Arizona is a hotbed of toxic critters! One of the most dangerous is the Sonoran or Colorado Toad. During the hot and humid summer monsoon season, toads will emerge in yards, the desert, ending up in pools and other areas your pet may be. Many dogs and cats are fascinated by them, and will try to catch them in their mouths.
Toads will also seek out your pet’s water bowl, so be careful of where you place water outdoors. If your dog or cat comes in contact with a toxic toad, you’ll need to get to the vet, stat!
These symptoms of toad poisoning will be observable almost immediately:
TREATMENT Toad poisoning is a life-threatening medical emergency. If you know or suspect your pet has been exposed to a toad, rinse the pet’s mouth out immediately using a constant stream of water from a faucet or hose (if at all possible). Call your veterinarian, the closest emergency animal hospital, and/or the Pet Poison Helpline at 855-764-7661.
The Arizona heat is bearing down upon us with full force, so it’s important to take time to review some of the different aspects of summer safety you’ll need to incorporate into your regular routine.
Minimize Outdoor Time: Very few of us are built to withstand the extreme temperatures we usually experience during an Arizona summer, and pets can be most vulnerable of all. Make sure you keep your pets inside whenever possible, especially during the daytime.
Access to Water & Shade: Make sure your pets have access to plenty of fresh water and shade areas when they are outdoors. Consider purchasing an elevated pet bed/loungers with a sun shade that can help keep vulnerable pets from lying on the hot pavement, so they stay cooler.
Beware of Swimming Pools: The temptation of sparkling water can be deadly for children and animals, so it’s always critical to keep a close eye on everyone around water. Make sure to pool-proof your pets by teaching them how to swim to the stairs or find the edge. Childproof fencing is a must if you have small children, but can also help keep pets safer, too.
Going Bye Bye in the Car: One of the benefits of mild winter days is taking our pets along for the ride when we run errands. During the summer months, it’s safest to leave pets at home. NEVER leave a child or a pet in the car, even for ‘just a few minutes.’ Temperatures can rise to deadly levels very quickly inside a vehicle, even in the shade.
Protect the Paws: If you can’t stand on the sidewalk comfortably in bare feet, then neither can your pet! During summer months, take walks early in the morning when it’s cooler, or later in the evening after the cement has had time to cool down. There are also wonderful protective pet shoe options for pets of all sizes. While pets will need to adjust to the strange sensation of not only wearing shoes, but also walking in them, they can help prevent severe burns on tender paws and pads that will require veterinary care.
Remember the Sunscreen: Even pets can get sunburned or develop skin cancer, so it’s important to take some precautions. Breeds like Boxers, Bull Terriers, German Shorthaired Pointers, Pit Bulls and Staffordshire Terriers are very vulnerable to sunburn and possible skin cancers. Any cats that have white ears, eyelids and noses should be protected as well. Severe burns may also cause skin infections. Look for pet safe products that contain NO ZINC OXIDE (a common ingredient in many sunscreens) – it’s toxic to animals.
Barbecue Grill Safety: There’s nothing quite so summery-delicious as food cooked outdoors on the grill, but remember your pets will be sniffing around with interest, too! Make sure they’re kept at a safe distance so they don’t get burned or worse, knock over the grill. Be careful of scraps and trash – they can cause some serious gastrointestinal problems in pets. Watch out for meat drippings as well, as your pet could burn their mouth, or develop vomiting, diarrhea or pancreatitis. Don’t give your pet cooked bones, as they can splinter and cause damage to the stomach and intestines, or even death.
Valley Fever, or coccidioidomycosis, is an infection of the lungs caused by a fungus that lives in soil. Valley Fever is common in humans, and has been isolated in a variety of mammals, especially dogs.
While the fungal spores remain dormant during dry periods, summer monsoons and rainy weather can awaken them and put you and your pets at risk. When fungal spores are breathed into the lungs, they can grow into ‘spherules’. A healthy immune system will attack and ‘wall off’ the fungus, and no further problems will occur. However, in a compromised immune system, the spherules will continue to grow until they burst, spreading the infection through the body. The spherules then grow in new areas, and repeat the cycle all over again.
The highest incidents of coccidioidomycosis infections occur in Arizona during June and July, and October and November, so here is what you need to know:
RISK FACTORS: Dogs are particularly prone to contracting Valley Fever as they are sniffing the soil and like to dig in the dirt, which means they could easily be exposed to the deadly spores. In rare instances, cats can also contract Valley Fever. The most common symptom in cats is non-healing skin lesions that resemble abscesses, draining tracts, or dermatitis. They can occur in almost any site on the cat’s body, and will often ooze a pale yellow to reddish fluid.
Younger and older animals are at risk. Younger animals are more susceptible to contracting Vally fever as their immune systems are not yet fully developed. Older pets’ immune systems may be weakened or compromised by aging and underlying health conditions.
Many animals will not exhibit any signs of Vally fever, even though they are infected.
DIAGNOSING VALLEY FEVER: Your veterinarian with perform a titer test to look for antibodies. Depending on the severity of infection, they may also perform advanced bloodwork and diagnostic x-rays of the lungs, limbs and other areas of the body. The fungus can also be identified through samples of fluids or tissue from the body.
SYMPTOMS PRIMARY INFECTION – LUNGS
Harsh or dry cough
Fever, lack of appetite
Lethargy or signs of depression
SYMPTOMS DISSEMINATED INFECTION
Swollen or painful bones and joints; lameness
Persistent fever, lack of appetite
Lethargy or signs of depression
PREVENTION & TREATMENT OPTIONS: There is no preventive vaccine for Valley Fever. Keep your pets away from open areas of dirt and dust as much as possible.
Dogs that develop Valley Fever will require a course of treatment with anti fungal medications. The length of treatment depends on the severity of the infection, but most cases will be managed within 6-12 months. Your pet should begin to feel better within 1-2 weeks of starting the anti fungal medications. Over the course of treatment, your vet will perform regular titer testing to determine when medication can safely be discontinued.
If the fungal infection has spread through the body, the dog may need to be on anti fungal medications for life. A small number of dogs will die from Valley Fever – most often those with advanced fungal infection that has spread through the body. The majority of animals will recover with no lasting issues. If you recognize symptoms of Valley Fever, contact your veterinarian immediately.
Each day, millions of homeless cats of all ages are waiting for their forever families to find them. Sadly, thousands will be euthanized each day. June is the American Humane Association’s Adopt-a-Cat month and the ASPCA’s Adopt-a-Shelter-Cat month, so if you’ve been thinking about adding a feline friend to your family it’s a good time to review some key points before bringing a new kitty home.
While it’s exciting for us, remember, it’s a stressful time for your new cat or kitten. Cats are territorial animals, so they’re most likely going to be confused and scared until they settle in. It’s a process, but we know it’s well worth the effort. Here are a few tips for new kitties:
Provide a Safe, Confined Space: New kitties need safe space like a laundry room, spare bedroom or bathroom to live in while they’re adjusting to their new surroundings. A cozy bed, cardboard box or cat carrier can provide a sense of safety for your new friend, but remember, your kitty needs to be able to stand up and turn around easily. Give them access to plenty of food, fresh water and a clean litter box with an inch or two of litter in the room , but be sure to keep the litter box away from their food. Nobody wants to have dinner next to their toilet, no matter how clean it’s kept.
Patience is Key: It might take a week or two for your new cat or kitten to feel safe enough to come out and explore, but they’ll let you know when they’re ready. if you have other pets in the home, keep them separated from the newcomer and introduce them slowly. Don’t push things. They will be very aware of each other’s presence – a baby gate can help keep boundaries intact. Always keep dogs leashed when they’re meeting the newest family member. Correct them immediately with a command like “Sit!” or “Stay!” if they show any signs of jealousy or threatening behavior. Be extra careful with small children – they can get overexcited and squeeze or pet too roughly, causing the cat to struggle, scratch or bite out of fear.
Dealing with the Claw Factor: Sharp claws can do lots of damage. Anyone who’s ever had a cat run up their body, climb the drapes, or decide to systematically shred the furniture can tell you. With a little encouragement (and maybe a dash of catnip), you can direct their attention to a scratching post or cat tree. Try using some soft nail caps to help discourage them if they’re persistent – if they can’t get a grip on the fabric, they’ll lose interest. If they’re still favoring furniture for sharpening their claws, try a using protective cover or tinfoil (they hate it).
As a general rule, we do not recommend declawing cats. It should only be considered as a last resort as it’s a serious and painful operation, or in very rare cases where it is medically necessary because someone is the house is at high risk for an infection if scratched by the cat. Even worse, declawing can create more serious problems like reluctance to use the litter box because it’s painful for them. Regular trims can help keep claws from digging into people and possessions. We suggest a professional groomer.
Book a Wellness Visit: Your vet will carefully examine your new pet, give them any vaccinations, and advise you on good preventive care routine (including periodic dental cleanings) to keep them healthy and happy longer. Find an Arizona Pet Vet location near you.