Pet Safety

Pet Safety (16)

Over time, or after an injury, you might notice that your pet isn't as frisky as they used to be. Chances are this isn't just them "getting old," most likely your pet is suffering from arthritis - a disease that can be managed. Dr. Kremer teaches you all about this condition and how it can be managed in your pet. --American Veterinarian Medical Association

Proper maintenance and regular cleaning of your cat's ears is essential for their well being. Dr. Julia Georgesen tells you how to clean your cat's ears and what you need to be on the look out for when cleaning.

You are probably already aware of the risks posed by warm weather and leaving pets in hot cars, but did you know that cold weather also poses serious threats to your pets’ health?
 
Here are some tips to keep your pets safe during cold weather:
 
Winter wellness: Has your pet had his/her preventive care exam (wellness exam) yet?  Cold weather may worsen some medical conditions such as arthritis. Your pet should be examined by a veterinarian at least once a year, and it’s as good a time as any to get him/her checked out to make sure (s)he is ready and as healthy as possible for cold weather.
 
Know the limits:  Just like people, pets’ cold tolerance can vary from pet to pet based on their coat, body fat stores, activity level, and health. Be aware of your pet’s tolerance for cold weather, and adjust accordingly. You will probably need to shorten your dog’s walks in very cold weather to protect you both from weather-associated health risks. Arthritic and elderly pets may have more difficulty walking on snow and ice and may be more prone to slipping and falling. Long-haired or thick-coated dogs tend to be more cold-tolerant, but are still at risk in cold weather. Short-haired pets feel the cold faster because they have less protection, and short-legged pets may become cold faster because their bellies and bodies are more likely to come into contact with snow-covered ground. Pets with diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, or hormonal imbalances (such as Cushing’s disease) may have a harder time regulating their body temperature, and may be more susceptible to problems from temperature extremes. The same goes for very young and very old pets. If you need help determining your pet’s temperature limits, consult your veterinarian.
 

Provide choices: Just like you, pets prefer comfortable sleeping places and may change their location based on their need for more or less warmth. Give them some safe options to allow them to vary their sleeping place to adjust to their needs.

 
Stay inside. Cats and dogs should be kept inside during cold weather. It’s a common belief that dogs and cats are resistant than people to cold weather because of their fur, but it’s untrue. Like people, cats and dogs are susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia and should be kept inside. Longer-haired and thick-coated dog breeds, such as huskies and other dogs bred for colder climates, are more tolerant of cold weather; but no pet should be left outside for long periods of time in below-freezing weather.
 
Make some noise: A warm vehicle engine can be an appealing heat source for outdoor and feral cats, but it’s deadly. Check underneath your car, bang on the hood, and honk the horn before starting the engine to encourage feline hitchhikers to abandon their roost under the hood.
 
Check the paws: Check your dog’s paws frequently for signs of cold-weather injury or damage, such as cracked paw pads or bleeding. During a walk, a sudden lameness may be due to an injury or may be due to ice accumulation between his/her toes. You may be able to reduce the chance of iceball accumulation by clipping the hair between your dog’s toes.
 
Play dress-up: If your dog has a short coat or seems bothered by the cold weather, consider a sweater or dog coat. Have several on hand, so you can use a dry sweater or coat each time your dog goes outside. Wet sweaters or coats can actually make your dog colder. Some pet owners also use booties to protect their dog’s feet; if you choose to use them, make sure they fit properly.
 
Wipe down: During walks, your dog’s feet, legs and belly may pick up deicers, antifreeze, or other chemicals that could be toxic. When you get back inside, wipe down (or wash) your pet’s feet, legs and belly to remove these chemicals and reduce the risk that your dog will be poisoned after (s)he licks them off of his/her feet or fur. Consider using pet-safe deicers on your property to protect your pets and the others in your neighborhood.
 
Collar and chip: Many pets become lost in winter because snow and ice can hide recognizable scents that might normally help your pet find his/her way back home. Make sure your pet has a well-fitting collar with up-to-date identification and contact information. A microchip is a more permanent means of identification, but it’s critical that you keep the registration up to date.
 
Stay home: Hot cars are a known threat to pets, but cold cars also pose significant risk to your pet’s health. You’re already familiar with how a car can rapidly cool down in cold weather; it becomes like a refrigerator, and can rapidly chill your pet. Pets that are young, old, ill, or thin are particularly susceptible to cold environments and should never be left in cold cars. Limit car travel to only that which is necessary, and don’t leave your pet unattended in the vehicle.
 
Prevent poisoning: Clean up any antifreeze spills quickly, as even small amounts of antifreeze can be deadly. Make sure your pets don’t have access to medication bottles, household chemicals, potentially toxic foods such as onions, xylitol (a sugar substitute) and chocolate.
 
Protect family: Odds are your pet will be spending more time inside during the winter, so it’s a good time to make sure your house is properly pet-proofed. Use space heaters with caution around pets, because they can burn or they can be knocked over, potentially starting a fire. Check your furnace before the cold weather sets in to make sure it’s working efficiently, and install carbon monoxide detectors to keep your entire family safe from harm. If you have a pet bird, make sure its cage is away from drafts.
 
Avoid ice: When walking your dog, stay away from frozen ponds, lakes and other water. You don’t know if the ice will support your dog’s weight, and if your dog breaks through the ice it could be deadly. And if this happens and you instinctively try to save your dog, both of your lives could be in jeopardy.
 
Provide shelter: We don’t recommend keeping any pet outside for long periods of time, but if you are unable to keep your dog inside during cold weather, provide him/her with a warm, solid shelter against wind. Make sure that they have unlimited access to fresh, non-frozen water (by changing the water frequently or using a pet-safe, heated water bowl). The floor of the shelter should be off of the ground (to minimize heat loss into the ground) and the bedding should be thick, dry and changed regularly to provide a warm, dry environment. The door to the shelter should be positioned away from prevailing winds. Space heaters and heat lamps should be avoided because of the risk of burns or fire. Heated pet mats should also be used with caution because they are still capable of causing burns.
 
Recognize problems: If your pet is whining, shivering, seems anxious, slows down or stops moving, seems weak, or starts looking for warm places to burrow, get them back inside quickly because they are showing signs of hypothermia. Frostbite is harder to detect, and may not be fully recognized until a few days after the damage is done. If you suspect your pet has hypothermia or frostbite, consult your veterinarian immediately.
 
Be prepared: Cold weather also brings the risks of severe winter weather, blizzards and power outages. Prepare a disaster/emergency kit, and include your pet in your plans. Have enough food, water and medicine (including any prescription medications as well as heartworm and flea/tick preventives) on hand to get through at least 5 days.
 
Feed well: Keep your pet at a healthy weight throughout the winter. Some pet owners feel that a little extra weight gives their pet some extra protection from cold, but the health risks associated with that extra weight don’t make it worth doing. Watch your pet’s body condition and keep them in the healthy range. Outdoor pets will require more calories in the winter to generate enough body heat and energy to keep them warm – talk to your veterinarian about your pet’s nutritional needs during cold weather.
 
Reprint:  https://www.avma.org/public/PetCare/Pages/Cold-weather-pet-safety.aspx

Even though the thought of your pet being stuck by a needle can be scary, blood work is an important part of diagnosing a treating a sick pet. Dr. Joyce covers the basics of why blood tests are needed, and what they help find. Because when it comes to the health of your pet, there's more than what meets the eye.

You don’t need us to tell you the harm that smoking can do to your body, or the risks posed to children and others from secondhand smoke. But perhaps you’re unaware of the harm it can be doing to your pets. Because pets share our environments, they also share our environmental exposures – including tobacco smoke.1,2

Dogs living in homes with smokers have significantly higher levels of cotinine (a breakdown product of nicotine) in their blood, indicating exposure to nicotine through secondhand smoke.3 A 1998 study found that environmental exposure to tobacco smoke resulted in an increased risk of cancer of the nasal cavity and sinuses of dogs, particularly those with longer snouts (such as collies, greyhounds and many other popular breeds); and the more packs the smoker smoked, the higher the dog’s risk of cancer.4  This is likely because their longer nasal passages accumulate the cancer-causing toxins. A 1992 study found that dogs with short- and medium-length noses were more than twice as likely to develop lung cancer if a smoker lived in the home,5 most likely because shorter-length nasal passages don’t accumulate the cancer-causing toxins, allowing them to enter the dog’s lungs instead. 

Pet cats living in smoking households are more than twice as likely to develop malignant lymphoma (a type of cancer) compared to cats in nonsmoking households. The risk increased with the duration and amount of exposure, and cats with five or more years of exposure to secondhand smoke were more than three times as likely to develop malignant lymphoma.6

Have you ever had anyone tell you that your clothes smell like smoke? Well, it’s not the just the smell that can linger – it’s the potential toxins, too. If you smell smoke on your pet, consider the toxins that may be on your pet’s fur. Chances are, they’re ingesting them when they lick the toxins off during grooming.

Birds’ respiratory systems are particularly susceptible to airborne contaminants. Significantly higher concentrations of cotinine were found in the blood of birds living in smoking households compared to birds living in nonsmoking households.7 Birds with exposure to secondhand smoke can develop pneumonia, lung cancer, and problems with their eyes, skin, heart and fertility.

Smoking outside the home reduces the concentration of environmental tobacco smoke in the house, but doesn’t eliminate it. A 2005 study found that environmental tobacco levels in homes of smokers who smoked outdoors were still five to seven times higher than in households of nonsmokers.8

And it’s not just the secondhand smoke that poses a risk for your pets: discarded cigarette butts or other tobacco products left within reach of pets can cause gastrointestinal problems or even nicotine toxicity if your pet finds and eats them. 

Periodontal disease is the most common clinical condition in cats and dogs even though it's completely preventable. Dr. Cindy Charlier explains what periodontal disease is and how we can prevent our pets from getting it.

Cicadas are coming! I have a dog and a cat that both go outside. Do I need to worry if they eat cicadas, or how many is too many?

As these red-eyed screechy little bugs begin emerging from the ground, concern among pet parents rises as well. This brood is different from the one we saw in 2004 and its appearance in this state will be limited to parts of Southern Maryland, which is good news. There are several thing pet owners should keep in mind during cicada season:

1.They are not toxic to pets. Most of the time, they are more of a nuisance than a health hazard.

2.Your pet might be interested in trying to eat one, but most likely would spit it back out right away. Cicadas might cause upset like vomiting or diarrhea if eaten, but this would be temporary and respond to conservative treatment.

3.Rarely, if your pet decides to overindulge and eat them like chocolate, they could technically cause an obstruction because your pet would not be able to digest them. But most likely they will just pass on and be seen in the stool.

4.Cicadas cannot transmit any diseases.

5.They do not bite or cause any skin irritation or other dermatological issues

The bright side of all of this is that cicadas are beneficial to the environment because they aerate the soil as they emerge. Our guests are only here for a short stay!

This week's expert is Dr. Padma Yadlapalli with Freetown Animal Hospital in Columbia. Send your questions to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Dr. James Park of the Care Animal Hospital of Arlington Heights, Ill. explains why regular, preventive care appointments with your veterinarian are key to keeping your pets healthy. Regular pet preventive care exams give your veterinarian an opportunity to diagnose potential health problems early, which could help extend your pet's life, reduce suffering and potentially save you money by preventing costly diseases like diabetes and dental problems.

Have you ever wondered why you have to bring your pet's poop with you when you see your veterinarian? Jonathan asks Dr. Tracey, "What's the scoop on poop?"

We already had an adult cat. We adopted a kitten, and now that she's half-grown, we have litter box issues, specifically wars over the box. What should we do to make them "share the bathroom"?

– Via email

One box is not enough. You should have one box for each cat, plus one. If you have one cat, you need two litter boxes. Two cats, three litter boxes. Put them in different locations. For instance, keep one upstairs and one downstairs. That way, one is always convenient. And with more than one cat, it prevents fights over who gets to use which box when it's needed.

Some cats like to ambush others when they use the litter box, so place litter boxes in locations with easy escape routes. Privacy is important, too. Another good reason to have multiple litter boxes: Each cat may prefer a different type of litter.

What about what goes inside the box? There are all kinds of different cat litter, and they all have pros and cons. Most cats prefer clumping litter because of its soft, sandy feel. It's easy on the paws and easy to scoop. Other cats might like a fine-grained clay litter. Look for one that comes in a dust-free formula. Some cat litter is easier on the Earth, made from recycled paper or natural substances like corncobs or wheat. But if your cat doesn't like it, you'll be throwing a lot of it out, which is not that environmentally friendly. Let the cats pick their preferences by offering a "litter box buffet."

Avoid scented litter. It might smell good to you, but that perfumed odor can be sensory overload for a cat.

– Dr. Marty Becker

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/09/25/4850476/dont-expect-two-cats-to-share.html#storylink=cpy
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