Summer Health Tips for Pets – Hot Dogs and Cool Cats

L.A. veterinarian Dr. Baum describes some basic and important ways you can protect your pet in his article, 'Summer Health Tips for Pets - Hot Dogs and Cool Cats.'

Seasonal Pet Health Care Tips and Alerts – Summer Sizzlers

During the summertime, my already very busy practice becomes very, very, very busy. The effects of the warm weather coupled with the activities that are spawned produce a much greater demand for veterinary services. Let’s look at a few of the more common problems and how, with a little planning and common sense, they may be avoided or minimized.

Obviously, the heat is a major factor in producing problems and in some cases heat stroke and death can be the consequence of ignorance or neglect. Never leave any pet in a car that is outside. Even in the shade, temperatures can elevate within minutes to fatal proportions. Park in subterranean garages with the windows slightly ajar. When taking your pet on a walk, avoid the hot pavements, stay on grass or dirt to minimize injury to the pads of the feet. Always carry a sprayer bottle with water to use both as a source of drinking water (spray a mist into the mouth) and as a cooling spray to their coat. Even our cool cats, who know that its better to take it easy during the heat of the day need to have access to fresh water to avoid dehydration. Rabbits are the most susceptible to heat stroke and their hutch must be kept in the shade as well as providing access to iced water.

Skin problems abound in the summer. Allergies to plants and pollens are the primary culprits and frequently fleas and ticks exacerbate the pet’s itchiness. Products like advantage and frontline effectively control the parasitic aspects. Weekly bathing may offer some relief to irritated skin, but in the more severe cases cortisone or antihistamines may be needed.

Picnics and barbecues are great fun for the entire family but very often our furry friends fall victim to the largesse of the partiers. Food scraps, especially chicken skins and rib bones are often the culprits in instigating violent gastrointestinal distress. Rather than having the partygoers offer food from their plates, be sure to have snacks and treats that your pets are used to, available for your guests to dole out.

Summertime is vacation time and traveling with our pets certainly increases significantly. Whether you are traveling by airplane or by car be sure to familiarize your pets with their pet carriers beforehand. For several days before your journey, allow access to the carrier. Be sure to place a familiar blanket or toy in the carrier. Make sure the carrier is large enough to allow standing and turning around. For cats, be sure to have enough room for a small litter box. When traveling by plane be sure to not feed within six hours of the flight thereby allowing enough time for elimination prior to boarding the aircraft. As for tranquilization, most cats actually tolerate travel better when they are not sedated. If your dog tends to be nervous in strange situations it is a good idea to administer an oral sedative one hour prior to leaving for the airport. Some dogs become excited when traveling in cars- this is often brought on by the anticipation of a visit to the veterinarian or by motion sickness. Frequent drives that do not end up at an animal hospital can inure Fido to the first stress, a child’s dose of Dramamine will do wonders for the second.

Bite wounds resulting from fights increase during the spring and summer. For outdoor cats, rivalries for a queen’s favors during the mating season often result in abscess formation. Territorial squabbles among dogs running freely in the park or at the beach often result in wounds that need repair. Keeping your dog on a leash, especially if he has aggressive tendencies or if there are other dogs of unknown disposition present can often prevent these encounters from getting out of hand.

Have a happy and safe summer!!!


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