Before we know it summer will be here, and for pet owners there is plenty to consider before the warmer weather arrives.
Spring & Summer Medical Checklist for Pets
If you haven’t already, be sure to schedule your pet for their annual checkup.
With warmer weather come the parasites: ticks, fleas, and heartworm to just name a few. While fleas are not life-threatening, ticks in particular can spread a number of debilitating diseases to both pets and people. Ensure your pet has sufficient protection from these nasty little critters by using any number of preventative treatments. One of the most popular remedies is NexGard, available from your veterinarian. NexGard is especially effective in killing Lyme disease-spreading black-legged ticks. In addition, be sure to manually check over your pet for ticks on a regular basis, especially if you hike in forested areas, or places with tall grass. When examining your pet, pay particular attention to areas where ticks can easily hide without detection: in the pads of the feet, armpits, and underneath thick undercoats.
Vaccinations: Make sure your pet’s vaccines are up to date, especially rabies, which is required by law. With regards to elective vaccinations like distemper and parvovirus, you may request a titer test from your veterinarian, which is a simple blood test to measure antibodies in the blood to determine if re-vaccination is necessary. It is especially important to be up to date on vaccinations if your pooch frequents dog parks and other public places where exposure risks are significantly greater.
Microchips: If your pet is microchipped, have your vet perform a scan for it annually. While it is a relatively rare occurrence, there are instances where microchips have moved within the body and become 'lost'. In the event you were to change phone number or address, make sure this information is updated on the microchip. When contact information is out of date, it makes it that much more difficult for a lost pet to be returned home. Microchips are a great backup plan for a lost pet, however there is nothing more effective than a simple identification tag attached to their collar.
Hot Weather Tips for Pet Owners
Dogs sweat through their paws. To help them cool down faster, consider having the excess hair trimmed from their footpads.
Pavement can become dangerously hot! In a matter of seconds, a hot sidewalk, driveway, or parking lot can seriously burn sensitive feet. Metal grates and manhole covers can be major conductors of heat as well, so avoid those altogether. On hot days, it is best to stick to grass or dirt trails whenever possible.
Your pooch may want to quench their thirst by drinking from puddles, but beware; these small bodies of water can contain any number of harmful elements. From anti-freeze and wiper fluid runoff, to leptospirosis and giardia, it is simply not worth the risk.
Do not leave any pet in a hot vehicle for any length of time. Even on a warm day, temperatures inside a vehicle can quickly rise to dangerous levels. If you see a distressed animal inside a hot car, call the police. Be sure to take the license plate number, along with the make, model, and colour of the vehicle. Do not leave the scene until help arrives.
On the hottest days, plan your outdoor time accordingly. It may be too hot to walk your dog mid-day when the sun is highest and the air is thick and sticky. High humidity can shorten outdoor time, too. During these days, it is best to plan your walks for the early morning or in the evening when it is cooler.
Dogs can get sunburns! Short-haired dogs are especially at risk, as they lack sufficient protection from prolonged sun exposure. Noses, bellies, and areas where fur is sparse are the most affected areas. Consider using a pet-friendly sunscreen on these areas. And lastly, always ensure your dog has easy access to a cool, shady area.
Not all dogs are strong swimmers. Your pooch may want to cool down in the lake, but keep a watchful eye on them. Certain breeds, like pugs, bulldogs, boxers, and corgis are poor swimmers and are highly susceptible to drowning. Many strong-swimming breeds do not realize their limits and can fatigue quickly. A properly-fitted flotation device will ensure water safety for the whole summer.
Keep an old towel by the door to wipe your dog’s feet after walks. This will help remove excess dirt, sand, and mud, so that it doesn’t track into your house.
Dealing with Skunks!
Skunks are generally not aggressive animals, and typically spray as a last resort. When feeling threatened, a skunk will display warning signs prior to spraying. The reason dogs get sprayed so often is they tend to rush right up to the skunk, triggering the skunk to defend itself in the only way it knows how.
The best way to deal with skunks is to be preventative. Remove anything in your yard that may be a tempting den or hiding spot: unstacked wood piles, overturned trailers or boats, piles of rubbish,, etc. If there is nothing to tempt them into your yard, then the chances of an encounter around your home decrease significantly.
Next, be sure to keep a close eye on your dog when he goes out to relieve himself. Most skunk encounters happen in the evening or early morning, and if you can’t see the skunk, that doesn’t mean your pooch won’t find them. Consider keeping your dog on leash and under proper supervision.
In the unfortunate event your dog does get sprayed, limit the things your dog comes into contact with. If possible, bathe him outside, rather than bringing him into the house. To prevent the smell from getting on you, wear rubber gloves and old clothes that you can toss afterwards. For best results, thoroughly wash your dog with a commercial skunk treatment like Skunk-Off. Start from the head and work your way to the tail. Repeat treatments may be required depending on the situation. Skunk remedies are effective at neutralizing odour in hair and fur, however, the skin may still hold a smell for some time afterwards, especially when wet. The smell will fade away eventually, so try to have a little patience in the process.
Did you know? Meaford has two wonderful off-leash locations to enjoy during Spring and Summer.
Beautiful Joe Off-Leash Dog Park
Located on Aiken Street, just before Memorial Park, this dog park features two fenced-in areas for dogs of all shapes and sizes to safely run and play. If your dog is extra social, plan to visit around 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. each day, as those are peak hours. There is plenty of free parking as well.
Memorial Park Dog Beach
Located at the very far eastern end of the Memorial Park beach is an open section for dogs during the spring and summer. Beginning around the end of April, this beached area is an excellent place for dogs to run, swim, and splash to contentment. Please remember to keep your pup leashed while walking through the rest of the park grounds, as only the dog beach is designated for off-leash activities.
What to do if you suspect a rabid animal
Rabies is a deadly virus that can be spread between mammals, including pets, people, livestock, and wildlife. Rabies can be transmitted through bites that break the skin, or from saliva from an infected animal getting in an open cut, mouth, or eyes. The most common carriers of rabies are raccoons, bats, and skunks.
Symptoms of rabies include: partial paralysis (drooping head, sagging jaw, limping), losing fear of humans, extreme aggression or excitement, biting and chewing their own limbs, attacking objects or animals, and wild mood swings. Wild animals infected with rabies generally look weak and feeble, with rough, dirty fur. Once clinical signs of rabies appear, it is almost always fatal.
To protect yourself and your pets from a suspected rabid animal, keep your distance! Do not touch the animal, and do not touch any dead animal carcasses as the rabies virus can survive for a period of time, even when frozen. Call police and local animal control to report any suspicious animals immediately.
Local Pet-Related Event Listings for 2019
Event: Long Table Country Dinner
Hosted By: The Blue Mountains Animal Shelter
Date: May 26
Details: Join the Blue Mountains Animal Shelter for their annual fundraiser, featuring a
silent auction, live music, 50/50 draw, cash bar, and more! Proceeds of this
fundraiser are going towards the development of a new shelter. For more details, visit http://www.bluemountainsanimalshelter.com
Event: The Rubber Duck Race
Hosted By: Meaford Kinsmen Club
Date: June 8
Details: Stop by Beautiful Joe Park for a day of family fun, and win a prize if your duck makes it past the finish line first! Bring your pooch, too.
Event: The Annual Furball
Hosted By: Georgian Triangle Humane Society
Date: June 22
Details: This is one of the GTHS's biggest fundraisers of the year; a gala to celebrate the wonderful animals that come through their shelter looking for forever homes. Learn more at https://www.gths.ca.
Event: The Beautiful Joe Old Fashioned Family Fun Day
Hosted By: Beautiful Joe Heritage Society
Date: July 1
Details: Celebrate Canada Day with your pooch, at this family-friendly all-day event held at Beautiful Joe Park. Enjoy a full day of vendors, activities, and events, featuring the UltiMutts dog show!
Event: The 2nd Annual Meaford Pet Expo
Hosted By: Canadian Pet Connection
Date: July 27
Details: Stop by for Grey-Bruce’s largest pet show, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. This event features dozens of vendors, samples and giveaways, a kids zone, pet adoptions, pet photography, nail trims, blow-out sales, entertainment, and more! Bring your pets, too. Held at Canadian Pet Connection, right beside the Meaford Factory Outlet.
Event: The Grey-Bruce Kennel and Obedience Club Dog Show
Hosted By: Grey-Bruce Kennel and Obedience Club
Date: August 6, 7, and 8
Details: Join the Grey-Bruce Kennel Club at Harrison Park in Owen Sound for their popular obedience show. Learn more at https://www.greybrucekennelclub.com.
Event: The Tails of the Mountain Pet Festival
Hosted By: Gotcha Photo Studio
Date: August 10
Details: Bring your pooch to explore and play at The Farmer's House Bed & breakfast. Enjoy a day of fun, including local vendors, off-leash trails, and more!
Event: The Feast of Fields
Hosted By: SMILE Animal Society
Date: August 24
Details: Join the SMILE Animal Society group for their main fundraiser of the year: a delicious plant-based feast at the harbourfront pavilion in Meaford. Enjoy live music, a silent auction, and more!
Event: The Annual Pooch Pool Party
Hosted By: Beautiful Joe Heritage Society
Date: August 31
Details: A local favourite! Bring your pooch for a swim in Blue Dolphin Pool. Enjoy contests, competitions, and activities for you and your pooch!
Event: The Friends for Life Walkathon
Hosted By: Georgian Triangle Humane Society
Date: September 22
Details: Show your support for the Georgian Triangle Humane Society by getting outdoors and walking with your pooch! This fundraiser supports homeless animals in our community, and is also a great excuse to get outside.
Brandon Forder – also known as The Pet Expert - is vice-president of Canadian Pet Connection, a family-owned and -operated business located in Meaford. He has over twenty-five years of experience specializing in pet nutrition, behaviour, and healthy pet lifestyles. Canadian Pet Connection is an industry leader committed to providing their clients with the highest levels of personal, attentive service. Learn more at www.CanadianPetConnection.ca.