Every Pet Deserves A Good Home…

Dangers of dog parks and other springtime tips

With spring finally here in Chicago, I started thinking about how the nice weather affects the health of dogs. I know about more exposure to fleas and ticks, but thought I would contact an expert to help shed light on how you can help keep your dog safe this time of year.

April Finan is a veterinarian who works at the Animal 911emergency animal hospital in Skokie, IL. They offer 24 hour emergency care for animals when normal veterinarian offices are closed. So, she is a great person to talk to since she sees the situations that require immediate care.

One of the big trouble spots that Dr. Finan sees is from dog beaches or dog parks. Too many hyped up animals in close proximity can lead to bad situations. "We see numerous bite wounds, from very minor to life threatening. Unfortunately these scuffles are often instigated by an intact male dog or between two intact males."

Over exertion for dogs that are a bit rusty and exercising in bodies of water can also cause problems: "We also see other dog park injuries such as torn cruciate ligaments and broken toenails. The beach water brings its own problems- drinking it can lead to terrible gastroenteritis or even parasites, and swimming in it can lead to skin infections or ear infections if not bathed right after the swim."

One of my collies, Trooper, caught Lyme Disease a few years ago, so I was particularly interested in seeing if Dr. Finan had any advice to prevent dogs from contracting this. "Personally I have not noticed an increase in Lyme Disease at our practice, although it is rarely diagnosed through the ER. The best prevention for Lyme disease is preventing tick attachment. Apply a topical tick prevention product every month, and if your dog spends a lot of time outdoors, check him thoroughly every night for ticks. Ticks need to be attached to the pet for 24 hours before they can transmit Lyme Disease, so if a pet owner finds the tick ASAP, there is likely no harm done. A very common mistake is improper application of topical flea/tick medications. Owners should ask their vet to demonstrate application- it may seem like common sense but it is very easy to do incorrectly and is the number one reason these medications fail."

Dr. Finan continued to describe the symptoms of Lyme Disease. "Lyme disease symptoms are very vague and can vary from pet to pet. Common symptoms include fever, lethargy, and lameness or limping on one or more limbs. Any pet with a fever should be tested for tick-borne diseases. Sometimes pets can be carrying a tick-borne disease such as Lyme Disease without showing any symptoms. Your vet may catch this early with screening tests and may be able to treat the disease before it causes symptoms. Often symptoms occur 6 months to one year after tick attachment, which is why some dogs will have a tick in the summer but won’t get sick until winter."

Some final tips by Dr. Finan included safety around streets and over-exertion for brachycephalic breeds. "Springtime brings all kinds of visits to the ER… one of the most common injuries is a pet being hit by a car. Very often these pets are allowed off leash or are on a "Flexi-lead." Our staff cringes when a pet comes in on a flexi-lead as these leashes allow very poor control over the pet."
Dr. Finan continues. "As temperatures get warmer, brachycephalic breeds will have a much harder time breathing. These are the "smoosh-faced" breeds and include bulldogs, pugs, pekingese, boston terriers, shih tzus, etc. Bulldogs are especially susceptible to heat and humidity and should not be exercised outdoors during the warmest times of the day. Save longer walks for early morning or late evening."

I hope these tips help you have a safe, and enjoyable springtime with your dog.

Happy Training!

Source:  LA Examiner – Cross-Posted:  Just One More Pet

April 11, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment