Summertime is right around the corner! As the weather warms up and we are opting to spend more and more time outside soaking up the sunshine, we must refresh ourselves on some of the hazards that our pets face as the season changes. From hot pavement dangers to water safety, we have you covered on all the reminders you need to keep your pet happy, safe, and healthy this summer!
In the land of 10,000 lakes, most of us love spending hot summer days around beautiful, sparkling lakes! However, there are hidden dangers that we need to keep in mind before taking out pups out to do the doggie paddle.
Contrary to popular belief, not all dogs are natural-born swimmers. It is important, especially with pets you have never taken swimming before, to test their abilities before allowing them to jump in paws first. Start in the shallows and get in with them, make sure they can keep their head above the water, and all of their legs know what to do. If your pet seems panicked about taking a dip, it is best not to force them into swimming. When helping your pet learn to swim, a special dog-friendly lifejacket may help!
Look out for blue-green algae blooms and contaminated water as they can be dangerous, even deadly! It is a good idea to only take your pet swimming in bodies of water that are monitored for recreational use to ensure safety. Leptospirosis is a real threat, and the bacteria that cause this disease can be present in a great lake or a small puddle. A vaccination is available that can help protect your pet against lepto, so give us a call to ensure your puppy-paddler is protected before summertime swimming!
Strong currents can sweep a dog away in the blink of an eye, so it’s a good idea to take note of current conditions before taking a swim. While a lake might appear to be crystal-smooth underneath the surface, strong rip currents brewing is possible. It is a good idea to avoid swimming in water that is visibly fast-moving and to keep your pet within easy reach should they run into trouble with a current.
Water intoxication occurs when your pet drinks too much water in a short period and can happen during swimming. Excessive water consumption can throw off the balance of electrolytes in your dog’s body. Signs of water intoxication include lack of coordination, lethargy, nausea, bloating, vomiting, dilated pupils, glazed eyes, light gum color, and excessive salivation. Advanced symptoms include difficulty breathing, collapsing, loss of consciousness, and seizures. Remember to take breaks while playing in the water to give them time to digest whatever has been slurped up.
If you have ever walked barefoot across the asphalt on a hot summer day, you know the excessive heat it traps and holds on to! Paw pad injuries due to hot pavement are common in the summer, so be sure to take your summer strolls through grass or protect your pooches feet with doggie booties!
Never leave your pet unattended in a car. On a warm and breezy early summer day in Minnesota, your pet can overheat or suffocate very easily, even with the windows down.
Beat the heat of summer by enjoying the outdoors during cooler times of the day, like early mornings and the evening. Always bring plenty of clean water for your pet to drink when spending time outdoors and provide breaks in the shade to help them cool off.
Summertime Food Dangers
While enjoying our BBQs and picnics this summer, keep in mind the food dangers that could affect your pet. While it might be tempting to share the bounty, be sure you are only treating your pet to small bites of foods that are 100% safe for them to eat. Avoid these summertime favorites:
Bones and fat trimmings. While it might be tempting to let your cat or dog have that hunk of fat you trimmed off your steak or the bone from those perfectly smoked ribs, excessive ingestion of fat can cause pancreatitis, and cooked bones can splinter and cut mouths and even cause internal bleeding when swallowed.
Beware of the hidden dangers. From onions in your tater salad to grapes in the chicken salad, it is vital to stay vigilant about the foods you enjoy this summer to ensure your pet does not eat something that can harm them. Don’t forget to remind any well-meaning backyard barbeque guests as well!
Alcohol. Your pet likely will avoid the strong stuff, but wines, fruity cocktails, beers, ciders, and hard seltzers might smell appetizing to your pet. Ensure all cups are looked after, and empty bottles and cans are correctly disposed of where your pet can’t reach them.
Frozen Treats. In moderation, a bite or two of plain vanilla ice cream will probably be fine for your pet. However, overindulgence can lead to tummy troubles and excess weight gain. There are plenty of great homemade frozen treat recipes online to help keep your dog or cat cool this summer or opt instead to purchase frozen treat products specially formulated for pets. Just keep portion size in mind and give these items sparingly.
Monthly preventatives are crucial during the hot summer months. Ticks, fleas, and mosquitos are flourishing during the summer and constantly looking for their next host. Even one missed dose of preventatives can leave your pet suffering, so stock up and set a reminder!
Biting gnats are annoying to both people and pets, but the good news is that they are harmless! Besides some wild-looking bites, the red spots tend to clear up in about a week and do not seem to bother pets after the bite occurs. If you notice spots like these after enjoying a day out, don’t panic! However, if the spots appear to leak fluid, bother your pet, or don’t go away after a week, give us a call.
If you have any questions or concerns about summer safety, don’t hesitate to reach out! Our goal is to help you ensure that you and your pet have a fun, healthy, and safe summer together!
Anxiety in Dogs: Returning to Work
Anxiety in Dogs: Returning to Work
If you have been working from home for the past year or so, you might be planning your return to in-person working in the next few months, weeks, or even days! Thanks to the wider availability of COVID-19 vaccines, a lot of people are getting ready to return to in-office work. While we might be feeling some excitement, anxiety, and a little stress about the transition, we also need to take out pets into consideration.
Less likely in cats and more likely in dogs, separation anxiety can be triggered by a change in routine, especially one that requires you to be away for longer periods of time. If you acquired a new pet during quarantine, they have likely never experienced a working day without you and might require a little more time to adjust and understand the new routine. While these tips are geared towards dog owners, it is important to note that cats can also suffer from separation anxiety. However, because dogs are pack animals and cats tend to live more secluded lives, separation anxiety in cats is a lot less common. All of these suggestions (besides crate training) can be applied to our feline friends! If you have time, start the separation process as early as possible to help the routine change not be so abrupt that your pet feels completely lost on your first day back in the office. If your employer is willing, ask them about a gradual return to work through half days or an abbreviated in-office workweek. If you don’t have time for these options, utilize whatever you can from this list to assist with the transition.
First and foremost, recognize the signs of separation anxiety, and bring your pet in for an exam so we can rule out any physical medical issues for these signs and symptoms:
Shut the Door: Most of us who have been working from home know that our pet’s favorite place to be nowadays is wherever we are working. While it might feel like you are a mean pet parent, it will ultimately help your pet not to be right next to you all day. Help build independence confidence by gradually moving them out of the room for more time during the day. Build up time apart in 30-minute increments until breaks and lunch are the only time you spend together during the workday.
The B.C. (Before COVID) Rituals and Habits: Start back into the early morning routine! For new pets, start doing the early morning behaviors your pet will need to expect when the day comes that you actually leave for the workday. This can include:
- Getting up earlier, taking them outside for a walk and morning potty break.
- Getting a shower and dressed, having breakfast, and feeding them theirs.
- Situating them with an activity and picking up your keys and bag to leave.
- Standing outside of your door for a few moments (and enjoy that extra coffee you needed to get back into starting the day earlier!) and then come back inside.
This will help take the stress out of the big day because it’ll already be an established routine.
Walk it Out: Tired dogs (and cats!) are happy dogs (and cats!). Pets that don’t have any built-up energy can’t displace that energy into anxious behaviors. Exercising your pet regularly can help them keep calm when stress and anxiety hit. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to pick up early morning, before work running habits but staying on top of a proper exercise routine that your pet can look forward to daily will help with anxiety. Remember, exercise for pets should also include exercise for their brain! Dogs, for example, love to sniff! When your dog sniffs at something, their brain is completing a number of connections that help them determine what they are sniffing, who the dog was that left it behind, and more. These mental connections are brain exercises, much like sitting down to a crossword or sudoku puzzle is to us!
Crating: If your pet is used to a crate, start crating periodically throughout the day while working from home. This will help them get used to spending more time in the crate again. If you have a new pet that you would like to crate train, start NOW while you are still home all day, and training can be incremental and supervised.
Bust the Boredom: Does your pet have a toy that they just absolutely can’t get enough of? Do they go wild for a special treat? Use these to your advantage! Set your pet up with a treat puzzle, slow feeding dispenser, or only allow them their favorite toy when you are away. This will help your pet establish a positive association with being left alone. Some other safe and effective distractions include a Kong-style toy filled with frozen wet food, snuffle mats, or even a treat-dispensing video monitoring system!
Departures and Arrivals: Keep them calm, cool, collected. Try not to feel nervous about your dog’s anxiety when you leave because they pick up on that and think it is time to panic. It is best to leave it at a “be good!” and shut the door and leave. Feeding your pet right before you go can also be helpful as it will distract them from the leaving process. Coming home should also be calm, so ignore excited greetings because you always return; there is no need to celebrate it. Wait for your dog to calm down, and then go through a greeting process once a calm state is reached.
Calming Aids: Because anxiety is an issue that so many pet owners face, there has been extensive research done into products that assist in the process of soothing pets and making time apart less stressful for them. One popular product on the market for use without a prescription are pheromone diffusers called Adaptil (for dogs) and Feliway (for cats). Calming chews and treats are also a popular option and readily available at your local pet supply store, and prescription medications from your veterinarian. These products, however, are not a cure. They work in a way that lowers your pet’s anxiety levels to a point where they can receive and understand training and other measures you are providing to assist them with their anxiety and anxious behaviors.
Other Options: Can you return home for lunch? Do you have a trusted friend or neighbor that would be willing to stop in and check on your pet during the day? Can you hire a walker to give them a stroll? If your pet is still having trouble with being left alone, a doggy daycare could be an option for you. Be sure to research options thoroughly and bring your pet in for a wellness exam to make sure they are up to date on all vaccinations and have everything they need to spend time around other dogs. These options might work well as a transitional or permanent solution.
Separation anxiety is stressful for both you and your pet, and excess stress isn’t good for either of you! If these tips and tricks are not helping your pet, it might be necessary to work with a trainer, behavioralist, or enlist the assistance of a prescription. If your pet is exhibiting signs of anxiety, give us a call today to schedule an exam. We can work with you and your pet to rule out other medical issues and help point you in the right direction on how to tackle your pet’s anxiety!
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Beat the Heat! Summertime Safety Tips
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