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.
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.
There is a dog on the couch. It is small and white with bright black eyes that look a bit like plastic. It has a dotted pink bow jauntily tied by one ear and appears to be wearing nail polish. The cats are not pleased. They don’t hiss or scratch. The simply stare. If looks could kill, this polished pooch would be a pile of ashes by now. Five sets of jeweled blue and bright green eyes have been peering at Francie for the past hour. Every now and then Nonny, my Siamese diva, breaks rank to run up to me and meow questioningly. There is a dog on the couch.
There’s a certain lure to vacationing with your pets. I admit it. There’s no worry about whose feeding Fluffy or whether or not she’s shredding the curtains while you’re exploring the wilds or surfing in some sunny spot. And, who hasn't heard of Norton, Peter Gethers’ footloose feline who traveled the world, Churchill’s fearless parrot, or a slew of other moggies and doggies that faced peril and high adventure without the twitch of a tail. Even my neighbor’s overfed tabby Ryder became a literal Cat Abroadand now strolls the rues of Paris with as much moxie as he did my backyard.
Taking a cat, or, in my case, cats, with me on a short trip should have presented no problems. After all, all the cats, with the exception of the Kitten, have traveled before. True, mainly their trips have been to the vet or to my parents’ house for an extended stay. But, as a kitten, Lo routinely made interstate voyages tucked happily in his carrier. His initial yowls of displeasure dissipating after the first half-hour or so and giving way to resignation and finally catnip mouse chewing. But, my decision to take my four feisty divas with me to the cabin for our summer getaway didn't take into account cat/dog dynamics, the cruelty of Tig, or the pure and unbridled enthusiasm of one small white kitten.
The impact of cancer on humans and pets is enormous today, and according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) the number of pets with cancer is growing each year. In fact, the AVMA states that approximately 1 in 4 dogs will develop a tumor of some kind in their lifetime, and the Veterinary Oncology and Hematology Center approximates that cancer accounts for nearly 50% of all disease related pet deaths each year.
One of the first questions I get from individuals who find out what my career is, is "Wow, isn't that difficult or depressing? I mean all of those sick animals; I don't think I could ever do it." I consistently receive the same look of surprise when I respond, "Actually, I think I have one of the most rewarding jobs out there, because of all of the joy I get from being a part of."