As summer approaches, we look forward to consistently warmer weather and sunnier days. We pull out our sunglasses and enjoy weekends by the pool and afternoons at the park tossing a Frisbee with our furry friends. Although our memories of summer are idyllic, the season also exposes our beloved pets to additional risks, such as heat stroke and snake bites. To maintain a carefree summer, we asked the veterinarians at Triangle Veterinary Referral Hospitals for a few tips to keep your pets safe during the warmest months of the year.
According to Dr. Jeff Nunez, emergency medicine service chief at the hospitals, one of the most common issues seen in the summer is heat stroke. “Unfortunately, during extreme temperatures or even high 80s and 90s, we treat a lot of animals who’ve been left in the car or worked during the hottest parts of the day.”
As tempting as it is to bring your furry friend along with you to run errands, leaving your pet at home is the best way to protect them from extreme temperatures. Even with the windows down, the temperature inside a car can reach up to 20 degrees higher than outside.
For those of you who enjoy a daily run with your pup, opt for early morning or late night jaunts. While these more temperate times of day protect your pet from heat stroke, taking this precaution also keeps their paw pads safe from burns caused by extremely hot pavement. Just like humans, pets need to be in good physical condition before embarking on any type of exercise, especially in the summer when they are more susceptible to heat stroke.
Even for the most well-conditioned pets, it is important to know the signs of heat stroke: panting more frequently than normal; refusal to get up and lying down more than normal; and vomiting and bloody diarrhea. If you suspect your pet may be suffering from heat stroke, take him or her to your family veterinarian immediately.
Another measure that you can take to keep your pet safe as the temperatures rise is to keep them well hydrated. Instead of large gulps of water, ensure they drink small amounts more frequently throughout the day. Carry ice cubes, a Camelbak, a water bottle or a travel water bowl for your dog anytime you embark on outdoor activities.
Summertime not only gives rise to warmer weather, but it also indicates the beginning of snake season. According to Dr. Mike Grafinger and Dr. Bethany Walters of Triangle Veterinary Referral Hospitals, “snakebites are a common cause for visits to the veterinary emergency room.” To help keep your beloved animal bite-free, the vets shared tips about how to recognize a bite and precautions to avoid one altogether.
Snakes enjoy the comfort of tall grass and hiding places, so keep your grass mowed and neatly pile timber away from the house. Most appealing to snakes are warm places, such as rocks, the driveway and the street. When taking your dog for a walk at night, wear shoes and bring a flashlight and leash to quickly pull your pup away from danger.
The threat of a snakebite is usually low until the snake is provoked and reacts out of self-defense toward a sniffing dog or prodding cat. After an animal has received a snakebite, dramatic swelling can occur at the site within 1 to 24 hours. Often, two puncture wounds will be visible and will ooze bloody fluid. If an animal is bitten around the mouth area, excessive drooling may occur. If you suspect your animal has been bitten, consult your veterinarian or local emergency hospital immediately.
As you look toward summer, be prepared for any conditions your pet might encounter. If your animal needs immediate care, Triangle Veterinary Referral Hospitals are located in both Durham and Holly Springs and operate 24-hour emergency clinics.