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Cold Weather Care - Dufferin Veterinary Hospital Does my dog need a coat or sweater?

December 21, 2016
Dufferin Veterinary Hospital - Orangeville

Once again, winter has returned to us here in Orangeville! With the advent of the colder weather, many people wonder if a sweater or coat is required to protect their furry friends during this chilly season.  In general - it is best to address the individual canine to assess if cold weather gear is required for their comfort and winter care!

Although dogs look very sweet in fur trimmed parkas and cable knit sweaters, most do not need an extra layer as their own coat protects them from the elements during normal outdoor physical activities, especially when our winter is moderate.  Consider your dog!  Small (less than 10kg), lean or short haired breeds, or breeds that have origins in warm climates, (such as the Chihuahua from Mexico), may need extra protection.  A coat may also be considered for your pet if they appear to be visibly bothered by the cold or wet - shown through shivering or reluctance to go out.  Older pets may also appear to be more affected by the chill in the air - monitor them for signs of discomfort when you are out in the elements.  Extreme cold can present a challenge to all!

If your dog requires winter clothing, be attentive with your selection!  When choosing a coat - water resistant materials are best for warmth and for protection against light snow.  Avoid items with buckles, zippers, decorative buttons or other fashion embelishments that could come loose or be eaten by your curious pet.  For severe cold, insulated jackets are best.  The clothing you select for your dog should always be soft, breathable, easy to put on and remove and must be washable.  With our reduced hours of daylight - reflective materials offer an extra safety advantage for visibility when out walking.  If your dog is not familiar with wearing clothing, it is important to introduce the coat or sweater gradually with positive re-enforcement so that it becomes a positive experience, rather than an upsetting event.  If your pets responds to clothing by pulling at it, hiding, sulking or refusing to move - they are distressed and will need your help.

Unfortunately, our cold weather is accompanied by the use of salt by many to reduce and remove ice from walkways for safety.  Salt is damaging to the pads of all dogs!  Holding a foot up, chewing at the foot, or reluctance to walk is evidence of discomfort.  Protection may be offered to dogs with wearing protective boots or application of pad protection salves available from your veterinary team.  Some pets simply will require a light pad wash with tepid water (not hot)when returning home from an outdoor adventure to keep them safe and comfortable!

Keeping the unique needs of your canine companion in mind will allow you both to enjoy this season - get out there and enjoy it (as we can't beat it!)!

A Doggone Safe Christmas Tips for Dog Owners

December 7, 2016
Dufferin Veterinary Hospital

As we all enjoy the holidays, it can unfortunately be a very stressful time for your dog.  Decorations, visitors, hustle and bustle can all be very upsetting to our canine companions.  When upset, some dogs may bite to convey their distress.  It is our responsiblity to ensure this doesn't happen this holiday season, ensuring the well being of our family and friends - both canine and otherwise!

Put the dog in its crate or in a room away from the activity with a stuffed Kong or favourite chew toy, especially at the most hectic times.  This is most likely to be when guests are arriving and leaving, and during dinner preparation and serving. 

Play music or leave a TV or radio playing in the quiet room to mask the sounds of the action elsewhere for your canine.  Calming pheromone sprays may be helpful in the room to create a calm environment.  Herbal supplements are also available to assist with calming anxiety.

Assign one adult to be in charge of any young children during a gathering.  This person will need to watch the dog for signs of stress, and monitor the children's behaviour.   Signs of stress include if a dog is yawning or licking their chops, if the dog shows the white part of the eye in a moon shape, if the dog is retreating away or avoiding contact, or even panting. For safety, do not leave children and dogs together unattended during this exciting holiday season!

If the dog shows any signs of stress, the dog needs to be and wants to be left alone.  Remove the dog from the situation and place the dog in a familiar room away from the guests with a favourite toy, bed, blanket or other forms of comfort. 

Please safely enjoy this year's Christmas and New Years celebrations!

Hot off the press! Heat smarts for pets!

August 17, 2016
Dufferin Veterinary Hospital

In this hot weather, certain dogs and cats are more prone to heatstroke.  Heatstroke happens when the body is not able to adjust for high external heat, letting the internal body temperature rise.  High internal temperature leads to illness, organ failure and even death.  Humans can sweat to reduce body temperature, but dogs and cats cannot do this.  They need to rely on panting to cool off.   Brachycephalic, or short faced, pets cannot ventilate to exchange air and cool themselves as others can.  Examples of brachycephalic pets are Pug, Boxer, Pekinese, Shih Tzu, English or French Bulldogs, as well as purebred cats such as Himalayan or Persian breeds.  Overweight pets, and those with thick long coats are also easily at risk of heat stroke.  These pets  can be easily overwhelmed even with normal activity in high heat, or especially if left in a vehicle or if asked to do vigourous activity when outdoor temperatures are high.

Heat stroke may be avoided!  Be aware of heat sensitivity if you have a short nosed pet.  Keep plenty of fresh water available, and if water is outside ensure it is located in the shade to stay cool, and changed often.  Keep your cat and dog indoors, out of the sun to help - and when your dog is outside ensure to stay on the grass as concrete and pavement can reach scorching temperatures - enough to burn footpads!  Never leave your pet in a vehicle.  Use fans, air conditioning or even a small wading pool to help keep your pet comfortable.  Avoid exercising your dog during the hottest times of the day - aim to walk early morning or in the evening when the sun is not so strong.  When exercising, shorten your normal time and take many breaks to monitor your dog for distress or difficulty breathing.

Signs of heat stroke can include: excessive or hard effort panting, muscle twitching, anxious or dazed expression, vomiting, weakness, increased drooling, diarrhea, or collapse.  If you believe your pet is suffering from heat stroke, remove them from the heat and start first aid using cool (but not cold) water and damp towels.  Allow for them to drink small amounts of cool (not cold) water if they are able, but do not force them.  Seek veterinary care immediately!

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