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Your Pet . . . with Dr. Jeanne Haggerty-Arcay: Summer heat, fleas, ticks and fireworks could harm local dogs and cats

Published in the May 25 – June 7, 2016 issue of Morgan Hill Life

Dr. Jeanne Haggerty-Arcay

Dr. Jeanne Haggerty-Arcay

Dr. Jeanne Haggerty-Arcay

Everyone looks forward to the start of summer. Barbecues, pool parties, lake trips, fireworks and travel. Here are a few tips to help your pet have a safe and enjoyable summer vacation.

Barbecues: Don’t share any barbecue food (especially meats) with your pet. A slice of hot dog or steak is enough to trigger life threatening pancreatitis in sensitive pets. Even licking the barbecue utensils is enough to cause pancreatitis. Instead, offer them plain grilled chicken breast or plain veggies. Keep food out of reach of pets and use a secure garbage can.

Heat: Dogs and cats can also suffer from heat stroke. Signs of heatstroke include excessive panting, salivation, weakness, staggering and vomiting. If you suspect heat stroke, move your pet to a cool area, wet them down with a wet towel and/or ice packs and seek veterinary attention immediately.

Brachycephalic breeds (short-nosed dogs), such as bulldogs, boxers, pugs and shihtzu breeds, are particularly heat intolerant. Keep them inside and avoid the outdoors during the day. They are not designed for summer weather and will be much happier indoors.

Never leave your pet in the car, even for a few minutes. Leave them at home or have a second person wait in the car with the air conditioner running. If you see a pet locked in a hot car, notify the business or contact local police/animal control.

Avoid exercising your pet in the heat. Walk or run your dog in the early morning or evening hours. Make sure your pet always has access to clean, fresh water.

Fleas & Ticks: Summer is the peak season for fleas and ticks. Make sure to keep your pet current on monthly preventatives.

Keep in mind that some products may be washed off with bathing and swimming. If you plan to swim your dog, ask your veterinarian for a suitable flea/tick product. Some topical products will be effective against fleas but for effective tick coverage you may need to use an oral tablet.
Dogs that hike should use a product that includes tick coverage.

Make sure cats only receive products labeled for cats; dog products may be fatal in cats.

Over-the-counter products are not regulated by the FDA. They may not be safe nor effective. Ask your veterinarian which of these products they recommend.

Grooming: Summer cuts on long haired pets will not only help with heat tolerance, but will also make it easier for you to detect fleas/tick and help prevent foxtails from sticking to the coat.

Fireworks: Firework noise can be terrifying to pets.

If you know your pet will have anxiety, stay at home with them. Interact with your pet as a distraction and keep the TV or music on to help mask popping noises. Ask your veterinarian about sedatives if you expect the anxiety to be severe. Allow at least 1-2 weeks prior to July 4 to obtain sedatives as your veterinarian may need to examine your pet.

If your pet has never experienced fireworks, stay with them so you can assess their response and be prepared for next year.

Rattlesnakes: Always watch where you are walking. Rattlesnakes are migrating closer to urban areas in search of water and can be found in unexpected areas.

If your dog goes anywhere where they may encounter rattlers, talk to your veterinarian about the rattlesnake vaccine.

If you pet has been bitten, go to the nearest veterinarian immediately. Bites are always an emergency.

Dr. Jeanne Haggerty-Arcay received her undergraduate degrees in biology, biochemistry and Spanish from the College of Notre Dame, Belmont. She graduated from U.C. Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. She enjoys spending time with her husband and three young children.