Safe Nights for the Dog Days of Summer

During these hot and humid days, the only times caring dog owners typically can walk their canines is either in the early morning or late evening. And putting paws to still-warm pavement after a later sunset means navigating neighborhood streets with more joggers, bikers and other dog-walkers, as well as drivers — all taking advantage of a cooler outing before bedtime.

When trying to squeeze a walk in after dinner and before hitting the hay, you’re tempted to grab your pooch and just run out the door. But before you do, take just a moment to review a few simple rules that will help you and your pet stay safe and healthy on your evening jaunt.

1.    Illuminate – See and be seen!

Even if you know your walking route like the back of your hand, a crack in the pavement, forgotten child’s toy, broken glass, a sharp piece of fallen tree limb, or even snakes are just a few of the potential hazards that you may not anticipate. A simple light just bright enough to illuminate your path at least 7 to 10 feet ahead will avoid unnecessary surprises. And avoid high-lumen torches that could temporarily blind oncoming traffic or bikes.

To see, consider any of the following:

·      Your smartphone flashlight, either built-in or an app. While not ideal in terms of brightness, at least it is the light you most likely are carrying anyway, even if you forget a real flashlight.

·      A retractable dog-leash flashlight. This is the next easiest solution because it is only one item to remember for two of the four safety needs. And these are inexpensive. Just search online for “dog leash with flashlight” or run down to your local pet store.

·      A pet waste bag/flashlight (yes, they make those!) is another great inexpensive combo product, like the Top Paw LED Flashlight Dispenser 

·      A mini-flashlight. These palm-sized personal flashlights can easily fit in a pocket. And they are versatile, good for finding your house key at night when you forgot to leave the porch light on or need to locate your phone, wallet or jewelry accidently dropped in the car.

To be seen, here are a few suggestions:

·      LED collars and leashes. Just like it sounds.  These products include collars, leashes and small balls that hang from either. You can find them in pet stores priced anywhere from $5-15. The light modes include solid on, slow flash and fast flash.

·      Reflective collars and leashes. The advantage is no batteries are required and these are more likely to be worn during the day, too. The downside is that fluffy won’t be seen unless a light source hits the reflector, plus reflective light is not as bright as a flashlight.

2.    Hydrate

Your dog’s bodily fluid level can drop either from low fluid intake or fluid loss (through respiration, perspiration and urination). A walk in the heat combines both and can put your pet in danger quickly.  Fortunately, the solution is simple. Carry water — in anything. Don’t rely on the chance of finding a lawn sprinkler or gutter run-off or the garden hose of someone’s house when you start to notice symptoms. Just get in the habit of bringing water for both of you.

3.    Aerate

On some nights, temperatures may continue to hover in the 80’s for a while after sundown. Dogs keep themselves cool in three ways: panting, sweating and through their paws. You can assist by rubbing some of your dog water on your pouch’s paws (especially if the pavement is warm) and chest. For hairless and short-haired pets, you might even consider a cooling vest that uses evaporative cooling to hold water in fabric that ventilates the dog’s skin.

4.     Communicate

Use commands and leashes. As owner, you are the chief navigator here. Your four-legged companion relies on you for warnings of potential hazards. Keep in regular contact using voice commands as well as leash signals. Remember, all commands, whether audible or tactile, need to be practiced and consistent in order to work when you and your pet need them.

Follow these simple rules, and you’ll enjoy a healthy and happy stroll with your canine on a hot summer night.

Canine Comfort on Your Next Road Trip

Summer is the perfect time to hit the road with the family. For many, that includes the faithful four-legged family member. Any trip lasting more than a day or two usually requires some kind of trip planning that probably includes a travel checklist.

If the dog portion of your travel list includes only food, water and waste bags, you will not be adequately prepared.  You may realize after you already are “too far down the road” that you’ve neglected some essential preparations and failed to pack important items that ensure canine care and comfort.

1.    Pre-Travel Checkup

Your canine companion may look happy and healthy enough to hit the road at a moment’s notice. But that doesn’t mean it is ready for a long ride far from home. This is especially true if your plan involves going through different states and staying in hotels and perhaps kennels, knowing that your pup will be sticking its nose and paws into strange flora and fauna at every stop along your route, and snacking on whatever interesting tidbits it can sniff out at every rest stop.

To reduce the health risks, it is always a good idea to make sure that all vaccinations are up to date. Check with your vet in advance of your trip to make sure that your specific furry friend has everything needed for a safe and enjoyable trip. Make sure you allow enough time before you leave to get all necessary vaccines, including one to prevent Kennel Cough if your pet will be in proximity to other dogs. You will also want to refill any medication prescriptions or make sure you have enough to last the entire trip, allowing for possible delays.

If your dog typically experiences anxiety while riding in the car, ask your vet about medications or other strategies for keeping your pet calm. Many dogs suffer from extreme panic and anxiety during thunderstorms. If your plan calls for travel through the parts of the country where thunderstorms are likely, tell your vet and discuss the best ways to help your pup avoid unnecessary stress. For some dogs, a wearable solution like a ThunderShirt can help your pet with thunder, travel stress, fear or and other loud noises, as well as other canine anxieties.

2.    Travel Papers

While you are at the vet’s office, make sure you pick up copies of all vaccine records, including rabies certificates, and medical records documenting any health conditions like allergies, as well as prescriptions. If your pooch gets sick or injured and needs to get medical attention far from home, those records will prove extremely helpful to a veterinary health provider needing the correct information for making an appropriate diagnosis and prescribing the best medications for your dog.

3.    Getting Emergency Help

Technology has made rendering first aid and finding a nearby vet or animal clinic while traveling much easier. An app like Pet First Aid by American Red Cross (compatible with iPad and iPhone) can bring you peace of mind and put a number of great resources at your fingertips, including:

·      Simple step-by-step instructions guide you through everyday emergencies

·      Prepare and protect your pet’s health with advice on administering medication, behavioral help and how to act in a disaster situation.

·      Early warning sign checker for preventive care.

·      Programmable veterinary contact number to be available when needed throughout the app.

·      First aid steps for over 25 common pet situations through a combination of text, video and images, in addition to identifying common toxic substances.

·      Locate your nearest emergency vet hospital or pet-friendly hotels.

·      Respond to pet emergencies with “how to” videos for the common and stressful emergency situations inclusive of size specific CPR techniques.

4.    Exercise and Play

Boredom and lack of exercise can be a problem on long trips. Frequent rest stops are essential to allow your canine to relieve itself and get a quick stretch. But your pet will lick you with gratitude if you can supplement relief stops with some real exercise and play.

While your family may be looking forward to an amusement park visit, your canine may be dreaming about a new dog park. One great solution is another app, such as Dog Park Finder Plus (iPad and iPhone), which includes the following features:

·      Get Directions to park

·      View a list of nearest dog parks

·      View a map of nearest dog parks

·      Results updates map scrolls

·      Search for parks (both list and map views).

·      View detailed website park information in the app

·      Read and write reviews in the app.

5.    Pads and Wipes

Even with frequent rest stops, accidents will happen. Pee pads are a great way to catch pet waste and vomit and can easily be disposed at the nearest rest or meal stop. Wet wipes that are pet-friendly can be crucial to keeping paws clean and free of bacteria and hazardous substances, as well as anything that gets spilled on your canine. Keep plenty of both in the car and a travel bag.

With these five strategies, you will create great memories for you and your dog, and build trust and excitement about your next relaxing vacation together.

5 Dog-Loving Tips for a Flea-Free, Tick-Off, No-Mo-Skeeters Summer

If dogs could talk, they would not be wagging their tongues or tails excitedly about the coming of summer. Besides the dreadful Texas heat and humidity braved by our furry-coated friends, they must contend with the pests. No, not kids on skateboards with cell phones, but the pesky insects that bite and burrow: fleas, ticks and mosquitos. Unfortunately, these canine-loving critters often carry diseases.

Every dog and its owner know how bad fleabites can itch. But if your canine companion is especially sensitive, more severe reactions can occur. Health threats posed by tick bites include Lyme disease and “dog tick fever” (Canine Anaplasmosis) that can cause not only fever, but also stiff joints, appetite loss and lethargy, as well as vomiting and diarrhea. With mosquito bites, the biggest risk to dogs is heartworm. We’ll skip further fear-inspiring maladies and details. You get the idea here. And just because your dog gets bit doesn’t mean it will contract any of these diseases, but it is a risk. Talk to your veterinarian about what symptoms to look for and when to bring your pet in for an exam.

So, how do you protect your furry family member from bites and their effects? Here are five simple suggestions.

1.     Rake, Cut and Drain. This refers to leaves, grass and water. Basically, you don’t want to give the little buggers a chance to breed, hide and grow. Ticks and fleas love fallen foliage, so use a rake or leaf blower to literally “blow their cover.” And make sure you keep grass cut short.

Mosquitos propagate in standing water, which can take a number of forms that you might not recognize at first but that need to be drained or treated:

– Pet water bowls/troughs
– Landscape or natural ponds
– Bird baths
– Large puddles or pools from rain or sprinklers
– Untreated swimming pools
– Drainage trays under plant pots, and
– Uncovered trash cans or buckets that can collect rain or sprinkler water.

2.     Bathe, Wash and Vacuum. Give your pooch a regular bath. Ask your vet what kind of shampoo is best (e.g., non-allergenic, natural, best pest prevention). After that, throw doggie’s beds, blankets, rugs, collars and anything else it plays with or touches in the laundry. Finally, regularly vacuum carpets, rugs, floors, furniture, and curtains.

3.     Bug-proof the house. Make sure the windows and doors to the outside are closed or have screens that are not torn or have holes in them. Repair and patch any tear, hole or crack no matter how small. If you don’t find the “leaks” into your abode from outside, the bugs will.

4.     Stay indoors when possible, especially during and shortly after sunset. Fleas tend to be more active around sunset. Mosquitos can bite at any time of day. Some Texas species, like the Aedis aegypti, are active in daylight and not at night, while others are most active at twilight or in the few hours right after sunset.

5.   And of course ask us about proper flee medications for your pets to keep those pesky critters away.

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