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Keep your Pets Safe Everyday with These Medication Storage Tips

It’s common nowadays for pets to be on regular medications.  Many pets take medicine like monthly flea and tick prevention as well as monthly heartworm pills.  If your pup is in their twilight years, your list of medications can grow drastically between joint medicine, vitamins and pain medications.  They come in all forms- tablets, liquids, creams, injectables, vitamins, etc.

All of these medications help your pet stay healthy and happy and hopefully lead longer lives.  However, just like our own medications, they are nothing to fool around with.  Medications that are improperly stored can put your pets and even your family members (such as children or spouse) at risk.  Your vet should be the go-to expert on tips and tricks to keep your medications stored safely since your pet’s welfare is their chief concern. However, we have some recommendations that could help you minimize the dangers of your pet medicine.

  1. Store Medications out of Reach of your Children and Pets

It sounds like common sense, but it’s very important to keep pet medications stored in a secure location out of reach of pets and children. However, this can be tricky. What constitutes out of reach? Especially if you have cats that can get into the highest nooks and crannies with ease.  A high, closed cupboard is the most ideal for drugs that also need to be stored at room temperature. If you want to be extra safe, you can lock the cupboard, especially in the instance of extra curious pets or children.  If you have other animals, such as horses, cows or pigs, make sure you treat them in an area that your dog or cat can’t get to.  Smaller animals have been known to be accidentally killed after coming into contact with spilled medications or even eating the fecal matter of treated animals.

  1. Be Cautious of Flavored Medications

Most medicines are very unappetizing.  No one enjoys taking gross tasting medicine, so why would your pet be any different? Many of today’s medications contain flavoring to make them taste better than normal- especially for your pets.  If you have one of these medications and you hide it in a lower drawer or cupboard, your dog (especially if they have a good nose!) can rummage through the cabinet or drawer and find it and have a feast- with devastatingly deadly effects. Most pill bottles are no match for your dog’s teeth, and they can and will ingest it.

Toddlers or young children are often lured by medication flavorings that smell like candy.  It creates the potential for accidental overdose or exposure, which can have terrible consequences.  All the more reason to find a safe space that is out of reach of most pets and children.

  1. Mark your Meds or Separate them Completely from Your Pet Meds

Pet medications should be stored securely just like human medications.  Perhaps the best place to store them is in the same spot as your human medications.  However, if at all possible they should be kept in separate areas.  Confusing pet and human medicines is all too common of an issue, and it can make you or your pet very sick.   There are two easy steps to avoid this problem.  First, check the label every time you reach for meds.  This is a simple, quick way to ensure that no creature is getting the wrong medicine.  This is especially simple since many pet clinics are starting to add logos, or cartoon paw prints on the cap to help instantly differentiate bottles.  Secondly, if you keep your meds in a completely different area than your pet meds, you will never give them the wrong one.  It protects both you and your pet.

  1. Check Expiration Dates and Storage Instructions

Medications have a shelf life and storage instructions, just like your groceries.  If you don’t store them the way they need, they won’t work the way they’re supposed to, and in some cases, they can become dangerous with serious side effects. Some medicines need refrigeration, so check your vet’s instructions thoroughly.

If a medication is expired, it’s automatically off-limits to pets.  They can become dangerous or less effective because of chemical changes that have occurred over time.  Injectable medications that are expired have a high risk of bacteria growing in the vial.  Any drug that’s expired can become toxic.  Dispose of any expired medications to avoid confusion or accidental ingestion.

All of these things are simple and can keep you from seriously hurting your pet or your family.  Take appropriate actions to ensure medicine safety in your home.

Share what you know about keeping medications out of the reach of your pets in the comments below. 


Winter Feeding for Wild Birds

2 PAWS UP-Logo- 8 x10 inch 300x300- at 50As the temperatures turn cold and the weather gets a little more blustery, the bird populations in our area begin to change. Migratory birds head farther south while new birds from the north might be settling in, calling this a good enough and warm enough spot to winter. Meanwhile, other birds tend to stay and stick out the cold winter months. Either way, there will still be birds to feed throughout the winter.

If you take an interest in bird watching and attracting a variety of wild birds to your property, winter is just as important a time to feed birds as ever. In fact, it’s probably more important and essential to keep full feeders and good seed throughout the winter as the options for birds’ food sources see a dramatic decline.

Some might argue that feeding birds creates unwanted dependence, causing them to change their foraging habits and become more tied to the whims of a benevolent feeder of birds. The truth is that wild birds are resourceful and adaptable. They know how to find food, whether you provide it or not, but they certainly won’t turn their beaks up a free and accessible food if it’s available.

One good reason to keep your bird feeder full throughout the winter months is to continue attracting your year-round regulars. Some birds will not leave for the winter. If you stop feeding them, they will go elsewhere and it may take time to attract them again in the spring. On the other hand, if you continue feeding the birds throughout the winter, you may attract some seasonal birds. You can enjoy glimpses of birds that you would not otherwise be able to see the rest of the year. Finally, winter feeding is a good idea because it does a good turn for the birds that you enjoy watching so well. In warm months where bugs are in great supply, other food sources are readily available, and temperatures are mild, birds will use your feeder for supplemental food. In the winter, the feeder becomes much more important as bugs are in short supply, other food sources are scarce, and it becomes much more important to obtain energy-rich foods for generating body heat.

An important element to consider if you are feeding wild birds throughout the winter is the type of seed that you will be giving them. As it takes more energy to generate heat, high-fat or high-energy-yielding foods are the best option. A good example of high-protien bird feed is suet, an animal-rendered fat that is commonly seen in blocks in the bird feed section. This fat supplement is essential to bird diets during the winter. The added energy aids the bird in generating its own warmth. Suet is commonly mixed with normal bird seed, making it a great option for preventing loose seed from getting scattered by the wind or overly-excited feathered diners.

In addition to suet, other winter foods for birds include black oil sunflower seeds (as opposed to striped sunflower seeds), peanuts, and cracked corn. Black oil sunflower seeds are said to be favorites of birds because they have thinner shells, making them easier for birds to crack open and consume. The kernels are also larger and the calorie content is higher. Peanuts are always a great source of protien. Note that any peanuts that you set out for birds should be shelled already, unsalted, and it’s helpful to even crush or break them up a bit so they’re more manageable, especially for smaller birds. Cracked corn is, as the name suggests, broken up into smaller pieces as well so the birds have an easier time consuming it. Keep in mind that the corn may also be attractive to a variety of other animals, from squirrels to wild turkeys, if you have them in the area, to deer.

In addition to providing food for birds in the winter, it might also be a good idea to provide water, if you think it is needed. Here in the South the winter temperatures are cold but do not often drop below freezing. However, at the times that it does go below freezing, drinkable water becomes scarce for the birds. It’s worth it to set out clean water in a bowl on those days that everything else has frosted over. Note that if you have a bird bath it is best to winterize it rather than using it during the cold months. Low temperatures will cause the water in a full bird bath to freeze and possibly crack the bath.