Getting Too Hot Under the (Dog) Collar

“Whew! Dahling – it’s like an oven in this car!  I can’t possibly wait for you here.”  Zsa Zsa Dogbor was indignant that her owner would even think about leaving her in the car while she went in for her hair appointment.  Summer is here and some owners forget that their pets need to stay cool!  Zsa Zsa was chatting later with her friend, Schnitzel, about this and he agreed that it is a scary time of year for dogs, especially.  “Ja, dis is da wurst time for dogs.  Sometimes, I feel like a ‘hot dog’ bratwurst in da bun”, said the little dachshund.  “Every year, dey hear da warnings, and every year, some dog owners let their pets suffer in the heat.  Why, why, why do dey do dat?” 

“Oh Dahling”, Zsa Zsa cooed, “some owners have memories that are shorter than your legs – we have to keep reminding them about the dangers of heat stress for us.  My cousin, Ilsa, almost died from being left in a car while her owner went for lunch.  Can you imagine?  She was stuck there, with no air conditioning, and no idea why she was left there or for how long.  She panicked and that made it even worse.  Here is what I learned from my PetFocus vet after they saved her…. 

“It’s Ok – I’ll only be gone five minutes.”  That’s what Ilsa’s owner said when she left her.  The human was going into Tim’s to pick up a coffee – but, she met a friend and decided to have lunch and forgot about Ilsa.  That happens so often.  Five minutes becomes twenty-five.  Honestly, I don’t know how any human could forget about me for a moment, but it happens!  The scary thing is that Ilsa started to be stressed in only 10 minutes.  Her human left all the windows open a crack and left her some water but it didn’t help.  She still suffered from heat stress. 

“How hot is too hot?”, asked Schnitzel.    

Well, even on a typical summer day at 21OC, temperatures inside a parked car can reach 38OC and on a really hot day of 32OC, they can hit a whopping 60OC!  Oh Dahling, we literally cook at those temperatures.  People don’t realize that inside temperatures can be 10–20OC higher than outdoors within minutes. Of course, Dahling, I don’t sweat!  Actually, no dogs and cats can sweat like humans and most of us have heavy fur coats. I don’t like to talk about it as it is not very ladylike, but we cool down mainly by panting and through sweat glands on our feet. The other problem, which Ilsa had, is that as it got hotter, she panicked which made things even worse.  Poor baby was barking and pacing and no one noticed.  

“Ach, nein!”  said Schnitzel.  “Dat is terrible.”  He wondered… 

How can you tell if a panting animal in a car needs immediate help?”  

Zsa Zsa explained – Oh, it is not at all ladylike – some signs of heat stroke are extreme panting, drooling, deep red or bluish tongue, trouble breathing… Ilsa threw up (how embarrassing), and she was stumbling and weak and her muscles had tremors.  When her owner finally came back, her eyes were glassy and she had a “far away” stare… it was awful, dahling.  The vet said that the next step would have been a seizure, collapse or loss of consciousness.  Even worse, after that, she might have gone into a coma or even died! 

“What if someone had seen her in the car?  What should they have done?”  asked Schnitzel.

This is a difficult question to answer – they could call 911 or the local animal control agency right away.  They should write down the license plate and a description of the car. They could also try to find the owner in nearby buildings – ask stores to page the car owner.  If they think that it is urgent, they could get another person to check too and then do whatever they can to get the poor baby out of the car.  They will need to go to the vet right away.  They should be moved to an air-conditioned car or building and they should be wetted down with “cool” (never cold or icy) water for a few minutes.  Give them some cool water to drink.  

Other things to think about in the heat are that pets can get sunburned too – Zsa Zsa said that she never sits in the sun as she is so concerned about her perfect skin but some dogs are taken places where there is no shade.  Cats, she said, are sometimes better at finding shady places and dogs need that too.  It is also important to make sure that pets don’t have to walk a long way on hot pavement – oh dahling, my poor feet. 

Don’t make excuses. Don’t take pets out for walks or runs during the hottest time of day.  Leave your pets at home if you know you will need to make any stops and NEVER leave them unattended in a parked car.  Paying attention to this may save their life.

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Dogs on Thin Ice

Kapoodle here! I wanted to talk about something that sadly happens every year during our freezing winters – dogs falling through thin ice.

For us dogs, it’s harder to differentiate between where it is safe to walk on and where it is not safe, and sometimes when we are used to being on a leash, we tend to just run free, not worrying about any of those dangerous things that are out there. It’s your human’s job to make sure that you are monitored at all times when you are outside, even at an off leash park as many off leash parks have ponds in or near by them. If you do happen to fall through ice, your owner should call the local fire department right away, as it is not necessarily safe for your human to get to you. However if your human is able to get you out without a hitch, or if you’re able to swim your way out of it, then your human should take the following steps prior to going to your PetFocus Veterinary Hospital. They should:

  • Take note of whether or not you’re shivering. If you’re shivering, then you are losing body heat, which could mean that hypothermia is a possibility.
  • Dry you off right away, and try to warm you up, wrapping you up in a towel or warm blanket (if nothing else their jacket) is a good way to keep your body heat in.  I love that part at any time.
  • After they have you safe and warm, they should rush you to your PetFocus Veterinarian to ensure that your body temperature hasn’t plummeted drastically.

Of course, it is not a bad idea for your human to have a basic idea of First Aid for situations such as this, and if your family goes for a lot of walks to off leash parks, some good items to keep in the vehicle are warm blankets, heating packs, a first aid kit, and a list of emergency contacts – this is just for the winter time, and should be changed for the summer time. The best prevention is to never give us the chance to end up on thin ice. Avoid dog parks that have ponds in the winter time, and double leash us when out walking – it’s always better to never have to deal with the situation in the first place. Play safe!

Canine Holiday Hazards with Schnitzel the worrisome Dachshund

Oh Christmas is coming, and it can be such a scary time of year for dogs. Did you know about all the different hazards out there right now? There are so many things we can get into such as:

Alcoholic Beverages: Alcohol is around during the holiday season and can be easily accessible to dogs; we tend to just follow our noses! The effects of alcohol in pets are similar to those in humans – it causes depression of our central nervous system which causes us to become drowsy, and lose coordination.  I hate that!  If we are exposed to a larger amount of alcohol, it can cause a greater depression of the nervous system, potentially causing slowed breathing and heart rate, as well as a drop in body temperature. Even if a dog doesn’t die from the acute effects of alcohol, it can cause problems in the kidney and liver.

Source: http://www.natural-wonder-pets.com/how-harmful-is-alcohol-to-dogs-and-cats.html

Human food: There are a lot of different kinds of food that humans can eat but we can’t – even some really yummy things! All of these types of food smell delicious to us, and sometimes our humans don’t know that they are toxic for us.  Garlic and onion can cause hemolytic anemia in pets, and which is a very severe issue. Grapes and raisins can cause G.I upset, all the way up to kidney failure – I love grapes but they are not safe for dogs at all!  Chocolate is of course toxic as we learned before from our friend Indiana Bones. And did you know that avocado can cause G.I upset?  Who knew?

Christmas Trees and decorations: These can be dangerous because of the low hanging ornaments, and strings of lights.  As much as I like to play with some of those decorations, our humans should always try to hang the ornaments out of our reach and to cover the wires wherever possible. Also real trees require tree food, or preservatives (which are often added to the water) – they can cause G.I upset if we have a little drink from that tree holder-water bowl. Garland and potpourris can be dangerous as well. Garland can get caught up in the intestines if ingested, or potentially be a choking hazard, and potpourris can be an irritant if we eat it… it smells so good…

Antifreeze: Antifreeze is dangerous if ingested, and only a small amount can be lethal to a small animal. Spills should always be cleaned up immediately, and if your human even suspects exposure they should take you in right away. The ingredient in antifreeze that makes it so dangerous is ethylene glycol, and it can cause some very serious damage to the central nervous system, as well as damage to the kidneys and liver. Yikes!

So there you have it, a list of some very serious hazards that your human may have around the home. If your human has any questions, they should always seek the advice of their PetFocus Veterinarian. I hope all of you stay safe during the holidays!

Sources: http://www.vetinfo.com/dtoxin.html

Tinsel Trouble

Kit: Hey Catrina! Have your humans started putting up all the Christmas decorations!? I love that giant tree to climb with all those shiny things, and the cozy stockings to sleep in. Not to mention the warm fireplace to sleep in front of, the cookie house to chew on, all the food I can steal and I always get gifts from my humans because I’m always a purrfect cat! Oh! It’s just my favorite holiday of the year! You know, the best part is once the humans open up all their presents, we get to play in those boxes and with all those ribbons, and all that tinsel, it’s absolutely amazing. Don’t you agree, Catrina?

 Catrina: Well, I agree for the most part, but my family doesn’t have tinsel anymore, not since last year. I was pretty confused because they put it all over the tree, and it was just the most beautiful toy I had ever seen. It would shine in the glow of that tree, and I was certain that it was my Christmas gift, they just gave it to me early. So, I ate a few pieces and I was pretty proud of myself because my humans never even noticed! But the next day, I started to feel sick.  I was vomiting, I completely lost my appetite, my stomach was hurting, and I began to excessively drool. I knew it couldn’t be the wonderful tinsel that I had eaten the day before because that stuff was magical, and Christmas magic doesn’t do that to cats! My humans were concerned and rushed me into the PetFocus location at Petworks. Dr. Swinemar explained to my humans that I had a “foreign body” and that the only way to fix it was to surgically remove it. Yikes! I thought it would be the worst Christmas after that, but it actually turned out better than expected.  I wasn’t allowed to move around very much because of my stitches, but my humans doted on me more than usual, and I got all sorts of fun toys in my stocking. The only downside was they took down all my beautiful tinsel toys; they didn’t even leave me one. 

 Kit: Wow, that’s awful. I didn’t realize that tinsel was so dangerous. I had heard about Cat Albert eating all those Poinsettias – you know that crazy Maine Coon, he’ll eat anything. He was feeling pretty sick that evening and he had to find out the hard way that Poinsettias, although they are not deadly, they are toxic, and will cause gastrointestinal upset. My humans always talk to their PetFocus Veterinarian if they are unsure about what they are bringing into my home, and I’m glad because sometimes I just can’t help myself if they have flowers on the table.

Winter Worries from the Fashion Experts

Liz Claybone: Liz Claybone here!  Your fashion forward cocker spaniel!!!  I just wanted to let everyone know about all the salt on the sidewalks that is soon to come. All of us dogs love going for walks but in the wintertime it becomes almost painful. The salt they use to breakdown ice on the sidewalks dries out our poor paw pads. Though that may mean a trip to one of my favourite places, a PetFocus Clinic, it also means sore poochie paws. But… for all of us who love fashion, our humans can pick up some winter boots at pet stores or other retailers who carry pet supplies that are specially made to fit our paws.  They shield our sensitive paw pads from cold weather and the salty sidewalk. Of course we will walk like a duck uncontrollably at first, but after that there’s just no stopping us!!  There are also creams you can use to help shield the paw, and moisturize, it’s like a manicure/pedicure!  What do you think CATrina, is there anything you’d like to add?

Catrina: Hey Liz, it’s almost purrrfect, but don’t forget that outdoor cats can suffer from the same problem. You also forgot to mention that if we are outside too long we can suffer from hypothermia.  Even though I’m a Russian Blue, I would prefer my toes and nose not to be the same color!  When the temperature drops you should keep your pets inside as much as possible, outdoor cats should be kept inside, and dogs should be let outside to do their business for short periods of time, short haired dogs should have jackets, and all dogs should wear some sort of paw protection as you mentioned!  If they have to be outdoors, then they should be provided with a heated doghouse or run for shelter. If owners have any questions about the best care of their pet during the winter they can go into any PetFocus Veterinary Hospital, they are always very helpful.

Trick or Treat?

Kapoodle: Hey Kit, did you hear what happened to Indie? You know, my buddy, Indiana Bones?  His humans brought home a whole lot of chocolate and a costume for him. He was pretty excited about the chocolate because they never let him have any, but not so keen about the costume… Who ever heard of a dog wearing a hot dog costume?   He noticed that they hid all those boxes of chocolates in the pantry, and he didn’t understand why they thought they needed to hide those things from him. Anyway, when the grown ups went to work, and the kids went to school, he broke into the pantry and decided to sample all of the different types of chocolates.  He said it was fabulous!  Some guys have all the luck!

Kit: Oh my gosh, Kapoodle!  Don’t his owners realize that wearing a hot dog costume is so last season!? And doesn’t he know that chocolate is toxic to him?

Kapoodle: Well, actually, his luck did change pretty fast.  He realized that after he ate all of that chocolate, he felt pretty ill and quite a bit of stomach upset. As soon as his owners got home and saw all the wrappers and boxes, they rushed him to the PetFocus Veterinary Group clinic at the DartmouthVeterinaryHospital – he is definitely lucky that he has such smart owners – they realized right away that it was an emergency. Sarah, the Registered Veterinary Technician (RVT) took very good care of him, and Dr. Robb told Indie’s owners that there is this chemical in chocolate, called Theobromine, that causes serious issues such as cardiac arrhythmias, epileptic seizures, internal bleeding, heart attacks, and can also be fatal.  And it doesn’t just affect dogs – it can affect other animals including cats!  Pretty scary, eh?  I’ve been reading more about it on these sites that Dr. Robb told Indie about:

http://www.healthypet.com/PetCare/PetCareArticle.aspx?title=A_Safe_Halloween

http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/pet-care-tips/halloween-safety-tips.aspx

Kit: Well I’m glad that he is okay, Kapoodle, and I hope that he learned a lesson from today. My tastes are too delicate for chocolate anyway – did you know that cats cannot taste sweetness?   And did you know that there are a lot more hazards at Halloween than most pets think. Decorative corn and pumpkin stems can cause tummy upset, and with doors constantly opening and closing, anyone could just run outside and get lost. Ooo… I don’t want to even think about what could happen out there with all those scary goblins and ghosts!

Kapoodle: Wow! I didn’t realize how many potential hazards there are during Halloween! It’s amazing how much our humans really need to pay attention to what pets can get into. Indiana Bones was pretty lucky – things could have been a lot worse for him had his humans not rushed him to a PetFocus clinic right away.

It’s the Whole Kit ‘n’ Kapoodle!

Kit:  Hey Kapoodle! Guess what? We are going to be VIPs! That means Very Important Pets! We will have our own blog and it’s going to be fantastic. We will talk about all the interesting things we do when our humans aren’t around, and we won’t even get sprayed with the water bottle for it. In fact, we will share some great tips that other humans might enjoy about what we eat, how we stay healthy and even some of the naughty things you get into! Oh! I smell catnip! Woo Hoo!

Kapoodle:  That sounds like so much fun, Kit! I can just imagine that if we do well on this, we can have all the treats that we want, oh, and car rides galore. We can also talk about all our closest friends, right? They get into all sorts of trouble and that might be helpful to talk about – like eating things that they shouldn’t and not looking after their teeth properly. I can’t wait to get started Kit!  I am so excited, I could… oh oh… I think I just did… ooops.

Kit:  That is so like a dog.  You just can’t handle excitement. Well, let’s just move along and introduce ourselves – I am Kit, the gorgeous and highly intelligent mascot cat from PetFocus, and that guy over there is, well, clearly a dog.  Yes, I admit it – he is my friend, Kapoodle, and we are going to be your guides to having happy healthy pets!  Check back with us in a week or so to see what pearls of wisdom we have to share.