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Summertime Worries for Cats and Dogs

Author: Dr. Nicole Fenner

Often our pets come along with us to join in summer fun. However, when temperatures rise, dangers to pets also increase. Here are some warm weather worries that you should look out for:
Heat Stroke:

When heat increases faster than an animal can dispel it, this can lead to heat stroke. As heat stroke advances, an animal’s blood pressure decreases, without treatment, it results in organ damage. Seizures, coma, and death are possibilities.

Certain dogs are at increased risk for heat stroke. These include large breeds, especially animals with thick or dark coats, as well as pets with conditions such as obesity, and respiratory tract disease. Brachycephalic canines (i.e., bulldogs and pugs) are at serious risk. Protect these dogs by making sure they stay cool.

Keep in mind that heat stroke happens quickly, especially in environments that are poorly ventilated. An example of this is inside a car with the windows closed. Temperatures in a closed car can exceed 100 degrees F in less than 20 minutes even when the outside temperatures are still in the 70s. Your pet could die in less than one hour. DO NOT LEAVE YOUR PET IN THE CAR during these warm or hot times of the year. 

Make sure your pet has access to water at all times. Bring portable water bowls on any outdoor adventure. At home use fans, ice cubes, baby pools, and sprinklers to keep your pet cool. Think of the fun your dog and kids can have running through the sprinkler.

Common signs of heat stroke include lethargy, excessive panting, collapse, vomiting, diarrhea, incoordination, salivation, and dehydration. Less common signs of heat stroke include shaking, altered mood, blue color to gums, swollen tongue, whining, wheezing, and big pupils.

Get your pet to the nearest veterinary clinic immediately. Intervene quickly with cooling measures before arrival at the vet. First, move your pet into air conditioning or shade. Spray him/her with cool water or cover with towels soaked in cool water. DO NOT use cold water, which can worsen heat stroke. Death from heat stroke typically occurs within 24 hours. Therefore, rapid treatment is extremely important.
Cookouts galore
Cookouts can be heaven for our four-legged family members who want to feast on table scraps. Many foods at cookouts shouldn't be on your dog’s menu. Some foods can cause diarrhea and vomiting. Corn on the cob is dangerous; dogs have trouble digesting the corncob, which is also a choking hazard and if it reaches your pets intestines, it can cause a life threatening blockage. Additionally, bones are difficult to digest, causing intestinal injury. Talk to guests prior to summer parties. Remind them that your pet isn't allowed to have table scraps.
Splash!
Several dogs can’t swim, especially breeds like pugs, bulldogs, and dachshunds,. Therefore, before opening your pool or heading to the beach, buy your pet a flotation device. Boating trips are fun, especially when you take your dog along for the ride, but make sure he/she doesn't jump overboard. And never force your pet into the water. Imagine being afraid of water. How would it feel if someone pushed you in?
If your pet does decide to get wet, always rinse off afterwards. Whether it’s chlorine from the pool or the salt and bacteria from river water, these are skin irritants for some animals. Also, drinking salt water or chlorinated pool water can be hazardous.
Note: At the beach, watch your dog! Some dogs eat sand. Don't allow it! If they eat too much sand, it is fatal.
Buzz Buzz

It is common to see a dog with a swollen face and muzzle. Has your dog been in a boxing match? No, most likely the culprit is a bee. Buzzing bees arouse your pet's curiosity inspiring them to investigate resulting in bee stings. Often, nothing needs to be done; however, if the swelling is significant, call your veterinarian, an examination and injectable medications may be needed to stop the allergic reaction.

Ouch!  My feet hurt…

Certain areas are extremely hot to walk on without foot protection.  Remember pets don't wear shoes (at least not normally), so it's easy for them to burn their paws on hot pavement. Think about what surface pets are walking on. Can you walk on that without burning your feet? If not, then chances are your pet can't either.

Avoid sunny routes in the summer, instead walk your dog in the shade. Keep away from hot surfaces. Walk during cooler times of the day. You can cover your pet’s paws with booties, but they really don’t like them. If you're not one to plan walks, maybe you can carry booties for emergencies especially with a dog that's too big to carry. But please, be sure the booties are stylish and match the collar. Don't make your dog suffer more humiliation than necessary.

Mosquitoes, Fleas, and Ticks, Oh My!

With the warmer months, comes an insurgence of mosquitoes, fleas and ticks.  Mosquitoes are pesky critters that transmit heartworms to cats and dogs. There is no escaping them, so the only way you can prevent heartworms is by using monthly heartworm preventatives. Trust me, you want to prevent heartworm infestation and NOT have to treat the disease. In dogs, the treatment for heartworms is expensive with risk of death.  Unfortunately, in cats, there's no reliable treatment so prevention is key.

It is difficult to get rid of fleas. For every adult flea you see, there are thousands more hiding beneath the surface. Fleas are active year round. Contrary to popular belief, they don't go away in the winter and the eggs and larval stages can live in your carpets, so keep all pets on year round monthly flea prevention.

Ticks are experts at transmitting diseases. Everyone has heard of Lyme disease and its effect on humans and dogs. But Lyme disease is not the only infection spread by ticks. Other diseases include Ehrlichia, Anaplasma and Rocky Mounted Spotted Fever. Keep your pet on tick prevention and consider the Lyme vaccine for your dog to minimize the risk of contracting the disease.


To protect your four-legged family members during the hot weather, please take precautions. It’s important to prevent injury and keep pets comfortable during the upcoming months.  Ask your veterinarian about the best way to protect your pets from the summer hazards.  At Calvert Veterinary Center we will be happy to discuss protecting your pet, just give us a call 410-360-PAWS (7297).

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