Springtime Pet Safety and Tips

Spring Dog

Spring has sprung, and with the change of season, it’s time to start spring cleaning and allowing the fresh outside air indoors.  But the new balmy weather can prove problematic for curious pets—or their parents. Before you embark on seasonal chores or outdoor revelry, take inventory of potential springtime hazards for your furry friends. To help you out, Veterinarians at Lange Animal Clinic have come up with a few seasonal tips that will help prevent accidents or unfortunate situations.

Windows and Screens

Many pet parents welcome the breezy days of spring by opening their windows. Unfortunately, they also unknowingly put their pets at risk—especially cats, who are apt to jump or fall through unscreened windows. Be sure to install snug and sturdy screens in all of your windows. If you have adjustable screens, make sure they are tightly wedged into window frames.

Restrain in Car Rides!

While every pet owner knows dogs love to feel the wind on their furry faces, allowing them to ride in the bed of pick-up trucks or poke their heads out of moving-car windows is dangerous. Flying debris and insects can cause inner ear or eye injuries and lung infections, and abrupt stops or turns can cause major injury, or worse! Pets in cars should always be secured in a crate or wearing a seatbelt harness designed especially for them.

Spring Cleanup

Spring cleaning is a time-honored tradition in many households, but be sure to keep all cleaners and chemicals away from your pets! Almost all commercially sold cleaning products contain chemicals that are harmful to pets. The key to using them safely is to read and follow label directions for proper use and storage.

Home Improvements

Products such as paints, mineral spirits and solvents can be toxic to your pets and cause severe irritation or chemical burns. Carefully read all labels to see if the product is safe to use around your furry friends. Also, be cautious of physical hazards, including nails, staples, insulation, blades and power tools. It may be wise to confine your dog or cat to a designated pet-friendly room during home improvement projects.

Let Your Garden Grow—With Care

Pet parents, take care—fertilizers, insecticides and herbicides keep our plants and lawns healthy and green, but their ingredients aren’t meant for four-legged consumption and can be fatal if your pet ingests them.  Always store these poisonous products in out-of-the-way places and follow label instructions carefully. Check out our full list of garden care tips.

Poisonous Plants 

Time to let your garden grow! But beware, many popular springtime plants—including Easter lilies, rhododendron and azaleas—are highly toxic to pets and can easily prove fatal if eaten. Check out our full list—and pics!—of toxic and non-toxic plants for your home and garden.

Sneezing… Ah… Ah…. Achoo!

Like their sneezy human counterparts, pets can be allergic to foods, dust, plants and pollens. Allergic reactions in dogs and cats can cause minor sniffling and sneezing as well as life-threatening anaphylactic shock. If you suspect your pet has a springtime allergy, please visit a Lange Animal Clinic Veterinarian as soon as possible.

Bugs and Little Critters

April showers bring May flowers—and an onslaught of bugs! Make sure your pet is on year-round heartworm preventive medication, as well as a flea and tick control program.   Ask a Lange Animal Clinic to recommend a plan designed specifically for your pet.

Outdoor Activities

Warmer weather means more trips to the park, longer walks and more chances for your pet to wander off! Make sure your dog or cat has a microchip for identification and wears a tag imprinted with your home address, cell phone and any other relevant contact information.  Canines should wear flat (never choke!) collars, please.  Lange Animal Clinic can microchip your pet for the low cost of only $39 and it is painless and provides that added security you need.

If you suspect your pet may have come in contact with or ingested a potentially poisonous substance, contact your local veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.

For over 45 years, Lange Animal Clinic has provided veterinary services in Pekin, IL and the surrounding areas for over three family generations. Our expert staff of Veterinarians, Veterinary Technicians, and Veterinary Assistants are trained to ensure the best quality medical care for your beloved pets-whether it be as a routine medical examination to more complicated surgical procedures. We are a small companion animal clinic providing services for dogs, cats, and exotic pets.

Dr. Colleen O’Rourke, owner and senior Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, takes great pride in making certain that every patient’s experience is handled with the utmost care, compassion, and economically in the best interests of our clients. Visit us at www.langeanimal.com.  

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Vaccinations and Their Importance for Our Pets’ Health

Puppy Vaccination

Lucky for us, there are vaccines to help prevent many illnesses that affect dogs and cats and cats. Vaccinating your dog or cat has long been considered one of the easiest ways to help him live a long, healthy life. Not only are there different vaccines for different diseases, there are different types and combinations of vaccines.

Although vaccination has the potential to protect pets against life-threatening diseases, vaccination is not without its risks. Our veterinarians at Lange Animal Clinic have heard been some controversy regarding the duration of protection and timing of vaccination, as well as the safety and necessity of certain vaccines. What does this all mean for your dog or cat? Vaccination is a procedure that has risks and benefits that must be weighed for every dog relative to his lifestyle and health.  Any of the Lange Animal Clinic veterinarians can determine a vaccination regime that will provide the safest and best protection for your individual pet. Here are answers to some of your most frequently asked questions regarding vaccines:

What Exactly Are Vaccines?

Vaccines help prepare the body’s immune system to fight the invasion of disease-causing organisms. Vaccines contain antigens, which look like the disease-causing organism to the immune system but don’t actually cause disease. When the vaccine is introduced to the body, the immune system is mildly stimulated. If a dog or cat is ever exposed to the real disease, his immune system is now prepared to recognize and fight it off entirely or reduce the severity of the illness.

How Important Are Vaccines to the Health of My Dog or Cat?

Bottom line—vaccines are very important in managing the health of your dog or cat. That said, not every dog or cat needs to be vaccinated against every disease. It is very important to discuss with one of our veterinarians or veterinary technicians a vaccination protocol that’s right for your dog. Factors that should be examined include age, medical history, environment, travel habits and lifestyle. Lange Animal Clinic veterinarians highly recommend administering core vaccines to healthy dogs and cats.

What Are Core Vaccines for dogs?

Recently, the American Animal Hospital Association’s Canine Task Force published a revised version of guidelines regarding canine vaccinations. The guidelines divide vaccines into three categories—core, non-core and not recommended.

– Core vaccines are considered vital to all dogs based on risk of exposure, severity of disease or transmissibility to humans. Canine parvovirus, distemper, hepatitis and rabies are considered core vaccines by the Task Force.
– Non-core vaccines are given depending on the dog’s exposure risk. These include vaccines against Bordetella bronchiseptica, Borrelia burgdorferi and Leptospira bacteria.

What Are Core Vaccines for cats?

The American Association of Feline Practitioners divided vaccines into two categories-core and non-core. Core vaccines are considered vital to all cats and protect against panleukopenia (feline distemper), feline calici virus, feline herpes virus type I (rhinotracheitis) and rabies. Non-core vaccines are given depending on the cat’s lifestyle; these include vaccines for feline leukemia virus, Bordetella, Chylamydophila felis and feline immunodeficiency virus.

One of the Lange Animal Clinic veterinarians can assist with questions regarding core vaccinations for your dog or cat.

Are Any Vaccines Required By Law?

Each state has its own laws governing the administration of the rabies vaccine. Some areas require yearly rabies vaccination. Other areas call for vaccines every three years. An up-to-date canine rabies vaccination is a legal requirement. Be sure to keep proof of your dog’s rabies vaccines with his medical records.

How Often Should My Adult Dog or Cat Be Vaccinated?

Our veterinarians and veterinary technicians can best determine a vaccination schedule for your dog or cat. This will depend on the type of vaccine, your pet’s age, medical history, environment and lifestyle. Some adult dogs and cats might receive certain vaccines annually, while other vaccines might be given every 3 years or longer.

Are There Any Risks Associated With Vaccines?

Immunizations mildly stimulate an animal’s immune system in order to create protection from specific infectious diseases. This stimulation can create mild symptoms, ranging from soreness at the injection site to fever and allergic reactions. Another less common side effect is the development of immune mediated disease following vaccination.

That said, it is important to realize that vaccines have saved countless lives, and play a vital role in the battle against canine infectious disease. Additionally, rabies vaccinations have saved the lives of countless dogs and cats—and many humans as well. In some developing countries, hundreds of people die each year due to rabies contracted from dog or cat bites.

As with any medical procedure, there is a small chance of side effects. In most cases, the risks are much smaller than the risks of disease itself. But it is important to talk to your veterinarian about your dog or cat’s medical history before he is vaccinated.

What Symptoms Should I Look For?

Most dogs and cats show no ill effect from vaccination. Vaccine reactions may be minor and short-lived or require immediate care from a veterinarian. Clinical signs include:

  • Fever
  • Sluggishness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Facial swelling and/or hives
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Pain, swelling, redness, scabbing or hair loss around the injection site
  • Lameness
  • Collapse
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Seizures

It is best to schedule your dog or cat’s appointment so that you can monitor him for any side effects following administration of the vaccine.

What Should I Do if I Think My Dog or Cat Is Having an Adverse Reaction to a Vaccine?

If you suspect your dog is having a reaction to a vaccine, call one of the Lange Animal Clinic’s veterinarians immediately.