South Lake Union vet has some advice for urban pet owners


Urban Pet Ownership

Owning a dog in South Lake Union or Downtown Seattle has minimal resemblance to owning a dog in the suburbs.  Possible obstacles and challenges for pet ownership have certainly not stopped Seattle urbanites.  There are over 150,000 dogs in Seattle, more than the number of children, and more cats than dogs.

Let’s take a look at some of the more common issues our city dwelling companions face.

There are many injuries to dogs each year caused by elevators and escalators.  Paws can become trapped resulting in subsequent broken bones and severe soft tissue injuries.  Dogs should always be carried on escalators or take the stairs!

We also see too many dogs hit by cars resulting in severe trauma or even death.  Although traffic often appears to be barely moving in the city, a car does not need to be at high speeds to inflict severe damage.

The dog park, as well as doggy daycare, are places where dogs can be packed tight and excitement and adrenaline run high.  This can lead to scuffles with even the most dog-friendly, even tempered of dogs.  Dog bites and dog fight injuries are a common cause for veterinary visits.

Density contributes to the spread of disease so, raising a dog in such a dog-dense urban environment can make it difficult to keep them healthy.  Shared water bowls and tightly packed dog parks make giardia, an intestinal parasite, a common city issue for our dogs.  Giardia can cause diarrhea, vomiting, decreased appetite, and can occasionally be difficult to eliminate.

Parvo, which is primarily an issue for puppies before being fully vaccinated, is spread by contaminated fecal matter.

Kennel cough can be spread by a simple nose to nose “ Hello” your dog might share with another canine friend passing by on the street.

Seattle is also filled with unwelcomed rats, which, along with raccoons,  can be carriers of leptospirosis.  The standing water from our wet climate, with the rat and raccoon population, make the city a prime spot for the spread of this disease. Leptosporosis can cause kidney and liver failure and is zoonotic, meaning it can infect humans.  Urban Animal recommends vaccinating all dog for leptospirosis annually

Let’s not forget about our city cats.  There is no safe scenario for an indoor/outdoor cat in South Lake Union or Downtown Seattle.  This means urban cats need enrichment to keep them happy and healthy in what can sometimes be a very small footprint of space.  The Indoor Pet Initiative has tips for keeping your cat fulfilled while being strictly indoors.  (

Urban Animal is an innovative veterinary care model attempting to reduce the challenges and provide pet owners with candid advice as well as smart and sensible care.  Understanding that busy city life can make it difficult to schedule appointments, Urban Animal offers the convenience of a walk in practice which is open 7 days a week taking walk ins from 8am-7pm.(  )

written by Cherri Trusheim DVM

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