Fur coats and hot days


KEEP THEM COOL Dogs can suffer in the heat, with heatstroke a real risk.

The vet's view
Conal Finnerty

As we reach the height of the summer season and the temperatures continue to exceed in some cases 20ºC, we should be aware that our pets too can suffer in the heat. This is  especially for dogs who, unlike cats, will not always seek out cool shelter and spend the day lying around conserving fluids and energy.
Dogs like us humans can in extreme circumstances suffer heatstroke, and this is a medical emergency. Signs of heatstroke in dogs include, but are not exhaustively confined to glassy eyes with a fearful expression, heavy panting, excessive drooling, red/purple gums, vomiting, racing heart beat, feeling excessively hot to the touch, weakness or collapse and seizures. Immediate medical intervention is needed in such cases or, sadly brain damage or indeed death can result.
To make sure this doesn’t happen to your pet, do not walk or exercise them in the middle of the day if it’s about 20ºC. Never ever leave animals of any kind in hot cars or any type of enclosed vehicle.
Make sure your pets always have access to cool drinking water, and if necessary, add some ice cubes to their drinking bowl on a few occasions throughout the day. Provide damp towels or other fabrics for your pet to lie on during the excess heat of the day. Even when the mid day heat has passed, do not walk your dog on tarmac surfaces, as they retain the heat of the day and the melted tar can burn or become embedded in your dogs paws, causing blistering and pain.
Basically, the message is: during excessively hot days, employ your common sense and be mindful of your pet.
The perennial problem of algae blooms on slow moving or stagnant waters is very much to the fore during the months of July and August, and this year is no exception. As I write, there is an article on one of my news feed of a large algae bloom in the largest of the Kerry lakes, Lough Leane.
Be extremely careful when allowing your pet to swim or drink from waters you may suspect contain an algae bloom, as the toxins which they produce are potentially fatal for your pet if ingested – and time will not be on your side, should symptoms of collapse suddenly appear following such exposure.
Sometimes, the water appears clean, but it may still contain high enough levels of algae toxins to do damage to your pet. Best to stick to the rule of thumb not to allow your pet near any slow-moving waters during July and August.
While it is unusual for us here in Ireland to get extended periods of weather producing extremes of high temperature, as we saw during mid July, even a few days of temperatures in excess of 20ºC can be potentially dangerous to man and beast alike, so it’s best to be always wary of these weather events when it comes to our pets. Enjoy the fine weather everyone, and stay safe in the heat.

Veterinarian Conal Finnerty MRCVS practises at the Skeldale Vet Clinic in Ballinrobe and Belmullet. Follow the clinic on Facebook, or call 094 9541980 or 087 9185350 to make an appointment.