How Smoking Harms Your Pet

Research has long told us that smoking is harmful to humans, and not only those who smoke. Both second- and third-hand smoke can be bothersome at best and disease-causing at worst. This is no different for pets who are exposed to household environmental tobacco smoke.

WHY IS TOBACCO SMOKE HARMFUL?

According the Government of Canada “Tobacco contains more than 4,000 chemicals and more than 70 of these chemicals are known to cause, initiate and promote cancer.” Smoking not only causes cancer, but also increases the risk of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases in both humans and animals.

WHAT IS SECOND-HAND SMOKE?

Second-hand smoke is the smoke that is either exhaled by tobacco smokers or created from burning tobacco. When exhaled, smoke contains particles of chemicals that are heavier than air and will naturally fall instead of rise in the environment. This means these chemicals are falling into the space your pets occupy, causing them to breath in this toxic mixture.

WHAT IS THIRD-HAND SMOKE?

Third-hand smoke is the nicotine and other chemical residues that can be left behind on such things as carpets, curtains, furniture and pet bedding inside a home where smoking occurs. Pets are self groomers and lick their fur to keep themselves clean. It is easy for these residues to stick to pet fur, creating an opportunity for toxins to be ingested.

WHAT DISEASES CAN SECOND-HAND AND THIRD-HAND SMOKE CAUSE IN PETS?

Studies have shown that exposure to environmental tobacco smoke can cause the following increased risks in pets:

  • Lymphoma;
  • Oral cancer;
  • Nasal, sinus and lung cancers;
  • Allergy- or asthma-related; breathing problems;
  • Allergic skin conditions;
  • Eye problems; and
  • Heart problems.

It is important to remember that it is not just dogs and cats being affected by the negative effects of tobacco smoke. According to the FDA, pet birds, guinea pigs and even fish are also very sensitive to these toxins.

TOBACCO TOXICITY FROM ACCIDENTAL INGESTION

Having ashtrays and packages of cigarettes accessible to pets can pose the risk of ingestion to a curious pet. According to ASPCA Poison Control, tobacco toxicity can result in hyperexcitability then depression, vomiting, incoordination, paralysis and possibly death. If you suspect your pet has ingested nicotine, you should contact your veterinarian immediately

WHAT CAN YOU DO TO MINIMIZE YOUR PET’S EXPOSURE TO TOBACCO SMOKE?

The best thing you can do for both you and your pet’s health is to quit smoking. Other alternatives include:

  • Limiting smoking to outdoors only;
  • When smoking indoors, keep the area well ventilated;
  • Try limiting smoking indoors to a room that you can keep your pet out of; and
  • Wash your pet’s bedding and toys frequently to eliminate chemical residues that results from smoking.

For more information on how you can quit smoking, visit www.breakitoff.ca.

 

Kristina Cooper is a Registered Veterinary Technician (RVT) and proud member of the Ontario Association of Veterinary Technicians (OAVT). She has previously worked in both small animal practice and a municipal animal shelter. With a special interest in the relationship between animal and human health she is currently the Provincial Manager of the OAVT Public Health Rabies Response Program and an active One Health Initiative advocate. She can be reached by email at krizzteena@hotmail.com

Prime Time For Veterinary Care

With the addition of a new puppy or kitten to your family, life has no doubt become exciting! Keeping their health in tip-top shape is sure to be on your mind as you embark on new adventures in your life together. Here is a timeline of major milestones in your new relationship that should involve your veterinarian.

RIGHT AFTER YOU PICK UP YOUR NEW FAMILY MEMBER

If you know ahead of time what your pickup arrangements are, you may want to consider calling ahead to your veterinary clinic to book your first appointment on the way home. Most kittens/puppies arrive home at six to eight weeks of age. Having your new fluffy family member examined soon after pickup will help to ensure your new friend is healthy (and not showing any signs of contagious disease that may be transmitted to other pets you may already have at home). In some cases, a health exam may be required within the first 72 hours for an adoption contract to be valid. An early meeting at this young age with a veterinarian will also start your pet on the right path to feeling comfortable in the clinic environment, which will help to foster positive experiences in the visits to come.

EIGHT WEEKS OF AGE

Your new pet’s eight-week examination is important to ensure that they are developing properly. This visit will also include the first series of vaccinations given to provide immunity to your new pet against common contagious diseases, as the maternal immunity their mom provided in young kitten/puppyhood has now waned. Parasite control will also be discussed and treated for both internal and external parasites, such as fleas and intestinal worms. Don’t forget to bring along a fresh fecal sample for testing!

12 WEEKS OF AGE

The 12-week checkup helps your veterinarian make sure everything is still on track with your pet’s development. This visit will also include a set of booster vaccinations to ensure your pet’s immunity is still effective and that any potential parasites are under control. Another fecal sample should be tested.

16 WEEKS OF AGE

At 16 weeks of age, your new friend will begin losing their baby teeth and adult teeth will erupt. Your veterinarian will make sure this is going smoothly (see page 18 for more on dental care), on top of performing another physical exam. This visit will also include the final booster vaccine for your pet, as well as a rabies vaccine. A final fecal exam will be done to check one more time to make sure your pet is parasite free. This test may be done multiple times to cover the prepatent period of multiple parasites, as they do not all follow the same schedule of showing signs of infection.

SIX MONTHS OF AGE

Now that your pet has matured six months, it is the prime time to discuss having your pet spayed/neutered. Spaying/neutering will prevent unwanted pregnancies as well as decrease the chances of reproductive organ diseases, such as potentially fatal infections and cancer. This surgical procedure can also help to decrease territorial behaviours. Once the surgery has been performed, a return visit in 10–14 days will be necessary to ensure the surgical site is healing well and so sutures can be removed if necessary. See page 14 for a story on what can happen when you don’t spay/neuter pets!

ONE-YEAR VACCINE ANNIVERSARY

Your furry family member has celebrated their first year milestone and is likely a happy and healthy member of your family. As a young adult, your pet should make an annual trip to the veterinary office to have a complete physical exam (and receive any annual booster vaccines needed) to ensure they remain healthy for years to come. Examinations provide the opportunity for your veterinary staff to observe any underlying disease at an early stage and start treatment to halt or delay its progression.

 

Kristina Cooper is a Registered Veterinary Technician (RVT) and proud member of the Ontario Association of Veterinary Technicians (OAVT). She has previously worked in both small animal practice and a municipal animal shelter. With a special interest in the relationship between animal and human health, she is currently the provincial manager of the OAVT Public Health Rabies Response Program and an active One Health Initiative advocate. She can be reached by email at krizzteena@hotmail.com.

Exercising Your Puppy

One of the best things you can do with your new puppy is provide them with the proper amount of exercise. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) (www.petobesityprevention.org) , approximately 54% of U.S. dogs are considered overweight or obese. Besides feeding the proper amount of a good quality diet, the next best thing to maintain proper weight is exercise.

EASE INTO IT

The requirements for exercise will vary based on your pet’s breed and age. Some breeds tend to be more laid back while others have a higher activity level. Younger puppies tend to go through multiple cycles of sleeping, playing, eating and eliminating throughout the day with bursts of exercise and activity lasting for a little as five minutes.

As they age the amount of time they stay awake will increase, and so will their exercise and activity requirements. There is no set amount of exercise each dog requires. The best approach is to ease into exercise and increase it as they mature into adulthood.

DAILY WALKING

Walking is often the go-to exercise for dogs. It provides a great opportunity for bonding with your pet, provides them a chance to eliminate and gives them a change of scenery.

Persistence is key when first introducing walking to your puppy as they adjust to wearing a collar and leash. Short walks with a positive ending (think belly rubs and treats) for tolerating these new accessories will help to get your new puppy accustomed to this routine.

Until your puppy is fully vaccinated it is best to keep walking restricted to your yard to prevent exposure to other animals and disease. It is also wise to avoid walks in extreme heat and cold.

PLAY COUNTS

Some puppies get most of their exercise during play. A good game of fetch, tug or chase will get the heart pumping. Having multiple different play sessions and games to play with your puppy will keep them from getting bored.

MENTAL ACTIVITY IS ESSENTIAL

Destructive behaviour such as chewing furniture, excessive licking and inappropriate elimination can be the result of anxiety created by a lack of exercise and activity. Ensuring your pet maintains an active lifestyle both mentally and physically will help decrease the chances that these troublesome behaviours arise.

Spending time teaching your dog tricks or offering them puzzle toys that contain hidden treats will help to keep them mentally stimulated and healthy.

When they are old enough, obedience training is also a fantastic way to increase your pet’s daily steps, engage them mentally and teach them the basics of being a well-behaved dog.

Starting an exercise routine with your new puppy and sticking with it throughout their life encourages a healthy lifestyle and will help decrease the risk of weight-associated diseases. Your veterinary healthcare team is a great resource to discover what exercise you can include in your individual pet’s daily routine.

Kristina Cooper is a Registered Veterinary Technician (RVT) and proud member of the Ontario Association of Veterinary Technicians (OAVT). She has previously worked in both small animal practice and a municipal animal shelter. With a special interest in the relationship between animal and human health she is currently the Provincial Manager of the OAVT Public Health Rabies Response Program and an active One Health Initiative advocate. She can be reached by email at krizzteena@hotmail.com

Backyard Hazards Series: Preventing Disease Transmission Between Kids And Dogs

Pets make great companions and are most often an integral part of our family. As pet companionship has evolved, pets now more than ever spend time in close proximity to their human family members. These days it is common for children to grow up side by side with their cherished pets, often sharing a snack together or exchanging kisses. Although your pet may appear outwardly healthy, it is possible that they can carry bacteria, viruses and parasites that can be transmitted to people during these simple daily interactions.

“ THE EASIEST AND LIKELY MOST EFFECTIVE MEASURE WE CAN TAKE IS TO ENSURE OUR CHILDREN GET INTO THE ROUTINE OF WASHING THEIR HANDS AFTER HANDLING AND INTERACTING WITH THEIR DOG.

The World Organisation for Animal Health (OiE) recognizes that, “Most of the recent emerging diseases have an animal origin, and almost all of them have zoonotic [Ed.: the ability to pass from animals to humans] potential.” So what can we do as pet parents to keep our families healthy when living so closely with our pets?

 

WASH YOUR HANDS

The easiest and likely most-effective measure we can take is to ensure our children get into the routine of washing their hands after handling and interacting with their dog. Dogs are self-groomers and it is possible for bacterial from their mouths to be deposited onto their fur when grooming. All we have to do is pet them and then rub our eyes, nose or mouth to allow that same bacteria to enter our bodies through our mucous membranes. Handwashing for 20 seconds with soap in warm or cold water after touching a dog, their food or collecting their waste is a great way to get rid of any unwanted germs.

HANDLE DOG FOOD AND TREATS WITH CARE

It is important to recognize that, similar to our own food, from time to time pet food may also be contaminated with organisms such as salmonella and listeria monocytogenes. The prevalence of these organisms is higher in raw food diets. If you are feeding raw food diets to your dog, it is important to thoroughly wash all counters, dishes and utensils that have been used to prepare the food and keep them separate from your family’s dishes and utensils. If raw food is being fed in your household, the task of feeding pets should be left to the adults in the house. Handwashing afterward is highly recommended.

MAKE SURE YOUR DOG HAS REGULAR VETERINARY VISITS

Making sure your dog regularly visits your veterinarian is a great way to prevent potential disease spread to your family members. Because most dogs spend time both inside and outside, they can often be the go between for disease spread. Preventive vaccinations, such as the vaccine for rabies virus, can ensure that not only your dog is protected from acquiring rabies through interactions with wildlife, but your family stays safe and free of rabies, too. Preventive treatments for parasites, such as ticks, fleas and intestinal worms, can also aid in keeping your pet healthy and preventing disease transmission between your dog and family members.

Next time you visit your veterinary healthcare team inquire about what you can do to prevent the spread of infection between your pets and family members.


Kristina Cooper is a Registered Veterinary Technician (RVT) and proud member of the Ontario Association of Veterinary Technicians (OAVT). She has previously worked in both small animal practice and a municipal animal shelter. With a special interest in the relationship between animal and human health, she is currently the provincial manager of the OAVT Public Health Rabies Response Program and an active One Health Initiative advocate. She can be reached by email at krizzteena@hotmail.com.

Coping With Canine Kennel Cough

Thinking of travelling somewhere without your pooch this winter? If so, canine kennel cough is something you should be aware of if you are planning on sending Fido on a vacation of his own.

Canine kennel cough, also known as canine infectious tracheobronchitis, causes irritation and inflammation of the upper airway, including the trachea and bronchi. It can be passed along from dog to dog in environments where multiple dogs have contact, including boarding kennels, doggy daycares, grooming salons, training facilities, animal shelters and off-leash dog parks.

WHAT CAUSES KENNEL COUGH?

Like the common cold in people, kennel cough is most commonly caused by viruses, and in some cases bacteria such as:

  • Canine adenovirus,
  • Canine parainfluenza virus, and
  • Bordetella bronchiseptica (a bacterium).

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF KENNEL COUGH?

Kennel cough is most easily distinguished by the loud, hoarse and hacking cough that resembles a certain goose-like honking sound.

Although no symptoms other than the cough may be present, some dogs will also develop the following:

  • Runny nose,
  • Runny eyes,
  • Sneezing,
  • Loss of appetite,
  • Fever,
  • Lethargy, and
  • Difficulty breathing.

 

HOW IS KENNEL COUGH TREATED?

If the cause is viral, no treatment may be needed at all and the virus will run its course in about three weeks. If the cause is bacterial, antibiotic treatment may be prescribed. Keeping your pet’s environment warm and humidified and allowing them lots of rest can also be helpful.

In some cases, animals that are immune compromised (e.g., puppies who have not fully developed their immune systems, senior dogs who have weakened immune systems and those suffering other diseases) may develop more of the symptoms of canine cough and require supportive care. In these cases, it may take up to six weeks for the cough to clear. In rare cases, canine kennel cough can lead to pneumonia.

If your pet is experiencing signs of canine kennel cough, it is a wise idea to make an appointment with your veterinary healthcare team to determine what course of treatment may be required.

 

HOW CAN KENNEL COUGH SPREAD?

Canine kennel cough is very contagious and transmitted similarly to how humans catch colds. When droplets containing the virus or bacteria responsible for kennel cough are expelled into the air by an infected dog’s cough, they are transmitted to other dogs via inhaled air. These viruses and bacteria then have an entry way into the body through the mucous membranes of the upper airway. Once inside the body the virus replicates and the dog becomes symptomatic.

If your dog has canine kennel cough it is best to keep them isolated from other dogs until their symptoms have passed to prevent further spread.

HOW CAN KENNEL COUGH BE PREVENTED?

The great news is that there are vaccines to prevent the most common causes of canine kennel cough. Vaccinations may be given by injection, or as drops into the nose or by mouth. Vaccine boosters will be required to ensure your dog’s immunity remains protective. If you are planning a vacation and know that your dog will require a stay at a boarding facility, it most helpful to get these vaccines a couple of weeks prior to boarding.


Kristina Cooper is a Registered Veterinary Technician (RVT) and proud member of the Ontario Association of Veterinary Technicians (OAVT). She has previously worked in both small animal practice and a municipal animal shelter. With a special interest in the relationship between animal and human health, she is currently the provincial manager of the OAVT Public Health Rabies Response Program and an active One Health Initiative advocate. She can be reached by email at krizzteena@hotmail.com.