by Dr. S. Dawn Dinger, DVM
The dog days of summer are finally upon us and with it comes baseball, barbecues and a plethora of other outdoor activities. Summer also comes with some hazards too, so here are ten tips to help keep your pets safe this season.
1. NEVER LEAVE PETS IN A CAR:
Temperatures inside a vehicle can rise to dangerous levels within a few minutes. Even on a relatively mild 80 °F day, the temperature inside the car will be 114°F within 30 minutes. Heatstroke and subsequent brain damage and death can occur rapidly in these conditions. Never leave your pet in a car unattended even in the shade with the windows down.
2. HAVE PLENTY OF SHADE AND WATER:
Pets can also overheat on hot days when left outside. Make certain they always have access to fresh, cool drinking water and plenty of shade. Better yet, keep them inside during the hottest part of the day and keep walks and other activities to a minimum.
3. KNOW THE SIGNS:
Symptoms of overheating include heavy panting or difficulty breathing; weakness; drooling; and in severe cases, vomiting, bloody diarrhea, collapse and seizures. Body temperatures are often well over 104°F (normal 100°F - 102.5°F). Some animals are more susceptible to overheating than others – elderly pets, those who are overweight or have underlying heart or lung disease are at greater risk. Some breeds are also predisposed: “smushy faced” breeds such as bulldogs, pugs and Persian cats, don't move air as well and can easily overheat. If you have concerns that your pet may be overheating, move them to a cool area, put a fan in front of them and apply cool (not cold) water to their feet, legs and belly. Call us right away for further instructions.
4. BEWARE OF HOT PAVEMENT:
We've all seen the videos of eggs frying on the sidewalk. While these are fun to watch, it's a lot less enjoyable when it's your pet's feet! Asphalt temperatures can reach 135°F on an 86°F day and tissue damage can start in as little as 60 seconds. We can see severe burns on animal's feet as a result. Don't walk your pet during the hottest part of the day and avoid asphalt and other hard surfaces, stick to grass or dirt instead.
Did you know that dogs and cats can get sunburn? They can and this can eventually lead to skin cancer just like in people. While the hair provides some protection from the sun, prolonged exposure can lead to problems. Animals with white or light colored fur and hairless breeds are at especially high risk. Make certain to slather on the a pet sunscreen if your pet will outside for a long period and especially concentrate on areas with thinner hair such as muzzles and bellies.
6. WATER SAFETY:
Contrary to what “You Tube” would have you believe, not every pet can swim, or even likes to. Use caution around water and use a specially-made pet life preserver if your pet will be swimming or on a boat. Also, do not allow your pet to ingest a lot of water all at once. Pool water and water from rivers and lakes contain chemicals and bacteria, but “water intoxication” causes severe shifts in electrolytes in the body due to over hydration and can be life threatening.
7. WATCH OUT FOR UNINVITED GUESTS:
Fleas, ticks, mosquitoes and other parasites are at their worst this time of year and can make your pet not only miserable, but can spread disease as well. Make certain you are keeping up on your pet's flea, tick and heartworm preventatives. Give us a call if you have any questions and we'll be happy to help you with that.
8. WATCH OUT FOR UNINVITED GUESTS PART 2:
Things that sting and bite are also in abundance. Bees, hornets and wasps are everywhere and can easily be stepped on. Some dogs and cats also enjoy chasing and biting these flying hazards. If your pet is stung and seems painful or develops any hives, facial swelling or vomiting, they should be evaluated by a veterinarian right away. Snakes are also easily found both in parks and on hikes, but also in your own backyard. Dogs especially are often bitten on the legs, chest and face. Snakes bites can be potentially dangerous and any that occur should be checked out as soon as possible.
Pets love to take part in any of our activities and if it involves food that's even better! However, be aware that meats and bones can lead to problems like GI upset, pancreatitis and obstructions and therefore should not be given to pets. Be careful to keep the trash covered also, as many pets will rip open bags to get at the contents. Things like corn cobs often get stuck in the intestines and toothpicks and meat skewers can injure the mouth and puncture the esophagus or intestine.
10: VACATION TIME:
This is also the time that we travel the most, and many times, take our pets with us. Remember that pets can be easily frightened in new environments and may not behave or respond to commands as they usually do. Make certain they are always properly restrained on a leash or in a carrier and that they wear up to date identification in case the worst happens and they get lost.
(Please note, if your pet is prone to GI upset or pancreatitis; is a diabetic; is on a hypoallergenic or other prescription diet, please contact us before giving these treats to your pet).
1722 Route 68
New Brighton, PA 15066
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In Case Of Emergency
Please contact us by phone as quickly as possible for emergency service. We recommend PVSEC (Pittsburgh Veterinary Specialty and Emergency Center) for after-hours care:
807 Camp Horne Road
Pittsburgh, PA 15237