June 2007

Treat Your Pet With Care This Summer

By Dr. Shannon Sura, Veterinarian/Owner

The summer months are upon us, and it is time to begin enjoying the outdoors again.  If your pet is an avid boater or outdoor enthusiast, here are some safety ideas for you.  First, treat your pets as if they were children. 

Do not leave them unattended when there is access to water.  If you are going to allow your pet to swim, always make sure they are supervised at all times. 

In addition, I would recommend that you obtain a life vest appropriately sized for your pet.  There are many that are made specifically for pets, and they can easily be found on the Web. 

The number-one problem associated with the summer weather is heat stroke.  Make sure your pet has unlimited access to water and a shaded area to rest. 

Dealing With Heat Stroke

The most common sign of heat stroke is vigorous panting, likely while your pet is lying on its side, unable to stand.  If you feel your pet may be suffering from heat stroke, you should —

  1. Determine the rectal temperature, if possible.  Pets with heat stroke typically have temperatures over 105ºF.
  2. Remove the pet from the environment where the elevated temperature occurred.
  3. Move the pet to the shade and direct a fan on him or her.
  4. Begin to cool the body by wetting with cool (not cold) water on the body and legs.  It is helpful to use rubbing alcohol on the skin of the stomach and allow the fan to speed evaporation.
  5. Transport to a veterinary facility.

The following are things to avoid doing when dealing with heat stroke —

  1. Do not use cold water or ice for cooling.  This can cause the vessels in the skin to constrict creating a layer of insulation around the core of the body.
  2. Do not overcool the pet.
  3. Do not attempt to force water orally.
  4. Do not leave the pet unattended for any length of time.

Cooling your pet down is only the first step in treating heat stroke.  This condition can affect every organ system, and often the worst complications occur 12 to 24 hours after the initial temperature elevation.  For this reason, always be sure to bring your pet to a veterinary office immediately. 

Beware: Rattlesnakes!

Last, here is Arizona and other Southwestern states, camping and hiking can present an opportunity for your pet to be exposed to rattlesnakes.  If you camp or hike routinely with your
pet, you should consider getting your pet the rattlesnake vaccine.
 It does not eliminate the need for treatment immediately after your pet is bitten, but it does often decrease the severity of problems associated with the snake’s venom. When traveling or enjoying outdoor activities with your pet, make it a point to know the location of the nearest veterinary facility in case of emergency.

814 N. Hayden Road • Scottsdale, AZ 85257 • tel: 480.945.9466 • fax: 480.945.8250