Archive for Sunday, July 20, 2008

Summer risks for pets: Bites, car rides, pools

July 20, 2008


The back of a pickup is no place for a pooch, especially when temperatures soar.

By taking a few precautions to beat the heat, pet owners and their companions can breeze through summer. Here are some common pet emergencies and tips to avoid them.

Heat stroke

¢ The problem: Some pet owners take their dogs with them every chance they get. But during the dog days of summer, pets are better off staying at home.

Within minutes, temperatures inside a car can reach 140 degrees. Even when the windows are cracked, dogs can quickly overheat. Walking, running or playing Frisbee during the heat of the day is also a big mistake. Signs of trouble include excessive panting, disorientation and vomiting.

¢ What to do: If a dog must be left outdoors, it should have water and shade.

If the dog's temperature is over 105 degrees, seek medical care. A dog that is coherent can be gradually cooled down at home, but don't submerge it in icy water. Rubbing the dog's foot pads with alcohol can also help.

Snake bites

¢ The problem: A trip to the lake can turn from fun to frantic when a snake bites a dog. In this area, snake bites are very common, with rattlesnakes the biggest threat, followed by copperheads and water moccasins.

Profound swelling can develop quickly.

¢ What to do: A bite from a venomous snake should always be treated by a veterinarian.


¢ The problem: It's one thing to swallow chlorinated water and quite another to consume a mouthful of swimming-pool products. Rat poison and insecticides commonly used during summer can also become life-threatening.

A dog that eats rat poisoning or an animal that has been killed by rodent poison may seem fine at first, but within a few days it can bleed to death. Pool products can cause breathing problems and vomiting. Insecticides can cause seizures.

¢ What to do: When a dog swallows chlorine or another poisonous substance, rinse out its mouth and eyes with a lot of water and immediately seek medical attention.

Paranoid pet owners need not worry if their pet walks across a lawn that has been sprayed with fertilizer. That may cause itching, but it's usually nothing serious.

Riding in vehicles

¢ The problem: Some dogs delight in hanging their heads out the car window, but that breeze can dry out their eyes, and pieces of debris can cause serious injury.

Riding in the back of a pickup is dangerous if the dog jumps out or loses its footing and falls. Hot surfaces can cause burns.

¢ What to do: If the dog has to go for a ride, keep it in the air-conditioned car or truck cab, with the windows closed. Putting a pet in a carrier is the safest way for it to travel.

Food disasters

¢ The problem: Picnics are a summer staple, but sharing ribs, bones and rich human foods with pets can be dangerous. Bones can clog intestines, causing a blockage. Onions, grapes, macadamia nuts, garlic, avocado, chocolate and fatty foods should be avoided.

¢ What to do: Human foods can cause stomach upsets and, in some cases, even death, especially in smaller dogs. In extreme cases, dark chocolate can lead to life-threatening pancreatitis. Grapes and raisins can impair kidney function. If a dog is vomiting, has abdominal pain or is lethargic, contact a veterinarian. As a rule, it's better to stick to dog food.


¢ The problem: Some dogs can't resist taking a dip in the pool, but leaving a dog unsupervised can be risky. Elderly dogs and puppies are the most likely to have trouble getting out of a pool.

¢ What to do: To keep pets safe, do not leave them alone if there is a pool nearby. If you find a dog drowning, get it on dry land and remove any debris from its mouth. If it is still in distress, hold it upside down by its hind legs and gently sway him back and forth. Seek a veterinarian's care.


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