The ads for back to school shopping are starting. But before school starts, we have plenty of summer heat left. Hot August weather brings continued warnings for pet owners that need to be taken seriously.
Hot weather can put pets in distress quickly. Repeated warnings about pets in hot cars are never enough for some owners. When pets are in the car, keep the air conditioning on. Never leave pets in an idle car, even one with the windows open. Always crack the window even with the air conditioning on to permit an emergency entry but not enough to let a pet escape.
While on the road with pets, be extra careful to not lock the keys in the car without a way to access the interior, like a key fob for automatic door locks or a spare key. Pets can lock and unlock car doors, and some can hit the power windows, so use the child-proof window lock.
Heat stroke is common in animals, and prevention is always the key. Shade, fans and air conditioning are required to keep pets safe. Panting is the first sign of heat-related trouble. Normal body temperature for cats and dogs is less than 102.5 degrees. If their internal temperature exceeds 103 degrees, wetting them down with water might be enough to cool them.
Pets get into critical condition with heat stroke quickly as they do not have sweat glands over much of their body. For anything other than slight overheating, emergency veterinary care is required.
Corn on the cob is another summertime danger for pets. After having to operate on my own dog years ago to remove a cob, I am very careful any time we eat fresh corn. I always make sure that the cobs are safely in the kitchen trash can with a metal lid. Last summer, in spite of my precautions, my dogs still managed to sneak corn cobs from the trash. What could have been a disaster turned into just some chewed cob vomited on the carpet.
Peach bits and bones are other foreign bodies that can become stuck in a dog's intestines, so be very careful after a summer picnic.
Toward the end of summer, veterinarians sound like broken records when discussing fleas. Pets are likely to have these pesky parasites without integrated pest management with both adult and flea egg control, Not one program for fleas is perfect for all pets. Additionally, not all products on the market are effective for complete flea control. Oral or topical flea egg control can make sure that not only the adults are treated but also their eggs are prevented from hatching. Some products at discount stores lack both kinds of protection. Some of the better products are designed to be both waterproof and stable in sunlight.
Fleas outside will be a problem until the hard frost of fall. Flea eggs in the house can hatch for months and months.
The last month of summer should be a joy. Do not have your season ruined by heat stroke, intestinal obstructions or flea infestations.
Lawrence Gerson is a veterinarian and founder of the Point Breeze Veterinary Clinic. His biweekly column is intended to educate pet owners. Consultation with a veterinarian is necessary to diagnose and treat individual pets. If you have a question you'd like addressed in Pet Points, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name and municipality or neighborhood.