Now that summer is upon us, we need to ensure plenty of shade and fresh water is available at all times for our pets. For dog owners – walk your dog during cooler parts of the day to prevent overheating and avoid hot pavement to prevent against burned paw pads.
Keep your pet well groomed and clip out any mats to help keep them cool. Ensure all outdoor pets have a shaded shelter that is well ventilated.
We issue this warning every year, but it is always important – never leave a pet (or child for that matter) in an unattended vehicle, even with the windows down for short periods of time. Temperatures can sore within minutes leading to heat exhaustion and quite possibly death. Pets cool themselves through panting and by expelling excess heat from their paws, they do not perspire through their skin like us.
If you find an animal that you feel is in distress, call your local SPCA, your city or municipality’s animal control, or the police.
Heat stroke is a medical emergency and these animals need to be seen by a veterinarian immediately. Signs can include panting, staring, weakness or having a lack of coordination and an anxious expression; refusal to obey commands, having a rapid heart rate, warm skin and a high temperature, or even vomiting and collapse, leading to seizures or a coma. Emergency treatment involves cooling and rehydrating the animal. Move the animal to the shade, apply cool water, not ice (it restricts blood flow thus limiting the bodies ability to cool itself), to the paws and head, fan vigorously and allow the consumption of cool water.
Pets can get sunburnt too. If your pet has light skin, especially on the nose or around the eyes/ears where it is less haired, a sunscreen should be applied if out in the sun. Sunscreens however can be toxic to our animal friends, especially cats as most ingredients in human sun blocks breakdown to high doses of salicylic acid (Aspirin). Products that contain titanium dioxide as the active ingredient are okay, but most of these have zinc oxide in addition to increase sun protection. This compound can lead to zinc toxicity if ingested in large amounts. Avoid products containing cinnamates, PABA esters, salicylates and propylene glycol. And as the same for us, stick to the shade and avoid peak sun times.
Safety first when enjoying our outdoor water activities!
Not all dogs like the water, or can swim particularly well. For safety use a canine flotation device. If your dog does swim, be sure to monitor for ear or skin infections, dry skin and signs of dehydration. Always have ample fresh water available. After swimming, rinse or bath your pet and clean the ears. Call us at Scottsdale Veterinary Hospital for suggestions on shampoos and cleansers.
Drinking contaminated water sources can also increase the risk of exposure to Giardia (an intestinal parasite) and leptospirosis (a water-borne illness that affects the liver and kidneys). Both of these are zoonotic infections (transferable to humans and other animals).
Fleas, ticks and intestinal parasites are year-round hazards for your pet. However, with increased outdoor exposure and certain parasite life-stages, the warmer months makes these risks much greater. Ask your veterinarian for proper parasite control and remember to check for fecal intestinal parasites by dropping off a fresh stool sample at least yearly.
Certain parasites can also cause harm to us. Roundworms for instance, a common intestinal worm of both cats and dogs, is the sixth most reported disease seen in people in the U.S. See the AAHA article [www.healthypet.com/PetCare/PetCareArticle.aspx?title= Zoonotic_Disease_Controlling_Sand_Monsters] for more information. For other zoonotic concerns visit www.cdc.gov/healthypets/.
Tick borne illnesses are also a concern for us, and our feline and canine friends. Tick preventions are available, so if you live in an area or frequent tick habitat such as our neighbourhood parks and woodlands in the lower mainland or the mountains, call for advice on preventative measures.
Just like humans, our pets are susceptible to allergies and spending more time outdoors can be uncomfortable if your pet does experience any allergy symptoms.
Try to avoid freshly mown lawns and wash paws and exposed skin after outdoor activities with a good moisturizing or medicated shampoo. Re-circulate the air while driving, and keep windows closed and use air conditioning. HEPA filters and vacuum cleaners can decrease allergen exposure, as can avoiding high pollen times, such as early morning or late evening, on windy days or after thunderstorms. Antihistamines may be needed to provide relief during certain times of year.
Spider bites and bee stings can also lead to an allergic reaction, sometimes even an anaphylactic response which must be treated by your veterinarian.
Caution with lawn fertilizers and pesticides/herbicides.
Slug bait, ant bait and rat poisons are extremely dangerous, even if your pet ingests the pests after being poisoned. Some poisons are meant to smell/taste good to entice rodents to eat and therefore also smell/taste good to our pets. Pool chemicals can also lead to serious harm. Always be cautious when using and storing your pool and garden chemicals.
Remember certain plants can cause severe gastrointestinal upset, or even kidney and liver failure. Examples include, tulip and daffodil bulbs, lilies of all species, yews, azaleas and rhododendrons, and ivy.