Keep Your Pet Healthy and Happy This Summer
As the hot, lazy days of summer begin, remember that your pet should enjoy the season, too – without any serious health complications. Keeping tabs on your pet’s wellbeing, whether dog, cat, fish or otherwise, will keep you and your animal happy and healthy throughout the summer.
Can’t Stand the Heat? Neither Can Your Pet
The sun is out and temperatures are soaring – prime time for your pet to develop heatstroke. Heatstroke is a condition that can lead to brain and organ damage and even death – so keep these tips in mind:
Make sure your pet’s water bowl is always full. Put ice in the bowl to keep it cool and full for longer.
Do not leave your pet alone in the car. Temperatures can easily reach more than 100 degrees in a short time, and that can swiftly lead to death.
Exercise your pet – especially dogs – only in the early morning or late evening, when the day is coolest.
A pet’s fur does not protect it entirely from the sun. Apply sunscreen to unprotected areas, like the tips of its nose, ears, or the skin around its lips.
Move aquariums and birdcages away from sunny windows.
Sometimes it’s just so hot out that heatstroke can develop, despite a pet owner’s best efforts. Look out for the symptoms:
A body temperature of 105 degrees or higher
If you suspect your pet has heatstroke, hose it down with cool water and get to your veterinarian immediately.
Hold Off Fleas and Ticks
Summer is the season for flea eggs and larvae to grow into adult fleas, which are on the prowl for hosts to feed from. Summer is also a time when pets have more freedom to roam the yard, or accompany their owners on camping trips and to other woody areas, which puts them in danger of ticks as well. Fleas and ticks can carry parasites and diseases like tapeworm and Lyme disease, which can spread to humans.
Prevent these afflictions by grooming your pet regularly and inspecting for fleas and ticks. Talk to your vet about the best method of tick and flea prevention. Most oral medications, shampoos, powders and collars are made for both cats and dogs.
Heartworm Lurks Where Mosquitoes Buzz
A heartworm is a mosquito-transmitted parasite – and we all know mosquitoes are just about everywhere during the summer. Though heartworm is common among dogs, many people don’t realize that cats are susceptible, too. Heartworm can be fatal, and its treatment is expensive and risky. Your best bet is to prevent the parasite head-on.
The first thing you should do is have your cat or dog tested each spring for heartworm. Then, talk to your doctor about the best preventative medication for your pet. There are many to choose from, like Heartguard and Sentinel, and most are made for both cats and dogs.
If an infected mosquito gets to your beloved pet before you get the proper prevention, look out for these symptoms and talk to your vet immediately:
Heartworm in dogs:
Soft, dry cough
Inability to exercise without wheezing or retching
Loss of consciousness
Fluid build up in the abdomen
Heartworm in cats:
Inability to eat
Some cats have no symptoms at all, but die suddenly
Watch Out For Skin Infections
Skin infections tend to develop in moist conditions. Dogs are especially sensitive to infections – a swim in the pool, a regular bath or even just a romp in wet grass can lead to moist skin that, if broken by a bite or scratch, can develop an infection.
Infections start out as “hot spots,” or raw lesions, that a dog may gnaw at and can lead to something worse, like eczema and other acute infections. Most infections respond to antibiotics, but some severe ones may need veterinarian attention. Prevent infections by making sure your pet is completely dry after a watery encounter and by regularly brushing and grooming.
Allergies can also lead to skin infections. Just as humans respond to allergies by sneezing and coughing, pets respond by scratching. Watch out for allergic reactions, like licking, biting or rubbing skin and alleviate your pet’s discomfort by bringing them inside, away from outdoor allergens.
Talk to your vet about the best way to combat allergies – there are a variety of medicines, special diet regimens, injections and shampoos that can ease reactions. You can even have your dog or cat tested ahead of allergy season – just talk to your vet about the various types of blood and skin testing.
Keep Tabs on Your Pet’s Vaccination Record
As you get ready for summer, make sure your pet’s health record is ready for the season, too. Keeping up-to-date with pet vaccinations is important year-round, but especially during the summer. When animals accompany you outdoors, they run the risk of meeting other animals (especially other dogs) that can carry diseases, like rabies. Other vaccines, like the kennel cough vaccine, can be administered on a semi-annual basis depending on how often you choose to board your animal. Keep that in mind when considering pet boarding services while you travel.
Be On the Look Out
This concludes Part I of the series for summer health consideration for pets. Keep an eye out for Part II, which will cover topics like the dangers of pesticides, pets and fireworks, and travel safety. In the meantime, check out www.pondpoint.com for pet health information or professional veterinary services if any questions or concerns arise.
K. Paul Rumble D.V.M. is the owner of Pond Point Animal Hospital in Milford, Connecticut, specializing in the care of companion animals including cats and dogs. He is a 1969 graduate of the Ontario Veterinary College and has been associated with Pond Point Animal Hospital since 1985. His special veterinary interests include animal dermatology, orthopedics and internal medicine.
For more information about the topic of pet health or their Milford, CT animal hospital, visit the website at www.pondpoint.com or contact Dr. Rumble and his staff at (203) 878-4646.
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