Summertime is a great season to be a pet in Minnesota. Long days to play, sunny windowsills for napping, wonderful smells, green grass, and 10,000 lakes to choose from for swimming! However, a lot of the summer activities that are fun for us can be risky for our pets. Pet owners need to take some precautions to make sure that their pets are safe and happy.
Firework noise is very scary for many pets. Please remember to keep pets confined indoors to prevent panicked escapes from the house or yard. Ideally, they should be in an internal room where they can’t hear or feel explosions from fireworks. Make sure they are wearing collars or harnesses with up-to-date ID and that their microchip information is current. And please, don’t bring your pet to fireworks shows! Even extremely social dogs find the noise and smell of fireworks overwhelming. Your pet might not have firework phobia, but exposure to fireworks up close could create one.
If you’re celebrating outside, make sure your pet has ample opportunities to cool off. Many dogs are too excited to socialize and play to notice that they are getting too hot. Give your dog lots of access to fresh water. You can provide a swimming pool or cooling vest to prevent overheating outdoors. Make sure your pet also gets breaks indoors to rest and cool off.
If you attend a barbecue, ask guests to avoid feeding your pet any goodies to prevent tummy upset. Keep your pet away from the hot grill and coals, and keep tasty foods like grilled meat far out of reach. It’s not uncommon for dogs to ingest entire kabobs, skewer and all, which can lead to a costly emergency clinic visit to retrieve! Keep fireworks, sparklers, and glow sticks away from your pet. Cats particularly like to chew on glow necklaces and bracelets, and while they are not poisonous, the chemicals inside them can cause oral irritation or GI upset.
Sedative medications can keep your pet calm and safe. If your pet needs sedative medications, contact us well in advance of the holiday to ensure we can get your prescription filled on time. Please remember that we are closed on Saturday, July 3rd and we request 24 hours notice for medication refills! You can call us for prescription refills at 651-645-2808 or submit a refill request online.
Preparing Pets for Your Return to Work
Over the past year, pets have gotten used to their people being around much more than they used to. Pets helped to make our quarantine times less lonely, and for many people it was an ideal time to introduce a new pet. As we gradually transition back into pre-pandemic routines, it’s important to keep in mind how these schedule changes are going to impact our pets. Some younger animals have never had to be home alone for extended periods and some older pets have forgotten that they used to have the house to themselves for eight hours a day. Here are some suggestions for making the transition easier on your pets:
- Practice: If your pet hasn’t needed to be alone very often, try some practice runs to see how they do. Pets who are anxious about separation will usually start to show signs of anxiety within minutes of being alone. Set up a computer or phone to collect some video of your pets after you leave. Do they settle down for a nap, or are they pacing, panting, vocalizing, or looking for ways to escape? Pets who are anxious when alone need to practice short separations while you teach them healthy ways to cope with their anxiety. For an in-depth training plan, check out Karen Pryor’s article about training a dog to tolerate separation.
- Transition gradually: If possible, try to gradually increase the length of separations rather than entering right into full work days away from home. If you have to go right back into full days away, consider having a dog walker, neighbor, or friend stop by mid-day until your pet is accustomed to being alone again.
- Crate training: If you have fallen out of the habit of using a crate while you’ve been working from home, get back into it before you need to leave the house regularly. Dogs should think of their crates as comfortable, safe places to rest and be “off duty”.
- Make home friendly: If people have been in the house constantly for months, your pet might be nervous about a quiet home. Leaving on a radio or using specialized pet-calming music such as iCalmPet can help provide background noise to decrease anxiety. A calming pheromone diffuser such as DAP (for dogs) or Feliway (for cats) can also provide anxiety relief.
- Supplements or medications: Anti-anxiety supplements or medications can help your pet as you train them to tolerate being alone again. These products won’t work without also utilizing training, but for very anxious pets, they can help your training to be more successful. Ask your veterinarian for more information about these options.
- Resources: If your pet is experiencing separation anxiety, the following resources might be helpful:
Health Alert: Blue Green Algae
Blue-green algae is a type of cyanobacteria that thrives in Minnesota lakes during hot weather. Blooms of blue-green algae can produce toxins that can be fatal to dogs. We usually don’t see algae blooms until August, but the unseasonably warm temperatures early this summer have created the right conditions for blooms to form. To keep your dog safe, check around lakes carefully for posted signs warning that a lake has blue-green algae prior to letting your dog into the water. Don’t let your dog swim in or drink from water that is pea green or looks like green paint. If your dog begins vomiting, collapses, or has seizures shortly after swimming or drinking lake water, seek veterinary care immediately. If you spot what looks like blue-green algae in a lake, you can report it to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency by calling 651-757-2822 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Guinea Pig Nutrition
Guinea pigs are one of few species (aside from humans) that have a dietary requirement for vitamin C. The average healthy guinea pig needs about 20 to 30 mg of vitamin C in their diet per day, and sick guinea pigs may need up to 50 mg of vitamin C daily. Without enough vitamin C, guinea pigs can develop scurvy, which can cause swollen, painful joints, poor quality fur, lethargy, and dental disease. The most reliable way to ensure your guinea pig is getting enough vitamin C is to offer a vitamin C supplement such as Oxbow’s Vitamin C tabs. Guinea pig pellets contain vitamin C, but within about 90 days of being milled, there is very little active vitamin C left. Water supplements are also available, but they are inactive within about 24 hours of being added to water, so be sure to replace the water daily if you choose this option. Fresh vegetables are a great source of vitamin C as well, but you do have to be diligent to ensure your guinea pig is eating the right types and amounts of vegetables to fulfill their daily needs. Visit Veterinary Partner for an excellent table of fresh vegetables and fruits alongside their vitamin C content.