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Pet Parenting 101: How to Handle the Most Common Summer Pet Emergencies
We created an all-inclusive guide for how to prevent and handle the most common pet injuries that occur during the Summer so you and your pet will be ready for anything!
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Summer is the perfect time of year for swimming, hiking, camping, and more! As the days get longer and the nights get warmer, most of us start spending more of our time enjoying the great outdoors with our loved ones, which includes our pets. However, we have to be aware of the dangers that our pets face during the Summer to keep them safe when they join in on the fun! From bee stings to snake bites, we put together everything you need to know to properly handle the top 5 pet emergencies that occur during the Summer.
Did you know that approximately 300,000 dogs and cats are bitten by venomous snakes every year? The majority of these bites occur from rattlesnakes in the Southwestern United States, but a snake bite can happen anywhere. Luckily, there are steps you can take to prevent your pet from falling victim to a snake bite, and things you can do to improve your pet’s ability to recover.
First, consider adding snake fencing to your home’s backyard or garden. If the snakes can’t get in, they can’t bite your pet. Second, know where snakes are likely to be found. Many like to sun themselves in gardens, backyards, and hiking trails. When on hiking trails, keep a careful look out for snakes that may be hiding in the brush or under rocks. Next, be aware of warning signs that may indicate a snake is about to strike. In the case of rattlesnakes, the snake will likely be coiled and rattling its tail to show its irritation. Keeping your pet on a leash when out and about will allow you to pull your pet away from any snake dangers that arise.
In addition, consider vaccinating your dog with a rattlesnake vaccine. The vaccine works by teaching your dog’s body to create antibodies against the rattlesnake venom. If your dog is bitten, their body will naturally know how to fight the effects of the venom, which will buy you more time to get to a veterinarian, where your pet will be administered antivenom. Lastly, you may want to consider enrolling your pet in snake avoidance training classes, which are designed to teach your pet to stay far away from snakes.
If your pet is bitten by a venomous snake, the best thing you can do is stay calm and level headed. Leave the snake alone to avoid suffering from your own bite, and carry your pet away from the snake. Ideally, carry your pet right into your car for immediate transport to the emergency vet. Call your vet on the way to let them know you are coming, and confirm your vet has antivenom to treat your pet’s bite. Giving your vet a heads up will allow them to prepare in advance of your arrival, and the time you save could be lifesaving.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do to prevent your dog from being stung by a bee. In the majority of cases, your pet can recover at home and will often feel better within a day or two. If your dog or cat isn’t showing signs of an allergic reaction, your focus should be making them as comfortable as possible.
The first step is to identify where the sting happened, which will most likely be on your pet’s face, mouth, or paws. Remove the stinger with tweezers to reduce pain and stop the flow of venom. If your pet will tolerate it, apply a cool, damp towel to the sting site to naturally reduce inflammation and swelling. Many vets also recommend giving your pet an over-the-counter antihistamine, such as Benadryl, but consult with your specific vet to make sure you are giving the correct dosage and this medication is appropriate for treating your pet.
The first hour after the bee sting will be most critical for watching your pet for severe allergic reactions. If you believe your pet is having a severe reaction, or the stinger is stuck, contact your veterinarian or go to an emergency vet immediately. Key symptoms to look out for are difficulty breathing, significant swelling to the face or neck, wheezing, vomiting, excessive drooling, agitation, or sudden and unusual aggression.
Despite being covered in fur, our pets are still at risk for getting sunburnt. Sunburns should be avoided whenever possible, as they cause discomfort for our furry friends and can increase your pet’s chances for developing skin cancer. The best treatment for sunburns is preventing them from occurring in the first place. Try limiting the time your pet spends outside between peak sun hours, and dressing your pet in a sun guard for extra protection. You may also consider applying pet sunscreen to the most exposed parts of your pet, such as his nose and ears.
If your pet does get sunburned, you will most likely be able to treat it with at home remedies. Some of the most common remedies you can use to bring your pet comfort are applying cold compresses or sprays to the burned area, using aloe vera, or giving your pet an oatmeal bath. However, severe burns will need to be treated by a veterinarian, and may require cortisone ointments, antibiotics to prevent infection, and IV fluids to prevent dehydration.
In addition to protecting your pet’s skin, make sure to look out for his paws and eyes. Pets with lighter eyes, such as huskies, are most at risk for eye damage caused by the sun. Luckily, sunglasses for pets exist, and make for some great selfie moments with your furry friend! Next, consider purchasing booties to protect your pet’s paws from the hot pavement. If the ground is to hot for you to walk on or comfortably hold the back of your hand on it for more than 10 seconds, the ground is also too hot for precious paws.
Heat Related Illness
Heat exhaustion, or hypothermia, occurs when your pet’s body temperature raises so high that your pet can no longer regulate his own body heat. Severity ranges from mild heat exhaustion that can be treated at home to severe heat stroke that could potentially be fatal. Luckily, heat related illnesses can easily be prevented, and are treatable when caught early. Some key steps you can take are never leaving your pet inside a parked car for any length of time, make sure your pet has enough water and its easily accessible, keep your home cool, and avoid walking your dog or letting your pet play outside during the hottest part of the day. If you are going vacation this Summer, board your pet at a reputable facility instead of leaving him home alone. Pet boarding facilities will give your pet lots of attention and will regulate the temperature to keep your fur baby safe and cool.
If your pet is suffering from a heat related illness, there are key symptoms that you need to know about to identify the signs early and prevent your pet’s condition from worsening. Keep an eye out for excessive panting and difficulty breathing, excessive drooling, unusually colored gums, fever, lack of urine, rapid pulse, muscle tremors, lethargy, weakness, vomiting or diarrhea, and dizziness. Dehyrdration symptoms may also include dry nose, visible tiredness, excessive panting, and sunken eyes, and are important to know as dehydration is a contributor to heat related illness.
If your pet’s heat illness is mild, you can take measures to treat it at home. Bring him to a cool area, preferably inside and air conditioned. You can lower his body temperature by wetting him with cool water, especially around his ears and paws. However, make sure to use cool water and not cold water or ice. For small dogs or puppies, it’s even better to use lukewarm water. Let your pet sit in front of a fan to cool off, and provide cool or lukewarm water to drink. If your pet is showing severe symptoms, such as vomting, seizing, or losing consciousness, contact your vet immediately. Even if your pet seems like he is recovering, you may still want to call your vet for advice on monitoring for shock, dehydration, kidney failure, and other possible complications of heat exhaustion.You know your pet best, and when in doubt, it is always best to seek medical attention.
Fleas and Ticks
As your pet spends more time outdoors, it’s important to make sure he or she is protected from fleas and ticks. While dealing with a flea infestation in the home is a huge hassle, bites from fleas and ticks can lead to severe illness in your pet, including lyme disease, anemia, and paralysis. When your pet brings fleas and ticks into the home, humans are also at risk for being bitten and falling ill from diseases carried by these pests. Therefore, it is critical to take steps to protect your pet from becoming a flea or tick’s next victim in the first place.
Most vets advise protecting your pets from fleas and ticks with a monthly chew or pill, such as NexGard or Comfortis. You can also apply a topical flea and tick repellent once a month, such as the Frontline Plus treatment. Natural flea and tick repellants exist as well, but work best when used in conjunction with flea and tick preventative medication. Planting lavender, lemongrass and geranium can repel ticks, and lavender, lemongrass, peppermint and citronella keeps fleas away. You can also put a drop of lemon or rosemary oil on your pet’s collar to naturally fend off fleas and ticks. Keeping up with your lawn maintenance and frequent vacuuming will also help prevent any infestations. If your pet does come home with fleas or ticks, try using an anti-flea and tick shampoo during bath time and defend your home with anti-flea and tick spray! Your pet may also appreciate an oatmeal bath to soothe itchy skin caused by flea and tick bites.
While some injuries and ailments can be prevented, others are inevitable. Knowing in advance how to correctly respond when injuries or emergencies occur will help your pet stay safe, and get back to their healthy and happy selves as soon as possible. You might even save your pet’s life!