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Signs of Heat Stroke in Dogs

August 15th, 2011 52 comments

Dogs Pant to Cool Down

As much as we enjoy time outside with our dogs in the summer, we need to be vigilant about the possibility of potentially deadly heat stroke.  This article describes the signs of a heat stroke in dogs and offers some tips on avoiding this dangerous health hazard.

Why Are Dogs Susceptible to Heat Stroke?

Because dogs lack the ability to sweat, they may be less tolerant of high temperatures than humans.  In order to exchange warm air for cool air, dogs pant.  But according to WebMD, if the air temperature is too close to the dog’s body temperature – usually 99 to 102 degrees F in a healthy dog – the panting process will not help.

Short-face (brachycephalic) dog breeds such as Bulldogs, Pugs, Boxers and Shih Tzus are even more likely to suffer from heat exhaustion than other breeds because they have compressed air passage ways.

Top Five Signs of Heat Stroke in Dogs

The most common early signs of heat stroke in dogs include:

  • Heavy panting and difficulty breathing
  • Tongue and gums appear bright red
  • Thick, heavy drool
  • Lethargy and weakness
  • Vomiting

If your dog begins experiencing any of these signs of heat stroke, seek immediate emergency veterinary care.  In the meantime, quickly get your dog into a cool environment, such as in front of a fan or into air conditioning.  Apply cool, damp towels to the hairless parts of her body (stomach and paws), but avoid using ice.  According to Banfield Pet Hospital, using ice can cool your dog’s body temperature too quickly and cause other complications.

Even if your dog appears to recover from distress after you’ve applied cool compresses and gotten her into a cool environment, you should still seek veterinary care as soon as possible.  Heat stroke can lead to other serious health problems in your dog within hours or days of a heat stroke episode.  These complications include:

  • Laryngeal edema
  • Kidney failure
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Seizures

Avoiding Heat Stroke in Dogs

Never Leave Your Dog in a Hot Car

The best practice is to prevent heat stroke in the first place.  Schedule walks and outdoor play time early in the morning or after sundown, when temperatures tend to be cooler.  Have plenty of water available for your dog during walks and exercise, and make sure there are shady areas so that your dog can rest.

Avoid leaving your dog outside on hot days.  Even if he has access to shade and water, he could still become overheated.

And never, ever confine your dog on a concrete or asphalt surface or leave your dog inside a car without air conditioning.  A car can become an oven very quickly on a hot day.  The Weather Channel reports that a car sitting for 10 minutes in 90 degree F weather can reach an inside temperature of about 109 degrees F after only 10 minutes.  After 20 minutes, it can reach almost 120 degrees F inside the car.

Always use caution when exposing your dog to summer’s heat.  Watch for the signs of heat stroke and take immediate action should your dog appear to be having difficulties.

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Categories: Dog Health

Dog Seatbelts: Should There Be A Law?

August 4th, 2011 5 comments
Dogs Love Riding in Cars

We Love Driving With Our Dogs - But Is It Safe?

According to a 2011 survey by AAA and Kurgo, a manufacturer of pet travel products, 56% of pet owners have driven with their dog in the car at least once a month in the past year.  And certainly one of the pleasures of having a well-behaved dog is the ability to take her along for outings.  The cliche of the dog hanging his head out a car window, ears flapping in the wind, is one that can bring a smile to your face.

But many dog owners do not consider that driving with the dog unrestrained in a vehicle carries inherent risks for the dog and for the driver and passengers.  And to make matters worse, the survey found that large numbers of dog owners exacerbate the risk by engaging in dangerous conduct when they have their dogs in the car.

Unrestrained Dogs and Risky Behavior by Owners

According to the survey:

  • 52% of respondents admit they pet their dogs while driving
  • 23% have used their hands or arms to hold their dog in place while applying brakes
  • 19% have used their hands or arms to prevent their dog from climbing into the front seat
  • 18% allow their dog to sit in their lap
  • 13% give treats to their dog while driving

The AAA/Kurgo survey also revealed that 83% of respondents acknowledge that an unrestrained dog in a car can be dangerous, but only 16% use a pet restraint.

How Dangerous Is It?

Just what are the dangers involved in having an unrestrained dog in a moving vehicle?  According to Christine Selter, founder of the Bark Buckle UP pet safety movement:

  • A 60-pound pet becomes a 2,700 pound projectile, at just 35 mph
  • Pet travel has increased 300% since 2005
  • Unrestrained pets delay emergency workers’ access to human occupants
  • Pets escaping post-accident pose many dangers, including catching the loose pet
  • Injured pets may bite first responders and rescue workers
  • Pets may escape through a window or open door and cause a second accident
  • Driver distraction is common when unrestrained pets are rambunctious

The State of the Law on Pet Vehicle Restraint

The State of the Law on Pet Vehicle Restraints

No U.S. State Mandates Dog Car Seatbelts

While several states have laws that require pets to be restrained while traveling in open areas of the vehicle, such as the bed of a pick-up truck, no U.S. state has successfully enacted legislation mandating that pets be restrained inside the passenger area of a moving vehicle.

In 2008, California and Virginia considered legislation that would have punished drivers for having pets on their laps; however, neither measure became law.

According to a November 2010 report by the Iowa Policy Research Organization (IPRO), only Hawaii explicitly forbids drivers from holding a pet in their lap.  In Arizona, Connecticut and Maine, distracted driving laws may be used to charge drivers with pets on their laps.

Should There Be Dog Seatbelt Laws?

The dangers involved in having an unrestrained dog in a moving vehicle are clear.  It is a safety hazard for the driver, the passengers, the pet, and potentially for first reponders such as law enforcement and EMTs.  According to the IPRO report, some objections to animal vehicle restraint legislation include:

  • The potential costs involved in enforcement
  • The difficulties involved in enforcement
  • A perception of over-regulation of private activities by the government
  • The costs to individuals of purchasing restraints for their pets

On the other hand, the report points out that charging fines for drivers who fail to use vehicle pet restraints could generate revenue.

Perhaps most importantly, reducing pet related accidents could save a state money, “especially given the very high costs of traffic accidents in terms of monetary damage to vehicles, health care costs and human lives.”

Not to mention the lives of our beloved pets.

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California Man Faces Possible Life Sentence for Killing Chihuahua Puppy

May 20th, 2011 6 comments

California Man Could Spend Life in Prison for Killing Puppy

Animal welfare activists often wish that people who engage in barbaric acts of animal cruelty would be punished in a way that fits the crime, including mandatory prison terms for the worst offenses.

CBS News reports that Bud Wally Ruiz of Gilroy, California, is facing a maximum sentence of 25 years to life in prison for an act of animal cruelty.

During an argument with his wife on Thursday, Ruiz picked up her 6-week-old Chihuahua puppy and slammed it into a wall, killing it.  Ruiz has been charged with two counts of felony animal cruelty.

Life in Prison for Killing a Dog?

The reason Ruiz faces a potential term of life in prison for killing the dog has less to do with California’s animal cruelty laws than it does with the state’s “three-strikes” sentencing law.  By referendum, in 1994, California’s voters overwhelmingly approved a recidivist sentencing law in which an offender with two prior felony convictions could face 25 years up to life in prison for a third felony conviction. 

In a pair of decisions in 2003, the United States Supreme Court upheld California’s “three-strikes” law, ruling that the law does not violate the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.

According to the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office, Ruiz has four prior convictions for assault with a deadly weapon.

Sources:

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What if I Can’t Afford a Veterinarian?

March 3rd, 2011 3 comments

What can a pet owner do if he or she cannot afford the expenses associated with veterinary care?

We love our animals and tend to treat them as cherished members of our families.  And when they get sick or injured, we want to give them the best possible care to ease their suffering and help them heal. 

Need Financial Help With Vet Bills?

But proper veterinary care can be expensive.  Where can families turn when faced with the need for veterinary care they cannot afford?  In her article “Help Paying Vet Bills,” author Brenda Reeves explains that there are many options for families facing challenging financial times along with the added stress of a sick or injured pet. 

Reeves provides valuable information about a number of organizations that offer help in various ways to cover the cost of veterinary care.  Along with helpful descriptions of the services offered by the different organizations, Reeves also includes contact information.

One of our favorite charitable organizations is Frankie’s Friends Charitable Pet Foundation.  Their Happy Tails fund helps “otherwise loving and responsible families who cannot afford the cost” of veterinary care.  (This group has no affiliation with Frankie the Law Dog.)

Check out these groups, make a donation if you can, and pass along this information to friends and family who might need their services.

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Categories: Dog Health