Update: Intended originally as a warm weather post, I’ve included many tips to keep your dog safe, so it’s not just limited to summer!
I’ve finished up my safety tips for the humans, and you know I can’t leave out my furry favorites! There are some things to be considered for your dog’s safety, and warmer weather brings with it some additional issues. I thought I’d list some top things to watch out for, and some tips for prevention. I asked Veterinarian Kate Smith to weigh in on the subject, and she had something to say about the first 2 big concerns. For the others, note that I am NOT A VET! This was written to offer some helpful tips. Always consult a professional regarding your pets – any actions you take regarding this post are your responsibility.
“First, the heat. Most of us are well aware when it gets to be too hot outside for comfort. Our comfort. And a good rule of thumb is if it’s too hot for us, it’s too hot for them. Remember, our pups are wearing fur coats all year long! Dogs don’t sweat except from the very bottom of their feet, they rely on panting to help cool them down. It’s not a very efficient system. So be sure to provide some shade on those long, lazy, hot summer afternoons. Being sure they have access to plenty of fresh, clean water is also very important. You can try freezing a big bowl of water with some treats or toys in it for a fun time. I may be stating the obvious, but never, ever, ever leave anything or anyone who is unable to open a door or window in an unattended car-especially in the heat. Cars act like green houses, and get very, very hot even in mild temperatures.”
“Another potential concern this time of year is “dietary indiscretion.” This is basically a fancy word for “got into something he shouldn’t have.” In all of the holiday get togethers your pets may be exposed to food they normally wouldn’t get. It isn’t just the obvious toxic things, like chocolate or grapes, that can cause problems. Over eating can cause upset tummies for them just like it can for us. Occasionally, this can lead to more severe issues like pancreatitis. So keeping an eye on your guests as well as on the dogs is a good idea.
Dietary indiscretion can also apply to eating things that aren’t really food. Dogs like to chew plants, compost, and mulch. Some of these can cause mild upset, but there are some that can cause more significant problems. Cocoa mulch became popular a few years ago, and vets started seeing chocolate toxicity symptoms from dogs who ate that mulch. Compost can sometimes contain mycotoxins, which cause tremors and seizures. So it’s always a good idea to keep a close eye on what is going into your dog’s mouth!”
Dogs can get bitten by anything we can, right? One flea bite can lead to full-body itching, and cause swelling, hair loss, and oozing. A tick bite can cause Lyme Disease. This can be fatal to a dog. If they have flu-like symptoms, and are walking hunched over and slowly (or not at all), get them to a vet to be checked out. To remove a tick from your dog:
Put on gloves to avoid contact yourself
Use sterilized (with alcohol) tweezers and remove entire tick
Any left behind could cause infection. A flea and tick preventative, especially if your dog spends a lot of time outside, is a worthwhile investment. If your dog gets stung by a bee, you may be able to treat with Benadryl. If your dog is:
Under 30 lbs: 10 mg
30-50 lbs: 25 mg
Over 50 lbs: 50 mg
Always consult your vet before dispensing any medication!
You probably don’t think of water as being a danger to your dog, but there are a couple of instances where you need to pay attention. A swim in the pool is usually fine, but be sure to hose them off when they get out, as the chlorine can really irritate their skin. You’ll also want to take notice if they are swallowing too much of the water. It’s not good for them to ingest the pool chemicals, just as it isn’t for you. The other concern is puddles. This is another year-round occurrence, of course. What may look like a refreshing drink to a dog, may be antifreeze. If made with ethylene glycol, it takes just 2 oz to kill a dog.
There are a few causes of burns that can be more likely in the summer. One is the pads of their feet on hot pavement, and another is sunburn. Always test the ground with your hand before taking them for a walk on a hot day, and talk to your vet to see if sunscreen is necessary for your dog, and instructions for use. The next one may get a big “duh”, but dogs love sticks. A flame on the end of one that is sitting in a campfire may not prevent your dog from trying to run off with it. Also be sure to watch them around fireworks. A stick that is about to burst may just look like a fun toy to them.
There you go – a few things to keep in mind to keep your best friend safe this summer, and all the other seasons,too!
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