With rates of COVID-19 trending down in California, and schools opening back up for in-person instruction, will our kids be able to enroll in summer camps this year? Dr. Jaime Friedman’s latest blog gives a positive outlook for our kids getting out there and being social again. Take a look at it HERE.
We are all so worried about the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 right now. What f your child has a cold and cough? Dr. Stephen Carson explains some very practical things you can do to help alleviate your child’s symptoms. Watch his video HERE.
With their cute round faces, big eyes, and fun personalities, short-snouted breeds such as French Bulldogs, English Bulldogs, Pugs and Boston Terriers have become increasingly popular in recent years.These dogs, along with other flat faced breeds such as Boxers, Shih Tzus, Pekingese, and Japanese Chins are known as Brachycephalic dog breeds.This term refers to the shape of these dogs’ muzzles, which are significantly more compact than other dog breeds.
While charming and adorable, flat-snouted dogs carry with them a special set of dangers vs their longer-nosed cousins.Their flat faces mean significantly shortened facial bones and a shortening of the overlying soft tissue.These structural differences mean both their soft palate (the soft tissue in the back of animals’ throats) and their nasal passage are more compacted, often resulting in a partially blocked airway. This particular set of structural abnormalities is known as Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome.The end result is a relatively obstructed airway which affects the dog’s ability to respirate.
In addition to needing efficient breathing to provide oxygen to the body, dogs rely heavily on their respiratory tract to dissipate heat.Breathing, in the form of panting, is the primary way in which dogs cool their bodies down.This means that efficient breathing is essential for thermoregulation.For Brachycephalic breeds, this vital function is restricted, often severely, which put these dogs in jeopardy during hot weather or extreme exercise.
It is important that owners of Brachycephalic breeds understand the restrictions of their dogs’ anatomies.For starters, these dogs should NOT be asked to participate in activities that require higher respiratory and cardiovascular output. This includes activities such as hiking, running, and jogging, especially during warmer weather.While all dogs need exercise, flat nose breeds benefit from regular exercise that is slow and steady vs fast and/or intense.
In addition, it is important to note that these breeds are especially susceptible to heat exhaustion and heat stroke.The best way to deal with this problem is to prevent it and to know the signs of danger.
All dog owners should know the signs of heat-related injury and owners of Brachycephalic breeds should know these can occur much more quickly in their dogs vs. their longer snouted cousins:
Signs of Danger include:
A noticeable rise in breathing volume or a “gurgling” sound when they breathe
Excessive panting and/or panting that appears labored
Bright red gums
Difficulty walking/walking very slowly
Vomiting and/or bloody diarrhea
Lack of coordination or staggering
Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are life threatening and should be considered a veterinary emergency.
The best way to “treat” heat related injuries are to simply prevent them.The following advise will help prevent heat stroke in your dog:
Be aware of the forecasted temperature and keep your pet out of the heat; for some sun-loving dogs, this may mean locking them indoors during the heat of the day
Limit outdoor exposure during the hottest months of the year
ALWAYS have cool water available.
Walk dogs, especially brachycephalic breeds, on a harness.This will prevent blockage of the airway which is essential for efficient respiration and efficient body cooling
Offer a cooling pad or cool areas for your pet to lie down if they need to cool off
DO NOT exercise your dog or allow them to play outdoors when it is warm outside.Remember that flat-nosed breeds have a lower heat tolerance, so they should be exercised only when it is cool outside.
In addition, studies have shown that brachycephalic dogs who are physically fit are better able to respirate and are better able to manage their body temperatures.This means that healthy weight and exercise are important to preventing heat related injuries.Heed the following advise regarding conditioning your Brachycephalic dog:
In general, squatty flat-nosed dog breeds are not designed for strenuous exercise.Avoid running/jogging, hiking, and similar exercise requiring significant respiratory output
Healthy weight is essential to the wellbeing of all dogs.Your dog, regardless of breed, should have a visible waist and a “tummy tuck” behind their chest when viewing from the side.In addition, your dog’s ribs should be easy to feel when lighting running your fingers down their sides.You should not feel a layer of fat over your pet’s ribcage
Keep your pet physically fit.While it is inadvisable to require strenuous exercise (such as jogging, running, and steep hiking) of a dog with a significantly flattened snout, exercise is still important.Your pet should have mild to moderate exercise daily, ideally twice daily
If you are just starting an exercise program, do so slowly and allow your dog to buildup endurance over time
Always exercise your brachycephalic breed dog a harness.This allows them to keep their already restricted airway as open as possible
When exercising (regardless of ambient temperature) always pay attention to your dog’s breathing.If it becomes louder or seems strained or labored, stop the exercise and allow your dog to rest/cool down. Head home once they are cooled off
Take water with you during exercise with your dog.This will allow you to help them cool down
In general, it is important to remember that brachycephalic breeds often have significantly compromised respiratory tracts.This affects their ability to exercise, handle extreme stress, and to cool their bodies.Neglecting these considerations can put your dog in a life-threatening situation.
If you have any concerns about heat-related injury in your pet or any other concerns about your pet’s wellbeing, contact your veterinarian immediately for expert advise and treatment.
This time of year, many dog owners are hitting trails to enjoy the beautiful weather with their canine friends.Unfortunately, a fun day on the trail can turn into a painful experience for your pooch from a seemingly innocent source.
Foxtails are a frequent sight on trails, open spaces and yards in Southern California.These invasive weeds are named for their clusters of spiked seed pods which resemble the tail of a fox.Foxtails usually appear in our landscape in early spring.Like the rest of San Diego county, they start out soft and green but by then end of the season they have dried to a brittle brown.
The dried, spiked clusters of the foxtail eventually break down into individual spikelets.The pods are spiked and barbed, qualities that help them penetrate the tough San Diego ground.Unfortunately, these qualities also allow them to wreak havoc on your pets.
Foxtails are a common emergency in veterinary medicine this time of year.When a dog comes in contact with a foxtail, the barbs along the spikelet attach to the fur.These barbs allow the foxail to move only one way: forward, while the sharp tip on the spikelet allows it to pierce skin or penetrate dense fur.
Foxtails will attach to almost any part of the dog that brushes against them.Common sites of infestation are ears, eyes, nose, and between the toes.They can also burrow beneath the skin along the body on thick coated dogs.Occasionally veterinarians even see foxtails buried in tonsils or under the gums of dogs who enjoy chewing on these plants.
Once embedded, these seeds rarely work their way out.Their burrowing properties wreak havoc on infected pets and continue causing painful damage until they are removed. Veterinary intervention is usually required to treat foxtail infestation.Sedation or surgery may be necessary, along with treatments to help with pain and infection resulting from “foreign body” invasion.
Signs of foxtails include:
A painful, infected ear
Head tilting or shaking
Acute, severe sneezing
Nasal discharge or bleeding
Squinting, painful eye
Red, painful bumps between toes or under the skin
There are some simple steps that owners can take to help their dog avoid a painful foxtail experience.The simplest prevention is to avoid them altogether.We find foxtails along trails, in open spaces, and in unlandscaped areas.They are common in late spring through summer and can be identified by their bushy clusters of spikes resembling the tail of a fox. Foxtails can even be found in our yards, so carefully inspect unlandscaped areas for these invaders.
Even if you practice diligent avoidance, carefully check your pet after walks or hikes.Common sites of infestation are between the toes, the legs, the underbelly, the eyes, and the nose.With long coated dogs, it is a good practice to brush them out after hikes, as well.Keeping your pet’s feet trimmed short can help prevent these dangerous hitchhikers; some owners even purchase hiking boots for their dogs to protect their feet on trail.
Dogs are not the only ones affected by foxtails.Occasionally we see outdoor cats who have picked one up.We most commonly see foxtails invade cats’ eyes, under their third eyelid.Symptoms include painful swelling, redness, and discharge out of one eye.
Foxtails are not only painful but can be very damaging to your pet.If you think your pet may be infected, contact your veterinarian immediately to prevent further pain and injury.
While physical activity has endless proven benefits, 80% of teens are not meeting the exercise recommendation of one hour of vigorous exercise per day. In the U.S. daily P E is no longer a requirement at many schools, meaning teens need extracurricular physical activity or hobbies in order to reach the guidelines.
Kids and teens can greatly benefit from getting adequate physical activity. Exercise can improve attention span, mood, and sleep; reduce risk for chronic diseases later in life, and even help to normalize elevated cholesterol levels. Participating in sports teams can also be beneficial socially and help to improve communication and teamwork in a supportive environment.
While 60 minutes per day is the recommendation, it’s not necessary to complete the full hour at once. A few short bursts of activity have been proven to be as effective as a longer stretch of activity. For example, 60 minutes can easily add up by walking to school, taking the dog for a walk, and doing a short circuit workout.
If your child isn’t interested in traditional sports teams, there are plenty of options for getting movement in during the day. There are apps that can facilitate home workouts (check out the 7-minute workout), YouTube has hundreds of thousands of home workout options, and of course- simply talking a walk, jog, or bike ride can be easy and being outdoors has its own benefits. Your local community center or YMCA can be a great resource for workout opportunities.
More exercise ideas for teens:
Dance/ Zumba Classes
Resistance training – body weight
Although sixty minutes per day is the recommendation, doing some exercise is always better than none. Starting with a few days per week or even 10-20 minutes per day can be beneficial.
If you don’t have teens yet, getting younger children in the habit of exercising (through play) can be beneficial into the teen years, and for life.Most families find it helpful to have activity scheduled ahead of time. Doing activities together as a family, such as going to the gym at the same time, hiking together, or participating in local runs or walks, or attending Walk with a Doc can ensure there is some physical activity on the schedule.
Children’s Primary Care Medical Group is now offering Walk with a Doc, a free weekly walk for kids, teens, and families, at two convenient locations in North County. Walk with a Doc is offered in Vista on Thursdays at 4:15 at VIDA School and La Costa on Tuesdays at 4:00pm at Stagecoach Park. A healthy snack is always provided.Check out walkwithadoc.org/Carlsbad for more information.
If you need assistance helping your kids or teens improve their health habits, contact the W.E.L.L. Clinic at Children’s Primary Care Medical Group. The W.E.L.L. Clinic specializes in helping kids, teens, and families make habit changes to improve health in the following areas: nutrition, physical activity, sleep, stress management, and screen time. To make a W.E.L.L. Clinic appointments in La Costa call 760-633-3640, and for Oceanside call: 760-547-1010.
Guthold, R., Stevens, G. A., Riley, L. M., & Bull, F. C. (2019). Global trends in insufficient physical activity among adolescents: a pooled analysis of 298 population-based surveys with 1·6 million participants. The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health. doi: 10.1016/s2352-4642(19)30323-2
NOTE 6/23/20: because of COVID-19, group sports and gym activities are not available right now. But many of the other suggestions for physical activity can be done with your immediate family, individually or outside with proper six foot distancing and wearing of face coverings.
Stay at Home orders and the recent COVID pandemic have been a source of stress to many members of our community.Our animal companions have provided comfort and relief from some of the stress we all are feeling; however, some pet owners are reporting concerning changes in their pets at this time.
While it might seem that owners being home all day would be a dream for pets, we need to remember that their world has suddenly been turned upside down, resulting in significant stress.
Dogs, as a rule, tend to turn to their owners in times of stress and discomfort.This is often expressed in things we consider “nuisance” behaviors.Dogs may appear more needy by constantly following, nosing, and otherwise “pestering” their owners for attention.In addition, dogs may act out by being more destructive, barking more, or even hiding in the house.
Cats, on the other hand, often become anti-social during times of stress.Feline family members may look for places to hide in the house and may disappear for hours at a time.Additionally, cats may display destructive behaviors such as increased scratching and inappropriate urination behaviors.
While we can’t change the Stay at Home orders, we can do a lot to help our pets’ stress levels.Patience, consistency, and creativity are key.
Be patient with your pets during this time and give them time to adjust to their “new normal.” Lashing out in frustration will only increase their stress.
Be consistent day to day.Create a routine that your pet can depend on.This does not mean that you can’t mix in fun surprises like hikes, walking adventures, and impromptu play sessions, but keep daily necessities like meal times and walks on a predictable routine.
Give your pets space: Make areas in the house where your pet can have “alone time,” and allow them to choose to be there.Make sure these areas are safe, comfortable, and kid-free.
Create entertainment time: Make time to entertain your pet.Exercise and mental stimulation are not only great stress relievers, but they increase the bond between owners and their pet.There are many easy and inexpensive ways to exercise your pet’s body and mind.Here are a few ideas:
Most dogs love physical exercise of one type or the other.Ideas include playing ball in the backyard, simple neighborhood walks, or hikes on our beautiful local trails.When exercising your dog, always take into account their level of conditioning and physical abilities.Also consider current regulations regarding open trails, protective gear, and physical distancing.
Brain games can be as exhausting and stimulating as exercise for many dogs.Try hiding toys and treats around the house for a game of “find it!” Mix up their meal time with maze/puzzle feeders, snuffle mats, and food stuffed Kong toys.Finally, teach your dog some new tricks.Pups both old and young love to learn!
Cats benefit from physical and mental stimulation as well.Keep some of those shipping boxes and make a “box fort” for your feline.Few cats can resist the allure of a brand new box or bag!Cats can also benefit from puzzle toys or maze feeders to make their meal time more interesting.Look for puzzle feeders specially designed for cats (and make sure to keep the boxes for additional kitty play). You may also give your cat a new perspective by installing a new cat tree, wall shelves, hammocks, or window shelves for your cat to explore.
Finally, if your pet seems so distressed that it is manifesting physical symptoms.Contact your veterinarian.Psychological stress can be as hard on pets as it is on people, and there are medical options that can give your furry friend relief!
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