DEAR READERS: As summers get hotter and longer with climate change, additional precautions are called for to prevent the horrific, fatal consequences of heat stroke and heat exhaustion. First, of course: Never leave a dog or infant unattended in a vehicle. In hot weather, any dog who suddenly becomes dazed, disoriented and uncoordinated should be immediately iced or soaked in cold water, and if collapsed, rushed to the nearest veterinary clinic.
There are cooling vests for dogs to wear when out in hot weather to help avert such calamities. Dogs regulate their body temperature not by sweating, but by panting, which cools the blood with the evaporative cooling of saliva. This can lead to rapid dehydration, so take water for your dog on walks. Oral evaporative cooling by panting is less effective when the humidity is high, so dogs are at risk when high temperatures and high humidity combine. Avoid strenuous physical activity -- running, chasing and retrieving -- under such conditions.
Furthermore, it might to best to go out when pavements and sidewalks are coolest; During the heat of the day, they can make walking very painful, since the heat rapidly penetrates dogs’ paws. All flat-faced (brachycephalic) dogs are extremely prone to heat stress and heat stroke, along with all dogs who are old, have heart issues, are excitable by nature or are fearful when confined, as during air transportation.
Hot and humid weather brings out various biting insects that can transmit diseases to dogs -- and us. A good repellant is a spray bottle of water with a few drops of lemon eucalyptus essential oil. This can be wiped over ears, face, body and limbs. An alternative is cold lemon tea: Boil a sliced lemon (with peel) in 2 cups of water, strain, and store in the fridge.
DEAR DR. FOX: My 13-year-old golden doodle’s back legs seem to be weakening. She in on Dasuquin with MSM, Temaril-P, Benadryl, L-carnitine and taurine supplements. Recently, the veterinarian started her on Novox caplets daily and gabapentin twice daily.
She weighs just under 60 pounds. Are all of these medications necessary? I worry she is overmedicated. -- S.M., Medford, Connecticut
DEAR S.M.: This does seem like a lot of medication. Is your dog improving?
I firmly believe in keeping drugs to a minimum, but in some instances, a “cocktail” is called for. There are alternative therapies for spinal deterioration and associated arthritis, including acupuncture, laser therapy, magnetic pulse therapy and sound waves. Try the website ahvma.org to find your nearest holistic veterinarian.
In the interim, I would suggest massage therapy (as per my book “The Healing Touch for Dogs”), and be sure to keep your dog’s weight under control. One teaspoon of ground ginger and another of turmeric and fish oil in the food daily might be very beneficial. Begin with a pinch to get the dog used to the flavor.
MOSQUITOES IN CALIF. CARRYING ENCEPHALITIS VIRUSES
Mosquitoes collected from traps in Los Angeles County were found to be carrying West Nile virus, while those trapped in Palm Desert were carrying WNV and the virus that causes St. Louis encephalitis, reported the Greater Los Angeles County Vector Control District. To prevent mosquitoes, water should not be allowed to stand for more than a week in outdoor containers, including pet bowls and birdbaths. Other sources of standing water should be eliminated, and people should wear an effective repellent when outdoors, officials said. (KNBC-TV Los Angeles, City News Service, June 3)
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