During the holiday season, it’s natural to turn our thoughts toward the needs of those less fortunate. As pet owners and animal lovers, it can be difficult to think of the plight of so many pets who languish in shelters all over the country.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to help homeless pets in your community and beyond, and the benefits are well worth the effort!
More than half of all American cats and dogs are considered overweight or obese. Perhaps even more shocking than the prevalence of pet obesity, however, is the fact that a majority of owners who care for overweight pets erroneously classify their pets in the normal weight range. What’s at the root of this disconnect, and how can we work together to reverse this harmful trend?
Animals are naturally curious – that’s one reason we love them! But sometimes, curiosity and exploration can have disastrous results. Take, for example, the foods that fill our own cupboards and fridges. While most of it isn’t bad for your pet, some things are downright toxic. When you know without a doubt the various things your pet should never, ever eat, you drastically reduce potential pet poisonings. Those are odds we can live with – how about you?
Too Many to Count
To be sure, many pet owners are unaware that something in the house could endanger their pet – until frightening symptoms surface. Sure, we all do our best to ensure the house is free of choking hazards, entanglement issues, and, of course, toxins, but many things slip through the cracks.
It’s also not uncommon for pet owners to be highly vigilant at first, only to let things slide a bit after a pet demonstrates an obvious lack of interest in dangerous items. Letting down your guard can be the fastest route to pet poisonings.
From cancer sniffing canines and drug and bomb detecting dogs, to dogs that protect our borders and keep our food supplies safe; and, to the best pal that sleeps at the end of your bed, there’s no shortage of amazing dogs out there. In honor of dogs and the wonderful services they provide for their human companions, we’d like to take this opportunity to pay homage to the original service canine: guide dogs.
Guide Dogs Defined
Guide dogs are professionally trained to assist the blind and visually impaired by avoiding obstacles, navigating traffic and urban obstacles, and generally helping their person get to where they need to go, safely. The dog and their human (handler) work together as a team; the handler knows where he or she wants to go, and the dog’s job is to get both of them there safely.
Guide dogs are trained from birth to about 18 months old, typically spending the first year of their lives with a “foster family” whose role is to provide a loving home, basic obedience training, and socialization. After about a year the dogs undergo their formal guide dog training, which typically takes 4-6 months.
While few pets seek to get wet when it’s cold, the majority of dogs crave time in and around the water all summer long. A powerful element, water has the capacity to excite and amuse pets, but it also plays a major role in reducing the risk of heat stroke. To be certain, water play is fun, but without pet water safety measures, it can quickly turn perilous.
An Obvious Choice
Swimming, splashing, running through the sprinkler, boating, and other water sports are perfect summer options – and they’re all more fun with a furry friend in tow. Many pets are bred for water recreation while others (like the typical feline) don’t take to it quite as naturally. Also, brachycephalic breeds, those with shorter legs, and big barrel chests are not designed for swimming.
People unaccustomed to our weather can feel pretty droopy by the end of the day. It’s true, we have wilting humidity and occasional heat waves that make summers in Maryland challenging for some – pets included. If you’re looking for just one more reason to kick it in the AC, we’ve got some startling facts that place summer pet safety firmly in the spotlight.
Play it Safe
Instead of exposing your pet to the heat, play it safe and avoid the midday temps. Place the back of your hand against the sidewalk outside. If you pull it away within 5 seconds, the ground is too hot for your pet. Wait for it to cool off after dinner, or wake up early for a slightly cooler morning walk.
The Dangers of Heatstroke
A spike in body temperature can negatively impact the health of internal organs and impair breathing. Heatstroke is characterized by excessive panting, difficulty breathing, increased heart and respiratory rates, drooling, weakness, stupor, and collapse. Left alone, bloody diarrhea and vomit, seizures, and even death can occur. Continue…
Parasite control is a must for every furry friend, and the foundation of this is flea, tick, and heartworm prevention. Unfortunately, some pet owners make the mistake of skipping a month of heartworm medication or assume that indoor kitty doesn’t need to be on any form of parasite prevention.
To highlight some of the reasons parasite control is so important, let’s take a look at what risks these pests can pose to your cherished pet and what you can do to stop them.
The life cycle of a tick includes: egg, larvae, nymph, and adult – and each female can lay thousands of eggs at a time. Ticks thrive by feeding on the blood of a host mammal, most notably wildlife, but also humans and pets.
Most people are familiar with Lyme disease, especially in our region where diagnoses have skyrocketed over the past few decades. However, did you know this parasite can also pass vector-borne diseases onto our canine and feline friends?
In previous generations, veterinary care focused mainly on treating an animal’s illness or disease after it developed. Today’s veterinary professionals recognize the importance of preventive care for creating a better quality of life and increased longevity for our sweet pets.
At the core of preventive care lies the regularly scheduled check-up (once or twice per year, depending on your pet’s age and health status). More than just an opportunity to administer vaccines, the preventive care exam is the foundation of your pet’s long-term health care plan.
Prevention, Prevention, Prevention!
Taking a proactive approach to your pet’s health is what the preventive care exam is all about. When we see your pet on a regular basis, we’re able to screen for, diagnose, and treat potential health problems before they get out of hand. This not only leads to a better prognosis for your pet, it can save you money in medical bills down the road.
Becoming separated from a beloved pet is a scary thought for any pet owner. After all, we do everything we can to keep them safe, including leashed walks, fenced-in yards, vigilant supervision, and more. Accidents can and do happen, however, and even the most responsible pet owners can wind up facing the reality that a pet has gone missing.
Fortunately, there is much that can be done to find a lost pet nowadays, and pet microchipping may be one of the best ways to increase the chances of being reunited with your furry loved one.
The Wonderful World of Microchips
A microchip is about the size of a grain of rice and consists of a tiny computer chip encased inside a biocompatible glass capsule. The microchip is inserted just below the skin between your pet’s shoulder blades and is no more painful or complicated than a standard vaccination. Because the chip is read-only and doesn’t broadcast information, there are no batteries involved and it won’t have to be replaced during your pet’s lifetime. Continue…