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Top 5 Summer Hazards for Your Pet

Most (maybe All??) Pacific Northwesterners look forward to those fleeting moments of summer we have each year. While the rest of the nation bakes in excessive heat, we sit outside  soaking up the sun. We remind ourselves just why we put up with those other 9 months (or is it 10?) of  rain, fog and dreary days. In spite of our comfortable temperatures, we still need to take note of the unique issues summer poses to our safety and health. Those issues are also relevant to our pets.

HEAT – We’ve all heard that leaving your pet in a closed up car in the summer is a big no-no. Even with outdoor temperatures at 70 degrees, the temperature inside your car can increase 30 degrees within the first half hour. Never leave your pet in a closed car even for 5 minutes!  If it feels hot outside to you, it’s going to feel hot to your pet. Cats can generally find a shady spot, but dogs left outside are at risk for heat stroke in high temperatures.

If you see signs that your pet is disoriented and panting excessively in the heat, you’ll need to cool him/her down. In spite of your first thought to use cold water, don’t – use cool instead. Cold water can cause blood vessels to constrict, make it even harder for your pet to cool down.  Be sure your pet has access to water to drink at all times and don’t take your dog on a walk during the hottest parts of the day. Keep time to a minimum if your dog has to be on hot asphalt — their tolerance is about equal to your hand, so if you are unsure whether your dog’s paws might get burned, put your hand on the asphalt and check it out.

SUN – Most of us know we need (or at least should) lather on the sunscreen when we go outside, right? Did you know that some dogs and cats can also get sunburned? Any areas on your pet where there is not a lot of hair and is exposed to the sun for an extended period of time can get burned. If your Fido is going along on the boat or beach picnic, it’s a good preventitive measure to apply sunscreen to those vulnerable areas, i.e., nose, top of head, scarred areas, etc. There is special sunscreen for dogs, but children’s sunscreen works just fine.

OUTDOOR PESTS – Outdoor bugs and other pests can harm your pet just as they can harm you. Dogs like to use their noses to explore areas close to the ground, often the same places you would find bee nests, snakes, fleas, ticks, etc.,  so make sure you know these areas around your dog are safe. Just like people, a certain percentage of dogs are allergic to bee stings and could go into anaphylactic shock if stung. Talk to your vet about whether it makes sense to take benadryl if you plan to go camping or spend an extended period of time with your dog in suspect areas. And always, take precautions to keep flease off your pets, and ticks, also, if you plan to be in an area where ticks are present.

FOOD – Most of us like to sneak a foodscrap here or there to our pets even though we know it’s not always the best for them. (They do love them!). If you are cooking on the grill take care that Fido does not rob you of your food directly from the grill or table. And DON”T give your pets  fatty pieces of meat or bones. Your pet’s digestive system can’t handle a lot of fat, and bones can get stuck in a number of places that could cause you a trip to the vet.

WATER – Last but not least, know if your dog or cat can swim. Believe it or not, many dogs can’t swim and while many cats can swim, there are also some who can’t.  If you have a pool or have your pet near someone else’s pool, know that if  trapped, your pet could drown. Lots of dogs die in pools every year.

Taken from the article, “Top 5  Summer Pet Hazards”,, by  Kim Carollo, 7/16/12




Older Pets Need Plenty of Protein

The generally accepted belief is that feeding a high protein diet to older cats and dogs may cause kidney disease or make existing kidney disease worse. This thinking originated from rat studies which showed that a lower protein diet slowed kidney disease. The research was highly influential among veterinarians and carried over to opportunistic pet food manufacturers in spite of  the lack of research corresponding to cats and dogs. We now know that older dogs and cats need the same level of daily protein as younger animals.

Low protein diets cannot cause or alter the course of kidney disease.  Lower protein levels can lead to malnutrition, with a common effect being muscle loss. As humans and animals age, we tend to lose muscle tissue and we suffer from loss of muscle strength. This is why older persons are less steady and lose their balance easily. You can actually see the atrophy in dogs, especially in the hind limbs and along the spine. New studies show that feeding pets a diet with higher protein increases their amount of muscle tissue and thus their ability to maintain better movement and balance.

Part of the confusion is created because a lower protein diet can minimize some of the symptoms of kidney disease. Lower protein decreases the amount of ammonia which their bodies must convert to urea. Urea must pass through the kidneys then out the body. Pets with kidney disease have a harder time ridding their bodies of this urea, so a lower protein diet could possibly lower the amount of urea passing through their system and thus create fewer side effects (loss of appetite, mouth sores). Since kidney disease is fatal, pets in advanced stages of  kidney disease may simply need to be kept more comfortable and a low protein diet may be OK. However, for healthy older pets, a high protein diet is essential in maintaining muscle mass and strength, as well as a healthy immune system and good bone density. Don’t let the pet food companies convince you otherwise!

Information taken from an article by Dr. Ken Tudor, published by PetMD, 7/5/12, “Geriatric Dogs Need More Protein”

Your Dog Ate..What?

While scooping yards, I have seen evidence of strange things that dogs have eaten. Some our clients’ dogs have eaten crayons, stuffing from toys, plastic food containers, and even ribbons and wrapping paper.

The following excerpt is from an article written by Amanda Hauck, DVM for the Mount Vernon Patch. It was last updated on Jan 30, 2011:

Most pet owners aren’t too concerned when their pets gobble down some grass, try to eat a bone or even grab the wrapper from a candy bar. But, when their tastes turn to gravel and rocks or even plastic toys, you might have a serious problem!

Every year, a leading veterinary trade magazine has a contest reviewing the weird things pets across the country have eaten. And, every year, thousands of veterinarians submit their x-rays wondering if their patient will win the grand prize honor of having swallowed the most unusual object!

Click here to read the full article.

Health risks associated with dog feces

Many common diseases can be transmitted from dog feces to dogs, cats and humans.
These include Giardia, roundworms, hookworms, Salmonell, and E. coli. A dog can
spread parvovirus and coronavirus through infected feces. An infected dog can pass over
a million roundworm eggs everyday. All these diseases can be serious and common,
making it especially important to keep family and pets from any potentially infected
feces. (more…)

What causes those dead urine spots on the grass?

There are lots of “theories” circulating regarding the cause of the unsightly
yellow “burnt” spots on the lawn, and if you have a dog and grass, you’ve probably
experienced them. The problems are more common among households with multiple or
large female dogs, but is not limited to them. The cause of the dead grass is actually from
a concentration of nitrogen found in pet urine. Because dogs are carnivores, they eat a
high level of protein in their diets; the protein gets broken down and excreted as nitrogen.
Female dogs don’t necessarily have a larger concentration of nitrogen in their urine –
they squat when using the bathroom and tend to deposit their urine in one place. With
male dogs it tends to be spread out over more area.

Certain things can cause a greater propensity for your yard to accumulate “burnt” spots”:

  • – Female dogs, as mentioned, tend to deposit urine in a more concentrated area
  • – Large dogs leave behind a greater quantity of urine
  • – Yards that are fertilized regularly
  • – Grasses that are more sensitive to nitrogen, such as bluegrass or Bermuda grass
  • – Lawns stressed from drought or disease
  • – Yards which have been recently sodded or seeded

Some remedies to alleviate the problem include:

  • – Ensuring that your dog drinks lots of water (in effect, diluting the urine)
  • – Keeping the yard watered, especially areas that are used frequently for urination
  • – Using less fertilizer on your yard
  • – Planting more nitrogen resistant species of grass

Doody First also offers an organic spray product which we can apply over “burnt” areas
of your lawn. This spray neutralizes the nitrogen in the pet urine, and together with
regular watering , will allow grass to grow back over a couple of weeks.