Animal welfare officials share holiday pet safety tips


As Christmas approaches, animal welfare officials in the Rio Rancho area have issued tips for pet owners to ensure the holidays are enjoyable not only for them, but also for their canine companions and felines.

What if your pet were to accompany you on a long trip?

Kelli Mortensen, Sandoval County Animal Care Associate, said pet owners can teach their pets about vehicles and put them at ease by taking short walks before travel. She said that if pets weren’t already inside a vehicle, they would be more likely to “freak out or get car sickness”.

“Just getting them used to the vehicle is going to help a ton,” she said.

For dogs, Mortensen said “tiring them out” with a long walk or a quick trip to the park can help them relax during the ride. For cats, she said it would be beneficial to use a laser toy to help them exercise before travel.

On the other hand, she also said owners can give them a toy for mental stimulation in the car.

“They have a lot of toys that you can stuff them with (pet food) or peanut butter, things like that, just so they’re mentally stimulated and not constantly thinking about what’s going on. going on,” she said.

Depending on the length of the trip, she says, it would be helpful to find a safe place for the animals to hang out, stretch their limbs and use the toilet. She also said pet collars with ID tags are “always very easy to get” ahead of time, in case an animal gets lost in unfamiliar territory.

Sara Heffern, executive director of the Watermelon Mountain Ranch No-Kill Animal Shelter, said owners should make sure their pets’ microchip information is up-to-date in case they wander off. . If they aren’t already microchipped, Heffern said to do so.

She said animals should be up to date on their vaccinations if the trip involves toilet stops or going to a park where other animals may be.

“You don’t know what other pets might be carrying, and you want to make sure your pet’s immune system is as strong as possible before travel,” she said.

Heffern also recommends bringing a travel carrier for your pet, depending on the animal’s temperament. In the event of a bad accident, she said having pets in the carrier or with a specific collar attachment buckled into a regular seatbelt will help ensure they don’t get ejected.

At the vacation spot, Heffern said, pet owners should stick to regular feeding and walking schedules. She also said they should be more aware of fences and gaps in holiday home fences, as well as keep pets on leashes rather than letting them roam free in an unfamiliar yard.

According to Connie Peterson, director of the City of Rio Rancho’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Services, pet owners should keep their cars and crate well ventilated, provide plenty of water at all times, not let their dog travel on an empty stomach and have proof of vaccination against rabies.

Additionally, she said owners shouldn’t let dogs stick their heads out of an open window because flying debris can cause eye injuries. Also, dogs should not ride in the back of a van or they could fall off and injure themselves or die.

What pet sitters need to know

Peterson said pet sitters shouldn’t make themselves too comfortable in the owner’s home so the pet doesn’t experience a stressful change in routine. She said pet sitters should ask the owner if they can use specific appliances and electronics, and clean up after themselves.

Peterson said that when a pet sitter walks his client’s dogs, don’t stop to let other people pet them or allow other dogs to sniff them, because the client’s dog may bite or be bitten.

Mortensen said it was important for the owner to interview this potential caretaker before leaving and let them know about feeding and toileting times.

Heffern said a pet sitter should be trustworthy, whether it’s a friend or someone with strong recommendations on a third-party website, and the owner should ensure that the guardian meets the animal in advance.

She also said the owner should provide a list of “do’s” and “don’ts”, seemingly abnormal behaviors that are in fact “completely normal” and emergency contact information.

What if your pet is not used to snowier and colder regions?

While thick-furred breeds like huskies or shepherds will likely be fine in cold weather, Mortensen said a short-haired animal should only be outside for things like trips to the bathroom or a brisk walk because they are less equipped to deal with the cold – unless they wear a dog coat.

“These little breeds don’t have enough body heat to keep them warm. They’re not big enough; they don’t have long coats,” she says.

If owners go to places with heavy snow, Heffern said they should buy their pets winter booties because de-icing salts can be toxic and burn their feet. She also said they should have a pet jacket.

Peterson said cats and dogs are susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia and should not be left outside for long periods in freezing weather. She also said owners should frequently check a dog’s paws for signs of cold weather injuries such as cracked pads or bleeding, and that pets should not be left unattended in a cold vehicle. .

Inside, Peterson said heaters should be used with caution around pets because heaters can burn or be knocked over, which could start a fire. She also said pets should be kept at a healthy weight throughout the winter, adding that outdoor pets will need more calories to generate enough body heat and energy to stay warm.

Other Key Tips

Heffern said Christmas tree ornaments should be kept away from dogs so they don’t chew on them or step on them. She also said chocolate, turkey bones, ham bones and drippings should be kept away from dogs as they cause intestinal problems.

Additionally, she said noises from new toys can make pets nervous, so owners should be aware of this and give their pets space.

Mortensen said household plants like poinsettias are toxic to cats.

Speaking of pets, Freedom, this 2-year-old neutered female Beagle mix, is one of the pets for adoption in Sandoval County. County information says she is a sweet, loyal and affectionate dog. Anyone interested in adopting Freedom or another pet can call 505-867-7642 or email [email protected] Courtesy picture.

Pet Microchipping Resources

Heffern said Watermelon Mountain Ranch, at 3251 Westphalia Blvd., offers $25 microchipping on site Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. each day. No appointment is necessary.

Mortensen said other low-cost options include Valley Vetco at 413 Montaño Road NE, Building A, in Albuquerque. She also said that any veterinary clinic can use a microchip, depending on the person’s budget.


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