The Big Boom!

4th of July always brings some events to my mind. Family picnics and barbeques, hot weather, loud noises and lost dogs. All of these could involve a veterinary visit.

Hot weather and family picnics can have devastating consequences. Large dogs, short nosed dogs and very heavy dogs cannot handle hot or humid weather, but any dog or cat can get overheated with a little exercise, high humidity and sunshine. Keep an eye on your pet when they are outdoors. Watch for excessive panting, incoordination, and collapse. During hyperthermia (heat stroke) episodes the internal temperature of your pet can go up so high that the thermometer tops out. 107 degrees F is not uncommon, and if that temperature persists for any length of time there will be organ and brain damage. If you see these signs, it is an emergency. Call the veterinary clinic. Be prepared for your pet to receive major treatment in an effort to save their life.

Picnic and barbeque food can cause many of the same problems for pets as they can for humans. If food is left out and becomes spoiled, your pet can become dramatically ill, vomiting, diarrhea, blood in the vomitus and diarrhea, dehydration, and, occasionally, pancreatitis. Let us just feed our pets a good quality, fresh pet food and plenty of cool, clean water throughout the summer season. Clean the pet bowls so that the food and water stay wholesome and without mold or bacterial contamination. This is the best way to maintain the healthy digestive tract in hot weather. Pay attention to your pet’s gut health by the most basic method, go and look at their stools.

Bouncing back to the hot weather and exercise issue, now include loud noises. Firecrackers and beautiful "nightworks" create loud, sudden, percussive noise. Many dogs become extremely anxious and panicked. Dogs that are panicked may break out and run. This can cause hyperthermia. The anxiety alone, causing trembling, can contribute to overheating. Worse yet, a pet that is panicked will lose their way and may not be able to find their way home. As a responsible owner, we need address the anxiety first and then follow up by making sure our pets are properly identified. We can attend to our pet’s fear by giving them a safe, quiet and dark place to hide. A quiet, cool bedroom or bathroom (an interior room), with drapes drawn and door closed may be all you need to do. Sometimes putting a t-shirt (dog or cats sized) with your scent on it may add another layer of comfort. Products like Adaptil, a dog appeasing pheromone scent, may help calm your dog by scent-treating the area around them, and, of course, your veterinarian can consult and offer prescription medications like anti-anxiety medications, sedatives and specific noise-phobia medications can help your pet handle the excitement. You may know that your pet has a noise phobia by their behavior when hunting, during thunderstorms, or previous Independence Day celebrations. This seldom improves with time. Intervention is probably necessary.

But, if the worst happens and your pet disappears, make sure that they can be returned to you by providing identification that is current and easy to see. A collar and tag with up-to-date information is excellent. Anyone can read the tag. If the tag references a veterinary practice, you should call the office and make sure that they have your current address and phone number. If your pet is micro-chipped, make certain that the microchip is registered in as many registries as you can, several are free, and make sure that the registries have your latest phone numbers and address. Veterinary clinics find that clients, in the hubbub of moving or changing phones or numbers, forget to update their information with us. Help us help your pet by keeping your information current.

July 4th is exciting and fun for most of us but can be traumatic for many pets. As an owner, plan ahead and have a wonderful summer holiday.

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