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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.

Animal Health Week 2017

October 1st to 7th is a very special week for our pets – it’s Animal Health Week! Sponsored by the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association, this week celebrates the wonder of the human-animal bond, which is the unique and wonderful relationship that exists between a pet and its owner – a relationship based on unconditional love. Many studies have already defined the healing power of this bond, especially in reducing stress and heart disease, and in providing critical emotional support for the elderly and infirm.

Never judgmental, always forgiving, and possessing undying devotion and loyalty for their owners, pets truly provide us with a unique relationship that is hard to duplicate between people. Not only is the human-animal bond unique to every pet and owner, it is celebrated in unique ways as well.

Every year the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) surveys pet owners throughout the United States and Canada in an effort to learn more about peoples’ relationships with their pets. Here are some of the highlights from the past few years:

  • 84 percent of respondents refer to themselves as their pet’s “mom” or “dad&”
  • 72 percent of married survey respondents greet their pet first when they return home, compared with 13 percent who say they greet their spouse or significant other first, and 7 percent who greet their children
  • 63 percent of respondents celebrate their pet’s birthday, and 43 percent give their pet a wrapped gift
  • 87 percent of pet owners include their pet in holiday celebrations, with Christmas being the most celebrated holiday with a pet at 98 percent
  • 65 percent of pet owners have sung or danced with their pet
  • 66 percent would opt for their pet if stranded on a desert island and given the choice of a companion

As a general rule, pet owners are far more forgiving of inadequacies or misbehavior in their pets than they are for their own friends and family members! And what do our pets ask for in return? Nothing but our companionship.

So take a moment to rejoice in the human-animal bond that you share with your own pet and ensure that you are living up to your end of the bargain. Call your veterinarian to double-check that you have availed yourself of all of the preventative health measures your pet requires. Make sure that your pet is on a quality diet appropriate for his/her age and health care needs. Have your pet properly identified (i.e., tag and microchip) to ensure a speedy recovery should your pet become lost. And, finally (especially for dog owners) – grab the leash and watch your pet come alive. Go for a walk – it will do you both good!

Pet Boarding vs. a Pet Sitter—Which is Better for my Pet?

Have you ever felt guilty for leaving your cat or dog at home when you have to travel? Whether it’s for an overnight trip or lengthy trips for business or pleasure, we’re sure you’ve had to struggle with deciding whether to choose pet boarding versus a pet sitter to care for your fur baby.

For those who have to make this decision for the first time, it is okay to feel anxious. To help lessen the stress for you, we recommend you consider the advantages and disadvantages of the kinds of care available before deciding.

The Cost of Pet Care Varies Widely

Your cat or dog can be boarded at a kennel or a veterinary hospital or clinic that offers boarding care for pets, or can be cared for by a pet sitter. The prices are scaled to the type of environment, the amount of individual care offered, and any add-ons that you choose. 

  • Veterinarian Facility – A veterinary boarding facility can provide a scrupulously clean and safe environment, and healthy animal companions for your pet who will all have their vaccinations up-to-date. Pets are professionally monitored for signs of illness or problems. If your cat or dog requires health care, it will be provided.
  • Kennel – A kennel can also provide very suitable boarding care and prices vary. Do your homework and be sure to have a thorough understanding of the type of individual and group care offered and the safety measures you can expect.
  • Pet Sitter – The least expensive care is available from a pet sitter, with the sitter taking your kitty or pooch to his or her home for the duration, or moving into your home, or simply making daily visits for feeding, playtime, and walks. The costs vary depending on which services you need.

Hiring a Pet Sitter Has a Number of Advantages

You can arrange for a pet sitter to visit your home a couple of times a day to feed your pet, take them out on walks (if they’re a dog), bring in the mail, and give your home the appearance of being occupied.

Cats, in particular, are usually happier in their own homes and may get stressed out when boarded. However, even an independent cat can become troubled if left entirely on their own and usually needs human contact, even if it’s just a daily visit by a pet sitter for feeding and playtime.

If you have a sitter move into your home, you have the added expense of providing meals, but it is still less expensive than, say, a pet hotel. Also, most pets are happier in their familiar surroundings.

You can hire a trusted family member or neighbour as a sitter, but if that doesn’t work, hire a professional. Check their references and make sure the pet sitter is insured and bonded.

Pet Boarding is the Most Popular Choice

Pet boarding is a good idea for cats and dogs who are more adaptable to change and will enjoy the companionship of others. However, if your pet isn’t very open in terms of being around people and other animals, or exposed to new experiences, or is old and less sociable than he or she was, they will probably be happier with a sitter.

Be sure and check out the choices of veterinary facility accommodations. Interview the caregivers, tour the facilities, and ask for references. There may be such advantages as supervised cage-free running around and lots of playtime with other animals.

You may find that your cat or dog loves the boarding experience when he or she is young but not so much when they age. However, if they are older and troubled by arthritis or other conditions, you may have more peace of mind and be happy to be able to board them in a veterinary facility with trained medical people watching over them.

When deciding who will look after your kitty or pooch, factor in their age, personality, and physical limitations. Interview caregivers, do background checks, give complete instructions, and have a backup plan for emergencies. Leave the family’s vet clinic contact info with whoever is caring for your pet, in case of an emergency. If you do your research and set high standards, you will enjoy peace of mind knowing that your fur baby has the love and attention they need, no matter what your decision.

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

Arthritis Awareness Month

September is marked as Arthritis Awareness Month in our country. It is important to recognize that people, dogs, and cats suffer daily from this chronic painful, life-altering condition. We all know of a family member, colleague, or friend that suffers from arthritis. Similarly, we all likely know a pet that also suffers from arthritis. We may just not know the symptoms to watch for!

Symptoms in dogs include stiffness of the gait, reluctance to jump on couches or run up and down stairs. Tiredness during walks, panting, pacing and shaking are other symptoms. Cats may show any of these symptoms as well, but also can demonstrate more subtle signs such as inappropriate defecation, over-grooming, matted hair coat, irritability, and vomiting to name a few signs. If your pet has been showing any of these symptoms, it is likely time to help his or her comfort levels by seeking your veterinarian’s advice.

Similar to people, young pets may also be affected by arthritis. Irrespective of age, the quality of life of an arthritic pet can be immensely improved through early diagnosis and treatment. Pets with a history of injuries or previous surgery are more likely to develop signs of arthritis earlier in life. While osteoarthritis is not curable, it is generally manageable with anti-inflammatory medications, appropriate exercise (swimming is a better activity than running is), glucosamine, and other nutritional supplementation and appropriate bedding for the pet. Multimodal therapy is often desirable as the pet ages, as one single intervention will likely not work in the long haul.

From a human perspective, a study in 2012 by the Arthritis Society found that one in three Canadians living with arthritis had to quit working as a result of their condition, making it one of the leading causes of long-term disability in the country. The disease costs the Canadian economy billions of dollars every year, both directly and indirectly in human healthcare costs and lost productivity. Let us educate ourselves and help spread awareness regarding arthritis in people and pets, and fight this chronic painful condition.

By – Dr. Jangi Bajwa,
Veterinary Dermatologist & Practice Owner
Hastings Veterinary Hospital, Burnaby.
Twitter @BajwaJangi

Should Pets be Adoptable in Pet Stores?

It has been very satisfying to witness passionate Burnaby residents discuss the outcome of City Council’s review on Burnaby’s animal control by-law in September.* We haven’t spared any avenue from talking about the issue, from one-on-one discussions with the newspaper and social media. It is lovely to witness what an animal loving city we live in, hence the passion and lively discussion, no matter which side of the fence we might be on.

The two key issues to be discussed by the council at the next meeting on August 26* are – whether or not to ban the sale of animals in pet stores and whether to put in breed-specific legislation on pet ownership. While the former topic has been debated extensively, we must not forget the implications of a breed-specific ban, without stressing the need for pet training, socialization, and leash regulations.

Both issues are multifaceted and it will be challenging to come up with a consensus. Coming up with a simple answer such as banning sales or banning pitbulls would amount to tackling the issue lightly. I sincerely hope that no single answer is sought during this review. We are a forward-looking city in most aspects of business and environmental initiatives. I would like to see the same approach taken to tackle this very sensitive topic on animal care and protection, one that other cities in the province might follow.

I agree with the animal advocate groups and rescue groups about the abundant need for local adoption of homeless or abandoned pets in not just Burnaby but in our province as a whole. We need to consider that a pet store sales ban would address a very small proportion of the homeless pet situation when it comes to local dogs, cats, and rabbits.

Also, a simple ban on pet stores would move the problem to puppy and kitten mill animals being sold through the Internet and backyard breeder type sales which may include the purchase of animals from out of province or even from across the border. If animals for sale are being imported from the United States for sale in Burnaby, it is decreasing the likelihood of adoption of local shelter-based adoptions. In my opinion, it is trivial to discuss whether these animals are coming from puppy mills or not, or if they are being sold by a pet store or an individual; as a city, our emphasis should be on minimizing homeless animals locally.

One of the pet store owners has been reported to contact local feline shelters to help sell their cats and this effort should be lauded and encouraged by not just the city of Burnaby but also the shelters involved. It could be a match made in heaven, assuming both parties meet the quality standards, as the abandoned pets in shelters could replace the sale of imported pets as opposed to competing with each other.

In my opinion, the City Council should consider a futuristic animal control model where pet stores may be able to provide adoption of pets within specified guidelines. The guidelines may include certification and ongoing inspections of the facility where pets are made available for adoption.

This would also include a commitment to home local pets only, which are obtained through the SPCA or local shelters so as to discourage local puppy and kitten mills and out-of-province adoptions. After all, the council is deliberating the draft on animal control issues rather than animal sales alone.

Likely, an association between pet stores and local shelters would lower the cost of adoption for new pet families as most veterinarians in Burnaby are committed to decreasing homeless pets through discounted veterinary services for shelter and homeless animals, TNR (Trap-neuter-return) programs, spay-neuter clinics, etc. Pet stores willing to work within City Council guidelines such as re-homing local adoptable animals only as well as in association with local animal advocacy groups would still be able to provide pet adoption if they so choose. Thus, the suggestion would be to allow adoption through pet stores, as opposed to the current model of pet sales.

Everyone in the pet care industry needs to do more in order to encourage responsible pet ownership. Education of prospective pet owners involves a thorough discussion regarding pet care needs, the cost of pet care, licensing of pets, need for neutering, longer life expectancy of pets (thus a longer commitment to your new friend), and support from the avenue it was adopted from. Fostering prior to adoption should be encouraged by adoption agencies including pet stores.

Adopting a kitten or puppy can be a bigger challenge as a first-time pet – new pet owners should be given an option to adopt an adult. This may help make their first pet experience a smoother ride compared to the surprises a kitten or puppy would bring in day-to-day needs.

The way to address the need for responsible pet ownership is not only through legislation but also through public education. As individuals, we should consider adopting locally instead of buying pets.

By – Dr. Jangi Bajwa,
Veterinarian at Hastings Veterinary Hospital, Burnaby since 2005 and BC’s first Veterinary Dermatology Resident.

*This was originally published in Burnaby Now in their August 2013 issue

Pet Care Tips to Keep Them Safe from Dangerous Tick Bites

Finding a tick anywhere on your pet makes for a bad day! Knowing how to keep your pet tick-free is great preventative pet care in that it keeps everyone safe from dangerous diseases transmitted by tick bites. You should also know what to do if your efforts fail and you find a tick attached to your pet’s skin.

It is important to use the right safeguards, inspect your pet for ticks after he or she has been outdoors, and consult your veterinarian right away if one of these nasty little brutes latches on to them.

Tick Bites Can Cause Your Pet Serious Harm

Ticks are parasites that can be found in city parks, forest and meadow areas, and your own backyard. Many pet owners don’t take tick warnings seriously enough and rely on simple tick and flea collars to keep their pets safe, only to have their beloved pets infected with terrible diseases carried by a variety of ticks.

Lyme disease, for example, is just as debilitating for pets as it is for people, and is becoming more and more widespread in BC. Other parasitic diseases, such as anaplasmosis, can be terrible, too, and the symptoms are often difficult to diagnose.

Use good preventative measures to keep your pet safe, and see that your lawns, bushes, and trees are trimmed to reduce the tick population in your yard. Keeping your dog or cat indoors during the height of the tick season can help, and be sure and check your pets carefully for ticks after outdoor exercise or playtime.

A Veterinarian is the Best Person to Remove a Tick

You can find instructions for removing ticks from pets, but nothing quite prepares you for the dangers of attempting this job yourself:

  • It’s difficult to get your pet to remain motionless—which they must be—while you do the job.
  • If you leave any part of the tick behind, you must take your pet to a veterinarian to dig it out.
  • Gloves must be worn for your own safety.
  • If the insect is twisted or squeezed while being removed, reaction to the embedded tick parts can cause discomfort and infection.

Play it safe and take your pet to a veterinarian for help.

There are a Variety of Preventative Measures to Use against Ticks

Work with your veterinarian to come up with the best kind of pet care plan to protect your little friend. Pets that live outside or are used to running free over large territories or that you take with you on camping trips in the wilds are more at risk from tick bites than homebodies. However, even a pet that is indoors most of the time can pick up a tick bite almost anywhere outside.

Here are some of the Standard Safeguards:

  1. Topical medication – Such products work very well but you must choose carefully and follow all directions faithfully. Many products such as Advantix and Revolution are available through veterinarians and pet stores; it is best to use a veterinary approved product. Ask your veterinarian for advice and assistance with these products as they vary in the spectrum of the ticks they cover. Your vet can help you determine what product is best suited to your pet based on their size, lifestyle, and so on.
  2. Oral medication – These products are safe and effective protection against ticks and fleas, and should be administered by your veterinarian. These are almost as effective as topical medication and are very useful for dogs who love water! Whether they are to be applied once a month depends on the product; most can be applied once a month such as Simparica and Nexgard, but there is a once-every-3-months product available called Bravecto. Again, consult your veterinarian on which oral products would best suit your pet.
  3. Tick shampoos – Medicated ingredients in a tick shampoo will kill ticks, but this is not the best plan for either your cat or dog because their effectiveness doesn’t last very long. The aforementioned products (topical and oral) are much better and safer preventative products.

Keep your pet tick-free and safe with proven tick-bite preventative measures. Check them after they’ve been outdoor during the height of tick season and, if your pet has the misfortune to be bitten in spite of your efforts, get professional help to remove the horrible little disease-carrying pest.

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

Great Tips For Summertime Dog Flea And Cat Flea Control

It’s summer! Now that it’s here, pet owners should bear in mind that dog flea control and cat flea control are still important and they should consult their veterinarian for advice about the best products. Some people are surprised to learn that flea protection is a good idea for the entire year and if you have let flea control slide during the spring months, hop to it!

Fleas Are More Than a Pesky Nuisance

It is heartbreaking to watch your beloved dog or cat struggling to cope with the terrible itching caused by fleas and, even worse, some animals are allergic to flea saliva and have to deal with almost intolerable itching:

  1. An adult flea has a dark brown hard shell and is about 2.5 millimeters in size. Fleas can be seen by the naked eye. Fleas don’t fly but can jump long distances and have claws on their legs that allow them to attach themselves to animals, people, carpets, etc.
  2. When fleas bite the skin and feed on the host’s blood, it causes mild to severe itching and may cause a dreaded allergy dermatitis in animals with sensitive skin. This type of allergy doesn’t go away even after the fleas have been removed, and requires special treatment.
  3. A large flea infestation can cause an animal to develop anemia, can cause hair loss and skin abrasions (usually from non-stop scratching), and fleas serve as hosts for tapeworms.
  4. Fleas can invade your entire home and yard and bite people as well, and it may take months to get rid of them if you don’t engage in a full-out cleaning assault.

It is Important to Consult a Veterinarian about Flea Protection

There are a lot of flea control products on the market and you want to make sure you buy exactly what your pet needs, which is why you need the guidance of a veterinarian. For example:

  1. Some people who own both a cat and a dog may be tempted to use the same flea protection for both animals. Cats and dogs do not have the same physiologies and flea treatments not only affect them differently, but also some formulations for dogs can be toxic for cats.
  2. Your veterinarian will recommend the best products to control fleas for your pet, and you must be sure to follow the directions to the letter. Consult with your vet about your pet’s lifestyle in order to find the best-suited product—usually topical or oral—for them and for different time periods of coverage. Most products are used monthly.
  3.  Keep an eye on your pets after flea treatments are applied to make sure there isn’t some unusual reaction, which could be drooling or loss of coordination. While this is very unlikely, it is better to be safe than sorry.
  4. If your pet already has fleas, the same product that provides future protection can also kill fleas. However, it won’t protect you from having to clean your house from top to bottom to rid your home of the nasty critters.

It is Wise to Protect Pets from Fleas all Year Long

If you live in a warm region—and Vancouver is usually really warm, neither too hot or too cold!—you will need to make sure your pet has flea protection all year round. Most fleas can survive if they find warm hosts such as cats and dogs. Their eggs can live in protected areas such as animal dens, crawl spaces, and porches, and will hatch in the warmth.

Some pet owners prefer to avoid using chemicals on their pets constantly and fear it could be harmful. However, there has been a great deal of research demonstrating that veterinary-approved flea protection products such as topical solutions (Advantage, Revolution, etc.) and oral products (Bravecto, Sentinel, Program, etc.) are safe.

Use our dog flea control and cat flea control tips, and consult your veterinarian for the most appropriate products for your pets. Follow directions for their use carefully, and may you never suffer the agony of having to rid your home of fleas. We hope you are enjoying the warm weather without fear of those pesky pests!

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

Beat the Heat with Our Summer Pet Care Advice!

With summer in full swing, now more than ever you need to protect yourself from sunburn and overheating. Don’t forget to include your pets too! Just like their owners, cats and dogs can become overheated if you’re not careful, as they show that they’re overheated and in need of care in slightly different ways.

If you’re not too sure about the hazards of hot weather for pets, read on! Here are some signs of heat-related problems in pets, some pet care tips you can apply for less serious situations, and how to tell it’s time to bring your overheated pet to a veterinarian.

Heat-related Issues

There are two common heat-related illnesses that can harm pets during these hot summer months:

  1. Heat exhaustion (hyperthermia) – not to be confused with hypothermia, which involves being too cold. Hyperthermia, or heat exhaustion, can happen if your pet runs around too much under direct sunlight. Dehydration is another way to describe heat exhaustion since they both involve being overheated and thirsty.
  2. Heatstroke – heatstroke is far more dangerous than hyperthermia, with long-term effects such as brain damage and other organ damage taking place. This is why we are determined as a local vet office to highly discourage leaving your pets alone in a hot, locked car, because heatstroke is often the result of doing so.

Signs of Heat Exhaustion & Heatstroke

If left out in the sun too long, both cats and dogs will exhibit the following signs of overheating:

  • Thick, sticky saliva
  • Excessive panting and difficulty breathing
  • Bright red gums
  • Drooling

Basically, if you’re feeling thirsty, then it’s likely your pet is also overheated and needs to be given prompt attention. Some cats may not be outside as often as dogs are, but they too can only sweat through their paw’s glands and with their fur it’s tougher for them to cool off. Preventative care against the heat should be given to both indoor and outdoor cats.

What to Do at Home

More often than not it’s easy to tell if a pet’s getting too hot, and heatstroke and heat exhaustion are both easily preventable. Pet care at home for preventing overheating can include the following:

  • Give your pets easy access to their water bowls and always ensure their water is clean.
  • If you must bring your pets with you on your travels, bring bottles of water and their water bowls so they can have a drink while you’re travelling.
  • Make sure they have a cool place to retreat in at home where the air conditioning is switched on.
  • Provide easy shading from the sun in any outdoors areas as well so they can rest.
  • Keep your dog walks short and brisk, and give them water afterwards.

When to Go to Your Vet Office

If left alone and untreated, heatstroke and heat exhaustion will cause the following extreme symptoms in your pet:

  • Lethargy
  • Dizziness
  • Vomiting, with traces of blood (sometimes)
  • Diarrhea, with traces of blood (sometimes)
  • Shock
  • Coma
  • Seizures

Should you see any one or more of these signs in your pet, call your veterinarian office and bring them in for emergency treatment. On your way to the office, try and help cool off your overheated pet with lukewarm water (not freezing cold, as this may shock their body to the point where it hurts them more!) using a damp cloth or towel. Gently apply the wet cloth to their paw pads and nose on your way to the office.

Keeping the heat off both you and your pets will ensure you both have a safe and happy summer!

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

10 Outdoor Doggie Hazards to Stay Away From

Are you “outdoor aware” and conscious of the many hazards that your dog faces when you take them outside to enjoy the sunny weather in both urban and country settings? Whether you are taking pooch for a stroll in the neighbourhood or for fun in a doggie park, or are taking them with you for a hike in the country or on a camping trip with the family, keep your pet safe from all the dangers that they face in the great outdoors.

You can help ensure your pet’s health and safety by taking them to your veterinarian for regular checkups, keeping his or her vaccinations up to date, and knowing what to do in an emergency.

When you’re both outside, these are the top ten hazards to watch out for:

1. Lost Dog

Have an ID microchip inserted under your pet’s skin, which is a quick and inexpensive procedure from your veterinarian. With this form of ID, you don’t have to worry so much if your playful dog chases after new friends and runs right out of the doggie park, or if you ever become separated and their dog collar is lost. All animal hospitals and shelters check for ID microchips and will notify you when they are found.

2. Heat Jeopardy

Heatstroke is a common and preventable danger faced by your pet when outside, especially in the summer. Make sure he or she is never left alone in a car, which can turn into an oven in less than ten minutes.

See that you have a portable bowl and are carrying water to offer so that he or she doesn’t become dehydrated when outside. Don’t take them across a road or sidewalk on a hot day without checking it with the back of your hand using the five-second rule. If surfaces are too hot for you within that timeframe, it will definitely burn your pup’s paws. When camping, make sure he or she has a shady place to rest under and plenty of water to drink.

The symptoms of heatstroke are:

  • Lethargy
  • Decreased urination
  • Dry gums
  • Refusal to eat
  • Sunken eyes
  • Decreased skin elasticity

If you notice any of these symptoms, take your pooch to a veterinarian for help.

3. Risky Dog Encounters

Not all dogs are friendly or social, and you should check with dog owners or walkers before allowing your pooch to run up and enter another dog’s personal space. In a dog park, keep your pet in sight and be watchful.

4. Ticks, Mites, Bees, Wasps, and Other Critter Problems

Discourage your dog from chasing after bees, wasps, toads, or snakes. Don’t put your faith in nothing but a flea and tick collar to protect your dog from dangerous bites and the diseases carried by insects and critters. Use proper flea and tick prevention meds instead. Consult your veterinarian and make sure your pup has all the protection they need, which may include such things as sprays, pills, and shampoos, plus up-to-date vaccinations.

5. Road, Traffic, and Path Risks

Your dog is safest on a leash when you take them for a walk. Unleashed dogs must be trained in road safety and always obey when you call “Stop!” Some dogs are never very good at doing either.

Sometimes you may find broken shards of glass left behind by the last (irresponsible) people who visited the park, making the walk with your pup even more hazardous! If you see any shards, pick up your dog if they’re small and carry them away, or go down a different path that’s (hopefully) glass-free. The last thing anyone wants for their pooch is to pick broken glass out of their paws or fur, or even worse find they’ve been wounded!

6. Poison Dangers

Dogs love to eat horrible smelling food items and love to poke around in rubbish. Pull them away from garbage and icky, discarded scraps of anything edible, which may upset their stomach or even poison him. Landscape items such as bark chips and weed sprays are toxic to pets.

Keep your dog away and watch for signs warning of recently sprayed grass. Don’t let them chew on the leaves of any plant you can’t identify and know is safe. Just because he or she likes the flavour doesn’t mean it isn’t poisonous. Also toxic is the blue-green algae in ponds, and swimming pool and hot tub chemicals.

7. Ponds, Lakes, and General Water Hazards

Even if your dog is used to playing in water, they can get out of their depth in a pond and panic. Most dogs can swim but watch them carefully and call him or her back, or be prepared to help them if he or she gets into trouble.

8. Storms

Don’t let your pup play outside when thunder and lightning are around. He or she is a target for lightning just like a human, and they may be afraid of thunder. Take them into the house and use music, toys, or playtime to distract them.

9. Barbecue Ashes

Campfires and barbequing are fun, but there is danger when fires die down and the food and people are gone. Wood ashes and barbeque bricks may still be hot and, if your pooch pokes around ashes or knocks over the barbeque, they may suffer severe burns. Keep them away.

10. Sticks

Throwing sticks for your dog to retrieve seems like traditional fun, but there can be danger from the pointy ends or if they break apart and are swallowed. Throw balls or Frisbees instead.

We know this is all scary stuff to read, but the good news is it can all be prevented! Just watch for these hazards that may be encountered whenever you are outdoors with your dog, and practice safety first so the sunny days are full of fun for you and your pet.

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

How to Protect Your Pets’ Paws from Hot Sidewalks

Have you ever felt too hot even in your t-shirt? Imagine how much hotter you would feel if we wore shaggy coats like, say, our dogs!

Even though the air temperature may feel comfortable to us when taking our dogs out for their walks, we may not realize that we could be exposing our pets to extreme discomfort, and that hot sidewalks and roads can actually burn little paws. It’s important to be aware of your pet’s comfort level and safety in the summer heat. As for sidewalks, here are some important tips to keep in mind.

Use This Simple Test for Road and Sidewalk Comfort Levels

When outdoor temperatures are high, they may not bother us but they are hot enough to render concrete, asphalt, or blacktop unbearably hot on bare feet or bare paws. You don’t need to strip off your footwear to test the roads or sidewalks. Here is what to do: place the back of your hand on the sidewalk and hold it there. If you can’t hold it for more than five seconds, it’s too hot for your dog’s paws. Ouch! Watch out! Use the same test on the road or any pavement on which your dog will walk or play.

Remember that black absorbs heat and white reflects it. If you have checked the light coloured concrete or cement pavement with the back of your hand and found that it’s too hot, you needn’t bother checking darker coloured roads (blacktop or asphalt). It will be even hotter.

Watch Your Pooch for Signals of Discomfort

Your dog may be happy to go for a walk or play outside and may not show you that he or she is uncomfortable. Some pets usually don’t know their own limits and may try to cooperate by running for the ball even when they’re in distress. Watch for these signs:

  • High-stepping when walking on the road or sidewalk
  • Whimpering
  • Excessive drooling
  • Laboured breathing

If your pooch shows any of these signs, stop the walk or playtime. Make sure you are carrying a portable bowl and water in warm weather, lead them to a shady area, and let them drink up. Take your pooch home and help him or her cool down. Dogs sweat through their paws and cool down through them too, so you can help cool them off by letting him or her stand in a container or pool of cool water.

Here’s How to Exercise Your Dog in Very Warm Weather

You can keep your dog from overheating or burning his or her paws while you’re outside:

  • Find shady areas for your playtime and walk your dog on the grass, dirt, or gravel paths.
  • Avoid sidewalks and roads, especially those made of blacktop (asphalt) around noon or in the early afternoon when surfaces have been heated by the noonday sun.
  • Carry water and a portable bowl so that he or she can drink frequently.
  • Choose cool times of the day—early morning or evening—for walks and outdoor fun.
  • Watch your pet carefully so that they don’t overexert themselves when the summer temperatures rise.

You may need to take pooch out when it’s very hot and you live in an apartment or don’t have a yard:

  • Stay on grassy areas and limit the time he or she has to walk on sidewalks or roadways.
  • If your dog is small, you can pick them up to cross the road or hot surfaces.
  • You can buy tiny shoes to put on your dog’s feet (very cute, but not always functional).
  • Limit and supervise the time your dog spends outside.

Do your best to keep your dog from overheating or burning their little paws on hot sidewalks. Your pet is depending on you to see that their time spent outside on walks and playtime don’t result in dehydration, heat stroke, discomfort, or burns. Make sure you and your best friend have only fun in the sun! Visit your veterinarian if you notice discomfort, burns, blistering, or pad sloughing to ensure appropriate treatment is provided.

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