The  dog-days of summer are upon us!  While this can be an amazing and fun season, it can come along with dangers for your pet(s). This blog reviews the more common summer injuries and conditions in pets, with tips on how to best avoid them, as well as knowing when to call your veterinarian.

Bite Wounds

Dog bites can happen any time of the year.  We tend to see this more frequently  in the warmer months as dogs are visiting dog parks, kennels, daycare, etc. Even if a dog bite appears minor, you should contact your veterinarian right away, as prompt care of the wound (cleaning, flushing, antibiotics, etc) is incredibly important; also, some bites can look minor externally but cause significant trauma and damage beneath the skin, sometimes needing surgical intervention.

Heat Stroke

Dogs cannot sweat through their skin (only a small amount through their paw pads), so heat can be especially dangerous. Heat stroke occurs when an animal’s body overheats.  This can manifest as excessive panting, inability or unwillingness to move around, drooling, reddened gums, vomiting, diarrhea (with or without blood), mental dullness/loss of consciousness, uncoordinated movement, and collapse.

Seek veterinary attention IMMEDIATELY. If you are able, apply rubbing alcohol to paw pads, dampen dog’s body with cool/cold water, get dog to an area with fans/air conditioning, etc.

TIPS:

  • DO NOT LEAVE YOUR DOG IN A CAR UNATTENDED!
  • Walk your pet at cooler times of the day (early morning, late evening).
  • Always provide ample amounts of fresh, cool water.

Paw Burns/Abrasions/Cuts

If your pet gets a peeling paw pad burn, or gets a bleeding cut/laceration on the paw pad, please call your veterinarian – these need to be medically addressed, and sometimes surgically repaired.

TIPS:

  • Do not walk animals on hot pavement; walk during cooler times of the day.
  • Booties can be used for short periods to protect paw pads from burns and sharp objects.

Porcupine Quills

If your animal comes into contact with a porcupine and gets quilled, please call your veterinarian immediately. Animals typically need to be sedated in order to remove quills effectively and safely. PLEASE DO NOT ATTEMPT TO PULL THEM ON YOUR OWN, and DO NOT CUT QUILLS.

Skunk Spraying

Skunks are everywhere in New England so it’s not uncommon for your pet to come in contact with them!  Skunk spraying is typically benign (but smelly!).  You can use the homemade remedy below to help remove the skunk spray and smell. However, if your pet gets sprayed in the face — especially if he/she begins squinting — please contact your veterinarian, as there is the potential for eye irritation and ulceration.

Homemade Skunk Remedy Recipe:

  • 1 Quart 3% Hydrogen Peroxide
  • 1/4 Cup Baking Soda
  • 2 tsp Dawn Liquid Dish Soap

Soak dog’s fur with mixture for 20 minutes. Use sponge on head/face to avoid eyes. Thoroughly rinse with water.

Swimmer’s Tail

Also known as Limber Tail Syndrome, this is a condition that occurs when the base of the spine/tail is strained or overly fatigued. It presents as a limber/weak tail, with minimal movement of the tail, and discomfort at the tail base or base of spinal area.

This is common in animals that overuse their tails, who get excited easily, and/or swim frequently.

If this occurs in your pet, please call your veterinarian to schedule an exam – often times, we prescribe pain medication/anti-inflammatories, and will recommend resting as much as possible, and trying to avoid situations where your pet will get overly excited and use its tail.

Ear Infections (Otitis) and Hot Spots (Moist Dermatitis)

Bacterial and yeast infections of the ear canals and/or skin are VERY common in the warmer months, especially in dogs that swim frequently, and/or have seasonal allergies.

ALWAYS contact your veterinarian if you suspect an ear infection, as they can become severe very quickly – symptoms include head shaking, ear scratching, ear odor, ear discharge/debris/redness, etc.  There are no over-the-counter products that will effectively treat an ear infection.

If your dog is an avid swimmer, talk to your veterinarian about ear cleaners that can help keep the ears happy and decrease risk of infection.

ALWAYS contact your veterinarian if you suspect a skin infection, as they can become severe very quickly – symptoms include excessive scratching, moist areas on the skin or in fur, skin odor, skin redness, etc.

If your dog is an avid swimmer, be sure to rinse with clean water (to rinse off chlorine, salt, algae, etc) and towel dry well after swimming.

Black Fly Bites

These are VERY common in dogs during later spring and earlier summer months, and appear as bullseye-looking red spots, typically on regions of the body without hair (groin, abdomen).

These are not anything to worry about and are not typically uncomfortable for your pet; however, if you are unsure, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Foreign Bodies, Pancreatitis and Gastritis

Foreign body ingestion and stomach/pancreatic upset is not uncommon during the summer months, as barbecues/family gatherings/etc. are very common. Be careful not to give your pet anything that could potentially upset their systems, and advise your guests to be cautious, as well. Common causes include corn cobs (they can get lodged in the stomach or intestines and need surgical intervention to remove), meats and other foods high in fat (pancreas and stomach upset), spices/herbs, meat bones (especially chicken and pork as these splinter), etc.

Animals do not typically tolerate abrupt switches in diet, or getting foods their system is not used to – diarrhea, vomiting and decreased appetite can be signs of an issue.

Firework/Loud Noise Phobia and Anxiety

Some dogs can be very anxious with loud noises such as fireworks and thunderstorms, which are quite common during the summer! If you believe your pet has anxiety, please contact us; we can discuss helpful tips for desensitization to noise, environmental modification, and possible medications that can be helpful.

If you have any questions, or are concerned that any of these conditions are occurring in your pet, please do not hesitate to call Hampton Veterinary Hospital at (603) 926-7978 or your closest emergency clinic.