Dogs enjoy summertime as much as their people . And just like the humans, fun times and good weather can lead to problems. Be careful, be aware, and if you have concerns, contact the staff at CityDog Vet!
Heat n feet
Hot weather can lead to overheating (heatstroke)
- Hot cars: Cars can get very hot very fast. Leaving your dog in the car still happens, and very often is fatal or debilitating in very short order.
Happy dogs running and playing will be much more focused on play and entertaining their people, while not drinking enough and then overheat. Dogs impaired in their airways (short faced dogs), some are ridiculously over-exuberant (labradors!).
It doesn’t take long to dehydrate, and heat and exertion can uncover previously unknown health problems, sometimes in devastating ways.
Take a break, provide lots of water, and avoid the hottest and most humid times.
- Hot feet: Loyal dogs will happily run or walk with you on hot pavement, then suffer painful blisters on their pads. Stepping in molten tar is even worse, as the hot tar sticks long enough to cause deeper burns that can require lots of bandaging and comfort meds.
- Sunburn: Just like you, some pets have less pigment and can sunburn easily, especially pink noses and white ears. A pet safe sunscreen may be needed.
Pesky Pet Pests
Summer is also prime season for arthropods (ticks, fleas, flies, mosquitos, spiders) and internal parasites.
- Ticks and mosquitos carry serious disease, such as Heartworm, Lyme disease, Ehrlichia and Anaplasma.
- Mosquito and fly bites can lead to skin irritation and painful hot spots (which are a true and painful emergency!).
- Insect and spider bites commonly trigger allergic reactions which are uncomfortable and sometimes life endangering. Some spider bites cause painful skin and muscle damage which may require surgical repair.
- Certain fly larvae can burrow into the skin (called myiasis) and lead to endotoxic shock, painful skin irritation or aberrant migration to unusual places, including the brain.
Dog safe fly repellents and oral or injectable medications are available to safely repel, prevent or treat these external pests.
Puppies often carry and pass intestinal parasites like roundworms, tapeworms, hookworms and lungworms. An early parasite control program and regular testing is appropriate because dogs can easily become infected in their day to day sniffing and licking. Internal parasites are easy to test for, but easier to prevent. Many medications are available to use by injection, orally or topically to control and prevent them. Preventing internal parasites is far easier and cheaper than having to treat heartworm disease and other parasite caused disease.
While we may carefully pack a picnic basket, dogs will happily eat nearly anything, especially if it is new to them or smelly.
Overindulging on human food can lead to gastrointestinal upset causing vomiting, diarrhea, gas and pain; this can sometimes be very serious and involve obstruction or inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis). Some human treats found in picnic baskets or discarded can be toxic, including grapes, raisins, Macademia nuts, chocolate, sugar free candy or baked goods (xylitol). Treats containing THC (edibles) can kill a dog and may be attractive as a candy or baked good. Buttery corn cobs are tasty, but often get stuck in dog intestines, requiring surgical removal and repair. When your dog deserves a treat, stick to dog safe treats.
Superdog (sports injuries) and bad dogs (fighting)
Running, jumping, playing and dog parks are the thing of doggy dreams. Yet, just like people, too much activity or one wrong move can cause painful problems like sprains, strains, dislocations, torn ligaments or ruptured discs. Help them take it easy and be mindful that things can happen. If your dog screams in pain, has a persistent limp, is unable to get up/down, is reluctant to do stairs or is dragging a limb, they need some help. Cruciate injuries are very common and require surgical repair.
Any dog, but especially the long ones (dachshunds) can have a ‘slipped disc’ that may be painful or paralyzing and may require a long convalescence and/or surgery.
Even the best behaved dogs can have arguments at a dog park or other encounter with another dog. In the blink of an eye, a dog bite can do a great deal of internal damage, even if external wounds are not obvious. Be very careful about dog interactions and always seek help if a fight has occured, especially if you see wounds or signs of pain (limping, crying, panting).
Watersports have their own hazards, besides pain and exhaustion from overexertion. Dogs may drink excessive amounts of water and cause intestinal or more serious medical problems, and the water can have toxins like those related to blue green algae. Those toxicities can be life threatening.
Wet dogs can develop ear infections and skin infections, so let them dry and watch for signs like itching, shaking of the head or stinky red ears. If your dog is paying a lot of attention to some spot, you should too. Some dogs, usually labradors, can deveop a sprained tail after swimming (limber tail)
Lots of dogs are thrilled to go for a car ride and like to ride with their face in the wind. Besides the dangers associated with car accidents, some silly dogs may lose their balance and fall out. To avoid grievious injury, keep the window mostly up so they cannot fall out. Wind and roads may propel irritants into their eyes, or just dry them out. Consider dog goggles, which also make your dog look ultra cool.
Active dogs can encounter trauma or infection in the eye, sometimes related to foreign material. Damaged eyes, like scratched corneas, ulcerated corneas and retained foreign objects are very painful and deserve immediate medical attention. You will know by the squinting, his or her pawing at the eye, redness, cloudiness or increased discharge of any sort. They may rub their face/eyes on things, or paw at the area with their feet, which rapidly causes the damage to progress.