Keep New Mexico 'Enchanting' for Your Pet
Over the last several months, PetPlan pet insurance has sponsored the Traveling Wags travel series with me. We have traveled to the West and East Coasts and made stops in the Hamptons, New York City, Los Angeles and Beverly Hills. In the last chapter in our series, Dr. Kim Smyth, DVM, will explain what it takes to be safe and have fun in New Mexico with your fuzzy pal.
If you have been following me for awhile now, you may know that I was born on New Mexico. My family is native to the state so they are well aware of all the unusual things to watch out for in the state when it comes to my well being.
However, if you are a new visitor to the state or even a new pet owner, there are several things to be prepared for. I reached out to my pals at PetPlan pet insurance and asked if they could help educate all of us on how to keep the Land of Enchantment, enchanting for all of us. New Mexico is a great place to get outside.
Do you have any safety tips for exploring the great outdoors in New Mexico? Great question! New Mexico has a lot to offer nature lovers and their four legged companions, from deserts to mountains. If you’re planning on doing some hiking in either place, there are a few things to keep in mind.
First, be prepared.
This goes for hiking in any part of the country, but desert and mountain landscapes can provide an extra threat. Bring plenty of water for everyone, and be sure to bring along a modified first aid kit in case of minor injury. Don’t forget pet-safe sunscreen on your dog’s exposed skin.
Second, be aware.
New Mexico is beautiful, but don’t get so caught up in the scenery that you forget to notice the little (or big!) creatures lurking on your hike. New Mexico’s native wildlife population is as varied as its topography, and a lot of these critters carry a big bite. Depending on where your hike takes you, you can encounter one or more of these beasties:
Sonoran Desert Toads
Birds of prey (especially for small breed dogs)
Scary, right? Avoid a run-in with these guys by keeping your dog on a leash and practicing good wildlife safety while hiking.
New Mexico offers up a smorgasbord of illnesses that are particular to the Southwest region, like Valley Fever, which is a fungal disease hiding in Southwestern soils. Other illnesses have a little help from a friend to be transmitted to you and your pet, like West Nile Virus, which is spread by mosquitos, and plague (yes, THAT plague!), which is spread by fleas. Before you step foot (or paw) in New Mexico, make sure your pet’s parasite control is up to date.
We eat a lot of chile when we’re visiting New Mexico. Are dogs allergic to it?
Food allergies are not uncommon in pets, but most of the time it’s the protein component of the meal that causes the biggest reaction. There are always exceptions, but it’s highly unlikely that your dog is allergic to chiles. However, I would avoid purposely feeding spicy chiles to a dog, whose mouth and tongue are susceptible to the same burning sensation that we feel when we eat a hot pepper. Not to mention the possible side gastrointestinal side effects that may be seen (and smelled) later. If your dog does eat a spicy pepper and seems uncomfortable, you can give him or her a little bit of milk to help counteract that “mouth on fire” feeling.
Is there anything in particular I should worry about with New Mexico winters?
Winter in New Mexico is a great time to visit, but, boy is it ever dry. Low humidity and frigid temperatures can do a number on your pet’s skin, so pack a couple of extra items to keep her comfortable. If possible, run a humidifier in the room where she’ll spend the majority of her time. Bring a pet specific leave-on conditioner or moisturizing spray to keep your pet’s skin flake-free, and now is not the time to forget her omega-3 fatty acid supplements. Pack a supply to last the duration of your vacation. While out and about, consider booties for delicate feet unaccustomed to ice and snow. If your four legged friend prefers to go shoeless, consider a thin coating of vaseline to protect her feet, and always wipe all four feet down when you get home to remove salt and other de-icing chemicals.
About Dr. Kim Smyth, Petplan pet insurance staff veterinarian:
Dr. Smyth, DVM, is a 2004 graduate of the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine. She first began practicing veterinary medicine in a small animal clinic near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Possessing a knack for giving great pet health advice, Dr. Smyth has authored hundreds of pet health essays and is a contributing expert on Petplan’s blog and pet health magazine, fetch!
About Petplan pet insurance:
Petplan is more than a pet insurance provider. We’re dedicated to providing pet parents with the support, resources and tools they need to keep their pets not just surviving—but thriving—into their old age. Simply put, we aim to be the kind of company that will make our pets proud. Petplan’s fully customizable cat and dog insurance plans provide comprehensive coverage for hereditary and chronic conditions, alternative and behavioral therapies, and dental and cancer treatments – all as standard.
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