Summer means warmer weather and more opportunities for people and pets to engage in outdoor activities. Unfortunately, the potential for trauma and illness from being outdoors also increases significantly.
As part of FlexPet’s dedication to pet safety on a year round basis, we move onto the next topic in the Summertime Safety Series. Let’s make ourselves more aware of the outdoor settings and activities that harbor potential life threatening trauma for our pets.
Plants, trees and flowers in bloom all attract pollen harvesting bees and other insects. Your curious canine or feline may unknowingly encounter a venomous insect buzzing around a flower’s blossom while exploring the environment or sniffing a preferred location to urinate.
Insect bites and bee stings can be embedded in any body part, but are most commonly seen in pets’ paws, legs, face and tongue. Mild or severe hypersensitivity (allergic) reactions can occur from the bee sting venom. Severe reactions can be potentially life threatening and require prompt attention.
Clinical signs of a hypersensitive reaction occur within minutes and include, but are not limited to:
- Hives (medical term = urticaria)
- Redness (erythema)
- Swelling (angioedema)
- Pain to the touch
- Stumbling (ataxia)
- Vomiting (emesis)
- Pale pink or white gums
Confirmed or suspected bee stings need treatment on an emergency basis, as you cannot predict if your pet will have a mild or severe reaction. En route to the veterinary hospital, administering an antihistamine can help combat the histamine releasing effects of insect venom. Diphenhydramine Hydrochloride (Benadryl) can be given by mouth at a dose of 1-2 mg per pound of body weight. Carry adult (25mg) or children’s (12.5mg) Benadryl with you during summertime outings in preparation to treat your pet on an as-needed basis.
No owner wants to see their companion with swollen lips reminiscent of one of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, so be extra vigilant about keeping your pet out of environments where bees and other insects congregate.
As a southern Californian, I’m well aware that the canyons that my dog (Cardiff) and I hike, harbor deadly rattlesnakes capable of inflicting a lethal bite with their poison filled fangs. Having treated rattlesnake bites in my veterinary practice, I’ve seen the severe pain experienced by my unfortunate patients. Treatment is always an emergency and requires days of hospitalization, IV fluids and medications (anti-toxin, antibiotics, pain medication, etc). The extensive nature of the critical care required to stabilize snake bite patients is expensive and can be a limiting factor in a pet’s recovery.
Fortunately, you can increase your dog’s likelihood of surviving a rattlesnake bite by providing a Crotalus Atrox Toxoid (CAT) vaccination. CATs help to decrease tissue injury, reduce swelling and lessen the adverse effects on multiple body systems (immune, blood clotting, kidneys, liver, etc) associated with snake venom.
Although the vaccination can help save your pet’s life, prevention is still the best medicine. Always keep your pet on a leash, under close observation, and on the trail.
Warmer days motivate owners to get their canine companions out and about more frequently for exercise and socialization. Dog parks are a prime place for both, yet they are also a site where injury can occur and are ‘hot zones’ for illness (parasites, etc). Behaviors exhibited at the dog park often vastly differ from how a pooch typically behaves at home. When permitted to run off leash with their other four legged counterparts, canine pack mentality often takes over and undesirable behaviors can emerge.
When given the opportunity to independently socialize in a dog park setting, fights occur and wounds are inflicted. Keep your dog on a leash or closely monitor if allowed to roam free. Carry your dog’s favorite squeaky toy, food treat or other attention getting device to create a distraction from a situation or circumstance that could otherwise inflict trauma.
Hit By Car
Longer days associated with the warmer months create many opportunities for pets to be out and about late into the twilight hours. More frequently entering or exiting one’s home or vehicle creates the opportunity for a pet to escape, thereby increasing the potential for injury to occur due to lack of human restraint or observation. Although nearly anything can happen to a ‘free dog’, being hit by a car is one of the most potentially devastating traumatic incidents.
The hours of dawn and dusk are when many owners take a pooch out for a walk, run or trip to the park. In my experience working emergency clinical practice, looming darkness creates a ‘witching hour’ when car hit cases pour into the hospital in multiples.
Since this trauma can occur at anytime of the day, it’s vital that pet owners always use proper restraint when taking a dog for any trip outside of the home.
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Copyright of this article (2012) is owned by Dr Patrick Mahaney, Veterinarian and Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist. Republishing any portion of this article must first be authorized by Dr Patrick Mahaney. Requests for republishing must be approved by Dr Patrick Mahaney and received in written format.