Summer Pet Care
Even your own backyard can be hazardous to your furry friend during the warm-weather months. Keep him safe with these tips.
1. Recognize the signs
Dogs pant to dissipate heat, but if the panting is excessive or accompanied by lethargy or unusual behaviour, get him to air-conditioning quickly. If he's having breathing problems or his usually pink gums have turned purple (a sign he's not getting enough oxygen), take him to the vet. Dogs with pushed-in noses such as pugs have inherent breathing problems, so be extra careful to keep them cool.
2. Be swim savvy
Swimming is a great way for dogs to cool down, but it can result in a rash of problems. Hot spots (localized skin infections) can be caused by dogs not drying fully after a dip. Clipping fur can help, but be cautious, particularly if it's light-coloured. "The skin is more exposed to the sun, which can make him more susceptible to skin cancer," says Erica Gehring, a Niagara Falls, Ont.-based veterinarian.
Ear infections can also crop up, especially in floppy-eared breeds. "Their ears are more likely to stay moist, which sets up an environment for bacteria and yeast to grow." If he's worrying an ear or rubbing it against furniture, check for a foul smell and to see if it's red and swollen. If it is, consult your vet.
3. Mind the bugs
Fleas like the heat, while ticks enjoy moderate temperatures; both can cause a host of complications, so talk to your vet about prevention medication for fleas and ticks. And like with people, some dogs can experience anaphylactic shock from a bee or insect sting. If there's swelling after a sting, take him to the vet right away.
4. Watch for marauders
Skunks and porcupines are notorious for paying surprise visits. If your dog has been quilled by a porcupine, the quills will need to be carefully removed immediately, and your dog will most likely need to be sedated. "The barbs may damage eyes or migrate elsewhere in the body and pierce organs," says Gehring.