Seasonal Safety for Your Dog and Cat
By Eric Kancar, LVT
Summertime also provides unique dangers to dogs as temperatures rise and they are outside more, coming into contact with far more potential hazards. The following recommendations can aid in having a fun filled summer with your dog.
· Do Not leave your dog in a car in the summertime. temperatures inside a car can reach 120-130 degrees in 20 minutes, even with the windows open. dogs are unable to sweat like humans, their cooling system is their tongue and in their lungs. with only hot air to breathe your pet can suffer heatstroke, suffer brain damage in a short time or die.
· heat stress/stroke – body temperature above 107 degrees F. signs include rapid breathing/panting, blue/purple tongue and gums, vomiting, diarrhea, collapse. immediately cool off by hosing down with cold water or wrapping in cold wet towels. monitor rectal body temperature closely. stop cold water treatment once temperature reaches 103 degrees F. temperature will continue to drop and your dog could become hypothermic. Call your vet immediately as your dog will need to be seen.
· long coated dogs and older dogs benefit from short walks either early in the morning or once the sun has set. having a fan on in the house for them to lay in front of is also a good idea
· a cold, fresh water supply at all times is a must in the summertime for your dog
· bee stings can be treated by applying ice to the area, get stinger out if you can. watch for sign of allergic reaction: swelling of face, difficulty breathing, hives. call your vet. Benadryl can be given at a dosage of 1 mg per pound of body weight every 8-12 hours for 1-2 days.
· wait one hour after your dog eats to exercise it, let it play or swim (this applies to all seasons). in doing so you will avoid a condition called bloat which is deadly if treatment is not performed immediately. signs include: enlarged/tense abdomen, hunched posture, vomiting, lethargy, depression, belching. should you suspect these signs call your vet immediately.
· skunks - the only real cure for the odor is time but you can try 1 quart of 3% hydrogen peroxide, 1/4 cup baking soda and teaspoon liquid dish soap. mix together and bathe dog. make sure that your dog's rabies vaccine is up to date. if dog is injured call vet immediately.
June, July and August are the most dangerous months of the year for companion animals, according to statistics compiled by the ASPCA Anumal Poison Control Center. Last year, the center received the highest number of calls (about 8,800) in July. Forty-three percent of those calls involved animals’ exposure to insecticides, rodenticides and herbicides.
Potential Hazards List:
· Charcoal lighter fluid
Contact with this toxic substance-a volatile hydro-carbon- can cause animals’ skin to dry and crack. Ingestion and inhalation can result in vomiting and rapid spreading in the lungs. Ultimately, chemical pneumonitis and pulmonary edema can result.
· Washes for wooden decks and whitewall car tires
These strong cleansers contain corrosive agents that can cause oral and esophageal burns with possible stricture formation if ingested.
· Grapes and raisins
Renal failure is possible in dogs after ingestion of any variety grape or raisin.
· Macadamia nuts
Dogs that eat large amounts of these nuts can suffer transient, hindlimb paralysis. These signs usually resolve within 24 to 48 hours.
Certain types of these popular plants (including Easter, tiger, rubrum, stargazer, Japanese show,and some species of day lilies) can cause renal failure in cats. A small amount ingested from any part of the plant can induce this severe reaction.
· Glow-in-the-dark objects
Sold at fairs, carnivals and novelty stores, these objects contain the liquid dibutyl phthalate. Cats that ingest the liquid will drool and slobber excessively. Although the problem resolves completely (usually within minutes) it can frighten pet owners.
· Hops plugs
Dogs that chew on hops plugs thrown away after beer brewing can develop hyperthermia. Body temperature increases rapidly and can reach 103F to 105F within three hours.
For all wounds, burns and fractures call your vet. in the meantime, for burns you can apply cold water or ice immediately for 30 minutes. for bleeding wounds apply direct pressure to the wound with a clean cloth or gauze. for fractures keep the dog stable and get them to your vet by putting them on a stretcher or board. even the most loving dog can and will bite if in pain, be careful. muzzle them with a non-elastic material (see how-to below.) DO NOT under any circumstance give your dog any ibuprofen, neproxen or acetaminophen containing products as they can be fatal.
Transport of an injured animal: If an animal is able to walk, allow him to walk slowly, as picking him up may cause more pain. If an animal cannot get up, a stretcher should be used. One can be made of stiff material such as a wood board or cardboard. If not available, a blanket kept taut will suffice. Keep the animal in the position found, as it is the most comfortable for him. If it is necessary, a strap can be placed around the animal, but not so as to interfere with breathing. Again, use caution, even the most loving pet will bite if it is in pain. Muzzle with non-elastic material if necessary.
How to safely muzzle a dog:
1) using a piece of gauze or shoelace (at least arm's length) tie a knot in the center of the length. make a loop out of the gauze big enough to safely place it over dog's muzzle.
2) place the loop over the dog's muzzle and pull it snug but not too tight against the muzzle. you may have to bring the ends around the muzzle so that they are at the bottom of the dog's mouth. you will have to be quick about it, be careful not to get bit.
3) lastly, tie the ends of the gauze in a bow behind the dog's ears.
Cold weather presents unique issues to dog owners. Even though dogs are born with their own winter coat that does not mean that they are fully protected against the elements. Even the arctic breeds such as malamutes, huskies, akitas, etc. can succumb in severe winter weather. Antifreeze and rodenticide toxicities are also more common in cold weather. Please review the following recommendations.
· Do Not leave pets outdoors as temperatures reach the teens and especially the single digits. If you have no choice, provide a shelter with an opening facing away from the wind, raised flooring and plenty of insulation. check water supply several times a day as it will freeze.
· protect your dog when it goes outside by giving it a doggie sweater to wear (especially small dogs, and those will short/little to no hair coats.)
· hypothermia (low body temperature) – if a pet has become too cold in winter weather take it to the vet immediately. animals that normally live outdoors can easily become hypothermic as the temperature drops. call your vet immediately should you suspect hypothermia.
· frostbite – a dog’s paws and ears are very sensitive and can easily become frostbitten in cold weather. this can be avoided by not staying out in the snow for too long or by purchasing specially designed dog booties (which can be bought at most pet stores.) booties also protect paws from road salt and cold manhole covers which paws can freeze to. should you suspect frostbite, warm tissue gradually with warm water soaks. Do Not Rub Tissue. Call Your Vet.
· antifreeze – automobile antifreeze is highly toxic to dogs and cats. it is lethal if ingested. dogs like the taste of it because it is sweet. keep bottles of it out of reach and check that your car is not leaking it in the garage or driveway. toxic dose is 5 tsp. for a 10 lb. dog, ¾ of a cup for a 60 lb. dog. early signs (0-12 hours) include vomiting, staggering, muscle twitching, depression and increased thirst. late signs (24-72 hours) include severe depression, coma, seizures, oral ulcers, salivation and eventual death. should your pet ingest antifreeze get him/her to the vet immediately. Your quick acting can save their life! “Sierra” is a brand name of antifreeze that is not toxic to pets.
· ice – keep your dog from walking on ice as they can easily injure their legs if they slip. Do Not let your dog walk on a frozen lake or pond as they may fall through and drown or die from hypothermic shock.
· rodenticides (rat and mouse poison) – causes internal bleeding. early clinical signs include: vomiting and lethargy on day of ingestion. later signs due to bleeding, occur 1-5 days following exposure to toxic dose, these include: lethargy, painful abdomen, cold to touch, nose bleeds, bleeding gums, others forms of bleeding, bruises, pale mucus membranes and death. Should your dog ingest any amount of rodenticide get them to vomit and take them to the vet immediately for proper life saving supportive care. gain, your quick acting can save their life. keep rodenticides out of your dog’s reach.
*(Please call your veterinarian for instructions on how to inducing vomiting in your pet. If you already know how to induce vomiting we still advise that you call your veterinarian first as you may do more harm than good depending on what has been ingested)
· poinsettia plants - commonly found at Christmas time, can be mildly toxic to dogs as they are gastrointestinal irritants. ingestion usually results in mild gastrointestinal effects such as vomiting, salivation, diarrhea or oral ulceration. call your vet. mistletoe can be fatal if ingested.
· chocolate toxicity (theobromine) - theobromine is a toxic substance found in chocolates. types of chocolate vary in the amount they contain.
amounts and toxic doses: (for a 25 lb. dog)
unsweetened cocoa=700 mg/oz., toxic dose = 1-1.5oz
baking chocolate = 400 mg/oz., toxic dose = 2.5oz
semi sweet or instant cocoa = 104 mg/oz., toxic dose = 7oz. (~1 cup)
milk chocolate = 50 mg/oz. toxic dose = 20 oz. (~ 13 Hershey candy bars)
clinical signs: vomiting, diarrhea, staggering, hyper-excitability and seizures.
induce vomiting if eaten within 1-2 hours and call your vet immediately
· be sure to monitor your dog with the Christmas tree, as ornaments and tinsel have the potential to become foreign bodies in the stomach/intestines. Look for vomiting especially after eating and drinking. lights have the potential to electrocute.