They call these the “dog days of summer” and for good reason- everyone is out and about with their pets when the weather is warm and the skies are sunny. It’s a great time to go swimming, camping and hiking, but there are some things to keep in mind when it comes to bringing our pets along.
Dogs and cats cannot sweat except through the bottoms of their feet (check it out next time you bring your pet in and he goes on the scale or sits on the table- there may be little wet footprints left behind). Dogs dissipate heat primarily through panting. If it is very hot and humid, it is more difficult for them to cool themselves down. If you are planning to be taking your dog for a hike or for a run in the park, be prepared to help keep him from overheating. Bring along some water for him to drink (they make nice collapsible bowls you can pack). Sometimes dogs get so into playing and running, they won’t think about stopping, so periodically, pull him up and encourage him to rest and drink. If your dog starts to pant extremely heavily, seems weak or disoriented, has thick saliva or starts vomiting, stop him immediately and get him somewhere cool. Spray lukewarm water over his body and legs. If he seems to be in distress, he may have heat stroke, which is a dangerous condition in which the body temperature becomes very high (over 106). This can lead to kidney failure and other serious consequences. It is important to seek veterinary attention immediately. Dogs and cats with pushed-in faces (called brachycephalic breeds) are more susceptible, but it can happen to any breed. Of course, you should never leave your pet inside a car in the summer. Even with the windows open a little, the temperature will rise rapidly and can become life-threatening within minutes.
If you are traveling with your pet, remember to bring along a copy of his vaccines, including rabies. Most campsites require proof of vaccines and if for some reason you needed to board him, you’ll need it as well. Make sure you have some identification on your pet- a tag (remember to include a cell phone number since you won’t be home) and/or a microchip. There are lots of places that welcome pets- AAA has a guide available that lists some of them. Remember to bring along his own food and maybe a favorite toy or blanket. If your pet tends to get car sick, we can prescribe medicine to give before you leave to prevent it. If you will be staying in a hotel, bringing a collapsible crate is a good idea. Even the best dog in a strange place could decide to chew something and the cleaning staff will often not enter a room with a loose dog. If you will be going camping, hiking or swimming while you are away, you should have a fecal sample checked a couple weeks after you return to check for parasites your pet may have picked up as a souvenir along the way.
Another thing that happens in the summer frequently are thunderstorms. Many animals are afraid of them and fireworks as well. These come under the classification of noise phobias. Most cases are mild- pets may tremble, cling to you, or hide before and during the event. It is best to put your pet in an interior room (no doors or windows to the outside) and turn off the lights. Using an air conditioner, television or radio to block out the noise may also help. Some cases are severe- dogs have been known to chew their way out of rooms or crash through windows to escape. For these cases, there are desensitization treatments- this generally involves playing recordings of the sounds at a low volume that doesn’t cause a fear reaction and then gradually making it louder. There are also medications we can prescribe to help sedate or reduce the anxiety. The main problem with using the medicines is that they must be given before the storm or fireworks because if the dog is already upset, they will not work well.
Summer is a great season to enjoy our pets. We hope you have a fun one and if you have any questions or concerns, please give us a call.