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Humane Education Leads to Progress
For Informed Dog Owners

Vision Statement: We envision a society free from discrimination, where responsibility, education, love and compassion allow humans to fully respect and understand man's best friend.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Summer Safety Tips

Hello all! Dr. Mandi here again announcing that Summer is upon us!! Along with the warm sunny weather and fun times outdoors comes some special risks for man's (and woman's) best friend. As the temperature rises keep some of these safety concerns and tips to keep your dog cool in mind.

Heat Hazards - If your dog is outside on a hot day, make sure he has a shady spot to rest in. Doghouses are not ideal shelter during the summer as they can trap heat. You may want to fill a child's wading pool with fresh water for your dog to cool off in. Placing ice cubes in a water bowl is also a good way to keep dogs cool and sometimes you'll even catch them "bobbing" for them!

Never leave your dog in a closed vehicle on a hot day. The temperature inside a car can rise to over 120 degrees in a matter of minutes.

Always provide plenty of cool, fresh water indoors and out.

Avoid strenuous exercise on extremely hot days. Take walks in the early mornings or evenings, when the sun's heat is less intense. Try to avoid prolonged exposure to hot asphalt or sand, which can burn your dog's paws.

Dogs that are brachycephalic (short-faced), such as Bulldogs, Boxers, Pugs and Pekingese, have an especially hard time in the heat because they do not pant as efficiently as longer-faced dogs. They can very quickly suffer from heat stroke which can be life threatening. Keep your brachycephalic dog inside with air-conditioning.

General Health - Make sure your dog's vaccinations are up to date, especially since dogs tend to stay outdoors longer and come into contact with other animals more during the summer months.

Keep dogs off of lawns that have been chemically treated or fertilized for 24 hours (or according to package instructions), and away from potentially toxic plants and flowers. If you are at all in question regarding a lawn product call your local veterinarian or Animal Poison Control Center.

Fleas and ticks, and the mosquitos which carry heartworm disease, are more prevalent in warmer months. Ask your veterinarian for an effective preventive to keep these parasites off your dog.

Beach Tips - Make sure your dog has a shady spot to rest in and plenty of fresh water. (I cannot stress the importance of cool, fresh water enough!)

Dogs, especially those with short hair, white fur, and pink skin, can sunburn. Limit your dog's exposure during the day and apply sunblock to his ears and nose 30 minutes before going outside. Be careful to apply in areas where your dog cannot lick the product off!

Running on the sand is strenuous exercise. A dog that is out of shape can easily pull a tendon or ligament, so keep a check on your dog's activity.

Salt and other minerals in ocean water can damage your dog's coat, so rinse him off at the end of the day. Make sure you dry your dog's ears inside and out to prevent ear infections. Also, don't allow them to drink sea water as it can make them sick.

Water Safety - If you're swimming for the first time with your dog, start in shallow water and coax him in by calling his name. Encourage him with toys or treats. Or, let him follow another experienced dog he is friendly with.

Never throw your dog into the water.

Don't let your dog overdo it; swimming is very hard work and he may tire quickly. It is a good idea to fit your dog with a lifepreserver.

If you have your own pool, make sure your dog knows where the stairs or ladder are located. Be sure that pool covers are firmly in place; dogs have been known to slip in under openings in the covers and drown. Never leave your dog unattended in water.

Travel By Air - Many airlines will not ship animals during summer months due to dangers caused by hot weather. Some will only allow dogs to fly in the early morning or in the evening.

Check with your airlines for specific rules, including health certificates and vaccine requirements.
Check for regulations regarding pets in the main cabin of the plane as far as pet carrier size, how many pets allowed to fly per plane and additional fees.

Travel By Car - Keep your dog cool in the car by putting icepacks in his crate. Make sure the crate is well ventilated. Put a sunshade on your car windows.Bring along fresh water and a bowl, and a tarp or tent so you can set up a shady spot when you stop. Keep a spray bottle filled with water to spritz on your dog to cool him down.

Never, ever leave a dog unattended in a vehicle in the summer months. Heatstroke and death can occur within minutes in warm temperatures.

Heatstroke - Heatstroke can be the serious and often fatal result of a dog's prolonged exposure to excessive heat. Below are the signs of heatstroke and the actions you should take if your dog is overcome.

Early Stages:
-Heavy panting, rapid breathing, excessive drooling, bright red gums and tongue.
-Standing 4-square, posting or spreading out in an attempt to maintain balance.

Advanced Stages:
-White or blue gums.
-Lethargy, unwillingness to move.-Uncontrollable urination or defecation.-Labored, noisy breathing. -Shock.

If your dog begins to exhibit signs of heatstroke, you should immediately try to cool the dog down and get to your veterinarian as soon as possible:

-Apply rubbing alcohol to the dog's paw pads.
-Apply ice packs to the groin area.
-Hose down with water.
-Allow the dog to lick ice chips or drink a small amount of water.
-Offer Pedialyte to restore electrolytes.

Boarding/Pet Sitting - When boarding your dog or leaving him with a pet sitter make sure you leave detailed instructions especially if your dog needs special care like taking daily medication.

Make sure your dog is up to date on all vaccinations.

Lastly, and this is the most important tip I can give as a veterinarian, leave a signed letter with your boarding facility or sitter specifically giving them the power to make medical decisions for your dog in case an emergency arises and you cannot be reached.

Hooray for summer!! Make it a safe and happy one for man and beast!


Adam said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Adam said...

oops sorry about that...

Great info Dr. M

thank you!

Adam said...

Dr. M...

regarding first aid for heat stroke... "-Apply rubbing alcohol to the dog's paw pads."

What does this do?

These are the dogs of HELP FIDO...our dogs...this is why we are here...