Summer is right around the corner and 100 plus degree heat is on its way – ready or not! There are already plenty of summer-time stressors to lose sleep over that aren’t pet related – electric bills rising, sweating all the time, etc. We can’t solve every problem, but we can help take one factor out of the equation: Keeping our precious pets safe while enjoying summer-time activities.
Car Safety & Heat Stroke
We all know that keeping Rex in the car while we run that “quick” errand is a huge no! Why? At 70 degrees outside, your car can quickly become a sauna, climbing 20 degrees hotter, in just 10 minutes. If the outside temperature increases, that number only climbs.
Hyperthermia is no joke and at these temperatures, our fuzzy companions run the risk of heat stroke. Signs and symptoms of heat stroke can be nearly anything — breathing difficulties, excessive panting, weakness, mildly drunk or drunken appearing, increased heart rate, drooling, vomiting, bloody diarrhea and even seizures. Cracking the window is just NOT ENOUGH! If there is even a chance you’re going to need to leave your pet in the car, leave them at home! They are much safer there than in a vehicle.
Rattlesnakes are scary and can create dangerous situations at lightning speed. Make sure your pet is on a leash when out walking, especially on our desert hiking trails. If your pet is bitten by a snake, bring him/her to a veterinarian immediately. Don’t bother trying to get the snake, it is not helpful to the veterinarian and you may become injured in the process. Don’t use a tourniquet. Don’t try to suck out the poison or make incisions with a knife in the area of the bite. Snake bites can be very painful and your best option is getting your pet to the nearest open veterinarian without attempting any treatment on your own.
Before hiking, research the closest veterinarian to the trail. Make sure they are open and know how to get there from where you are located. Additionally, if you live in an area where rattlesnakes are common, it is always best to know the closest veterinary hospital and the closest 24-hour veterinary facility.
Adjusting Normal Activities
Other areas we need to keep in mind when temperatures are Arizona-summer high: asphalt, pool decking, and even the hiking path of our favorite trail. Remember, our favorite Phoenix trails are closed to dogs when temperatures reach over 100 degrees. Not only can these surfaces burn and blister paw pads, but our pets’ bodies can heat up very quickly from the radiant heat of the ground. It is necessary to keep walks to a minimum and when we do walk, we must go early morning or after dusk – it is just too hot during the day! A good way to see if the ground is too hot for your dog, especially in the evening, is to place the back of your hand on the surface and leave it there for five seconds. If it is too hot for you, it is too hot for our pets to walk!
Backyard Party Dangers
Nothing says summer like the perfect backyard pool party! Food, friends, floaties and fur babies can be a recipe for epic fun but also requires some safety planning. We wouldn’t let our children play around the pool unsupervised and this rule should be extended to our pets. Not every pet is a good swimmer and we want to make sure to always supervise their pool activities!
While lounging by the pool with our pets, we also want to make sure to offer plenty of cool water for drinking, as this will hopefully deter any pool water drinking and keep our pet hydrated! Hydration is happiness for humans and animals alike. Be especially careful around salt water pools as drinking too much salt water can quickly turn into an emergency! In the worst-case scenario, it can lead to death.
Additionally, during our backyard BBQs, we want to make sure to be food-aware while engaging in summertime fun! Sharing is caring except when it could potentially be fatal to our pets. Below is a list of foods that we need to keep to ourselves — even when we have those big puppy dog eyes staring us down.
- Apple seeds
- Candy, chewing gum, toothpaste and mouthwash
- Coffee, tea and other caffeinated drinks
- Cooked bones
- Corn on the cob
- Fat trimmings
- Grapes and raisins
- Human vitamins
- Macadamia nuts
- Marijuana – including edibles and all forms of THC
- Milk and dairy products
- Onions and chives
- Persimmon, peaches and plum pits
- Raw meat and fish
- Rhubarb and tomato leaves
- Xylitol – this is common in many products like gum, peanut butter and other foods that use artificial sweeteners.
Seek Vet Care With Any Concerns
When in doubt, seek a vet out! Our veterinarians will be able to handle any issues that may arise when it comes to summertime dangers and we are always happy to advise. While you are there, it may be a great time to update your pets’ vaccinations, get educated on heartworm disease and the different types of prevention, and ask any of those burning summertime fun questions. We’re here to help. <<REQUEST CARE>>
By Dr. Valerie Moser, Veterinarian at Exceptional Pets.