Summer is a fun and exciting time of the year for both pets and pet owners. During these warm months, pets generally spend much more time outdoors. Special precautions must be taken to ensure that your pet stays cool, safe, and healthy during these hot summer days. For the summer, here are a few things you should know about.
1. Heat Stroke
Heat stroke, also known as heat stress, is very common during the warm summer months. Heat stroke is a serious problem and is a major cause of death in pets. Dogs and cats, unlike humans, do not cool off by sweating. Pets cool themselves by panting, which can cause them to have a difficult time coping with the summer heat. Very young and old pets, pets with previous history of heat stroke, short-nosed breeds, overweight pets, pets with thick heavy coats, and pets with cardiovascular and respiratory disorders are more susceptible to heat stress. A pet left in a hot car or has no shade or water can die from heat stroke in a short period of time.
Here are some ways to help prevent heat stroke in your pet:
Keep your pet cool during hot days. His/her outdoor kennel should be well ventilated and located in the shade. You can allow your dog access to your child’s baby pool, filled with an appropriate amount of clean water, to keep him/her cool during the heat of the day.
Make sure your pet has continuous access to clean drinking water.
Avoid excessive exercise during the middle part of the day. Long walks and heavy exercise should be done during the early morning and late afternoon when it is a little cooler. When walking your dog, avoid blacktop and other hot surfaces. Your dog’s paws are sensitive and burn easily on hot blacktop because they don’t wear shoes.
Never leave your pet unattended in an enclosed vehicle on sunny days. The temperature inside a vehicle can reach 150 degrees within a period of 10-15 minutes. Being trapped inside a hot vehicle can cause your pet to suffer heat stroke and death very quickly. This is the most common cause of heat stroke seen at our clinic.
Here is a list of some signs you may see associated with heat stroke:
- Excessive panting and salivation
- Staring or an anxious expression
- Failure to respond to commands
- Warm, dry skin
- High fever
- Rapid heartbeat
- Muscular weakness or collapse
If your pet is experiencing heat stroke, try to reduce his/her temperature by gradually immersing your pet in cool water, spraying him/her with cool water or applying cold compresses to his/her neck and head. You may also apply a small amount of alcohol to the pads of his/her feet. Take your pet to one of our veterinarians immediately for further treatment.
2. Heart worm Disease
During the warm, summer months, those pesky mosquitoes appear. Heart worm disease is transmitted by the mosquito. This disease can be fatal to your dog and cat. You should have your dog tested for heart worms by one of our veterinarians. If this is negative, start your dog on heart worm preventative. This medication comes in a flavored tablet that is given once a month and should be given for your dog’s entire life. Cats do not need to be tested; they should just start the monthly preventative. If you have any questions about heart worm disease, please ask one of our veterinarians.
3. Fleas and Ticks
Fleas and ticks are prevalent during summer months. If your pet becomes infested with fleas ticks, see our veterinarian fro proper treatment. There are many safe products at our veterinary clinic that help get rid of your flea and tick problem. Be careful when using over-the-counter medications. Be sure the product you are using is safe to use on your dog or cat. Read the labels of the product carefully to avoid toxic reactions. If your dog has access to heavily wooded areas where ticks are prevalent, discuss the Lyme vaccine with one of our veterinarians.
4. Bites and Stings
During these warm months, bugs, spiders, bees, and wasps are out. If your pet gets stung or bit by one of these creatures, you may notice an unusual swelling or soreness on your dog. In this case, contact us immediately.
5. Toxic Chemicals
Herbicides (weed killers), insecticides, slug and snail baits are some of the toxic chemicals used outdoors that are harmful to your pets. Each summer, these chemicals poison thousands of pets. When using these chemicals, follow the manufacture’s directions carefully. Make sure all areas and containers are thoroughly washed and out of reach for your pets. Antifreeze is another example of a common toxin often used. Dogs and cats like to drink antifreeze because of its sweet taste. If your dog or cat ingests antifreeze and is not immediately treated, they have a poor prognosis of recovering. Any runoff or puddles created by using these and other toxic products should be thoroughly diluted. Do not allow pets in the yard while spraying these products and keep they out of the yard for three to four days afterwards. Pets become sick when they walk on surfaces covered with chemicals and then lick their paws. Call us if you have any questions.
6. Pick-Up Trucks
Allowing your pet to ride with his/her heard out the window or ride in the back of your truck is very dangerous. Your pet may jump out the window or jump off the back of your truck and injure himself/herself badly or even die. The safest way of transporting your pet is by keeping him/her in a crate.
When planning a vacation, it is necessary to decide whether to take your pet, hire a sitter at your house, or board him at a facility. Your pet’s personality as well as the length and distance of your trip are important considerations in making this decision.
8. Leaving Your Pet Behind
If you board your pet at a boarding facility, visit the facility to meet the people taking care of your pet and check for safety and cleanliness. Make your reservations well in advance. Many facilities fill up early, especially during the holidays. Make sure your pet is up-to-date on all his/her vaccinations (including Bordatella for dogs). Reputable facilities will not board your pet if he/she is not current on vaccinations. Leave clear, complete instructions if your pet is on any medication. Leave detailed instructions on feeding and a supply of your pet’s regular food. Bring any bedding or his/her favorite toys to make him/her feel more at home. Be sure your pet wears a collar with identification tags while you are gone. Leave your veterinarian’s phone number (including an emergency number), and a phone number where you can be reached in case of an emergency. We board pets at our hospital. If you are interested, see our boarding manager for questions and reservations.
If you are planning on hiring someone to come to your house to watch your pet, meet the sitter in your home to see how he/she and your pet interact. Be sure to leave the sitter detailed instruction on your pet’s feeding and exercise schedule. If your pet is on medications, leave clear, complete instructions for the sitter. Make sure you have enough food and medications to last during your time away. Be sure your pet wears a collar