Vet Talk: Summer Safety For Your Dog and Cat

For this month’s column I’d like to focus on summer-related safety issues relevant to every pet’s health.{{more}}

Beat the Heat: Heat stroke or exhaustion can happen very quickly during hot and humid weather. Prolonged exposure to the sun, heat, and outdoor play can increase the risk of this potentially fatal condition. Watch for early symptoms such as heavy panting, drooling, and redness in the gums and get your pet out of the heat before more serious symptoms arise. If your pet is panting heavily and failing to move and/or has white or blue gums, call your veterinarian immediately.

Pets Don’t Sweat: Dogs and cats deal with the heat using very different mechanisms than humans. They do not have sweat glands except for in their pads and feet. They rely heavily on panting as their primary method for keeping cool.

Wild Life! Wildlife is more active during the summer. Ensure your pet is current on rabies vaccination, whether your pet goes outside or not. If your pet is not vaccinated and has contact with wildlife, a lengthy quarantine due to risk of exposure may be necessary. Rabies is a communicable disease and family members will also be at risk.

Parasites Abound There are numerous safe products available for pets to protect them against fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes. Allergic reactions from flea saliva are common. If your pet is experiencing severe itchiness, rash, or scabs contact your veterinarian.

Bugs and the Bees Bee sting and bug bite reactions are common, especially in dogs that are bee chasers (and eaters!). Symptoms of an allergic reaction include swelling of the face, itchiness with bumps or hives, and general discomfort. Timely treatment by your veterinarian usually will ensure a quick recovery.

BBQ Crashers (I think he ate the bones!) It is common at family picnics and parties for pets to get in on the fun and steal from someone’s plate. Be aware that any table food may cause gastrointestinal upset and in some cases pancreatitis which oftentimes requires intensive hospital care.

Short in the face, long winded Certain breeds such as pugs and bulldogs need special care when outdoors due to their anatomy (brachycephalic or short head). They do not pant as efficiently as other breeds. I suggest early morning or late day walks and limited time out in the sun.

Swimming Care must be taken with pets and pool swimming. Rinse your pet with fresh water after swimming in the pool, lake, or the ocean. Chlorine can be a skin irritant, and bacteria and salt can also affect your pet. Do not allow your pet to drink pool water as the chlorine can cause stomach upset if a large amount is ingested.

Dr. Marc can be reached at Orange Veterinary Hospital 203-795-6091.