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02 Aug 2018

Is Your Dog At Risk Of Getting Heat Stroke? Everything You Need To Know

Is Your Dog At Risk Of Getting Heat Stroke?

Everything You Need To Know

When Spring and Summer arrive, we look forward to heading outdoors with our furry companions to enjoy hiking, swimming, picnics, family vacations, and more. To keep dogs happy, healthy, and cool, pet parents should be aware of the potential risks warmer weather can bring. With proper knowledge of precautions, prevention, and treatment, pet parents can safely enjoy the warm seasons with their fur babies.

Heat Health Risks

Animals’ bodies work differently than ours, so even if it doesn’t feel hot to us pets can still be at risk for heat exhaustion and heat stroke. As the temperature climbs, pet parents must be extra diligent about keeping their dogs safe and cool.

Canine heat stroke symptoms and prevention

Before heading out to enjoy time in the sun, refer to our Summer Heat Risks infographic above to help determine the potential risk of outdoor situations for your dog. Of course, you know your dog better than anyone, so use common sense and your best judgment to avoid possibly dangerous situations.

Heat Stroke

Although we typically associate heat stroke with dogs who are left in vehicles, it can be experienced in any situation which leaves them vulnerable to overheating. Without an abundance of sweat glands to help regulate body temperature, dogs are more prone to heat stroke than humans. Whether playing in the backyard, going for a long walk, or enjoying a family vacation, it is important to closely monitor your dog’s behavior and symptoms to ensure they are cool and comfortable.

Also known as hyperthermia, heat stroke begins in both dogs when their temperature reaches 104°F and higher. While a dogs age, breed, weight, and medical history all play a part in their susceptibility to heat stroke, all dogs are at risk in warm, humid environments. Symptoms of heat stroke include:

Extreme panting and/or drooling
Bright red gums, tongue, ears, and skin
Thick, sticky saliva
Vomiting and/or diarrhea with or without blood
Unresponsiveness and/or lethargy
Rapid/irregular heart and respiratory rate
Decreased urination
Loss of consciousness

Heat Stroke Prevention

Luckily there are many preventative measures that pet parents can take during Spring and Summer to help keep their dogs safe. NEVER leave a dog in a parked vehicle. Try to limit outdoor play to cooler parts of the day (early morning and late evening) and beware of over exercising dogs on hot or humid days. Ensure dogs always have unlimited access to shade and fresh water. Access to A/C or fans is preferable whenever possible. If your dog loves the water, a little playtime with the garden hose or time swimming never hurts!

Heat Stroke First Aid

At the first sight of symptoms, get the dog out of the heat and into a cool, well-ventilated area. Using a rectal thermometer, take the dog’s temperature. Heat stroke begins at 104°F with potentially fatal damage beginning at 106°F. If the dog is overheated, pet parents should immediately begin cooling their pet off.

Lay the dog on a cool surface and, if possible, point a fan directly towards them. Apply towels soaked in water to their head, neck, belly, and feet or use a hose or bucket to gently apply the water. Regardless of which method is used, be sure the water is cool or tepid – not cold or ice-cold. NEVER submerge the dog completely in water, as this quick shift in temperature that can cause the animal to go into shock.

The goal is to assist your dog’s natural cooling system in a quick and efficient – but not extreme – way. Offer them small, frequent drinks of water, but do not force them to drink. Continue taking the temperature every 30-60 seconds, as it is very important to stop the cooling process once body temperature has reached 103°F. Once their temperature has reached normal levels, take your pet to the vet for additional treatment and monitoring.

Of course, always use your best judgment when it comes to emergency situations. If you don’t have access to the items needed to treat your pet or if they are already showing extreme signs of heat stroke (106°F or higher temperature, vomiting/diarrhea with bleeding, collapsing, unresponsive) travel immediately to the nearest emergency veterinary office, doing your best to keep the pet cool on the way.

Warm Weather Precautions

Heat stroke is not the only concern pet parents should have during Spring and Summer. To help keep dogs safe and comfortable, keep the following warm weather safety tips in mind:

Always closely monitor dogs while swimming.
Ask your vet if your dog would benefit from a Summer haircut, but NEVER shave your dog, as their multi-layered coats help protect them from sunburn and heat stroke.
Ask your vet if your dog would benefit from animal-approved sunscreen or insect repellent.
Keep hazardous foods and materials that are more common during warmer weather away from dogs.
Keep pets safe and indoors during Fourth of July celebrations. If your pet has firework anxiety, do not leave them alone.
If traveling with your pet, discuss your pet’s needs and create a plan of action with your vet.

Paw Protection

We would never walk barefoot on searing hot surfaces, so why would we expect our dogs to do so? Pet parents may be surprised to know that surfaces of all types – concrete, sand, asphalt, wood, and metal – can cause painful burns to dog paws, even on days that only moderately warm. For instance, asphalt temperature can exceed 140°F if the weather is 87°F. A good way to test the temperature of a surface is to place the back of your hand on it for 7 seconds. If it’s too hot for you to handle, it is too hot for your pet.

To avoid paw burns, walk your dog early in the day or late in the evening and keep their mid-day potty breaks limited to grassy or shaded areas. If you must walk during the hottest part of the day, utilize paw protection such as booties.

Pest Prevention

Pet parents should be on heightened awareness during warm weather months for parasites that thrive in higher temperatures. Check your pets regularly for fleas and ticks after outdoor activity and continue using your year-round flea, tick, and heartworm prevention. If pets are not on year-round heartworm prevention, they should be tested for heartworm in Spring or early Summer.

Pets & Cars

Before hopping in the car to travel to fun, seasonal events or embark on family vacations, pet parents should be aware that vehicles can be dangerous places for pets if the proper precautions aren’t taken.

When traveling in the car with your pets, always restrain them using a safety harness. Be sure they have access to water and monitor their behavior closely for signs of heatstroke. On long car rides, plan regular stops for potty breaks and walks to help reduce stress. If your pet has car anxiety discuss with your vet if there are supplements or medications that they might benefit from while traveling.

The golden rule regarding pets and cars is to NEVER leave pets unattended in parked vehicles. Even on days that are simply warm, temperatures can rise inside a car by nearly 20°F in just 10 minutes – even with windows cracked or air conditioning on. Serious illness, irreversible damage, and even death can result from a pet being left in a vehicle, so always make sure car trips with pets are planned accordingly to avoid leaving them alone.

Educated Pet Sitters

Spring and Summer months are a popular time for traveling. If you’re not bringing your pets with you on your family vacation, priceless peace of mind can be found by leaving your pets in the hands of trained, knowledgeable professionals who know how to provide top-of-the-line pet care.

In addition to being avid pet lovers, the Pet Gal’s sitters are trained in pet first aid and behavior. Whether simply providing daily dog walks while you’re at work or pet sitting services while you’re on a long vacation, our Pet Gals know the best practices for safe outdoor activity on hot days and are trained on the prevention and treatment of heat stroke and other warm weather-related incidents.

article by Pet Gal Kirstie and infographics by Pet Guy Dan.

20 Feb 2018

Top Industry Secrets That Set Your Puppy Up For Success

Top Secrets To Set Your Puppy Up For Success

Bringing a new puppy into the home is a time of joy, love, and excitement. It is also a foundational period during which the basis of a dog’s behavior, health, and relationship with its owner is established. To ensure the best for your little one, there are a few key do’s and don’ts when it comes to becoming a new pet parent.

secrets to puppy success


Spend Time With Your Puppy

The transition from litter to a new home can be a stressful time for young dogs. In addition to getting to know their new family, they are acclimating to entirely new surroundings and dealing with the separation from their littermates and mother.

Spend as much time as possible with your fur baby in the first week or two at home to help set a solid foundation for them. Setting up their space in the home, creating a reliable routine, and enjoying quality bonding time together are all helpful practices. The best part of scheduling extra time with your puppy? Ample cuddles and playtime!

Visit Your Vet

Most puppies are sent home to their new families when they reach 6 to 8 weeks of age. They are extremely susceptible to diseases at this time, as they have been weaned and the antibodies provided by their mother’s milk begins to wear off. It is best to schedule a vet appointment as soon as possible to ensure they receive necessary vaccinations. If your pet was weaned too early or was found without a mother, it is even more important that a vet be an active part of your puppy’s early life, as they could already be infected with harmful diseases.

It is also important for the vet to assess their overall health. If there are any chronic health problems present, it is ideal for pet parents to be made aware as early as possible.

Veterinary care is an integral part of a dog’s life. Setting up a good relationship between your puppy and their primary care vet will mean a long, happy life for you to spend together.

Begin Training Day 1

We all want a well-trained and well-behaved dog. The earlier training begins, the easier it will be to ensure your puppy grows up to be just that. For your puppy’s well-being – and your sanity – it is important to begin training immediately and consistently.

The Pet Gal believes in 100% positive reinforcement based training. We don’t support the use of balance training, or alternative collars such as shock, choke, or bark collars. With our professional experience, we know that positive reinforcement training is the best choice for all dogs, as it provides a positive incentive for good behavior and is a stress-free process which solidifies the bond between puppies and their humans.

Provide Structure

Set your puppy up for success by providing structure in their training and their schedule. Puppies learn best by routine. By establishing continuity with a schedule that is repeated each day they are better able to master things like potty training and good behavior.

One of the most important rules of thumb in maintaining structure in training is to make sure all members of the household know the training commands you’ve chosen. If the puppy’s command to stop jumping is, “OFF” then everyone who interacts with your puppy needs to be consistent with that term to prevent confusion.

The Pet Gal understands it can be hard to provide consistency in potty breaks, feeding, and training when you have a full-time job or other commitments. Our pet sitters are happy to help keep your puppy’s schedule on track with our in-home pet sitting services. For a typical work day, we recommend two 15-min pet sits – one visit mid-morning and the other during the afternoon to start. As your puppy grows more active, we suggest longer visits. We know the importance of structure, so our sitters communicate actively with you to ensure all your puppy’s training cues, feeding schedules, and daily routines are reinforced while you’re away.

Give Your Puppy Lots Of Love And Have Fun!

Creating a relationship with your new puppy is the best part of the process. Be sure to stay present and in the moment with your fur baby, because puppyhood doesn’t last long. While it can be stressful at times, be sure to savor the moments of sweet cuddles, affection, and playtime. Give lots of hugs and kisses, take plenty of photos, and give your puppy all the love it deserves.

puppy success secrets


Invite Too Many Guests Over

While it’s understandable to want your new puppy to meet all your friends and family, overstimulation can cause anxiety, upset routine, and interfere with training. Loud noises, crowds of people, and confusing training commands can make it difficult for your puppy to acclimate to its new home. In the beginning, introduce your puppy to new people in small doses and be sure that visitors know your training cues.

Punish Your Puppy

While the trials and tribulations of puppyhood can certainly test your patience, punishment is never the answer. Not only are punishments – spanking, yelling, hitting, rubbing a dog’s nose in their accidents, etc. – ineffective, they also generate distrust between owner and puppy.

A puppy needs to know that you are their safe place, their protector, and their family – someone they can trust in all situations. Positive reinforcement training solidifies this bond and is more effective in producing good habits.

Socailize Too Soon

While socialization with other dogs is an important part of the training process, ask your vet when they think the appropriate time for your puppy to begin interacting with other dogs is. Often this depends on the puppy’s age, health, and temperament. Your pet’s vaccination status is a deciding factor on when they can visit places such as dog parks, kennels, and pet stores. Once your puppy is approved for socialization, be sure all first-time interactions with other dogs is done gradually in controlled environments.

Travel Right Away

Schedule, structure, and security are paramount during the first months of a puppy’s acclimation to a new home. Leaving a puppy during this time can cause unease, stress, and throw a wrench in all the hard work you’ve put into training.

If you must leave during this time, the Pet Gal offers a variety of pet sitting services including visits ranging from 15 minutes to an hour, overnight stays, and in-home boarding to provide you with more flexibility during your puppy’s first few months.

Forget To Cherish Every Minute

With that sweet puppy breath and adorable eyes, it can be easy to forget that your tiny bundle of love will soon grow up into a full-sized dog. Allowing a golden retriever puppy to sit on you when it is lap-sized is one thing, but what about when it grows to be 60+ pounds? Chewing on things, pulling on the leash, and jumping on people are all behaviors that seem negligible – even cute – when a tiny pup does them. But before you accept it as commonplace, ask yourself if this is a behavior you want an adult dog doing. It is always easier to train a puppy with fresh behaviors than to train an older dog out of ingrained habits.

Pet Gal Kirstie.