A man’s poison could be another man’s meat. Most probably you’ve heard from fellow pet owners about some of the dangerous food that pets aren’t allowed to consume. But how about the rest of the stuff we eat everyday? Here’s a rather comprehensive list, organized properly that makes it easy to remember:
I’m sure you know that mosquitoes spread deadly diseases like Malaria, Dengue and the recent Chikungunya. However, not many are aware that mosquitoes can spread a dreadful parasite called Heartworm to your beloved. Though rarely seen in humans, it’s quite a common occurrence when owners bring their newly adopted pet for a checkup.
The issue with heartworm is that it takes approximately 7 years for the parasite to mature and when the symptoms start showing, irreversible damage might have already been done to the heart and lungs, very much like heatstroke. Unfortunately for most pet owners, there is a mix of ignorance and complacency – If their pet seemed healthy, there isn’t anything wrong. Plus, we like to shroud ourselves with denial – that we aren’t that unlucky. But please! We live in Singapore, ticks, fleas, lice, mosquitoes, they are active all year round!
Easy to prevent
Here’s the good news, there are easier methods to preventing heartworm than applying mosquito repellent on poochy everyday. These methods come in the form of monthly topical applications like Revolution, oral medications like Heartguard and yearly injections. That said, because these preventive medications are useless against existing heartworms and in some cases it might even be life threatening, hence it’s important that you have your pet checked for heartworm before they start on any medications.
And you might have guessed it, if you have been skipping your heartworm prevention, make sure you have your pet tested again.
To be honest, there is little point in discussing the symptoms of heartworm. First as mentioned, it’s usually a tad late and secondly, the symptoms looks like a simple flu or any other disease. But if your dog shows sign of lethargy, coughing and/or breathing difficulties. So especially when your pet is old or long into adulthood and shows these signs, please do not rule out heartworm.
Still the best thing to do, get a test done today. It takes around 15 minutes for the blood test results to be out and generally costs $50 – $100 depending on where you go.
Last month’s news about how a dog died while being left unattended in a vehicle serves as a reminder to all of us of how your pet can be a victim of heatstroke and complacency. Especially in Singapore where the whether is constantly hot throughout the year, it’s easy for accidents like these to happen to anybody.
We humans have a more efficient way of dispersing body heat through perspiration and what we are able to tolerate might not be necessary so for our fur friends. Just imagine the horror of wearing a fur coat and just dispersing heat from your tongue and paws.
Admittedly, it’s terribly hard to know if poochy is overheating. Take my dogs for instance, the moment I take out their leash to take them out for a walk and their pupils dilate, heart palpitate and pant like they’re back from the walk. But as most good owners would agree, common sense and being meticulous would definitely prevent tragedy from happening.
Make sure that:
- You don’t leave any pets in an unattended vehicle in the afternoon even with the windows wind down and under a shade.
- They have access to cool, clean water at all times.
- Your pets have access to shade.
- They are not muzzled for extended period of time when outdoor. If need be, loosen the muzzle.
- Refrain from strenuous activities during the morning and afternoon.
- You give them sufficient rest in between activities. It’s easy to forget that while everybody’s having fun.
- Older pets or pets with health condition should be given exercise during cooler periods of the day.
What’s dangerous about getting a heatstroke is that it is difficult to assess an early stage heatstroke and when your pet starts showing signs of symptoms, the body is already in a critical stage. A dog’s normal body temperature is around 38-39 degrees Celsius. If their body temperature reaches 41 degrees Celsius and up, the overheating will cause irreversible damage to the organs.
Symptoms of heatstroke:
- Excessive panting and salivating
- Bright red gums and tongue. Gums will turn pale as shock sets in.
If you notice signs of heatstroke, treat your pet immediately. The precious minutes before it reaches the vet can make a difference between life and death.
- Move to a shady area.
- Spray your dog down with cool water. Do not use cold water as this will constrict blood vessels, slow down blood flow, reducing heat dissipation from the body and can even cause shock to the system from the sudden change in body temperature.
- Wet towels, shirts and place them in between their groin and neck. Constantly wipe their paws and ears with a cool, wet towel. These areas accumulate and dissipate heat the most.
- Allow the dog to drink cool water bit by bit. Do not force feed, do not allow your dog to gulp nor should ice cold water be fed.
- If the condition seems to be improving, dry them with a towel to prevent their temperature from falling further and seek veterinary assistance immediately. It’s easy for pets to suffer from shock even when your pet might seem fine.