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Happy National Immunization Awareness Month!

August is here, bringing plenty of sunshine and joy. Do you know what else August provides pet parents? A chance to take a moment and meditate on your dog’s health. That’s right! August is National Immunization Awareness Month, or as we like to think of it: “National Protect Your Pets and Help Them Live a Long and Happy Life Month” - but that’s a bit of a mouthful!

You may think this is an odd occasion to celebrate, but we hope this article will change your mind.

How often do you think about the importance of immunizations? Vaccines are the unsung heroes of your pet’s health and of modern veterinarian medicine.

Immunizations, Protecting Pets and Their People Since 1885

Did you know that we have rabies to thank for the pre-exposure immunization process doctors, pharmacists, and of course, vets use every day to save millions of lives? When a nine-year-old boy contracted rabies from an infected dog, Louis Pasteur jumped into action and gave the boy a diluted dose of the virus. After a series of 13 inoculations, the boy lived! Thank you, Louis Pasteur!

It is amazing how immunizations help the body’s immune system protect itself.

Yet More Reasons to Celebrate Immunization Today

Vaccines save lives and make our pets’ lives better. From heartworms to distemper, vaccines let our pets live long, happy lives, and give us more opportunities to make unforgettable memories with them. They keep our pets healthy and strong.

Immunizations also keep us safe from zoonotic diseases, which are diseases that can be transmitted from pets to humans.

What Would Life Be Like Without Pet Vaccinations?

Our pets have become a part of our families, and without vaccines for zoonotic diseases, we may not be able to snuggle our furry friends as closely as we do. It’s hard to even imagine how frightening it would be to not know if your dog or cat could possibly be carrying rabies or leptospirosis.

While spending quality time with our pets is important, it’s easy to forget how immunizations also improve our pets’ quality of life. Immunizations prevent illnesses that can kill dogs and cats like distemper and parvovirus.

Immunizations are Paw-sitively Astounding!

Immunizations don’t just prevent death, they prevent pain and suffering.

Let’s take a quick look at distemper as an example. Puppies receive distemper vaccines as soon as they’re old enough. Why? We don’t want our most vulnerable babies to have to suffer with or spread this serious and contagious disease.

The distemper virus attacks the nervous system which leads to repetitive and uncontrollable movements like circling and head tilting. As the virus becomes more and more serious, it causes seizures, paralysis, vomiting, and often death.

There is no cure for distemper. Luckily, we can protect dogs and puppies easily with a series of easy to administer vaccinations.

We won’t break your heart with any other sad scenarios, but it does make you thankful for modern veterinary medicine, right?

There is no doubt that vaccinations are important. They are more than just important, though. Simple vaccinations offer the best protection to help your pets live long and happy lives.

Core Vaccinations

For Dogs

  • Parvovirus
  • Distemper
  • Canine hepatitis
  • Rabies

For Cats

  • Feline panleukopenia (often called Feline distemper)
  • Feline calicivirus
  • Feline herpesvirus type I
  • Rabies

Non-Core Immunizations

For Dogs

  • Bordetella
  • Borrelia (causes Lyme disease)
  • Leptospirosis

For Cats

  • Leukemia virus
  • Bordetella
  • Chlamydophila/feline chlamydia
  • FIV

Remember that vaccinations are most effective when:

  • Administered to puppies and kittens before they are exposed to possible illness.
  • Administered at the correct intervals. Remember to avoid gaps to keep your pet protected.

Vaccines also prevent illness which is easier and less costly than treating it. They also give pet parents peace of mind knowing their pet won’t contract a contagious disease from wildlife.

Final Thoughts for Summertime Immunization

If you’re planning on enjoying some dog park fun don’t skip your pup’s canine influenza vaccine. Dog flu spreads quickly and easily. All it takes is a sneeze, sharing toys, even sharing a water bowl to spread dog flu. Dogs that get the flu remain contagious for 26 days and 25% infected with the flu show no symptoms but continue to spread the virus.

Dog flu can slow your pup down and make her feel miserable with lethargy, fever, and difficulty breathing.

Don’t Let Your Cat Catch A Nasty Illness

Cat parents are more likely to skip bringing their cats in than dog parents. In fact, only 50% of cat owners bring their feline friends into their vet each year according to the AVMA. Don’t wait for your kitty to get sick before bringing her in. We can help keep her happy and healthy with a few simple vaccinations.

So, Happy National Immunization Awareness Month! We hope that you will celebrate your pet’s good health and take a moment to check and make sure your pet’s immunizations are up-to-date. If you’re unsure, give us a call and we will gladly check our records.

 

 

Image Credit: Pixabay

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Keep Your Pet Cool and Safe This Summer

Summer is here! Whether you have a hairless Sphynx or a hairy Husky, the heat this time of year can be dangerous for pets. Whatever the breed or size of your kitty or canine, there are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to keeping your pet safe and comfy as the mercury rises.

Dogs and Cats Don’t Sweat

While you may be drenched from head to toe in perspiration, your furry friends release heat and regulate their temperature differently. This means you have to help keep them cool.

How Do Dogs and Cats Keep Cool Without Sweat?

There are some facts you should know about how they regulate their body temperatures.

  • If you’ve seen your dog belly flop into your kitchen tile after a midday walk, your dog is using one tactic for body temperature regulation: transferring his or her heat onto a cool surface. This is also a common practice of cats.
  • Dogs and cats use convection to cool themselves. How? Pups often do this by wading into cool water or standing right in front of a fan or A/C vent. This pulls heat away from their bodies and into the water or air.
  • Panting. Both dogs and cats pant to cool themselves. As their saliva evaporates off their tongues, their body heat lowers. 
  • Shedding is a longer-term reaction to heat. By letting go of their undercoat, dogs and cats can cool off.

Common Myths About Dogs and Body Heat

  • Myth: Shaving your dog will keep them cooler. If your pet has a double or triple coat, always ask if it’s a good idea to shave them. A close shave often results in sunburn more than better heat adaptation.
  • Myth: Dogs sweat from their paws to cool themselves. While it’s true dogs do sweat from their paws, this is more often to gain traction and protect their paws than keep their bodies cool. Those pads have too little surface area to truly cool them off. Cooling down is done more so through panting.
  • Myth: Cracking the window is enough to keep a pet cool in the car. Temperatures can rise rapidly in a car, even with the windows cracked. It is never a good idea to leave your dog in the car.

What Can You Do to Protect Your Pet from Summer Heat?

There are ways you can help your dog or cat beat the summer heat and stay safe in the sun! Here are some of our top tips for keeping your pet cooler than a cucumber:

  1. Water, water, everywhere! Make sure your pets have access to cool, fresh water outdoors and indoors. Bring a travel bowl on walks and keep a full bowl wherever your pet may be hanging out. Check outside water dishes and refill them with cool water when the water is warm, try to keep the dish in the shade and don’t use metal bowl for food and water outside - they can get too hot for your dog or cat!
  2. Change your pet’s walk time to the early morning or evening. This especially applies to highly active play time and walks. 
  3. Don’t let your pet stand on hot asphalt too long and beware of astroturf. Asphalt can be 40 to 60 degrees hotter than the air and astroturf can be 40 to 70 degrees hotter. One rule we suggest is testing the temperature of the surface by placing your hand on it. If it’s too hot for you to hold your hand on for 10 seconds, it’s too hot for your pet to walk on.
  4. Provide backyard shade. If your pet is going to relax outside, make sure they have some refuge from the sun. An umbrella or patio cover are perfect and make sure they have a cool place to lie down. If you can make a shady area over a spot your dog can dig in, that’s even better. Shade and some cool ground will make your canine companion more comfortable. 
  5. Heatstroke can be fatal and cause permanent damage. Make sure to know the signs of heatstroke and how to respond.

Heatstroke in Dogs and Cats

Dogs and cats experience heat differently than we do. Because their bodies respond to heat differently, they can more rapidly slip into heat exhaustion or heatstroke. These occur when your pets’ body temperatures rises and they cannot release enough heat to cool themselves down to a safe temperature. Heatstroke is always an emergency!

Some common signs of heatstroke include:

  • Excessive panting
  • Pale or flaring red gums
  • A bright red tongue
  • Strained breathing
  • Lethargy
  • Muscle tremors
  • Excessive drooling
  • Restlessness
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Seizure or falling over
  • Lack of urination
  • Confusion
  • Coma

How to respond if you suspect your pet is experiencing heatstroke:

  1. Immediately find a cooler environment for your pet.
  2. Douse your pet in cool (not ice cold) water and place a fan in front of them.
  3. Call us as quickly as possible. Pets suffering from heatstroke may need IV fluids, and oxygen.

Dogs with brachycephaly (short snouts) have a higher likelihood of heat exhaustion or heatstroke. So, if you have a Pug, Frenchie, Bulldog, or another flat-faced beauty, be very careful when it comes to summer heat.

We hope you have a wonderful summer!

 

Image credit: Pixabay

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Pet Safety for this Fourth of July

You have probably heard of the town in Italy that switched to silent firework shows to help the town’s pets better cope with the booms and blast of traditional fireworks. But did you know there aren’t really “silent fireworks?” Until they invent truly silent firework shows there are other steps you can take to keep your fur family safe and calm this year while you enjoy hotdogs, sparklers, and other holiday favorites. From beer to bugs, the Fourth of July has a long list of stresses and dangers that pet parents can watch for to keep tails wagging and kitties purring. As you celebrate your patriotic love of America, you can take these measures to keep your patriotic pups, cats, and other pets safe.

Here are some of the most common questions regarding the Fourth of July and pet dangers. We tried to answer some questions you may have and suggest ways you can help keep your pet safe this Independence Day!

1. Should I Bring My Dog Along for the Celebration?

Between crowds, noise, and handouts, it’s best to let your best buddy try to relax at home. The Fourth of July can be quite stressful and any means to keep your dog’s routine the same can help reduce your pup’s anxiety.

2. How Do I Help Keep My Canine Companion Comfortable During the Firework Shows?

Mutt earmuffs for noise protection don’t quite cut it. While there are products on the market for noise protection for pups, we find very few dogs are willing to keep them on. So, how can you keep your pup calm, cool, and collected while fireworks blast near and far?

Try playing your dog or cat some relaxing music. If your dog takes medication for noise anxiety (like thunderstorms), be sure to medicate her before the shows begins. If you’re having guests over, a nervous dog may be better off crated in a quiet room away from the excitement.

3. How Do I Keep My Pet Safe During the Excitement of the Holiday?

If you’re having guests over, be sure to prepare them with your pet-friendly policies before they arrive. These should include:

  • Don’t leave any doors leading out open: The Fourth of July is the busiest time of year for shelters. They receive more cats and dogs July 5th than any other time of the year. The blasts of fireworks confuse and can disorient pets making them more vulnerable to becoming lost. Closing the door also reduces noise inside.
  • This is also a great time of year to double check that your pet’s microchip is up to date or having your pet microchipped if you haven’t done it yet. Make sure your pet’s ID is also current.
  • Human food can cause pets to have upset stomachs and lead to potential poisoning. Keep pet treats handy for guests and let them know how many you feel comfortable letting your pet have.
  • Do not leave used or unused fireworks, lighter fluid, glow sticks/jewelry, or citronella products within reach of your pets. The same is true if you’re grilling: be very careful if hot food falls on the ground that your dog doesn’t gobble it up. Always keep an eye on your dog or cat to make sure they don’t accidentally bump into the grill as well.
  • Don’t let your dog or cat drink alcoholic beverages. This can result in your dog or cat becoming intoxicated and in some cases lead to coma or death.
  • Sunscreen and bug sprays are made for people—let’s keep it that way. While we would suggest using zinc-free, dog-friendly sunblock to keep your dog’s adorable nose from getting sunburned, products made for humans can get your dog sick since their immediate response will probably be to lick it off.

After the celebrations slow to a few stray fireworks in the distance, survey your yard for any remnants of fireworks or other things you don’t want your pet to play with or eat. Kids drop food and there may be wrappers here and there. Keep this in mind when you walk your dog the next day, too.

4. Know Your Pet and When to Ask for Help

Sometimes precautionary measures are just not enough, and the noise and bustle of the holiday is too much for our four-legged companions to handle. Give us a call - there are a variety of medications and remedies that can help in easing this extra stress on your pet. We’re happy to help.

Happy Fourth of July from our clinic and staff!

 

 

Image credit: Pixabay

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Make the Most of this Summer with Our Summer Safety Tips

Summer is the best season to be a dog! The sunshine and great weather lead to endless possibilities of fun outdoor activities. From doggie paddling on a beach summer vacation to leaping through the woods, summer is dog-gone fun!

As a dog owner, you probably have some summer activities prepared. If not, you might still have a few summertime ideas in mind for your next adventure. Help your dog start her summer off on the right paw and keep her safe with some of our summer safety tips.

1. Be mindful of the temperature: keep your dog hydrated and limit her time in the midday sun.

When the temperature rises, you want your dog to have fun in the sun. Most importantly, you don’t want your dog to feel the heat.

To keep your dog cool this summer:

  • Always have cool, clean water available for her to drink. This includes in the backyard or if you plan on going on a hike or road trip, always bring a water dish and fresh water.
  • Don’t leave your dog in the car during the heat of the day, even with the windows rolled down.
  • Know the signs of heat stroke and be prepared to bring her in if you think she’s experiencing heat stroke or heat exhaustion.
  • Test the temperature of the sidewalk or road before you walk your dog. Place your hand down. If it’s too hot for you to hold your hand on for less than 10 seconds, don’t let your dog walk on it. She might burn her paw pads.
  • Avoid the risk of heat stroke or paw pad burns by walking your dog in the morning and evening.
  • Use zinc-free sunblock on your dog’s nose before spending time outside. If your dog has fine fur, you may want to rub some into her back, too.

2. Take some precautions before letting your dog doggie paddle this summer.

Not all dogs know how to swim and others aren’t physically cut out to be the next Michael Phelps. If you have a Pug, Boston Terrier, Frenchie, or Bulldog, you will want to suit your pup up with a life vest.

Take your time and teach your dog to swim. Go slowly and enter the water with her. Never throw your dog into a pool, from a boat or dock. This is traumatizing to your pup and can lead to a fear of water.

And if you’re considering taking your pup fishing, don’t leave fishing hooks or lures lying around, and use caution when you cast.

3. Keep her vaccinations up-to-date before heading to the dog park.

The dog park is a blast, especially during summer. There are so many tails wagging that it’s one of the best places to spend your summer mornings or evenings. Dog parks help your dog learn important social skills, but the dog park also comes with some risks.

Dog waste can spread illness. Dogs that are out of date on their vaccines can be vulnerable to getting ill or spread bacteria, getting other pups sick. Leptospirosis spreads at the dog park through urine or secondary contact with infected urine. Don’t let your dog drink standing water at the dog park or elsewhere. Give yourself peace of mind, and ask us about the vaccine that can prevent your pup from getting leptospirosis.

It’s important to remember that while you may be an amazing dog owner, others may not be as vigilant. We often hear about dogs that bring fleas and ticks home from the dog park. This puts pups at risk of tapeworms and Lyme disease. Avoid the risk of your dog collecting hitchhikers while enjoying the summer festivities. Make sure she’s protected from fleas and ticks with preventative medicine.

"The dog lives for the day, the hour, even the moment," according to Robert Falcon Scott. Help your dog make the most of each moment while keeping her safe.

This year, make memories and make the most of summer while keeping your canine companion out of trouble. If your dog is due for a checkup, don’t hesitate to call us to make an appointment. We can help you and your family make the most of summer with a healthy and happy dog.

 

Image credit: Pixabay

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