Vol 9 No 2


Spring 2007


Front Page

Features in this Issue:

Is Your Garden Good or Evil?

Top 10 Poisonous Plants

Toxic Plants

Close Encounter of the Wrong Kind

When Is Warm Too Warm

Thank You

Fond Farewells

Letters to GRRI-NJ


GRRI NEWS Archives


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When is “Warm” TOO “Warm”?


March 21st heralds the arrival of spring and many of us can’t wait to get outdoors and start enjoying the warm weather.  We lather ourselves and our children lavishly with sun screen and dress in appropriate clothing.  We pack bottles of water to drink, and snacks to eat. Then we get into our cars and off we go to parks, sporting events and jogging trails, often accompanied by our furry friends.  But wait…did you take the proper safety precautions for your dog?

Before you go anywhere, stop and think about where you’re going and what you’ll be doing.  Are you going to the park - or maybe the beach?  Are dogs allowed?  Is there a leash law?  Arriving at a destination and seeing the “no pets allowed” sign can certainly be a deterrent to a fun-filled day.  Parking the car in a shady location with the windows slightly open and the doors locked is not the solution.

Indoor automobile temperatures can rapidly climb to over 150 degrees within minutes, turning the inside of the car into an oven.  The dog's body temperature also rises and he or she begins to pant in an attempt to cool down.  Within a very short period of time, the dog could be facing a very life threatening condition called heatstroke.

Heatstroke doesn’t only occur in vehicles.  It can also happen right in your own backyard, just by leaving your dog outside in the blazing sun with no access to shelter or shade.  If your dog must be outside – which is something we do not recommend - make sure there is plenty of fresh cool water available as well as a shady area where he or she can go to get out of the sun at all times of the day.  Remember that the sun shifts during the course of the day so areas that were shady in the morning may not be shady in the afternoon.

Signs and symptoms of heatstroke are rapid breathing through the mouth, increased heart and pulse rate, reddened gums or purple tongue, vomiting, bloody diarrhea, thickened saliva, a dull, staring expression on the face, and total collapse.  Your dog does not need to display all of these symptoms to be experiencing heatstroke. You must start medical care immediately.

First, try to lower the dog's body temperature, cooling it from the inside out. If you’re outside, move the dog inside or to a cooler, shady area and get him or her some cool (not cold) water to drink.  If water is not available, let him or her lick ice cubes or ice cream – but not chocolate since that’s toxic to dogs!  If the dog is unable to drink or is unconscious, DO NOT attempt to pour water down his or her throat.  You don’t want to add choking to this medical emergency.  Apply cool water all over his or her body.  Apply ice packs wrapped in a washcloth or towel to the top of the dog's head, back of the neck and the chest. DO NOT wrap the dog in a wet towel or blanket – this traps the heat next to the body.  Get him or her to the vet as soon as possible.  Heatstroke ALWAYS requires immediate veterinary attention.  Call the vet or emergency clinic in advance to notify them of the type of emergency so they can be prepared to act immediately upon your arrival.

If you’re going to be standing or walking on sand or hot pavement, remember that both of these mediums absorb the sun's rays and heat up quickly.  Although your dog's paw pads may feel calloused and thick, they are actually quite sensitive and can burn when they come in contact with hot sand, sidewalks and streets.  If the bottom of your feet feel the heat, then so do the pads on your dog's paws.

There is nothing more enjoyable than watching a Golden romp in the ocean or swim in a pool.   But remember that ocean water contains salt and pools contain chlorine which can be an irritant to their skin and eyes.  Allowed to dry, it will also damage their fur.  So after swimming rinse them off with tepid fresh water.  Be sure to get down to their skin.  Clean out their ears to prevent “swimmer's ear,” and brush their coat to prevent mats.  An excellent ear wash to use is Blue Power Ear Treatment. http://www.itsfortheanimals.com/BLUE.HTM.  DO NOT shave your Golden; their beautiful fur coats act as a barrier between their skin and the sun and helps prevent sunburn and skin cancer.  Be sure to have shade available and plenty of fresh cool water for them to drink at all times.

Try to exercise your dog in the early morning before temperatures rise for the day, or later in the evening when temperatures start to drop.  Be sensitive to overweight and senior dogs, or dogs with medical conditions such as mega esophagus, Cushing's or lung disease.  In extremely hot or humid weather, these pets should be kept indoors in air conditioning as much as possible. 

Following these simple warm weather tips will help ensure that your pets will enjoy a healthy and happy spring and summer.