Online Pet Help
Don’t let the Internet become a web of confusion when looking for answers to important questions about pet health and safety.
When searching for dependable information about your pet’s medical issues, the Internet can quickly become a web of confusion, fear and misinformation without guidance. Finding a good starting point can be half the battle. The following websites will help you and your beloved pets start off on the “right paw” when using online pet resources, from emergency situations to fun pet sites for all ages.
- Information about animal health: Your faithful friend is not feeling well and you find yourself worried and waiting to see the veterinarian. As your pet’s advocate, you are responsible for understanding all of the information and options a veterinarian provides and at times making life-changing decisions for all involved. It is too much to expect an owner of a sick pet – potentially in a state of emotional shock – to absorb complicated medical information. Ask your veterinarian to summarize the information being provided, to break options down into conservative, moderate and aggressive approaches, and to provide informational handouts. Pet owners should also feel free to ask questions of their veterinarian and request second opinions or referrals as needed. An excellent online medical reference, www.veterinarypartner.com, provides reliable science-based information to better understand complicated medical conditions..
- Support system: If a pet has been diagnosed with a specific chronic medical condition, there is likely a related support group. Understanding how others have dealt with a situation like feline kidney failure (www.felinecrf.com), diabetes (www.felinediabetes.com) or deafness (www.deafdogs.org) makes it much easier to cope with. Groups.yahoo.com is also a fantastic resource for finding community support during most any chronic pet medical condition.
- Cat questions: “Thousands of years ago, cats were worshipped as gods. Cats have never forgotten this.” –Anonymous. For most cat owners, this is a well-known and understood fact. Dogs are estimated to have been domesticated 15,000 to 135,000 years ago whereas cats were domesticated only 10,000 years ago, which helps explain why behavioral problems, and in particular inappropriate urination, are seen so commonly in our cat friends. Stress, intercat issues, boredom and poor litter box choices by humans all contribute. Visit www.indoorpet.osu.edu to help see the world (and its stresses) better through a cat’s eyes.
- Before you bring a new pet home: The 5 P’s (Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance) is an adage that rings true when considering bringing home a new pet. Talk to as many people as possible when picking a pet. Whether selecting a breeder, shelter, veterinarian, or groomer, ask questions, compare information, and seek word of mouth advice from friends, family, and veterinarians. Often behavioral problems are predictable and originate well before a pet is brought home. Understanding what a new puppy or kitten requires from their environment and family is as important as understanding their medical needs. Valuable free references include “Before You Get Your Puppy” (www.dogstardaily.com/free-downloads), www.canismajor.com/dog/index, and for cats, www.aspca.org/Adoption/adoption-tips/bringing-your-new-cat-home.
- Children and pets: The endless energy of kittens and puppies is second only to that of a boisterous preschooler. Establishing household rules to protect the furry from the toddling and vice versa is important. Learning to recognize signs of fatigue or stress in a pet while teaching children how to safely handle and play with them is key. Involving the whole family in a pet’s training teaches not only responsibility, but better communication between a pet and their child owner. Ultimately our goal is to keep pets and children safe together in the home and our world. Websites such as www.doggonesafe.com, www.liamjperkfoundation.org and www.safekidssafedogs.com do a thorough job addressing these topics for parents, grandparents and even teachers.
- In case of an emergency: Emergency situations seem to always happen at the most inopportune times. At 2 a.m. when the cat is coughing or the dog will not stop vomiting, it can seem an eternity until the local veterinary office opens. Fortunately in McHenry County, we have an emergency animal hospital that is fully staffed around the clock. Pet owners can feel reassured knowing they are just a phone call away from help at Animal Emergency of McHenry County (815-479-9119, 1095 Pingree Rd., Suite 120, Crystal Lake, www.aemc911.com). Also available at this site is acupuncture, surgery and internal medicine. The ASPCA poison control (www.aspca.org/pet-care/poison-control) is another easy-to-use reference if a pet has ingested a potentially toxic item.
- Gone missing: Lost and found applies to pets, too. McHenry County Animal Control (www.co.mchenry.il.us/departments/health/Pages/ACindex.aspx) provides our community with a variety of animal-related resources including microchipping and pet adoption. Officers are available to assist with wandering pets, injured wildlife and concerns regarding animal welfare. When a pet is found, it is immediately scanned for a microchip in an attempt to reunite it with its owners. If you have not checked your pet’s microchip registration recently, either contact your local veterinarian or go to www.petmicrochiplookup.org for more information on determining whether you would be found if your pet was lost.
- Death of a pet: Losing a loved one is never easy. Many do not truly understand the grief that can come with the loss of a pet until they are suddenly faced with it for the first time. Pets are with us through thick and thin, always listening, never lecturing – and forever grateful. They hold a unique place in our hearts. When a family is faced with such a loss, it is important for them to know they are not alone and that the feelings of grief evoked are common and normal. Many local and national resources are available to provide the needed support during these tough times. They include:
- The Argus Institute is run by Colorado State University and has been at the forefront of pet loss services and information (www.argusinstitute.colostate.edu/grief.htm).
- Wings is a free pet loss support group/service serves Chicagoland and meets monthly (www.chicagovma.org/petlosssupport).
- The Anti-Cruelty Society (Chicago) offers monthly support group meetings.
- The Illinois State Veterinary Medical Association offers a phone grief support service (www.isvma.org/pet_owners/pet_loss_support.html).
- Pet Loss Support Page (www.pet-loss.net) is a comprehensive website that addresses many grief-related issues.
- Just for fun: Need a quick smile? Check out the following websites spotlighting our favorite animal friends:
- From aardvarks to zebras, find out what baby animals look like at www.zooborns.com. Zoos from all over post pictures and stories of their new additions. Be prepared for lots of “awww”ing.
- Know an aspiring zoologist? Visit animals.nationalgeographic.com.
- Looking for a fun site where kids can learn about pet care and careers, play games and watch cartoons? Check out www.aspca.org/ASPCAKids.
- Want to meet a new unique animal everyday? Experience how big the animal kingdom is at www.thefeaturedcreature.com.