Summer Time Information

Summer holidays are full of fun for people and their pets. Unfortunately they can also be full of hazards/dangers as well.

Here is a list of 6 “DON’T”s which will help to make your vacation safer so you can enjoy more time at your destination and less time seeking medical attention for your pet.

1 – DON’T USE MOUSE POISONS  –  Dog’s love them! And cats can become poisoned by catching and consuming rodents weakened by ingestion of these products. The most common ones used are anticoagulant rodenticides. They work slowly once they enter the body by interfering with the production of blood clotting factors. Gradually over several days these factors decrease until the blood is no longer able to clot properly and internal bleeding occurs. The signs you see are related to this bleeding;  large bruises in the skin, swelling deep in the leg muscles, nose bleeds, blood in the stool/urine/vomitus, weakness from anemia and frequently death. Treatment at this stage requires multiple blood transfusions/plasma transfusions and is often unsuccessful. Fortunately however this intoxication can be managed successfully if initiated shortly after consumption of the poison.  If within minutes…by inducing vomiting.  If within hours to a few days…by administering the antidote, Vitamin K, for several days or weeks depending on the type and amount of rodenticide ingested.  It is extremely important to keep all packaging so the specific type and amount of poison ingested can be calculated.  This determines the dose of Vitamin K that needs to be administered.  Some companies are placing  a blue-green dye to their rodenticide, which colors the stool passed after ingestion.  This can alert owners that ingestion has occurred and treatment can be initiated before signs of toxicity develop.  If you must use a rodenticide, use WARFARIN if possible with the dye included.  The stronger more toxic forms are not needed to kill mice.  DO NOT use Bromethalin or Cholecalciferol types.  These products have no antidotes.  Treatments are supportive only and can extend for weeks to months and still be unsuccessful.

2 – DON”T ALLOW YOUR DOG TO OVERHEAT  –  Dogs cannot sweat. Their only method of thermoregulation or heat dissipation is by panting…expelling hot air and replacing it with cooler air. Panting is effective in low ambient temperatures but as the temperatures increase it becomes less effective and efficient. We see 2 types of hyperthermia.

A)  Pets enclosed in vehicles on warm days. A car is like an oven! Even 10-15 minutes in a vehicle in high 70’s/low 80’s days can be fatal. Cracking a window does not help. The busy summer economy in this area will not allow you to run into the store and out again in 5 minutes.  Either leave the dog at home, or leave someone with the dog, or leave the vehicle idling with the air conditioning running, and check your pet every 10-15 minutes anyway

B) Associated with excessive exercise. The body heat generated by muscle activity, combined with a thick hair coat and considerable fat stores in overweight, unfit dogs and you have a recipe for disaster. Running into and out of the water, or swimming for extended periods while fetching is not sufficiently cooling to prevent hyperthermia. A good rule is to limit your dog to double the exercise they are accustomed to in a day and enforce a 15-20 minute rest period every hour until that limit is reached.

Keep in mind that water intoxication can occur.  Encouraging drinking in hot weather is beneficial, but over consumption of water can be fatal.  Running, swimming, fetching, and then drinking excessively results in blood dilution, electrolyte imbalances, and cerebral edema, which causes weakness, staggering, and collapse. Remember … MODERATION!!!!

3 – DON’T ASSUME ALL DOGS LIKE OTHER ANIMALS OR CHILDREN-  Be especially vigilant in cases where small dogs and large dogs who are not familiar with each other are introduced. The extra excitement that results from vigorous exercise can quickly become aggressive especially if competition over toys or food is involved. Watch for early warning signs:�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� body posture & growling. Remove triggers: toys, food.   Feed dogs separately.  Remember dogs tend to treat small children like other dogs.

4 – DON���T FORGET TO SAFELY DISPOSE OF THE GARBAGE  –   Summer is BBQ time. Especially tempting to most dogs are the leftover bones from steaks, ribs, chops and chicken. Ingestion of these bones can be fatal. Obstructions or perforations are common and both are surgical emergencies. Even corn cobs commonly require surgical removal. Make sure you take all bone remnants and place them in a secure garbage container immediately after your meal is finished.

5 – DON’T LEAVE FISHHOOKS BAITED OR UNBAITED UNATTENDED�� –   They can be stepped on, sniffed, licked or swallowed. The first 3 are inconvenient but are relatively simple to correct, but the 4th can be a problem. Sometimes you��actually witness a dog swallow a fishhook, especially if baited with a food product like bacon or bread. Sometimes the only evidence is a length of fishing line dangling from your dog���s mouth. DO NOT pull on the line!!  You will not retrieve the hook and you could seat the hook in an internal organ and that is not a good thing. X-Rays will identify the location of the hook, and���� its location, size and shape will determine the best strategy for retrieval….maybe surgical, maybe endoscopy, maybe just monitoring for the hook to pass.

6 – DON’T FORGET ABOUT WILDLIFE  –  Most commonly your pets will come into contact with porcupines and skunks. Skunk encounters are unpleasant but rarely dangerous. Encounters with porcupines can be! The number of quills embedded and their location determines the seriousness of the situation. Some need immediate removal (usually neck, chest, limbs) especially if adjacent to vital structures. If few in number and only in the muzzle region removal can be delayed by a few hours, but not days. If attempting removal yourself, pull the quills straight out, grip along the long axis of the quill, not straight across and don’t ever cut them off!