Saturday, May 7, 2011

Backyard Dangers Senior Dogs Face Every Spring and Summer!

Throughout the Upper Midwest we have some of the most beautiful, desirable acreage properties in the country. These properties are the perfect place to raise a family that loves dogs. As the owner of an acreage property and an older dog, I know how thistles and burrs affect their paws.  Taking a walk around the yard can be an adventure as your dog ages because there are dangers lurking in the underbrush.

Poison Ivy--Be very aware of these poisonous plants as they are all over in yards and wooded areas. Many property owners don't even realize when a plant is poison ivy. Poison ivy is found all over the US while a close relative poison oak is found most often in the west. The plants to have a similar look and exposure to either of these plants will cause a similar, painfully itchy reaction. Imagine if your older dog comes across a patch of these oily leaves. It can get on their paws and even their tongue if they try to lick the affected areas. So how do you determine if your yard has poison ivy?

Poison Ivy in Summer
  • Classic poison ivy in full swing.
  • Some leaves are notched.
  • Some leaves are not.
  • New leaves are shiny and still somewhat reddish.
  • Older leaves are duller.
Poison ivy can be a ground cover, a vine or a bush. One small neglected patch can spread very quickly to a huge area. Exposure to this plant is an itchy nightmare that can last for several weeks unless treated with prescription medicines, usually steroids. These plants can leave oil on clothing which can spread in the laundry. Be aware of this hazard when
walking in any wooded area that you are unfamiliar with. Doggie booties and shoes designed for summer wear can prevent your senior dog from a painful, itchy experience if they wander into any area affected with poison ivy.

Think you can identify poison ivy? Take the POISON IVY PHOTO QUIZ

Wood Ticks/Deer Ticks--While the woods are often a haven for white-tailed deer, the beauty of these animals is overshadowed by a frightening reality. Deer ticks are carriers of Lyme disease; a painful disease for both younger and older dogs, that can be quite debilitating if untreated. Deer ticks (or Black-legged ticks) are rarely found in maintained yards but as deer have started to become into more urban areas it is not worth taking a chance as they are very tiny and often hidden deep down in a dog's fur. Most owners will not even notice after their dog has been bitten. The best defense is prevention of a deer
tick bite.
  • Preventive Treatments There are several products that do not require a visit to your vet that are affective to repel and kill ticks, fleas, lice and other parasites that can get onto and into your senior dog's coats. Treat early with a product that kills ticks immediately to prevent these pests from becoming attached to your favorite older friend.
  • Tick Removal If you do notice a tick on your dog, it is important to remove it quickly and properly. Use a pair of special tick tweezers to remove. Wear gloves to prevent infection. If you are unable to remove the head of the tick, it would be recommended to visit the vet to treat the bite area. Do NOT use a lit match to pop the tick. Gasoline is another no-no as these folklore methods can seriously harm your pet.
For additional information on ticks commonly found in the upper midwest, read article "Minnesota Ticks and Their Control", by Jeffery D. Hahn.

Copyright 2011