Veterinarian - San Diego
1540 Morena Boulevard
San Diego, CA 92110
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Now that the ‘dog days of summer’ are upon us, you can make them even more enjoyable by sharing them with your favorite pet. While your pet is having a tail-wagging good time in the summer sun, here are some pet safety tips to ensure your furry companion remains happy, healthy, and safe all summer long.
Visit Your Veterinarian-
A visit to the veterinarian for an early summer health check-up is a must. Your veterinary team can help you make the best choice for flea, parasite, and heartworm prevention in order to prepare your pet for warm weather. If your pet has not been on a year-round prevention, it is important to have your pet be thoroughly examined, and have a fecal and heartworm test ran.
In addition to extreme discomfort, fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes can also cause serious health problems in your pet. Fleas can cause extreme skin irritation and in severe cases can cause pets to become anemic. Tick bites are a concern for pets because they can transmit Lyme disease, a bacterial infection causing joint inflammation and more serious complications of the kidney, heart, and nervous system. Mosquitoes can transmit heartworms to your cat or dog, which can also prove fatal.
At your visit, make sure your pet’s vaccinations are up-to-date. Since your pets tend to be outdoors longer in the summer months, they may come into contact with other animals more frequently while at dog parks, dog beaches, etc.
Keep Things Cool-
Pets have the tendency to get dehydrated quickly, so ensure you always have plenty of fresh, clean water available for them. If you are traveling with your pet, bring along some water and a bowl. It is also important that your pets have access to a shady place to keep cool.
Note: Doghouses are not good shelter options during the summer as they can trap heat.
Some Pets Have a Harder Time Than Others in the Heat-
Elderly, very young, and ill animals have a more difficult time regulating their body temperature, so it is imperative that they stay cool and out of the sun on extremely hot days. Brachycephalic breeds with pushed-in noses, such as Pugs, Pekingese, and Bulldogs, have a hard time cooling themselves since they cannot pant efficiently. They too should stay out of the heat. Overweight dogs have the tendency to trap heat in their bodies, restricting their breathing capabilities. In extreme heat, it may be best to keep them indoors and to avoid strenuous exercise. Try taking walks in the early mornings or evenings when the sun is less intense.
No Pets Left Behind-
Never ever under any circumstances leave your pet alone in a parked vehicle. Even with the windows open, a car can easily transform into a furnace in the matter of minutes. Because of the severity of this issue, several states have now made it illegal to leave pets unattended in cars in extreme weather.
No Dogs Allowed-
It may seem like fun to run errands with your pet, but if you cannot bring your dog inside the store, it’s best to leave him/her at home. Leaving a pet unattended, tied up outside the store is hazardous as they are left exposed to the hot sun. Unfortunately, not all people are animal lovers either, and could potentially harm your pet or even set your pet free to roam the neighborhood.
Supervise pets around pools, lakes, and oceans-
Don’t leave pets unsupervised around a pool or lake (remember not all dogs are expert swimmers). If you do plan on taking your dog into the water, best to have a doggie life jacket. Also, beware of the possible chlorine and other toxic chemicals that can cause stomach upset. Other natural "doggie bowls," such as puddles, ponds and bay water—may contain parasites.
Be sure to keep your pets off any chemically treated or fertilized lawns for at least 24 hours (or according to instructions). Keep your pets a far distance away from potentially toxic plants and flowers, as well as citronella candles, insecticides, rat poison, and antifreeze. Asphalt is also a danger, as it can quickly get hot enough to burn a pet’s paw pads. On hot days, walk your dog on grass or dirt where it’s cooler. Lastly, beware of wildlife that may pose a danger to your pet.
Pet Makeovers, Ooh La La-
You may wish to get your pet groomed during the summer months, especially if your pet is prone to mats and tangles. Brushing pets more often than usual is another method to prevent problems caused by excessive heat. Remember to apply sunscreen to your newly groomed pet, especially since they will be more prone to sunburn with a shorter coat. Make sure to use a sunscreen product labeled specifically for use on animals, such as EpiPet Sunscreen.
Most Importantly, Know the Symptoms-
Heatstroke is a medical emergency and must be treated immediately. Some of the common symptoms of overheating include difficulty breathing, excessive panting, drooling, increased heart rate, dizziness, collapse, diarrhea, vomiting, and elevated temperature of over 104 degrees.
Even with medical treatment, heatstroke can prove fatal. For more information please refer to our Pet Care Library article, Heat Stroke in Dogs.
Ultimately, the best cure is PREVENTION! With ample precaution, both you and your wet-nosed friend can enjoy these long, hot ‘dog days of summer’.
For additional summer pet safety tips, please refer to the following:
American Kennel Club http://www.akc.org/public_education/summer_safety.cfm