Watch Tip Classic – Watch for Strays

Posted on August 29th, 2012 by Trish Roman-Aquilino

Watch Tip LogoThis Watch Tip was originally written by Anna Nirva.

With the upcoming holiday three-day weekend almost upon us, this classic watch tip bears repeating – many families will be traveling with pets to strange areas, and many pets will be either boarded or watched over in their homes by either professionals or friends and family.

Watch and listen for stray dogs and cats that could go missing while traveling with their families, or be frightened by holiday fireworks. Take action to save them. Read the rest of this entry »

Watch Tip: Restraining Pets in Automobiles

Posted on August 1st, 2012 by Trish Roman-Aquilino

Watch Tip LogoThis morning, as I drove to work, I passed a car with a medium-sized dog with at least half of his or her body hanging out a half-open window, completely unrestrained.  As the car made a left turn, I watched from my rear-view mirror, worried that the pooch was going to fly out of the window as the vehicle careened around the corner.  The dog did not, and I was grateful, but it is an example of the need for pet restraint and/or containment in a vehicle.

Loose Pets in Vehicles Pose Many Risks

There are many dangers in letting pets roam freely in automobiles, to them and to others.  The group, Bark Buckle UP, has a detailed and thorough website that includes not only why pets should be safe, but all types of pet travel tips and product reviews.  From their site: Read the rest of this entry »

Watch Tip: Dog Park Tips & Warnings

Posted on April 16th, 2012 by Trish Roman-Aquilino

Watch Tip LogoDog parks have become extremely popular with dog owners for a variety of different reasons, including exercise, opportunities for socializing dogs, and just plain canine fun.  But there are problems to consider, and precautions to be taken, so that “fun” trip to the dog park doesn’t turn into a tragedy.   Following are ten tips and warnings to take heed of, and to distribute to any dog parents you may know!

1.         Do your research first.

Check out the dog park before taking your dog for his or her first outing.  Whether it’s Fido’s first time at this particular park, or visiting a park away from home, it pays to know the “lay of the land” before the first outing, and see what amenities are available (drinking water? separate play areas for small and large dogs?).  Know what the rules of the park are – they will have signs posted, and often a website that goes over the rules in more detail. Read the rest of this entry »

Kirkland Canned Lamb and Rice Dog Food May Need Recall

Posted on February 29th, 2012 by admin


One of our great rescuers has had some serious problems with some canned Kirkland dog food. Here’s the email we received:

At the end of December, a local kennel donated 12 cases of Kirkland canned
Lamb and Rice dog food. They said it was too rich for their dog because
they all got sick. Did not think any problem with the food. I fed to my dogs,
and to visiting dogs. Diarrhea for all dogs, puppy threw up 15 times. She
survived…Tesla and Dino did not. Read the rest of this entry »

Watch Tip Classic: Secondhand Smoke Harms Pets

Posted on February 20th, 2012 by Anna Nirva

Watch Tip Logo
Secondhand smoke is a threat to pets—did you know? It is even more toxic for pets than for humans because not only do they breathe the fumes, they lick the cancer-causing residue from their fur while grooming! Cats and short-nosed dogs are most affected, but all pets in smoking households are more likely to develop lung/nasal/mouth cancers and lymphoma.

If you smoke, be aware of the increased risk of cancer for your pets

Have you ever noticed the smoke residue that coats the walls and windows inside the home of a smoker? In addition to coating lung tissues, that toxic airborne residue infiltrates porous materials, such as clothing and pet fur. Secondhand smoke causes cancer in cats and dogs just like it does in non-smokers who are forced to breathe the same air. The smoke can also cause breathing difficulties and eye/skin irritations. Plus, with their sensitive noses, just imagine how dogs and cats must dislike the strong acrid odors. Read the rest of this entry »

Watch Tip: Learn Signs of Pain in Cats and Dogs

Posted on January 8th, 2012 by Anna Nirva


Learn to recognize signs of pain in dogs and cats so that you can take appropriate action and prevent extreme suffering. Cats typically mask pain and many dogs do as well. The signs may be subtle but you can recognize them if you are prepared. As you travel through your daily life, be ready to help an animal in distress. You may save a life.

All animals deserve treatment to relieve their suffering

You certainly believe that but be aware that many people do not; they will ignore suffering in their animals. For centuries prevailing wisdom advised that the lesser animals did not feel pain like people do, possibly because people didn’t understand how to read the subtle symptoms of pain. Maybe they were taught to discount what signs they did observe. Remember, veterinary science is a recent innovation.

Cat pain or illness symptoms are particularly difficult to discern and a cat might be critically ill by the time the signs are evident. This sadly happened to our dear adopted cat Lucinda a few weeks ago and this post is dedicated to her memory. By the time she quit eating a day before Christmas Eve, she was already terminally ill, but she didn’t act sick. She slept more over the next two days; sleeping and refusing food were the only signs that she didn’t feel good. We took her to the vet the day after Christmas Day; she seemed weak.  She was diagnosed with severe non-regenerative anemia, cause unknown; her hemoglobin reading was the lowest the vet had seen in all his years of practice. We had to say goodbye. The suddenness of her decline and death was stupifying. We were horrified that we hadn’t provided treatment sooner.

Cats hide pain or illness instinctively. They are unlikely to vocalize when experiencing distress, but some will as pain advances. Know your cat’s routines and habits; be aware of changes. Symptoms of pain or ill health in cats include:

  • Change in routine, personality or activity levels
  • Loss of energy/more sleeping  OR  anxiety/agitation/aggression
  • Sitting on all four paws tucked under body, hunched posture, withdrawn
  • Loss of appetite
  • Rapid breathing or panting, inward expression
  • Favoring of a certain body part; tenderness; licking of sore spot
  • Fur looks unkempt

Read the Colorado State University’s “Feline Acute Pain Scale” to learn more about identifying signs of pain in cats.

Dogs are more variable in their expression of pain. Some dogs and breeds (notably the bully breeds) are stoic while some other individuals will provide many clear evidences of discomfort.

  • Whining or whimpering
  • Panting, rapid breathing, shivering, inward expression
  • Change in routine, personality or activity levels
  • Loss of energy/more sleeping  OR  anxiety/agitation/aggression
  • Loss of appetite
  • Favoring or presentation of a certain body part; tenderness; licking of sore spot

This is the dog version of the Colorado State University’s pain scale.

The most important advice is to know the behavior and habits of your own animals; be watchful and curious. If you are observing possible pain-related behavior of a neighbor’s pet or a stray, advocate for them. Contact your neighbor and describe your observances. Even in a note taped to an entrance works. See the Sunbear Squad “Pocket Poster” you can download and post at your neighbor’s. We have a Spanish language version available too.

If you find a stray that appears to be in pain or ill, take the animal to a vet if you live in an area served by a shelter or pound that you do not trust to uphold humane standards of care. If your area is served by a compassionate organization, contact them.

Watch Tip Classic: Fireworks and Holidays

Posted on December 25th, 2011 by Anna Nirva

Watch and listen for stray pets who panic when holiday fireworks detonate—they may bolt through traffic or get lost. They might eat live or spent fireworks casings left on the ground. Be alert for violent cruelty to animals during this holiday in particular, when some troubled people become overexcited or aggressive!

Holidays are always high-risk for pets. Be vigilant.

What effects do all holidays have on your household? Holiday event schedules are busy and stressful. Your home might fill up with visitors and special dishes. Entrance doors and gates swing open and shut more often, and with so many distractions, tempting foods may be left out on counters. Spills occur and containers of cleaning supplies appear. New and unfamiliar people visit at odd hours. Interesting (sometimes fragrant) wrapped gifts and packages are sitting out.

Your dogs and cats are very attuned to these changes and they may become anxious or overexcited. They may be unsupervised in all of the hubbub and explore what they shouldn’t. It’s no wonder that accidents happen around holidays, and companion animals are so often involved.

Veterinarians will tell you that clinics are especially busy after any major holiday, and some of the stories are very sad—and almost always, the accidents preventable. Shelters and rescues will tell you that they get more calls to surrender dogs and cats around the holidays as well, often for behavior (lack of training) issues relating to holiday activities. This anxious adolescent puppy (pictured) was dumped on a SW Wisconsin county road just before a holiday. (She was adopted by a more responsible and loving family.)

Please be vigilant in your neighborhood and advocate for those who have no voice during any holiday. Be proactive in your home. If you expect visitors, crate your dogs and keep your cats in a safe room.

Remember, holidays are not celebrated for companion animals. They actually don’t mix well at all!

Watch Tip: Doggy Dumpster Diving

Posted on November 9th, 2011 by admin

Watch Tip LogoKeep those tempting garbage bins and cans fastened or locked, out of reach of curious pets. Inside garbage receptacles especially kitchen waste is very attractive to many dogs and cats. Enclose bins inside of closets or cupboards. Outside garbage can attract unwanted visitors too. Garbage can be highly toxic: spoiled foods, old cleaning containers, light bulbs, expired prescriptions. Prevent those preventable problems!

Dumpster Diving Doggy Style

We all have had that sinking feeling of walking in the house and seeing the overturned garbage can. There’s nothing like being met with the sight of banana peels and discarded food carton packages strewn across the kitchen floor to make you feel good about being home. But as bad as the sight makes you feel, doggy dumpster diving can make them feel MUCH worse. In fact, this bad habit can literally kill your furry friend.

Sure, those dinner leftovers can smell great to your dog. But yummy smelling garbage could contain things that could kill him. Things like chicken and turkey bones could stick in their throats or guts, causing them to bleed to death. Sharp items like broken glass and even staples can get eaten with discarded and old food. What about discarded home cleaners or other poisons? Your dog might not pay any attention to caustic cleaners when they are on your counter or under it but what happens when food residue gets mixed in with the garbage? Dogs may not notice the poisons as they go after the tasty bits. Then, just like poisoning mice with peanut butter your dog could take the deadly bait.

Let me tell you a sad story of two beloved dogs and a Thanksgiving dinner. A few years ago a friend of the family had two very loved Weimaraners. He and his wife had friends over for Thanksgiving and planned the usual extravagant feast. The only problem was that the friends didn’t like dogs. (No accounting for taste I guess). So his wife made the family friend put the two dogs in the backyard. That would have been the end of the story except that there was one other item in the backyard with the dogs – the garbage can. In the rush and excitement of the feast the family left the garbage can in the yard with the dogs. No problem until after dinner when the wife put the turkey carcass in the can. The Weims took the opportunity to get the carcass and they paid the ultimate price for it. Cooked bird bones are extremely dangerous because they can splinter in dogs’ guts. These did and the family was too slow in getting the dogs to the vet to save them.

With just a little more thought to keep the dogs and the garbage safely separated the dogs would have lived many more years and Thanksgiving could have continued being a happy time for all.

The point is, keep your dogs and your garbage safely separated. Save yourself the heartbreak of a preventable death. Keep your garbage behind a locked fence, closet door or put a chain and lock on the garbage can. Don’t discard attractive things like dinner leavings or old food in a garbage can that is easily turned over by dogs or other household pets. Teach children in your home that they must be careful too, and not throw things in the garbage that could hurt their furry family members. Make sure that compost piles are protected from pet incursions as well. Odiferous old food could be a real temptation to a nosy dog.

With just a little planning you can keep your floors garbage-free and your dogs safe for many holidays to come.

Watch Tip: Protect Pets in a Drought

Posted on August 28th, 2011 by Anna Nirva

wwtips_a2If you live in a drought-stricken region, step up your efforts to protect your pets from hungry and thirsty wildlife. Desperate wild predators, birds of prey, reptiles, and some dangerous arachnids will approach yards and neighborhoods that offer scents of water or food. Secure your kennels, buildings, yards, and crawl spaces to protect your pets and avoid providing new homes to pests.

In a drought, protect your pets from hungry, thirsty snakes, birds of prey, coyotes, insects

Drought drives wildlife and insects into populated areas in the fierce fight for survival; it’s a well-known fact. Now more than ever, you must be vigilant and proactive to protect your family. Protect your homestead and all lives depending on you, especially your helpless children and pets. Here are the basics: Read the rest of this entry »