Ask a Vet: First Day of Summer and Pet Health

With the first day of summer, what concerns should pet owners consider about the health of their pets? Ask a Vet: First Day of Summer and Pet Health

Summer is here!  With the passing of the cold and rainy season, pets and their owners move outdoors. Along with the outdoors come some hazards that can easily be avoided by owners if they know what to watch for.

During the spring and summer months we can see dogs and cats with significant flea and tick infestations.  If untreated, fleabites can cause allergic reactions and anemia. Fleas lay their eggs in your pet’s environment (your sofa or bed) so members of your family can also be prey to fleabites.  Ticks can transmit diseases including Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.  There are many preventative flea and tick products available; your veterinarian can recommend an appropriate one for your pet. If you live in a part of the country where heartworm disease is present, make sure your dog or cat is taking heartworm preventatives during these warmer months. Heartworms are transmitted by mosquitos so some areas have more disease prevalence than others.

Grass Awn and Ask and Pet Health

Grass Awn


In some parts of the country, grass awns or foxtails are a problem. These small awns can work their way in almost every part of a dog or cat, including in the eyes, nose, mouth, ears, vagina or penis, and under the skin. From here awns can migrate into the lungs, bladder, or abdominal cavity. Occasionally they result in death. The best way to avoid grass awns is to keep your pet out of areas where weeds grow. If this can’t be avoided, check his coat daily and remove awns, and if your pet is holding an eye closed, shaking his head, or sneezing, take him to your vet as soon as possible.

Rattlesnake, Summer and Pet Health


Poisonous snakes are a problem for dogs, and occasionally cats, in many parts of the united states. Many poisonous snakes hibernate during the colder months and emerge with the nice weather. As dogs and cats are natural hunters, they can get bit by these snakes. The most common snakebite affecting dogs is a rattlesnake bite which can be fatal.  If a poisonous snake bites your pet, it is essential that the pet be brought to a veterinary hospital immediately.  Just as with people, anti-venin for some species of snakes can be administered.  Keeping your dog on a leash while in areas inhabited with snakes will help avoid a nasty bite.

Finally, be aware of the environmental heat. Do not allow your dog to walk on hot pavement. If the pavement is too hot for your bare feet, it is probably going to burn your dog’s paw pads as well.  There is a great potential for heat stroke in pets that cannot escape rising temperatures.  Heat stroke can be caused by too much exercise in high heat or humidity, being tethered outside with no shade, or keeping pets in cars or garages with no air conditioning.  When a dog or cat is suffering from heat stroke they pant, act lethargic and confused, and will have an elevated body temperature.  This can be a life threatening condition.  If you suspect your dog or cat has heat stroke, before taking them into your veterinarian you should quickly cool them off with the cool water and then cover them with a water soaked towel for the car ride.

Being aware of potential summertime health risks and avoiding them is the best way that you and your pet will have a fun and carefree summer.

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