Vail pet column: Be aware of summer hazards for pets
Summer has arrived. This is a fabulous time of year , especially for pet owners, as we are finally able to get out more and enjoy the many activities we can do with our pets, but with the increase in activities come more potential hazards for pets as well, sometime leading to emergency vet visits.
First, thinking of having a weekend barbecue? Meat on the grill can pose a significant hazard if a pet tries to jump up on a hot grill, risking very dangerous burns. In addition, foods we so often have at barbecues pose threats, including onions, which are very toxic; rib bones, which can lead to obstructions, perforations and eventually intestinal surgeries; grapes and raisins, which can lead to kidney failure; and alcohol, which can cause extreme sedation and even lead your pet to a comatose state.
So, be proactive and safe this summer season, but be aware of the hazards for your pets lingering around barbecues.
As the weather warms, we also see far more insects, including mosquitoes, ticks and bees. Mosquitoes carry a deadly parasite called the heartworm, which can lead to early heart failure in pets. Ticks carry many diseases, including ehrlichia, anaplasma, and Lymes disease, all which can affect the blood of your pet. Administering heartworm prevention to your pet as well as providing tick and flea prevention can save you and your pet from potential life threatening disease.
Also, be conscious of where you are traveling, as each section of the country may have different types of insects that pose further threat to your pet. Bee stings are not as hazardous to your pet but can cause pain, swelling and an allergic reaction, so ask your veterinarian about safe antihistamines for your pet that you can have while traveling in case of a bee sting, or any other insect-related threats.
Snakes can also pose a danger for pets who live with adventuresome hikers. Certainly rattle snakes are not prevalent locally but can be found as you travel elsewhere in the state and the country, so be aware that they are very dangerous for your pet, and in some instances, you may want to pursue a rattle snake vaccine, should you be taking your pet to an area endemic for rattle snakes.
Poisonous plants certainly pose a risk to pets as well. It is important that you know certain plants, should you be an avid hiker. Sago palms, for example, cause liver failure and oleander lilly and foxglove plants can cause arrhrymias with your pets heart, so depending on where in the state or country you may be traveling to, you can look through the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ list of poisonous plants to become more aware of potential hazards. Included in this are mushrooms as well. Many types of mushrooms can be toxic to your pet, right here in the Vail Valley.
Fertilizers and pesticides can also pose a threat to your pet. There are many different types of these products with varying levels of toxicity. Should a fertilizer contain iron or nitrogen, it can poison a dog or a cat, while fertilizers based on bone or blood meal can cause severe intestinal irritation or blockage. Its best to always have the labels of any products being utilized, and call Rocky Mountain Poison Control, who can direct you to Animal Poison Control with any questions or concerns.
Other summer hazards for pets certainly include metal edging, which is so often utilized in keeping our flower beds looking neat. A pet can run over one once and lacerate a pad or even a tendon. So be careful of this in your yards.
Many of the common hazards we see in the summer could be avoided by keeping pets on a leash and under control. The best way to keep your pet safe is to keep your pet under control.
Have a great summer.
Sheila Fitzpatrick, DVM, owner of Mountain Mobile Vet and The Animal Hospital Center, submitted this column. You can reach her at 970-328-7085.