With all the spring flowers in bloom, it is important to keep a close eye on your pets to make sure they don’t chew or eat any toxic plants. The following plant types are some that are more common this time of year and are toxic to dogs and cats:
- Easter Lily
- Tiger Lily
- Day Lily
- Morning Glory
In the wild most dogs and cats know to stay away from these plants. However, some of our domesticated pets are more curious than anything and may decide to take a bite out of them.
If you suspect that your pet has ingested a poisonous plant, contact your veterinarian immediately. You can also contact the Animal Poison Control Center at 1-888-426-4435 to use their 24 hour emergency poison hotline for advice. Some common signs of plant toxicity may include:
- Abdominal pain or bloating
- Pawing at mouth
- Excessive salivation
Flowers aren’t the only things that bloom in Spring – puppies and kittens are also in full season!
Everyone loves puppies and kittens, but they do grow up and become dogs and cats. It is very important to spay and neuter your pets. Unfortunately, some people aren’t as interested in them when they grow up and they end up in shelters like the SPCA, the District Pound or WAG (Whistler Animals Galore). Shelters all around the world are filled with adult dogs and cats. Spaying and neutering helps reduce the pet population problem and get existing pets into loving homes.
Spaying and neutering pets will help them live longer, healthier lives. Spaying eliminates the possibility of uterine and ovarian cancer in females. Neutering reduces the risk of testicular cancer. Having your animal neutered reduces certain behaviours such as roaming, marking, mounting and fighting. Many dogs feel threatened by an un-neutered male dog and his scent and may display aggression towards him. Females that have not been spayed may lure males to them and can also cause tension between the male dogs.
Before your pet goes under anesthetic for any surgical procedure, it is very important to have their blood work analyzed. Even though our pets may appear to be healthy based on physical appearance and activity, many clinical signs of disease do not develop until late in the disease process. Pets can’t tell us when they don’t feel 100% and because of their instinct to protect themselves, many animals will hide their illness. Performing blood work will detect early changes in your pet and allow us to begin treating them. Pre-anesthetic blood work can alert us to any hidden problems that your pet may have before they undergo surgery. With this knowledge, we may elect to continue with the anesthetic/surgical procedure, modify the anesthetic regimen or perhaps start your pet on some medication. While performing blood work can’t guarantee that your pet will not have any problems with the anesthesia or surgical procedure, it can significantly minimize the risk to your pet and give all of us peace of mind before the surgery.
Not to bore you with a long-winded, scientific write up about ears but here is a quick animal biology class review leading up to some simple ear cleaning instructions: Dog and cat ears have 3 major parts: the outer ear, middle ear and inner ear. Cats don’t seem to have nearly as many ear infection issues as dogs do. Dogs with large, floppy ears commonly have issues with ear infections. Some dog breeds have excess hair growth in and around the ear canals. Floppy ears and excess hair growth can lead to poor air circulation and buildup of moisture and wax, which creates a favorable breeding environment for bacteria. Dogs that spend a lot of time in the water are prone to developing ear infections. Dogs or cats with skin allergies may also have ear problems as part of the allergic reaction. Signs of an ear infection may include: redness, swelling, discharge, odor, excessive head shaking, excessive scratching or rubbing of ears.
The outer ear consists of the earflap (also called the pinna). The pinna funnels sound into the ear canal. Many dogs have ears that are folded over and cats have ears that sit upright. Unlike humans that have a very short ear canal, dogs have a long, narrow ear canal that makes almost a 90-degree bend as it travels to the deeper parts of the ear.
The outer ear canal is separated from the middle ear by a thin membrane called the eardrum (or tympanic membrane). The eardrum is very fragile and can be damaged if an ear infection is present. The middle ear consists of 3 small bones, an air filled cavity called the bulla and a thin tube leading from the bulla to the back of the mouth.
How To Clean Your Pet’s Ears
- Squeeze a moderate amount of ear cleansing solution into the ear canal.
- Massage at the base of the ear to distribute the ear cleansing solution throughout the ear canal (you can be quite rough at this point to loosen up all the waxy buildup and debris inside the ear). You will hear a “squishing” noise as you massage. Your pet will enjoy this part!
- Let your pet shake their head. Be sure to move your face back or else you may get some ear debris shaken into your mouth or eyes!
- Use cotton, Q-tips, tissues or gauze to wipe away any debris or waxy buildup from the inside of the earflap. To reach down into the ear canal it is best to put a tissue or gauze around your finger and then gently insert it into the ear canal. Your finger will not be small enough to reach down to the tympanic membrane (or eardrum). A Q-tip can gently be used to wipe the folds of the ear.
- Allow your pet to shake their head again.
- Reward them with a treat!
How To Administer Ear Medication Into Your Pet’s Ears
- Make sure your pet’s ears are clean and dry before instilling the medication so that is can penetrate into the skin instead of being stopped and absorbed by debris or waxy buildup.
- Pull back the earflap and gently insert the tip of the bottle or tube into the ear canal. Be careful with your cat’s ears – do not insert the bottle far into the ear canal.
- Squeeze the recommended amount of medication into the ear canal. You may need to hold your pet’s head still so they do not shake the medication out right away.
- Gently massage at the base of the ear in order to distribute the medication throughout the ear canal.
Off leash etiquette can be a sensitive subject. Dogs love to run free, socialize, exercise and play. However, not all dogs appreciate the attention they receive from other dogs and not all people appreciate the attention they receive from other dogs.
Just a few friendly reminders for you and your dogs:
- Make sure your dog listens to you and follows your commands. If you have a puppy or a dog that does not understand simple commands like “down” or “off,” they should not be able to run up and greet a person on a trail with “Hi, here is some mud in your eyes.”
- If you have a dog that has a tendency to be aggressive to other dogs, please be aware on the trails and keep your dog on leash when you see other dogs approaching or if you know it is a popular dog walking area. The same should go to others who are out with their off-leash dogs. If you see someone approaching with their dogs on leash, please, please, please, put your dog on their leash and don’t just yell out, “Oh don’t worry, mine is friendly!”
- If your dog has been enjoying some time in a pond or lake, please don’t let them dry off on other people. Not everyone appreciates smelling like wet dog.
- Don’t let your dog run up to people sitting and having a nice picnic in the park, as they may not want to share their lunch.
- Be aware of people sitting around relaxing and reading a book in the sun – they probably wouldn’t appreciate your dog running around them barking or having to duck out of the way when your dog goes running over to poke them in the eye with their stick or show off their slobbery tennis ball.
- Pick up your dogs poop! Let’s keep these areas clean. Nobody likes having to scrape poop from the bottom of their shoe.
Ticks have been all over town lately and are hungry for a good feeding of blood. They usually crawl up grass and shrubs and “quest” (wave their little arms back and forth) waiting to latch on to their next victim. They often latch on to our pets, as they are the ones who normally walk closest to the shrubs or run through the grass. Ticks have the potential to carry and transmit Lymes disease and other bacteria.
Tick bites are often painless at first and can go unnoticed. After being attached to the skin and feeding on fresh, warm blood the skin becomes quite irritated. This is when you may notice the tick on your pet because the tick’s body becomes engorged with blood and often doubles or triples in size. The tick does not burrow into the skin but does latch on for dear life with its sharp mouthparts. This can cause quite a large scar on the skin.
Once the tick has been removed (by grasping the tick as close to your pet’s skin as possible with tweezers and quickly pulling it straight out), you may notice a small area of irritated, red, swollen skin. This area should be cleaned with antibacterial soap and water, rinsed well and dried. An antibiotic ointment may be applied to clean skin. Make sure your pet does not lick or chew at this area of irritated skin as we don’t want it to become infected. The area from the tick bite should be monitored closely and treated twice daily (scab picking is recommended so bacteria doesn’t remain under the skin). If it begins to look worse after a few days of cleaning and ointment application, please book your pet in to see their veterinarian as oral antibiotics may be necessary to help the skin heal.
Ticks often bite around the head, eyes and ears of our pets. These tissue areas can be quite sensitive and reactive. Your pet may be left with some beauty marks to prove they survived the tick battle.
It doesn’t matter where we go, whether it’s hiking in the woods or walking down a city street, dog poop is everywhere. But as long as it’s off to the side of the trail or sidewalk it’s OK, right? I mean, after all – it’s biodegradable. Wrong! Dog poop is rich in nutrients and bacteria that can make its way into our soil and water sources, polluting the environment and potentially making us sick. It can also spread worms and other intestinal parasites to other animals as well as people.
If you are out walking in the trails in Squamish you may notice many of the plastic poop bags hanging from trees, placed in the bush, floating in the water, etc. These bags are biodegradable to be friendlier to the landfill and not for the convenience of not having to carry your dog’s poop to a garbage can after you pick it up.
Some people may ask, “Why can’t dog poop be used as a fertilizer?” For poop to make a good plant fertilizer, it must contain digested plant matter that is able to be used by the plants. Farm animal manure makes excellent plant fertilizer since they are herbivores.
Many farmers out there do choose to deworm their livestock. However, if they don’t choose to, it does not pose a large health threat to the human population. Parasites do no enjoy feeding on digested plant matter and do not survive well in herbivore manure. Manure in large quantities and piles can be a threat to the environment as well. Large amounts can contain high values of phosphates and nitrates and can also provide breeding grounds for flies. All herbivore manure should be allowed time to compost before being used as fertilizer for growing food.
Dogs are carnivores. In order for a carnivorous animal’s poop to be used as fertilizer, it must be composted with other materials such as grass clippings, broken down weeds, egg shells and vegetable scraps and allowed to break down over a long period of time. This can be done in your own composter at home. However, it is not recommended to use dog manure for growing food as it can still transmit bacteria and intestinal parasites to humans and other dogs. Dogs eat garbage, meat and other weird things. We don’t want the breakdown of these things in our food.
Let’s make an effort to keep our beautiful trails clean and poop free. The biodegradable poop bags are not a reason to leave dog waste lying around and these bags are not meant to be tossed into the bush.