Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Protect Your Pets In The Hot Weather
Much of the United States is in the grip of a heat wave. And while we can come in from the heat, drink liquids and, basically adjust, our pets need our help in coping with high temperatures. Dr. Ann E. Hohenhaus, senior medical adviser at New York City's Animal Medical Center offers the following tips for pet owners.
Now that the weather is warmer, your pet will spend more time outdoors and has a greater risk of becoming separated from the family. A pet with two forms of ID is more likely to be returned to its family because one form, the name tag is immediately identifiable and the other form, a microchip is a permanent form of ID even if the collar is lost. A collar with a name tag and contact information provides a quick method for returning a lost pet to its family by anyone who finds the pet. Microchips are permanently implanted radio frequency identification devices which are read by a special wand found in most veterinary hospitals and animal shelters.
Warm weather brings the risk of heatstroke. Heatstroke occurs when your pet’s internal cooling mechanisms cannot dissipate the heat the body is absorbing. A parked, closed car is just one dangerous place for a pet on a warm day. It can also occur outdoors during exercise or in an un-air conditioned apartment.
On hot humid days, pet owners should provide adequate cool water to drink and protection from direct sun. Exercise should be limited to the cooler times of the day and dogs with short noses such as pugs, bulldogs, shar peis and Pekingese should not exercise when it is excessively hot and humid. Overweight dogs are also at increased risk for heatstroke.
If your pet collapses from heatstroke, you should take him/her immediately to the nearest veterinary emergency facility. You should not attempt to cool your pet if doing so will delay your trip to the veterinary hospital. For quick ice packs you can grab all the frozen vegetables out of your freezer and hold them on your dog for the trip to the emergency clinic.
Working in the garden is just one of many summer pleasures for you that may be hazardous for your dog. Mulch from the Theobroma cacao plant sold under the names cocoa mulch, cocoa bean mulch, cocoa shell mulch or cocoa bean hull mulch is a by-product of chocolate manufacturing with a marvelous aroma and great curb appeal. The problem for your dog is, just like chocolate, the mulch contains theobromine, a caffeine related compound toxic in dogs. If unsupervised in the garden, dogs may willingly eat this mulch and some will exhibit vomiting, diarrhea, tremors and hyperactivity. One fatal case has been reported. If your dog eats cocoa mulch or exhibits these signs after being unsupervised around cocoa mulch, a trip to the emergency clinic is necessary.
With warmer temperatures, we spend more time outdoors and can be exposed to infectious diseases. Recently two cases of children infected with raccoon roundworms have been reported in New York City. In raccoons, the roundworm, Baylisascaris procyonisis, is an intestinal parasite, but in humans, it causes ocular and neurological problems. Dogs can be infected with the raccoon roundworm, but in dogs, administration of year round heartworm preventative will eradicate this parasite. After outdoor activities, parents should enforce good hand washing practices for their children and should teach their children to avoid animal feces which contain the infective roundworm eggs.
Both swimming and boating present dangers to pets. Pet owners can protect their pet against accidental drowning by using a dog life jacket when boating. These bright orange vests not only keep your dog afloat if he/she should become a “dog overboard” but the bright color will make him easier to rescue. Pool owners need to teach the family dog how to find the stairs out of the pool or if the pool only has a ladder, purchase pool stairs or a pool ramp from a pet supply company.
Unique to urban areas is feline high rise syndrome. Obviously, the risk of this type of injuring increases in parallel with the ambient temperature. Cats slip, fall or jump from the window or balcony of their apartment and land below on the street. Amazingly, these agile felines frequently, but not always, survive the resulting trauma. Cats typically fracture their wrists, lower jaw, teeth and may also rupture their lungs on impact. This injury is totally preventable by placing inexpensive window screens over any open window and restricting access to balconies.
Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/snapped_up/479914734/