Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is a well known tick borne disease in humans and dogs. Both species become infected with Borrelia burgdorferi during the feeding off the host by the tick.

According to Susan Little, DVM, Phd. “The 2015 CAPC Lyme Disease Forecast for 2015 predicts higher than usual threat in areas where the disease is currently widespread. The disease appears to be spreading in a southwesterly direction. Areas of particular concern are New England, the Upper Ohio River Valley and the Pacific Northwest. Even though Lyme disease is still worrisome in Minnesota and Wisconsin, the forecast is predicting lower incident rates there than in 2014. Peak times for positive test results for the disease in the most endemic part of the country, New England, are during the fall and winter.”

Pets travel with their owners and  may become exposed to ticks not commonly found in their own living environment. The peak times for infestation depends on the weather. Most people fear tick infestation in the spring and summer months, though some ticks are found on pets during this time, adult deer ticks which spread Lyme disease are more active in cooler months, from October through March.

The life cycle of Ticks

  • Female hard ticks deposit a single, large clutch of eggs in the environment. Within weeks to months, depending on environmental conditions, the six-legged larval stage hatches from the egg. The larva must then find a host, feed for several days, and then drops to the ground and molts to an eight-legged nymph. The nymph then finds an appropriate host and feeds for several days to a week. Once the nymph has engorged, it drops to the ground and molts to the eight-legged adult, which then must find a third host.
  • Adult hard ticks may mate on all species or off their host such as the Ixodes spp tick which carries Lyme disease. Once mated and fully engorged, the female will detach, crawl to a suitable environmental location, lay a clutch of several thousand eggs, and then die.

When the tick bites it may cause irritation and pruritus around the attachment site. Tick -borne toxicoses can develop due to the localized inflammation, allergic hypersensitivity, or severe toxic reactions. It is during this attachment the Ixodes tick transfers the spirochetes of Lyme borreliosis.

Other symptoms of Lyme disease are high fever, muscle weakness, shifting leg lameness and lethargy.

To protect your dog against Lyme disease it is advise to use a safe and effective tick repellent and preventive product. These products should be used monthly year around for adequate protection. Our animal hospitals carry K-9 Advantix, Frontline Plus and Nexgard. All of these products are safe for your pet. Our veterinarians will discuss what products are best for your pet.

Having your dog vaccinated against Lyme disease is also recommended because for a the topical or oral tick preventive to be affective if must be used effectively and consistently. Both the Macomb Pets Ahoy Animal Hospital and the Waterford Pet Authority Animal Hospital have the Lyme vaccine available to administer to your pet. Make your appointment today to protect your pet against Lyme disease.

From the other side of the exam table,

Dr. Gloria Williams

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Pet Health Exams

Cats and dogs are capable of hiding symptoms of illness. This is an instinctive behavior protects them against predators or the dominant animals in their pack. It is not until the pet becomes critical and displays symptoms that client becomes aware their pet is sick.

A pet may be suffering from a fever, enlarged lymph nodes, gastritis, internal bleeding or a clotting disorder which would not be detected by an untrained eye. Most commonly the pet’s medical problem goes undetected until the pet stops eating, develops diarrhea or starts to show bruising on their skin. It is at this time the owner calls a veterinary hospital for appointment to see their pet.

If a cat or dog has an underlying medical issue at the time a vaccine is administered the vaccine could jeopardized their ability to recover from the illness. An exam performed by a veterinarian will determine if the pet is healthy prior to administering a vaccine. Some adverse reactions to vaccines may be spiked fevers, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, anaphylactic shock and death.

Treatment for patients suffering from adverse reactions to vaccines may include veterinary clinic hospitalization, IV fluids, medications for shock, oxygen therapy and plasma transfusion.

As a precaution to avoid adverse reactions veterinarians should be perform a thorough exam prior to administering a vaccine. Just as MD’s who exam, diagnose and treat people, veterinarians attend 8 to 12 years of college which enables them to know how to exam, diagnose and treat all medical conditions that effect pets. Pet examinations are necessary to diagnose illnesses, prescribe correct medications, perform laboratory tests and provide preventative pet health care.

Clients are charged a minimal fee for their pet’s examination which requires the veterinarian’s knowledge, expertise and time.

From the other side of the exam table,

Dr. Gloria Williams

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WHY ARE PET FOODS BEING RECALLED SO OFTEN?

Several times a day clients inquire about what to feed their pets. Should it be grain free, gluten free or a raw diet? It is becoming more difficult to discuss with clients about their pet’s nutritional requirements when national campaigns advertise data that has little or no basis in proper pet food nutrition.

There is a large profit margin in pet foods, so numerous companies with no experience or knowledge of pet nutrition have jumped on the pet food band wagon. The food they sell generally do not meet the American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) standards, nor was the food manufactured in their own facility. Instead, many foods are co-packed or have several different manufacturers with the label being done by the end-of -the-line company that sells it.

If the pet food bag states “distributed by” instead of  “manufactured by” or “manufactured for”, this informs the consumer the food was made somewhere else but the company is placing it’s label on the bag and selling it as their own.

Not all manufacturers of pet food have veterinarian nutritionists on staff, practice strict quality control, or conduct nutritional research.  There are numerous pet food companies that do co-packing from several manufacturers so when contamination occurs, multiple pet foods are involved. An example: Diamond Pet Foods, their plant caused the largest food recalled in history, with 30,000 tons of food contaminated with Salmonella. Diamond Pet Food distributes food under the labels of Chicken Soup for the Pet Lovers Soul, Canidae, Kirkland, Solid Gold Wolf, Taste of the Wild, Premium Edge to name a few. To read about other food recalls, click here: http://petsloved.com/2015/02/26/pet-food-recall/

As veterinarians, we advise clients to be aware of the ingredients in the foods they chose for their pet. Unfortunately, regulatory agencies don’ require manufacturers to test their final product for actual content or Salmonella. So it is buyers beware. A recent article reported that 20 of 52 food that were PCR-tested for ingredients showed a discrepancy between the labeled ingredients and what was actually in the diet.  Chicken and Pork were the most common undeclared protein found in the diets. Another study found beef, corn and soy added to the diets and not listed in the ingredients. This can be a problem when clients are trying to avoid a potential food allergen for their pet.

Grain free diets have become the fad diet. Unfortunately, grain free does not mean hypoallergenic. There is no AAFCO definition of Grain free. Thus, it may have a different meaning from one manufacturer to another. Most clients are misinformed thinking that grains are not good for their pets digestion. The opposite is true. Though dogs are of the carnivore species, their eating habits are omnivores. So complex carbohydrates are actually needed for a well formed stool. Obesity is not from carbohydrates but from all the high fat diets on the market.

Raw diets are also a fad diet resulting from all pet food recalls. Clients began to fear commercial diets and decided to try making their own pet foods. Most of the Raw diet recipes were found to have nutritional imbalances. Safety risks for freezing and freezed-dried raw diets were found as freezing does not kill all pathogens. Of the studies regarding raw diets, Salmonella, Listeria, Campylobacter, E. Coli, Toxoplasma, Trichinella were some of the contaminates found in these diets.

So what brand of food should you feed your pet?

Pet food manufacturers falsely advertise their products are veterinarian-approved. Veterinarians do not approve labels or product, only state regulatory agencies can. The Association of American Feed Control Officials allow manufacturers to use the terms veterinarian-recommended or formulated. Food manufacturers who usually manufacture in house, employ board-certified veterinary nutritionists, publish nutritional research in veterinary journals, adhere to strict quality-control measures, actually feed their food via AAFCO feeding guidelines and provide complete nutritional analysis of their products are the pet foods veterinarian recommend. At our hospitals we recommend Royal Canin and Hills (Science Diet) Pet Food.

For more information regarding pet foods, research the annual pet food manufacturer list published by Whole Dog Journal. The content of this blog was done with the help of Dr. Alice Jeromin, RPh, DVM, DACVD

From the other side of the exam table,

Dr. Gloria Williams

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Closure

This post will mark the conclusion of my time as the author of the Pet Authority’s Official Blog. I’ve had a fantastic time writing for all of you that have been following loyally. You’ve been an inspiration and a tremendous gift.

I’ll share a few links with you today to help you find some of the better sources of veterinary knowledge on the internet. If anyone has a suggestion, send it to me via a comment.

I will continue to monitor the blog for comments on any of the posts. We’re not shuttering the blog completely, we’re just not going to be offering any new content here on wordpress.

The hospital will have a blog as part of our web page, which you can find at petsloved.com. There are more than 1300 articles and videos on the new website that you can view, print, etc. There will also be some daily news items there as well as a link to our Facebook.

Once again, you have my deepest gratitude for all that you helped the blog become.

-Dr.H

Veterinary Information Network’s Veterinary Partner Site Here you will find a ton of articles about all kinds of diagnoses and conditions in pets, authored by vets and vet techs.

Animal Health SmartBrief: This is a daily news aggregator that will email you the top stories in animal health news. This is where many of the Thursday News posts came from. You do have to sign up with your email address, but you will only get 1 email a day, with an occasional extra story sent separately. It’s really not spammy at all.

Veterinary Surgery Central : This is a page authored by a local surgeon. He’s a stellar vet and there is a ton of great info here.

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Thursday news – Local Interest

Today’s news story is from Detroit metro airport. They’ve installed an indoor dog bathroom for service dogs and working dogs.

Here’s the full story from the Freep.

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Does Brushing Teeth Really Help?

I’d like to share some photos of a success story with you today. A few images will make a bigger impact than tons of text, so let’s get right to it.

This is Macy. Macy’s mom brushes her teeth every day.

Macyteeth4

Macy’s teeth look -great- because of the attention mom gives them. She won’t need a dental cleaning this year, and if mom keeps up with brushing as much as she does now, she won’t need one next year, either. There’s just a little bit of staining on that big premolar tooth toward the back of her mouth, but there’s no gingivitis, so we can leave that be. Yes, brushing really does make a huge difference for almost all pets!

Macyteeth1

Macyteeth2

Congrats, Macy! You’ve got a nice white smile!

Questions about dental care? Ask by leaving a comment!

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Thursday News : White Nose Disease in Michigan Bats

White nose disease is a fungal infection that affects hibernating bats. Up to 90% of a population of bats can be killed by the fungus when they hibernate for the winter. This has been a big problem already in other parts of the country, but the first cases have just been confirmed in Michigan. This impacts humans indirectly by allowing much higher populations of mosquitos and other pests that damage food crops.

There’s a good article here at MLive.

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Product Warning

I’m passing this along on an ‘off’ day for the blog because I feel that it’s important to share this info . The EPA has issued a statement concerning the danger of certain flea control products to children that come into contact with them.

An Environmental Protection Agency report warns that propoxur, a flea-killing chemical in flea collars marketed by Sergeant’s Pet Care Products and Wellmark International, is unsafe for children. However, the products can be distributed until two years from now, and retailers can continue to sell them after that until their stock is gone. Veterinary dermatologist Daniel Morris says there are safer products available and urges owners to consult with their veterinarian to determine the best approach.

There’s a more detailed article at this link.

I’ll leave it to you, readers, to decide how you feel about it. Sound off in the comments! I’d like to hear what you think.

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The Undiscovered Country

I’ve had to usher a few of my oldest patients into the afterlife in the last two weeks. Some of these pets have been under my care for over 8 years, and in that time, something that I have been having trouble articulating has grown. It’s a feeling that blurs the lines of vet, owner, friend, family…

With an uncanny prescience, or perhaps a bit of cosmic luck, a friend of mine recently penned a letter that beautifully encompasses exactly what I was having trouble saying. He’s graciously allowed me to share that here with you. Thank you, “coldnose.”

——–

Oh, Kuma, I don’t want to be here with you, not like this. I want to be at my desk at work, comfortably focused on my immediate tasks; not here in this train, travelling with my unceasing unbidden thoughts of you. If I can’t work then I want to be reading, or walking; or doing anything at all except for losing myself in this confusion of memories of you. If I think of you at all, I want it to be with unconcerned and lazy fondness: right now you should be sleeping, or watching the dawn and awaiting the start of your day. I want to think of you as vital, gentle, and secure in the knowledge that, one way or another, life goes on. But life has not gone on, and now I travel in the company of your calm and charismatic shade.

You’re gone, I know you’re gone, yet I seem to feel your presence still. Are you out there, somehow? Does some integral trace of you persist and wander, embedded and immersed in a deeper reality as once you immersed yourself in your environment of redwood and strand? Or, this ‘you’ I feel, this ‘you’ that I even now feel compelled to speak to — are you only your evanescent reflection in my memories, a mental model to which my intuitive theory of mind cannot help but ascribe an ongoing independent awareness? Somehow I feel you’re still here, yet I miss you, yet I’m speaking to you now in defiance of time and distance and death itself. Such strange contradictions that our minds are wont to hold.

Strange also, how much you came to mean to me when we actually spent so little of our lives in each others’ company. But you were so remarkable, Kuma. Beautiful you were, yes; as beautiful as any creature I ever met; but also vital, and self-aware and self-assured, possessed of an easy serenity and an apparent intuitive understanding of your right to your place in this world. You were your own creature, invested with more richness and subtlety than I could ever have fathomed, and, to me, you were also something of a lodestone and a symbol for aspects of what I want to be, what I aspire to, what I uphold as the Platonic ideal of a life worth living. I loved you; not like your owner loved you, not like I love my own dog; but enough that something of what you were left its imprint in what I am and what I carry forward in my own existence. I never met anyone quite like you, and I hope I never will again. I don’t want you to be anything but unique: a singular point, never to be repeated in all the unfathomable phase-space of all possible creatures across the tapestry of all possible time. So long as you’re irreplaceable, you are in a tiny sense eternal.

Kuma, you are gone from us. I heard the news in one of those casually brutal ways, from the kind of off-hand comment that goes clean through one’s breast like an intangible bolt, leaving only a numbness that gradually, over hours, transmutes into a puzzled, pleading, stubbornly irrational disbelief. I had unquestioningly thought to see you later this year, to spend time with you, and part of me insists that’s still possible. Another more rational part, gentle and compassionate, reminds me over and over again that I can never see you again, not in this life. Sooner or later that part will win out and I’ll really understand that we’ve lost you, and then I’ll be able to weep. From now and forever more I shall know you only in my memories, and I shall never forget you.

I can feel the tears starting to rise and I think it’s time to mourn you now. And if my fellow travellers wonder why I’m crying in public, they should know that it’s for the best reason that could ever be.

Kuma, 2001-2014 †

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Thursday News — Horse Yoga

I’m not even going to introduce this one. Just go look…

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Nostalgia?

My sister’s birthday was last Friday, which means mine is right around the corner. That tends to make me just a little nostalgic, which is just a little more than the teensy tiny bit of nostalgia I feel at any time. I started to think about other milestones, which is how I prefer to mark the passage of time in my life. It occurred to me that in May, I will begin the 12th year of my professional practice. THAT was kind of a pinch!

I looked back at a journal I kept during my first year out of school this morning. During that year, I was at an internship in Hollywood, Florida. I’ve probably mentioned that before. That year was almost indescribable. The practice had 13 doctors, four of which were board-certified. They saw patients 24/7, 365 days a year. The six interns were responsible for overnight emergencies and walk-in cases, plus regular appointments however they were scheduled. I saw less cases than I do now, but the ones in Hollywood were almost always time-intensive hospitalized cases. It was an experience that was good for me as a veterinarian and a person. We were tested right to our limit every single day. Our limits grew and grew. I stayed on an extra two weeks to teach the new interns and to allow one of my intern-mates to leave a bit early for home and family. It was a very long and difficult year for all of us.

I wrote then:

I can hardly describe the amount of personal growth I’ve experienced in the last year. Though this internship has been abusively difficult, it’s been worth every mental and emotional scar (and a few physical ones, too). I am by no means some sort of veterinary god, but I definitely feel like I’ve grown into a competent clinician. It’s been worth every miserable minute. I’ve learned more than I thought possible, given how frazzled and stressed and aggravated I was on a daily basis.

So, 11 years later, do those words still ring true?

Yes.

That internship certainly didn’t teach me everything I need to know. That kind of learning never stops. I consider that a job perk. There is always something new and interesting to explore and we get better with each passing day in practice, so long as we continue to keep our minds open.

What it did teach me at that early point in my career is how to be a better person veterinarian. I’ve often said on the blog that medicine is the easy part. That wasn’t quite true back then since I was so green, but it’s certainly true now. The challenges then included people. Those people are still challenging! I’ve learned how to have better bedside manner. I’ve learned how to excuse myself from feeling the fatigue of too many deaths, too many bad decisions, too many ‘I wish you’d come in sooner’ cases. They still happen, but now I know how to keep a clear head and give clients options.

I’ve grown a lot of gray hairs in 11 years. I’ve seen about 35,000 cases. For those of you who are familiar with Malcolm Gladwell, I’ve done my 10,000 hours. I’ve been screamed at and called everything in the book. I’ve had some of the most amazingly humbling things said tome. I’ve had thank-you cards from girl scout troops, students, clients, and other doctors. I’ve had the support of some amazingly talented doctors, techs, and mentors. I’m so thankful that after 11 years, I can say that I know that I’m in the right place. I’m doing what I love to do.

There are still things that frazzle me. I can still, now and then, be pretty aggravated by the situations that clients and pets create. What Hollywood taught me was that the sun is going to come up tomorrow regardless of my struggles and nonproductive feelings. Hollywood taught me, in the words of my boss there, to “find something real to worry about.” I was so irked when he said that because it brushed away some concerns that I had expressed to him. What I didn’t realize was that his tough stance on that kind of thing allowed me to be tougher, too. I use that skill every single day.

While my birthday is approaching and I will probably have a few more gray hairs to count, I would prefer to nudge thoughts into May, and into the milestone of 11 years in practice. I’m thankful for the pets and clients that have taught me what it really means to be a human, and better still, to be a veterinarian.

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Thursday News

Today’s news article deals with a species that we don’t see at our practice: horses. I’ve long said, jokingly, that horses are 1200lb cats, but in this case, there’s a very striking similarity. When it comes to recognizing pain in cats and horses, they’re a tough read. A group of researchers have developed a way to recognize pain in horses that I thought was pretty neat.

Have a look at how they did it here.

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Be Kind, Rewind!

Remember that slogan? Back in the days of VHS tapes for rent, the rental stores would put a sticker on the tapes to remind renters to rewind. That way, the next renter wouldn’t have to do so before watching the movie. The advent of DVDs rapidly put the rewind campaign out of commission.

This week, I’d like to suggest that we resurrect that slogan and put it to a new purpose. Wind-out leashes. I’m sure I’ve gone on this rant before, but it bears repeating.

Explicitly stated, wind-out leashes are dangerous to dogs and people. They don’t protect dogs from other dogs or unsafe spots (like the road). The danger to people comes from the cords being wrapped around limbs or objects in the environment.

Those leashes are a nightmare in our waiting room. I’ve never seen a dog under good, safe control with a leash that’s 15′ long. In an environment where pets may be scared or sick, or there are dogs and cats, kids and strange people, normally well-behaved dogs may not behave well. When an incident happens, precious seconds are lost trying to get the leashes to rewind.

Lastly, those leads are horrible for good training strategy. I had a chance yesterday to speak with one of our excellent local dog trainers. The consensus was simple: those leashes are a bad idea.

If you’re still not convinced, here’s another long article discussing wind-out leashes and the approaches that some communities are taking to address their concerns.

It’s far easier to remember the slogan, though: Be Kind, Rewind!

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Thursday News – Alaska

When I was in high school, my biology teacher and mentor got involved with a long-running student project that was studying the after-effects of the Exxon-Valdez oil spill. By the time that I got involved, the project had expanded beyond the Valdez spill to encompass a look at conservation and natural resources all over the state. I spent a bit over 2 weeks there for each of three summers. The trips were amazingly cool and I fully intend to get back to Alaska some day.

Today’s news article is a look at the spill after 25 years. Oil is STILL present in the spill area even after all this time. While that’s NOT shocking, it IS a major wake-up call about the impact we are having on the world that is going to have to sustain us in the future.

Here’s the link to the article.

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Double Header: Spring Fitness and Human Medications

Double Header : Spring Fitness and Human Medications

I normally wouldn’t do a double-topic like this, but I need to get something off my chest. It’s very very rare that I yell with my white coat on. Today, though? Yes. I’ll be blunt and quick about it:

 

DO NOT GIVE HUMAN MEDICATION OF ANY KIND TO YOUR PET WITHOUT SPEAKING TO YOUR VETERINARIAN FIRST.

Lethal consequences can and do result. Major damage, hospitalization for treatment, and significant costs are also potential outcomes. I don’t know a single veterinarian that charges for phone calls, and at the very least you can be stopped from making a blunder that kills your own pet.

Alright. Deep breaths. With that out of the way, this week’s longer topic was suggested by one of my patients. (Thanks, Ellie!) Springtime is coming in tiny increments, so Ellie is looking forward to longer walks and better weather. She does have some joint trouble, so we talked about how much exercise is the right amount. In contrast to my yelling above, this answer has a lot more variability.

The tipping point between good exercise and bad has to do with the condition a given individual starts in. Young and healthy? Old and arthritic? Heart disease? Injury or surgical recovery? Out of shape or overweight?

Serious consequences can occur from overestimating what your pet can tolerate. Even for healthy dogs, going from zero exercise to a full day of hard activity can be a huge problem. When muscles aren’t used to the level of activity being asked of them, they can easily become overworked and damaged. Damaged muscle releases chemicals that can damage the kidneys. Pets enduring high temperatures can also have this sort of muscle damage, so even light exercise in hot weather can cause muscle damage.

Thankfully, the answers to a lot of these different cases are simple. We’ll tackle them one at a time.

Young healthy pets should take up a fitness program gradually. This means that if there were no walks at all, don’t make the first one hours long, and don’t make it a full-speed run. Somewhere in the neighborhood of activity 10-30 minutes long, in comfortable temperatures should be tolerated fairly well. Just as we would gradually increase the duration or intensity of the workout, you can do so with your pet. If at any point, your pet seems to be lagging behind, or has flat-out stopped, it’s time for a rest! Sometimes, pets are so excited to be playing or walking that they will push themselves far harder than they should. You have to make an assessment of a reasonable duration and intensity of the activity. Always err on the side of caution!

Pets with orthopedic problems such as hip dysplasia, a torn ACL, arthritis, etc. should always stick with low-impact activity. Running or even walking on hard pavement can be enough to make them sore or limp. For dogs, swimming — actually swimming, not running on the beach — is a great way to exercise. Otherwise, slow walks of shorter durations are a good idea. I’d rather have an arthritis patient go for two 10-minute walks than one 20-minute walk if it’s at all possible. Keeping up muscle strength and mobility is critical for arthritis patients. We also have a duty to keep them from hurting. This may mean that some pain medication or an anti-inflammatory are part of the whole care plan. Owners with pets that have advanced arthritis or other bone/joint problems can also look into physical therapy. There are tons of options for PT for pets.

For pets that have more serious conditions such as heart disease or other organ dysfunction, each case has to be very carefully evaluated. It would be irresponsible of me to make any blanket statements or generalizations here beyond the advice that you should ask your vet about your pet specifically. A mistake here could push a heart patient into heart failure, for example. Obviously that’s not a good option.

One last caution for all of you who own pets with short muzzles — the brachycephalic breeds. Exercise can be particularly difficult for brachycephalics. It can also be dangerous. These pets have a heck of a time breathing as it is, and the massive turbulence created when they’re breathing hard can cause life-threatening complications such as welling in the larynx. I’ve seen many bulldogs that come in dying because their throats are swelling shut. It’s particularly dangerous in hot weather. Pugs, bulldogs, Persian cats, ShihTzus — go VERY gently and go in cool temperatures!

In closing, I’ll share two links to other spots on the web with information about exercising with your pets. Thanks again, Ellie! This was a great topic to cover.

ASPCA Exercise Guidelines for Dogs

Hill’s/Science Diet Exercise Tips for Dogs and Cats

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