A Few Texas Fourth of July Hazards for Your Puppy (That Could Apply Elsewhere, Too)
So I did a quick Google search to see what the major hazards for dogs were during this time — it was mostly a laundry list of fireworks related info. For that I'll refer you to Dr. Kuhly's spectacular article about how you and your pets can deal with fireworks on this, the anniversary of our Independence Day. I love the Star Wars tip and can’t wait to use it.
Currently, I live in the Dallas, Texas area, where fireworks are illegal. That's right, no "bombs" here. (Each city does have one big fireworks shindig, but the neighborhoods aren’t hotspots of fire and brimstone). On the other hand, in Houston, where I grew up, they are perfectly legal and the area becomes a war zone on New Year's Eve and on the Fourth. Unfortunately (or fortunately) due to drought conditions, all fireworks are currently banned in the Houston area.
However, when I was given this assignment, fireworks weren’t the first thing that came to mind.
As a rule, I don’t deal directly with the Fourth of July emergencies. I’m out on the lake, or otherwise engaged. (In fact, I recently blogged about how ER is not my thing) I just come back to work on Tuesday to a pile of faxes telling me what happened while I was out. It seems to me that a majority of the ER visits on summer holiday weekends generally involve overconsumption of BBQ in some form or another.
Bar-b-que is a beloved Texas staple, sure. But bear with me — I’m of Cuban descent, so BBQ isn’t a native food in my world. God knows I’m no BBQ connoisseur (OK, that word just took me a Google search and maybe ten typos to spell properly). Heck, I don’t even know how to properly spell BBQ, much less what it takes to become a connoisseur of BBQ.
Anyhow, I haven’t actually seen this, but word on the street (from some ER vet friends and VIN) is that BBQ rib bones — if chewed and swallowed — turn brick-like in the intestines, causing GI obstructions. So feeding "Spot" those baby back bones can potentially turn into an expensive nightmare. Other bones (chicken, beef) also run the risk of either causing significant GI irritation (resulting in varying severities and combinations of vomiting and or diarrhea), or obstruction (resulting in varying degrees of vomiting, diarrhea, very expensive surgery and maybe death).
I’ve also seen many dogs develop potentially life-threatening pancreatitis from different degrees of BBQ-related indiscretions, such as the overconsumption of fatty scraps from the grill. In fact, I saw a dog once come pretty close to dying from licking all the grease out from under the BBQ grill.
Aside from the BBQ-related incidents, heat stroke is the other big cause of summer holiday visits to the animal ER.
This may be purely anecdotal, but there seems to be an overrepresentation of heat stroke in black labs. My theory is that either their dark fur draws in all that heat from the sun, or they are just too fixated on whatever activity they're into to notice they are getting too hot. Or maybe it’s just that they’re popular and everybody’s got them and they like to be outside with the family. Regardless, they have a lot of heat strokes (although it can happen to any breed).
So what do you do if your puppy is panting up a storm and he's running around while it's hot outside? Give them lots of rest, shade, cool water and AC breaks.
Now get on to reading Dr. Khuly’s blog on firework tips for Fourth of July. And remember, be extra vigilant when it comes to the food served this weekend and the hot summer temperatures — but overall, have a super fun holiday with your puppy.
Dr. Vivian Cardoso-Carroll