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Making summers comfortable for your dog

With summers setting in, the need to care for your beloved canines has become all the more important. Dr. Nehru gives tips for summer care.

We’ve all heard the warning, “Never leave a dog alone in a parked car in warm weather,” but every summer, dogs suffer and die in vehicles that become ovens in a matter of minutes. Many people don’t realise how quickly the temperature can rise inside a car in warm weather. Temperatures do not need to be extremely high outside to reach dangerous levels inside.

Short-nosed breeds such as Pugs and Bulldogs, who can’t pant as efficiently as other dogs, young puppies, senior dogs, over-weight dogs, and dogs with respiratory, cardiovascular or other health problems are even more susceptible to heat-related stress than other dogs. Take extra precautions to prevent over-exertion and keep them cool and comfortable.

Heatstroke:

Dogs become less efficient at cooling themselves as the humidity rises. Just like people, dogs are cooled by evaporation. The problem with high humidity is that it decreases evaporation and slows down the cooling process. There are some factors that hinder canines’ ability to cool themselves. They only have sweat glands on the pads of their feet and on their nose, which are inadequate for cooling during hot and humid days. Panting helps dogs cool themselves but they still aren’t as efficient at cooling themselves as people are. Some of the most common signs of heatstroke include: heavy panting, rapid heartbeat, profuse salivation, vomiting or collapse. It should be treated immediately to avoid fatal consequences. If your dog does become overheated, you must take measures to cool and lower her body temperature immediately. Move the dog to a cool place, out of the sun and give her water. Pour cool water on her and place ice packs on her head and neck. A fan, placed in front of the dog, will aid in evaporation. Consult a veterinarian as soon as possible.

Rodenticides:

Ingestion of mouse and rat poison is another common danger. These poisons come in cardboard containers filled with poisonous pellets. Since dogs can obviously chew through the cardboard to get the tempting bait, their owners carefully place them in spots their dogs can’t reach. When things are moved for cleaning, the dog is right there to grab the poisonous traps. Rodent poisons may not cause vomiting or other typical symptoms of poisoning. They contain a compound that causes a life-threatening bleeding disorder.

Stinging insects:

When a dog gets stung, it’s usually around the mouth, on the nose or on the front paw. Signs of a sting are – scratching her head, rubbing her head on the ground, bumps or a swelling around the head, face, mouth, tongue, or paws, excessive salivation, or finding a stinger. If you can see the stinger, carefully remove it with a tweezers, and then apply a cold compress to the site. If possible, apply a paste made from a mixture of baking soda and water. Some dogs, like some humans, can be allergic to stings. If your dog has a severe reaction, get veterinary treatment immediately.

Fleas and ticks:

When outdoor temperatures reach 40 degrees, ticks become active and feed. They thrive in warm weather. Apply topical, spot-on products once a month, or as recommended by your vet, for protection from fleas and disease spreading ticks. Use flea and tick protection year round in warm climates. Never use multiple types of flea and tick repellents on a dog at the same time. A mixture of different chemicals can make a dog very sick. Now that the summers have set in, take care of your canine friend. And I bet, you can have an enjoyable time indoors.

(Dr. Sanjeev Nehru, B.V.Sc. & A.H. is canine dental surgeon from GB Pant University of Agriculture & Technology. He has been practicing veterinary science since last 10 years and dentistry since last 2 years. He can be contacted at Nehru Bhawan, Indrapuri, Dayalbagh, Agra–282005, Tel.: 0562-2854000, 9897161000, 9837022777 or e-mail at drsanjeev_vet_agra@yahoo.co.in)