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Beating the Heat

Posted 06.13.17 by Lee Ann Newman, DVM

Summer heat is here! In our part of the country, we enjoy long, hot days and lots of outdoor activities, and many of us include our four-legged family members. When bringing our pets along for summer fun, there are some precautions we need to take and some things to watch for to be sure our pets have as much fun as we do!

There are some health conditions that affect our pets more in the summer than in other months. The obvious conditions are heat exhaustion and heat stroke. But we also see an increase in skin conditions, particularly hot spots (acute moist dermatitis) and ear infections (otitis).

Panting is the only method our dogs and cats have to keep themselves cool. If they get too hot, sometimes they simply cannot pant enough to maintain normal body temperature. They need lots of breaks from outdoor activity. Some dogs just don’t know when to quit and we have to enforce rest. Shade, fans, rest and lots of fresh clean water are usually sufficient for most pets to be able to endure some time outside. When in doubt, leave them at home in the air conditioning!

If you suspect your pet is too hot, stop his activity, move him to a shady spot or into the air conditioning, and cool him by pouring cool (not cold) water on him. If you ever notice any vomiting or diarrhea, or if you just can’t seem to get him comfortable, that is an indication that your pet needs to get to the veterinarian immediately. Heat stroke can be a fatal condition, so if you aren’t sure whether your dog may be experiencing heat stroke, the safest bet is to take immediate action to cool him off, then take him straight to the vet.

Some less serious conditions we see more frequently during the heat of summer are hot spots and ear infections. Allergies tend to be worse for some of our pets during the spring and summer. Add to that  heat, humidity and frequent swimming, and you get a perfect storm for bacterial and fungal infections.

Drying pets thoroughly and flushing and drying out their ears after swimming can really decrease the incidence of skin and ear infections. However, since underlying allergies are the cause for most of these infections, we may see them anyway. If you see your pet scratching, licking or chewing more than usual, there is a really good chance there will be an infection in that area. Topical and/or oral medications can treat the infections and help keep your pet so much more comfortable. Talk to your veterinarian about allergies, secondary infections, and new medications that can help drastically decrease the symptom of itching.

Enjoying the summer weather and all that it brings is even better when you include your pets! Keeping these tips in mind will help keep your pets safe, healthy and happy.

Dr. Lee Ann Newman

The Pet Hospital- Germantown

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