May is National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month
Humans are often plagued by allergies, especially this time of year. They can even be allergic to cats and dogs. It seems to surprise them, though, that we can have allergy and asthma problems of our own. It might be the last day of May, but it's not too late to let you pet guardians know that it's Allergy and Asthma Awareness Month. Keep reading to learn how you can keep the kitty or pooch you love happy and sneeze-free.
Asthma in Companion Animals
Statistically, asthma affects cats far more often than dogs. Unfortunately, the number of animal asthma cases is growing due to their increased exposure to environmental pollutants. Common asthma triggers include
- Grass and tree pollen
- Car exhaust fumes and other air types of air pollution
- Mold and mildew
- Smoke from tobacco products and fireplaces
- Household sprays and chemical solutions, such as hair spray, deodorant, flea spray, and fragrances
- Dust from cat litter
The primary symptom of asthma is coughing, which cat owners often mistake as an attempt to cough up a hairball. Coughing and wheezing typically only occur with a flare-up and the pet is fine between bouts. With severe asthma, the animal displays symptoms every day. This may include breathing with an open mouth and constant panting, which occasionally leads to a life-threatening situation.
Allergies in Companion Animals
The following four factors account for most allergies in dogs and cats:
- Contact Allergies: These allergies develop after a pet comes into contact with an allergen, such as the medication or detergent found in a flea collar.
- Flea Allergy Dermatitis: Pets who are allergic to flea saliva will develop a severe skin irritation along with other common allergy symptoms.
- Food Allergies: Your pet may be allergic to one or more ingredients in her food. Typical culprits include beef, chicken, soy, and wheat.
- Inhalant Allergies: This includes anything your pet breathes in, including indoor or outdoor environmental factors such as cigarette smoke or pollen.
If you notice any unusual coughing, wheezing, or extreme itchiness, your pet could have asthma or allergies. It's important to visit Buffalo Companion Animal Clinic right away for a thorough evaluation. We will ask several questions about her behavior as well as your living environment to pinpoint a cause of the symptoms. Your dog or cat's veterinarian will also conduct some medical tests before giving an official diagnosis. With prescription medication and some changes in the environment, pets with asthma or allergies can live a long and healthy life.
Photo credit: fvallar / iStock Photo
It's National Dog Bite Prevention Week
My dog friends asked me to tell you that any dog can bite at any time. That is not because they're mean or want to hurt you. Sometimes it's the only way they have to express themselves when they feel threatened. They gave ideas to the staff at Buffalo Companion Animal Hospital to help keep your human safe, which you can read in the article below.
- The majority of dog bite victims are children. They are 900 times more likely to be bitten by a dog than letter carriers and package delivery personnel. Senior citizens are the second most likely to sustain injury from a dog bite.
- Dog bites account for five percent of all emergency room visits.
- Any dog can bite at any time.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends remaining motionless when an unfamiliar dog approaches and teach children to do the same. When you run from a dog, his natural instinct is to chase you. If you do not want to interact, remain calm while firmly commanding the dog to "Go home!" Avoid making direct eye contact since the dog could interpret this as a threat. You can also avoid an aggressive posture by turning to the side and backing away or wait for the dog to pass.
You should never approach an unfamiliar dog or pet any dog without allowing her to see and sniff you first. Interrupting a dog that is sleeping, eating, or caring for her young is likely to be met with aggression. Never allow young children to play around any dog unsupervised, even your own.
Be a Responsible Dog Owner
Since it comes natural to some breeds of dogs to play aggressively, it's important to invest in obedience training and teach your dog the proper way to play. When unfamiliar people come to your door, secure your dog in a locked room before you open it. Dogs are territorial and don't understand that letter carriers and visitors are not a threat to them. A dog is most likely to bite when he is unsocialized, receives little attention, or is left tied-up for long periods every day. You can prevent dog bites by not allowing these situations to occur in the first place.
What to Do in the Event of a Dog Bite or Attack
If you are holding something, such as a purse or a jacket, place it between you and the dog to minimize injury. You should curl up into a ball and place your hands over your neck and ears if the dog knocks you to the ground. Seek immediate medical attention for uncontrolled bleeding, deep wounds, swelling, and fever or if the wound becomes warm and dark red. For minor wounds, wash the area with soap and water, apply antiseptic cream, and cover it with a clean bandage.
Be certain to report the dog bite to Wright County Animal Control to advise them of a potential public health risk. People can contract rabies, tetanus, a staph infection, and several other serious conditions from a dog bite.
You can learn more about dog bite prevention at the resources listed on the Buffalo Companion Animal Clinic website or by asking us about it at your dog's next exam.