The attraction to the outdoors in the summer is hard to deny; lying in warm summer sun, long hikes, and lounging on the beach. This is also the time of year we love to bring our four-legged family counterparts on these adventures! That is why it is imperative to remember the importance of heat safety as we emBARK on these exciting expeditions. Let’s dive into four emergencies to avoid, including heat exhaustion/heat stroke, ulcerated or burned paw pads, and saltwater toxicity.

Many of us have heard of heat exhaustion in dogs or even heat strokes but how many actually feel comfortable recognizing the signs? This critical emergency can sneak up on you, and by the time it is obvious, is a life-threatening emergency. It causes complete shut-down of the organs in your pets’ body.  Your dog is even at risk when it’s 70 degrees out!

What activities are risky?

    • Walks in hot weather and especially in the heat of the day, long walks, runs, playing frisbee or similar games in the heat or without breaks, limiting access to water, hikes
    • Brachycephalic (or “smooshed face”) breeds such as French Bulldogs, Bulldogs, some Pitbulls
    • Heavy coated dogs such as Golden Retrievers, Malamutes, Huskies
    • Large breeds such as Great Danes, Rottweilers, St. Bernards

What signs should I watch for?

      • Excessive panting, lying down during the middle of activity, collapse, vomiting after drinking, dark red gums, sudden lethargy, an inability to get up
      • In severe cases; seizures, death, bloody diarrhea, frequent vomiting, unresponsiveness

What should I do if I think my dog is affected?

    • Seek veterinary care Immediately! Time is truly of the essence
    • If you are on a trail you can offer water, apply cool water to the inside of the ear flap and belly/armpits as well as the feet
    • DO NOT
      • put your pet in an ice bath, submerge in water, or attempt to keep going if they seem to improve
      • It is important for them to be cooled slowly

How do I avoid this?

    • Always bring water on hikes or walks
    • Avoid walks in the heat of the day
    • Talk to your vet to know if your pet is at an increased risk
    • Avoid new or longer routes

One emergency you may not often think about is burned paw pads. This can happen when a dog spends a lot of time walking on a hot surface such as pavement. It can also happen if a pet who hasn’t done much hiking goes out for the first time on a rough trail. It can lead to weeks of bandages and pain management and even potential permanent scars. I love hiking with my big dogs (and so do they!) We want you to still continue to do these activities but  we can provide some ways to help keep you both safe!

What activities put us at risk?

    • Walks in the heat of the day, walking on hot pavement, long walks on hot days
    • Hikes with pets that don’t have feet acclimated to the rough terrain, long hikes
    • Paws that have been soaking in water or walking through water for an extended period (such as swimming), are softer and more at risk.

What signs should I look out for?

    • Sudden lameness, bleeding paw pads, sudden whining or crying out

What should I do if I think my dog is affected?

    • We do not recommend placing bandages yourself as this can create problems with circulation and swelling
    • Seek veterinary care
    • Try to move from pavement to a cooler surface
    • If you are on a trail, try to move off gravel or rocky surfaces
    • In most cases, it will not be severe enough that your pet will not be able to get home. Your veterinarian can help clean the wounds and assess what further care may be needed.

How do I avoid this?

    • Avoid rough terrain after long swims or allow paws to dry thoroughly
    • Avoid hot pavement in the heat of the day or on hot days in general
    • If your pet is new to hiking, consider dog boots if the terrain is rough or try to avoid rough terrain

I love spending a day at the beach with our dogs! But beware, salt water can be surprisingly toxic to your pets. It can cause life-threatening changes to their electrolytes, which can lead to swelling within the brain, changes in blood pressure, seizures, and death in severe cases.

What activities put us at risk?

    • Days at the beach without access to fresh water
    • Dogs that drink large amounts of salt water

What signs should I look out for?

    • Disorientation, vomiting, collapse, severe watery diarrhea

What should I do if I think my dog is affected?

    • Seek veterinary care
    • If your dog is not vomiting, rinse them off with fresh water and offer small amounts of fresh water frequently until you can see your veterinarian

How do I avoid this?

    • ALWAYS make sure you have fresh water available at the beach
    • Be sure to provide a cool area for your pet to lie doww. You can even dig a shallow hole in the sand! Deeper sand will be cooler than the surface
    • Rinse the salt water from their coat when you get home

Summer is an amazing time to create new memories with all  members of the family! We hope that we have given you some ways to keep both you and all the members of your family safe while having fun. THRIVE Affordable Vet Care is available every day of the week to answer questions and help you if you think there is a problem. We encourage you to see your veterinarian and discuss summer safety or any further questions you may have!