Summer is finally here! With the longer days and warmer weather comes a whole bunch of new dangers for your pets! We have a few tips to ensure you have a safe summer with your furry friends.
Never, ever, EVER leave your pet in a hot car. It can take mere minutes for a pet to develop and succumb to heat stroke in a car. Most people don’t realize how hot it gets in parked cars. On a 25C degree day, temperatures in a car can reach 32C in the shade and top 71C if parked directly in the sun! Driving around, parking, and leaving your pet in the car for “just a minute” can be deadly. Cars heat up fast — even with the windows cracked open. Leave your pet at home on warm days. If you see a pet in a car on a warm day, please take action and call the police or fire department – time is critical.
Dr. Ernie Ward made this great educational video, wanting to see for himself how hot a parked car gets in a matter of minutes.
Remember, dogs can’t sweat. They cool off by panting, so an overheated dog will drool excessively. It will become lethargic, its eyes will be bloodshot and it may appear a little pale. If you lift its skin, it will take longer than usual for the skin to fall back into place. Signs of heat stroke include (but are not limited to): body temperatures of 40-43C, excessive panting, dark or bright red tongue and gums, staggering, seizures, bloody diarrhea, vomiting, coma and even death. Brachycephalic breeds (the short-nosed breeds, such as Bulldogs and Pugs), large heavy-coated breeds, and those dogs with heart or respiratory problems have a harder time cooling themselves and are more at risk for heat stroke.
If you suspect heat stroke in your pet, seek veterinary attention immediately! Use cool water, not ice water, to cool down your pet. Very cold water will cause constriction of the blood vessels and impede cooling. Do not aid cooling below 39.4C – some animals can actually get hypothermic (too cold). Offer ice cubes for the animal to lick on until you can reach your veterinarian. Just because your animal is cooled and “appears” okay, do NOT assume everything is fine. Internal organs such as liver, kidneys, brain, etc., are affected by the body temperature elevation and an examination by a veterinarian is needed to assess this.
Keep your dog hydrated!
Different dogs have different needs when battling the heat. Keep in mind that darker coats absorb more heat than lighter coats. Also, overweight dogs are at higher risk for dehydration. Carry a bottle of water when going on a walk with your dog. Find innovative ways to cool your dog. Don’t have air conditioning? No problem! Find a spot in the shade and set up a kiddie pool. Lay down a wet towel for your dog to lie on. Or simply set up a fan in front of a pan of ice. You can also buy products specifically for pets like cooling coats or cooling mats!
Watch out for insecticides and pesticides:
Warmer months mean an increase in insects and pests, which can result in an increase in household use of insecticides and pesticides. If you think your pet may have ingested toxic chemicals please contact your veterinarian immediately. Some of the symptoms may include (but are not limited to) fever, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle tremors, seizures, hypersalivation, depression, respiratory failure and lack of coordination.
Dogs can get a sunburn just like people. White, light-coloured and thin coated dogs are more at risk for burning. To prevent sunburn, you can apply a waterproof sunscreen formulated for pets. Be sure to cover the tips of your dog’s ears and nose, the skin around its mouth and its back.
Hot pavement and surfaces:
Dog’s feet and pads are tough, right? Most people are aware that foot pads can be injured by stepping on something sharp, but what about something hot? Pavement, tar-coated asphalt or metal get extremely hot in the summer sun. Unlike the obvious wounds such as lacerations, foot infections (fungal or bacterial), or foreign bodies (such as cheat grass or splinters), burned pads may not be apparent to the eye, at least initially. Signs of burned pads can include: limping or refusing to walk, licking or chewing at the feet, pads darker in colour, missing part of pad, and blisters.
Don’t leave your dog unsupervised around water, as not all dogs are good swimmers. Invest in a life vest for your dog! It’s easy for your pup to develop a cramp, become exhausted too far from shore, or get overwhelmed by tides in rivers and oceans. All vests should have reflective stripes to help with visibility, quick release buckles, and a large nylon handle on the top of the vest to make it easier to snatch your dog out of the water. Have your dog wear the vest at home to ensure that it not only fits correctly but to also give your dog time to get used to it. Rinse your dog off after swimming to remove chlorine or salt, as well as any bacteria or dirt they might pick up. To prevent hotspots, remove wet collars and insure you dry your long, heavy coated dog after swimming.
Thunderstorms and Fireworks:
As many pet lovers know, fireworks and thunder storms can cause a great deal of stress for some animals. Fear of loud sounds – fireworks, thunder, gunshots – are called noise phobias. For a pet affected by loud noises, this is a terrifying and uncomfortable time; both for the pet and the people. Your pet cannot control their reaction to loud noises, and may run away or severely injury themselves trying to “escape” the loud noise. Leave your pet at home during a fireworks show. Provide a safe go-to spot for your pet to relax or hide (ie. a crate). Lock all windows and doors to prevent escape attempts, and close curtains and blinds to block out flashing lights. Try counteracting the noise with music or the TV. You can also try anxiety supplements or storm shirt (ie. Thundershirt), this acts as a safety blanket for the pet and calms them down. Contact our hospital for more information on anxiety supplements. Make sure your pet has up to date identification such as a collar tag, tattoo, or microchip, incase they find a way to escape outside.
Pests and Parasites:
Pests that can be dangerous to your pets are bees, spiders, snakes etc. Pets are vulnerable to their stings and bites that may cause a bad allergic reaction (swelling in the face/muzzle/nose or hives all over the body). If you are doing outdoor activities with your dog (ie. hiking, camping, etc) be sure to bring Benadryl with you. Benadryl is safe for your pet and should be given right after a sting (please phone our hospital to get the correct dosing for your pet). Fleas and ticks are external parasites that can cause extreme discomfort and serious illness in pets and even people. With the warm summer months and more time spent outside it can increase your pet’s exposure to external parasites. Fleas and ticks are easily prevented from bothering your pet through the use of safe, easy to administer, effective preventative products. We have many products available and would be happy to help answer any questions and also apply products on site if you’d like!
Summer means BBQ season! Foods Certain human food such a corn on the cob and meats with bones pose a risk to our pets. Food covered in grease, peach pits, aluminium foil, plastic wrap, matches and kebab skewers can be very dangerous if your pet gets hold of them. If you suspect your pet has ingested something it shouldn’t have please call us at the clinic.
Keep your windows screened:
Cats love to sit in windowsills. Having a screen will allow your house to be ventilated but will make sure kitty can’t fall out!
We hope you’ve found these tips helpful! We wish you and your pets a healthy and happy summer!