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Pool Safety for Dogs 101

Pool Safety for Dogs 101

With summer around the corner, I thought this would be a useful reminder. Although your children may be competent swimmers, do not assume that your pets are. Preventing pool accidents for your pets takes adequate planning and careful supervision.

 

Contrary to popular belief...

Not all dogs are efficient swimmers. This common misconception can be life threatening to your pet. Dogs that are considered to be brachycephalic, such as English bulldogs, American bulldogs, and French bulldogs, are notoriously bad swimmers. Therefore, it is smart to teach these dogs how to swim and exit the pool safely to prevent drowning. Limiting their access to the pool is an easy and effective way to prevent accidental fall-ins. A good pool fence with child proof locks is a good idea for children and pets.

 

Is drinking pool water bad for Fido?

Another popular concern among pet owners is whether it is safe for Fido or Fluffy to drink pool water. Veterinarians are clear on this in that it is typically not safe although there are some pool waters that are worse than others for drinking. It is also important that your pool’s chemical balance is correct, as algae can be disruptive to pets’ health.

The typical chlorine pool could be quite irritating to the gastrointestinal tract and even toxic if enough is drunk. While saltwater pools are not nearly as bad in this regard, they still could cause some electrolyte issues if enough is ingested.

 

Should all dogs swim even if supervised?

Though your pooch may be eager to splash into the pool on a hot summer day, there should be set limitations for dogs of a certain ages or medical conditions. You should always consult with your veterinarian before allowing your dog to swim.

While there are many effective ways to ensure your pet’s safety when near a pool, the most important precautionary measure is adequate supervision. Just like with children, leaving them unattended around a pool can lead to unnecessary injury. This, along with teaching Fido how to swim and correctly exit the water, can keep the pool area a fun and safe environment.

How Cold Is Too Cold for Your Dog?

How Cold Is Too Cold for Your Dog?

By Dr. Stacey Hunvald at Pet Coach

When cold weather hits, pet parents often ponder, “How cold is too cold for my dog?”

Because such a wide variety of canine breeds and mixes exist, there is no easy one-size-fits-all answer to this question. Some dogs sport the furry equivalent of a heavy winter ski parka, while some pups have a haircoat more akin to a light sweater. Keeping your pet comfortable and safe as the temperature dips depends on your individual dog’s traits, confounding weather factors and shelter protection options.

Canine Characteristics

Our pups come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. It is difficult to imagine that the dogs running the Iditarod in Alaska are the same species as a Rat Terrier, a breed that may resist going outside when there is any hint of snow on the ground.

Dogs’ myriad physical characteristics should be considered when deciding how much exposure is safe. Important traits to consider include age, size and coat quality.

Very young and very old dogs have more difficulty regulating body temperature and are at greater risk in low temperatures. Small breeds generally have a harder time in cold temperatures due to their greater surface area to mass ratio, giving them proportionally more area from which to lose body heat. Dogs with single-layer, smooth, short hair are less protected than those with warm undercoats and thick fur. Many of the winter breeds such as Siberian Huskies and Saint Bernards have highly protective coats in this latter category.

There is no specific temperature cutoff to evaluate cold weather risk and danger. Sensitive dogs may become uncomfortably cold at 40-45°F, while temperature thresholds may be 15-20°F for large, heavy coated breeds.

In all cases, wet weather may increase the minimum safe temperature an individual can bear by 20°F, so weather factors other than temperature must be considered. Wind chill is more important than absolute temperature and must also be evaluated.

How to Tell if Your Dog Is Cold

Signs of discomfort can be signs of impending danger.

Shivering helps produce body warmth but is a sign of decreasing body temperature and potential hypothermia. If hypothermia persists or worsens, the body will not be able to produce enough heat to keep up over time. Signs of hypothermia include listlessness and weakness followed by stiffness and shallow breathing, necessitating emergency treatment.

Additionally, barking or whining can be signs your dog is becoming anxious about his physical state or environment. Other signs of discomfort that may lead to danger are lifting up a paw off the ground or out of the snow, which often indicates the paw is becoming painful and the ground temperature is dangerous, which can lead to frostbite.

Frostbite can range in severity and appearance from redness to ulceration to blistering. Ears and tails are also at risk for frostbite. If you suspect frostbite on your dog, seek veterinary care, as warming the area in common sense ways is not always the safest option for your pet.

Apparel Tips & Tricks

For dogs who enjoy playing in the snow, winter recreation sports or just long walks on snowy days, safety apparel may extend the fun.

Take care in selecting outerwear for your pampered pup. Many dog sweaters and coats are designed with cuteness and fashion as a higher priority than warmth and protection. Protective outerwear often has a water-resistant outer layer. For increased warmth, also look for a fleece layer and possibly additional insulation between.

Clothing should be adjustable at the neck and bottom cuffs to allow for a custom fit around unique body types. Hoods are sometimes helpful, but difficult to fit universally over so many shapes and sizes of heads, necks and ears, so they may not be particularly protective for your dog.

Boots are also very helpful. More importantly than adding warmth, they provide protection from deicing materials as well as from extended exposure to snow and ice, which may cause frostbite. Furthermore, they can reduce the “balling” of snow on foot fur and between toes, which can be uncomfortable as well as dangerous.

As most apparel still leaves substantial area of the dog exposed, never assume outerwear is fully sufficient to protect your dog and pay close attention to the signs of discomfort.

Outdoor Shelter Safety

For dogs who spend substantial time outside in chilly snowy weather, ensure they have ample shelter and bedding, as well as a heated water bowl to provide an unfrozen water source.

Shelter must be watertight to provide safety. Never assume shelter is adequate; check to make sure your dog is using the shelter and that he looks safe and comfortable.

You should observe your dog in several weather scenarios and times before feeling comfortable his shelter is adequate and that your dog is using it effectively. Even dogs who enjoy the snow and cold should be monitored, as even resilient snow-loving breeds can be injured in extended exposure to extreme cold. Do not forget that wet or windy conditions reduce dogs’ ability to withstand otherwise reasonable temperatures.

Some dogs love to play or hike in the cold while others prefer to enjoy winter from a warm rug in front of the fireplace. If your pup is in the first category, help him enjoy the fun as safely as possible by following these care tips and always paying very close attention to your sweet pup’s behavior and comfort level.

Dental Care for Dogs and Cats – Why is it Important?

Dental Care for Dogs and Cats – Why is it Important?

 

Dental disease is one of the most common health problems in both dogs and cats. Just like humans, dogs and cats build up plaque on their teeth all through the day. If the plaque is left to accumulate and not removed via brushing, it calcifies into tartar and forms the hard buildup that is seen on your pet’s teeth.

The first stage of periodontal disease is gingivitis, which is the red line you can see on your pet’s gum line. Gingivitis simply means that the pet’s gums are swollen and inflammed from the plaque or bacteria that builds up on the teeth. This condition is reversible with the help of adequate home care and thorough dental cleaning. At this stage, veterinary doctors recommend that your pet’s teeth be cleaned.

Periodontal disease is usually caused by bacteria that builds up on the teeth, also known as plaque and tartar. Plaque spreads under the gum line, destroying the attachment between the gums and teeth, and this leads to loose teeth and bone loss. Periodontal usually occurs beneath the gum line, and it is invisible when looking into your pet’s mouth. The only way to see it is through dental x-rays and oral examination by a vet. During the oral examination, the vet places a film for dental x-rays in the pet’s mouth, which must be under a general anesthetic. When a vet is carrying out a dental cleaning, a general anesthetic is required to clean under the gum line.

To prevent these diseases and extend your pet’s life, regular dental care is very important. Pets feel a toothache just like humans; it can be broken teeth, a sharp pain from a cavity, or a dull ache from dental disease.

Another reason why dental care is important for pets is that it can help prevent periodontal disease before it starts. The chronic periodontal disease can cause bacteria to infect the body system on a regular basis, and can also cause infection to other parts of the pet’s body, such as the kidney, bladder, and skin.

Oral cancer has also been linked to the chronic dental disease. Since periodontal disease can cause chronic inflammation, this can lead to abnormal cell growth, resulting in cancer.

Also, severe periodontal disease can cause fractures of the lower jaw bone. This is because the bone loss weakens the lower jaw, resulting in a fracture.

Some pets with long noses, such as Dachshunds, having the periodontal disease can develop oronasal fistulas. Oronasal fistulas is caused by loss of bone, which leads to communication between the oral and nasal cavities, often resulting to sinusitis - an infection in the nasal passages.

In rare cases, the severe dental disease can lead to blindness. This is because the last premolar and molar roots in the upper jaw are close to the eyes. Severe inflammation of these tooth roots could result in eye infection and blindness.

Regular dental care is important in keeping your dog or cat healthy and happy!

What is Dog Bloat?

What is Dog Bloat?

What Is Dog Bloat?

Bloat happens when a dog's stomach fills with excessive gas, food, or fluid usually due to excessive eating or drinking or eating or drinking too fast. The expanded stomach puts pressure on other organs causing dangerous problems, including:

  • No blood flow to the heart and stomach lining
  • A tear in the wall of the stomach
  • A harder time breathing

When a dog’s stomach rotates or “twists” with Bloat, a condition develops that can be deadly called Gastric Dilation Volvulus.  As the stomach rotates, blood becomes trapped, unable to return to the heart and other areas of the body. This condition can send your dog into shock and is obviously life threatening.

Symptoms

Bloat usually comes on very quickly. These are some of the signs to look out for

  • Restlessness
  • Drooling
  • A swollen stomach
  • Anxious
  • Sniffing at the midsection
  • Pacing
  • Trying to vomit, but nothing comes up

As the condition gets worse, your dog may:

  • Collapse
  • Pale gums
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath
  • General weakness

If you think your dog has bloat, get him to a clinic right away. If dogs don't get treatment in time, the condition can be fatal.

Causes

Vets aren't sure what causes bloat, but there are some things that raise a dog's risk for it including:

  • Eating from a raised food bowl
  • Having one large meal a day
  • Eating quickly
  • A lot of running or playing after eating
  • Family history/Genetics
  • Eating or drinking too much and too quickly
  • Stress

Any dog can have bloat, but it's much more common in deep-chested, large breeds, like Akitas, Boxers, Basset Hounds, and German Shepherds.

Be careful using a raised feeding bowl with shorter breeds. Only use a raised bowl if your veterinary recommends one.

Treatment

The treatment a dog gets depends on how severe his condition is.

First, the vet may put a tube into your dog's throat and down to his stomach to release the pressure that has built up. Sometimes, a twisted stomach can keep the tube from passing through. If that's the case, the vet may put a large, hollow needle through his belly into his stomach and release the pressure that way.

If your dog is in shock, the vet may give him fluids through an IV, antibiotics, or steroids.

Then, the vet will take X-rays to see if his stomach is twisted. If it is, your dog will have emergency surgery to untwist it and put it back in its normal position. The vet also will fix the stomach in the right place to keep your dog from getting bloat again. The vet will also check to see if the condition damaged other parts of his body.

Prevention

Bloat can be scary, but there are ways you can keep it from happening to your dog:

  • Don't use a raised bowl unless your vet says your dog needs one.
  • Don't let him run or play a lot right before or after meals.
  • Feed him a few small meals throughout the day instead of one or two large ones.
  • Make sure he drinks plenty of fresh water