Healthy Tips

Temperature

It is nice to spend time playing with your pup outdoors, but keep an eye on the temperature.  If your pup begins lifting his paws out of the snow, or dancing around, it’s time to go inside.  Don’t leave him/her out alone for extensive periods, either.  He/she might have a fur coat, but their body temperature will still drop after some time in the cold.

If you do leave your dog outdoors for long periods, make sure that he/she has a proper housing unit.  The unit should be raised 1-2″ off the ground and be completely enclosed with a rubber flap or other material for the door.  This ensures the animal has suitable protection from the elements.  Also make sure to line the housing unit with straw.  While blankets can seem cozy, they often freeze and will leave your animal shivering and potentially sick.  Straw will provide adequate insulation and stays nice and dry.

Be cautious of your cats as well.  If he/she does get outside, make sure to watch the door and be ready to let him/her back in.  Cats can easily get frostbite on their ears, tails, and feet.

No animal should be left outside over night- particularly in below-freezing temperatures.

Never leave an animal in your vehicle during the winter- cars can become fridges in no time.

Food and Water

Animals may require more food and water during the winter to provide them with the adequate calories to keep warm.  Be careful not to over-feed your pets, but if they do appear to be hungry or losing weight then provide them with enough food to keep them healthy and satisfied.  Animals that are kept outdoors during daytime hours will require more food than those who are kept indoors.  Providing them with the proper amount is the best way to help them maintain their body temperature.

Heated water bowls can also be purchased to prevent water from freezing outside.

Toxins

When outside in the winter be sure to keep an eye out for antifreeze puddles.  When pouring your own antifreeze, be extremely careful not to let it drip or spill in your driveway.  Although we might know that chemicals are unsafe,  antifreeze actually smells like candy to our pets.  If ingested, it can be and usually is fatal.  Try buying an “animal-friendly” antifreeze the next time you re-fill, and suggesting the same to your friends and neighbours.  Better known as “non-toxic” antifreeze, these products use a different agent that is not so harmful to your pet.

Taking your pup for walks in the cold weather is often the best way to get their winter exercise and limit their time in the cold.  However their paws can sometimes become irritated from both snow and salt on the roads.  Salt from the roads can actually burn their paws, so try gently wiping their paws with a warm, damp cloth to remove the salt when you return home. Cleaning their paws can also prevent them from ingesting it, as dogs often lick their paws to dry off.

Exercise

Exercising your dogs in the winter is just as important as in the summer.  While the outdoors might not be as inviting when the temperature is below 0′, dogs don’t really mind spending some time outside with you.

Try taking your furry friend on several shorter walks when the weather is cold.  Use a head halter or one that clips in the front for maximum control and comfort for your pup.  If he/she has a short coat, you might also want to invest in a jacket that he/she can wear to keep warmer.  Booties can also be purchased or made to prevent ice and salt from sticking to your pups’ paws.  Check online for some easy guidelines for making booties and jackets with left-over material or old clothes.

Indoor activities can also be fun.  Purchase or make toys that can entertain your dog, cat, guinea pig, or rabbit for hours on end.  Toys that involve thinking are often the most engaging and most tiring for your pets.  You can find a variety of toys that hold treats and smells to intice your pet- that provide the challenge of attempting to get the treats out!  Or- try hiding small treats around the house for your pup to find.  Once he/she figures out the game, he/she can spend hours searching for the them.  You can even hide yourself! Playing hide-and-seek with your dog is excellent fun for both of you.

For more great games that can strengthen your bond, go to www.ontariospca.ca and search under their “publications”- “fact sheets”.  There is a long list of pet information, including games for both dogs and cats.

Other

Finally, make an effort to bang on the hood of your car before you start it in the morning.  Stray and outdoor cats often look for warm places to hide or sleep.  In the winter months, they can sometimes make their way under the hood of vehicles.  The loud noise will wake them up, allowing them a safe escape.

Spring Reminders

There are a few things to remember about our pets’ health and safety in the spring time.  Please review the following tips to keep your pets happy during spring months.
Read on!

1.  Spring litters.  Spring is the natural time for animals to reproduce.  Neutering or spaying your animals is the only guaranteed method of preventing unwanted litters which can lead to a variety of issues.  Litters of kittens, puppies, or rabbits can be costly to properly care for and it can also be difficult to find homes for them.  Ontario already has an over-population of cats; meaning that there are currently too few homes to care for the number of living cats and kittens.  This means that many of them end up in the streets, dumped into garbage bins, or dropped off at veterinarian and SPCA doors.  NONE of these methods reflects responsible pet ownership.  Preventing the problem before it arises is the only safe and sure way to reduce the population and keep homeless animals to a minimum.

***Any animals that are not neutered should be kept inside or tethered to prevent wandering, which encourages these problematic results.  If your dog is regularly kept outdoors, you may also want to check the fencing surrounding that area.  Look for any holes or areas that the dog could escape through, and have them repaired to prevent wandering.

2.  Not quite the season for swimming.  As the weather begins to warm the snow melts and waterways open.  Dogs who are naturally curious about water may attempt walking on thin ice or swimming in recently opened water.  This can be extremely dangerous for the same reasons that it is dangerous to humans.  Animals can easily fall through thin ice, struggle to climb out, and potentially drown.  Also- while they may have a thick coat of fur, their body temperature can still drop rapidly due to the frigid temperatures of spring water, causing hypothermia.  Keeping this in mind, please do your best to protect yourself and your animals by steering clear of any waterways and always using a leash when walking.

3. “A cottage-ing we go”.  With the rising temperatures of spring, families begin to head out to open cottages and campers for the season.  Being that most dogs enjoy the outdoors, they are naturally curious and excited to join their family on these outings.  However, there are some things to keep in mind when travelling away from home with your pooch.

First, remember to keep him/her comfortable during the ride.  Your pup may be susceptable to car-sickness, so try to feed him/her a few hours before leaving the house. That way the food can be completely digested when it is time to travel.  Watch for panting and drooling as these can be signs that your pup is about to be sick.  Also be sure to stop every few hours to let your pooch out for a bathroom break and a quick drink of water.

Once you’ve arrived, attach your dog’s leash before opening the car door.  Most dogs become very excited at the prospect of exiting the vehicle on new terrain.  He/she could quickly dart away without notice.  Also be sure to keep them tethered during your stay.  Although it is tempting to allow your dog to run free, it can also be hazardous.  Your pooch could easily become lost in an unfamiliar area, get into a fight with another animal, or become injured from a variety of situations.  Additionally, many public campgrounds require that dogs be kept tied.

Finally, remember to always have your pup vaccinated before heading out on vacation.  There are a variety of parasites and illnesses that dogs can catch in the wild that might not be as prevalent in the city.  Tell your veterinarian when you are leaving town and ask him/her if there are any vaccines that your pooch may need to stay safe.

For more travelling tips, visit http://www.ontariospca.ca and search under “Publications”.

Dogs and Hot Weather

With temperatures above normal for this season, we would like to remind pet owners of a few precautions to take into consideration.

1.  Do not leave animals in parked cars.  The temperature inside your vehicle can quickly become dangerous.  Leaving dogs inside a vehicle in hot weather, even with the windows down and “only for a short period” is extremely dangerous.  It takes only a few short minutes for any animal to have a stroke and/or develop brain damage.  Please leave your pets safely at home when doing your shopping.  Or if you are on vacation and must leave them in the vehicle, bring a spare set of keys so you can leave the engine running and the air-conditioning on.

2. Make sure that your animals have access to plenty of fresh water.  Indoors or out, animals will drink more water in the summer than in the winter.  High temperatures can rapidly lead to dehydration, stroke, and potential death.  If you leave your dog outside, please be certain that they have access to shade, that their water is in the shade, and that they can reach it properly.  Automatic water re-fillers can also be purchased to attach to a garden hose that is left in the dogs’ bowl, ensuring that their water supply maintains a healthy level.

3. Limit daily walks to the early morning or later evening when the sun is low and the temperature is cooler.  Dogs should not be walked in extreme heat, unless for very short periods of time (10-15 minutes).  Heat stroke can develop rapidly, as well as dehydration.

4. Whenever possible, leave your dogs in the house.  Having the windows and blinds shut can keep the temperature indoors under control.  If leaving your dog outside during the daytime, you are required to provide a proper dog-house for protection from the elements (sun, wind, rain, etc.).

If you see any domestic animal that appears to be in distress, please do not hesitate to contact us at 705-474-1251.

Warm Weather Pests

***The following information was researched through the Ontario MNR website, local veterinary websites, as well as Cesar’s Way website.  For any questions or concerns about the information provided, please speak with your veterinarian.

During the spring and summer months many northerners spend time outside enjoying the warmer weather and working on yard projects.  However, around the same time every year there is an insurgence of mosquitoes, black flies, ticks, and even fleas that make such time outside all the more trying.

Keeping these pests off of ourselves proves to be a task in and of itself- using bug sprays, nets, citronella and other various methods to ensure our time outside is enjoyable.  But what about our pets?  It can be even more difficult for them to remain comfortable, when these tiny critters find their way under fur and into drooping ears, leaving your pets rolling around in the dirt and rubbing their faces along the ground for comfort.

The problem is that not only are these insects a nuisance, but in some cases they can also carry health risks.  Below is a list of the most common nuisance insects and their potentially harmful infections, as well as some tips about how to keep your pet safe from exposure and free of bites.

1.  Mosquitoes & Blackflies.  The two most common nuisances of the summer months are these common backyard pests.  For the most part, they are harmless, other than leaving itchy marks on their prey.  However, in some cases there may be health concerns that result from insect bites.  Both Heartworm and West Nile Virus can be transmitted by mosquitoes.

Heartworm affects some mammals, including dogs and cats.  It is transmitted when the mosquito bites an infected host and small larvae attach themselves to the mosquito.  If this mosquito then bites another animal, the larvae may deposit themselves onto the new host.  These larvae will travel into the bloodstream of the host, through the bite wound.  After several weeks, they may make themselves to the heart and lungs of your pet where they will grow into adult sized worms.

While Heartworm Disease can be treated, treatment is painful and expensive.  The best option is to prevent this disease before it occurs, by placing your pet onto a preventative solution.  Ask your veterinarian about the variety of treatments available in oral and topical forms to reduce the risk of your pet contracting Heartworm.

West Nile Virus is another illness that is transmitted through the mosquito when it bites an infected host and then deposits infected saliva into a new host.  This illness can affect our pets as well as ourselves and may be mild or life-threatening.  It is best prevented if you avoid contact with mosquitoes as much as possible and wear protective clothing and sprays containing Deet when spending time in areas heavily populated by mosquitoes.  Although not treatable, West Nile Virus usually only lasts between 3-7 days, and hospitalization may assist recovery in severe cases.

For protection, we recommend wearing clothing that fully covers your body when spending time in areas populated with blackflies and mosquitoes; using bug repellents that include DEET; buying bug repellents that are specific for your animals; and limiting the time spent outdoors during peak times (dawn and dusk).

2. Fleas.  These little critters go through a variety of stages, each with its own characteristics and resiliency.  The fleas that you may notice on your pet are in the adult stage, and are small, blackish brown insects about the size of a grain of salt or pepper.  But in reality, the eggs, larvae, and pupae of the flea may already be distributed throughout your house.

Annoying as they are, fleas pose the additional threat of infecting your animal with parasites, causing flea allergy dermatitis, or leading to anemia if the level of infection is too great.

Tapeworm may be present in the flea, and if ingested by your pet (during biting and scratching) s/he may end up with this intestinal infection.  While it can be treated by a veterinarian prescription, it will first lead to additional discomfort in your pet and possible illness.

Flea allergy dermatitis is a skin allergy that develops from a reaction to the saliva of the flea.  Their bites itch much the same way that a blackfly bite may, however with a skin allergy the site may develop red bumps that are increasingly itchy as opposed to a regular bite.  With skin allergies there is a risk that regular scratching may develop into further irritation of the site, abrasions, and possibly infections.  So it is best if caught early.

Anemia is generally unlikely in your family pet, simply because we do take notice of little behaviour nuances such as increased scratching.  However, if your pet does become completely infested with fleas to an extreme degree, s/he could develop anemia due to the amount of blood being drawn from the fleas.  In this case, veterinarian care is a must.

Fleas can be difficult to get rid of because of the many forms that they take.  While shampooing your pet may rid him or her of the fleas living in their fur, they may also be living in your carpet, couch, and bedding.  Meaning, that within a few weeks, days, or even hours another flea may hatch and find it’s way onto your pet.

In some cases, shampooing your pet and providing a topical flea and tick treatment may be enough to deal with the issue.  However, if you do find yourself fighting a never-ending battle, there are other methods of treatment.  The best reassurance comes from a household spray that can be purchased from your veterinarian.  Unfortunately it does smell terrible, but can be used on bedding, carpeting, upholstry, and curtains.  After using the topical treatment on your pets, if the fleas keep returning, speak to your veterinarian about purchasing this additional treatment for your home.

3. Ticks.  Especially good at remaining hidden, ticks can be difficult to detect until they have had a good feed on your pet.  These nuisance critters tend to hang out in long grass and shrub areas, waiting for a potential host to brush past.  Usually, the tick will attach itself to the face, neck, or legs of the animal and gradually begin to drink.  Once fully engorged, the tick will eventually fall off.  However, if found on your pet you should remove the tick immediately with a pair of tweezers.  Do not attempt to pull it off with your fingers.  Wear gloves and use the tweezers to grab the tick as close as possible to the skin of your animal, destroying it once removed.

Some ticks carry Lyme Disease from previously biting an infected mouse or deer, so preventing their bites is the best method of protecting your pet.  Lyme Disease is often difficult to detect, as the symptoms are similar to the flu.  Both yourself and your animal may become infected and begin to develop symtoms of lethargy and fever amoung others.  However, these symptoms can be difficult to detect in the early stages.  If you believe your pet has been bitten by a tick, it is best to bring that tick in a glass jar to the veterinarian with your pet.  Blood tests can be administered to determine whether or not your pet has become infected, and the veterinarian should be able to identify the type of tick to determine whether or not this variation commonly carries Lyme Disease.

To prevent bites, it is best to wear long pants when walking in the woods or bushy areas; do not allow your pets to run through tall grass or brush; and use insect repellent on exposed skin.  Treatments are also available for your pets in the form of flea and tick topical solutions that are easily applied once per month.  Lyme Disease can also be treated with antibiotics in the early stages, although complications may arise in the later stages if not treated immediately.

For all of these common seasonal concerns, it is best to speak with your veterinarian for specific details and methods of prevention or treatment.  Additional information about fleas, ticks, mosquitoes and blackflies can be found through the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources website.

Animal Fact Sheets

For useful information on a wide variety of animal health and behaviour issues, please visit the following link to the Ontario Society for Prevention of Cruelty website:

http://www.ontariospca.ca/6-factsheet.shtml