Dr. Veronica M. Bingamon
Zia Pet Hospital
Where family pets find loving care
Now that summer is in full swing, it is time to get our pets ready for the long hot summer months. Summertime is a great time to have adventures with your pet but first make sure you prepare to keep them safe. Here is a list of summer dangers that are supported by the ASPCA:
Sun & Heat- Heat stroke is a common and possibly life-threatening condition that occurs in pets during the summer. Dogs only have sweat glands on the paws and they cannot regulate their body temperature quickly. Overheating also leads to becoming quickly dehydrated. Know the signs of overheating:
Increased heart rate
Blue/dark colored gums
Vomiting or diarrhea
If you think your pet is overheated, take them to the veterinarian immediately!
Prevent overheating and heat stroke:
Access to plenty of fresh water
Take your pet for a walk during cooler temperatures
as early morning and evening.
Keep pets indoors but if they have to be outdoor
they need plenty of shade to stay cool.
Hot Cars- Never, never, never leave a pet in the car, even with the window down. It can take as little as 10 minutes for the car’s interior to climb from 85o to 120o! Pets that are most at risk for overheating are young, elderly or overweight animals, those with short muzzles (pugs, bulldogs, Boston terriers)
Fireworks & Thunderstorms- 1 in 5 pets goes missing after being scared by loud noises including fireworks and thunder. Some pets can also become injured by trying to jump out windows or fences. Keep your pets in a quiet, secure area at home. Some ideas are giving a chew toy, turning on the radio or TV to help muffle sounds. Security/pressure shirts are a great way to give your pet a “hug” that releases soothing hormones called endorphins. In severe cases, you pet may need to have a sedative medication to calm them. Speak to your veterinarian about sedative medication options that can calm your pet during the loud events and weather the summer brings.
Microchip- The best way to identify your pet is through an identification microchip. When performed by your veterinarian, this microchip is registered to you. Should your pet ever go missing, the animal shelter and veterinarian are able to scan your pet’s microchip and reunite with their families. Thousands of pets go missing and microchips save lives!
Parties & Barbecues- We all love giving our pets treats. The best treats are made for pets. Make sure your pet can’t get into human food (especially grapes, raisins, onions, avocado and chocolate) or alcoholic drinks. Keep dogs away from picnic garbage and human food. Ingestion of corncobs, chicken bones and greasy foods (fat from meat) that causes pancreatitis, vomiting, bloody diarrhea and more and can all be life threatening.
Toxic Chemicals – Insecticides, insect repellents, snail bait, rodent poison, sunscreen, citronella products and glow sticks are toxic, keep them away from your pets.
Dangerous plants- Many plants can be dangerous to pets. Foxtails have spikey seeds that can get lodged in a dog’s ear, paws, eye, nose or skin. The Lily flower is toxic and can cause kidney failure in cats. Be aware of problem plants in your area.
Up-to-date on vaccines- Be sure your pet’s vaccines are up-to-date. Parvovirus, an illness that flourishes in the warm weather, can be fatal to dogs that have not received vaccines. The city Rio Rancho requires all dogs and cats have their Rabies vaccine.
Parasite Prevention- Dogs should be heartworm tested every year and be on flea/tick prevention. A simple, yummy chewable that is prescribed by your veterinarian can protect your pet all summer long from heartworm disease, fleas and ticks. Mosquitos carry heartworm disease, fleas and ticks can transmit diseases such as tapeworms, plague, tularemia, Lyme disease and more! Flea collars and other home therapies are not reliable and often only kill the adult parasite, leaving behind eggs to develop and re-infect your pet. The best medicine is evidence based medicine and your veterinarian can choose the best protection for your pets!
Allergies & Bug Bites- Swelling of the face and/or development of hives are signs of an allergic reaction (bee, ant, spider, some plant stings) and needs to be treated by your veterinarian immediately. Ticks and fleas can also cause areas of irritation or “hot spots.” If you pet has red, raw, itchy skin this can be due to environmental allergies, food allergies, skin mites or hormonal imbalance (i.e. hypothyroid). Don’t let you pet go with skin or ear infections, have your pet examined to get them relief.
When in doubt, talk to your veterinarian. The internet offers a bountiful of commonly misleading and incorrect information, talk to the expert, your veterinarian. Summer time is the perfect time to get your pets out in the great outdoors, socializing and having adventures but it is important to keep these tips in mind as the days grow longer and hotter. Have a safe and wonderful summer!
by Norm Shrout
Long Leash on Life
How can this be, you ask? It’s hard and crunchy, right? Dry food brands allege that their dry food help keep your pet’s teeth clean. Many companies put these claims on their packaging. Curiously, the pet food industry allows these unscientific claims, but they are far from the truth. This leaves pet parents believing that dry food not only cleans teeth, but that no other pet oral care measures are needed. The unfortunate oral-integrity losers are the pets.
To clean teeth, dry pet food would need to cause consistent and substantial abrasive action against the pet’s tooth during chewing, especially near the gum line. In reality, dry food shatters when the pet’s teeth apply pressure to it, forming a sticky paste that smears across the teeth. This is a perfect medium in which plaque (the start of oral hygiene problems) can form. Another compounding factor is the substantial amounts of simple carbs contained in most dry pet foods that tend to aggressively stick to the teeth.
Dental disease has become firmly entrenched as the number one health condition in pets; nearly 80% of cats and dogs have some degree of dental disease by age three. That’s because the vast majority of pets are consuming dry food alone, without any other oral hygiene protocols. Another unfortunate factor is that periodontal disease can contribute to other systemic health issues like heart disease, diabetic complications, as well as kidney and liver concerns.
Pet parents can prevent periodontal disease by investing 5 minutes a day on pet teeth brushing. This is the most effective way to remove food particles and disrupt plaque growth, which can return in as little as 24 hours. Another proven method is a specific seaweed food additive. Don’t rule out the added effectiveness of supervised chewing on safe, durable chews, including animal body parts and high quality dental chews. Keep in mind that wolves are not stricken with the periodontal disease that dogs endure because they do not consume processed dry food and they chew on raw bones.
It is understandable that the convenience of dry pet food makes it so universal. But if you stop and actually look at the drawbacks of feeding non-ancestral dry pet food, poor oral hygiene is just one of many reasons not to rely on it exclusively. Dry pet food is highly processed, exactly like human fast food. So it should not come as a surprise that is has more substantial health risks associated with it than the fewer benefits.
In closing, the next time you might be shopping for dry pet food, please consider the many other types of pet food that may be better for your pets’ oral integrity including dehydrated, freeze-dried, and fresh diets, as well as home prepared meals. Ask your local independent retailer, they will confirm that these foods can have a more positive effect on your pet’s dental dynamics. When it comes to their oral hygiene, health and overall well-being, it is clear that pets cannot live by dry food alone.