Summertime Pet Care

Summer time has many glories, especially when it comes to long days spent out of doors with our four-legged friends. However, the season also poses some risks for the furriest members of our families. We asked Dr. Kristen Lohr and Dr. Keith Kennedy at Devon Veterinary Hospital in Devon, PA for the best advice on how to get the most out of the summer months while keeping our pets happy and healthy.

Flea and tick preventative is non-negotiable. Fleas, ticks and mosquitos all affect household pets and there are lots of options out there for prevention. “Knowing which product to use will depend on your pet’s lifestyle and recommendations by your veterinarian,” Lohr says. Keep in mind that medications suitable for dogs can be toxic to cats, so discuss the safest options with your vet. Here’s the lowdown on the two different forms of flea and tick medications:

  • Spot-On Treatments: Topical flea and tick treatments are the most common and are very effective. The liquid is applied monthly and is generally well tolerated by both cats and dogs. If you live in a high flea and tick area, request one with a repellency factor for the best protection.  
  • Oral Flea and Tick Medications: This is the newest addition to the market and it’s desired for its ease of use. However, these medications require a prescription from your veterinarian.

Keep an eye out for heat stroke. Summer heat and humidity can be very dangerous for pets, especially breeds with short muzzles (bulldogs, pugs, etc.). “These breeds can overheat and have difficulty breathing,” Kennedy cautions. Regardless of the breed, he advises that you know the signs of heat stroke, which include: heavy panting, glazed eyes, rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing, lethargy, fever, loss of coordination, profuse salivation, vomiting, seizure and unconsciousness. “If you witness any of these signs, get your pet to into an air conditioned or a shady spot and apply cool, not cold,  towels or water to their body. Offer small amounts of water to drink and take them directly to a veterinarian.”

Limit exercise on hot days. Talk to your vet about the temperature limit for vigorous exercise for your breed; it varies depending on their coat. That said, “It’s a good idea to exercise only in morning or evening hours,” Kennedy suggests. “Also, keep in mind that asphalt and dark hard surfaces can get very hot, burning their paws.” To prevent dehydration, Kenney recommends keeping water for your pet with you at all times.

Take heed of thunder and fireworks. Some pets do just fine with the thunder boomers and pyrotechnic celebrations of  summer, while others hide under the bed at the first hint of a loud noise. “If your pet seems nervous, hides, salivates or trembles, they may have a noise phobia,” Lohr says. “Your veterinarian can help you create a safe environment, and in some cases recommend medication to ease the anxiety.”

Avoid boarding stress. If your travel plans don’t allow for fido to join, boarding is always an option. Anxiety over leaving home sometimes manifests itself as digestive upsets. Minimize that by bringing your pet’s regular food instead of using the kennel supplied kibble. Kennedy also counsels that if your pet is especially anxious, you can ask that they move to a quieter, semi-isolated section of the facility. For dogs, group play sessions are optional, so maybe it’s best if your pup opts out.

Hanging in a parked car is always a no-no. We’ve all heard this before, but it bears repeating. “Never leave your pet in a parked car on a warm day with no air condition,” Lohr warns. Even if it’s for a quick five-minute errand. Automobiles heat up quickly and in matter of minutes your pet could suffer from extreme temperatures, causing irreversible organ damage or death.

Hit the beach around sunset. While it’s fun to watch a dog frolicking in the surf, the beach isn’t always the safest place for them. Lohr reminds that dogs are often not allowed, but if they are, be sure you only go in the late evening when the sand has sufficiently cooled. If you’re at the lake or river, beware of stagnant water and only allow them to drink water that is running and clear. Wherever your summer excursions take you, be sure there is always sufficient shade available for your pet.