Avoid These 5 Common Pet Emergencies

Heatstroke: Cats seem to have more sense than dogs do when it comes to staying cool. Or maybebeing cool. Dogs have an inefficient cooling system that’s primarily about panting. And a dog will keep doing whatever fun thing he's doing, especially if you’re encouraging him, no matter how hot he gets. It doesn’t take much for a dog to get into the trouble zone, and overheating kills easily.

Be aware of heat always. Don’t leave your dog in the car, even on a day that’s merely “warm” — 70 degrees and up. Curtail activity during the hottest part of the day, remember that humidity makes it harder for a dog to keep cool and always, always provide your dog with fresh drinking water. Dogs with short noses and those who are elderly or obese are at the greatest risk for heatstroke. Know what to do if your dog shows signs of overheating and get to the veterinarian quickly.

Fights and bites: Bites and scratches hurt, and they can mean major medical trauma and even death for your pet. While you can’t be 100 percent sure that your pet won’t be attacked or involved in a fight, you can minimize the chances of it happening. Cats with unlimited access to the outdoors are often in fights, with nasty abscesses frequently the result; keep your cat safe by providing her with a secure outdoor area close to your house.

Many dog fights can be prevented if people learn to recognize the body language leading up to the scrap and separate the animals before the disagreement escalates. If you frequent a dog park, follow the rules, especially if you have a small dog. Many off-leash dog parks have separate areas for small dogs because of the potential for large dogs to see smaller ones as prey. If pet owners aren't following the rules or if you feel unsafe, take your dog and leave immediately.

Prevent What You Can — and Be Prepared for the Worst

The final part of prevention is being prepared. That means making your pet part of your family’s disaster plans, and it means knowing what to do if you’re looking at a veterinary emergency. I will add one more thing: Consider pet health insurance to cover unexpected costs. This is just one more way to be ready for the worst.

Even if you know what to do and have insurance, the best accident or illness is the one your pet avoids. Take a look around your house, your yard and your neighborhood and recognize the hazards. It’s worth the small amount of time you’ll invest in keeping your pet from harm.

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