June 2024


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Monday, June 24, 2024

Summer Time: Canine Hazards

BR 03.12 Xylitol Ing by DC

By Crystal Connor, DVM

Emergency Veterinarian

Who has heard the unproven statistic that Colorado has around 300 days of sunshine per year? Regardless of its validity, Colorado is an amazing, beautiful state that has a lot to offer when it comes to enjoying the great outdoors and sunshine with our canine companions.

As an emergency veterinarian I see a variety of injuries affecting dogs throughout the summer and I feel this is a great opportunity to recall some of the canine hazards of summer. The purpose here is not to scare you from venturing outdoors or to not include your furry ones in backyard festivities, but to remind you of what lurks outside so you can keep your companion(s) as safe as possible.  

Heat Related Injuries-

The temperatures throughout the summer days can reach sweltering numbers. It is important to remember dogs do not sweat like humans do to cool themselves; their only means of cooling is panting which is only so effective. Consequently, all dogs are at an increased risk of overheating and suffering from heat stroke or heat-related illness. This can result from being left in a car even if only for a minute or two, or exercising outside during the hottest parts of the day. Signs of overheating in dogs can include excessive panting, weakness, collapse, vomiting, or diarrhea. A dog with a suspected heat-related illness should be evaluated immediately by a veterinarian.

Hit-By-Car Injuries-

Just like with people, these injuries can vary in severity resulting in the need for limited medical treatment all the way to life-threatening injuries, which require intensive care in the hospital for multiple days. Regardless of how alert/responsive your pet is after getting hit by a car, they should be brought to the nearest veterinarian for immediate evaluation.

Dog Bite Wounds-

Dog parks, neighborhood walks, or hiking trails are all locations dog bite injuries can occur. These injuries can also vary in severity and may appear minor but should be immediately evaluated by a veterinarian because even small puncture wounds can result in major internal trauma. Treatment required will depend on the severity and location of the wound(s). Standard care for these wounds requires cleaning, antibiotic, and pain medications.

Rattlesnake Bites –

The hot summer months are the most common months we tend to see rattlesnake bites occur. The common hot spots for rattlesnakes along the Front Range are below 9,000 feet in the foothills and grasslands. Your dog should be immediately taken to the nearest veterinary hospital for evaluation and treatment should he/she sustain a rattlesnake bite during their outdoor excursions.

Paw and Limb Lacerations-

As an emergency veterinarian this is a common injury I see this time of year. I believe metal lawn edging found in most landscaped yards is the culprit a majority of the time, but obviously these injuries can occur anywhere outdoors. The sharp metal edging can cause skin lacerations to lower limbs and paws. It can also result in deep lacerations resulting in trauma to the tendons of the affected limb. These lacerations commonly result in large scale bleeding. We recommend placing a temporary pressure bandage over the affected area (avoiding the use of duct tape or a tourniquet) and bringing your pet in right away for care.

Insect Bites and Allergic Reactions –

Common offenders are bees, wasps, ants, and spiders. Mild symptoms of an allergic reaction can include swelling around the eyes, muzzle, face, and/or hives over any part of the body. More severe symptoms include trouble breathing, vomiting, and/or diarrhea, weakness or collapse. If you notice any of these symptoms, your pet should be evaluated by a veterinarian.

Corn On The Cob –

You may ask, how is this a summer hazard? Some of the worst gastrointestinal obstructions we see as veterinarians are the result of corncob ingestion. It is highly advised keeping all corncobs away from your pets and throwing them out in trash where they will not have access to, ever!

Take home message: have fun outdoors this summer and be aware of the hazards so the adventures with your four-legged family member are pursued as safely as possible.

Dr. Crystal Connor is an Emergency Veterinarian at Aspen Meadow Veterinary Specialists. AMVS is a 24-hour veterinary facility providing specialty internal medicine, orthopedic surgery, oncology, emergency, critical care, and pain management. They are located in Longmont at 104 S. Main St. For more information, go to www.AspenMeadowVet.com.

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