Hot Dogs and hot dogs: 4th of July Tips

by Mary Haight on June 29, 2009

Fireworks over Miami, Florida, USA on American...
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It’s already the end of June, and the 4th of July is just around the corner.  The coming holiday is good fun for families, picnics replete with every conceivable classic dish of our shared childhood on display, burgers and hot dogs on the grill, maybe barbeque chicken and ribs too, and later a band and fireworks in the park.  It’s a day that can get away from us with all its demands, and it is sometimes hard to remember that, even with all the schlepping that must be done, we need to keep an eye on our dogs.  They play themselves out between all the relatives and children who accompany the holiday.

It’s usually fairly hot on the 4th of July, and it doesn’t take much for dogs to get sick in the heat.  Here are some tips on heat exhaustion and how it presents:

1. Panting that doesn’t quit
2. Stops playing and won’t engage in play
3. Has a bright red tongue, gums, and bloodshot eyes

Get the dog into the shade, and begin cooling down his body temperature.  If you have a rectal thermometer (and an emergency kit for dogs should be available), take his temp and write it and the time down, and after you have applied some cool (not cold) water to the legs and trunk of the dog’s body to try to reduce his body temperature, take his temp again and call the emergency vet with the information.  Do not try to cool the dog down too quickly or for too long.  You do not want to create a shock situation.  Take the second temperature within 10 minutes of the first reading.  Don’t ever try to force a dog to drink water.  You can drown him with good intentions.  Instead, see if he will lick an ice cube.

If you are lucky enough to be at a lake house or at the beach, you can have a lot of fun with your dog! Just keep a few extra things in mind. Exhausted dogs in the water can drown, burnt paw pads, and sunburned ears, noses, and tummies, can result from unlimited play in the sun and sand, and dog safety in boats should be considered before sailing off into the sunset.

Monitor your dog in the water at all times.  You can make certain your dog is kept from the hot sand of the beach during the peak hours of the day, and limit play to half an hour or less depending on how high the temperature is.  You can use a high (30 or more) SPF sunblock on the dog’s ears and bridge of the nose (not near the eyes). Dogs with pink skin, short hair, and white-haired dogs are most prone to sunburn.  Do not use sunblock on any area that can be licked.  I saw a T-shirt for dogs the other day with sun blocking properties, but a regular child’s T-shirt will also help keep the dog from burning.  If you go boating with your dog, you’ll need to invest in a doggy life jacket, and maybe a CPR class for dogs before you go.  Always have water and a bowl for your dog.

When night falls, make sure your dog is in the house, or in the cabin of the boat, with shades drawn, air conditioning and the television or radio on to dampen the noise of fireworks.

1. Have a bowl of water available
2. Dogs react differently to fireworks, and some are so fearful they can be destructive, so remove loose pillows and items he may choke on
3. If your dog must remain outside with you, tie him to you if you can, or otherwise use the leash to keep him close.  Know he will be afraid.  You will find that he will have moments when he’s not panicked and you can have a little quiet play, like tug o’ war (fetch is not a good idea here); a massage or some belly rubs will be appreciated.

Realize that most dogs cannot be consoled, once panic sets in.  The best you can do is just be there.

Being prepared for trouble can seem like a lot of work, and 99% of the time you won’t need CPR or kits with thermometers. But when that 1% emergency happens, you’ll be the happiest dog parent ever knowing what to do, how, and when, with the appropriate local emergency numbers on hand to get professionals on the case asap.

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  1. […] you’re going to be on a beach, you’ll need to beware of heatstroke in your dog. Things to watch for are panting that won’t quit, he stops playing and […]

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