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Licking summer ills.


Ah, summer! Time of vacations,water sports, and picnics. Time of fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, grass allergies, and sunburns. A little preparedness can do much to alleviate your pet's summer discomforts.

Heat Stress

Each summer, animals diefrom heatstroke in closed automobiles and poorly designed transport cages. Poor ventilation and high humidity accelerate heat stress. Dogs and cats not coping with heat pant faster than normal; the animals' tongues become larger and wider as the temperature rises, creating a larger surface area for evaporation and cooling. (Such breeds as the pug and English bulldog cannot efficiently cool themselves by panting, like other breeds, because of their short noses and throats.) By licking itself, a cat spreads saliva over its coat so that heat is lost when the saliva evaporates. Both dogs and cats lie flat to expose their body surfaces to convective cooling. Smaller animals have a slight advantage because they have a larger surface area per unit of body weight. Obese animals are more prone to heat stress because fat insulates their bodies and thus surface convective cooling cannot work effectively.

Animals suffering from heatstrokemust be cooled quickly. Submerge the animal in cold water and turn on a fan, if available. Take the animal's rectal temperature every ten minutes and remove the pet from the cold water when its temperature reaches 103[deg.] to 104[deg.] F. (The normal rectal temperature for dogs and cats is approximately 101.5[deg.] F.) Take the animal to a veterinarian as soon as possible. Animals recovering from heatstroke may appear depressed and inactive for several days.


Fishing season invariably brings arash of accidents involving animals who snag fishhooks in their mouths or other body parts. In most cases, the animal must be sedated, the barbed fishhook pushed through the skin, the barb cut off with wire cutters, and the hook retracted. I do remember the case of Miss Poo Jones, a cockapoo, whose owner successfully performed the procedure at home; however, Poo swallowed the barb as it was cut off, and I had to see her anyway for emergency surgery.

Awns and Burs

Certain grasses protecttheir seeds with bristly growths called awns. Foxtails or grass awns are most prevalent in arid and semiarid regions, and summer seems to be the season for this problem. If one of these troublesome awns finds its way into a pet's ear canal, the animal shakes its head frequently. An awn that penetrates the skin between an animal's toes can cause an abscess in the area or migrate to remote locations. Awns must be removed mechanically or surgically.

Cockleburs or sandbursare another sticky problem for pets. Soaking cocklebur mats with mineral oil may facilitate their removal; however, often the mat must be cut with scissors.


If you are fortunate enough to livein a region without mosquitoes, you don't have to worry about dog heartworms unless you take Bowser to a beach, a lake, or another region that has the pesky carrier insects. The infective larvae of the dog heartworm develop in a mosquito's body. When the mosquito bites a susceptible dog, adult heartworms mature in the dog's heart at least six months later. There is a treatment for the condition, but prevention is the best and least costly policy. In most cases, your veterinarian will want to check your dog with a blood test at least once a year. If your animal has heartworms, it can be given an oral medication taken daily throughout the mosquito season. A new oral medication taken just once a month is also available.


No summer complaints list wouldbe complete without mention of the No. 1 pet-owner concern in the United States--fleas. No other pest has generated so many remedies aimed at its demise. Brewer's yeast and garlic are touted as natural flea remedies. Electronic flea collars that emit a high-frequency sound are available to drive the fleas mad and perchance away from home. Some flea repellents are applied to a single spot on a pet's skin. Others are given in tablet form. Dips, collars, medallions, shampoos, and powders are available containing natural and synthetic repellents. (Do not use dog dips or other dog products on cats unless the label specifically recommends their use for cats as well.)

Fleas spend most of their time offyour pet in such places as carpets, yards, pet beddings, or doghouses. You must kill fleas in these areas as well as on your pet. Clean your house thoroughly, including closets; dispose of the vacuum bag in an airtight plastic bag. Destroy your pet's bedding and replace it with clean bedding. Mop concrete and tile floors. Use a spray or a "flea bomb" aerosol fogger in the house and follow the directions carefully. (A pre-emergent fogger will kill both adult and hardier immature fleas). Spray outdoor areas with a product such as Diaazinon; use the chemical according to directions, wear gloves, and keep all such products out of the reach of children. Severe flea infestations may warrant a professional exterminator's services to treat the house and yard.

Fleas are the intermediate host ofthe common dog and cat tapeworm. Pets become infected by swallowing fleas that contain the tapeworm larvae. If your pet has this parasite, it will need to be treated for fleas as well.

Most accidents happen during thesummer, when people and pets are more active. Tempering your summer activities with doses of caution and planning should make the season safer and more enjoyable for every member of your family--including your pets.
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Title Annotation:vets on pets
Author:Whiteley, H. Ellen
Publication:Saturday Evening Post
Date:Jul 1, 1987
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