Most pet owners have not only heard of distemper but also know that it's high mortality rate makes it especially dangerous. Until last week I never realized that canine distemper can also infect a wide range of wild carnivores, most commonly foxes, raccoons and skunks - all of which live in my rural area of California.
Last week the Department of Fish & Wildlife reported an unusually high number of canine distemper virus (CDV) cases in wildlife populations throughout the entire state of California.
The report warns that unvaccinated domestic dogs can potentially contract the disease through contact with food bowls and water sources that are "shared" with infected wild carnivores.
In the report Senior Wildlife Veterinarian Deana Clifford says that distemper is the most common disease cause-o-death in California's carnivores. Transmission of the distemper virus typically occurs similar to the common cold, via inhalation of infected respiratory droplets or direct contact with saliva, nasal discharge and tears.
As in domestic canines there is no treatment for sick animals except supportive care. Infected animals may or may not survive the illness. Signs include (but are not limited to) depression, fever, labored breathing, diarrhea, anorexia, incoordination, moving in small circles, yellow to clear discharge from the nose and eyes, and crusting on the nose, eyes, mouth or footpads. Animals with the virus may not show clinical signs but can still spread the virus for up to 90 days.
In addition to removing food and water dishes, the department of Fish & Wildlife urges the public to keep both themselves and their pets a safe distance from sick or injured wild animals, as animals that are ill or feel threatened may act aggressively.
One hot summer day in Chicago in the 1940s when I was just a wee lass we fried an egg on the sidewalk in front of 5419 Fairfield Avenue in Chicago. Thirty years later in the midst Time Magazine's dire predictions of the "New Ice Age" and that we would all be dead in our beds of frostbite by Y2K, my neighbor's children did a summer science experiment and fried an egg on the sidewalk at 1042 Windsor street in San Jose. The summer after we survived the supposed collapse of computers worldwide unable to make the transition from 1999 to 2000, we celebrated by frying an egg on my patio in Sunnyvale. And now it's 20 years later and summers haven't changed - they still get hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk - and also to fry your dog's paws.
The problem is the asphalt temperature and the outdoor temperature are two very different things. When the air temperature is 77 degrees asphalt in the sun is 125 degrees. When the air temperature is 86 degrees the asphalt temperature is 135 degrees. Since you can fry an egg at 131 degrees just imagine how your dog feels as you drag him along to the farmers market or an outdoor festival being held on asphalt.
Fortunately there's a couple of easy ways to tell if the pavement is too hot for your pups bare paws - the most direct way is walking on it in your own bare feet. Dogs paw skin is not any thicker than the skin on your own feet. Or you can place the back of your hand against the pavement and hold it there for 7-10 seconds. if it's too uncomfortable for you to leave your skin there, then you shouldn't make your dog do it.
Also, think about the time of day. It takes hours for the pavement to cool off after the outdoor temperature goes down. Asphalt soaks up the heat all day and can only cool down after sunset so pavement that was deemed safe for a walk at 9 am may still be too hot in late afternoon. Much better to head to your outdoor event in the morning when the pavement is cool.
As a basic "rule of paw" - if the surface is too uncomfortable for your own bare hands or feet for at least 7-8 seconds then could seriously injure your dog's paws.
And always remember if you want to take an outing with your dog in the summer think water! It's good for drinking and it's also good for cooling hot tootsies, both yours and your dogs!
Candace Huskey, President
A total of 46 animals were treated today - 36 had surgery (20 cats and 16 dogs were spayed or neutered) and another 7 dogs and 3 cats came in mid-morning for vaccinations and microchips only. (All that made for a total of 14 kitty and 12 dog basic boosters, and 68 rabies vaccinations). I also need to say a big thank you to Cathy for the early morning roll out (she was already at it when April and I arrives at 6:30!) to get shelter animals out for potty and back in for breakfast before all those people and their pets started arriving. And the Winnespaygo team was just as wonderful as always, working as kind and gentle with the the large (and today some very unfriendly) animals as they do with the smallest and scared. We are so fortunate to have their support.
Many residents of the hill have experience bears in their yards, on their streets and even entering their homes in August. We asked Los Padres Bear Aware if we could use their checklist. We recommend looking at their Facebook page as well. If you are having trouble with bears please contact them. Thank you to Charlotte Deese for the photo of the mom bear and two cubs in her Pinon Pines yard.