What’s Weekend Warrior Syndrome?

We’ve all experienced it: You spend your winter inside, curled up on the couch, but when the sun comes out, you have the urge to go for a run. You were in pretty good shape last fall, so you head out for a few miles when the temperature rises above 45 degrees. As it turns out, you are decidedly not in shape. This is called Weekend Warrior Syndrome, and it can impact both you and Fido.

Weekend Warrior Syndrome is what happens when you don’t exercise at all during the week, then overdo your exercise on the weekend. This is exacerbated in the spring, when you may not have exercised intensely for several months. Weekend warriors may exercise for several hours without properly stretching, and over-exercising can often lead to injury, dehydration, and other ailments.

While you should be aware of your own propensity for Weekend Warrior Syndrome, be sure to keep a close eye on your pet as the temperatures get warmer. After several months of inactivity, your dog may have gained weight and lost muscle tone, and he could be a little stiff in the joints. On hot pavement or rough hiking terrain, cuts and sores on paw pads are a common danger. If you want to bring him on runs and long walks as soon as the weather gets nicer, be sure to do it in environments that are friendly to your dog. Even then, be sure to be on the lookout for signs of over-exercising in your pet.

It’s important to start reintroducing your outdoor pets to favorite activities slowly. This prevents exhaustion and injury. Start with shorter runs, walks, and hikes, the increase to longer stretches or games of fetch and Frisbee. Remember that dogs aren’t always in shape, and they’re not always ready to run. Like us, they need gradual conditioning through incremental increases in exercise frequency, intensity, and duration.

If you’re ready to bring Fido outside, you should also know about breed-specific risks. Labrador Retrievers, for example, can suffer from cranial cruciate ligament ruptures if they aren’t conditioned slowly. Herding and agility dogs can suffer ligament damage from frequent direction changes, and certain types of Retriever can experience patellar luxation. Before embarking on a high-energy activity, see what your pet might be genetically predisposed to and be sure to keep a close eye on discomfort.

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Can Pets have Seasonal Allergies?

Cats and dogs can experience most health ailments that plague humans. That means seasonal allergies, the great equalizer, can affect cats and dogs, sometimes more intensely than they do humans. If you’re worried about Fido or Fluffy having an allergic reaction – either at home or while on a trip – there are a few things you can do to prevent catastrophe.

To start, dust, mold, and pollen are among the most common triggers of seasonal allergies in pets. All of these can result in sneezing, coughing, excessive scratching, licking, and chewing. If you suspect your pet may have an allergy to one or more of these triggers, make an appointment with your veterinarian to figure out a treatment that works for you and Fluffy. That said, most symptoms of seasonal allergies, in both cats and dogs, are frequently skin-related. Your pet can experience extreme itchiness, inflammation, and hot spots. Animals who have stronger allergies can also experience ear and respiratory issues.

Luckily, pet parents can control the presence of these triggers in their homes. While spring cleaning, inspect all moist cracks and crevices for signs of mold. If you find any, remove your pet from the room, don a breathing mask, and get to work scrubbing the spores away. To prevent accumulation of dust and pollen, dust your home frequently, keep fans running to circulate the air, and keep your windows closed as much as possible – at least until allergy season has passed.

Pet dermatologists recommend taking a similar approach to pet allergies as you would your own. Give cats and dogs frequent baths to provide immediate relief from itchiness and wash away allergens that may coat their fur and skin. If you’re worried Fido is tracking in pollen from outside, clean their feet whenever they enter the house. You may also want to consider an allergy-fighting supplement, like pet Benadryl. You can get this medication through your veterinarian or a pet supply website. In most cases, you will not need a prescription to get these medications and they will rarely cost more than $10.

If you plan to travel at peak allergy season, be sure to research the allergens that may be present at your destination. There’s nothing worse than having an allergy-ridden pup on what’s supposed to be a relaxing weekend away. If you suspect your pet has an allergy, buy a medication or supplement prior to travel – just to ensure you have something handy in case of disaster. If allergies strike while you’re away and you’re unprepared, take a quick visit to the nearest pet store and see what they have.

If you don’t take steps to address seasonal allergies, they can turn into a year-round problem. If you suspect your pet has environmental allergies, do what you can to aggressively manage their symptoms. This keeps Fido and Fluffy comfortable and ensures their immune systems stay strong and resilient, even in the face of pollen, dust, and mold.

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Get to Know Your Airport Animal Ambassador

Most of the time, animals in airports mean one of three things: people traveling with pets, people traveling with service animals, and security dogs. But there’s a new animal roaming the concourse in more and more airports around the country: The airport animal ambassador, also known as an airport therapy dog. Unlike emotional support animals that help individual passengers with a specific mental health condition, therapy animals stay in the airport and provide a measure of comfort to any airline passengers who may need it. Don’t dismiss

Be it a fear of flying or irritability due to extended travel delays, these animals don’t care about your bad mood. And they’re not responsible for mechanical issues or reduced legroom on planes. They demand you take a moment, or two, and shower them with love. Their cuteness cannot be resisted, but most importantly, it can be an emotional salve during a trying time. It may feel like a simple trick at first, but it ends up being quite effective.

What Airports have Therapy Dogs?

Most major airports have these ambassadors nowadays, but many of the airports only have the animal available for a few hours a day. Nevertheless, these animals are also becoming more common with each passing year, in no small part, because they haven’t created major problems in airports to date. They can’t make everything all right when it comes to a bad airport experience, but they really do make a positive difference. Here are some of the airports we know have some type of therapy animal program in place:

Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)

San Francisco International Airport (SFO)

LaGuardia Airport (LGA)

Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD)

Chicago Midway International Airport (MDW)

Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP)

Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX)

Denver International Airport (DEN)

San José International Airport (SJC)

Sacramento International Airport (SAC)

Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL)

Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG)

Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT)

San Antonio International Airport (SAT)

Buffalo Niagara International Airport (BUF)

Gerald R. Ford International Airport (GRR)

The Recent History of Airport Therapy Animals

The existence of airport therapy animal programs can be traced back to San José International Airport (SJC) around 2011. The interfaith chaplain volunteer brought her therapy dog to the airport on the anniversary of 9/11, hoping it would calm people’s anxieties about flying. It was so successful the airport started bring the animals into the airport seven days a week. Many different dogs breed can serve as therapy animals including spaniels, terriers, retrievers, and even rottweilers. Any dog serving at an airport will be certified by Therapy Dogs International (TDI). That said, the animal doesn’t even have to be a dog. Pigs are another popular animal that can serve as an ambassador.

Airport Animal Ambassadors making Names for Themselves

Many of these airports brand their therapy animal programs with clever names. LAX has

LAX has Pets Unstressing Passengers (PUP)

DEN has the Canine Airport Therapy Squad (CATS)

SAC has the Boarding Area Relaxation Corp (BARC)

The best example may not be a dog at all but Lilou, the world’s first airport therapy pig. She has her own website. She’s a member of SFO’s therapy animal program, the Wag Brigade.

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Springtime Safety Tips for Pets

Spring has, officially, sprung. For many pet owners, this means long walks outside, patio season, and basking in the sunlight we’ve been deprived of for months. Unfortunately, this warm weather and seasonal change could spell danger for beloved pets, whether they’re indoor-only, outdoor enthusiasts, or travelling with you on vacation. Before embarking on trips and home improvement projects (see what we did there?), take a moment to read through these helpful springtime safety tips. This knowledge could save you a costly trip to the vet.

Don’t Bug Out – Spring means warmer weather, longer days, and a slew of new creepy crawly creatures to entertain Fido and Fluffy. It’s important to keep your pets on prescription heartworm medication, as well as flea and tick treatments, year-round, but this is especially important in the spring months. If Fido enjoys long walks in the woods, or if you’re bringing your pets on an outdoor vacation, be sure to check them for ticks immediately.

Stay Safe with Spring Cleaning – Annual spring cleaning can expose pets to a bunch of harmful chemicals like ammonia, bleach, and chlorine. Even natural cleaning products, in large amounts, can cause stomach problems. If you can, hitch Fido to the tree in your backyard (with some shade, please!) while you’re cleaning. If this isn’t possible, put your pets in a separate room as you work through the house, and be sure to keep them there until all recently cleaned surfaces are dry.

Check Your Screens – Warm weather means tons of sunlight and open windows. However, before throwing open the windows, be sure to inspect your screens and sashes to ensure cats and dogs can’t fall out or escape. Push lightly on your screens to make sure they don’t give, and be sure to check screen doors for holes.

Beware of Poison – Spring marks the official beginning of pest season, and cities, towns, and neighbors like to stay on top of bug and rat control. Unfortunately, this means hidden poisons lurk everywhere. Anything designed to kill a pest can also prove fatal to your pet. Be sure to monitor your pet closely while outside. If you suspect they have ingested something, contact the veterinarian immediately.

Leash Up – When the weather gets nicer, you and Fido will want to spend as much time outside as possible. This is a great opportunity to ensure your leash, collar, and/or harness are all in good shape. Winter weather can wreak havoc on these tough fabrics, so be sure to carefully inspect everything before you head out on that first long walk of the season. It could mean the difference between a safe pup and a lost dog.

Protect from Puddles – Puddles may be fun for splashing, but they can also lead to issues for curious dogs. Don’t let your pup drink from stagnant water sources, like puddles or ponds. This can lead to gastrointestinal issues or, in the most extreme cases, serious health concerns, like Leptospirosis, a bacterial infection that can cause damage to the kidneys or liver.

Overexposure Dangers – As the days get longer and you spend more time outside, there’s a heightened risk of overexposure to U.V. rays. Even if the temperature is brisk, this sunlight can seriously harm animals – even indoor cats who enjoy sitting in sunny windows. Animals with white coats are ore susceptible to this danger, but no pet is safe from sun damage. Do your best to ensure your pet doesn’t spend too much time in the sun. If necessary, invest in protective clothing to keep them safe during long walks outside.

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A Pet-Friendly Guide to Spring Flowers

Nothing says spring like landscaping crews and kitchen tables adorned with freshly cut flowers. Unfortunately, like many springtime quirks, those beautiful bouquets can prove fatal to your furry friends. If you want to have flowers in your home or garden, be sure to avoid the following blooms.

  • Lilies – All types of lilies are extremely toxic to all pets, and they can be deadly when consumed by cats. All parts of the plant, including the pollen, flower, and leaves, are poisonous. If you own a cat or dog, do not bring lilies into your home. Even rogue pollen can cause a bad reaction.
  • Oleander – This outdoor shrub is popular for its evergreen qualities and delicate springtime flowers. However, the leaves and flowers are extremely toxic. If ingested, they can cause severe vomiting, a slow heart rate, and in the worst cases, death.
  • Daffodils – One of the most popular springtime flowers, the daffodil contains lycorine, an alkaloid with strong emetic properties. This means ingesting the bulb, plant, or flower can cause extreme vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and cardiac arrhythmias or respiratory depression.
  • Tulips – These flowers contain allergenic lactones. Much of the toxins are located in the bulbs themselves, so do what you can to ensure Fido isn’t digging up flowers in the garden. If the bulbs are chewed or ingested, they can cause vomiting, drooling, and diarrhea.
  • Dieffenbachia – This flower is popular in many homes and offices, but when ingested, it can cause oral irritation, drooling, nausea, vomiting, and difficulty swallowing.

Outdoor Dangers

While you can control the plants you keep in your home, you can’t control what your neighbor plants in his yard. Popular lawn flowers, such as azaleas, sago palms, and rhododendrons, are extremely toxic to animals. When you have a spare moment, familiarize yourself with these plants so you can identify them on walks. Additionally, beware of herbicides and insecticides, as well as fresh mulch, which can contain chemicals and toxic levels of caffeine. Put simply, if Fido is chewing on something on your walk, get it out of his mouth ASAP.

This is especially important for pet parents who like to travel with their cats and dogs. While you may be aware of local dangers, bringing Fido into new terrain can pose an additional risk. If you plan to spend a lot of time outside at your vacation destination, brush up on the local flora and identify plants and flowers that could pose a risk.

What to Do in an Emergency

If you think your pet has ingested any of the above plants or garden supplies, make an appointment with a veterinarian immediately. If possible, take Fido or Fluffy to the emergency veterinarian. While your pet may act normally immediately after ingestion, their health can change very quickly once the toxins set in. That said, it can sometimes take days for symptoms to set in, and in most cases, this indicates an irreversible health issue. The only way to ensure you’re in the clear is to get a blood test as soon as possible.

If you suspect your pet has ingested any poisonous plant, call the Pet Poison Helpline at 855-764-7661. Their website is an easy and free way to assess the danger of exposure and if there’s anything you can do to mitigate symptoms on your trip to the veterinarian.

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Cold Weather Pet Travel: Do You Need an Acclimation Certificate?

Many people travel with their pets this time of year, often for spring break. This is often no big deal for cats and smaller dogs, but for larger pets that must travel in the cargo hold, it can be a big problem. When the temperatures dip below 45 degrees Fahrenheit, some dogs will be ineligible for travel, while other dogs will require additional documentation in the form of an airline acclimation certificate.

An acclimation certificate consists of a veterinarian certifying that the animal traveling in cargo can adapt to temperatures below 45 degrees. How much lower? The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service states that veterinarian should indicate on the acclimation certificate the range of temperatures that is safe for the individual animal to travel in. This certificate should also include an upper range. However, most airlines prohibit pet cargo travel when the temperature is above 84 degrees, no matter what the certificate says.

To fully understand the implications for pet travel, the policy for most airlines is that animals are prohibited from traveling when the forecasted temperature is below 45 degrees at either the departure or destination airport. But if the actual temperatures unexpectedly drop below 45 degrees, this type of pet travel may still be prohibited.

The commonsense pet owner may also wonder why these temperature restrictions are in place when the external temperature at cruising altitude is always freezing. Even the cargo holds of airplanes are pressurized and temperature controlled. It’s the temperatures on the ground and the possibility of prolonged delays that create these pet travel guidelines and restrictions.

Federal regulations state that dogs and cats are not to be subjected to surrounding temperatures below 45 degrees for over four consecutive hours while within animal holding quarters of airport terminals. These regulations also restrict contact with these colder temperatures to 45 minutes or less while moving the pet between the airplane and the animal holding vicinity. The airport staff is obligated to protect animals from mixtures of temperature, humidity, and time that could have a negative effect on the animal’s health. Thus, without this acclimation certification, most airlines are unwilling to assume the liability that comes with unexpected delays and unforeseen circumstances.

Will Your Pet Get Approved for an Acclimation Certificate?

The veterinarian will consider all the health factors and characteristics of your pet when conducting an examination and issuing a health certificate. Generally speaking, however, if your pet is known as a cold-weather breed and a reasonably healthy adult, there’s no reason to think a veterinarian would refuse to issue this travel documentation. If you’re wondering about the professional veterinary guidelines for making these determinations and issuing acclimation certificates, we recommend this resource from the American Veterinary Medical Association.

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