With this fire settling in and sending smoke and ash our way, there are some precautions we should take for our pets as well as our people. Hopefully we all have our pet emergency evacuation bags packed with food, dishes, leashes, tie outs and all of the necessities we need to care for our pets for several days.
These firefighters are doing an exceptional job of keeping this fire out of our communities. With proper weather conditions, we should be safe. But being prepared is the key.
The Willow Fire hopefully has frightened us all into finding those health records and making sure all vaccinations are up to date. PAWS in the park has notified their members to be ready to volunteer if the dog park becomes an evacuation center for pets. Those health records are vital. Last year, a dog was brought to the park with Parvo and died. That is very frightening. Have your dog's vaccinations up to date. It is such a simple thing.
This smoke and ash is expected to linger until the monsoon season begins and that might be 10 days to two weeks away. It is hot. Our dogs are in constant need of fresh water. With this falling ash, we need to change that water often. If possible, put the water dishes someplace where they are accessible, but also somewhat protected from the debris falling from the air. Keep the food dishes clean also. That ash cannot be a good thing to ingest.
Dogs with breathing and heart problems and older dogs should be kept in the house as much as possible. This smoke filled air is making breathing difficult for many, and our dogs are included in that group. Dogs who are in good physical shape will be able to carry on with normal activities. The older ones may need some extra care.
Every so often I will say something in this column which needs correcting or revising. It is nice to know that people are reading the column and are concerned enough to let me know when they disagree or have a different view or a correction.
Last week, I mentioned two safety precautions: a concern with dogs eating grapes and with the Swiffer Wetjet.
My friend Sharon got on the Internet for more information about both of these issues. Apparently, the information I had about the Swiffer Wetjet was incorrect, a hoax. I certainly apologize for any problems that might have caused.
With all the information coming over the Internet, one needs to check out everything. But on the other hand, we want safety for our pets. The Swiffer Wetjet does not use antifreeze or any chemicals close to it. These cleaning products do use strong cleaning agents however, and I would still recommend letting the floor dry before allowing dogs, cats or children to have access to it. And keep food away from these chemicals.
As for the danger of dogs eating grapes -- I received several notices about this including what I read in Dog Fancy Magazine. The dog apparently needs to eat quite a few of them, but this is a good warning to keep them away from our dogs. My nephew's dog consumed chocolate covered raisins. Worrying about the dog eating chocolate, he called the vet. The vet insisted they bring the dog in right away, not because of the chocolate but because of the raisins. Vomiting was induced. They took blood tests and would test again in a week or so to see if the kidneys were affected.
There are several good websites for information. One that Sharon gave me is peteducation.com. This is connected with Foster and Smith pet catalog and they provide a service called "Ask the Vet" and have the answers for most of these kinds of issues. Another site I just found is Avma.com, the American Veterinary Medical Association's website. They talk about the toxic danger of many common foods including grapes, raisins, chocolate and avocados. They also mention toxic plants and many harmful products. It appears I should do some serious research and write a column about toxic items found around the house and yard.
In the meantime, keep your pets and people safe during this unsettling time. We all must conserve water and be super cautious about fire. We worry about the Willow Fire, but one could start in our back yard or down the block any time. It is nice to see all the fire, police and sheriff vehicles everywhere keeping us all safe. Many thanks to all of them.
Christy Wrather is a columnist for the Payson Roundup. She can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by snail mail at HC1 Box 210, Strawberry, AZ 85544.