Summer is almst here! Along with warmer weather come challenges for your pet’s health and comfort.  Help your best friend start summer on the right paw with a spring or early summer wellness visit to your veterinarian.   For optimum health make sure vaccinations are up to date.  If your dog does not take heartworm prevention medications all year make sure you ask your vet for a heartworm test before giving the first dose of these prescription medications.  Ask your vet about monthly flea & tick treatments. Take your pet’s breed, activity level and age into consideration when planning outdoor activities. Some dogs like short-nosed breeds, those with medical conditions, older or over weight dogs should be in an indoor air-conditioned environment.  Here are some other hot weather tips from the WPHS clinic staff to help you and your pets enjoy warm weather fun:

Coat & Grooming:

A clean coat can help to prevent summer skin problems. Keep your dog or cat well-groomed. Shaving a dog’s coat to a 1-inch length can help prevent overheating. A dog’s coat also helps protect them from the sun. Shaving down to the skin can cause problems like sunburn and other discomfort.

A cat should be brushed frequently to keep their coat tangle-free.

The best quality food you can afford and frequent grooming will help control shedding.

If your pet plays outdoors wiping their paw bottoms and coats with a clean, dry cloth can help control environmental sensitivities. 

Sunburn & Skin Cancer:

White cats who like to sit in windows and dogs with pink pigmentation around their noses can easily become sunburned and have a skin cancer risk.

Ask your vet about applying sun block to sun-sensitive areas such as nose and ears and if they advise against using zinc oxide.

Contact your veterinarian if your pet does get a sunburn.

Heart Worm, Flea & Tick Treatments:

Dogs should be on monthly heartworm prevention medicine prescribed by your vet after a wellness examination

Make sure you do not use dog products on cats or cat products on dogs.

Check to be sure the flea & tick or heartworm products you are using are for the correct size and weight of your pet.

 Hydration:

Always bring your own water and a water bowl on walks and for car trip.

Public water fountains often contain antifreeze which is poisonous.

Pumped decorative fountains are dangerous because of the powerful pumps that circulate the water. There is drowning danger for pets and people. These fountains also contain conditioning chemicals and other potential toxins so don’t let your pet drink from them. Bring your own fresh water and a bowl.

Plan walks and outdoor play time in the cool mornings or evenings and not in the direct sunshine of the afternoons.  Exercise is shady areas.

Barrel chested dogs should not work out after eating; wait for a minimum of 1 hour after meals before walks.  Eating and exercising is a bloat risk.

Gulping water on long walks in hot weather can also distend their stomach.   Plan cooler times of the morning or evening for exercise.

Heat:

Do not allow your pet to over exert themselves in hot weather. A dog can become overheated quickly and without many warning symptoms. Know the signs of heat exhaustion and fatigue: weakness & lethargy, labored or heavy breathing, excessive panting, bright red gums, eyes or tongues, elevated body temperature, and collapsing, or suffering seizures or coma.

Dogs and cats have a higher body temperature than people do; 100 to 102 is normal for them. A temperature of 105 requires emergency medical care from a veterinarian.

First Aid for an over heated dog includes placing cool, wet towels over them. You can also cool them in a pool of tepid water. Avoid using ice since it can harm the skin.

Dogs pant to cool themselves, but prolonged heavy panting is not good for your dog.

It is more difficult for your dog to cool themselves by panting on humid days.

If your dog is receptive to this habit, use a spray bottle of water to spritz their face and paws.

Surfaces like concrete and asphalt become hot enough to burn your dog’s paw pads.

Hot surfaces can impair a dog’s ability to regulate their body temperature since paw pads are one way they dissipate heat.

Dogs who live outside:

Outside dogs need ventilated shelters and plenty of shade. A sturdy, ventilated shelter is necessary, even if there are abundant shade trees. 

Outside dogs also need unlimited access to water. Bowls should be heavy so they don’t spill and kept in the shade.

If you keep a pool of water for cooling it should also be kept in the shade.

Enjoy summer with your pets! The WPHS clinic veterinarians can provide this important care for your pets.  As a special thank you WPHS Caregiver Members receive a courtesy discount in our clinic on all services and products including flea & tick treatments and Heartgard among other benefits.  When you come to our low-cost clinic you help provide financial support the homeless pets we care for.

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