Medicine news

How to keep pets healthy and happy this summer

Summer is here and North Carolina is feeling the heat.

With rising temperatures and humidity, Steve MarksAssociate Dean and Director of Veterinary Medical Services at NC State College of Veterinary Medicine and Veterinary Hospital, does not want your outdoor activity to include an emergency visit to the veterinarian.

“Pets can suffer from heatstroke, dehydration, and even sunburn,” says Marks. “It doesn’t take long for a pet to become dangerously overheated.”

While all pets are at risk, Marks says, dogs with short noses and pets that are older, very young, overweight, have thick coats, and those with pre-existing conditions may need additional care.

Marks advises owners to take immediate action if the animal is panting excessively or having difficulty breathing, has rapid heartbeat and breathing, dry gums, glassy eyes, drooling, appears tired, weak or in a daze .

“Place your animal in shade or air conditioning and apply cool, not cold, water to reduce the animal’s core body temperature,” says Marks. “Get help from your veterinarian as soon as possible.”

Other basic hot weather tips for pets

  • Never leave your dog in the car – never. Even on a nice day, temperatures in a parked car with the windows down can exceed 100 degrees in 10 minutes.

“It only takes a few minutes for a dangerous level of heat to develop inside a car,” says Marks. “Dehydration, heat stroke and even brain damage in dogs or cats can occur.”

  • Take a walk in the cooler times of the day and carry water with you for you and your dog. Remember that the asphalt gets very hot. If you can’t hold your hand on the asphalt for 30 seconds, it’s too hot to walk your dog.
  • Make sure your dog has enough shade and a constant source of fresh water when outside. Think of an inexpensive plastic kiddie pool as a quick cool down for your pet or a spray from the garden hose.
  • Summer is peak season for fleas and ticks of all kinds, and the proper application of veterinarian-recommended tick medications can help keep your pet safe from these pests.

Other summer dangers to pets include:

  • Toxic agents that can be consumed such as plant foods and fertilizers, insecticides and pesticides.
  • Slug, snail, mole and gopher baits
  • Coolants
  • Citronella candles
  • Insect coils that can be around the house and yard.
  • A compost bin or trash can lead to an emergency vet visit with your pet having uncontrolled, uninterrupted shaking – symptoms of life-threatening tremorgenic mycotoxin poisoning resulting from ingesting fungi found on objects decaying.
  • Ponds and other standing water can contain various waterborne parasites such as Giardia, Coccidia, Leptospira, Campylobacter and Cryptosporidia and cause mild to severe diarrhea.
  • The heat, noise and confusion of crowded summer events can stress pets and are not a pleasant experience for them.

What to do if you are worried about your pet

  • A check-up visit with your primary care veterinarian is a good way to start a healthy and safe summer and ensure that any necessary vaccinations are up to date.
  • Maintain recommended heartworm medications, as life-threatening heartworm disease is transmitted by mosquitoes.
  • Make sure your pet always wears a collar or identification such as a microchip.
  • Contact your veterinarian immediately and/or take your pet to an emergency hospital if you have a medical problem.
  • As a resource for pet owners whose veterinarian is unavailable, NC State Veterinary Hospital provides a Small animal emergency service 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Owners should call 919.513.6911 for small animals and 919.513.6630 for large animals.

To learn more about these and other pet safety tips, go to here.