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Pet Care: 5 Tips from a Veterinarian

Posted by Scott Stueber, CPCU, CISR, AAI on May 20, 2014 12:57:00 PM

0017-Pet-related-Risks-6x4-1up In this week's article, I had the privilege of interviewing Dr. Lisa Chapman, a veterinarian at Parkdale Pet Care located in West Bend, Wisconsin.


Q: What are some common pet injuries that you see in your office? Are there hidden dangers in our yards that pose a threat to pets?

A: A variety of injuries and illnesses target our pets this time of year as we spend more time outdoors. We see wounds and infections every day at our veterinary practice. These injuries result from animal bites/scratches or penetrating injuries from thorns and fencing. Fortunately, these pets recover quickly if the wound is recognized and treated promptly.

Bee stings and subsequent allergic reactions are also commonplace and can be quite alarming to pet owners. Symptoms of pain and swelling warrant immediate medical attention.

Finally, we must not forget the hundreds of toxins outside that are capable of causing serious illness or death. A thorough list of toxic plants can be found on the ASPCA website. These include plants growing wild and those straight from the garden. Lawn chemicals, fertilizers, cocoa mulch, and treated wood mulch can also be dangerous if pets come in contact or ingest. Similarly, algae contamination in water and fecal contamination in soil are hazardous to pets. Educating yourself of these dangers and avoiding direct contact is the best way to keep your pet safe. Keep emergency numbers readily available in case of accidental exposure.

Q: When does tick season start and what can people do to protect their pets?

A: Tick season is in full swing! We started seeing evidence of ticks the first week of April this year. Not only do our pets suffer from the local pain and inflammation of a tick bite, but serious illnesses can be passed to our pets through tick bites. We see a significant exposure to Lyme disease in our patient population.

Lyme disease is transmitted by the deer tick and can be diagnosed by recommended annual screening tests. A variety of topical and oral pesticides are available through your veterinarian to keep pets safe from ticks and tick borne infections.

Q: Summer holidays and picnics can expose pets to all types of human food. Are there any types of food extremely dangerous for pets?

A: As tempting as it may be to share the summer picnic or holiday barbeque with your pet, it’s generally NOT a good idea. Excessive fats in popular picnic items can lead to uncomfortable GI upset or even life-threatening pancreatitis. Vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration are common symptoms after ingesting unfamiliar food items. More serious intestinal damage, obstruction, or perforation can result from eating corn cobs or bones (i.e., from chicken, steak, or ribs). A list of common toxic food items that should never be offered to your pet no matter what time of year include: alcohol, avocado, chocolate, coffee/tea, grapes/raisins, macadamia nuts, onions/garlic, rhubarb, tobacco, and xylitol (artificial sweetener).

Q: Summer heat can have a negative or deadly effect on pets. What can people do to keep their pets safe?

A: Heat stroke occurs when a pet’s body temperature rises to dangerous levels. Any animal is at risk on hot, humid days if they don’t have adequate shade or ventilation. A normal body temperature of 101 degrees can soar to 105 and beyond. Symptoms of heat stroke include excessive panting, drooling, unsteadiness, poor oxygen flow, and even death. If you suspect heat stroke, immediately find shade or a cool environment for your pet. Direct a fan at your pet to help ventilate and apply cool compresses to the armpits, groin and foot pads.

Surprisingly, ice can constrict blood vessels at the skin’s surface and actually make it harder or take longer to cool the body down. Animals that are elderly, overweight, black, or dark in color, and pets with breathing difficulties are at the greatest risk. Avoid exercising on hot days or during the hottest hours of the day, never leave a pet unattended outside on hot days, and never, never leave a pet in a hot vehicle.

Q: Like people, pets can be susceptible to allergies. What are some signs that a pet may have an allergy?

A: Allergies are common for pets and people alike. Symptoms however can be very distinct. We associate runny, itchy eyes, sinus pressure, headache, and sore throat with seasonal allergies. Pets, on the other hand, experience allergy symptoms through their skin. We see an influx of allergy patients during the spring and fall seasons. Irritated, itchy, and often infected skin is the primary complaint. Affected areas include the feet, ears, abdomen, and the skin around the rectum. Allergy patients are very uncomfortable and treatment is aimed at providing itch relief and infection control. Medicated baths, antihistamines, and antibiotics are commonly prescribed. Owners of pets with allergies understand the level of commitment needed to provide the care and comfort these animals need.

Topics: Pet Safety

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