Cricket’s Yips and Tips

It’s cold out there! And like a lot of small and/or short-haired dogs, I wear a coat when I venture outside in the cold. In honor of Dress Up Your Pet Day on January 14th, let’s get bundled up! Of course if your pet does not like dressing up, it’s best to find someone else to dress.

In a pet first aid class, pet parents might learn how to bandage an injured cat’s leg or a dog’s bleeding foot before heading to the vet’s office. In many cases, the pet will try to remove the bandage. But if the pet is accustomed to being dressed, it may be more likely to leave a bandage alone. I’m not saying that every Doberman should wear a dress – but there may be an advantage to having your pet accustomed to having clothing put on him/her. Wrap a bandage around your pet’s leg and tie it on. Try to divert your pet’s attention with a game or activity and see if the bandage stays in place. Keep trying until your pet accepts the bandage and you will both be better prepared for a pet first aid emergency.

Arctic Ohio

It seems to me that taking a simple walk outdoors becomes more like embarking on an arctic expedition when the mercury plunges. First I am bundled up in my pink coat and then my harness is put on over the coat. My collar and I.D. tags are checked – animals can lose their scent on snow and ice and become lost. When my leash is attached to my harness I’m ready to go.

The front steps are covered with pet-safe ice melt but I prefer to walk in the snow. The first stop on my expedition is my car. I sniff around the car to make sure there are no stray cats hiding under the hood. Sometimes cats hide under car hoods to stay warm, but they can be injured or killed when the engine starts unless I chase them away.

While I check out the terrain, my pet parent is watching out for salt, antifreeze and other potentially dangerous chemicals on the ground so we can avoid them. After our brisk walk we return home where I am brushed off to make sure there is no salt or antifreeze on my paws or stomach. Pets can ingest chemicals by licking their paws after being outdoors. Now I’m ready to settle down on my blanket and watch the snow fall outside the window – until the next walk.

Pet parents can learn about the signs that their pet has been poisoned in the American Red Cross Dog First Aid book or by taking a Dog First Aid class.

Cricket’s New Year’s Resolutions

1. Go for two walks every day    

Looks like Otis the bulldog is having a good New Year! Image courtesy of Dogster, Inc.

2. Lose ½ pound by next summer

3. Practice my escape plan in case of fire

4. Organize my toys

5. Save money

6. Brush my teeth more often

7. Volunteer

8. Don’t fight with my brother — as much

9. Restock my emergency kit

10. Donate to my local Red Cross

11. Do something with this hair

12. Have a great 2010!

Cricket’s Holiday Gift Ideas

Cricket in her holiday best!


Pets have it good during the holidays – we ‘come as we are’ to parties and we are never expected to shop for gifts. Although we don’t give holiday gifts, we are usually happy to receive them. I put gifts that people give their pets into three main categories. Category one is things I can eat (my favorite category.) Category two contains all the things I can chew. The third category includes all the items that make me wonder: “Really?!? You know I’m a dog, right?” 

Gift giving is a wonderful holiday tradition that many of us want to continue, even when times are difficult. That is why many people have been choosing to give more meaningful gifts this year. The American Red Cross Gift of the Month is a thoughtful gift that includes many important necessities that will bring help and hope to those touched by disaster all year-long. The Gift of the Month provides, among many other things, food served to those staying in Red Cross shelters and food delivered to people in disaster areas – things from my favorite gift category. 

Check out the Red Cross Gifts that Save the Day catalog for more great ideas. We even have useful stocking stuffers that won’t leave the recipient wondering, “really?!?” Happy holidays!

I brought back more than souvenirs from vacation

I had a great time playing outdoors last year when I went on vacation. I ran all over, I rolled around in the grass and rested in the shade under the trees. When my vacation was over I went home with a souvenir of my trip – conjunctivitis.

By gently pulling down on the lower eyelid and pulling up the upper lid, you may see redness, swelling or discharge (watery, mucus or pus). The area may be painful or itchy. Conjunctivitis can be caused by a bacterial, viral or fungal infection – and it can be contagious to other cats or dogs. It can be caused by an allergy, a chemical irritation or a foreign object. Some breeds are predisposed to defects in the eyelid.

In any case, conjunctivitis requires a trip to the veterinarian. My vet gave me some medicine and I started to feel better right away. Now I’m looking forward to my next vacation. I’m not going to let a little conjunctivitis keep me away from the great outdoors! Pet Parent Tip: Know what to look for so you can provide the best care to your pet. Purchase your Dog First Aid manual today!

Road Trip

Like many Americans, I’ll be taking another road trip to Grandma and Grandpa’s house for Thanksgiving dinner. My (doggie) brother will be riding in a crate in the back seat of the car. I’ll be wearing my car harness because I behave better in the car than my brother.


Even a short trip in the car requires some planning when you have pets. Always keep water in the car. And when you have well-watered pets … be prepared to make more stops. Of course when you do stop, make sure all your pets are restrained before you open a car door. Pets should always wear identification tags in case they get lost.


When I go to Grandma’s and Grandpa’s house on Thanksgiving, they always have special dog treats for me. But when it comes to sharing the turkey dinner, they are not so generous. They won’t even throw me a turkey bone – they say that the bones can splinter and cause me to choke. The dog treats are good though. Happy Thanksgiving!


Note: Take a Pet First Aid class at the American Red Cross and learn what to do if your pet is choking.

Maintaining your pet’s health

The first step to keeping your pet healthy is to make an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as you bring a new pet into your home. Your veterinarian will assess your new pet’s health, complete an exam and begin a vaccination program. It will be necessary to make yearly visits to your veterinarian for heartworm testing, vaccinations and an annual exam. It’s crucial to keep your pet’s vaccinations up-to-date.

I keep my medical and vaccination records in my disaster supplies kit. For more information on pets and disaster, click here. And please remember that even if your pet howls and runs away at the site of a pet carrier, or barks incessantly when it enters the vet’s office, vomits on the exam room floor or shivers and shakes when it realizes that the surprise car ride will be ending at the vet’s office, your pet loves you for keeping it happy and healthy. The American Red Cross also offers first aid books for dogs and cats to help you prepare for pet emergenices.

Red Cross Pets Support Our Military!

Veterans Day is almost here, reminding me of a program that many have never heard of — the Red Cross Pet Visitation Program. At home and abroad, specially trained dogs visit wounded military members in hospitals and rehabilitation centers to offer love, encouragement and a little distraction.


Wounded American soldier Ryan Newberry is happy to meet Eddie at a medical center in Germany. Eddie thinks that being a distraction is the best job a dog can get – it’s so easy!


Toffee visits photographer Evan Baumhofer at a medical center in Germany. According to Baumhofer, Toffee did an excellent job of taking his mind off his upcoming surgery. Way to go, Toffee!


At Walter Reed Army Medical Center Cordy May and her pet parent Molly Morgan visit wounded Army National Guard Sergeant Ericka Skinner. It seems like everyone breaks into a smile when Cordy May walks into a room.

Dogs entering the Pet Visitation Program complete temperament and behavioral training to be sure they are suitable for hospital conditions. Dogs like Eddie, Toffee and Cordy May are lucky to have such rewarding jobs.

Veterans Day is this Wednesday, November 11. Thank you to all of those pets and humans who are serving and have served!

Did you change your batteries this weekend?

Did you know that according to the National Fire Protection Association, having a working smoke alarm reduces one’s chances of dying in a fire by nearly half? This stat refers to our human friends, but I can only assume the same goes for us pets. Having an escape plan is important, but working smoke alarms and your escape plan go hand-in-hand. Make sure your pet parent took time this weekend to replace all of your smoke alarm batteries. If not, make sure they do before you go to bed tonight!


Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!

For most pets, Halloween does not rate very high on our list of fun holidays. It is really a holiday for the people in our lives. Sure, I look soooooooo cute in my Halloween costume. And I can even tolerate wearing it and posing for photos — for about three minutes. That is where my interest in Halloween ends.


I’d love to get my paws on that big bowl of candy by the front door, but all I get are regular old dog treats. “Candy is bad for dogs,” Mom says. Sure, candy causes obesity and tooth decay in pets like it does in people and I probably don’t brush my teeth as often as I should, but it smells really good and I want it anyway. I think some of the best smells come from the chocolate candy but I’m not allowed to have any chocolate. Besides causing tooth decay and obesity, the theobromine in chocolate is poison to pets. If you suspect that your pet has chocolate poisoning, call your veterinarian immediately.


I know that the strange-looking creatures in the house are my own people, but the rest of the world seems full of scary things running around outside and making lots of noise. And worst of all, they ring my doorbell. Some pets become overwhelmed and excited during the trick-or-treating and one common reaction for them is to run away. Never leave pets outdoors on Halloween: they may jump a fence or dig under a fence to escape even if they have never done it before. Protect your pets by putting them in a quiet room away from open doors, scary strangers and chocolate. Happy Halloween!