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Happy National Immunization Awareness Month!

National Immunization Month

August is here, bringing plenty of sunshine and joy. Do you know what else August provides pet parents? A chance to take a moment and meditate on your dog’s health. That’s right! August is National Immunization Awareness Month, or as we like to think of it: “National Protect Your Pets and Help Them Live a Long and Happy Life Month” - but that’s a bit of a mouthful!

You may think this is an odd occasion to celebrate, but we hope this article will change your mind.

How often do you think about the importance of immunizations? Vaccines are the unsung heroes of your pet’s health and of modern veterinarian medicine.

Immunizations, Protecting Pets and Their People Since 1885

Did you know that we have rabies to thank for the pre-exposure immunization process doctors, pharmacists, and of course, vets use every day to save millions of lives? When a nine-year-old boy contracted rabies from an infected dog, Louis Pasteur jumped into action and gave the boy a diluted dose of the virus. After a series of 13 inoculations, the boy lived! Thank you, Louis Pasteur!

It is amazing how immunizations help the body’s immune system protect itself.

Yet More Reasons to Celebrate Immunization Today

Vaccines save lives and make our pets’ lives better. From heartworms to distemper, vaccines let our pets live long, happy lives, and give us more opportunities to make unforgettable memories with them. They keep our pets healthy and strong.

Immunizations also keep us safe from zoonotic diseases, which are diseases that can be transmitted from pets to humans.

What Would Life Be Like Without Pet Vaccinations?

Our pets have become a part of our families, and without vaccines for zoonotic diseases, we may not be able to snuggle our furry friends as closely as we do. It’s hard to even imagine how frightening it would be to not know if your dog or cat could possibly be carrying rabies or leptospirosis.

While spending quality time with our pets is important, it’s easy to forget how immunizations also improve our pets’ quality of life. Immunizations prevent illnesses that can kill dogs and cats like distemper and parvovirus.

Immunizations are Paw-sitively Astounding!

Immunizations don’t just prevent death, they prevent pain and suffering.

Let’s take a quick look at distemper as an example. Puppies receive distemper vaccines as soon as they’re old enough. Why? We don’t want our most vulnerable babies to have to suffer with or spread this serious and contagious disease.

The distemper virus attacks the nervous system which leads to repetitive and uncontrollable movements like circling and head tilting. As the virus becomes more and more serious, it causes seizures, paralysis, vomiting, and often death.

There is no cure for distemper. Luckily, we can protect dogs and puppies easily with a series of easy to administer vaccinations.

We won’t break your heart with any other sad scenarios, but it does make you thankful for modern veterinary medicine, right?

There is no doubt that vaccinations are important. They are more than just important, though. Simple vaccinations offer the best protection to help your pets live long and happy lives.

Core Vaccinations

For Dogs

  • Parvovirus
  • Distemper
  • Canine hepatitis
  • Rabies

For Cats

  • Feline panleukopenia (often called Feline distemper)
  • Feline calicivirus
  • Feline herpesvirus type I
  • Rabies

Non-Core Immunizations

For Dogs

  • Bordetella
  • Borrelia (causes Lyme disease)
  • Leptospirosis

For Cats

  • FELV

Remember that vaccinations are most effective when:

  • Administered to puppies and kittens before they are exposed to possible illness.
  • Administered at the correct intervals. Remember to avoid gaps to keep your pet protected.

Vaccines also prevent illness which is easier and less costly than treating it. They also give pet parents peace of mind knowing their pet won’t contract a contagious disease from wildlife.

Final Thoughts for Summertime Immunization

If you’re planning on enjoying some dog park fun don’t skip your pup’s canine influenza vaccine. Dog flu spreads quickly and easily. All it takes is a sneeze, sharing toys, even sharing a water bowl to spread dog flu. Dogs that get the flu remain contagious for 26 days and 25% infected with the flu show no symptoms but continue to spread the virus.

Dog flu can slow your pup down and make her feel miserable with lethargy, fever, and difficulty breathing.

Don’t Let Your Cat Catch A Nasty Illness

Cat parents are more likely to skip bringing their cats in than dog parents. In fact, only 50% of cat owners bring their feline friends into their vet each year according to the AVMA. Don’t wait for your kitty to get sick before bringing her in. We can help keep her happy and healthy with a few simple vaccinations.

So, Happy National Immunization Awareness Month! We hope that you will celebrate your pet’s good health and take a moment to check and make sure your pet’s immunizations are up-to-date. If you’re unsure, give us a call and we will gladly check our records.

 

 

 

Image Credit: Pixabay

Keep Your Pet Cool and Safe This Summer

Summer is here! Whether you have a hairless Sphynx or a hairy Husky, the heat this time of year can be dangerous for pets. Whatever the breed or size of your kitty or canine, there are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to keeping your pet safe and comfy as the mercury rises.

Dogs and Cats Don’t Sweat

While you may be drenched from head to toe in perspiration, your furry friends release heat and regulate their temperature differently. This means you have to help keep them cool.

How Do Dogs and Cats Keep Cool Without Sweat?

There are some facts you should know about how they regulate their body temperatures.

  • If you’ve seen your dog belly flop into your kitchen tile after a midday walk, your dog is using one tactic for body temperature regulation: transferring his or her heat onto a cool surface. This is also a common practice of cats.
  • Dogs and cats use convection to cool themselves. How? Pups often do this by wading into cool water or standing right in front of a fan or A/C vent. This pulls heat away from their bodies and into the water or air.
  • Panting. Both dogs and cats pant to cool themselves. As their saliva evaporates off their tongues, their body heat lowers. 
  • Shedding is a longer-term reaction to heat. By letting go of their undercoat, dogs and cats can cool off.

Common Myths About Dogs and Body Heat

  • Myth: Shaving your dog will keep them cooler. If your pet has a double or triple coat, always ask if it’s a good idea to shave them. A close shave often results in sunburn more than better heat adaptation.
  • Myth: Dogs sweat from their paws to cool themselves. While it’s true dogs do sweat from their paws, this is more often to gain traction and protect their paws than keep their bodies cool. Those pads have too little surface area to truly cool them off. Cooling down is done more so through panting.
  • Myth: Cracking the window is enough to keep a pet cool in the car. Temperatures can rise rapidly in a car, even with the windows cracked. It is never a good idea to leave your dog in the car.

What Can You Do to Protect Your Pet from Summer Heat?

There are ways you can help your dog or cat beat the summer heat and stay safe in the sun! Here are some of our top tips for keeping your pet cooler than a cucumber:

  1. Water, water, everywhere! Make sure your pets have access to cool, fresh water outdoors and indoors. Bring a travel bowl on walks and keep a full bowl wherever your pet may be hanging out. Check outside water dishes and refill them with cool water when the water is warm, try to keep the dish in the shade and don’t use metal bowl for food and water outside - they can get too hot for your dog or cat!
  2. Change your pet’s walk time to the early morning or evening. This especially applies to highly active play time and walks. 
  3. Don’t let your pet stand on hot asphalt too long and beware of astroturf. Asphalt can be 40 to 60 degrees hotter than the air and astroturf can be 40 to 70 degrees hotter. One rule we suggest is testing the temperature of the surface by placing your hand on it. If it’s too hot for you to hold your hand on for 10 seconds, it’s too hot for your pet to walk on.
  4. Provide backyard shade. If your pet is going to relax outside, make sure they have some refuge from the sun. An umbrella or patio cover are perfect and make sure they have a cool place to lie down. If you can make a shady area over a spot your dog can dig in, that’s even better. Shade and some cool ground will make your canine companion more comfortable. 
  5. Heatstroke can be fatal and cause permanent damage. Make sure to know the signs of heatstroke and how to respond.

Heatstroke in Dogs and Cats

Dogs and cats experience heat differently than we do. Because their bodies respond to heat differently, they can more rapidly slip into heat exhaustion or heatstroke. These occur when your pets’ body temperatures rises and they cannot release enough heat to cool themselves down to a safe temperature. Heatstroke is always an emergency!

Some common signs of heatstroke include:

  • Excessive panting
  • Pale or flaring red gums
  • A bright red tongue
  • Strained breathing
  • Lethargy
  • Muscle tremors
  • Excessive drooling
  • Restlessness
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Seizure or falling over
  • Lack of urination
  • Confusion
  • Coma

How to respond if you suspect your pet is experiencing heatstroke:

  1. Immediately find a cooler environment for your pet.
  2. Douse your pet in cool (not ice cold) water and place a fan in front of them.
  3. Call us as quickly as possible. Pets suffering from heatstroke may need IV fluids, and oxygen.

Dogs with brachycephaly (short snouts) have a higher likelihood of heat exhaustion or heatstroke. So, if you have a Pug, Frenchie, Bulldog, or another flat-faced beauty, be very careful when it comes to summer heat.

We hope you have a wonderful summer!

Image credit: Pixabay

Our Mission:

We provide the quality care our clients expect and their pets deserve, by relying on the expertise and
compassion of each team member.

 
 
 

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Westgate Pet Clinic
4345 France Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55410
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