Dogs and Heat Strokes

There is an old myth that the fur insulates a dog and keeps them cool and therefore prevents them from being affected by high temperatures.

There is also a myth if the dog is swimming in high temperatures, that the water will protect them from heat stroke.


These are furthest from the truth.

People with their pets are more active outdoors during the spring and summer, but dogs do not do as well as people think they do in the hot weather.  When spring has arrived, this does not mean that the dangers of heat stroke are gone, the dog is probably still wearing the thicker winter coats.

Dogs deal with heat through the evaporation from the nasal passages and tongues.  A flat face dog (Pug, Pekingese) is not as capable of dealing with heat as a long-nosed face dog (Dachshund, Greyhound).  The flatter the face on the dog the more prone to heat stroke.  Overweight dogs, older dogs, and thick furred dogs also have more problems processing heat.

The fur on a dog will protect the dog from sun burn, but does not help a dog stay cooler. The thicker the fur, the less likely the heat from the dog’s body will escape, and the thick fur will promote overheating.  Shaving a dog will enable the dog to deal with the heat better, and yet the trade-off is making the dog more vulnerable to sunburn.  Leaving a 1 inch fur coat will provide a better balance and allow the body heat to escape and protect the dog from sunburn.  Otherwise, brushing the dogs undercoat out is the next best thing and ensures that the dog’s coat doesn’t become matted, which can trap heat and moisture.

Tips for dealing with your dog during the warmer temperatures:

Do not exercise  your dog in the heat of the day or during advisories – and this includes swimming!  If you want to exercise your dog, do it early morning, or after the sun goes down.  The dogs are still using their energy and generating heat while swimming, and still can be affected by the heat.  Allowing a dog to just sit, stand, or lay in the water is better than letting them expend their energies swimming.  All dogs cannot swim, and some breeds like the bulldogs, Pekingese, French bulldogs are not built for swimming, and can possibly drown. Even dogs that are good swimmers can drown if they are not able to safely get out of a pool or body of water.

Be aware of the dangers of having the dog on hot asphalt.

Keep dogs absolutely out of parked cars during the summer.  It only takes a few minutes for them to overheat and possibly die a horrible death.  The inside of a car can heat up to lethal temperatures in about 30 minutes even when the temperature is somewhat cool.  Cracking a window will scarcely affect the temperature in the car when a dog is present.  Unlike children, dogs are not allowed in most places and can overheat more quickly. Leaving the dog home is a better option than taking a chance on the dog getting a heat stroke or dying from being in the car.

When traveling with dogs, be prepared for the worse.  Sometimes cars to break down, and when waiting for help the temperatures in the car will rise quickly and the dog can get overheated fast.  Always carry clean and fresh water for the dog to drink and offer the dog water and even pour it on the dog.  Carry a towel and a cooler packed with ice and a small car-battery fan.  Soak the dog and the towel and have the dog sit on the towel or place the wet towel over the dog, and keep the fan on the dog.  The blowing air will keep the dog’s wet skin and fur cool.  If there is a creek nearby use it to keep the dog cool and watch out for snakes and ticks.

Provide shelter for the dog when the dog is left outside and a kiddy pool filled with water will be great for soaking in to cool off.  If the dog is inside, at least keep fans on if the home is not air-conditioned.  Be sure to provide a way for the animal to keep cool if the electricity goes out.

Dogs are also not immune to getting sunburned, light-skinned dogs are more likely to sunburn or to get melanoma.  Rub a safe sunblock product on the belly of the dog and the top of their nose; these are the most common sunburn spots.

Signs and Symptoms of a Heat Stroke:

  • High temperature: 104 degree F and higher
  • Bloody diarrhea or vomit
  • Capillary refill time that is too quick (this is the amount of time upper gums/or lips return to their normal pink color after being pressed, the pink color should return 1 to 2 seconds, if it returns in less than 1 second or more than 3 call the vet immediately)
  • Depression, stupor, seizures or coma
  • Rapid breathing or difficulty breathing
  • Increased heart rate
  • Tacky or dry mucus membranes specifically related to the gums
  • Increased respiratory rate
  • Mucous membrane color is redder than normal
  • Producing profuse saliva, excessive saliva
  • Dog starts to stagger and collapse

Fast action can save your dog’s life.

  •  Get the dog out of the direct heat
  • Check for shock
  • Take the dog’s temperature
  • Cool the dog slowly by placing cold water on him by draping wet towels over the dog or spray the dog with cool water, and aiming a fan at the dog
  • Place small amount of rubbing alcohol on 70% of the pads of the feet
  • Give the dog plenty of cool, fresh and clean water.

Do not put an overheated dog into ice water! This will cause the peripheral blood vessels to contract and will trap the overheated blood at the core of the body where it can do more harm. The temperature has to be brought down slowly to prevent brain damage.

The goal is to reduce the core boy’s temperature to about 103 degrees or 39 degree C within 10 – 15 minutes.

If you have a thermometer, cool him until his body temperature reaches 103 degree F or 39 degrees C and then stop cooling, the temperature will continue to decline and then get the dog to the vet immediately for treatment even if the dog appears to have recovered.  There are deadly side effects that can still occur even days later.

If the dog is not treated by a vet additional problem can occur

  •  Abnormal heart rhythms
  • Destruction of the digestive tract linking which can lead to bloody vomiting/diarrhea
  • Kidney failure
  • Neurological problems to include seizures and swelling of the brain
  • Problems with blood clotting
  • Respiratory arrest

Fast action will save the dog’s life when a dog has a heat stroke.

Joyce Rheal is Emergency Planning Committee chairwoman of the National Association Professional Pet Sitters and with Pets-life. Joyce is also a federally certified for FEMA’s “Animals in Disasters” program, and a certified pet care consultant based in Southern Illinois.

Nature’s Variety recalls dog food due to odor

Nature’s Variety has initiated a voluntary recall of its Prairie Beef Meal & Barley Medley Kibble for Dogs due to an off-odor smell that may develop over time. This product is not contaminated in any way, but some products are not remaining fresh for the shelf life of the product.


Reed Howlett, Nature’s Variety CEO, stated, “At Nature’s Variety, we make every effort to ensure that all of our products meet the highest quality standards. We’ve found that some bags of Prairie Beef Meal & Barley Medley Kibble for Dogs have an off-odor smell. To be sure that our consumers only receive the freshest and highest quality product possible, we have decided to voluntarily recall all Prairie Beef Meal & Barley Medley Kibble for Dogs from the marketplace.”

The products impacted are listed below:

  • UPC# 7 69949 60420 4 – Prairie Beef Meal & Barley Medley Kibble for Dogs 5 lb
  • UPC# 7 69949 60425 9 – Prairie Beef Meal & Barley Medley Kibble for Dogs 15 lb
  • UPC# 7 69949 60430 3 – Prairie Beef Meal & Barley Medley Kibble for Dogs 30 lb
  • UPC# 7 69949 60432 7 – Prairie      Beef Meal & Barley Medley Kibble for Dogs 3 oz sample

No other Nature’s Variety products are affected.

Consumers who have purchased one of the above products can obtain a full refund or exchange it for a different variety by either returning the product in its original packaging or bringing a proof of purchase back to their retailer.  For more information, call Nature’s Variety consumer relations at (888) 519-7387, go to the Nature’s Variety website at, or click here to email Nature’s Variety directly.

Companies like Life’s Abundance make food from higher grade ingredients and in small batches which significantly improves quality control.  And having the food on autoship means if there ever is a problem, the batches can be tracked quickly to avoid serious problems, and the food is fresh.  Providing fresh and untainted food is important for your dog’s health Life’s Abundance maintains that balance.

Joyce Rheal is Emergency Planning Committee chairwoman of the National Association Professional Pet Sitters and with Pets-life. Joyce is also a federally certified for FEMA’s “Animals in Disasters” program, and a certified pet care consultant based in Southern Illinois.

An old wive’s tale says that dogs with dewclaws are resistant to a snake’s venom!

An old wives tale says that dogs with dewclaws are resistant to a snake’s poison!






I was living in Maryland when I saw my first dog snake bitten.  A little dachshund was bitten by a rattlesnake.  Within minutes the dog was to the vet and within hours the little dog was dead and it had its dewclaws.  I watched a grown man who held back his emotions break down in tears, his heart was broken at the death of his little dog.  After a few days of mourning he went out with a gun and a hoe and killed every venomous snake on the property, rattlers, copperheads and cottonmouths.  His grieve for the loss of his little dog turned into pure anger targeted at venomous snakes.  He knew then that the old wives tale saying that dogs with dewclaws are resistant to a snake’s poison was a lie.

I heard this wives tale since 1985, and it’s still being processed through society.  A bite from an non-venomous snake could rarely cause harm.  A bite from a venomous snake can cause severe harm and even death.  Snakes that are dangerous to pets in the United States are rattlesnakes, copperheads, cottonmouths, and coral snakes.  In Central America there is the bushmaster and cord snakes.  In South America there is puff adders and mambas.  In Africa there is the boomslang and taipan.  Cobras in Asia and Africa, the taipan and death adders in Australia.  Other venomous species include cane toad, Californian newt, scorpions, black widow spider, and funnel-web spider.

Signs that the dog has been bitten by something venomous include: restlessness, panting, salivating, depression, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of coordination, shock, and if NOT TREATED death.

The coral snake venom is very potent and is a nerve poison and will cause weakness, constricted pupils, swallowing difficulties, and rapid death from respiratory paralysis.

Pet owners should be aware of what venomous species are in their local region and become familiar with the species by being able to identify them and knowing where they live.  By becoming familiar with them the pet can be trained to avoid them and if the pet is bitten proper emergency treatment can be given to the pet as quickly as possible.

If you take your pets on vacation with you, learn about the venomous species in that local region.  It’s better to be prepared with the knowledge then to find out after it’s too late.

When a bite or a sting happens, try to identify the attacking species as soon as possible.  These wounds will cause areas to swell and itch, apply a cold pack to the area to reduce the swelling, treat with calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream to help relieve the itching.  Antihistamine tablets can be acquired by your vet and Benadryl is often used for over the counter remedies to relieve the symptoms.  Always take your pet to the vet and ensure that the pet will receive treatment or antivenin.  I am not a vet so all home remedies should be cleared with your vet first.

Bees and wasp stings usually leave their stings behind and that is the tiny spike with the venom sac at the end, scrape it out of the skin with a fingernail or the edge of a credit card and take care not to squeeze the sac.  Do not use tweezers.  Mix baking soda with water and form a paste to apply to the area.  Some dogs can and do die from bees and wasp stings.

Snake Bites usually happen around the head, neck, or feet.  If you suspect your pet has been bitten by a snake, keep the pet quiet and get to the vet immediately.  The sooner the antidote is given, the better the chances for survival.

Never wash the wound because this will increase the absorption of the venom.     

Do not cut the wound or try to suck out the venom, this will make it worse and you can absorb the venom.

Some Toads and Salamanders are venomous.  In the United States  the Florida marine toad, Colorado River toad, and the California newt and Australia has the cane toad.  The venom is transmitted by being licked, tasted or just picked up.  Symptoms include drooling saliva as if they tasted something really unpleasant, making faces, pawing at the mouth.  It can lead to convulsions and death especially for smaller dogs and puppies.  Wash out the dog’s mouth immediately with clean fresh water and get the dog to the vet.

Anaphylactic Shock is dangerous and life-threatening and is a result of the allergic reaction to a bite or the toxin in the venom.  Signs include: localized or general skin irritation, anxiety, and difficulty breathing.  If this is not treated quickly by a vet the pet can suffer weakness, collapse, coma and/or die.  Take the pet to the vet immediately for treatment.

The best thing any pet owner can do for their pet is to learn Pet CPR and First Aid.  Always take your pets to the vet before trying home remedies.

Joyce Rheal is Emergency Planning Committee chairwoman of the National Association Professional Pet Sitters and with Pets-life. Joyce is also a federally certified for FEMA’s “Animals in Disasters” program, and a certified pet care consultant based in Southern Illinois.

Sweet Potato Treats to Your Dogs

It appears yet another dog snack from China is making our dogs sick: duck and sweet potato treats.

Vets are now reporting health problems linked to duck and sweet potato treats similar to those related to chicken jerky treats that are also made in China.




Blood tests are showing that sick dogs that have eaten these treats are showing kidney problems similar to the symptoms of Fanconi syndrome. Some dogs have recovered and there have been some deaths.

These symptoms can manifest within hours or days after eating a treat and includes decreased appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and increased thirst and urination.

If you have fed your dog either chicken jerky treats, duck treats, or sweet potato treats made in China and your pet has fallen ill, take your dog to the veterinarian immediately, especially if the symptoms persist for more than 24 hours and/or are severe.

The brands currently implicated in the sweet potato treat problem are:

  • Beefeaters Sweet Potato Snacks for Dogs (16 varieties of yam-related treats)
  • Canyon Creek Ranch Chicken Yam Good Dog Treats (Nestlé Purina)
  • Drs. Foster and Smith (exact item not specified)
  • Dogswell Veggie Life Vitality (4 varieties)

“Jerky” treats do include jerky, tenders, strips, chips, wraps, twists, and several others.

In 2010 the FDA found that a sweet potato dog treat made by a certain company in China was contaminated with phorate, a highly toxic pesticide.

Be vigilant about reading pet food labels, making phone calls to manufacturers, and really doing your homework on what you’re feeding your dog or cat.

PLEASE don’t buy any treats made in China. Buy only food and treats made in the U.S., but this won’t remove all risk of winding up with a tainted product, but it will certainly improve your chances of keeping your pet safe.  While some dog foods proudly fly American flags on their packaging or tout that they are “made in America”, that doesn’t mean the ingredients are all sourced in the U.S. It means they are assembled in the U.S. 

Companies like Life’s Abundance make food from higher grade ingredients and in small batches which significantly improves quality control.  And having the food on autoship means if there ever is a problem, the batches can be tracked quickly to avoid serious problems.  Providing fresh and untainted food is important for your dog’s health Life’s Abundance maintains that balance.

Try making your own dogs treats can be rewarding.  Find organic sweet potatoes and yams clean them and slice them thin.  Arrange on a baking sheet and back for in a 300º oven for about 45 minutes. Let the slices cool and store them in plastic bags.  For homemade chicken jerky treats, buy the boneless chicken breasts, clean and slick long and thin.  Place these on a greased sheet, non-stick not recommended it has its own toxins) and bake at least three hours at 180 degrees.  Let the strips cool and these can be stores in plastic or air tight container and put into the freezer.

Do you know what is in your pets food?

Joyce Rheal is Emergency Planning Committee chairwoman of the National Association Professional Pet Sitters and with Pets-life. Joyce is also a federally certified for FEMA’s “Animals in Disasters” program, and a certified pet care consultant based in Southern Illinois.

Ending Breed Specific Legislation (BSL)

German Shepherd

Megabyte is one of the breeds that insurance companies won’t insure

It’s past time to end Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) which are laws and ordinances to control specific breeds of domesticated animals, usually certain breeds of dogs. These legislations are in response to a number of well-publicized events that involves bully and wolf-hybrid breeds.There’s population of dog owners who loves these specific breeds, but a few bad owners have ruined it for these breeds because of the lack of proper supervision, socialization, bad training, training to fight, or even mistreatment.




These laws range from outright banning the possession of these dogs, resulting in euthanizing the dogs unless a grandfather clause is included, to various forms of restrictions and conditions for ownership, and establish the dogs as legally “dangerous” or “vicious” even if the dogs have no record of attacking. As a response, some state governments in theUnited States prohibit or restrict municipal governments from enacting breed-specific legislation.

It appears Belfast, Northern Ireland has a BSL that they have no clue how to properly implement. There BSL is “The Control of Dogs Regulations 1998 place controls on 10 breeds of dogs, namely the American Pit Bull Terrier; English Bull Terrier; Staffordshire Bull Terrier; Bull Mastiff; Doberman Pinscher; German Shepherd (Alsatian); Rhodesian Ridgeback; Rottweiler; Japanese Akita; Japanese Tosa and to every dog of the type commonly known as a Ban Dog (or Bandog). The controls, which must be observed when the dog is in a public place, require that these dogs, or strains and crosses thereof, must be securely muzzled and kept on a strong short lead [only up to 2 metres long] by a person over 16 years of age who is capable of controlling them. Dogs that are not kept under control will be euthanized.”

After following the case of Lennox in Belfast Ireland I looked more closely at BSL. A brief history of Lennox, who was supposedly killed July 11, 2012 by the Belfast City Council on the false allegations of Lennox being a pit bull type: from my understanding Lennox was forcibly removed from his home May of 2010 in Belfast, Northern Ireland under the assumption he was a pit bull. The Barnes family did everything they were instructed to do and even had an approved license from the city for Lennox.

During a hearing the council even refused DNA tests showing that Lennox was not a pit bull. They ignored two qualified dog behaviorists including Victoria Stilwell who said nothing was wrong with Lennox, and went with an unqualified opinion by Peter Tallack who is not a trained and certified behaviorist. Since then a really good article came out by Jim Crosby a trained and certified canine behaviorist and he has a video link showing that Lennox did pass the aggression test with David Ryans.  In the video the warden who claimed she was afraid of Lennox was actually interacting and petting him, which is evidence enough to show she lied under oath. This article also indicate Lennox have a swollen leg as a result of some injuries. Interesting he’s got a leg injury and he’s in confinement and there are a few more pictures of Lennox in horrible condition while under the care of the council. Lennox drew world wide attention and the First Minister Peter Robinson got involved and yet nothing could save him. The council was standing by the unqualified opinion that Lennox was dangerous and unpredictable. Although I cannot prove it, I suspect Lennox was already dead before the deadline. The council also refused to allow Lennox to be placed in a sanctuary. Belfast City Council backed out of allowing the family one last good-bye before his scheduled execution and they even refused to return Lennox’s body saying they would only send the ashes. The council will not even return Lennox’s collar. This last minute change by the council leaves me doubting the actual condition ofLennox. It also appears that these people did not tell the Barnes family directly that Lennox was dead, they found out through another source. I know there is more to the story and this really isn’t the place, I am not the spokes person for Lennox and this article is more about BSL then it is about Lennox.  Lennox is not the first (victome) incident dog who has suffered and was murdered under the BSL laws.

When I lived in Colorado Springs between 2000 – 2004, the state started to implement the BSL and we were notified that our German Shepherd was to be muzzled when she was out on walks. She never bit anyone.  After some heated mail exchange, leaving the state of Colorado was more then acceptable. Even Denver, Colorado at that time had a reputation for taking bully dogs away from even those visiting Denver and euthanizing the dogs because of their BSL. I don’t know if Denver is still currently practicing this or not but they do still have the BSL.

As part of the BLS, these are the top eleven breeds for which insurance companies will either charge a higher rate or refuse to insure if residing on the property:

  1. Pit Bulls & Staffordshire Terriers
  2. Doberman Pinschers
  3. Rottweilers
  4. German Shepherds
  5. Chows
  6. Great Danes
  7. Presa Canarios
  8. Akitas
  9. Alaskan Malamutes
  10. Siberian Huskies
  11. Wolf-hybrids

It’s past time to end BSL. There is no scientific proof that these laws are effective in preventing dog bite fatalities and injuries. It is not the breed of the dog that determines if they are aggressive or not. A few bad people have ruined it for the whole population of dog owners who loves these specific breeds. So instead of punishing those who are actually responsible, the breed of the dog gets the blame. Any dog can bite, especially little dogs, and yet some folks laugh when little dogs bite. Little dogs biting isn’t funny, and if they bite in the right place the bite can still cause significant damage.

I don’t have a problem with banning or restricting certain breeds from certain people, especially if the people have a record already, but I totally disagree with BSL. In fact my own mother was almost killed by a pit bull attack, we later found out that dog was TRAINED to do this. I completely disagree that certain dog breeds are a public safety issue meriting banning ownership or euthanasia, especially for dogs that do not have a history of biting.

If someone is looking into owning a specific breed of dog it is best check to see if the resident state or municipality has a BSL otherwise heartbreak is sure to come around.

The following have BSL and I know this list is not inclusive: The United Kingdom and specifically Northern Ireland (Belfast), Republic of Ireland, Venezuela, Ukraine, Turkey, Switzerland, Spain, Singapore, Romania, Portugal, Poland, Norway, New Zealand, Malta, Germany, France, Ecuador, Denmark, Bermuda, Brazil, Australia: (New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Victoria, Western Australia); Canada (Ontario, Manitoba, Winnipeg); The United States (Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Kansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Ohio, Puerto Rico, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin) along with the All four major branches in the military ban the following from living on base: pit bulls, bull terriers, rottweilers, dobermans, chows, wolf hybrids, akitas, American bulldog.

I honestly believe that Lennox was long dead before the deadline. To the Barnes family, I can only imagine what you have and continue to go through. I love my dogs as much and would fight up to the end for them as well. My heart goes out to you and I hope the fight for Lennox will save the lives of dogs who are improperly breed labeled and/or labeled as dangerous and vicious. I pray Lennox’s plight will bring awareness to those legislative bodies to understand BSL are not effective and the breed of the dog cannot be blamed. A few bad people have ruined it for the whole population and this is the result. Any dog will bite giving the right circumstance and even little dogs can inflict serious damage when they bite in the right spots.

It is not the breed of the dog that is the problem and BSL’s do nothing to address the root of the problem.

Joyce Rheal is Emergency Planning Committee chairwoman of the National Association Professional Pet Sitters and with Pets-life. Joyce is also a federally certified for FEMA’s “Animals in Disasters” program, and a certified pet care consultant based in Southern Illinois.