Heat Awareness and Safety
We’re in the hottest stretch of summer, with temperatures regularly reaching over 90 degrees. It’s all too easy for people and animals to develop heatstroke or another heat-related illness now that temperatures are at their highest peak of the summer. While you can protect yourself from the effects of extreme heat, your pets depend on you to keep them safe. Considering that 50 percent of dogs and cats who suffer heatstroke die as a result, it essential that you recognize the symptoms of this common disease as well as how to prevent it.
Tips for Heatstroke Prevention
We at Battletown Animal Hospital know how much you love your pet and want to take great care of her. Here are some tips to keep her safe from heatstroke this summer:
- Keep your dog or cat’s water dish continually full to avoid the risk of dehydration. If your pet will be outside for a while, place a water bowl out there as well and make sure he knows the location of it.
- If your pet is traveling with you, don’t leave her inside of a hot car while you go inside a store, gas station, or restaurant. Contrary to popular belief, leaving the window cracked won’t prevent an animal inside of a hot car from developing heatstroke. If the outside temperature is 80 degrees, it only takes 10 minutes for the temperature inside of the vehicle to exceed 100 degrees. If you’re gone for 30 minutes, the inside temperature can reach 120 degrees and your pet has no way to escape it. Significant and irreversible organ damage can take place at this point.
- Before you let your pet outside for an extended time, make sure she has access to several shaded areas.
- Dogs need outdoor exercise during all four seasons. During the summer, it’s best to exercise with your dog during the late afternoon or early morning hours when the rays from the sun are less powerful and the temperature is not so high. It’s also a good idea to avoid walking your dog on hot sidewalks or other paved areas on extremely warm summer days.
- Most dogs love swimming. For the days when it’s too hot to go to the beach or you just don’t feel like it, consider purchasing a kid’s plastic swimming pool and filling it with your garden hose. Your dog can jump in any time he feels too warm. Another idea is to place a cooling pack on your dog’s skin for a few minutes when he comes in from spending time outdoors.
Typical Heatstroke Symptoms in Dog and Cats
Sometimes heatstroke will still occur despite your best efforts. Other times you won’t realize how the heat has affected your pet until she starts showing signs of illness. Here are the signs to look for:
- Gums appear dry, sticky, or bright red
Severe heatstroke can cause seizures and eventual death. Be sure to get your pet out of the heat immediately if you notice any of these symptoms and then contact Battletown Animal Hospital right away. You can place a towel with cold water on your pet’s skin to keep her cool on the way to the clinic. Please let us know if you have additional questions about keeping your pet safe this summer.
Photo Credit: Pixabay
It’s the Great Outdoors Month!
Did you know that June is the Great Outdoors Month? It earned this status several years ago through a presidential proclamation. The awareness event hopes to highlight the wonderful resources we have available to us in parks, forests, hiking trails, camping areas, and other types of public land. This month can be even more exciting when you have a dog to accompany you on your outdoor adventures. However, it does require careful planning to prevent injury and illness. We recommend that you schedule a preventive care exam at Battletown Animal Clinic before engaging in strenuous physical activity with your dog.
How to Prepare for a Hike with Your Dog
Hiking with your dog is great exercise for both of you and an enjoyable time of bonding. Before you set out on a trail, make certain you understand rules regarding dogs as well as how to follow proper etiquette. This includes such things as behavior training, knowing when to give another hiker the right of way, and keeping your dog contained with a harness and leash. We also recommend making sure that your dog has adequate flea and tick prevention.
Remember that you must clean up your dog’s waste on a hiking trail just as you would in a residential neighborhood. According to the website American Trails, dog owners must place the waste in a bag and then bury it in a hole located 200 feet or more from the main trail. The hole should be a minimum of six inches deep. You also need to train your dog not to urinate too closely to a water source.
If your dog gets a clean bill of health at his checkup, you can start training him for the rigors of hiking at home. Place a lightweight or empty pack on his back on the first day and go walking with him. You can gradually increase the weight each day until it’s close to what your dog would carry on a hiking trail. At its heaviest, the pack should not exceed one-quarter of your dog’s total body weight. American Trails also recommends not taking a dog hiking until he’s at least one year old since he would have difficulty handling the weight of the pack.
What to Bring on Your Hike
When you’re deep in the woods, you may not be able to find help if your dog experiences an illness or injury for several hours. For this reason, plan to pack a canine first-aid kit and bring it with you. The kit should contain the following items at a minimum:
- Regular medication
- Rubber gloves
- Cotton swabs
- Small and large bandages
- A lighted collar
- Tweezers for removing ticks or other insects
- Dog food as well as dishes for the food and water
- A coat for cooler weather in the evening and early morning
- A nail file and clipper along with protection for nails and paw pads
- Towels for bathing, cooling, and wiping off paws
Once you have mastered the art of hiking with your dog, you might just decide that you want to go camping together in a national park. We wish you both a fun and active summer!
Photo Credit: Pixabay
Pets and Water Safety
It's an unfortunate myth that all dogs naturally know how to swim. Although some breeds take to swimming quickly and become strong swimmers, other breeds require human instruction. Dogs that have a short muzzle or those with a larger than normal distance between their hindquarters and chest can’t survive in water for very long.
As your dog’s guardian, you need to learn his limits when it comes to water and do everything necessary to keep him safe. We recommend bringing your dog to Battletown Animal Hospital for a preventive care exam before taking him swimming for the first time. This ensures that he’s prepared for the physical demands of swimming.
Take Small Steps When Introducing Your Dog to Water
A lake or swimming pool can seem overwhelming to a dog who has never been in one. To reduce your dog’s anxiety and teach her proper water safety, be sure to expose her to water in small doses. You and your dog should enter the water together so you can gauge her reaction to it. Make sure that the water is not more than a few feet deep in case your dog does struggle to stay afloat. It’s a good indication the training is going well if your dog immediately begins paddling in water. However, don’t take your eyes off her and stay within an arm’s length away so you can grab her if necessary.
You can increase your physical distance from your dog each time you go to a lake or pool together. This will help him feel more at ease with the idea of swimming, but you should continue to supervise him at all times. Dogs can be unpredictable, which means that a loud noise or spotting another dog nearby can cause your dog to dash out of the water or further in and over his head. When acclimating your dog to water, teach him that he cannot enter a lake or pool until you give a specific command. Make it clear that you expect him to come out of the water as soon as you do or when you give a verbal command.
Boating and Beach Safety
Dogs love doing anything you’re doing, including boating. If your dog does accompany you on a boat, make sure she has a life jacket just like every other passenger. Although she may not like it, she will learn to accept that she must wear it if she wants to go for a ride. In the event your dog falls off the side of the boat, pull her back in using a floatation device rather than jumping into the water.
Summer is short, which means you naturally want to go to the beach as often as possible. If your dog joins you, be sure that he has an updated microchip. This provides your contact information if you become separated and it can’t fall off like a tag and collar.
Cats and Water
Most cats want nothing to do with water and will naturally stay away from it. However, it’s still important to supervise your cat around any outdoor pool, sprinklers, and the garden hose. If you do experience a water-related emergency with your pet, contact us at 540-955-1151. You’re also welcome to contact us for other summer safety tips, such as taking a road trip with pets.
Photo Credit: Pixabay
Heartworm Prevention with Preventive Care
When it comes to heartworm, prevention is easier, cheaper, and more pleasant for your pet than having to treat the parasite later. Now that the weather in Michigan is finally warm, your pet has a much greater chance of picking up this potentially deadly parasite. As a pet owner, it’s important to educate yourself about the heartworm parasite and the effects it can have on your dog or cat.
How Mosquitoes Transmit Heartworm to Companion Animals
When a mosquito picks up heartworm larvae, it can transmit it to a new host with only one sting. Once the heartworm is introduced inside of your pet’s body, it multiplies repeatedly and can grow as long as 12 inches in length.
Although heartworm is much more common in puppies and adult dogs, it usually produces a deadlier outcome for cats. We encourage anyone with a puppy to start her on heartworm prevention medication by the age of eight weeks. This doesn’t require any type of previous testing. When your puppy reaches six months, please bring her to Battletown Animal Clinic so we can ensure that she’s negative for heartworm. Since no effective treatment exists yet for cats, it’s best to keep your cat indoors.
The best way to prevent heartworm is to give your pet preventive medication all year long. We offer several types of heartworm products in our online store for your convenience.
Previously, many veterinarians advised pet parents to start heartworm medication in the early spring and to discontinue if frost arrived. According to the American Heartworm Society, animals who go outside should now receive preventive medication 12 months a year.
Possible Signs of Heartworm in Your Pet
Heartworm affects dogs and cats in different ways. Due to their smaller body size, cats with heartworm typically show extreme breathing issues because the parasite is inside of their lungs. When heartworm gets into a dog, it can invade the ventricles of the heart as well as the actual heart. Look for these symptoms in your dog:
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
It's a long and painful process to treat heartworm, but it doesn’t have to happen. If you’re not sure which prevention product is most appropriate for your pet, just let us know. Our veterinarians will consider your pet’s species, age, time spent outdoors, and other lifestyle factors and let you know which product would be most effective. We have seen pets succumb to heartworm and it’s always tragic, especially considering that it’s nearly 100 percent preventable. This is one reason why we ask about parasite control at every preventive care exam.
Photo Credit: Pixabay
Benefits of Grooming Your Pet
Perhaps you bring your dog to the groomer only for appearance purposes. There’s nothing wrong with that, but the benefits of grooming go far beyond looking handsome or pretty. Professionals how to trim your dog’s fur and nails without causing an injury. They also use high-quality shampoos and other grooming supplies that won’t cause skin irritation. When inspecting your dog’s paws, a groomer will check them for punctures or thorns and remove them in as painless a manner as possible.
The Importance of Nail Trimming
Most dog breeds require monthly trimming of their nails. Unfortunately, it’s something that many dogs are uncomfortable with, and their owners dread having to do. When your dog struggles with you, it increases the likelihood that you will cut the nails too short. Not only is this painful for your dog, it leaves him without the use of his nails. A professional groomer has several tricks for gaining cooperation from dogs and avoiding this problem altogether.
Relief for Long-Haired Dogs
The hair of some breeds, such as poodles, grows continuously and requires regular trims to help keep it manageable. Haircuts help your dog avoid mats and tangles as well. While you might not have the right tools for grooming at home, a groomer will have just the right equipment for long-haired dogs, short-haired dogs, and everything in between. They also have several types of brushes on hand and will use the one that’s just right for your dog’s coat.
Detection of Disease and Parasites
Part of the training that professional dog groomers receive is learning about the animal’s anatomy. They can notice abnormalities such as lumps, bald patches, rashes, skin lesions and irritations, and bleeding or discoloration of the gums. The groomer will then inform you and you can seek immediate treatment for your pet. Without this early detection, your pet’s condition could go undetected for months or even years.
Groomers can also spot parasites on your pet’s body that you might not have noticed on your own. This is especially true of fleas and ear mites that can be challenging to spot. As with diseases, knowing which parasites your pet has enables you to treat them promptly.
Advice About Your Dog’s Skin
You can tell a lot about your dog’s overall health by the condition of her skin. Her diet may be to blame if the skin is too oily or dry. If so, your groomer can recommend a different type of food that could help to improve skin tone. However, we recommend checking with your dog’s regular veterinarian at Battletown Animal Clinic before permanently switching her food. One way you can tell that your dog might not be as healthy as you would like is by the appearance of bald patches of fur or dull fur. Your groomer can also give you advice about avoiding allergies in sensitive dogs.
Schedule an Appointment with Our Groomer Today
Battletown Animal Hospital is pleased to offer our clients professional grooming services. This includes bathing, blow drying, brushing, ear cleaning, nail trimming, and teeth brushing. Please contact us at 540-955-1151 to request an appointment.
Photo Credit: MargaritaKeller