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Keep your pets safe this summer by reading the following 7 Summer Pet Safety Tips. Have fun and play safe!

1.       Heat stroke and exhaustion:

   In the summer months, both people and animals can experience difficulty handling extreme temperatures and humidity. Unlike people, dogs have limited sweat glands and regulate their temperature through panting. Typically, we see occurrences of heat exhaustion and heat stroke in dogs who are outside for extended periods of time during the peak of the day’s temperature, usually between 11 a.m and 2 p.m.  Affected animals  become weak, dehydrated, and even collapse. Animals who are overweight, or those who suffer from underlying heart or lung problems are at an increased risk for heat exhaustion and heat stroke. During the summer it is important to exercise your dog either early in the morning or later in the evening, bring along plenty of water for them to drink during breaks, and consider dividing their total amount of exercise time into shorter blocks. It is NEVER acceptable to leave your animal in a parked car, even for a brief period of time. The temperature quickly escalates in an enclosed space, leading to an intolerable environment, markedly elevated body temperature, multi organ failure and death.

2.       Summer Pests:

 Along with warmer weather, summer also brings an abundance of insects. If you ever note that your dog has suddenly returned from the outdoors with an abruptly swollen face or dime-sized raised bumps all over his or her body, an allergic reaction to an insect bite is potentially to blame. Your first step should be a call to your regular veterinarian or local emergency clinic, as these reactions do have the potential to be life threatening. The majority of cases respond to treatment.

3.  Ticks and Fleas:

   During the summer it is important to ensure that you have your furry friend on a flea and tick preventative—there are a multitude of medication options that you can discuss with your regular veterinarian.  Having this conversation is important as ticks can carry infectious diseases and fleas can cause allergic reactions in animals as well as bites in humans.

4.  Barbeques and Picnics:

  If you are planning to have your dog accompany you to a picnic, barbeque or other outdoor gathering be sure to request that guests refrain from feeding your dog high fat, high protein tablescraps such as fried meat products and bones, which can wreak havoc on the digestive system, potentially resulting in vomiting, diarrhea, and inflammation of the pancreas. In addition, corn cobs are a common cause of intestinal obstructions which can require surgical intervention.

5. Traffic Safety:  

   During the warmer months most emergency clinics see an increase in the number of patients who are hit by vehicles. When outdoors, always ensure that your dog is kept on a leash with a properly fitted collar or harness with identification. Any dog that is struck by a vehicle should be evaluated by a veterinarian even if they initially appear uninjured as shock and some internal injuries may not be immediately apparent.

6. Seasonal Toxins:

    Ethylene glycol, the toxic ingredient found in antifreeze and brake fluid, is one of the most serious toxicities that we see in veterinary medicine.  Any suspected ingestion of this highly lethal substance should be taken seriously and a veterinarian should be contacted immediately.  The best plan of action for preventing such ingestions is to move all garage chemicals to an out of reach shelf and restrict your dog’s unsupervised access to the garage area. Other commonly seen toxicities requiring veterinary care include rat poison, ingestion of grapes and raisins, accidental ingestion of human medication, and consumption of moldy food or compost.  

7.  Summer Travels:

      Traveling with your dog can be wonderful, and for the most part these trips are uneventful. However, there is always the chance that your pet may experience a mishap. Before leaving your home, it is always a good idea to have the phone number and address of an emergency clinic that is convenient to where you will be vacationing. If your dog has numerous chronic medical conditions and an extensive medical history, it is a great idea to bring along a copy of his or her medical record. If your dog takes regular medications and will be accompanying you on a trip this summer, it is important to ensure that you have enough to last for the duration of your travels together.


written by Dr. Rachel Morgan

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