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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!

Valley Fever in Dogs: Risks, Symptoms and Treatment

AZPetVet’s Dr. Tressa MacLennan talks about Valley Fever in dogs with the Fox 10 Morning show team.

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 Valley 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.

Four Key Ways to Boat Safely With Pets

Rhodesian ridgeback wearing a sailor outfit and a life preserverSummer is definitely the time to take the boat out and head for the lake. Whether it’s a day trip or longer, if you plan to boat safely with pets, there are some things you need to do first to ensure their safety and comfort.

1/ Plan, Plan, Plan! You’ll need to pack all the basics for your pet. Puppy pads for potty breaks, toys, treats and food, a water bowl, any medications they might need, and health records in case of an emergency, especially if your trip is an extended one. If you haven’t chipped your pet, now is a great time to do it. 

2/ Invest in a Doggy Life Jacket. State law requires a life jacket for everyone on board a vessel. While it doesn’t specifically mention dogs, your pet is a member of your family, so why wouldn’t you protect them, too? It’s tempting to just order a life vest online to save time and money. Problem is – dogs come in so many shapes, weights and sizes, you’d be better served by making a trip to a sporting good or pet store to test it out for size and fit. Make the trip – it’ll save you lots of hassle in the long run, and it might even save your pet’s life! Introduce them to wearing the life vest before you go on the boat – trust us on this one.

3/ Make a Test Run. Not all dogs are going to be comfortable on a boat, so it’s wise to keep the first outing a short one.  Allow your dog to get acclimated on the boat BEFORE you head for water, or while you are still docked. Once you’re on the water, watch your dog carefully for signs of sea/motion sickness. Symptoms of motion sickness include: 

  • Inactivity
  • Listlessness
  • Uneasiness
  • Yawning or panting
  • Whining
  • Excessive drooling
  • Vomiting (even on an empty stomach)

4/ The Heat is a Hazard! Be sure your pet has access to shade on the boat and plenty of clean, fresh water. Dogs are more prone to heatstroke and will need to stay hydrated, so know the signs. More information on heat stroke in pets.

Summer Safety Tips for Pets

It’s the time of year when heat can be extremely dangerous for everyone, especially pets. Here are some quick tips to help keep your pets safe and healthy this summer.

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.

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.

Seasonal Allergy Symptoms in Pets

symptoms of allergies in petsCoughing, runny eyes and nose, stuffiness and congestion – people agree that seasonal allergies are miserable!

But did you know that pets can suffer from seasonal allergies, too?

Pets with seasonal allergies will exhibit very different symptoms from people. Here are some of the top symptoms to look for:

  • Constant scratching and licking 
  • Chewing of feet and pads
  • Scratching or rubbing of the face
  • Inflamed ears or recurrent ear infections
  • Recurrent hot spots in dogs and facial scabs in cats
  • Asthma-like wheezing and respiratory problems (more likely in cats)
  • Foul odor from skin or coat may indicate secondary infections

Environmental allergens that are inhaled or come in contact with skin and cause irritation are known as atopy. Seasonal examples of atopy include ragweed, which will usually occur in the fall months. Reactions to spring pollens from trees and other plants will most commonly occur during April and May when trees and flowers are in full bloom.

Scratching is the single most common symptom of allergies in pets. Dog will often chew their feet and pads, which is a huge tip-off that they’re dealing with an environmental allergic reaction to pollens, mold or dust mites. This condition is known as allergic dermatitis.

Ear infections in dogs are also quite common symptoms of allergies. If you notice your dog or cat scratching at their ears, it’s likely that some form of allergen is causing irritation.

There are many products and treatments available to help ease allergy symptoms. Consult your veterinarian to find the best solution for you and your pet.