General Pet Care Information

Tips on Preventing Heatstroke

As the temperature steadily gets hotter, it is important to remember that our pets can suffer from the heat too. Here are some tips that can be used for every species.

  • Exercise your pet in the early morning or late evening; avoid midday activities.
  • Never leave your pet in a vehicle - even for a few minutes
  • Take special care of pets that are kept outdoors, including rabbits. Make sure all pets have access to cool shelter and plenty of water.
  • Place a frozen water bottle inside your rabbit's cage.
  • Apply sunscreen on tender areas of dogs with light pigment.
  • Watch out for asphalt because it can cause second-degree burns on your pet's feet.


Signs of heatstroke can include:

  • Collapse
  • Sticky drool
  • Weakness
  • Vomiting
  • Shock
  • Bright red or pale gray, tacky gums
  • Rapid Panting
  • Muscle incoordination
  • Rapid Heart Rate
  • Seizures

Recommendations for winterizing and holiday season preparedness

Winterizing your pet care routine

  • Check drinking water for outdoor pets frequently--it freezes quickly
  • Antifreeze made with the toxic chemical, ethylene glycol, can be fatal to people, animals and children, it has a sweet attracting odor. To avoid poisoning by accidental drinking always clean up any spills or use antifreeze with a safer chemical, such as propylene like in Sierra Antifreeze. If you suspect ingestion of antifreeze, contact your veterinarian immediately
  • If you have an outdoor doghouse, make sure it is plenty big for your dog and that the door faces away from cold winter winds- generally facing the south or southeast is the best. Clean, dry bedding is essential-straw, hay and wood shavings make good bedding choices. Old blankets, rugs, or newspaper tend to pack down and become less comfortable and provide less warmth
  • Chemicals used to melt snow and ice on walkways can irritate pets' paws and may make them ill if ingested. Check your pet's paws when coming indoors, clean them off when necessary
  • If the weather becomes severe, bring all pets indoors. Bring pets in when the temperature drops below 32 degrees with the wind-chill
  • Even when it's cold out, regular exercise like outdoor walks are essential for an indoor dog's health

Beware the holiday hazards that lurk in your home

  • Garlands and tinsel may become obstructive balls in the stomachs of cat and dogs
  • Consider artificial poinsettias and misletoe. They are both toxic if ingested
  • Watch out for lit candles and place them above waging tails
  • Keep all food out of reach--including the just-baked holiday roast--Severe digestive problems can develop from ingesting holiday snacks
  • Remember that seemingly harmless items under your Christmas tree can pose serious health risks to your pet. Only allow access to Christmas trees and other decorations when you are home and can monitor your pet's activity with them
  • Dark chocolate is popular for baking during the holidays, but it is toxic to dogs. Make sure to keep all chocolate products out of reach of dogs

Ways to include your pet in the holidays!

  • Tree farms often let dogs join the family ritual of walking around the farm to choose the perfect tree
  • Visit Santa together when the bearded guy arrives at local pet stores, and have a photo taken
  • Use your pet's picture with Santa as a holiday photo card
  • Give your pal an unwrapped gift during family gift exchange time
  • Take your dog along in the car to tour neighborhoods to see the brilliant holiday light displays. Play a CD in the car your dog can howl along with
  • Cuddle up with your pets on a cold snowy night, sip hot cocoa and watch It's a Wonderful Life together.

Holiday Travel Planning

If you travel on holidays, you'll want to prepare your pet to handle trips with minimum stress. Also, contacting airlines and train stations early to check on their requirements will save you some stress. If driving, find out where pet friendly hotels and rest stops are so the whole family can stretch their legs.

If not traveling with your pets, make sure to book reservations with pet sitters and boarding facilities as soon as you know your plans as they do book up quickly. Some dogs develop separation anxiety and owners traveling can precipitate such behavior. Carefully check out the boarding facility or in home care giver if there are any concerns. Contact your veterinarian for suggestions on how to ease your pets stay and keep them as comfortable as possible while you're away.

Make arrangements with your veterinarian for the caretaker to be able to bring your pet in if necessary while you're away. Find out about your veterinarian's payment policy, be clear about your wishes as to treatment, and leave contact information for the veterinarian to reach you.

If you are staying in someone's home, make sure your pets are welcome to stay with you before you go. While there, prevent things from happening that would keep your pet from traveling with you next time.

Whatever you're doing for the holidays, it's likely to be a fairly hyperactive version of your everyday life. Learning to function well in your everyday routine has not necessarily prepared your pets to handle holidays with grace. Learning holiday-savvy behavior WILL make everyday life a breeze.

Remember, more time inside usually means less opportunities for physical activity and exercise. Pets still have energy that they need to expend and they may find inappropriate ways to do so if not given proper exercise. They may become destructive and scratch or chew on the holiday decorations. Take time to include them in activities by buying them a few new holiday toys, this may keep them from eating the holiday roast!

Most of all, have fun, and enjoy the winter and holiday season!! Remember that your pets are companion animals and enjoy human contact; friends, relatives and attention in general. Your holidays will be much less stressful if you take just little time to be prepared.

Disaster Preparedness for Your Pets

Don't wait for a disaster, plan ahead! Get familiar with the types of disasters that may happen (power failure, earthquake, flood, fire, hazardous material spill, volcanic eruption) and make a plan of action.

Survey your property for the best location to confine your animals for any type of emergency. A small room away from windows and with a tile floor, like a utility room or bathroom is good for smaller pets.

If it becomes necessary to leave your home, decide on a location to take your pet. Contact boarding kennels, veterinary clinics, friends or relatives, and motels that take pets.

Plan several routes of escape. If you have a stock trailer or pickup with livestock racks, keep them serviced and always keep the gas tank at least half full. For smaller animals, have leashes or pet carriers or portable kennels on hand for each pet. Familiarize your pet with the carrier.

Be sure all animals have some form of identification, such as an ear tag, microchip, license, collar ID tag, etc. Be sure tags include your name, animal's name, address and phone number.
Take a picture of your pet and make note of its markings.

Have copies of your pet's immunization records and registration records if appropriate.
Keep an emergency supply of feed, medications, and clean water. Plan for 5-7 days worth, 2 weeks is ideal. Include items to handle pet wastes such as newspapers, plastic bags, and cleansers.
If you have to leave your pet at home, bring the pet indoors and leave only dry pet food, do not leave treats or supplements, and leave water in a sturdy container (i.e., fill the bathtub and leave toilet seats up). Never leave a cat and a dog together, even if the two are normally friendly, and place difficult or dangerous animals in sturdy crates or cages.

After the disaster

Be careful allowing your pets outdoors. Severe weather can alter scents and landmarks, and your pet could become confused and lost. Dangers could also be present such as downed power lines and wild animals.

If your pet is lost, contact local veterinary clinics, kennels, and humane societies.
If you find a pet, contact your local humane society or any emergency numbers that have been set up during the disaster.

For more information visit the Whatcom County Division of Emergency Management



Village Veterinary Hospital
236 36th Street
Bellingham, WA 98225

Phone: (360) 647-1980

After Hours Emergency
(360) 758-2200



Monday 7:30am 6:00pm
Tuesday 7:30am 6:00pm
Wednesday 7:30am 6:00pm
Thursday 7:30am 6:00pm
Friday 7:30am 6:00pm
Saturday 8:00am 12:00pm
Sunday Closed Closed
Village Veterinary Hospital    Your Pet's Best Friend!