Archive for April, 2011

Know the Signs of Canine Heatstroke

Did you realize that the prime months for dog heatstroke are April and May? That’s because most of us know not to let our dogs overexert themselves during the hot summer months. In the late spring, though, the warm weather creeps up on us and our active dogs keeping running and playing without adjusting to the heat. Heatstroke can cause death so it’s important to be able to recognize the signs and know what to do if you dog overheats.

Causes of Canine Heatstroke

Dogs release heat primarily by panting. On hot days, dogs cannot regulate their internal temperature properly and their temperature can rise rapidly. If your dog has a temperature between 104 F and 106 F, she will typically recover in about an hour. Dogs with a temperature over 106 F are at risk of dying and should be taken to the vet immediately.

Signs of Canine Exhaustion

• Heavy panting

• Skin that’s hot to the touch

• Hyperventilation (deep breathing)

• Bright red tongue and gums

• Increased drooling followed by dry gums

• Weakness

• Confusion, disorientation, staggering

• Vomiting or diarrhea

Signs of Canine Heat Stroke

• Paleness or graying of the gums

• Shallow breaths followed by slowed or absent breathing

• Vomiting and diarrhea that may be bloody

• Seizures or coma

Treatment of Heat Stroke

• Get the dog to a cooler place such as shade or under air conditioning in your car or home

• Take the dog’s temperature with a rectal thermometer. If her temperature is 104 F or below, you can help her recover at home. If the temperature is above 106 F, take your dog to the vet immediately and cool her on the way using ice packs or rubbing alcohol on the pads of her feet.

• For home treatment, use cool or tepid water where air is circulating. Placing a fan in front of your dog and running a hose over her is very effective in lowering her temperature. The goal is not to simply get your dog wet but for the water to evaporate which is why circulating air is so important.

• Check your dog’s temperature every three minutes. Once her temperature starts to drop, stop all cooling efforts.

• Give your dog water but don’t let her drink to much.

• Avoid immersing your dog in water;  this may raise her temperature. Water trapped in the coat acts as an insulator against the cool water.

• Continue to monitor your dog, watching for signs of shock or other troubles. Take your dog to the vet immediately she doesn’t improve.

• Make sure your dog is dry before putting her in a crate or enclosed space. The water won’t be able to evaporate and the crate will be very warm.

Preventing Heat Stroke

• Never leave your dog in the car even with the windows cracked. The temperature inside a car can quickly rise 40 degrees higher than the outside temperature.

• Provide plenty of shade and cold water for dogs outside.

• Exercise your dog during the coolest parts of the day and keep her inside on hot days.

• Monitor your dog closely. Dogs don’t know when to stop so you need to provide rest breaks with water.

Dogs at Risk for Heatstroke

•  Young puppies and older dogs

• Overweight dogs

• Dogs that have previously experienced heatstroke

• Dogs with an existing illness or ones recovering from illness or surgery

• Dog breeds with short face such as bulldogs, pugs, boston terriers

• Dog breeds with double coats such as Chow Chows, Huskies, Malamutes

Legal Disclaimer

This post is for informational purposes only and should not be substituted for a vet’s professional diagnosis and treatment.

Protect Your Pets from Poisonous Plants

Spring is in the air and flowers are blooming. Chances are your dog and cat just want to be outside soaking up the sun. While we all love spring flowers, it’s a good time of year to remember that crocus, tulips, daffodils and other blooming plants can be dangerous for our pets. The list below contains some of the most poisonous plants to dogs and cats. It is by no means a complete list; in fact, there are more than 700 plants that are toxic to pets! If you suspect your pet has been chewing on a bulb or leaf of one of these plants and shows symptoms of poisoning, contact your vet or the ASPCA Poison Control Number at 888-4ANI-HELP or 888-426-4435. If visiting your vet, take samples of the vomit, diarrhea and the plant.

Daffodils

This traditional spring flower contains lycorine, an alkoloid that triggers vomiting.

What: Bulb, plant or flower

Symptoms: Severe vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, cardiac arrhythmia, trouble breathing, tissue irritation, drooling

Tulips and Hyacinths

The toxic lactones and alkaloids are concentrated in the bulb of these flowers.

What: Primarily bulb, plant

Symptoms: Profuse drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, increased heart rate, changes in respiration

Crocus, Spring and Autumn

Two varieties of crocus exist–Spring and Autumn. The Spring variety can cause stomach upset while Autumn Crocus is  extremely toxic to pets.

What: Primarily bulb, plant

Symptoms:  Vomiting, diarrhea (Spring); Severe vomiting, gastrointestinal bleeding, liver and kidney damage, respiratory failure (Autumn)

Lilies

Not all lilies are dangerous, but the ones listed below are highly toxic to cats.

What: Leaves and flowers of Tiger, Day, Asiatic, Easter and Japanese Show Lilies

Symptoms: Severe kidney failure in cats; seek vet attention immediately

Azalea

These flowering shrubs are in the same family as rhododendrons.

What: Leaves

Symptoms: Vomiting, drooling and diarrhea; without immediate vet visit, coma and possibly death

Lily of the Valley

This plant blooms in late spring with small bell-shaped flowers.

What: All parts, including the berries

Symptoms: Vomiting, diarrhea, drop in heart rate, severe cardiac arrhythmia, seizures

Cyclamen

The cyclamen stem bends at the tip so that the nose of the flower faces downward.

What: Roots

Symptoms: Severe vomiting, death

Kalanchoe

This succulent garden plant has a wide variety of flower colors.

What: Leaves and flowers

Symptoms: Vomiting, diarrhea, heart arrythymia

Oleander

This evergreen, outdoor shrub has delicate flowers.

What: Leaves and flowers

Symptoms: Severe vomiting, slow heart rate, death

Photo credits, Top: Courtesy of Flickr/brominy; All others: Courtesy of ASCPA

Finding a Reputable Dog Breeder

Adopting a dog is a huge responsibility. When you close your eyes and picture your new pet, what do you see? A sweet dog cuddled on your lap? A jogging companion? A frisky pup playing with your children in the backyard? Chances are you’re not dreaming of an aggressive digger, a destructive chewer or an eternal yapper.

Save yourself frustration and heartbreak by researching dog breeds to find the one that will fit in best with your family. Things to consider include size, temperament, exercise needs and grooming requirements. Once you’ve zeroed in on the type of dog you want to adopt, start your search at a shelter or rescue organization. According to the Humane Society, one in four dogs in U.S. shelters are pure-bred. You may also find a mixed breed at a shelter that fits your family’s needs.

If you don’t find the right dog at a shelter, you will need to find a reputable dog breeder to ensure you adopt a healthy, well-adjusted puppy. If you buy a dog from a backyard breeder, puppy mill or an Internet selller, you may end up facing genetic health issues that can cost thousands of dollars in vet bills.  A great place to start is by asking friends, groomers, pet store owners and vets to recommend breeders.

When researching, the Humane Society suggests looking for a dog breeder who:

•  Raises puppies in a clean, spacious home environment, not in cages

•  Only breeds one or two types of dogs

•  Breeds for quality, not quanity

•  Doesn’t have puppies available all the time but keeps a list of interested buyers for the next litter

•  Has puppies that are healthy, active and don’t shy away from visitors

•  Shows you where the dogs spend their time and encourages you to meet the parents

•  Explains in detail potential genetic problems and provides documentation that the parents and grandparents have been tested and don’t have genetic problems

•  Offers guidance for the care and training of your puppy and will be available for assistance after you take the puppy home

•  Provides answers to your questions easily and efficiently

•  Provides references from others who have bought puppies

•  Releases the puppy at the right age, typically 9 to 12 weeks

•  Provides individual records of vet visits

•  Provides you with a written contract and health guarantee that allows you to see the vet you choose

•  Has no complaints on file with the Better Business Bureau or the local SPCA

In addition, a reputable breeder will require the following:

•  Information on why you want a dog, who in your family will be responsible for the puppy’s daily care and training and where will the dog spend most of his time.

•  Proof from your landlord or condominium board (if applicable) that you are allowed to have a dog

•  A veterinary reference

•  A signed contract that you will spay or neuter your dog unless you are actively showing him

• A signed contract stating that you will return the dog to the breeder should you be unable to keep him at any time during the dog’s life

If the potential breeder does not meet these requirements, walk away. Your dog will be with you for the next 10 to 20 years, so it’s important to take your time now to find the right one.