Keeping pets safe and healthy through the summer can sometimes be a challenge. Extreme heat, mosquitoes and bugs, thunder storms and lightning, fireworks, and just playing outside, can all present a risk to our pets. So for those of you sharing your summer fun with Spot or Fluffy, here some tips to help keep your pet safe and healthy.
Heat Stroke: Pets (with their fur coats) can easily become overheated. Whether you are just playing in the yard or traveling about, have plenty of cool, clean water available. You can purchase collapsible bowls at most pet stores.
Consider buying a small, hard-sided, child’s wading pool. When filled with cool, clean water, most dogs will gladly use it to cool themselves down. Save jogging or long walks/hikes with your dog for early morning or late evening when it is cooler outside. Never place household rabbits, pocket pets or birds outside in a sunny spot. They are not used to the heat and can become overwhelmed by it in a very short time.
Never leave your pet in the car even if you have the windows cracked opened slightly. The inside of a car can heat up to over a life-threatening 110 degrees in just a few minutes. And no matter how much your dog loves riding in the car, it’s just not worth the chance of losing him to heat stroke.
Use common sense, if it feels hot to you outside, it is hot for your pet. Do not allow your pet to overexert itself. Keep them inside where it is cool. What do you do if your pet is suffering from heat stroke? Click here for advice on that and other potential emergencies..
Water Safety: Yes, most dogs can swim very well, but even the strongest swimmers can be overcome by large waves at the beach or can wear out in the water. If you are at the beach, out on a boat, or just hanging out at the backyard pool, put a canine life-vest (or feline life-vest if your cat is going boating with you) on your swimming buddy – it could save his life. And never toss a toy so far out in the water that you could not easily and quickly get to your pet should it develop difficultly while trying to retrieve the toy. By wiping out your dog’s ears after each swimming session you avoid the possibility of a painful ear infection.
When allowing you dog access to lakes, creeks and rivers, beware of broken glass, fish hooks, and other debris that, unfortunately, is often found in these waters. Take along a pet 1st aid kit, and call us ASAP should your pet injure itself on one of these excursions.
Heartworm Disease: Although the prevalence of heartworm disease in Frederick County is less than 1%, outside of Frederick County the prevalence can rise to 50-80% in unprotected dogs. The closer you are to the Bay or beach the greater the risk as heartworm disease is carried by mosquitoes. If you take frequent trips to the beach (or anywhere outside Frederick) with your dog, he needs to be placed on a heartworm preventative. This preventive is given once a month, and protects your dog not only against heartworms but intestinal parasites as well. If your dog is not currently on a heartworm preventative, he will need to be tested first to make sure he isn’t already infected. This is a simple blood test which has the added benefit of testing him for Lyme disease at the same time.
Travel with Your Pet: First and foremost, have your pet microchipped. We cannot stress this enough. Microchipping is a permanent form of identification that will increase the chances of reuniting with your beloved pet should you become separated. If you are traveling by car, your pet should be restrained either in a crate/carrier or by a seatbelt harness. Not only could this save your pet’s life should you be involved in a car accident but having them restrained will keep them from distracting you while you are driving. You can purchase special pet harnesses at most pet stores. And remember as mentioned above, NEVER leave your pet unattended in a parked car.
If you are traveling by plane, you will need to get a health certificate from your veterinarian no more than 10 days prior to flight. It is also wise to check with the airline as to how your pet will be shipped (cargo vs. passenger compartment). We can make recommendations that will make the flight more comfortable for your pet.
Thunderstorms/Fireworks: No other season has as many loud noises associated with it as summer does. Thunderstorms are overly abundant and fireworks seem to be the weekend norm. Many pets, but especially dogs, may have intense fear of loud noises.
Many noise phobias can be managed successfully with behavioral modification techniques. Others will require both behavior modification and the use of medications. There are many treatment options available.
Some Suggestions That Will Help Your Dog Cope With Loud Noises:
- Make sure your dog is in a secure environment and can’t escape
- Try to ignore signs of stress and reward any calm relaxed behavior
- Close the curtains and turn on the radio or TV
- Feed him before the noise starts – he’ll be more relaxed with a full belly
- Don’t leave him alone if at all possible – but don’t coddle him either
- Choose safe times for exercise and toileting
- Occupy him with food-filled toys such as a Kong
- Ensure that he’s wearing a collar and identification (better yet, make sure he is microchipped) in case of escape
If your pet suffers from noise phobia, we can help. Call and speak with one of our doctors so together we can find the best treatment option for you and your pet.