Summertime Care for Pets
Dr. Frost describes common summer ailments
By Dr. Rebekah Frost – OBSERVER Columnist
Summer is a wonderful time of year to enjoy time outdoors with pets. But the warm weather can lead to some common conditions about which we often receive calls at our hospital. A few of these, listed below, are common ailments that can affect pets this time of year.
1. Bee Stings: As a pet owner, you may not have witnessed the actual bee sting, but you will definitely see the after effects of the sting. Your pet may have swollen lips, swollen eyelids, and a very itchy face. Some dogs can have an anaphylactic reaction to a bee sting. If this happens, your pet will collapse and have difficulty breathing; get them to your veterinarian immediately. If they have just swollen lips, call your vet for a dose of an antihistamine to help alleviate the allergic reaction!
2. Thunderstorm Phobias: This spring was one of the rainiest seasons we have seen here in Western New York. With the rain came the thunderstorms. If your pet has a fear of thunderstorms, there are multiple ways to help it cope. Find a place to which the animal can escape; a quiet dark room with music playing or a fan running that will help drown out the sounds. Try to desensitize your pet to thunderstorm noises by playing nature music that incorporates thunder. Play a little each day with the sound turned down, and then increase the volume and the length of time you play the music. Try a “thunder shirt” for your pet, and if this still does not help, ask your veterinarian for a short acting anti-anxiety medication to help lessen the animal’s fears.
3. Heat Stroke: Never leave your pet outside without shade and water during the hottest times of the day. Dogs and cats can overheat very quickly because they cannot sweat like we can. Never leave your pet in a closed vehicle. During the summer months, it’s best just to leave your pet at home and not risk heat stroke from them being left in the car even for just a short period of time. Any time your pet’s temperature rises above 105, this can lead to multiple organ failure and death.
4. Leg injuries: During the summer months, we are outside more playing with our dogs. One jump in the air to catch a Frisbee or a ball, and your dog can twist and land wrong. I see many ACL tendon knee tears that require surgery. Try to incorporate more controlled exercise when playing with your pet. Swimming, walking, and hiking are all good exercises that won’t put a lot of stress on your pet’s joints.
5. Fight Wounds: If you allow your pets to go outside, they are at greater risk of being exposed to other cats and dogs that may start fights. We see many cat abscesses in the summer which can come from one cat bite and can turn into an infection very quickly. Your pet will have an abnormal swelling and a high fever. These usually require surgical drainage and antibiotics and need to be seen by your veterinarian.
6. Hot Spots: Hot spots are a moist skin dermatitis that can become infected quickly and be very painful. These may start from a bug bite or an allergy and once your pet starts scratching at it, it can turn into a severe bacterial infection. These usually need to be cleaned and clipped and your pet needs to be put on antibiotics and pain medications.
If your pet is affected by any of the above, a call and possibly a visit to your veterinarian may be necessary. We are always available on the phone to answer your questions and give advice. When in doubt, make an appointment for your pet. Above all else, we at the Dunkirk Animal Clinic hope you enjoy the rest of your summer!