High temperatures don't have to rule out fun with pets on summer vacations
By Kim Campbell Thornton
Who goes to Arizona in the summer? It's not the first place traveling pet owners think of, especially with temperatures soaring as high as 115 degrees Fahrenheit recently. Despite the heat, we packed up our three dogs last month and drove to the town of Chandler, lured by the joint BlogPaws conference and Cat Writers Association annual meeting, held at the Sheraton Grand Wild Horse Pass.
I knew plenty of pets would be present, but I wasn't prepared for just how welcoming to pets the resort would be. We have stayed in many hotels and motels west of the Mississippi, and this one may well be a favorite.
Our ground-floor room opened up onto a patio overlooking desert landscaping, making it easy to take the dogs out to potty at any time without having to take them down long hallways to find an exit. A walking path winds through the resort, leading past the pool (one of the few areas where pets aren't allowed) and toward two hiking options: a two-mile nature trail and a path that parallels the manmade river flowing through the grounds. Leashed animals are welcome in the lobby bar and outdoor dining areas as well as on rental boats.
Fellow guests included other dogs, cats and even a ferret. Dexter, a 7-year-old cocker spaniel, accompanied owner and pet blogger Carol Bryant of Kingston, Pennsylvania.
"We loved that all the staff said hello to our dog, from the front desk to housekeeping," she says. "Many of the staff learned my dog's name and asked if he could have treats."
We dealt with the heat by getting up before sunrise (crazy, I know) and walking the dogs on the trails before it got too hot. They loved the chance to explore, and even 16-year-old Gemma had no trouble keeping up in the cool mornings. Then we'd have breakfast at the restaurant's outdoor seating area before retreating to our air-conditioned room for the rest of the day.
If you'll be vacationing with your dog or other pets in areas with extreme heat, here are some tips to keep animals safe and make the most of the stay.
-- Keep him hydrated. Whether you're driving to your destination or going for a walk or hike, make fresh, cool water available on a regular basis. Bring water from home that you can mix with local water so the change doesn't upset his stomach.
-- Protect his skin with sunscreen free of PABA and zinc oxide, which can be harmful to pets if ingested. Apply to ears and nose or over the whole body if your pet likes to sunbathe or has a short or light-colored coat. For water-loving dogs, choose waterproof sunscreen. If you're not sure what to get, ask your veterinarian for a recommendation.
-- Be aware of local fauna and flora. We had to prevent Keeper and Gemma from getting too close to cactus, and signs warned to watch for venomous snakes and insects such as scorpions.
-- Take your dog hiking, running or biking early in the morning, and let him drink frequently. Help him stay cool with a neck wrap filled with polymer crystals that stays wet and cool for hours after being soaked in water.
-- Keep flat-faced dogs such as boxers, bulldogs and pugs indoors during the day. They can succumb to heatstroke more rapidly than you might realize. Be concerned about heatstroke if your dog is panting continuously, his gums go dark red or he seems weak or collapses. Rub him down with water and get to the veterinarian immediately.
Protect cats from
Q: I live in Muskogee, Oklahoma, and I've heard that a number of cats in our area are dying from a disease called bobcat fever. What can you tell me about it, and how can I protect my two cats? -- via email
A: The scientific name for this disease is a mouthful: cytauxzoonosis. It is a deadly condition spread by the bite of a tick, and although it's known as bobcat fever, it can affect domestic cats and other wild cats, such as mountain lions. Infected cats cannot spread the disease to other cats or to humans or other animals.
The disease was first identified in Missouri, but the tick that primarily carries the infection, Amblyomma americanus, is now found throughout southeastern and south-central states such as Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas and Florida, all the way to the Atlantic coast and as far north as North Dakota.
Cats with the disease typically have an acute onset. In other words, they're fine one day, and the next they don't have any appetite, they seem lethargic and they have a high fever. The protozoal infection blocks blood flow to tissues and causes multiple organ failure.
Even with aggressive supportive care and treatment with a combination of antiparasitic and antibiotic drugs, which offer a better survival rate than previous treatments, approximately 40 to 50 percent of infected cats die within a week of infection.
The disease mainly affects outdoor cats. The best way to protect your cats is to keep them indoors so they are less likely to be bitten by ticks. If your cats do go outdoors, it's a good idea to get tick collars for them from your veterinarian. The collar has a breakaway design, so it's safe for cats to wear. -- Dr. Marty Becker
Do you have a pet question? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit Facebook.com/DrMartyBecker.
Dog owners warned
about tennis ball bombs
-- Be wary if your dog finds an abandoned tennis ball in the park. Biting down on it could maim or kill him. Police in some municipalities are warning pet owners that wrongdoers may intentionally leave out homemade fireworks made from tennis balls or ping pong balls. The bombs contain explosive material and may go off when a dog picks them up. If you see a fuse or find a ball wrapped in duct tape, call your dog away and notify police.
-- Have you ever noticed that your cat suddenly starts to groom himself when he has accidentally fallen off the sofa or is in the same room with another cat who's itching for a fight? Grooming is a feline stress-relief mechanism suited to many high-stress situations. The act of licking themselves helps cats automatically release nervous energy, helping to relax and reassure them when they feel embarrassed or threatened.
-- Summer reading for pet lovers: In "Making the Most of All Nine Lives: The Extraordinary Life of Buffy the Cat" by Sandy Robins and photographer Paul Smulson, a terrific tabby offers cats tips on making the most of all nine lives. "Cat Facts: The Pet Parent's A-to-Z Home Care Encyclopedia" by Amy Shojai recently scooped up a Cat Writers Association Muse medallion for its range of advice. "Gods, Ghosts and Black Dogs" by Stanley Coren tells tales of how Dalmatians got their spots, why basenjis don't bark and other fascinating canine folklore and mythology from around the world. Bronwen Dickey tells the story of the pit bull's journey from American icon to demonized dog in "Pit Bull: Battle Over an American Icon," "a marvelously compelling, eye-opening read." Potential puppy buyers and adopters won't want to miss Kim Kavin's "The Dog Merchants," a look behind the scenes at the production, sale and adoption of our best friends. -- Dr. Marty Becker, Kim Campbell Thornton and Mikkel Becker
ABOUT PET CONNECTION
Pet Connection is produced by a team of pet-care experts headed by "The Dr. Oz Show" veterinarian Dr. Marty Becker and award-winning journalist Kim Campbell Thornton. They are affiliated with Vetstreet.com and are the authors of many best-selling pet-care books. Joining them is dog trainer and behavior consultant Mikkel Becker. Dr. Becker can be found at Facebook.com/DrMartyBecker or on Twitter at DrMartyBecker. Kim Campbell Thornton is at Facebook.com/KimCampbellThornton and on Twitter at kkcthornton. Mikkel Becker is at Facebook.com/MikkelBecker and on Twitter at MikkelBecker.