by Lindsay High, Director of Marketing, Humane Pennsylvania

Each year many of us celebrate Independence Day with friends and family; enjoying barbeques and lively firework shows. However, these traditions can frighten and at times be dangerous to your pets. Follow these useful tips to keep your pets safe during the festive summer holiday.

NEVER Use Fireworks around Pets

  • Lit fireworks can be extremely dangerous to pets. Sparks from the fireworks can cause severe burns and/or trauma to face, paws, and skin.
    o Never use fireworks around your pets as many types contain potentially toxic substances, including potassium nitrate, arsenic and other heavy metals.

Leave Pets at Home

  • While most humans enjoy summer parties, most pets do not. Loud noises, crowded areas, and unfamiliar settings, can frighten pets and cause them to become stressed and disoriented.
    o For your pet’s safety, refrain from taking them to Fourth of July festivities, instead leave them at home, away from direct noises, in their own environment in which they feel safe.

Keep ID Current

  • Loud noises from fireworks and other festivities may scare your pet and cause them to escape from your yard or home, if they are not safely enclosed. Be sure your pet is always wearing a collar with an ID tag that includes; your name, current phone number and any other relevant contact information.
    o July 1 is National ID Your Pet Day, which serves as an annual check-in to make sure your pets’ identification tags and microchip information is up to date. Have your pet microchipped to increase the likelihood that they will be returned to you safely if a separation were to occur.
    o Visit HumanePA.org to learn more about our Healthy Pets Initiative, which provides microchip services to keep pets safe and happy in their homes.

Avoid These Poison Hazards

Create Barbeque Boundaries

  • Barbeques are a lot of fun, full of delicious foods and drinks…for humans. However, some of these items can be deadly to your pets. Be sure your pets can not get in to any alcoholic beverages. Also keep in mind that many human foods are not meant for pets, pet treats are always better to give your pets than human food, as human foods can cause severe digestive issues for pets.
    o Be sure to avoid avocado, raisins, grapes, onions, chocolate and products with the sweetener xylitol.

No Glow Jewelry for Pets

While it might look cute to put glow jewelry or glow sticks on your pets, the plastic and chemicals inside the tube are hazardous to pets if ingested.
o If your pet chews and/or swallows the plastic attachments or chemicals, they can be at risk for excessive drooling and gastrointestinal irritation, as well as intestinal blockage from swallowing large pieces of the plastic.

Safely Store Matches and Lighter Fluid

  • Certain types of matches contain chlorates, which, if ingested, can be hazardous to pets. Lighter fluid, meanwhile, can be irritating to your pet’s skin, and, if swallowed, can cause gastrointestinal irritation, and other issues.
    o Be sure to store all matches and lighter fluid in a safe place where pets cannot access the items by jumping or climbing.

If your pet ingest a poisonous substance, like the ones listed above, contact your veterinarian or the Pet Poison Helpline (800-213-6680) immediately. Do not induce vomiting or give anything orally to your pet unless specifically directed to do so by your veterinarian.

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by Dr. Misha Neumann, Humane Veterinary Hospitals Lancaster

There are a lot of buzzwords when it comes to pet food and it can be confusing to anyone wanting to feed their pet the best diet. Here are a few words and phrases commonly seen on food labels and what they actually mean.

Holistic

We think that holistic means all natural, organic, grain free. There is actually no legal definition for this word under the pet food laws. This means that anyone can claim their food is holistic.

Natural

We think of this as being free of chemicals, free range livestock, antibiotic free meat sources, and ingredients found in the environment. When “natural” is written on a pet food label, it actually means that the ingredients have not been chemically made. Natural does NOT mean that the food is organic.

Organic

Words that come to mind with this word include pesticide free, locally sourced, all natural, antibiotic free, etc. In order for a food to be certified organic, as in carrying the USDA’s organic seal, 95% of the food content must be organic by weight. This means that the product must be grown using animal or vegetable fertilizers (bone meal, manure, compost).

Dinner, Platter, Entrée, Formula

When you see these words on the bag or can, it means that only 25% of the main ingredient (chicken dinner, beef entrée, seafood platter) is included.

With

If a label says it is made with an ingredient, it means that only 3% of that ingredient needs to be included in the recipe.

Flavor

This incredibly vague term just means that a flavor must be recognized by the pet.

By Products

Most people think that by products are inedible parts of the animal (beaks, feet, feathers, etc.). By products may actually be the best ingredients to feed pets! They are parts of the animals that are typically thrown away when making human food, but include organ meats like liver, fats, and vegetable oils. Feeding by products is actually an environmentally friendly way to provide pets with good nutrition.

This food is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the Association Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) means that the food has no documented effects on animals. The food was not actually tested for digestibility.

The pet food aisle is a confusing place to navigate, and I hope this article helps bust the myths of common words on pet food labels. In general, make sure that the food does have the AAFCO label on it because it has undergone some regulation. You really want it to say that the food underwent a feeding trial because it means that an animal has actually eaten it and the effects of the food were studied.

To learn more about pet nutrition, please contact us and we’d be happy to provide more insights.

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by Leann Quire, Director of Shelter Operations, Humane Pennsylvania

June is Adopt-A-Shelter-Cat month!

Not only is June a great time to celebrate cat adoptions because, well, cats are amazing, but also because kitten season has officially commenced. Kitten season means shelters are overflowing with cats and kittens who need help.

Let’s discuss why cats are simply purrfect creatures, and end with some ways you can support your local shelter during this busy feline time.

What is not to love about cats?

Most people see a kitten and will melt on the spot. Adult cats will charm you with their unique personalities, whether they are goofy and loving or confident and independent. But, if you aren’t someone who is automatically impressed by the feline species and you need further convincing as to why cats are so wonderful, here are some reasons cats can make your life immensely better.

  • A huge advantage to having a cat is that you don’t need to go outside when it is hot, cold, raining, or snowing just so they can relieve themselves.
  • They can use the litterbox on their own and generally require little to no training to use the litterbox. No soggy slippers trying to do a late night bathroom break in a thunderstorm for these creatures.
  • They don’t need fancy toys to be happy and are very resourceful. Order a super cool treat feeder online and put the toy and box it came in on the floor and see which one your cat is more interested in. Most cats enjoy a good box to climb into for playtime or a snooze. That pen you dropped (or they knocked off the table) will become their new favorite toy to bat around, which means it will end up under the couch with the rest of the fun “toys” your cat discovered. This doesn’t mean your cat won’t love those silly mice filled with cat nip, but you will enjoy seeing the things you didn’t intend for them to play with become their new obsessions. You can provide you cat lots of fun for relatively low-cost. Three words, ping pong balls.
  • Your health can improve. When people envision therapy animals they generally think of dogs first, but cats can also be fantastic healers and increase mental and physical benefits. From lowering blood pressure to relieving the feelings of loneliness or depression, cats can make you feel better!
  • Many cats are natural hunters, even if they never set foot outside. Rodent or bug problem? Your feline may be able to help with that whether they catch them for you or simply let you know you have a pest problem and might need to contact a professional pest control company. While a natural hunter can be great to keep the pests at bay, remember that all cats are individuals and I know many cats who would prefer their midday catnap to a game of catch the mouse.
  • We all know laughter is one of the great joys in life. Cats absolutely bring more laughter into your home. From smelling your face (cats are curious little things), fitting in the smallest of spaces (I will never understand how my cat fits in my shoes), to making odd chirping noises, cats are weird and wonderful all at the same time. They provide regular amusement that brightens our day.

Maybe you absolutely can’t adopt right now because of medical reasons, landlord policies, or roommates. There are other things you can do to support Adopt-A-Shelter-Cat Month.

You can donate so that your local shelter can continue to buy the resources needed to care for cats during their stay in the shelter. Fostering is a lifesaving effort and is a great way to help socialize young kittens to become more adoptable when they return to the shelter. We are always looking for fosters, so if you are interested please contact our Lifesaving Programs Coordinator, Tawny Kissinger.

Donate supplies or your time. This time of year we are always in need of cat litter, wet cat food, and kitten formula. You can find a full version of our wish list items here on our website.

There are so many ways you can help. If you are already the wonderful adopter of a cat from a shelter, thank you! This month is to celebrate you and what you did to save a cat from the shelter and give him or her the home they deserve.

Basically, cats are fascinating creatures who believe they are tiny, wild, lions that rule the home. They make you laugh and make you feel like you have a purpose in caring for another life (you will never feel more popular than when you shake a cat treat bag).

They come in all shapes, sizes, and personalities. So, visit us today and find out for yourself why the Ancient Egyptians worshipped cats.

*Also, it only seemed fitting to dedicate this to one of the most famous felines who passed away last month. RIP Grumpy Cat. This one goes out to you.

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by Lindsay High, Director of Marketing, Humane Pennsylvania

As sweltering summer temps continue, your pets face increased risks and potential health related issues associated with managing the heat. Keep your pets cool and safe during the summer months with these useful tips.

Pet Check

  • During the summer, many pets…and people spend more time outdoors. Schedule a check-up appointment with your vet prior to the dog days of summer to ensure your pets have a comprehensive protection plan to help safeguard against increased risks of exposure to fleas, ticks, and heartworm. Our caring veterinarians would be happy to help get your pet summer ready! Visit hvhospitals.org to learn more about our veterinary services.o These are year-round issues but in the summer months, with much more outdoor time, it’s especially important to monitor them. When temperatures rise above 90 degrees, pets can become more susceptible to heat related risks, such as overheating. When pets are outdoors, be sure to provide adequate shade and fresh water. During sweltering days, its best to limit the time your pets spend outdoors, including reducing the duration of daily walks.

DO NOT Leave Your Pets in the Car

  • On warm summer days, it only takes a few minutes for the inside of a vehicle to reach dangerously high temperatures. The result of which could lead to a fatal heatstroke for your pet. Never, ever leave your pets in the vehicle on a warm summer day, it’s the law.o This new law raises awareness of the dangers of leaving pets in parked cars and empowers law enforcement to make decisions on behalf of an animal’s welfare by:
    Allowing a police office, humane officer, animal control officer or other public safety professionals to remove a dog or cat from an unattended motor vehicle if they believe the dog or cat is in imminent danger or harm after a reasonable search for the operator of the vehicle.
    Protecting a police officer, humane officer, or public safety professional who removes a dog or cat from an unattended vehicle from liability for any damages.
    Requiring that an officer who removes a dog or cat from an unattended vehicle must leave a conspicuous note for the owner stating the officer’s information and the information for where to pick up the pet.
    Updating the definition of neglect, prohibiting the confinement of a dog or cat in an unattended motor vehicle in a manner that would endanger the health and well-being of the animal.
    PA House Bill 1216, the Motor Vehicle Extreme Heat Protection Act, Hot Car Law

Hydration is Key

  • When it’s hot and sticky outside, pets are more susceptible to becoming dehydrated. Be sure to give them plenty of clean, fresh water.o Also, when your pets are outdoors, make sure they have a shady spot to seek refuge from sun’s glaring rays. This will help them stay cool and comfortable all summer long.

Keep an Eye on their Paws

  • As the summer sun beats down, common surfaces such asphalt or metal can become extremely hot. Be mindful of these surfaces and keep your pets off them during peak day time hours of 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM.o Exposure to these hot surfaces, including hot asphalt and truck beds, can burn your pet’s paws. Exposure may also increase their body temperature, which could lead to overheating. For added protection, shorten walks to prevent overheating and plan them for off-peak times of the day, such as early morning or evenings when asphalt is cooler.

Barbeque Boundaries

  • Barbeques are a lot of fun, full of delicious foods and drinks…for humans. However, some of these items can be deadly to your pets. Be sure your pets can not get in to any alcoholic beverages and human snacks are not pet treats. They can cause severe digestive issues for pets.o Be sure to avoid avocado, raisins, grapes, onions, chocolate and products with the sweetener xylitol.
    o If your pet ingest a poisonous substance, contact your veterinarian or the Pet Poison Helpline (800-213-6680) immediately. Do not induce vomiting or give anything orally to your pet unless specifically directed to do so by your veterinarian.

Window Safety

  • Cats love windowsills, it’s an ideal place to perch and observe their surroundings. Keep your cats safe by making sure that window screens are securely placed in each window in our home.o When your windows are open, the screen will help keep cats’ safe inside and ensure they don’t fall out of the window.
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