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Dogs, cats, and other pets are a special blessing to the lives
of humans. Pets are sometimes provided to the sick and dying to
provide comfort, and trained to assist the elderly and disabled in
their daily activities. Pets clearly fill the role for
companionship and positive emotions in humans. They also provide an
opportunity to teach children about responsibility, and give people
an excuse to exercise by walking their dog or playing with their
cat. Scientific evidence shows that petting an animal will lower
your blood pressure and calm your body. However, at least some
people perceive pets as a potential household hazard. With that in
mind, it is important to remember that less than one percent of
emergency room injuries are associated with pets.
"We see a great number of cases where a cat, dog, or ferret has
been accidentally injured by their owner. We see dogs all the time
that have broken bones from the owners accidentally stepping or
sitting on them, and injured paws from paws or legs being caught in
doors." said Dr. Mark Stickney, clinical assistant professor and
director of general surgery services for the Texas A&M College
of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. "Sometimes the
pet has curled up in a recliner to sleep and been smashed when the
chair decided to close, or a cat or ferret has gone to sleep in the
laundry hamper and gets thrown into the washing machine or dryer,
animals have eaten prescription medication, cats crawling up in the
engine of the car; the list goes on and on."
There are several things that pet owners need to know in order
to ensure that the least amount of harm comes to their pet or
themselves. Be aware of the pet's environment by knowing where your
pet likes to sleep, or linger. It may help to keep your pet out of
harm's way if they have a specific place designated for them to
sleep. If you have a small dog, pick it up out of the way to avoid
tripping or stepping on it. A dog's desire to run and jump
obnoxiously can be cured through obedience training.
"Every dog needs obedience training" said Stickney, "they need
to know the basic commands; sit, stay, come, lie down. It helps the
pet, and also saves the owners from embarrassing situations when
hosting visitors in the home. If you are outside with your dog,
always have a leash to keep them under control, even if they are
well trained to go without one."
Household items such as antifreeze, rat bait, and chocolate are
fatal to dogs and cats if ingested. Obesity caused by accidentally
overfeeding your pet, is also a hazard to their health and
"A good way to make sure that your dog is not is not overweight,
is to look at them from the top. Their body should look like an
oblong hourglass, with a broader chest, a thinner waist, and
broader hips. Two straight lines is too much weight! You should be
able to feel, but not see, your dog's ribs" added Stickney.
Dog parks are a great place to take your pet. They are away from
traffic, and are made especially for the safety of dogs. At a dog
park, your pet is safe to run and play as much as they want without
running into furniture, falling down the stairs, or being stepped
on by people.
ABOUT PET TALK
Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary Medicine &
Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University. Stories can be
viewed on the Web at http://tamunews.tamu.edu.
Suggestions for future topics may be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas 77843
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