It’s summertime, and the heat is here!
And with the heat, we have some special health concerns for our pets. These include overheating, thermal burns and snakebites.
Here in Florida, we have to take special care of our pets to ensure that they do not overheat in these hot summer months.
Pets that are especially prone to overheating include geriatric dogs, overweight dogs, dogs with respiratory issues (like laryngeal paralysis- common in older labs) and any snub faced dog (See Turnbull to the left).
Those little squashed faces of breeds like bulldogs and pugs sure are adorable, but they really have a hard time panting effectively to cool off in the hot sun. Dogs don’t sweat to cool off, they pant. And in cases of overheating, they just can’t pant enough.
Signs of overheating include heavy panting, weakness, trembling, inability to walk or staggering, and bright red gums. If any of these symptoms appear, do not cool your pet off too quickly with ice water. This can actually lead the dog into shock. You can use cool or lukewarm water on the inside of the thighs, the paws and the back of the neck. Then, immediately seek veterinary attention as these dogs can suffer serious life threatening complications.
Some tips to prevent overheating:
- Never leave your dog in the car. On a hot day, even with the windows cracked, it can easily reached temperatures well over 100 degrees in minutes.
- Avoid exercise in the heat of the day. Even a simple walk around the neighborhood can be risky in the middle of the day. Keep the walks to early morning and evenings.
- Always have access to plenty of fresh, clean water and a shady area if your pet is outside.
We often see thermal burns in the summertime too. A common area to see injuries is on the pads of the feet. This usually occurs from walking on the hot sidewalk or other concrete surfaces. Again, try to avoid exercise in the heat of the day, or walk on the grass or cool sand of the beach.
Another area to see burns can occur from the garden hose. Often the hose is sitting in the hot sun and the water sitting inside that hose can get to scalding temperatures. Make sure to let the water run out of the hose to cool off before offering that water to your pet!
Snakebites are a danger as well. We have a couple of varieties of poisonous snakes in this area. Cats and dogs are at a risk from snakes. Usually snakebites are seen on the paw or the muzzle. If your pet comes inside and you see swelling and the pet seems painful, then seek veterinary assistance immediately. Puncture wounds in the area of the swelling are not always obvious. In some cases, the puncture wounds may be so small that you don’t see them.
Keep your pets safe this summer and stay cool!