Pet Care 101
This is not a fully developed primer for pet care. It is designed to aid in teaching owners and guardians to recognize when their animals are in stress during outdoor events, and how to address the problems quickly and effectively. It is also designed for pet comfort station managers and volunteers to spot and address problems.
Heat Exhaustion: Keep your pet (or your participants’ pets) cool and happy with these tips
- Freeze water in soda bottles, wrap in a sock or towel and let your pet lie on it.
- Wrap baggies of ice in towels and tie around your pet’s neck and tummy.
- Provide shade or pause in shade often for your pet.
- Provide lots of water.
- Stop often and wipe your pet down with a cool wet cloth: ears, around the neck, tummy, groin, paws.
- If it’s very hot, wet the dog completely and often – if the dog is afraid of being sprayed, provide a shallow pool for the pet to stand or sit in.
- Black and mostly black dogs, dogs with double coats, and long-haired dogs suffer heat the most. Hairless dogs, shaved dogs, and short-haired white dogs can and will sunburn – provide shade and vet-approved sunscreen for them.
If your pet shows ANY of the following signs, get your pet to the Water Paws Booth as soon as possible.
- Rapid breathing or struggling to breathe
- Excessive heavy panting
- Loud, irregular panting
- Dark red gums or pale gray/bluish gums
- Excessive drooling or foaming at the mouth
- Thickened drool
- Vomiting and/or diarrhea
- Listlessness, vacant stare, glazed eyes
- Dry mouth and nose
If your pet shows ANY of the following signs, it is essential you get your pet to Water Paws, or better yet, leave and get your pet to an emergency vet immediately. Your pet is in critical danger with any of these signs.
- Suddenly stops panting after heavy panting for a long time
- Stumbling, trouble walking
- Shaking or seizures
- Collapse or unconsciousness
Water Paws volunteers should always know the name and location of the nearest emergency vet, and have directions to get there.
More information on pet first aid and pet care
- First aid tips for pet owners from the American Veterinary Medical Association
- First aid and emergency care from Veterinary Partner (.com)
- Pet first aid from the American Animal Hospital Association
- What to have in your medicine cabinet from Animal Care (Yahoo! Shine) (video)
One quick method for testing your dog or cat for dehydration is to “pinch” up the skin on his or her neck. A well-hydrated animal’s skin will return to normal immediately. A dehydrated animal’ skin will remain “tented” for several moments.
If your animal is suffering from sticky eyes, has sticky saliva, or fails the “pinch” test, he is suffering from dehydration and very possibly from heat exhaustion. Getting him or her cared for at the pet comfort station is a good short-term solution, but you need to take your pet to the veterinarian. If your pet is suffering from diarrhea or vomiting, or worse, is stumbling, shaking, having a seizure, or is semi-conscious, you need to drop everything and get your pet to the vet immediately.