Thursday, May 10, 2012

Lulu the beagle becomes a hot dog: Summer, your dog and health issues to watch for

It's Florida in May. It's hot. Very hot. But the other day I decided it'd be a good idea to take Lulu to the doggy park anyway. It'd been a while since she'd been out socializing since I've been busy with some personal changes, and she enjoys it.

A lot.

There weren't many dogs out, but she did meet some new dogs and got to run around a bit, but it wasn't long before I noticed she might have been getting hot.

Lulu rarely goes into the pool, and when she does she never stays for a long period. This time, however, she just walked around it, I guess trying to keep her feet cool. So I decided to take her home.

And in the car she panted like a fiend, even with the air conditioning on.

According to Pet WebMD (yes, there is such a thing), a symptom of heat stroke can be heavy, fast, and/or erratic panting. But she showed no other signs: no heavy drooling or frothing at the mouth, he tongue and gums looked fine, and she didn't feel hot to the touch. And eventually she cooled down. 

More and more people are taking their dogs to doggy parks, and in the summer that means looking for the signs that your dog may have a problem. VPI Pet recently put out a release on what dog owners should do to prevent your dog from having a heat problem at the dog park. Aside from watching for the signs and keeping the dog hydrated, you should also maybe not go to the park between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. (we went to the park around 3:30). This way the dog is out of the sun when it's at its highest point.

But heat exhaustion/stroke is not the only problem pet owners should be aware of at the dog park. VPI's list also includes:

  • Sprains and Soft Tissue Injuries
  • Lacerations and Bite Wounds
  • Kennel Cough/Upper Respiratory Infection
  • Insect Bites
  • Head Trauma
  • Parasites
  • Parvovirus
VPI compiled this list based on last year's dog park-related medical injuries. Sprains and soft tissue injuries are the most common -- the more the dog is outside, the more likely it can get hurt. All kinds of illnesses can come from insect bites, including lyme disease from ticks and heartworm issues from mosquitoes.

The best advice is to have an eye on your dog at all times when the dog is outdoors, and make sure to check the dog when you are finished being outside. 

Don't forget -- you can follow us on Twitter via our Life With Beagle account, or on Facebook, just like the page for "Lulu the Beagle."

FACTOID: What exactly are the DOG DAYS of SUMMER? According to Wikipedia:

"Dog Days" (Latin: diēs caniculārēs) are the hottest, most sultry days of summer. In the Northern Hemisphere, the dog days of summer are most commonly experienced in the months of July and August, which typically observe the warmest summer temperatures. In the Southern Hemisphere, they typically occur in January and February, in the midst of the austral summer. The name comes from the ancient belief that Sirius, also called the Dog Star, in close proximity to the sun was responsible for the hot weather.
So the "dog days" actually have nothing to do with an actual dog. Good to know.

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