Have a safe summer: Avoiding seasonal pet hazards

Summer should be a time of sun and fun for yourself and your pet. After all those long winter days and spring's rains, everyone is ready for a good romp come July and August. But, summer poses its own health risks for your canine companion. Heat Stroke, Poisoning, Sunburn, and Ticks can mar an otherwise wonderful summer vacation or afternoon trip to the park.

Many people think heat stroke is something that only strikes outdoor and working dogs. Although animals that live and work outside are particularly at risk, any dog that ventures out during the dog days of summer can get heat stroke. Dogs do have sweat glands on their feet, but they rely on panting as a cool-down mechanism. Heat strokes occur when your furry friend can't cool down as quickly as his body temperature is rising. Dogs with short noses, like pugs, as well as longhaired or double-coated dogs have a harder time cooling off. Older dogs, overweight dogs, and dogs with respiratory problems, such as asthma, also have a hard time getting cool once they have overheated. Heat stroke can occur within minutes in a confined space, such as a car, even with the window down. Dogs can also overheat exercising in the park on hot and humid days. The best way to prevent heat stroke is to make sure your pet has access to cool water, both for drinking and immersion. If you're exercising with your pet during the peak sun hours, make sure that you take lots of breaks—for yourself and your pet and that both of you drink plenty of liquids. Older dogs and dogs with respiratory problems should remain inside on particularly humid days.

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Don't let Vestibular Disease turn your dog's life upside down

That day started just like any other day. I got up, got ready for work, and went downstairs to walk Lady. Lady, as usual, was waiting for me on her checkered dog bed. She looked at me, got up, and then promptly fell over. I ran down the stairs and Lady tried to get up again and fell over. She then threw up on my shoes. Sadly, she looked up at me still trying to rise. I was in a panic thinking of all the afflictions that can befall older dogs—stroke, heartattack, some sort of poisoning. I grabbed a comforter and wrapped Lady in it and carried her to my car. We then proceeded to make a mad dash to the Veterinarian's office. He and I pulled up to his office (which opens at 6:30 AM) at approximately the same time. And, he escorted a tearful me carrying a quilt-wrapped Lady through the backdoor into his emergency room.

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Don’t forget to clean your ears!: The importance of hearing health in dogs

It seems that all those years your mother told you, "Be sure to clean your ears!"-- she was right. Clean ears are the key to good hearing health, not just in humans, but in canines as well. Keeping your furry friend's ears clean is just as vital is brushing his teeth or his yearly veterinary check-up. Under normal circumstances, your dog's ears shouldn't have any problems as long as they are kept clean. And, cleaning is, in most cases, quick and easy. True, some dogs resist their weekly ear cleaning. But, in most cases, their reaction is to the stinging that comes from alcohol based cleansers.

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Operation stray cat: Rescuing a little lost feline

It was a rainy afternoon in mid-March when I first saw her—just a little blackish shape huddled under a bush in my yard. I peered out the window, wondering if she were real or just a bit of foliage pushed down by the rain. "Is that a cat?" my husband asked. "It think it is," I said. But, when I opened the door to investigate, the tiny form ran into the trees at the end of the yard. I called, thinking she might be one of my neighbors' roaming cats, but she never came.

The next day, I set out cat food and water in bowl by the garage. I never saw her, but in the morning the food was gone. Of course, it could've been birds, I thought, or Ryder, my neighbor's fat orange Tom, who reckons any food left standing out belongs to him by right. But, after a week of leaving out food and water, I began to see a pattern. The food was only eaten after 7:00 PM. And, sometimes, later, when I was walking my cocker spaniel Lady, I would see a tiny shape at the end of the yard with big, golden eyes. When Lady and I advanced, she ran into the tree line. Still, I could definitely see that she was a cat and a very small one at that.

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Lady’s ACL odyssey

It all started with a tiny limp. Not much to notice really. I thought she'd bruised her paw pad or twisted her ankle chasing squirrels. Nothing out of the ordinary--nothing that had not happened before. But, the next day, the limp was worse--much worse. Lady had trouble getting out of the cushioned round of her dog-bed. She kept her right back paw practically off the ground when she walked.

I took her to the vet and after a series of x-rays and a thorough examination, the doctor determined she had an Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) tear. The veterinarian told me that this is an injury common to dogs and that golden retrievers and cocker spaniels, of which Lady is a mix, are especially susceptible to ACL injuries. Rottweilers and cocker spaniels are the most genetically inclined to ACL tears and ruptures. However, Labrador retrievers, German shepherds, mastiffs, golden retrievers, miniatures, and toy poodles also are more frequently affected by this injury than other breeds of dogs.

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Don't be a Fraidy Cat! - Taming pet anxiety

Ailurophobia is the fear of cats. As strange as it may seem, some people are actually afraid of those sweet, cuddly little fur-balls. Napoleon, who conquered half of Europe, couldn't bear to be in the room with one and Julius Caesar was said to shy from a whiskered face as well. I've known people who believed having a black cat cross your path was unlucky (or a white one depending on which part of the world from which you hale). And, my Grandmother always told me that finding a cat's whisker was good luck.

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