(Family Features) Enjoying the great outdoors is a common pastime for many when temperatures warm, and that includes those with furry companions. However, warmer weather also comes with a variety of hazards to those four-legged friends.
To help keep your pets safe and enjoy all the season has to offer, consider these tips from the experts at VCA Animal Hospitals, which has more than 1,000 locations across North America and cared for more than 4 million pets last year.
Leaving pets in the yard for extended periods without access to shade or water on hot days, vigorous exercise or leaving them in vehicles even with windows rolled down can lead to heat stroke, a term commonly used for hyperthermia, or elevated body temperature. Pets suffering from heat stroke (temperature higher than 106 F) can have elevated breathing rates, dry or sticky gums, abnormal gum color, bruising in the gums, may appear lethargic or disoriented and can have seizures. Safe, controlled reduction of body temperature is an immediate priority. Cool water may be poured over the head, stomach, armpits and feet, or cool cloths may be applied to these areas and continually replaced.
Allergies are common in both dogs and cats, and warmer weather brings out fleas and ticks that can cause allergic reactions. Bites may cause intense itching, leading pets to scratch or chew on themselves, potentially causing hair loss. An effective, year-round flea and tick preventative regimen is key to keeping dogs and cats pest free and limiting allergic reactions. In cases of severe itching, antihistamines or corticosteroids (steroids) may be prescribed to provide immediate relief.
Cookouts may mean barbecue chicken, ribs, steak, corn on the cob and fresh fruit like watermelon. Be wary of bones, which are not digestible and can pose a choking hazard, cause intestinal blockage or break into shards and cause irritations or infections. Similarly, corn cobs are not digestible and can get stuck in the stomach or intestinal tract, causing an obstruction. Watermelon rind and seeds can also block the GI tract, so be sure to remove the rind and seeds.
Warm weather means festivals and parties. However, these outdoor gatherings often include items that are dangerous to pets:
- Glow sticks contain an oily liquid called dibutyl phthalate (DBP). While non-toxic in small amounts, DBP can cause gagging, drooling and irritation of the eyes, mouth and skin if pets bite glow sticks. If your pet chews a glow stick, offer water or a treat to tame the bitter taste. Turn off the lights and wash any glowing areas.
- Citronella candles work well as a deterrent for flying insects but open flames can burn whiskers and noses. The fumes may also cause breathing issues when inhaled and consuming the wax can cause GI and nervous system issues.
- Popped or non-inflated balloons can pose choking risks. String for anchoring them can also cause intestinal issues if swallowed and pets could become entangled in the string, posing tripping and strangulation risks.
While cats naturally shy away from water, both dogs and cats can fall into swimming pools accidentally. Dogs can sometimes struggle with getting out of the water even if they’re capable swimmers, so be sure to teach them to navigate the swim-out area and keep an eye on pets in the water – even good swimmers can tire of treading water and drown.
Find more tips to safely enjoy the warmer months with your furry friends at VCAHospitals.com.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images
VCA Animal Hospitals
Bonding with Your Four-Legged Friend
(Family Features) Your dog may be one of your best friends, but that bond doesn’t happen overnight. Investing in quality one-on-one time can have a big impact on the bond you build with your four-legged companion.
One of the best ways to show dogs love is by keeping them healthy and spending quality time with them. Dedicating time every day to your dog’s well-being can help establish a connection, give you opportunities to express affection and foster shared bonding moments.
Teaching your dog obedience isn’t just about eliminating undesirable behaviors. Training allows you to clearly communicate your expectations to your dog. It also builds your dog’s confidence through positive feedback received after mastering a command or new trick. Most dogs thrive on meeting their owners’ expectations, so consistent commands they can recognize and follow help deepen your connection.
Another way to build trust through behavior training is establishing regular routines. Giving your dog a clear set of expectations helps build mutual trust. You can create routines around the key milestones of each day, such as mealtimes, walks and bedtime.
Some pets love bathtime; others avoid it at all costs. Either way, you can make the experience more rewarding for you and your pet if you use it as an opportunity to spend some quality time together and shower your pet with extra affection.
Many pets are especially sensitive to grooming near their eyes, but keeping the eyes clean and free of dirt and buildup may help reduce the risk of infection, reduce tear stains and support your dog’s eye health. Consider options like Project Watson eye wash for dogs, which comes in an easy-to-use bottle with a tip that allows for a steady stream of solution to use alone or by soaking a clean washcloth. Made with naturally inspired, high-quality ingredients, the eye wash is designed to match the pH of a dog’s eye and help remove dried mucous, foreign materials, pollen and other irritants.
Between grooming sessions, you can also clean your dog’s eyes with eyelid wipes. The wipes, which are part of the Project Watson line of dog care products developed by the experts at Bausch + Lomb and evaluated by veterinarians, are formulated with micellar technology that cleanses and hydrates around the eyes while helping remove excess buildup associated with irritated, dry eyes. The gentle formula is paraben free, pH-balanced and fragrance free, made to mimic the ingredients found in natural tears and provide a soothing, gentle cleaning.
Your dog needs daily exercise, just like you. Make your workouts do double duty by taking your dog along for a walk or jog. Just be sure to match your workout level to your pet’s abilities; just like humans, dogs need to build up endurance before tackling an extended route. Also be mindful of the terrain and ensure your pet’s paws are safe from potential risks like sharp or abrasive surfaces and extreme heat or cold.
While dogs need plenty of practical attention and structure, some of the best bonding comes from letting loose and simply enjoying interacting with your pooch. That might mean wrestling with a favorite toy, throwing a ball or just snuggling on the couch with plenty of petting and scratches.
For more suggestions to keep your four-legged friend happy and healthy, speak with your veterinarian or visit tryprojectwatson.com.
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock
Dog Grooming Advice to Keep Pets Clean and Healthy
(Family Features) Regular grooming can keep your dog looking and smelling his or her best, but it’s also important for maintaining health. If you choose to groom at home rather than opting for (often expensive) professional care, it’s also an opportunity to examine your pet for potential concerns.
A proper grooming routine starts with the right tools. Consider these suggestions from The Humane Society of the United States:
- Dog-friendly nail clippers
- Rubber-bristled brush
- Dog-friendly toothbrush and toothpaste
- Dog-friendly shampoo and conditioner
- Cotton balls
- Blunt-ended shears or small clippers with guides
- Microfiber towel
When your dog’s nails nearly touch the ground, it’s time for a trim, typically every 3-4 weeks. Trimming the part of the nail that turns down helps prevent pain and damage to paws.
If your dog has white nails, avoid cutting the “quick,” the pink part that’s visible on white nails, which bleeds when cut. For dark nails, simply trim a bit at a time until evidence of the quick is visible.
Bathing and Brushing
Frequency for baths and brushing depends on your dog’s coat type – be sure to research optimal grooming schedules based on his or her breed. In general, The Humane Society of the United States recommends these guidelines:
- Short, smooth or wiry coat: Brush once a week with a rubber-bristled brush.
- Long, silky or curly coat: Brush once a day with a rubber-bristled brush or wire slicker brush. Use a steel comb to prevent tangles or mats, if necessary.
- Double coat: Use an undercoat rake or de-shedding tool to gently de-shed once a week in addition to regular brushing routines.
When it’s bath time, use a shampoo formulated for dogs and a damp cloth or cotton ball to clean around the eyes and ears without pushing anything into the eyes or ears. Dry with a microfiber towel or hair dryer on a low setting.
Be careful and work slowly to avoid mistakes and keep your dog calm and comfortable. Brush, bathe and completely dry prior to cutting fur with blunt-ended shears or small clippers with guide combs. Specifically trim hair covering the eyes and private areas and between your pup’s paw pads. It may be helpful to watch a tutorial online to ensure success.
You can prevent gum disease and plaque buildup by brushing your dog’s teeth with a soft toothbrush and dog-friendly toothpaste. Make sure your pet is comfortable and start slow, staying on the outside surfaces of teeth and gently rubbing back and forth. Focus on the area where the tooth surface meets the gum.
Visit eLivingtoday.com to find more pet health advice.
Photo courtesy of Unsplash
Mastiffs: Majestic Guardians of Love and Loyalty
Mastiffs: Majestic, gentle giants, loyal companions. A protective breed, these canines embody grace and strength, captivating hearts worldwide.
Mastiffs, with their imposing size and gentle disposition, have captivated the hearts of dog lovers for centuries. These majestic canines are more than just impressive physical specimens; they are also renowned for their unwavering loyalty and affectionate nature.
Originating from ancient Molossian dogs, Mastiffs have a rich history as guardians and protectors. Their imposing presence and innate protective instincts make them exceptional watchdogs and formidable deterrents to potential intruders. Yet, beneath their intimidating exterior lies a heart of gold.
Despite their size, Mastiffs are known for their gentle and loving nature, especially with their families. They form deep bonds and are often patient and tolerant, making them excellent companions for children. Their calm and stable demeanor can bring a sense of security and comfort to those around them.
While Mastiffs are undeniably affectionate, they also require proper training and socialization. Early socialization helps them develop good manners and become well-adjusted adults. Consistent training is essential to harness their immense strength and ensure they are well-behaved members of society.
Exercise is crucial for Mastiffs to maintain a healthy body and mind. Although they are not the most energetic breed, regular walks and playtime are essential to prevent weight gain and promote overall well-being. However, it’s important to be mindful of their physical limitations and avoid excessive exercise, particularly during hot weather.
Mastiffs thrive in loving and nurturing environments. They appreciate human companionship and can suffer from separation anxiety if left alone for extended periods. Providing them with mental stimulation, such as puzzle toys or interactive games, can help keep their intelligent minds engaged and prevent boredom.
In conclusion, Mastiffs embody the perfect blend of strength, loyalty, and gentleness. Their imposing presence and loving nature make them exceptional family pets and guardians. By understanding their needs and offering them the care they deserve, Mastiffs can fill our lives with an abundance of love, loyalty, and joy.
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