Barbara Royal, DMV, CVA, founder/owner of The Royal Treatment Veterinary Center, shares her tips on how to best take care of our furry friends this winter.
Family vacationing this holiday? Well if you plan to bring your dog make sure it’s up to date on all necessary vaccines. “They’ll need to get a health certificate, particularly when traveling by air,” explains Dr. Royal. The health certificate shows that your pet is healthy enough to travel, has no diseases that could be passed onto people or other animals and that they have the required vaccines. After a visit with your vet you should be good to go. “Now they only check health certificate about 50 percent of the time, but they’re supposed to check them all the time. The day they check it, and you don’t have it is the day you don’t fly.”
“When traveling by car, it’s important to make sure your pet is safe,” says Dr. Royal. “You want them to have a place where they’re comfortable and they’re not likely to get out of it and jump on your lap while you’re driving.” Whether you’re just out of town, or across state lines, getting a carrier or crate for your pet is important to protect your pet from falling at a sudden stop.
If you’d rather enjoy some time away from your dog, kenneling is a good option. Be careful though, because not all kennels have the same standards. “You really just have to go to the kennel,” says Dr. Royal. “I’d always make sure that an owner not only goes to the outside lobby where people drop off their pets, but ask for a tour of the kennel, an impromptu tour, where you can just go in a take a look.” What should you look out for? “Smell is number one; the smell is so important for a dog,” she affirms. “If the kennel smells bad, it’s a disaster! Make sure it doesn’t smell like something foul where you feel like you need to get out of there.” Kenneling can be great for dogs, but not all animals. “I’m not a big fan of kenneling cats. If you can avoid putting your cat in a kennel I would, have someone look after it from your home instead.”
Kennel cough. Everyone’s heard about it, but what is it really? “Kennel cough is just a cold basically,” explains Dr. Royal. “It’s a bad cold that causes a cough, it’s really a combination of different bacteria and it’s different every year, so we don’t really what’s going to be the trigger.” If your dog does get kennel cough, be sure to keep an eye on it. “The biggest problem is if it turns into pneumonia, then it can become relatively serious.”
Also keep your pets in mind when putting up holiday decorations. “For cats, the first thing I always think of is tinsel,” cautions Dr. Royal. “In emergency medicine, we’ve probably removed several trees worth of tinsel from cats.” Other dangers include candles, fun looking Christmas decorations and most commonly, presents left under the tree. “When people leave gifts under the tree, if it’s something like chocolate that can be dangerous. Before you leave anything under the tree, ask the giver if there is any food in there that the animal is going to want to go for.”
We aren’t the only ones who suffer from the winter chill; our pets do too! “If it’s cold on our skin, it’s certainly going to be cold on theirs, so you can certainly put coats on them.,” shares Dr. Royal. Living in the city, salt is also a big issue. “We have a lot of salt in the city, and putting booties on them or using musher’s wax to protect their feet from the salt is a really great idea. Also remembering to rinse their feet when they come in so they don’t get salt stuck there.”
Here’s to a picture paw-fect holiday season!
By Ella Huner