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How To Travel Safely For The Holidays With Pets AND Kids

As I have said previously in numerous previous posts, I love that our dogs have become so much a ‘member of the family’ that many would not give it a second thought to bring them along on their holiday travels, or include them in their holiday plans. But there are several things you can do to ensure that you, your pets, your kids, and others around you also have an enjoyable holiday as well.

For starters; if you are driving

  • Make sure you have seat-belts for each dog. A dog being allowed to roam free in the car is a safety hazard for everyone in the car. If you have to slam on the brakes, they can go through the windshield just as easily as any other unrestrained passenger in the car would. Another serious issue that could arise if you should have to suddenly hit the brakes is they could accidentally slam into your kids, causing a serious injury. I have personally gotten some painful ‘fat lips’ just from going to kiss my dog on the top of his head at the same moment he brought his head up quickly…. So you can just imagine the injuries that could occur in a fast moving vehicle that suddenly stops! On top of that, dogs will instinctively use their front paws to brace themselves, and their nails can really hurt your children if they are on their laps. Lastly, if they hit the back of your seat when you are driving, it can put everyone in the car in serious jeopardy.
  • Make sure the seat belt is attached to a harness. Never attach a seat belt to your dog’s regular collar. This can cause some serious injuries to your dog’s neck if you have to stop short or are in an accident.
  • Make sure they are in the back seat. Even if they are appropriately restrained (a booster car seat for small dogs, or a harness for larger dogs) a deployed air bag can be deadly for our furry friends.

Hotel ‘Etiquette’

  • Make sure hotels are pet friendly in advance! If you are traveling with your pet, the days of ‘We’ll just find a hotel from the road” are a thing of the past. Unless your dog is a service dog, make sure the hotel is pet friendly. You must map out your trip in advance, and most importantly, you must inform the hotel that you will be traveling with a pet. Many hotels have specific rooms used for pets, not unlike ‘smoking rooms’ for smokers. So I recommend you call them and make sure they can accommodate you and your pet. Here is a link that allows you to search for pet-friendly hotels in whichever state you are traveling to. If you are getting a separate room for the kids, I recommend the pet stay in YOUR room. As I always stress, children should never be with pets unsupervised.
  • Remember that the dog should be on a leash outdoors at all times. This is especially important as many hotels are located on busy roads…. Not a great idea for the kids to be the ones to walk them, even if it is their job to do it at home. For safer nighttime walks, bring a flashlight with you. Many hotel guests arrive at night, and they may have been on the road for a long time, and are tired too. This will ensure they will see you and your dog when they are pulling in. It will also help you to see Fido’s poops so you can responsibly clean up after him. You might want to ask the hotel staff if there is a designated ‘Pet Relief Area’ that you should bring him to. Make sure you have a leash that is no longer then six feet, and free of any fraying, rips or tears. Also, do not use retractable leads while out and about. You need to have control of him at all times, and if your friendly outgoing dog runs up to another child that is fearful of dogs, you can be putting someone else’s child in danger.
  • Since you’ll probably want to go out as a family:
    • Bring a crate with you. Do not forget that this is not your dog’s regular environment… and you are ultimately responsible for any damage your dog does. You do not want to risk your dog panicking and tearing up pillows or blankets or chewing on furniture while you are out. Also, leave a note for housekeeping on the door informing them that there is a dog inside. Just because it is not your home does not mean your dog will not be protective of its environment, and a person that your dog does not know who unexpectedly enters into ‘his space’ can be a recipe for disaster.
    • Bring a blanket or bed for your dog, and plenty of bones or toys. Make sure you have brought sufficient items to keep your dog occupied while you are out.
    • Make sure you leave at least one cell phone number at the front desk if you have to go out. I have seen some of the best trained dogs still panic when left alone in an unknown place, causing them to bark and whine. Be considerate and make sure you leave a reliable number for the hotel staff to contact you if your dog is freaking out while you are out.
  • Be aware of ‘No Pets Allowed’ spaces, and respect their policies. Pools and spas are there for the humans to enjoy, not the dogs. If the hotel has a restaurant or serves a Continental breakfast in the morning, dogs should not be in those areas unless they are service dogs.

Flying with your dog

  • Always check the Airline’s policy. Each airline has its own policy with regards to flying with your pet. puppy in a travel bagMost small dogs are permitted to fly in a carry case under the seat, but each airline’s seat dimensions are different. Make sure you have the appropriate sized travel bag for your dog that will fit under your seat. Keeping a constant eye on your children in a busy airport is imperative, so the last thing you want is to spend any time being distracted because your dog’s flight bag is not fitting.
  • Find out security’s protocols in advance. Having to go through security is stressful enough… add corralling kids through there, it can be very difficult. Now you are adding a dog to this as well! Find out exactly what you need to do in advance. Do you need their leash and collar off? Do you walk through first and then send the dog through…. Knowing exactly what to expect allows you to have them ready in advance so that you can safely and effectively help the kids through.
  • Make sure you know where the Pet Relief Areas are. Call up the airline in advance and make sure you know where these are, and take them for one last potty break before boarding. Last thing you want is Fido relieving himself in flight!
  • Leave the dog in his bag! The kids may feel badly that their pup is cooped up in a tiny bag and wedged under a seat the entire time, and may beg you to take him out. This is not a safe idea for anyone! Think about how loud it is to us, and multiply it ten-fold with their sharp hearing! I absolutely hate take offs and landings, but I calm down once we are in the air. Just because I have calmed down, does not mean my dog has!! So for the safety of everyone around, leave your pup where he is until you have safely landed and are off of the plane. Some bags have a leash inside so you can open a flap and pet your dog…. I suggest leaving the flap closed! If he is scared, the second that flap is opened, he will try to get out, and getting the ‘genie back into the bottle’ will be no easy feat!! Especially in a small cramped area!
  • Pack a chew stick for him in his bag for takeoff and landing. I do not honestly know if their ears ‘pop’ the way ours do, but if it does, the chewing motion will help.

Going to friends or relatives houses

  • Always ask in advance if it is okay to bring your pet. Just because you view your dog as a family member, does not necessarily mean your host will too. Be courteous and ask beforehand. Hosting a ton of people in their home can be difficult enough without a dog running around! Also, you never know if another guest, especially a child, is allergic to dogs, or if someone else DID ask in advance and is bringing their dog!
  • Keep a constant watch over your dog. As we discussed in an earlier article (Kids, Pets & Your Holiday Party: Read this List (check it twice!) your dog may react differently to “everyday situations” than they would in their home or typical environment. A child that your dog does not know, doing nothing other than reaching over to calmly pet your dog, can get a serious bite if your dog is in a nervous heightened condition.
  • Be aware of your dog’s body language at all times! Holidays can be stressful for people – imagine what it might be like for your dog. Be alert to what their body language is telling you! Dogs only have two options when they are in a heightened state… fight or flight. Hopefully, they will always resort to the latter one, but they can resort to the former one in an instant! So let’s avoid this by being constantly aware of them, and if you see signs that they are getting stressed out, remove them from the situation! If you need some assistance on what your dog’s body is saying to you, read my article (Recognize a Dog’s Body Language Before Your Child Gets Bitten) to help you out!
  • Again, bring a crate with you. If your dog is getting stressed, the last thing you want is to have no options of where to put him! Do you want to be on ‘doggy patrol’ all night? Having a crate gives you a place to put him so he and everyone else around you are safe!

Grooming

The last thing I want to touch on is grooming your dog prior to taking him on vacation with you! Regardless of whether you are driving or flying, staying at a hotel or going to a friends, make sure they are well groomed. Give them a bath, make sure their ears are clean and do not smell. If they have a long coat, even if you brought them to the groomer, make sure you brush them out thoroughly to get rid of any dead hair and excess dander (helps with allergies in close quarters) and make sure nails are trimmed back so no one gets scratched accidentally.

So to wrap this up, the most important things to remember before traveling with your beloved pet is to do your research and always be courteous to others around you! Much of what I have written is common sense, but the fact is, in a stressful time, even the incredibly obvious can escape each and every one of us!!! So follow some of these guidelines laid out for you, make your to-do lists, check them twice, and you, your family, and everyone around you can have a fun, wonderful and safe holiday!!

Happy Holidays everyone!!!

A Sincere Thank You To Responsible Special Needs Caregivers…

I was literally brought to tears by yet another story of a special needs child who was mistreated by their alleged caregivers. So, as Thanksgiving approaches, I want to express my gratitude, appreciation and admiration.

Thank you…

  • To every caseworker, nurse and doctor who questions parents and caregivers diligently and actually follows up…
  • To every teacher’s aide who forms a bond with a special needs student…
  • To every therapist who really cares about every client, whether they make progress or not…
  • To every child on every playground who has included a special needs child in play…
  • To every teacher who spends personal time on assessments and IEPs…
  • To every agency or non-profit worker who strives to bring special needs children experiences and opportunities…

To every special needs parent or caregiver who treats that child with love, especially if they are incapable of expressing it back…

 

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Editor’s Note: Children with disabilities may be at higher risk for abuse or neglect than children without disabilities. According to the CDC, this is what we know, and this is what parents can do to protect them

Want to Know the Truth about Halloween Candy & Cavities?

Let’s be realistic, as much as we try to limit Trick or Treat 2our children’s in take of sugar and candy, Halloween is way too much fun to not participate. Plus, we get to reap the rewards as the parents of the children with the over size pillow case for a trick or treat bag!

In all seriousness, candy is not the cause of cavities.. diet is! Every time a child puts something in his/her mouth, their PH is lowered and therefore is more acidic which helps break down food. This is all part of the digestive process along with chewing.

What is worse then a big bag full of Halloween candy? Soda pop! (Even sugar free or diet soda). Soda has phosphoric acid which creates the bubbles. We use citric in dentistry to roughen a tooth surface to help it bond to filling material. Another type of drink to avoid are sports drinks. They are also very acidic and cause problems when sipped on over a long period of time. Water is always the best way to rehydrate.

Cookies, chips and pretzels are long chains of carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are sugar. When cookies, chips and pretzels get wet with saliva they get sticky and stay in the grooves of the teeth.

Believe it or not, chocolate, within moderation, is actually a better snack. The fat in chocolate makes the tooth slick so it does not stick to it.

We hand out chocolate for trick or treats! It’s ok to do this once a year.
Happy Halloween!

This 4th of July, Keep Your Family Safe and Give EMS the Day Off

An evening of fireworksAs summer has rapidly arrived upon us and the kids have let out of school for the summer, the planning has already begun for the July 4th celebration that happens all over our great United States. It is unfortunate that those of us involved in the emergency field will see this happy day turned into a bad one by accidents having to do with Fireworks and a lack of Firework safety. The numbers every year do not lie and neither do the stories we see and hear every year about fireworks. According to the American Pyrotechnics Association, National Council on Firework Safety the information from 2012 is as follows:

As you can see that the number of serious injuries and deaths from Fireworks in 2012 is pretty alarming and most could have probably been avoided with some simple safety preparations and precautions.

Fireworks safety chart 2012

In 2017 alone:

Some very basic and simple safety tips and precautions are:

  • Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.
  • Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities. Parents don’t realize that young children suffer injuries from sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees – hot enough to melt some metals.
  • Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.
  • Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully.
  • Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
  • Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.
  • Light fireworks one at a time, then move back quickly.
  • Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.
  • After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding it to prevent a trash fire.
  • Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them.

If you see fireworks being used improperly or in an unsafe and dangerous manner around you or your home by unknown, underage people, or even neighbors, please do not hesitate to call 911 and alert the police or even the fire department.

These are just a handful of safety tips and precautions that should be taken BEFORE, DURING and AFTER using fireworks. Please feel free to consult your local fire station for more information if you feel the need. As always, a little preparation and safety can save a lot of pain and injury later and make this Holiday the celebration it should be for all of us.

Thank you and be safe!

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** Editor’s Note: Pounds of fireworks purchased each year in the APA chart above are in millions

Sweets for Kids at the Holidays? What Dentist Approved That?

Now that the holiday season is in full force, you’ve probably noticed an increased availability of sweets everywhere you turn. Your child’s teacher asks for everyone to bring a candy to exchange, the dance recital serves punch and cookies afterward, and don’t forget the homemade fudge at Grandma’s house.

Is it possible to prevent dental problems for your little one during the Christmas season? Yes. The key is “everything in moderation,” along with some important advice from your child’s dentist!

Limit the Candy Canes

Sucking on a hard candy cane for a half hour or more means constant sugar exposure on your child’s teeth. Of course, you don’t want to be the one to throw them out completely. For a happy compromise, limit them to no more than a few candy canes per week (just during the holiday season, of course) or purchase the smaller ones instead.

Soft Sweets are Better on the Teeth

If you’re at a holiday party and your little one wants to indulge, steer them toward the cookies, as opposed to the baklava or brittle. A softer, less-sticky food won’t “hang out” in the deep grooves of the back teeth for hours on end.

Stuff Their Stocking with Xylitol

Gums and candies with Xylitol as the primary sweetener can actually limit plaque and acid levels inside of your child’s mouth, reducing their risk of tooth decay. If you’re out and about without access to a toothbrush — and you know your child has just enjoyed a plethora of holiday goodies — keep Xylitol gum on hand to at least counter-act some of the sugary acids that their teeth have just been exposed to.

Drink Lots of Water

Encourage your child to have a refillable bottle of tap water in their backpack or as they snack throughout the weekend. Tap water contains regulated fluoride levels and the pure H2O rinses away acids after meals.

Up Your Child’s Fluoride…at Least Temporarily

Now is a good time to pick up a bottle of fluoridated mouthwash for your child to use before bedtime each night. An over the counter rinse is fine. Brush and floss first, have her rinse, then don’t eat or drink anything else before bed. Fluoride remineralizes weak areas that may be compromised from sugary sweets during the daytime.

If your child hasn’t seen a dentist in the last six months, now is a great opportunity (especially before your end of the year dental benefits expire). Regular checkups promote healthy smiles and eliminate the risk of toothaches during the holidays!

The Best 3 Holiday Gifts for Families with Allergies

Each year, many of us are stressed during the holidays trying to figure out what to get for others. When a person has allergies, this can make it even trickier to find a gift that will also keep them safe. The last thing that anyone strives to do is to give a gift that will be linked to a negative memory. Holidays are very often focused on food however; a gift can be many things. This year, why not think beyond what we can share on our plate. Here are my top three holiday picks that are all allergy-friendly, budget-friendly and even come with a mission to help others:

  1. Veta Smart Case & App This is, in my opinion, allergy worries meets digital technology. This device reminds those with food allergies to bring their auto injectors with them. Utilizing Bluetooth technology, these electronic cases offer immediate notifications whenever the person who should be carrying epinephrine forgets it, goes too far without it, has it in the wrong temperature and more. It’s like having someone following you around, tapping you on the shoulder and telling you that you need to make sure your epinephrine is cared for to keep yourself prepared. The Veta Smart Case app has the ability to set up multiple user profiles to strengthen your support circle and it even has a visual aid to help someone administer epinephrine if it is needed. The Veta Smart Case can be found on Amazon . This is a gift that will allow those with food allergies to LIVE with food allergies.
  2. Land of Not Having food allergies can make us forget the positive side of life. This book is one of the newest ways to share your passion for helping while teaching children that food allergies is not about who they are with the allergy, but rather who they can be with the allergy. This book is part of a national campaign to raise food allergy awareness, bring people together while they are reading and learning and includes a mission to share this book in schools everywhere. The book is subtly humorous in its setup while being very kid-friendly, making it a must-have for people of all ages. Purchase a book to donate at a school near you, read it in your child’s class or keep a copy for your personal library. You can order Land of Not right on the Land of Can Whichever you decide, this book is an amazing gift option that will be perfect for reading together.
  3. Backpack Health – Because so many of us are spending more and more of our time on electronic devices, why not put all of what we really need at our fingertips? Think of this app as your health empowering you to have all of your medical history in one spot while also having the ability to engage in true to life research for multiple health issues. Backpack Health gives you the ability to download all of your personal health information while also doing the same for anyone else in your family that you would like to include. Simply put “Your health information belongs to you. You have a legal right to it, and that means with the right tools, you can make the most out of your own health narrative. Our goal is to help you do just that.” The Backpack Health app offers multiple languages to ease the stress of trying to translate health concerns while traveling and empowers it’s users to take control of their health. This user-friendly app can be found at the App Store , Google Play or directly on their website. Helping yourself while helping others each and every day is the greatest gift of all.

Whichever item you choose to share this season, all of them offer the same mission for those with allergies- be prepared.

Study after study has shown that being prepared is the first line of defense. Stand up for your allergies, stand up for the right to know how to have the upper hand for situations before they happen and embrace anyone that is willing to lend you a helping hand in doing this. Nobody asks to be given allergies but everyone asks how they can make their weakness into strength. All you need are the right tools and someone who offers them to you.

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