BluePearl Pet Hospitals see an average 43% increase in patients on July 4th.
Booming fireworks, unfamiliar places, and busy crowds can be very scary to pets this Fourth of July weekend. With all this commotion, and the added threat of elevated temperatures, there is a significant risk for pets. To ensure pets stay safe this holiday weekend, BluePearl Specialty and Emergency Pet Hospital is offering expert advice on the best ways owners can beat the heat and keep their pets cool and comfortable.
Something as innocent as a walk in the park on a summer day can bring about an emergency trip to the veterinary hospital. According to Dr. Kevin Kelley, Emergency Service Head at BluePearl in Clearwater, FL:
Pet heat stroke can develop in less than an hour on a hot day, depending on the pet’s body conformation, airway function, humidity and temperature of the environment and hydration status. In enclosed cars, this process takes even less time and 10-20 minutes may be life-threatening, so never leave a pet in a non-air-conditioned car for more than a few minutes on a warm day.”
Even with mild activity, temperatures above 90F pose a significant threat to pets, Dr. Kelley explains:
We have seen cases of heat stroke with higher levels of activity in more moderate temperatures due to the pet being unable to shed the additional metabolically generated heat, with dehydration compounding the condition, or with airway restriction. Some breeds also have elevated risk even at more moderate temperatures.”
Heat stroke can be prevented by watching for signs of overheating. Some signs include excessive panting, increased thirst, and lethargy. Supplemental cooling like taking pet into an air-conditioned environment, cooling baths or running water over body/limbs (water absorbs heat 7 times better than air), and providing water can help the pet recover more rapidly. If the condition worsens to the point of disorientation, vomiting or diarrhea, then the pet’s condition has likely progressed from overheating to heatstroke. In these situations, it is best to seek immediate medical care, but starting the cooling treatment enroute can be lifesaving.
Here are a few tips to help keep Fido cool:
- Limit outdoor activities with your pet to early morning and late afternoon to evening.
- Use areas with lots of shade to prevent direct sunlight and have a cooler environment for your dog.
- Provide ample water regularly to help replace your pet’s losses.
- Keep your pet a healthy weight and if they have breed-dependent or individual risks for overheating, know their limits and respect those including planned rest or termination of activity as your pet’s health warrants.
- Pay heed to ground and walkway surface temperature. Asphalt and concrete can burn your pet’s paws due to heat retention in the sun, so check if uncomfortable to your touch. If it is too hot to hold your hand on it, it may burn their paws.
If a pet is not returning to a normal respiratory rate, vomiting, and experiencing diarrhea, or seems disoriented, seek immediate medical care.
While it may be tempting to offer pets treats at BBQs this weekend, it is best for them to maintain their normal diet. Even one change to their diet can cause severe indigestion, vomiting, or diarrhea. In cases of food toxicity, pets may experience abdominal pain, agitation/hyperactivity, a rapid heartbeat, tremors, and seizures. Older animals have more delicate digestive systems and nutritional requirements, so it is particularly important not to offer these pets any human food that may stray from their normal diet. If you are hosting, be sure to advise guests of your pet’s dietary restrictions and keep all trash bags and containers out of your dog’s reach.
Foods that are potentially toxic and/or dangerous for pets include:
- Xylitol (a common sugar substitute used in baked goods)
- Yeast dough
- Corn on the cob (high potential for choking)
- Meat with bone intact such as chicken wings (high potential for choking)
Fireworks and Open Flames
Keep pets indoors while using fireworks. Pet exposure to ignited fireworks (especially if a pet is curious) can result in severe burns or trauma to the paws, face, or body. Unused fireworks can also pose a danger if ingested as many contain toxic substances, including potassium nitrate, arsenic, and other heavy metals.
In addition to these dangers, firework displays can cause pets to become frightened or disoriented. While you may think it will be fun to bring Fido along for this Independence Day festivity, it is best to keep them at home where they are in a quiet, sheltered and escape-proof environment.
Ingestion of citronella candles, insect coils, and Tiki torch oil can also cause a pet to become ill. Ingestion of these may cause stomach irritation and in severe cases, central nervous system failure. If fumes from these oils are inhaled in substantial amounts, this could cause aspiration pneumonia in pets. Keep all candles, coils, and oils far from your pet’s reach, and watch pets closely if they happen to be in the vicinity of any open flames.
Independence Day is a time for celebration but not all the celebratory festivities are fit and safe for pets. It is important owners take the necessary precautions to prevent an emergency trip to the veterinarian this holiday weekend.