Friday, July 6, 2012

Canine Summer Safety Tips

AP here:
Tonka and I spend one day a week if not more at a vet's office. As a result  I get to see and hear quite a bit of what is current and happening with clients. A few months ago Ticks were a major topic, due to the mild winter they were out early in the year and very plentiful. This month we have firework anxiety and heat related problems topping the list. Our last post was about fireworks so Tonka thought it might be good idea to pass on some information about summer heat health.

I am not a Veterinarian! If you feel your pet is in distress and needs help - call your vet.

Heat and dogs are just not a good combination and heat stroke, sunburn and blistered paw pads are  common things that veterinarians will see n the summer.
Please remember that this blog is not meant to replace medical advice or attention from your pets Doctor. If you feel you have any health problems with your dog seek professional medical advice from a veterinarian.

Hot metal surfaces, black asphalt and even white concrete sidewalks and pool decks can become extremely hot in the summer. A good rule of thumb is - if the ground is too hot for your bare-feet, it is too hot for your furry friend.Most dogs are very stoic and you have to really be paying attention to catch the clues that there might be a problem. Some signs that your pet is having a heat related foot issue are:
  •  refusing to walk or walking with a limp
  • licking or gnawing at the feet
  • blisters or discoloration (redness)
  • parts of pads are missing
Some dogs spend time in the family pool or in the river to keep cool. Something to keep in mind for the waterlogged dog is that the time in the water will soften their feet. If they then are out on a hot surface they will be more prone to quickly burning or blistering the pads. At the first sign of a burn get them off the hot surface and to a cooler area  immediately. Cool the pads with cool water or a cool compress.
Call your vet as soon as possible and keep the feet cool and clean.  The vet will be able to tell how deep the burns are and help you prevent infection.Your dog might need to have antibiotics or pain medications depending on the severity of the damage. If your dog needs to walk across any hot surface to get somewhere such as the car or across the hot patio to go potty put down rugs or wet towels to allow them to cross safely.

Dogs can get sunburned especially on the nose and ear tips. Short legged dogs can even get sunburn on their bellies from the reflected sunlight from the pavement or sand. Hairless, short haired, white or light colored dogs are particularly vulnerable to sunburn and skin cancers. Keep your pet in the shade on sunny days or use a sunscreen. If you are going to use a sunscreen make sure it is made for dogs and never use anything containing zinc oxide as it is harmful to animals. Tonka uses a sunscreen made by the Doggles company and wears a visor made by our friend Carolyn  when he is at the beach. Now there are companies making a UV protective clothing line just for pets. Don't forget to make sure that the dog is keeping hydrated and cool under that UV shirt.

Heat Stroke-
Heat Stroke is defined as the inability of your dog to regulate his body temperature.

Excessive salivation, panting rapidly, reddened ears and pads, pale gums, vomiting, diarrhea, increased thirst are all signs of a dog that is overheating. You do not have to have all of these present to be in danger but a dog that is disoriented and/or having seizures needs attention fast. A dog with a rectal temperature of 104 and above is extremely serious since at 106 irreversible damage starts to occur to the internal organs and brain. Grab a garden hose and get them cooled down with cool water (NOT COLD or ICE) paying attention to the stomach,groin, head and feet areas. The stomach and groin contain large blood vessels close to the skins surface and will help to cool the dog quicker. Submerging a dog with heatstroke into a pool or tub is not recommended as it will cool the dog too quickly and could complicate matters by causing cardiac problems. Cool running water is best, not ice or cold water as these are counter productive. With cold or ice water the blood vessels will constrict in response to the extreme cold and slow the flow of blood, slowing down the cooling process. Do not cover the dog with towels or blankets as you want the heat to dissipate and leave not get trapped between the dogs body and the blanket. Transport to the closest ER as quickly and safely as possible.

Tonka wants all his friends to be safe and stay cool this summer!

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