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Summertime Care For Your Pets

April 15, 2007 by Maria-Elena Cloherty, DVM

Our pets often beg and complain about prolonged separations, and subsequently we submit to their desire to share in our daily activities. But, often this is not what is in their best interest. In fact, this desire to be together frequently leads to situations that necessitate emergency care or to the death of one of our beloved pets. Here are some safety tips, as well as some suggestions, as to how to keep your pets comfortable, and healthy during the warmer months.

First, if our pets are to travel with us, be sure to provide adequate water for them. Sometimes, it is easier to bring a non-spill bowl with ice, so they can cool off, but not flood the car.

Do not feed your pet a “hearty” meal before undertaking travel, or putting them in a new situation that is potentially stressful. This may lead to episodes of vomiting, diarrhea, which can lead to severe dehydration, and if they pant/run excessively and are a large-chested dog can lead to “bloat” This condition is an emergency which often necessitates surgery if the stomach then torses.

Smaller, more frequent meals allow the pet some nourishment, without causing them to develop any gastrointestinal upset. Also, do not offer anything new (including rawhide treats) to their diet when in a new setting, as this too can lead to similar problems. And just like with humans, after eating, our pets should have a period of rest for digestion.

While riding in our vehicles, it is wisest to provide our cats, or dogs with some form of restraint. As comforting as it is for us, and them to have free roam, it can lead to motor vehicle accidents, as well as losses of our pets to escape or being thrown/jumping from the car.

For our canine pals there are shoulder harnesses that can attach by a buckle into the seat belt of cars/trucks. For smaller dogs & cats, a plastic or metal cage may be the best solution, as these can also provide a safe haven for pets to retreat to when away from their home surroundings.

If your pet joins you in exercise-running, rollerblading, etc., you may want to consider a harness, as opposed to a collar with leash, as this can prevent throat, neck trauma should you fall or go too fast for your pet to keep up. Dogs were made for short distance spurts of energy, not long distances, so you may need to gradually increase distances you travel together in order for your dog to keep up.

Should you take your dog to the beach, you should provide some form of shady area for your dog, as heat prostration, and sunburn can equally affect them. Since they only mildly sweat through the bottoms of their feet, and truly rely on panting to cool their bodies, this can lead to exhaustion & fever, well.

If the heat is overwhelming, and they are on the hot sand all day, they may injure their pads.

Dogs will often scavenge bits of shell, seafood, and leftovers from along the shore, so make sure to keep an eye on their every move to prevent an intestinal obstruction or toxicity. Do not let them gulp salt water, as this can lead them to vomit, which in turn can lead to dehydration.

Not all dogs will swim. So take this into account if you are to be out at sea, there are numerous products to make dogs more buoyant, life preservers, etc that can save their lives.

Finally, be careful with regards to preventing tick-borne diseases, and anemia due to flea parasitism. Frontline Plus, and various other veterinarian-touted products can help protect your pets from getting diseases that can create arthritis, organ dysfunction, even death.

When applying these topical preventatives, it is advised that you clip a dime-sized patch at the nape of their neck & slowly apply with pet standing on all fours (this goes for cats & dogs). These products should be applied every 28 days during months in which the temperature is consistently above 40s Fahrenheit.

You should also be combing out your pet’s coat on a daily basis to assess for insects, and look for any sores. If you have any difficulties removing an insect, call or make a visit to your veterinarian, or local groomer. It is best they are fully and safely removed by an expert.

Hope you all have a safe & happy summer!

- Maria-Elena Cloherty, DVM


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