Preventing and Recognizing Heat Stroke in Your Pets
Heat stroke, or hyperthermia, is a real danger for pets and people.
Hyperthermia occurs when your pet’s body temperature rises dangerously
above normal, putting them at risk for multiple organ failure or death.
Unlike humans, who have sweat glands all over our bodies, cats and dogs
have very few sweat glands – they’re located in places such as their feet and
noses. As summer rolls around and temperatures continue to rise, you’ll
notice your pets panting more to regulate their body heat.
Since our beloved pets are more susceptible to heat stroke than us, we need
to be aware of the signs and symptoms so we can keep our furry friends safe.
Early recognition, and treatment of heat stroke can improve your pet’s
chances of making a quick recovery. Symptoms of heat stroke in pets include:
Reduced or no urine production
Rapid/irregular heart rate
Vomiting blood/black, tarry stools
Changes in mental status (i.e., confusion and dizziness)
Wobbly, uncoordinated/drunken gait or movement
Unconsciousness/Cardiopulmonary Arrest (heart and breathing stop)
Seek Treatment for A Full Recovery
At the first sign of overheating, it’s essential to take steps to cool your pet
down gradually. Do NOT use ice or frigid water as it can cause shock and
other undesirable reactions. Here are some measures to take if you suspect
your animal is suffering from heat stroke:
1. Remove your animal from the heat immediately. Take your animal
inside or find some shade to allow them to cool off.
2. Spray your pet with cool water or wrap them in cold, wet towels and
use a fan for convection cooling.
3. Evaporative cooling can also be used by swabbing isopropyl alcohol on
foot pads, groin and under the forelegs.
4. MOST importantly, seek veterinary care and guidance as soon as
Even if your furry friend seems to be feeling better and starts acting normal
again, it is still crucial to take your pet to the nearest emergency veterinary
clinic. Vets will be able to determine the severity of the heat stroke and
provide the appropriate medical treatment. This can include medication,
cooling procedures, supplemental oxygen, and blood tests. Additional
monitoring may be required to ensure your beloved pet is back in tip-top
Unfortunately, since our pets can’t communicate their exact feelings to us, we
need to be alert and aware of all of the signs of heat stroke in dogs and cats.
In case of an emergency, we need to be knowledgeable about the steps to
take for pet heat stroke recovery. Once we educate ourselves on the
symptoms, we can have a fun and safe summer with our furry companions.
Dog Bathing 101: How Often Should You Bathe a Dog?
Some dogs just can’t resist rolling in mud, dirt or worse. Obviously, this means bath, stat! But outside of these dirt emergencies, how often should you bathe a dog? Do they really need baths? Let’s dig in!
Just like people, some dogs can get a bit stinky without a regular bath. On the other hand, some dogs do just fine with just a regular wipe down to remove dirt and grit. (We don’t recommend this approach for people.) Baby wipes are perfect for daily cleaning of the coat, paws, and muzzle. They’re gentle and won’t cause irritation.
This is especially true if you adopted a new puppy. Many people wonder “how often should I give my puppy a bath?” If they’re less than 8 weeks old, the answer is probably ‘none’. Unless they are in dire need of a bath, they should be kept dry as many young pups are unable to efficiently regulate their body temperature. Running a warm, damp cloth over them should do the trick. (More on puppy baths later…)
So how often should you bathe a dog?
A healthy adult dog: A good rule of thumb is to give your pet a bath once a month in the tub or shower, using warm water and a gentle dog-specific shampoo. If they have an underlying skin condition or allergies, you may need to bathe them more often using a medicated shampoo. Use a soap free or moisturizing formulation so their skin doesn’t get dried out. Your vet or groomer can recommend the type that’s right for your pooch. Never bathe your dog more than once a week unless it’s recommended by your vet. While you’re bathing your dog, take special care to note any lumps, bump or skin changes that could indicate a health problem. If you find something of concern, be sure to let your vet know.
A newborn puppy: If this is your first time bringing home a puppy, congratulations! If you’re looking for tips on responsible pet care, check out this blog for pet care tips. Now to the question on your mind: how often should you give your puppy a bath? This depends heavily on the age of your puppy. During their first 8-12 weeks of life, puppies rely heavily on their mothers for everything — including proper cleaning and grooming. At this stage, the puppy should rely on their mother for grooming. If they do need a bath, you’ll be able to bathe your puppy the day you bring them home (assuming they are at least 8 weeks old).
Things to Consider
Have a dog that sees dirt and mud and runs to it? You’re going to need to give your dog more baths than a dog that prefers lounging around the house. But remember, there will always be exceptions to how often you should bathe a dog. For instance, short-coated breeds, as well as hairless breeds such as the Chinese Crested, will typically require more intensive care and regular maintenance. While this is only a general guide, try to come up with a maintenance plan based on the needs of your furry friend. Here are some things to consider:
Coat Type: Long-coated breeds may require more baths and grooming care than short-coated breeds. Additionally, some thick coated breeds like retrievers and Huskies can lose essential oils from their skin if bathed too often. This isn’t only true for these breeds – many breeds are vulnerable to the fur and skin drying out, so ask your veterinarian or groomer for guidance.
Activity: Again, if your dog is the type to run into rain and muddy water when possible or dig holes when they know they shouldn’t, you’re going to need to give them frequent baths.
Allergies and Health:If you’re adopting a dog with health concerns, bring them to your vet right away to establish an appropriate care plan. Search here for a nearby AZPetVet location.
How to Dry Your Pet After Bathing
Rinse well, and dry with soft towels. Some dogs will allow you to use a hairdryer on a warm/cool setting, while others will freak out or consider it playtime. If you use a hair dryer, be sure to keep the nozzle at least 18 inches away from the fur and skin in order to prevent overheating or burns. Whatever your dog’s preference, dry them the best you can, and enjoy their after-bath antics. Be sure they’re dry before going outside, or you’ll most likely be headed right back to the tub!
Not into the do-it-yourself dog bath? Regular grooming appointments can help keep your pet looking and smelling great! To find one of our 17 AZ PetVet Grooming locations, click here.
Purebred Vs Mixed Breed: Everything You Should Know
There has been a lot said when it comes to whether or not a mixed breed dog is healthier (or not) than a purebred dog. There certainly seems to be a surplus of health benefits for mixed breed dogs as compared to their purebred counterparts. With that said, however, this isn’t to say there aren’t any benefits in choosing a purebred dog. So if you’re looking to bring a furry friend into your home but are worried whether a purebred or mixed breed is right for you, sit back and relax. We’re going to uncover the benefits of mixed breed dogs and purebred, purebred vs mutt health and life expectancy, and more!
Benefits of Mixed Breed Dogs
Get That Same Breed Look: Some dog owners are looking for a puppy with a distinct look, say a husky or a chow chow. Many mixed breed dogs will tend to physically resemble one breed more than the other, so you can get pretty close to a purebred look for your dog while still adopting mixed breed.
OR Get a Unique Look: On the other hand, if you like the uniqueness of a mixed breed dog, then it’s possible to find a dog that doesn’t look like other dogs. Take Basil for instance — a 3-year-old mixed breed dog (photo submitted by a staff member!). Take a second to guess what breed he is. We’ll give you a second.
Price: A key benefit of mixed breed dogs is that they come at a much cheaper price than those from the breeders of purebred dogs. While their personalities and growth may come as a surprise to you, the experience will be well worth the wait (and the wait itself is so much fun) if you love surprises and being spontaneous. And back to the question — what breed is Basil? If you guessed husky/labrador, you’re a winner!
Benefits of Purebred Dogs
One misconception people have about purebred dogs is that all purebred dogs are not as healthy as their mixed counterpart. While there is research that suggests this is true for some breeds (and we’ll get to this soon), there are various factors that influence the life expectancy and health of purebred dogs.
Specifically Selected Parents: In most cases, dogs breeders have selected the parents (sire and dam) specifically for health and desired breed traits to ensure that their puppies will be happy and healthy.
You Know What to Expect: When you get a purebred dog, you can expect to know how large they will get, their temperament, and more. If you’re living in a smaller home or work long hours, you can choose a dog that is suited for your lifestyle; whereas a mixed breed dog may have some surprises that might not be as easily manageable.
Ease With Training: With a purebred dog, you (and potential trainers) have a better idea of what to expect with your furry friend. What this means is that a dog might not have the temperament you’re looking for — and you won’t know this until they are older. For Basil for instance — part husky and part lab. While the lab in him makes him viable as a great service dog, the husky portion of him might make service or guide training difficult. Speaking directly with Basil’s owner, it’s clear that… the latter is true. He is apparently impossible to train. While this varies across the board, a purebred dog lets you know what to expect, so you can pick a pup with a training regimen in mind.
Purebred Vs Mutt: The Major Health Differences
When comparing purebred vs mutt health, there are some differences in how purebred and mixed breed dogs inherit genetic disorders. A study conducted by the Institute of Canine Biology examined cases of 24 different genetic disorders and found that across the board, 10 disorders occurred more frequently in purebreds, 1 disorder occurred more frequently in mixed breeds and then the last 13 disorders did not appear more frequently in either dog.
So this means that you should only adopt a mixed breed dog, right? Nothing is ever that simple. Let’s just examine two of the disorders more frequented in purebred dogs: atopy (or allergies). Studies found that 1 percent of mixed breed dogs were affected by allergies. In contrast, some of the top purebred dogs with allergies included the West Highland White Terrier (8.2%), Coonhound (8%), and Wirehaired Fox Terrier (8%). Now let’s look at bloat in dogs. With mixed breeds, we are again at less than 1 percent. The breeds that bloat was most present in were Saint Bernard (3.7%), Irish Setter (3.4%), and Bloodhounds (3.4%).
What does this mean?
In these two categories of disorders, purebred dogs did exhibit symptoms more often; however, not all purebreds were at the same risk for the same diseases. Consider how some dogs are more apt to be a ‘watchdog’ or protective dog, and others are more apt to live in a small apartment than others. Obviously, not all dogs are the same. So do mixed breed dogs really have fewer health problems? The answer is not so definitive. Mixed breed dogs are not going to be healthier than purebreds all the time. While some breeds may be at a higher risk for health problems, every dog is different.
Furthermore, many dogs will go on without developing any particular health complications. If you want to know the health patterns for a specific breed of a dog, you’ll get a better expectation of what to look for throughout their life by talking to a breeder or by doing more breed-specific research.
Purebred vs Mixed Breed Life Expectancy
Not much will be said about life expectancy that hasn’t already been said about purebred vs mutt health. There are a multitude of factors that impact the life expectancy of a dog.
Wellness Care: Of course, if you invest in how you care for your dog — by adhering to the Veterinary recommendation for annual or semi-annual wellness exams — then your dog will be more primed to live a longer and healthier life.
Dog Size: Additionally, research on the size of the dog has shown that some larger dogs may have a life expectancy of around 7-10 years, while smaller ones may have up to 13-16 years. These, of course, aren’t hard numbers, but general observations.
The Real Question: Even though research has indicated that mixed breed dogs show signs of longer life expectancy, proper dog care will always be key in making sure your dog — no matter the size, no matter their lineage — will live a long and happy life beside you!
Really, the decision to choose a dog that’s either mixed breed or purebred is entirely up to you. Each has its own unique strengths which can make for a fun (albeit different) experience for you and your family. Even with all these facts in place, it’s important to remember that each dog is different. While they may react to things in very similar fashions, every dog has its own special personality and spirit which will make the overall experience all-the-more fun!
How to Choose a Dog: What Is The Best Type of Pet For Me?
When it comes to finding the best type of pet for your family, it’s important to consider the needs of you and your family first. Of course, your lifestyle will need some adjusting when introducing a furry friend into the mix, so choosing a new family member that best accommodates your current family and lifestyle will make the experience easier for everyone. Knowing what to look for when choosing a pet and more importantly, why these factors matter will help. Here’s how to choose a dog that’s perfect for your family and lifestyle!
When choosing a pet, consider your housing situation first. If you live in an apartment complex with a shared backyard space versus a house with a private yard space, your options for dogs may vary. Obviously, larger breeds will need more space to run around and play in. Of course, how you plan on caring for your dog may change the situation.
As a rule of thumb, if you’re looking to bring a large dog into the family, make sure that your home can accommodate them comfortably. There are obvious exceptions to the rule, such as bulldogs and greyhounds — although there are caveats (we’ll explain them next!).
The best type of pets for small apartments will be the smaller puppers that don’t mind a day (or a few hours) indoors. Additionally, if you live in an apartment complex, know the management’s policy on dogs. The ‘perfect dog for me’ might not be the ‘perfect dog for your housing complex’. Instead, mix the demands of your family with the demands of your complex when choosing the best type of pet for you. If your complex only allows for small dogs, then breeds such as German shepherds and Huskies will not be allowed. Consider the long-term living arrangements with your furry friend and how large they are expected to grow.
For small apartments, Boston terriers, chihuahuas, pugs, Basenjis, and similar small dogs may be the best type of pet for you. For a large home, you don’t really face any constraints.
Your lifestyle and living arrangement can supplement each other at times. Back to the bulldogs and greyhounds — while they are more than happy to relax around the house, they will require daily physical activity such as long walks or trips to the dog park.
When choosing a pet, you must consider your lifestyle. If you are the type to naturally be active (or have a family that is more than willing to take their turn walking the dog), then a more active dog that can accompany you on walks and runs will be the best type of pet for you. These include Huskies, German shepherds, golden and lab retrievers, border collies, and more! For dogs requiring less exercise, consider English bulldogs, chow chows, Boston terriers, pugs, and more. Note that some of these breeds will still require a walk at least once a day, but every dog is different and has different needs. Look into breed characteristics to figure out the best type of pet for you.
Similar to lifestyle, you should know how much time you can dedicate to your pup. For instance, will someone (not necessarily you at all times) be around your pup? Will your dog have to deal with perhaps 2-3 hours of alone time or will it be closer to 8 hours? When asking ‘how to choose a dog’ for you, it’s important to consider both what you need and also what your dog will need. Of course, if you have to leave your dog home alone for 8+ hours a day, your dog will manage; however, there are some dogs that are better equipped to stay at home alone for longer periods of time. These may be the “perfect dog for me”. The best type of low maintenance breeds include Labradoodles, Boston terriers, English foxhound, Shiba Inu, and chows. Depending on the breed, consider getting a doggie door. While the addition of a doggie door can create additional safety considerations, often these can be helpful in ensuring your pet has the opportunity to potty and get some exercise on their own.
Alternatively, there are options to get your dog exercise while you’re at the office. For instance, apps like Wag! or Rover have people standing by to walk dogs for about $20 a walk. Or, if your office is dog-friendly (and you are opting for a dog that can be trained more easily), you can bring in your pup.
Will Fido be introduced to small children, other dogs, cats, and/or smaller pets like birds or snakes? Because there are different things you should know about each sibling, we’ll break down the differences when choosing a pet for you.
Children. There has been some back and forth on when you should introduce a dog to a child. Is 1-years-old too young? How about 5-years-old? A good rule to follow is that for families with children under 6 years old, you may be able to adopt a dog over 2 years old. Why not a puppy and a child at the same time? A puppy — even a breed that tends to be lower maintenance — requires more time and energy during their growing years than adult years. You will be constrained for time and need to allocate resources carefully. Additionally, puppies go through a teething phase that may be harmful for new children and toddlers. Additionally, anything from rough play to growing dogs ~unaware of their own growth ~ can pose a risk to smaller children.
Other Dogs. When choosing a pet, it’s important to note that some dogs are lone wolves. Some breeds prefer human companionship to other dogs and may even be jealous when you’re at the dog park petting another dog. Border collies, Australian shepherds, German shepherds, Samoyed, pugs, and poodles are just some of the people-focused dog breeds. This isn’t to say they do not do well with other dogs; many do. You just need to properly socialize them and get them accustomed to sharing attention with other dogs.
Cats. There are ways to socialize and safely introduce cats and dogs that are unfamiliar with each other. Again, a lot of this will depend on the nature of your dog and cat, but there may be a considerable amount of time investment. For instance, one animal may send a ‘play’ signal that the other species interprets as threatening or dangerous. It’s important to know the socialization steps involved with introducing a dog to a cat. If you have the time and resources to do this, then here is a nifty guide on starting the process. It’s also important to see if a dog can handle co-opting a space with a cat.
Small Animals. When it comes to a dog co-opting a space with a bird, iguana, or turtle, you’re facing an uphill battle. There will be a lot of time that you’ll need to dedicate to training your furry friend as to not harm your other critter at home. Teaching your dog commands such as ‘leave it’ or ‘out’ (spit out) may be handy in training your dog on what they can or cannot do.
That’s Just The Tip of the Iceberg
Obviously, there will be many more things to consider when it comes to picking the best type of pet for your home. It may seem like an exhaustive search; however, when it comes to choosing a pet, remember that you are bringing a new member into your family so it’s important to make sure it’s a good match. There are many questionnaires and quizzes for you to check out to get you closer to your next match! Check out IAMS, American Kennel Club, Pedigree, and Purina to help close the gap between you and your next best friend!
Helpful Preventative Measures When Hiking or Running With Your Dog
Arizona’s warm climate is ideal for hikers and runners. Sometimes, it’s nice to bring a friend along. Hiking with your dog – or even running with your dog – can be great exercise, as well as a bonding experience. Here are some key tips for how to make your run or hike with your dog a tail-wagging good time for everyone.
Vaccinations & Preventative Medicines: Before you begin running or hiking with a young dog, be sure they’ve built natural immunity, the bones are sufficiently developed, and are up to date on vaccines. One year, give or take a few months (depending on size, breed, and other factors) should be a safe age for you to hit the trail with your trusty sidekick. Make sure they’re also protected from heartworm, fleas and ticks. Consult your vet about recommended preventative measures for dogs participating in outdoor activities like running and hiking.
Is Your Hiking Trail Tail-Friendly? We understand the urge to take your dog with you, especially when you’re enjoying a run or hike and taking in the Arizona sights. The problem? While the number of dog-friendly places is growing, unless you have a service dog, your furry sidekick is not welcome everywhere. Always check the regulations posted for the areas where you’ll be hiking or backpacking. Many national parks actually prohibit dogs on the trail, even when they are leashed! However, many national forests, as well as state and local parks, do allow dogs on their trail systems, though rules vary. Leashes are mandatory almost everywhere.
Bone Up on Trail Etiquette: When hiking or running with your dog, you must maintain control at all times. Yield the right of way to hikers, horses and bikes, so step to the side of the trail to allow them to pass. Also – having your dog on a leash isn’t enough. If your dog is distracted or becomes agitated as other people and pooches pass by, further training is in order. Obedience training establishes you as the leader of the pack.
Leave No Trace: Pooper Scoop! Going for a day hike? Don’t leave your pooches’ presents by the trail for someone else to pick up (or your own, for that matter!). Always pack out filled poop bags. Double bag for extra protection from unpleasant smells.
Protect the Paws: There are lots of protective pet shoe options for dogs of all sizes. While they’ll need to adjust to the strange sensation of wearing shoes, as well as walking or running in them, it’s worth it to protect your dog from harm – especially during Arizona’s long, hot summers. Hiking and running shoes made just for dogs can help prevent cuts, bites, and burns on tender paws and pads that will require veterinary care.
Remember the Sunscreen: Pets can get sunburned or develop skin cancer, so it’s important to take precautions when hiking or running with your dog. Breeds like Boxers, Bull Terriers, German Shorthaired Pointers, Pit Bulls and Staffordshire Terriers are very vulnerable to sunburn and possible skin cancers. Severe burns may also cause skin infections. Ask your vet about sunscreens formulated especially for pets. Caution – what’s safe for dogs may not be for cats. Look for pet safe products that contain NO ZINC OXIDE (a common ingredient in many sunscreens) – it’s toxic to animals.
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate: Pets can dehydrate incredibly quickly. It’s vitally important to bring along plenty of fresh water – for both of you – when running or hiking with your dog. Remember, flat face breeds cannot pant effectively, so they’re more susceptible to heat stroke. Leave them at home. Older dogs that are overweight or have medical conditions should be kept cool, so best to pick another form of exercise.
Rattlesnake Avoidance Training: For frequent hikers, or if you live in an area with lots of desert around, we recommend you and your pet attend Rattlesnake Avoidance Training with a professional trainer. There are several different methods involved in this type of training, so be sure to ask a lot of questions before you decide on a trainer and training system. We also recommend repeating training annually – as the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
The Best Time for Running or Hiking With Your Dog: During the heat of Arizona’s summer months, take walks early in the morning when it’s cooler, or later in the evening after the cement or ground has had time to cool down. Remember, the pads on your dogs feet are not the same as shoes, and can burn and blister very easily; so if you can’t be barefoot on the ground, then neither should your pup.
Regular hikes or runs can also help ensure your dog gets appropriate amounts of exercise and stimulation. Make sure you run through the above checklist, then get outside with your pooch and have a wonderful time! Still not sure about taking your dog on a run or hike? Talk to your vet for additional guidance.