What You Need to Know About the Long-term Effects of Pet Obesity

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Did you know you may be literally killing your pet with kindness? That’s right, those daily treats you give your pet may give the illusion that all is well, but the reality is that the extra treats and the resulting extra weight are causing lasting damage to your pet’s internal organs, bones, and joints — some of which can never be remedied even with a change in diet and exercise.

Worried yet? According to veterinarians across the U.S., more obese pets than ever are showing up in their clinics and the trend does not appear to be slowing. It is not surprising that excess weight can take as much of a toll on an animal’s body as it does on a human’s body. While some of the effects of obesity can be reversed through attentive diet changes and increased physical activity, there is some damage that can only be mitigated by the change of habits. Some damage will remain for life, and the longer the excess weight is on the body, the more severe the damage to the body will be.

Research is the first step toward making the changes that will grant you and your pet longer lives in which you can enjoy each other’s company. Here then, are some ways to identify whether your pet is overweight or obese, along with a few beginning steps on how to reverse the damage before it’s too late.

What Kinds of Changes Should You Look Out For?

Many pet owners will not notice their dog or cat has been gradually putting on extra weight until the animal starts slowing down significantly. More often it is the animal’s regular groomer or veterinarian that will notice your pet’s physical changes. To do a check on your pet, feel around its midsection while your pet is standing. The ribs and spine should be easy to feel, and on most pets there should be a tucked in, or slight hourglass shape to the waist. If you cannot easily feel your dog or cat’s ribs or spine, and the tucked-in waist has thickened considerably enough to give the animal a more tubular shape, it is time for you to consult with your veterinarian about a weight loss regimen for your pet.

What Harm Can a Few Pounds Do?

According to recent findings by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP), more than 45 percent of dogs and 58 percent of cats can be classified as overweight or obese. A gain of even a pound or two of additional fat on some dogs and cats can place significant stress on the body.

Some of the conditions that can occur as a result of excess weight are:

– Exercise intolerance, decreased stamina
– Respiratory compromise (breathing difficulty)
– Heat intolerance
– Hypertension (high blood pressure)
– Diabetes or insulin resistance
– Liver disease or dysfunction
– Osteoarthritis (lameness)
– Increased surgical/anesthetic risk
– Lowered immune system function
– Increased risk of developing malignant tumors (cancer)

What Can Be Done to Alleviate the Damage?

In many cultures, the sharing of food is regarded as a loving gesture, but the most loving thing you can do for your overweight pet is to put it on a diet. This is the only way to ensure that your pet will have the best opportunity for a life that is full of activity and good health. Besides, there are lots of healthy treats available, and lots of loving gestures you can share with your pet without worrying about them leading to weight gain. Talk to your veterinarian about a good reduced-calorie food and exercise plan that will specifically benefit your pet’s age, weight and breed, and you will be on your way to getting your pet on the road to recovery before it is too late.

photo source: Pixabay

source: Pixabay

What’s Are the Most Common Household Toxins for Pets?

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As a pet owner, you want to keep your furry friend safe and healthy, but your pet’s curious nature can sometimes get him into trouble. Animals investigate the world with their mouths and can accidentally ingest poisonous substances.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) Animal Poison Control Center is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, to advise pet owners about potential pet toxicities. To help you take precautions and ensure your pet stays safe, the ASPCA has compiled a list of the most-frequent offenders, many of which can likely be found in and around your home.

Pets and over-the-counter medications

In 2018, the ASPCA received 213,773 calls, almost 20% of which were related to ingestion of over-the-counter medications, such as ibuprofen, naproxen, cold medications, and herbal supplements. Even a medication that does not require a prescription can be extremely dangerous to your pet. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen and naproxen can cause acute kidney failure and should never be given to pets. Do not try to treat your pet’s medical problems without consulting an AAHA-accredited veterinarian, and never give him a medication that is not approved for veterinary use.

Human prescription medications and pets

ADHD medications, antidepressants, and heart medications were most commonly ingested by pets, although your pet can suffer significant side effects from any human medication he eats. Keep all medications, both prescription and over the counter, safely stored inside a medicine cabinet or cupboard or up high where your pet cannot reach them, and ask all your visitors to do the same.

What foods are toxic to pets?

Many foods that are safe for people can be deadly to pets. Keep the following toxic foods away from your beloved companion:

– Chocolate
– Xylitol (often found in sugar-free gum)
– Macadamia nuts
– Grapes and raisins
– Onions
– Garlic
– Alcohol
– Caffeinated drinks
– Raw yeast dough
– Raw or undercooked meat

Never leave food where your pet can reach it, and keep pets out of the kitchen when children are eating to prevent them from gobbling up dropped food.

What about prescription veterinary products?

Prescription animal medications are often flavored to increase palatability, so pets may mistake them for treats and eat more than prescribed. Inquisitive pets may even eat pills that aren’t flavored, so keep all medications out of your pet’s reach. Remember, animals can chew through plastic bottles, so child-proof may not mean pet-proof.

What other household items are dangerous to my pet?

Products such as paint, glue, and cleaning chemicals are often left out on the assumption that pets won’t eat these bad-tasting substances. But sometimes pets lap up liquids because they feel good or have an interesting texture. Household products can contain dangerous chemicals, and some household glues expand in the stomach and can cause a life-threatening blockage.

Rodenticides

Products designed to kill rodents are particularly dangerous to pets, who may be tempted to eat the tasty bricks, granules, or pellets left out for mice and rats. Rodenticides kill rodents by causing internal bleeding, high calcium levels, brain swelling, or toxic gas production. Never put rat bait out where your pet can find it, and keep your pet confined to your yard to prevent him from eating your neighbors’ rodenticides.

Insecticides and pets

Ant baits, bug sprays, and foggers can be poisonous to your pet. Read labels to ensure you use these products properly and prevent pets from exposure during and after use. Store all insecticides on high shelves out of a pet’s reach.

Plants toxic to pets

Plants found in flower beds, vegetable gardens, and indoor planters and arrangements can be toxic to pets. Cats, who particularly like to munch on greenery, are sensitive to many plant types, but dogs can also be at risk. A complete list of toxic and nontoxic plants can be found on ASPCA’s website, but the most common toxic plants include:

– Autumn crocus
– Azalea
– Cyclamen
– Daffodils
– Dieffenbachia
– Hyacinth
– Kalanchoe
– Lily of the valley
– Lilies
– Oleander
– Sago palm
– Tulips

If your pet eats leaves, flowers, or stems, take him, along with a plant sample, to your AAHA-accredited veterinarian immediately. Although toxicity signs may not be apparent, removing poisonous material as soon as possible to prevent toxin absorption into the body is vital.

Garden products and pets

Many products used on lawns, gardens, and flower beds can cause toxicity in pets. Fertilizers made from bone meal or blood meal are tempting to pets and can cause pancreatitis, or may clump in the intestines or stomach and cause a blockage. Other fertilizers and herbicides applied to lawns also may contain toxic chemicals.
photo source: Pixabay
source: AAHA

Hot Weather Safety Tips for Pets

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As temperatures rise, everyone (and their pets) flock outside to spend time in the nice weather. But warmer weather can be rough on your pets if you’re not prepared. Hot weather-related conditions like heat stroke and dehydration are more common as temperatures rise, so it’s important to pay attention to the signs and use your judgment if it’s safe for your pet to be outdoors. Here are a few hot weather safety tips for pets.

Keep them cool

When the weather is hot, make sure your pet has plenty of options to stay cool. Cats and dogs only sweat through their paws, so it’s easy for them to overheat. Their primary method of cooling off is through their respiratory tract by panting (especially in dogs). Puppies and kittens have an even harder time self-regulating their temperature. Short-nosed (brachycephalic), overweight, and senior pets are just some of the groups that are at a higher risk of overheating and getting heat stroke.

If you’re spending time outside, set up a resting place in a shaded area, encourage your pets to take breaks when they’re playing, encourage them to rest in a raised bed that allows for air circulation underneath, or allow them to rest comfortably inside while you enjoy the sun.

You can also create frozen treats with a Kong or ice cube mold. It can be as simple as freezing water or broth (without onion or garlic) with yummy treats inside. This also aids in keeping your pet hydrated.

Keep them hydrated

Just like humans, cats and dogs can become dehydrated quickly in hot weather—and even a short amount of time outdoors can cause mild dehydration. Make sure to provide plenty of water around the house and bring water (and a bowl) with you if head outside. You can also boost hydration by feeding them canned food or adding water to dry kibble at each meal.

Watch out for signs that your pet is dehydrated, like:

Less energy
Dry nose or gums
Panting
Loss of appetite

Protect their paws

Walking on hot pavement can cause your pet’s paw pads to burn. If it hurts to touch the pavement with the back of your hand, it’s too hot for your pet’s paws. Try exercising your pet in the early morning or after the sun goes down to minimize the burn risk. If you need to be outside with your pet during the hottest parts of the day, consider investing in booties that will protect their paw pads from burns and blisters. Try to do as much of your walking on grass and dirt, as opposed to sidewalks and asphalt (which can get extremely hot!).

Keep the pests away

Spending time outside exposes your pet to more pests that can cause harm. Fleas and ticks thrive during warm temperatures, as do mosquitoes (which can carry and transmit heartworms to your dogs and cats). Make sure your pet is on a good, broad-spectrum parasite preventative medication. This includes indoor-only pets too, as parasites make their way inside through screens and even on the bottom of your shoes.

By The Zoetis Petcare Team

Where Fleas and Ticks Hide in the Fall?

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Fleas and ticks are a year-round nuisance for most of us but, when it comes to the infestations of our yards and our homes, the fall seems to be a particularly terrible season. Here are few areas fleas and ticks like to hide and how to best limit your pet’s exposure to these pesky parasites.

Leaf Piles

The autumn season is probably best known for the beautiful changes it brings to the colors of leaves just before they begin to fall to the ground. Though they may be a pretty sight and a blast for kids (or pets) to play in, leaf piles can also be a haven for fleas, which prefer to congregate in humid areas away from bright sunlight.

Solution: Rake up fallen leaves regularly and immediately bag and dispose of them in a secure trash receptacle.

Tall Grasses/Trees

Ticks love to climb up tall grasses so that they can grab onto a passing animal or human.

Solution: Mow your lawn regularly and trim back branches so they don’t jut out toward walking areas.

Outdoor Feeding/Sleeping Areas

Does your pet frequently sleep outdoors or do you leave out food and water bowls for them? Fleas and ticks recognize these high traffic areas—whether they are trafficked by your pet or a wild animal like a raccoon or possum—and lie in wait until they can latch onto a host.

Solution: Regularly clean out sleeping areas, especially if there are pillows inside. Also, if possible, remove food and water bowls after your pet uses them and/or before nighttime. Raccoons and possums are opportunistic feeders and will eat or drink anything left out. They also are frequently teeming with ticks and fleas.

What if My Pet Doesn’t Go Outdoors Much?

Even if your dog stays close to home, fleas and ticks are canny creatures, and they have ways of making it into your home and onto your pets, even with preventions in place. All it takes is a few fleas or ticks to get established in your yard before you have a full-scale infestation on your hands.

Be Proactive

Visit your veterinarian for advice on the best preventive medications and the safest way to use them. Your doctor will be able to show you the proper way to apply these flea and tick medicines for dogs and recommend just the right dose for your pet’s age and weight. Some people also choose flea and tick preventatives based on their personal preferences or the lifestyles of their pets.

photo source: Pixabay
source: Pet MD

Tips for Preventing Ear Infections in Dogs

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If your pup has floppy ears, allergies, or happens to be an avid swimmer, you’re probably no stranger to canine ear infections. Ear infections in dogs are not uncommon, but using simple, preventive tips can help stop ear infections from developing.

If you suspect your dog has an ear infection, call your vet. “Prompt veterinary care is essential to avoid more serious consequences such as a ruptured eardrum, middle or inner ear infection, and hearing loss,” says Dr. Alli Troutman, a holistic veterinarian at Integrative Veterinary Service in Brookfield, Wisconsin.

Symptoms of ear infections in dogs are hard to miss. “The affected dog is usually shaking his head frequently, may tilt his head with the sore ear usually on the ‘down’ side, and there is often a sour odor coming from the ear,” says Dr. Beth Boynton, Professor of Wellness at Western University College of Veterinary Medicine in Pomona, California. “It may look swollen, red, and full of moist discharge.”

Spare your dog some needless suffering and avoid the expense of extra vet trips with these safe and effective vet-approved tips for preventing ear infections in dogs.

1. Rule Out Underlying Causes

An ear infection is typically a sign that something else is going on with your dog, says Dr. Alexandra Gould, a veterinarian in Tacoma, Washington. “It’s only through treating these underlying causes that ear infections can be prevented.” Causes, she says, include allergies, foreign objects stuck in the ear (like foxtail grasses), hormonal and autoimmune diseases, and tumors.

Very often, allergies are responsible. “Skin allergies bring inflammation to the surface of the body which causes irritation and warmth. The confined space of the ear canal breeds yeast and bacterial growth that further increases the inflammation,” and can lead to ear infections explains Dr. Michael Lund, veterinary staff manager for ASPCA’s Community Medicine Department in New York.

Like us, dogs can react to any number of allergens in the environment, like pollen, grass, mites, and fleas (another reason to protect your dog with proper flea and tick prevention). And what you feed your dog may be the problem, says Boynton. Some dogs have food allergies or food sensitivities, which can predispose them to ear infections. “Dogs in the United States most often react to beef, dairy products, and wheat,” she says.

2. Keep the Ears Dry

“Yeast and bacteria thrive in warm and moist environments—and many dog ears prove to be the perfect Petri dish,” says Lund. This is especially true for breeds like Cocker Spaniels and Retrievers, whose floppy ears trap moisture.

He says the best preventive for these types of dogs who are predisposed to ear infections is cleansing and drying the ears every five to 10 days. If your dog is a swimmer or is bathed regularly, clean his ears as soon as possible after water exposure. “This ensures the moisture is adequately removed to prevent yeast and bacteria from getting a chance to colonize the ear canals.”

Dr. Jill Abraham, a board-certified dermatology specialist with Blue Pearl Veterinary Partners in Midtown, New York, suggests placing a cotton ball in the ears during bath time to keep them dry. “You don’t have to push the cotton ball in deep, it can rest at the opening of the ear.”

After the bath, remember to remove the cotton ball and dry the ears. “After a bath, you can use a dry paper or cloth towel to dry the inside flap and around the opening of the ear canal.”

3. Keep the Ears Clean

To clean the ears, Abraham suggests the following routine. Lift up the earflap, then fill up the canal with a vet-recommended solution, or soak a cotton ball with solution and squeeze the liquid into the canal. After gently massaging the base of the ear for 20 to 30 seconds and letting your dog shake his head, use dry cotton balls or soft towels to wipe off debris. “You can use cotton-tipped applicators in the folds inside the ear flap, but don’t insert any into the ear canals,” she says. “This could push wax and infection deeper down and damage the ear drum.”

What Is the Best Ear Cleaner for Dogs?

Lund advises against home-made ear-cleaning solutions like diluted hydrogen peroxide, vinegar, and rubbing alcohol. “At-home remedies are often half water, and water in the ear is what can predispose many dogs to ear infections.” Instead, ask your vet for a recommendation based on your pet’s specific needs.

4. Consider Supplements

Of course there is no substitute for a nutritionally complete diet made from high quality ingredients, but the following supplements may be used as part of your strategy for preventing ear infections. Always check with your veterinarian before feeding your dog supplements.

If allergies are at the root of your dog’s ear infections, a daily omega-3 fatty supplement can help. These supplements can reduce inflammation, which may lessen the risk of ear infections, says Lund. Omega-3 fatty acids, like those found in fish oil supplements may “decrease inflammation associated with skin allergies that often appear in a dog’s ears and feet.”

A malfunctioning immune system can make your dog more prone to infections, so maintaining balance is essential. A probiotic supplement can balance the normal bacterial flora within the intestinal tract and promote an appropriate immune response. “A healthy gut is a happy gut, and a happy gut is a healthy immune system,” says Troutman.

5. Reconsider Plucking Ear Hairs

Plucking your dog’s ear hair can be beneficial, but it’s not appropriate for every dog. “I stick by the old adage, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,’” says Abraham. If a dog has healthy ears and has not had infections, she often advises pet parents not to pluck. “But, if a dog with very hairy canals keeps getting ear infections then it can help to keep the canals free of hair.”

If you do decide to pluck hair from your dog’s ears, this is probably not something you want to try at home, unless you’re experienced. Overly-aggressive plucking could lead to pain and cause more ear problems.

“I don’t advise pet owners try plucking ear hairs at home on their own. This is best performed by a groomer or veterinary professional.”

photo source: Pixabay
source: Pet MD

How to Celebrate Responsible Dog Ownership Month

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People often associate September with the start of school, football season, and Fall — it’s also Responsible Dog Ownership Month. So while you’re planning your seasonal fun, consider these seven ways to celebrate your dog and practice your own Rresponsible dog ownership.

1. Exercise

Like people, dogs require exercise. While it’s easy to fall back on the traditional walk around the block, responsible dog ownership requires dog owners to discover the kind of exercise their dog loves. While some dogs live for their daily walk, others may prefer a faster pace, in which case a run or strenuous hike with elevation changes might be more appropriate. For other dogs, play is key. A rigorous game of fetch or tug-of-war might prove the best exercise for a playful dog who craves attention and stimulation, along with physical activity. Some dogs even like to swim or run agility courses.

To celebrate Responsible Dog Ownership this month, expose your dog to lots of different types of physical activity and notice which one seems to result in the most energy, joy, and exhaustion. Once you’ve discovered what kind of exercise or dog sport appeals most to your dog, you can celebrate responsible dog ownership all year round by committing to doing the activity on a regular basis.

2. Health and Wellness

Another important responsibility is scheduling and attending regular veterinary check-ups for your dog, seeking appropriate dental care, and providing proper nutrition. A dog’s medical needs vary with age, so it’s important to discuss with your veterinarian what your dog needs at any particular stage of life. Most dogs require annual vaccinations, but some veterinarians recommend holding off on certain vaccinations after a dog reaches a particular age.

Your veterinarian can also advise you on any necessary dental care for your dog, such as regular cleaning.

Regarding your dog’s nutrition, you may need to consider several factors, including age, weight, activity level, allergies, etc. Your vet can help you ascertain the proper amount of food for your dog, as well as any special dietary needs your dog may have. Some vets may recommend grain-free diets or special food for dogs prone to gastrointestinal issues.

Celebrate Responsible Dog Ownership Month by setting up an appointment with your vet for a regular exam, as well as a discussion of your dog’s vaccinations, dental health, and diet.

3. Training

There are many fun ways to bond with your dog, from enjoying a morning walk to snuggling on the couch. Training is an excellent way not only to make your dog safer, better behaved, and more social, but also to strengthen the bond you share. From Canine Good Citizen to puppy socialization and dog sports, there is sure to be a class or event that you and your dog will enjoy.

Once you’re aware of all of the opportunities available, identify what your dog needs and work from there. If you’re not sure what training would be best for your dog, the AKC GoodDog! Helpline is a good starting place.

4. Travel

It’s important to make sure there’s a plan in place for your dog if you need to travel without them. As with training, many options exist, including professional dog sitters who make daily visits to your dog, dog walkers who make sure your dog continues to exercise while you’re away, and boarding kennels where your dog can stay while you travel. Celebrate Responsible Dog Ownership Month by making sure your travel provisions are optimal for your dog’s safety, well-being, and comfort, as well as for your own peace of mind.

5. Socialization

Socializing your dog is important at any stage of a dog’s life, from puppy to senior, and can prove a fun and fulfilling way to celebrate responsible dog ownership. Younger dogs and puppies can benefit greatly from early exposure to situations and circumstances that they are likely to encounter in their everyday life, while older dogs may need help coping with the arrival of new pets or children in the home.

Basic socialization can include regular, positive exposure to other dogs of various sizes and ages, exposure to different types of people, visits to dog parks, meet-and-greets on a leash, etc.

A socialized dog may enjoy a safer and more fulfilling existence, since their ability to remain well-mannered in a variety of circumstances can reduce the likelihood of undesirable or dangerous behaviors.

Safety

The familiar “safety first” instruction is no less relevant in the context of dog ownership. A concrete way to engage in responsible dog ownership is to ensure that your dog thrives in the most secure environment possible. yard features adequate fencing and, if your dog spends a lot of time outside, provide clean, fresh, accessible drinking water, as well as shelter from the elements, at all times.

Before heading out for a walk, make sure your dog’s collar, harness, and leash are in good condition. Are all straps sturdy and unfrayed? Are all clips in working order? You may also want to make sure your dog’s equipment fits appropriately. Pups can easily slip out of a collar that is too loose, while a collar that is too tight can be uncomfortable and even restrict a dog’s breathing.

Despite these efforts, dogs may sometimes still find ways to get loose. To increase your dog’s probability of returning home safely in the event of an escape, microchip your dog, enroll in AKC Reunite, and outfit your pup with tags displaying their name and your contact information.

7. Emergency Preparedness

From the recent wildfires in the west to the approach of hurricane season in the east, being prepared to take care of your dog in an emergency is an important part of dog ownership. Emergency preparations for your dog can include outfitting windows in your home with stickers notifying emergency personnel that a dog is inside, setting aside food, water, and medications for use in an emergency, and preparing a canine first-aid kit and “go-bag” for your dog. In advance of an evacuation, identify dog-friendly hotels and create an evacuation plan that includes your dog. To get started, fill out the AKC Reunite Emergency Plan.

photo source: Pixabay

source: American Kennel Club

 

 

Tips For Bath Time Fun with Your Pets

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Whether it be a cat or dog you wish to bathe, the most important thing to remember (especially with those frisky felines) is to start ‘em young. Yep, we mean as babies.

But even if they are babies, you can’t just toss them straight into the bathwater (as apposed to throwing the baby out with the bathwater). You need a strategy, or a plan, or something to help you get those fluffy bundles of joy ready for a lifetime of enjoying a splash in the tub.

5. Playtime

Toys and play are essential before you even get your pet into the tub. Play with them in the bathroom and bring in favorite toys. Basically, you’re teaching them the bathroom is not a scary place.

Of course, like kids, toys in the tub are fun for your pet, too (though only the ones made of plastic). Pets especially love toys with treats hidden inside them. We say bonus points for the types of toys with treats that clean the teeth and sweeten the breath!

4. Water Temperature

Puppies and kitties are very sensitive to hot and cold. Just make sure the water is lukewarm, so their sweet, sensitive, baby skin won’t burn. Also, hot water can be a shock to an animal that has never had the luxury of a bath. Remember, this is their first time in the water!

3. Water Wings

We’re not saying you need those floaty devices that are so popular in teaching the young to swim. But for a young animal who’s never really been put into a pool of water, porcelain against paws can end up in a horrible sliding, scrabbling, scared event that no one wants.

A non-slip mat to perch your pet on is the perfect alternative to them sliding into the great white abyss of your tub. Your pet will have something to cling to and bathing won’t be traumatic — or seem like a bad rehearsal of Ice Capades.

2. Bubble, Bubble

Fortunately, no toil and trouble this time. But we will the best way to make bath time fun is getting your pet high-quality shampoos, conditioners, and spritzers, which are hopefully made in exotic locales using exquisite ingredients.

Of course, such luxe doesn’t have to cost a paw and a tail. In fact, some of the best are available at very reasonable prices. So find a brand (or brands) your pet likes.

1. Treat Time!

During, before, and especially after … treats are a definite essential to any bath time. But make sure they’re healthy (sorry, no bacon). We love handmade, organic, healthy, delicious treats. Think Dean & Delucca. Think Harrods. Think luxe but with an affordable price tag.

And if you want more karmic bang for your hard-earned bucks, buy from small purveyors over large conglomerates. They’ll also have your pet’s health and welfare in mind. Small people often have the biggest hearts.

photo source: Pixabay
source: Pet MD

Flea and Tick Preventive Products: Consider Your Options

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They’re creepy, they’re crawly…and they can carry diseases. Fleas and ticks are not just a nuisance, but pose animal and human health risks.

They suck your pet’s blood, they suck human blood, and can transmit diseases. Some of the diseases that fleas and ticks can transmit from animals to humans (zoonotic diseases) include plague, Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, bartonellosis and others. That’s why it’s critical to protect your pets from these pesky parasites and keep the creepy crawlies out of your home.

Fortunately, there are many effective flea and tick preventives on the market to help control the pests and prevent the spread of zoonotic diseases.

Knowing what kind of product to use, and how to use it, is critical to the health and safety of your pet. Many are spot-on (topical) products that are applied directly to your pet’s skin, but there are some that are given orally (by mouth). Although medicines and pesticides must meet U.S. government-required safety standards before they can be sold, it is still critical that pet owners carefully consider their flea and tick preventive options (and closely read the label) before they treat their pets with one of these products.

Ask your veterinarian

Consult your veterinarian about your options and what’s best for your pet. Some questions you can ask include:

• What parasites does this product protect against?
• How often should I use/apply the product?
• How long will it take for the product to work?
• If I see a flea or tick, does that mean it’s not working?
• What should I do if my pet has a reaction to the product?
• Is there a need for more than one product?
• How would I apply or use multiple products on my pet?

Parasite protection is not “one-size-fits-all.” Certain factors affect the type and dose of the product that can be used, including the age, species, breed, life style and health status of your pet, as well as any medications your pet is receiving. Caution is advised when considering flea/tick treatment of very young and very old pets. Use a flea comb on puppies and kittens that are too young for flea/tick products. Some products should not be used on very old pets. Some breeds are sensitive to certain ingredients that can make them extremely ill. Flea and tick preventives and some medications can interfere with each other, resulting in unwanted side effects, toxicities, or even ineffective doses; it’s important that your veterinarian is aware of all of your pet’s medications when considering the optimal flea and tick preventive for your pet.

How to protect your pets

To keep your pets safe, we recommend the following:

• Discuss the use of preventive products, including over-the-counter products, with your veterinarian to determine the safest and most effective choice for each pet.
• Always talk to your veterinarian before applying any spot-on products, especially if your dog or cat is very young, old, pregnant, nursing, or on any medications.
• Only purchase EPA-registered pesticides or FDA-approved medicines.
• Read the entire label before you use/apply the product.
• Always follow label directions! Apply or give the product as and when directed. Never apply more or less than the recommended dose.
• Cats are not small dogs. Products labeled for use only for dogs should only be used for dogs, and never for cats. Never.
• Make sure that the weight range listed on the label is correct for your pet because weight matters. Giving a smaller dog a dose designed for a larger dog could harm the pet.

One pet may react differently to a product than another pet. When using these products, monitor your pet for any signs of an adverse reaction, including anxiousness, excessive itching or scratching, skin redness or swelling, vomiting, or any abnormal behavior. If you see any of these signs, contact your veterinarian. And most importantly, report these incidents to your veterinarian and the manufacturer of the product so adverse event reports can be filed.

Be aware that certain flea and tick preventives are regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), while others are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It can seem confusing at first to figure out which agency regulates the product you’re using, but it’s actually pretty straightforward: if the product is regulated by the EPA, there’s an EPA number clearly listed on the package. If it’s regulated by the FDA, there should be a NADA or ANADA number clearly listed on the package. Check the label for either an EPA or an FDA approval statement and number. If you see neither, check with your veterinarian before purchasing and especially before using the product.

• To report problems with EPA-approved pesticides, contact the National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC) at 1-800-858-7378.
• To report problems with FDA-approved drugs go to How to Report An Adverse Drug Experience or call 1-888-FDA-VETS. Additional reporting information is available on the FDA’s Report a Problem.

photo source: Pexels

source: AVMA

Beware: Algae Can Poison Your Dog

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Dog owners have reported this summer that their pets became fatally ill after swimming in freshwater lakes and ponds, apparently after ingesting water laden with toxic blue-green algae.

Intense blooms have led to swimming bans from lakes in the Pacific Northwest to the entire Mississippi seacoast, to Lake Hopatcong, New Jersey’s largest lake. Algal blooms tend to thrive in high temperatures and after heavy rains carry fertilizer runoff and sewage into waterways.

The health threats to animals range from skin rashes to neurological problems. The blooms can release toxins that can cause liver damage, lead to respiratory paralysis or produce other fatal conditions. The danger drew national attention in recent days after a woman in North Carolina lost her three dogs — Harpo, Abby and Izzy — after they had gone swimming in a pond.

Cyanobacteria, the main organisms that produce the toxins that make the freshwater blooms harmful, can cause ailments in people, but dogs are more susceptible because they ingest them, said GreenWater Laboratories, which tests water samples for the toxins.

Sometimes the algae look like grains of floating green sand or scum. They can go undetected by dog owners if they lurk under the water’s surface or attach to plants. Wind can blow algae from one area into another that had previously looked clear.

While the sight and odor of algae repels humans, animals sometimes lap up the water, ingest floating pieces of algae or snap at floating algal balloons. They could fall fatally ill after licking their wet fur. Toxic algae can also dry up into crusts onshore, where dogs might nibble on them.

Brittany Stanton took her 2-year-old golden retriever, Oliver, on Aug. 3 to Lady Bird Lake in Austin, Tex., where he jumped off their kayak into the water.

In a Facebook post, Ms. Stanton said he collapsed after getting out of the water and died at the veterinarian’s office. “It only took one hour from the time we left the water for Oliver to breathe his last breath,” she wrote.

The next day, the city of Austin advised pet owners to keep their animals out of the lake because of the potential presence of harmful algae. On Friday, it said the advisory remained in effect after tests confirmed a neurotoxin from algae had been found in one area called Red Bud Isle.

Morgan and Patrick Fleming of Marietta, Ga., took their Border collie, Arya, to Lake Allatoona, about 35 minutes north of Atlanta, on Saturday, a local television station reported on Monday. The animal became ill and died from what a veterinarian said was “most likely” an algal toxin, it reported.

“It happens every single year in the U.S. and around the world,” Val Beasley, a professor of veterinary, wildlife and ecological toxicology sciences at Pennsylvania State University, said on Monday.

“A lot of times, the neurotoxins will kill the animal before they can get to the veterinarian,” he said. “This time of year is when you have the most numbers of cases and people are out and about with their animals and the conditions are ripe for the cyanobacteria to grow.”

He said that there were no nationwide figures of dog deaths from the poisoning.

Melissa Martin, the owner of the three dogs in North Carolina, said Harpo jumped into a pond in Wilmington, N.C., on Thursday. “He just splashed around in it a little bit,” she said. A few times, he put his face under the water as it he were “bobbing for apples.”

When he got to shore, he apparently got Abby and Izzy, who had stayed out but were muddy, wet with the pond water, she said. When they went home, Ms. Martin started to give Harpo a bath when she heard her wife shriek from the yard.

Abby was having a seizure.

“Her back legs were trembling. Her body was in the shape of a C,” she said. “Burning to the touch.”

Ms. Martin raced Abby to an animal emergency hospital. Their veterinarian was not available to comment on Monday, but Ms. Martin said she was asked whether their other dogs had been around water.

When she said they had been, she was told, “Get your other dogs here right now.” All three animals had been infected she said the vet told her.

“I told him he was such a good boy and he had done so much,” Ms. Martin said, describing her last moments with Harpo, a therapy dog, just before he and the other two dogs died. “He put his paw on my arm.”

photo source: Pexels

source: NY Times

Is Sunscreen Safe for Your Pet?

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When you are outside on a summer day, sunscreen is usually something you have on hand. We are all aware of the risks of prolonged sun exposure in people—from superficial wrinkles to dangerous skin cancer and damaging burns—and using sunscreen can help prevent all these things. While sunscreen is good for us, what about our pets?

The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) gets a lot of calls about sunscreen and pets. Common questions are whether it’s toxic, or if animals need to wear it. So, we’ve put together a handy guide to answer all your burning questions below!

Do Fido and Whiskers Need Sun Protection?

Does your pet need to wear sunscreen? Well, skin cancer is seen in pets, but that doesn’t mean that sunscreen is necessarily the answer. Pets with white or light-colored fur tend to be more predisposed to skin cancer than other pets. Light-colored pets are prone to developing skin cancer from the sun on their nose, the tips of the ears and around their eyelids and lips. But instead of using sunscreen, you should be mindful and limit their time in the bright sunshine during peak hours. Limiting your pet’s time in the hot summer sun also prevents overheating and dehydration.

Pet-Friendly Doesn’t Always Mean Safe

While there are some sunscreen products marketed for pets, they are usually not tested by the FDA. So the effectiveness of these products is unknown.
The main ingredients to avoid when picking a sunscreen for pets are zinc oxide and a group of chemicals referred to as salicylates. With repeated exposure to zinc oxide on the skin, pets can develop zinc toxicity, which can damage the red blood cells. Salicylates are products in the same category as aspirin, and when applied to the skin, your pet may develop mild skin redness and irritation. If you do pick a veterinarian-approved sunscreen for your pet, make sure it does not contain zinc oxide, and make sure it has a low concentration of salicylates.

However, if your pet eats the sunscreen that’s when real problems can occur.

If your pet eats sunscreen, they can develop stomach upset and will likely vomit; they may even have some diarrhea. If they eat a very large amount of sunscreen, the salicylates in the sunscreen can potentially cause ulcers in the stomach and even liver damage, although this is very unlikely. The zinc oxide in some products can contribute to stomach upset and possibly an allergic reaction, which can lead to swelling of the face and hives on your pet. In addition to the ingredients found in the sunscreen, if your pet eats the tube that the sunscreen came in, it can cause a blockage in their stomach or intestines, which can require surgery.

Prevention Is Always Key

The best way to keep your pet safe from the sun is to talk to your veterinarian to determine what products, if any, your pet may need. When out in the sun, make sure you are limiting your pet’s time and taking breaks from the sunshine, especially during peak afternoon hours.

And when you’re out sunbathing or lounging poolside yourself, don’t forget to keep an eye on your skincare products. Keep any products far out of paws’ reach!

If you have questions about whether to use sunscreen on your pet, or which products to use, contact your local veterinarian. If your pet develops a reaction to a product or gets into your supply of sunscreen, please contact an emergency veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435 for guidance.

photo source: ASPCA

source: ASPCA