Now that summer is officially here, there are additional needs when providing safe care for your pet. The heat, along with encounters from wildlife and insects, can stress your pets.
“Summer is a great time to spend outside with your pet, but it does pose additional health risks,” according to Kim Krause, DVM, of the Animal Medical and Surgical Clinic in Wisconsin Rapids.
To avoid common summertime accidents and injuries, prevention is the key.
Dr. Krause suggests constant access to water for your pet along with a shady area for your pet to play in. For a brachycephalic breed (characterized by short and wide skulls such as pugs and bulldogs), air conditioning is best.
Additional preparations before a day outside should include pet-specific sunscreen for pets with thin, short or missing fur and for those with light-colored noses. Dr. Krause recommends avoiding exercise during hot or humid weather as well as during the hottest times of the day.
Summer can also bring encounters with insects, parasites, and wildlife such as skunks, porcupines or snakes.
“Parasite control is very important,” Dr. Krause says. “Discuss with your veterinarian the best preventative measures to keep your pet healthy.”
As for other preventative care, Dr. Krause suggests to “keep your pet fit – overweight pets are at an increased risk [of heat stress].”
According to Dr. Krause, heat stress in pets occurs when the level of heat rises quickly and exceeds the body’s ability to release heat. This elevated body temperature causes injury to the body’s cells and thermal damage to tissues.
“[Heat stress] can be fatal,” Dr. Krause states. “Never leave a pet in a parked car – even for a few minutes with the windows partially open – fatal heat stroke can occur within minutes.”
Early signs of heat stress consist of uncontrollable panting, increased thirst and shade-seeking behavior. Weakness and diarrhea are severe symptoms along with collapsing, vomiting and seizing. For a pet in heat stress, Dr. Krause recommends wetting the pet down with cool (not cold) water, turning a fan on the pet, and seeking veterinary attention. When suspecting heat stroke, owners should immediately contact their veterinarian.
Since dogs do not sweat like humans, the mortality rate is higher when treatment of heat stroke is delayed, explains Dr. Krause. This is because dogs mainly release heat by panting. Dr. Krause also notes that cats will pant only if they get really hot. Both dogs and cats sweat a little through their paws, but it is inefficient at dissipating heat.
Lawn chemicals can pose another challenge to pets during the summer months. Fertilizer, pesticides, fly bait, insecticides, rodent bait and poisons should be kept out of reach, suggests Dr. Krause.
Summer time is an enjoyable time for you and your pets, so be sure to prepare your pets and be extra cautious while spending time in the summer heat.
To make sure you and your pets are prepared for the summer, contact your local WVMA veterinarian. Find one online at www.wvma.org!
Wisconsin Veterinary Medical Association 2801 Crossroads Drive, Suite 1200 | Madison, WI 53718 | Phone: (608) 257-3665 | Fax: (608) 257-8989
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