With summer upon us, here are a pack of pet survival tips from the the Matthew J. Ryan Veterinary Hospital at the University of Pennsylvania, the ASPCA and the Humane Society of the United States:
* Hot cars: Do not leave your pet alone in your car – vehicles heat quickly in the sun, and animals left in them can succumb to heat stroke in a very short time. Heatstroke is life threatening for both dogs and cats. Signs to watch for are: heavy, loud breathing, a staggering gait, and a bright red tongue or gum tissue. If heat stroke is suspected, get the animal to a cool place or wet him down. This is a medical emergency – take him to your veterinarian as quickly as possible. Also if you see a dog left in a parked car in extreme temperatures, call the police. It is illegal.
* Exercise: Prevent overheating, don’t let your dog exercise in hot weather. If you want to run with your dog, do it in the cool hours of the early morning or late evening.
* Shade: Dogs and cats need a cool, shady place to sleep during hot weather, as well as plenty of clean, fresh water, accessible at all times. Feed your dog or cat in the cooler hours of the day. Older animals have a hard time in hot weather, so be extra sensitive to their needs during the hottest hours of the day.
* Vaccines: Be sure that your pet’s vaccinations are up to date. Parvo virus, an illness that flourishes in hot weather, can be fatal to dogs that have not received their vaccinations. Also, be sure your pet’s rabies vaccinations are current. During the summer months, pets often spend more time outdoors, and the chances of encounters with wildlife (possible rabies carriers) increase.
* Heartworm hazards: If your dog hasn’t been tested for heartworm this year, see your veterinarian. Heartworm is transmitted by mosquitoes, but it can be prevented by administering a monthly preventive between June and November.
* Grooming: Daily brushing or combing lets you check for fleas and ticks. Ticks can carry infectious diseases and fleas can cause allergic reactions and hot spots in dogs. Hot spots are large, wet lesions that appear suddenly in areas where the dog has scratched. See your veterinarian for flea and tick preventives or if a hot spot appears.
* Leashes save dogs’ lives! Keep your dog on a leash when you are walking him so he can’t run into traffic or chase cats and squirrels or other wildlife.
* Fireworks: Play with your pet instead of simply stroking him to fend off July 4th firework or thunderstorm fears. Playing a game with your pet when he shows early signs of anxiety, like pacing or trembling, can distract him from the stressor and, in the long term, teach him to associate that same stressor with positive things such as play and treats. Follow your dog’s cue to help him “hide” in a favorite room or under a desk, complete with chew toys. Turn on the radio or TV to muffle outside noises.
* Picnics: Keep dogs away from picnic garbage. Ingesting corncobs and chicken and other bones can be life-threatening. Also, according to the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, the peels, fruit and seeds of citrus plants such as lemons, oranges, limes and grapefruits contain varying amounts of citric acid, limonin and volatile oils that can cause gastrointestinal irritation and result in vomiting and diarrhea. Ingesting grapes or raisins can result in kidney problems. The stems, leaves, and seeds of apples, cherries, peaches, and apricots contain cyanogenic glycosides that can cause vomiting and loss of appetite when eaten in large amounts. In severe cases, weakness, difficulty breathing, hyperventilation, shock, and even death can occur.
*Cocoa mulch and other gardening products. Cocoa mulch can be deadly if ingested and has an appetizing scent to some animals. Pesticides, fertilizers and other harsh chemicals can also be quickly fatal if ingested.
* Swimming pools: If you have a swimming pool, do not leave your dog unattended in the pool area. Not all dogs can swim – they can drown if they fall into the water.
* Open windows: Use a heavy screen on windows or keep them closed if you have cats. During the summer, the number of cats suffering from “high rise” syndrome, or falling from windows, increases dramatically. Contrary to myth, cats do not land on their feet when falling from heights. The most severe injuries occur when cats fall from second- or third-floor windows.
Kennel Court Docket - Chester County veterinarian Tom Stevenson goes on trial on animal cruelty charges in Lancaster County Court on May 27. Witnesses say Stevenson, who operates Twin Valley Veterinary Clinic, placed a puppy under scalding water before using tinsnips to amputate its tail without anesthesia. Stevenson's license has been suspended by the state's veterinary medical board pending the outcome of the trial.
See Baby Falcon Banding - The Department of Environmental Protection and the Pennsylvania Game Commission will conduct a live Webcast of the annual Peregrine peregrine falcon banding on May 27. The adult falcons and five chicks live on a ledge of the Rachel Carson Building in Harrisburg, where DEP is headquartered. It is the 12th successful season for the falcons who nest atop the Carson building. It was author Rachel Carson who sounded the alarm about the dangers of the DDT - the pesticide that almost wiped out the nation's peregrine falcon population - in her landmark work, Silent Spring. To view the Webcast, scheduled for 1 p.m. to 2 p.m., visit www.depweb.state.pa.us and click on the falcon icon. You can also click on the falcon cam anytime and watch all the action on the ledge.