Kari Emery, Author at Seatown Veterinary Care

All jokes aside, it’s getting hot this summer and it is important to recognize when our dogs need cooling down. We release heat all over our body so it is easy to dismiss the heat once we cool ourselves down; our dogs however can only release heat through their paws and by panting. It is important that we recognize when we need to help cool down our dogs in the summer heat.

Your dog will tell you when they are hot; the first signs of heat stress are panting and an increased thirst.  Heat exhaustion strikes when your pet starts getting dizzy, weak, or unable to stand for long periods. Make sure to listen to your pet, give him water and make sure he has a shaded area with good air circulation to rest in.

Without cool air, ground, and water to cool themselves down, our pets can experience heatstroke. Once a pet gets too hot, they can lose the ability to thermo-regulate themselves and we need to intervein.  Symptoms include incessant or noisy panting, collapse, inability to walk/stand and an altered mental state.

If you are concerned that your pet is too hot, take a rectal temperature (with that thermometer in your pet’s first aid kit). Our dogs and cats have a normal body temperature of 99.5-102.5 F. If your pet’s temperature is high, get then to drink water and rest in the shade. Monitor their temperature until it has returned to normal. If your pets’ temperature exceeds 104 F, contact your veterinarian immediately.

While on this topic, I would also like to debunk a popular myth about keeping our pets cool in the summer: shaving.  Our dogs have coats that are designed to keep them regulated. This especially applies to our northern breeds like Huskies and Bernese Mountain Dogs. By shaving away their coat we are taking away one of their mechanisms of protection from the sun and heat. Shaving down to their skin also increases their risk of sunburn.

Yes, that’s right, sunburn! Any skin exposure on our pets (shaved or natural) is at risk of sunburn. Keep an eye on ears, noses, bellies, and areas of thin or shaved hair so you can catch it quick. For pets with light skin, white fur and areas of hair loss make sure to apply sunscreen when spending time in the sun. Dog sunscreens or non toxic baby sunscreens are your best options, however you should always read the ingredients. Zinc Oxide and para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA) are toxic to dogs and should be avoided.

If you have any questions on keeping dogs cool in the Summer heat or other summer safety, never hesitate to call your local veterinary office.

Have you seen our article on keeping you Keeping your Cats Cool in the summer?
Also check out the ASPCA Tips on hot weather safety.

A part of any good physical exam, an oral assessment is an important window into your pet’s overall health. Pet dental disease and infections within the mouth can spread via the blood stream to other parts of the body. Good oral health is an important part of preventative care for your pet.

Signs of dental disease can vary in pet’s and often time, other than the smell, you may not know they have any problems. Pets are remarkably stoic and can hide discomfort well. Signs of oral and dental disease in pets include the following:

  1. Bad breath
  2. Loose or discolored teeth
  3. Teeth covered in heavy tartar
  4. Drooling or dropping of food from the mouth
  5. Bleeding around the mouth
  6. Loss of appetite or loss of weight
  7. Pet’s shying away from you when you touch the mouth area
  8. Chattering of teeth

Proper dental cleanings in pets require general anesthesia. This allows for a professional dental cleaning and enables us to look under the gum-line to identify problems before they become painful and expensive to treat. This also requires the usage of dental radiographs.

The best prevention consists of frequent removal of dental plaque and tartar. If you would like further information of products that will help control deposition of plaque and tartar, contact us or you can find more information from the Veterinary Oral Health Council (www.vohc.org).

Yes, we are desperately awaiting the arrival of spring, but while we wait winter weather continues to brings it’s own set of challenges for our pets.  While our pets wear their own coats, each of them has varying tolerance for the weather.  Here are some tips to keep them safe for the remainder of the winter (which hopefully won’t be too much longer).

Tips to keep your pets safe in winter weather:

  1. If it’s cold out for you, it’s probably cold out for them.  Coats and sweaters are great for short haired dogs, this ensures they stay warm and dry.  Having a few around for them to wear in case one gets wet is a great idea.
  2. Check their paws!  Deicers and anti-freeze can be toxic for dogs, and you never know where it is.  Wiping their feet off after walks is important.  Make sure to get in between their toes and pads.  Ice can cause small abrasions to their pads as well.
  3. Pet proof your house! Seasonal plants, decorations, and treats are so tempting… and can all be hazardous.   Treats such as chocolate, macadamia nuts, any sweets containing xylitol, or raisins are toxic to dogs.  Keep them up and out of harms way.
  4. Keep pets indoors when at all possible.
  5. Stay off the ice!   Icy bodies of water can look tempting, but very dangerous.  Other than injuries caused by slipping on the ice, falling through the ice is an even bigger concern.  Just don’t do it!
  6. Make noise before getting into your car and starting it up.  Come wintertime cats (outdoor and feral) as well as other wildlife may use your car as a source of warmth.  Making noise may cause them to vacate your engine block, saving them from potential severe injuries.
  7. Watch out for signs of arthritis.  Cold weather will often agitate arthritis.  Arthritis can show up with stiffness, difficulty jumping, grumpiness, sleepiness or lameness.  An annual or semi-annual exam is recommended to make sure your furry friend is in tip-top shale and comfortable for the cold weather!
  8. If you must use anti-freeze, use PET FRIENDLY anti-freeze and other deicing products.  These products contain propylene glycol that is much less toxic then it’s counterpart.

Make sure to get out and enjoy the beautiful winter weather during the fleeting day light hours. It’s tempting to stay inside by the nice warm fire, but it’s important that your furry friends gets their exercise. So enjoy and keep your fur kids safe!