The first nice days of spring have finally arrived after weeks of cold and rain. But this time of year always makes me wary for pets, especially dogs. Back when I was a young teen, on one of the first warm days in early May, my dad took our 7-month-old mixed breed puppy Rexy for a long walk. He had let him run lose to get some exercise, but the skittish dog saw some people and ran into a busy street—getting run over by a car.
The weeds, the dandelions─yuck. Should I spray an herbicide? But what about my dogs? How can I do this safely? So I usually put it off until the weeds get the better of me and I just have to spray them and try to keep my dogs off of the lawn for a day, or at least try. Most herbicides state, ‘safe’ for pets after it has dried. But are they? Here is what my research uncovered: Continue reading
It’s raining and you are walking your dog downtown. Suddenly he yelps then collapses. Puzzled you grab your dog—then you feel a burst of electricity run through you. You too could get shocked, collapse and possibly die from electrocution from contact voltage.
What is contact voltage? Continue reading
Cassie tripped as she walked on the driveway, caught herself and kept walking toward me. How many times had this happened today? At least ten, or was it closer to twenty? I watched her walk, awkwardly curving to the left. My vet thought she had arthritis in opposite legs, causing her to trip and walk abnormally. A week later, she couldn’t walk and was diagnosed with a brain tumor. We had to put her down less than a week later as her condition deteriorated.
Ataxia or abnormal gait, takes many different forms, most of which are neurological, although there could be joint issues such as arthritis. Continue reading
Cassie and I used to walk over three miles back and forth to work, most days every week, even through the winter. We walked residential streets and at least a dozen times a year a loose dog would approach us. I tried to avoid all encounters knowing if Cassie got into a fight, she wouldn’t stop. So as a dog approached I’d pull Cassie close to me and yell at the dog in a loud, low voice to go home, to go away, while waving my arms. This worked for almost every dog, who realized they’d have to take on me as well as my dog. Never raise your pitch when yelling at a dog – this can cause more excitement in dogs. Continue reading
It’s that time of year again, late summer, when the weather’s hot, the water’s stagnant, and bright green scum floats on the surface of the lake. Take a scoop of the lake water with a clear cup. Are there green particles suspended in it? Does it look like someone dumped green paint on the lake? Likely, it’s blue-green algae or cyanobacteria–even though the water looks green.
My last springer spaniel would jump in any body of water, lie down and take a drink. But don’t let your dog do this. Many dogs each year get very sick and some die. Just today, I read an article about a dog dying from drinking algae infested water. http://www.nottinghampost.com/Heartbroken-angler-warns-dog-owners-war-blue/story-27700021-detail/story.html
Blue – green algae toxins affect dogs, people, and other animals. Last year Toledo shut down its water distribution because blue-green algae toxins on Lake Erie entered in its water supply. It may happen again this year. http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2015/07/30/another-toxic-algae-outbreak-feared-lake-erie/30916703/
Toxins are not always present when the lake looks this green, but be on the safe side and stay away. Not all species of blue-green algae form toxins, and of the species that do, they do not always produce toxins. Various tests can determine if the toxins are present. But the water conditions can change rapidly. If the cells die, they release their toxins into the water. The various types of toxins can affect the liver, nervous system, or the skin.
Symptoms of algae toxicity
- abdominal cramps
- muscle and joint pain
- blisters of the mouth or skin rashes
If any of these symptoms occur, take your dog to the vet immediately (or yourself to the ER). Most dogs die within days or even hours after drinking contaminated water.
- Install signs warning of the blue-green algae hazard.
- Prevent dogs from drinking and swimming in blue-green algae.
- Don’t swim in areas with blue-green algae blooms.
Long-term prevention involves reducing nutrient loading into the lake, which would eventually limit algae blooms, but it may take many years to see an effect.
As I trimmed the shrub in front of my house, something stung me hard near my elbow—a yellow jacket. I swooshed it off and continued trimming trying to ignore the pain. Then I noticed another yellow jacket circling me—then another. Where were they coming from? I looked down and saw dozens of them on the vinca groundcover, pouring out of a hole in the ground. I was five feet away when they swarmed me, flying around my head and back, stinging me in multiple areas as I ran towards the garage, yelling at my husband to swat them off me. Several were on my back—out of my reach as they stung me. The damage – five stings, two on my back, one on my neck and two on my right arm as the pain and swelling took over.
Feeling a bit light-headed immediately after the attack and being swollen and sore for days, I began to wonder if dogs have reactions to bees and yellow jackets like people do. My dogs run through plants in the yard and in the forest preserve all the time and to my knowledge, they’ve never been stung. My mom even had a beagle that hunted and ate bees; maybe some were yellow jackets, as he patrolled the flowers next to her house. He never seemed to get stung, at least not that she could tell. So I did a little google search and found out dogs are affected by bees and yellow jackets – my dogs have just been lucky.
Dogs are often stung. Some hunt them, thinking they are play things, like my mom’s old beagle. Dogs pretty much have the same reaction as people. They yelp, may roll on the ground, scratch at the affected area (often the face). Multiple stings, especially inside the mouth are more hazardous than a single sting. Some dogs have a very mild swelling and others could have an allergic reaction causing difficulty breathing and feeling weak. This is an emergency, and your dog could die soon if left untreated http://www.hillspet.com/dog-care/what-to-do-when-wasp-bee-sting-dog-adult.html .
What to do if your dog is stung by a bee or yellow jacket:
- If you see a stinger – remove it.
- Apply an ice pack to reduce swelling
- Give Benadryl
- If the dog has difficulty breathing or seems weak – take him to the vet.
It’s cool and cloudy when you park the car. You leave the windows open a crack for your best friend, who must stay behind, while you go inside a store, to pick up something quick. You get side tracked and spend much more time in the store than you anticipated, but you think, Doggie is okay, it’s cloudy and cool outside. An hour later you exit the store and are shocked at the bright sun and the soaring temperatures. In the meantime, poor doggie is suffering, maybe even passed out from the heat.
Could this happen to you?
It happened to me.
On a cool rainy morning, Penny, my black and white border collie mix, didn’t want to get out of the car and join us for a paddling training trip on the Wolf River in northern Wisconsin. Its okay, I thought, it’s cool outside. An hour into our training trip the sun came out and the temperature climbed twenty degrees.
“Did you park the car in the shade?” I asked my boyfriend.
“I think so. But it was raining, so I’m not sure.”
We had left a car for emergencies at our lunch stop and I asked the driver to take me to my car. As we pulled up the road, I could see my car in the hot sun. Oh God, let Penny be okay. The windows were open only a half inch. Penny lay in the only shady spot on the floor of the front seat, her chest heaving under her rapid pants, her pink tongue stretched out its full length, her eyes appeared glazed. I opened the door and pulled her out of the hot car. She wobbled as she walked to the other car.
I had gotten to her just in time. Another few minutes and she could have passed out, followed by a coma, then death. When I got back to the river, I made her wade in and cool off. She gulped river water between rapid pants. Her panting continued for at least a half hour. Luckily she made a full recovery, and continued on the river trip with me in the canoe.
After twenty-five years, I’ve never forgotten what a close call I had that day.
How could I let my dog suffer so? She wanted to stay in the car. But sometimes you shouldn’t do what your dog wants.
The main signs of heat stroke in dogs include the following.
- Excessive panting
- Weakness and/or collapse
- Foaming at the mouth
Prevention is the best thing, but if your dog is suffering from the heat, the best thing to do is to:
- Cool him off with water,
- Move him into the shade, or where there is a breeze,
- Provide plenty of cool drinking water, and
- Allow the dog to rest. Young dogs will play too hard and may get overheated.
- See your veterinarian if the dog doesn’t recover quickly, but cool him off before traveling.
Dogs don’t sweat, so they get overheated much faster than we do. Plan ahead and keep cool.
More information can be found at http://www.petwave.com/Dogs/Health/Heat-Stroke/Symptoms.aspx
A large hard scab stuck to the fur on Cassie’s back for over a month. We thought it was from rolling on rigid sharp crusts of ice and snow. A routine visit to the vet revealed the scab was harboring a sebaceous cyst. Several more occurred on her right leg and ear. The vet shaved her fur and exposed a raw, oozing wound.
Sebaceous cysts are common in dogs, but somehow in my many decades of owning dog, I had never seen one. These cysts occur when a pore or hair follicle clogs from dirt, infection, scar tissue or sebum (oil from the skin). I think Cassie got hers from my lack of combing her fur this winter. Her coat is thinning as a side effect from long-term use of prednisone to treat her leukemia. Every time I comb her, she loses more fur and I didn’t want her coat to get too thin during the cold winter.
If the cyst doesn’t break the skin, it often goes away on its own. But if it breaks the skin, bacteria could cause an infection, so keep it clean with daily washing with soap and water. Most of the time the cysts are harmless, unless they become infected. http://www.vetinfo.com/sebaceous-cysts-dogs.html
But don’t squeeze them – watch this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AsSKDYG6hD0
I jinxed myself with the post about skunks. A few nights ago, Chipper got skunked. I had been lucky for decades. I think the skunk was outside our fence, since he didn’t get sprayed too badly, but it did hit his face. Then he ran up to Buffy and rubbed his face on her back. What a mess!
I quickly isolated Chipper in the basement and found the ingredients in my previous blog. It worked like a charm! Then I washed Buffy with it. Chipper still smells a bit if I put my nose close to his face, but otherwise, no smell!