Are you ready for Hurricane Season??

When a natural disaster occurs, clients will worry about the welfare of their pets. These worries prompted Alex Close to create the Save Your Pet Pack. Close, the owner of two cats, noticed a lack of products to care for pets during an emergency, so she created her own.

The Save Your Pet Pack can be used for any type of disaster: earthquakes, fires, tornadoes, hurricanes, and floods. The sling-bags full of emergency supplies are designed for people or their pets to wear, and they’re hands-free. To learn more about the bags,

Here are some of Close’s top tips you can share with clients for how to plan ahead:

  • Purchase a pet emergency kit. It should contain a comprehensive pet first aid kit, a three-day food and water supply, medications, a temporary collar, identifying documentation, and current vaccination records. Include a photo of you with your pet to prove ownership.
  • Prepare identification. Always have a securely fastened collar with current contact information on your animal. Microchip your pet and label all carriers with up-to-date personal and veterinary information.
  • Practice home escape-drills. Do this twice a year using two different exits, and don’t forget to include your pets.
  • Prepare transportation. Have carriers for each animal fully assembled at all times—train your animal to be on a leash or harness or in a cage or carrier. Label carriers with your personal and veterinary information. Also include details on your temporary shelter location.
  • Consider alternate housing. Find friends and neighbors who are willing to take your pets if disaster strikes. Find pet-friendly places to stay (pet-friendly hotels), including locations within a 50-mile radius in case of far-reaching evacuation. Pinpoint kennels and veterinarians in your area. Create a list and map of your local shelters.
  • Use the buddy system. Exchange pet information and evacuation plans with trusted friends and neighbors. Inform them of your pet’s favorite hiding places and let them know where you keep leashes and carriers/crates. If you’re away during an emergency, they can keep your pets safe.

Cat IQ Test

Cats are unquestionably smart creatures. Their intelligence, however, is not a matter of understanding complex human ideas, but how to get the food, attention, play and care they so need and desire. In other words, cats know how to “work the system” and use their natural survival skills, even in a domestic environment.

Of course, some cats are bound to be better problem solvers than others. How do you know if you’ve got a brainy feline? There are no scientific tests to measure feline IQ. You can, however, get a pretty good idea of how smart your cat is just by observing him. Here are some questions to help you assess your cat’s intelligence:

1. When you open a can of cat food with an electric can opener, what does your cat do?
a) Runs and hides under the bed
b) Looks up briefly, then gets back to napping
c) Immediately races into the kitchen

2. When you get out the pet carrier, what does your cat do?
a) Gives it a quick glance
b) Runs away, but will come back if offered a treat
c) Hides and won’t come out

3. How often does your cat persuade you to get out of bed early to fix her breakfast?
a) Never
b) Once in a while
c) Every day
4. Has your cat ever learned to do something just by watching you do it, such as how to open a cupboard door or turn off a light switch?
a) No
b) Yes, one or two easy procedures like how to open the box of cat treats
c) Yes. There are many things my cat has learned to do just by observing me.

5. If you come home at the same time every day, does your cat wait for your arrival, apparently aware that you have a regular return time?
a) No
b) Yes. He’s usually waiting for me by the door.
c) Yes. As soon as I walk in, he escorts me to the kitchen so I can get him dinner.

6. If a piece of food or a cat toy is out of your cat’s reach or trapped behind an object, what does your cat do?
a) Paws at it once or twice, but gives up if that doesn’t work
b) Tries to retrieve the item with her mouth and one of her paws and gives up after several failed attempts
c) Uses both of her paws and her mouth to grasp the item and won’t quit until she’s successful

7. Does your cat enjoy playing games with you?
a) Not at all
b) Occasionally
c) Very much so — especially challenging games like hide-and-go-seek

8. If your cat sees a bird outside the window, what does he do?
a) Bangs his head against the glass, trying to reach the bird
b) Paws madly at the window and yowls until I shut the blinds
c) Races to the door and meows until I let him outside

9. If you’ve ever moved your cat’s feeding dishes or litterbox from one part of the house to another, how long did it take her to get used to the new location?
a) Several weeks
b) A few days
c) One day or less

10. When you call your cat’s name, what does he do?
a) Nothing
b) Looks my way for a second or turns his ears in my direction
c) Immediately runs toward me

11. Does your cat ever get bored with her toys and create her own amusements using your socks, the goldfish bowl, the tassels on your drapes, etc.?
a) My cat’s not very interested in toys.
b) Sometimes
c) Almost daily

12. If a guest teased or pestered your cat in the past, does your cat single out that person as trouble — for example, by avoiding that person but allowing other guests to handle him?
a) No. My cat acts the same toward everyone.
b) He does prefer some people over others, but there’s no clear reason for his preferences.
c) Most definitely! My cat remembers who gave him grief and does not forget.

13. How often do you come home from work to discover that your cat has gotten into mischief while you were away?
a) Never
b) Now and then
c) All the time

14. While petting your cat, does she let you know where she most wants to be stroked and for how long?
a) No. She becomes extremely relaxed and doesn’t care where or how long she’s being stroked.
b) She purrs if she likes what I’m doing and growls or hisses if I pet her where she doesn’t want to be touched.
c) She moves around to make it easier for me to pet certain parts of her body.

15. What happens when you try to teach your cat a trick?
a) My cat never figures out what I’m trying to teach him.
b) After several training sessions, my cat is pretty good at it.
c) My cat masters the trick after one short training session.

16. After you’ve taught your cat a trick, will she still remember how to do it a month from now if you haven’t done any refresher sessions?
a) Not likely
b) Probably
c) Definitely

17. When your cat wants something from you, what does he do?
a) Purrs
b) Meows a little more loudly than usual
c) Makes a variety of vocalizations, depending on what he wants

18. How often does your cat coax you into playtime?
a) Rarely
b) Sometimes
c) Frequently

19. How does your cat react when the litterbox needs cleaning?
a) Goes in the same spot until I notice the mountain inside the litterbox
b) Starts using the planters for a litterbox or goes outside the litter pan
c) Goes outside the litterbox and meows loudly to get the point across

20. When your cat’s food bowl is empty, what does he do to remedy the situation?
a) Sits quietly in the cat tree and waits for me to feed him
b) Leaps onto my lap and meows until I realize he’s hungry
c) Opens the cupboard where the bag of cat food is stored and rips it open


Give your cat one point for every “c” answer. Deduct one point for every “a” answer. A “b” answer is a neutral response and doesn’t affect the score. Tally up the total number of points, and grade your cat according to the scale below.

Less than 5 points: Smarts aren’t your kitty’s strongest suit, but chances are that your cat is a wonderful companion, even if he doesn’t know how to open up the pantry to get out a treat!
6 – 15 points: When it comes to bell curves, your feline’s where most cats are: right in the middle. Your cat has average intelligence and can learn a few tricks, but has no desire to take apart the cat water fountain and reassemble it.
15 – 20 points: You may just be living with a feline Einstein! Your cat is extremely intelligent and continually amazes you with new tricks. Your cat also knows how to get you to do things her way. You’re going to need to be pretty crafty yourself if you want to outsmart your cat!

Rebecca Sweat is a freelance writer specializing in pet and family topics. She lives in the Dallas area with her husband, two sons and many pets

Dehydration in Dogs: Know the Signs and How to React

Dehydration in dogs, which occurs due to an excessive loss of body fluids, is a common and dangerous condition that needs to be immediately addressed. If left untreated, dehydration can lead to serious consequences, including organ failure and death. For this reason, pet parents should learn to recognize the signs of dehydration and how to respond to it with proper dog first aid and veterinary attention.

dog drinking from water fountain

Dehydration in Dogs is Typically Caused by:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Not enough intake of food or water
  • Overexposure to heat

An ill dog is at high danger of dehydration, since the illness can cause dog diarrhea , dog vomiting, fever and a lack of desire to eat and drink.

Along with a loss of water, dehydration also typically involves a loss of electrolytes – minerals such a sodium, chloride and potassium.


Signs of Dehydration in Dogs Include:


  • Lack of skin elasticity
  • Dry, sticky gums
  • Sunken eyes
  • Too much or too little urination
  • Lethargy
  • Delay in capillary refill time (the time it takes for your dog’s gum to return to its normal color after you press your finger against it)


How to Determine Dehydration in Dogs
Although it is less accurate than medical testing from your veterinarian, a quick at-home physical examination to test the elasticity of your dog’s skin can help tell you if your dog is dehydrated. To check, do the following:

Gently pull up on the skin at the back of your dog’s neck. If the skin does not immediately spring back to its normal position (within 1 or 2 seconds), your dog is dehydrated and needs immediate attention. The longer it takes for the skin to return to its normal position, the more severe the dehydration.


Be aware that if your dog is older it will be more difficult to accurately perform this test, since older dogs naturally lose some of their skin elasticity.

Accurately determining dehydration in dogs via the skin test is also difficult in overly skinny (malnourished) or obese dogs. The skin of malnourished dogs, like the skin of older dogs, loses some of its elasticity.


Determining the level of dehydration is also difficult in obese dogs, since excessive skin fat can cause the skin to return to normal even if the dog is dehydrated. In such instances, check for dehydration by feeling your dog’s gums to see if they are dry and sticky. If so, then your dog is probably dehydrated.

Bear in mind that even if your pet’s skin snaps back to normal immediately, he may still be dehydrated. This is because even pets that are dehydrated will have skin that immediately snaps back to normal if the pet is less than 5 percent dehydrated. The higher the level of dehydration, the more pronounced will be the symptoms.


dehydration in dogs - dog drinking from fountain

What You Should do for Dehydration in Dogs
As mentioned above, dehydration in dogs is serious and if left untreated can be fatal. Therefore, it needs to be addressed immediately. If you suspect that your dog is dehydrated, do not attempt to treat him at home, as it is unlikely he will be able to drink enough water to correct the situation. The best course of action is to immediately take your dog to your veterinarian or an emergency veterinary clinic for diagnosis and treatment.

Your veterinarian will determine the level of your dog’s dehydration and the volume of fluids needed to re-hydrate him. Fluids will then most likely be administered either subcutaneously (under the skin) or intravenously for greatest efficiency.

Your veterinarian will typically also ask you questions about your dog’s recent eating and drinking habits and physical symptoms, as well as perform a physical examination and laboratory tests to determine the level of your dog’s dehydration, as well as the cause of the dehydration.

Once again, do not attempt to treat a dehydrated dog at home. If you suspect that your dog is dehydrated, be safe and take him to your veterinarian.


If he is not vomiting, you could also try giving him Pedialyte®, an electrolyte-replacement drink made for infants, which is also safe for dogs. This should not, however, replace bringing your dog to the veterinarian for prompt medical treatment.

To avoid dehydration, always make sure that your dog has plenty of clean, fresh water available and that he eats and drinks normally.


If your dog is ill or injured, monitor him closely to make sure he is drinking enough water to replenish fluids lost due to vomiting, diarrhea or fever. Also be aware that excess fluids are lost as a result of excessive panting or severe drooling. In cases of drooling, the dog’s gums may feel moist, even though he is dehydrated.

After your dog has been re-hydrated, it is essential that your veterinarian perform the proper examinations and tests to determine the underlying cause. Only by doing so can you ensure that your pet is healthy and avoid repeated dehydration.

 Again, dehydration in dogs is a serious condition that requires prompt attention by a veterinary profession. Do not take chances with your dog’s life. If at any time you suspect that your dog might be dehydrated, immediately bring him to your veterinarian for diagnoses and treatment.

Safety Tips for the Dog Park

As summer approaches and the weather heats up, my clients are more likely to frequent dog parks for a fun outdoor escape where their four-legged friends can play and socialize. In fact, more pet owners are utilizing dog parks than ever before.

With a 34 percent increase over the past five years, dog parks are the fastest-growing segment of city parks in the U.S., according to a study by the non-profit Trust for Public Land. As dog park visits increase,I like to  remind all of my dog-owning clients about the importance of safety when visiting their favorite dog park.

In 2011, VPI policyholders spent more than $8.6 million on medical conditions that are commonly associated with a visit to the dog park. According to VPI, here are the most common dog park related injuries:

  • Sprains and soft tissue injuries
  • Lacerations and bite wounds
  • Kennel cough/upper respiratory infection
  • Insect bites
  • Head trauma
  • Hyperthermia or heat stroke
  • Parasites
  • Parvovirus

Before visiting the dog park, make sure you understand that dog parks have their rules, just like any other community. Below are a few simple but important tips for ensuring a fun and safe trip to the dog park:

  • Obey all posted rules and regulations
  • Pay attention to your dog at all times
  • Don’t bring a puppy younger than four months old
  • Make sure your dog is up to date on vaccinations and has a valid license
  • Keep a collar on your dog
  • On very warm days, avoid the dog park during peak temperature hours, typically between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Look for signs of overheating, including profuse and rapid panting, a bright red tongue, thick drooling saliva, and lack of coordination. If this occurs, take your dog to a veterinarian immediately.