The days are longer, the grass is greener, and the temperature is hotter; summer is finally here! Warmer weather means we are out and about with our pooches either for longer walks, hiking in the coulees, playing by the river, or just sitting out in the back yard soaking up the sun! We came up with some things to look out for or think about now that we are spending more time outside with our furry companion.
- These large rodents love wooded areas with lots of brush and trees. Dens are usually made from fallen trees, rocks, caves, or in trees. Porcupines have their babies in May/June of each year and mating season starts in early fall – this is why we see more pets in the warmer months with quill problems!
- If you are walking your dog in wooded areas (in Medicine Hat especially anywhere by the River) always be on the lookout! Especially in the evening, as that is when porcupines are most active.
- If your dog gets stuck in an unfortunate situation with a porcupine, please do not attempt to remove the quills yourself. Quills are barbed, and can easily break off in the skin. As well it is extremely painful to pull quills, and you and your pet’s safety will be compromised if you try to pull them yourself. Please call your Veterinarian if your dog has quills stuck in them!
- If you cannot touch your hand to the hot pavement/asphalt for more than a few seconds… skip that walk!
- A study has shown that even when the temperature is only 25 Degrees Celsius – asphalt can be around 50 degrees Celsius! Damage to paws can occur in under 60 seconds.
- Adjust walking times for early morning or late evening. Avoid mid-day walks when the sun is at its highest, heating up the pavement.
- We humans can shed layers of clothing to help keep ourselves cool; our pets have a coat of fur which is a blessing and a curse in the hot summer heat.
- Too much activity in the mid-day summer heat, being left in a hot car, or outside too long with no shade can predispose your pet to heat stroke.
- Dogs cool themselves by panting – if your pet is excessively panting – it is time for a cool off! Remember – the shorter the nose (pug, bulldog, shih-tzu) the more susceptible to heat stroke.
- Heat stroke is an emergency – if you think your pet is in the midst of heat stroke – call your Veterinarian!
- Those curious noses like to find trouble, and with the budding flowers (and weeds!) come buzzing insects with nasty stingers.
- If your dog gets stung and you can still see the stinger – try scratching the stinger out with your fingernail – try not to use tweezers as this can inject more venom from the stinger into the skin
- Always monitor your dog closely after the sting; the stung area will be sensitive. Applying a cold compress can help but usually can be left alone. If you notice swelling of the face or difficulty breathing – this is an emergency and an allergic reaction (just like in some humans) is occurring!
- Internal parasites such as roundworms, tapeworms, etc. are more prevalent as our dogs are rummaging through the grass and sniffing (or eating!) random poops which could be infected.
- External parasites such as ticks are more prevalent in the warmer months, and those nice long walks/hikes in tall grass or wooded areas, can put Fido AND you at risk
- As soon as the weather heats up, it is time to think about parasite control! Your lifestyle, where you visit (outside of Alberta or Canada), and the health of your pet will determine the best preventative from your Veterinarian.
- Stale or stagnant water are usual breeding grounds for nasty bacteria and/or parasites (such as giardia which is “Beaver Fever” in humans). And of course our dogs LOVE lapping it up or playing in it.
- Although it’s hard (especially with water-loving labs!) try to avoid old puddles, or non-moving water, because depending on how much water is drank, your pooch could be in for an upset stomach!
- When our dogs have excess moisture that gets trapped under the layers of fur, it can cause an infection in the skin called a “hot spot”. These areas are extremely itchy, red, swollen, and can become very smelly.
- If your dog has a bath, goes for a swim, gets caught in the rain, etc., try to dry them off as best as possible and take the wet collar off until completely dry.
Vaccine Status (kennel cough and Parvovirus)
- Although a risk at any time of the year, usually our dogs are more out and about in the summer, and we owners are going away on holidays which means play time with other dogs at a kennel
- Most if not all kennels require up to date vaccines. Although it is hard when we are getting ourselves ready for vacation, try getting your pet in for their vaccines at least 2 weeks before the kennel date. This is to ensure proper immunity and so that their immune systems are not working too hard while already stressed at the kennel
- Dogs with thinner or white/cream colored hair coats are more at risk to the sun’s hot rays.
- Most often sunburns happen on the bridge of the nose, or on the underside belly/groin area
- There are pet-friendly sunscreens out there (safe for them if they lick it off), but kid/baby sunscreen can be used as long as there is no zinc oxide in the ingredients as this is toxic to pets. Best to get a sunscreen fitted for pets!
- As soon as air temperature is 10 degrees Celsius and above, rattlers start to make their way out of the dark dens they have been hiding in all winter
- Stay on marked paths, avoid tall grass (as they are camouflaged), and stay clear of dark rocky crevices.
- Rattlesnakes want to stay out of the way, but our curious canines can startle them and illicit a bite. If a bite occurs, try to keep your dog as calm as possible to slow the movement of the venom in the system. Get to the nearest Veterinarian as soon as possible; venom from a rattlesnake destroys the red blood cells, and your pet can deteriorate fast without supportive care.
We love summer just as much as our pets do! Just like every season has its risks to look out for, having an emergency kit readily available to you, and your Veterinarian’s phone number ready on your phone is always a good idea. Our curious canines seem to find trouble at the most inappropriate times, but know we are always here for you!