Archive for June, 2010
Many of us enjoy a swim in a refreshing pool during the hot summer months. Our pets may enjoy a swim as well. I have a yellow Lab named Sunny that not only swims, but also does some serious diving for Frisbees and other toys. Our pool is five feet deep, and Sunny is about 27 inches tall, but she is an excellent swimmer and water-lover supreme. She is fearless, and swims laps both in our pond and our pool. She would have little problem swimming 24/7 throughout the year (we live in Texas, so our winters are generally quite moderate.) She also knows how to get out of the pool via the shallow end and up the stairs. However, other kinds of dogs do not necessarily possess a natural ability to swim and may not be able to get out of a swimming pool.
There are some dangers posed by swimming pools that could prove harmful – even fatal to your pet. Here are some ideas that can keep your pet safe this summer:
1). Assess your dog’s ability to swim. Although most dogs have the ability to swim, this doesn’t mean yours is one of them. Old age, physical disabilities such as blindness or limited vision or other limitations can hinder your pet’s ability to survive in the pool.
2). If your dog displays an interest in getting in the pool, show him how to get in and out. Repeatedly show him and familiarize him with the shallow end and the steps that lead out. You may even want to install pet steps or a pet ramp (incline), which is hooked onto the sidewall of the pool if your pet has trouble climbing stairs.
3). Monitor your pets around a pool – just as you would children. Even if they are familiar with the location of a pool, they may inadvertently fall in.
4). A pool alarm will alert you to the sound of the surface water and water below being disturbed. There are many types of pool alarms- many have adjustable levels of sensitivity-that will alert you to danger.
5). Chlorine can irritate a pet’s eyes as well as their ears and lungs. Check your pet periodically for signs of irritation to the chlorine in the water.
6). Use eco-friendly products to clean your pool that are also pet-friendly. Converting your pool to a saltwater pool is a healthy alternative to one that is chlorinated and cleaned with other chemicals that aren’t pet-friendly.
7). After a swim, make certain to rinse off your pet with fresh, clean water. Always have some fresh, clean drinking water available and accessible for your dog.
8). Make sure that the pool water is not too cold for your pet and that he does not develop hypothermia.
9). Limit your pet’s time in the pool as well as in the hot sun.
10). If your pool is surrounded by concrete, brick or tile, guide your four-footed friend to a shaded, grassy area where he can rest after swimming and where his paws won’t get burned.
Enjoy the pool with your dog – he may even want to swim alongside you. My friends and I play water games with Sunny, and we have a lot of fun swimming together!
Summer just wouldn’t be summer without a visit to the lake, ocean or local watering hole. Whether you enjoy fishing, sailing, jet skiing, canoeing or simply swimming, the water promises a refreshing and fun-filled experience during the hot summer months.
Your dog may enjoy cooling off along with you. To assure that he remains safe, happy and healthy in and around the water, keep in mind the following suggestions:
1). Purchase a life jacket (pet flotation vest) for your dog. These are sold at most large pet product stores. Some dogs are natural swimmers; others are not and can quickly get into trouble in the water. The life vest may give him extra time by keeping him afloat if he actually needs to be rescued.
2). If your dog does not like the water, don’t force him to go in with you.
3). Familiarize yourself with the lake or ocean to determine if there are sharp or jagged rocks that could hurt his paws or if there are strong undercurrents that can pull your dog out to high or dangerous waters. At a pond or lake, check to see if the banks have a gradual incline so that your dog can easily get out of the water.
4). Teach and reinforce basic obedience commands – especially “come”.
5). Keep a close eye on him, and don’t let him too far in or away from you.
6). NEVER leave him unattended!
7). Always carry fresh drinking water for your dog, and teach him to drink out of a water bottle so that you don’t need to carry a water bowl with you all the time. Drinking water from a stagnant pond or lake can cause many different kinds of ailments including parasites, Giardia, and bacteria.
8). Pond or lake water with algae, fertilizer/pesticide residue or parasites, if ingested can cause vomiting, diarrhea and make your dog very ill.
9). Don’t let your dog swim for too long a period so that he becomes over fatigued.
10). Don’t let your dog swim in water that is too cold; this could result in hypothermia.
11). Rinse and wipe your dog dry after swimming – make sure you dry his ears off to reduce the possibility of ear infection.
12). Keep in mind that the heat of the sun around a body of water can be intense. Watch your dog for signs of sunburn and heat stroke.
Let good old-fashioned common sense guide you in and around the water. Make sure you and your pet stay, cool, safe and refreshed in the water and wherever else you go this summer!
As so many of us regard our pets as beloved family members, we look forward to spending our holiday time with them. We enjoy including them in our vacation plans. We may take road trips with them or travel with them via plane (although it may be complicated or disappointing to undertake travel by plane, train or bus with our animal companions.) Actually, Greyhound and other bus and railroad companies for the most part, do not even permit pets on board.
As I have twenty-one dogs, it is a Herculean task for my husband and me to leave home for any period of time. We may take brief business or other obligatory trips throughout the year. However, at least once a year, we recognize the need to get away from our personal and professional responsibilities and flee to a place far away from friends, family and colleagues.
We are extremely fortunate to have found a husband and wife pet sitting team who live in our home while we are away. They not only take excellent care of our dogs but also manage and maintain our house and property. They bring our mail and newspapers inside; monitor the sprinkler system; water our indoor and outdoor plants and, of course, most importantly provide our dogs with TLC. They feed, exercise and play with them. They even brush and bathe them. If they require any veterinary care while we are gone, our pet sitters take them to our vet or have one of our vets make a house call. They are a godsend and I don’t know what I would do without them. And yet, even with the confidence I have in them, I know that anything can happen, and I definitely suffer from separation anxiety – probably more so than my dogs!
Before we had twenty-one dogs and before we found our house sitters, we boarded our dogs at a boarding kennel. This can be an excellent option for someone who has only one or two pets and needs or would like to travel, but does not need the extensive home care or attention our many dogs require. My husband and I still periodically rely on an excellent boarding facility to care for some of our special needs dogs while we’re away.
Here are some tips to help you find the perfect boarding kennel for your pet:
1). Get referrals from your vet, friends and neighbors
2). Search for and research locals boarding facilities on the Internet
3). Visit the kennels that rank the highest in recommendations from clients and ask for references/reviews from clients. Does the facility belong to the AKBA (American Kennel Boarding Association)? Make sure the kennel is immaculate and well-organized and that it requires each pet staying there to have proof of veterinarian recommended immunizations, rabies vaccines, bordatella, etc.
4). When visiting the kennel, make sure it is clean, sanitary, free of offensive odors, and that the animals look well-cared for and healthy – look and listen for signs of skin irritations, coughing, sneezing or wheezing, eyes oozing, etc. that would cause potential danger or illness for your pet
5). Make sure the facility is climate controlled (air-conditioned in summer; heated in winter) and has adequate ventilation
6). Make certain your pet has an indoor/outdoor kennel enabling him to go in and out as he chooses.
7). Make sure you’re pet will receive plenty of exercise every day- find out how frequently he is walked and played with each day
8). Find out how often your pet will be fed and given fresh water each day
9). Determine the kind of food and treats you want your pet to consume daily (they should be high quality and consistent or the same as they receive at home). Find out if you can bring your pet’s food
10). If your pet is older or has special needs, make certain that his needs will be met and that medications will be administered regularly
11). Find out the credentials and experience of staff members as well as facility owners –who will actually be taking care of your pet, walking and exercising her, etc? Make a point of meeting the people that will actually be taking care of your pet
12). Is there a 24-hour emergency animal hospital nearby? Are employees trained to recognize and deal with potential health issues or emergencies?
13). Is the boarding facility monitored by nearby fire and police stations? Is the building alarmed directly to a local fire station?
14). Is the facility secure – are there adequate kennel locks and secure fencing so that your pet cannot escape?
15). Make sure that you provide the kennel with specific written instructions regarding medications and special needs. Also leave important/crucial contact information with the owner and staff, i.e. your cell phone # and home phone as well as your destination and it’s phone number, your vet’s name & number, the names and numbers of close friends, family members and neighbors who can respond to your pet’s needs in case of an emergency or crisis.
If you are planning on boarding your pet during the summer or during holidays, make reservations long in advance. Make certain your pet is current on all vaccines and is healthy and has written proof of his health status and medical history before you attempt to board him. Finding an excellent boarding kennel for your pet can provide your pet with quality care and fun and you with peace of mind.
As we spend an increasing amount of time outdoors, generally so do our pets. We need to make certain that we, as well as they, are protected from the various dangers posed by the heat and other outdoor hazards including insect and snake bites, allergies and skin irritations and heatstroke from prolonged exposure to sunlight and heat.
Here are some pet tips on keeping your animal companion safe during the summer
1). First and foremost, make certain that your pet is ALWAYS wearing a collar and identification tag. Microchipping your pet is also an excellent idea – as it offers an even greater chance of locating and finding your pet if she is lost.
2). Keep your pet cool – monitor her when she is outdoors with and without you. Make sure she has adequate shade throughout the day – remember the sun’s position shifts, and while you may have left her in the shade, it may become sunny.
3). Do not leave your pet outdoors for any extended period of time – more than an hour or two- without checking on her condition and making certain she has plenty of cool, accessible water and shelter.
4). As pets get sunburned just like we do, provide her with sunscreen on her nose or ears and other vulnerable areas – especially light haired dogs with pink noses and delicate ears.
5). Exercise your pets during the coolest parts of the day – early in the morning and late in the evening and for only very short intervals, if necessary, during the heat of the day. Make sure your pet does not overexert herself.
6). Remember that concrete and asphalt can get extremely hot and uncomfortable during the heat of the day and can actually burn your pet’s paws.
7). Protect your pet from pesticides and fertilizer, which can prove fatal if ingested.
8). Enclose your pool area to protect your pet from drowning. Supervise your pets when they are near the pool.
9). No matter how tempted you are to “let your pet go free”, keep her on a leash when outside the safety of your fenced in back yard – she could get lost, directly encounter and fight with other animals, and eat or ingest unsafe water and things that could make her sick.
10). NEVER leave your pet in your car – even if you leave the windows partly down, the heat can rapidly rise to unsafe, even fatal levels for your pet.
11). Leave your pets inside in the cool air conditioning as much as possible. Empathize with them and feel the heat. They suffer and certainly don‘t appreciate it any more than you do!
12). Be considerate of elderly, fragile, ill and young animals that are not able to cope well with hot weather and high humidity.
13). Watch out for signs of heatstroke in your pet which may include: excessive panting, staring, glazed eyes, drooling, warm dry kin, high fever, rapid heartbeat, vomiting or even fainting or collapse.
14). Maintain and monitor flea, tick and heartworm prevention regimens. The summer months pose an increased danger of your pet being inferred by these parasites.
There are many things to enjoy and share with your animal companions throughout the summer. However, heat, humidity and parasites are not among them. Keep your pet cool, happy and healthy!