Beware the Hare: Rabbits Pose Risks to Curious Canines
Now that spring is springing, you and your pets are probably spending a lot more time outdoors. The increase in sunshine, fresh air and exercise will do everyone in the family some good, but springtime does present some hidden dangers for four-legged friends. You likely know to avoid poisonous plants like tulips, azaleas and sago palms, but springtime also heralds the arrival of some other four-footed guests that can be dangerous to your dogs – namely, rabbits.
Bunnies? Really? While it is true that a rabbit isn’t exactly a formidable opponent for a curious canine, rabbits can pose certain health risks if your dog happens to get his jaws on one. The best way to protect your pet – and Peter Cottontail! – is to supervise your dog outdoors so that everyone co-exists peacefully. If your dog does give in to his hunting instincts and gets a hold of a rabbit, here are some things to look out for.
Just like other animals in the wild, rabbits can carry parasites that may be transmitted to your dog if eaten. Tapeworms are commonly present in uncooked animal remains (note, they are also transmitted by ingesting fleas). These long, flat worms cause no lasting damage to your pet if treated, but they are certainly an unpleasant nuisance. Tapeworms feed off of your dog by attaching to his intestines and absorbing nutrients through their skin. Tapeworms can also be introduced to your dog via fleas, so make sure he’s getting regular flea and tick treatments, too.
The coccidium parasite can also cause trouble for canines who come into contact with rabbit feces (usually by ingestion). The most obvious symptom of infection is watery, mucus-like diarrhea that gets progressively worse. Left unchecked, this parasitic infection can cause dehydration as well as damage to your dog's intestinal tract. Coccidia can be treated quickly and effectively with medication prescribed by your vet.
Eating rabbit droppings can also lead to an intestinal infection caused by the parasite giardia. Giardiasis causes frothy diarrhea with a strong, pungent odor and excessive mucus, and puts pets at risk for dehydration. Veterinary prescribed medication can help rid your dog of the disease, and it is important to obey your vet’s recommendations for follow-up care until the parasite is gone, since chronic infection can be debilitating.
When dogs hunt small animals, they also become vulnerable to several types of diseases that can be present in their prey. Tularemia – or rabbit fever, as it is commonly called – is a bacterial infection dogs can catch if they hunt bunnies in the yard. Rabbit fever can cause chills, fever, and muscle pain, and requires a course of antibiotics to successfully treat. The disease is fatal in about 5% of cases, so if your dog has gone hunting and starts showing signs of illness, consult your veterinarian immediately!
Dogs can also get leptospirosis from eating rabbit feces or rabbit flesh. This is a bacterial disease that can cause fever, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain and muscle weakness. Leptospirosis can be treated with antibiotics, but if left untreated it can cause the dog kidney or liver damage, so it is important to see the vet at the first sign of trouble. Dogs can – and should – be vaccinated against leptospirosis and given annual booster shots.
It should be further noted that tularemia and leptospirosis are zoonotic diseases. This means they can be transmitted between species, including humans. Keeping your dog from inappropriate hunting activities against the bunnies in your yard are important for his health, as well as the health of your family.
Another danger to your dog if he kills and eats a bunny is the bones of the animal causing a blockage or perforation of his intestinal tract. An obstruction interrupts the process of digestion and affects blood supply to the digestive tract, and can cause the animal to vomit excessively. Objects lodged in the intestines may require surgery or endoscopy for removal. Perforations of the intestine or bowel are life-threatening and require immediate emergency care because bacteria from the intestine will leak out into the abdominal cavity, which can make your pet very sick. Although pet insurance can pay for emergency surgery for an intestinal obstruction, it is not an experience you – or your pet – want to go through.
Springtime brings with it many wonderful things, but it can bring trouble to you and your pet if you’re not careful about outdoor safety. Keep your dog confined to areas where he can be supervised at all times, take steps to deter rabbits from your yard and visit the vet as soon as something seems amiss to protect your pet from the dangers of run ins with bunnies.
Tips for keeping pets safe during summer fun
By the Petplan Pet Insurance Veterinary Experts
Summer is in full swing, and so are weekend excursions to the beach, nightly hikes over the hills and outdoor barbeque parties. While both two- and four-leggers alike can delight in fresh air and sunny skies, keeping your furry family safe should always be on the top of your to-do list. Thankfully, reducing the risk of your pet being exposed to dangerous outdoor diseases and hazards is as simple as planning ahead – and always being prepared for the unexpected.
Sweat the Weather
One of the biggest dangers for pets during summer months is heat. Unlike humans, pets don’t have the ability to sweat, so to control their body temperature, they pant. To help keep your pet’s temperature safely in their comfort zone and prevent heat stroke, always provide adequate ventilation, shade and fresh water. Plan your activities for early in the morning or later in the day when temps begin to cool, and never, under any circumstance, leave your pet unattended in the car. A 2005 Stanford University Medical Center study showed the temperature inside a vehicle, even with windows cracked, rose an average of 40 degrees in an hour, most of that within the first 30 minutes.
Don’t Let the Beach Bum You Out
A trip to the beach can be a welcome excursion for two- and four-leggers alike on a hot summer day, but remember to keep a close eye on your fur-kids at all times. Ingested sand can lead to impaction and saltwater can cause gastric upset and dangerous electrolyte imbalances. In addition, sand that’s been cooking under the warm sun can burn footpads and cause carpet-burn like injuries due to its abrasive nature.
Although May is the peak month for tick activity, these unwelcome bloodsuckers can linger in the bushes long into the summer and fall months (or in some places, all year round). In addition to the well-known Lyme disease, ticks can spread other diseases such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Ehrlichiosis and Babesiosis. Thankfully, it takes 24-48 hours for a tick to transmit disease, so protecting your pet with a monthly preventive, carefully checking your pet after walks and removing any hungry guests should help prevent the spread of disease.
Where the Wild Things Are
If your pet loves to spend the summer months joining you on hikes, be vigilant around wildlife. Goldendoodles are often skilled hunters and may be eager to chase animals that cross your path. Unfortunately, pets can come into contact with wild animals infected by rabies, a deadly, yet preventable disease. Rabies is often spread by saliva of infected animals, such as the bites of skunks, foxes, bats, raccoons and coyotes. Once your pet is bitten, the incubation of the rabies virus varies from about a month to up to two years or more, but in the case of unvaccinated pets, often proves fatal. Luckily, the vaccine is highly effective, so make sure your pet is up to date!
Party Like an Animal
Planning a summer get-together? Don’t forget to include your furry family in the preparation. Fire pits and grills can cause accidental burns to unsuspecting pets attracted to the flickering flames, while citronella oil, if ingested in large amounts, could potentially be toxic.
When it comes to dishing out the food, don’t feed your desire to share with your best friends. Popular toppings like onion and garlic are both toxic to pets, especially to cats, while cooked chicken bones can splinter and break, cutting your pet’s mouth and digestive tract and putting your pet at risk for dangerous digestive impaction.
Likewise, rich, greasy, fatty meats like hot dogs and hamburgers can put your pet at serious risk for a bout of pancreatitis, a dangerous (and costly) condition that causes inflammation of the pancreas. In June, Petplan pet insurance reimbursed the parents of a 3 year old Goldendoodle named Rio $850 for pancreatitis and an additional $1,539 for gastroenteritis after he developed unexpected vomiting and diarrhea.
If your pet acts anxious around crowds or you’re worried about your pet sampling the party tray, consider setting up a room away from the fun, filled with a bed, toys, food and water, where he can feel cozy and safe.
Scratching the Itch on Allergies in Pets
By the Petplan Pet Insurance Veterinary Experts
Spring is in the air! When you think of spring, you probably think of blossoming flowers, bumblebees and fresh green grass. But if you’re a pet parent whose best friend suffers from seasonal allergies, spring can give both you and your pet a reason to itch.
Starting from Scratch
Just like hay fever in humans, seasonal allergies can pop up when the pollen count rises or the leaves behind to fall later in the year. Inhaled allergies (which veterinarians commonly refer to as atopy) from trees, grasses, weeds, molds and even dust can lead to the same types of symptoms we suffer when dealing with allergies, such as itchy eyes, runny nose and sneezing. They can also affect your pet’s ears and skin – especially around the belly, armpits, face and paws.
Along with the symptoms mentioned above, common signs of atopy include itchiness that responds to steroid treatment and occurrence of signs between six months and three years of age. In addition, certain dog breeds, including Labradoodles and Goldendoodles, are genetically predisposed to atopy.
As if itchy skin wasn’t a pesky enough problem to deal with, atopy can often lead to bacterial or fungal infections, especially around the ears and eyes. In the most severe cases, respiratory problems, vomiting, diarrhea, bumps and scabs on the neck, lip ulcers and even enlargement of the lymph nodes can be seen.
Itching for Relief
There are several options for helping your pet scratch the itch of seasonal allergies.
At home, you can help minimize the effect of allergies by:
· Washing your pet with a hydrating shampoo
· Adding fish oils to your pet’s diet
· Keeping your pet’s paws clean when they come in from playing outside, especially if they like to chew on them!
· Limiting access to carpeted rooms
· Using a vacuum and air purifier equipped with a HEPA filter
· Frequently washing your pet’s bedding
In any case, you should schedule a trip to the veterinarian to discuss a plan to help your best friend beat the itch. Veterinarian-prescribed antihistamines and topical therapies such as shampoos and sprays are often all that is needed to help clear up your pet’s allergy problem. Unfortunately, many seasonal allergy cases become chronic or recurrent, which can lead to frequent trips to the vet, antibiotics, medication, oral or injectable steroids, and in the case of year-round allergies, testing and allergy shots. Because it can be difficult to distinguish atopy from food allergies, your veterinarian may also suggest putting your pet through a food allergy trial lasting six to eight weeks.
Taking care of a pet who suffers from season allergies can be a frustrating experience – especially when frequent rechecks, medication and treatments cause the vet bills to mount. Protecting your pet from an early age with a Petplan pet insurance policy, which covers chronic conditions like allergies – before signs of itching and scratching start to develop – can help you focus on getting your pet the best care possible, not the costs of care. When you consider that allergies were the fifth-most claimed-for condition in 2011 at Petplan pet insurance (just behind skin infections), knowing that your pet is protected should seasonal allergies develop can help provide you peace of mind.
If you’re interested in learning more about Petplan or enrolling your pet with America’s #1 rated pet insurance provider, visit GoPetplan.com . As a Doodle fan, you can even take advantage special promotion just for you! Enter the promotional code “Doodle” when you sign up for a policy or renew online and Petplan will donate $25 to The Doodle Messenger to help needy Doodles, as well as give you an additional 5% discount on your policy!