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Front Page » June 18, 2002 » Local News » Canine, feline companions require protection from summer ...
Published 4,456 days ago

Canine, feline companions require protection from summer weather conditions


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By KAREN BASSO
Staff reporter


With temperatures starting to soar, pets are experiencing the dog days of summer. Pet owners have several responsibilities to ensure that the furry friends stay comfortable during hot weather. Residents should make sure all animals have plenty of water during the day. Along with water, adequate shade should be provided to allow pets to escape the pounding rays of the sun. Also, never lock an animal in a car with the windows closed. Pets are better left at home during the summer months than to suffer heat stroke while locked inside a motor vehicle.

Summer represents a fun and exciting time of year for the majority of Carbon County residents.

In addition to humans, pets are less confined to the interior of homes and spend much more time outdoors during the warm months of the year.

Special precautions must be taken to ensure that Rover and Kitty remain healthy and cool during the hot summer days.

Sweating is an efficient mechanism for cooling down an overheated body.

The human body has millions of sweat glands located in the skin. When the body temperature is elevated, the glands secrete moisture on the surface of the skin. Evaporation of the sweat is responsible for cooling an overheated body.

Dogs and cats, unlike humans, do not cool off by sweating. Instead, the animals cool themselves by panting. As the air passes through the nose and mouth, some evaporation occurs.

Panting is not as efficient as sweating, therefore pets have a difficult time coping with the summer heat.

Heatstroke is a serious problem and is a major cause of accidental death in dogs. A pet left in a hot car or an animal that has no shade or water can die from heatstroke in just a short period of time.

When traveling with a dog or cat or if the pets left at home, residents should make sure plenty of cool, fresh, drinking water are available at all times.

Certain animals are particularly sensitive to heatstroke. The animals include:

•Young, old and overweight pets.

•Animals with shortened muzzles such as bulldogs, pugs, boxers, Pekingese, Lhasa Apsos, Shih Tzu, Boston Terriers and Persian cats.

•Animals with heart and/or respiratory problems.

•Animals with thick, heavy coats, particularly the northern or cold-breed animals.

During the hot summer months, pets should be kept cool. An outdoor doghouse or kennel should be well-ventilated and located in the shade.

Allowing access to a child's shallow wading pool, filled with an appropriate amount of clean water, is an excellent method to keep dogs cool during the heat of the day.

Overexertion and intense exercise should be avoided during the middle part of the day. Long walks and heavy exercise should be reserved for the early morning and late afternoon.

When taking Rover for a walk, remember that he does not wear shoes. Dogs paws are sensitive and burn easily on hot blacktop. Blacktop and other hot surfaces should be avoided.

On warm sunny days, a pet should never be left unattended in an enclosed vehicle. If a pet absolutely must remain in the vehicle, the following precautions are recommended:

•Completely open all windows and vents.

•The pet should remain in a well-ventilated cage or kennel.

•The vehicle should be parked in a shaded area, out of direct sunlight.

•Fresh water should be available.

•Return to the vehicle every 10 to 15 minutes to check up on the pet.

On a warm sunny day, the temperature inside a vehicle can reach 150 degrees within a period of 10 to 15 minutes.

Trapped inside a hot vehicle, a pet can suffer from heatstroke and die very quickly. Therefore, it is best to leave the furry friend at home.

If a pet owner suspects that an animal is suffering from heatstroke, the owner must take immediate action because heatstroke is a serious condition that can lead to rapid death.

Symptoms of heatstroke must be recognized and treatment must be initiated rapidly.

Early symptoms of heatstroke are labored breathing, warm dry skin, an anxious attitude, and profuse salivation.

As the condition progresses, the animal develops a glazed look, and is somewhat unresponsive to external stimulation.

Looking inside the mouth, the tongue and gums have a bright red appearance. The heartbeat of the animal increases and if left untreated, the animal becomes weak and eventually collapses.

Immediate emergency care is required for an animal suffering from heatstroke.

The animal should be placed in a bathtub filled with cool water.

If a tub is not available, the animal should be hosed down or wrapped in cool damp towels.

The water used to cool down the animal should be cool, not cold. If the pet is responsive, small amounts of cool water should be offered to drink.

When the animal is cooled down, they must be taken to a veterinary hospital.

Intravenous fluid therapy is required for animals with heatstroke.

During the summer, heatstroke tends to plague animals frequently. But animals also suffer other summertime illnesses.

In fact, the most common cause of poisoning in dogs and cats is from insecticides.

Presently, there are more than 25,000 insecticides registered for use in the United States. Insecticides used to control fleas on pets cause the majority of poisonings.

Some animals are overly sensitive to flea products (insecticides used to control fleas) and in other instances the pet owner does not use these products according to instructions.

Insecticides can be absorbed through the skin, inhaled through the lungs or ingested.

Cats often ingest topical flea products during grooming.

Over-stimulation of the nervous system is the most common symptom of insecticide poisoning.

Early symptoms include excessive salivation, uneasiness and a change in personality.

As the condition progresses, muscle tremors, change in pupil size (contracted pupils), vomiting and diarrhea occurs.

Eventually, if poisoning is severe, stiffness, paralysis, and seizures are common. Death occurs from cardiovascular and respiratory failure.

Clinical symptoms generally progress rapidly and persist for days and even weeks.

Before using any insecticides on a pet (flea products in particular) talk to a veterinarian for advice.

Most veterinary hospitals sell flea products that are safe, reliable, and effective.

Insecticide poisoning is a medical emergency and immediate veterinary care is required.

If insecticide poisoning is suspected, the animal should be rushed to a veterinary hospital or animal emergency center.

Insects can also cause pets a great deal of pain.

Because pets can be curious, especially if it makes noise and flies, bites and stings can occur.

Bites and stings from most flying insects can cause swelling or soreness.

Call a veterinarian for advice because some can cause allergic reactions which need to be treated.

All spider bites are toxic, but most will only cause local swelling and tissue reaction. The black widow can be deadly to any pet less than 50 pounds and make larger pets very sick (some larger animals can die too). If the pet owner suspects a black widow bite, the pet owner must obtain help immediately.

When families go on vacation, the question arises as to whether to take a pet along or have the pet taken care of by a friend or neighbor.

If the pet is to accompany the owners during a vacation, the proper plans will have to be made.

Some helpful tips designed to protect canine and feline companions include the following:

•Call ahead and make sure that all the places that will be hosting the visitors will allow pets.

A brief explanation of the pet may be required.

•Vaccinations should be current and a health certificate may be required.

Therefore, Carbon County residents should take along a summarized medical record explaining the pets health problems, surgeries, medications and vaccinations.

•Take the pets usual food and a few days supply of water, medications, food and water dishes and bowls, bedding and toys.

•Have identification on the pet at all times with a phone number with an area code.

•Keep pets on leashes or in a kennel.

•Keep a good photo of the pet in case the animal gets lost while on vacation.

•Do not let pets hang their heads out the window or ride in the back of the truck unsecured.

•Do not let the pets graze or eat on any plants along the trip or trail.

Some plants may be toxic or have been sprayed with toxins.

•Check with local veterinarians about local hazards such as rattlesnakes, lyme disease, or poisonous plants.

•Some animals like a regular routine.

Try to do something just like at home at least once a day.

A vacation with a pet can be enjoyable for Carbon County owners as well as the animals if the proper preparations are taken.

However, if the pet is to be left behind, the owner of a cat or dog must ensure that the pet is taken care of in the best possible manner.

To provide the animal with the proper care and supervision while the owner is away, the pet sitter should be able to perform several key duties. The responsibilities in question include the following:

•If boarding a cat or dog, visit the facility to meet the caretakers and check out the cleanliness and safety of the operation.

•Ask about pick up times at the boarding facility.

•If getting a sitter, meet with the sitter at the pets home to make sure that the pet will like this person and that the owner does too.

•Make sure that all pets are current on vaccinations.

Make sure the vaccination certificates are available, especially for rabies, just in case the pet is bitten by a strange animal or bites someone while in the care of a sitter.

•If the pet is on medication, make sure that all instructions are clear and that there is ample supply of the medication to last the vacation.

•Leave instructions on feeding, play time and any unique behaviors that the pet may have so no one is worried about something that is normal.

•Have identification on the pet.

•Leave information regarding a veterinarian, name , phone number, address and leave a backup choice in case of an emergency.

•Leave the names of friends and neighbors who know the pet and could help out if necessary.

•Leave information regarding where and how the owner of the cat or dog may be reached in the event an emergency involving the pet should occur.


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June 18, 2002
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