An interesting e-mail showed up this week from Connie, in Salt Lake City. Connie wrote "...to let you know that after following this blog for several months, I feel like I've been able to spend a day with my veterinarian each time I read a new issue. I've imagined that a day with my vet would allow us to cover a lot of topics, from my dog's problems to what's going on with pets in general." Connie has allowed her e-mail to be published...thanks, Connie, for your kind words! Helpful Buckeye may need to consider changing the name of this blog site from Questions On Dogs and Cats to "A Day With Your Veterinarian." As usual, any comments are welcome at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Today, 24 May, a famous song-writer/singer is celebrating his 68th birthday. Listen to Olivia Newton-John's popular version of one of his songs, If Not For You, from the early 1970s: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gX1hPTdZRho Even though this is really a love song, Helpful Buckeye will take a little literary license and say that, "if not for you" (all of our readers), this blog would not have enjoyed the success it has through our first year. Thanks a bunch!!!
Unfortunately, hot weather can present some problems for your pets that you need to be aware of...ahead of time. Most mammals can keep their body temperature pretty well under control until confronted with extremes in their surrounding temperature. The main way of eliminating excess heat is by way of thousands of sweat glands distributed all over the body. When these sweat glands are called upon to perform, they produce small quantities of water on the skin, which then evaporate. During this evaporation process, small quantities of heat from the body are carried away by the disappearing water, resulting in a stable body temperature. Rates of evaporation will be directly proportional to the surrounding humidity...in low humidity, evaporation occurs quicker; in high humidity, evaporation takes longer (which then slows down the natural cooling process). However, dogs have been short-changed in the sweat gland department...their sweat glands are only found on their nose and in the pads of their feet. Dogs can compensate, up to a point, for this shortage in sweat glands by panting. Panting involves the repetitive passage of air back-and-forth over the tongue, which also helps to eliminate some excess body heat. An important consideration right here would the short-faced dogs (known as brachycephalics), such as Pugs, Bulldogs, Boxers, etc...the much shortened muzzle provides a lot less area for respiratory evaporation to occur.
Now that we are getting into our summer activities, we frequently include our dogs in our plans...picnics in the park (throw on an extra hot dog for the Helpful Buckeye!), hiking, traveling, and just plain taking it easy in the back yard. As the temperature and the humidity increase, your dog will be come less efficient at cooling itself when engaged in activity or spending prolonged periods in the sun. It doesn't take very long in the sun or very much activity to start elevating a dog's body temperature, which is normally about 101 degrees F. As the body temperature starts to climb, your dog will show:
- labored breathing,
- probably more vigorous panting,
- extreme drying of the tongue,
- walking erratically,
- and a desire to lay flat-down.
When the body temperature reaches 105 degrees, your dog will most likely collapse and might lose consciousness. Survival at this point becomes questionable and, by the time the body temperature gets to 108-110 degrees, massive organ failure takes place and survival is even less likely. Your dog is now experiencing heat exhaustion...what do you do?
OK, it's time to take one step back from this scenario and talk briefly about one of the variables in the equation of keeping your pet healthy. As the keeper and care-giver of your pet, you are the one who sees your pet in all of its moods, ups and downs, and behavior patterns. In other words, you know how your pet appears when it is "acting normal," right? Veterinarians and physicians spent their early years in school learning what "normal" looked like...it really helps when trying to identify an "abnormal" situation. Remember this piece of advice...you will hear it again and again from Helpful Buckeye...Become familiar with your pet!
You now are confronted with what appears to be a dog that is vigorously panting, its tongue is very dry, breathing patterns are labored, and it doesn't want to move. You know this isn't normal, right? Considering what has been going on preceding this, your conclusion can now be...probable heat exhaustion. Your first step is to immediately cease whatever activity has been going on; move the dog to a cooler, shady location, encourage the dog to drink some water. Cooling your dog's whole body with cool water (pour it on, from a hose, or submersion into a pool) will increase the removal of body heat as the water evaporates. Also, putting your dog in front of a blowing fan will aid in this evaporation. This may be all it takes to return your dog to "normal." In more severe cases, you might need to apply ice packs to the head and neck region to achieve a response. Since all of this occurs in a very short period of time (usually just minutes), you need to try all of these suggestions right away...do NOT waste this valuable time by trying to get your dog to your veterinarian. Once these measures have quieted the dog, it is breathing more regularly, and acting more normally, then a visit to your veterinarian is advisable. Then, it can be determined if any organ damage has occurred and treatment can be initiated.
By now, I'm sure your big question is this: "How can I prevent this from happening?" Well, the good news is that the prevention is probably a lot easier than the treatment!
- Avoid any running or excessive exercise on hot, humid days.
- When your dog is outside, be sure it has plenty of water and easily accessible shade.
- If your dog is not short-haired, keep the hair well-brushed to avoid matting.
- Especially be careful with the short-faced breeds.
- Don't EVER leave your pet in a closed vehicle...extreme temperatures are reached in minutes, even with the windows cracked open.
A product that we first described last year has proven to be very helpful in dealing with over-heating in your pets. The Cool 'N Dry Pet Shammy works like this: When applied wet to your pet's body, it helps to remove built-up body heat by the evaporation principle mentioned above. It can also be used to dry your pet nicely after a both. To learn more about this product, go to: http://www.super-cool-products.com/automarinepet/petcareproducts.html Helpful Buckeye even carries one of these damp Cool 'N Drys on all bike rides to help with sweat. Look at these photos of some dogs being cooled with the "Shammy" and perhaps you'll feel the benefit of getting one for your dog:
If any of you have a story of heat exhaustion and one of your pets to share with us, please send an e-mail or comment describing the incident. Actual accounts of problems can be very instructive for everyone. As Helpful Buckeye reminded everyone last summer, the only "hot" dogs we want to hear about are these:
Some of you might be planning a summer trip that will include one or all of your pets. If so, you will have many considerations facing you, including the mode of transportation. Believe it or not, there is now an air transportation company that carries ONLY pets, NOT people! Pet Airways offers this promise:
We promise to transport your pet with lots of love, care, safety, and comfort in the main cabin.
Pet Airways is the first airline exclusively dedicated to pets - no humans please - and we take the job of providing a comfortable experience for pets very seriously. We'll do everything in our power to make sure your pets get the best care during their journey because we're committed to taking care of our pet "pawsengers" as if they were our own.
Read more about this unique service at their web site: http://petairways.com/ There are several sites for further information on their home page and I found it interesting even though I have no need for the service at this time.
Most of the regular-scheduled commercial airline companies still offer pet transportation as well. Your best bet for information on that would be to contact the company directly, as well as your veterinarian so that you will be certain of necessary precautions well ahead of time.
Traveling with a pet can, and should be, a positive experience for the whole family. Who can forget the Griswold family, in National Lampoon's Vacation, as they vacationed across America. At a rest stop, Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) ties the family dog, Dinky, to the rear bumper of the car...forgets that he has done so, drives away, and you can guess the rest. At this point, you should take a moment to reflect and watch the animated video of the theme song, Holiday Road, from the movie, as sung by Lindsay Buckingham:
If your pets will be traveling with you, check out pet-friendly lodging, RV parks, campgrounds, national parks, and outdoor restaurants at the following web sites:
These web sites have numerous categories of interest to choose from as you plan your stops along the road.
Don't forget to pack enough water for your pet and a drinking bowl. Travel induced panting, excitement, and anxiety can lead to evaporation of body fluid and then to dehydration. You might want to consider packing a few of the Cool 'N Dry Shammy products, from: http://www.super-cool-products.com/automarinepet/petcareproducts.html , to help with the cooling-off process on those hot afternoons heading into the sun. The humans on-board will also really appreciate the cooling effect of the Sammy Cool 'N Dry Towel, available at the same web site.
Remember to have with you all of your pet's proof of vaccinations and any pertinent medical history, especially if an ongoing treatment is involved. And, as Clark Griswold found out, be very careful at rest stops and any areas that might be unfamiliar to your pet...always have them on a leash (but not tied to the bumper!)...a pet running loose in an unfamiliar area is likely to become a lost pet!
Wherever you are traveling this summer with your pet, it can be a positive experience for all involved, but especially if you've done your homework ahead of time. Helpful Buckeye wishes you safe travels, with or without your pet, this summer. If any of you are traveling with your pet, share with us the story of your travels...I'm sure all our readers would enjoy hearing about your travel experiences. To help you get into a travel mood, enjoy this video of the Nat King Cole version of Get Your Kicks (On Rt. 66): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kbQXalTGu-8 ...the pictures of the old buildings along old Rt. 66 are pretty interesting!
1) A few weeks ago, Questions On Dogs and Cats discussed the problem of thunderstorms and your pets. As it turns out, even police dogs can be affected by thunderstorms. Read this interesting account of a police dog that went "missing" during a recent thunderstorm in Chicago: http://www.azdailysun.com/articles/2009/05/18/news/national/20090518_us_ne_196546.txt
2) For a little light entertainment this holiday weekend, enjoy these pets as they are caught in some funny poses: http://www.evtv1.com/player.aspx?itemnum=13733
3) Most of our regular readers will recall the news stories on the "ugliest dog in the world" contests that are held each summer. Here is an interview with one of the winner's owners: http://www.evtv1.com/player.aspx?itemnum=980 Almost all of these recent winners have been Chinese Cresteds...do any of you see a Chinese Crested in your future?
4) OK, the birthday guy is Robert Zimmerman...better known as Bob Dylan. Like him or not, he has written a slew of songs and your favorite singer has most likely sung a few of them.
The Los Angeles Dodgers continue to have the best record in baseball. Our first inter-league series was this weekend against the LA Angels, who have always acted like the "poor sisters" of Los Angeles. They have beaten us more than we have beaten them...and, this series was no different. The Angels took 2 of the 3 games, courtesy of our bullpen weakness.
The Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers visited President Obama at the White House this week...Helpful Buckeye would like for this to be a more regular occasion!
Elsa Maxwell (1883-1963) U.S. writer and hostess said this, "Someone said that life is a party. You join in after it's started and leave before it's finished." If reading Questions On Dogs and Cats is your idea of having fun, then you are welcome to join in and leave at your desire...all we ask is that you do show up each week!
~~The goal of this blog is to provide general information and advice to help you be a better pet owner and to have a more rewarding relationship with your pet. This blog does not intend to replace the professional one-on-one care your pet receives from a practicing veterinarian. When in doubt about your pet's health, always visit a veterinarian.~~