Independence Day and Summertime Tips for Pet Owners
BATON ROUGE—Keep your pets safe this Independence Day and throughout the hot summer months. Independence Day celebrations and soaring temperatures can be dangerous for pets.
Independence Day and Fireworks
Independence Day is a fun time for family and friends, but your pets may not enjoy the holiday as much as you do. Noisy fireworks can frighten pets and put them at risk. Make sure your pet has access to a comfortable, quiet, and safe place to hide (e.g., a kennel/crate). Make sure windows and doors are closed and curtains are drawn to help muffle outside noise, and you can play music or the television to help offset the sound of fireworks. If you know that your pet has a fear of loud noises like fireworks, you can contact your veterinarian to ask about helpful calming medications. Make sure that your pet is microchipped in case your pet manages to escape.
Dangers of High Temperatures
Now that summer is here, it’s good to remember that pets require special care to avoid heatstroke. Dogs cannot tell us when they feel hot, and it is our responsibility to ensure that our pets have sufficient shelter from the sun, an adequate supply of water to drink, and a way to cool off as the heat rises. Be aware of these essential needs when leaving your pets outside during the day. Moreover, do not forget that at this time of the year, it is life-threatening to leave pets in hot cars, even if they are parked in the shade, and even for just a few minutes! Each summer, the LSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital sees several heatstroke cases.
A dog’s body temperature is normally between 101°F and 102°F.. A rise of three degrees to a temperature of 105°F can cause the dog to have heat-related illness.
Puppies and kittens as well as older dogs and cats are predisposed to heat-stroke and heat-related illness. Also, brachycephalic breeds (those with short snouts or muzzles such as pugs and bulldogs) are at increased risk.
Early signs of heatstroke include rapid breathing, rapid heart rate, and gums that change from their healthy light pink color to bright red or even dull, grayish-pink. Vomiting and diarrhea can also be observed. Heat stroke is an absolute emergency! If your dog exhibits these signs, move him to a shaded area, soak the coat in cool water, and get him to a veterinarian immediately. These signs can be followed in minutes or days by collapse, organ failure, seizure, coma, blood clotting disorders, and death. All pets with heatstroke need to be treated immediately and monitored carefully for a few days.
Prevention of heatstroke is imperative. Please ensure that your outdoor pets have plenty of shade and water and never leave your pets in a parked car, even with the windows down. Make sure that your pet has a tip-proof bowl, so that he can’t spill his water bowl while you’re not at home. Lastly, do not go jogging or biking with your dog at midday during the summer. Even if you enjoy a jog or bike ride in the heat, it could have disastrous consequences for your dog. Plan walks for the early morning or late evening hours when the temperature is relatively low. Make sure your pet’s exercise level is appropriate for the age, breed and body condition. Consult your veterinarian for advice. With a few minor precautions, you and your pets can have a safe and happy summer.
If your pet requires emergency medical care after-hours, you can bring your pet to the LSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital on Skip Bertman Drive; the hospital is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year for emergency cases. For pets and small exotics, call 225-578-9600, and for horses and livestock, call 225-578-9500. Go to www.lsu.edu/vetmed for more information about the Veterinary Teaching Hospital.
About the LSU SVM
The LSU School of Veterinary Medicine is one of only 32 veterinary schools in the U.S. and the only one in Louisiana. The LSU SVM is dedicated to improving the lives of people and animals through education, research, and service. We teach. We heal. We discover. We protect.
Ginger Guttner, APR
LSU School of Veterinary Medicine