Keep Summer Safe for Your Animal Companions

Happy Independence Day! The Fourth of July is considered by many to be the official kickoff to summer fun and recreation. Pet lovers enjoy spending time outside with their animal companions, but here are a few things to remember to keep them safe.

Dogs, cats, and many other animals are less heat tolerant than humans. They don’t sweat to cool down the way humans do and generally have an insulating coat of fur. Panting is one of the main ways dogs and cats expel heat and excessive panting could be a sign of overheating. As a general rule, don’t take your pets for long walks when the temperatures start to rise above 80 degrees. When you do go for walks, make sure to provide plenty of fresh water and avoid black top which can burn the pads on their feet.

Make sure to talk with your veterinarian about flea and tick protection for your pet. Ticks can carry many diseases including Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, ehrlichiosis and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Tick season varies by location and your veterinarian is the best person to ask about the treatment period in your area and which specific preventative they recommend for your pet. Fleas are also a major vector for tape worms and can cause severe dermatitis and allergic problems in many pets. Flea and tick preventatives are generally very safe.

Make sure to keep your pet on year-round heartworm preventative. Heartworm disease is transmitted by mosquitoes and is fatal if left untreated. The treatment for heartworm disease is expensive and dangerous. Even some treated dogs won’t make it, so it is important to take prevention seriously. Heartworm preventatives also prevent intestinal parasites during the winter.

Watch out for summer-specific toxins. These include fireworks, tiki torch fluid, and some species of toads, snakes, and spiders. Research any plants you buy for the yard to ensure that they aren’t toxic. Keep dogs out of warm ponds as they may contain the highly toxic blue green algae. If your pet has exposure to something and you aren’t sure if it is toxic, please contact your veterinarian at once.

Be vigilant at the beach or around the pool. Not all dogs are swimmers. Most dogs will naturally “dog paddle” in water, but that doesn’t mean that they can keep it up for a long time. Many dogs become anxious in the water and could drown because they are scared or grow exhausted. Remember that even strong swimmers can drown if the current is strong. If you intend to do a lot of swimming you may want to consider investing in a life jacket for your dog as a precaution.

Finally, please, please never leave your animal companion in a parked car in the hot sun. If you absolutely must leave your pet alone for a moment, please remember to leave a window rolled down enough to allow fresh air in but not far enough for him or her to climb out and get lost or hurt.

Have a safe summer.

Peace for ALL the animals with whom we share this planet!

Your House Is Clean, But Are Your Pets Safe?

In these troubled times, keeping your home clean and safe is more important than ever. But are you making your house safer or more dangerous for your animal companions?

Many cleaning products are safe for humans to use but will cause discomfort, injury, or even death to pets. Your animals may be curious about the smell or taste of these products, so be extra careful when using them. The following is a list of common household cleaners and the dangers they can pose to your animal companions.

Bleach:  Small exposures to regular strength household bleach, such as a pet walking through a puddle on the floor, may result in irritation to the skin and bleached/damaged fur. Thorough rinsing of the feet is important to remove any bleach trapped in the toe webs or between the foot pads. Bleach on the skin or fur often leads to ingestion because animals will self-groom and lick the bleach off. Ingestion can lead to vomiting and stomach irritation which, depending on the amount ingested, may need veterinary treatment. If bleach gets in the eye, this can be an emergency. Immediate flushing of the eye may be needed to slow damage to the cornea. Any animal whose eyes have been exposed to bleach should be examined by a veterinarian. He or she may apply a stain to the surface of the eye that binds to damaged cells and make them visible. If damage has occurred, treatment is likely needed. Concentrated or “ultra” bleaches can cause chemical burns, so extra caution needs to be taken when using those products. Never mix bleach with other chemicals. Mixing chlorine bleach with ammonia, for example, produces toxic chloramine gas which is corrosive to the lungs.

Isopropyl Alcohol:  Ingesting isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol and hand sanitizers) can poison animals, resulting in symptoms such as drunkenness, low blood sugar (especially in small and young pets), stomach upset, slow heart rate, low blood pressure, acid/base disturbances in the blood, and difficulty breathing. Isopropyl alcohol is twice as toxic as ethanol (the alcohol in beer and wine) to dogs.

Hydrogen Peroxide:  Often found in cleaning and disinfecting products, exposure to hydrogen peroxide can result in skin and eye irritation/damage, vomiting, damage to the stomach lining, and sometimes potentially deadly air bubbles in the blood. The common 3% household strength concentration is occasionally used to induce vomiting in dogs but is only safe at correct doses and only in specific cases. Do not give hydrogen peroxide to a dog without consulting your vet. Never use hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting in cats as it can be deadly. Concentrations greater than 3% can be corrosive to all tissues.

Quaternary ammonium compounds:  Found in some disinfecting wipes and sprays, quaternary ammonium compounds can cause corrosive injury to any tissue they contact. Cats are especially sensitive to these compounds, even at very low concentrations.

Phenols:  Found in everything from toilet bowl cleaners to all-purpose cleaning sprays, these products can be corrosive if they contact the skin and eyes or if they are swallowed.  They can also cause corrosive injury to the lungs if inhaled.

Keep your pets out of the room when cleaning, especially if using an open mop bucket. Discard paper towels that are wet with cleaner or sanitizing wipes in covered trash cans. When cleaning the bathroom, keep the doors closed and windows open. In case of spills, quickly remove pets to a safe part of the house or secure the area to avoid accidental exposure.

Remember that pets are more sensitive to household cleaning products than most humans are. In case of exposure, contact your vet immediately or call the 24/7 Pet Poison Helpline at (855) 764-7661.

Peace to ALL the animals with whom we share this planet!