With Virginia Beach and the rest of the state now entering into the hotter months and everyone venturing outdoors as the world returns to normal, we need to think of our dogs. Virginia Beach officials urge pet owners to take extra precautions to protect their furry family members if you're thinking of taking them to the beach or for a romp outdoors.
Dogs may not be allowed on the beach in Virginia Beach during specific periods, and locals need to check before taking their dogs for a frolic in the waves. Officials also warn that the heat in the middle of the day could be intense for your dog. And potentially dangerous.
Dr. Julie Nelson, an ER Vet at Bay Beach Veterinary, has seen many dogs with heat stroke come into her office after a trip to the beach.
"I do tend to see a lot of patients coming in for heatstroke from being at the beach," said Dr. Julie Nelson, an Emergency Veterinarian at Bay Beach Veterinary Hospital in Virginia Beach. "There really isn't much shade and, I'm going to be honest, an umbrella or a tent does not do it because, although you're covering them from the sun, that sand is still burning hot and all that heat is rising."
So how can you tell if your pet is suffering from heatstroke? Dr. Nelson says heatstroke can present in multiple ways. Is your dog drooling more than usual and panting a lot? Is your dog lethargic? Is there blood on their gums or in their stool?
Dr. Nelson urges dog owners to stay vigilant in the sun as heat stroke can kill, and heatstroke cases begin to rise during the summer months due to the humidity and the hot weather. Dr. Nelson says dog breeds with short snorts like pugs and bulldogs tend to struggle in the heat.
"It's more of the short-snout breeds, what we call brachycephalic breeds, so English bulldogs, Shih tzus, boxers, French bulldogs because they don't breathe as easily so they can overheat a lot faster and it only can take maybe a couple minutes," Nelson said.
No matter the breed, though, Dr. Nelson tell spet owners to walk their dogs in the morning or evening during the cooler weather and if they must go outside during the day in the heat to not stay out for long and always check if the ground is too hot to walk on. Hover your hand over the ground or place it on the asphalt, concrete, or any hot surface to gauge heat levels and risk burning your dog's paws.
If your dog begins overheating, a cool (but not freezing) bath could help, but if you recognize signs of heatstroke, medical attention is necessary, and you should take your pet to a vet ASAP.
I'm sure Virginia Beach dog owners like myself are thanking Dr. Nelson and the other amazing professionals out there keeping our pets happy and safe. This is all wonderful information I'll be using to make sure when I am out and about with my pup that he'll be protected.
Will you be taking your dogs to the beach?
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