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Just Avoid Chicken Jerky Treats from China

The same way you probably want to avoid children’s toys from China, you should avoid chicken jerky treats from China. There are just too many complaints about these products making children and our pets sick. There have been problems with chicken treats made from China since 2007, and the complaints are on the rise again.

You would think that feeding a natural chicken treat is good for your dog, and you would be right. This should be a healthy treat for your pets.

However, these treats are making dogs sick, even resulting in the deaths of some animals. While the FDA has tested these treats, they still are unsure of the cause, so it would be best just to avoid them altogether.

Read more about Chicken Jerky Treats from China.

 

What is the FDA finding?

The FDA has been receiving reports for many years, and in 2007 actually issued a warning about feeding your dogs chicken jerky treats made in China.

Complaints dropped off for a few years, but again in 2011, complaints about these treats making people’s dogs ill began to rise again, and continued to rise.

Signs of Illness

  1. Diarrhea
  2. Decreased appetite
  3. Lethargy
  4. Increased water consumption
  5. Increased urine output

There have been some reported deaths related to feeding these jerky treats. The FDA has continued to caution owners about chicken jerky products.

The FDA has tested many different chicken jerky treats from China for heavy metals, Salmonella, pesticides, rodenticides, mycotoxins, and a host of other chemical and and poisonous compounds. They have not found any heavy metals in the products, and are still waiting for the final results of all the other tests.

There are no specific brands are indicated, and because there have been no definitive results, there have been no recalls either.

 

How Can I Protect My Dog?

  1. The first thing you should do is to avoid feeding any chicken jerky treat to your dog that is made in China. Look at the packaging to see where the treats are made. If you are not sure where exactly the treats are made, I would avoid them.
  2. Do not feed chicken jerky treats from an open bin, where it is impossible to see where they were made.
  3. Keep an eye on your dog after feeding any chicken jerky treats. If they begin to display any of the signs described above, such as diarrhea, vomiting, etc., talk to your vet and stop feeding the treats.
  4. If your vet can determine that the treat may have caused the illness, file a compliant with the FDA.

Make sure you protect your dog’s health. If your dog becomes ill, your vet may do kidney lab tests, and your dog may present Fanconi-like symptoms.

Be sure to tell your vet everything you have been feeding your dog, especially the chicken treats. Read more about the chicken jerky treats from China here.

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Finding the Right Dog Breed for You

Looking for a dog? What is the right breed for you? At some point in your life, you might find yourself wanting to take on the responsibility and joy of owning a dog. You imagine picking out that perfect puppy or maybe an adult dog and living happily ever after with your new best friend.

But before you even make an appointment to see a potential pet to adopt, remember to think about which type of dog might be the best fit for your personality, lifestyle and environment.

Too many people fall in love with how cute or good-looking a dog is without first considering what might work best in their particular situation.

It may be tempting to choose a dog based just on his looks or size, but it’s wise to keep in mind that breed does matter. Every dog is an individual with a definite personality, but some dogs have been bred over the years to bring out specific traits.

Here is a basic guide on dog breeds to get you started in your search. This general overview is sorted by group. There is a large number of breeds, so every breed is not named, just examples that you might be familiar with.

Working Dogs

Siberian Husky

The dog breeds in this group include the larger-sized dogs like the Akita, Alaskan Malamute, Great Dane, Siberian Husky, Saint Bernard, Rottweiler, Mastiff, German Pinscher and Portuguese Water Dog.

Throughout history, these dogs have worked alongside man, performing tasks that take advantage of their strength and size. They work pulling sleds, guarding people and property, and rescuing people from water. The dogs in this group are strong, tough and intelligent.

These dogs are physically large, and need to be able to “work.” They are used to performing tasks that challenge their intellect and physical strength.

Like any intelligent animal, if they aren’t stimulated and challenged, they can cause mischief and may act out destructively and even aggressively.

Sporting Dogs

The Sporting Group includes dogs such as the Cocker Spaniel, Irish Setter, English Setter, Golden Retriever, Labrador Retriever, Viszla and Pointer.

Golden Retriever

These medium to large-sized dogs were bred to excel in the outdoors, hunting and retrieving for their human companions. As you would expect, these dogs thrive on vigorous exercise in a natural environment.

They are intelligent and do well with consistent training both mentally and physically.

Hounds

This group boasts a large variety of hounds, including the Beagle, Basenji, Basset Hound, Bloodhound, Greyhound, Whippet, Rhodesian Ridgeback, English Foxhound and Daschund.

These dogs, with their physical stamina and keen sense of smell, were bred to hunt. I’m sure you’ve seen movies or TV shows where British men on horseback follow a pack of loudly baying hunting dogs, usually beagles, across a picturesque countryside to track and corner prey such as a fox.

Because of their hunting instincts, care must be taken when putting them together with smaller pets, such as cats. They must be socialized properly when young so they don’t view their companions as prey.

Again, because of what these dogs were bred for, they need plenty of exercise, and physical and mental challenges. Sizes of hounds vary from small to medium.

Terriers

Terriers are a feisty lot and can be a handful for the owner. The group includes breeds such as the Bull Terrier, Miniature Schnauzer, Scottish Terrier, Airedale Terrier and West Highland White Terrier.

Miniature Schnauzer

Another group of dogs that were bred to hunt and kill small animals, these small to medium-sized dogs are known to be lively, and have a bit of an attitude. High-energy and very spirited, they need owners with equal energy and attitude.

Again, smaller companion pets like cats might not be the best match for these hunting dogs.

Herding

Herding dogs include the Cardigan Welsh Corgi, Collie, Border Collie, Shetland Sheepdog, German Shepherd, Old English Sheepdog, Australian Shepherd and Belgian Malinois.

German Shepherd Dog

These dogs can range in size from small to large. Formerly classified as part of the Working group, these dogs are excellent at herding large groups of livestock, such as cattle and sheep.

These intelligent dogs make great companions. Many times, their natural instincts will have them “herding” their human companions.

A friend of mine has a shepherd/lab mix. When she’s allowed off-leash on a walk, she inevitably begins to “herd” anyone she’s with, moving back and forth behind her human companions to make sure they stay on track.

Non-Sporting

This group includes a large variety of breeds, including the Chow Chow, Poodle, Dalmatian, French Bulldog, Keeshond, Boston Terrier, Bichon Frise, Shiba Inu and Lahsa Apso.

Because this group encompasses so many different breeds, it can’t really be generalized. This group has dogs with many different physical traits, personalities and temperaments.

For example, the Chow Chow, originally bred in China as a working dog, is known to be more independent and aloof than other breeds.

In contrast, the Bichon Frise usually has a gentle temperament. It is an affectionate, playful and cheerful breed of dog.

Toy Breeds

The breeds within the Toy group are what you would expect from the name – small and cute! This group includes the Papillon, Chihuahua, Maltese, Chinese Crested, Yorkshire Terrier, Miniature Pinscher, Pug, Shih Tzu and Pomeranian.

These little dogs are a great choice for people whose homes or apartments are smaller. But these small dogs tend to have big personalities and a lot of courage, so they can become a handful if not trained to behave properly.

I have taken care of  little Pomeranians and I would swear that they believe they are a fierce, large dog like a German Shepherd or Rottweiler!

Although there are many differences in the various groups and breeds of dogs, all dogs need plenty of exercise, physical and mental stimulation and plenty of love.

Dogs are social animals and you become part of their “pack” when you bring them into your home. They depend on you not just for food, water, and shelter, but social interaction and leadership every day.

Keep in mind the general traits of dog groups and how well you can adjust to their needs when choosing your pet. And even mixed breeds (mutts), can exhibit specific dog breed or group traits.

 

Photos:
Courtesy of flickr.com. Creative Commons License
Siberian Husky: Tomi Tapio
Golden Retriver: digital_image_fan
Miniature Schnauzer: KaCey97007
German Shepherd: Euro magic

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Living with Pets When You Have Allergies

I have a client who is a pet-lover, owns two cats, and is highly allergic to one of them. It may seem impractical, but I think many of your pet-lovers out there can understand.

Even though it’s uncomfortable and inconvenient, many people who have allergic reactions to animals just can’t give up pet ownership.

People can be allergic to any warm-blooded animal with fur or feathers. More people are allergic to cats than dogs. Symptoms can include itchy, watery eyes, sneezing, rash, and trouble breathing.

If you already suffer from asthma, having an animal around will probably worsen it. It’s usually the animal’s dander, saliva, and urine that cause symptoms. Sometimes people think it’s the fur, but it’s the dander and saliva that cling to the fur that causes the problem.

Basically, the body’s immune system is reacting to allergens, which are proteins found in dander, saliva, and urine. Unforunately, the allergens last a long time and are sticky, so they cling to furniture, walls, carpets, etc.

If you think you are suffering from pet allergies, you might want to visit and allergist to find out exactly what is causing your reactions.

If it is a pet allergy, but you really want to keep your pet, there are a few things you can do to alleviate some of the allergy symptoms.

Clean Up Allergens!

Use a vacuum with a HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter and use it one or two times a week. Wear a face mask when you vacuum. Steam-clean the carpet when you can.

If you can afford it, you might want to consider getting rid of carpeting and putting down hard flooring like wood or laminate. If you have throw rugs, make sure to wash them every so often. Don’t forget to wash drapes, walls, upholstery.

Remember, the allergen proteins like to cling to surfaces and stick around for a while. Also wash the pet’s bedding and toys.

Clean the air

You can use an air cleaner (a stand-alone unit or one that attaches to your central air system) that uses a HEPA filter to keep allergens in the air to a minimum.

You can also put a filter over your vents to avoid circulating allergens throughout your house.

Enforce a ban

Keep your pet out of your bedroom for sure, and other areas you spend a lot of time in. If you limit where they go, you limit where their allergens go.

Pick a pet you can tolerate best

Some dogs may trigger allergies more than others. Although you’ve probably heard of Bo, the first dog, who was chosen by President Obama and his family because he was “hypo-allergenic,” there’s really no such thing.

Even dogs such as poodles and portugese water dogs that have slower-growing hair instead of fur that sheds are not completely hypo-allergenic.

But, they may cause milder symptoms and can be a good choice for someone sensitive to allergens.

It’s the same for hairless cats. It may seem like a good choice, but remember, if the allergens you’re reacting to are in the cat’s saliva, it won’t matter that he’s bald!

Wash those hands

Because my client quickly gets a rash when she pets her cat, she makes sure to wash her hands right after touching her. She’s made the mistake before of touching her eyes or face after handling her cat and had to suffer itchy, red, bumps like hives.

Wash the pet

There’s some debate whether bathing your pet every week or so will help alleviate allergy symptoms. It’s something you can try and judge for yourself. When you brush your pet, be sure to wear a face mask.

Take medication

Visit an allergist, determine what exactly you’re allergic to, and if appropriate, consider taking medication like allergy shots and antihistamine pills.

If you can’t bear the allergic reactions you have to animals, but desperately want a pet, consider adopting a lizard, turtle, or snake. But be sure to do your research about the care and feeding for these types of pets if you decide to go this route!

 

References:
http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/resources/tips/allergies_pets.html
http://www.aafa.org/display.cfm?id=9&sub=18&cont=236
http://allergies.suite101.com/article.cfm/allergic_to_your_pet
http://www.webmd.com/allergies/guide/how-pets-allergies-can-go-hand-in-paw

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Getting Your Pet’s Teeth Cleaned by the Vet

Although owners try to brush their pets’ teeth, not all dogs or cats are cooperative when it comes to dental hygiene. In that case, you might want to consider scheduling an appointment with your veterinarian to have their teeth professionally and thoroughly cleaned.

Cats and dogs have the same problems with tartar and gum disease just like us, so it’s important that they receive the same type of dental care that we do.

Just like our dentists do for us, the vet can do a good check of all your pet’s teeth, take x-rays, clean and polish them, and remove any diseased or infected teeth.

One of my client’s cats had a bad cavity on one tooth and it had to be extracted during his cleaning. It was a good thing the vet discovered it because it basically crumbled into pieces when he pulled it out.

When your pet has a tooth or teeth extracted, your vet may also give you pain medication or antibiotics for your pet, and pain management instructions.

Having a pet’s teeth cleaned isn’t like your trip to the dentist, however. It’s a little more serious because to conduct a thorough check and teeth-cleaning, your vet will have to use anesthesia.

Risks of Pet Teeth Cleaning

There are risks involved with any type of procedure that involves anesthesia. The first thing you should do is to discuss the topic with your vet and gain an understanding of the subject.

Before a vet puts any pet under anesthesia, he will most likely do a thorough physical exam to ensure that your pet is healthy. Vets can also perform various other tests to check that the major organs – heart, lungs, kidneys, liver – are functioning properly.

You will want your vet to be able to identify any existing conditions like heart or lung problems before making the decision to put him under anesthesia and what type of anesthetic to use.

Age is a also a big consideration in the decision to put a pet under anesthesia. The older the pet, the riskier it is.

Just like in humans, food should be withheld from the animal at least 12 hours before surgery. Water should not be given at least 4 hours before surgery. Some vets may vary in their instructions, so double check with your vet beforehand.

Anesthetics can be administered through an injection or by having your pet inhale gas. Some vets will administer a sedative before general anesthesia is given to calm the animal and also to lessen the amount of the general anesthetic needed.

After the animal is sedated, the vet will put in an intravenous (IV) catheter in a vein so the vet has ready access to the animal’s blood stream and can provide the general anesthetic or any other fluids or medications quickly if they are needed.

A breathing or endotracheal tube will also be inserted down the animal’s throat to ensure that the airway is clear and that breathing will not be obstructed in any way.

If a gas is used as anesthetic, the right mix of an anesthetic and oxygen is given to the animal through the tube.

During the procedure, the vet can monitor your pet’s vital signs, such as blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing, to ensure that all is normal during the procedure.

Caring for Pets After Teeth Cleaning

You should also talk to your vet about caring for your pet after any procedure that involves anesthesia. Every animal reacts differently to anesthesia and some recover more quickly than others after waking up.

Some animals may remain lethargic or groggy for hours or even days after the procedure. If an anesthetic was injected into your pet, it will take longer for his body to rid itself of it. If a gas anesthetic was used, the pet just needs to breathe it out of his system.

When he’s recovering, make sure to keep your pet in a warm (not hot), comfortable, quiet environment.

Your pet may exhibit behavioral changes, so it’s usually recommended that you don’t leave a pet alone with other animals or children during recovery. A confused or uncomfortable animal may become aggressive and strike out.

Overweight animals may take longer to rid their bodies of the anesthesia. Watch your pet carefully and if you think he is not recovering as expected, take him to the vet.

Because anesthesia can be potentially dangerous for your pet, don’t hesitate to ask your vet questions and discuss any concerns you have.

Together with your vet, you can determine if a professional cleaning is the right thing for your pet. Discuss any pre-anesthesia tests, the procedure itself, and the after-care your pet may need.

 

References:

http://petcare.suite101.com/article.cfm/professionaldentalcare

http://www.healthypet.com/library_view.aspx?ID=142

http://www.vetmed.wsu.edu/clientEd/anesthesia.aspx

 

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Fremont Pet Sitter Collects Pet Items for Animal Shelters

This is a partial segment of the title of the press release we sent out for our 2011 Presents 4 Pets collection drive. You can read it at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2011/11/prweb8937398.htm.

This is our 4th Annual collection drive, where we ask our clients, and pet lovers in general, to drop off new and used pet items to our drop off locations. We collect those items and distribute them to local animal shelters and pet rescues.

You can drop off items at several locations in the S.F. East Bay area from Fremont, Hayward, Union City, San Leandro, and Castro Valley.

All items will be donated to the Tri-City Animal Shelter, Hayward Animal Shelter, the Ohlone Humane Society, and Furry Friends Rescue.

Pets are in need of your help. These animal rescues and shelters especially need food. Both dry and wet food is needed. Any brand and type is fine. Also, if you have any old collars, leashes, toys, treats, and more, you can donate those.

You can see the full list of items you can donate and where you can drop them off at on our 2011 P4P page.

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What is Kennel Cough?

Just as the name suggests, kennel cough is an infectious disease that involves the respiratory system of dogs, with one of the most recognizable symptoms being coughing. Although this disease is highly infectious, it is usually not life-threatening.

But, as with any illness, you should always get your pet checked out and diagnosed by a veterinarian, who can recommend the proper treatment.

What Exactly is Kennel Cough and Its Symptoms?

Although many people use the term “kennel cough” to describe a number of respiratory ailments that cause coughing and inflammation of the respiratory system, there are several possible culprits when it comes to cause.

Kennel cough, also known as canine infectious tracheobronchitis, is usually caused by a virus or bacteria. It can be caused by the canine parainfluenza virus, canine distemper, canine adenovirus 1 and 2, canine respiratory coronavirus, and the bacteria, bordetella bronchiseptica.

The symptoms of tracheobronchitis can include coughing, hacking, wretching, discharge from the mouth, or nose, lethargy, loss of appetite and fever. Sometimes, the persistent coughing may seem like the dog has something caught in his throat. Also, the coughing will be most apparent after the dog exercises or gets excited.

It is not uncommon for dogs to seem alert and normal except for the persistent coughing. In some cases, the dog will not show any symptoms at all, but can still infect other dogs.

How Does a Dog get Kennel Cough?

Tracheobronchitis is highly contagious and can be transmitted through the air via coughing and sneezing. The virus or bacteria can also contaminate surfaces and be spread through physical contact with that surface.

The name kennel cough became commonly used because dogs will contract the illness when in close quarters with other dogs, such as in a boarding or kennel situation. Of course, that doesn’t mean those are the only ways dogs can get the illness. Any place, whether at a dog park, in someone’s home, or even in a vet’s waiting room, is a possible place for infection.

Symptoms of the illness can appear about one week after exposure to the bacteria or virus. In a healthy dog, the illness should get better without treatment in about 1 to 3 weeks depending on whether the cause was viral or bacterial.

To be safe, you should always consult with your veterinarian. In some cases, if left untreated, infectious tracheobronchitis can develop into more serious bronchitis or pneumonia. As with most illnesses, puppies, elderly dogs, and dogs with compromised immune systems are at most risk.

How is it Treated?

The best thing to do for your dog if he exhibits symptoms of tracheobronchitis is to visit the veterinarian and have a thorough checkup and get a diagnosis. Diagnosis is usually based on the symptoms of tracheobronchitis and not with blood tests or cultures, although those may also be performed.

Depending on the severity of the symptoms, the vet may prescribe a cough suppressant to ease discomfort, or
provide additional medication such as an antibiotic, a bronchodilator to make breathing easier, and steroids to reduce inflammation.

Your dog will also have to be isolated from other animals to prevent spreading the disease. And although this illness is most commonly found among dogs, it can be spread to cats.

It’s also advisable to clean and disinfect anything that your dog has come into contact with.

What Can I Do to Prevent It?

Pet vaccinations can provide some protection against this illness, but isn’t a guarantee. There are pros and cons of pet vaccinations. Your pet will have some protection against tracheobronchitis with their regular core vaccines that cover distemper and canine adenovirus.

You can ask your vet about getting additional protection with injectable or intranasal vaccines for bordetella and parainfluenza. If you do decide to get those vaccinations, it will take a few days before he is protected against the illness.

Also be aware that your pet might exhibit mild symptoms of tracheobronchitis and may be contagious for the disease. It’s best to keep your dog away from other animals after the vaccinations are given. Consult with your vet about how long before and after vaccinations your dog should be isolated.

Of course, because this disease is spread from animal to animal, the most obvious way you can try and prevent your dog from contracting the illness is to avoid contact with other dogs and cats.

Can I Catch the Illness?

It is not usual for humans to get infected by a dog’s respiratory illness, but it is not impossible. As with any illness, the very young, the very old, and those people with compromised immune systems are more susceptible to catching any number of illnesses, even from animals, so care should be taken.

References:
http://www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?c=2+2102&aid=452
http://www.kennelcoughindogs.com/
http://www.vetinfo.com/dkcough.html
http://www.dogkennelcough.net/what-is-kennel-cough/

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Prevent Doggie Hot Foot and Paws

With all the great weather we’ve been having here in the S.F Bay Area, it’s been a pleasure to take nice long walks with my dog. It’s been getting a little hotter, and with the hottest days still to come for us, we can certainly expect more sunny days. This makes me think about how I should keep in mind how hot the ground surface gets during these summer strolls around the neighborhood and how we need to protect our dog’s paws. They don’t have protective footwear like we do.

Concrete and asphalt surfaces can get very hot during these cloudless days, so keep in mind your dog’s comfort and safety. Very hot surfaces can be damaging to your pet’s paws.

Limit the time you spend on these hard surfaces and if you can, do most of your walking on cool grass in dog-friendly parks, or on dirt walking trails in wooded areas. If a park is not close to your home, consider taking a drive with your dog to the nearest one.

If you absolutely must be on the sidewalks or streets, you might want to think about training your dog to wear shoes on his feet made especially for dogs for protection. You should try to take a walk only during the early morning or evening hours when it’s cooler.

Also remember that your dog is much closer to the ground than you are, and they will be affected by the heat radiating off of the surface much more quickly. Make sure you take water with you so you can give your dog a water break. Prolonged exposure to a hot surface will also affect your dog’s ability to cool himself off since dogs sweat only through their tongues and paw pads.

Watch your dog for signs of discomfort or heat exhaustion. Excessive panting, discolored gums, vomiting, and lethargy are red flags for you. If you see signs of distress, get your pet into shade, cool him down with a wet towel, or just water (but not ice cold) and get him to drink small amounts of water. Get to a vet as soon as you can.

Take extra care during these months. You don’t want your fun walk to turn into a medical emergency!

References:
http://azhumane.org/PDFs/behavior/general/summercare.pdf
http://www.petfinder.com/journal/index.cgi?article=552
http://www.animalwellnessmagazine.com/m/m84/main.htm

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Let Your Cat Outside! Sort of…

As a long-time cat owner, my personal preference has always been to keep my cats indoors at all times. I like not having to worry about my cats running into traffic, encountering loose dogs, cats and other wildlife, getting foxtails in their ears and fleas hitching a ride on them.

The most I’ll do is set up perches in front of windows inside the house so they can sit and watch the activities going on outside through the screen.

I’ve found through one client, however, that not letting your cat loose outdoors doesn’t have to mean confinement indoors. She does two things that lets her cats enjoy the great outdoors in a limited way.

Her first outdoor activity for her cats involves a leash. She has trained her cats since they were young to get used to a harness and takes them for short walks around her house. If this sounds like something you’d like to try with your cat, be sure to take it slow.

You must be very patient if you want to keep your cat happy and calm when they are exposed to a leash or harness, and especially after you put it on him. You will have to take it slow, step-by-step, using treats and toys to get your cat to associate being on a leash and walking outside wearing it as a good thing.

Here are a couple of informative articles about leash-training your cat: http://www.wikihow.com/Leash-Train-a-Cat
http://cat-training.suite101.com/article.cfm/leash_training_cats

If you don’t want to bother with leash training, you might want to consider a cat carriage or stroller. These strollers look essentially like baby strollers, but they are enclosed so your pet remains safe and confined while still being able to enjoy the fresh air and moving around outside.

These special pet strollers can also be used by small dogs. Just google “pet stroller” and you’ll get an idea of what this contraption is like.

The second way my client accommodates her cats’ desire to experience the outdoors is a well-made outdoor cat enclosure. She built hers using wood and chicken wire, and it’s built to fit perfectly in her back yard.

To let her cats outside, she simply opens the living room window to which the enclosure is attached. The enclosure consists of a smaller section that the cats walk through to get to the larger area that has built-in perches and a door large enough for a human to easily walk through.

If you’re handy with tools, you can build one like she did, or if you google “cat enclosure,” you’ll see a wide variety of ready-made enclosures for your pet. You’ll find anything from a smaller, perch-like enclosure to good-sized cages that can accommodate large cat condos for your cat’s happiness and comfort.

So, if you’re like me and don’t want to let your cats roam free outside, but want to them to experience the outdoors in a limited way, consider leash-training, an enclosed stroller or cat enclosure. I’m sure your cat will love you for it!

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Beware of Foxtails!

During these days of warm, sunny weather, it’s only natural for us to want to take our dogs away from the urban jungle and have fun where there’s grass, trees, and fresh air.

Remember, however, that the great outdoors is where your dog can pick up one of the biggest pains in the nose or ear or eye — a foxtail.

As its name suggests, a foxtail is a grass that looks similar to a fox’s tail. Unfortunately, the plant, which is also called “spear grass,” is not like fur, but spiky, and it can be hazardous and even deadly to your pet. There are many varieties
of this type of grass and some are more dangerous than others.

The problem with this grass is that the mature seeds have sharp barbs that are designed to cling to animal fur. When your dog walks by or through the grass, the tips with the barbs catch onto fur and come easily off of the rest of the plant. The purpose is so that the seeds of the plant can be dispersed by the moving animal.

Unfortunately for our pets, especially long-haired dog breeds, this can be a big problem. Because of the barbs of the foxtail, it moves in only one direction, and as the dog moves around, it tends to burrow deeper into the fur. If your dog has shorter fur, you will be able to spot the foxtails more easily and remove them. Or, they may fall off on their own.

Long-haired breeds have no such luck. The foxtails usually stay put and just get driven in deeper as the dog moves.

It’s easy enough to remove the barbed foxtails when you see them, but if they get inside your dog’s ear canal, up into his nose, into his throat, or even under his eyelid, the foxtail goes from being an irritation to real danger. Unless it’s removed immediately, the foxtail will go deeper, causing pain, internal damage, infection, and even death.

The seeds have even been found inside lungs and abdomens. Sometimes, surgery is necessary to remove the plant, but that can be difficult because the foxtail doesn’t easily show up in x-rays or ultrasounds.

When you take your dog out and let him run free outdoors, keep your eyes out for the grass. You’ll want to try and steer your dog away from dry, grassy areas. The best thing you can do is pick areas like a nicely landscaped park free of tall weeds and grasses.

You’ll also want to keep your own backyard free potentially dangerous weeds and grasses.

If you do let your dog run around in an area that has more wild plant life, be sure to do a thorough check of your pet after his romp. Do an overall body brushing and exam, with special attention to the ears, eyes, nose, between the toes. Also be aware of any behavior or symptoms such as sneezing, blood from the nose, pawing, or scratching.

Even after you’ve done an exam, follow up with another check later on in case you’ve missed something. If you do find
a seed and if you can’t easily remove it, take your dog to the vet. Foxtails are something to take seriously, and if you do, your dog will thank you for that!

References:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foxtail_(diaspore))
http://www.baltercatalogue.com/articles/57-foxtail-grass-and-dogs.htm
http://vetmedicine.about.com/od/diseasesconditionsfaqs/qt/QT_cheatgrass.htm

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15 Tips to Keep Pets Cool This Hot Summer

I don’t know about the weather where you are, but here in Fremont, we are having a hot spell. Today is also the first day of Summer, and you need to think about how to keep your pets cool during this hot weather.

It’s summer time! Time for sun, fun, vacations, and extra care for your pets.

Remember that your pets depend on you to keep them comfortable during the hottest time of the year, so don’t let them down. Here are a few tips to keep in mind while you enjoy the good weather this summer.

  1. Make sure your pets always have access to fresh, cool drinking water.
  2. Don’t leave your dog outside without access to shelter that provides shade and has good ventilation. In fact, leave pets indoors if you can, especially on the hottest days.
  3. Never leave your pet in a car unattended.
  4. Take cool water with you on walks and car trips to give your pet.
  5. If you walk your dog, don’t overdo it. Walk during the early morning or evening hours when it’s cooler. If you have to walk during the hotter hours, take cool water with you, walk on grass to avoid hot paved roads, and watch your dog for signs of discomfort or heat exhaustion. If he exhibits those signs, cool him down immediately and visit the vet.
  6. Remember that very young, very old, and overweight pets will be more susceptible to heat exhaustion or heat stroke in hot weather. Pets with medical conditions such as heart problems are also at risk.
  7. When walking your dog, steer clear of areas that might be targeted for insecticide spraying, which is commonly done during the summer. Also keep your pet’s safety in mind when trying to rid your own home or yard of pests that come out more in warmer weather.
  8. If your pet does get over-heated, you can put a wet towel over him, pour some water over him, or put him in a tub or kiddie pool with water to cool him down.
  9. If your house doesn’t have air conditioning, try running some fans to circulate the air and cool down the temperature.
  10. If you find yourself outdoors with your dog for a while, consider putting pet sunscreen on his sensitive nose and inside ears that stand upright.
  11. You can trim fur on long-haired dogs, but don’t shave it all off. The fur protects him from the sun.
  12. Some people cut or shave their cat’s fur during hot summer months. Some people say they would never shave a cat, while others think it’s perfectly safe to do so. If you do decide to give your cat a haircut, you might want to take him to a professional groomer. If you do it yourself, get a friend to help, use proper shears, and take extra care as a cat’s skin is very thin can be cut easily.
  13. Regular grooming is important, especially during hot weather when pets shed. Brush your cat or dog to keep fur from matting.
  14. Consider giving your cat a hairball remedy during the summer. All that shedding will undoubtedly cause more hairballs.
  15. Be careful of open windows in your house. Even if your window has a screen, a dog or cat can easily knock it out and make an escape.
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