This Fourth of July, it’s important to be prepared for all the celebrations, and not just in terms of fireworks and food. Read on to learn more about how to keep your pets safe and happy this Independence Day.
Make sure your pet has proper identification! A collar with an ID tag and accurate, up-to-date contact information is very helpful in the event that your pet accidentally escapes. Another option is to consider microchipping your pet. This is helpful if your pet’s collar comes off- if someone finds them, then they can take him/her to most shelters or veterinary hospitals and find your contact information just by scanning the microchip. An extra safety measure to help prevent a possible runaway is to make sure your yard or fencing is secure so that if your pet gets anxious or afraid and decides to make a break for it, they will at least be contained on your property. Extra Tip: Don’t change their diet! It could give your pet some unexpected tummy upset or diarrhea, and if your pet has an unknown noise anxiety, it might spell trouble later in the evening.
During the Festivities:
If you’re having a get-together or barbecue, it is good to keep your pets away from any grills or cooking areas to prevent any mishaps with hot surfaces or charcoal. The same should be done for any beverages or human food that may be around. Make sure that if you or neighbors are setting off fireworks that your dogs are indoors and/or away from any and all fireworks, sparklers, or glow sticks. The loud noises and lights can be frightening and disorienting. It’s also a good idea to ask your guests to help out in keeping an eye are your pets as well if they will be roaming around the house. If you’re going to be heading elsewhere for a celebration, make sure you pet-sitter has the information they need to care for your pet. Especially if your pet has known anxiety with loud noises or thunderstorms, your pet sitter will need to know how to best deal with that and know how best to keep your loved-one calm and happy.
After it all Dies Down:
After all the fun, of course, comes time to clean up! Not just for you, but for your pet as well. Make sure to get any and all food and beverage trash that might be lurking around waiting for a pet to get into. When you throw things away, also make sure that the trash is completely sealed and out of reach to your pets! If you had guests over and lit fireworks, it’s very important to go through your yard or property to properly dispose of any leftover debris. Even if you didn’t personally set off fireworks, other debris might have made its way into your yard.
Teresa Mundy, Boarding Technician and Social Media Coordinator
So now that the weather is getting a lot nicer, you want to go outside more, take long walks with your four-legged family members, and have all the outdoor barbecues you can have, right? But what are you going to do about all those pesky insects that try to suck, bite, and sting all the fun out of summer nights? Not only are they a nuisance for you, but they can be just as annoying, and potentially deadly for our pets, too! Read on to learn about some of the various harmful insects, and what you can to combat them and the diseases they can transfer.
Mosquitoes: Passing on Deadly Worms
Mosquito bites are no fun for us, but are even worse for our pets because of something called heartworms. Heartworms are spread through mosquitoes that carry infective larvae, and are a potentially fatal issue for dogs and cats. The heartworm larvae move from the site of the mosquito bite through a host’s body until they reach the heart and lungs. Once they are mature, adult heartworms can get to be 12 inches long, and will cause a significant decrease in blood flow throughout the body. Depending on the severity of the disease, it can possibly lead to death if not taken care of early on.
Heartworm preventatives such as Heartgard, Revolution, and Sentinel are very instrumental in helping before any bite occurs, but getting a heartworm test and treatment at your local AAHA Accredited Veterinary Hospital will absolutely help if your dog or cat already has heartworms. Signs of heartworm disease can include: mild persistent cough, reluctance to exercise, fatigue after moderate activity, decreased appetite, and weight loss.” These symptoms won’t necessarily show early on in dogs, and in cats they can be very subtle, or very sudden.
Fleas & Ticks: All it Takes is One Bite
Fleas: These tiny brown bugs like to hide in cooler, shady areas like shrubs, trees, and under leaves. Despite not having wings, fleas can jump up to two feet high; so when your dog walks by, that’s when they will hop on, latch in, and start feeding on blood. The danger of fleas is that they can bring about tapeworms, skin infections, and other serious diseases. Combating fleas is as easy as using monthly preventatives such as Frontline or Nexgard, avoiding tall grassy/shady areas when walking, using a flea comb, and washing your pet’s bedding often.
Ticks: Ticks also like to hang out in shady, wooded areas, waiting for an unwary host to attach to. Once they are attached, ticks feed on blood (including you), which means they can directly transmit deadly diseases such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Lyme disease, and babesiosis from just one bite! You can help deter tick bites by also using monthly preventatives, avoiding tall grassy/shady areas when walking, and whenever you are done with your walk make sure to check your dog (and yourself) for any little bumps because it might be a tick!
Bees & Wasps: More than a Sting!
Bee and wasps are a bit easier to avoid because they usually have visible nests and in general they’re the most noticeable bug. If you’ve got a curious pet then you should keep an eye out. Most stings tend to occur on the face or nose because that’s how our pets investigate. They may even get stung in the mouth or throat if they end up catching the bug; and those stings can be dangerous because the poison from the sting can cause the throat to swell. Other severe reactions to look out for include weakness, difficulty breathing and excessive swelling at the sting site. If you see any of these signs you need to go to your veterinarian ASAP. Most of these severe reactions occur with multiple stings, but always give your veterinarian a call and make sure to monitor the reaction to make sure it does not worsen. All cases will be different, so always consult your veterinarian before administering any medication or remedy, such as a weak water/baking soda mixture or an ice pack.
Tips to Decrease Insect Exposure
Ask your veterinarian about monthly Flea/Tick preventatives like oral doses, liquid, and collars.
Close screened windows/doors when inside so flying bugs don’t come inside.
Use bug repellent on yourself, and only pet-safe repellent on your furry friends.
Boarding Team Member
Social Media Coordinator
Animal injuries can occur at any time, and generally occur when least expected (like when you are away from home), so it’s best to prepare ahead of time. Keeping a pet First Aid kit handy — at home and in your car — is a great way to ease the stress of dealing with health issues that occur, wherever you may be. Below is a list of recommended information and items to include.
Important Phone Numbers:
- Phone number for your veterinarian
- Phone number for the nearest emergency veterinary clinic (along with directions!)
- Phone number for a poison control hotline (such as the ASPCA poison control center, which can be reached at 1-800-426-4435)
- Copy of your pet’s vaccination certificate for proof of vaccines in case an emergency treatment is needed
- Current photo of your pet (in case he/she gets lost)
- Self-cling bandage (bandage that stretches and sticks to itself but not to fur, such as VetWrap, which is available at pet stores)
- Muzzle or roll of gauze for making a muzzle to prevent biting (don’t use this if your pet is vomiting, choking, coughing, or otherwise having difficulty breathing)
- Nylon leash
Basic First Aid Supplies:
- Absorbent gauze pads
- Adhesive tape
- Non-prescription antibiotic ointment
- Antiseptic wipes
- Cotton balls or swabs
- Disposable gloves
- Gauze rolls
- Hot/cold compress
- Hydrogen peroxide (to induce vomiting — but do this only when directed by a veterinarian or poison control expert)
- Petroleum jelly (to lubricate a thermometer)
- Rectal thermometer
- Scissors with blunt ends
- Sterile non-stick gauze pads for bandages
- Sterile saline (sold at pharmacies, or you can use contact lens solution)
- Styptic powder or sticks, Kwik Stop, or cornstarch
Other Useful Items:
- A pillowcase (to confine your cat for treatment)
- A pet carrier
- Diphenhydramine (Benadryl — only use when directed by a veterinarian)
- Ear cleaning solution
- Emergency blanket
- Gatorade or Pedialyte (for rehydrating)
- Karo syrup (for diabetic pets who may have low blood sugar)
- Nail clippers
- Penlight or flashlight
- Rubbing alcohol
- Tongue depressors (for a makeshift splint)
Taking a Heart Rate or Pulse
Knowing how to check vital signs is also important in the case of an emergency. The heartbeat of a dog or cat can be felt at about the point where the left elbow touches the chest. Place your hand over this area and count the heartbeats while keeping time on a phone or stopwatch.
Pulses can also be felt with a light touch on the inner thigh, approximately halfway between the front and back of the leg, just below the wrist on the front legs or just below the ankle of the rear legs.
Normal Heart and Pulse Rates at Rest
Small breed dogs (under 30 pounds): 100–160 beats per minute
Medium to large breed dogs (over 30 pounds): 60–100 beats per minute
Puppy (until 1 year old): 120–160 beats per minute
Cats: 130–220 beats per minute
Normal Breathing Rates
Dogs: 10–30 breaths per minute and up to 200 pants per minute
Cats: 20–30 breaths per minute. (Note: panting in a cat can be a sign of serious illness and requires immediate veterinary attention)
You can learn more about this topic from the sources below, or contact your veterinarian for advice if your pet has special needs.
American Red Cross Smartphone App for Pet First Aid: www.redcross.org/mobile-apps/pet-first-aid-app
AVMA Pet First Aid Information: www.avma.org/public/EmergencyCare/Pages/First-Aid-Tips-for-Pet-Owners.aspx
Humane Society First Aid Kit: www.humanesociety.org/animals/resources/tips/pet_first_aid_kit.html
Contributed by Janelle Powell, Office Manager (with Charlie)
During Rabies Awareness Week, we want to remind all pet owners of the importance of vaccinating against this fatal disease (World Rabies Day is Sunday, September 28). Rabies is a virus that is most often transmitted through saliva and bite wounds from an infected animal, and it can affect the brain and spinal cord of all mammals, including dogs, cats, and humans. Vaccination is an easy, inexpensive way to prevent this nightmarish disease.
While the most commonly known symptom of rabies is foaming at the mouth, this is usually not the first sign pet owners will see. (See list of symptoms below.) Since there is no treatment or cure for rabies in animals once symptoms appear, animals who are suspected of having the virus are most often euthanized.
Rabies causes the death of more than 50,000 humans, and millions of animals worldwide, and the disease has been reported in every state in the United States except Hawaii, and everywhere throughout the world except tiny island nations.*
Federal law requires that all dogs and cats be vaccinated for rabies once they are 12 weeks old, and that they stay current on the vaccine for the duration of their lives. Only a vaccine administered by a state licensed veterinarian is considered legal. Your veterinarian will let you know the right vaccination schedule for your pet.
Progression of Rabies Symptoms
- Change in behavior, usually shown by the pet being more reclusive or shy, or a change in the pet’s voice. You may notice excessive licking or scratching the initial bite wound. (1–1.5 days after symptoms start)
- The animal will seem to become fearless and aggressive and may experience hallucinations. When confined, the pet may attack the bars of its cage.
(2–3 days after symptoms start)
- The pet will experience weakness and/or paralysis. Once this stage occurs, death is imminent as the muscles that control breathing will become paralyzed as well.
(4–5 days days after symptoms start)
One of the most difficult aspects of rabies is that it can take up to one year for obvious symptoms to appear. Call your veterinarian immediately if you suspect your pet has been bitten by an animal (especially foxes, skunks, raccoons, bats, and dogs/cats with unknown vaccination status) that could have rabies or is showing any signs of rabies or abnormal behavior.
Even if your pet is up-to-date with vaccinations, if it has been bitten by a possibly rabid animal, it should receive a rabies booster immediately and be kept under observation for a period of time determined by your local public health department.
If an animal that is overdue or not vaccinated for rabies bites you, there are a number of protocols that must be followed, as listed below.
- If the pet has been legally vaccinated for rabies, but is overdue for its booster, it will be quarantined for a period of time (as dictated by the local public health department), observed for symptoms, and vaccinated at the end of the quarantine.
- If the pet has never been vaccinated for rabies more drastic measures must be taken. The pet must be quarantined for up to six months or will be euthanized to allow testing for rabies.
Animal Control officers and veterinarians working together facilitate rabies testing through the state laboratory system. Testing requires a brain tissue sample, which can only be collected from a deceased animal. For more information regarding animal exposure and prevention, speak with one of our veterinarians.
Rabies in People
If you are exposed to rabies, there are a number of things that must be done:
- Clean the wound, as quickly as possible, using warm water and soap for at least 1 minute.
- Report the bite to the health department immediately.
- Get to the hospital for post-exposure treatment. The wound will be flushed with a hyperimmune serum to hopefully counteract the virus before it penetrates the nerves. Then, a number of vaccines will be administered on a regular schedule lasting about 1 month.
For more info regarding human exposure protocols, you can contact the Centers for Disease Control.
Global Alliance for Rabies
Centreville Animal Hospital is donating a portion of the proceeds from rabies vaccinations on Monday, September 29, to Global Alliance for Rabies. This is an organization that is trying to raise awareness of this fatal disease through education and is working to vaccinate animals and people for rabies in endemic regions. Visit our Facebook page for more info: https://www.facebook.com/CentrevilleAnimalHospital.
Contributed by Eric Fogle
It’s mid-summer and you and your dog are restless so you want to go outside and spend some quality time together. Great idea! There are so many simple pleasures to enjoy with your dog during the warmer months. Just remember that during these “dog days of summer” you need to take some precautions to ensure your pet’s well being. Below are some activities and tips that will help you keep your dog safe and happy this summer.
For many dogs, swimming is a wonderful way to exercise and have a blast while keeping cool. Not all dogs enjoy the water, though, so take your cues from your pet and don’t force it.
Most beaches have leash laws, but if you’re lucky enough to find a watering hole where you can let your friend off-leash, it’s still important to supervise your dog. Be aware of other dogs and owners to avoid any potential conflicts. A doggy lifejacket can help keep your mind at ease while your pup plays in the water. While the water will keep your pet from overheating, make sure your dog still has access to shade and drinking water so he or she can take breaks and recharge. It also important not to let your dog drink salty water, which will cause vomiting, or stagnant water, which can harbor bacteria that cause dangerous diseases, such as Leptospirosis.
Walks can be either a calming or energizing experience for you and your canine, but avoid taking your pet out on very hot days and in the midday sun.
Hot weather can quickly cause dehydration and heatstroke in pets. Dogs don’t sweat, so adequate water and shade are vital to keep cool. Playing fetch, Frisbee, and tug-of-war are great ways to engage them in outside playtime, but don’t go too hard too quickly. Walking and playing at night or in the morning can reduce your dog’s exposure to the heat. Also, steer clear of hot sand, paved roads, and driveways as these can burn your pet’s paws. At night, don’t forget to make both of you visible to passing vehicles by wearing bright colors and/or reflective material. LED light harnesses, leashes, and collars are also available at most pet stores.
While you and your dog are enjoying the warmer weather, so are the fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes, especially in wet, wooded areas. The easy way to deal with this is to make sure your pet is up-to-date on his or her preventative products.
Only preventatives purchased through your veterinarian are guaranteed, and prevention is often much cheaper than treatment. For instance, treating for heartworms costs more than several years’ worth of heartworm preventatives. Prevention is the much better option.
Many dog owners enjoy traveling with their pets, whether to the local park or to the beach on vacation. While this can be a great experience for all, it does require some extra effort to make sure your pet is properly taken care of.
Never, ever leave your dog in a hot car! The temperature in a parked car rises very quickly. Even with the windows cracked or the door open, leaving your pet in the car could result in organ damage, heatstroke, and death. Don’t gamble with your dog’s life. Signs that your dog is overheated include excessive panting and drooling. Make sure he or she gets frequent water breaks (many dogs love ice cubes in their water bowl) and has a cool place to rest out of the sun and heat.
For more hot weather tips for you and your dog, check out the links below:
Pool Safety for Dogs: http://moderndogmagazine.com/articles/pool-safety-dogs/62071
Frozen Yoghurt Dog Treat Recipe: http://thebark.com/content/simple-frozen-yogurt-treats
Biking with Your Dog: http://thebark.com/content/putting-pup-biking
Running with Your Dog: http://www.dogchannel.com/dog-activities/dog-exercise/running-with-your-dog.aspx
Making Your Garden Safe for Pets: http://www.centrevilleanimalhospital.com/blog/?p=640
Contributed by Melissa Wilmoth, Client Care Specialist