Summer is here!! Along with the heat comes backyard BBQs, vacations and parasites! Learn what is out there that is dangerous to your pets and what you can do about it.
Outdoor barbeques are a time for family, friends and fun in the sun but… they can be fatal to your pet. How to keep your pet safe:
- If possible, keep your pet safely inside away from all the people and food. This protects them from the summer heat and all the dropped food.
- Don’t feed your pet human food – while delicious to us, it can cause many problems in your pet such as vomiting, diarrhea and pancreatitis.
- NEVER give your pet bones such as chicken or ribs to chew on – they can get stuck in their mouth or splinter off and swallowed – making a very sharp and dangerous foreign body traveling through the intestines.
- NEVER give your pet corn cobs as a toy – they can get stuck in their intestines and cost you thousands of dollars to remove; or worse – they may cost you your pet.
- Hot grills: Make sure your dog stays away. Even after the party or after grilling, you need to take extra care to avoid dropped grease or grease-covered coals in areas pets are exposed to. Dogs don’t care what they’re eating if it’s covered in something tasty!
- Most of us know not to give chocolate, onions or avocado to our pets (among other things), but did you know that grapes are toxic too? Also, beware of Xylitol — used as a sweetener in many products, including gum. Definitely do not give your pet alcohol
or let it be around marijuana smoke or edibles. It could be DEADLY! For a complete list of foods to avoid feeding your pet, check out: https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/people-foods-avoid-feeding-your-pets.
The most common cause of heat stroke is leaving your dog in a hot car with inadequate ventilation. A dog’s body temperature in this situation can elevate very rapidly – often within minutes.
Never leave your pet unattended in a parked car – not even “just for a minute” – this can be DEADLY! The temperature in your car can rise almost 20 degrees in just 10 minutes. Even on a 70 degree day, your car can become dangerously hot for your pet. Like a greenhouse, the sun heats up a mass of air trapped under glass. Cracking a window is not enough! If you see a dog in distress, call Animal Control.
It is important to remember that dogs cannot control their body temperature by sweating as humans do; their primary way of regulating body heat is panting. Remember that snub-nosed dogs like Pugs, Pekingese, Boston Terriers and Bulldogs have more labored breathing and so have an even harder time panting to stay cool. Go easy on these guys in the heat.
Other common causes of heat stroke include being left in a yard without access to shade or water on a hot day and excessive or vigorous exercise during hot temperatures. Limit exercise to the cooler hours in the mornings or evenings.
Summer Care Tips for Your Pet
- Don’t Put Your Pet in the Back of a Truck: Not only is it illegal in the City limits to have an untethered dog in the back of a pickup, it is very dangerous. Flying debris can cause serious injury and a dog may be unintentionally thrown into traffic if the driver suddenly hits the brakes, swerves, or is hit by another car. Dogs should ride either in the cab (in a crate or wearing a seat belt harness designed for dogs) or in a secured crate in the bed of the truck.
- Watch out For Fertilizers and Deadly Plants: Summer is often a time when people fertilize their lawns and work in their gardens. But beware: plant food, fertilizer, and insecticides can be fatal if your pet ingests them. You may be surprised at how many plants are actually toxic to your pet. For a detailed list, check out ASPCA’s site: https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/toxic-and-non-toxic-plants.
- Water Play: Prevent free access to pools and always supervise your pet in a pool. Provide plenty of water and shade for your
- pets while they’re enjoying the great outdoors so they can stay cool and hydrated.
- Did you know that dogs and cats can get sunburned? Pets with pink skin and white hair are especially susceptible to sunburn as are noses and ears and areas that don’t have much hair. Check with your veterinarian – you DON’T want to use zinc oxide or sunscreens with PABA (zinc can be toxic). A sunscreen that is safe for babies and has SPF 15 or greater is safe for pets. Just apply to exposed areas and start with a small test patch to make sure they don’t have a reaction to it. Always provide your pet with access to shade.
- Thunderstorms and other severe weather: With summer, bad weather can be a concern for pet owners. Thunder can have the same effect as fireworks, and lightening can also be scary to a pet. Try to leave the TV or music on or be with them during this time.
- Travel Tips: If you plan on traveling with your pet during the summer, take the time to prepare for your furry friends in advance. Many airlines have summer pet embargoes, and most trains and ships do not allow pets other than service animals. If you’re traveling by RV, make sure you have access to electricity at the campground or if you’re dry camping, have a generator so you can leave the AC on for your pet. If staying at a hotel, check out dog friendly accommodations and restaurants so you know where you can take your pet. Do your research ahead of time to know what your pet needs for travel.
- Keep your Dog on a Leash: A leash will help you to keep an eye on your dog and ultimately protect him from poisonous plants, wild animals, and a number of other dangerous situations. It’s the law in most cases and also common courtesy – if you’re out walking your dog, take other people and their dogs into consideration.
Fleas are more than a nuisance! You may not know:
- One adult flea can lay as many as 50 eggs a day and over 2000 eggs over a lifetime.
- Indoor cats are still at risk for fleas because they can be transmitted to them from a variety of sources including other pets and even people.
- Fleas may be carriers of parasites and disease-causing problems such as:
- Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD)
When a flea bites your cat or dog, it deposits a small amount of saliva in the skin. Your pet can develop FAD in reaction to this saliva, which causes severe itching. In addition to your pet scratching or biting excessively around the tail, groin or backside, scabs or bumps may also appear on your pet’s neck or back.
Anemia may occur in pets if too many fleas suck their blood. The signs of anemia include pale gums, weakness and lethargy in your pet.
Dogs or cats may become infected with tapeworms by ingestion of an infected flea. Pets may have intense anal itching, and tapeworm segments may be seen around the anal area or in the feces. These segments look like little pieces of white rice.
- Cat Scratch Fever
Although cats usually have no signs of the disease, it can be passed to people by contamination of cat scratches with flea excrement.
Infected cats may not have clinical signs or show symptoms, but this disease can be passed to humans through flea bites.
- Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD)
Ticks are more than gross! You may not know:
- Ticks can put their life cycle “on hold” during unfavorable conditions and wait until more favorable conditions arise and they find a suitable host to feed on.
- Ticks can carry several diseases that can be transmitted to pets and humans such as:
- Lyme Disease
A bacterial infection that infects both people and dogs, Lyme disease is carried by the deer tick. Signs include lameness, fever, loss of appetite, fatigue and enlargement of the lymph nodes.
An infectious blood disease that attacks your pet’s white blood cells. Signs include fever, depression, lameness, and loss of appetite.
- Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
Often transmitted by the American Dog Tick and the Wood Tick. Signs include fever, loss of appetite, coughing, bruising, lameness, depression, vomiting and diarrhea. If left untreated, permanent damage and even death may occur.
Acute signs may include fever, loss of appetite, and anemia. Shock, coma or death may also occur, especially in puppies.
- Lyme Disease
If your pet is demonstrating any of the above symptoms, a trip to your vet is advised. To avoid an infestation, flea and tick prevention should be administered to your pet monthly. The two main ways to protect your pet from fleas and ticks are: a topical liquid applied to your pet’s skin once a month OR an oral chewable treat your pet can eat once a month. Ask your veterinarian what is right for your pet and family.
See https://www.capcvet.org/contact/ for more information.
As we are seeing more and more mosquitoes this year, heartworm disease is something to be aware of and concerned about. Heartworm disease is very serious and possibly fatal in dogs and cats. Caused by worms living in the heart, lungs and blood vessels, heartworm disease can cause heart failure and lung disease to the host (your pet). Adult worms can be anywhere from 6-12 inches long and can live for up to 7 years in your pet’s body. A single dog can have several hundred worms living in it at a time.
Dogs are the natural host for the worm – this means the worms mature inside your dog, mate and produce baby worms.
Heartworms are spread by mosquitos and affect dogs, cats, ferrets, wolves, coyotes and foxes. If the climate is right for mosquitos to be out – they can spread heartworm disease. For a map of heartworm disease in this area, see https://www.capcvet.org/maps/#2018/all/heartworm-canine/dog/united-states/.
Prevention of Heartworm Disease:
Heartworm prevention works on the babies and the transforming stages inside the dog. It does not work to kill adult worms.
Prevention is given every 30 days (it takes ~60 days for the transformations to happen inside the dog). Most heartworm prevention is ALSO a monthly de-wormer against intestinal parasites such as roundworms, hookworms, whipworms and some offer tapeworm.
There are several forms of heartworm prevention to choose from – flavored chewable tablets, unflavored tablets and injectable. Talk with your veterinarian to see which is right for your pet and family.
Brief overview of the heartworm life cycle:
- Microfilariae (babies) live in blood of infected dog
- Microfilariae are ingested by female mosquito
- The baby worm transforms inside the mosquito until it reaches the infective stage
- The above transformation is temperature dependent and takes ~2 weeks
- This takes longer in cooler temps and stops at temps below 57°F
- When the temperature warms up again (~70°F), development will resume
- SO – the WY summer months provide adequate temperatures for the mosquito to develop and spread the baby heartworms
- The infective stage is deposited into the new host (dog, cat, fox, coyote)
- Two more transformations happen inside the new host
- This takes ~2 months
- Worms are fully mature ~6 months after initial infection.
Diagnosing Heartworm Disease:
There are several blood tests to diagnose heartworm disease, some tests will also screen for tick borne disease. The blood test detects a protein found only in the FEMALE worm. False negative tests may happen if:
- There is a low worm burden
- There is a male only infection
Ask your veterinarian which test is available for you.
Being aware of all the potential summertime hazards – and knowing how to avoid, prevent and/or treat them certainly will make for a better season — for you and your pet!