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Heat Stroke

Swimming, camping, hiking, and cook outs are just some of the outdoor activities we do in July.  When you’re a dog lover, your dogs get to partake in the summer fun with the family.  All the activity is good for our dogs however; July also means hot temperatures and high humidity.  This combination can lead to heat stroke.  Heat stroke, if not treated properly, can be fatal.

Heat stroke is when the body’s temperature is too high.  Dogs cool themselves off primarily by panting.  As they pant, moisture evaporates from their tongue and causes the blood to cool.  If the evaporation process is impaired – or not enough to compensate for the high temperatures, we can see an increase in body temperature.  High humidity can impair the evaporation process as well.  Brachycephalic breeds, such as bulldogs and pugs, are prone to heat stroke because they have less physical space for evaporation to occur.

Symptoms of heat stroke include heavy panting and difficulty breathing.  The dog’s tongue, gums, and other mucous membranes will appear bright to dark red.  As their temperature increases, we can see drooling, vomiting, and/or bloody diarrhea.  Dogs will often appear unsteady on their feet and even collapse.  In extreme or untreated cases blood clotting factors can break down, swelling in the brain, shock, seizures, and even death can occur.  A body temperature over 104 degrees will require emergency treatment.

If you suspect heat stroke, begin cooling your dog, and take them to the veterinarian immediately.  Run cool, not cold, water over your dog concentrating on areas like the head, neck, and under the limbs.  Take your dog’s temperature every few minutes until their temperature drops to 103 degrees.  At 103, stop the cooling process to prevent hypothermia.  On the trip to the veterinarian’s office turn on the car’s air conditioner, or roll down the windows to increase air flow over your dog.  At the veterinarian’s office, test may be run to assess any potential damage to internal organ function.

Heat stroke is preventable.  Exercise your dog during the cooler parts of the day, provide plenty of fresh water, and shade.  Don’t over exercise your dog.  Even after dark, heat stroke can occur.  Avoid hot pavement and asphalt as it can burn paw pads.  Smaller dogs that are low to the ground can overheat more quickly.  Leaving dogs in the car, even with the windows down, is unacceptable and a major cause of heat stroke in dogs.

Veterinary General is located in Shelby Township, Michigan.  We offer traditional and alternative therapies.  More information can be found at


Vaping and Pets

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What is an e-cigarette?

E-Cigarettes are electronic (battery operated) cigarettes. They come in all shapes and sizes. They can look like cigarettes, pens, pipes – they can be slender enough to fit into a wallet. “Vapes” work with an atomizer heating liquid containing nicotine, turning it into a vapor that is then inhaled. It creates a vapor cloud that looks like cigarette smoke.

How is this dangerous for my pet?

Nicotine has always been toxic to pets. Cases of toxicity are reported from cigarettes, nicotine patches, and nicotine gum. E-cigarettes carry new concerns if ingested by your pet because the nicotine is generally more concentrated than traditional nicotine products and the liquid form causes faster absorption. Liquid nicotine can be absorbed through the skin or mucous membranes of the mouth in dogs, cats, and humans. This causes a faster onset of symptoms. Additionally, the carrier may be propylene glycol and glycerin but ASPCA Poison Control states there have been reported cases of products containing diethylene glycol which can cause damage to the kidneys.

Pet-proof your home

Keep all of your vape supplies out of reach of your pets. Do not refill or change cartridges while your pet is nearby and never charge your e-cigarette in an area accessible to your pets. Dogs and cats are attracted to certain smells and cats have an intolerance to propylene glycol which is sometimes a carrier used in vaping liquids.

Symptoms of Nicotine Toxicity

Pets can show signs of toxicity very quickly, generally within 15 to 60 minutes of ingestion. Symptoms may include excitation or increased heart rate, abnormal breathing, salivating, vomiting, diarrhea, or agitation. More severe symptoms can include tremors, seizures, cardiac arrest and death.

If You Suspect Liquid Nicotine Ingestions

It is important you seek medical care immediately due to the rapid onset of symptoms. This is vital to your pets health. Call your veterinarian or an emergency veterinarian immediately.

Car Rides – Pet Safety

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Spotlight on Safety: Car Rides

It is common to discuss pets riding safely in the car. The statistics and safety risks associated with pets riding loose in the car are numerous!  Pets riding loose in vehicles can become a distraction to the driver and pose a safety risk.  Pets involved in accidents can become projectiles, may pose a threat to first responders, and may bolt from the car and get hit by another vehicle.  To further explore the subject we will look at types of restraint for pets available, their benefits, and training tips.

Seat Belt Harnesses and Pet Safety Seats

The best harness for car safety is a body harness specifically made for car travel.  These harnesses have thicker material across the pet’s chest to spread the force of the crash across the dog’s body.  Depending on the brand some harnesses have straps that thread through the seat belt or snap directly into the buckle.  Others use the tether points of SUV.  Pet safety seats are designed for small or toy breed dogs.  They are secured by seat belts and some are raised to allow pets to see out the window.

Dogs that like to spin or pace in the car could get wrapped up in the straps.  Transition the dog to riding in the harness or travel seat with a few trial runs.  Begin by sitting in the back seat (away from air bags) with the dog and reward for calm behavior such as sitting or lying down.  After a few trips you can sit in the passenger seat to offer rewards.  As your dog becomes more successful you can try a few short solo trips.  At stop lights toss your dog a reward for calm behavior.

Crates and Partitions

Crates are the industry standard for pet airline travel.  Small crates for cats and toy breed dogs often have places to secure the crate using seat belts.  Small crates can fall off a seat in the event of sudden braking.  Large crates can be secured in the back by SUV tethers or fit snuggly behind seats.  Partitions for large dogs in SUVs or hatchbacks are put up to keep the dogs in the trunk area.  These will minimize distractions while driving, but not necessarily protect pets during an accident.

Most dogs will require little or no training when riding behind a partition or in a crate.    Dogs with anxiety to the crate may need desensitization and counter conditioning sessions before being introduced to a carrier in a vehicle.  Dogs in a crate can be taught to wait calmly at the door and released when you are ready.


Collars, Leashes, and People

This section can also be titled “How Not to Restrain Your Dog in the Car.”  A dog on a collar with the end of the leash slipped with the seat belt threaded through is not safe.  In the event of sudden braking, the dog’s momentum will be halted by the collar potentially causing neck injuries.  Pets should not be restrained on owner’s laps.  If a person is holding a dog in their lap and the air bag is deployed, the pet is between the person and airbag.  The person doesn’t receive the full benefit of the airbag and the pet can be injured during deployment.

Final Thoughts

Safety restraints protect owners, pets, and first responders in event of an accident and minimize distractions while driving.  They can also cut down on the stress of car rides.  Instead of trying to stop your pet from engaging in bad habits, you can enjoy the drive knowing your pet is safe.   A little bit of planning and rewards makes the transition to riding in safety restraints go smoothly.