And What You Can Do About It

Climate change is here to stay. Understanding the effects of climate change on your dog is the difficult reality dog parents have to face. You might think, my dog stays inside where it’s temperature controlled, goes to the vet regularly, and goes on daily walks, how could climate change possibly affect her? Read on.

Rising temperatures mean more ticks and mosquitoes.

The overall temperature of the planet has risen by .14 degrees per decade since 1880. But since 1981, the rate of warming has doubled. This means the ideal breeding season for ticks and mosquitoes starts earlier and lasts longer. Ticks carry Lyme disease, which can cause painful swelling of your dogs joints and difficulty walking. Mosquitoes lay eggs on your dog, and the larvae makes itself at home in your dog’s intestine. Better known as heartworm, the parasites can permanently damage your dogs cardiovascular system–even after treatment.

Furthermore, areas affected by record floods and fires reach out to a nationwide audience for adoption. That means regional ticks and mosquito larvae are hitching rides to a broader territory, spreading their variants of lyme disease and heartworm further than ever before. This can not only make Lyme disease and heartworm more prevalent, but harder to treat.

As if Lyme and heartworm weren’t enough, a relatively unheard of canine disease is on the rise, Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

Though diseases in dogs are not tracked as intensively as those in humans, veterinary epidemiologists and biologists said Rocky Mountain spotted fever, a bacterial disease that can cause fever, joint pain and vomiting, is moving into California and Texas. Heartworm disease, which can damage the cardiovascular system and clog the heart, is spreading beyond its traditional home in the South and Southeast. Lyme disease, which can cause joint swelling and lameness, affects dogs as far north as Canada. 

USA Today

The fix: Prevention. Talk to your vet about medications that can help your dog resist Lyme disease, heartworm, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Check your dog for ticks after every walk. Call your vet immediately if you notice fleas or ticks. 

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Fluctuating temperature extremes are more difficult for your dog to acclimate to than you think.

Most dogs respond to seasonal temperature changes by growing a thicker coat in winter and shedding it in summer. But with temperatures warmer in summer and colder in winter, your dog has less time to adjust her coat.

Hotter summers also mean hotter pavement, and dogs run the serious risk of burning their paws. A good rule of thumb? “If the temperature is 85 degrees or over without the chance for the pavement to cool down, the ground may be too hot for safely walking a dog,” says Jerry Klein, DVM, Chief Veterinary Officer for the American Kennel Club

The fix: If your dog really needs his walk at that time, make sure he has protective footwear. You can also exercise your dog indoors on your home treadmill. Or take her to a grassy dog park.

Colder winters mean outdoor dogs need a shelter during the day and should never be left outside overnight. Don’t assume because your dog spends most of the time outside that she can grow a winter coat in time for the colder temperatures. While cold tolerance depends on age and breed, if temperatures drop below 33 degrees dogs should be outdoors for no longer than thirty minutes.  

If your dog spends most of his time outside, invest in a dog house that will not look great but keep him protected from climate change extremes of summer heat and winter cold. While there are lots of ideas for eco-friendly dog houses on the internet, this tricked out pooch house is not only practical, but beautiful. The grass covered side ramp leads to a cool, grassy roof top perch. 

During natural disasters, dogs are the last to be rescued.

One of the most devastating effects of climate change on your dog is the potential to be left behind in a natural disaster. This is especiallly heartbreaking because dogs are often the first to step up when they notice we need help. From floods to fires to hurricanes, the number of natural disasters has risen dramatically, and the number is expected to increase as the rising temperature of the earth causes severe weather around the globe. It’s time to think about what natural disaster would be most likely to affect your neighborhood and what your emergency plan is. 

When families must flee to emergency shelters, oftentimes it’s the pets who are left behind. But with good planning, you won’t need to leave your dog to fend for himself. If you live in a disaster prone area, it’s a good idea to include your pet in your family’s emergency plan. Here are some tips:

  • Prepare a travel kennel with your dog’s name, your contact information, and your dog’s vaccination records in a plastic bag taped to the outside. Include two weeks of food, any medications your dog might be taking, and a spare leash.
  • Make sure your pet is collared and tags are up-to-date. Better yet, microchip your dog. 
  • Make accommodations for where your pet will stay, as many emergency shelters do not accept pets.
  • Find out who can check on your dog in the event you are not home when a natural disaster strikes. 
  • Know where your dog might hide if he has reason to panic.

These ideas are only the beginning! For a comprehensive strategy every dog owner should read, click here.

More indoor time means more exposure to toxic cleaning chemicals.

The effects of climate change on your dog aren’t always direct. If climate change is forcing your dog to spend more time indoors to escape temperature extremes, she’ll be more exposed to cleaning chemicals, which can not only exacerbate stress, but lead to poisoning. Remember, your dog is a lot closer to the floor you just mopped. If your dog is frequently vomiting, has trouble breathing, or seems overly thirsty, these are signs of chemical poisoning. To keep your dog safe and comfortable, make sure you clean with 100% pet safe products that do not contain ammonia, bleach, phthalates, or benzalkonium chloride.

How Pro-Tek Helps You Keep Your Dog Safe from the Effects of Climate Change

Pro-Tek is specially formulated to be both tough on dirt and 100% safe for pets. We love dogs! When you clean with Pro-Tek you are fighting climate change by keeping waterways safe from toxic chemicals that harm marine life and keeping toxic plastic out of the environment. Cleaning with Pro-Tek is an important part of an overall plan to keep your dog carefree and healthy.

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