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You've got questions about dogs, cats, critters. These Las Vegas experts have answers

Hearts Alive Village Las Vegas

Spring is the perfect time in Las Vegas – breezy and not too hot or cold. And as much as we like it, our pets enjoy it too.

But there are so many things to consider when it comes to keeping your dog, cat, or other pets safe this time of year.

Scientists are seeing a fluke worm in the Colorado River for the first time, and it can be very dangerous for dogs. There's also a canine flu that spreads very quickly.

So, what can you do to keep your furry friend safe?

"You want to ensure your dog is vaccinated against influenza and other viral diseases," said Dr. Shadi Iraifej, owner and Chief Medical Officer of "You want to limit contact with other dogs, either completely or, ideally, limit your interaction with other dogs you know are vaccinated. If your dog is showing any signs of respiratory distress, whether it be something as simple as coughing or sneezing to actual breathing issues, get checked out by [a] veterinarian."

Spring also brings pollen and allergies, which can wreak as much havoc on our pets as on us.

According to Dr. Irafej, allergy symptoms can present themselves in various ways. However, treating them can be difficult.

"Allergies come in two different categories for dogs and cats," he said, "either dietary [or] environmental... Dietary allergies are related to proteins they've been exposed to for most of their lives, so we usually change the diet to something different. In regard to the environment, that's tough because unless you're going to go the route of a dermatologist – a consultation and allergy testing them, which can be cumbersome and expensive with long wait time – you end up guessing that there's something in the environment that's causing a problem. So, we need to limit environmental exposure, which is not always a realistic endeavor."

Iraifej recommends contacting a veterinary dermatologist if the symptoms worsen. Doctors can create allergy shots for your animal from there, but he warns that the process is costly.

Spring also marks the beginning of kitten season, when cats give birth to litters by the dozen. Nikki Martinez, Feline Solutions Director at Hearts Alive Village, told State of Nevada that it's a challenging time of year for many rescues and shelters.

"People don't realize that kitten season starts for us in mid to late spring and runs through summer," said Martinez. "Most kittens that enter our rescue go directly into foster homes. We're seeing new newborn motherless kittens that are entering our rescue. We greatly need foster homes, especially those willing to bottle feed or take care of mothers and kittens."

In 2023, Hearts Alive Village took in more than 1,250 cats. Most were placed in a foster home. For Martinez, foster care is essential to keeping the rescue organization in business, so more volunteers are needed.

"No previous experience is needed," she said. "They just need to reach out to us on our rescue website, where they can complete a foster application. "We will provide them with the basic supplies and support to care for that animal."

Guests: Shadi Ireifej, veterinarian and owner, VetTriage; Nikki Martinez, director of feline solutions, Hearts Alive Village

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Joe Schoenmann joined Nevada Public Radio in 2014. He works with a talented team of producers at State of Nevada who explore the casino industry, sports, politics, public health and everything in between.