Beat the heat with vet tips for a safe summer

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July is here, and along with it the official dog days of summer. Keep your pets safe during this heated season with these easy tips.

Outdoor smarts.

Dogs and cats can become dehydrated quickly, so give your pets plenty of water when they are outdoors, even if they are only out for a short period. Shady places are important so Fido can escape the sun when the temperature rises. In addition, don’t let your pet linger on hot asphalt. Lying on a hot surface cause your pet’s temp to quickly soar, and may even burn them. Of course our readers know to never leave your animals alone in a parked vehicle, but be sure to keep an eye out for careless dumb dumbs that do. Don’t forget–heatstroke can be fatal.

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Heatstroke is NOT this obvious.

Know how to tell if your pet is overheated.

The signs of heatstroke include excessive panting, difficulty breathing, increased heart and respiratory rate, drooling, mild weakness, seizures, and an elevated body temperature of over 104 degrees, and even blue or bright red gums. Don’t forget—short-faced or stub-nosed breeds like pugs are more susceptible to overheating as they can’t pant as effectively. Also at risk are overweight pets, or those with concurrent illnesses, espeically heart or lung in origin.

Backyard parties.

Summertime is the perfect time for a backyard barbeque or party, but remember that the food and drink you serve your guests may be poisonous to pets. Make sure to keep alcoholic beverages away from pets, as they can cause illness, depression, or even death. Don’t forget that the party food you serve your friends should not be a treat for your pet; a seemingly innocent treat, even for one meal, may give your dog or cat severe digestive ailments. As always, avoid raisins, grapes, onions, garlic, chocolate and products with the sweetener xylitol.  Corn cobs are another summertime problem that I have seen on x-rays lodged in the intestines all too frequently.

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Beware the doggy paddle.

Most dogs are not natural swimmers, so don’t assume they will be fine doing laps in the pool. While swimming can be great exercise for dogs and their humans alike, don’t leave pets unsupervised while in the pool, or when they even have access to it. Also, try to keep your dog from drinking pool water, which contains chemicals that could cause stomach upset. 
I know that last bit it no easy task, but do try.

If your dog or cat accidentally ingests a potentially toxic substance this summer, it is important to contact your local veterinarian or you can ask a vet for immediate assistance.

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July 10, 2011 at 22:14

Kind of wondering why did you put the changes in the gums as a side note …? With our guys I can use their gum and tongue color as a pretty good indicator of changes in temperature. The tongues start getting darker as they’re getting hotter (and that is prior actual heat stroke, just an indicator that they’re getting hot …?)

While panting is a sign, dogs pant for many other reasons, so personally I monitor the color as the main sign to watch for …?

July 11, 2011 at 17:50

Hi Jana,

I am not quite sure what you mean as it being a side note. All the signs I mentioned are very important. I think *most* pet owners probe less in their pets’ mouths to check gum color, and I have heard pet owners get confused about the black pigment of some gums. Just what the clients have reported back over the years.

I did not mean to indicate that gum color is less important. Thanks for the feedback!

July 11, 2011 at 17:59

Might have been bad wording on my part. I felt kind of tucked in at the end … :-)

October 12, 2011 at 03:48

Hi, you’ve left a comment on one of my webpages, so I am commenting back! :)