Heat stroke, burned paws and lim­ber tail

Dogs and cats face many sum­mer dan­gers

The Hamilton Spectator - - HEALTH - LEAH MOORE

Many sum­mer ac­tiv­i­ties we all en­joy can be dan­ger­ous for our furry friends, largely due to the in­tense heat.

Here are some things to watch out for, to keep our pets safe.

Dan­gers out­doors

• Heat stroke or heat stress. Leav­ing your pet out­side or in the car for too long can lead to heat stroke or stress. Tara Lynn, com­mu­ni­ca­tions man­ager at the SPCA of Wake County, said the tem­per­a­ture in­side a car can get to the point of ex­treme dan­ger in less than 15 min­utes.

Page Wages, a vet­eri­nar­ian at Care First An­i­mal Hos­pi­tal, said she’s seen two dogs die of heat stroke, both Labrador Retriev­ers. She said dogs will pant and not be able to stop, which usu­ally they would af­ter 8 or so min­utes.

“Cats will breathe with their mouth open, which is not good. They just ba­si­cally can’t cool off. They’ll be un­set­tled or they’ll pace a lot. Bull­dogs and dogs with smushed heads, smaller dogs or the ones that are re­ally, re­ally, re­ally ac­tive, like a young Lab, are more prone to hav­ing it,” she said. “Their faces around their eyes will get red, their tongues will get red as well. Their gums will be bright red. Some­times they’ll vomit or have di­ar­rhea. So when those are hap­pen­ing, we are in dire straits.”

Lynn also rec­om­mends mak­ing sure your pets al­ways have ac­cess to plenty of cool, fresh wa­ter.

• Hot pave­ment or hot sand. Hot pave­ment or hot sand can burn the pads of your pets’ feet, which is very painful. “A good gen­eral rule is if you put the back of your hand down on the side­walk or the street and leave it there for about five sec­onds, if it’s too hot for you, it’s def­i­nitely go­ing to be too hot for them,” Lynn said.

• Sun­burn. “Some pets, par­tic­u­larly dogs that have par­tic­u­larly thin hair or some dogs who don’t have much hair at all on their bel­lies, they can po­ten­tially get sun­burned. So talk­ing to your vet about some safe op­tions for sun­screen is im­por­tant,” Lynn said. Wages said Neu­tro­gena pe­di­atric sun­screen is safe to use on dogs.

• Snake bites. Snakes come out at dusk and dawn, and have an in­creased pres­ence at the be­gin­ning and end of the sum­mer or af­ter a big rain, Wages said.

“Stay­ing away from high grass ar­eas around where there’s wa­ter. Those are usu­ally where those guys will lurk and wait,” she said. “Just gen­er­ally, the snakes put up a bit of a smell, so dogs and cats will be in­ter­ested and might go in­ves­ti­gate and get bit. So if the dog or cat seems to be in­ter­ested in some­thing in the grass or bush area, try and get them away as quick as you can. If they do get bit, they need to be seen by a vet­eri­nar­ian as soon as they can.”

• Bee stings. Some dogs and cats, just like peo­ple, are al­ler­gic to bee stings. Their faces will swell up. Wages rec­om­mends Be­nadryl for bee stings, but some pets may need some­thing stronger, like steroids.

• Fire ant bites. Wages said pets will get a rash or a very swollen area around the bites, which are of­ten con­cen­trated around legs and feet.

• Hot spots. Found on dogs, these are ir­ri­tated, red le­sions, sim­i­lar to eczema in peo­ple. “They usu­ally start with a bug bite they chewed on or an area they got wet from play­ing with another dog that just stayed moist. Bac­te­ria will grow on any moist skin, and they’ll get in­fec­tions,” Wages said.

• Burns from grills. “I think one of the main things is a hot grill, and dogs smelling what­ever’s cook­ing on the grill and get­ting re­ally close to the grill, and depend­ing on what kind of grill, if they get un­der it, they run the risk of be­ing burned or hot grease drop­ping on them and burn­ing them,” Lynn said.

“We ac­tu­ally just took in three pup­pies from John­ston County who had burn marks on their back. We’ll prob­a­bly never know ex­actly how that hap­pened, but the way it looks, it very well could have been a sit­u­a­tion where they ei­ther walked un­der a grill or walked un­der some sort of piece of equip­ment and some hot liq­uid dropped on them.”

• Cer­tain foods and plants. Raisins, grapes, gar­lic, onions and choco­late are toxic to dogs, and lilies are toxic to cats. Lynn pointed out that raw meat can up­set the stom­achs of pets that aren’t ac­cus­tomed to such a diet. So keep a close eye on what they eat.

• Al­co­holic bev­er­ages. Dogs and cats can get drunk just like peo­ple, but they shouldn’t. Do not give beer or liquor (or mar­i­juana, in any form) to your pets.

• Ear in­fec­tions. Ear in­fec­tions are more com­mon in the sum­mer months, when dogs are swim­ming more. “Clean­ing their ears rou­tinely (with an ap­pro­pri­ate ear cleaner) will help pre­vent them from get­ting an in­fec­tion,” Wages said.

• Lim­ber tail. This is when a dog has a sprained tail. It hap­pens when dogs are play­ing in the surf at the beach and get turned over the wrong way, or if they’ve had a very ac­tive day.

“When a dog’s tail is sprained, they’re in­jured but they don’t know how to act. So they’ll sit there and shake some­times, they don’t want to stand up be­cause when they stand up, some­thing hurts but they don’t know what, so they sit down,” Wages said. “It’s re­ally sad. Or they’ll walk along and it’s just kind of limp be­hind them in­stead of wag­ging.”

With treat­ment such as pain med­i­ca­tion, a mus­cle re­laxer and some­times laser ther­apy, dogs are usu­ally bet­ter in 3 or 4 days.

• Drown­ing. While most dogs know how to swim, it’s a good idea to put a life jacket on your dog, Wages said.

“Labs and breeds that are al­ways in the wa­ter are fine, un­less they’re go­ing to be swim­ming for awhile, in which case I’d put a life jacket on them. If you’re out on a boat in the ocean, I would put a life jacket on them, be­cause if some­thing hap­pens to the boat and the boat goes over, the dog’s go­ing to get tired of swim­ming,” she said.

“Any older dog or dog that has an injury of some sort — had an am­pu­ta­tion or one of their legs doesn’t work as well — I’d put them in a life jacket re­gard­less. So I’d highly rec­om­mend life jack­ets.”


Cool­ing off in the pool is one way to beat the sum­mer heat for your ca­nine friend.

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