olympic medal athelete in search of his Petunia!
  7. Be aware of weather conditions. NEVER leave your pet in the car as just 6 minutes is all that separates him from life and death. Also, leaving pets in the yard on a hot day without adequate shelter and water is risking their life. The same applies on a very cold day.
  8. Make sure your home is “pet” safe. Pesticides, medications, household cleaners, electrical cables and some houseplants can be deadly to your pet. Keep them all well out of reach. General rule of thumb – if your home is safe for young children, it should be safe for pets – keeping in mind that cats can jump!
  9. Put an identification tag on your pet… it is your pets only ticket back home. Both dogs and cats need identification!! Microchipping is excellent insurance, but an external tag is also essential as it could mean your neighbor returning your pet to you immediately instead of turning him into the pound. A simple collar tag with your personal mobile number is all it takes.
  10. Socialise your puppy at an early age – the sooner the better! Contact your local training school as they will normally have puppy socialisation classes that are safe for your puppy to attend as the first innoculation is always mandatory.
  11. Never let your pets run loose. Dogs should be walked leashes at all times. For the safety of your pet, any outdoor off leash access should be in a secure and preferably fenced area and not before your dog has mastered the recall perfectly.
  12. Unless you live in an incredibly quiet street (with little to no SLOW moving traffic or other threats), keep your cat indoors. An outdoor cat’s average lifespan is only 3 years, yet an indoor cat’s average lifespan is 14 years. In either case always bring them indoors at night time.
  13. Provide your pet with a proper diet with the right nutrition. Obesity can be as deadly as malnutrition. Be aware that some human foods can be deadly, such as chocolate, raisins whilst fatty foods can cause pancreatitis.
  14. Make sure your pets get the proper amount of exercise for their age, breed and personality. It’s a great way for you to spend quality time with them and get active yourself in the process!
  15. Keep your pets safe and out of harms way. Never leave a puppy or dog unattended in a garden where the public can see and gain access to them. Dog napping is on the increase and many dogs have been stolen whilst left alone in back yards.
  16. Always provide veterinary care for your pet when you pet is unwell. Keep their vaccinations up to date and make sure they have at least one annual check-up.
  17. Take extra precautions when you anticipate fireworks or loud thunderstorms. Fireworks and thunderstorms can be the scariest time for pets, so make sure your pets are secure indoors with some distraction like a television or radio.
  18. Be kind to your pet and show him with love how much he means to you … remember you are his whole world.
  19. Take special care of your pet during his senior years. Be kind, attentive and patient.
  20. Be the person your pet thinks you are!

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Pet Safety At Home Over The Holiday Period Part 4 – Visitors

This is a challenge not everyone faces as some pets love visitors and behave very well when visitors are around. If this is the case, then you’re in the fortunate position of only having to worry about your visitors behaviour and not your pets! Other pets however may be fearful, aggressive or be so full of holiday cheer that they become over-exuberant and just about obliterate your guests. You know your dogs best, so plan accordingly.

If your dog is a rescue with a background of abuse, it may be best to prepare a quiet room, away from the commotion with his blanket, favourite toys, water and food available. This should make him feel safe and less fearful of the onslaught of guests.

If you have exuberant dogs, on the other hand, you may want to do a refresher course on obedience before the holidays which will help keep them calm, more in control and less excitable. It’s always a good idea to take them for a walk before the guests arrive so that they expend most of their energy on the walk and not in flattening your guests. Its important however to let your visitors know of any household rules regarding your pets, like not leaving gates open, being aware of them sneaking out, not allowing them to jump on the couch and not feeding them from the table, not feeding them at all. We have a rather interesting one at our house – not leaving the toilet seat cover up. Our Bruno has a disgusting habit of drinking from the toilet … delightful! Defining the house rules with guests is particularly important if they are going to be staying at your home for a few days.

If you’re planing to spring clean the house in preparation for the guests arriving, be aware that certain cleaning products and disinfectants may be toxic for your pets. Be particularly aware of what you use to clean the floor in the kitchen and dining areas, as accidental spills will be temping for your dogs and cats to lick up.

With all of the festivities, guests and general chaos that surrounds the holiday season don’t forget to relax and spend some quality time with your pets. They will think that is the best gift of all!

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