Thursday, May 28, 2015

Summer Heat Safety

Alana, Photo by Claire Clayton

We love our pets and we love having them with us, but there are times when they are much safer and happier at home.

I'm a huge fan of Summer. I love these sunny days, especially because I live in place where Winter seems to last forever. Lots of snow, brutally cold days and nights, grey skies. Summer seems like a special blessing. 

Redbear Photo Courtesy Nancy Ross
While there are lots of things we can do outdoors with dogs we also have to be aware of the dangers of summer heat. Just like us, dogs can get heatstroke. It's not unusual for pet owners to want to take their dogs (or cat) with them while they run errands.  You really think you'll only be gone for a minute or two, leaving your four-legged companion locked in the car. Well, you really don't know if you'll only be gone for a minute or two. You may get stuck in a line, something can take longer to find, you may run into someone who wants to chat and you lose track of time.

Here's the truth of what happens while your pets are inside the car.  The temperature inside the car will rise 40º F. in an hour even when it's only 72º outside and most of that happens within the first half hour. You cracked your windows open? Sorry, but that won't stop the heat from rising. On a hot day a car can reach 120º within minutes and heatstroke can happen even if you leave your car in the shade.  Even leaving the car running with the air conditioner on doesn't guarantee your pets' safety. In fact, some dogs have been known to accidentally move the shift with the car and the dog headed for an accident.

The best place for your dog is in your air conditioned home. Home will be cooler and more comfortable than your car which is little more than a big box filled with heat when you park it.

Hunnybear Photo Courtesy Nancy Ross

Keep in mind that black dogs and cats will retain heat and will get hotter even faster than dogs and cats of other colors. Brachycephalic dogs and cats (those with short noses) like Pekingese, Persian Cats, Bulldogs, Pugs, etc. have a difficult enough time breathing in cooler weather. It's far more difficult for them on hot days.

Cats need to be indoors for their safety and both cats and dogs need fresh water available at all times. I highly recommend using rotating metal water dishes, keeping on in the freezer while the other is out. When the ice has melted and the water begins to get warm, spill it out (perhaps into your plants if you have any that are safe for pets to be around), refill it and pop it in the freezer while you take the other one out for your pets.  I have often written about this and I can only hope that readers pay attention. I like to give puppies, kittens, dogs and cats ice cubes to play with. Not only does it help keep them cool but if your pet gets sick and needs to be slowly rehydrated, an ice cube will do the trick and will already be something familiar.

Bojangles Photo Courtesy Gordon Brice
Never walk your dog between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. when the sun is at its highest. No matter what time it is, check the pavement before you allow your dog or cat to walk on it. If it's too hot for the palm of your hand, it's too hot for the pads of your pet's paws! Walks are best early in the morning and in the evening when it's cooler. Remember that dogs don't perspire the way people do. The only ways they can release heat is panting and through the pads of their feet.

Be aware of the signs of heatstroke.  They include but aren't limited to excessive panting, tongue and/or gums are bright red, tongue and/or gums can be either sticky or dry, staggering when trying to walk, vomiting, bloody diarrhea, seizures. Your dog can die. That is not an exaggeration.

Get your dog into the shade, use cool, not ice water (very cold water will restrict the blood vessels, slowing the cooling), use cool wet towels on your pets feet and around the head. You may also want to put one on the tummy.  Don't let the body cool below 103º.  Offer ice cubes but don't force your pet to drink water. Get your pet to the veterinarian as fast as you can.

Cat (that's his name) Courtesy Karin Bundy

Be aware of the temperature. Don't exercise your pet to excess in the heat. All things in moderation, including playtime which is better in the early evening. If it's a hot evening, exercise caution.

Enjoy the Summer and be sure it's a safe one for everyone!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Meet Nat Geo WILD's "Super Underdogs"

Tuna ~ Photo Courtesy of Nat Geo WILD

Some people are under the mistaken notion that pets have to be perfect. Pets, like people, can have disabilities, physical problems that have nothing to do with how wonderful they are and can teach us a lot about coping, love, and conquering problems.

Beginning on Sunday, May 17th at 9 p.m. (Eastern and Pacific), Nat Geo WILD premieres a new series, Super Underdogs, that will warm your heart and inspire you to look at challenges in a whole new way. They are focusing in on dogs who are living with handicaps but haven't let the specific handicap stop them from living the most normal life possible. The dogs and their owners are happy, living each day to the fullest. Would that all of us were as smart as the dogs who are showcased.
Happy, Silly Tuna ~ Photo Courtest Nat Geo

Having seen a preview of three of the dogs, it was hard not to fall in love and be moved by each one.

I adore all dogs of all sizes, shapes, breeds, mixed heritage but if you know me you know that I have a special place in my heart for small dogs. Suddenly, there on the screen was Milly. Milly is the tiniest Chihuahua I've ever seen. There is such a thing as a Chihuahua being too small. She requires special care and handling which she gets in abundance. 

Then there's little 4-year-old Tuna, who was abandoned as a puppy and rescued on the streets of San Diego, whose overbite adds character to the little four-legged character.

"I consider Tuna's overbite, coupled with him being an underdog, his super power," Tuna's owner, Courtney Dasher, told me. "At just one glance, you know he's different, but it's his difference that brings joy to so many people globally, and brightens their days, which ultimately, has the ability to be a catalyst to change their lives. To me, that's really super, and powerful!"

Tune in and meet The Super Underdogs. Every dog deserves a loving home and who among us is perfect? These Underdogs are perfect in their owners' eyes and are obviously wonderful companions.

Meanwhile, here's a "sneak peek!"

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Make a Difference for Our Military's Pets

We are so lucky to have such dedicated men and women in our armed forces. They give up so much for our freedom. They put their lives on the line for us every single day. When they are called up for Deployment to a foreign country they must leave home and family. An important part of the family they are leaving: their pets. Not everyone has someone they can truly trust with their beloved cats and dogs to keep them safe, healthy and happy while their owners are in a foreign land, often in the line of fire.

Fortunately, Dogs on Deployment, a non-profit, helps our Military men and women by finding foster homes for their pets where they will be well cared for until their people return. What a relief for those who must leave their pets. It has to give them peace of mind.

If you want to help Dogs on Deployment with their important work, I have very good news. From now through Memorial Day. Pets Best Pet Insurance will match all donations up to $1000. from May 1st through May 25th. This is a great time to donate because it will effectively double your donation!

Go to this link to make your donation!  

Thanks to Pets Best Pet Insurance for doing this for our Military and their pets!

All photos are courtesy of Dogs on Deployment but be assured that they help Military cat owners, too!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Saving a Puppy's Life

For those of you who have been wondering where I've been - I had eye surgery two weeks ago and have been pampering myself a bit, trying not to strain it. My blog is important but so is my eyesight. I'll gradually get back on track. I hope that you'll bear with me.

I saw this video from The Israel Project tonight and simply had to share it with you. In Judaism, all life is precious. This poor little puppy was thrown over a barbed wire fence by terrorists in Egypt. Watch as two Israeli soldiers, members of the IDF, save this puppy's life. This little one will now not only live, but no doubt will be adopted into a happy home.