Summer Safety Tips for Pet Parents

 

Wow! It’s getting hot out there! Temperatures are already hitting the 80’s on some days and the humidity has increased as well. At our house, we cope by switching to shorts and light t-shirts, drinking lots of water and taking breaks indoors or in the shade. We produce quite a bit of sweat and take extra showers. That works for us but what about our pets?  Read our summer safety tips to help keep your best friend healthy.

What can you do to make summer more comfortable and safer for your pet?

  • Provide lots of fresh water. Make sure it is in a container that can’t be overturned by mistake and that there is enough to last all day. In addition, if you use a zip line or some other type of tether you need to make double sure your pet can’t become entangled and unable to reach either shade or his or her water source.
  • Indoors or out. Is there a place where your pet can stay cool and out of the sun? That may mean keeping your pet indoors in the air conditioning in the summer. However, there is nothing wrong with a dog run or backyard shelter providing there is access to shade, water and hopefully a cooling breeze.
  • Jogging – maybe not. I know that your dog is in good shape. He jogs with you all winter long. However, that doesn’t mean that it is safe to continue jogging with Rover in the summer heat. Remember, dogs can’t cool themselves like we do. Add that to the fact that your loyal companion will keep going no matter how hot he/she gets and you have a recipe for disaster. Unless you run early in the day, long, before the heat sets in, please leave your dog at home.
  • Never leave your pet in the car! Want to know why? Check out this data compiled by the Animal Protection Institute. If your car is closed with no open windows and it is 82 degrees outdoors, in no time at all, the temperature in your car is 109.   At 91 degrees, it’s 115 in the car.   Think cracking the windows help? If it is 84 degrees outside the temperature in the car is still 98 degrees.   At 90 degrees, it is 108 in the car. Got the picture? Even leaving your pet in the car while you run in for a short errand can be deadly.
  • What are the signs of heat stroke? You may see excessive panting, stumbling, weakness, stupor and bright red gums. Body temperatures of 104 degrees or more can occur. As heat stroke progresses, seizures, vomiting, bloody diarrhea, coma and death may follow. “Parked car” or brachycephalic breeds such as Bull Dogs, Pugs, Boxers and others are much more susceptible to heat related problems. Even your bunny, chinchilla or reptiles can suffer from heat related problems. If the weather is warm, think shade and water.
  • If you suspect heat stroke – it’s an emergency! Hose your pet down and bring him/her to the clinic immediately! Don’t try to treat heatstroke on your own. Heatstroke can literally cook internal organs. Pets who have suffered heat stoke may also experience swelling and edema of the trachea making it difficult for them to breathe. Too much cooling can make your pet even sicker. It’s a balance of IV fluids, supportive care and monitoring. Leave it to the professionals.
  • Pet pools – are great for helping your buddy cool down in the summer heat but remember to change the water frequently. If you are lucky enough to have a people sized pool, treat your pets just like your children. Protect them from accidental drowning by never leaving them in the pool area unsupervised.
  • Cool Ideas – Think about getting a pet fountain that provides a continuous stream of fresh, cool water to drink. Fans can help where air conditioning isn’t available. Recently, bandanas and body wraps made specifically for cooling have been developed. After soaking in cool water, these products can provide relief for a limited time. Frozen pop bottles are fun for pets to play with in the pool or on the ground. Even bunnies can benefit from a frozen pop bottle in their cage. Just make sure to wrap it in a cloth before placing it in with your rabbit but don’t let bunny start chewing on the cloth or bottle.
  • Shaving?? – That’s up for debate but if you do, remember your pet will be much more likely to sunburn in the summer sun. Double coated breeds do best when their undercoat is brushed out leaving their guard hair. This allows trapped air to cool your pet.
  • Exotic tips – Cold blooded pets need warm weather care too. Air conditioning can be TOO COLD for many exotics BUT a terrarium placed up against a hot window may become an oven. This applies to birds as well. Too much draft and cold will result in upper respiratory problems. Too much heat can cause heat stroke and death.

Kennel Cough

coughing dog
It’s fall. Besides the changing colors and cooler weather, Kennel Cough is another thing we expect to rear its ugly head every fall.

What is Kennel Cough?

  Kennel Cough is the common name for Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex (CIRDC). It is seen in dogs in group situations such as kenneling, grooming, dog shows, dog parks etc. The symptoms include hacking, coughing, sneezing and retching.

 So, what causes Kennel Cough then?

 CIRDC can be caused by the following bugs:
 Virus: Bocavirus, Canine Adenovirus Type 2, Canine Corona Virus, Canine Distemper Virus, Canine Herpes Virus, Canine Influenza Parainfluenza, Pneumovirus and Reovirus.
 Bacteria: Bordetella Brochiseptica, Streptococcus Equi, Mycoplasma spp. and secondary bacterial infections.

Continue…

Pet Economics vs. Pet Ownership

Pretty girl hugging a pet dog

Pet’s bring companionship, unconditional love and joy to our lives. However, it can be a shock to find out after that first trip to the veterinarian, that they bring bills as well. Sometimes we forget that pets are a long term commitment. Remember that  your furry (feathered or scaled) friend  can live anywhere from 2 to 50+ years.

Do we have your attention now?  Good. Let’s look at the real costs of pet ownership.

The first Year

  • The pet:

  • Exams, vaccines, worming and parasite control

    • average $350 +

  • Spay/Neuter surgery

    • $150 – $400.

  • Collar, leash, pet bed, dishes and crate

    • $200

  • Toys, treats and Chewy bones

    • $20 – $50 per month.

  • Food

    •  Premium pet foods $50 per 35 lb. bag.

    • Less expensive brands $35.

  • Training classes

  • Boarding

    • $20 and upwards per night.

  • Daycare

    • $17 and up per full day.

  • Grooming

  • Kitty litter pans and litter

    • run $200 a year.

Yearly Adult Maintenance Costs

How You Can Help Manage Costs

  • RESEARCH!!! Find out what breeds have health problems.

    • Do you have to have the flat, faced, bull legged dog with extra skin or would a mix from the pound who has lots of hybrid vigor be a better choice.

  • BUDGET before you buy. THINK before you spend.

    • Yes, feed good quality food but base your choices reading the ingredients not clever marketing. Does fluffy really need another toy or a new outfit or would your money be better spent on vaccines.

  • Consider PET INSURANCE. This is a great way to cover those unexpected emergencies.

  • Get REGULAR CHECK-UPS. Catch small problems before they become an emergency.

  • BRUSH THOSE TEETH. Good preventative dental care can save you lots of $$$.

  • Use PREVENTATIVES. Vaccines, worming, heartworm and external parasite prevention are a heck of a lot cheaper than $1000 Parvo or Heartworm treatment

Make Surgery More Safe and Less Scary

Maine Coon kitten

Oh wow! Anesthesia can be so scary! How do you know your pet is going to be ok? Will they wake up? How does a pet owner make certain their pet is receiving the safest surgical care possible?

What you should look for:

  • Take a tour of the facility. Check out the surgical suites. Do they have up to date anesthetic machines, monitoring and warming equipment?
  • Do they stress the importance of pre-surgical bloodwork? Pre-anesthetic testing is what determines if your pet has health problems that would make anesthesia unsafe or if they require special anesthetic drug protocols.
  • What type of anesthesia is used? There is a huge difference between cheap injectable first generation anesthetics and the newer generation of drugs and inhalants that can be specifically tailored to an individual animal’s needs.
  • What kind of staff do they employ? Are the surgical staff highly trained Veterinary Technicians or poorly paid lay persons who learn their trade on the job and with your pet? The best equipment in the world is no good if there is no one who understands what the readings mean.
  • Do they have complete monitoring systems in place? This should include heart rate, blood pressure, carbon dioxide levels, oxygen levels, respiration, body temperature.
  • Do they employ intravenous catheters, IV fluids and endotracheal tubes needed to control blood pressure, oxygen and anesthetic delivery? Or do they use an injectable anesthetic and hope for the best?
  • Do they keep their staff up to date through continuing education? Technology is improving and changing all the time. Make sure the clinic you use keeps their staff current and well trained.
  • Is it clean? Does the clinic smell clean? Believe it or not there are clinics that will use the same surgical pack on more than one animal. Are all the instruments, including those used in dentistry sterilized after each procedure?
  • Is there a good pain management protocol in place? Or will your pet lay in a kennel with no relief once surgery is complete.

What you can do to make anesthesia safer for your pet:

  • Make certain that your veterinarian is aware of all medications, supplements and over the counter drugs your pet is receiving. Then follow their instructions about how and what to administer before anesthesia.
  • Don’t feed your pet if your veterinarian tells you not to. Ignoring this can cause vomiting and aspiration pneumonia. Conversely, if you have an exotic pet, feed them if you are instructed to do so. They have different requirements than dogs and cats.
  • Tell your veterinarian if your pet has ever had any reaction to any type of medication. If your pet has a seizure disorder or is diabetic, please make sure to share this information. This is especially important if you are new to the practice.
  • Don’t let your pet become overweight. It makes anesthesia much less safe.
  • Make sure your pet stays healthy by staying up to date on all routine health care.
  • Don’t wait too long to spay or neuter. Large, overweight females that have been through several heat cycles are every veterinarians least favorite surgical patient. Everything is bigger, with more surrounding fat, more friable, harder to ligate and more prone to bleeding.
  • If you’re not sure, ask questions. We don’t mind.

Why do we have animals?

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There once was a man. He did not have a dog. He did not have a cat. He did not have a bird or a fish or even a rat. He lived an uncomplicated life.

The man lived in a house that was always clean. There were no muddy footprints on the carpet nor clumps of hair collecting in the corners. There were no bowls to trip over nor containers of pet food clogging up the cupboards. Not even once was there a single shoe chewed up. Not anywhere. Not ever.

The man was completely free to do whatever he wanted when he wanted. He could travel. There were no kennels to worry about nor pet sitters to arrange. There were no lists to make of puppy needs nor times to remember for veterinary care. And, best of all, absolutely never, not once, had there ever been two little eyes peering out from under a sofa to unnerve a date he brought home. Continue…

Birds!!!! Totally Random and Amazing Facts You Need to Know

cockatoo 

 

  • Most birds are able to see ultraviolet light that is invisible to us. This allows berry eaters to see the UV bloom of berries and Kestrels to track voles via the UV light radiated by the prey’s urine.
  • A bird’s eye takes up more room compared to body size than any other animal. They don’t look that way to us because much of the eye is covered by feathers.
  • Bird’s which bob their head aren’t acting like “bird brains”. They are trying to stabilize the world they see. Bobbing allows them to fix motion.
  • Bird’s eyes are so important that each eye is used for different tasks. Not only that but many birds can in fact sleep with one eye open! They rest one hemisphere of the brain at a time.
  • Birds have air sacs instead of lungs and do not have a bladder.
  • There is actually a poisonous bird. The Hooded Pitohui of New Guinea has poisonous skin and feathers.
  • African Gray Parrots are the biggest talkers but Crows have the biggest brains.
  • Birds are very closely related to reptiles and even the dinosaurs.
  • Some birds sing in notes that are too high for humans to hear.
  • There are 40 million pet birds in the United States.
  • An Owl can turn its head over 200 degrees but cannot move its eyes. Most birds have little to no movement of their eyes.
  • Parrots will use one foot for handling food and another for to support their body. Just like people they tend to have a “hand” preference.
  • A bird’s feathers weigh more than their bones.
  • The largest bird that ever existed was the Elephant Bird which weighed up to 1000 pounds. Try having that guy step up on your finger!!
  • The world’s smallest bird is the Bee Hummingbird is not much bigger than a Bee.
  • Hummingbirds are the only bird that can fly backwards.
  • Your bird can sleep while he/she is perched because they grip with specialized tendons rather than muscles so they don’t fall off.
  • Orville Wright flew the world’s first plane but did you know that he also had the first bird strike in aviation history.
  • The world’s first domesticated bird was a goose or a chicken or a pigeon depending on the source.

 

 

 

The Amazing Truth About Rabbits

Bunny Collage

 

 

  1. Rabbits belong to the order Lagomorph along with hares and pikas (looks like a big mouse).

  2. However, rabbits are the most similar to horses in that they have continually growing teeth, almost 360 degree vision, one way digestion (they can’t throw up) and a similar diet. However, at an average of 11oo pounds, horses are a little larger.

  3. Rabbits come in many different sizes. The largest rabbit recorded is Darius. He weighed 50 pounds and is 4 feet, 3 inches tall. Columbia River Pygmy rabbits are some of the smallest, barely reaching a pound at adulthood.

  4. Rabbits are very quiet animals which makes them great pets for apartment dwellers but a happy rabbit will sometimes make a lovely humming sound.

  5. A REALLY happy rabbit will “binky”. This behavior involves lots of running, jumping and spinning.

  6. Rabbits generally live 6 – 10 years but we have seen a few 12 year olds at Animal Family. The oldest rabbit recorded according to Guinness was “Do” a Mini-lop who reached the ripe old age of 17.

  7. Did you know that it was rabbits legendary ability to reproduce (in a single year one rabbit can produce over 800 children, grandchildren and great grandchildren) is how they became associated with fertility and spring. Yep, that’s where the idea of the Easter Bunny came from.

  8. Rabbits have very fragile skeletons and must be handled gently

  9. Rabbits have two different kinds of poop. The hard little pellets you see in the cage and the softer cecotropes. Cecotropes are rich in nutrients so rabbits actually eat them to capture all the nutrients. Gross but efficient. The regular poop is a great fertilizer for your garden.

  10. Rabbit pregnancies last from 28 – 31 days. The average litter size is 6 – 10 kits

  11. Girl rabbits are called does. Boy rabbits are called Bucks. Just like dogs and cats, rabbits can be spayed and neutered.

  12. Rabbits prefer a companion.

  13. Rabbits are very trainable. Not only can they learn to use a litter pan but they can also do other tricks. Some people have rabbit races where bunny athletes compete over jumps.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qM9YWm6T_hc

  14. Rabbits like to dig. Even pet rabbits enjoy a safe area to dig and a place to hide.

  15. Rabbits can jump up to 36 inches. Hares can jump even further.

  16. Rabbits have 28 teeth 

  17. Rabbits are scary fast. They can reach up to 30-40 mph.

  18. Rabbits also have very fast heart rates. Most we record at Animal family are in the 200-300 range.

  19. Rabbits require grooming. 

  20. Rabbits make AWESOME pets. They can be found at shelters, pet stores and from private breeders. Remember, just as you should with any other pet, do your research before you get a bunny.

The Ugly Truth About Heartworm Disease

heartworm 2
We talk a lot about Heartworm infection. We urge to you keep your pet on preventives and to test for evidence of heartworm infection year after year after year. The problem is, what we really need to talk about is Heartworm Disease. It is the shadow in the room that both frightens and motivates us. Continue…

National Kid and Pet Day

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It’s National Kid and Pet Day on April 26th! We thought we should celebrate by sharing some of the wonderful things pets do for all of. If you have had a special pet in your life, please feel free to share your stories and photos on our Facebook page.

They keep us healthy!!

caption thisPets help lower blood pressure, ease loneliness and get us out and exercising. They increase self-esteem, elevate mood and reduce stress. They reduce Cholesterol, decrease the development of allergies and extend lifespan after a heart attack. They are a powerful drug with no side effects.

 

 

They bring us joy!

cute bulldog puppyIs there anything better than unconditional love? The whole world may be upset with us but not our dog or cat or bunny. They are always there ready to provide love and the reassurance that at least they still think we are awesome.

 

 

They make us laugh!

summertimeThere is a reason why silly cat and puppy videos are ubiquitous on the internet. They make us laugh. They make us smile. They even make us more human.

 

 

They give us a sense of purpose.

SAM_0185We all need something to give us purpose. Pets perform that function in many people’s lives. They teach the young what it means to have responsibility for the wellbeing of another living being. As we age they keep us company and give us purpose.

 

 

They are a social magnet!!

kids and dogThey give us common ground and ease the awkwardness of meeting new people. It can be hard to come up with small talk when we are one on but add a pet to the mix and we’re instant chatter boxes. This goes double for children with social anxiety. Animals are the ultimate ice breaker.

 

They serve and protect.

Open House Photos 025 They guide the blind, help the hearing disabled and predict seizures. They sniff out bombs and drugs and tasty mushrooms. They work as soldiers and peace officers. They love us and protect our home and family. They do it all.   Yet all they ask in return is just a small place in our hearts and shelter.

 

 

Canine Influenza

 

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There has been a large outbreak of Canine Influenza in the Chicago area. However, there are no reported cases in the Quad Cities at this time. That said we do need to educate ourselves about the virus and understand that it could possibly spread to our area.

Canine Influenza H3N8 is a virus that was previously seen only in horses. The first cases in dogs appeared in 2004. In 2005, H3N8 was officially identified as a new and emerging pathogen in canines. It does not affect humans.

Canine Influenza is spread through the air and on contaminated surfaces such as kennels or clothing. It can survive on surfaces for up to 48 hours, on clothing for 24 hours and on hands for 12 hours. Incubation is generally 2-4 days. Unfortunately it is during this period, when the dog is not showing any clinical signs, that the virus is most infectious.

Because this is a new virus around 80% of the dogs who are exposed will develop the disease. About 20% will not show any clinical signs at all but still be contagious. A small number of symptomatic animals will develop a more severe form of influenza and pneumonia. Overall the mortality rate is low when compared to the rate of infection.

Signs of Canine Influenza can be similar to Canine Kennel Cough but are generally more severe in nature. You may see:

  • Nasal and Ocular (eyes) discharge

  • Sneezing

  • Moist or dry cough

  • Low grade fever

  • Anorexia ( lack of appetite)

  • More severe cases may develop (green/yellow and thick) discharge, a high fever and/or pneumonia.

 

Canine Influenza is a virus and as such treatment is primarily supportive in nature. Fluids, nutrition, rest and isolation will help the dog mount its own immune response. This is particularly important in those animals with a severe form of the virus. When pneumonia or purulent nasal discharge is present antibiotics may also be used to treat the secondary bacterial infection. Most dogs will recover within 2 – 3 weeks.

Canine Influenza cannot be diagnosed on clinical signs alone.   Laboratory testing is the only way to confirm an infection with H3N8. This may be done by nasal/throat swab or blood testing.

You can protect your dog by:

  • Canine Influenza vaccine. Vaccination may prevent or most certainly decrease the severity of the disease. It requires 2 vaccinations 2 – 4 weeks apart. Maximum protection can be expected 10 days after the second shot.

  • If the virus is in your community, keep your dog from group situations where you do not know the vaccination status of other pets.

  • At this time, use considerable caution if you travel with your pet to the Chicago area.

  • Remember to wash your hands after coming into contact with other dogs.

  • If your dog develops clinical signs, please isolate them from other pets and call your veterinarian.