Spring is Officially Here – And so are the Fleas!

We are all enjoying the longer days and the warmer spring weather.. However, in addition to the welcome showers, spring also brings some unwelcome guests that should be of concern to pet caregivers. As outside temperatures and humidity rise, the onslaught of mosquitoes, fleas and ticks begin. It is important to be conscientious about flea and tick prevention because these pests are more than itchy annoyances to your dog. Both fleas and ticks can transmit other parasites and diseases, including Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and flea allergy dermatitis.

The best way to deal with fleas to prevent them! According to Dr. Michael Dryden, a leading expert on fleas, preventing flea infestation is one of the most important things pet caregivers can do for their pet. “For some reason,” asserts Dr. Dryden, “most people tend to react to fleas AFTER the fact. They seem to treat pets when they see fleas, then stop once the problem seems to be resolved.” Not a good idea. That philosophy only results in a frustrating ongoing cycle of re-infestation. We encourage responsible pet caregivers to use preventative treatment all year round! An even more serious parasite than fleas and ticks is heartworm which can seriously damage your dog’s heart. Spread by the bite of a mosquito, adult heartworms settle inside the heart and lungs, and slowly strangle these organs until they cease to function properly.

Many over-the-counter flea, tick and mosquito control products can be purchased at pet stores and on the internet. However, all products are NOT equal. If they are misused, they can sicken or even kill your pet. We urge you to talk with your veterinarian about the best preventative treatment for your four-legged companion. Parasites are a medical problem and it is wiser to spend a little time, energy and money preventing a medical problem rather than playing catch up to cure an existing one!

With the continual pet food recalls, more pet caregivers are making homemade food for their furbabies. The TLC has a Canine Recipe Book and a favorite recipe is Poultry Loaf. Served on top of their dry food, dogs snarf it down with intense concentration. For those of you who don’t have the TLC Canine Cookbook, here’s the recipe for Poultry Loaf (and if you would like a copy the cook book, just contact us):

  • 1 lb. ground chicken or turkey
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 Tablespoon minced garlic
  • 3 Tablespoons wheat germ
  • ½ cup chopped carrots.

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Put into a lightly greased loaf pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for an hour( or until done) Crumble into pieces and serve over dry dog food. Freeze in small portions for later use.

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.

Ticks are BAD News

Warm weather means tick season, when those tenacious little vampires get warm and hungry and start looking for a good meal. Huge numbers of tick eggs hatch every spring and the young ticks climb onto vegetation. They creep up tall grass, weeds, fences (or even walls of your house) and wait until a passing shadow, an odor, or a vibration tells them that a possible host might be passing by. Then they let go of their perch and fall, or reach out with their front legs to latch onto a furry coat (or your pants leg). Once on-board, they insert their mouths into their prey, and begin their meal…. Disgusting, but ticks are more than nuisances…they are dangerous. When ticks bite wild animals, they take in the bacteria these animals may harbor, and can transmit them along to their next host, meaning that any microorganisms that were hitching a ride inside the tick are passed on to your dog through the tick’s mouth. Some bacteria can cause diseases in dogs (and in people) –dangerous, debilitating, and sometimes even fatal diseases such as Lyme disease or Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

Obviously keeping kicks off your dog in the first place is better than having to pull them off, but despite your best efforts, dogs (especially the outdoorsy ones) are likely to occasionally get a tick. You can discourage tick attacks by keeping grass trimmed, and woodpiles and brush away from the area where your dog spends time. If ticks don’t have good, sheltered spots to hang out and wait for a warm host, they may move on to somewhere tick-friendlier.

Talk to your veterinarian about a preventative that is safe for your dog and most effective against the ticks common to your area. Do NOT buy over-the-counter products… many are ineffective, and some are downright toxic. Your vet will consider age, size, health, and other factors to determine the best medication.

After any outdoor activity, do a tick check as soon as you get indoors. Work through your dog’s coat with a flea comb and carefully rub your hands over his complete body to look and feel all over for suspicious bumps and creepy crawlies. When ticks are engorged with blood, they are visibly swollen and purplish, but unfed ticks will resemble tiny brown scabs and are easy to miss. Newly attached ticks are easy to overlook, so examine your dog closely, paying special attention to the paws, face, ears (both inside and out), mouth area, and genitals—although ticks can attach anywhere. If you see a tick, don’t panic or make any assumptions. Most ticks do not carry infection, and tests have verified that even if they are infected, they only begin transmitting disease if they are allowed to remain attached to feed for sustained periods of time, but it is important to remove them immediately. Do NOT try to burn, smother, or otherwise get a tick to “back out.” Also do not attempt to remove a tick with your fingers. These methods do not work, and can cause the tick to regurgitate more potential pathogens into the dog’s skin.

You can use tweezers to remove a tick, but an inexpensive, easy-to-use tick remover called “Ticked Off”, works much better. I suggest having a couple of these on hand “just in case.” You can find them in most pet stores and at Amazon on- line. For info on this ingenious device, go to www.tickedoff.com or call the company toll free at 800-642-2485.

If you do not have a commercial tick remover, using a sharp tweezers, grasp the tick as close to where it is embedded in the skin as possible. Do NOT grasp the tick by its body. Pull slowly and steadily, directly out. Do not jerk, twist or wiggle the tick. Use steady pressure to make the tick release its hold and allow you to remove it intact. Be patient if this takes a little time. Check to make sure all of the tick has been removed, and once you have removed it, don’t just toss it into the garbage or down the kitchen sink. Ticks are very tough little parasites…they have even been known to survive being flushed down the toilet. The best solution is drowning in alcohol.

If you use a vet-approved preventative product, do daily body checks, and remove any tick from your dog immediately, both you and your dog should cruise through the tick season without serious problems.

Was there ever a dog that praised his fleas?

Fleas and ticks sadly are a part of life for most dogs during warm weather months. Fleas are tiny wingless insects with an extremely hard outer shell that makes them difficult to kill, and, being exceptionally prolific, they can multiply to thousands in a short time. The tireless flea can jump 10,000 times without stopping; its flat body allows it to move easily through fur, and its powerful legs come with “rakes”, which help it hang on to the hair of its host. During the winter months, fleas are usually dormant, residing in well-protected hideaways that resist cold weather, but once things start looking sunnier, they emerge from their resting places, eagerly looking for any warm-blooded creature that happens by. Once fleas finds a tasty dog, they have a two-part mission—to suck blood and lay eggs. The dog enables them to survive and reproduce.

Mark Twain is credited with saying that “it’s a good thing for a dog to have a flea or two—it keeps his mind off being a dog.” The fact is that If you find a flea( or two) on your dog, you can be sure that there are many more, and fleas make any dog’s life miserable and can quickly cause a long lasting infestation in your home, creating a nightmare for both two legs and four legs.

What purpose do they have? You can’t swat them like a fly; you can’t squish them like a cockroach…they just bite and jump away, so why do they exist? What purpose do they have? As Sarah Kane asks, “Was there ever a dog that praised his fleas?” Obviously the answer is NO, and there has never been a human who praised fleas either. VCA Animal Hospital estimates that a dog with 25 fleas gets bitten 600 times a day, causing major discomfort, but fleas also cause skin allergies and anemia and potentially transmit tapeworms.

The American Veterinary Medical Association reports that flea-related diseases account for more than a third of the total cases they treat in small companion animals, and urge responsible caregivers to use flea (and tick) preventatives BEFORE they have a problem. For some reason, many caregivers seem to react to fleas AFTER the fact. They tend to treat pets when they see fleas, and then stop if they no longer see fleas, which results in a frustrating ongoing cycle of re-infestation. Flea larvae burrow into cool, dark places like carpeting and crevices along walls where they feed on adult flea feces and other organic debris, and since flea pupa can remain dormant for more than a year, prevention is definitely better than cure.

An array of commercial products is available to rid your dog of fleas, or prevent them from taking up residence in the first place, but consult your vet about easy-to- use preventative treatments and remedies. Millions of people purchase over-the-counter products believing they couldn’t be sold unless they were proven to be safe. Not so: they are often in-effective, and sometimes toxic. Talk to your veterinarian about a safe, effective plan of attack, and once the choice is made, be consistent in its application. If you forget a scheduled treatment, your dog is at risk. Keep a reminder system on your refrigerator. Or phone. Implementation of some relatively easy strategies can protect everyone in your household, both human and animal, from these nasty parasites.

“The flea, though he may kill none, he does all the harm he can.” John Donne

Cold Weather Brings About Dangers

The leaves are changing colors, cooler weather is setting in. It is time to change the antifreeze, wage war on the little mice moving in from the fields in search of warmer housing, and stock up on candy for Halloween. This beautiful time of year is enjoyed by everyone, both two legged, and four legged, but also brings its share of potential dangers for the four legs under your care.

  • Since there’s less daylight this time of year, it is more likely that dog walks will sometimes take place at dusk or even after dark. Be sure that both you and your dog are visible. Reflective accessories provide an effective way to keep both you and your dog safe and always carry a lighted flashlight.
  • If you have young kids, you probably have school-related items lying around that dogs see as chew toys. Glue sticks, pencils, and magic markers may be low in toxicity but are not edible, and you could end up with a sick dog, and plastic shards from a gnawed marker or glue stick or wood splinters from chewed pencils can harm your dog’s mouth or innards. Play dough and silly putty can definitely cause damage. Keep out of paw’s reach!
  • Most antifreeze/coolants contain ethylene glycol, which is highly toxic to dogs. It has a sweet taste and is readily consumed by animals. It is fast acting and results in kidney failure and possible death. Just small amounts can be fatal if ingested. Products that contain propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol are considered safer than the traditional antifreeze, but should be kept out of reach of pets (and children.) Dispose of old antifreeze in a sealed container; don’t hose it down the driveway, and if you suspect that your pet has consumed even a small amount of antifreeze, contact your veterinarian immediately.
  • Rodenticides cause severe bleeding, and kidney failure. There are no safe rodenticides, and whether out of hunger, boredom, or just curiosity, pets will consume these products, so if you use them, be sure to put them in places inaccessible to your pets. They can kill!
  • Both kids and dogs enjoy playing in the colorful piles of raked-up leaves, but these leaves can quickly accumulate moisture, bacteria and mold, and ingestion of them can cause digestive upsets including vomiting, diarrhea, and a decrease in appetite. Dried leaves are often burned as part of fall’s cleanup, and curious dogs should be kept separated from this activity.
  • Freestanding heaters can be tipped over by rambunctious pets and pose a hazard, and can be a danger for your pets. Make sure you close doors on your fireplaces or block off any fire pits to keep your pet protected, and be sure you turn off any portable heater in your home every time you leave the house in order to keep your pet safe from potential accidents.
  • It’s mushroom season, and although most mushrooms have little or no toxicity, the few that are highly toxic can cause life-threatening problems in pets. Unfortunately, it is difficult to distinguish which are which, so the best solution is to keep pets from areas where any mushrooms might be growing. Our household pet, Cooper, found mushrooms in his little fenced yard and, despite the fact that he threw them up, he was one very sick pup for several weeks. Seek immediate vet care if you suspect that your dog has chewed on mushrooms.
  • With colder weather, many pet caregivers stop worrying about flea and tick infestations. The truth is that fleas can be more prevalent in the fall than at any other time of the year, as they are frantically seeking warm bodies and other warm places to feed and exist. Ticks have been abundant this summer, and they can hibernate and survive very cold weather. Another major nuisance this fall has been mosquitoes, and they pose serious health risks, with the potential to transmit life-threatening diseases such as heartworm. Be diligent in the consistent use of flea, tick, and heartworm prevention products.

Our companion animals depend on humans to keep them safe, healthy and happy, and we will all enjoy a wonderful fall if we just follow a few guidelines.


It’s Time to Get Serious

I recently reminded caregivers that pet parasites are alive and well…. Now it is time to get serious… REALLY serious. Often the small things in life create the biggest problems, and parasites may be small, but they can cause big problems for your dog. Humans have death and taxes…most dogs are afflicted with parasites at some point in their lives. Almost all puppies are born with roundworm infection, and roundworm is the most common internal parasite in any age dog simply because it is spread from the mother, or can be picked up in contaminated soil. Sometimes roundworms can be spotted in a dog’s stools, looking like wiggling pieces of spaghetti, but who looks at a dog’s bathroom deposits?

Yuk! Checking your dog’s feces is certainly not glamorous, but you can get valuable information about his health from the color, odor, consistency, contents, and amount of his poop. Usually a healthy poop is well-formed, firm but not hard, moist, and doesn’t fall apart when picked up. Various medical conditions can affect the stool, so if your dog’s poop strays from the norm for a day or two, it may not be serious, and even mucus or blood doesn’t mean that your dog is dying, but it definitely warrants a visit to the vet, and whether or not you see worms doesn’t mean that parasites are not infecting your dogs:

  • Hookworms can cause significant illness as they have sharp teeth that tear into the lining of the intestine, and they actually feed on the animal’s blood, which can cause anemia.
  • Whipworms are tough to diagnose because even a fecal exam may miss them since they do not come out in every stool, but intermittently.
  • Tapeworms can sometimes be seen by checking your pet’s bottom. Look for rice-shaped tapeworm segments squirming on the hair near the dog’s anus. Most pets that have tapeworms got them originally from infected fleas.
  • Heartworm is one of the most damaging of all parasites and heartworm larvae enters an animal through a mosquito bite, and the mosquitoes are already numerous, meaning that it’s likely to be a huge parasite infection this year!
  • Other parasites that are sometimes found in a fecal exam are protozoan parasites, coccidia, and giardia, a very insidious parasite that is found mostly in stagnant water, but it can pop up in lakes and ponds.

It’s time to get serious. Do not wait until you see a flea or find a tick. And yes, the ticks are already active! We removed ticks from a new rescue dog just this last week, and even if you see no evidence of worm infestation, regular fecal samples should be checked regularly to determine what, if any, parasite is present. Protecting your pet from internal parasites is a vital part of responsible pet care because, although they may be puny, they can wreak havoc on your dog’s health. We do not recommend buying over- the- counter wormers or flea and tick preventatives because many of the generic products are either too harsh or may be ineffective, and some are downright dangerous! Trust your vet to help you choose the products that will be most effective in eliminating any problems. Fleas, ticks and worms can all be defeated with preparation, vigilance, and treatment but you must be serious, really serious!

It’s Spring Fever for Internal Parasites

Mark Twain said, “It’s spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you’ve got it, you want—oh, you don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!” The rising temperatures, sunshine, and warm breezes make us all feel good —we truly do have spring fever. However, the warm weather brings more than just flowers. It signals the beginning of parasite season for our pets, and these parasites can rob your pets of needed nutrition and cause serious organ disease. Biting insects become more active, and they do know what they want…warm bodies, so it is important to take precautions to prevent and treat and protect your pets from parasites.

Heartworm disease is a life-threatening disease that is spread by mosquito bites, and spring brings a resurgence of these disease carrying insects. Mosquito bites cause more than itchy bumps; they can actually threaten your pet’s life by transmitting a very serious infectious illness caused by parasites named Dirofilaria immitis, which, in their immature stage, are carried by mosquitoes. They are injected into your pet while the mosquito is feeding, and these immature worms migrate through the body, eventually reaching the heart and lungs, where, in about six months, can grow as long as a foot in length. Every time your pet is bitten by a mosquito, there is the possibility that the animal is exposed to heartworms.

Dogs with heartworm disease may cough, lose weight, be weak, have trouble breathing, collapse and die. A simple blood test can identify heartworm disease, and treatment is expensive and potentially risky, so It is much easier and safer to keep your pets on effective preventatives that are available from your veterinarian. Do not use over-the-counter products, as some are not safe.

At the same time as your dog is tested for heartworm, he should also be screened for intestinal parasites including tapeworms, hookworms, roundworms, and whipworms, and protozoan parasites such as giardia. These parasites rob your dog of nutrition and can cause diarrhea and gastrointestinal bleeding. Testing is simple and cheap…just take a fecal sample in to be checked. A little prevention will go a long way to keeping your pets healthy and happy.

Fleas and ticks can be present year-round, but their populations tend to increase drastically in the spring time, and carry various diseases including Lyme disease, and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Fleas can also transmit diseases such as tapeworms, and by the time you see one flea, you can be sure that you are faced with an invasion!. Again prevention is better than cure!

Now back to spring fever, and, as Twain said, maybe you don’t quite know what you do want, but you can be sure your dog knows what she wants… your love, and maybe a homemade treat. Your dog’s “heart will ache” for these Peanut Butter Dog Biscuits:

  • 2 cups flour, preferably whole wheat, but white is okay
  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • 1 ¼ cups peanut butter
  • ¾ cup water (may need a little more)
  • 3 Tablespoons honey
  1. Mix all ingredients together until they form a ball… using your hands is messy, but is the easiest method. If dough is too crumbly, add a bit more water.
  2. Break off small hunks and place on lightly greased baking sheet.
  3. Flatten with a fork (or your thumb) and bake at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes.
  4. It may take a few minutes longer, but watch that bottoms do not burn.

Prevent Those Tiny Critters from Causing Harm

Sixteenth century poet John Donne once said, “The flea, though he may kill none, he does all the harm he can.” Parasites are definitely unwelcome guests at any time of year, whether they are microscopic bacteria or blood-engorged ticks the size of a pea, and these pests are more than nuisances…many carry diseases that can impair or even threaten your dog’s life. It is estimated that Americans spend more than a billion dollars a year in an attempt to get rid of parasites from their pets and homes, and when these jumping, biting pests appear in the spring, most pet caregivers rush out to buy preventative treatment in an effort to curb “the harm they can do.” However, as temperatures drop, many seem to feel that they can stop worrying about flea and tick infestations. The truth is that fleas can be more prevalent in October and November than at any other time of year. Throughout the summer, flea populations have increased and are peaking in the fall, and as the weather cools down, the pesky critters instinctively seek out warm bodies and other warm places to feed and exist and lay eggs. Fleas can lay dormant for long periods in the larva and pupa stages until environmental conditions rouse them, and unless flea preventatives are used well into the winter. Problems such as flea bite dermatitis and possibly tapeworms may develop.

Ticks have also been abundant all summer, and they are still alive and well, even though cooler weather has arrived. Ticks are tough, and can hibernate and survive very cold weather, and although they probably won’t invade your home like fleas do, they can bring diseases into the house by clinging to your clothing or your pets. Ticks have become synonymous with Lyme disease, but most ticks do not carry this disease, and even if they are infected, they only begin transmitting disease if they are allowed to remain attached and feed for sustained periods of time, so it is important to examine your dog every day to locate and immediately remove any ticks. Work through his coat with a fine-toothed comb, and use your hands to feel all over for any suspicious bumps and creepy crawlers. When ticks are engorged with blood, they are visibly swollen and purplish, but unfed ticks will resemble tiny brown scabs, and are easy to miss. There are effective products to deal with both ticks and fleas, but DO NOT buy over-the-counter products which may be toxic to your pet. Always check with your veterinarian before using any parasite prevention product! Other parasites that drain a dog’s vitality can be quickly identified by a fecal sample. Fecal samples should be taken in to your vet regularly, so if a bug is found, it can be treated and eliminated. It is easier to expend a little extra time, energy, and money to prevent parasites from causing major harm.

Mosquitoes have been terrorizing both humans and canines this fall, and mosquitoes are the culprits in transmitting potentially lethal heartworm. Unlike fleas and ticks that live on your dog, mosquitoes just drop by for a quick meal, and then are gone, but they have the potential to transmit life-threatening diseases such as heartworm which can be fatal to an animal. We encourage responsible pet caregivers to be diligent in the consistent use of VET APPROVED flea, tick and heartworm prevention products.

Everyone is afflicted by “the fleas” of life”—you know, colds, bills, broken bones, and little nuisances of one sort or another. Let’s strive to eliminate all the fleas—from our dogs, and from our lives.

—William Styron


In the good old summertime

Summer is a time for both you and your dog to enjoy the sunshine and outdoors, but along with the fun, there are some dangers for your animal. To keep your companion animals safe this summer:

  • NEVER leave him in a parked car. The temperature in a car can reach 120 degrees in just minutes even on a moderately warm day. If you see an animal in a parked car, alert the management of the store, and if the owner does not respond promptly, call the police. Take a look at this public awareness video by Dr. Ernie Ward: http://youtu.be/JbOcCQ-y3OY.
  • Summer is often when people fertilize their lawns and work in their gardens. Plant food, fertilizer, and insecticides can be fatal if your dog ingests them. In addition, more than 700 plants can cause harmful effects in animals…complete lists of toxic plants can be found at www.aspca.org/pet-care/poison-control/plant-list-dogs.
  • Heartworm disease is transmitted by mosquitoes which are abundant this year, so be sure that your dog is taking heartworm prevention medication prescribed by your veterinarian.
  • Dogs can’t perspire and can only dispel heat by panting and through the pads of their feet, so it is important to provide plenty of water and shade while they’re enjoying the great outdoors so that they can stay cool.
  • Dogs need exercise even when it is hot, but extra care needs to be taken to limit exercise to early morning or evening hours. Keep in mind that cement and asphalt get very hot and can burn your pet’s paws.
  • Fleas and ticks are another summertime threat! Use only flea and tick treatments recommended by your veterinarian. Some over-the-counter products can be toxic, even when used according to instructions.
  • Pets can get sunburned too, and your dog may require sunscreen on her nose and ear tips. Those with light-colored noses or light-colored fur on their ears are particularly vulnerable to sunburn (and skin cancer). Don’t shave the coat of a long-haired dog too closely for his “summer coat.” Hair helps insulate and control body temperature, and exposed skin is more susceptible to sunburn.
  • Avoid taking your dog to crowded summer events such as rock concerts or fairs. The loud noises and crowds, combined with the heat, can be stressful and dangerous for pets. For their well-being, leave them home!

Charles Newing remembers the good old summer time with nostalgia, recalling a time when he and his big old dog just sat on the front porch, enjoying each other’s company:

Are rocking chairs in this country, I’m asking myself, being rocked on summer evenings as much as they once were? Or do they stand abandoned and motionless on deserted porches across the land? Do humans still find a place under the shade trees to take naps with their beloved four-legged companions, now that the air conditioned homes offer relief from the pesky flies and blistering heat? How often do they engage in a game of fetch- the- stick, or bring- me –the- ball now that they have their laptops and i-pods and cell phones?

Emily Dickinson, in a letter from 1856, noticed the awesomeness of summer, writing, “If God had been here this summer, and had seen the things that I have seen—I guess that He would think His Paradise superfluous.” I can’t brag in this same fashion about our summer this year, because of all the rain, (and the humungous size of the mosquitoes) but we have been so busy that we haven’t really taken time to enjoy much of anything.

I seldom take time to walk around the block with my dog, much less rock on the front porch….and now that I think about it, I don’t have a front porch any more.  But even without a front porch, (and no rocking chair), the world won’t stop spinning if I ignore all my “to-do” lists and obligations (and turn off my cell phone) for a little while. The good old summer time will be gone too quickly, so come on, fella, let’s go out under the shady elm tree and take a good long nap…then maybe we can have a game of fetch.

Spring 2014

The calendar officially proclaims that IT’S SPRING, and hopefully the long, bitter weather is behind us.  Spring is a great time of the year, and both humans and canines are ready to feel the warm sunshine, with grass on the ground instead of ice and snow. However, spring brings hazards for our companion animals, who are restless from being cooped up, and are eager to shake off the blahs of winter.

  • There are new smells and new places to explore which means that normally well-behaved dogs will suddenly become escape artists and dig or climb their way out of their safe yards to find themselves lost with no clue about returning home. Please be sure that you have up-to-date identification on your dog. We also recommend micro-chipping your animal.
  • In spring, depending on your dog’s breed, you can expect more shedding as the coat changes. Consistent daily brushing is necessary, and remember, in a pet lover’s home, a few dog hairs can be classified as condiments! (I doubt anyone ever died from a dog hair in his soup!)
  • If you have an intact pet, he will really become restless. The alarming statistics of unwanted offspring and animal overpopulation should convince you to spay or neuter, and it is also important to do it for the health and safety of your pet.
  • Spring is a good time to schedule a wellness check. Hopefully the vet will give her 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.
  • We used to believe that heartworm was a problem only in the Southern states. Not true. This mosquito-borne parasite is a definite threat to your animals, and while it is true that heartworm can be treated if caught early enough, the treatment is harsh and is also expensive. Get your dog tested for heartworm and on a preventative provided by your veterinarian.
  • Don’t wait until you see a flea to begin treatment…fleas are more than a nuisance, and bother your dog with more than allergies and itchy skin, and by the time you see one, you have an invasion of these nasty little creatures.  If a flea swallowed by your dog contains tapeworm larvae, the dog may get tapeworms, and other diseases may also be transmitted by the fleas.  Once your dog is infested, the problem extends to the home and yard, and is more difficult to treat. The smart thing to do is to treat your animals BEFORE fleas are present. There are many safe products that will eliminate flea problems. DO NOT use over-the-counter products…many are toxic. Discuss your options with your veterinarian.
  • It is equally important to protect your dog (and you) from ticks, which can carry and transmit several diseases including Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain Fever. Again prevention is much easier than treatment. Some products are effective against both fleas and ticks. Again talk to your vet about preventative measures, and how, by consistent implementation of relatively easy strategies, you can protect both humans and canines in your household from these unwelcome parasites.  Controlling and eliminating fleas, ticks, and parasites require energy, time, and money. The best control is always prevention.
  • If you use herbicides or pesticides on your lawn, be sure to restrict your pets from the treated areas for at least 24 hours, preferably longer. These chemicals are toxic to your pet.

By taking just a few precautions, spring will be a fabulous time for both you and your dog!