There have been recent reports in the media of an “atypical canine infectious respiratory disease” with signs of sneezing, coughing, ocular discharge and lethargy. Affected dogs have been found in New Hampshire, the Midwest, Oregon and Washington and have been largely limited to upper respiratory signs.
There are numerous bacteria and viruses that are known to work alone or together to cause what veterinarians commonly refer to as Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex. Thus far, none of the known infectious agents including Canine Influenza Virus have been isolated from affected dogs.
The doctors at Maple Leaf Veterinary Care Center have not yet diagnosed any of their patients with this possibly new pathogen and it appears to not be present at significant levels in Washington State. According to the Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory there have been no deaths in Washington from this new agent.
Our doctors will continue to monitor the situation and will provide updates as the situation evolves. Meanwhile, what can you do while we learn more about this pathogen? Make sure your dog is up to date with its vaccines including for Bordetella and Parainfluenza. While Canine Influenza Virus has not been isolated from affected dogs, Maple Leaf Veterinary Care Center does have this vaccine available for those dog owners who wish to have their dogs vaccinated for it.
Additionally, depending upon your degree of concern: Consider alternatives to large-group boarding situations and measure the benefits of dog park exercise with the potential risk of exposure to potentially sick dogs. Avoid sharing of water bowls among large number of dogs of unknown health. Have your dog examined by our doctors if it is exhibiting signs of respiratory or other illness.
Attention, animal lovers, it’s almost the spookiest night of the year! The ASPCA recommends taking some common sense precautions this Halloween to keep you and your pet saying “trick or treat!”
1. No tricks, no treats: That bowl of candy is for trick-or-treaters, not for Scruffy and Fluffy. Chocolate in all forms—especially dark or baking chocolate—can be very dangerous for dogs and cats. Candies containing the artificial sweetener xylitol can also cause problems. If you do suspect your pet has ingested something toxic, please call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.
2. Popular Halloween plants such as pumpkins and decorative corn are considered to be relatively nontoxic, but they can produce stomach upset in pets who nibble on them.
3. Wires and cords from electric lights and other decorations should be kept out of reach of your pets. If chewed, your pet might suffer cuts or burns, or receive a possibly life-threatening electrical shock.
4. A carved pumpkin certainly is festive, but do exercise caution if you choose to add a candle. Pets can easily knock a lit pumpkin over and cause a fire. Curious kittens especially run the risk of getting burned or singed by candle flames.
5. Dress-up can be a big mess-up for some pets. Please don’t put your dog or cat in a costume UNLESS you know he or she loves it (yup, a few pets are real hams!). For pets who prefer their “birthday suits,” however, wearing a costume may cause undue stress.
6. If you do dress up your pet, make sure the costume isn’t annoying or unsafe. It should not constrict the animal’s movement or hearing, or impede his ability to breathe, bark or meow. Also, be sure to try on costumes before the big night. If your pet seems distressed, allergic or shows abnormal behavior, consider letting him go au naturale or donning a festive bandana.
7. Take a closer look at your pet’s costume and make sure it does not have small, dangling or easily chewed-off pieces that he could choke on. Also, ill-fitting outfits can get twisted on external objects or your pet, leading to injury.
8. All but the most social dogs and cats should be kept in a separate room away from the front door during peak trick-or-treating hours. Too many strangers can be scary and stressful for pets.
9. When opening the door for trick-or-treaters, take care that your cat or dog doesn’t dart outside.
10. IDs, please! Always make sure your dog or cat has proper identification. If for any reason your pet escapes and becomes lost, a collar and tags and/or a microchip can be a lifesaver, increaing the chances that he or she will be returned to you
Foxtail plants can be risky for your dog. The barbed seed heads of the foxtail plant can work their way into any part of your dog or cat, from the nose to between the toes and inside the ears, eyes and mouth. They can even simply dig themselves directly into a patch of skin.
The foxtail plant is a grass-like weed. It is mostly found in the Western half of the U.S.
The danger of foxtails goes beyond simple irritation. Because these tough seeds don’t break down inside the body, an embedded foxtail can lead to serious infection for your dog. It can even lead to death if left untreated. The seeds can be hard to find in your dog’s fur.
So how can you tell if your pooch has a foxtail that’s causing problems? If you find a foxtail should you extract it? And when is it time to call a vet?
Foxtails and Your Dog: Risks and Symptoms
Foxtails travel. Moving relentlessly forward, never back, they can migrate from inside your dog’s nose to its brain. They can dig through skin or be inhaled into — and then perforate — a lung.
Embedded foxtails can cause discharge, abscesses, swelling, pain, and death. If your dog is displaying any of the following symptoms, check for foxtails or talk to your vet:
Feet. Foxtails love your dog’s feet and can easily become embedded between tender toes. Check for foxtails if you notice swelling or limping or if your dog is constantly licking the area.
Ears. If your pooch is shaking his head, tilting it to the side, or scratching incessantly at an ear, this could be the sign of a foxtail — one that may be so deep inside the ear canal you can’t see it. Your veterinarian needs to take a look using a special scope.
Eyes. Redness, discharge, swelling, squinting, and pawing all may be signs your dog has a foxtail lodged in its eye. If you think this may be the case, seek veterinary care immediately.
Nose. If you see discharge from the nose, or if your dog is sneezing frequently and intensely, there may be a foxtail lodged in a nasal passage.
Genitals. Foxtails can find their way into these areas, too. So if you notice your dog persistently licking at its genitals, foxtails could be the cause.
Tips for Preventing Foxtail Problems
Any dog can get foxtails in the ears, nose, eyes, or mouth. But dogs with long ears and curly hair can be especially prone to foxtail problems. Prevent issues by:
Examining your pet’s coat during foxtail season — generally May through December — especially if you’ve gone walking in open fields. Brush your dog as necessary, looking especially closely for pointy foxtail awns in your dog’s thick or feathery fur.
Check your pup’s face and ears carefully for foxtails. Don’t forget to look in and around your pooch’s mouth and gums.
Carefully check your dog’s paw pads for foxtails — especially between the toes.
Use tweezers to remove any foxtails you can easily get to. But if a foxtail is deeply embedded, or if the area around it is red or swollen, call your veterinarian right away. Remember, foxtails won’t come out on their own, and they can burrow into the brain, spine, eardrums, lungs — actually, anywhere.
The easiest way to prevent foxtail problems is to keep your dog out of overgrown, grassy areas. You should also pull out any foxtail plants you find in your yard. Also consider trimming your dog’s fur during foxtail season, especially if it tends to persistently get foxtails in one spot.
WebMD Veterinary Reference Reviewed by Amy Flowers, DVM on 2/, 015
Perfect dog weather means never having to say “it’s too cold” or “it’s too hot” to go outdoors for a canine romp. What temperature is that? It’s different for every dog, but in general, a moderate 70 degrees usually fits the bill for every dog. Knowing how to protect your dog in hot weather, and protect your dog’s paws from hot pavement is critical.
How Hot Is Too Hot for Dog Paws
When the thermometer registers 85 degrees and stays elevated throughout the day, taking your dog everywhere you go or even for a short outing can lead to a serious injury. Spending even a few minutes to meander through an outdoor event can prove hazardous.
That’s because you’re wearing shoes to protect your feet, but your dog isn’t.
“Pavement, like asphalt or artificial grass, can become incredibly hot and cause discomfort, blisters, and burn a dog’s paw pads,” says Jerry Klein, DVM, AKC’s Chief Veterinary Officer and an expert in veterinary emergency and critical care.
Scorching surfaces are especially damaging to puppies with sensitive young paws.
So how hot is too hot for a dog’s sensitive paw pads?
“If the temperature is 85 degrees or over without the chance for the pavement to cool down, the ground may be too hot for safely walking a dog,” says Klein.
According to data reported by the Journal of the American Medical Association, when the air temperature is 86 degrees, the asphalt temperature registers 135 degrees.
“To find out if the ground is too hot for your dog to walk on, place your hand comfortably on the pavement for 10 seconds. If it’s too hot for your hand, it’s too hot for your dog’s paws,” says Klein.
Your bare foot serves as another good barometer.
Hand or foot, the same temperature test works on all types of terrain, including sand, metal, and concrete.
Heat-Related Health Issues for Dogs
“In addition to damaged paws, hot pavement can also increase a dog’s body temperature and contribute to the development of heatstroke,” says Klein.
A dog’s normal resting temperature ranges from 99 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Any temperature over 104 signals heat stress. Over 105 registers as heat exhaustion, and more than 106 is heatstroke requiring emergency veterinary care.
Small and short-legged dogs are particularly susceptible to overheating as their bodies absorb heat closer to the hot ground. Flat-faced breeds heat up faster, too.
Protecting Dog Paws in Hot Weather
“Dog’s pads need to become acclimated to weather and stress,” says Klein. “The first long walk or jog of a warm season can often cause blisters on feet.”
To help condition your dog’s paws, walk on the pavement during cool weather. The hard surface helps toughen them and builds resistance for when the temperature heats up.
Many canine products help moisturize dog’s pads to prevent cracking from heat. When pads are dry, they’re more susceptible to burns from hot pavement.
Getting the right size—fitting snugly, but not too tight and not too loose—helps your dog acclimate to wearing shoes. Your dog’s feet need some room to breathe. Choose foot coverings with wrap-around closures and full-foot grips on the bottoms. Avoid products that stick to the dog’s pads.
If you must take your dog out during hot weather, avoid the hottest time of day. Walk in the early morning or evening. Choose grassy or shady areas.
For exercise during hot weather, set up a hard, plastic outdoor wading pool made for dogs. Plastic children’s pools tempt dogs to dig and tear. If your dog swims in an adult pool, add a canine life vest for safety.
As we gear up for National Pet Dental Health Month in February, here are some tips on getting started with teeth brushing.
How To Brush Your Pet’s Teeth
(This article from dvm360.com is about cats, but similar techniques can be used with your dogs)
Every cat needs clean, sharp teeth and healthy gums. Damage to the tongue, teeth, palate and gums can lead to many health risks for cats, but these can be prevented with regular veterinary examinations and good old-fashioned tooth-brushing—read on to find out more!
What You Need
A baby toothbrush or pet toothbrush that is an appropriate size for your cat. If your cat won’t tolerate a toothbrush, a small piece of washcloth or an appropriate piece of gauze (such as from a first aid kit) wrapped around your finger can be used.
Treat or other reward your cat really likes.
Note: Do not use human toothpaste or baking soda because these can upset your cat’s stomach. Toothpaste for cats comes in different flavors, like poultry or beef. You may need to try a couple flavors to find the one your cat likes best. The more your cat likes the toothpaste, the easier it will be brushing.
Brushing your cat’s teeth should be a bonding experience that is reinforced with praise and rewards. Be very patient — teaching your cat to accept toothbrushing may take a fair amount of time. Make toothbrushing enjoyable for your cat by rewarding him or her immediately after each session.
You only need to brush the outside of your cat’s teeth (the side facing the cheek). Do only as much at a time as your cat allows. You may not be able to do the whole mouth at first.
If you are ever worried about being bitten, stop the toothbrush training and speak with your veterinarian about proper dental care for your cat.
Start by letting your cat get used to the toothbrush and toothpaste. Put them out and let your cat sniff them. You can let your cat taste the toothpaste to see if he or she likes it.
Also, get your cat used to you touching his or her mouth. Lift his or her lips, and slowly and gently rub your cat’s teeth and gums with your finger. You might want to dip your finger in something your cat finds tasty, like the juice from a can of tuna.
When your cat is comfortable with you touching his or her mouth and is familiar with the toothbrush and toothpaste, gradually switch to putting the toothpaste on your finger, and then on the toothbrush. Let your cat lick the paste off the brush at first to get used to having the brush in his or her mouth. If your cat won’t tolerate a toothbrush, a small piece of washcloth or an appropriate piece of gauze (such as from a first aid kit) wrapped around your finger can be used. Place a small amount of toothpaste on the washcloth and rub it over the outside surfaces of your cat’s teeth.
Brush your cat’s teeth along the gumline. Work quickly — you don’t need to scrub. Work up to 30 seconds of brushing for each side of the mouth at least every other day.
If you notice any problems as you brush, like red or bleeding gums or bad breath, call your veterinarian. The earlier problems are found, the easier they are to treat.