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.

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.

Great Activities You Can Share With Your Dog

Think back to when you adopted your first dog.  Did you dream of having a perfect, almost cosmic connection with your pet?  Dogs are amazing creatures but we often leave them to languish at home while we work, play and get on with our lives. Guess what?  You can still create that special partnership with your dog and we’re going to show you how.

There is a world full of fun activities you can share with your pet.  No matter what the breed, as long as your dog is healthy enough, the two of you can add excitement and fun to both of your lives.  It’s also the best way to build a lasting bond with your dog

Listed below are just some of the many activities that are out just waiting for you and your dog.


  • Animal Assisted Therapy: Do you have a dog that simply loves people and attention?  There are programs available to certify both you and your dog for therapy work.  Not only will you have the joy of building the human-animal bond yourself but you get to share it with others. For more information check out this link. http://www.redcross.org/pa/harrisburg/local-services/animal-assisted-therapy


  • Tracking: Do you own a highly energetic beagle or one of the other “nose” breeds?  Try tracking. It can be competitive such as events put on by AKC https://www.akc.org/events/tracking/getting_started.cfm or as part of a search and rescue effort http://www.searchdogfoundation.org/.  Either way, tracking allows your dog to use his/her natural ability to find and follow human scent.  It’s outdoors, great exercise and can be both fun and a life-saving activity.


  • Carting: Think carting is just for horses? It can also be a wonderful activity for larger breed dogs, many of whom were actually used for this purpose in the past.  Carting can be either a competitive sport or a fun past time. The choice is yours. http://k9carting.com/


  • Lure Coursing: This is a great sport for Sight Hounds. AKC Lure Coursing events use an artificial stimulant to awaken the natural coursing instinct. It is not dissimilar to track racing but much more fun because it is non-competitive and usually takes place outdoors in a large field.  https://www.apps.akc.org/classic/events/lure_coursing/getting_started.cfmhttp://www.asfa.org/


  • Agility Training: Agility is a fast and very fun activity for all those hyper, athletic Border Collies and other busy breeds.  It is basically a competitive (although you can just do it for fun) obstacle course for dogs and they LOVE IT!  http://dogs.about.com/od/sportsrecreation/a/agility_training.htm


  • Flyball: This is fetch on steroids and another perfect activity for high energy breeds.  Dogs compete in teams of four where they race over four hurdles, catch a tennis ball launched from a box and then race back over the hurdles to their owner again!  http://flyballdogs.com/FAQ.html


  • Dock Dogs: Really…what could be more fun than watching a bunch of crazy, happy Labradors, and other water loving breeds jump as far as they can off the end of a dock and into the water after a dummy?  If one of them is your dog, all the better! Check it out at: http://www.dockdogs.com/.


  • Herding:  It is an amazing thing to see instinct kick in on a dog bred for herding. Who knew all that ankle biting actually had a purpose? If you own a Border Collie, Cattle Dog, Sheltie, or Collie breed you may want to check your area for a nearby club or demonstration  http://bccc.pair.com/getstart.html


  • Earth dogs: In a Lab and Border Collie world it’s nice to know that the terriers and Dachshunds of the world can get their “game on” through Earth dog competitions.  These little guys are born hunters and these competitions celebrate them.  Check them out.  It’s a good time and no-one gets hurt. http://www.akc.org/events/earthdog/index.cfm

  • Hiking/Camping: If you are interested in something that is not group oriented there is always this standby.  It’s great exercise for both of you.

Hopefully we got you thinking about something new to try with your dog. Here’s wishing you both a beautiful and lifelong partnership.

9 Ways to Help Your Pet Live Longer

  • Spay and neuter:

    • Spayed females have a greatly decreased risk of ovarian and breast cancer and zero chance of an infected uterus.  The earlier you spay, the greater the benefits.

    • Guess who gets hit by cars??  That’s right…intact males.  The urge to breed is strong and can put your Romeo in harm’s way.   Neutered males don’t develop testicular cancer either.

    • Every puppy that isn’t born makes the chance of a shelter pet finding a new home that much greater.

  • Good dental care makes for a longer life:

    • It’s a fact.  Bacteria from the mouth can harm the heart, kidney and liver.

    • Painful dental disease can lead to weight loss and poor body condition.

    • In people periodontal disease has been linked to poor control of Diabetes.

  • Preventative vaccines save lives:

    • Every year thousands of pets die from diseases such as Parvovirus and Distemper which can easily be prevented by a vaccine and let’s not forget Rabies which kills almost without exception.

  • Heartworm disease causes permanent damage to the heart:

    • Preventatives can save your dog or cat from the devastating effects of Heartworm disease.  Congestive heart failure, pulmonary clots with concurrent damage to the lungs, liver enlargement, weight loss and eventual death are all the results of untreated Heartworm disease.

    • In cats, just one or two worms can cause death.

  • Parasites rob your pet of more than just food:

    • Roundworms absorb nutrients, interfere with digestion and can damage the lining of your pet’s intestines.

    • Hookworms can cause anemia and severe diarrhea.  Small puppies can and do perish from Hookworm infestation.

    • Giardia and Coccidia cause diarrhea and poor body condition.

    • Fleas and ticks not only feed on your pet’s blood but also carry dangerous diseases such as Plague, Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted fever, Ehrlichia and Anaplasmosis.

  • Obesity kills:

    • Excess weight damages joints, the heart, liver and kidneys.  Many diseases such as diabetes are closely correlated to obesity.  Yes Virginia, you can love your pet to death.

  • Yearly blood profiles can spot problems before they become serious:

    • By the time many problems are visible through decreased activity or other behavior changes your pet may be very sick.  They can’t tell you that they don’t feel well but blood work can speak for them.

    • Blood work can catch changes in body systems early in the disease process before major damage has been done. The earlier we treat a disease such as diabetes or kidney failure, the better the chance to extend the quality and length of your pet’s life.

  • Obedience Training  Saves Lives:

  • Having a good “down” on your dog can save them from becoming a “Hit by Car” statistic.

  • Well behaved pets receive better medical care because we can examine them more closely.

  • Good manners make rehoming a pet much easier should the need ever arise.

  • Dogs that bite put themselves and others at risk of injury and death.

10 Questions for Dr. Lauren Hughes

 

 

1. How old were you when you decided to become a veterinarian?

Like a lot of my colleagues, I wanted to become a veterinarian ever since I was a little kid, around 5 years old. It was the idea of what a veterinarian actually was that changed for me over the years. When I was in high school, I got to job shadow through the Interact program and Key Club and got a much better idea of what the job entailed and I fell in love with the career. My work as a zoo keeper at Niabi Zoo solidified my want to work with wildlife and exotic species.

2. What is the best part of your job?

As much as I love the work with the variety of species I see on a daily basis, what I love most about the job is giving back to the community and working with the owners of all these pets. Establishing a relationship with my clients and their family and getting to know them is a lot of fun.

3. What’s the most interesting case you’ve ever had?

During my last year of vet school, a large male Rottweiler came into the clinic with a swollen abdomen and we took x-rays, thinking the dog had a twisted stomach. When we began surgery, there was nothing wrong with the stomach at all and everything appear normal within the abdomen. During surgery, the dog’s right hind leg began to swell and he did not recover well from surgery. We ended up having to keep him in the ICU and do several more surgeries and through diagnostic testing and bacterial culture, we discovered that he had flesh eating bacteria, necrotizing fasciitis, and was unfortunately unable to recover. I will probably never see a case like that again in my lifetime.

4. What’s the most difficult part of your job?

Humane euthanasia is always the most difficult part for me. It is such an emotional time for the owners and I’m a crier anyway, so it doesn’t help the situation. The blessing of working with animals is that we have the ability to alleviate their suffering in cases of severe, incurable disease or when it’s time for them to cross that rainbow bridge, but it’s never a happy experience and doesn’t get any easier.     

 

5. Why become a vet when you could have gone into human medicine and made more money?

Because of the variety of species I work with, every day brings something new and challenging. With the exotic animals that I see, as well as the animals from Niabi Zoo, the database of knowledge in some of these critters is extremely limited and brings about my “MacGyver” skills, trying to find new ways to treat patients that have never been done before as well as diagnose their diseases. More money would be nice, but I think I would get bored. I love what I do, so the money really isn’t a factor to me.

6. We know you have to like animals for this job but what are the other unique requirements?

Communication skills, creative thinking, and flexibility. Not every patient presents the same way, even if they have the same disease and not every owner has the same budget so approach do disease treatment and animal management is always different.

7. How has veterinary medicine changed since your parent’s time?

The view of animals in the home has changed significantly over the years. Pets are now much more part of the family than ever before, so the care for them has definitely changed and improved.

8. Even though both jobs require the same amount of education; how does veterinary medicine differ from human medicine beyond the obvious question of species?

Many veterinarians “do everything” still, even though we have specialists. There are so many general practitioners in the veterinary world that act as surgeon, dentist, nutritionist, physical therapist, Chiropractor (wink, wink Dr. Meredith), radiologist, and many more. Your role changes so frequently based on your patient and it’s needs. This is much different than practitioners in the human world.

9. What do you think the new horizons for veterinary medicine will be?

Holistic medicine is becoming more prominent, as well as animal nutrition. Owners are becoming much more aware of the nutritional needs of their pets and asking a lot more information about appropriate diets.

10. If someone gave you a magic wand and you could go back and do it over again, would you still become a vet?

Yes, but I’d never want to do vet school again!

The Importance of Socializing Your Pet

 

All dogs can bite.  We like to think that we can avoid any difficulties with our pets by simply choosing the “right” breed; not so.  Although you may not actually cause behavior problems in your pet, you can unknowingly reward them.  Since we know that it is always easier to prevent rather than change an established behavior: developing ways to make your pet a good family member and citizen should be an important part of pet ownership.

Biting is not the only thing we complain about.  Barking, jumping up, digging, house soiling, chewing on inappropriate items, food aggression and fear of strangers are just some of the things we don’t like.  Can these behaviors be prevented?  Of course they can.  Sometimes it is simply a matter of management.  Others require an active effort on your part to train and socialize your pet. Here are some ideas for keeping making your pet a good citizen.

  1. Teach your dog to sit.  This should be the first thing a puppy learns.  Any pup old enough to go to a new home is capable of learning to sit.  It’s OK to teach the command by using a treat.  The ASPCA has a great site that will show you how to teach a sit.  The importance of this command in your relationship with your pet is that sitting quietly is a prerequisite before any kind of interaction with you. That means that you don’t unthinkingly pet your dog should they bump or rub against your hand. Believe it or not if you are consistent about requiring a quiet sit first and socializing second, it will set a solid base from which to build your relationship with your new dog. 
  2. Better yet, try an obedience classThere are very few dogs that won’t benefit from obedience training.  It doesn’t have to be a competitive obedience class and it doesn’t have to involve harsh methods.  Look for something that will help you with basic commands and routine maintenance such as nail trimming, tooth brushing and socialization with other pets and people. The key is to establish good communication with your pet from the beginning.
  3. Get your pet out in the world.  You can’t expect your dog to comfortable in the world if they never get beyond your backyard.  Once your pet is properly immunized, wormed and protected from fleas, get them out to parks, for car rides and long walks.  If your schedule is extra busy, consider putting them in doggie daycare but please don’t just lock them in the backyard.
  4. Spay or neuter your pet.  This can’t be said often enough.  The reasons for keeping a dog intact are very few indeed.  Hormones will always get in the way of training. Worse, they can cause dog to dog aggression and lead to health problems later in life.
  5. Children and dogs should always be supervised.  Obviously this is not only important for the safety of the child but for the pet as well. Children can’t read animal body language.  They are often at eye level with a pet and may be seen as lower in social ranking than adults.  Children need to be taught to how handle their pet gently yet assertively.   Even when pet and child are both trained, they never be left alone together.
  6. Take your pet to the vet for something other than vaccines.  If you happen to be driving by the vet’s office, stop in.  Bring the dog inside for some treats.  Let the staff pet them and then go home.  You will be surprised how much more relaxed your pet will be if you do this a few times. 
  7. If you run into a problem you can’t handle, call a professional.  There is nothing wrong with asking someone more experienced to help you with your pet. The key is to go for help before a problem gets out of hand.

This is only meant to get you started thinking in the right direction.  Talk to your veterinarian about trainers in your area if you’re unsure where to go.  Just remember to have fun and always keep your pet social.

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Why Your Pet Should be on Flea Prevention

 

 We love creatures of every different type at our clinic!  We love the barkers, the meowers, the squawkers, the rodents and the bunnies,  the snakes and the lizards.  That said, there is one creature that we all hate. The flea!  Unfortunately, we have been seeing way too much of Ctenocephalides canis and felis lately. There has been a huge outbreak of flea infestation cases in the QCA.   Fleas are a nasty pest but most importantly they can be the source other bigger problems.  So …it’s time remind you once again, why it’s important to have your pet on preventative.

 

  • Fleas make their living by biting other animals and feeding on their blood.  When fleas bite they inject saliva into the skin of their host which can cause inflammation, itching, allergic dermatitis and hair loss.  Even worse, if the host is small enough or the number of fleas’ large enough, anemia can result from blood loss.
  • Fleas don’t just bite your pet.  They bite you.  They bite your childrenEverybody gets itchy and everybody can get sick with a myriad of other diseases.
  • A single female flea can lay up to 50 eggs each day and up to 2000 eggs in her short life time!!!  Of course by the time you discover that your pet has fleas, there are most likely eggs and larva throughout your home.
  • Fleas act as a transport vehicle for the aptly named “Flea” tapeworm.  Pets ingest fleas as they groom.  Once the flea is in the digestive system, the larva breaks free and finds a home in your pet’s intestines. An adult tapeworm can grow up to 75 cm (29.5 inches).  According to CPAC (Companion Animal Parasite Council), “Infections of children with D. caninum following ingestion of an infected flea are occasionally reported. The disease induced in the child is generally mild, confined to the intestinal tract, and readily treated, but can still be distressing to the family.”
  • Fleas carry the Plague – and yes we do mean  the Bubonic plague. 
  • Fleas carry Typhus and yes it can be transmitted to humans.  According to Pubmed Health, “Typhus is caused by one of two types of bacteria: Rickettsia typhi or Rickettsia prowazekii.” The form of typhus depends on which type of bacteria causes the infection. Murine typhus occurs in the southeastern and southern United States, often during the summer and fall. It is rarely deadly. Risk factors for murine typhus include:

                             Exposure to rat fleas or feces

                             Exposure to other animals such as                                                      cats, opossums, raccoons, skunks and rats

  • Fleas can help to transmit “Cat Scratch” disease from one cat to another.  We humans get Cat Scratch Fever when we are scratched by an infected feline.
  • Fleas can transmit hemoplasmas, a blood borne parasite that can cause damage to the red calls which results in anemia in your pet.
  • Even if your pet never goes outdoors, you can carry fleas into the house on your pants legs. Fleas can survive the winter just fine as long as you continue to heat your home.   We have been seeing inside only pets who have fleas.
  •  Once there is an established flea infestation, it can be time consuming and expensive to resolve.  Like so many other problems fleas are much easier to prevent than alleviate.

 I don’t know about you but I’m going to go make sure my dog is up to date on his flea prevention.

Essential Water

 

Baby it’s hot outside!  We have all watched the effect of this summer’s heat and lack of water on our lawns and farmer’s crops but what about our pets?  How important is water to their well being? 

Water is THE essential nutrient. It covers about 70% of the earth’s surface and comprises 70 -80% of a dog or cat’s body mass.   Animals can survive the loss of up to one half of their muscle and fat but will perish with the loss of just one tenth of essential body water. (Cat’s are more sensitive to fasting than dogs and may develop fatty liver syndrome if they go without food for even a few days.) 

Water helps the body function through:

How much water is necessary to keep your pet functioning well?  According to AAHA (American Animal Hospital Association) the general rule of thumb is that most animals should have approximately 28 milliliters (just less than an ounce) per pound per day.  So your 40# dog needs at least a liter of water per day while your ten pound cat requires around a quarter of a liter.  For the most part, if you just provide clean water, your pet will drink whatever they require.

What are the signs of dehydration?

  • Sunken eyes
  • Dry or tacky gums
  • Depression or lethargy
  • Dark, strong smelling urine
  • Decrease or cessation of urination
  • Increased heart rate
  • Higher than normal body temperature if overheated ( normal high is 102.5)
  • Seizures/kidney failure/death if not corrected.

Water facts from AAHA:

  • Water bowls need to be cleaned daily.  Otherwise bacteria can cause unpalatable tastes and even make your pet ill.
  • Water bowls need to be flat bottomed or weighted so your pet cannot tip them over.
  • Water evaporates rapidly in the heat.  Check bowls multiple times in hot weather.
  • Chained pets can end up wrapped up and unable to reach their water bowl. Check them often.
  • The toilet is not a water fountain. It can contain bacteria and chemicals that can make your pet sick.  Smaller pets may actually fall in and drown.
  • Many amphibians don’t drink from a bowl or sipper and need to have their water misted or sprayed into a moist environment.
  • Retiles need long, shallow bowls that they use for both soaking and drinking.  Check bowls for feces and clean them frequently.
  • Just like us, the more your pet exercises the more water they require.

 

Hot Weather Care Tips for Your Pet

 

We have started to get some hot weather.  Temperatures have already reached the 90s on some days and with our recent rains, the humidity has been up 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 also produce quite a bit of sweat and may take an extra shower.  That works for us but what about our pets?

Dogs and cats don’t have the same options.  They may shed out some coat but still have to cope with a body covered in fur.  They sweat through their paw pads but primarily dissipate body heat by panting. In warm, humid weather, that may not be enough.

So 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 a source of water.
  • 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.  However, there is nothing wrong with a dog run or backyard shelter as long as there is access to shade, water and hopefully a cooling breeze.
  • Jogging – maybe not.   Your dog is in good shape.  He jogs with you all winter long.  However, that doesn’t mean that it is safe to continue the same routine 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, leave the dog 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, the temperature in your car is 109.   At 91 degrees, it is 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 is possible As heat stroke progresses, seizures, vomiting, bloody diarrhea, coma and death may occur.  “Parked car” or brachycephalic breeds such as Bull Dogs, Pugs, Boxers, etc… are more susceptible to heat related problems. Heat stroke isn’t limited to dogs and cats.  Your bunny, chinchilla and even reptiles can suffer heat related problems as well.    Make sure they have shade and plenty of 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 on your own.  Too much cooling and your pet will actually become too cold.  In addition, heat stroke can literally cook internal organs. Pets who have suffered heat stoke may develop swelling and edema of the trachea making it difficult for them to breathe.  IV fluids, supportive care and monitoring are a must. 
  • Other suggestions for a safer summer.  Pet pools are great for helping your buddy cool down but remember to change the water frequently. 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.  Bandanas and body wraps made specifically for cooling can help.  After soaking in cool water, these products can provide relief for a limited time.  Shaving??  That’s up for debate but if you do, remember your pet will be much more likely to sunburn.  Bunnies can benefit from a frozen pop bottle in their cage.  Just make sure to wrap them in a cloth before placing them in with the bunny and watch for chewing on the cloth or bottle.  Cold blooded pets require care on two accounts.  Air conditioning can be TOO COLD and a terrarium that is up against a hot window can easily 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.

 

So, enjoy yourself this summer, but, please remember to keep your pet’s well being in mind too. If you have any questions, please feel free to call us at 563-391-9522.

How safe is Your Backyard?

 

We try to keep our pets as safe as possible.  We keep them leashed  away from home. We feed them the best food we can provide. We keep their shots and worming current, we train them, and we love them.   When we’re home they play safely in our fenced backyards.

How about that yard? Is it safe?  When was the last time you took a good look around your back yard with the safety of your pet in mind?  We recommend that you do it every spring and fall. What should you look for?  Listed below are some of the hazards that could harm your pet.

The Mulch Pile:       

The backyard mulch pile can be a very attractive and very dangerous place for your pet. Going green is great as long as you do it safely. We recommend that your mulch pile be securely fenced and pet proof.

  1. Mycotoxins   which are found in moldy items like breads, cheese and dog food can make your dog seriously ill.  Signs can range from vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal tenderness to seizures and permanent liver damage.   
  2. Hops used in home brewing can kill your pet if ingested in even small amounts.  The danger is present both before and after brewing.  Signs are panting, rapid heart rate and a rapid increase in body temperature to the point of death.
  3. Macadamia nuts can cause ataxia (lack of coordination), anxiety, increased heart rate, tremors and temporary paralysis. 
  4. Grapes, mushrooms, onions, garlic, tomato plants, black locust tree pods and seeds, any sugar free products containing Xylitol and coffee grounds are all dangerous for your pets as well.  If your pet ingests any of these items call poison control and your veterinarian.

The Backyard Pool:

We all know how attractive and dangerous a pool is to small children but it can be just as deadly to your pets.

  1. Drowning is an obvious risk to both pets and children. Both may fall in and be unable to get out. 
  2. Pool Chemicals can make your pet very sick. Animals are curious and will often taste whatever happens to be lying around.  Ingesting pool chemicals can cause vomiting, breathing difficulty, seizures and loss of consciousness.

Poisonous Plants

Be cognizant of what you plant.  ASPCA poison Control has a complete list of plants that are toxic to animals.  Please visit www.aspca.org/petcare/poisoncontrol/plants for the complete list.  Plants can cause everything from local irritation and drooling to seizures and death. 

Other Animals

Your first thought may be other aggressive animals.   However, skunks, raccoons and possums can carry infectious diseases that can make you and your pet sick. This is why we preach vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate!  It’s also a good idea not to feed your pets outdoors which is a sure way attract local wildlife.

  1. Rabies is carried by skunks, raccoons and bats and they all frequent back yards. 
  2. Leptospirosis is transmitted through the urine of infected animals and can be transmitted to people and pets.
  3. Baylisascaris is a parasite that is harmless to Raccoons but deadly to humans due to its propensity to travel to our brains and wreak havoc.
  4. Bites and wounds and infections can occur if your dog or cat tries to defend their home turf from raccoons and other wildlife.
  5. Predation is an unpleasant prospect whether it involvesyour pet or wildlife. 

Fertilizers, Herbicides and Pesticides

  1. Read your labels and use chemicals accordingly.  Wait until chemicals are dry or as long as the directions indicate before allowing your pet back in the yard.
  2. Cover any food or water dishes before spraying.  Don’t forget the bird bath.
  3. Store all chemicals safely and out of reach.  Keep the original containers just in case you have an accidental exposure.
  4. Keep slug bait, rat poison and gopher bait well away from any place your pet can reach. Call your veterinarian and/or poison control if you even think your pet may ingested any of these products.
  5. Try to find a natural, poison free alternative whenever possible.

Children

Dare we say it?  Children are immature, impulsive and often lacking in judgment. 

  1. Kids may think teasing your pet through the fence is fun but the end result may be an over stimulated, aggressive dog and bitten children.  Nobody wants a barking, fence running dog for a neighbor no matter how the behavior was started.
  2. Children may throw food or other objects over the fence that can harm your pet.  It’s a good idea to run a fence check frequently in warm months.
  3. Jumping dogs can catch a collar on the fence top and choke to death.  Yes it happens.
  4. Small pets can be injured and even killed by over enthusiastic and unsupervised children.  Again, yes it happens.
  5. Finally, no matter how safe you keep your yard, it doesn’t matter if children forget to close and latch the gate.

This isn’t a complete list of the potential dangers in the backyard jungle but hopefully we’ve got you thinking about pet proofing your property.   Feel free to call us or contact through our web site or face book with any questions.