Emergency Preparedness – Make sure you make a plan for your pet

As we’ve seen in the last year, unforeseen circumstances can happen at any time. During any kind of emergency, the best place for your pet is with you!

However, what happens if you have to evacuate from your home, or if you become seriously ill or require hospitalization?  Do you have a plan in place? Below are a few tips for you to consider to help keep both you and your pet safe during an emergency.

  • Create an emergency contact list with information for friends and family that includes the following:
    • contact information for your veterinary clinic, local animal shelters and boarding kennels
    • pet information (name, age, sex, microchip number, medical concerns, medications, feeding instructions, behavioural concerns, etc.).
    • print and complete this Pet Emergency Information Sheet, then place it with your emergency plan or in an accessible and easy to remember location for you to use in an emergency.
  • Identify a family member or friend who can temporarily take care of your pet.
  • Stock up on your pets food. Try to keep at least a 2 weeks supply on hand.
  • Set aside some toys and treats that your pet enjoys.
  • Set aside collars and leashes or harness for dogs (muzzle if needed).
  • Make sure you have litter and a litter box for cats and spare poop bags for dogs.
  • Have a crate large enough to transport and house your pet.
  • Make sure your pet is wearing a collar with a City of Pickering license tag along with a rabies tag.
  • If your pet is microchipped make sure the contact information for you and your pet is accurate and up to date.
  • Make sure your pet is up to date with their vaccinations. If you are not sure, reach out to your local veterinarian to confirm.

During an Emergency Evacuation you should also include the following:

  • Pet first aid kit.
  • Set aside blankets (for you and your pet).
  • Food and water bowls that won't tip over.
  • Manual can opener and plastic lids.
  • Extra water for you and your pet.

More information about emergency kits is shared on the Region of Durham website.

Summer Safety Tips

While we love to soak up some sun, we need to be mindful that our furry friends may not appreciate the heat as much as we do. Here are a few things to remember as the temperatures rise:

  • Ensure that your pets have access to fresh water at all times. Keeping your pets well hydrated will help prevent heat stress.
  • Never leave your pets in your car. Even with the windows open, the temperature inside a vehicle can rapidly increase much higher than the temperature outside. Leaving your pet inside a parked vehicle can be fatal.
  • Limit exercise. If it gets too hot out, it is in your dog's best interest to avoid strenuous outdoor activities. Pay close attention to your dog's breathing, and discontinue activity if your pet is panting more than usual or having laboured breathing. When outside, make sure that your dog has access to a shaded area to avoid direct sun.
  • Walk your dog early in the morning and in the evening to avoid the scorching heat of summer.

If you find a pet unattended in a hot vehicle, call 1-833-9-ANIMAL (264625)

Winter Safety Tips

  • Outdoor cats and other animals sometimes seek shelter under the hoods of cars, putting them at risk of injury or even death by the fan belt when the motor is started. You can bang loudly on the hood before starting the engine to startle the animal and give it a chance to escape. 
  • Snow Covered DogAlways keep your dogs on-leash when outside, especially during snowstorms, as they can easily get lost. Ensure your dog is licensed and always wears an ID tag. Visit our licensing page for details about licensing your pets.
  • Salt, antifreeze or other chemicals used in the winter can be dangerous to your dog if ingested. Make sure you wipe your dog's legs and stomach from any sleet, snow or ice to avoid them from licking it, or causing any discomfort. 
  • Never shave your dog down to the skin in winter, consider a longer coat for more warmth. Always make sure your dog is completely dry before taking it out for a walk and if you own a short-haired breed, consider getting outerwear with a high collar or turtleneck with coverage from the base of the tail to the belly. 
  • Never leave your pets in a car during the cold - they can freeze. 
  • Take into consideration your dog's age, breed, and medical history when letting them outdoors in the cold - limit their time outdoors depending on these factors.
  • Your pet's ears and paws are especially susceptible to frostbite in the winter. Frostbite requires immediate medical attention from a veterinarian.

Ticks and Lyme Disease: What you need to know

The tick population is rapidly expanding, and it is now becoming more common for pet owners to find ticks on their pets. There are many species of ticks that can be found here in Pickering, including the black-legged tick which is known to carry Lyme disease.

Public Health Ontario has included Pickering as one of the areas in the province where there is a higher estimated risk of encountering the black-legged ticks. There is no question that these disease-carrying parasites are here to stay, and community members have to be extra careful when outdoors with family, friends, and pets.

Once temperatures reach 4⁰C, ticks are active and out to feed. Make sure that you regularly check yourself and your pets for ticks, especially when going to wooded areas. Given the prevalence of Lyme disease, it is a good idea to have your dog(s) screened for tick-borne diseases annually, and to seek advice from your veterinarian for ways to prevent ticks from biting your pet.  Unfortunately, symptoms of Lyme disease are not easily detected in animals. In fact, only a small percentage of infected dogs may show clinical signs, and these signs are often similar to the clinical signs that present with other common diseases. If left untreated, Lyme disease in dogs can result in mobility issues and joint pain, loss of appetite, lethargy, depression, and in severe cases, affecting the central nervous system, heart, and kidneys. Early detection of the infection will allow you to start treatment before your pet starts to show clinical signs.

While a Lyme-positive dog cannot transmit the disease to humans, being in the areas where an infected dog may have acquired the disease increases your chance of exposure. Avoid areas known to have high population of ticks as much as possible, especially those where cases of Lyme disease have already been reported.

It can be tricky to detect ticks right away. Those that tend to bite humans are often the immature ones called nymphs, which are about the size of a poppy seed.

It takes infected ticks 24-48 hours to successfully transmit the Lyme disease. If you find one on your dog, carefully remove the tick and take it to your veterinarian for identification. Your veterinarian may want to examine the bite site, and recommend testing your dog for possible exposure. If you do not feel comfortable removing the tick yourself, your veterinarian should be able to remove the tick for you immediately. The longer you leave the tick attached to your pet, the greater the risk of transmission.

View these tips on how to safely remove ticks from your dog.

If you find a tick on your body, carefully remove it using tweezers, pulling away gently and firmly. The Durham Region Health Department recommends washing the bite site with soap and water, and taking the tick to the Health Department Office for identification and possible testing. Symptoms may show as early 3 days after a tick bite, and these include:

  • fever and chills
  • headache
  • muscle or joint pain
  • fatigue
  • stiff neck
  • circular "bull's eye" rash 

Visit the Region of Durham website for more information about Lyme disease, and ways to protect yourself and your family.

Additional Resources

  • Provincial Animal Welfare Services is now the enforcement agency responsible for investigating animal cruelty complaints in Ontario. Cruelty to any animal is not tolerated in Ontario. If you think an animal is in distress or is being abused, call: 1-833-9-ANIMAL (264625).