Animal Hospital
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Dedicated staff
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Hours of Operation:

Monday: 8:30 a.m.-7 p.m.
Tuesday: 8:30 a.m.-7 p.m.
Wednesday: 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.
Thursday: 8:30 a.m.-7 p.m.
Friday: 8:30 a.m.-7 p.m.
Saturday: 8:30 a.m.-2 p.m.
Sunday: Closed

Global warming and its effect on our pets

Despite three feet of snow this past winter and a colder than usual spring global warming is upon us and affects our pets as well. What effect will it have? I have decided to concentrate on the most common warmer weather conditions.

Both internal and external parasites do better during the warmer portions of the year. Two decades ago when I was still learning about parasites in vet school we could say that ticks (and the diseases they carry) had a season from April to October. This used to be true because from November to March it was consistently cold enough to put ticks into a hibernatory state.

More recently we have had days in the 50s and 60s even in the months of December and January. Also, with natural disasters occurring more regularly both domestically and abroad, many shelters and rescue groups are importing dogs and cats for adoption from these areas. These animals can carry unwanted parasites internally. Therefore, talk to your veterinarian about year-round parasite control.

Heat Stroke
Heat stroke, or malignant hyperthermia, refers to a sudden rise in body temperature unrelated to infection. Dogs and cats do not have the ability to sweat but mild hyperthermia can be compensated by panting. If a pet's body temperature rises to above 106 F it could lead to organ dysfunction, seizures and possibly death. Brachycephalic breeds (English bulldogs, pugs, Boston terriers, Shar-Pei, Shih Tzus, Lhasa Apsos, boxers) have cute, squished-in faces. Unfortunately, these breeds (or mixed breeds of this type) also have a lot of extra tissue in the back of their oral cavity right at their larynx, or voice box which interferes with the passage of air in and out of the airway.

Other conditions such as obesity and laryngeal paralysis can also interfere with a pet's ability to pant efficiently. Remember to keep your pets in good body condition (especially if you have a breed that is prone to heat stroke) and only bring them out early in the day or later in the evening.

Leptospirosis is a disease that particularly affects dogs. Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection carried primarily by raccoons in the wild. It is also found in opossums, foxes, skunks and other dogs. The bacteria is passed in the urine so your dog does not have to come in direct contact with the wild animal. As a matter of fact the most common source of exposure is standing water (puddles, ponds, streams, even drain pipes with stagnant water in them). The bacteria gains access to the bloodstream through the membranes of the oral cavity, travels through the bloodstream, replicates in the kidneys and then passes again with the urine.

Feral cat populations
Feral, or wild, cats are a real problem on a local and even national level. Whereas dogs will usually only have two heat cycles per year a cat's heat cycle will vary depending on the ambient (outside) temperature and the photoperiod (the amount of daylight hours).

During warmer months cats can have a heat cycle every six weeks but when it cools off there can be much longer periods of time between heat cycles. Female cats will also usually go into heat approximately six to eight weeks after producing a litter. Consistently warmer weather can lead to a lot more kittens. If you feed strays make sure to try to get in touch with a spay or neuter and release program.

Allergies fall into four categories: food, flea, contact and atopic (seasonal). In my experience the two most common allergies fall into the flea and atopic categories, which are primarily an issue during the warmer months. The further into the fall and winter the temperature remains warm the longer those allergies will hang around.

I know I didn't list every condition related to warmer weather. I also take into account that there are certain conditions listed that we cannot eliminate, only attempt to manage. With that said talk to your veterinarian about what your pet may be at risk for during these warming trends.

Dr. Kearns has been in practice for 14 years and is pictured with his son, Matthew, his dog, Jasmine and his cat, The One Eyed Guy.

Matthew Kearns, DVM