This is an archived story; this page is not actively maintained. Some or all of the links within or related to this story may no longer work.
For the latest University of Minnesota news, visit Discover.
Summer health tips for dog
Published on June 4, 2005
The University of Minnesota Veterinary Medical Center wants you and your dog to be prepared this summer. Humans aren't the only species that can suffer from the hot and humid summer climate. The Veterinary Medical Center has served Minnesotans for more than 50 years and is one of the busiest veterinary hospitals in the nation. Here are some reminders that will help your dog stay healthy and comfortable during the summer months. Beware of summer heat As the temperature climbs outside, it's important to monitor your dog to prevent overheating. At temperatures of 85 degrees F, given specific humidity levels, even short exposures can be considered dangerous and result in injury or death. Common signs of a heat stroke include:
- Rapid breathing and increased heart rate
- Discolored gums--dogs experiencing heat stroke will have dull gray or pink gums instead of the red-pink color that normally exists
- Disorientation--dogs may not be aware of their environment
- Refusal to obey commands
- Wild or panicked expression
In the event of a heat stroke, seek veterinary medical attention immediately. Help to lower your dog's body temperature by placing it in the shade with plenty of ventilation and applying cool water to the hairless area on its stomach and the pads of its paws. To prevent heat stroke do the following:
- Do not leave a dog in a locked car. Temperatures inside cars climb quickly and heat buildup inside a vehicle only takes minutes, especially if the car is parked in direct sunlight. Leaving windows open does not adequately help to lower the temperature.
- Avoid running with dogs during the day. Do it in the early morning or at night. If the dog is not accustomed to running, start slow and exercise for a few minutes and stop frequently for breaks and water.
- Be mindful of dogs with dark fur or dogs with flat faces, such as Pugs or Bulldogs. They overheat quickly and are at higher risk for heat stroke than other dogs.
- Never let a dog go without water. It is essential to hydrate your dog to keep its body temperature at a safe level.
- If a dog is left outside, avoid tethering to a fence or tree. Dogs often tangle their chains, are unable to free themselves, and find themselves stuck in direct sunlight. Place animals in enclosed areas that provide adequate shade and a shelter. This will help the dog stay cool in the hot summer sun.
Watch out for moldy food Dogs allowed to roam may get into compost piles or trash cans and ingest tremorgenic mycotoxins, which are toxins sometimes found in moldy food. These toxins produce varying degrees of muscle tremors or seizures that can last for hours, even days. Some dogs experience seizures so severe they result in high temperature and death. If you suspect your pet ingested moldy food, contact your veterinarian immediately for treatment. Check the dog's paws A healthy dog's pads should be rough and feel like fine sandpaper. Running or walking with a dog on hot pavement may burn its pads. As a general rule, if the sidewalk is too hot for you to walk barefoot on, it is too hot for your dog. Monitor the distance you travel while running, rollerblading, or biking with a dog; the distance may be okay for you, but is often too far for your pet. Allow your dog to take breaks while exercising and check its pads regularly for sores, cracks, or burns. Prevent fleas and ticks Fleas can cause medical problems in pets including flea allergy dermatitis, tapeworms, hair loss due to scratching, and secondary skin irritations. Ticks can transmit diseases; the most common are Lyme disease and Ehrlichiosis. Prevent fleas and ticks by treating your pet with a topical liquid flea and tick preventative. Ask your veterinarian which treatment is most appropriate for your pet. Seek a board-certified dermatologist for other skin aliments. Harmful summer foods Do not feed dogs corn cobs. Dogs cannot digest corn cobs and they will often need to be surgically removed from their stomach. Raisins and grapes ingested in large quantities can cause kidney failure in dogs. If you think your dog has ingested these foods, contact your veterinarian immediately. Water safety Do not allow your dog to drink from stagnant ponds. Bacteria and some forms of algae in ponds can make your pet sick. Make sure your pet has access to clean drinking water. Protect your dog from drowning by never leaving it unsupervised around a swimming pool. The best way to keep pets safe around a backyard pool is to fence off the pool from the rest of the yard. If you have an emergency The University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine offers emergency services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and is available to assist your pets during any unforeseen emergencies if your veterinarian is unavailable. You can reach the Veterinary Medical Center at (612) 625-9711 if you have any questions or emergencies.