Have a Fear Free Fourth

The Fourth of July is just around the corner, and as a licensed veterinary technician, visions of frantic pets running scared down the freeway enter my head.  Year after year, pet owners are warned about the potential dangers Independence Day pose on our beloved furry family members.  Last year I wrote about preventing pet anxiety on this freedom filled holiday.  Fortunately, there’s already ample information on the web pertaining to Fourth of July pet safety, so I’ve decided to take a different approach.

Most of us know if our pets need special care on this explosive, rumbling night, but if they do need special care…do we really know why?

FEAR.

It’s fear that causes pets to hide under the bed during the thundering firecrackers.  It’s fear that causes dogs to jump through window panes, only to find the outside world is what they fear even more.  And it’s fear that causes pets to frantically roam for hours with no destination in sight only to wind up tragically deceased on the side of the road.  But…what is fear?  When does fear start?  Why did it start in the first place?

0871.dog-under-bed
https://www.paulspoerry.com/

As an LVT at Lone Mountain Veterinary Hospital, I see fear every day, and it comes it many shapes, sizes and severities.  Terror, fright, horror, alarm, panic, agitation, trepidation, dread, consternation, dismay, distress…the list goes on.  In humans fear is a vital response to physical or emotional danger allowing us to protect ourselves from threats.  In pets it’s equivalent, but with a major language barrier; fear can be amplified by the slightest movement or sound. scared dog and cat

Both, environmental and psychosocial, factors can cause stress in your pets.  Stressors such as humidity, noise, pheromones, and odor contribute to environmental fear. Unfamiliar pets and people, as well as separation from his or her owner contribute to psychosocial factors.  If taken lightly the festivities surrounding Independence Day can encompass many, if not ALL, of these!

Thanks to newer insights and progressive veterinary practices, fear can be recognized sooner and hopefully be reduced.  Understanding your pet’s fear-induced triggers is first way you can help. If you observe signs or behaviors listed below, take time to record them and the circumstances surrounding them.

Signs Your Pet May Be Fearful or Anxious

Cats – Dilated pupils, arched back, open mouth (breathing through their mouth), thumping/flicking tail, hidingScared cats

Dogs – Dilated pupils, taught skin, furrowed brow, hunched back/rigid spine, tucked tail or high over the back wagging, closed mouth with lips short, lip smacking, yawning, and tense growling/snarling

Scared submissive dog
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:ScaredSubmissiveDog.jpg

 

We all know the cracks and booms of this year’s fireworks display will have many pets hiding, running or worst of all, dying.  If you think your pet may be fearful of specific circumstances or events, take the time to understand your pet’s fear and anxiety, so it can be reduced and/or prevented in the future.  Get your pet to the vet, or schedule a house call to have your pet assessed before tragedy strikes.  Ask your veterinarian about special treatment plans that may include sedatives and anti-anxiolytics to ensure you and your pet have a safe and happy Fourth.  This information isn’t meant to be boom, gloom and doom; it’s simply meant to empower you and protect your pet.

Fireworks_64344677_original-e1467406478355

 

 

 

For tips to keep you pet safe during this Fourth of July, check out my 2016 post!

Advertisements

Spring Time is Prevention Time!

With record snow fall in the Sierras this winter, mosquitoes will be flourishing more now than drier years in the past. Spring is the perfect time to start preventatives for heartworm disease!

If you are not familiar with heartworm disease – it’s a parasite transmitted by infected mosquitoes.  Adult worms develop in the heart, cause heart failure and eventually death.  Crazy thing…it can be prevented. 

This disease isn’t as prevalent in Northern Nevada, but it does exist in the Reno-Tahoe area.  It actually affects both, dogs and cats, in every state. 2013-Heartworm-Incidence-Map

With record snow fall in the Sierras this winter, mosquitoes will be flourishing more now than drier years in the past.  Spring is the perfect time to start preventatives for heartworm disease!

Heartworm larvae live in infected mosquitoes and are transmitted when they bite your dog or cat.  The larvae develop into adults that gather in the heart.  Once adult worms are present, without treatment prognosis is death.

Boomer HW

Boomer’s Heart Infected with Adult Heartworms – Villa Lobos Rescue Center

The best way to prevent heartworm disease is keeping your pet on a preventative year round. Infected mosquitoes in the Lake Tahoe Area, have even been found at the Lake level as late as November. Yes November! So, skipping winter months is no longer a viable option to fight this often fatal disease.

Performing a simple blood test at your veterinarian’s hospital can test for the disease in as little as 10 minutes.  Negative results mean you can start the preventative.  It’s as easy as giving a tasty beef chew once a month.  Positive results are another story of their own.  Treatment is necessary to save your pet and risks involved can be fatal as well.

As an active outdoor enthusiast, camping and hiking with my dogs is a must. My dogs are protected by Heartgard all year, since mosquitoes are unavoidable. Although there are products like k9 Advantix II that repel mosquitoes, there’s no guarantee.  And…mosquitoes not biting your dog are biting you.  Cases of heartworm have been reported in humans as well. West Nile Virus is another nasty disease spread by mosquitoes.

Tech Tips:

  • Get your dog tested for Heartworm disease annually.
  • If, you skip or miss a dose, be sure to re-test in 6 months.
  • Keep your dog on a Heartworm preventative all year.
  • Symptoms, though not always seen, may include:
  • A mild persistent cough, lethargy, exercise intolerance, weight-loss, and loss of appetite.

The fact is, if there’s even a chance for infection and there’s a preventative…It’s in your power to ensure you pets’ well being.

Spring is here so start prevention now!

Protect your pets from winter’s harsh reality.

Winter is officially here. As the days get longer, so can the list of potential hazards. Protect your pets from winter’s harsh reality.

Protecting your pet during the cold weather is just as important as protection from the heat of summer.  Follow my tech tips to kick of your pet’s winter safely.

Keep them cozy inside. Cats and dogs should be kept inside during the cold months of winter.  Most pets need to do their “business” outside, but be mindful of the length of time spent out there or in unattended vehicles.  Adequate bedding inside is also necessary to keep pets comfortable on hard, cold floors.ruby-snuggled-for-blog-12-21

Bundle them up.  Shorter haired pets can wear sweaters or jackets to keep the warm during outdoor winter activities. Be sure pet clothing fits properly to avoid chaffing and discomfort.

Protect their paws.  Paws can be traumatized by the frigid ground, sharp ice and chemicals  found in commercial ice melts.  Use booties during icy conditions or when going for longer walks or hikes.  Find booties that fit your pet properly.   Even cats can benefit from booties, but may be more reluctant to wear them.  When wearing boots, check feet often and look for any sores or bleeding – we’ve all had a blister from breaking in a new pair of shoes!

Godiva in Boots

            Ruby and Godiva wear Ultra Paws Rugged Dog Boots!

Clean up spills.  Antifreeze is deadly to pets.  Toxicity happens quickly and is lethal in very small doses. Try Low Tox™ brand antifreeze which contains propylene glycol and is recommended for use in pet households. If you think your pet has consumed antifreeze, contact your veterinarian and the Pet Poison Animal Poison Help Line(855-764-7661)  right away!

Choose ice melt that is pet safe. Safe Paw Ice Melter is a safe salt free alternative. Make your own, but be cautious of the pros and cons.

Be prepared for emergencies. Whether you’re at home or on the road, always consider your pet’s needs too.  Power outages during frigid temperatures and storms could leave you and your pet in need for days. The AVMA suggests keeping a supply of food and/or medications to last at least 5 days.  Keep an emergency kit, additional blankets and clothes in your vehicle.

Monitor dietary wellness. Be sure your pet is staying hydrated and well fed during the cold months of winter.  Proper nutrition is important for thermoregulation all year long -just because its cold doesn’t mean they need to fatten up.  Provide fresh water daily. Dehydration can happen in the winter too! Snow consumption is fine for fun, but too much could cause intestinal upset.

Keep them healthy.  Talk to your veterinarian about keeping your pet safe and comfortable this winter. Discuss changes in behavior and/or activity levels.  Changes in weather can often show us signs of illness we hadn’t seen previously, such lameness, hypothermia or frostbite.ruby-and-godiva-in-coats-for-blog-12-21

What will you do to protect your pet this winter?  

Ruby and Godiva want you to submit picture or story of you and your pet preventing winter’s woes!

My Top Reasons To Microchip Your Pet!

Is your pet microchipped?

IMG_1796According to a national survey conducted by the ASPCA 93 percent of dogs and 74 percent of cats were returned to their owners safely [read more].  Fifteen percent of those pets made it home because they had a microchip or ID tag.

All of our pets have microchips.  I’m NOT advocating JUST a microchip; our dogs wear a collar too!  But…Godiva jumped the fence once without her collar; I was panicked!  Thankfully she had her HomeAgain Microchip!

Tag Free Identity

Each chip contains a unique microchip ID number that is registered to you and your pet. No need to worry if Fido loses his collar.

ONE Time Permanent ID

One chip. One time! That’s all it takes. It’s not mechanical.  No battery or power source required; it can’t wear out!  The microchip scanner emits a low radio frequency that reads the chip. ONE microchip will last your pet’s lifetime.

Inexpensive

Visit your vet for a basic checkup and have the microchip implanted under the skin. Costs will vary but should be reasonable ($40-$75). Some pets may already have a chip in place.  Many breeders and adoption agencies implant pets before adoption.

All lost pets get scanned FIRST!

At Lone Mountain Veterinary Hospital, the first step we take when we find a missing pet: scan it! The same goes at any animal shelter or adoption agency.

Theft

Prevent someone else from someone stealing your pet.  The permanent number is registered to you!

Abandoned pets

Dogs and cats with microchips can be traced back to owners that may have abandoned them.  This could be helpful in legal matters.

Membership Benefits

Many microchip companies offer membership benefits! HomeAgain offers many pet perks like an emergency medical hotline and travel assistance getting home!

Tech tips

If your pet is microchipped:

  • Moving? Phone number changed?  Update all personal information with microchip database holder (HomeAgain, Avid, petkey, etc.)
  • Use a reliable company like HomeAgain that has a national pet recovery database [read more].
  • Program the toll-free number into your cell phone.
  • Keep your pet’s membership current. Enjoy the benefits of service.

If you pet isn’t microchipped:

  •  Make an appointment with your pet’s veterinarian.
  • It’s quick, easy and can be done in a few seconds!
  • Cats and dogs are both candidates for microchipping.
  • Reap the rewards of a microchip membership!

IMG_4287

What are you waiting for?  Make the call to the vet…protect your pet!