Summer is a great time to get outside and enjoy warm weather with our pets, but we want to do it as safely as possible. Here are six important tips your veterinary team at Parkside Animal Hospital want you to know to help keep the summer fun for you and your pet.
- Beat the Heat
We all love hot summer days but heatstroke, or elevated core body temperature, can be deadly for pets, especially if not treated quickly.
Unlike humans, dogs cannot control their body temperature by sweating because they only have a small number of sweat glands located in their footpads. The main way they regulate body temperature is by panting. Dogs with a restricted airway such as brachycephalic breeds (flat-faced dogs such as pugs, boxers, and bulldogs) will overheat more quickly. In fact, a moderately warm day can be all it takes to put these breeds at risk of heatstroke.
And remember, never leave your pet in a parked car, regardless of how long you plan to be away. Temperatures inside cars can increase by 11°C in 10 minutes and 16°C in 20 minutes, quickly causing life-threatening heatstroke.
Signs of heatstroke include:
- Heavy panting
- Dry or sticky gums
- Abnormal gum colour
- Disorientation, seizures and collapse (in severe cases)
Be aware also, it’s not just heatstroke that can be an issue: on hot and sunny days, sidewalks and pavement can burn your pet’s paw pads. If you can’t leave your hand or foot on a surface for 5 to 10 seconds, then your pet’s paws can’t take the heat either. Consider outfitting your pet with booties if you’re going to be some place where you won’t be able to stay on the grass or in the shade or better yet, leave your pet at home.
- Be Aware of Toxic Plants
Certain plants pose a risk to pets. Some may only cause gastrointestinal (GI) issues, but others can be life-threatening. Plants to keep your pet away from include, rhubarb leaves, tomatoes, onions, lilies and Giant Hogweed.
For more information on toxic plants, please give us a call or consult these sites:
- Keep Your Pet Away from Other Toxins
There are several others poisons that pets encounter during the summer months:
- Fertilizers and pesticides often cause vomiting and diarrhea. Symptoms can be more severe if large amounts are consumed or if they contain hazardous ingredients like iron.
- Mulchcan cause a blockage inside a pet’s GI system. Cocoa bean mulch can cause vomiting, diarrhea, muscle tremors and worse as the product contains theobromine and caffeine (the same chemicals that cause chocolate toxicity).
- Bait, even in small amounts, can cause tremors, seizures, cardiovascular and respiratory problems, and other serious signs. Depending on the kind of bait, ingestion by a pet can be deadly.
- Even products that are less toxic to pets can cause serious symptoms if a pet consumes a lot at one time. Close and properly dispose of used containers.
If you have a free-roaming cat, consider using pet-safe alternatives where possible, such as removing weeds by hand rather than using herbicides.
Call us right away if you think your pet has consumed something toxic. During off-hours, you can call the Pet Poison Helpline at 855-764-7661 (a fee may be charged).
- Watch Your Pet at Picnics
Attending a cookout or picnic with your four-legged friend can be fun, but it can quickly turn into an emergency if your pet consumes any food that can be dangerous, such as:
- Corn cobs
- Avocado pits
- Whole stone fruits like peaches and cherries
- Watermelon (rinds and seeds)
- Meat with bones
- Food on skewers
- Onions, grapes, or raisins
Keep your pet away from the food, especially if you know he or she tends to eat food off the ground or sneak treats from tables.
- Watch Out for Water Hazards
Found in standing water such as lakes, ponds, pools and fountains, blue-green algae can pose a life-threatening hazard to dogs and cats in warm weather.
Signs of blue-green algae toxicity include:
- Excessive salivation
- Trouble breathing
- Liver failure
Blue-green algae toxicity can be fatal. Carry fresh water for your pet so they won’t be tempted to drink from potential sources of contamination.
If your pet has been exposed to blue-green algae, rinse them off with fresh water right away. If you suspect your pet has licked off or otherwise ingested any algae, call us immediately!
And of course, if your pet enjoys swimming in water or boating with you, lifejackets are a must. Pets can hurt themselves by swimming too long or worse, experience a cramp that makes it difficult for them to stay afloat.
- Protect Your Pet Against Parasites
Heartworms, ticks, and fleas are all a threat in the Waterdown area and most of Ontario. Make sure your pet is protected! Contact us today to refill your pet’s parasite preventives.