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Hot Tips For A Pet-Safe Summer

Summertime is a time for fun and frolicking; however, here are some key tips to help keep your pets cool and safe…

BE VIGILANT ABOUT VET CARE – When it starts getting warm outside, take your pet to the vet for a full checkup including a heartworm test and a flea and tick protection plan. These are year-round issues but in the summer months it’s especially important to monitor them.

DON’T LEAVE YOUR PET ALONE IN THE CAR ON A WARM DAY – Within just a few minutes; a car can get extremely hot, stifling, and deadly. Never, ever leave your pet in a parked car on a warm day. Your pet may suffer irreversible organ damage or die.

WATCH THE HUMIDITY – Animals pant to evaporate moisture from their lungs, which takes heat away from their body. If the humidity is too high, they are unable to cool themselves, and their temperature will skyrocket to dangerous levels—very quickly. Taking a dog’s temperature will quickly tell you if there is a serious problem. Dogs’ temperatures should not be allowed to get over 104 degrees.

LIMIT EXERCISE ON HOT DAYS – Take care when exercising your pet. Adjust intensity and duration of exercise in accordance with the temperature. Limit exercise to early morning or evening hours. Be especially careful with pets with white-colored ears, which are more susceptible to skin cancer, and short-nosed pets, which typically have difficulty breathing.

OUTDOOR DANGERS – Asphalt gets very hot and can burn your pet’s paws – you can check with your palm on the pavement; if it is too hot for your hand, it’s too hot for their paws.  Therefore, walk your dog on the grass whenever possible. Make sure he or she always has protection from heat and sun and plenty of fresh, cold water. Add ice to water when possible. Tree shade and tarps are ideal because they don’t obstruct air flow. Doghouses do not provide relief from heat—in fact, they make it worse. 

THUNDER STORMS, FIREWORKS, OH MY!! – If you know or even think your pet struggles with thunderstorms and fireworks noise, give us a call so that we can advise on how to  ease their stress and fear.

KEEP YOUR HOME COOL FOR YOUR PETS – Some people turn their air conditioning off when they leave for the day. If you have a pet at home, this could put them in danger. Try leaving the AC on a conservative but comfortable setting (perhaps 74°F or lower). Make sure your pet has water, and consider closing curtains to reduce the heating effects of sunlight.

KNOW WHICH DOGS ARE LESS TOLERANT OF HEAT – Older, obese or short-nosed dogs (Pugs, Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, Pekingese, Boxers, Shih Tzu’s and French Bulldogs) are less tolerant of heat. Also, older dogs, puppies and dogs with health issues can also be more susceptible to hot weather. Of course, you should keep a close eye on your dog in the heat, no matter what his breed, age or state of health.

KNOW THE WARNING SIGNS – Symptoms of overheating in pets include excessive panting or difficulty breathing, glazed eyes, increased thirst, lethargy, fever, increased heart and respiratory rate, drooling, stupor or even collapse. They can also include seizures, a deep red or purple tongue, bloody diarrhea and vomit along with an elevated body temperature of over 104 degrees.

Have questions about summer pet safety or need to make an appointment for your pet? Request a time online or call us at (703) 956-1522.

Treating Skin Allergies

If your pet is always itching, licking their paws, chewing on their coat or scratching their ears; there’s a good chance they have skin allergies.  Skin allergies are often caused by flea, food and environmental conditions.  To alleviate your pet of this problem, we must first figure out the cause.

Start by looking for fleas.  If you suspect a flea infestation, wash all fabrics in your home and vacuum everywhere thoroughly.  We also highly encourage all of our clients to administer monthly flea medication to their pets throughout the entire year.

If your pet is already on flea preventative, consider other options. At Animal Medical Center of Cascades, our grooming services feature gentle and soothing medicated baths with hypoallergenic shampoos to provide ample relief for your best friend.

We also offer laser therapies (especially helpful for ear issues) and CYTOPOINT, which is an innovative new therapy that can help control itching at its source for 1-2 months with each injection.

Treatments will vary depending on the cause of the allergies, but we will work with you and your pet to come up with a viable solution. For more information on these therapies, please contact us at 703-956-1522 or request an appointment online.

May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month

Lyme Disease is one of the most common tick-transmitted diseases in the world.  While only 5-10% of affected dogs will have symptoms, the most dominant clinical feature is inflammation of the joints which causes lameness.

Lethargy and lack of appetite may be apparent plus other critical scenarios including kidney and heart damage or nervous system disease may occur.

Additional symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Sensitive to touch
  • Stiff walk with arched back
  • Difficulty breathing

Lyme disease is quite prevalent in our area, and as such, we highly encourage our clients to keep their pet administered on monthly flea/tick preventatives. At Animal Medical Center of Cascades, we offer a variety of different products for your pet which will combat fleas and ticks—we also offer the Lyme vaccine, too.

For any questions about Lyme disease, or if you’d like to order products or request an appointment, contact us at 703-956-1522 or request an appointment online.

Heartworm Awareness Month

April is Heartworm Awareness Month, and according to the American Heartworm Society, incidence of this potentially fatal disease is up. The southeastern U.S., including parts of Virginia, has the highest number of reported cases in the country.

As you may already know, heartworm is spread by mosquitoes—and it only takes one bite to infect a dog. Sadly, many animals don’t show symptoms until the disease is advanced, if at all. While there is treatment for canines, it can be costly and very hard on your pet.

Monthly oral or topical heartworm preventive is the only way to prevent heartworm disease in pets and is significantly less expensive than treatment. We have many different types available at Animal Medical Center of the Cascades, and we can help you decide which one is best for your furry friend.

Make sure the pet you love is protected! Schedule an appointment online or call us at 703-956-1522.

Spring into the Season—Safely!

It’s been a long winter, but it appears that spring is finally on the way. Here are a few tips to make sure your pet stays safe as the weather changes and you start getting out more.

  • Avoid mushrooms. Many poisonous mushrooms look like edible mushrooms and can make your pet very ill. Make sure to inspect your yard for mushrooms and watch your pet closely on the trail. 
  • Spring cleaning. Keep all cleaners and chemicals far away from pets. Even “all-natural” cleaners contain chemicals that may be harmful to animals. You can visit the ASPCA’s Poisonous Household Products page for more information.
  • Grow your garden with care. Fertilizers, insecticides and herbicides can have ingredients that can make your pet very sick if they’re ingested. Also, many popular spring-blooming plants, such as rhododendron and azalea, are highly toxic to pets—check out this list of poisonous plants to avoid in your home and garden if possible.
  • Know your pet first-aid. More outdoor activity means a greater chance of injury and illness. Put together a simple pet first aid kit, and understand that when in distress, even the most gentle pet might scratch or bite or bite. Handle any injured or sick animal with care, following these emergency handling guidelines.
  • Bee aware. Bees and other insects are on the move in spring and if your pet is stung, you’ll want to know what to do. Look for a stinger and remove if possible. You’ll also want to reduce swelling, which you can do with a paste of baking soda and water. Check with your vet about administering an antihistamine to stave off an allergic reaction.

If you have questions about keeping your pet healthy this spring, don’t hesitate to call us at (703) 956-1522.