Cold Weather

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When it’s below freezing, being outside for long periods is dangerous for your pets.  Here are some tips to help keep them safe during the coming cold weather.

Small breed dogs, thin dogs (like a greyhound), and puppies should only go outside long enough to potty and then back inside!  These guys do not have enough muscle mass to produce the needed heat to keep them warm.  Likewise, dogs with short or no hair have little or no insulation, and should also be kept indoors except for potty breaks.  Consider purchasing a fleece or down jacket to help with insulation, just as you would for yourself.

If your pet spends all or most of it’s time outdoors, please find a way to bring him or her inside for the next couple of nights!  He doesn’t have to be welcomed in to your bed;  a bathroom, utility room or even a  garage in a pinch will do just fine as long as you pet proof the area, removing any harmful chemicals and other threats. The important thing is to keep him dry and out of the wind.  While your dog or cat does have a fur coat, remember this is the same fur coat she sports in the summer, with not much extra insulation for sub-freezing temperatures.  If he is in the garage, check in with him a couple times during the night, and make sure the temperature isn’t dropping below zero in the garage.  Provide a bed and blanket, fresh water and food.

Cats should be kept indoors in freezing weather.  They are more likely to wander and get lost when they are seeking a warm place to stay.  Cats will also crawl under the hood of a car seeking heat, which may cause lethal injuries if the car is started.

Consider purchasing some boots for your dog if you plan to take long walks on frozen ground.  If you are the crafty type, there are even sewing patterns online to make them yourself!  This will protect Fido’s bare foot pads from the elements.  If you and Fido don’t like the doggie boots, remember to limit the time spent outside, as his bare feet are in contact with the ice and can develop frostbite.  It’s important to remember that if your dog is having a good time outside, she may not show signs that her feet are too cold, so you, the human, have to be the bad guy and tell her it’s time to go inside.

Speaking of feet, the salt that is often spread on roads and sidewalks is also harmful for your pet.  Other winter hazards, like antifreeze, are also a concern.  Make sure and rinse off your pooch’s feet after a walk outside in cold weather to remove ice, snow or any toxins.

Be careful on those sidewalks!  Just as people may slip and fall on ice, causing knee, back or other injuries, so too can your dog.  If you see a patch of ice on your sidewalk, it’s best to avoid it if possible by walking in the frozen grass instead.


Pets and Child Safety


How to Teach Your Child to Approach Dogs Safely

Summertime is here which means more outdoor activities at the park or around your neighborhood where children and dogs will meet.  Children love to pet dogs, for the most part, and dogs love to be petted, for the most part. Teaching your children the proper and safe way to approach a dog is important for their safety as well as the dog. Here are a few steps you can take to ensure that the experience will always be positive and pleasant.


Always ask permission from owner before you approach the dog! While most dogs you meet may be friendly, some may not be use to strangers or children. If the owner says no, thank them and let them pass, giving them plenty of space.

Allow the dog to approach and smell your hand. Hold your hand out palm down, in a loose fist so the dog can smell you. Wait for the dog to approach you and sniff your hand. If he turns away, he does not want any more attention. If he leans in or licks your hand, then he is letting you know you may pet him.

Pet the dog gently on his back. Never go over the dogs head to pet them. It may scare them. Instead approach from the side and pet him on his back avoiding his tail. Watch the dog for his response. If he is eager for more or rolls over on his back then continue petting him. If he seems uncomfortable, stop petting and talk gently to him instead.

“Thank you”. Let the owner and dog know you appreciate them letting you meet them!

Some other important safety tips to teach your child:

·         Never approach a dog when the owner is not with them.            

·         Never put your face in a dogs face.

·         Never take food or toys away from dogs.

·         Never run or shout around dogs.

·         Always be gentle and kind.

These steps and tips can help to prevent potentially dangerous mishaps. Start teaching your children early and make dogs safety game-like and fun to help your child to learn the rules quickly and easily. The sooner your child learns how to approach a strange dog the safer and happier they will be as well as the dog and its owner!

 -Jamie Hecht


Beat the Heat!

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The sizzling summer months are upon us in Central North Carolina.  It is time for picnics, swimming pools, outdoor activities, and fun in the sun.  The days are getting hotter and hotter.  During this time, it is important to remember to keep our four-legged friends safe, especially when traveling with them in the car or taking them on walks and hikes.  Within five to ten minutes in a hot car with the windows up, a dog’s temperature can climb to lethal levels.  Temperatures inside an enclosed car can exceed 120 degrees F in less than 20 minutes, with an outside environmental temperature of 75 degrees!  So with the temperature in the high 80’s and 90’s recently, it is even more important to leave our furry friends at home. 

The types of pets that are at highest risk for heat stroke include pediatric or geriatric animals, overweight animals, dark-colored animals, and brachycephalic (short-nosed) breeds (i.e. Pugs, Bulldogs).  However, any animal can suffer from heat stoke if left in extreme temperatures.  There are many signs of hyperthermia including excessive panting, collapse, vomiting, diarrhea, and seizures or tremors.  If your pet is exhibiting any of these signs, it is important that you contact a veterinarian right away and bring your pet in for an examination and treatment.  It is not recommended that cooling measures be started at home.  If an animal is cooled too fast, more complications can result, such as a higher incidence of DIC, which is a lethal condition. 

So what can you do to prevent heat stroke from happening?

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  1. Avoid leaving animals inside a hot vehicle for ANY period of time.   Just leave them at home!
  2. Avoid extreme exercise during hot days.  This includes leaving pets outside for extended periods.  It is not recommended to leave any brachycephalic breeds outdoors for any length of time.
  3. If you are taking your dog on a walk or hike, make sure to bring water along.  Also, be aware of any hot surfaces that your dogs feet are coming in contact with because they can potentially cause burns.
  4. If you are planning on taking your dog for a walk, early in the morning or late at night is a good time.


If you see a pet left in a car alone on a hot day, call 911!  It could make the difference between life and death!!

Compost - good for the environment, bad for your dog

In this day and age you are viewed as an irresponsible citizen if you are not 'Being Green'. We recycle, drive low-emission cars, and fashion our houses with energy efficient light bulbs.  Although many of the habits we have adopted over the years are more environmentally friendly, there is one in particular that is not friendly to our animal companions. The topic to which I am referring is composting.

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The same piles of rotting organic matter and molding food products that make your summer gardens nutrient rich, also produce mycotoxins that have negative health effects on your dogs. Depending on the quantity consumed and state of decay of the compost, your dog may show some or all of the following symptoms: hyperactivity, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive panting, hyperthermia, ataxia, and seizures. If left untreated, these symptoms can lead to death. Your canine may need to be hospitalized for one to several days in order to counteract the side effects from ingesting mycotoxins. If deemed appropriate, a treatment plan will include inducing vomiting, IV fluids, routine blood tests, anticonvulsants and/or muscle relaxants, administration of activated charcoal, and temperature regulation.

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If you are going to begin your voyage into composting this year fellow eco-savvy individuals, please be careful. Make sure your bins are covered, and possibly even locked. Treatment for mycotoxicosis is frequently successful if the ailment is promptly recognized, so it is important to contact your family's veterinarian or the local emergency clinic immediately if your canine comrade is exhibiting any or all of the symptoms previously listed.