5 Springtime Health Hazards For Dogs
(Steve Reid - Dogington Post)
Now that the harsh winter weather is almost behind us and Spring is peeking through, we are all excited to get outside with our pets. In order to truly enjoy the nice weather, we need to keep our family dog safe from potential springtime health hazards.
Toxic Plants: Not all plants are animal friendly. If your dog ingests just a small amount of these common plants, it can lead to serious health issues. Just a few potentially dangerous plants include: Azalea, Bittersweet, Crocus, Day Lily, Ferns, Lily of the Valley, Morning Glory, Tiger Lily, and Tulip.
Fertilizers and Pesticides: What springtime gardening routine is complete without adding fertilizer to grow grass/plants, and pesticides to kill off unwanted bugs and weeds. However, these chemicals pose a significant health concern for pets. The safest option is to forgo using any of these products in your yard. If that’s not possible, seek out pet safe options when available.
Pick Up the Sticks: After the winter thaw, we are apt to find countless sticks all over our yard. Most dogs are drawn to these. We may think they are suitable toys and entertainment items for our dog, but they are not. Your dog may have played with these in the past, and experienced no issues; but that is not always the case. Tree branches are not designed to act as chew toys. As a result, they can splinter/break, cut a dog’s mouth/throat and cause a severe choking hazard. Instead of sticks, use suitable toys as an outlet for your dog. Dog toys include: A Frisbee, tug toy, squeaky toy, ball, etc.
Safely Enjoy the Dog Park: Many owners love taking their dog to the dog park to enjoy off leash freedom while playing with their four legged friends. There are a few very important safety considerations owners should know before using the dog park. Learn “What You Need to Know About Dog Parks” here.
Allergies: Spring time can cause allergies to arise in our pets, just as much as they do in us. Common allergens for dogs include: flowering trees, dandelions, tulips, insects, dust and mold. Allergy symptoms can manifest themselves in the form of itching, coughing, sneezing, flaky skin or extra oily coat. Keep an eye out for these symptoms in order to help ease your dog’s discomfort.
Spring time is an enjoyable time of year for many of us. National Pet Week is a perfect opportunity to remind ourselves of how we can help to keep our dog safe from common spring time health hazards. If you suspect your dog has been exposed to any health hazard, do not wait. Immediately contact a Veterinarian for professional medical attention. Prevention is always the best medicine. Whenever possible, take proactive steps to help prevent health issues for your dog.
Steve Reid is a certified dog trainer and owner of S.R. Dog Training, LLC in Somers, NY. For more information about S. R. Dog Training, visit www.srdogtraining.com or call 914-774-7654
Prevention of Heat Exhaustion in Dogs
(Strongdogz - Toronto Bark Watch/Cherryblossom Love)
Summers always brings to mind things like vacations, picnics, boating on lakes and rivers, and children playing in the sun and swimming in the pool or at beaches. Many times the family dog is right there with them totally engaged in the activities. There is fun to be had for sure but there is also a lurking danger. Heat exhaustion!
Dogs love to get caught up with us in our summer fun. They live for these social activities and your companionship. Many times though they get so caught up that they surpass their own bodies ability to cool off and go into distress from heat exhaustion. At this time their bodies overheat past their capacity to cool themselves by panting. If this is let go unattended they can go from heat exhaustion to heat stroke, which could be deadly. Recognizing the signs of heat exhaustion in your dog is critical to his well being.
When a dog is suffering heat exhaustion the first thing that you will notice is his tongue hanging out of his mouth to an unusual degree. His need to try to gasp for air and cool himself will cause his lips to pull back and expose his back molars. He will start to exhibit signs of stress which may show itself in pacing, circling, laying down and then getting right back up again, or a glazed over look in his eyes that denotes panic. He is panicking because his body is telling him that his temperature is rapidly rising to a point that he cannot cool himself.
You should always have a thermometer on hand when you own a dog so that you can tell if your dog has an ailment that you should be concerned with and needs immediate action and attention. Body temperature is the best indicator of wellness or distress in your dog. Normal temperature for a dog depending on age and outside temperature can range from 101 to 103 with the extreme ends being a bit high or a bit low depending on outside temperature and the stress that the dog is under at the time. A dog who’s temperature rises above these levels should be considered to be in danger and immediate action and veterinary care are called for.
In the case of heat exhaustion the dog’s temperature could go up quickly to over 104 to 105. This signals the danger of heat stroke, which could be fatal. Before loading the dog into a potentially hot car and speeding off to the veterinarian immediate action should be taken. This involves getting the dog cooled down quickly while at the same time not shocking the dogs system. This is best done by putting cool water on his belly (not his back) which is where his vital organs are located. Get an ice pack or a zip lock bag with ice in it and apply it to his belly. Get him into the coolest spot you can find (air-conditioned room or if outside under a shade tree) and begin to work on getting his temperature down. You will know this is happening when his tongue begins to slide back into his mouth a little as he breathes. When a dog has heat exhaustion he often will throw up his food. This is the bodies attempt to rid him of any extra baggage that will limit the body from cooling. Do not give him water right away as he will probably throw this up also. Wait until he starts to stabilize and then offer him a short cool drink.
If you need to rush him to the veterinarian make sure that the car is cooled down prior to putting him inside. A dog who is stabilizing could be put back into distress when loaded into a hot vehicle. Make sure that someone rides with him who can apply the ice pack to his belly in route to the hospital. This may not be necessary unless you cannot manage to bring his temperature down by the aforementioned methods. You don’t want to further shock the dogs system by throwing him into a cold pool or lake. You can walk him in to where his belly is cooled but do not throw him in as this could create shock that could cause a heart attack or further stress.
Whether or not your dog is prone to heat exhaustion has everything to do with his individual body makeup. Some dogs like people are better at cooling themselves than others. This could be due to body type, coat color, coat type, or being overweight, or due to physical malady. Paying attention to your dogs’ individual makeup is very important.
Ideas for keeping your dog cool and safe in the summer are many:
1. Provide adequate availability of cool fresh water that is kept in shaded areas.
2. Provide plenty of shade. Shade can be provided by overhead covers, trees, pop ups, solid fencing etc.
3. Provide a child’s pool with water in a shaded area for him to lay in.
4. Never leave him in a hot car or contained area where he cannot get to shade. Do not expect a crate or a dog house to provide shade. These enclosures can actually hold heat if left in the sun.
5. If the dog must work in the heat there are cooling pads, vests, and collars available on the market.
6. Always keep a thermometer on hand to take the dogs temperature if necessary.
7. Make sure you have ice packs in the freezer in case of emergency.
8. If the area the dog is in is too hot for you it is too hot for your dog!
9. If your dog is not allowed in the house at least crate train him so that you can bring him into an air conditioned laundry room or other room of the house out of the heat.
10. There are a number of items available to help cool yourself and your dog on the market. These include fans and mister systems that are easily installed and maintained.
11. Consider reversing your dog’s schedule in the summer. If he is crated at night during the winter, consider crating him during the day in the air conditioning in the summer and leaving him out at night.
12. Most important to the safety of the dog be AWARE of his condition and activity in the summer months.
Some of the recommendations above will seem like common sense to some people. It is important to note that although this SHOULD be true, it is often not the case. We have had clients pull up in the summer and leave dogs in a hot car. When called on it they will often say, “he’s a dog, he can handle it.” Just to have us come down on them to their amazement. They are amazed that we are bold enough to tell them to get the dog out of the hot car and we are amazed that they don’t know better. I’m not just talking about any old client; I’m talking about professional people who should know better.
If I could make one recommendation to dog owners it would be to have a simple store bought digital thermometer. This is the best indicator to you as to whether you actually have an emergency or you are over reacting. This is true for heat exhaustion as well as many other possible maladies or virus situations. This one device could make the difference between life and death for your beloved canine companion.
Six Summertime Hazards for Dogs
(Dogster - Casey Lomonaco)
Seasonal pet health hazards should be considered during the extreme temperatures of both winter and summer. Keeping pets safe during the summer is easiest if you know what the risks are and how to manage them for your dog's safety.
The dog days of summer provide lots of opportunities for fun with your dog (camping, hiking, swimming, kayaking and backpacking, to name a few) but also bring a unique set of health hazards and risks pet owners should be aware of; including, but not limited to: dehydration, burned pads, parasite infestation, heat stroke, leptospirosis, and seasonal allergies.
Six Common Summer Hazards for Dogs
One of the best ways to keep your dog safe in the summer time is by providing lots of cool, clean, fresh water. Consider preparing low sodium chicken broth or yogurt ice cubes, and introducing canned dog foods (best when frozen in a Kong!) to increase the moisture content in your dog's diet.
2. Burned Pads
Under the summer sun, asphalt on sidewalks and streets can heat to a temperature that can burn a dog's paws. To avoid scorched paws, walk your dog very early in the morning or in the late evening when the streets have cooled off. If you must walk your dog during the day, dog booties can protect his feet. Always put your hand down on the asphalt for about thirty seconds - if you must pull your hand away because the street is too hot, it is too hot for your dog to walk on without hurting his paws. If you don't want your hand on the street for thirty seconds, your dog probably does not want his paws on it for thirty or more minutes of walking.
Summer is the season for fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes; pests which can present a minor discomfort to your dog at best and at worst may be life threatening or cause self-mutilating behaviors. Feeding your dog a high quality diet, without preservatives or chemicals will build his immune system, making him generally more resistant to parasite infestation. There are a wide variety of preventatives on the market, including chemical spot-on treatments, repellent shampoos, essential oils, and flea/tick collars; talk to your vet to see what she recommends for your dog. Cleaning your house frequently and keeping your dog well groomed will also reduce the risk of parasite infestation.
4. Heat Stroke
Heat stroke is a serious risk to dog's health - in worst case scenarios, it can be fatal. You can prevent heat stroke by restricting your pet's exercise during the hottest hours of the day (early morning or late evening are the best times for exercise during the summer), by making sure he is well hydrated, providing cool places for him to relax, providing opportunities to swim, cooling mats, and by never leaving your dog unattended in the car during summer heat.
Many dogs die annually in hot cars. Even if your windows are cracked or you park in the shade, heat can build quickly in a car in the summer, turning it into an oven. If it's 95 degrees at noon and you leave your windows cracked, the temperature in your car may still rise as high as 113 degrees. This is a recipe for disaster for your dog. If you must leave your dog in the car for any period of time, the air conditioning should stay on. Leaving a dog to die in a hot car is not just a health risk for your dog, but may be cause for animal cruelty charges in some area. The solution? Don't leave your dog in a hot car.
Leptospirosis is contracted through bodily fluids or tissue and can be transmitted through direct (as in the case of a bite or ingestion of flesh) or indirect contact (through water sources, food, etc.) with an infected animal. Stagnant waters are a common source of leptospirosis bacteria. Lepto can cause permanent health problems or death if not treated quickly. Symptoms include fever, vomiting, trembling/shaking, lethargy, anorexia, tenderness of joints and muscles, and increased water intake. If you suspect your dog has lepto, get him to a vet right away, an emergency vet if need be.
There are vaccines for lepto but they do not prevent all strains and can cause significant adverse reactions. Talk to your vet about weighing the risk of infection with the risks associated with the lepto vaccine.
6. Seasonal Allergies
Your dog may be allergic to one or more seasonal items, which include fleas, grass and various plants, and mold. If you suspect your dog may have seasonal allergies, is scratching and perhaps losing fur, a visit to your vet is recommended. Here is a great website where you can learn more about the various kinds of allergies affecting dogs and treatments for canine allergies in any season.
Summertime Pet Poisoning Hazards
Quick Tips from a Veterinarian on Keeping Pets Safe
Dr. Justine Lee, a veterinary emergency critical care specialist and the associate director of Veterinary Services at Pet Poison Helpline, warns pet owners about several overlooked toxins that can threaten the lives of our four-legged companions.
Salt Water Toxicity
If your dog loves to play on the ocean beach, heed caution. Dogs don’t realize that salt water is dangerous, and excessive intake can result in severe hypernatremia, or salt poisoning. While initial signs of hypernatremia include vomiting and diarrhea, salt poisoning can progress quickly to neurologic signs like incoordination, seizures, progressive depression, and ultimately, severe brain swelling. Hypernatremia needs to be treated very carefully with IV fluids by your veterinarian. Help avoid the problem by carrying a fresh bottle of tap water and offering it to your dog frequently while he’s frolicking on the beach.
If you own a pool or hobby pond, make sure to keep those pool chemicals away! Algaecides and chlorine shock water treatment products are generally safe once these chemicals are diluted appropriately. However, many of the undiluted pool chemicals (like chlorine bleach tablets, etc.) are corrosive (as they are bleach derivatives), and if ingested directly from the bucket or in tablet form, can result in severe ulcers in the mouth, esophagus, and stomach, resulting in life-threatening punctures of the GI tract. When in doubt, make sure you always store your pool chemicals in a locked, secure area, and never leave open containers (even for a second!) pool-side.
Believe it or not, but sunscreen can be toxic to your pet if ingested in large amounts. Sunscreens contain a few potentially dangerous chemicals: PABA, zinc oxide, salicylic acid (aspirin), and laxatives. Massive PABA ingestion can result in severe gastroenteritis (an inflammation of the stomach and intestines), bone marrow changes, and even liver damage. Zinc oxide generally just causes a mild gastroenteritis, resulting in vomiting, nausea, or diarrhea. Large amounts of salicylic acid can result in gastric ulcers, and in high doses, even kidney failure. Sunscreen may also have an inadvertent laxative effect also, resulting in diarrhea.
Thankfully, this is pretty rare because pets have to ingest large bottles of sunscreen before it’s an issue. Remember that if you apply sunscreen to your pet, he’ll likely just lick it off. In general, I don’t normally recommend sunscreen unless you have a white dog with a pink nose, live in a high elevation in constant sunshine (like Colorado!), house your dog outdoors most of the time, or if your dog has an underlying medical problem (like pemphigus, lupus, dermatitis, etc.). If you need to use it, purchase a child-safe sunscreen and consult your veterinarian.
Flea and Tick Medications
During the spring and summer, flea and tick infestation is at its peak! Make sure your pets are protected with an adequate, safe, preventative flea and tick medication to avoid that itchy, uncomfortable feeling of bites, flea allergy dermatitis, or even tick-borne diseases like Lyme disease, Ehrlichia, Anaplasma, or Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Nowadays, there are multiple different options for insect preventives: from oral pills to topical spot-on treatments (both prescription and over-the-counter). Most of these types are either an adulticide (killing adult fleas and ticks) or an insect growth regulator (birth control for flea eggs, preventing them from developing into adults). When in doubt, contact your veterinarian about the best type of medication for your pet; the safest types of preventative are often by prescription only.
Keep in mind that some dogs have sensitivities to certain types, and others can cause severe adverse reactions if not applied appropriately. Most importantly, if you’re a cat owner, read the label carefully! Some of these preventives contain pyrethrins or pyrethroids (a chemical derivative of the natural Chrysanthemum flower), which are severely toxic to cats when misapplied. Even the accidental application of a dog flea product to a cat can result in severe symptoms like seizures, tremors, and life-threatening reactions!
Stings and Insect Bites
If you’re going camping in a mosquito-infested area, consider using a flea and tick preventive that gets mosquitoes too. Only Advantix (Bayer Animal Health) works for mosquitoes, because of the pyrethrin – which again, should never be used on cats! You can also consider using low-concentration DEET is severe situations (like OFF®or Skintastic®).
For you cat owners, be safe and don’t use anything – mosquitoes can’t usually get through that thick kitty fur coat, and it’s rare for cats to get Lyme disease (likely because cats are such fastidious groomers that ticks get groomed off, swallowed and pooped out shortly thereafter). Besides, cats are so sensitive to any kind of chemical or drug due to their altered liver (glutathione metabolism), so always check with a veterinarian before using any product on a cat! If you do notice an attached tick, simply get a pair of tweezers and firmly grasp near the base (head of the tick) and pull it off in one swipe.
More severe bites include snake bites and scorpion bites. Depending on where you live, your curious dog may get bitten on the nose when he harasses a rattlesnake. When in doubt, keep your dog supervised closely on a leash so you can avoid the bite to begin with. If your dog does get bitten by a snake, don’t attempt any first aid yourself – no tourniquets, no ice, no lancing of the wound and sucking out the venom – none of these are beneficial and can make your pet worse! Seek veterinary attention immediately or call Pet Poison Helpline for advice on how to best treat these bad bites.
The best thing any pet owner can do is to be educated on the summertime toxins that are out there - that way you can make sure to pet proof your house appropriately. Make sure to have fresh water available for your pet at all times; to keep all chemicals and household products in labeled, tightly-sealed containers out of your pet’s reach; to read flea and tick preventative labels appropriately, and to consult your vet whenever starting new medications. When in doubt, please call Pet Poison Helpline* at 1-800-213-6680 with any questions or concerns if you’re worried that your pet could have inadvertently gotten into anything this summer!
*A fee is billed by Pet Poison Helpline. PPH is not affiliated with VPI Pet Insurance.
5 Extreme Winter Hazards to Pets
Protect Dogs and Cats During Blizzard Conditions
As what is gearing up to be a blizzard of mass proportions hits the Northeast and Canada, more than 200 million people will be affected by freezing temperatures, power outages, frozen pipes and gnarly traffic jams—that is, if you can make it out of the house.
Our pets are not immune to these extreme cold weather conditions. Five hazards to be aware of when it comes to your four-legged companions include:
Antifreeze can leak from a car radiator on to your driveway, garage and on the street where cars may be parked.The sweet taste of this extremely toxic poison is unfortunately alluring to pets. One lick of antifreeze is enough to poison your dog or cat in a very short amount of time. Immediate veterinary care is required.
Your pet's body temperature can fall below normal when exposed to cold temperatures for a period of time. Just because your dog has a fur coat does not mean he is protected from the winter climate. Older pets and those in poor health are at higher risk. Hypothermia can lead to cardiac arrest, among other severe ailments that will require veterinary care.
Your pet’s ears, paws and tail can rapidly develop frostbite when exposed to winter conditions.Frostbite occurs when your pet’s body gets cold and blood from the extremities is pulled to the center of the body in an attempt to retain warmth. Ice crystals form, damaging the tissue.
If you see ice crystals, don’t try to remove them; take your pet to your veterinarian immediately.
4. Ice-Melting Chemicals and Salt
Ice-melting chemicals and salt placed across sidewalks and roads can cause severe burning to your dog and cat's footpads. Wash your pet's paws if you suspect contamination. Products such as Musher's Secret can be applied to footpads prior to going outside and may help reduce the pain caused by road salt and chemicals. You may also consider buying a set of pet-safe booties that your dog can wear when outside.
5. Sharp Objects Under Snow
Dangerous objects such as glass, sharp rocks or discarded trash that can cause lacerations can be easily hidden under the snow or salt on roads and walk ways. Your pet can step on these and harm himself, or ingest one of these objects and be subjected to foreign body ingestion or toxic poisoning.
Try to keep pets indoors during blizzard conditions. Remember that pets can also become lost during snowy conditions. Contact your family veterinarian if you suspect your pet has suffered an injury due to an extreme winter hazard.
Winter Poisoning Dangers for Dogs
(S.R. Dog Training)
With winter here and a big snowfall hitting us on the east coast, there are very important poisoning dangers for pet owners to be aware of.
The salt that is laid down on roads, sidewalks, and driveways can be a major health risk for our four legged pets. Dogs (and cats) step in salt and naturally want to lick their paws to clean them and relieve the skin irritation. However, this can cause a potentially fatal reaction to the chemicals they are ingesting. Some possible ways to prevent this is by not allowing your dog to walk on the salt, use a pet safe deicer, and wash your dog’s paws off before they get the opportunity to lick them clean.
Another major health concern during the winter months is the issue of anti-freeze ingestion. Many vehicles leak anti-freeze on roads and driveways. These puddles can be very appealing to our pets because of the color, odor, and taste…making it a very concerning issue for dog owners. Consumption of anti-freeze can be fatal to dogs and cats if not treated quickly. Possible symptoms of ingestion include: vomiting, seizures, increased rate of breathing, and appearing sleepy.
Prevention is often the best way to keep our dogs safe from these very common dangers. However, if you even suspect that your dog might have been exposed/consumed either road salt or anti-freeze, make sure you contact your Veterinarian immediately. Let’s keep our four legged family members safe during this winter season.