By Susan Spisak
It’s time for outings, vacations, BBQs, and festivals! Many of us take our dogs along or just spend more time with them outdoors. Be aware of important safety issues to not only have their proverbial backs but give us peace of mind.
Make sure your pet’s treated monthly for fleas and ticks. Fleas are blood sucking parasites that can transmit germs and infest your home. (Check with your vet on best remedy if your pet contracts.) Ticks carry many diseases including Lyme and often surge once temps rise. If you’ve spent time outdoors, check him (and yourself) for ticks. If you spot one, carefully use tweezers or a tick spoon/key to remove it (including the head)from the skin.(Know that there is a brand that takes care of heartworm, flea and tick preventatives in a single monthly chew. Most vets will sell a monthly dose for the budget minded.)
July is National Pet Hydration Awareness Month. Many of us are conscientious about drinking fluids and keep a large bottle filled for quick drinks. Our pets deserve the same and rely on us to continually fill their bowls to keep their bodies hydrated. (Ever watch them gulp down an entire bowl of the good stuff after a brisk walk?) And don’t neglect to bring along plenty of H2O when out and about to prevent his fatigue and overheating.
Speaking of overheating, another related concern is heatstroke, which can be deadly. When a dog’s internal body temperature is above 105 Fahrenheit (F), he may be suffering from heatstroke. Signs of heatstroke include heavy panting, weakness, rapid breathing, vomiting, dry or pale gums, and drooling. Rinse or bathe him with cool water, apply a cold pack to his head, and call your vet immediately.
Heatstroke can be caused in many ways. The deadliest, and easiest to avoid, is my #1 car rule—never leave him in the car, even with the windows down. It takes only minutes in a vehicle on a warm day for suffocation or heatstroke to occur. Even when temps are only in the 60’s, vehicles can reach the danger zone.
The temperature of pavement, sand, or paths heat quickly and can raise the internal temperature. Remember to kick off your shoes to gauge the ground temp. I neglected to check the path on a hot summer day and one of our dogs sat and refused to budge (he gave me a dirty look, too). We moved to a grass path, and we were able to motor on.
To exercise his legs, take walks during cooler daytime or evening hours. Only allow him outside for short periods, and make sure he has access to a shaded area. If your yard doesn’t have a cool, sunless spot, consider purchasing a large umbrella or hang a fabric shade sail between wood posts. And if you’re having a BBQ and he’s on the guest list, make sure well-meaning friends don’t sneak him foods and treats that could choke, like corn on the cob.
To prevent needless pain, apply non-toxic, waterproof sunblock. He can sunburn, too, especially if he’s groomed with a “puppy cut.” (Banx is sporting one now to keep him cooler, so he definitely needs sunscreen.) Breeds with fair skin, and short or thin fur have an increased risk. There are sun shirts that will protect his skin, and if he likes to wear a visor and goggles, great. If he does burn, give him an oatmeal bath for relief and check in with your vet right away.
National Lost Pet Prevention is observed this month. Frightening fireworks are a big reason pets run off. Our vet recommended the anxiety vest, ThunderShirt®, for one of ours. The vet suggested using it in conjunction with children’s cherry Benadryl to calm. (Always check the label to make sure it does NOT contain xylitol or alcohol!) We’re aware of area firework nights, so we get home prior to them, turn up the TV, and shut the curtains. For other tips on pet prevention and safe spaces, see page 7.
If you and your canine enjoy boating or kayaking, life jackets should be the norm. If he likes to swim, allow in shallower water, always with that vest on. Don’t let him drink ocean or lake water; the salt in the former can cause dehydration, and the latter may have germs and Cyanobacteria.
Cyanobacteria, blue-green algae, are in a few of Maine’s lakes and ponds. Their dense growths can result in algal blooms, especially during warm weather. They may turn the water green, blue-green or brownish-green, and are technically bacteria. Avoid this green discolored water because these toxins cause liver and nerve damage, gastrointestinal symptoms, and skin irritations. Know the pond/lakes with risk levels and avoid for you and your pet’s safety: maine.gov/dep/water/lakes/bloomriskmap.html.
Other hazards to be on the alert for are skunks and porcupines, whether in your yard or on hikes. Some curious canines chase and catch porcupines, or if they’re attacked in retaliation the quills can become embedded in the pet’s skin. This means a vet trip immediately. Skunks are a smelly nuisance. If one sprays your dog and you’ve checked for injuries, scratches, or bites (skunks carry rabies), there is a three-ingredient dish soap remedy that may eliminate the smell per Don Hanson’s Green Acres Kennel Shop blog. (Get the recipe at blog.greenacreskennel.com/2015/05/05/help-my-dogs-been-skunked-phew/.)
Save the Dates
3rd annual Bark + Brew in the Barn is on Saturday, July 8th, from 6:00 pm to 10:00 pm at Harmony Hill Farm in Warren. This benefits the Pope Memorial Humane Society. The 21+ event with live music, food trucks, and more, is billed to be the party of the summer. popehumane.org/events/3rd-annual-bark-brew-in-the-barn/.
Attend SPCA of Hancock County’s Wine & Whiskers at the beautiful Bar Harbor Club on Tuesday, July 18th at 5:30 pm. Delicious food, a cash bar, live music, and auctions. For ticket info and details, spcahancockcounty.org/events/wine-and-whiskers/.
The Animal Welfare Society is hosting their annual Woofstock on July 29th, from 11 am to 3 pm. The free, family and dog-friendly festival is held on their grounds at 46 Holland Road in Kennebunk. There will be live music, beer, food, and plenty of fun. animalwelfaresociety.org/news-events/woofstock/
Head to Bark in the Park at the Portland Sea Dogs baseball game, Wednesday, July 19th at 6:00 pm. Expect a pregame doggie parade, special seating area, and use of a private entrance (gates open at 4:30 PM). There are more dates throughout the summer. To see them and all the outing details, go to milb.com/portland/events/bark-in-the-park.