Vets see totally preventable trauma to pets in the summer because people just don’t realize how life-threatening hot weather conditions can be.
Despite all the warnings on local news programs, the internet, etc., people still do stupid things because they’re not attentive to the dangers of hot weather.
Don’t be those people. Listen up, pay attention and protect your pet.
1. Hot Cars
Enough said about leaving pets in hot cars, right? So why does it still happen?
I have a theory that these tragedies occur for 2 reasons:
- Some people are still misinformed or clueless enough to think their pet will be OK in a boiling hot car for even a short period of time.
- Due to the hectic American lifestyle and the multitasking zoom-zoom we all do, people can literally forget they left their pet in the car.
Here’s some advice: Leave your pet at home in the summer.
- Don’t plan to just “stop in” to the drugstore or the post office with your pet in tow.
- Don’t think you’ll find a shady spot in a parking lot.
- Don’t think when you take your pet with you on a cool summer morning that it won’t be sweltering in a few hours.
And for God’s sake, don’t take your pet on your regular errands in the hot summer and forget they are in the car! You might run into a neighbor in Target and start talking or decide to go into a few more stores, forgetting you left Loretta in the vehicle.
2. Hot Pavement
At least a few pets come in every summer with the pads burned off their feet.
Generally, burned pads only occur with longevity and a very hot sun. Dogs can tolerate a quick walk on hot pavement, assuming people and dogs seek shady streets and areas in the boiling sun. But any length of time walking or running on very hot surfaces can create painful lesions on footpads.
Don’t jeopardize your dog’s footpads in summer. Consider these variables:
- The substrate. Boiling city pavement or blacktop is more dangerous than dirt or grass.
- The length of time your pet is out running with you.
- The intensity. The worst pad lesions I ever saw were on an intensely trained Border Collie who ran alongside his owner on a dirt bike for 4 hours midday in 90-degree sun. The owner looked like a red lobster and the dog’s feet looked like they had been dunked in scalding water. The wound care for his feet was costly, time-consuming and difficult. The dog’s summer fun and health were ruined due to the client’s poor judgment.
3. Too Much Swimming
Dogs can actually get too much of a good thing when they swim for too long of a time. Water dogs who jump off docks and retrieve sticks for hours on end can develop something we actually call “Lab tail.” Also known as limber tail syndrome and many other names, Labs and hunting breeds that use their tails like rudders can suffer from a very sore tail for days to follow.
Although limber tail is not always associated with swimming, too many hours or days at the lake is the classic presentation. Note that this can be associated with very cold water too.
4. Too Many Bugs
We’re talking maggots, a condition that can make even the most seasoned of my vet techs run for the break room. My worst nightmare maggot cases have involved outdoor bunnies and sedentary long-haired dogs. Collies top the list.
The recipe for maggot infestation is simple:
- Mix some very hot weather with a sleeping or quiet animal.
- Add a little dirty fur and some fly poop.
- Let simmer for a day or 2 under the fur.
- Voila — you have a moving maggot feast.
Take it from this vet — these summer hazards are no fun for your pet:
Keep outdoor rabbit hutches in the shade and step up your cleaning and inspection in very hot weather. Check outdoor bunnies daily and pay special attention to their underside and private parts.
Keep thick-coated dogs trimmed in summer, particularly where some poop or urine might remain.
Any animal can get maggots. Try to be vigilant about inspecting all body areas if your pet is exposed to flies and hot weather.
Hot weather can mean great time outdoors and fun activities. But it can also tucker us humans out. If you are hot, sweaty and tired, think of how that heat is affecting your pets. Being vigilant will prevent any of these summer mishaps from happening.
This pet health content was written by a veterinarian, Dr. Debora Lichtenberg, VMD. It was last reviewed June 13, 2018.
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