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Summertime Pet Adventures

Summertime Pet Adventures

One thing I love about summertime – the days are longer. That means I can take my dogs out for an early morning and late evening walk when the temperatures may be a little cooler and the daylight is stretched to the limit. It’s good for them and for me. There are more hours to explore new places. I know people who take their dogs to the beach or the river on a nice day.

Park Place

I have found a new place close by to explore. It’s the Martin Marietta Park in New Bern. It’s still being developed and, sometimes, Davy and I have the park all to ourselves. Progress is being made with the boat ramp, restrooms and more. When this park is complete, it will have about 850 acres with activities for adults, children, and pets with forest, lake and river views. For now, even in the early phase of its development, it is pet-approved by Davy.

There is a 3.2 mile park loop that allows dogs on leash. Davy loves the exercise and the opportunities to sniff and smell. I love a good outing and the chance to see birds that I don’t get in my backyard. I can’t wait to see the birding activity that the fall migration will bring.

Short Leash = Safe Dog

When we are walking in the neighborhood, we spot a lot of squirrels, bunny rabbits, baby birds, and an occasional possum, or deer. I keep Davy’s leash short so he doesn’t have a snake encounter (they are out now too); I want to see exactly what is in front of his nose. My neighbor’s dog was frolicking in the park when she heard a yelp followed by her dog limping toward her. It turned out to be from a snake bite. If you have ever seen a dog swollen and whining in pain from a snake bite, you will think twice about letting your pup get too far ahead of you on the trails. A vet visit, pain meds, antibiotics, and time allowed her pup to fully recover.

On the Road…

Car rides are fun – now that they don’t always end up in the vet parking lot. Davy is happy to jump into his crate in the back of the SUV. An interesting side note: He knows by the direction I turn the car where he is likely to end up. When I drive him to school, he faces the back window; when we go to the park, he faces the front window. I can tell that he is happier going to the park!

Curious Kitties

Cats enjoy the summer too. They gravitate to their perch to watch the birds come to the feeder. Many of my clients have their feeders lined up with their cat trees by a window so the cats can get a bird’s eye view. Cats also love to find a sunny spot to snooze and summer provides them with comfy rays of sunshine almost every day. Kitties love to climb on the screen by the open window to get as close as they can to the flowers, animals, and scents on the other side.

Bird’s Eye View

I have a few clients who place their bird’s cage on the porch or patio on nice days so their birds can enjoy the scenery and the sun. I imagine that it feels good to a parrot, cockatiel, parakeet, and conure to have some wind under their wings and to hear our yard birds up close.

Staycations

Your caged pets like bunnies, hamsters, gerbils, lizards, and your indoor cats are best left inside to stay out of harm’s way. They can have a fully enriched indoor space with toys, perches, hiding places, boxes and games where they can play in a safe and healthy environment.

Summer affords us a lot of extra daylight and nice warm temperatures to enjoy with our pets both inside and outside.

Dogs, Cats, and Copperheads

Dogs, Cats, and Copperheads

How to keep your pets safe from snakes.

The warm weather brings Copperheads out of hibernation.  They can be seen at our dog parks, in the middle of our yards, on wood piles and compost mounds, under bushes, in gardens, on porches, and just outside your front door. Are they dangerous to our pets? YES!

Take action:  If your pet is bitten, take it to your veterinarian ASAP.  Do not delay treatment.  Bites are painful and prone to infection.  Your pet needs to be evaluated and treated with pain medication, fluids and/or antibiotics.  Diagnostic tests may also be warranted to determine if there are any systemic effects from the venom.

The clinical signs associated with a snake bite are extensive and painful swelling that spreads rapidly.  You may see bleeding or a bloody discharge at the site of the bite.  Fang wounds are not always visible due to rapid swelling or the mouth size of the snake that did the biting. 

The prognosis of the snake bite depends on several factors:  the size of the snake; the location of the injection; the age, size and health of the pet; and the pet’s sensitivity to the venom.   Small and frail animals are the most susceptible to venom which makes them the most vulnerable. 

Prevention:  While dog walking use a short leash.  Keep dogs away from exploring holes in the ground, digging under logs, flat rocks or wood piles.  Don’t let your pups sniff around things you can’t see like wood piles, under bushes, or planks.  

Hiking:  If you are hiking, stay on the trail or open paths where snakes are easier to see.  If you pet seems curious about “something” that you can’t see – be cautious. 

Yard:  Keep compost or wood piles away from the house.  Maintain your garden so it is free of overgrown plants and debris.  Regularly mow the law. Install fences 8-12 inches deep. Don’t leave containers of water around. Keep sheds rodent-free. Remove fallen fruit from the ground.  Basically, provide an environment that is not attractive to snakes.  If you see a snake on your property, bring your pets inside the house.  

As a pet sitter, I worry about the dogs and cats that have access to the outdoors while their owners are away.  If a dog goes out the doggie door to spend time exploring in the yard, it may be bitten and not even discovered until the next scheduled visit which could be hours later. 

An extended leash used for dog walking may enable the dog to venture near a well-camouflaged snake that we don’t know is there until it has struck.  A curious cat is certainly no match for a snake bite.  Cats are natural hunters and will chase anything that moves without realizing the danger they are putting themselves in. 

So it is with good reason for us all to take precautions to protect our pets, keep our distance from snakes when we see them, and take our pet to the veterinarian if a snake strike occurs.  Let’s hope 2019 is a mild season for snake bite reports.