Summer is finally here! We suffered through the cold, icy winter and rainy spring with our animal companions, and now we can bask in the summer sun... This is a joyous time of year, however it can also be a dangerous time for our animal friends. Hopefully, by following a few friendly suggestions we can avoid problems and trips to the emergency room.
The heat itself poses a threat, as dogs and cats do not perspire as we do. Furthermore, they have fur coats!! Imagine wearing your favorite ski jacket in July?! Their coats trap moisture and make it very difficult to cool off. Panting is one of their only methods to allow heat to dissipate. We can help our furry friends by always keeping fresh water available, providing shade when outside and minimizing exposure to excessive heat (over 85 degrees). This means leaving an animal in a parked car is never acceptable. Temperatures rise very quickly and can cause serious problems, even death. Every summer we hear about an animal left in a car, only to meet their demise. Leave your pet at home when you do errands, it is much safer and cooler than in a closed car. Exercise needs to be limited during excessive heat also. This includes running and walking. Many times I have seen animals succumb to heat stroke during their favorite exercise regime during the summer months. We often think that our canine companions can keep up with us despite the temperature fluctuations, which is not the case. The best option is to limit your jaunts to 10 minutes during excessive heat, carry a collapsible water bowl and stop if your companion is panting strenuously. If you suspect that your friend is suffering from heat stress, try to gradually reduce the temperature by spraying with cool water and placing ice packs along the head and neck. Consult Drs. Carlson or McIntyre immediately.
External parasites, such as fleas and ticks, certainly are a nuisance to us all. Unfortunately, they spell disease for our canine companions. Ticks spread Lyme disease and Ehrlichiosis, both, which can be devastating if left untreated. Ask Drs. Carlson or McIntyre for recommendations to protect your companion from ticks. Special safe and waterproof prescription products can prevent flea and tick infestations and tick collars are designed to help in the problem areas. As always, a monthly Heartworm preventative is recommended to keep your pet free of Heartworm disease.
Insect bites are a frequent complaint during the summer months. Keeping an antihistamine, such as Benadryl, on hand is ideal for these situations. Consult Drs. Carlson or McIntyre for dosages and advice. If the bite causes mild swelling, an oral antihistamine may be adequate. When the swelling causes the animal to have difficulty breathing, do not delay and proceed to our animal clinic.
Family vacations are a wonderful way for all of the members to bond and relax. Please remember your animal companions special needs. Ample food, water and any medications should be brought. A first aid kit for your pet can be easily made. Gauze bandages, cotton balls, hydrogen peroxide, triple-antibiotic ointment, syrup of Ipecac and stretch bandages can be gathered together for emergencies. In addition, do some homework before you go and locate the nearest animal emergency room. Being prepared is always the best plan.
Beautiful plants and flowers bloom during the spring and summer, which are lovely to look at, but are potentially toxic to your pet. Hibiscus, Aloe Vera, Asparagus Fern and Foxglove are all examples of potentially hazardous plants. Call us for a complete list. If you suspect your pet has been poisoned consult Drs. Carlson or McIntyre or the National Animal Poison Control Center (NAPCC). The NAPCC has a diverse range of information from plants to drugs to household cleaning products. This is not a free call. The NAPCC is a non-profit, cost recovery program of the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine and is staffed with Veterinary Toxicologists. The twenty-four hour number is 1-888-426-4435. Please ask for details regarding the consultation fee.
Ponds and lagoons, which contain stagnant water, can be potentially dangerous. Blue Green Algae can accumulate to dangerous levels and may be acutely fatal to your canine companion. Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease, which can be contracted in bodies of water, especially those with poor circulation. Overall, it is best to keep your pet out of non-circulating bodies of water. Kiddie pools can be an enormous amount of fun when your pet is allowed to splash about in the safety of your own yard. Be careful to empty the water each time and no co-mingling of humans and pets please!
Hopefully, you and your animal companions will have a safe and happy summer. Healthy wishes to you all!