Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Summer Safety Tips for Pittsburgh Pets and Their Owners

Summer’s in the air (literally), which means it’s time to think about the dangers of heat stroke and other summer-related hazards to your pet. Dogs and (outdoor) cats will have more opportunities to get into trouble, whether it’s suffering from heat stroke or attracting parasites. Protecting your pet from these and other dangers will make your summer--and theirs--a lot more fun.

See our tips below for important information about summer safety, signs of heat stroke in dogs, and more. If you still have questions, give us a call at (412) 882-3070!

Protect Your Pet from Prolonged Heat Exposure

What pet doesn’t enjoy basking in the sun? Yet, too much sun and heat can spell trouble for your four-legged friend, especially if they have a thick coat, are overweight, and/or have a flattened muzzle. Dogs tend to struggle with heat because they can’t sweat to cool themselves off. They need to pant, and over time this becomes less effective. Dogs with flattened muzzles like Pugs, English Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, and French Bulldogs are at a serious disadvantage because they can’t breathe as easily, which means panting takes a lot more work. These breeds are much more at risk for heat stroke.

Signs of Heat Stroke in Dogs

Heat stroke can be deadly for dogs, much like it can be for humans. If your dog has been out in the summer heat for far too long, they are likely to have these symptoms:
  • Heavy panting
  • Excessive, thick drool
  • Body temperature feels abnormally high
  • Struggling to urinate
  • Lethargic, listless
  • Vomiting/diarrhea
  • Abnormally high heart rate
  • Weakness
  • Confusion
  • Bright red tongue
Call our hospital immediately if your pet is showing any of these symptoms.

How to Minimize Your Pet’s Risk of Heat Stroke

To ensure that your pet doesn’t experience more heat and sunlight than they can endure, keep these tips in mind:
  • Never, EVER leave your pet in the car--even if the car is running. Cars left running in summer can easily overheat! Even if you think you’ll only be in the store for a couple of minutes, those minutes can be a long time for a dog or cat sitting in a car that’s getting hotter by the second. 
  • Don’t allow your dog (or cat) to walk on hot asphalt. Sun-baked sidewalks and streets can burn their paw pads, and the heat risking off the ground can raise your pet’s body temperature. 
  • Make sure your pet always has access to fresh water while they are outside. 
  • Make sure your pet has plenty of cool shade to shelter in.
  • Take your dog on walks either early in the morning or in the evening, when the sun is low and the ground has cooled. 
  • Keep exercise/playtime outside to a minimum.
  • When in doubt, keep your pet indoors on hot summer days as much as possible, and supervise them when you let them outside. 

Maintain Your Pet’s Parasite Protection

Fleas, ticks, and various kinds of worms are much more prevalent in summer, making them an even bigger risk than usual for dogs and cats. Make sure your pet never misses a dose of their heartworm and flea/tick prevention, as without it they could be at risk not only for an infestation, but an infection (or two) as well! Keeping your pet protected also protects the rest of your family, and your home.

Water Safety 

Why shouldn’t your pet get to enjoy some water playtime? After all, it keeps them cool. But before you let them take a dip, consult these tips and prepare accordingly.

Get Your Dog a Life Jacket

Whether you’re heading to the lake or taking a trip to the Atlantic, your pet should have a life vest at all times to help them stay afloat during swims. This is especially important for deep-chested breeds like Boxers and Bulldogs, who are not natural swimmers like Labradors. Regardless of breed, however, a life jacket that fits your pet correctly is a major must.

Don’t Let Them Drink the Water

Neither lake nor ocean water is good for your pet to drink. Bacteria and parasites abound, and these could make them very sick. Also, if your pet recently sustained a cut or scrape, it would probably be best to keep them out of the water entirely. Wounds are crucial entry points for bacteria and can increase your pet’s risk for infection. 

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Why is Parasite Prevention So Important for My Dog and Cat?

Parasites including fleas, ticks, heartworms, and intestinal parasites are a serious concern to
our pets. They not only cause irritation; they can also cause dangerous diseases. At Always
Compassionate Veterinary Care, we highly recommend routine parasite testing as well as year-
round parasite prevention to keep your pet safe from these pesky critters!

Why We Recommend Routine Parasite Testing

At your pet’s annual exam, we often recommend parasite testing to ensure your pet is free of
pests and make sure their parasite preventatives are working. Since many parasite
preventatives are monthly, it can be easy to miss a dose, or even give it to your pet late, which
opens the door for an infestation.

At your pet’s annual exam, we’ll recommend three tests:

Fecal Testing
This test is valuable for all cats and dogs, not just puppies and kittens who are prone to getting
worms from their mother. Your pet can come in contact with a wide variety of intestinal parasites from tapeworms and hookworms to giardia and coccidia in their environment. These intestinal parasites cause little to no symptoms, but over time, they can damage your pet’s intestines and may cause conditions like anemia. Fecal testing is the only way to ensure your pet is free of these parasites and offer appropriate treatment if any are found.

Heartworm Testing
Heartworms are transmitted from the bite of an infected mosquito, and they travel through your
pet’s bloodstream to the blood vessels around the heart and lungs, where they lodge
themselves. Over time, they’ll mature and multiply, causing irreversible damage to your pet’s
heart and lungs. The symptoms of heartworm disease in its early stages are very mild and may
include lethargy, a cough after exercise, or reluctance to exercise. Yet, many pets have no
symptoms at all. By the time symptoms are noticeable, the disease has advanced to a
dangerous stage that is difficult and costly to treat. Since dogs are the typical hosts for
heartworms, we will often recommend testing them yearly. Yet, cats can be infected, too.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for a cat with heartworm disease, making prevention even more

Lyme Disease Testing
Lyme disease is a tick-borne illness that can infect dogs, cats, and
humans alike. Ticks are usually found in wooded areas, but they can be as close to home as
your backyard! Dogs are more likely to be bitten by ticks, only because their skin is less
sensitive and they are often more likely to be outdoors in tick-infested areas with their owners.
Cats, on the other hand, have very sensitive skin and often remove the tick before it has a
chance to bite. Therefore, we only recommend routine Lyme testing for dogs who are often
outdoors with their owners. Lyme disease in dogs is often asymptomatic, meaning there are
very little or no symptoms. In some cases, dogs fight off the disease on their own, yet others
can get gravely ill. Testing helps us recognize Lyme disease in your pet so we can more closely
watch their symptoms and get them the care they need if they take a turn for the worst.

Preventative Options

At Always Compassionate Veterinary Care, we’ll talk to you about your pet’s needs and which
parasite preventatives will work best for them. Some, like Revolution Plus for cats, protects
against multiple parasites, all in one dose. Meanwhile, others like Heartgard, only protect
against one parasite (heartworms). Depending on your pet’s needs and your abilities, we’ll help
you find the safest, most effective parasite prevention option! Schedule an appointment today!