Common summer ailments to look for
By Dr. Rebekah Frost – OBSERVER Columnist
The hot and dry summer this year has brought on a multitude of problems for our patients at the Dunkirk Animal Clinic. Below I will discuss some of the common ailments we see during the summer months, and ways you can help prevent these problems in your own pets.
1. Hot Spots/Allergic Dermatitis – there are still environmental allergens in the summer months that can affect your pet and cause intense itching. With the heat, the itching can lead to a severe bacterial infection on the skin called a hot spot. Fleas can also lead to allergies and hot spots. Be sure to continue monthly flea preventive and if your pet starts itching, contact your veterinarian for suggestions on helping the itch before it turns into a severe infection. A new product is available called Apoquel that is much safer than using conventional steroids for allergies. It helps control the itch and has no side effects.
2. Heat Stroke – never leave your pets in the hot sun or in a hot vehicle. Heat stroke can occur quickly especially in overweight, dark-skinned or long-haired pets. Short-nosed breeds are also more prone to overheating. When the body temperature rises above 105 degrees, organ failure and death can occur quickly. Pets with respiratory or heart issues should be kept indoors in air conditioning as much as possible. Also, do not exercise your pet in the extreme heat. Pets do not sweat and can overheat quickly.
3. Eye issues – there are many seeds, burrs, and dying weeds in the fields right now. If your pet is running through the weeds, they may be prone to scratching their eyes on the dried foliage. If your pet has weepy, red, itchy, or watery eyes, we recommend you have them checked by your veterinarian. A scratch on the eye can lead to infection and possible blindness.
4. Upper Respiratory Infections – if your cat is outdoors in the summer months, they may pick up respiratory infections from other cats they may come in contact with. An upper respiratory infection may cause sneezing, coughing, runny nose and a fever. Make sure your cats are up to date on their vaccines to help prevent these infections.
5. Bee Stings – we have probably received the most calls about bee stings this year. Ground bees are prevalent at this time of year and your pet may walk right into a nest unaware. Always keep Benadryl on hand and ask your veterinarian for a proper dose. Some pets can be extremely allergic to bees and swell up quickly. If this happens or if your pet is having difficulty breathing, call your veterinarian immediately.
6. Parasites – intestinal parasites are common this time of year. Parasite eggs thrive in the warm weather and can be easily picked up by your pet even with just a walk around the block. Parasite eggs are microscopic and need to be diagnosed with a fecal sample under a microscope. We recommend yearly testing of your pet’s stool sample. If your pet is having on and off diarrhea or is thin and not gaining weight, we highly recommend a fecal check to look for underlying parasites.
7. Abscess/fight wounds – cats are out and about and getting in fights with other cats. One scratch or bite can get severely infected quickly. Be sure to watch for any swelling, lameness, or just overall lethargy in your outdoor cats.
8. Hit by cars – our dogs are out more as well and both our dogs and cats can unfortunately come in contact with vehicles. Please contain your pets the best you can. There are too many dangers that can injure and even kill your pet. Most pets do not survive a run-in with a vehicle. There are shock fence systems available to keep your pet safe and contained in your own yard. There are underground or wireless fence systems available that are affordable and can save your pet’s life.
We hope you enjoy the rest of your summer into fall with your pets. Keep your pets safe and be sure to always have your veterinarian’s number available if you run into any of the above situations!