National Pet Poison Prevention Month: Interview with Laura Vorreyer
It’s National Pet Poison Prevention Month, and author and pet expert Laura Vorreyer shared some tips for pet parents with Debbie Mazella!
Here’s a sample of some of the topics that were covered:
Be aware of the plants you have in your home and yard. Ingesting azalea, oleander, or Easter Lily’s can be fatal to domestic animals!
Never allow your pets to have access to the areas where cleaning products are being used or stored. Some may only cause mild stomach upset, most can cause burns of the tongue, mouth and stomach.
Never give your animals medication unless you are directed to do so by a veterinarian. Many medications that are safe for humans can be deadly for animals! One extra strength (500mg) acetaminophen tablet could be fatal to a cat, and one 200mg ibuprofen tablet could cause stomach ulcers in a small dog.
Before buying a flea or tick product, consult your veterinarian, especially when treating sick or pregnant animals. If you’re uncertain about the proper usage of any product, contact the manufacturer and/or your veterinarian for instructions.
Make sure your pets do not go on lawns or in gardens treated with fertilizers, herbicides or insecticides until they have dried completely.
While many dog owners invest in training for their canine friends, cat owners often don’t. Cats are very intelligent animals that are highly trainable and can be taught skills like entering their carrier on their own and giving high fives. The Pawsitive Start program offered by The Michigan Humane Society helps to train rescue cats. Training a cat is not only good for the owner but for the cat as well, as it offers stimulation and alleviates boredom and can also provide a way to communicate. The tenets of training for canines and felines are the same: reward positive behavior and ignore undesirable behaviors while making sure to hold your ground during extinction bursts, a time when undesirable behaviors will flare up and intensify before disappearing.
Often people leave their cats home alone with someone checking in on them when they vacation, knowing that felines are independent. Though cats are independent, they are also much more social than previously believed. A 2017 Oregon State University study found cats preferred human social interaction over other stimuli including food. Boarding and daycare also offer a safe place for cats to stay when their owners either work long hours or go away on vacation. They are often reasonably priced, and reputable facilities offer a separate area away from dogs, with cat condos that feature multiple areas for cats to explore. The average national cost to board a cat overnight is $25, according to Home Guide, a customer referral service site.
According to data provided by Spins, a natural products resource, 25% of cat owners purchased clothing for their pets in 2020. According to the 2020 TD Ameritrade/Harris Poll, 18% of cat owners have purchased a Halloween costume for their furry friends, and 16% would consider it. This is not surprising considering that according to the same survey, 79% of all U.S. pet owners consider their pet to be their best friend, while 77% consider pets to be “fur babies.” There is even an annual National Dress Up Your Pet Day on Jan. 14. The bottom line is, pets are considered to be part of the family, and more than ever, owners are humanizing their furry companions.
A 2021 study by Elmhurst University found a link between a person’s happiness and spending money on pets. Those who participated in the study reported greater happiness when purchasing for a pet as opposed to spending their money on another person or themselves. According to a 2019 report by Packaged Facts, a market research firm, 72% of cat owners splurge on winter holidays and Christmas presents for their feline companions. Cat gifts and splurge items range from typical and inexpensive cat toys like fake mice and catnip to elaborate and expensive cat towers and pet carriers. Each year there are best-of lists for the cat enthusiast to ensure they get their furry friends the latest and greatest gifts.
Though cats groom themselves, they still require a bit of help. The amount of grooming for cats also depends on the length of their fur. Cats with medium and long hair often need to be groomed daily with the help of their owner, while short-haired cats require weekly grooming. Millennials spend the most out of the generational groups for cat grooming. Part of the reason for that is that they aren’t simply spending on typical cat grooming like bathing, ear cleaning, and nail trims. They also spend on nail painting, facials, and breath freshening treatments.
Pet insurance has grown into a big business, with many pet owners paying monthly premiums based on the level and type of insurance they purchase. According to the 2021 state of the industry report, 3.1 million pets were insured in 2020, which was an increase from 2019 when the total pets insured number 2.5 million. The report found that 82.9% of insured pets were dogs while the other 17.1% of insured pets were cats. Akin to medical insurance humans have for themselves, pet insurance has likely grown in popularity because pets are no longer simply considered just cats or dogs, but family, particularly by millennials, which may help to explain why they spend the most generationally in this category. Today’s pet owners also realize that vet bills can be expensive, especially with new and elderly pets.
Pet supplies for cats, other than food, can include things like bowls, collars, brushes, litter boxes, and toys. Many of these supplies are necessities used to feed and keep feline friends healthy and happy; toys provide mental and physical stimulation, and bowls hold food and water. According to recent data by Petpedia, supplies and over-the-counter medication came in third behind food and treats and vet care and product sales as the most expensive pet care expenditure. Owners spent $19.2 billion on supplies and over-the-counter medicines.
Vet care should begin early in a cat’s life with vaccinations and spaying or neutering. Annual vaccinations and certain routine tests should be done at the cat’s yearly checkup. This helps not only to keep cats healthy but also with the early prevention and detection of diseases. Monthly or bi-monthly medications like flea and tick prevention are another aspect of vet care. As pets age, the price of care often rises, and baby boomers may spend more money than either of their generational counterparts because as the oldest generation, they understand the importance of health maintenance not only now but long term.
Food is the largest overall cost for both cat and dog owners. It’s worth spending the money on quality food because the old adage, “you are what you eat,” also applies to pets. According to the International Boarding and Pet Services Association (IBPSA), there are many benefits to feeding cats (and dogs) high-quality food. These include a higher quality of life and a longer life span due to things like fewer skin conditions and stronger muscles and bones better equipped to deal with the normal wear and tear of day-to-day living as well as the impact of any injury. Higher quality foods also tend to avoid any soy components, wheat, or corn and offer better digestibility.