Summertime Safety: Healthy Pet/Happy Pet 1

Article Series for Dunes Living Magazine

From: Dr. Amanda Thomas – Veterinary Clinic of Myrtle Beach

Myrtle Beach exemplifies summer, family vacations, pool and beach parties, cookouts, and all of the things we associate with having fun. But summertime also brings hazardous conditions and situations to our pets.

Unless we’re being conscientious about some of these dangers, our pets may be put at unnecessary risk for a trip to the emergency room… and we’d all like to avoid that!

Here are a few things you should be aware of when it comes to looking after your dogs and cats and keeping them safe through the summer months:

Heat Stroke.  I have written about this before, but I find it so important that I am going to repeat myself here. No matter the reasons, never ever leave your pet in an automobile. The risk of heat stroke and death, especially in the summertime, is extremely high. We have all heard terrible stories about this and none of us want it to happen to our own family pets. Be on the lookout wherever you go, for cars with unattended dogs inside and report this quickly to the authorities.

Heat stroke can happen simply from overexertion in hot weather, so keep limits on ball play, runs on the beach and long walks.

Dehydration.  This is a very real threat for both dogs and cats that spend time outdoors in the summer without access to fresh water sources. It is also possible to see pets become dehydrated during and after long road trips with their owners. Ice cubes in their water dish and canned food provide extra moisture during these times. If your pet is overweight, is a short-nosed breed or has a dark-colored fur coat, they are more susceptible to dehydration.

Signs and symptoms of dehydration include not wanting to eat, lethargy, dry mouth, sunken eyes and decreased urination.

Pools and Water.  Not all dogs swim. Not all pets like the water or the ocean. Be very careful that you have considered this when you take your pets with you to the beach, on a boat or near the waterway. Keep an eye on your pets like you would your children, and don’t force them into the water if they aren’t comfortable swimming. Dogs drown in pools, as do other species of pets. If your dog likes the water, be aware that they can exhaust themselves from swimming, so you may need to limit this activity. If your dog likes to swim in the ocean, be sure they stay very close to the shoreline, on your side of the breaking waves. Riptides are stronger than your dog, and you.

Always rinse off your dog in cool water after they have been in the pool or in the ocean, and dry them well to avoid skin infections.

Parasites and Snakes.  None of us like to get bitten by mosquitoes, fleas, or ticks, and neither do our pets. Be sure to provide them with some form of parasite control each month, all year round. When a flea infestation goes unnoticed, not only is it hard to get it under control (on your pet and in your home), but your dog or cat will get secondary infections. They will become itchy and start to chew themselves raw. Regular grooming in the summer helps to control the problem, but when your pet is noticeably uncomfortable, it’s time for a trip to your vet’s office.

Dogs and cats with underlying allergies suffer the most when parasitic infections occur.

Bee and wasp stings are a problem for our pets in the summer months.

Snakes and snakebites are very common and require immediate veterinary intervention. For these conditions, be sure you know where the nearest emergency room is, and ask your veterinarian what to do should your pet encounter a bug, parasite or other venomous creature.

Hot Surfaces.  Sidewalks, truck beds, sandy beaches, parking lots and many other surfaces your dog (or cat) walks on will be especially hot during the summer months. Just being aware of this will help you decide when the best time is to take your dog for a walk on the beach or through the neighborhood.

Choose early mornings or later evenings for walks with your dog. It’s too hot during the rest of the day anyway, considering your dog wears a full fur coat every season of the year.

Family Cookouts.  Most of us love to cook outside in the summer and enjoy a good barbeque. This is one of the most common hazards we see in the veterinary hospital in the summertime – dogs that have eaten food items they shouldn’t have. Some of the worst things are barbequed meat, corn on the cob, fruit pits, bones, and food attached to toothpicks or skewers. Occasionally they will eat metal BBQ utensils, knives, and other dangerous items. All of these will cause extreme gastrointestinal inflammation, vomiting, diarrhea, and very often pancreatitis. Be extra watchful over your pets if they are allowed to be a part of your family’s barbeque parties this summer. Every emergency veterinarian I know has taken interesting and unusual items out of a patient’s stomach at some point – usually in the summertime.

Contact your veterinarian’s office anytime you have questions or concerns about your pet’s health. Their service exists to serve you and the community when you’re in need of advice and help.

Have a safe and uneventful summer everyone!