Run, hike, swim, repeat. Does this sound like a typical summer day with your furry friend? At Noah’s Ark, we are all about fun in the sun, but you need to consider several safety implications that come with the season change. Even if your pooch tends to stay in your air-conditioned home, she may still be at risk. Read on for a list of common summer emergencies and what preventive measures you can take for your pet.
Heatstroke in pets
This most serious form of heat injury is defined as “a condition caused by your body overheating, usually as a result of prolonged exposure to, or physical exertion in, high temperatures.” Humans suffer from this sometimes fatal condition, but our pets are even more susceptible. Their thick fur coats, the inability to physically limit themselves and to cool themselves, and certain facial conformations all put them at increased risk for this emergency.
Signs of overheating can include panting, drooling, weakness, stupor, vomiting, diarrhea, or a body temperature higher than 104 degrees. Signs can appear suddenly and progress rapidly. To minimize heatstroke risk, ensure your pet has a constant source of fresh, clean water and shade when outdoors. Elderly, obese, and brachycephalic (flat-face) breeds, such as pugs, bulldogs, boxers, and Persian cats, should be kept in the air-conditioned indoors on particularly hot days. Never, ever leave your pet in a car on a warm day.
If you suspect your pet may be suffering from heat exhaustion or stroke, take her to our hospital or the nearest emergency clinic immediately, as this condition should never be taken lightly.
Pet paws on hot pavement
Asphalt driveways, sidewalks, and streets can become exceedingly hot during the summer months, especially in the mid- to late-afternoon hours. Imagine walking barefoot on a black-top driveway on a sunny afternoon—ouch! If it’s too hot for you, it is too hot for your pet. If forced to walk on hot surfaces, your pet could suffer from burn injuries, including painful sloughing of the paw pads. Depending on severity, these injuries require frequent bandage changes, antibiotics, and pain medications.
Prior to heading out with your furry friend, do the palm test—place your open hand on the ground where your pet will be walking and leave it there for at least seven seconds. Again, if the surface is too hot for your hand, it’s too hot for your pet to walk there, and you should look for grass or dirt trails. If pavement is the only option, opt for early morning or evening walks. You could consider dog booties, if your pet will tolerate them.
Bees sting pets, too
Like people, some pets are allergic to bee stings. Their allergic reactions are often minor, such as tenderness or mild swelling at the sting site. Pets most often are stung when they step on a bee, and the first sign you may see is your pet limping or favoring a foot. Try to locate and remove the stinger, although this can be difficult in furry pets. If you believe your pet was stung by a bee or you see any signs of a minor reaction, please call us to schedule an appointment or to speak with our veterinary team.
Occasionally, some pets have a serious reaction that results in anaphylaxis, an emergency situation that will typically require hospitalization, antihistamines, and steroid therapy. Anaphylaxis signs can manifest as swelling of the face, hives on the skin, vomiting, diarrhea, and trouble breathing. If you observe any anaphylaxis signs in your pet, head to your nearest emergency clinic for immediate evaluation.
Pets and grass awns
Sharp grass awns, also known as foxtails or cheatgrass, can easily burrow under your pet’s skin, or become lodged in her ear canal or eye. Prevention is difficult, but checking your pet daily and removing any visible awns can help minimize potential problems. Call us to schedule an appointment if you notice any lameness, swelling, redness on the skin, or evidence of awns in the ears or eyes. Do not attempt to remove awns without veterinary assistance.
Algae blooms can be ugly for pets
Blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria, is not always harmful, but if an overgrowth occurs, the surrounding water can become contaminated with increased levels of nitrogen, phosphorous, and possible toxins. If your pet—or people—ingests the affected water, severe illness can occur. Check local reports for algal blooms before you or your pet swim in any ponds, lakes, or streams.
Summer is an exciting time to be outdoors with our pets, and we encourage you to get out, safely, as often as you can. At Noah’s Ark, we are dedicated to your pet’s safety and well-being. Don’t hesitate to contact us with questions or concerns regarding these common summer emergencies.