Category Archives for "Safety"

Let’s Talk Hot Weather

Picture this: summertime has arrived and that can only mean one thing. Beach days, barbecues, and long walks with your furry friend. It’s hot outside and you want to get out of the house so you grab the leash and start toward the front door. You glance at the clock on the wall and realize it’s the middle of the day – the temperature outside is at a high. You look down at your furry friend as your hand pauses on the doorknob.

Now Let’s Talk Hot Weather Risks

Summer is here, and so is the heat! That means easy days lounging by the pool, but it also means more risks for your pet. There are a few significant risks your pet faces when the days become hotter and the temperature rises. Burned paws, heatstroke, and dehydration are the most common. You’re likely aware of all of these, but maybe not just how much of a potential danger they pose during hotter months.

Burned Paws

Have you ever walked across the pavement on a hot day and had to sprint like you’ve never sprinted before because it burned your feet? When it’s extra hot outside, the pavement can burn and blister the pads of your pet’s feet and cause them immense pain. If it’s 77° outside, asphalt can be up to 125° in direct sunlight. To see if the street temperature is safe, put the back of your hand against the pavement and if you can’t keep it there for five seconds, it’s too hot for your pet. If taking them out is necessary, use dog booties or dog paw wax to help keep the sensitive pads of their feet safe. You know your pet the best. If you think they’re uncomfortable or in pain, bring them inside immediately. Tricks aside, the best rule of thumb is that if it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for them.


Often caused by human error, heatstroke causes your pet’s body temperature to rise, which can lead to organ failure. The most susceptible to heatstroke are those that are elderly, overweight, or those with heart or lung disease. You’ve probably heard stories on the news of people leaving their pets in a hot car. But what you may not know is just how dangerous that situation is. If it’s 70° outside and the sign is shining, the temperature inside the car will reach 104° within just thirty minutes. After an hour, it can reach 113°. Having the window down does little to nothing to ease the temperature inside the car.

Though not sensationalized like being left in a hot car, being outside, even in your backyard or on long walks can be just as deadly if it’s hot enough. But heatstroke can be avoided by following these easy steps. Limit exercise on hot days – the best time to be outside is either early morning or late evening when the temperature drops. Pets with white-colored ears need extra precautionary care because they are more susceptible to skin cancer; pets with shorter snouts are more susceptible to breathing problems. If being out during the day is unavoidable, have your pet walk on grass if at all possible. Providing shade is key – tree shade and tarps are optimal because they don’t obstruct airflow. Dog houses are actually a bad idea during the summer because their closed spaces obstruct airflow, effectively making things worse. If it’s extra hot, add ice cubes to your pet’s water bowl. You can make DIY popsicles with peanut butter, or provide cooling mats or bandanas to help keep your pet comfortable. It’s important to note that you shouldn’t shave your dog. You’d think doing so would keep them cool, but it actually has the opposite effect. The layers of their coats protect them from sunburn as well as overheating. It’s also a good idea to brush your cat more often than normal as it can prevent problems caused by excessive heat.

Always make sure your pet has access to fresh, cool water so they don’t become dehydrated.


Without continual access to fresh water, your pet is at risk to become dehydrated. When this happens, blood becomes very thick because the heart is forced to work extra hard in order to pump enough blood to organs throughout the body. Left untreated, dehydration can lead to circulatory shock and organ failure.

If you think your pet is suffering from any of these things, bring them in immediately. Their well-being is the priority, both yours and ours.

Now picture this: you take your hand off the doorknob and look to your pet. “Let’s stay inside today”, you say as you hang the leash back up. Your furry friend’s tail wags as you turn together and walk back into the depths of the air conditioning, safe for another day.

Let’s Talk Heartworms

Picture this: you and your dog are outside, frolicking beneath the sun on a warm,summer day. Not a care in the world beyond tossing the ball as far as you can and having your furry friend run to get it, tail wagging, darting through the tall grass. You feel something on your arm and you swat at it, coming away with a mosquito smashed between your fingers. Something tickles the back of your brain, a piece of knowledge that has settled there, waiting to be picked up. Heartworms.

What are heartworms and where do they come from?

Heartworms come from larvae that is transported from an infected mosquito to anunsuspecting host. This can happen anywhere there are mosquitos, but especially wherever there are hot spots along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, and along river tributaries. Once the larvae has been planted onto its new animal host, it grows into adult worms that live in the blood vessels that distribute to the heart and lungs of your pet. The most vulnerable of the unsuspecting hosts are animals that are kept outdoors,though any dog or cat can be infected from a mosquito bite. Dogs can be infected multiple times, leading to different stages of infection in the same host. The very presence of the parasite can stress the animal’s heart and cause inflammation of the blood vessels and lungs, and in some cases the worms can make their way into the heart. Heartworms as a disease is progressive and if left untreated, will only get worse and can even cause death.

How do I know if my pet has been affected?

Symptoms can vary, depending on a few different factors. The number of worms, the immune response of the infected pet, how long they’ve had the heartworms, and the activity level of the animal all factor in to what kind of symptoms they’re displaying and the severity of how they’re presented. The more active the animal, the more pronounced the symptoms. Heartworms can live upwards of five years, and left untreated, can cause serious health problems for your pet, even death. Possible symptoms for dogs include coughing, exercise intolerance, stunted growth, labored breathing, discoloration of the skin, spitting up blood, fainting, bleeding of the nose, and accumulation of fluid in the abdominal cavity. Possible symptoms for cats include coughing, asthma-like attacks, periodic vomiting, lack of appetite, and weight loss. If your pet displays any of these symptoms, take them in immediately to get tested. Pets should be tested annually anyway, which can be done during a routine visit for preventative planning. The best care is preventative care, but if you think that your pet may be infected, acting fast is crucial.

I think my pet has been infected… what do I do?

If you think there’s a possibility that your pet may have been infected, even if you’re unsure, give us a call and we’ll get them tested and take the appropriate steps for treatment. There is just one drug available for heart worm treatment for dogs and is administered by being injected deep into muscles in the back of the dog. One third of dogs will experience side effects from the drug, including localized pain, swelling, and soreness. Dogs should be kept in a confined area with little to no activity for up to amonth after, as even after treatment, dead heartworms can cause respiratory problems.Your pet will need to be retested after six months to ensure the heartworms are gone.For cats, unfortunately, there are currently no effective treatments, so preventative care is imperative.

Let’s talk prevention.

As with most animal care, prevention is the key to everything. Chances are, you already knew about heartworm medication, but now you know just why it’s so important. We recommend it as a year-round treatment, as it’s impossible to accurately guess just when mosquitoes will be present, and we want to keep your pets safe at all times.Medications are available only by prescription and accessible in-office. Most heart worm medications are given monthly, and the most important thing is to stick to the regimen for your pet, as a lapse in medication can lead to infection. A good trick to ensure you remember every month is to set a reminder on your phone. Some manufacturers of medications also offer monthly email reminders. If you miss a dose, contact us immediately to have your pet tested. It’s important to note that some medications may also protect against other parasites, both internal and external but no single medication can guarantee 100% protection against all parasites, so it’s important to schedule that initial preventative planning appointment to discuss your pet’s needs and what is best for them.Now picture this: your dog brings back the ball, joy in his every step as he bounds back to you. You discard of the squashed mosquito and grab the ball as your phone dings – a reminder that it’s time for this month’s dose. You scratch your good boy behind the earsas you throw the last ball of the day, happy in the knowledge that your furry friend is safe thanks to his heartworm medication.

Dog looking at food in the plate

5 Holiday Items That Can Hurt Your Pet

5 Holiday Items That Can Hurt Your Pet

The Holidays are a wonderful time to enjoy good company and great food. But some holiday food items and items are actually toxic to pets, and can cause serious health issues – such as the painful and life-threatening illnesses pancreatitis and bloat. In this article, you will gain a handy list that explains which common holiday foods and items are harmful for your pet. This way, with some easy planning and a bit of caution, you can just relax and enjoy the holidays!


#1 – Fatty Foods and Table Scraps

Any fatty meats are very harmful to dogs – such as pork products, meat drippings, turkey skin, and table scraps. This can cause a host of stomach issues, such as vomiting, diarrhea, and internal injury. More troublingly, fatty foods can cause pancreatitis in dogs.

Pancreatitis is a serious and potentially life-threatening illness. Older and overweight dogs are especially at risk. The pancreas is an organ in your dog’s body that is responsible for helping to digest food through the release of enzymes. Normally, these enzymes are activated only once they reach the small intestine. When a dog experiences Pancreatitis, the enzymes are activated before they normally would be, and can damage the dog’s pancreas and surrounding internal organs and tissues. This is very painful, and can cause devastating effects. This is why it is so important to never feed your dogs fatty foods. Symptoms of pancreatitis include:

  • Vomiting
  • Hunched Back
  • Bloated Stomach
  • Diarrhea
  • Dehydration
  • Fever
  • Lethargy

Pancreatitis requires immediate veterinary care. If you notice any of the symptoms in your dog, please call us immediately at (310) 517-1832. We’ll need to stabilize your dog’s condition, monitor their vitals, treat their pain levels, and administer intravenous fluids.


#2 Bread Dough

Unbaked bread dough should never be ingested by dogs or cats. This is because it contains yeast. As a pet ingests the raw dough, yeast transforms the dough’s sugars into alcohol and carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide expands within your dog’s stomach, and can cause bloating. This is a life threatening medical emergency, and must be treated by a veterinary team right away. Bloat is one of the leading causes of death in dogs.

Some of the symptoms of bloat are:

  • Unsuccessful vomiting attempts
  • Atypical behaviors
  • Restlessness and anxiety
  • Hunched appearance
  • Bloated abdomen
  • Off-color gums
  • Flatulence
  • Coughing and gagging
  • Licking the air


#3 Bird Bones

In order for a bird’s body to be able to support flight (even turkey), their bones must be hollow. This is why you should never allow your dog or cat to ingest bird bones, as these bones can easily splinter during digestion. If the bone splinters, it can cause severe damage to your pet’s intestines. This damage can cause infection or an intestinal blockage, both of which can be serious. Intestinal blockage is especially dangerous, and almost always requires immediate surgery by a veterinarian.

The symptoms of intestinal blockage vary based on where the blockage occurs. If the blockage occurs in their throat, they may lick their lips, swallow excessively, or vomit immediately after being fed. If the blockage exists in the stomach, they may vomit a few hours after their meal. If the blockage occurs somewhere in the small intestine, they may vomit, diarrhea, or exhibit a bloated stomach.


#4 Alcohol

Alcohol poisoning is surprisingly common in dogs and cats, and incidences swell around the holiday season. This is usually due to pets getting into drinks that are left unattended. Alcohol is absorbed quickly either through your pet’s digestion or through their skin. It can be very serious, and can even cause death (usually by heart attack). Please make sure your pet never has access to anyone’s alcoholic beverage (or foods that are made with alcohol, such as rum cake).

Symptoms of alcohol poisoning:

  • Depression
  • Involuntary urination or defecation
  • Decreased body temperature
  • Delayed reflexes
  • Slowed breathing and heart rate (this usually indicates an advanced case)



#5 Holiday Plants 

Pet owners often decorate their homes with festive plants around the holidays. However, many of these plants are actually toxic to pets. A couple common Christmas plants that are toxic to pets are mistletoe and holly. These can cause gastrointestinal and cardiovascular problems. Other common holiday plants that are dangerous for pets to ingest are:

  • Lillies
  • Poinsettias
  • Daffodils
  • Amaryllis

Christmas trees can actually be a hazard for pets as well. Tinsel commonly attracts cats. When ingested, this can cause intestinal blockage, which, as discussed in item #3, is a serious and life-threatening emergency. It’s also important not to let your pet eat the pine needles either, as these can puncture your pet’s intestines.


With some simple planning, you can make sure your pet stays out of danger’s way, and you can enjoy the holidays with friends, family, and plenty of delicious food. Our team at Harbor Pines wishes you the happiest of holiday seasons, and if you ever need us, we are always here for you and your pets.



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