By Susan Hurt
Photo by Tony Hurt
If your home is anything like mine, your dog is part of the family. Charlie, our border collie mix, is faithfully by our side, which means he spends his days running on the farm, swimming in the creek and chasing squirrels in the woods. Keeping Charlie healthy means keeping him safe and free from disease-causing parasites.
Veterinarian Dr. Todd Freeman shares tips for keeping your canine cool and healthy during the dog days of summer.
Larvae are transmitted from one animal to another through mosquitos. Heartworm preventatives kill larvae before they mature. Preventatives are ineffective toward adult heartworms. Heartworms can be transmitted any time of the year. I’ve seen mosquitos every month of the year, so a preventative should be given year round. Adulticide treatment is expensive and risky for the pet. Prevention is key.
Pets that have not been on heartworm preventative should be tested for heartworms before starting preventative medicine. Ideally, they should be retested in six months because it takes approximately six months from exposure for larvae to be detected by the test.
Heartworm disease is fatal if left untreated. You can ensure your pet stays heartworm free with prevention. Ask your vet for a heartworm preventative to keep parasites at bay.
Only 5 percent of adult fleas are visible on pets. The remainder are immature stages in the environment. Fleas must get a blood meal to lay eggs. A female flea can lay 3,000-plus eggs during its lifetime.
All animals in the household must be treated and pet owners must kill the adult flea before it lays eggs to break the life cycle.
It may take three months for all eggs to hatch after an infestation, so don’t expect one treatment to kill all the fleas.
Oral flea and tick products are effective at killing adult fleas, but the immature stages are difficult to eliminate. Environmental treatment can be helpful in getting flea infestations under control.
Ticks are hardy little critters that can carry some deadly diseases. They are best controlled by oral flea and tick products, but there are a few types of collars that are very effective. See your veterinarian for the best products for your pet. Most over the counter flea and tick products give less than desirable results.
While it may be fun for Fido, it is dangerous to drive with a dog in the back of a pickup. In fact, in many states, it is illegal. Dogs can be injured or thrown from the truck bed during a ride. Dogs should always ride in the cab.
Never leave your pets in the car. Even if windows are cracked, the interior temperature can rise 19 degrees in as little as seven minutes. On a hot day, this can be deadly. It only takes 15 minutes for an animal to get heat stroke and die in a hot car.
Exercise your pets only in the early morning or late evening. Avoid the hottest part of the day, usually between 1 and 4 p.m.
Provide shelter in a shady place, preferably away from tall trees, for your dog to retreat to when the weather is hot or stormy.
Signs that your dog is in distress due to heat include vomiting or drooling, fatigue, heavy panting or obvious difficulty breathing, diarrhea or seizures. If your dog shows signs of heat stress, move it to a cool place, drape a damp towel over its body — re-wetting the cloth frequently — and get the dog to a vet as soon as possible.
Dogs drink more water in the summer than other seasons. To keep your dog hydrated, place a few buckets of cool, fresh water in different locations around the yard. Make sure the inside water bowl is always full too.
Make sure that your dog always wears a dog collar and current identification tags with your contact information. Safety dog collars, such as reflective and illuminated dog collars, ensure additional safety.
Dogs love the long summer days because it means spending more time with family outdoors. Keeping your pets healthy will ensure you share many more summers together in the great outdoors.