The month of August means a couple of things for us San Diegans. It’s the last month to “play” with family and getting our kids ready for school. The month of August is also one of the hottest months in North County. The heat wave can be dangerous and uncomfortable for our pets. This time of year, the fleas decide to come out in droves! Is your pet on a flea and tick preventative? Here are some important things to remember during these last few hot months:
- Flea and tick preventatives can help avoid: flea allergies, hot spots, skin infections, tapeworms, Lyme disease and flea and ticks in your home! Keeping your pets, family and home safe from fleas and ticks is best achieved through preventative measures and consistency. Be proactive and consult your veterinarian about the best methods of treatment for your pet when in doubt. Prevention is the best method of controlling fleas and ticks, but if your pets become infested with fleas or ticks, consider both your home and pets infested, and work swiftly to avoid a larger problem. If you are purchasing OTC flea and tick products and your pet(s) are still scratching and are miserable, our doctors will help you decide what would be best for your pet’s flea/tick preventative care.
HOW TO CHECK YOUR PET FOR FLEAS AND TICKS
Thoroughly check your pets for fleas and ticks on a daily basis, particularly in warmer months, which you can do while grooming or playing with them. Ticks can be anywhere on your pet’s body, but prefer attaching themselves near the head, neck, ears, and paws. You may feel a tick “bump”, before you actually see the tick.
Evidence of fleas can be found in the flea dirt they leave behind in your pets’ coat and skin. Flea dirt is black specks that resemble pepper or bits of dirt, which are actually flea fecal matter. You can detect flea dirt by holding a white paper towel beneath your pet and running a metal comb through their coat (touching their skin). If either the comb or the paper towel produces black specks, there’s a good chance they have fleas. If you come across live fleas while following this method, drown them in soapy water, as they could potentially jump onto you or your pet. Then move on to treating your flea problem. Topical or oral flea products when used properly and with consistency throughout the year, combined with good environmental control, you will avoid the hassle of flea and tick over load!
2) Grooming: Our pets benefit from regular brushing to remove loose hair, debris and dirt. This will also help to keep their coat healthy. If you notice mats on your pet’s coat, it can contribute to poor health by causing damage the skin and bring disease to your pet. Many animals can benefit from a haircut in the summer, but you should consider each animal’s breed origins before getting the clippers out. If your pet has received a flea treatment prior to a bath, you should wait 48 hours before bathing. If you expect a lot of hair to go down the drain, use a mesh sponge by the drain to capture extra hair washed off your pet. Brushing beforehand also helps reduce the amount of hair the drain will need to handle. Brush out any mats in your pet’s coat prior to getting the hair wet. Toss a couple of towels in the dryer so they are warm when you start to towel off your pet. You will be surprised at how much of a difference this makes in getting your pet completely dry!
3) Fresh water: Always make sure they have fresh clean water during these hot days. You would be surprised how much water they drink! Check their water every few hours to ensure their bowls are clean and full. Pets can get dehydrated quickly and if possible should be kept indoors during the hottest hours of the day.
4) Shade: If you have a pet that loves to lounge outside (Pugs are notorious for this!) make sure they are not in the sun for too long! Move them to a shady area when possible.
5) Water babies: If your pet(s) loves to swim in a pool or at the beach, make sure you rinse them off before they dry off. Salt water or chlorine may be sensitive to their skin. Trapped water on their skin (arm pits) will lead to skin problems. Check their ears and make sure they are dry inside. We highly recommend a trip to your vet before it gets worse.
6) Exercise: As mentioned a couple of blog’s ago, it is always safe to reduce the amount of exercise during these hot months. Your pet will benefit from a nice jog or walk with you early in the morning on the cool evenings. If it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for them! Avoid hiking during the middle of the day or afternoon. We’ve seen many cases of dogs that have gone on mid-day hikes or jogging and quickly succumbed to overheating.
7) Up to date health exams: One of the most critical actions is taking your pet in twice a year for a complete physical and dental exam. Of course, it’s important to visit the vet when your dog or cat is ill, but many pet owners don’t recognize the value of taking their pets to the doctor even when they aren’t sick. Remember that animals are programmed to conceal illness. Our beautiful cats and dogs don’t always show you when they’re not feeling well. In addition, unfortunately, life spans of dogs and cats are much shorter than ours, and many diseases in the early stages are not readily apparent, such as abnormalities of the heart, kidney disease, thyroid problems, and even cancer. Never underestimate the importance of your felines or canine companions’ twice yearly exams.
8) Follow your instincts: If you sense your pet is not feeling well, make an appointment with your vet. You know your pet better than anyone else. When something is “off”, don’t ignore it! Lack of appetite, vomiting or diarrhea are a few signs to look out for. Although any pet can experience heatstroke, it is most common in pets who are very young or old, overweight, not used to hot weather, or who may have a chronic health conditions. Unfortunately, heatstroke can go from bad to ugly very quickly. Watch your pet for panting, glazed eyes, unexplained tiredness, excessive drooling, or vomiting. If you see any of these signs on a hot day, please call us immediately.
If you have further questions about helping your pet stay cool this summer, flea and tick problems or have any concerns, give us a call! We are always happy to help assess the situation and answer any questions you have! Have a wonderful last month before school starts summer!