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Four Key Ways to Boat Safely With Pets

Rhodesian ridgeback wearing a sailor outfit and a life preserverSummer is definitely the time to take the boat out and head for the lake. Whether it’s a day trip or longer, if you plan to boat safely with pets, there are some things you need to do first to ensure their safety and comfort.

1/ Plan, Plan, Plan! You’ll need to pack all the basics for your pet. Puppy pads for potty breaks, toys, treats and food, a water bowl, any medications they might need, and health records in case of an emergency, especially if your trip is an extended one. If you haven’t chipped your pet, now is a great time to do it. 

2/ Invest in a Doggy Life Jacket. State law requires a life jacket for everyone on board a vessel. While it doesn’t specifically mention dogs, your pet is a member of your family, so why wouldn’t you protect them, too? It’s tempting to just order a life vest online to save time and money. Problem is – dogs come in so many shapes, weights and sizes, you’d be better served by making a trip to a sporting good or pet store to test it out for size and fit. Make the trip – it’ll save you lots of hassle in the long run, and it might even save your pet’s life! Introduce them to wearing the life vest before you go on the boat – trust us on this one.

3/ Make a Test Run. Not all dogs are going to be comfortable on a boat, so it’s wise to keep the first outing a short one.  Allow your dog to get acclimated on the boat BEFORE you head for water, or while you are still docked. Once you’re on the water, watch your dog carefully for signs of sea/motion sickness. Symptoms of motion sickness include: 

  • Inactivity
  • Listlessness
  • Uneasiness
  • Yawning or panting
  • Whining
  • Excessive drooling
  • Vomiting (even on an empty stomach)

4/ The Heat is a Hazard! Be sure your pet has access to shade on the boat and plenty of clean, fresh water. Dogs are more prone to heatstroke and will need to stay hydrated, so know the signs. More information on heat stroke in pets.

Monsoon Pet Menace: Sonoran Toad Poisoning

Sonoran Toad, Colorado ToadWe’re just about to come into monsoon season, so it’s time for our annual reminder about the biggest monsoon related hazard for pets: the Sonoran or Colorado Toad. During the hot and humid summer monsoon season, toads will emerge in yards and the desert, eventually ending up in pools and other areas your pet may be. They are TOXIC to pets!

Watch your pet’s behavior outdoors: Dogs and cats will be fascinated by toads and their movements, and will think it’s a great game to try to catch them in their mouths. Don’t let them!

Toads will also seek out water, so your pet’s water bowl is a perfect target. Be careful of where you place water outdoors. If your dog or cat comes in contact with a toxic toad, you’ll need to get to the vet, stat!

These symptoms of toad poisoning will be observable almost immediately:

  • Severe drooling
  • Head shaking
  • Pawing at the mouth or eyes
  • Muddy red mucous membranes
  • Hyperthermia (overheating)
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Vomiting of yellow fluid
  • Diarrhea
  • Dilated pupils, loss of coordination,
  • Vocalization, seizures, collapse, and death

ALERT!!! Toad poisoning is a life-threatening medical emergency. If you know or suspect your pet has been exposed to a toad, rinse your pet’s mouth out immediately, using a constant stream of water from a faucet or hose (if at all possible). Call your veterinarian, the closest emergency animal hospital, and/or the Pet Poison Helpline at 855-764-7661.

Summer Safety Tips for Pets

It’s the time of year when heat can be extremely dangerous for everyone, especially pets. Here are some quick tips to help keep your pets safe and healthy this summer.

Beware of Swimming Pools: The temptation of sparkling water can be deadly for children and animals, so it’s always critical to keep a close eye on everyone around water. Make sure to pool-proof your pets by teaching them how to swim to the stairs or find the edge. Childproof fencing is a must if you have small children, but can also help keep pets safer, too.

Protect the Paws: If you can’t stand on the sidewalk comfortably in bare feet, then neither can your pet! During summer months, take walks early in the morning when it’s cooler, or later in the evening after the cement has had time to cool down. There are also wonderful protective pet shoe options for pets of all sizes. While pets will need to adjust to the strange sensation of not only wearing shoes, but also walking in them, they can help prevent severe burns on tender paws and pads that will require veterinary care.

Remember the Sunscreen: Even pets can get sunburned or develop skin cancer, so it’s important to take some precautions. Breeds like Boxers, Bull Terriers, German Shorthaired Pointers, Pit Bulls and Staffordshire Terriers are very vulnerable to sunburn and possible skin cancers. Any cats that have white ears, eyelids and noses should be protected as well. Severe burns may also cause skin infections. Look for pet safe products that contain NO ZINC OXIDE (a common ingredient in many sunscreens) – it’s toxic to animals.

Barbecue Grill Safety: There’s nothing quite so summery-delicious as food cooked outdoors on the grill, but remember your pets will be sniffing around with interest, too! Make sure they’re kept at a safe distance so they don’t get burned or worse, knock over the grill. Be careful of scraps and trash – they can cause some serious gastrointestinal problems in pets. Watch out for meat drippings as well, as your pet could burn their mouth, or develop vomiting, diarrhea or pancreatitis. Don’t give your pet cooked bones, as they can splinter and cause damage to the stomach and intestines, or even death.

Preparedness Month – HEAT STROKE

heat of sun on thermometer reads 110 degreesThe Arizona summer is here. Dogs that spend time outdoors are in danger of hyperthermia, commonly known as heat stroke. Hyperthermia occurs when your dog’s body temperature rises dangerously above normal (103°F), putting them in danger of multiple organ failure or death.  Early recognition and treatment of heat stroke improves your pet’s chances of making a quick recovery.

While people can tell us when they aren’t feeling well, it’s a little harder for pets. We have to pay close attention to their behavior. Here are the signs and symptoms to watch for:

SYMPTOMS

  • Panting
  • Dehydration
  • Excessive drooling
  • Reddened gums
  • Reduced urine production
  • Rapid/irregular heart rate
  • Vomiting blood/ black, tarry stools
  • Changes in mental status (ie, confusion)
  • Seizures/muscle tremors
  • Wobbly, uncoordinated/drunken gait or movement
  • Unconsciousness / Cardiopulmonary Arrest (heart and breathing stop)

TREATMENT

Panting is how dogs naturally cool themselves. Rapid, continual panting is a sign your pet is overheating and stressed. Bring them inside out of the heat, and call your vet to alert them of the situation. They can provide guidance for your next steps.

Next, take steps to gradually cool your pet down. Do NOT use ice or extremely cold water as it can cause shock and other undesirable reactions. Lightly spray your pet with cool water or wrap them in cool, wet towels and use a fan for convection cooling. 

Evaporative cooling can also be achieved by swabbing isopropyl alcohol on foot pads, groin, and under the forelegs. When their temperature reaches 103° F, stop cooling to avoid dropping below normal body temperature, then seek veterinary care to be certain they’re out of danger.