Here a Danger, There a Danger. Everywhere a Danger!

We are all concerned for the safety of our beloved pets, so it is important to realize there are many household and personal items that can be dangerous to them. The kitchen is probably the main room were our four-footed friends get into trouble, because they associate that room with pleasant smells and tastes. They are always on the lookout for a treat to snatch, and, besides food, there are always medications, cleaning products, and trash bins that pose threats. Keeping items off the counter, and keeping lids on trash bins are important if there are pets in the home.

We know that goodies containing raisins, grapes ,or currents can cause kidney problems in dogs, but It isn’t only food that poses a threat to pets. Batteries, plants, and fragrance products that are found throughout the house are common dangers. Laundry detergent pods, and dryer sheets are both hazards. It is important to keep laundry products in a closed cabinet and pick up any dropped dryer sheets or detergent pods

While most dogs love to feel the wind on their faces, allowing them to ride in the beds of pick up trucks or stick their heads out of moving car windows is very dangerous. Insects and flying debris can cause ear or eye injuries or even lung infections, and abrupt stops or turns can cause major injury. Pets should always ride inside the cab of a pickup, and even inside a car they should be secured in a crate or wear a seatbelt harness designed for them.

Garages can be extremely hazardous places for our four-footed companions. Most people store a variety of chemicals in the garage which pose serious concerns for pets, and often times rodenticides are stashed there. All chemicals should be securely closed and placed up, out of reach of curious paws.

Pets love spending time outdoors so watch out for poisonous plants. Toxic species common at this time of year include lilies, daffodils, and azaleas. Daffodils can be toxic, especially the bulbs, but the flower heads can also cause diarrhea, vomiting and lethargy. All parts of bluebells are poisonous to dogs and will cause discomfort with the risk of heart beat irregularity if a significant quantity is ingested. Dogs who eat ivy commonly develop diarrhea and vomiting. Even contact with ivy can cause skin reactions, itchiness, and skin rashes. Other spring flowers, such as crocuses and tulips, are considered less toxic, but it is best to seek veterinary advice if you suspect your pet has eaten them.

While it is great to have company while working in the yard, be aware of the actions of your dog. Fertilizers, insecticides and herbicides keep our plants and lawns healthy and green, but their ingredients may be dangerous if ingested. When using any chemicals on your yard, it is best to keep your pets away until it is completely dry or watered in.

Just like people, dogs can develop allergies to plants, pollens, grasses and many other spring time substances. Allergies in pets normally appear as itchy skin and ear problems, sometimes with hair loss or inflamed skin. Some will suffer respiratory signs or runny eyes, and need vet attention.

Another common outdoor danger is lighter fluid and charcoal briquettes used for outside grilling. If you are having a springtime barbecue, make sure your pets are kept at a safe distance. Bones, kebob skewers, and alcohol can be dangerous. Warmer weather. and closer contact among animals, encourage the spread of disease. Make sure your pets are up to date on important vaccines. Be aware of the common pests in your area, and use the same common sense you would use for your pets as yourself. By following basic springtime safety tips, you can avoid springtime hazards that could make springtime miserable for your pets.

Spring is Invasion Time

A tiny black speck appears on your arm; a brand new mole, you surmise.

“But moles don’t move, and moles don’t hop,” you cry in surprise.

You feel a prick on your neck, and suddenly, on your nose, appears another black speck!

Spring is a wonderful time of year, and it is especially welcome after the tough winter we have had. However, in the dog world, it’s also invasion time. With temperatures warming, conditions are just right for an unwelcome invasion of fleas and ticks. Fleas are nasty little creatures that can travel rapidly through animal hair and are extremely tough to pick off your dog. They can also hop onto humans!

Although they do not have teeth, they have piercing mouthparts that cut into the skin of their victim, and suck blood. One flea can consume up to 15 times its own body weight in a single day, and then when it takes a rest from drinking blood, as it pulls out of the animal, it leaves a bit of its own saliva behind, which is what makes flea bites itch. Fleas are more than just an irritation!

If a flea swallowed by your pet contains tapeworm larvae, the dog may get tapeworms, and there are also other diseases, which are transmitted by fleas. The average life span of a flea is about six weeks, and during that time, one female flea can produce more than 600 eggs. That means that just one flea can produce enough eggs to create a huge problem, and if you see one flea, you can be sure there are MANY more present.

The smart thing to do is to treat your animals BEFORE just one tiny critter is found. Once the pet is infected, the problem automatically extends to the home and the yard, and is more difficult (and expensive) to treat. There are many safe, relatively inexpensive products that will eliminate flea and tick problems. Talk to your vet about which product is best for your specific situation.

We discourage the use of flea collars, which may kill the fleas in the neck area, but the rest of the body may still have fleas. We are also uncomfortable with the thought of children touching and breathing the chemicals in flea collars. Our choice is spot-on products that can simply be applied at the base of the neck, and then are absorbed and transported in the oil glands. These liquid treatments will kill the fleas on the animal within 12 hours and he will be infestation- free for a month. With consistent application, your pet will be protected.

Be aware, however, that there are some differences in available products. Some of the cheaper ones are, in my opinion, dangerous. Others are simply not effective. Your vet can help you select the best option, but don’t wait until you are faced with a flea invasion. Act now. PREVENTION IS THE ANSWER!

An Easter Memory

I love Spring…such a welcome change after a long, harsh winter…and Easter is definitely a favorite holiday. A dog lover friend asked me to share this s Easter memory again:

Easter is always special to me, but last year is especially memorable. I had promised to bake a cake for the church’s annual pre-Easter bake sale, but with all the activities going on, I forgot until the last minute. Thankfully I managed to find an angel food cake mix, which I quickly baked. I set the cake on the table to cool while I finished a few chores, and didn’t notice that Scout, our newly acquired puppy, had creatively managed to plant a paw print right in the middle of the cake. Scout had already been in more trouble than any dog I had ever met. My best friend insisted that he suffered from a serious case of Attention Deficit Disease, but I excused him as just going through the “normal puppy phase.”

Frantically I looked around the house for something to build up the center of the cake, and found it in the bathroom—an almost empty roll of toilet paper. I plunked it in the middle and covered it with icing. The finished product looked like a real work of art, if I do say so myself. Before I left the house to drop the cake off at the church and head for work, I woke my daughter and gave her money and specific instructions to be at the bake sale the moment it opened, buy the cake and bring it home. However, when Amanda arrived at the sale, and discovered that the attractive, perfect cake had already been sold, she grabbed her cell phone to call me. You can only imagine how difficult it was to concentrate at work, so it was later than usual by the time I checked out. At home, a total mess greeted me. Scout had somehow gotten the lid off the waste basket, and trash was scattered throughout the house. Oblivious of the havoc he had created, he quietly lay on the living room floor, chewing on one of my new Easter shoes.

I had already RSVP’d that I would be attending the Women’s Easter Luncheon the next day, so I promised myself that I would try to not think about the cake and would go and enjoy myself. I left a very unhappy pooch in his seldom-used crate with a toy and treat and headed to the church. The meal was elegant, but I almost fell off my chair when our table hostess presented my toilet paper cake for dessert. Our minister’s wife, sitting next to me, murmured, “What a beautiful cake”… She looked at our hostess . “I didn’t know you were such a gifted baker. It is almost too perfect to cut into.”

Alice looked embarrassed and placed her cutting knife on the table. “Guess I better ‘fess up. I didn’t bake it. It was such a busy week, I just bought it at the bake sale. I am sure it will taste better than any cake I would make.”

As she picked up the knife, I realized that it was ‘now or never.’ All eyes focused on me, as I stuttered and stammered the entire story. “Well,” said Alice, pulling out the sticky toilet paper roll . “I say we try it and see if it is as good as it looks.” It was good…nobody seemed to care that Scout had touched it….and everyone agreed that it was a perfect ending to a perfect lunch.

As I recall that day, I am thankful that I have such understanding friends, and am thankful that Scout has outgrown most of his bad habits. Most of all, I am thankful for the most precious Easter gift of all, the resurrection of Jesus. Hopefully my story has made you smile, and may the glory and promise of this day bring you joy and happiness. Alleluia. Have a blessed Easter.

 

Celebrate Spring Humanely

Both humans and canines welcome the warmer weather that is just around the corner. Dogs have earthy ways to celebrate the arrival of Spring—they love to roll in the mud or the stinkiest stuff imaginable, and while warmer weather makes us all feel good, it brings increased risk of parasites to your pet, making it necessary to take steps to prevent and treat these parasites. An important part of your pet’s health care is protection from heartworm disease, a life-threatening illness that is spread by a mosquito bites. Spring brings a resurgence of these disease carrying insects, and it is much safer and easier to keep your animals on preventive medication than it is to treat the disease. A spring visit to your veterinarian should include a general wellness check, and testing for heartworm and intestinal parasites such as tapeworms, roundworms, hookworms, and whipworms, as well as protozoal parasites such as giardia, all of which can rob your dog of nutrition and can cause serious health problems. A little preventive care goes a long way toward keeping your pets healthy.

Another common symbol of spring is rabbits. Every year huge numbers of adorable baby rabbits, chicks, and ducklings go into new homes for Easter. They are already being showcased in pet stores and farm stores around the area. Most of these pets will be gifts for children– impulse purchases made with little thought given to the needs of the animals. No pet purchase is more likely to end tragically than one that’s based on nothing more than cuteness. Many of the chicks and ducklings die within a short time, killed by neglect, improper care or unintentional rough handling by children. Rabbits can make wonderful pets IF people are prepared to care for them properly, but, contrary to what is commonly believed, rabbits are not snuggly, cuddly animals, and are not well suited to life as a child’s pet. Like other pets bought on impulse, many rabbits end up turned loose or dumped as the novelty wears off. If you honestly cannot see beyond the cries of delight on the day your child and baby bunny meet, DO NOT take home a living creature. Buy a stuffed animal, one that can take abuse and neglect with no problem more serious than an occasional ripped seam or lost ear. In the short run, passing up a pet that will not hold your family’s interest is important to the animal you could have purchased. In the long run, teaching your child that animals are not to be bought on a whim and discarded just as lightly is important to the welfare of all animals, and making sure children grow up learning to care about other living things is important to the welfare of us all.

Most of us have packed on a few extra pounds during the winter, and it is likely that your dog has too. Canine-fitness trainer Gail Miller offers these tests to determine if your dog needs to lose weight:

  • Place your hands on your dog’s sides to feel his rib cage. If you have trouble finding ribs, then it is probably time to start exercising more and eating less.
  • Look at your dog from overhead. A dog at a healthy weight should have clear waist indentation between the rib cage and the hip bones.
  • A third test is to watch your dog walk away from you. Excess pounds will cause her to shift her weight back and forth, causing her skin to appear to roll from side to side.

Both human and canine bodies need exercise, and if you have been couch potatoes for several months, spring is the perfect time to start an exercise program with your dogs. Start slowly , and gradually increase your physical fitness. Grab the leash and head out to enjoy the warmer weather with your favorite pooch. HAPPY SPRING!

 

There is No Time Like Spring

There is no time like spring, when life’s alive in everything. Both humans and canines are ready to see the sun shining, with grass on the ground instead of ice and snow! However, spring brings hazards for our four footed friends. Companion animals, restless from being cooped up, are eager to romp and roam to shake off the blahs of winter. There are new smells and new places to explore! Normally well behaved furbabies will suddenly become escape artists and climb or dig their way out of their safe yards to find themselves lost in new territory with no clue about getting home again.

Sadly, only a small percentage of missing dogs are ever reunited with their families. Please be sure that you have an I.D. tag on your dog. We also recommend micro-chipping your animal. Proper identification can help recover a lost pup! Tag up today!

If you have an intact pet in your family, he or she will really become restless as natural instincts triumph over training. The alarming statistics of animal overpopulation and unwanted offspring should convince you to spay or neuter, but it is also important to do it for the health and safety of your pet.

Another hazard for pets as the weather warms up is the threat of heartworm. We used to think that this mosquito-borne parasite was a problem only in the Southern states. Not true! Discuss this serious problem with your vet, and choose a preventative measure that protects your dog. It is true that heartworm can be treated if caught in the early stages, but it is a harsh treatment, and is also expensive. Controlling and eliminating an existing problem requires time, energy, and money. The best control is always prevention.

Spring into action with these tips:

  • Get your dog tested for heartworm and on a preventative.
  • Don’t wait until you see a flea to begin treatment…it’s too late by then. Again prevention is the key. There are many safe, effective flea treatments available, and it is so much easier to prevent the problem than to have to deal with the nasty little critters.
  • If you use pesticides or herbicides on your lawn, be sure to restrict your pets from the treated areas for at least 24 hours. Those chemicals are toxic to your pet!
  • NEVER leave pets unattended in a car. Even a cool breezy day can become dangerously hot in a very short time.
  • Spring is a good time to schedule a wellness check. Hopefully the vet will give him a clean bill of health, but if something suspicious is found, perhaps it can be treated in the early stages. Most dogs have teeth problems by the time they are three years old, and since tooth and gum disease can lead to more serious problems, be sure to include a dental checkup for your canine!
  • In spring, depending on your dog’s breed, you can expect more shedding as the coat changes. Daily brushing is encouraged. And remember: no outfit is complete without a few dog hairs!
  • Daily walks with your canine are beneficial for the pooch and for you. Enjoy the warmer weather together

It’s Finally Spring!

IT’S FINALLY SPRING

“Oh, when the bugs come out, it’s spring

I see some crawl, I see some fly

I can’t count how many bugs go marching by,

but when the bugs come out, I know it’s spring,

and today I met a mosquito which wasn’t fun

She bit me here, she nipped me there

she even bit my bum.

But I had the last laugh

I squashed her with my thumb”

A humorous poem by Jan Allison, but parasite season is not humorous for our companion animals. As the warmer weather of spring brings the outdoors back to life with flowers and shrubs, bugs and parasites also make their presence known, meaning that flea and tick season has arrived, and mosquitoes are also out and ready to pass on heartworm disease to your dogs (and cats.) Other parasites include roundworms, hook worms and whip worms.

Fleas are nasty little creatures that travel rapidly through animal hair and are extremely tough to eliminate, and they are more than just an irritation. If a flea swallowed by your dog contains tapeworm larvae, the dog may get tapeworms, and there are also other diseases which are transmitted by fleas. The average life span of a flea is about six weeks, and in that time, just one flea can produce more than 600 eggs. If you see just one flea, you can be sure that there are many more present, so the smart thing to do is to treat your animal BEFORE just one tiny critter is found. Talk to your vet about the best product to use. We discourage the use of flea collars, which may kill the fleas only in the neck area, and we are also uncomfortable with the thought of children touching and breathing the chemicals in flea collars. Do not buy over-the-counter products…..some are simply not effective, and others are downright dangerous.

Ticks are most often found in wooded areas, tall grass, brush, or woodpiles. They move onto a host as it passes by and then attach to the skin by using the mouthparts to embed their heads so they can feed on the host’s blood. Ticks carry and transmit several diseases including Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Fever….Again prevention is much easier than treatment, and many products are effective against both fleas and ticks. Your vet can help you implement strategies to protect both humans and canines in your household from these unwelcome parasites.

Another aspect of your pet’s health care is protection from heartworm disease, a life-threatening illness that is spread by mosquito bites….every time your dog is bitten by a mosquito, she may be exposed to heartworms. Heartworms are identified using a simple blood test, and it is important to have your dog tested every spring. At the same time, it is a good idea to take in a fecal sample to be checked for tapeworms, roundworms, whipworms, and protozoal parasites such as giardia and protozoa that can attack the gastrointestinal tract. We suggest a complete health check every spring. Hopefully your dog will get a clean bill of health, but if something suspicious is found, perhaps it can be treated in the early stages. Most dogs have teeth problems by the time they are three years old, and since tooth and gum disease can lead to more serious problems, be sure to include a dental checkup.

In spring, depending on your dog’s breed, more shedding can be expected, so daily brushing is encouraged. And remember: no outfit is complete without a few dog hairs!

Is it REALLY Spring?

IS IT REALLY SPRING?

According to the calendar, the first day of Spring, 2018, has come and gone, but as Henry Van Dyke said years ago, “The first day of spring is one thing, and the first spring day is another.” Iowa has yet to see the first spring day of this year. Hopefully Spring will actually arrive before this piece hits the news stand, but more pleasant weather also presents dangers for pets which are not as prevalent in the colder months.

The plants that begin to bloom are beautiful to look at, but some of these plants can cause serious problems for our pets. Lilies are one of the most common poisonous plants found both in gardens and in bouquets, and are poisonous to dogs. Rhododendrons, azaleas, foxglove, tulips, oleanders, caster beans, chrysanthemums, and many other familiar spring plants can be toxic to unsuspecting curious pets. (Check ASPCA for a complete list of dangerous plants.) Spiders, bees, and other little critters often hide in plants and can sting or bite a curious dog, and if your dog gets stung, it is wise to contact your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Lawn herbicides or pesticides can poison pets. Keep your animals out of the yard while spraying and use caution for several days later. Be alert to your pet walking on these surfaces since cleaning or licking their paws later can contribute to ingestion of the poison. Also take care if you are poisoning rodents or other pests since your pets may ingest one of the dead critters and suffer from those consequences.

Stagnant water and rain puddles can provide great breeding places for mosquito larvae and other parasites, and dogs should not be allowed to drink out of these pools of water. Runoff with insecticides and other herbicides can result in horrible consequences, and you never know what else could be concentrated there.

Springtime is also fishing and hunting time. Be alert around water areas for fishing lines, hooks, discarded bait and other related items. If you are around wooded areas, there may be traps or poison bait left out by hunters or irritated neighbors. Predatory animals such as coyotes may pose some risk now too, since they may have litters of cubs that they need to feed and are looking for easy prey.

Spring house cleaning is an annual event in most households, and many household cleaners contain chlorine, ammonia, and foaming agents that are harmful to animals. Dogster.com lists specific products that are not pet safe, and are commonly found in most homes. According to studies measuring volatile organic compounds, three common cleaners– Pledge, Clorox Wipes, and Lysol Disinfecting Spray– registered close to a thousand times more vapor pressure than a natural cleaner. This means that even when the toxic cleaners are put away and closed, the vapors left behind can continue to harm both humans and pets. Pine Sol, Mr. Clean, 409, and even Windex are toxic products, as well as many laundry detergents. . Never use them when your pet is in the same room, and air out the house after cleaning with them. Make sure that all toxic products are stored out of reach of children and pets.

If you are uncertain as to the safety of a product, you will find a wealth of information about what’s toxic to dogs on Dogster.com. Check it out; I was certainly appalled at the toxic products I use on a daily basis, and I would guess you will be too. You and your dog will be healthier and safer if you use cleaning products that are pet safe!

Warning: Ticks in Search of Warm Bodies!

Opportunistic, cannibalistic, deterministic, and definitely not fantastic. Ticks are strictly parasitic, nasty little parasites that feed on the blood of unfortunate victims. Like mites and spiders, ticks are arachnids, with the potential to transmit many diseases through their bites, so it is important to thoroughly check your dog for ticks after any warm-weather outdoor activity.

Ticks are always looking for a warm body. In search of a meal, they may lurk on a blade of grass or bush, and their complex sensory organs can sense a potential host’s presence from long distances. When a promising host passes by, they grab hold and hitch a ride, Once aboard, they crawl along, looking for a patch of skin where they can latch on with their front legs, cut open the skin with mouth parts, and insert a barbed feeding tube. The ticks suck blood, and after a couple days of attachment, may release infected saliva into the host’s blood.

Ticks don’t fly, jump or blow around with the wind. They are slow and lumbering, small and very patient in their capacity to locate a host. They are generally not born with disease agents but rather obtain them during various feedings, and then pass diseases such as Lyme Disease on to other animals. Disease agents acquired from one host can be passed on to another host at a later feeding,

Preventing tick bites is important to keeping your pets healthy. Keep your dogs out of wooded areas and away from wildlife, and check their entire body for ticks daily. Brush your fingers through their fur with enough pressure to feel any small bumps. Check carefully between the toes, behind ears, under arm pits , as well as around the tail and the head. if you do feel a bump, pull the fur apart to see what’s there. A tick that has embedded itself on your dog will vary in size, anywhere from the size of a pinhead to a grape, depending on how long it was attached. They are usually black or dark brown in color, but will turn a grayish-white after feeding to an engorged stage. It generally takes five or six hours for a tick to become attached, and up to l0 days to become fully engorged with blood. You have at least 24 hours to find and remove a feeding tick before it transmits an infection, so quick removal drastically reduces the risks.

To discourage ticks, mow regularly, remove weeds and leaves, and make sure your garbage and compost containers are rodent proof. Prevention may also involve removing exotic vegetation or other welcoming habitat, as studies have determined that invasive bush honeysuckle and Japanese barberry, for example, attract deer and mice, and thus, their ticks. Managing the growth of these plants significantly reduce the abundance of infected ticks.

Victor Rotich describes ticks in this way: “ Nasty little ticks….a fat, black flashy tick, ever smiling at me, and a brown, round-eyed tick, perched within my ear. They pierce my skin with their sharp poisoned arrows …they have even invited their friends to wage war against me. Who will hear my painful cry? Who will come to my rescue before these critters suck me dry.”

If you do find a tick on your dog (or yourself), it is important to remove it carefully and completely. Tweezers will work, but we recommend a special inexpensive tick remover , TICKED OFF, a single-motion tick remover designed to remove crawling or attached ticks in a simple, easy to use, effective manner. Ticked Off is available on www.tickedoff.com or from Amazon. com . It is important to grasp the tick as close to where it is embedded in the skin as possible. Do not grasp it by its body, and do not jerk, twist or wiggle it. Pull slowly and steadily, directly out with steady pressure to make the tick release its hold and allow you to remove it intact. Be sure to remove the entire tick, and once you have removed it, put in alcohol because ticks can survive being flushed down the toilet or being tossed in the garbage. Disinfect the bite wound with soap or a disinfectant, and wash your own hands thoroughly.

Because a vast number of tick-prevention products are available, some of them containing dangerous pesticides, please do not buy over-the-counter products….check with your veterinarian to come up with a tick prevention program tailored for your individual dog. . Although there is no one perfect solution to tick problems, consistently checking for ticks on your pets, plus twice yearly screening for tick-related infections, are the best ways to keep your pet safe from tick-borne illness.

Is Your Dog at Risk?

During the month of April, dog rescues and organizations focus on educating pet parents on the prevention of heartworm disease, a serious parasitic infection spread by the bites of mosquitoes , resulting in parasitic worms wreaking havoc on a pet’s health. Unsuspecting caregivers may not realize that just one seemingly innocent insect bite can lead to heartworm. The heartworm life cycle begins when a mosquito bites an already infected dog and ingests the larvae during blood feeding. Over the next couple weeks this larvae mature to an infectious larvae inside the mosquito, and during the next feeding ,the mosquito bites a healthy dog and deposits larvae that burrow through tissue into the bloodstream, working their way to the dog’s heart and vessels. Maturation to the adult form, which is capable of breeding and producing more larvae, completes the cycle.

Heartworm facts include:

  • Adult heartworms live in the right side of the heart and can grow to more than a foot long. Several hundred may be present in a dog.
  • Heartworms impair blood circulation which results in damage to the heart, lungs, liver and kidneys.
  • Serious damage may occur before signs are detected by the caregiver. In fact, dogs may not show signs of infection for two or three years, and by then the dog’s heart and pulmonary vessels may already be clogged with hundreds of worms. Advanced signs include difficulty breathing, coughing, loss of weight and listlessness. Left untreated, the disease causes suffering and even death.
  • According to the American Heartworm Society, millions of dogs in the United States get no heartworm preventative, or get it inconsistently .
  • Any dog, whether an indoor puppy to an outside working dog, can get heartworm if bitten by an infected mosquito. All dogs are at risk, even if they spend very little time outdoors. One bite from an infected mosquito can infect your dog with this disease.

If you aren’t giving your dog a heartworm preventative, ask your vet to test your dog. Diagnosis can be a simple blood test performed at your local vet clinic, and it is important to NOT skip this test because some preventatives can cause potentially fatal reactions in already infected dogs. Many veterinarians recommend routine annual testing as a staple of the dog’s healthcare program.

It is much less expensive to prevent heartworm disease than it is to treat it, and most conscientious caregivers understand that, but the problem is that for heartworm preventatives to work, they must be given on time, every time. It is estimated that many of the dogs on a heartworm program often miss scheduled doses, and that is a problem, so create reminder notes on your phone, place the medicine in a safe place where you’ll see it regularly, and put reminder stickers on your calendar. To be effective, the preventative must be given ON TIME, EVERY TIME!

Don’t wait to see signs of coughing, fainting, or difficulty in breathing. If you have not had your dog on a regular regime, get your dog to the vet for a blood test to check for heartworm. Hopefully, she will test negative, and you can get her started on a regular preventative program. If she tests positive, early detection can mean the difference between life and death. Treatment of heartworm disease in dogs is usually successful, but prevention is much safer (and cheaper) than treatment. We can’t eliminate all of the pesky mosquitoes, so keep your dog on a safe, heartworm preventative medication. Prevention is always better than treatment!

 

Spring Clean Your Dog

Spring has finally come! Temperatures rising, flowers showing their heads. We feel the urge to get busy cleaning, and our dogs could probably use a little spring cleaning too. Winter baths are usually minimal, with quick wipe-downs or short baths, but Spring is the perfect time to give a really good soaking bath.

A lot of dogs dislike baths, so here are a few helpful tips to ensure a successful bath time.

  • Be sure that you choose a warm, draft-free place for bathing, and never let him outside following a bath during cool, windy weather. Although it is an accepted common practice, professionals discourage ever bathing a dog outside with the water hose. Outdoor water is too cold for your dog’s comfort even on the hottest day, and most dogs naturally hate being blasted with water from the hose. Warm water is an important consideration.
  • Tasty treats and favorite toys will convince your dog that baths can be fun. If your dog really hates baths, convince him that good things happen at bath time by feeding him treats every step of the way.
  • Brushes are a pre-bathing tool to remove the loose, dead hair from his coat before his bath. You will naturally take his collar off so you will have no effective way to hold onto him, so a handy-dandy slip lead.
  • Do not use human shampoo on your dog – use a pet shampoo that is pH formulated for your dog. A sponge or wash cloth is useful for gently soaping and rinsing, especially those sensitive, hard-to-reach areas. Check the nether regions to be sure everything looks okay, is clean, and shows no sign of trouble such as swelling, undue odor or discharge. This is a good time to do a thorough body check for any lumps or bumps that might need medical attention.
  • Many dogs are afraid of dryers, so unless you plan to just towel dry them, or let them dry naturally, you will need to use some type of dryer – a hand-held, human hair dryer may be used on a low heat setting, if not held too close to his body.

Ear infections strike dogs with unfortunate frequency, with documentation indicating that more than 20 percent of our canine population is affected by inflammation of the external ear, so conscientious cleaning is important because untreated infections can have serious consequences. Hopefully you regularly check your dog’s ears all year long, but spring cleaning should include a thorough check. Never use a Q-tip to clean ears. Fill the ear canal with vet approved ear cleaning solution, and massage the ear canal with a cosmetic pad. If you detect odor, redness or discharge, he needs a professional exam to determine the basis for the infection, and what treatment is needed.

The skin and coat around your dog’s eyes are sensitive areas, and should be cleaned regularly. Look closely at both of her eyes. They should be clear, bright, free of any discharge, and show no signs of inflammation. If her eyes produce an abundance of matter, it is time for a professional examination. Bacterial eye infections, glaucoma, and cataracts are leading causes of blindness and discomfort in dogs.

Check your pet’s feet for wintertime abrasions and cracks. The snow, ice, sidewalk melt, and other cold weather dangers have caused a lot of wear. If she has burrs, stones, dirt, or even too much untrimmed hair between her pads, she won’t be comfortable walking. Check for dryness and cracks. You can buy special paw pad moisturizing cream, or you may have something already on hand…lanolin cream and beeswax are great pad moisturizers. Mineral based products that are petroleum distillates are not recommended because they clog the surface of the skin. Keeping the nails trimmed is important, and if you trim them on a regular basis, your dog is probably comfortable with the procedure. If you have been negligent with this procedure, you may have to have a professional trim them, and then you can just keep them trimmed by snipping off just a tiny bit each week. Just don’t trim too much, and offer a reward each time.

Dogs need regular check- ups, and a professional spring cleaning appointment with your veterinarian is advised.

Spring is when you discover your freshly bathed dog enjoying a good roll in the nastiest stuff he can find!