Who better to give us tips for enjoying animals safely than Jan Berlin, director of Everything Animals Resource & Activity Center Inc.?
Berlin provides humorous and informative humane education programs focusing on the importance of respect, kindness, tolerance, compassion and personal responsibility.
Here are her tips for enjoying animals safely:
- Get the OK before petting animals that don’t know you.
- Be aware of body language. Bared teeth, flattened ears, and tail position all need to be noticed when you're in the presence of animals.
- Freeze if a stray dog runs toward you; dogs chase moving objects.
- Enjoy wildlife from a distance.
- Let animals get to know you on their terms. Be patient as they adjust to you.
- Mother animals protect their babies - move cautiously around them.
- Resist the temptation to stick fingers between the bars on cages or pet carriers. Your fingers may look and smell like treats to be nibbled, or they may frighten the animal.
- Wash your hands after playing with animals.
National animal welfare organizations are also a great resource for pet tips.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has an Animal Poison Control Center with advice on many subjects, including a trending topic: Are essential oils dangerous to your pets?
It reports that in their concentrated form, essential oils can be a danger for pets, including rabbits, guinea pigs and hamsters.
Even getting some oils on a dog or cat’s coat can develop health concerns.
Birds’ respiratory tracts are very sensitive and more susceptible to problems if you use an essential-oil diffuser that disperses a mist of oil into the air.
Some oils are more harmful than others, so keep any oils up and out of paws’ reach.
The ASPCA also says pets shouldn't eat these "people" foods: Alcohol, avocado, chocolate, coffee, citrus, coconut, grapes and raisins, macadamia nuts, milk and dairy, onions, garlic, chives, raw/undercooked meat or eggs, salt and salty snacks, yeast dough or Xylital sweetener.
If you think your pet may have ingested, or was exposed to, a potentially poisonous substance, contact your veterinarian or the APCC at 888-426-4435 immediately.
Here are a few of my own pet tips:
- If you have to bathe your cat (my longhaired Bella needs it periodically), put a towel down in the sink so she has something to grab and so she won't slide around.
- Cats despise, the smell of citrus. (My son tested this theory by spraying orange scent on his shirt, then picked up Meelo. In a split second, Meelo freaked out and jumped out of his arms.) An orange air freshener works as a great deterrent to climbing on the Christmas tree and scratching your favorite chair.
- Fido pulling you on the leash? Do an internet search for the Gentle Leader, a headcollar for dogs that's great for teaching them to heel.
- Separation anxiety? Give him what he wants: If he tears up paper, leave out brown paper bags, an easy cleanup. Old socks? Give them to her and treat yourself to new ones.
(And keep your good shoes and socks out of reach!)