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Part One of Two

by Diana Guerrero 
Copyright© 1997 By Diana Guerrero 

The following article has been provided by the above author. All copy rights are held by the author and any reproduction of this material in whole or in part must have the authors approval. 



Different seasons bring different concerns for all pets. The hot weather air, dryness, and other challenges complicate life for all the different species and especially those pampered pets. Here is a partial listing of tips and considerations. 
This is probably the biggest concern around warmer weather. Most people do not understand that dogs cannot sweat to cool themselves and overheat easily. Vehicles are death traps to pet in the summer but there are other notes of concern too.

Make sure that you are alert to hot pavement and sidewalks that could burn your precious pet’s paws. Avoid exercise in the heat of the day and plan walks or activities for the early morning or evening instead. You should also consider bringing your pet into a cooler area during the heat of mid-day as relief from the heat if they are outdoors.

Make sure the pet has access to cool fresh water and to shade. Any housing or kennels should also be in the shade so that they remain cool. Child wading pools and access to cool basements are two other alternatives to provide for cooling off your pet.

Also be sensitive to short muzzled dogs and older or overweight pets since they can be more susceptible to heat related stress problems. Check with your veterinarian on how to do emergency procedures if you do encounter heat stroke in an animal.

Many people think that they should shave their dogs for the summer. Usually, if the coat is kept clean and in good condition, it is better to leave the coat as is, unless the dog shows extreme discomfort. Heavy coats provide insulation in both cold and hot weather. Shaving the animal could create more of a problem. Leave the coat, but make sure it is kept free of tangles, mats, and items such as burs, seeds pods, and twigs.
Summer time heat means dried plants and foxtails and other such dangers. It is extremely important to keep your pet out of these weeds and to check the ears, eyes, paws, arm pits, anal area, and coat for them when you come in from a jaunt in the outdoors.

If you notice any signs of discomfort after you have been in an area filled with such plant life, please see a veterinarian immediately. You may not be able to detect the culprit but you could save your animal’s life by early detection.

These seed pods or burs can travel through the skin and passages and cause serious injury and even death if not caught early. Abscesses and other complications are some of the minor effects of these nasty things.

Summertime blues for most pet owners are fleas. Once you have them they are hard to control. The best prevention is a consistent program that covers several areas; these are your pet, indoor control, and outdoor control. You should always buy quality products from pet professionals since these products need to be both effective and as safe as possible for your pets and home. Be sure to get the proper product for your pet. Cats require different products than dogs and the wrong product could be dangerous.

The first step is animal pest control with a topical or internal product. "Advantage" is an example of a topical. It kills the fleas and prevents their reproduction. This will last a month or more if your animal does not go into the water or have a bath. You can get a prescription or the product from your veterinarian.

The internal product that has been popular is called "Program," it is taken orally once a month and prevents reproduction. It does not kill any of the fleas! Several colleagues have said it looses the effectiveness after a couple of years and many medications or related products that work internally may cause side effects on the animal later. This is also a product available from your veterinarian.

The next item in flea control is geared for indoor control. These include flea bombs, topical sprays and carpet additives. They should be applied every four to six weeks through the flea season. Treatment should include carpeting, furniture, bedding, and other blankets or related pet abodes.

The last area of control is slated for outdoor control. There are sprays and larval products that destroy the flea eggs and larvae so they do not produce mature fleas. These also should be applied every four to six weeks. There are professional services that do this or check with your local pet store, feed store, or hardware store.

Be sure to include a flea comb session with your animals when they come back from a hike. Use a bucket with warm soapy water to deposit fleas in once you comb them out. Otherwise they will swim and escape by jumping out! Regular baths help control the situation too. Any non-toxic shampoo product will kill fleas if it is left on the animal five to ten minutes.

Another trick is to use a nightlight with a pan of soapy water underneath to catch the fleas at night. Newer products on the market use light to attract and trap the fleas with sticky paper and other creative trays for water. Remember that if you have stray animals wandering around your house or have visiting animals they can introduce a couple of fleas and get the horrendous cycle going again!

Burns and overeating can be a problem in the summer with barbecues and picnics. Always take care to cover or monitor barbecue grills and food while it is cooking. Cover the grill when not attended, or when you are done, to prevent burns.

Many dogs, especially larger breeds, can suffer from bloat or torsion twist if they overeat or are over active after a meal. These types of cases seem to be more common in the summer season of these extra little eating events. Dogs can die pretty quickly from this type of problem; many never reach the emergency clinic. Symptoms of bloat can be extreme restless, ineffective vomiting, bloated appearance, and eventual collapse.

Continued in Part Two: Pet Precautions: Part 2


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