Thursday, June 23, 2011

Threats to Pets in the American Southwest

Photo by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
In Episode 12 of ON THE ROAD WITH MAC AND MOLLY, I visit with San Antonio, Texas veterinarian Rae Dishinger, of the Alamo Dog and Cat Hospital, who introduces us to some of the “Threats to Pets” specific to the American Southwest.

As Gene and I have been moving about the country with Mac and Molly, we have had to be on guard against potential perils all along the way. Here, in the West, we’ve been on the look out for rattlers and copperheads, coyotes and bobcats, feral hogs and even birds of prey. 

On occasion, we’ve been too late to keep Mac from rolling in burro poop and to keep Molly from eating cow pies. We’ve had to have both of the dogs treated for kennel cough even though they’d been vaccinated against this respiratory illness in the east. We discovered that, just as there are numerous variants of human flu, there are many strains of kennel cough and you can’t vaccinate against them all.

Rae tells us what wild animals and toxic plants may be encountered in the Southwest and offers advice on dealing with climatic changes (particularly the intense heat and humidity in this part of the world). She also shares the story of how her own beloved dog succumbed to the bite of a rattler. One other surprising note: Lyme Disease, which is of such concern in the East, has now reared its ugly head in some parts of the Southwest.

In future episodes of this multi-part “Threats to Pets” series, which will be interspersed through shows on unrelated topics, I’ll be speaking with veterinarians in other regions of the country who will discuss ways to protect our pets from threats specific to each of those regions. As noted in the launch of the series, we’ll learn from these folks about external and internal parasites; infectious diseases; insects, wild animals; plants; toxins and poisons found in and around our homes and in various places we may visit while traveling on the road.

For more on our adventures as "Rubber Hobos," visit

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