Vet Emergency in the Summer

Happy Friday World! Its Nicole from NorthStar VETS, At Your Service here to talk about my favorite season: Summer!

Being a gal from the Jersey Shore…(yes, I admit it, and even though the Jersey Shore has gotten a lot of, how shall I say it…hmm…ATTENTION nothing can make this Jersey Girl  leave the place I call home.)

Growing up we always had a boat and a dog.  Since our dogs have always been a part of our family we often took them along with us during our weekend getaways on the water. Since the Jersey Shore is a happening place I imagine that many other pet owners like myself will be doing the same.  That said, I thought it would be appropriate to share some water safety tips, and fun things to do with your companion to get you through the dog days of summer (pun intended):

Summer at the Jersey Shore entails heavy traffic on the Garden State, beaches loaded with tourists, boardwalks filled with laughter, and the fresh aroma of pizza.  Today even pets are welcome to partake in the family fun.  These days it is uncommon to leave your furry friends behind. Local businesses are even finding ways to make their venues more pet friendly.

For example, when the weather breaks in Asbury Park, pet owners are invited to enjoy a cocktail with their companions during Wonder Bar’s Yappy Hour.   The bar offers drink specials and other amenities like the doggie pool to keep your best friend cool while you enjoy your time out together.

Not a big fan of the bar scene?  That’s ok, you can check out the Jersey Shore Outlets.  It is an outdoor mall where you and your pup can take a stroll and window-shop for a great deal.  Sweet Tooth?  Check out Sweets At the Beach in Point Pleasant.   They keep a fresh water bowl out front for their furry visitors.  Keep in mind that these sweets are for humans only as sugar poses a major threat to your four-legged friend and can lead to an emergent situation if consumed. Hungry? The Labrador Lounge in Lavallette offers you and a your pet a place to cool off from the beach and enjoy tapas style eats.

As you can see the Jersey Shore boasts many activities for you and your companion. One local favorite is Fisherman’s Cove Conservation Area, better known as the “Dog Beach,” located at the Manasquan Inlet.  When you walk your dog on this beach, there is one special spot where you can view directly out the inlet into the Atlantic Ocean. Perfect for a sunset stroll. Dog beaches have become increasingly popular for pet owners but with its increasing popularity there are some important precautions to take when it comes to water safety and your pooch.

It is a common misperception by many that virtually all dogs can swim.  After all, the doggie paddle had to come from somewhere right? While, dogs have a natural instinct to sink or swim not all of them do it well.  Some breeds fare better than others; French bulldogs, bulldogs, and pugs, while intend on swimming, have the tendency to sink.  Their legs are not as long so they are unable to get as much thrust from their stroke as say a Labrador retriever would.

Just like you wouldn’t allow your child to swim without supervision, you shouldn’t allow your dog to do it either.  The same goes for waiting 1-2 hours after eating before swimming or exercise, so should your pet.  Not doing so could cause your pets stomach to twist and turn your fun day at the pool into a serious medical emergency.

Swimming is a tiresome exercise for your pet.  Imagine treading water for an extended period of time with no break. You’d be pretty exhausted.  Well, your pet feels the same way you do.  They are not invincible and do get tired.  One way to alleviate this is by purchasing a life vest for your pet.  That’s right!  They have life jackets for dogs.  They range from $20-$100 and support your pet’s weight while assisting them to stay afloat.  Just like any child or person, a life vest should fit securely, but comfortably.  A jacket that is too tight can cause pain and may not support the dogs weight properly.  Conversely, one that is too loose may cause the dog to slide out and would not work correctly.  And if your pet is the straying type, you may want to consider a long nylon leash to prevent them from being swept away.

Bring a cooler of fresh water and a portable bowl for your pet.  There is nothing worse than a dehydrated dog.  Despite the health concerns of possible heat stroke you don’t like having a dry mouth, do you?  Fill their bowl up with water as often as they choose to drink, or every 30 minutes.    Remember, your pet can’t speak for him or herself and relies on you to think ahead for them.

Which brings me to the boating topic.  Taking your pet on the boat can be a great time but first you must dog proof your vessel.  If you see anything in your boat that could potentially harm your pet, store it away so that it does not become an issue. Designate a potty.  Let your dog know that the Sunday comics you taped on the floor are for him or her to use as the bathroom.  You may also want to consider bringing one of those handy dandy portable dog waste dispensers (We call them NorthStar Poopanions)*HINT: If you Check-In on Facebook or FourSquare when you come to NorthStar VETS for an appointment, or even just to stop by and say hello! We will give you a FREE NorthStar Poopanion!

The NorthStar Poopanion

filled with plastic bags to clean up. Don’t forget the water cooler! And bring more food and water than they will probably consume.  Better to have too much than not enough.  Also, remember that dog’s pads absorb hot and cold temperature easily, so you may consider pad protectors from the pet store so they don’t burn on the floor of the boat.  Wear Sunscreen! It’s important for you and your pet.  A little 45 SPF on your pets nose will prevent them from a painful burn later. And lastly, never go without your dog’s life vest.

In summary, the key things to remember for the dog days of summer are to bring:

  • Lots of food, water and treats
  • A portable bowl and dog waste dispenser
  • A well-fitted dog life vest
  • A long leash
  • Sunscreen
  • Pad Protectors
  • Emergency Vet Hospital Number

Taking your companion out in the summer can make for a fun day but a little preparation beforehand will make for a fun and safe day. However, accidents do happen! The last thing you want to do is frantically search for a place to go. As the responsible pet owner you are, you should know where your nearest 24-hour emergency vet hospital is.

Here’s my suggestion: NorthStar VETS is a 24-hour veterinary emergency trauma and specialty center located in central New Jersey and easily reached from all Jersey Shore locations.  In the event of an emergency, please call 609.259.8300 or visit for more information.

That’s it!  Follow these tips and both you and your pet will be on your way to fun, happy and most importantly safe summer time at the Jersey Shore!

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