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Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

Heartworm disease is almost 100 percent preventable in cats and dogs. © UW-Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine
Heartworm disease is almost 100 percent preventable in cats and dogs.

© UW-Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine

April 2008

Creature comforts

Keeping your pet safe during disaster and in your own back yard.

Natasha Kassulke

All in a name...
Have a heart, hold the worms
Gardening – what your pet wants to know

Tornadoes. Floods. Fires. Spills. We hope it won't happen. But every year in Wisconsin, emergencies – natural and man-made – strike. Sometimes whole communities are at a loss.

As a responsible pet owner, it's important to keep your pets in mind when making emergency plans. In the event of a disaster you may even be asked to evacuate your home. When that happens, it helps if you've arranged a safe place to take your pets. Emergency shelters that are safe for people likely will not take in pets because of health and safety regulations. Some hotels, though, are pet friendly – research your options in advance of a disaster (visit or discuss the matter with friends and family who might put you up temporarily.

Assemble a portable pet disaster supply kit and keep it in an accessible place, stored in a sturdy container. Supplies should include a crate for your pet with its photo posted on the outside of the crate – include the pet name and your name and phone number, plus any medical concerns. Add food and water dishes, a file with health history and vaccination dates, leash and collar, litter box supplies, ample food and medication for an extended stay away from home, paper towels, trash bags and newspapers.

But even with planning, it is possible that you could become separated from your pet in a disaster. The American Kennel Club Companion Animal Recovery Program is dedicated to providing 24-hour recovery services for micro-chipped and tattooed pets that are enrolled in the CAR database. Visit Companion Animal Recovery to learn more about this nonprofit program.

All in a name...

Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats (a set of whimsical poems by T. S. Eliot about feline psychology and the basis for the musical Cats) reminds us,

"When you notice a cat in profound meditation,
The reason I tell you is always the same:
His mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation
Of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of his name..."

"Max" has taken top honors as the nation's most popular male pet name with "Molly" leading the way for female pets, according to research by Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI). Here is their competition:

Top 10 Male Pet Names Top 10 Female Pet Names
1. Max 1. Molly
2. Buddy2. Maggie
3. Jake3. Daisy
4. Rocky4. Lucy
5. Bailey5. Sadie
6. Buster6. Ginger
7. Cody7. Chloe
8. Charlie8. Bailey
9. Bear9. Sophie
10. Jack10. Zoe

Have a heart, hold the worms

Heartworm is a serious and potentially fatal disease. It is also preventable. Heartworm primarily affects dogs, cats and ferrets. Heartworms are transmitted from animal to animal by mosquitoes carrying the infective stage of the larvae. Indoor and outdoor pets are at risk. Heartworm disease has been reported in all 50 states.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, though, heartworm disease is almost 100 percent preventable in cats and dogs. There are several FDA-approved heartworm preventatives and your veterinarian can recommend the best option based on your pet's risk factors and lifestyle.

A blood test for existing heartworm infection is recommended before beginning a preventive to confirm that your pet is not already infected and to avoid flushing worms into your pet's bloodstream. To learn about heartworm and how you can protect your pet visit the American Heartworm Society.

Gardening – what your pet wants to know

Just like people, pets look forward to spring and the promise of some time outside in the sun and shade. Keep your pets in mind when planning your gardens and going about your lawn work.

Put your pets inside when mowing the lawn. Hitting a stick or rock with a lawnmower creates a projectile that can injure your pet, even from a distance. Put garden tools away when you are finished working and keep your pets inside when applying chemicals to the lawn or garden. Many of these products are designed to persist in the environment days to weeks after application, so a pet can be exposed for an extended time after initial application.

If you are considering a plant of which you are unsure, consult your local plant nursery. Dr. Amy Wolff at cautions pet owners about planting the following due to their toxic nature:

  • castor bean
  • oleander
  • morning glory
  • Japanese yew
  • Jerusalem cherry
  • foxglove
  • nightshade
  • lily of the valley
  • precatory beans
  • trumpet vine

And while most vegetable plants do not pose toxicity problems, Wolff notes that there are exceptions. Onions, chives and garlic, which a lot of pets do like, contain compounds that, if ingested, can cause anemia. The leafy part of the potato plant and the green part of the potato skin contain compounds that are toxic if eaten in sufficient quantities. Fruits also contain toxic chemicals in their seeds and pits. Apple, plum, cherry, apricot and peach seeds and pits contain cyanide, which can cause fatal seizures. Keep pets away from compost pails and heaps as well.

Natasha Kassulke is creative products manager for Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine.