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Summer Travel – Pets and Cars

Summer travel with pets in cars can be wonderful but it’s important to be prepared. Here are some great summer safety tips for traveling with pets in cars; brought to you by AZPetVet’s Dr. John Graham.

Tolerance Test: Are We Having Fun Yet?
Before you pack up the family and set out on the Holiday Road to WallyWorld or to visit Arizona’s wonders, be sure your pet can handle a longer car trip. Make test runs from short to medium durations, and observe them closely to see how they’re faring along the way. As members of the family, you want them to be happy and safe.

Remember long family trips? The togetherness? Everyone singing, laughing, playing games? How about being crowded into the back of the car? Fighting with your siblings because someone was touching you. Hunger. Sheer boredom. Are we there yet? What’s that smell? Needing to GO but dad says “wait until the next rest stop” and that’s approximately ONE. MILLION. MILES. AWAY. 

Now imagine you’re a dog.

While many dogs go mad with joy at the prospect of going ‘bye bye’ for a ride in the car, others will get quite stressed and anxious but calm down. Barking, pacing, whining, whimpering, or panting excessively are all clear signs that your barker needs a break. Not every car ride is a trip to the vet, but if they have general anxiety about going, check out this previous blog for tips.

Traveling In the Car
Provide access to water, food & don’t forget any meds they might need!
Bring along a familiar blanket or favorite toy.
Make sure your pet has ample space to stand and turn around.
Make frequent ‘Potty & Stretch Your Legs’ stops.
DON’T leave your pet (or children) in a hot car, even for a couple of minutes.
If your dog is prone to car sickness or anxiety, talk to your vet. We can help.

Buckle Up Means Pets, Too.
Keeping pets safely restrained is vital to everyone’s safety. In case of an accident, an unrestrained pet becomes a projectile, and can injure others or be hurt or killed, even at a relatively slow speed. Definitely not worth the risk. Use proper safety harnesses or restraints whenever you’re on the road. For small to medium sized pets, there are even specially designed pet seats with built-in harnesses, similar to cozy beds. From there, your pupper can see everything clearly and truly be … King of Road.

From everyone at AZPetVet, have a happy and safe vacation!

Pet Suffocation Hazards in Your Home

Recently we’ve seen a few videos making the rounds featuring pets with food bags or other items stuck on their heads. While many people find these videos cute or funny because the animals are seeking treats or people food, the truth is these animals are in serious danger!

Cats and dogs who forage for food can easily get their head stuck in a bag. As they breathe in, the bag will quickly form a vacuum-like seal around their head. The pet will begin to panic from being stuck and not being able to breathe normally. Without immediate intervention, it will die from asphyxiation in just a few short minutes.

Sadly, pets of all ages, strengths, and sizes die from asphyxiation more often than you might think, and it’s completely preventable.

Chips, cereal, crackers, pet treats and other tasty foods are usually packaged in plastic, Mylar™ or foil-lined bags. These bags can be deadly for pets and children, too! Other common suffocation hazards include bread bags, cheese bags, and hard plastic/cardboard containers. 

Biggest Suffocation Hazards
Snack (e.g., cracker, popcorn, etc.) or chip bags (69%)
Cereal bags (8%)
Pet Food bags (8%)
Pet Treat bags (5%)

Where Pets Find These Bags
In or near the home trash can or recycling (32%)
Grabbed off a coffee table or side table (21%)
Grabbed off a counter (11%)
Found under a bed (7%)

Safety Precautions to Protect Your Pet
Store all snacks and foods contained in bags safely away from pets and kids
Serve your snacks in bowls instead of eating out of the bag
Make sure your trash cans are sealed tightly and your pets can’t get into them
Keep a close eye on pets during parties or gatherings where snack foods are served
Cut or tear food bags along the bottom and sides before discarding

Remember, ANY pet could get ahold of a snack bag and get stuck – without help, your beloved pet could suffocate within 3-5 minutes. Take the time, rip the bags, and save the heartache.

Does My Dog Need a Flu Shot?

Canine flu has been in the news recently, with some limited outbreaks recorded in Northern Arizona. Naturally, we’ve had a lot of calls from concerned pet parents. We totally get it. Our pets are beloved family members. Of course we want to be sure they’re getting the care they need in order to stay healthy!

Since we just happen to have more than 100 knowledgeable veterinarians in our AZPetVet family, we decided to ask Dr. Chris Hummel from AZPetVet Peoria to answer the most frequently asked questions about Canine Influenza.

Q: Is dog flu the same as people flu?

No. From a viral standpoint, dog flu is NOT the same as people flu. The two strains of Canine Influenza viruses found in the United States are H3N8 and N3N2, which researchers believe originated in horses. In very rare cases the dog flu virus has been known to infect cats, but the flu poses little risk to cats beyond a runny nose, coughing and/or sneezing.

People don’t get dog flu, and dogs don’t get people flu. However, in people and in dogs, there’s a gap between being exposed to the flu virus and developing symptoms. That’s why we’ll so often see outbreaks happen in clusters. Somebody is contagious and doesn’t know it until it’s too late; then suddenly everyone is sick.

From the American Veterinary Medical Association:

H3N8 has an incubation period of 1 to 5 days, with clinical signs in most cases appearing 2 to 3 days after exposure. Dogs infected with H3N2 may start showing respiratory signs between 2 and 8 days after infection. Dogs are most contagious during the incubation period and shed the virus even though they are not showing clinical signs of illness. Some dogs may show no signs of illness, but have a subclinical infection and shed the virus.”

Q: How would a dog catch the flu?

Almost the same way a person would. The virus is transmitted through the air by sneezing and coughing (or barking, drooling and licking), or by contact with infected surfaces. Most likely, they would come into contact with another dog that’s contagious. So exposure to the dog flu virus usually happens at places where you find lots of dogs; the dog park, doggie daycare, a boarding kennel, grooming salon or dog show.

Q: What are the symptoms? 

Well, here’s another area where dog flu is similar to people flu. Dogs with the flu will show symptoms like fever, lethargy, cough, stuffy or runny nose and watery eyes, difficulty breathing, wheezing or rapid breathing. You’ll be able to tell they’re not feeling well. Keep them quiet and away from other pets to avoid exposing them to the virus. Then it’s time to get busy.

The Canine Influenza virus can remain viable on surfaces for up to 48 hours, on clothing for 24 hours, and on hands for 12 hours. Wash your hands frequently. Wash your clothing, and clean and disinfect other items your pet may have touched. These include kennels and crates, food and water bowls, collars, leashes, bedding and toys.

Q: Is dog flu dangerous?

The severity of the flu varies depending on the viral strain, the pet’s age and overall health. Most otherwise healthy dogs will recover from the flu without problem or any special treatment required. The cough may last for up to 3-4 weeks.

Older dogs with weakened immune systems or puppies with underdeveloped immunity are more at risk as their bodies will have a harder time fighting the virus, so there’s a higher risk for developing pneumonia.

Dogs with short muzzles, like pugs and bulldogs, already have a compromised respiratory system. Sore throats and stuffy noses would naturally make them feel quite sick, so they’d need close monitoring and a trip to the vet’s office.   

Q: How is Canine Influenza treated?   

There is no specific treatment for Canine Influenza. Most dogs will not need any specialized treatment. The majority of treatments used in severe cases are supportive. They may include IV fluids, oxygen, antibiotics, breathing treatments, and mucolytics (a class of medications which help break down mucus to make it easier to expel it from the lungs).

Q: So should my dog get a flu shot? 

While vaccines are available for both H3N8 and H3N2 strains of canine influenza, vaccination would only be recommended for dogs at high risk for infection. It is important to note, vaccination can only reduce the risk of a dog contracting canine influenza, it may not prevent an infection. However, it can potentially reduce the severity and duration of the flu. It’s best to talk over your concerns with your vet.

Q: Anything else we need to know? 

One last, but very important reminder – people can’t get dog flu, but they can inadvertently spread it if they’ve touched a contaminated surface (or petted one). That’s why animal hospitals follow strict guidelines for cleaning and disinfection. We take extra precautions when seeing pets that are exhibiting respiratory symptoms.

If you suspect your pet has the flu or has been exposed to it, or they’re having respiratory symptoms, call us first. You may receive special instructions for bringing your dog into the office. These restrictions are in place to reduce the risk of exposing other animals in the waiting room to something that could be contagious.

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