Summer is officially here! It’s a great time for outdoor fun and BBQing or grilling with your pets, friends, and family. While you may know what your pet can and cannot have, it is important to share this information with others. Don’t assume that your friends know what foods are toxic to pets. Several foods to avoid include fatty sausages (pancreatitis), chocolate from s’mores (chocolate toxicity), and wild mushrooms (mushroom toxicity can prove fatal to certain dog breeds). While the list can be very extensive, we encourage you to have a brief conversation with your friends. They will appreciate it and so will your pets!
You probably heard it repeatedly right around the Fourth of July in relation to fireworks—leave your pets at home. But the reason extends to more than just fireworks. Many dogs are frightened by loud noises and almost all aspects of a thunderstorm: wind, rain, thunder, lightning, and even atmospheric pressure. These fears can develop even if your dog has not had any traumatic experiences.
The level of anxiety your dog experiences depends on the individual dog. Some dogs whine and pace while others injure themselves trying to escape. The most common reactions to loud noises are destruction and running away or escaping. To reduce his fears, your dog might seek out a place where the thunder or loud sounds are less intense.
You can try a few different things to ease his fears. First is to create a “safe place” or somewhere that is safe for your dog to be and is readily accessible. Let him choose this place by seeing where he goes during a storm and making this a space he can retreat to when he is scared. Another option is to distract your dog. This works best when your dog is just beginning to get anxious. Engage your dog in an activity he likes that will capture his attention and distract him from the noises. This can mean a game of fetch, practicing behavioral commands, or even listening to calm music.
While it may seem counter-intuitive, do not attempt to reassure or soothe your dog too much when he is afraid. This includes over petting and giving him treats. Attempting to do so may reinforce the fearful behavior and make it worse. You should, instead, stay calm and as relaxed as possible.
Another interesting option is a snug-fitting garment or shirt, such as the ThunderShirt. Products like this apply gentle, constant pressure and are designed to calm anxious dogs. They have a calming effect similar to swaddling a baby. If you prefer to make your own, you can buy a small t-shirt and put your dog’s front legs through the armholes of the shirt. The shirt should fit snugly around your dog’s torso.
You can also try behavior modification. Counterconditioning is when the animal is taught to display acceptable behavior instead of the unacceptable one. You can do this by only playing your dog’s favorite game or giving him his favorite toy right before and during a storm. Another modification is desensitization. This is when your dog’s response is decreased while exposed to increasing levels of what they’re afraid of. For a noise phobia, start with the noise at a quiet level and work your way to a louder volume level. If you feel that his anxiety is out of control, consult your veterinarian as medication can be prescribed to temporarily alleviate your dog’s anxiety. Do not give your dog any over the counter or prescription medication without asking your vet first. What works for a human may be fatal to your dog.
If you have any concerns or questions, please give us a call at 610-372-2121.
Wyomissing Animal Hospital has provided superior veterinary care for small animals for more than twenty years. Founded by Dr. Boyd Wagner and Dr. John Hampson, the hospital now has eight doctors and over 50 staff members who are dedicated to providing professional and loving care to all of our patients. At Wyomissing Animal Hospital, we understand that your pets are your family. We provide both wellness care and medical treatment for your animals. Wyomissing Animal Hospital is accredited by the American Animal Hospital Association. AAHA accreditation recognizes our hospital’s commitment to meeting the highest quality standards of care – a recognition achieved by only 17% of small animal practices in the United States and Canada.
Pet Storm Preparation
This week is National Hurricane Preparation Week. Below are a collection of tips published by the national Weather Service. To learn more, go to: https://www.nhc.noaa.gov/prepare
Keep pets in mind when severe weather strikes. Bring pets indoors.
Confine pets to one room of the home. Make plans to care for your pets in case you must evacuate. Watch animals closely and keep them under your direct control.
◾Never let your dog off the leash on snow or ice, especially during a snowstorm, dogs can lose their scent and easily become lost. More dogs are lost during the winter than during any other season, so make sure yours always wears ID tags.
◾Thoroughly wipe off your dog’s legs and stomach when he comes in out of the sleet, snow or ice. He can ingest salt, antifreeze or other potentially dangerous chemicals while licking his paws, and his paw pads may also bleed from snow or encrusted ice.
◾ Never shave your dog down to the skin in winter, as a longer coat will provide more warmth. Own a short-haired breed? Consider getting him a coat or sweater with a high collar or turtleneck with coverage from the base of the tail to the belly.
◾Never leave your dog or cat alone in a car during cold weather. Keep pets indoors in possible, especially if they are sensitive to the cold weather due to age, illness or breed type.
Don’t leave pets in cars. Even in cool temperatures, cars can heat up to dangerous temperatures very quickly. Even with the windows cracked open, interior temperatures can rise almost 20 degrees Fahrenheit within the first 10 minutes. Any pet left inside is at risk for serious heat-related illnesses or even death.
Confine pets to one room of the home. Make plans to care for your pets in case you must evacuate. Watch animals closely and keep them under your direct control. Hidden embers and hot spots could burn your pets’ paws or hooves.
Pets, Cars & Heat
Brutus, Duke, Coco, Lola and Jake…sure, they’re fairly common pet names, but they’re also the names of just a few of the pets that died last year because they were left in cars on warm (and not necessarily hot) days while their owners were shopping, visiting friends or family, or running errands. What’s so tragic is that these beloved pets were simply the victims of bad judgment.Want numbers? An independent study showed that the interior temperature of vehicles parked in outside temperatures ranging from 72 to 96° F rose steadily as time increased. (And cracking the windows doesn’t help).
To learn more, go to: https://www.avma.org/public/PetCare/Pages/Hot-Cars-and-Loose-Pets.aspx
Why some dogs bite children
Teaching children how to approach dogs slowly and carefully as well as how to recognize warning signs are critical components of dog bite prevention. Remember, not all dogs are friendly and not all dogs want to be touched. Children are often at eye level, and may stare directly into dogs’ eyes. They also run and move suddenly, appearing like prey. Any dog may bite, even your family pet. Adults should always supervise children when they play with any dog, and they should teach children the best ways to approach and treat animals to avoid being bitten.
To read more, go to: www.aaha.org/pet_owner/pet_health_library/dog_care/behavior/biting.aspx
Dog Bite Prevention (for more info, go to: https://www.avma.org/public/pages/Dog-Bite-Prevention.aspx)
- Each year, more than 4.5 million people in the U.S. are bitten by dogs.
- Almost 1 in 5 people bitten by dogs require medical attention.
- Every year, more than 800,000 Americans receive medical attention for dog bites; at least half of them are children.
- Children are, by far, the most common victims of dog bites and are far more likely to be severely injured.
- Most dog bites affecting young children occur during everyday activities and while interacting with familiar dogs.
- Senior citizens are the second most common dog bite victims.
There are many things you can do to avoid dog bites, ranging from properly training and socializing your pet to educating your children on how – or if – they should approach a dog. Information and education are the best solutions for this public health crisis.