COVID-19 Safety

For up-to-date information on how to keep yourself and family safe please refer to the World Health Organization and Center for Disease Control.

Please refer to the EPA list of approved cleaning products to ensure that your cleaning products can kill COVID-19 and properly disinfect surfaces. Remember to read the label and follow the approved contact time for your products.

Check out SPCA International’s disaster kit essentials to help prepare your pets for emergency situations.

Veterinary professionals should refer to the American Veterinary Medical Association for guidance during this time.

Use to find a shelter in your area that you can support through adoption, fostering or food donations.

Remember to wash your hands for 20 seconds with warm soapy water. Here are some songs that will help you time yourself.

If you’d like to help us continue to provide vital support to shelters and animals around the world in this most challenging time: 

Ice Melt and Antifreeze

Dear Emma,

I live in the Midwest and we see a lot of snow and ice during the winter. I have 2 dogs who love to be outside, but I’ve heard that ice melt isn’t pet-friendly. Is there a safe way I can de-ice my driveway? – Marcia L.

Ice melt and snow go hand in hand. It helps keep our sidewalks and driveways free and clear of ice but it isn’t always nice to our furry friends. Technically there is no 100% pet-safe ice melt, there are some that are safer than others but they all carry some risk. Even “pet-safe” ice-melts can cause GI upset or irritate your pet’s skin. The safest ice-melt to use in a household with pets is one that has a propylene glycol base, however, you should still take precautions when your pet is around ice-melt. You can protect your pet’s feet with booties during the winter months. If your pet is bootie adverse like mine is, then pet wax like Musher’s Secret can help protect their paws, and make sure to clean their feet off once they’re back inside. Of course, you should not allow your pet to ingest ice-melt, contact your veterinarian immediately if you suspect they might have, even the “pet-safe” kind.

Dear Emma,

My sister told me I shouldn’t use antifreeze because I have cats and it could kill them. I live in Michigan, so I need to use it. How toxic can it really be? – Janice H.

Antifreeze is incredibly toxic and one of the most common poisonings seen in small animals. Antifreeze contains ethylene glycol which, even in small doses can be lethal, affecting the brain, liver and kidneys. Antifreeze can taste sweet which makes it inviting to eat for our pets. Signs of poisoning include uncoordinated movement, confusion, depression, vomiting, excessive thirst, excessive urination, diarrhea, increased heart rate, weakness and seizures.

If you have to use antifreeze in your home follow these simple steps.

  • Keep antifreeze containers tightly closed and stored out of the reach
  • Clean any spills immediately.
  • Dispose of used antifreeze containers properly.
  • Check the radiator of your car regularly, and repair leaks immediately.
  • Do not allow your dog to wander unattended where there is access to antifreeze (e.g., roads, gutters, garages, and driveways).

Additionally, the FDA has labeled propylene glycol safe and it is now used for antifreeze, look for antifreeze with this ingredient instead of ethylene glycol. As always if you suspect your pet has ingested antifreeze, even if it not showing any symptoms contact your veterinarian immediately.

Obesity and Baths

Dear Emma,

I just took my dog, Max, to the vet and they said he’s too fat! My little Maxy is supposed to lose some weight but how can I say no to his cute face? If he’s asking for food doesn’t that mean he’s hungry? It would be wrong of me to not feed him when he asks right? Please Help! – Jen G.

Our pets know how to get what they want, especially if they’re “food motivated”. You’re having a nice dinner and your furry friend comes over, plops down next to and looks up with those big brown eyes, how can you say no? It’s hard to fight it, but it’s in your pet’s best interest to not be constantly fed extra meals or unnecessary treats. Just like with people, extra weight on animals can lead to health problems. Keeping your pet in a healthy weight class is easy if you follow the recommended feeding instructions for their ideal weight, you can find usually find this on the label or website of the diet you are feeding your pet. If you are preparing your pet’s diet yourself please consult with your veterinarian for proper feeding instructions.

Dear Emma,

My Molly is a sweet 7-month-old scruffy mix, she loves to run around outside and sometimes can get a little dirty. How often should I be giving her baths? – Danny P.

Sometimes our dogs and cats need a little extra help getting squeaky clean, but they shouldn’t be bathed too frequently. Ideally, you should only bathe your dog once a month, frequent baths can cause their skin to dry out and be itchy. For easy messes there are grooming wipes that you can get at your local pet store, these can help quickly rid fur of dirt and grime. When a full bath is needed try to use shampoo and conditioner that moisturizes the skin and stay away from anything too perfumey.

Career Paths and Pets as Gifts

Dear Emma,

My teenage daughter loves animals, she has been an avid watcher of animal law enforcement and veterinary medicine t.v. shows since a young age and has so much knowledge when it comes to pets and wildlife. She will be starting college in a few years and I want to know what paths she could take to help grow her love of animals. – Shanon K.

This reminds me so much of myself growing up. Luckily for your daughter, there are many career paths that she can take that will feed her love for animals. Going into veterinary medicine is the first choice for a lot of people, myself included. The approach I took was to become a veterinary technician, I went to a 4-year accredited college and earned a B.S. in veterinary technology, first and from there to go to vet school if I still wanted to be a veterinarian, some colleges also offer pre-vet coursework/paths. There are also humane law enforcement officers, animal welfare lawyers and animal welfare organizations, which could be shelters or program-based organizations like SPCAI. The best way for your daughter to get a feel for what path she might want to take is to volunteer or get a part-time job with a shelter/nonprofit that also preforms humane law enforcement or a veterinary clinic. A career path is a hard thing to pick and can seem daunting, you may not end up doing what you set out to do. I was a vet tech for 5 years and then woke-up one day and realized I didn’t love my job anymore but I still wanted to work in the animal welfare space, that lead me here to SPCAI. Animal welfare is a labor of love, and your daughter’s love and talents will be embraced and cultivated in whichever field she chooses.

Dear Emma,

My parents lost their dog due to old age a little over a year ago. They talk about how they feel their house is “quiet” and “empty” without a dog but haven’t made any effort to get a new one. I think we should give them a puppy as a gift for my dad’s upcoming birthday but my sister thinks I’m being ridiculous! I think our parents will be happier with a new dog but my sister doesn’t agree, who is right? – Carla P.

Losing a pet is hard and everyone copes in their own time. It’s a nice gesture to want to give your parents the gift of another dog, but unless they have expressed that they are ready and willing to open their home to another dog you should not give them one as a “gift.” A pet is a financial commitment and you shouldn’t commit your parents to that if they aren’t ready. Since they haven’t made an active effort I would guess that they aren’t ready yet, and may still be coping with the loss of their beloved pet. If you’re really set on helping your parents find their next canine companion a good first step would be sitting down with your parents and discuss visiting local shelters and if that’s something they’re interested in. An alternative gift idea could be to make a donation to a local rescue group or shelter in your parent’s name.   

Emergency Preparedness and Dorm Living

Dear Emma,

My family is moving to Florida soon and we’re worried about our pets during hurricane season. Do you have any tips to help make our lives a little easier in case we need to leave in a hurry? – Josh G.

Having your pets prepared for a potential natural disaster or emergency is great no matter where you live. In the event that you need to evacuate make sure you have a kit prepared with everything you’ll need to care for your pet for at least 3 days. Of course, the contents will vary based on individual needs but every kit should include these basic items

  1. Food and Water. Keep a 3-day supply in an airtight container and be sure to rotate this supply periodically to ensure freshness.
  2. Containment and control supplies. Pack a leash, carrier or crate to safely control and confine your pet.
  3. Current photos of your animals. Include a photo of yourself with your animals in case you need to prove ownership.
  4. Collar and ID. Make sure you have a secure collar and up-to-date ID tag on your animals.
  5. Sanitation Items. Include litter, litter box, newspapers, plastic bags, disinfectant, and basic first aid supplies.
  6. Vet records and medications. Copy vaccination records and set aside a supply of daily medicines

It takes little effort to make sure your furry friends are prepared in the event of an emergency and could save their lives. For more information on disaster preparedness click here.

Dear Emma,

I’m getting ready to head off to my freshman year of college. My dog, Sadie, has been with me for the last 6 years and I can’t imagine not being able to see her every day. I don’t want to only see her on weekends but I don’t think my dorm allows dogs. What do I do!? – Cassie H.

Freshman year is full of firsts, one of those firsts is being away from our beloved family pets for the first time. As much as you miss them, life in a dorm room is not a great place for dogs and cats. Your dorm won’t be much bigger than a bedroom and in most cases, you’ll be sharing with a roommate, adding a pet into that mix makes for cramped living quarters. Also, you’ll be spending most of your time in class, on/off-campus activities, studying and hanging out with friends, that doesn’t leave a lot of time to dedicate to a pet. On top of all of that, if dorm rules say “No Pets” then it isn’t worth risking your pet being taken away from you if you’re found out. You can easily get your animal fix by volunteering at a local shelter where lots of animals are in need of love and attention. College is a big adjustment, I know it seems overwhelming to leave Sadie at home, but she’ll be happier to see you when you come home to visit rather than being kept in a cramped dorm room.

Monthly Preventatives and Micro Pigs

Dear Emma,

We love the spring and summer, it’s our family’s favorite time to take hikes with our two dogs. Our vet said we should put them both on a flea and tick preventative but is this necessary? We don’t normally find ticks on them and they’ve never had fleas. – Nancy W.

The warmer weather has us all coming out of our “winter hibernation” including fleas and ticks! While you may not a lot find ticks on your dogs it only takes one to transmit a tick-borne disease like Lyme disease or Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Additionally, fleas can carry intestinal parasites that can infect both people and animals. Monthly preventatives are safe and effective protection against these parasites and should be given year-round since warm spells in the winter can have us seeing ticks earlier than normal. Consult with your veterinarian about which preventative is right for your dogs and lifestyle. 

Dear Emma,

I LOVE teacup pigs, they are just so adorable! I’m looking to get one of my own, I live in a city but these little guys are the perfect apartment sized pets. Do you have any tips on finding the perfect tea-cup pig for me? – Jess G.

Let me start off by saying, there is no such thing as a “teacup” pig. Like any designer “breed” there is no 100% repeatable outcome, “teacup” pigs are the product of inbreeding small pot-bellied pigs to create even smaller offspring. Pot-bellied pigs are small when they’re 1 month old but they can grow up to 150lbs! Apart from that, pigs, no matter the size, are considered livestock in most communities, and there are certain zoning requirements that need to be met in order to have one, chances are your apartment is not zoned for pigs. Pigs are smart animals that can make amazing pets, when fed proper diets and given proper space and housing, but no matter how much a breeder may promise you that they have genuine “teacup” pigs don’t fall for their tricks.

Declaw Dilemma and Traveling with Pets

Dear Emma,

I have two cats that are completely destroying my furniture! I am unable to cut their nails, I just want them to stop clawing my furniture. A friend of mine suggested declawing them, but I don’t know what the process is. Do you recommend this alternative? – Dave L.

Declawing may sound like the perfect solution, remove the nail and now your curtains and furniture are safe. However, declawing is not so straight forward. Declawing is not the removal of the nail but of the portion of or the entire bone, imagine removing the bone from the tip of your finger to your first knuckle, this is achieved through a surgical procedure of either using a scalpel blade, clipper or laser. There are so many alternative options to save your furniture and cat from an unnecessary and painful procedure, check them out!

  • Since you’re unable to trim your cat’s nails you can take your cats to your local veterinary clinic to do it for you.
  • Try nail covers like Soft Paws
  • Provide scratching alternatives like a scratching post
  • Make furniture less appealing by covering scratching sites with foil or plastic, you can find plastic scratch guards on

Dear Emma,

My husband and I are getting ready to embark on a cross country road trip. We’re just about ready to go but aren’t sure if we should bring our hound mix, Josie, with us. We’ve never taken her on vacation before and aren’t sure how we go about getting her ready. Please help! – Casey B.

Bringing your furry friend on vacation is a great way to make some unforgettable memories. Just like packing your own bag make sure your dog is properly prepared so they can have a comfortable and safe trip too. You’ll want to make sure that Josie’s collar fits properly and is fitted with current identification tags, you can also add a temporary tag with a phone number where you can be reached (like a hotel or cellphone) if you’re in one location for an extended amount of time. You’ll want a copy Josie’s health and vaccination records on hand and any required health certificates prior to travel. If Josie is on any medication, including monthly preventatives, make sure to bring them with you. Since you’re traveling by car a crate or canine seatbelt will help her stay safe while driving. And make sure she has some comforts from home like a few toys, treats or bed. Always check the weather beforehand to make sure Josie will be adequately prepared and that your hotels are pet-friendly. I hope you have an awesome vacation!

If you’re traveling with your pet check out these additional resources