Summer Health Care Tips for Your Dog
1. During warm weather, the inside
of your car can reach 120 degrees in a matter of minutes, even if
you're parked in the shade. This can mean real trouble for your dog if
he is left in the car. Dogs and cats can't perspire and can only
dispel heat by panting and through the pads of their feet. Pets who are
left in hot cars even briefly can suffer from heat exhaustion, heat
stroke, brain damage, and can even die. Don't think that just because
you'll be gone "just a minute" that your pet will be safe while you're
gone; even an air-conditioned car with the motor off isn't healthy for
RSPCA chief veterinary adviser Mark Evans said:
“A hot car can be a death trap for dogs, it is as simple as that.
Leaving your dog in a car, even on an average warm, even cloudy summer
day, can put your pet at huge risk of suffering and even death.
“This is not a new warning, but sadly too many people still don’t
appreciate how dangerous it can be to leave a dog in a hot car,
conservatory or caravan. Don’t let your dog be the one to find out the
Never Leave Your Pet in the Car
2. If you do have to
travel by car with your dog keep him cool by putting icepacks in his
crate. Make sure the crate is well ventilated. Put a
sunshade on your car windows. Provide a container of fresh water
as well as a container of frozen water that will thaw over the course
of the trip and keep a spray bottle filled with water to spritz on your
dog to cool him down.
3. If your dog is outside
on a hot day, make sure he has a shady spot to rest in and plenty of
fresh water at all times. Kennels are not good shelter during
the summer as they can trap heat. You may want to fill a child's
paddling pool with fresh water for your dog to cool off in.
4. If you are at the
beach do not let your dog drink sea water; the salt will make him
sick. Always provide plenty of cool, fresh water.
5. Keep pets in
well-ventilated areas and provide plenty of fresh water. Leave
the water in a shady area so that it doesn't get too warm and
evaporate and change regularly throughout the day. It is
surprising how much water a dog can drink
throughout the course of the day. The average dog drinks
50ml of water a day for every kilo of body weight. That means
about 1.5 litres per day for a 30kg dog. Some of this daily
intake of fluid will be found in food, too, especially with a moist
diet. This amount will vary between dogs and from day to day, but
it is a useful guide. A gradual or rapid increase in thirst can
6. Keep your dog
well-brushed and clean. Grooming will help avoid any skin
problems associated with the heat. Long-haired animals need daily
brushing or combing to avoid heat-trapping matting or tangling of
coats. Dogs with dark fur or dogs with flat faces, need extra
care and protection during summer. They overheat quickly and are at
higher risk of heat stroke than other dogs. Similarly dogs with
short hair, white fur, and pink skin, can sunburn. Limit your dog's
exposure during the day and apply sunblock to his ears and nose 30
minutes before going outside. Dogs with heavy coats may be
trimmed for the summer, but not shaved bare as skin that has never seen
sunlight will burn easily! Remember the dog’s fur is part of his
natural insulation system that keeps warm air in during winter and hot
air out during summer.
7. During summer
regularly check your dogs pads for sores, cracks, or burns and treat
8. Salt and other
minerals in sea water can harm your dog's coat, so rinse him off at the
end of the day.
9. Avoid strenuous
exercise on extremely hot days. This is vitally important if your dog
is older, obese or has a heart or lung problem. If you would want
with your dog, make sure to do it in the cool hours of the early
morning or late evening when the sun's heat is less intense.
Don't take long walks or over-exert your dog and always take water with
you stopping frequently for a break. If it is hot and your
dog is panting hard - stop what you are doing. Allow him to cool down
and stop panting before continuing. If possible walk
somewhere where there are lots of trees and shaded paths. Avoid
open fields and opt for wooded paths and shady areas.
10 Running on sand is
strenuous exercise. A dog that is out of shape can easily pull a
tendon or ligament, so keep a check on your dog's activity.
11. Try to avoid
prolonged exposure to hot asphalt or sand, which can burn your dog's
paws. Your dog may need
extra protection for his feet. Prolonged running on hot pavement can
result in severe burns to the bottom of the pads. Avoid going out
with your dog in the hottest part of the day. If the pavement is
too hot for your feet the chances are it is too hot for your dogs feet.
12. Panting allows
evaporation of water from the respiratory tract and is an effective
method of heat dissipation. High humidity and ambient
temperatures interfere with the effectiveness. Dogs also dissipate heat
through evaporation from a wet body, and a small amount of heat loss is
facilitated through the pads of their feet. On hot days, ground heat
prevents the latter from being beneficial. You should not exercise your
dog on very hot or humid days. With high humidity conditions
evaporation decreases and the cooling process slows down.
13. Make sure your dog's
vaccinations are up to date, especially since dogs tend to stay
outdoors longer and come into contact with other animals more during
the summer months. According to the latest research Parvovirus,
an illness that flourishes in hot weather, can be fatal to dogs that
have not received their vaccinations. If your dog enjoys water
leptospirosis vaccinations are a must. Dogs can get leptospirosis from
drinking contaminated streams. This may cause more serious
symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, or internal organ damage. Ask your
determine which vaccines your pet needs.
14. Keep dogs off of
lawns that have been chemically treated or fertilized for 24 hours (or
according to package instructions), and away from potentially toxic
plants and flowers.
15. Fleas and ticks, and
the mosquitos which carry heartworm disease, are more prevalent in
warmer months. Ask your veterinarian for an effective preventive to
keep these parasites off your dog.
16. Be extra sensitive to
the needs of the very old or very young animals during the hottest
hours of the day.
17. Ear infections
can be a common problem in the summer. Most ear infections are caused
by yeasty types of bacterias. Dogs that are prone to ear
infections should have their ears cleaned daily with a product like
Virbac's Epi-otic to minimise the problem.
18. Store all
medications at the correct temperature. Some deteriorate in the
sun and may be harmfull if used.
19. Remember to
remove metal chains and collars from the dogs neck. The metal
heats up and is likely to burn the skin.
20. Animals drinking from
standing water in the summer are potentially exposed to poisoning by
blue–green algae. Long periods of warm weather and a high content
of organic matter in slow moving or stagnant water can produce
blue–green algae blooms. The algae produces a toxin that can cause
chronic or acute poisoning. Symptoms of poisoning develop very
rapidly and resemble an allergic reaction. Animals are usually found
dead at the water's edge or only a few metres away. In acute
poisonings, the animal suffers from intestinal problems, internal
bleeding and paralysis, leading to respiratory failure. Small
amounts of poison cause weakness and staggering. In some instances,
apparent recovery from an attack is followed in a few days or weeks by
evidence of photosensitization. There may be inflammation of the
muzzle, the skin of the ear, the udder, or other parts of the body.
Jaundice is often seen, and constipation is a common symptom. Such
cases usually recover under good care. If your dog enters
contaminated water rinse him down with fresh clean water and put a
buster collar on him to stop him licking and ingesting any residue
poison. Seek veterinary care.
21. Leftover pet food can
quickly go off in hot weather, so discard any scraps as soon as
possible to avoid contamination by flies.
22. Protect your dog from
insects. Flies are more prevelant in the warmer months, and any
injury to the skin, even something as small as an abrasion, can be a
perfect place for flies to lay eggs.. In a short time, these eggs hatch
and become maggots. Keeping your pet clean and treating any skin
injuries is crucial in avoiding maggot infestations.
23. Hot summer days speed
up the decay and decomposition of rubbish . Keep your dog away
from the rubbish bins. Pets that have access to rubbish or
compost can ingest molds that cause significant nervous system
abnormalities including severe tremours or seizures. Eating
thrown away food can also cause vomiting and diarrhea or pancreatitis
from eating spoilt food.
24. Many people change
the antifreeze/water mixture in their cars in the summer. Keep
pets away from spilt liquids as antifreeze tastes sweet to pets and is
25. At picnics and
parties we use a variety of disposable items, such as polystyrene cups
and plates, and plastic utensils. Unfortunately, pets may ingest some
of these items, leading to gastrointestinal obstruction. Playing with
small balls such as SuperBalls or racquetballs is another common
problem. Many dogs love to play fetch with these balls, but if they are
too small the ball can become lodged in the throat and obstruct your
dog's airway. Make sure the toys you give your dog are too big to be
swallowed or become stuck in your dog's throat.
26. In addition to heat
related illness, dogs can develop sunburn. Thin haired dogs and
recently shaved dogs are more at risk. Consult your veterinarian
regarding the use of sunscreen for your dog.
The "normal" body
temperature range of a dog is 100.5°F - 102.5°F (38
Celsius). Normal body temperature fluctuation in dogs and cats is
typically less than 4°F over a 24 hour
period. A body temperature below 100°F or above
a call to your veterinarian. The upper lethal body
temperature of dogs is approximately 42.2°C (108°F), brain
damage may develop at body temperatures of 41°C
(106°F).Gauging the body temperature by the
moistness of the nose or how warm the ears feel is not reliable.
Fever is generally thought to be a protective and helpful response to
infection. Temperatures that are
measured in the ear canal tend to be very accurate because the ear
canal is so close to the brain. Animals that have a rise in
temperature above 108°F (42.2°C)
generally do not survive due to coagulation of body proteins.
your dog's Temperature
Gently Restrain the Dog
The quick way to
find out if a urine infection has reoccured or to test whether your
dog's temperature is high or abnormal is to take its temperature with a
thermometer. Before attempting to take a dog's temperature, first
calmly and gently restrain and reassure the dog. Some dogs are
easier to handle on the ground, some are easier on the table.
You will need a
thermometer, cotton wool or tissue and lubricant. An assistant
should hold the dog. There are two types of thermometer- glass
and electronic. With a glass thermometer, make sure that the
mercury is shaken down to the bulb first. Remember that glass
thermometers can break and cause injury. For lubricant use either
Vaseline or K-Y Jelly.
Taking the Temperature
insert gently into the rectum. You must not force it-the
thermometer can tear the rectal wall if forced. Insert 2cm of the
thermometer and hold on to it. Dogs often want to sit down but
don't let them. Electronic thermometers beep when ready to
read. Remove a glass thermometer after about 30 seconds. If
you get a high or low reading repeat the process.
Reading the Thermometer
rectal temperature for a dog is between 37.8C and 39.3C (100.2F
and102.8F). A temperature higher than 40.5C (105F) causes
depression, dehydration and poor appetite. A prolonged
temperature of greater than 41.5C (106F) can cause the brain to swell
and lead to death. A lower than normal reading can indicate
Respiratory rate is the number of breaths per minute. Normal
respiratory rates are assessed when the dog is resting. A dog that is
in pain, having heart or respiratory problems, suffering from
heatstroke, or simply excited will usually have increased respiratory
rates. It is important to gauge the overall situation and condition of
the animal to assess the respiratory rate.
breaths per minute
Larger dogs have slower rates than small dogs, and dogs that are in
good physical shape will have lower heart rates than dogs of similar
age and size who are not physically fit. Puppies typically have higher
heart rates, up to 180 beats per minute is normal up to one year of age.
beats per minute
The above information is simply informational. It's intent is
not to replace the advice of a veterinarian nor to assist you in making
a diagnosis of your pet. Please consult with your own veterinarian for
confirmation of any diagnosis. Your pets life may depend on it.