Common 4th of July Dangers for Pets

While you are enjoying fireworks, barbeques, good friends, and fun times this holiday, don’t forget to be on the lookout for the following potential hazards for your pets:

  • Neighbors & friends – Keep a close eye on your pets if you take them to parties or have people over.  Just because you realize that bratwurst might cause digestive upset for your pet doesn’t mean your neighbor does.  Also, unfamiliar visitors and crowds can make it easy for frightened or curious pets to slip out the door.  Make sure that your pet has a “safe” quiet place to retreat to and be sure it is wearing identification with current contact information.
  • Not-so-pet friendly treats – Do your best to keep your pet on its normal diet.  Extra treats and fatty food can cause vomiting and/or diarrhea at minimum, and could even result in more severe digestive problems like pancreatitis.  Some “people” treats such as alcohol, onions, chocolate, and grapes or raisins could even result in death.
  • Fireworks and other hazards – Obviously fireworks and other direct flames can be dangerous to pets.  Be sure to keep them secured and out of the way when such activities are occurring.  But did you think about the loud noises a fireworks display may cause?  Scared pets may hide or worse, try to run from the noise.  If your pet has severe anxiety related to fireworks, talk to your veterinarian about potentially using a sedative to help get them through the holiday.

For those of you who are dealing with fireworks anxiety, be sure to enter our sister hospital’s Thunder Shirt sweepstakes!

 

How prepared are you?

Disasters strike when we least expect them.  We never think it will happen to us, yet every year tornados, fires, hurricanes, and floods strike locations all over the United States.  If something like this were to affect your family, are you ready?  It is National Pet Preparedness Month, and it’s the perfect time to ask yourself the following:

  • Where would you go? Do you have a list of facilities or locations that you could take shelter at?  Where would your pets go?  Try to make a list of pet-friendly hotels, boarding facilities, or homes that would take your pet in case of an emergency.
  • What would you bring? Everyone should have an emergency preparedness kit.  Be sure to include your pets.  Keep a carrier, leash and collar, food, water, and bowls in a designated location.  Don’t forget any medications and a copy of your pet’s medical records.
  • Could your pet find you if you became separated? Keep identification tags and microchip registration information current so that your pet can find its way home should you have to part.

We all hope that we’ll never have to deal with an emergency like this, but it does happen. Being prepared will give you peace of mind, and is the best way to ensure you and your loved ones will make it through as safely as possible.

Please contact us if you have any questions.

 

The Top Summer Danger for Pets

Can you guess what it is? If you guessed leaving your pet in a parked car, you hit the nail on the head.  Even on a relatively nice day (think 85 degrees) your car’s interior can reach 102 degrees within 10 minutes and 120 degrees within 30 minutes.

Take into account your dog’s lack of sweat gland and inefficient heat exchange mechanisms (panting), and your pooch can be in a pickle in no time flat.  Even leaving the windows cracked is not enough to make a huge difference.

Overheating can lead to permanent damage to major organs including the brain and may even lead to death.  If you see a pet in peril this summer, be sure to try to alert the animal’s owner.  If that is not successful, call 911. Often law enforcement or animal control can help.

As always, please contact us with any questions.

 

Springtime fun for your outdoorsy pup

Spring is here and things are warming up outside, which means there are many more opportunities for outdoor fun! Long walks, hiking trails, play groups, swimming… It gets my tail wagging just thinking about it! As with any activity that you participate in with your pup, there are tips to remember when heading into the great outdoors to keep you both safe and happy.

  1. Let your dog carry his own weight. If you have a dog that doesn’t tire easily, get him a dog backpack to help boost his workout a little. Keep in mind that if you just slap the bag on, throw in some weights, and head out for your walk, Sparky might not be too keen the next time he sees the pack come out. The key is to make it fun. Put the pack on empty the first time and let your dog walk around in it while you offer him treats. The next time keep it on a little longer. Once he seems like he’s tolerating it, try it with a couple of water bottles in it to add some weight. As soon as he’s comfortable with it, try going for a walk with it on. The extra weight should help to tire him out faster so he’ll get more out of your walk.
  2. Help your dog to play nice with others. When the weather gets warmer the number of dog bites and dog fights increase due to the number of outdoor activities available to people, dogs, and dog owners. Keep this increased number in mind if you bring your dog to a location where there is the potential for other dogs. Be sure you always ask the owner before initiating contact with a new dog. If the owner is nowhere to be found, avoid any contact with the dog as best you can. Dog parks tend to be more crowded as well, which can sometimes lead to stress and aggressive behavior. Evaluate the situation and pay attention to your pup. If he seems stressed at all, a nice long walk alone with you may be a better option that day.
  3. Is it hot enough for you? We all know that dogs need exercise for both their mental and physical well-being and that a tired dog is a happy dog is a well behaved dog. However, you do need to exercise some caution once the summer temperatures get here, particularly if your dog is older, short-nosed, or has a thick coat. During those dog days of summer, try exercising your pet early in the morning or late in the evening when things have cooled down. Remember that asphalt can get very hot and can burn your dog’s paws. If it’s too hot for you to stand barefoot on it, you shouldn’t let your dog stand on it for very long either.
  4. Learn to recognize heat stress. Heat stress is a serious medical condition that can lead to other issues such as stroke, brain damage, or even death. It’s important to learn to recognize the signs that your dog may be suffering. Remember that dogs can’t sweat the way we do. They regulate their temperature by panting and are much more susceptible to overheating than we are. Signs of heat stress include heavy panting, glazed eyes, rapid pulse, unsteadiness, staggering gait, vomiting, or a deep red/purple tongue. If your dog is exhibiting any of these symptoms you should apply cool (not cold) water  gradually to your dog to decrease his temperature. Make sure to move them to a cooler, shady location and remember that dogs cool themselves from the bottom up, so using cold ice packs and applying them to your dog’s head, neck, and chest will help.
  5. Cowabunga! Most dogs love to swim, but some just can’t do it and others just don’t want to. If you’re going swimming be conscious of your dog’s preferences and skills before making him swim. If you’re swimming for the first time with your dog, start off in shallow water and coax him by calling his name and encouraging him with treats or toys. Never throw your dog into the water. If you’re lucky enough to be vacationing near the ocean keep a close eye on your pal to make sure he stays safe in any strong tides. If you’re swimming in a pool make sure your dog knows where the stairs are located, and give him a good rinse once he comes out. Otherwise the chlorine will dry on his fur and it may make him sick if he licks it off later.

Most importantly, enjoy your outdoors time with your furry friend. It’s easy to have a great time if you keep these few safety tips in mind. As always, feel free to call us with any questions.

 

It’s National Pet Week: Let’s Celebrate!

petsThis week is National Pet Week in the US: a whole week to celebrate our furry, feathered, and scaly friends! The goals of National Pet Week are to promote responsible pet ownership, celebrate the human-animal bond, and promote public awareness of veterinary medicine.

Responsible pet ownership is a term that we hear often, but it may not always be clear what it entails. The AVMA has outlined 6 things that you can do to be a responsible pet owner:

  1. Commit
    • Avoid impulsive decisions when selecting a pet.
    • Select a pet that’s suited to your home and lifestyle. If selecting a dog, make sure the breed is suited to your lifestyle.
    • Keep only the type and number of pets for which you can provide appropriate food, water, shelter, health care and companionship.
    • Commit to the relationship for the life of your pet(s).
    • Provide appropriate exercise and mental stimulation.
    • Properly socialize and train your pet.
  2. Invest
    • Recognize that pet ownership requires an investment of time and money.
    • Make sure your pet receives preventive health care (vaccinations, parasite control, etc.), as well as care for any illnesses or injuries.
    • Budget for potential emergencies.
  3. Obey
    • Clean up after your pet.
    • Obey all local ordinances, including licensing, leash requirements and noise control.
    • Don’t allow your pet to stray or become feral.
  4. Identify
    • Make sure your pet is properly identified (i.e., tags, microchips, or tattoos) and keep its registration up-to-date.
  5. Limit
    • Don’t contribute to our nation’s pet overpopulation problem: limit your pet’s reproduction through spay/neuter, containment or managed breeding.
  6. Prepare
    • Prepare for an emergency or disaster, including assembling an evacuation kit.
    • Make alternate arrangements if you can no longer provide care for your pet.
    • Recognize any decline in your pet’s quality of life and make timely decisions in consultation with a veterinarian.

 

Lyme Disease: What you need to know

dog on lawnIt is no coincidence that April is National Lyme Disease Prevention Month.  Lyme disease is transmitted by ticks, and the nasty little parasites are at their height during the spring months.  Lyme disease is a bacterial infection caused by the organism Borrelia burgdorferi that is transmitted by the bite of an infected tick.  The disease is most common in the northeastern, upper Midwestern, and West Coast states, however the area of concern appears to be spreading in recent years.

Infected animals may not develop any symptoms at all.  Some will develop fever, lameness, swollen joints, depression, and/or loss of appetite.  If the infection persists kidney failure and permanent lameness can ensue.  If Lyme disease is suspected, we may suggest running a blood test to confirm infection.  Luckily most pets with Lyme disease respond well to antibiotic therapy.

In endemic areas (like ours), vaccination of dogs for Lyme disease is recommended.  Disease can also be prevented by using tick preventative products recommended by your veterinarian and by removing ticks promptly before disease transmission can occur.  Avoiding tick infested areas and keeping shrubbery and grass closely trimmed can also lessen the likelihood of exposure.  If your dog is at risk for contracting Lyme disease, so are you!  Use care in areas with a heavy tick population.

Call us if you have any questions, or if your dog is showing symptoms.

 

Hold your hounds! Leash etiquette for your pooch.

Dog Pulling at LeashWe have all experienced it:  You are minding your own business, walking your dog quietly when a friendly, over-excited (or not-so-friendly, borderline aggressive) dog pulling an owner at the end of a leash comes barreling into your personal space.

Worst case scenario, your dog is not so thrilled at the sight of the other dog, or the other dog is not as thrilled as its owner perceives and chaos ensues.  Best case scenario, one or both dogs, although friendly, develop bad habits regarding interactions with other humans and dogs.  Keep the following cardinal rules of leash etiquette in mind when taking your dog in public:

  1. Not all dogs are friendly.  Even if your dog is, be sure to give other pets plenty of “personal” space unless you ask the owner’s permission to approach.
  2. Not all people like all dogs.  Another dog walker may be terrified of your dog.  Don’t allow your pet to jump on or rush at others.
  3. Consider ditching the flexi-lead.  While it’s convenient to let your dog roam, it is impossible to maintain control of your pet while on a flexi-lead.  They are also much less sturdy and more likely to break in times of need.
  4. If you do use a flexi-lead, keep it locked at 6 feet when other people or dogs are around.
  5. Train your pup!  Exuberant, friendly dogs and cautious, fearful dogs alike benefit from training sessions.

Contact us if you’d like some recommendations for local trainers.

 

Heartworm Disease: How Much Do You Know

Dog and CatHeartworm disease is no joke.  It is a very serious problem for pets that, with a little effort, is almost completely preventable.  Here are a few facts regarding heartworm disease so that you can better understand how to protect your pet:

  • Heartworms grow inside the heart, lungs, and associated vessels.
  • Heartworm disease is transmitted by female mosquitoes.
  • Both dogs and cats can become infected.
  • Heartworm disease has been found in ALL 50 states.
  • Pets that are infected may not exhibit any signs until serious problems and even death occur.
  • There is a treatment for heartworm disease in dogs, although the treatment is expensive and can have a high risk of complications.  No treatment is currently available for cats.

Contact us and we can help you to decide what the best preventative plan is for your pet.  By educating yourself you can protect your dog or cat from this scary disease.

 

Litterbox Training Tips

Kitten in LitterboxFortunately for cat owners, most kittens have a natural predilection for using a litter box to eliminate.  As with most things in life, however, there are exceptions.  If you have a stubborn kitten, you may have to backpedal and be sure your feline friend knows what you want it to do.  Here are a few tips to follow:

  • Be sure the litter box is the right size for your kitten!  Young kittens may have a hard time climbing over the side of a full-size box.  You might consider using a cake pan or something similar until he/she gets the hang of it.
  • Make sure the litter boxes are accessible.  Long distances or stairs might be difficult for a little kitty to get there in time.  Make sure there is a box on every floor and in the areas where your kitten spends the most time.
  • Show them the way.  Make a point to periodically place your kitten in the litter box, especially after meals.  Encourage them to dig.
  • Play with the litter.  Some cats prefer a certain type of litter.  Try clumping vs. nonclumping, scented or non-scented, or alternative types such as recycled newspaper or pine.
  • Make sure the box isn’t too scary.  Many times we inadvertently put litter boxes in out-of-the-way areas where scary monsters lurk.  Noisy washing machines, refrigerators, furnaces, nosy dogs, and loud children can all be deterrents for your kitten.

By following these tips, your new kitty should be well on its way to being a litter box pro in no time at all!

 

Curing Canine Cabin Fever

Bored dog looks out the windowDoes this weather have your pup feeling blue?  As Old Man Winter settles in, most pooches get less exercise due to plummeting temperatures and early sunsets.  Here are a few ideas to banish the winter blahs once and for all!

  • Teach an old dog new tricks
    No matter how well trained your dog is, there is something he can learn.  Head to the library and check out one of the many books loaded with ideas for new tricks, or work on some oldies but goodies like roll over or shake.  Your dog will appreciate the quality time.
  • Head back to class
    Many obedience schools have indoor facilities where your pet can brush up on their manners, take part in agility, or become certified as a Canine Good Citizen.  Activities like these not only burn off some steam, but help your dog be the best he can be!
  • Bundle up and brave the great outdoors
    Break out the hats and gloves (and dog booties and coats if appropriate) and enjoy the weather. Most dogs love to romp around in the snow, and you’ll get some exercise, too.
  • Have a snuggle session
    Sometimes nothing beats curling up with a good movie, some popcorn, and your favorite pet (or pets)!
  • Play a game
    Many pets will get hours of enjoyment out of a new interactive toy or playing a round of hide-and-seek with their owner or a special treat.
  • Make it a date
    Does your dog have any canine friends that it might enjoy visiting?  Or maybe he would like to spend the day with us, playing with the other dogs at our doggie daycare?  Dogs that enjoy social activities often love a little time with their puppy pals.

So worry no more… there is plenty for you and your dog to do over the winter months.  And even better, spring is right around the corner!