Safety

ID tag hanging from a dog's collar

Could We See Some ID?

More than 90% of lost pets who make it back home get there because of ID tags, microchips or other identification like tattoos. In observance of National Pet ID Week—April 17-23—we outline multiple ways to identify your pet.

Photographs

Have a photography session featuring your pet, taking care to capture multiple views and distinctive markings that would help a stranger recognize your pet. If you regularly have your dog’s coat trimmed, shoot photos showing how he or she looks with varying coat lengths. Include yourself in some of the photos in case you need to establish that the pet belongs to you.

Collar Tags

Keep a collar on your pet with identification tags attached at all times. Even indoor pets can easily slip through an open door or window and get lost outside. 

You may choose standard tags bearing the pet’s name and your name, address and phone number. These provide the most easily-accessible contact information to anyone who finds your lost pet. Search online for “pet ID tags” to see a full selection.

A digital tag with a quick-response (QR) code is a relatively new, surprisingly inexpensive pet ID option that allows you—usually at no additional cost—to register multiple contacts and detailed information about your pet, including photographs and medical data. If someone finds your pet, they can scan the QR code with a smart phone to access all your pet’s information. An online search for “digital pet id tags” will generate multiple options.

Most lost pets with an up-to-date ID tag are returned home within a few hours.

GPS Tracking Collars

A number of Global Positioning System (GPS) tracking collars and tags are now available to allow you to track your pet’s location using your cell phone.

This comprehensive article from PC Magazine, “The Best Pet Trackers and GPS Dog Collars for 2024” identifies, ranks and reviews a half-dozen products, weighing pros and cons of each and offering a buying guide to help you choose the best one for your pet. 

Microchips

In addition to external collar tags, we recommend having us implant a microchip to identify your pet even if its collar falls off or is removed. Nearly all shelters and veterinary hospitals—including ours—have scanners that can detect and read the microchip’s registration number. Assuming you’ve registered and kept your contact information up-to-date, a microchip can improve the likelihood your pet will make it back home by 50%.

How We Can Help

If you pet hasn’t yet had a microchip implanted, call the office to schedule an appointment. If your pet is scheduled for any procedure requiring anesthesia, such as neutering or a dental cleaning, you may prefer to have the chip implanted then. 

If your pet already has a microchip, we can scan for it during your next clinic visit to make sure it’s still in place and readable. 

Could We See Some ID? Read More »

Dog licking a cat

Pet First Aid Basics

April is National Pet First Aid Awareness Month. In observance, we’re sharing our suggestions for steps you can take to prepare for, respond to and, best of all, avoid a medical emergency. 

We’ve put together a collection of links you can use as a self-study course on pet first-aid basics. If you read—even just skim—the resources we recommend, you’ll know some preventive measures to take as well as what to do—and what not to do—in common emergency situations. 

First Steps to First Aid Preparedness

Our first recommendation is for all in your household with mobile phones to add Brownsburg Animal Clinic, the Pet Poison Helpline and your choice of area emergency clinics to your stored contacts lists. You can find the contact information you need in the right sidebar on every page of our website, ready for you to transfer to your phones.

Next, we suggest you put together a first aid kit for your pet(s). We like the ASPCA’s recommended list of kit contents.

The Red Cross offers a more comprehensive list as a downloadable PDF, ready to print and use as a shopping list.

We suggest you keep the first aid supplies you assemble in a portable container you can take with you when traveling with your pet. 

If you prefer, you can shop online for a pre-assembled pet first aid kit. 

Preventive Strategies

The best first aid preparation of all is to take steps immediately to avoid needing to administer it! You can take precautions now to prevent illnesses and accidents by making your pet’s environment safe and cultivating good safety habits to keep your pet out of danger.

For ideas on how to protect your pet’s health and safety, we recommend reading and heeding these articles:

See our recent blog post, “Keeping Your Pet Safe from Poisons” to find out which foods, plants, household products and drugs are potentially toxic to pets and make sure they’re all out of your pet’s reach. 

Pet First Aid 101

Ideally, as a loving and responsible pet owner, you’re willing to learn the basics of pet first aid so, in case of an emergency, you will have some idea of how best to respond.

To help you get started learning about pet first aid, we recommend reading “First aid tips for pet owners” from the American Veterinary Medical Association website. The tips page offers a pet first aid overview, with links to more detailed articles. 

Another pet first aid resource we like is from VeterinaryPartner, “Introduction: First Aid.” This comprehensive guide was written by four veterinarians and originally published in 1994, but all 35 of the linked-to pages have been reviewed and revised as needed between 2017 and 2022. 

By systematically reading each of the articles on the AVMA website and the full VeterinaryPartners guide, you’ll have effectively completed a comprehensive home-study course in pet first aid. We hope you’ll plan the occasional refresher course as needed.

Get Professional Help

Your improved ability to recognize an emerging medical crisis, coupled with your basic knowledge of pet first aid techniques, can make the difference between life and death for your pet. 

But keep in mind, it’s called first aid for a reason. Professional veterinary care beyond what you can provide may be needed. 

In the event of a medical emergency, your pet will have the best chances of survival if you seek professional help as soon as possible. 

Even if your efforts at rendering first aid appear to have worked and your pet seems to feel better, it’s still a good idea to consult with a veterinary professional to determine what additional steps, if any, you need to take.

In the event of a medical emergency for your pet, as soon as you are able, we suggest you use those clinic and helpline numbers stored in your phone to call for any professional help you may need.

Pet First Aid Basics Read More »

Canine Athlete

Caring for Your Canine Athlete

The field of sports medicine for people has grown a lot in the past few years, and within veterinary medicine, sports medicine for dogs isn’t far behind. Of course, it makes sense. As people adopt more active lifestyles, they enjoy involving their dogs in activities, too.

Most dogs are more than willing to run and play until they drop. A lot of times, their owners don’t realize inactive or out-of-shape dogs can over-train or hurt themselves just as human “weekend athletes” do.

Major differences in canine and human physiology make dogs more vulnerable to overheating than humans. Dogs don’t tolerate heat as well as people. Instead of sweating, they pant. When the air outside is hot, the panting doesn’t help them cool down as much, so they may be at risk for a heat stroke in situations that wouldn’t normally cause a person to overheat. Most people think if they’re OK in the heat, the dog is OK, too. But that’s not always the case.

Of course, we want our clients to have fun with their dogs. Walking or running and playing together are great for the dog and the owner. We just want people to ask themselves a few key questions before they get into any heavy exercise program with their dog—particularly in hot weather.

Is your dog in condition? Like people, dogs need conditioning to build muscles and cardiovascular fitness before walking or running long distances. If you want your dog to go with you on long-distance walks or runs, start with short distances and increase distance gradually.

Is your dog old enough for running? It takes 12 to 24 months, depending on the breed, for a young dog’s skeletal system to mature. Your veterinarian can advise you about your breed. Until then, limit running, jumping and other strenuous exercise.

Does your dog have hip dysplasia? Hip dysplasia is a common orthopedic problem in dogs, especially in the larger breeds. If you have a breed that’s prone to hip dysplasia, or if your dog seems to have trouble getting up and moving around, you need to avoid strenuous exercise until your veterinarian X-rays your dog’s hips.

How’s your dog’s cardiovascular system? Any kind of aerobic exercise works the cardiovascular system. Before you get into a strenuous exercise program with your dog—especially if it’s an older dog—you should have a veterinarian check for heart defects or disease.

Is your dog obese? It’s a great idea for overweight dogs to get exercise, but you should start slowly and build up levels of exertion gradually. To tell if your dog is overweight, you should be able to feel, but not see your dog’s ribs.

Does your dog have access to fresh water? Water is necessary for proper muscle function and flushes out waste products without damaging the kidneys. Water helps keep a dog cool, too. We suggest taking along a water bottle or canteen when exercising with your pet.

Do you know the symptoms of heat stroke? Dogs do not tolerate heat as well as humans. Hot weather can be deadly to dogs if they overheat enough to have a heat stroke. If your dog pants incessantly, feels hot to the touch and has pale or blue gums, you must cool him down immediately. Douse him with cool water and get him to a veterinarian at once. Some breeds are more vulnerable to heat stroke than others. Any dog with a pushed-in face, like a Boston terrier, a bulldog, a pug or a Pekingese, is usually more likely to have serious problems with heat than a breed with a longer muzzle.

The veterinarians at Brownsburg Animal Clinic agree the benefits of exercise for dogs far outweigh the risks, provided owners take the recommended precautions. We don’t want to scare anybody, and we certainly don’t want to discourage people from exercising and playing with their dogs. We just want to be sure dog owners are aware of possible problems before they happen.

Caring for Your Canine Athlete Read More »

Skull and crossbones with Danger Poison warning

Keeping Your Pet Safe From Poisons

March is National Pet Poison Prevention Month. 

To research and provide you with information to help you keep your pet safe from poisons, we’ve turned primarily to the Pet Poison Helpline and the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center—both offering emergency telephone consultations to pet owners and veterinarians around the clock, 365 days a year. 

We’ve selected lists from both call centers of the most commonly-reported toxins—including human medicines, foods, plants and household products—and the most deadly ones, with links to the source materials to guide you directly to much more detailed information.

We conclude with a “More Resources” section below, in which we recommend specific sections from both organizations’ websites for even more detailed information about all sorts of foods, drugs, plants, household supplies and other toxins known to harm pets. 

We’ve also highlighted some articles from the American Veterinary Medical Association. 

Has Your Pet Been Poisoned?

If you are reading this post because you believe your dog or cat has just eaten or been exposed to something poisonous, before you do anything else, call our clinic during office hours at (317) 852-3323 or call the Pet Poison helpline at (855) 764-7661 or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 right now and follow a veterinarian’s instructions for administering first aid and seeking further treatment.

If you know or suspect your cat or dog has eaten something toxic, call immediately! Your pet’s best chances for survival could very well depend on how quickly you get help.

If possible, have on hand a sample of the poisonous substance and the packaging it came in. The ingredients listed on the label may well determine the next best treatment steps.

To learn what to do in case of a possible poisoning, visit the Pet Poison Helpline’s Emergency Instructions page where you’ll find advice on what to do and, just as important, what not to do.

Despite what you may have heard about home remedies—giving your pet milk, salt, oil or hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting—don’t do anything before you speak with a veterinarian. Depending on the toxin, you could make matters much worse.

Most Commonly-Reported Toxins

In its 2023 Annual Report Card infographic, the Pet Poison Helpline named these “Top Ten Toxins of 2023:”

  • Chocolate
  • Grapes and raisins
  • Ibuprofen
  • Bromethalin (Rat Poison)
  • Xylitol
  • Marijuana
  • Onions
  • Anticoagulant Rat Poison
  • Vitamin D3
  • Carprofen

The ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center listed these most-commonly reported toxins during  2022:

  • Over-the-Counter Medications
  • Foods for Humans
  • Prescription Drugs for Humans
  • Chocolate
  • Bouquets and Plants
  • Household Toxicants
  • Veterinary Products
  • Rodenticide
  • Insecticide
  • Recreational Drugs

To see an annotated list of the above toxins, along with an infographic, visit the ASPCA website.  

In years past, the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center has released updated lists in March, so look for the 2023 list to appear on the website in the coming weeks.

Based on a list from the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center, the American Veterinary Medical Association posted “10 poison pills for pets” on its website—an annotated list of over-the-counter and prescription drugs for humans most commonly generating calls to the Center. The drugs are, in order of report frequency:

  • Ibuprofen (Advil®, Motrin®)
  • Tramadol (Ultram®)
  • Alprazolam (Xanax®)
  • Adderall®
  • Zolpidem (Ambien®)
  • Clonazepam (Klonopin®)
  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol®)
  • Naproxen (Aleve®, Naprosyn®)
  • Duloxetine (Cymbalta®)
  • Venlafaxine (Effexor®)

If you keep any of these drugs in your household, we encourage you to read the entire article, including details on each drug and a list of safety tips to protect your pet from being poisoned by over-the-counter and prescription medicines.

The AVMA lists these “7 Foods to Avoid Feeding Your Dog or Cat:

  • Xylitol-Containing Products (like sugar-free candy and gum)
  • Chocolate
  • Onions
  • Grapes and Raisins
  • Fatty and Fried Foods
  • Macadamia Nuts
  • Avocados

Here’s an alphabetized list from the ASPCA of “People Foods To Avoid Feeding Your Pets:”

  • Alcohol
  • Avocado
  • Chocolate, Coffee and Caffeine
  • Citrus
  • Coconut and Coconut Oil
  • Grapes and Raisins
  • Macadamia Nuts
  • Milk and Dairy Products
  • Nuts
  • Onions, Garlic and Chives
  • Raw or Undercooked Meat, Eggs and Bones
  • Salt and Salty Snack Foods
  • Xylitol
  • Yeast Dough

See the article for details about the potential dangers of each food and beverage category to your pet.

The Pet Poison Helpline lists these as the 10 most commonly-reported toxic plants from 2017 through 2022:

  • Asiatic Lily, Easter Lily, Tiger Lily, etc.
  • Pothos/Devil’s Ivy
  • Sago/Cycad Palm
  • Tulips
  • Peace Lily
  • Azaleas
  • Aloe
  • Day Lily
  • Hydrangea
  • Philodendron

The Deadliest Pet Toxins

In October 2022, the ASPCA listed these as the 10 deadliest pet toxins:

  1. 5-Fluorouracil, a prescription ointment or lotion used to treat skin cancer in humans
  2. Amphetamines, most often prescribed for weight loss or ADHD treatment
  3. Baclofen, a prescription muscle relaxer for humans
  4. Calcium Channel Blockers, prescribed to treat high blood pressure
  5. Lamotrigine, a drug prescribed to prevent or reduce the severity of seizures
  6. 5-Hydroxytryptophan, or 5-HTP, an over-the-counter supplement often used for sleep or mood moderation.
  7. Hops, used by home beer brewers
  8. Metaldehyde, the active ingredient in some slug and snail baits
  9. Blue-Green Algae, found in some lakes, ponds and rivers
  10. Methomyl, found in some fly baits

Visit the posted list for more details.

More Resources

Overall, for the most authoritative, detailed, pet-owner-friendly information on pet poisons, we recommend the Pet Poison Helpline and the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center websites.

The Helpline’s comprehensive “Poisons” section can be filtered by the type of poison, with links to detailed information of each toxin and its impact on pets.

In its “Owners” section, the Helpline website offers brief videos and safety tips for pet owners. 

The “Vets” section has continuing education information for veterinary professionals as well as links to conference handouts and a collection of infographics you can see and download for free.

In the “Toxin Tails” section, Pet Poison Helpline features a case each month of a pet successfully treated for poisoning. 

See the “Toxin Trends” section for a color-coded interactive map of the United States showing the origin of calls for the 30 most commonly reported plants, along with charts showing the most frequently reported clinical signs and call frequency by month. 

The Helpline’s blog has numerous posts focused on specific types of hazards, with category filters to help pet owners and veterinarians find the most relevant content.

You can sign up for the Pet Poison Helpline’s free emailed newsletter just above the footer on most pages of their website.

The ASPCA Animal Poison Control website offers a lengthy, searchable directory of toxic plants, by both common and scientific names, that can be filtered for dogs, cats or horses. Click on any plant name to see a photograph and details about the plant and its toxic properties.

In its “Poisonous Household Products” article, the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center evaluates multiple potentially harmful household products, medicines and cosmetics, indicating the potential risks of toxicity associated with each.

Household Hazards,” from the American Veterinary Medical Association website offers a detailed round-up of potential toxins organized by the area of the house and yard where they might be found. There’s also a section on holiday hazards.

Finally, see our blog post, “Protect Your Dog From Xylitol Poisoning.”

Keeping Your Pet Safe From Poisons Read More »

Dog looking over the back seat of an SUV

Safe Travels With Your Pet

January 2 is National Pet Travel Safety Day, created to promote safe travels for your pet today and throughout the year.  

We researched the topic and found so much good advice that we decided to link to seven web pages we recommend. See our notes to determine which sites are most relevant to your travel plans with your pet.

The Humane Society of the United States provides a page of pointers for safe travel for cats and dogs by car, airplane, ship or train. The section on air travel is especially detailed.

While The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals® (ASPCA®) discourages air travel with pets too large to fit under your seat in the cabin, their website does offer safety tips if you must fly your pet in the cargo area. There is also a section on traveling with your pet by car. 

As the title suggests, “The Complete Guide to Traveling With Your Dog” on the American Kennel Club website covers multiple aspects of travel with your dog, including tips for staying in a motel with your canine travel companion.

The American Red Cross website offers advice for traveling with your pet by car and by air, with a link to a page on how to prepare an emergency kit for your pet.

The Centers for Disease Control website has a page dedicated to keeping your pet safe during travel by car and by plane. There is also good advice on keeping your pet safe and healthy once you arrive at your destination. 

WebMD’s Fetch site offers “Car Travel With Pets: 10 Tips for Safety and Security,” with additional notes on travel by plane, train and boat. 

On the Center for Pet Safety website, you’ll find a page summarizing general travel tips as well as specifics for traveling by auto and plane and for staying with your pet in a hotel.

Our Advice

Travel safely every time. Many of the recommended safety precautions are useful for in-town errands and day trips as well as more extended vacation travel. 

Keep your pet inside the car or the cab of your truck. We noticed among the illustrations for these web pages a couple of photographs of dogs with their heads sticking out of car windows—a practice we advise against.

Consider leaving your pet at home. As much as you’d enjoy your pet’s company during your trip, your pet may be happier and less stressed at home with a pet sitter. Our veterinarians can help you determine if your pet’s temperament and general health are suited to travel.

Safe Travels With Your Pet Read More »

Dog with snow on its face

Keeping Your Pet Safe in Cold Weather

The coldest month of the year in Brownsburg is January, with an average low of 22°F and high of 36°F. 

To help you keep your pet safe when the temperatures drop, we’re linking to six of the best web pages we’ve found on the topic of cold weather safety for pets. We encourage you to visit the pages most relevant to your pet’s needs.

See “Cold Weather Safety Tips” from The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals® (ASPCA®) for a range of suggestions, including several on coat, skin and paw care.

Cold Weather Animal Safety” from the American Veterinary Medical Association has a number of thoughtful pointers to help cat and dog owners keep their pets safe in cold weather. This page has tips for keeping livestock safe, too.

The Humane Society of the United States lists “Five ways to protect pets in winter,” including advice on protecting horses and community cats.

There’s also an article on the Humane Society website, “How to care for outdoor cats in winter,” with more detailed advice on caring for neighborhood feral and stray cats in cold weather.

Here are “8 Ways to Keep Your Dog Warm” from the American Kennel Club.

From the Animal Humane Society website, “Keeping pets safe in cold weather” covers safety for indoor and outdoor pets, lists signs of hypothermia and advises against taking your pet with you when running errands in your car during cold weather.

Cold Weather Questions?

The Brownsburg Animal Clinic team has answers!

Call us at (317) 852-3323 to ask for advice on caring for your pet in cold weather and if needed, to schedule an appointment. If you’re not sure if you should bring your pet in, call anyway and we will help you decide.

Keeping Your Pet Safe in Cold Weather Read More »

Dog looking through glass from outside at cat indoors

National Pet Suffocation Awareness Week

The photographs are heartbreaking, showing so many adorable and obviously adored pets—mostly dogs—who suffocated after getting their heads stuck in snack bags, cereal bags and other types of food bags and containers.

The week after Thanksgiving is National Pet Suffocation Awareness Week. 

In doing our part to make you aware of this often unrecognized and frighteningly common hazard, we visited several websites where we saw the many pictures of pets lost to suffocation. If you click some of the links in this post and browse the pages, you’ll see them, too.

We also found some sadly disturbing facts we want to bring to your attention so you’ll realize just how deadly snack and food bags can be.

Fortunately, once you’re aware of the danger, there are a number of relatively easy steps you can take to reduce the suffocation risks to your own cherished pet. 

After reading this post and making the suggested safety precautions a habit, you can join us in spreading the word among your family, friends and co-workers about the dangers of pet suffocation and how to mitigate them.

Documenting the Danger

According to Dr. Jason Nicholas, president and chief medical officer at Preventive Vet

  • A reported two to three pets die in the U.S. each week from suffocating in chip and other snack bags. We don’t know how many additional suffocation deaths go unreported and uncounted.
  • Many pet owners whose dogs suffocated in snack and food bags were gone from the house for only 20 to 30 minutes.
  • It can take as little as three to five minutes for a pet to suffocate in a snack or food bag.

Preventive Vet goes on to rank the greatest suffocation hazards to pets.

  • 68% are snack or chip bags
  • 6% are cereal bags
  • 6% are pet food bags
  • 5% are pet treat bags

Bread bags, cheese bags and hard plastic and cardboard containers are other common suffocation hazards.

Pets find 24% of these deadly bags in or near home trash cans or recycling bins, 20% were grabbed off a coffee table or side table, 15% were grabbed off a counter and 5% were found outside in the yard. Pets found other bags inside cars or under furniture.

On a web page titled, “Snack Safely—Keep Your Pets Safe from Snack Bag Suffocation,” the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) explains why the bags are so dangerous:

“Snack, cereal, food-storage, and other plastic bags are made from different types of plastic materials which are sometimes layered, particularly in the case of potato chip bags. These plastic materials include Mylar (polyethylene terephthalate, or PET), aluminum-laminated polypropylene, high-density polyethylene (HDPE), and linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE). The materials make the bags light and flexible, which is perfect for storing food. However, it’s a bad combination for pets who put their head inside the bags. Bags containing food or that once contained tasty morsels are particularly dangerous because pets can smell the food and are more likely to find the bags when they’re left on the counter, the coffee table, the floor, or in the trash.”

The Need for Awareness

Preventive Vet has documented the need for greater awareness of suffocation hazards, noting on its comprehensive web page on pet suffocation, “73% of people who lost or almost lost a pet to suffocation were unaware of or had never realized the possibility that their pet could suffocate in a chip, snack, cereal, or other food bag until it happened!

“Many people don’t realize that a pet, no matter its size or strength, can have a hard time getting bags off its head once they are stuck. Not only do cats and dogs lack thumbs to help them grab and remove the bag, but the bags quickly form a vacuum-like seal around their head as they breathe in and quickly deplete the air within the bag. As this happens, the oxygen levels quickly decline, and the carbon dioxide levels quickly rise. The entrapped pet panics from not being able to breathe normally and eventually dies from asphyxiation.”

“Many people erroneously believe that a dog can simply remove a chip bag from his head with his front paws or tear through it with his claws. This is just not the case,” writes Bonnie Harlan, who founded Prevent Pet Suffocation, Inc., after her dog Blue suffocated in a chip bag. “Once the bag starts to seal around the dog’s neck, it’s extremely difficult to break the suction of the seal. ALL dogs are vulnerable to pet suffocation—no matter their size, breed, or age. No dog, from a tiny Teacup Poodle to a massive Great Dane, can win a fight with a chip bag or other plastic bag over his head once the bag seals and he starts to lose oxygen.”

Reducing the Risks to Your Pet

Once you’re aware of the dangers, there are a number of simple steps you can take to reduce your pet’s risk of suffocation. The following are selected safety precautions compiled directly from Preventive Vet, Prevent Pet Suffocation and the FDA:

  • Empty packaged snack, cereal and dry pet foods from bags into resealable hard containers immediately after bringing them home. Any foods left in the original packaging should be kept out of your pet’s reach until you’re ready to transfer the contents to safe containers.
  • Keep scissors handy so you can cut up all chip and food bags into pieces that can’t seal around your pet’s nose and mouth before discarding them into secure trash cans your pet can’t get into. If scissors are not readily available, tie the bags in knots or cut open one side and/or the bottom of the bag with a knife.
  • Serve snacks in bowls—not bags—and secure any bagged leftovers well out of your pet’s reach.
  • Don’t let cats play with plastic bags or food cartons, and don’t let them access bags stored on top of counters and appliances.
  • Put lids back on jars and containers before disposing of them.
  • Restrict your pet’s access to the kitchen, pantry or any area where you store snack and pet food bags.
  • Check your purse and briefcase for snack bags and food your pet could find.
  • Keep chip and snack bags and drink cups out of your vehicle, and don’t leave your dog alone in the car with fast food bags, snack bags or food and drink containers.
  • Beware of high-risk events—birthday parties, holiday celebrations, sports events, cook-outs and other gatherings—when snacks packaged in bags are likely to be served.
  • Do your part to increase awareness about pet suffocation among friends and family members of all ages.
  • Teach your children not to leave snack bags and food in their backpacks and bedrooms.
  • Educate dog walkers, pet sitters and baby sitters about the dangers of pet suffocation.
  • Remind overnight guests not to leave food bags and snacks in their handbags and luggage.
  • Follow these guidelines beyond your household to protect wildlife, stray dogs and feral cats.

From Awareness to Action

Now that you are aware of the grave dangers of suffocation posed by snack and food bags, we strongly encourage you to incorporate the simple safety precautions into your household routines—not only to protect your own pet but to honor the memory of the many beloved pets lost to suffocation. 

National Pet Suffocation Awareness Week Read More »

Painting showing the first Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Safety for Pets

Brownsburg Animal Clinic will be closed on Thanksgiving Day, Friday and Saturday, November 23, 24 and 25. Normal office hours will resume Monday, November 27.

If this painting depicting the first Thanksgiving in 1621 is to be believed, a dog was happily—and apparently safely—celebrating alongside the guests at the feast.

But Thanksgiving as we celebrate it today can be very dangerous for pets.

Here’s a quick summary of Thanksgiving safety guidelines from North Carolina State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

In less than four minutes, the following video posted on the American Animal Hospital Association’s YouTube channel, “Keeping your pets safe on Thanksgiving,” covers a number of hazards we haven’t seen cited by other sources.

Food Safety Specifics

Our traditional Thanksgiving feasts contain a few foods that can be safely eaten in small portions as treats by most pets, but many more holiday foods can cause serious, potentially deadly health problems. 

Pets access these delicious but dangerous foods not only from countertops, table tops and trash cans, but directly from the hands of indulgent, well-meaning people who want to include pets in the family festivities. 

It’s up to you to recognize and protect your pet from these food hazards.

Turkey. A few bites of unseasoned cooked white meat may do your pet no harm, but turkey skin and fatty dark meat can cause life-threatening pancreatitis.

Raw or undercooked turkey can cause salmonella poisoning, so make sure you keep thawing turkey out of your pet’s reach.

Turkey bones can damage or become lodged in your pet’s digestive tract, possibly requiring emergency surgery. Under no circumstances should you give your pet turkey bones! 

Discarded turkey packaging and trussing strings can also be extremely dangerous when swallowed.

According to the Pet Poison Helpline, turkey brine is hazardous to pets. “When you remove the turkey, this salt-saturated solution can be very attractive to dogs and cats, who will readily lap it up resulting in salt toxicosis. Clinical signs are excessive thirst and urination, vomiting and diarrhea. This can potentially result in serious electrolyte changes and brain swelling.”

Garlic, onion, leeks and chives. These common ingredients we humans enjoy to spice up our holiday dishes are toxic to dogs and cats. Don’t give your pet even a single bite of any dish—like green beans, potatoes, stuffing or gravy—containing these poisonous-to-pets ingredients. 

Yeast bread dough. Raw yeast bread dough, when eaten by a pet, can expand internally, blocking the pet’s digestive tract. As fermentation continues, ingested yeast dough can convert sugars into carbon dioxide gas and alcohol, resulting in a bloated, drunken pet who may require life-saving emergency treatment and hospitalization. Keep your rising yeast bread dough out of your pets’ reach. 

Desserts. Pies, fruitcakes, candies and cookies—particularly those containing chocolate, raisins, currants, nuts and the sugar substitute xylitol—should be kept out of your pet’s reach. 

See our post, “Protect Your Dog from Xylitol Poisoning” for more information about this widely-used household hazard.

Alcohol. If your holiday celebrations include alcohol, do not offer alcohol directly to your pet or allow access to unattended drinks containing alcohol.

According to Pet Poison Helpline, “Alcohol must be kept out of the reach of dogs because it can cause severe poisoning. Poisoning may cause symptoms such as seizures or breathing difficulties that need hospitalization and supportive care. Dogs can be poisoned by alcoholic drinks, but did you know they can be poisoned by yeast, too? If a dog eats rising bread dough, they can experience poisoning from the alcohol from the fermenting yeast. Alcohol rapidly absorbs into the bloodstream which results in alcohol poisoning.”

There is nothing cute or funny about a pet under the influence of alcohol, but there is the very real potential for serious health problems.

The Holiday Hazards of Guests

If you’re hosting a holiday gathering, your pet will be exposed to all the noise, confusion and opportunities to bolt out the door that come with receiving and entertaining guests. 

Especially shy or protective pets unused to having company may even growl, snap at or bite guests.

Well-meaning friends and family members may be tempted to feed your pet potentially harmful treats. 

Those not used to keeping doors and gates closed and foods and trash out of pets’ reach may inadvertently endanger your pet.

Overnight visitors may have easily-accessible-to-your-pet prescription and over-the-counter drugs or candies containing chocolate and/or sweetened with xylitol in their handbags and luggage. Keep bags off the floor and guest room doors closed.

To avoid holiday trips to the veterinary emergency hospital, make sure your guests understand basic security precautions to protect your pets. If the holiday festivities are to last only a few hours, you may prefer to protect your pet by restricting him or her to a quiet part of the house or to a crate until the party concludes.

Brigid Wasson from First Street Pets created “Keeping pets safe over Thanksgiving Holiday,” a 7-minute video focusing primarily on holiday safety hazards unrelated to food.

Travel Safety

If you are traveling to celebrate the holidays with your family or friends, you may choose to take your pet with you. See our post, “Safe Travels With Your Pet,” for links to travel-related resources.

If you read the safe travels post to the end, you’ll see our parting advice is to consider leaving your pet at home. Travel can be stressful for pets—especially when the destination is a large gathering of unfamiliar (to the pet) people in an unfamiliar (to the pet) place. 

Your pet may well be happier at home with a pet sitter or in the relatively stable confines of a boarding kennel. Just be sure your pet is up-to-date on all vaccines, and make your reservations well in advance of the busy holiday season.

Helpful Holiday Contacts

We will be closed from Thanksgiving Day through the following Sunday so that our veterinarians and staff can enjoy the holiday with their own families and friends. 

Should you need veterinary care while we are closed for the holiday, see the list of area emergency clinics in the right sidebar of every page on our website.

In case of poisoning, contact the Pet Poison Helpline at (855) 764-7661.

Thanksgiving Safety for Pets Read More »

Chihuahua dressed as a witch for Halloween

Halloween Safety for Pets

Halloween can be fun for humans, but to your pet, it can be a scary, dangerous experience.

Noisy bands of masked strangers at your door, bowls and bags filled with tempting candy, unfamiliar decorations to explore and costumes for the entire family can put your pet at risk of being lost, stressed, ill or injured.

Here are some precautions we recommend to safeguard your pet this Halloween.

Don’t Share the Treats

Make sure your children and all the adults in your household know not to share Halloween treats with your pets. Keep the candy you are giving out and the candy your children collect securely out of your pet’s reach.

Just about any sugary or fatty candy, cakes and cookies can cause your pet to experience vomiting and diarrhea, but the theobromine and caffeine in chocolate are especially dangerous and can overstimulate a dog’s nervous system to life-threatening levels.

Treats sweetened with xylitol can quickly lower a dog’s blood sugar level and can lead to liver failure.

“Healthy” treats containing raisins, grapes or macadamia nuts can be toxic—even fatal—to pets. For example, as few as 5 to 20 raisins can cause kidney failure in a small dog.

Depending on your pet’s size and the amount your pet eats, indulging in Halloween treats can cause pancreatitis or hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, triggering vomiting and diarrhea that can lead to severe dehydration. Both conditions require prompt veterinary care and possible hospitalization.

A pet who discovers a bag filled with treats may well eat wrappers and sticks along with the candy. These materials can get stuck in your pet’s stomach and block or possibly rupture the intestines. Surgery will most likely be required.

And if your pet indulges in an assortment of candy collected throughout the neighborhood, you will have no way of knowing just what potential toxins your pet may have ingested.

Keep Decorations Out of Reach

Strings of lights can cause electrical shocks and swallowed glass and plastic shards.

Candles can cause burns and, if tipped over, can start a fire.

Moldy pumpkins can cause tremors in dogs if they snack on jack-o-lanterns.

Cobweb decorations are especially tempting to cats and kittens, with potentially serious results if the fake web gets wrapped around the tongue. If pets swallow the stringy cobweb material, it may require surgery to remove the blockage.

Mind the Costumes

If you plan to dress your pet in its own Halloween costume, make sure the costume you choose is one your pet can and will tolerate comfortably.

The costume should not block your pet’s sight, hearing, breathing or movement. There should be no rubber bands, tight strings or straps to cut off circulation or breathing. Wide Velcro fasteners are preferable.

A costume can become a choking hazard if the pet chews off and swallows pieces or becomes entangled in the fabric while trying to wriggle out of it. Swallowed costume pieces can cause a blockage that requires surgery to remove.

Supervise your costumed pet at all times. If you need to leave your pet unattended—even for only a few minutes—remove the costume first.

If you and your family are wearing costumes, you may frighten your pet. Make sure you introduce yourselves in costume to your pet in a reassuring, non-threatening way.

Recognize the Dangers of Trick or Treating

For most dogs, trick-or-treating from door-to-door with your family—especially in a busy neighborhood with other trick-or-treaters filling the streets—can be a stressful experience.

Even the calmest, friendliest dog is likely to get spooked by all the strange-looking people, noise and confusion. Some dogs may even try to protect you from costumed, masked people who seem to present a threat.

As a kindness to your pet, we recommend you remove the cute costume and leave him or her at home.

If you stay home to dispense treats, your pet may be startled and stressed by all the doorbell-ringing and shouting for hours on end and may dash out the open door, risking being lost or hit by a car. If weather permits, you may minimize the disruption by greeting trick-or-treaters outdoors on the front porch.

Bring outdoor pets—especially black cats—inside on Halloween to safeguard them from being stolen and possibly abused by cruel pranksters.

All pets will tolerate Halloween best if crated and kept in a quiet room with the door closed.

Just in case your frightened pet does escape through an open door, make sure he or she has proper identification—a microchip and a collar with identification tags—to help get back home.

Halloween Safety for Pets Read More »

Dog and kitten playing together

Why We Celebrate World Rabies Day

It’s considered “the world’s deadliest infectious disease,” killing almost 60,000 people worldwide each year, even though it’s 100% preventable. 

Since 2007, on September 28, we’ve observed World Rabies Day to raise awareness and further improve efforts to prevent the spread of rabies in communities all over the world. 

A Day to Celebrate

Health organizations including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), World Health Organization (WHO), the World Organization for Animal Health (WOAH), and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) are collaborating to eliminate all human deaths from rabies caused by dogs by 2030.

Meanwhile, Americans have cause for celebration on World Rabies Day, September 28, 2023. 

Rabies is still present throughout the United States, but our high rabies vaccination rates among dogs and cats have made rabies in our beloved pets and other domesticated animals relatively rare. These days, 90% of reported cases in animals occur in wildlife like bats, raccoons, skunks and foxes.

While about 60,000 Americans get treated every year to prevent rabies infection after being bitten or scratched by an animal that could be rabid, according to the CDC, “The number of rabies-related human deaths in the United States has declined, from more than 100 annually in the early 1900s to just one or two per year.” 

How the Rabies Virus Infects People

Rabies is transmitted through broken skin or mucous membranes in the eyes, nose or mouth when they contact the saliva or brain or nervous system tissue of an infected animal. Most often, people contract rabies when bitten by an infected animal. Rarely, people can be infected through scratches, abrasions or open wounds exposed to saliva or other infectious material from a rabid animal. 

Once contracted, rabies infects the central nervous system. Without treatment after potential exposure and before symptoms start, the virus can cause disease in the brain, resulting in death.  

Effective medical care for a person who may have been exposed to the rabies virus is postexposure prophylaxis (PEP), consisting of a dose of human rabies immune globulin (HRIG) and rabies vaccine given on the day of exposure, followed by doses of vaccine on days 3, 7 and 14. These days, vaccines are given in the upper arm and are relatively painless.

Contact with infected bats is the leading cause of human death from rabies in the US. According to the CDC, 7 of 10 Americans who die from rabies were infected by bats whose bites and scratches can be so small as to go undetected.  

Petting a rabid animal or contact with its blood, urine or feces are not associated with risk of infection and not treated as an exposure to the disease. Contact with a person infected by the virus and receiving rabies vaccine is also not considered exposure to the disease and does not require treatment.

If you’ve had contact with wildlife or unfamiliar animals—especially if you’ve been bitten or scratched—you should check with a doctor or a public health professional to see if you’re at risk for rabies. 

International Travel Precautions

Rabies remains common in dogs living in many other countries. Most rabies deaths in humans around the world are caused by dog bites. About 25% of reported deaths from rabies among humans in the US were caused by bites from rabid dogs during international travel. 

If you plan to travel outside the country, check the CDC’s Travelers Health Destination List of 244 countries before you go, looking for advisories not only about rabies, but many other potential diseases you might be exposed to in the country you plan to visit. 

As one example of the available information, see the Destination List entry for Mexico.

Once you and your family arrive at your destination, avoid contact with dogs and other animals—no matter how adorable they appear.

How the Rabies Virus Infects Animals

Rabies infects only mammals—warm-blooded animals with fur (like people). Pets and livestock can get rabies—usually from contact with wildlife—and nearly all that do have not been vaccinated or are not up-to-date on their vaccines. 

Fortunately, because laws requiring pets to be vaccinated for rabies are so prevalent, dogs account for only about 1% of rabid animals reported in the US each year. 

Some animals, including rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks, opossums, rats, mice, guinea pigs, gerbils and hamsters, almost never get rabies. Birds, chickens, snakes, fish, turtles, lizards and insects never get rabies.

You can’t tell if an animal is rabid just by looking at it. Some infected animals may not appear ill at all. It takes laboratory testing to know for sure. 

Some rabid animals may behave strangely—aggressively trying to bite you or other animals or drooling. Others may seem timid or shy, move slowly and act unusually tame, letting you get close to them when ordinarily they would be afraid. If you see normally nocturnal animals like raccoons and skunks out during daylight hours with no apparent fear of humans, they could be infected with rabies. 

The best way to protect yourself and your pet from rabies is stay away from wild animals—especially bats, raccoons, skunks and foxes—whether or not they are showing symptoms of illness.

If you suspect an animal you have encountered may be rabid, contact local animal control or the state rabies consultation control contact at (317) 233-7272 Monday through Friday between 7:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. After hours, call (317) 233-1325.

The Rabies Vaccine: It’s the Law

At Brownsburg Animal Clinic, we require any animal visiting our facility to have a current rabies vaccination. Our policy states, “Any pet brought into the clinic with a past-due rabies vaccination will, if health permits, receive a rabies vaccine.” And we mean it!

Besides, it’s the law. 

Indiana state law requires all pet owners to keep dogs and cats up-to-date on rabies vaccinations. According to the rabies information page on the state’s website, “Under Indiana law, all dogs, cats and ferrets older than 3 months of age must be vaccinated against the rabies virus. State law allows the use of 1-year and 3-year vaccines according to approved label directions.”

Although we can use a rabies antibody titer to estimate your pet’s immune response against the rabies virus, either through exposure to the disease or a vaccine, the state’s web page summarizing the law makes it clear there is no legal substitute for vaccinating your pet. “In Indiana, rabies vaccination exemptions are NOT allowed. The rabies titer cannot be used in lieu of rabies vaccination for any dog, cat or ferret.”

Further, Indiana law states, “The rabies vaccine must be administered by a licensed and accredited veterinarian or under the direct supervision of a licensed and accredited veterinarian. Under direct supervision means the veterinarian is on the premises at the time the vaccine is administered.”

We use only state-approved vaccines, complete all the required paperwork and issue you a certificate and a tag. Attach the rabies tag to your pet’s collar to be worn at all times. 

Animals can be considered immunized against rabies within 28 days after the first vaccination, when antibodies peak. Normally, the first booster shot is due one year after the initial puppy vaccines. Then boosters are due every three years. An animal is considered currently vaccinated immediately after receiving a booster shot.

If your currently vaccinated dog or cat is bitten or scratched by a rabid animal, we recommend revaccinating your pet within the next four days, followed by 45 days at home under your control and observation. If you see any signs of illness, call us to schedule an appointment right away. 

The state recommends euthanizing unvaccinated animals exposed to rabies.

Do Your Part!

Keeping your pet’s rabies vaccine current protects him or her from catching the disease from wildlife and prevents your pet from transmitting rabies to you, your family and other people. 

To do your part to prevent rabies, once the initial one-year booster has been administered, you simply schedule a booster every third year. That’s it!

To tell when your pet’s next booster shot is due, look on any clinic invoice to see upcoming due dates for all vaccines. Most often, the due dates will coincide with annual wellness exams, so you won’t even have to make a special visit. 

You can also look at the date on the rabies tag we issued the last time your pet had a booster shot. For all but our youngest patients, the next booster is probably due three years from the date listed on the tag. 

To find out exactly when your pet’s next booster shot is due, call us at (317) 852-3323.

Why We Celebrate World Rabies Day Read More »

Cat and puppy lying side-by-side in the grass

Microchips Help Lost Pets Get Back Home

Each year on August 15, we join the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) in observing National Check the Chip Day—a day set aside to remind owners of microchipped pets to confirm the accuracy of the information on file at the chip registry.

Given that only about 6 of every 10 microchips are registered, it’s also a great day to register your pet’s chip number if you haven’t yet done so. The chip is worthless unless you register it and then keep the information current.

And if you haven’t yet had your pet microchipped, Check the Chip day is ideal for scheduling an appointment with us to implant your pet’s microchip.

Why Have Your Pet Microchipped?

One of every three family pets will get lost at some point during their lifetime. 

Dogs with microchips are more than twice as likely to be returned home to their owners.

Cats with microchips are more than 20 times as likely to be returned home to their owners.

American Veterinary Medical Association

Because of microchips, pets and owners have been reunited from hundreds of miles away, sometimes years after the pets were lost.

While one study found owners’ efforts were successful in recovering a lost dog only 13% of the time, the detection of a microchip by an animal shelter resulted in a 74.1% return rate to owners.

Researchers have also found that the owners of nearly three-fourths of lost, microchipped cats and dogs were located because of the microchip.

When lost or stolen microchipped pets don’t make it back home, it’s usually because of incorrect or missing owner information in the microchip registry.

One former shelter manager estimates as many as half of pets with microchips entering shelters have chips that haven’t been registered at all, have disconnected phone numbers and outdated contact information in the registry or are registered to former owners who don’t have contact information for the current owner.

That’s why it’s so important to check the chip!

How Microchips Work

Microchips are cylindrical devices about the size of a grain of rice implanted under your pet’s skin using a hypodermic needle. The microchip device has a capacitor, an antenna, connecting wire and a covering. When activated by a low-power radio frequency signal from the scanner, the microchip transmits its unique identification number to the scanner display. 

Microchips are not tracking devices and contain no information about you or your pet. All they can transmit is the identification number.

The AVMA classifies the implantation of microchips as “a veterinary procedure that should be performed by a licensed veterinarian or under supervision of a licensed veterinarian.” Veterinarians and trained veterinary technicians know precisely where and how microchips should be placed. Improperly inserted microchips have been known to malfunction and can cause serious disabilities or even death. 

Unlike external identification tags on pets’ collars, which can easily be lost, removed, altered or replaced, microchips provide permanent, unalterable identification for an animal. Your pet should have both.

Once the microchip is implanted, you must register the chip number and keep the registration updated for the life of your pet. 

More About Microchips

In less than 15 minutes, you can learn even more about microchips by watching “How do pet microchips work?”—a YouTube video by Brigid Wasson of First Street Pets. 

Wasson’s companion article to the video is on the First Street Pets website.

Here’s Wasson’s article, “Which pet microchip registry is the best?” listing the top five microchip registries. See the accompanying video, “Top 5 pet microchip registries for 2023” on YouTube.

Finally, see Wasson’s video, “Register Your Pet’s microchip in 5 minutes” for a quick overview of the registration process.

How to Check the Chip

If your pet has already been microchipped, step one is to find your pet’s microchip number. 

Look for the paperwork you received when you had the chip implanted or log in to the account you set up when you registered the chip with the manufacturer. 

The microchip number may also be displayed on a tag on your pet’s collar, if the chip manufacturer supplied one. (Since anyone can register any chip number using any contact information, you may choose not to display your pet’s microchip number on a collar tag.)

If you can’t find the microchip number, ask us to scan your pet the next time you’re at the clinic for an appointment. Assuming your pet’s microchip transponder is still working, the scanner will reveal the microchip number. We suggest you write it down for future reference. 

After this initial scan for the chip number, ask to have your pet’s microchip scanned each year as part of the annual exam to confirm it’s still working and can be detected.

Next, to confirm where your pet’s microchip is registered, visit the AAHA Microchip Registry Lookup website. This is the database veterinarians and shelter personnel consult when trying to find the owner of a found microchipped pet. 

Type in your pet’s microchip number and, if the number is registered with any of nearly 40 registries, the manufacturer and any registries associated with that chip number will be displayed, showing the date the registration was last updated and contact information for the registry. 

The AAHA Microchip Registry does not provide owner information. To register, review and update your registration information, you must call the registry or visit the registry website and log in to your account. 

The Downsides of Microchipping

Problems with properly implanted microchips are very rare. 

The British Small Animal Veterinary Association has tracked adverse reactions to microchips since 1996. Of more than 4 million animals microchipped, only 391 adverse reactions have been reported.

Of these, the most common problem reported is the migration of the microchip from its original implantation site. Other, much less common problems reported included failure of the microchip, hair loss, infection, swelling and tumor formation.

Odds Are, Your Pet Isn’t Yet Microchipped

While many dogs and cats wear external identification tags on their collars—as they all should—on average, only 3-4% of dogs and fewer than 1% of cats arriving at shelters are microchipped.

If you are like most pet owners and haven’t yet had a microchip implanted in your pet, we strongly encourage you to do so. 

To minimize your pet’s possible discomfort from the injection, we suggest having us implant a microchip when your pet is under anesthesia for surgery or a dental procedure. 

If you don’t anticipate the need for anesthesia anytime soon, ask us to implant a microchip at your next visit to the clinic or schedule an appointment expressly for us to insert the microchip. And register the microchip right away.

Should your pet be lost or stolen, you’ll be glad you did!

Microchips Help Lost Pets Get Back Home Read More »

Four fire fighters and a dog in front of a Brownsburg fire truck in front of Brownsburg Animal Clinic

Fire Safety Precautions to Protect Your Pet

The National Fire Protection Association reports at least 40,000 pets die each year in house fires, often because of smoke inhalation. 

In observance of National Pet Fire Safety Day on July 15, with help from Brownsburg Fire Territory Public Education Manager Nina Powell, we’ve compiled a number of precautions you can take to help keep your pet safe from fire.

Fire Prevention

According to American Humane, more than 500,000 pets are affected each year by house fires, including more than 1,000 fires started by pets. 

One of the most common ways pets start fires results from their access to open flames from candles or fireplaces. One cat knocked burning candles off a bedroom shelf onto a mattress, starting a fire that destroyed most of the house. Other cats and dogs have suffered serious burns by brushing too close to a candle or fireplace flame and setting their fur on fire. 

To avoid such mishaps, we advise you never to leave a pet unattended around an open flame. Protect burning candles with hurricane glass holders with heavy bases and use a fire screen to shield pets from fireplace fires. Better yet, use battery-powered flameless candles and enclose your fireplace in glass to eliminate this risk.

Pets sometimes start fires by pawing stove burner knobs. A dog jumped up on a stove to get a slice of pizza from a box left on the stovetop and in the process, turned on a burner. The pizza box caught fire, quickly spreading flames through the rest of the kitchen. If your pet is able to reach the stove or climb onto the control panel from a countertop, cover or remove the knobs and activate child safety lock features, if available.

Electrical fires can start after a pet chews the insulation off a loose power cord. Use cord covers to protect exposed cords from chewing. Search online for “dog and cat power cord covers” to see the many options available. 

“Although we haven’t had any incidents here in Brownsburg, nationwide one of the concerns is with heating lamps for pet reptiles,” said Powell. “If those lamps aren’t properly managed according to the manufacturers’ instructions, they can start fires.”

One dog started a fire by pulling his bed up against a portable space heater. The bed ignited, and the fire spread, damaging the house and sending both the dog and owner to the hospital. If you use a portable heater, make sure yours stays relatively cool to the touch and automatically shuts off if knocked over. 

“All the modern space heaters have the tip-over feature with automatic shut-off,” said Powell. “I would definitely tell someone who is using an older model space heater to replace it with a newer one with that tip-over feature.”

Don’t leave your pet unattended in a room with a portable heater.

Install smoke detectors monitored by an emergency response service. Whether or not you are home to report the fire, fire fighters can be dispatched quickly after the alarm is activated to help save your home and family—including your pet.

“I’m 100% in favor of interconnected smoke alarms so when one goes off, all go off,” said Powell. “Even better are interconnected smoke alarms that are monitored.”

Brownsburg fire truck next to Brownsburg Animal Clinic sign
Photos courtesy of Nina Powell, Public Education Manager, Brownsburg Fire Territory

Sadly, two pets—a dog and a cat—died in Brownsburg house fires this year. “It’s very devastating for us personally and hard to tell the owners,” said Powell.

“Fortunately, we’ve had several occasions this year where we’ve saved pets from fires,” said Powell. “Every one of our fire trucks has O2 masks for pets so we can resuscitate them.”

Fire Emergency Preparation

Make and rehearse an emergency home evacuation plan that includes your pet. 

See our blog post “Preparing Your Pets for Disaster” for general information about planning for emergencies.

“Practice your fire escape plan with your family and your pet,” advised Powell. “With your smoke alarm in test mode, let your pet hear the sound the alarm makes and show them where they’re supposed to go when they hear that sound.” 

Powell emphasized that step one in any emergency is to call 911. 

“The sooner you call 911, the sooner the fire fighters can get to your house and rescue you and your pet.”

Family members should not endanger their own lives attempting to rescue a pet. If the pet can’t be found and brought to safety immediately, leave the door open and call to the pet from a safe distance outside. 

“Of course, if the pet is right there and can safely exit the house along with the people, that’s great,” Powell said. “But some pets are programmed to hide in an emergency like a house fire, and we don’t encourage people to delay their exit while they search inside a burning house for a pet.

“Please exit the home and call us immediately.”

Once fire fighters arrive, let them know a pet is still inside. “It helps if you describe the pet to the crew and tell them its name and any words it might respond to,” said Powell.

In case your pet gets lost in the confusion of a house fire, make sure he or she is microchipped and wearing a collar with identification tags attached. For details, see our post, “Steps You Can Take Now to Get a Lost Pet Back Home.”

For Owners of Service Animals

Owners of service dogs may call the Brownsburg Fire Territory’s non-emergency number at (317) 852-1190 to have notes about the presence of a service animal added to the records for their address. 

As defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act, a “service animal means any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability.”

“It helps us to know about the service animal at that address ahead of time and anticipate any possible delay in the owner’s exiting due to a disability,” Powell said.

Fire Safety Precautions to Protect Your Pet Read More »

Cat playing with yarn while dogs watch

Preparing Your Pets for Disaster

June is National Pet Preparedness Month—an ideal time to prepare to care for pets, along with the rest of your family, in the event of an emergency.

A Family Emergency Plan

A preparedness plan for your pets, within your larger family preparedness plan, includes:

  • Identifying in advance a safe place where your pets will be welcome in the event of an emergency evacuation.
  • Arranging with neighbors, friends or relatives to care for or evacuate each other’s pets in an emergency if the pet owner is unable to do so. 
  • Having your pet microchipped and making sure your contact information is up-to-date. Provide a secondary contact person who lives outside your immediate area in case local communication is impacted by the emergency.

If officials tell you to evacuate before a storm or other disaster, take your pets and their supplies with you. It may be days or even weeks before you are allowed to return to your home. Animals left behind can be lost, injured or killed. 

Your Pet’s Emergency Supplies Kit

Your pet’s emergency supplies kit should include:

  • Nonperishable food and water. Pack several days’ supply of food in an airtight, waterproof container, replacing the food every time you replenish your main supply to keep it fresh. Rotate bottled water to keep it fresh, too. If you’re packing canned food, bring along a can opener if needed.
  • Food and water bowls.
  • Sanitation supplies. Pack several all-purpose full-size trash bags along with smaller bags for picking up after your dog. For cats, pack a litter box and scoop, along with a supply of litter.
  • Grooming supplies. Pack shampoo and towels in case your pet needs cleaning up.
  • Medicine. Pack a supply of your pet’s medicines in a waterproof container, regularly using up and replacing it as expiration dates approach.
  • Extra collars, harnesses and leashes. Attach ID tags with your contact information to the collars and harnesses. 
  • Copies of vaccination records. Make hard copies and enclose them in a waterproof bag. Make electronic copies for your mobile phone.
  • Photographs of you and your pet together. If you become separated from your pet, photos will help others identify your pet and establish your ownership.
  • Travel crate or carrier. Be prepared to bring along a crate or carrier to keep your pet safely contained in an emergency evacuation.
  • Stress reducers. Pack familiar toys, bedding and treats to comfort your pet.

Your Pet’s First Aid Kit

To prepare for illnesses and injuries that may befall your pet, we recommend assembling a pet first aid kit.

To build your own kit, we recommend visiting the ASPCA’s “How to Make a Pet First Aid Kit” page and downloading the PDF document as a shopping list. 

The Red Cross provides a more comprehensive list of suggested first aid kit contents, also downloadable as a PDF.

Preassembled pet first aid kits are available online.

For information on pet first aid, see our post, “Pet First Aid Basics.”

More Resources

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has prepared a brief video, “Preparing Makes Sense for Pet Owners,” summarizing recommended pet preparedness measures. 

For much more comprehensive emergency preparedness information including planning forms, supply lists and advice specific to a variety of possible disasters and emergencies, visit Homeland Security’s official website, ready.gov.

Preparing Your Pets for Disaster Read More »

Dog and cat under chairs

Safety Precautions for Better Health and Lower Costs

One proactive way to lower your pet’s health care costs is to take basic safety precautions to reduce the risk of illness and injury to your pet. The more avoidable problems you can anticipate and prevent, the safer and healthier your pet and the lower your costs for veterinary treatment.

The Brownsburg Animal Clinic blog has a number of posts covering various aspects of pet safety. We’re linking to the best of them, along with a few external resources we recommend.

General Safety Tips

Pet First Aid Basics—our suggestions for steps you can take to prepare for, respond to and, best of all, avoid a medical emergency. 

Keeping Your Pet Safe From Poisons—our comprehensive post on common toxins.  

Medicines for Humans Can Be Dangerous for Pets—with an overview of the dangers of drugs and advice on what to do if you think your pet has ingested medicine meant for humans.

Safe Travels With Your Pet—with annotated links to seven web pages covering safe travel for pets.

Seasonal Safety Tips

Keeping Your Pet Safe in Cold Weather—with annotated links to six authoritative resource pages.

Halloween Safety for Pets—with precautions to safeguard your pet at Halloween.

Dogs and Heatstroke—a brief post with a link to a good New York Times article on heatstroke.

Caring for Your Canine Athlete—including a 7-point checklist of considerations to take before engaging in vigorous exercise with your dog.

Summer Safety Tips—linking to a video from the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Managing Your Pet’s Noise Anxiety—including home remedies and medical treatments for noise-averse pets.

Are You Ready for July 4?—highlights the dangers of fireworks.

More Pet Safety Resources

Beyond our blog, we recommend the Center for Pet Safety website as an excellent resource on how best to keep your pet safe. 

We also recommend Preventive Vet’s “10 Point Checklist for Puppy Proofing Your Home” as a great checklist for any pet-owning household.

Finally, even though National Pet Suffocation Awareness Week is months away, we recommend you take precautions now and from now on to minimize your pet’s risk of suffocating in a snack, cereal, pet food or pet treat bag. Preventive Vet has an excellent article on the topic.

Safety Precautions for Better Health and Lower Costs Read More »

Assorted capsules and pills for humans

Medicines for Humans Can Be Dangerous for Pets

Nearly half the calls to the Pet Poison Hotline involve pets who have ingested over-the-counter or prescription drugs for humans.

In some cases, the pet got into the pill bottle or daily dose holder on its own. In others, a well-meaning owner deliberately gave the drug to the pet to relieve pain, nausea or other symptoms. Owners who store their pets’ prescription medicines next to their human family members’ prescriptions sometimes pick up the wrong bottle and accidentally give the pet a dose of a drug prescribed for a human in the household.

And pet owners sometimes use a drug prescribed for one pet to treat another. This is especially risky when using a drug prescribed for a dog to treat a cat.

Surprisingly dangerous are common over-the-counter pain relievers, including non-sterioidal anti-inflammatories–NSAIDS–such as Aleve, Advil and Motrin, and acetaminophen–the active ingredient in Tylenol. Even one or two pills can be seriously damaging and even deadly for pets.

For a top-ten list of medicines for humans and their damaging effects on pets, visit the Pet Poison Helpline.

Although aspirin is not on the Poison Helpline’s top-ten list, treating your pet with aspirin before coming in for an office visit can delay treatment with a more effective drug because we have to wait for the aspirin to clear the pet’s system before starting the appropriate drug. In these cases, using aspirin as a “home remedy” in hopes of avoiding an office visit keeps your pet in pain longer and slows recovery.

Before using a drug intended for humans to treat your pet, call our office to confirm it is safe and effective and to determine the proper dosage.

If you discover your pet has ingested a drug meant for humans on its own, and it’s during our office hours, call us immediately. We need to know the name of the drug, the dosage and how many pills you believe your pet has swallowed. We may have you bring your pet in right away, or we may refer you to an emergency clinic. We may have you call the Pet Poison Helpline, or we may call on your behalf to consult with the toxicologists on the most effective treatment.

After hours, call the Pet Poison Helpline at (855) 764-7661 and be prepared for a trip to the emergency clinic.

Medicines for Humans Can Be Dangerous for Pets Read More »

Fireworks display

Managing Your Pet’s Noise Anxiety

Over the upcoming extended Independence Day weekend, chances are at least 40 percent of our canine patients will experience anxiety during the celebratory fireworks—the most common trigger for dogs with noise aversion.

Fireworks are a source of suffering for 81% of dogs diagnosed with noise aversion. That’s why the busiest day of the year for intake of runaway dogs in animal shelters is July 5 and why we strongly recommend that you not take your pet to any holiday celebration that includes a fireworks display.

Unlike most people, noise-averse pets do not enjoy fireworks, and may become anxious enough to break free and run away. Trying to find a lost pet after dark in a large, crowded public space is a challenge we don’t want any of our clients to face!

Summer thunderstorms can trigger similar fears, causing panic and dangerous reactions, destruction of furniture and fixtures, self-inflicted injuries and frantic escapes.

Cats can be noise-averse, too, but their fear responses are usually not as pronounced. A cat may retreat to a favorite hiding place when frightened by noise, but otherwise appear unfazed. So most of our clients’ concerns about noise anxiety involve dogs.

Diagnosing Your Dog’s Noise Aversion

Illustrations Showing Noise Aversion Symptoms

The manufacturer of Sileo, a drug we prescribe to treat noise aversion, offers a checklist you can download and print to diagnose your dog. (Hit the back button on your browser to return to this page.)

Home Remedies for Noise Aversion

Home remedies we recommend in mild to moderate cases include playing soft music to mask the noise and carrying on as usual. It’s tempting to comfort a fearful dog, but a better approach is to signal all is well by engaging in normal behavior. A little cuddling is fine, but anything you can do lighten the mood is most helpful. If you can, just be present to your dog.

You may create a “safe spot” for your pet in a windowless interior room, like a closet or bathroom, complete with bed and blankets, where he or she can feel secure while riding out the storm or fireworks display.

Making favorite treats and toys available can help—especially toys that might distract, like a peanut-butter-filled Kong toy. In administering treats, just be careful not to reward fearful behavior.

Thundershirts, which work by applying gentle, constant pressure to the pet’s body, similar to swaddling a baby, are also popular and have helped many dogs and cats.

Helpful Medical Treatment

If noise makes your dog anxious, and home remedies aren’t working as well as you’d like,  we can help.

For more severe cases, there are drugs we can prescribe to reduce anxiety and keep your dog relaxed and safe during fireworks, storms and other noisy conditions.

The drugs we most often prescribe to alleviate anxiety symptoms are Xanax and Sileo, and for the best effect, we recommend administering them 30 minutes prior to the anticipated noise.

If home remedies are not effective and you would like to see if drug therapy is indicated, the first step is an office visit to assess the severity of the anxiety and discuss treatment options with you.

While we can’t promise a quieter summer, we may well be able to provide a calmer, more relaxed summer for your noise-averse dog. If you’d like our help, call to schedule an appointment today.

Managing Your Pet’s Noise Anxiety Read More »

Fireworks display

Are You Ready for July 4?

With Independence Day fast approaching, are you prepared to protect your pet from the anxiety and injuries that can come with exposure to fireworks?

Fireworks are Noisy!

While most humans enjoy the lights and sounds of a fireworks display, many pets experience the noise as unnerving or even terrorizing.

If you think your pet may be afraid of fireworks, see our recently updated post about how to diagnose and treat your pet’s noise anxiety.

Order Anti-Anxiety Refills Now

If your pet takes a prescription drug to manage anxiety, we encourage you to call in your refill request today to make sure we have the drug you need in stock and are able to dispense it well before the fireworks begin.

Fireworks Can Burn!

Lighted fireworks can cause severe burns and trauma to the face and paws of a curious pet. Keep your pet safely away from the area where fireworks are being ignited.

Fireworks Can Be Swallowed!

Unlit fireworks can be swallowed, obstructing your pet’s digestive tract and introducing potentially toxic substances, including potassium nitrate, arsenic and other heavy metals. Make sure any fireworks you’ve purchased for your celebration are stored safely out of reach of pets (and children).

Are You Ready?

We encourage you to protect your pet from fireworks this Independence Day! If you have questions or need our help in evaluating your pet for noise anxiety issues, learning about home remedies or discussing medical treatment, call now.

Are You Ready for July 4? Read More »

Timea H. Brady, DVM, and her dogs

Summer Safety Tips

June 21 marks the beginning of summer.

We found an AVMA video that gives a great overview of how to keep your pet safe during the summer months. Even if you don’t have time to watch the whole thing, we encourage you to watch the first two and a half minutes for a good description of heat stress, including emergency measures you can take.

Summer Safety Tips Read More »

Dog looking at camera next to the word xylitol superimposed over a large red X

Protect Your Dog from Xylitol Poisoning

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, “Xylitol (which also may be known as birch sugar or wood sugar) is a sweetener used in many foods and products for people (things like certain gum, sugarless ice cream, candy). Though safe for humans, xylitol can be deadly to dogs and other pets.”

Here’s a brief video from the FDA, warning pet owners of the dangers of xylitol and offering tips on protecting your dog from xylitol poisoning:

For details, including a more comprehensive list of products containing xylitol and more information on the danger the sweetener poses to dogs, read the FDA’s accompanying article, “Paws Off Xylitol; It’s Dangerous for Dogs.”

Protect Your Dog from Xylitol Poisoning Read More »

COVID-19

A Message from Dr. Brady About COVID-19

For those of you who share our concerns about COVID-19, we want to assure you we’re taking measures at the clinic to minimize the risk of introducing or spreading the virus to team members and clients while continuing to care for our patients.

  • In addition to following our usual cleaning protocols, we are doing even more frequent and thorough disinfecting of surfaces everyone touches—phones, keyboards and door handles—than ever before.
  • We are refraining from handshakes and hugs.
  • We have advised our team members to stay home if they are experiencing any respiratory symptoms and to return to work only after going at least 24 hours fever-free without medication.
  • We are asking our clients to stay away from the clinic if they or anyone in their household have symptoms of the virus or believe they may have been exposed to it.  We will be happy to reschedule the appointment.

This situation is evolving rapidly, and there is much uncertainty ahead. We are committed to doing our best to keep our team and clients healthy and will remain flexible in our response to COVID-19 in the coming days. Updates will be posted on our website and Facebook page as needed.

We appreciate your patience and understanding.

Timea H. Brady, DVM
Owner, Brownsburg Animal Clinic

A Message from Dr. Brady About COVID-19 Read More »

Owner hugging dog

COVID-19 and Your Pet

Please note: This information is current as of March 13, 2020. As more is learned about COVID-19, advice may change.

While the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have said there is no evidence that companion animals, including dogs and cats, spread the COVID-19 virus, the organization does suggest that people showing symptoms or in quarantine because of the virus limit their contact with pets, just as they do with people.

Specifically, that means people showing symptoms of the virus and being cared for at home should avoid direct contact with pets, including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food.

“If possible, a household member should be designated to care for pets in the home,” according to the CDC website. “If the individual in home care and isolation must care for pet(s), they should ensure they wash their hands before and after caring for pets and wear a facemask while interacting with pets, until they are medically cleared to return to normal activities.”

We encourage all our clients and staff members to take every possible precaution to lower the risk of infection. But in the event an infection does occur, we recommend treating pets with the same degree of caution as you do other family members.

COVID-19 and Your Pet Read More »

Owner hugging cat

Preparing for a Possible Quarantine

Are you prepared for a possible quarantine because of COVID-19?

The following is a list of items the American Veterinary Medical Association recommends keeping on hand in the event of an emergency evacuation, and we think most of the contents of the pet evacuation kit would be equally handy in the event of an at-home quarantine.

Because the incubation period for COVID-19 is thought to be 14 days, we suggest stocking up on at least a two-week supply of pet food, medicines and preventives, kitty litter if needed, and cleaning supplies for your pet.

Most likely, your pet would be remaining at home with you during a quarantine, so some items will probably not be needed. We suggest you collect them anyway to be better prepared for anything!

The AVMA’s Pet Evacuation Kit

Food and medicine

  • 3-7 days’ worth of dry and canned (pop-top) food*
  • Two-week supply of medicine*
  • At least 7 days’ supply of water
  • Feeding dish and water bowl
  • Liquid dish soap

*These items must be rotated and replaced to ensure they don’t expire

First aid kit

  • Anti-diarrheal liquid or tablets
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Bandage tape and scissors
  • Cotton bandage rolls
  • Flea and tick prevention (if needed in your area)
  • Isopropyl alcohol/alcohol prep pads
  • Latex gloves
  • Saline solution
  • Towel and washcloth
  • Tweezers

Sanitation

  • Litter, litter pan, and scoop (a shirt box with a plastic bag works well for pan)
  • Newspaper, paper towels, and trash bags
  • Household chlorine beach or disinfectant

Important documents

  • Identification papers including proof of ownership
  • Medical records and medication instructions
  • Emergency contact list, including veterinarian and pharmacy
  • Photo of your pet (preferably with you)

Travel supplies

  • Crate or pet carrier labeled with your contact information
  • Extra collar/harness with ID tags and leash
  • Flashlight, extra batteries
  • Muzzle

Comfort items

  • Favorite toys and treats
  • Extra blanket or familiar bedding

Preparing for a Possible Quarantine Read More »

Dr. Brady's boxer Sully

Sully and the Sunscreen

Last Saturday, my son Rhys and I took a bike ride. Before we left the house, I applied sunscreen to protect his fair skin.

When we returned home about an hour later, I found a large pile of strange-looking thick, white vomit in front of the couch. As I prepared to clean it up, I discovered more vomit on the stairs and in the hall. Then I discovered a chewed-up sunscreen bottle.

Most clients in my situation would have immediately called the clinic for help and guidance. But as general practice veterinarians, we doctors at Brownsburg Animal Clinic are like family doctors for our patients. We know a lot about your pet’s overall health and many common conditions they may have, but we can’t possibly know everything on every subject. That is why we often enlist the help of veterinary specialists, ranging from surgeons to dentists to dermatologists and yes, even toxicologists.

If I had received a call last Saturday morning about a patient who ingested sunscreen, I would not have been certain of the best course of treatment to take. There are so many new drugs and chemical compounds available, it is impossible for a general practitioner to keep up with which ones cause toxicities in pets and how to treat these toxicities if a pet is exposed. That’s why, when we receive such calls, if we’re not absolutely sure of what to do, we make an immediate referral to the Pet Poison Helpline.

The Helpline serves as 24-7-365 poison control for your pet. For a per-incident fee of $59, they will help you and your veterinarian (if needed) work through exposure to medications and chemicals that may be harmful to your pet. You will be assigned a case number and you and your veterinarian can call as many times as needed to seek advice on how to proceed with care.

At the clinic, we have referred clients to the specialists at Pet Poison Helpline several times. In some cases, we found the pet’s exposure to a potential toxin did not need follow-up care because the helpline staff determined the dose was not large enough to be toxic. In other cases, our clients were instructed to bring their pets to our office so we could induce vomiting and give activated charcoal and IV fluids. We also have had clients referred to a 24-hour veterinary care facility for several days of decontamination.

Chewed bottle of sunscreen

With that chewed-up sunscreen bottle in my hand, I thought about all the different chemicals Sully had swallowed, and while I know just what to do in cases of chocolate exposure or exposure to anti-freeze, I had no idea about these chemicals.

So I essentially referred myself to the Pet Poison Helpline, and one of their veterinarians helped me assess the situation.

I was able to provide her the name and brand and some of the ingredients still legible on the chewed-up label. We were able to determine the missing ingredients and estimate how much he was exposed to. Luckily, the level was not fatal and not enough to cause kidney damage. But it was enough to potentially cause stomach ulceration, so I started him on a stomach protectant.

The doctor also recommended doing some blood work the following day, just to make sure the exposure wasn’t higher than we suspected. I found Sully’s liver values were slightly elevated, so I checked back in with the doctor at Pet Poison Helpline, and we discussed adding a liver supplement and rechecking blood work in a few weeks.

This experience with Sully taught me a lot.

  1. Keep sunscreen out of my dogs’ (and son’s) reach.
  2. Zinc oxide is a good emetic (vomiting agent) that stains carpet white.
  3. The Pet Poison Helpline is a great, potentially life-saving resource for pet owners–including general-practice veterinarians like me–who need fast, accurate advice from a specialist in toxicology.

Wishing you all a safe summer!

Sully and the Sunscreen Read More »

Black Labrador retriever in tall grass

Dogs and Heatstroke

We’ve talked about the dangers of hot weather for dogs before. We encourage all our dog-owning clients to read this article in the New York Times. It has some good advice, including the warning signs of heat stroke: excessive panting, lethargy and a deep red tongue.

If you think your dog is having a heat stroke, get it into cool water immediately. If the symptoms persist, treat it as a medical emergency. If it’s during our office hours, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturdays 8 a.m. to noon, call us immediately at (317) 852-3323 so our staff can prepare for your arrival and offer you advice for administering first aid.

If it’s after-hours, on weekends or a holiday, please call the Airport Animal Emergi-Center at (317) 248-0832. The emergency center is at 5235 West Washington Street in Indianapolis. Maps, directions and more information are available on the Emergi-Center web site.

Dogs and Heatstroke Read More »

Microchip and grain of rice to show relative size

AVMA’s Check the Chip Day

The American Veterinary Medical Association has declared August 15 “Check the Chip” day.  As you’ll see if you visit the AVMA’s page, the goal is to remind owners of pets with microchip implants to confirm that their registration information is up to date.

For pets without microchips, our strong recommendation is to make an appointment with us to microchip your pet. It’s the best way to increase your chances of recovering your pet, should he or she get lost or be stolen.

At Brownsburg, we use HomeAgain brand microchips. The HomeAgain web site has even more information about the benefits of microchipping, and we are happy to answer any questions you may have about the procedure.

AVMA’s Check the Chip Day Read More »

Three dogs running across a field

National Heat Awareness Day

May 23 is National Heat Awareness Day, sponsored by the National Weather Service to remind us of just how dangerous heat can be, not only to humans, but to pets.

As shown on this NWS web page about the dangers of heat to children and pets, even when the temperatures are relatively mild, the interior or a car or truck can heat up very quickly. To reveal more details, click the links on the page.

Our advice: If you love your pets, leave them at home!

National Heat Awareness Day Read More »

A mixed breed dog lying on cobblestones, showing teeth

Preventing Dog Bites

Sponsored by the American Veterinary Medical Association, National Dog Bite Prevention Week® takes place during the third full week of May each year. The goal is to teach people about preventing dog bites.

The AVMA’s web site has a page dedicated to dog bite prevention.  We encourage you to visit the page and learn more about how you can lower the risk that your dog will bite. There are also tips on how to avoid having a dog bite you or someone you love.

Preventing Dog Bites Read More »