Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Beating the Heat

With hot weather just around the corner, you can take some steps to make sure you have a cool cat and not a hot dog as warm temperatures begin affecting people and pets.

Each year, there are hundreds of heat stroke cases in pets seen around the country, and Dr. Kathy Snyder, a veterinarian at the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences at Texas A&M University, has some valuable advice about pets and warm weather.

According to Snyder, heat stroke afflicts an animal when the animal can not dissipate all the heat from the environment quickly enough to regulate its body temperature. When its body temperature rises to unnatural levels, any of the following can happen: kidney failure, liver failure, abnormal blood clotting, swelling of the brain, tissue loss in the intestines, abnormal heart rhythms, muscle damage and destruction of blood cells.

“If the animal has extensive internal damages from heat stroke, it may die. Pet owners should pay close attention to their animals during the summer months, especially at the beginning of the summer when animals’ bodies are acclimating to the hotter weather,” Snyder explains.

Animals can develop heat stroke in many ways, and pet owners need to take proactive measures to ensure that their pet is not in harm’s way this summer. Snyder advises pet owners to keep a couple of water bowls out during the summer.

“It is important that the animal have a ‘back-up’ water bowl, especially during the summer months. If the animal’s primary water source was depleted for any reason, the animal would need the extra water to prevent heat stroke,” she adds.

It is also important that animals not be left in enclosed spaces where the temperature can increase rapidly to an extreme value, such as cars, garages, sheds and barns. Small, enclosed spaces can easily reach temperatures of 120 degrees in a very short period of time. Pet owners need to make sure that the animal has at least one of the following during the summer months: shade, a baby pool or an active sprinkler system. These can help the animal stay cool in the heat, and help the animal to control its internal body temperature, Snyder notes.

“Pet owners should be careful when exercising with their pets when it is hot outside. The animals may overheat quickly and keep exercising to keep up with the pet owner. If the animal becomes too hot it can experience heat stroke or even die,” says Snyder. Animals with existing obesity or heart, airway or neurological diseases are especially at risk to develop heat stroke.

Another heat stroke prevention measure that pet owners can take is to shave the animal, especially in animals with a thick haircoat. This loss of coat will help the animal to stay cooler during the hottest months of the year, she believes.

According to Snyder, if an animal has developed heat stroke it will display one or more of the following symptoms: lethargy, heavy panting, weakness, vomiting, unresponsiveness or it may even be comatose.

If the animal displays any of these symptoms, Snyder recommends putting cool water on the animal’s coat and then immediately driving it to a veterinarian’s office. Measures can be taken to help the animal, but only if it arrives to the veterinarian’s office quickly, she stresses.


Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Amazing Short Film: Dog Years

Thanks to Dooce for turning me on to this. A heartbreakingly bittersweet little film. Enjoy.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Colorado Woman Fined for Pink Poodle
A Boulder woman has hired an attorney to fight a $1,000 fine she was given by the city for coloring her miniature poodle pink.
Joy Douglas said she colored Cici pink to help raise awareness for breast cancer. The salon owner said she has used beet juice -- and occasionally Kool-Aid -- for four years now to "stain" her dog. Officials at the Humane Society of Boulder Valley told the Daily Camera Douglas was warned several times before she was issued the ticket on March 1. Douglas is accused of violating the city's code that says "No person shall dye or color live fowl, rabbits, or any other animals." It’s a code meant to keep people from dyeing rabbits and chicks at Easter. Read the full story here.

Do you think Douglas should be fined? Is this inhumane treatment? Or has the city and the local humane society gone too far?
photo via design within reach
Canine Canteen

Spoil Fido with a picnic of his own, packed inside the durable Charlybox. Much like a canteen for campers, this simple design is a compact carrier for your pet’s food and water. Made of two halves, the Charlybox includes a two-liter canteen for fresh water, and two bowls for water and kibble. Snap the two halves together and set out for a day with your dog. When it’s time for a snack, separate the halves and fill one of the bowls with water from the canteen.

Available through Design within Reach right here.
Popular Easter Lilies Potentially Fatal for Felines
ASPCA Offers Springtime Safety Tips for Pet Parents

As the last snow melts and spring showers give way to fragrant flowers, the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) reminds animal lovers and pet parents that one of the season's most popular plants, the Easter lily, can result in tragic consequences for our feline friends.

"All lilies belonging to the plant genus Lilium are considered highly toxic to cats," says Dr. Steven Hansen, board-certified veterinary toxicologist and director of the ASPCA's Animal Poison Control Center. "The consumption of small amounts can produce a life-threatening situation." According to Dr. Hansen, certain species of the daylily genus Hemerocallis are known to produce similar toxic effects.

Some examples of common lily varieties that are dangerous for cats include:

. Easter Lily
. Tiger Lily
. Rubrum Lily
. Japanese Show Lily
. Daylily (certain species)

Within only a few hours of ingestion, these plants may cause a cat to vomit, become lethargic or develop a lack of appetite. Without prompt and proper treatment by a veterinarian, a cat may develop kidney failure in 36 to 72 hours. "Time is of the essence for treatment," according to Dr. Louise Murray, Director of Medicine at the ASPCA Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital. "If an owner suspects that his or her cat may have ingested any part of a lily, he or she should seek medical care immediately."

The ASPCA also suggests leaving lilies out of Easter baskets or Mother's Day bouquets destined for homes with cats, or using safer flower varieties as a substitute. Safe alternatives include Easter orchids, cacti, and daisies, as well as roses and violets.

If your dog or cat accidentally ingests any potentially harmful flowers or plants, please call the ASPCA's Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 or visit www.aspca.org/apcc. For more information on having a safe springtime season, please visit www.aspca.org.

About the ASPCA®
Founded in 1866, the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) was the first humane organization established in the Americas, and today has more than one million supporters throughout North America. A 501 [c] [3] not-for-profit corporation, the ASPCA's mission is to provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States. The ASPCA provides local and national leadership in animal-assisted therapy, animal behavior, animal poison control, anti-cruelty, humane education, legislative services, and shelter outreach. The New York City headquarters houses a full-service, accredited, animal hospital, adoption center, and mobile clinic outreach program. The Humane Law Enforcement department enforces New York's animal cruelty laws and is featured on the reality television series "Animal Precinct" on Animal Planet. For more information, please visit www.aspca.org.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

The Importance of Micro-chipping Your Pet

Every pet owner has experienced a situation similar to the following: walking into your home/barn/backyard and your dearly loved pet is no where to be found. Hopefully, your pet is just hiding underneath the couch, but if the situation seems to be a bit more dire, Dr. Bonnie Beaver, a veterinarian at Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, may have some helpful advice.

Pets are adventure seeking animals in general, so it is not surprising that from time to time pets wander away from their homes. This can be a traumatic experience for the pet owner, but micro-chipping can ensure that the pet is safely returned to the owner.

“Micro-chips are used as a way of identifying an animal; like a form of tattoo,” explains Beaver.

Microchips may be used on many different species of animals including dogs, cats, horses, goats, and cattle. According to Beaver, the micro-chip is a small pseudo-ceramic device that is about the size of a small grain of rice. The device is inserted into the animal via a large syringe.

“The procedure is relatively painless for most animals, and can likely be done at your local veterinarian’s office,” states Beaver.

Each micro-chip has a unique serial number, which can be retrieved with the use of a device. It is vastly important to register your pet’s unique micro-chip number with a national agency after the procedure has been completed. An ideal time to get the procedure done is when the pet is getting spayed or neutered, since the pet will already be under anesthesia.

“Two of more well known national agencies are Avid and Home Again,” said Beaver.

The pet owner can get the information about national registration from their local veterinarian’s office. All paper work must be completed and there is a small fee for the service.

Micro-chipping has not been proven to have any negative affects on the animal other than the small amount of pain the shot entails. The micro-chip can also be inserted at any age and can be used for the extent of the pets life.

How does the microchip work? When the pet decides to wander away from home, the pet may just wander into the hands of the animal shelter or a veterinarian’s office. Here, the pet can be scanned for its unique micro-chip number and the shelter or veterinarian will proceed to call the national agencies. If the owner has the pets’ micro-chip number, a positive identification can be made. The owner is then contacted and reunited with the wayward pet.

“It is extremely important that the pet’s micro-chip number be registered at the national level. If this is not done, there is no reason to have the pet micro-chipped in the first place, since no identification could be made by the micro-chip number alone,” states Beaver.

Micro-chipping has been proven to be extremely important especially during times of natural disaster. For example, hurricane Katrina caused many people to evacuate without much warning. Some pets were left behind or separated from their owners while being relocated; with the aide of pet micro-chipping and micro-chip registration at the national level, many of the pets were safely returned to their owners.

Pet Talk is a service of Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences.