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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Warm Weather Reminders

While some of our friends in other countries are looking forward to winter, warm weather has come to the US after a rough winter. We're all aware that we need to take certain precautions to keep our pets safe when the seasons change, but it never hurts to have a reminder.

Probably the most important thing to remember is to provide plenty of water for our fur kids. It's good to check frequently to make sure the bowl hasn't been turned over or no insects (think ants) have invaded for a swim party. My dogs love to get their big feet in the bowl and splash all the water out.

We may want to change our walking or exercise schedules and do them during the morning or evening when the temperatures are cooler.

We all know that it's deadly to leave pets or children in a closed car. They may look sad when you leave without them, but it's totally forgotten when you return and they remain safe and healthy.

If your pets are white, short haired or shaved down, you want to consider sunscreen. Also dogs with brown instead of black noses and those with stand up or prick ears can suffer sunburn to their ears and noses. There are sunscreens available made for dogs that will not hurt them if licked. Just try putting sunscreen on a dog nose without it getting licked.

Above are two of my dogs. Tsar has very pale skin under all that hair. When we put him in a lion cut he feels cooler, but we must watch him closely so he doesn't burn. Generally in hot weather he goes outside only in the morning and evening. Norma Jean has a lot of white. The skin under the white patches is pink and burns easily. If she's shaved down she needs special attention. Morgan has a pale brown nose so I slather sunscreen on her as she goes out the door.

Many of us like to open the windows and get some fresh air into the house after a long winter. Our pets enjoy it, too, but falls from open windows can cause serious injury or even death. Be sure if your dog or cat has access to an open window that there is a screen or barricade to protect them from leaning too far out while watching the squirrel on the tree limb just out of reach.

I love spring, but it brings the re-emergence of fleas and ticks and the diseases they carry.

This is the dog flea. A dog can be covered with these creatures and they get into furniture, carpeting and bedding. If left untreated they can cause hair loss, anemia and tapeworms.

The brown dog tick can cause some severe illnesses such as Ehrlichiosis with weakness and bleeding problems or Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever with neurological abnormalities.

The Deer Tick, above, can spread Lyme Disease with lameness and arthritis or Anaplasmosis with it's joint pain and seizures.

Mosquitoes can spread Heartworm. All these insect borne illnesses can be prevented. Check with your vet for the prevention treatment that's best suited for your individual pet. What works best for one may not be right for another.

Poisoning is another potential hazard if your dog or cat eats your flowers from the garden. Check before you visit the nursery to see which plants are toxic if eaten. The ASPCA has a good list in alphabetical order with photos of plants that can harm your pet.

Keep your eyes open for those little signs in your neighborhood that say the lawn has been treated by a lawn service company. The chemicals can be toxic. If your dog walks thru the newly treated grass, then licks his feet, he can ingest the chemicals.

Some lucky dogs have access to water, either a lake, pond or pool. Be sure that your dog is supervised in and around the water. Even dogs that are good swimmers can fall into a pool and not be able to climb out. They can tire and drown. Lakes and ponds can have places for the dog to become entangled in roots, vines or fishing line. Check that there are no fishhooks left lying where a dog can step on them.

If you're going boating with your dog or if he's an unsure swimmer, be sure he's wearing a life vest. It will help keep him afloat if he falls overboard and it has a handle on the back to help pull him to safety.

Warm weather brings lots of new loud noises that might frighten your pet. With windows open, street noises seem louder and there is thunder and fireworks. If your pet seems frightened of these noises, there are ways of dealing with them. Check with your vet for ideas suitable for your animal.

Don't forget to have ID on your animal. With doors and windows open and new frightening noises all around, a dog or cat might try to escape the commotion and become lost. Be sure that if you and your pet do get separated, he can be identified and returned to you. Use whatever method works best for you, microchip, tattoo, and ID tags.

Let us know what other warm weather worries you have to deal with. By exchanging ideas we may help someone else keep their pet safe and healthy this summer.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Does Your Pet Have Auto Insurance?

Most of us enjoy taking our pets with us in the car when conditions are right. We all know not to confine an animal in a closed car in hot weather, but if we're going for a ride, it's nice to have Fido ride along with us. Even if Fido isn't a happy traveler, there are times when it's necessary for him to ride along, such as vet visits.

Dogs and cats, of course, should be protected with either a seatbelt, a carrier or a barricade to protect them in case of an accident.

Now there is another protection available to our pets. A few insurance companies have started providing pet coverage if your pet is injured or killed in an auto accident.

We've all seen this annoying young lady in ads for auto insurance. The company she represents, Progressive, was the first to offer the free coverage for pets. Farmers, Auto Owners Insurance and AAA also offer the coverage.

There is no additional cost for the coverage, but there are some restrictions that apply.
* The coverage typically covers only dogs and cats.
* There is usually a cap for amount paid on vet bills.
* There is a payment if the pet dies during the collision.
* In some policies coverage depends on who was at fault.

More and more companies are looking at this type of coverage. We need to be informed consumers and call our agents asking if this coverage is available thru our policies. We need to make it known that this is something we want.

Vet bills can be enormous for injuries suffered in an auto accident. This may not pay the entire bill, but it's certainly a relief to have some help with the bills so we can make the best decisions for the animals we love.

Do any of you have experience with this type of insurance? We'd all like to hear how it works. It's about time the business world started realizing that our pets are family members. They deserve consideration, not as property, but as living beings. This is a start.

Happy motoring.
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