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Common Summertime Emergencies in Pets

May 1, 2019
Common Summertime Emergencies in Pets

Summertime is just around the corner, and pets and their families are gearing up to enjoy the sunshine, but, unfortunately, troubling situations for pets occur more frequently outdoors. Look out for the most common summertime emergencies and take appropriate steps to prevent your pet from falling victim to these hazards.

Car accidents and pets

When the kids are out of school for the summer, the additional daily activities can cause chaos. Your front door may seem like a revolving door, with your family in constant motion, packing more fun and excitement into the longer days. With all the coming and going, a pet can easily slip out and bolt into the street. Tragic accidents occur in a split second, since many pets do not survive a tangle with a moving vehicle. Take the following steps to ensure your pet’s safety and prevent terrible injuries, such as head trauma, broken bones, and internal bleeding:

  • Block off your pet’s access to doors.
  • Teach your dog to sit and wait at intersections so she does not rush into the street.
  • Never leave a pet unattended in the yard.
  • Avoid the use of retractable leashes, which are prone to snapping or failure of the lock mechanism, allowing your pet to dart into traffic.
  • Always check your driveway before entering or exiting. Driveway accidents happen frequently, especially with pets excited about their family members coming home or saying goodbye.

If a car strikes your pet, we’re here to help. We are available for any emergency from 8 a.m. to midnight every day, and we have clinical staff who work around the clock if your pet requires overnight hospitalization.

Dog fights

With the nicer weather, more dog owners allow their pets to burn off energy at dog parks, where dog fights are a common occurrence, often triggered by:

  • Overexcitement
  • Too many dogs in one area
  • Dogs with poor social skills that lead to problematic interactions
  • Resource guarding, such as protecting toys or people

A dog park may be appropriate if your dog is friendly, social, and doesn’t become overwhelmed with excitement, but  many dogs become anxious in this high-intensity setting, and scuffles result. Consider avoiding dog parks in the following situations:

  • Your dog is fearful or nervous around strange dogs.
  • Your dog has an energetic, enthusiastic, rough-and-tumble play style. Many dogs do not appreciate an exuberant play companion and may tell your pet to back off.
  • Your dog does not respond well to commands. At the minimum, your recall command must be rock-solid so, if you notice trouble brewing, you can call your dog and be sure she will obey.
  • The dog park is small, crowded, and single-gated. Ideally, a dog park will have separate areas for large and small dogs and a double-gate system that prevents dogs from bolting out when the gate is opened.
  • The park is not in good condition, with holes in fences where your dog can escape, or sharp wires that can cause injury.

If dog parks are not ideal for your pet, consider hiking trails for exercise and enrichment.

Heat stroke in pets

Most pet owners are aware of the dangers of excessive heat, but pets suffer from heat stroke every summer. Your pet will be at risk of heat stroke if she is:

  • Left in a car with closed windows
  • Given no access to water
  • A flat-faced breed, such as a pug or bulldog, or a Persian cat
  • Young or old and cannot regulate her body temperature well
  • Without shade or flowing air

Avoid the potential for heat stroke by avoiding outdoor play during the heat of the day and walking early in the morning or late in the evening. Signs that your pet requires immediate veterinary care due to heat stroke include:

  • Excessive panting
  • Restlessness or anxiety
  • Weakness
  • Lack of coordination
  • Drooling
  • Reddened gums
  • Vomiting and diarrhea

dog on beach

Dogs and dietary indiscretions

Summer is full of tempting hazards for pets, from barbecues and cookouts, to lawn chemicals and pesticides. We commonly see pets present with vomiting, diarrhea, and painful abdomens due to dietary indiscretion. Pets routinely run afoul of the following summertime hazards:

  • Corn cobs
  • Barbecued chicken or rib bones
  • Wooden or metal food skewers
  • Fatty foods, such as hot dogs
  • Lawn fertilizer
  • Herbicides
  • Insecticides
  • Mulch, especially cocoa mulch
  • Toxic plants

Keep your pet away from the potential perils of ingesting a foreign body, eating inappropriate food, or poisoning by sticking with fresh veggies and lean meats for snacks, and preventing contact with hazardous chemicals.

Lacerations in pets

We see an increase in lacerated pets when they spend more time outdoors. Pets can suffer from scrapes and cuts while out hiking in the woods, from running into fences or sharp lawn implements, or from broken glass on the sidewalk. Your pet’s hair often hides the extent of the laceration, which may seem mild until the fur is clipped away and the wound exposed. We have seen pets with broken branches or pieces of mulch stuck under the skin, when the laceration appeared to be minor. Call our hospital if your pet is injured so we can judge the severity and determine the appropriate treatment.

We offer emergency and critical care services seven days a week, so our team is always available to care for your pet. Give us a call if your pet gets into a scrape or snatches corn cobs or barbecued ribs from the picnic table.