Living in any hot weather climate with your dog or cat means taking extra precautions during the worst of the heat, but living in the desert brings additional concerns for their safety. Here are a few tips to help keep your pets safer in that type of climate and terrain.
Wildlife and Vegetation
The desert has wildlife and vegetation that can be dangerous to a curious pet. Some stay away from roaming creatures and the tough prickly vegetation native to the desert, but simple curiosity in desert terrain means exposure to these possible dangers. Pets do not necessarily know what is or isn’t dangerous for them, particularly if the desert is not something your dog or cat has been exposed to.
The sharp thorns of a cactus or succulent can cut or pierce the skin, paws or mouths of an overly curious pet. Creatures such as poisonous snakes or crawling scorpions are among the natural desert inhabitants that can make your dog or cat very ill or even kill them. If possible, keep a safe area enclosed in your yard for your dog and cat. If you can’t do that, or are out walking or playing with your pets, keep a sharp eye out for what they are getting into or examining. Eventually they will learn some of what is dangerous or painful, but you don’t want to chance it by not paying attention to the possible hazards.
Dermatitis is a condition that causes the skin to become inflamed. Atopic dermatitis is a chronic inflammatory skin disease that causes an allergic reaction to the skin. At one time it was referred to as allergic inhalant dermatitis. It’s one of the most common skin diseases found in dogs and cats.
To soothe their itchy skin, a pet dealing with this condition will scratch and search out furniture or other things to rub up against in an effort to easy their itch. Over time, the scratching and rubbing can lead to injuries to the skin which can make it easier for other secondary infections to enter the body. It can become a vicious circle that makes a pet feel miserable.
Proteins found in the environment likely enter the body through direct contact with the skin, absorbed through the paw pads or inhaled, and possibly ingested. These proteins are called allergens once they produce an allergic response. Atopic dermatitis, also known as atopy, is an allergic reaction to common and normally harmless allergens like house dust mites, house dust, grass, ragweed, trees, mold, pollen, insect proteins, animal dander or other allergens found in the environment. Human skin or natural fibers can also be a culprit.
As our pets age, many are likely to develop arthritis. Their joints take a beating over the years, but even younger dogs and cats can develop this debilitating ailment. Injuries, stress on joints, repeated joint trauma, infection, tick borne disease, metabolic diseases, genetics, aging and obesity are all factors that can contribute to the development of arthritis, which can have an impact on a pet’s quality of life. Knowing the symptoms of arthritis is critical to catching it in the early stages so you can slow down the degenerative progression to joints.
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease and rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory disease that attacks the joints. Both cause stiffness and can make it more difficult for a pet to move around. Cartilage is a cushion (shock absorber) between joints that helps to protect the bones. As arthritis progresses, it slowly wears away the cartilage leaving affected joint bones with nothing between them. If the protective cartilage is gone, the bones rub together, causing pain and swollen joints that lead to stiffness and lameness. Because cats are experts at hiding pain, symptoms are harder to see in felines. However, you may notice a high perch she usually makes in one jump may take more than one.
It may not seem like there would be a problem using dog products on cats, or vice versa. If a shampoo or skin medication is safe for dogs, it should be alright to use on cats as well – right? Not always. Some products can be interchangeable, but it depends on the product. It’s important to read labels to make sure it can safely be used on both species.
Flea and Tick Control
If you have both dogs and cats in your home, it’s essential to use only flea control formulated for each species. It might be tempting for people with multiple cats to use a dose of flea control for large dogs and divide it as evenly as possible between their cats. However, that can have life threatening consequences. Never use a flea control made only for dogs on cats. The physiologies of dogs and cats are different, and using flea control made for dogs can be lethal for cats. A feline’s metabolism is more sensitive than a dog’s, and even allowing your cat to have close contact with or groom a dog that has recently been treated with flea control can be harmful for kitties. It’s extremely important to carefully read the label before using. If a flea control is safe for cats, it will say so on the label. If in doubt, don’t use that product on your cat.
Acne is something most teenagers have to deal with growing up, and is a condition that can follow some people into their adult years. Humans aren’t the only species, however, that can get pimples. Dogs and cats can also get acne. It won’t make them want to hide until their complexion clears up, but acne can be a problem and cause discomfort for some pets. Stress can be one cause, but there are other reasons why dogs and cats get pimples.
For dogs, their teenage years usually begin around five to eight months of age. This is the time when canines can develop acne on their lips, muzzle, chin and sometimes around their genitals. Fortunately, it only lasts for a short while; once dogs reach their first birthday the acne will most likely disappear.
Acne in dogs begins as raised areas that are hard and red in appearance. Dogs can even have blackheads. Sometimes pimples become itchy, inflamed, swollen and painful when touched. If scratched by the dog, they can pop open and could lead to a secondary infection.
In canines, acne can be caused by hormonal changes, trauma, bacterial infection, allergies, poor diet or poor hygiene, and is more common in breeds with short coats like the Rottweiler, Boxer, Bulldog, Doberman Pinscher and Great Dane. Why some breeds are more predisposed than others is unknown. Signs your dog is dealing with acne include bumps underneath the skin, blackheads/whiteheads, red bumps, redness, swelling, inflammation, itching, hard patches of skin, blisters, small lesions. Some dogs with acne will rub along the carpet or furniture.
Acne in cats is not limited to their teenage years, and can be a recurring life-long issue. Some cats, however, may have one episode of pimples and never have another one the rest of their lives. It’s unknown what exactly causes pimples in cats, but it could be related to stress, poor grooming habits, a problem with the immune system, or an excessive amount of oil produced by sebaceous glands under the chin. Excess skin oil can clog pores which could be an indication of allergies or an underlying skin condition. Keratin is a protein found the hair, claws and upper layer of the skin, and will sometimes plug up pores causing acne. If your cat does develop acne, you can see what looks like specks of black dirt around the lips and underside of the chin. Acne can be mistaken for flea debris.
Pimples can become infected and swollen. Symptoms to watch for in cats include pain, blackheads/whiteheads, mild reddish pimples, a watery crust on your cat’s chin or lips, swelling around the chin, hair loss, reddish skin, bleeding, itching, and small fluid-filled bumps on the skin.
If your cat develops acne, it could be an allergic reaction to a plastic food or water bowl. Replacing plastic with ceramic or stainless steel bowls might be all you need to do to clear up your pet’s pimples. If you stick with plastic bowls, it’s important to wash them daily. Plastic bowls can hold bacteria which is then picked up by a super-sensitive feline as she eats.
If you find pimples on your dog or cat, never squeeze them because it could cause a serious infection as well as scarring. Don’t use human medications to treat your pet’s acne, either.
Pet acne can be caused by food allergies or other skin conditions. A poor diet lacking in nutrients, vitamins and minerals can not only leave a pet feeling unsatisfied after eating, it also plays a huge role in their overall health. Switching to a high quality diet like CANIDAE natural pet food helps address food allergies and skin conditions.
Never underestimate the importance of good hygiene. Excess oil and a dirty coat can contribute to acne. Oral health is also important. Brushing your pet’s teeth helps control and eliminate bacteria in the mouth that can contribute to acne. Some dogs and cats may need a little help keeping their chin and the area around the mouth clean. Wiping their face off after they eat can help prevent acne. Dogs that get a buildup of saliva in the hair around their mouth should also have their face wiped off to keep it clean and dry.
Acne isn’t a serious problem for most dogs or cats, but it can be severe for some. There are also other medical conditions that can resemble acne. The two most common conditions are a type of noncontagious mange, and ringworm which is a fungal infection. Both need to be treated by a vet. If it turns out to be acne, your vet will prescribe pet safe acne treatment.
In 1928, a Scottish bacteriologist named Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin while tidying up his lab. He was about to toss a moldy petri dish into the trash when he noticed something strange about the bacteria – it wasn’t growing as well as it should have been. However, it would be another twelve years before penicillin would become a lifesaving drug; two Oxford scientists – Howard Florey and Ernst Chain – produced a brown powder capable of retaining the antibacterial properties in 1940.
The new drug was rushed into mass production and sent to the war front during the early years of WWII. Today, penicillin is used to treat anything from minor wounds to tonsillitis and pneumonia. Unfortunately, some people are allergic to penicillin. Is it possible for dogs and cats to have an allergic reaction too?
Penicillin works by inhibiting bacteria from building a sustainable cell wall. Fleming noticed that mold on the petri dish was attacking bacteria surrounding it to get more space and nutrients it needed to grow, by releasing a bacteria killing compound that prevented some bacteria from forming new cell walls. This process is called antibiosis, which is where the word antibiotic comes from. Once Fleming isolated and identified the antibacterial compound, he named it penicillin. The discovery of penicillin was hailed as the first miracle drug, and has saved countless number of human and animal lives over the years.
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