Summertime offers lots of great bonding opportunities between you and your dog -- but be on the lookout for seasonal health problems as well. Here are four potential threats you need to find the solutions for in advance.
1. Flea and Tick Prevention
Fleas and ticks are never welcome on your dog, but they don't really become a menace until the summer months. That's because the warmer temperatures kick-start these pets's life cycle, and partly because indoor pets may venture outdoors more frequently once cooler weather has passed, increasing the exposure risk. Fleas are known to cause skin irritation and transmit tapeworms or even bubonic plague, while ticks can spread Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Lyme disease.
Unfortunately, spraying your lawn with pest-killing chemicals could have a harmful effect on the very pets you're trying to protect. It's wiser to let your veterinarian prescribe pet-safe preventative medications to kill fleas and ticks at various stages of their life cycles. You might also keep your lawn closely trimmed so the pests will have nowhere to lurk.
2. Outdoor Heat Control
Outdoor dogs tend to suffer during the "dog days" of summer. In extreme cases of heat and sun exposure, that suffering can take the form of heat stroke. Symptoms such as drooling, staggering, fainting, reddened gums, panting, diarrhea, and vomiting should signal an immediate trip to the animal hospital or a place like 1st Pet Veterinary Centers - Chandler. But prevention is always preferable, and you can help prevent heat stroke by taking some steps to control your outdoor environment, including:
- Automated water dispenser - Attach your dog's water bowl to an automated water dispenser will ensure that he always has the fresh, cool water he needs to survive and control his body temperature.
- Ice - To give your dog an extra summertime treat, dump some ice cubes onto your patio deck. This not only provides an extra source of cool water, but it cools the deck to protect sensitive foot pads.
- Shelter - Now's the time to set up that awning or other patio cover you keep putting off. The shade could prove critical in protecting your pet from the summer sun. For a quicker, more affordable option, erect a little tent in the yard to serve as a sun shelter.
3. Threat of Snakes
Summertime is considered venomous snake season, if only because outdoor ventures expose man and beast alike to these dangerous creatures. If your dog encounters a snake, he may receive a deadly dose of venom. Fortunately, you can train your dog to stay clear of snakes by teaching him to respond to commands such as "Leave it." Ask a professional dog trainer in your area for help with this possibly life-saving step.
If your dog is bitten by a venomous snake, the bite will mostly likely be on a limb. You can wrap the limb loosely, but don't attempt any other first aid measures yourself or you may make things worse. Seek out an emergency animal clinic immediately -- the veterinarian may be able to administer an antidote in time to save your dog.
4. Water Dangers
For many pets and their owners, summertime is a perfect time to cool off by splashing in a local lake or stream. Dogs seem to love water -- but unfortunately, the water doesn't always love them back. Be aware of the following potential threats:
- Leptospirosis - Leptospirosis is a serious infectious disease caused by any of several related strains of bacteria. Infected wild animals pass the bacteria in their urine, which is then washed into local watering holes. If your dog ingests this contaminated water, he may develop kidney damage, liver failure, internal bleeding and other issues that require emergency vet care. Ask your vet about the possibility of vaccinating your pet against this illness.
- Drowning - Some dogs are better swimmers than others, and you don't want to take the risk of your beloved pet drowning during your summertime boating or beach excursion. You can find pet-sized life preservers that can help your pet remain above water. But if you know your pet has no "dog paddling" skills, then it's better to enjoy your summer with him on dry land.
As a final note, study up on the locations of various vets in the vacation spots you're likely to visit so you can take quick action if trouble strikes. By preparing for summer's potential pitfalls, you're helping your dog get the most of out the season's many joys!