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March 20, 2023

Pets are affected by seasons

Autumn is here, and finally it feels as though there is change in the season. Nights are colder, fog is here in the mornings, and Halloween pumpkins are everywhere (not to mention Christmas items in some overly anxious retail stores!). As we shift gears into the end-of-year mode, there are a few things to remember about your pets. They, too, are affected by the change in season.

First, remember that shorter days cause a lot of people to drive home after dark at the end of the day. Only car’s headlights let a driver see whether the road is clear. Additionally, a lot of animals seek warmth in these colder evenings, sometimes laying on the warm asphalt or concrete of a driveway or the road. Be careful when you drive in the evening. Watch for animals. It might save a pet’s life.

It also is mating season for the deer in this area. The bucks in rut are out in huge numbers looking for a doe to breed. Their instincts overwhelm their common sense and many of these big boys end up crossing the road to follow a scent. You may have heard on the radio or seen for yourself. … There are a lot of deer killed or injured on the side of the road. And it doesn’t matter if you are in the mountains or on a back road of South County or on Highway 101. Deer are out there. And if you hit one, the consequences can be devastating. Please drive carefully.

Q: Our 8-year-old mutt, Barney Dog has had several bouts of indigestion in the past month. Sometimes he is gassy, and once in a while he even vomits. Could his food be the problem? It’s a well-known brand from the grocery store. And how often does food cause problems in pets? Should we switch to a new brand?

A: All too often, we assume that a dog (or cat) with digestive upset has eaten something foul. And if your pet does, indeed, swallow some foreign material, there’s a good chance he will have a gastrointestinal problem. People food also can cause an upset tummy. And sometimes, plain old ordinary pet food can be a major player in either causing or preventing gastrointestinal disease.

Studies show that a good diet can be extremely important to the health of a pet, especially in conditions such as diabetes, kidney disease or heart disease. Diet also plays a major role in allergies and food sensitivities. If your dog is allergic to the food you give him, he might suffer intermittent digestive upsets. He certainly won’t be a healthy, thriving pet.

It can be difficult to determine exactly what component of the food is at fault. It might be the protein source … Some pets are allergic to soy protein, or chicken, corn or wheat. It also could be another component, even the so-called fillers or preservatives.

But you should be aware that other health issues also could cause Barney’s problems. Pancreatitis, an inflammation of the pancreas, is not uncommon and can result from several causes, including what vets call “dietary indiscretion.” Eating table scraps can cause this disease. Left untreated, pancreatitis can be serious, even fatal.

Other medical conditions such as diabetes, hepatic (liver) or renal (kidney) disease also could cause Barney’s indigestion.

Even though it might be a good idea to try feeding your dog a different brand, I also suggest you have him evaluated by his veterinarian to rule out any underlying medical condition. After that, a food trial to test-feed him different foods might be a good idea.

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