We constantly hear advice about keeping us, and our kids safe during the summer. From sun saftey to pools, but we can't neglect our furry friends who you need to care for! Chief ER veterinarian Dr. Rebecca Greenstein talks about summer safety for pets.
Dog Prob # 1: Sunburns
Most people are surprised to hear that dogs (and cats) can get sunburns too! Dogs with white or pale skin and thinner fur are particularly susceptible. This is something to remember for owners of dogs with thick coats who shave them down for the summer! With prolonged exposure to the sun’s harmful rays, dogs can develop burns just like us. Exposed skin can appear red, feel warm, and can even blister. It’s also really painful.
On super hot days, either leave your dog at home or make sure there’s always a shady spot when they’re outside. In some cases, you can try a suntan lotion for babies with high SPF, but just make sure your dog can’t lick it off!
One last thing about burns…a lot of people will turn on the backyard garden hose to spray down their dogs or give them a drink! That’s totally fine, but remember, the water coming out of the hose on a sweltering summer day can be really hot – hot enough to even cause skin burns! Always test the water temperature first.
Dog Prob #2: Hot Pavement & Poolside Problems
When it’s hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk, let’s just think about how that would feel on the pads of your dog’s poor little paws. Obviously the bottom of a dog’s feet is thicker and heartier than ours, but you still want to be mindful of the fact that those four little paws are not meant to withstand extreme heat.
If you add in an activity like fetch, with sudden stops and starts, they’re more vulnerable to painful scrapes on their pads. Similar situations can also arise when dogs are running around the deck of a pool – the rough surface, the heat, the sun bouncing off the splashed pool water make for some pretty nasty paw injuries that are painful and take forever to heal.
Solution: Stay inside, make sure there’s always a shady spot, and avoid sudden stop and start exercises on rough surfaces. Booties are another alternative but may not be the most practical.
Dog Prob #3: Hot Cars
There has been much more public awareness about the dangers of leaving animals in hot cars in recent years, but there is still more educating to be done. Everyone knows not to leave their pets locked in a car for hours and hours while they’re at the mall, but some people actually don’t know how little time it can take for a hot car to turn dangerous. Dogs are at high risk of overheating because they pant to cool themselves off. On summer day when it’s 29 C outside, the inside temp (even with windows slightly open!) can reach almost 40 C . That’s only in about 10 minutes, left for half an hour, it can rise to a sweltering 50 C!
Here’s how to recognize the signs of extreme heat stroke:
your pet is unusually quiet, dull, or lethargic. Their eyes can look bloodshot, they can have vomiting or diarrhea, they are panting excessively or breathing really noisily. Extreme cases will have seizures, organ failure, or death.
Bottom line: when you’re running errands this summer, maybe Fido doesn’t need to come along for the ride. Pets should stay somewhere cool, preferably indoors, when it’s really hot. If you have to bring them for a ride along, keep errands super short, have water always on hand, and keep the air conditioning on in the car while they’re waiting.
Dog Prob # 4: BBQs
Who knew that the highlight of our Canadian summers could be turn dangerous for pets? It’s true! Every summer, countless dogs end up at the vet for everything from an upset tummy from eating bad food, to needing surgery for ingesting shish kebab skewers!
Contrary to popular belief, dogs do not benefit from having you share your table scraps with them. Their digestive system is very different from ours. Feeding them rich or fatty foods, or heavily seasoned or spiced foods, is a recipe for trouble. Dogs can get upset stomachs from eating foods they’re simply not used to and pancreatitis – inflammation of the pancreas – especially when they ingest fatty foods.
Ask an ER vet and they’ll tell you – bones are dangerous! One minute you’re tossing a tasty rib bone over to your dog and the next they can be choking on it, or it can get stuck in the stomach or intestines. A lot of surgeries in the ER are to remove bones – bones that were intentionally fed to dogs! Bones can also splinter into sharp pieces once they’re inside the gut, and cause life-threatening perforations.
The take home message: your dog is not necessarily a dinner guest at your next BBQ. Feed them their own food, and not scraps from the table. Consider keeping them inside, and away from your garbage, which can contain leftovers, discarded bones, and sharp skewers.
Just remember, don't forget Fido this summer, make sure you're taking care of your playful pooch!
For more information on the incredible and inspiring dog rescue and horse sanctuary that was featured in this segment, please visit their website: Dog Tales