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Dog Neutering & the Movember Movement

November is here, or should we say, “Movember”? It is quite intriguing and fun to suddenly see all of the moustaches showing up around this time of the year.

While the Movember movement is a lot of fun with all the events and moustaches involved, it is about a lot more than just that. It is about the acceptance and recognition of the fact that awareness around men’s health is vital.

An important facet of the Movember movement is to raise awareness regarding prostate cancer and illness. Man’s best friend, the dog, also tends to get various kinds of prostate illness (including cancer).

An important difference is prostate problems in dogs are easily avoided. Neutering (or castration) of male dogs is a safe surgical procedure wherein the testicles are surgically removed. Various veterinary associations and veterinarians recommend neutering pets within the first year of life across Canada.

In this day and age, this recommendation is mostly aimed at decreasing illnesses seen in non-neutered dogs. Decreasing inter-pet aggression and unwanted puppies are also known benefits of neutering.

There are various myths about neutering in pets. Dogs will reach their adult weight and size based on a combination of genetics, nutrition, exercise, environment, socialization, and hormones. Neutering a pet does not affect the eventual size of the dog and generally does not alter how muscular (or cute) he may look. While neutering at around 6 months of age is ideal, there is no harm if a pet owner decides to pursue the neuter surgery for the pet at around one year of age. Generally speaking, any non-neutered dog is prone to testicular or prostate illness after a year of age.

Neutered dogs are much less likely to have health problems such as prostate infection, testicular tumors, and prostatic cancer. Non-neutered or intact dogs with such problems may show signs such as difficult urination, blood in urine, hair loss, and changes in behaviour during early illness. If diagnosed early, neutering the pet can easily treat such illnesses. If, however, an infection or tumor has progressed to a certain stage, more complex treatments and a poor outcome may be possible.

As we raise awareness and learn more regarding health issues for men, it is important not to forget man’s best friend. A timely neuter procedure may well add years to your pooch’s life.

By – Dr. Jangi Bajwa,
Veterinarian at Hastings Veterinary Clinic, Burnaby.

How to Plan a Safe Trip with Your Dog this Summer

Are you planning on bringing your dog with you on your travels this summer? If so, you will need to make preparations ahead of time. Careful planning for your pet’s safety and care will ensure you both have a fun-filled trip each time you and your best friend head out!

The Most Important Preparations for a Safe Trip

Whether you are planning to travel by road or by air, make sure you have taken care of these essentials: 

  1. Visit the Veterinarian – ’Tis the summer season and time to schedule a checkup with the veterinarian if your dog hasn’t had one in a while. You will be able to make sure that all vaccinations are up to date, and find out if any booster shots are needed because of your travel destinations. Naturally you should make sure you have the latest and best tick and flea protection in place as well.
  1. Have the Appropriate Crate, Carrier, or Leash – If you are travelling by plane, you need a crate for your dog. If you are travelling by car, have some kind of restraint so that your pet isn’t loose in the car.
  • Plane – If you insist on traveling with your dog by plane, you must make sure the country you want to travel to will accept your dog. Not all breeds are legal in certain locations! You should also make sure your dog’s crate is approved by the airline with which you will be traveling. The crate itself must be big enough for your dog to stand, sit, and turn around in, and it must be lined with bedding, such as shredded paper, to absorb moisture. Check with your airline to make sure you have the correct crate design as well as all the travel papers, health certificates, and vaccines needed if necessary.
  • Car or Other Vehicle – It is not illegal, but it is recommended that your dog not be allowed to roam at will inside a vehicle because it can be very dangerous for both of you. In any accident, an unsecured dog can be injured, and even a small dog becomes a life-threatening projectile for humans. Dogs should also not be allowed to ride with their heads out of windows, and because they may decide to hop out of a window, even if the car is speeding down a highway.

A dog crate or carrier or short leash should be purchased well before your trip and a few test drives taken. That way, your dog is not horrified by the restraint, especially if he or she is used to riding around unrestrained.

  1. Dogs Need ID – Proper identification is essential for traveling pets. Make sure your dog has an ID collar. However, collars can become undone and lost, so a good backup plan is to have an ID microchip inserted under their ear flap. All animal hospitals and shelters will check their files for ID chips in the event a lost or injured animal is brought to them. Bring along a photo of your dog as well.
  1. Plan for Dog-Friendly Routes and Accommodations
  • Plane – If you are traveling by plane, direct routes are best and decrease the chances of you and your pet traveling on different planes to different destinations!
  • Car – Keep your pet in mind when planning your route so that the trip is not too long, there is an opportunity for little breaks, and your dog will be welcome when you stop for the night and when you reach your destination. There are websites devoted to finding dog-friendly hotels, motels, and beaches.
  1. Pack for Your Pet

Make sure you have your dog’s leash and collar, enough food and water, dishes, poop bags, toys—including some for the trip—a towel, a bed or blankets, medical records, a cleaner for accidents, and any medication your dog requires.

  • Treat Bag – Make up a little bag of dog treats to take on your trip.
  • Dog Medical Kit – Smartphone owners can find a free app for phones with medical advice, and you can buy a first aid kit for pets or make your own. At the very least, program the numbers of animal hospitals and an animal poison control center into your phone, or take a list of important numbers.

Traveling Tips for a Safe Journey

Whether you’re both taking a trip by car or plane, you need to keep your dog as safe as possible by planning ahead.

In the Car: 

  1. Don’t leave your dog alone in the car. Heat stroke is a common preventable danger in the summer and most likely to occur if you leave your dog alone in the car and are delayed on your return. It can also happen if you are with your dog in the car and exposed to sunlight for a long time. Be sure and check on his or her comfort now and then. 
  1. Use the leash when leaving the car. The taste of freedom after traveling in the car can cause even a well-behaved dog to run, perhaps across a busy road or street. Attach your dog’s leash before opening any doors. 
  1. Take sensible breaks. Stop for 15 or 20 minutes every three or four hours to enable your dog to have a little exercise and a pee break when needed. 
  1. Place crates, carriers, or leashed dogs in the back seat. You may like to have your best friend up front beside you, but it is a distraction for you and is not as safe for your dog. 
  1. Use an Organizing Bag in the Car – Keep all your dog’s supplies in a carrier bag so that you can quickly find everything you need for your pet without delay.

In the Plane: 

  1. Food. Tape a little bag outside your dog’s crate with a bit of dried food or treats so he or she can be fed if there is a delay in the trip.
  1. Don’t lock the door. Close the crate door tightly, but don’t lock it in case airport personnel need to take your dog out in an emergency.
  1. Delays. If there are serious delays, request firmly that someone check on your dog’s safety and comfort.

Summer is a great time to travel with your dog! With a little preparation, you can ensure a fun-filled and safe trip for you and your four-legged best friend.

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Hastings Veterinary Clinic and a clickable link back to this page.

Things to Know about Ringworm in Dogs

Have you ever heard of ringworm before? Did you know that it is contagious to both dogs and cats? Although ringworm isn’t usually a painful or itchy condition, it can become a big problem if it’s left alone. Ringworm can also be pretty unsightly on your dog! If left untreated, it can spread over large parts of the body and cause other skin, hair, and nail problems.

We discuss below what ringworm really is, how to identify its symptoms, and what to do about it.

Ringworm Isn’t Really a Worm—it’s a Fungus

Ringworm is not in the same category as a hookworm, roundworm, or tapeworm. In fact, it is not a worm at all. This fungus, which affects the skin and leaves circular or semi-circular bald spots and rashes, is a fungal infection that gets its name from the ring-like, worm-like shape visible on raised and red skin rashes.

Ringworm is the common name for these fungal infections that affect the skin; its scientific name is “dermatophytosis”. The three common species causing skin problems in dogs and cats are Microsporum canis, Microsporum gypseum, and Trichophyton metagrophytes. The disease can affect dogs, cats, and even humans. On humans, it causes a red circular or patchy rash to develop, and when it gets on the feet it is known as “athlete’s foot.” 

If your dog catches ringworm, please remember that this fungal infection can also infect people. You have to be careful to not catch it until your pup has received successful treatment and the problem has been resolved.

Symptoms of Ringworm

Bring your pooch to a dog hospital if you notice any of these symptoms of a ringworm infection. Even if you don’t see the characteristic circular rash, which may not be noticeable, these are reasons for a visit to your family vet:

  • Dry, brittle hair with hair follicles that break easily
  • Inflamed, red skin rash
  • Circular or patchy areas of hair loss (alopecia)
  • Scales that look like dandruff
  • Scabs or raised nodular lesions on the skin
  • Darkened skin (hyperpigmentation)
  • Reddened skin (erythema)
  • Inflamed folds of the skin around the claws, or bordering the nails
  • Itchiness (pruritus)

How Ringworm Gets Around

Ringworm is spread either through direct contact with an infected animal or from an object that has been contaminated such as towels, bedding, a comb or brush, food or water bowls, a couch, or carpets. The fungus spores can survive for many months, which means ringworm can be spread via hair that has been shed. It can also remain on surfaces or trapped in the fibres of carpets, drapes, and linens in your home if they’re not cleaned.

Dogs may often get the fungal infection from playing at the playground as some forms of the fungus can freely live in soil. Once the fungus ends up on the skin, even the slightest trauma to that part of the skin can expose the body to a ringworm infection. After this, the pet’s immune system may fight the fungus off, or it may turn in to a localized or more widespread skin infection, depending on many factors including the pet’s overall health, the species of fungus, part of the body affected, the pet’s age, and so on.

Sometimes a pet can be a ringworm carrier but they don’t have any visible symptoms. If your dog has been diagnosed with ringworm, it is a good idea to have your other pets checked by a veterinarian. You should also alert your fellow dog owners and dog-walking buddies that your dog has been infected and is being treated, and that they should watch for signs of ringworm in their own pets.

If your dog has been visiting other dogs or has been in a kennel or animal shelter, he or she should be watched carefully for problems like ringworm, fleas, ticks, and any other parasites that travel via infected skin or hair with which your pup has been in contact with. 

Good Treatments are Available

There are other more common conditions besides ringworm that can cause hair loss and rashes, so if you do notice symptoms of ringworm in your dog, take them to your family veterinarian. Do not self-diagnose this condition as it is never based on visual clues alone and diagnostic testing is always needed, not just to diagnose ringworm, but also to help find out the species of ringworm and decide what may be the best available treatment for that species. Bacterial skin infection (pyoderma), skin yeast infections, and allergies are some other more common problems that affect dogs and may look similar to ringworm to the untrained eye.

If your pet is diagnosed with ringworm, there are a variety of good treatments available. Your vet will help you choose the solution best suited for your dog depending on the severity of their ringworm problem.

These are the usual methods to treat ringworm:

  • Topical medication
  • Anti-fungal oral medication
  • Environmental decontamination

Your vet may also suggest that your dog’s hair be trimmed off in the more infected areas. Do not assume your dog is free of the infection once their symptoms are no longer visible. Continue to treat your pet until your veterinarian pronounces them cured.

Although it does not commonly affect dogs, ringworm is a troublesome problem that is best dealt with soon after you notice its symptoms. Remember the symptoms we discussed above and do pursue a vet consultation if any of the symptoms are noted, as it may be due to ringworm or another skin problem that needs to be dealt with promptly so your pooch can stay healthy and comfortable.

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Hastings Veterinary Clinic and a clickable link back to this page.

Pets and Gift Giving During the Holiday Season

There is so much on our minds these days. Finding appropriate gifts for friends and family, organizing and attending parties are at the forefront of our thoughts. Among all the wonderful gifts and good wishes being exchanged during this time of year, occasionally kittens and puppies are also presented to a loved one. What could be a better gift than a cute little fur-ball to an animal lover friend! While the thought behind the idea is a very positive, heart-warming one, it must be remembered that adopting or owning a pet can be a very personal decision.

Pet ownership is a commitment of many years and involves fulfillment; yet time-consuming activities such as socializing the pet, daily care, training (for dogs, and yes it includes house training), veterinary and grooming appointments, etc. Young puppies and kittens demand a ton of time and effort devoted towards them. This is generally while adjusting your lifestyle to that of the new member in the family. Due to careers, school, or relationships, some people may not be prepared to commit to such a huge responsibility – no matter how much they adore animals. Friends that have had previous pets may not be prepared to train a young pet from scratch. Or, worse, your gift may turn them into first-time pet owners, with them having no clue about what they are getting into!

Also, dogs and cats (or rabbits, or fish) make very different types of pets. Each has its own specific needs and personalities. A friend may have been a long-term cat parent, but their home and lifestyle may not support having a dog as part of the family. The same holds for different breeds within an animal species.

So, if you are planning to gift a pet to your friend or family member, be sure to initiate a conversation with them before deciding on the gift. It is also important to talk about what species and breed best fits the home. The most likely time for pets being adopted and finding loving, forever homes is when they are still very young. It would be a shame if the pet adopted by you for a friend does not get the absolute best care and attention it deserves.

By – Dr. Jangi Bajwa,
Veterinarian – Hastings Veterinary Hospital, Burnaby. BC’s first Veterinary Dermatology Resident.

 

P.S.: this is my top 5 list of gift ideas for a pet-lover on your Christmas list:

  1. Grooming date for their pet (ideally at their regular groomer)
  2. A commitment to housesitting their pet on their next weekend getaway
  3. Gift card from pet store
  4. Appointment with a pet adoption home to explore the possibility of pet adoption
  5. Bag of their pets’ favorite treats (never goes wrong)

Pets at Work: The Pros and Cons

Have you ever felt guilty about leaving your pet at home alone when you go to work? While not every workplace is pet-friendly, there are exceptions to having pets at work that should be considered.

How Can Pets be Relevant in Your Daily Work Activities?

First of all, regardless of whether you think yourself more as a cat or a dog person, pets offer a feeling of relaxation to their owners that can certainly ease the daily pressures of work. Nurturing and looking after an animal offers a therapeutic effect relieving stress and creating a more positive environment.

Having a pet around the office means there is potential for a significant boost to productivity. Moods can be improved with a pet present and they can be a great reminder to take a break when you need to, leaving you more focused when you have to return to work.

Having a pet around while on the job can help out you and your co-workers as well. Bonding between pet owners happens naturally and encourages conversations between everyone at home, so why shouldn’t that be the case at work as well? It also helps if conversation on your part is tough to do in the first place; having a pet present can be a real ice-breaker.

Business owners, entrepreneurs, and even solopreneurs may even want to build their brand around being a service or company that not only respects pets but also cannot function without them. Companies such as Workday not only encourage their employees to bring their pets in to work but also insist upon it. Even Google has taken note of these benefits, establishing and encouraging a working environment that thrives on creativity and engagement while pets are present and supervised.

The Downsides of Pets at Work

For every pro to having a pet-friendly workplace there are cons as well. For instance, your co-workers may have an allergy to pets that will harm their work performance and decrease efficiency while on the job. Some pets may misbehave and grind productivity to a halt instead of the other way round while in an office. Some companies you work for may have a zero-pets policy in place anyway, and bringing a pet despite this policy could actually harm you and your company’s reputation – especially if it’s a restaurant!

So are Pets at Work a Good Idea or Not?

It all depends on where you work and the policies present at your company. We do not recommend bringing your pet to work where cooking and handling food for people is a daily task, nor do we recommend bringing your pet to your office if it’s not permitted. Aside from these situations, a pet can offer a sense of companionship to your work life.

Being alone in a cubicle, day in day out, can make you a little stir crazy! But having a little furry critter to lie at your feet as you work at your computer offers something to have a little chat with, even if he or she might not answer back!

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Hastings Veterinary Clinic and a clickable link back to this page.