Are you and your pets prepared for a disaster?

From tornadoes and crippling winter storms, to wildfires, toxic spills and terrorist attacks, both natural and man-made disasters seem to be occurring on an increasingly regular basis. If you have a dog or cat, you need to plan for his safety and comfort in the event an emergency forces you from your home for any length of time. Proper preparation reduces panic and stress and will help things go as smoothly as possible, if you have to evacuate.

This four-point checklist from can help ensure that you – and your beloved companion – will be as prepared as possible for a potential disaster.

Ask a friend or relative if they’d be willing to have you and your animals stay with them if need be or check to see if there are any animal-friendly hotels in the area. Be sure to pick a destination (or two) at some distance; keep in mind that local acquaintances and accommodations may also be affected by a disaster such as a hurricane or earthquake.

Apply stickers to your front and back doors to alert first responders to animals in the house and/or ask a neighbor if they’ll help. “In an emergency, animals need an advocate to speak for them,” says Jen Leary, firefighter and founder of the all-volunteer Red Paw Emergency Relief Team. “If the homeowner is at work when a disaster hits, a neighbor can tell first responders how many animals are in the house and where they are likely to be found, as well as take charge of them so no one gets lost or goes to Animal Control.”

Paul Purcell, a terrorism and natural disaster preparedness trainer for first responders, and author of Disaster Prep 101, offers these tips:

• Put together a go-bag with small cans of food, bottled water, any meds or supplements, health records, extra ID, a favorite toy, a photo of yourself with your animal, and a list of emergency contact numbers. Stock enough supplies for at least three days. Stressed dogs and cats eat less, so small cans mean less wasted food and will be easier to carry. Don’t forget a spoon and manual can opener.

• Wear an old t-shirt until it’s beyond ready for the wash. Put the dirty shirt in a Ziploc bag with the emergency kit. If your dog or cat has to be boarded, your scent on the shirt will help comfort him.

• Create or buy a first aid kit. Add Rescue Remedy or a similar calming agent to help Sparky de-stress.

• Find an easily accessible place near an entrance to keep your emergency and first aid kits, and store other relevant accessories alongside it, such an extra collar and leash, a crate or carrier, bedding, cat litter and a litter box.

This may seem like overkill, but it’s a good way to discover if you’ve overlooked anything. “Where will everyone go to get out of the house? Set off the smoke detector or the alarm, and take the dog or cat to the exit you’ve chosen,” Jen says. “Break out the best of the best treats, and reward him.” Practice the drill at different times of the day and night, sometimes even in the dark, until it becomes a learned behavior for your animal.

Despite what we may think, nobody lives in an area that’s totally immune from emergencies. Even an overturned tanker truck or out-of-control grass fire can result in evacuation. Thoughtful preparation can spell the difference between a panicked run for safety, and a calm and orderly exit.

Holiday Pet Safety Tips

The holiday season is upon us, and many pet parents plan to include their furry companions in the festivities. As you gear up for the holidays, it is important to try to keep your pet’s eating and exercise habits as close to their normal routine as possible. Keep these tips from the ASPCA in mind, and you and your pets will have a very happy holiday!

Be Careful with Seasonal Plants and Decorations

  • Oh, Christmas Tree: Securely anchor your Christmas tree, so it doesn’t tip and fall, causing possible injury to your pet. This will also prevent the tree water—which may contain fertilizers that can cause stomach upset—from spilling. Stagnant tree water is a breeding ground for bacteria, and your pet could end up with nausea or diarrhea should he imbibe.
  • Avoid Mistletoe & Holly: Holly, when ingested, can cause pets to suffer nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Mistletoe can cause gastrointestinal upset and cardiovascular problems. Many varieties of lilies can cause kidney failure in cats if ingested. Opt for just-as-jolly artificial plants made from silk or plastic, or choose a pet-safe bouquet.
  • Tinsel-less Town: Kitties love this sparkly, light-catching “toy” that’s easy to bat around and carry in their mouths. But a nibble can lead to a swallow, which can lead to an obstructed digestive tract, severe vomiting, dehydration and possible surgery. It’s best to brighten your boughs with something other than tinsel.
  • That Holiday Glow: Don’t leave lighted candles unattended. Pets may burn themselves or cause a fire if they knock candles over. Be sure to use appropriate candle holders, placed on a stable surface. If you leave the room, put the candle out!
  • Wired Up: Keep wires, batteries and glass or plastic ornaments out of paws’ reach. A wire can deliver a potentially lethal electrical shock, and a punctured battery can cause burns to the mouth and esophagus. Shards of breakable ornaments can be just as harmful and damage your pet’s mouth and digestive tract.

Avoid Holiday Food Dangers

  • Skip the Sweets: By now you know not to feed your pets chocolate and anything sweetened with xylitol, but do you know the lengths to which an enterprising pet will go to chomp on something yummy? Make sure to keep your pets away from the table and unattended plates of food. Also, be sure to secure the lids on garbage cans.
  • Leave the Leftovers: Fatty, spicy and no-no human foods, as well as bones, should not be fed to your furry friends. Pets can join the festivities in other fun ways that won’t lead to costly medical bills.
  • Careful with Cocktails: If your celebration includes adult holiday beverages, be sure to place your unattended alcoholic drinks where pets cannot get to them. If ingested, your pet could become weak, ill and may even go into a coma, possibly resulting in death from respiratory failure.
  • Selecting Special Treats: Looking to stuff your pet’s stockings? Stick with chew toys that are basically indestructible. Kongs that can be stuffed with healthy foods or chew treats that are designed to be safely digestible are a great option. Long, stringy things are a feline’s dream, but the most risky toys for cats involve ribbon, yarn and loose little parts that can get stuck in the intestines, often necessitating surgery. Surprise kitty with a new ball that’s too big to swallow, a stuffed catnip toy or the interactive cat dancer.

Plan a Pet-Safe Holiday Gathering

  • House Rules: If your animal-loving guests would like to give your pets a little extra attention and exercise while you’re busy tending to the party, ask them to feel free to start a nice play or petting session.
  • Put the Meds Away: Make sure all of your medications are locked behind secure doors, and be sure to tell your guests to keep their meds zipped up and packed away.
  • A Room of Their Own: Give your pet his own quiet space to retreat away from the crowd—complete with fresh water and a place to snuggle. Shy pups and cats might want to hide out under a piece of furniture, in their carrying case or in a separate room away from the hubbub.
  • New Year’s Noise: As you count down to the new year, please keep in mind that strings of thrown confetti can get lodged in a cat’s intestines, if ingested, perhaps necessitating surgery. Noisy poppers can terrify pets and cause possible damage to sensitive ears. And remember that many pets are also scared of fireworks, so be sure to secure them in a safe, escape-proof area as midnight approaches.

Wishing you and your furry friends a very happy holiday and a prosperous New Year from your friends at Brookside Barkery!

Yellow Ribbons for Safety

We’ve all been there: Taking our dog for a walk when we see another pet owner coming our direction. There’s usually a bit of uncertainty, and maybe even anxiety involved, especially if you have a child with you. You’re probably thinking:

  • Can I identify the breed and feel comfortable knowing that the dog is likely safe?
  • Does the dog look harmless or anxious?
  • Maybe I should just steer clear altogether and cross to the other side of the path…

Thankfully, The Yellow Dog Project is a nonprofit global organization working to solve this very dilemma. Their concept is simple, really: If you own a dog that may have trouble with strangers, fear issues or even get overexcited when meeting new friends, you can simply tie a yellow ribbon on your dogs leash or collar to alert others to the situation in advance.

This technique can also help teach your children how to correctly approach a new animal, thus avoiding an incident or danger.

Please stop in and visit us today as we begin supporting this effort with our own yellow ribbons!

Thanksgiving Safety Tips

Just as humans are at risk for “over-doing it” on Thanksgiving, and even getting sick from uncooked ingredients, pet owners should also be on alert for the safety of their four-legged friends. 

The ASPCA  shares several tips on pet safety during the upcoming holiday, including:

  • Turkey safety
  • Uncooked ingredients such as eggs and dough
  • Sage tummy trouble
  • Poisonous floral arrangements
  • And even how to create a mini feast fit for your pet

Click here to read more about Thanksgiving safety for your pets now