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Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

For short-haired pets with skin exposed on their bodies, a t-shirt (children's or adult, depending on the size of the pet) can be fitted over the body. © American Kennel Club
For short-haired pets with skin exposed on their bodies, a t-shirt (children's or adult, depending on the size of the pet) can be fitted over the body.

© American Kennel Club

June 2008

Creature comforts

Get ready to hit the road.

Natasha Kassulke


Pickups and your pooch
When the sun isn't fun
One for the day planner
Dog overboard
Cats leaders as domestic pet rabies carriers

After a winter of record snowfall in some parts of the state, we deserve a break and so does your pet. Spring is here,and summer is around the corner. It's time to grab a leash and pack up Max or Molly to enjoy the surf, sun, sights and sniffs that the seasons have to offer. Along with the fun, take a few precautions to keep all of you safe in the excitement to shake off those winter blues.

Pickups and your pooch

It is very dangerous, and in some states illegal, to drive with a dog or any other animal in the back of a pickup truck. Not only can flying debris, dust and stones cause serious injury, but animals may be unintentionally thrown into traffic if the driver suddenly hits the brakes, swerves, hits a bump or is hit by another car. Pets should ride either in enclosed cabs (in a crate or wearing a seat belt harness designed for pets) or in a pet carrier protected from wind, sun and weather and firmly secured to the truck bed.

When the sun isn't fun

Pets can get sunburned too, and your pet may require sunscreen on his or her nose and ear tips. Pets with light-colored noses or light-colored fur on their ears are particularly vulnerable to sunburn and skin cancer. Sunscreens (SPF should be 15 or greater), including those developed specifically for pets and those containing titanium dioxide as the active ingredient, should be used to prevent sunburn. For short-haired pets with skin exposed on their bodies, a t-shirt (children's or adult, depending on the size of the pet) can be fitted over the body. Sunburn treatments are based on the severity of the burn. Consult a veterinarian.

One for the day planner

It's some of the best dog-watching around. Featuring events such as a dog-owner look-alike contest and visits with dog-friendly organizations, the Mounds Dog Fest returns to Madison at noon on Sunday, June 8 at Willow Island, Alliant Energy Center. For more information visit Mounds Pet Food Warehouse or call (608) 825-9800.

Dog overboard

Not all dogs are excellent swimmers by nature. In fact, breeds with low body fat like greyhounds, Doberman pinschers and boxers can have trouble in the water. Older dogs may tire easily, and breeds prone to hip dysplasia may have difficulty swimming or getting out of the water. Pets can have great difficulties getting out of pools with disastrous results. Prevent free access to pools and always supervise a pet in a pool. Consider a lifejacket fitted for your dog when boating. Some of these jackets come with handles, which can make it easier to lift your dog out of the water.

Cats leaders as domestic pet rabies carriers

Keeping pets indoors has multiple benefits to pets and human health, including rabies prevention. Although people usually associate rabies with dogs, among domesticated animals in the United States rabies today is more prevalent in cats. Among wild animals, the disease is most often reported in skunks and raccoons. But other wild species including bats, foxes and rodents are carriers in Wisconsin.

Each year people bitten by feral or unvaccinated cats have to undergo expensive, repeated treatment to prevent rabies, which is almost always fatal if left undetected. To decrease the chance of exposure to rabid animals, veterinarians recommend that cats receive vaccinations, stay confined to your home or yard and be walked on a leash.

Roaming pets are more likely to be exposed to rabies than those supervised by their owners. To decrease the risk of rabies infecting humans, health agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control, recommend that children never approach or touch wild animals, pet stray animals or approach cats that they do not know well.

There are more than 90 million pet cats in the United States, the majority of which roam outside at least part of the time. In addition, millions of stray and feral cats roam cities, suburbs and rural areas.

Rabies is 100 percent preventable, yet at least 55,000 humans die from rabies each year around the world. Though deaths in the U.S. are now rare, 30,000-40,000 people annually are exposed to rabies requiring post-exposure treatment.

Rabies symptoms vary widely from animal to animal but in any animal, the first sign of rabies is usually a behavior change. The animal becomes either unnaturally withdrawn or unnaturally approachable and even aggressive. Staggering, paralysis and frothing at the mouth may also occur.

If you think your pet or farm animal has rabies, consult a veterinarian immediately and report to the local health department if any person has been bitten or exposed to the suspect animal. Be sure to keep the animal confined until it can be examined by a veterinarian. Try not to expose yourself or other people.

Natasha Kassulke is creative products manager for Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine.