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Canine Respiratory Illness Causes and Symptoms

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Veterinarians in the Prior Lake/Savage area have notified Paws & Pals that they have seen an increase in respiratory illnesses in dogs around the community in the last few months. It has been prevalent in other areas around the Twin Cities as well. The cold and wet weather this fall is a likely contributor to the increase. Fortunately, most of the cases have been mild.

What is respiratory illness in dogs?

Just as human colds are caused by different viruses, dogs are also susceptible to viruses that cause respiratory illness. These viruses are typically airborne which means that they can be spread by coughing and sneezing. When a healthy dog inhales the droplets contaminated by the virus it can become ill. Influenza epidemics in humans are an example of how easily airborne illnesses spread. You may hear these canine respiratory illnesses called canine cough, kennel cough, infectious tracheobronchitis, or canine infection respiratory disease.

What are the signs and symptoms of canine respiratory illness?

  • Persistent, forceful cough. (If you have never heard this cough it may alarm you)
  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Eye discharge


What is Paws and Pals doing to prevent the spread of canine respiratory illness?

  • Careful observation of all dogs for signs and symptoms of illness
  • Multiple daily disinfection of all surfaces
  • Multiple daily disinfection of both indoor and outdoor play areas
  • Dogs that are ill are isolated and taken out alone or walked
  • Play groups are small and well supervised
  • Current vaccinations are required


What can you do to prevent illness in your dog?

  • Vaccinate for distemper and bordetella. Like the human flu shot, vaccinations are not perfect, but they do provide partial protection for some viruses.
  • When these viruses are in the community, it may be best to avoid taking your dog to the dog park. Check with your vet to learn if they are seeing a high volume of sick dogs to help you decide if the dog park is a good choice or not.
  • When walking your dog, avoid direct contact with other dogs.


If your dog becomes ill, how should you treat it?

  • There is no single “drug of choice” for treatment. For dogs with mild illness, antibiotics are typically not necessary. For more serious cases, the most common veterinary treatment includes an antibiotic and cough suppressant.
  • If your dog is resting, eating, and drinking, symptoms should gradually improve and resolve in 7 to 10 days.   
  • Home remedies that may help your dog include honey, sugar, and peppermint.  They can soothe the respiratory tract.


When should you take your dog to the vet?

  • Chronic illness:  if your dog has a chronic illness (diabetes for example) they should be taken to the vet as they can be more susceptible to secondary bacterial infections.
  • Not improving:  your dog should gradually get better over time. If you do not see improvement over several days to a week, you should consider taking your dog in.
  • Not eating or drinking:  if your dog is not eating or drinking it cannot support itself to get better.
  • Lethargy:  if your dog is lethargic and has ongoing decreased energy and activity.


The Paws & Pals staff are well trained and want your dog to have a great experience while staying or playing with us! We do everything we can to keep your dog safe and healthy. Unfortunately, canine respiratory viruses do occasionally occur within the surrounding community and can spread from dog to dog.  The good news is that most cases do resolve within 7 to 10 days and are typically not considered a serious medical condition.

National Animal Safety and Prevention Month

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October is National Animal Safety and Prevention Month; a month dedicated to promoting the safe practices of handling and caring for both domestic and wild animals. Animals play an important part in our everyday lives, even if we don’t personally have pets. So it’s vital to make sure that they are treated kindly and with the respect and care they deserve.

There are several ways you can participate in National Animal Safety and Prevention Month. Some of them are as simple as being aware of the needs of your own household pets. For example, make sure they are micro-chipped so if they are ever lost, they can be easily found and returned; collars with identification tags are also just as important. Pet proof your home against the possibility of your animals coming in contact with any dangerous poisons or toxins. Put together a disaster escape plan in case you ever need to evacuate your pets quickly from the home. There are plenty of things you can do to take that extra step in making sure your pets are protected in all circumstances.
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Guidelines for Responsible Pet Ownership

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Owning a pet is a privilege and should result in a mutually beneficial relationship. The benefits of pet ownership come with responsibilities.

These include:

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How Much Exercise is Right?

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Exercise does more than help keep your dog’s weight where it should be, maintain his cardiovascular fitness, and forestall the frailty that often comes with creeping age by staving off much of the muscle loss that accompanies advancing years and weakens the body. Exercise also contributes to a dog’s good mood, just like it does for people, by releasing serotonin in the brain.
Better still, it strengthens your bond with your pet and makes him more well behaved. That’s because when you’re engaging your dog in physical activity, you’re right there with him — paying attention to him, bonding with him, and keeping him from becoming bored. That makes him feel more in sync with you and more ready and willing to do what you ask of him and thereby stay out of trouble. Dogs are nothing if not social animals — getting along with you is much of their raison d’etre. And when you spend time using your bodies together, it only makes them happier to follow your cues in general.
But just how much physical activity is your dog supposed to engage in? Assuming he’s in good health, it depends on his time of life and his breed.

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5 Summer Road Trip Tips

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Keep safety in mind when you travel with your canine pal this summer.

1. Refresh your training. Before hitting the road, practice life-saving commands, especially “Come” and “Stay”, so that your dog doesn’t get lost in an unfamiliar place.

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Pet Cancer Signs and Symptoms

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Cancer is the #1 medical concern of our precious pets. One in four dogs and one in five cats will get cancer. As their bodies age, they become more vulnerable to disease. The reality is that 50% of dogs over age 10 will develop a form of cancer. That’s why providing a wholesome diet, age-appropriate exercise, and mental stimulation like interesting puzzle toys and new experiences are so important to the long-term health of your dog. Furthermore, knowing the following warning signs of cancer will help pet parents take the first steps toward protecting their furry family members.

Swollen Lymph Nodes
These “glands” are located throughout the body but are most easily detected behind the jaw or behind the knee. When these lymph nodes are enlarged they can suggest a common form of cancer called lymphoma. A biopsy or cytology of these enlarged lymph nodes can aid in the diagnosis. 

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Finding the Right Pet Care Provider

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Whether a pet resort such as Paws & Pals or a pet sitter, make sure you know who is caring for your family member. Here are a series of questions to ask when interviewing a potential pet care provider. Are there quite a few questions? You bet! But better to have asked too many rather than too few when it comes to your pet’s safety and well-being. As a charter and leading member of the International Boarding and Pet Services Association (IBPSA), we’re committed to providing pet parents conscientious care, dealing with you honestly and fairly, to continuously learn more and improve our services, and operate our business honorably.

What Questions Should You Ask When Choosing a Pet Care Provider?

  • Is the pet care services provider a member of a professional trade association like IBPSA? How long has the provider been in business?
  • If the provider is “away care”, that is a service not in your home such as a pet boarding or day care facility, pet salon, or a pet sitter’s own home, have you toured the premises to see if it is clean, sanitary, and secure?

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Winter Pet Care Tips

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Pets should be brought inside when the temperature drops. If that is not possible, then shelter—a dog house, shed or barn—should be used to protect your pet from the wind, low temperatures, and inclement weather. Supply warm bedding material and make sure the doorway has at least a flap covering to keep out the wind.

Make sure pets have a clean and ice-free supply of water outside. Eating snow can cause diarrhea, so you want to have fresh water available. Just like people, dogs lose moisture when breathing in cold air—they can see their breath, too!—and although dehydration is more common during summer months, it can happen in cold weather as well.

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Clues to Winter Blues

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Clues to Winter Blues

Learn signs and tips for helping alleviate your pet’s winter blues

With fall drawing to a close, many of us are looking at the approach of cold, inclement weather, earlier nightfall and limited outdoor time. Regardless of where we live, the busier schedules of work and school, holidays and other commitments often leave us with less time to spend at home and outdoors, and less time to spend with our pets.

The sudden change in schedule can limit time for company, play and attention. These reduced opportunities for exercise can sometimes leave pets bored, stressed and even depressed.

How can I tell if my pet has the blues?

Not all pets will have the blues when winter rolls around. But there are some signs to look for to make sure your pet is just hunkered down, and not in distress or struggling. Find these signs and symptoms listed below.

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Understanding Fear in Dogs

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Every dog or animal with a reasonably developed central nervous system has fear. Fear is one of the basic drives, along with hunger, thirst, sleep, sex, and sociality. Out-of-control fear is as much of a problem as any other drive that is out-of-control. But fear in the normal amount is essential, as it helps to keep a dog out of harm’s way. However, like people, dogs are not born with fear.

In dogs, fear responses begin between 6 and 8 weeks of age. By three weeks after its onset, fear plateaus at a level normal for pups and for the specific genetic complement they have. There are three factors which alone or in combination act to determine the level of fear any given dog shows.

The first of these is genetic. The dog inherits a predisposition for a high level of fear. Thus, what would cause a mild startle response in a dog with a normal fear level will drive the over-reactive dog ballistic.

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