Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Threats to Pets

Western Diamondback Snake. Photo by the
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
In Episode 11, we launch into a multi-part series entitled, “Threats to Pets.” As my husband Gene and I have been traveling about the country with our two Old English Sheepdogs – Mac and Molly – we have encountered potential perils all along the way. Speaking just of wildlife: in Louisiana, we were warned to take care walking near a lake because the denizens therein – the alligators – had developed a special appreciation for “dog.” In Colorado, the concerns were over bears and mountain lions. In South Dakota: prairie dogs carrying the bubonic plague. In Texas: rattlesnakes.

It was in San Antonio, Texas that veterinarian Rae Dishinger suggested that Mac and Molly receive rattlesnake vaccine. In the event of a bite, she said, the vaccine would slow the spread of the venom giving us additional time to get our loved one to a veterinarian. Rattlers are of special concern to Rae as her own dog died as the result of a snake bite. Rae also treated Mac and Molly when they contracted kennel cough. Our veterinarian in Pennsylvania and we had been careful to have the dogs vaccinated against this respiratory illness before we hit the road but, we learned, just as there are many different strains of human flu, there are many strains of kennel cough, and you can’t vaccinate against them all.

Getting us started with this series will be veterinary toxicology consultant Dr. Sharon Gwaltney-Brant, former Vice President of the ASPCA’s Poison Control Center. In this first episode in the series, she’ll identify for us some of the common toxins and poisons found in and around our homes and on the road – on roadsides and at rest areas, campgrounds and dog parks --wherever we may be in the country. She’ll offer suggestions on what to pack for our pets when we take them on the road and she’ll share the story of how her own border terrier had to be treated for intoxication after eating something he found on the ground at a rest stop.

In future episodes, we’ll hear from veterinarians in several regions of the country who will instruct us in ways to protect our pets from threats specific to each of those regions. From these folks, we’ll learn about parasites (external and internal); infectious diseases; insects, wild animals; plants; and toxins and poisons found in and around our homes and in various places we may visit while on the road.

For more on our adventures as Rubber Hobos, visit http://www.rubberhobos.com. 

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