It may have snuck up on you after social isolation, but as soon as you open your front door, you’ll recognize that summer is here. It’s hot - really hot - and getting hotter. From asphalt to sunburn, rising temperatures come with many safety concerns for our fur-wearing pals.

How can you prepare for a successful and safe summer with your best friend? All it takes is a little preparation and awareness.

1. Avoid Hot Asphalt

Our dogs stick by our sides, but sometimes their devotion can lead to safety issues. If your dog walks beside you on hot tar or concrete, it could cause severe burns and damage to their paws.

What can you do to prevent paw burns?

  • Take walks during cooler weather in the morning and evening.
  • Check the temperature of asphalt before you let your dog walk on it. If you cannot hold your hand on the surface for more than 10 seconds without feeling uncomfortable, it’s too hot for your pet.
  • Check your dog’s paws before and after walks. If you find cuts, scrapes, or blisters, skip the walk to let your dog’s paws heal, and make an appointment with us to assess the damage.

2. Brush Your Dog or Cat

Fur coats and summer just don’t get along. Removing excess hair can help your pet stay cool by improving their coat’s natural ventilation. Having your pet groomed can also help cut backon unnecessarily long or dense fur.

Be careful about cutting your pet’s fur too short. If their skin becomes exposed, they risk getting sunburned. And before you grab the clippers for a shave, check with your vet to make sure it’s the right choice for your dog. Some breeds, like Chow Chows, depend on the insulation of their double coat to keep them cool.

3. Water, Water, Water!

Your pet should always have access to clean water. If they hang out in the backyard, be sure to put a water bowl in a shaded location. Add a few ice cubes to provide your pet with a way to cool off from the inside out.

Remember to bring water for both of you and take frequent breaks on walks and hikes. Keeping your dog hydrated will discourage them from drinking water that could contain bacteria and viruses.

4. Watch Out for Heatstroke

Cats and dogs can both suffer from overheating. Unlike humans, they can’t sweat and have to rely on other mechanisms to help cool off, like panting. In the summer heat, this often isn’t enough to bring their body temperature down.

If your pet heats up faster than they can cool down, they may experience heat exhaustion and heatstroke. Also known as hyperthermia, staying too hot for too long damages your pet’s body and organs and can be fatal.

Watch for the following signs:

  • Shaking muscles
  • Panting excessively
  • Red gums and tongue
  • Vomiting
  • Drooling
  • Lethargy
  • Refusal to walk
  • Diarrhea
  • Seizure
  • Collapse 

Never leave your dog or cat locked outdoors without shade or water. If you believe your dog or cat is experiencing heatstroke or is on the verge of it, remove them from the hot environment immediately. Wrap them in a damp, lukewarm towel or place them in a room-temperature shower; do not use cold water as the sudden change could send them into shock. Then seek medical help immediately.

5. Provide a Shady Place to Relax

If your pet joins you in the yard, create an escape from the sun for them. This can be a beach umbrella, a tent, or a spot to relax under an awning. Many pets will seek out shade under bushes and brush. 

6. Don’t Forget the Sunblock

This one mostly applies to dogs, unless you have a hairless cat that enjoys sunbathing. Before hiking a nature trail or going out on the boat, apply zinc-free, dog-friendly sunblock to your pup’s nose, and anywhere their fur may be thin. The same rules that apply to humans apply here, too: reapply every two hours and after swimming. 

7. Adjust Your Schedule

The middle of the day can feel unbearably hot. This is the most dangerous time to leave your pet outside, walk your dog, or play fetch. Instead, embrace a new routine. Let your pet out in the morning before temperatures rise or in the evening as the mercury comes back down. This can significantly reduce the risk of heat stroke and dehydration.

Have Some Fun This Summer!

We can’t wait to hear about your summer adventures during your next appointment. We hope you have a blast this summer while staying hydrated and safe. Stay made in the shade!

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Many pet parents look forward to crossing Independence Day off of the calendar. Not because they’re not patriotic or dislike celebrating, but because thunderous booms of fireworks send their pets into a frenzy of panic.

If you can’t get your pet to come out from under the bed on the Fourth, you’re not alone. And, of course, there are those sudden and violent summer thunderstorms that make our pets shake, shiver, and hide. 

Keep reading to help your pet cope and make it through summer more comfortable, confident, and cozy.

Recognizing Noise Reactivity and Noise Phobia in Your Pet

Reacting fearfully to thunderstorms and fireworks is normal for pets. It’s an instinct that would drive them to seek cover and survive in the wild. Despite domestic bliss in a happy and safe home, some dogs and cats experience what may seem like an overreaction to thunder and loud bangs. If these sounds change your pet’s ability to function, it’s likely noise phobia or noise anxiety.

What signs the signs of anxiety in pets?

  • Trembling and shaking
  • Panting
  • Excessive drooling 
  • Accidents 
  • Vocalizations, like whimpering or howling
  • Hiding
  • Trying to escape

What Can You Do If Your Pet Is Afraid of Loud Noises?

First, you should not ignore the problem and hope it goes away on its own.

Second, it’s important to recognize that even though storms are temporary, your pet’s anxiety can have a significant and long-lasting effect on their mental and physical health. 

Third, know that you’re not in it alone. We’re here to help you and your pet find comfort.

Some simple and effective ways you can help your dog or cat cope during thunderstorms and noisy events include:

  • Play relaxing soundtracks designed to help dogs cope with noise fear. Here is one that many dog and cat owners use.
  • Create a safe place that your pet can retreat to when booms and blast begin. Introduce your pet to their retreat before the chaos of fireworks or a storm. Provide pillows, comfort items, close the blinds, soft lighting, and calming music to help them regain their composure and feel comfortable.
  • Try a pheromone diffuser: Adaptil for dogs or Feliway for cats.
  • Buy a compression vest like the Thundershirt
  • Get a prescription for anxiety

A cacophony outside isn’t the only cause of unease: 88% of dogs that experience noise fear also experience separation anxiety. If your dog is one of them, ask us about the Calmer Canine Assisi Loop.

Don’t Let the Booms and Blasts Paralyze Your Pet.

If these options don’t offer your pet any comfort, it’s a good time to give us a call. It’s not easy to counter the fight-or-flight response in an animal, and you don’t have to do it alone. We’re experienced with helping pets and their owners find solutions that work and are committed to finding the right approach for your furry friend.

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We bet you’re looking forward to the sunshine, fresh air, and fun of the summer season. This year may be a little different, but we have some tips to help keep your pets safe no matter what this summer may bring.

1. Microchips Are a Must

As we prepare for the Fourth of July, shelters prepare for a massive influx of pets. Why? July 5th is the busiest day of the year for them. As the fireworks light up the sky, many pets panic, escape from their homes, and become lost and disoriented.

Don’t let your pet be one of many that don’t find their way home. Microchips improve the chances of your reunion with your lost pet more than any other method. It’s simple, fast, and affordable. If you’re one of the many who adopted a new puppy or kitten this spring, ask your vet about microchips at their next exam. If your pet’s already chipped, make sure their information is up-to-date.

2. Make a Plan For Missing Pets

Between family cookouts in the backyard and the blasts and booms of firework displays, you can reduce the risk of your pet going missing by asking all guests and family members to shut doors and gates. Go one step further and keep your dog or cat safe in a bedroom while guests are over.

Be sure to have a current picture of your pet, both printed and on your phone. If your pet goes missing, start searching nearby your house and expand outward. Ask anyone you come across if they’ve seen your pet. After an hour of looking, begin checking social media (like your town’s Facebook group), Nextdoor, and your local shelter. Post large signs and check the shelter daily.

3. Don’t Let Your Dog Get Hooked on Fishing

Whether you’re an angler or are walking where others fish, stay vigilant and keep your dog out of the water. Old tackle can get caught up in reeds and rocks and wind up in your pup’s paw (or worse).

Reconsider if you are bringing your dog on your fishing trip. While you may enjoy your dog’s company, it may not be worth the risk of heatstroke, getting hooked, or your dog drinking too much lake water.

If you decide to bring your dog, remain aware of their location at all times, especially when casting or reeling in a fish. Bring fresh water for them to drink, so they’re not tempted to lap up lake water. And bring a first aid kit - which you already had anyway, right?

In case of emergency, have our number saved in your phone. If your dog gets hooked, do not try to remove it - its barb could do further damage, or your panicked dog may bite. Isolate the area where your dog is hooked and do not let them chew or paw at it. Wrap them in a towel or blanket if you can and call us on your way.

4.Keep Your Hot Dog or Cat Cool

Heatstroke and heat exhaustion are real summer concerns. If your pet overheats, it can lead to permanent organ damage and even death. To prevent your pet from heatstroke, remember to:

  • Provide plenty of fresh, cool water
  • Provide shade with a beach umbrella or tent
  • Let your dog or cat inside promptly if they’re waiting at the door
  • Never leave your pet in the car
  • Bring water on walks and choose a shady route
  • Don’t go on walks in the middle of the day--the morning and evening are cooler
  • Test the temperature of asphalt and gravel to avoid damaging your pet’s sensitive paws

If you suspect your pet is suffering from heatstroke, do not douse them in cold water, which can send them into shock. Instead, wrap a room-temperature towel around them and bring them in immediately.

5. Protect Your First Mate

Are you planning a day on the lake with your dog? Keep your co-captain safe with a life vest, first aid kit, plenty of water, and shade. Don’t let your dog jump off the boat, but be prepared if they do. Know how you will get them back on board since dogs often can’t climb ladders. Keep your boat trip short and schedule it for the morning or evening to avoid the hottest times of the day.

6. Just Keep Swimming (Safely)

Not all dogs know how to or have the ability to swim. When teaching a dog to swim, go slow and let them test the water at their own pace. Never force a dog beyond where they have a footing. Watch for signs of panic and your dog not being able to keep their head above water.

Breeds with short snouts, i.e., brachycephalic dogs like pugs and bulldogs, should stay onshore. Some dogs just aren’t built to float, so it’s always best to outfit your dog in a life vest just in case.

Stay Safe This Summer-Pet Emergies Can Be a Real Bummer

From the rivers to the parks, keep your pet safe, cool, and comfortable. There are so many great things to do around the Berryville area, and we hope you make the most of them this summer.

If you need to make an appointment for flea, tick, and heartworm prevention, now is a great time to do so. We’re also ready if your pet needs a microchip. Schedule your appointment today.

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After several long and stressful months, many pet owners are struggling with returning to a “normal” life. With unanswered questions about pets carrying the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 and Fourth of July celebrations right around the corner, it’s overwhelming to navigate moving forward.

While we cannot predict the future, we hope that talking about what we know will help ease your concerns about COVID-19 and your furry family members.

Can My Pet Contract COVID-19 and Spread It?

The CDC states that the risk of pets contracting and spreading SARS-CoV-2 is very low. A handful of cats and dogs in the U.S. were diagnosed with COVID-19 and were traced to infected owners. There have been no reported cases of pets spreading the virus.

From the FDA, “[T]here is no evidence that viruses, including the virus that causes COVID-19, can spread to people from the skin, fur or hair of pets.” They go on to explain that animals can carry germs, and you should always wash your hands before and after interacting with a pet.

As we continue to learn about COVID-19, the information may change. Still, it appears that your pet poses little to no risk of contracting and spreading the virus. Frequent hand washing remains the best way to avoid an infection.

What Can Pet Parents Do Moving Forward?

As social distancing guidelines change, you can prepare to keep yourself, your family, and your pet safe and healthy.

Bring Your Pet in for a Checkup and Vaccinations

We continue to take precautions to protect everyone that enters our clinic, and your pet’s health and wellbeing haven’t taken a vacation just because of COVID-19. If your pet is due for their annual exam or vaccinations, now is the time to make an appointment. As social distancing guidelines change, you will appreciate knowing that your pet’s health and wellbeing is taken care of.

Continue to Steer Clear of Crowds

Even though recreation areas, dog parks, and businesses are re-opening, you will still want to avoid large crowds. You’ve probably experienced strangers petting your dog without permission, which can expose you and your pet to germs and viruses if they get too close.

According to CDC guidelines, continue to keep your distance from other people and limit contact between strangers and your pets. Fortunately, most leashes are 4’-6’ long, so use that as a handy visual tool.

Provide Your Pet with Plenty of Indoor and At-Home Play Opportunities

The CDC recommends keeping your cat indoors, so if they’re used to going outside, they may be a bit restless. Dogs that frequent parks will likely feel more bored than usual without the socialization and exercise.

To give them relief, provide them with new toys, playtime in the backyard, and mental stimulation. Puzzle toys and feeders are an excellent choice for cats and dogs or try scent games to liven up the afternoon. If your dog’s “sit” is a little rusty, try 10-15 minutes of training a day to keep their skills and their brain sharp.

Run out of ideas? Try YouTube for training and DIY toys.

Plan for Prescription and Pet Supply Delivery

Even with face masks, shopping leaves many feeling nervous and vulnerable. Signing up for automatic delivery of your pet’s prescriptions and supplies can take some of the worries away. The last thing you need is to get caught off-guard if restrictions are tightened again, or supplies run out.

Stay Positive and Active

Whether you’re still working from home or back at the office, plan for a little extra time to spend with your pet. Quality time and bonding have a positive effect on the mental health of humans and animals. You can and should still walk your dog. For your cat, open the windows when the weather is beautiful and join them in bird watching.

Things Are Looking Up-Let’s Keep It That Way

As the clouds part, it’s essential to keep our eyes on the future and continue to do what we can to stay safe and healthy. Per the CDC, social distancing applies to the whole family, including your pets.

As ever, we are committed to your family’s health and safety. Don’t hesitate to call or make an appointment if your pet needs an exam, you have questions about their health, or if they need medical attention. We are here for you and your pet.

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You may have seen a lot more people walking in your neighborhood with their dogs, and this increase isn't just because the weather has warmed up. The COVID-19 pandemic has emptied many shelters of dogs (YAY!), and more people are taking lunch breaks from home to walk their furry friends.

As restrictions loosen, our local dog parks and nature trails will reopen. While we're so excited to use these outdoor spaces again, we want you to know about a common disease that both canines and humans can contract from the places that our dogs love so much.

What is Leptospirosis?

Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that is difficult to pronounce and deadly, caused by a corkscrew-shaped bacteria called Leptospira interrogans. These spiral-shaped bacteria attack vital organs like the liver, kidneys, lungs, and brain. When left undiagnosed and untreated, it can be fatal for dogs and people. Cats can get leptospirosis too, though it's much less common.

Many people haven't heard of leptospirosis, but according to the CDC, it's the most widespread zoonotic disease in the world. So, how do dogs and people contract this life-threatening illness?

It's not the most pleasant thing to talk about, but the infection spreads through urine. The bacteria can penetrate soft and vulnerable areas of the skin like the mouth, nose, and eyelid, or enter the body through open wounds and fresh scratches. If your dog is an enthusiastic pee-spot sniffer or likes to drink from every puddle they see, they are at risk of getting infected.

What Locations Have the Highest Risk of Leptospirosis?

Anywhere wildlife or an infected dog may urinate, there is a risk of leptospirosis. This includes:

Ponds

Puddles

Lakes

Streams

Dog parks

Parks

Trails

What Are the Effects of Leptospirosis?

The Leptospira bacterium enters the body and heads straight to the bloodstream. From there, it multiplies and moves throughout the body, often concentrating within vital organs, particularly kidneys.

Most healthy dogs become ill but can fight off the infection, but others cannot. There are also instances where dogs become sick and recover. Still, some of the bacteria may remain, causing the dog to become reinfected and start the healing process all over again.

Fortunately, it's possible to kill Leptospira bacterium with antibiotics like doxycycline. Since vomiting and diarrhea are common symptoms, your dog may first need to receive treatment through an IV before switching to oral medication.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Leptospirosis

Dogs with leptospirosis often show symptoms similar to the flu. However, some may be asymptomatic. (Sound familiar?) The most common symptoms include:

Vomiting and diarrhea

Lethargy

Fever

Weight loss

Lack of appetite

Jaundice

Shaking and shivering

Trouble breathing

How Can You Protect Your Dog from Leptospirosis?

As the temperatures rise, your dog will seek out water sources on walks, increasing the chance of picking up Leptospira bacterium. As cases of leptospirosis in dogs rise in the U.S., we recommend dog owners protect their pets with a vaccine.

Make an appointment with us today for your dog's leptospirosis vaccination. All it takes is a simple injection to keep your dog from getting sick.

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