Monday, August 1, 2011

Keep Your Pets Safe While Visiting Lake Wedowee

News to Know

Story by Amanda Causey

Does your dog tag along with you wherever you go? For many dog owners, their dogs go where they go because they are a member of the family, whether it’s on their motorcycle, in their wedding, or on the boat. Boating with your dog seems a safe and enjoyable activity; however, it can be quite dangerous for your four-legged friend. Practice these dog safety tips while enjoying summertime activities with man’s best friend.
Rob  & Magnolia Germany enjoy a sunny
afternoon on Lake Wedowee.

Dr. Sam Shelnutt of Main Street Animal Hospital in Roanoke is our local veterinarian. When there are emergencies after hours he refers all his patients to his former classmate Dr. Barry Nicholls with Animal Medical Center in Anniston, Alabama.  I visited Dr. Nicholls to get some expert advise  on how to keep your pet safe during the hot summer months.

Howie Carter relaxes in the shade after a
morning of fishing on Lake Wedowee.

 The first topic of discussion was heat exhaustion. Dr. Nicholls stated that he sees a lot of pets who are suffering from the symptoms of heat stroke. Warning signs of heat exhaustion are heavy panting, pale gums, increased heart rate, and disorientation. If your dog starts to experience these symptoms immediately cool your dog down by submerging them into  water and keeping them cool. Seek medical help if symptoms do not lessen.
Wedowee Marine has a full line of pet products.
Another great tip Dr. Nicholls practices with his own pets is to groom your pets every summer, even if your breed does not typically need grooming. “I like summer haircuts,” he stated. “It lets us see fleas and ticks easily.” Looking for fleas and ticks, and keeping your pet cool are not the only reasons to trim the winter coat. Venomous snakes are a major threat to dogs, especially those who spend time around and on the water. Having a shorter mane will allow you to easily see if there is a bite. “Last year we  lost 5 animals to venomous snake bites.” said Nicholls. The three snakes that would cause a threat in this area are the Water Moccasin, Copperhead, and Coral snakes. If you see a snake near your pet and suspect a snake bite, take a photo of the snake and head to the vet. Knowing what type of snake will help in the treatment of your dog or cat. If you can catch the snake to bring along with you that will also help.  Symptoms of a snake bite are swelling and pain.
Dr. Nicholls advising his technician during surgery.

More specific to boat safety is the issue of life jackets. Is it a necessity? Dr.  Nicholls recommends that all dogs who are going to spend time on a boat have a life jacket. “Knowing if your dog can swim is the first step to protecting your pet. Get in the pool or shallow area of the lake and practice, just like you would with your child.” Also having a  doggy boat ladder will help your pet be less anxious in the water. “Practice getting onto the boat and they will remember the way.” explained Nicholls.  When buying a life vest ensure that you get one brightly colored so other boaters will be able to see your pet. Watch out for fish hooks and lures while on the boat. Keep any hazard out of their reach. Particularly fishing lines for cats.
Another good point that Dr. Nicholls made was “Be cautious when your pet jumps from the front of the boat into shallow water. There could be broken glass or sticks that can hurt their paws. We do tend to see a lot of foot lacerations.”
Being around the water is not always some dogs’ favorite thing to do. In the event you have a dog that gets anxious about boat rides there are solutions. Most anxiety can be controlled by behavioral training. There are also medications that can help, but it is always best to try other options. Nicholls said there is a new product called a “Thunder Shirt” that helps a dog feel secure and has a calming effect. He stated that he had seen a difference in behavior during thunderstorms and boat rides. 
Dr. Shelnut and his staff are available for your small animal needs Monday through Thursday 8:30 a.m.—12 p.m. and 1:30 p.m.—5:30 p.m. and on Fridays 8:30 a.m.—12 p.m. (334) 863-7111
Dr. Nicholls and his team of veterinarians and technicians are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you have an emergency give them a call while you are in transit to let them be prepared for your situation. 256-236-8387.


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