Keep an eye on your pets in this heat

By Eilene E. Guy, American Red Cross volunteer

Here we are, still in the dog days of summer. If you’re not sweating out heat and humidity today, you’re likely to again before we slide into the cooler days of fall.

But what about our furry friends, our dogs and cats? Do they sweat the misery of hot, humid weather?

Actually, dogs and cats do sweat to cool off. And their fur acts as insulation.

But pets rely on us, “their people,” to behave like the “alpha animals” in their lives and protect them from the worst of summer.

“The American Red Cross focuses on the welfare of human beings, but we know how important pets are to people,” said Dr. Eve Schaming,  veterinarian at Sagamore Hills Animal Hospital in Summit County.  “That’s why we want to help folks prevent heat-related issues with their animals.”

Provide plenty of fresh water. To avoid pet heat exhaustion, make sure your pets have plenty of cool, fresh water and access to shade all day long.

Never leave your pet in the car. And no, cracking the window open or parking in the shade doesn’t count! The inside of a vehicle can reach 120 degrees in a matter of minutes, which puts an animal in real danger.

And watch the humidity. Just like humans, our pets sweat or pant to cool off, but high humidity slows that process down.

The Red Cross offers these steps to treat heat stroke in dogs:

  • Get your animal out of direct heat.
  • Check for signs of shock, which include: collapse, body temperature of more than 104, bloody diarrhea or vomit, stupor, seizures or coma, excessive panting or difficulty breathing, increased heart rate, salivation.
  • Take your dog’s temperature.
  • Spray your dog with cool water and then retake its temperature.
  • Put water-soaked towels on the dog’s head, neck, feet, chest and abdomen; turn on a fan an point it in the dog’s direction; rub isopropyl alcohol (70%) on the foot pads, but don’t use large quantities.
  • Take your dog to the nearest veterinarian. The effects of heat stroke may not show up right away.

Pay special attention to older animals and to dogs with shorter noses (like pugs, boxers and bulldogs). They’re at greater risk for heat stroke.

Protect your pet’s paws from hot surfaces. Walk your pet in the grass or the shade whenever possible. If the pavement is too hot for your bare feet, it’s too hot for your pet’s paws! If it needs to go outside on a hard surface to “do its business,” try wetting the surface with a hose or water bottle to help cool it off.

Don’t overdo outdoor exercise. Often, dogs don’t know when they need a break, so it’s up to us, “their people,” to stop for regular shaded breaks and offer water. Try to plan your walks, hikes or runs during the cooler times of day. (Better for you too!)

Whether it’s hot or not, check with your vet to see if your pets should be taking heartworm prevention medication. Heartworm disease, which is transmitted by mosquitoes, can be fatal to both dogs and cats.

The Humane Society of the United States says fleas and ticks are another summer threat. Only use flea and tick treatments recommended by your vet; some over-the-counter product can be toxic, even when used according to directions.

You can have first aid advice for everyday pet emergencies at your fingertips by downloading the Red Cross Pet First Aid App from smartphone app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or by going to redcross.org/apps.

Pet owners can also access the Red Cross Cat and Dog First Aid online course on a desktop or tablet at redcross.org/catdogfirstaid. The 35-minute course covers:

  • How to determine a pet’s normal vital signs so you can spot something that’s out of the ordinary;
  • Step-by-step instructions for what to do if a pet is choking, needs CPR, has a wound or is having a seizure; and
  • Information on preventative care, health and tips for a pet’s well-being.

My neighbor’s dog, Nap, thanks you. And so does my son’s cat, Spike.

Some like it HOT, 3 Ways to Stay Safe in this Week’s Heat

summer-heatSome like it HOT.

But with this week’s toasty Northeast Ohio temperatures, it’s important that you keep three key things in mind to beat the heat: stay cool, stay hydrated and stay informed. And don’t forget about your friends and neighbors, check on those most at-risk at least twice a day.

Stay Cool

  1. Stay in air-conditioned buildings as much as possible.
  2. Do not rely on a fan as your primary cooling device.

Stay Hydrated

Your body may sweat more in these temps, which means you will be losing fluids.

  1. Drink more water than usual.
  2. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink more fluids.
  3. Avoid alcohol or liquids containing high amounts of sugar.

Stay Informed

Download the free Red Cross First Aid app to learn more about how to treat heat related illnesses – like heat cramps or heat stroke.

For more information on at-risk populations, check out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website: http://www.cdc.gov/extremeheat/

 

Back-to-School Sports Safety Tips

By Sue Wilson, American Red Cross Board Member and Volunteer Partner

August is called the “dog days of summer” for a reason. It’s the hottest month of the year for most parts of the country and this year, especially, much of the nation is suffering wave after wave of brutal heat.Icon Disaster

So when I see high school football players on practice fields, I immediately flash back to the dreaded “two-a-days.” Back in my day (yes, I’m a baby-boomer) our very football-oriented high school coaches worked the players hard in the heat twice a day during the hottest months of the summer. I’d hear about— and even witness—guys in my class pass out, get sick and suffer from what was probably heat stroke or exhaustion, as they worked out in their pads day after day in the heat. I think it was a badge of honor somehow if you made it through. However, I thought it looked barbaric. Back then, we didn’t talk about things like the importance of hydration, or the concern over head injuries and long-term damage from concussions and warming up and cooling down as we practice.

Thankfully, we know a lot more now about sports safety. But whether you are male or female, or play one of the many fall and winter sports indoors or out, back-to-school time is a good time to think about sports safety.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) offers some great tips to keep kids safe on the field, the court or wherever they participate in sports and recreation activities. Here are some of these tips and a few others:

Use the right equipment: Make sure kids use the right gear for the right sport and use it for both practice and the game. It is important they use protective gear like helmets, wrist guards, knee or elbow pads.

Make sure the gear fits and is in good shape: Check the equipment to assure it is in

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

good condition, fits appropriately and is worn correctly all the time—for example, avoid missing or broken buckles or compressed or worn padding.

Warm up, cool down: Before starting (or ending) any form of activity, it is important to warm up the muscles by stretching, walking and easing into the practice. At the end, the reverse is also important, so slow down and cool down. Diving right into a strenuous activity without a warm-up can cause pulled muscles, strains and potential injuries. 

Get an action plan in place: Be sure your child’s sports program or school has an action plan that includes information on how to teach athletes ways to lower their chances of getting a concussion and other injuries. Get more concussion safety tips.

Be mindful of temperature: On extremely hot or humid days, allow time for the athlete to gradually adjust to the environments to prevent heat-related injuries or illness. Parents and coaches should pay attention to each player’s activity level, give breaks and make sure they are well hydrated and appropriately dressed. The same is true in extremely cold climates. Parents and coaches need to watch for signs of heat stroke or exhaustion and frostbite and hypothermia .

Be a good role model: No one wants to be that crazy sports parent (we all know the type) screaming at the coaches and the kids from the stands. Most coaches in youth sports are volunteers and should be supported and appreciated not verbally abused. You can help promote sportsmanship from the sidelines and the stands by being respectful not only to the coaches, but to your child, their teammates, coaches, opposing teams and the officials. As a good sports parent, you can help promote sportsmanship from the sidelines and in the stands.

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Prepare for an emergency: As a parent, coach or fan, it is always helpful to know basic first aid and CPR. The American Red Cross offers First Aid/CPR/AED classes and has an excellent First Aid App for your phone. Having this knowledge could be a lifesaver in just about any situation including and beyond sports. Find out more about classes and download one of the many free mobile apps here.

Well, it’s a Hot One. Learn How to Beat the Heat!

With high, high Northeast Ohio temperatures expected this week, it’s important that you keep three key things in mind to beat the heat: stay cool, stay hydrated and stay informed.

Stay Cool

Here are a few ways to keep your body temperature cool to avoid heat-related illness.

  • Stay in air-conditioned buildings as much as possible.
  • Find an air-conditioned shelter.
  • Do not rely on a fan as your primary cooling device.
  • Avoid direct sunlight.
  • Wear loose-fitting, light-colored clothing.
  • Take cool showers or baths.
  • Check on those most at-risk twice a day.

Stay Hydrated

Your body may sweat more in these temps, which means you will be losing fluids.

  • Drink more water than usual.
  • Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink more fluids.
  • Avoid alcohol or liquids containing high amounts of sugar.
  • Encourage others (especially those at risk like people 65 and older, pregnant women and children) to drink enough water.

Stay Informed

Download the free Red Cross First Aid app to learn more about how to treat heat related illnesses. Here are a few of the warning signs:

Heat cramps are muscular pains and spasms that usually occur in the legs or abdomen. Heat cramps are often an early sign that the body is having trouble with the heat.

  • Get the person to a cooler place and have him or her rest in a comfortable position. Lightly stretch the affected muscle and gently massage the area.
  • Give an electrolyte-containing fluid, such as a commercial sports drink, fruit juice or milk. Water may also be given. Do not give the person salt tablets.
Heat exhaustion is a more severe condition than heat cramps. Heat exhaustion often affects athletes, firefighters, construction workers and factory workers. It also affects those wearing heavy clothing in a hot, humid environment.
  • Signs of heat exhaustion include cool, moist, pale, ashen or flushed skin; headache; nausea; dizziness; weakness; and exhaustion.
  • Move the person to a cooler environment with circulating air. Remove or loosen as much clothing as possible and apply cool, wet cloths or towels to the skin. Fanning or spraying the person with water also can help. If the person is conscious, give small amounts of a cool fluid such as a commercial sports drink or fruit juice to restore fluids and electrolytes. Milk or water may also be given. Give about 4 ounces of fluid every 15 minutes.
  • If the person’s condition does not improve or if he or she refuses water, has a change in consciousness, or vomits, call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number.
Heat stroke is a life-threatening condition that usually occurs by ignoring the signals of heat exhaustion. Heat stroke develops when the body systems are overwhelmed by heat and begin to stop functioning.
  • Signs of heat stroke include extremely high body temperature, red skin which may be dry or moist; changes in consciousness; rapid, weak pulse; rapid, shallow breathing; confusion; vomiting; and seizures.
  • Heat stroke is life-threatening. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately.
  • Preferred method: Rapidly cool the body by immersing the person up to the neck in cold water, if possible OR douse or spray the person with cold water.
  • Sponge the person with ice water-doused towels over the entire body, frequently rotating the cold, wet towels.
  • Cover the person with bags of ice.
  • If you are not able to measure and monitor the person’s temperature, apply rapid cooling methods for 20 minutes or until the person’s condition improves.

For more information on at-risk populations, check out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website: http://www.cdc.gov/extremeheat/