By AJ Gegenheimer, RVT, ICAN Canine Health Coordinator
For a dog owner, summertime poses potential conditions and scenarios that could affect the safety and health of your pet. The following are some tips to help prevent some of those issues from happening and what to do should they occur.
Temperature: when below 80* and humidity is low, dogs can stay outside for long periods of time. If the humidity is high or the temperature is over 80*, limit the time the dogs are outside to 20 minutes or less. Black dogs will be affected by the heat quicker than the blonde dogs. Watch your dog carefully during outdoor times and how active they are during the higher temperatures and humidity. Be sure there is shade and water available at all times. Good rule of thumb to remember: how long can you stay outside in all your winter clothes? That is how long your dog can stay out.
Pools/buckets: be sure to empty and leave upside down each evening. This avoids mold, mildew, mosquitoes habitats, water availability for wildlife, as well as moss and other debris to get into the pools and buckets.
Bees & spiders: common issue for the dogs. They usually get stung on or in the muzzle area. Watch for facial swelling and trouble breathing. If facial swelling and not vomiting, give Benadryl 25 mg for every 25 lbs every 8 hours until the swelling is gone. If vomiting, trouble breathing, try to give Benadryl and call the vet immediately.
Flowers/sticks/rocks, etc: dogs like to sniff and put things in their mouths. After a rain or first morning dew, the grass is very sweet smelling. The dogs like to eat the grass even though they can not digest the grass. Redirect the dog if interested in eating grass. Do not encourage eating of grass, picking up of sticks, mulch, rocks, etc. These items tend to get swallowed very easily and become a foreign body obstruction leading to surgery.
Heat stroke: check the dog's temperature immediately. Cool the dog down with bath water temperature water, slowly adding ice to cool off. Ice packs wrapped in towels can be used on feet, head and belly. Try to get the dog to drink water. If unconscious, be sure to keep head out of water. Immediately get to closest veterinarian. Continue to check temperature every 5 minutes.
Pads: avoid hot surfaces such as asphalt, concrete, etc. These surfaces can burn the pads of the feet. Keep the dogs on grassy areas when walking as often as possible. Should the pads crack, apply Vaseline or hydrocortisone ointment/cream to the pads and keep the dog from licking the area for at least 5 minutes afterwards. Repeat every 8 hours until healed. See the vet for further treatment, antibiotics may also be needed for the burns.
Flea/tick: hopefully this is not a problem since we use Nexgard. However, no product will actually keep these parasites from getting onto the dogs. The flea or tick will take a blood meal and therefore ingest the Nexgard which will kill the flea or tick. This keeps them from reproducing, so we do not have an infestation of these parasites. The tick will not become completely engorged and can be easily removed once dead. When removing a tick, there will be a slight raised, red area where it was attached. This is the body responding to the bite, not a head left in the dog.
Toxins: food toxins such as: onion, garlic, chives, grapes, raisins (any relation to), chocolate, macadamia nuts, almonds, xylitol, avocado, caffeine, coffee, yeast dough, apples, rhubarb, raw meat, raw eggs and bones. Plants: any plant from a bulb and various others. Should a dog ingest a food that is toxic, induce vomiting immediately. Use hydrogen peroxide 1 tablespoon for every 25 lbs., wait 10 minutes, if no vomiting, repeat. Call the vet while waiting. If a plant or other toxin, do NOT induce vomiting. Call the vet immediately. Regardless of what the dog ate, need to know what exactly the dog ate, how much, when it was eaten and the weight of the dog.
Hot spots: starts off with just an itch that continues until the skin becomes raw. This can happen very quickly. Determine the source of the itch, if possible, and resolve the problem. A trip to the vet is needed, antibiotics are usually indicated since there can be a bacterial infection in the skin. Clipping the hair away from the hot spot and cleaning the area will be needed. Leave open to the air to dry up, do not apply any topical medications. Contact the vet for an appointment.
This information is designed for ICAN dogs in correctional facilities. It is for quick, short term response to a situation until veterinary care can be administered. Always check with your veterinarian for proper care of your pet. Each pet is individual and not every quick, short term response is appropriate.