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Pet Care & Pet Health Information

Summer and Your Pet

Pet owners should be cautious about their pets being exposed to too much fun in the summertime. For instance, high temperatures can lead to sunburn and heat stoke. Exposure to swimming pools can lead to ear infections or — worse case scenario — a pet accidentally falling into a pool and drowning.

Reasons for the higher-numbered claims and Tips to prevent them:

  • Foreign Bodies: Foreign bodies such as needles, fishhooks, bones and grass awns (foxtails) are most common. A gastrointestinal foreign body refers to any material other than food that is eaten and that results in serious digestive problems. Foreign bodies can become lodged in the stomach and intestines creating an obstruction. Plant material (fox tails) dirt, sand, impacted wax, loose hair and dried medications are frequently responsible for ear infections . In most cases this is a unilateral otitis, which means it only affects one ear.
    Foxtails -a type of grass with sharp points throughout the grass awn — are common in dry summer months. The sharp points force the grass awn to move forward (not backward), allowing the foxtail to imbed in the pet's paw, ears, eyes , or nose. As a penetrating foreign body, the foxtail inevitably causes an infection.
  • Stings/Bites: Our homes and environments are shared by numerous animals, some we choose to live with and some who come in uninvited. Snakes, spiders and various insects are loved, enjoyed and studied by a few, but most people find them a nuisance or just downright creepy. To make things worse, a few of these critters are even venomous. In addition to causing injury and illness in people, these creatures can also sting or bite our pets.
    The most common venomous animals are bees, wasps, vipers, coral snakes, scorpions, black widow spiders and brown recluse spiders. All can result in illness, some even serious or fatal without treatment.
    Insects and spiders of all shapes and sizes come out of their hiding places in the summer months. Mosquitoes congregate near pools of water. It is recommended ridding your yard of even the shallowest pools of water (including the toddler's pool) so mosquitoes don't breed. Additionally, pet owners should keep their pets away from bees, wasps and woodpiles that may harbor spiders.
  • Hyperthermia: To prevent heat stroke during the summer, it is recommended to keep your pets indoors as much as possible during the warmest hours of the day (usually 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.). Never leave your pet in the car unattended.
  • Burns: Hot sidewalks can be downright painful for pets and could account for the rise in claims for burns.
  • In addition to burns on the pet's paws, sunburns are more common in the summer months, especially on body areas not protected by fur or dark skin. Pet owners should keep their pet indoors as much as possible during the times of day when the sun is at its peak.
  • Superficial partial thickness burns are similar to first-degree burns. Only the top layer of skin is involved. The hair (if present) may still be attached to the skin. The skin appears red and no blisters are seen. Most often, dogs sustain a superficial partial thickness burn. At worst, sunburns may result in deep partial thickness burns. Full thickness burns are rare. Light-colored or hairless dogs are more at risk than other types of canines.
  • Otitis Externa: Ear infections are frequently caused by water getting trapped in a dog's ear after swimming or bathing. If your pet is prone to water activities in the summer, speak to your veterinarian regarding specific ear cleaning products that will help dry the ear canal after water exposure to prevent recurring ear infections.
    Infections are caused by fungus, bacteria or parasites. Chronic Otitis Externa is caused by bacteria or ear mites. Otitis is an inflammation of the ear and it is one of the most frequent reasons for owners to seek a veterinarian's help.
  • Near Drowning: Although relatively rare, cases of near drowning do increase in summer months. If this happens, be sure to keep the pet warm, and dry thoroughly with towels . Then, take the pet to the veterinarian immediately.
    Very young, very old and debilitated animals are more likely to drown, as they may be unable to swim, they lose strength more rapidly, or they are unable to get out of the water, as in a pool.
  • Medical Coverage: Medical policies will help defray costs when pet owners have to seek veterinary care for thousands of seasonal ailments. Puppies and kittens commonly can get into toxins, eat things that they shouldn't or contact infectious diseases. Trauma is also common in puppies that are more likely to be curious and get into “things.” They also need vaccines and spaying and neutering to stay healthy. Treatment and preventative vaccines can be expensive and pet owners need to be prepared for such expenses and emergencies.

    Fortunately, more pet owners are learning that reasonably priced pet health insurance is readily available in the United States. This is especially good news since so many treatments that were once confined just to humans are now readily available to pets.
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