In the land of 10,000 lakes, you are likely always close to one. Swimming, fishing, and other water activities are popular past times in the hot summer months. Since dogs are part of the family, it is common to include them in the fun as well. Here are some tips on what to know when visiting lakes with dogs.
It is always a good idea to rinse your dog off and then towel dry them after swimming in the lake. This will minimize the plant material or bugs that remain in their fur which can be itchy and irritating. Many area lakes also have “swimmer’s itch”, a common parasite that burrows into the skin causing itchy, red rashes. Any abrasion on the skin can become infected and become a “hot spot” when left moist and contaminated. Baths are an opportune time to closely check your pet over for any rashes, wounds, lumps, etc.
Do not forget to also wash any collars or harnesses frequently. A dirty, wet collar can irritate skin and cause infection. Infections can be hidden underneath collars and become worse over time.
Parasites, Bacteria & Fungus
Do your best to not allow pets to drink the water. Bring along clean water and have it readily available. There are so many unknowns in the water including algae, Leptospirosis, Giardia, and other harmful parasites and bacteria. Blastomycosis is a fungus that is commonly found in the soil especially around bodies of water. Learn more about this condition on our blog.
Blue green algae produce toxins that can be deadly to both pets and humans. The algae thrive in stagnant, warm water. Avoid swimming in any water with large amounts of algae just to be safe.
Unfortunately, there can be many sharp objects in and around our lakes. From jagged rocks or sticks under the surface to broken glass or metal. Dogs are also good at finding hooks since they often have a delicious dead worm or minnow attached. Keep an eye on what they are getting into and check them over after for cuts or abrasions.
Dog’s ears are a perfect breeding ground for yeast and bacteria that thrive in dark, moist environments. Cleaning and drying out your dog’s ears after a swim can reduce the chance of ear infections. A simple ear cleaner can be found at any store that sells pet items. If your dog is prone to ear infections, your veterinarian may recommend a prescription ear cleaner to use after swimming or on a regular basis.
Most dogs instinctively know how to swim. Some dogs need more training and certain breeds are much better than others. If your dog has not been introduced to the water, or is not the best swimmer, a life jacket might be a life saver.
Do you have a “smushed face” breed that breaths loudly all the time and snores even louder at night? Your dog may have a condition called Stenotic Nares. Brachycephalic (pushed in or short faces) breeds such as Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, Pugs, Pekingese, Boxers, Shih Tzus, and Lhasa Apsos are prone to this genetic malformation. The cartilage of the nostrils is misshapen and pinched closed making is difficult for air to pass through. Patients primarily breath through their mouths to compensate. Other disorders such as an elongated soft palate and everted laryngeal saccules can also either cause or exacerbate airway obstruction in the brachycephalic breeds.
Patients with stenotic nares may have one or more of the following symptoms:
Noisy breathing, especially during inhalation
Cyanosis – blue gums due to lack of oxygen
Discuss your dog’s symptoms with your veterinarian. Sever cases will likely require surgery. For mild cases, non-surgical management may be recommended such as:
Maintain a healthy weight
Limiting stressful situations
Limit exercise in hot or humid weather
Use a harness instead of a neck collar
Peach is an exuberant 3 ½ year old Pug. During her annual exam, the clients expressed their concerns over her breathing difficulties. (Click here to watch a video of her breathing.) Given her severe case of stenotic nares, Dr. Widdel recommended surgical repair as well as weight loss. After consideration, the clients opted to schedule surgery.
During surgery, Peach was placed under general gas anesthesia with an endotracheal tube maintaining her oral airway. Dr. Widdel performed essentially a “nostril lift” removing part of the excess nostril and suturing the remaining pieces back together. As Peach woke up from anesthesia she notably sniffed, an early sign that she could breathe more freely out of her nose. Though it may take some time for her to realize she can breathe out of her nose rather than her mouth, she will get the hang of it. We look forward to feedback from her owners that she is breathing more comfortable and quieter.
When to Have the Procedure Done
During your dog’s spay or neuter is an opportune time to have this procedure done. Adding it on to another procedure saves the pet from going under anesthesia twice which also saves you money. It would be best not to add it on to a dental procedure given the close proximity to the mouth and the bacteria we are stirring up.
If you believe your pet would benefit from this surgery, we should start with a consultation exam. Give us a call at 218-444-5797 to schedule an appointment.