Winter Weather Tips

Brrr… it’s getting cold outside and it’s important to make sure that you and your dog are prepared for frigid temperatures and winter storms! The following refresher tips will help protect your pup in winter weather.Rupert

  • Dogs can easily lose their scent in the snow, so never let your dog off leash during a snowstorm, or when there’s snow and ice on the ground.
  • Wipe your dogs paws AND stomach when he’s been outside in the snow or sleet. Sidewalks are often treated with rock salt, antifreeze and other dangerous chemicals. Not only are these bad for your pet’s paws, but if ingested these chemicals could poison your dog. Make sure your pet does not lick his paws or stomach before you’ve wiped them down!
  • Protect your pup from the elements. If your dog typically has a longer coat don’t shave it down for the winter. A longer coat will provide more warmth. If your dog has a short coat get him a coat or a sweater. It will make the outdoors more enjoyable for him and will protect him from the cold.
  • Don’t leave your pet alone in a car during cold weather. The car can act like a refrigerator and could cause your dog to freeze to death.
  • If your dog spends a lot of time outside, playing, running or going for long walks, make sure he’s getting enough protein. You want to ensure that his coat it in excellent condition so he stays nice and warm when he’s frolicking in the snow!
  • Make sure your dog has a warm place to sleep away from a door or any drafts. If your dog likes to burrow consider putting a blanket on his bed as well.
  • Lastly, if your dog likes to play in the snow, go ahead and join him! There’s probably nothing that he’d like better than to have his best friend (YOU) play fetch in the snow or just run around with him!

6 Things About Itchy Pets

Every August my sweet dog Maddie goes into hyper itch mode.  I feel bad for her because her itch reflex is so high!  One year the vet insisted it was symptomatic of fleas, and another two years I had to put her on a low dose of prednisone to stop the itching.  I am now quite sure that because it starts every August and ends at the first frost that it’s some kind of seasonal allergy and we get her through the season with some oils in her food.

Here is a reprint of an article on itchy skin in our insurance newsletter by Dr. Mike Paul, DVM:

Itchy skin is more correctly referred to as “pruritus,” which is defined as an unpleasant sensation within the skin that provokes the desire to scratch. Itchy skin is the result of inflammation or irritation associated with the release of chemicals from inflammatory cells in the skin. When these cells are stimulated by a chemical trigger, they release a variety of chemicals that initiate the discomfort of itching. That is one reason that the more you scratch, the more you itch. The key is to break the cycle, let these 6 surprising itch facts help you with that.

1. Itching is not a disease.  It’s a clinical sign, and every effort should be made to find the cause, not just treat. Skin diseases can be very challenging to diagnose and treat. This may result in some tests that seem a bit confusing to you:
• Skin scrapings
• Skin biopsies
• Blood tests to check for hormonal diseases (such as thyroid deficiency)
• Allergy testing and trial treatments

If you’re confused by any of the testing, ask your veterinarian to clarify.

2. Different species may have different chemicals involved in itching
The treatment for itching varies with not only the underlying cause, but also the species affected. Chemicals involved in the itching process include histamine, and other chemicals such as proteolytic enzymes (proteases), leukotrienes and other inflammatory mediators.

3. Itching may not be a skin problem at all. There are a myriad of things that can initiate itching or “pruritus.” Causes can be primary skin diseases or secondary to problems not directly associated with the skin.

4. Parasites that can cause itching are not always visible to the naked eye.  Common causes of itching are parasites such as fleas, ticks, lice and mites; many external parasites are not visible to the naked eye. Mites and lice are very tiny and often live below the surface of the skin. Sometimes mites are not found, even if they are suspected. Your veterinarian may elect to treat them, even if the mites are not found.

5. Itching caused by infection may have varied clinical appearances
Infections of the skin are a common cause of itching. Infectious causes of itching often involve the hair follicles (Folliculitis). While some cases of such skin infections produce obvious pimples, some produce only a minor rash and can be difficult to prove. They may require trial treatments with antibiotics or even biopsies to identify.

6. Itching caused by allergies can be topical, dietary or inhaled
Allergies are often suspected based on the breed and age of a pet, as well as the localization of the itching (face, feet, armpits, etc.). Depending on the severity, your veterinarian may try oral or injectable medications, blood or skin tests to look for the cause or may try a restricted diet to demonstrate the allergy. Consultation with a veterinary dermatologist may be beneficial.

Reviewed by Dr. Peter Kintzer, DVM, DACVIM on Friday, April 10, 2015

Posted April 10, 2015 in Dog Diseases & Conditions A-Z

Hot Fun in the Summer

There is nothing better than spending time with my dogs outside after a long, cold winter. I love taking long walks, playing fetch with a ball or Frisbee, or watching them play with other friendly dogs.

Sometimes my enthusiasm gets the best of me and try to push a little too far too fast.  Luckily most people have the conscious ability to stop before they get into trouble.  On the other hand most dogs do not have the ability to know when enough is enough so we have great responsibility.

 Here is a great article from our insurance provider, Pet Sitters Associates:

Vets Corner- Hyperthermia (Heat Stroke)

 Dr Landorf- Oakwood Hills Animal Hospital

The most common danger that occurs when we fail to control our dog’s play is hyperthermia or heat stroke.

Hyperthermia is a potentially life-threatening disorder where a dog’s body temperature (normally 101-102.5 degrees Fahrenheit) increases to greater than 105 degrees.

Early symptoms of hyperthermia show as severe anxiousness, panting and restlessness.  If the temperature continues to increase they become glassy eyed, wobbly, and the mucus membranes (gums) may be brick red, purple or even blue as they become deprived of oxygen.  They also may produce saliva excessively from the mouth and nose.

The most common cause of hyperthermia is leaving a dog in a poorly ventilated car in warm or hot weather.  The Stanford University Medical Center did a study that found that even in 70 degree weather the interior of a car rises to 110 degrees in less than one hour.  Most often the pet owners that have had this happen plan on only being gone a few minutes, but get tied up or distracted and have no idea how long it has been.  As much as dogs love to ride in cars, we should always be aware of the weather and how long they may be unattended prior to travel.

Another common cause of heat stroke is play or exercise for too long in hot or humid weather.  The two most common situations I have observed are the game of fetch where the pet just won’t quit, or driving an ATV or bicycle with the dog running alongside.  In either case, the owner is expending very little energy compared to the dog and don’t feel the heat in the same way.  Take also into account a black lab, in the sun, and it is not hard at all to understand.

Certain types of dogs can also be more prone to heat stroke.  Brachycephalic(short nosed) dogs like Pugs, Bulldogs, Shih tzus, Lhasas, or Boston Terriers have very small windpipes compared to dogs of similar size.  A dog’s only effective method of cooling themselves is to expel hot air from their lungs by breathing faster-panting.  The short-nosed dogs have severely reduced air flow and overheat very quickly.  Obese dogs also overheat quickly as their body mass is larger compared to the size of the airway, and take longer to cool down.  On hot days they should take shorter walks in early morning or in the evening and have plenty of cool water.

If you observe signs of heat stroke do the following immediately:

  1. Remove the pet from the environment immediately and move to a shaded cool environment.
  2. If possible take the rectal temperature and record.  It is important to know how high the temperature is to assess treatment options as organs may be damaged as the temperature approaches 107 or over (kidneys, liver, brain).
  3. Cool the body with wet towels placing them on the neck, armpit and groin area.  If possible use a fan to increase evaporation and speed cooling.
  4. As soon as possible transport the pet to an emergency veterinary facility.

It is important to NOT use ice or very cold water.  This actually can reduce the blood flow on the body surface creating an insulated area trapping heat inside.

It is also very important to not over cool your pet (body temperature less than 101 degrees).

As always, it is much easier to prevent over heating than it is to treat.  Knowing symptoms of heat stress and telling your dog when enough is enough will make the hot weather months as safe as it is enjoyable.

Spring And Your Dog’s Health

Spring is here, and with the warmer temperatures, vets start to see many dogs that are either vomiting, have diarrhea or both.  All the birds, mice, chipmunks and anything else that has died over the winter, in addition to various animal feces that had been frozen have now thawed.

For many dogs this is a treat they just can’t resist!  Many times these tasty little treats are badly decomposed and contain many different forms of pathogenic bacteria.  Also, all of the ponds and lakes thaw and dogs start drinking from them again.

Most of the time, the first thing that you will notice is vomiting, diarrhea or both.  This usually occurs within 6-24  hours of ingestion of the contaminated material. Sometimes the dog just vomits the material up and that is the end of it. Unfortunately, what usually happens is the dog vomits at first and then begins to have runny, watery and sometimes bloody diarrhea.  At this point it is a good idea to get your four-legged friend to the veterinarian as soon as possible.

While not every dog is going to get sick every time it eats something off the ground, many will.  Diarrhea and vomiting it’s no fun for the dog, and no fun for the cleanup crew! Your vet can speed the diagnosis if you bring a fresh fecal sample along with you.

And that’s enough poop talk for today!