Summertime Safety 2: Healthy Pet/Happy Pet 9

Article Series for Dunes Living Magazine

By: Dr. Amanda Thomas

Summertime in Myrtle Beach is finally here, and all of us are excited to be enjoying outdoor activities and this marvelous weather; and so are our pets.

The hot temperatures can bring dangers to our dogs and cats that we weren’t aware of, or have forgotten about since last summer.

Here are a few reminders of what to be aware of and what to watch for in your family’s pets.

Dogs and cats are susceptible to contracting diseases through parasites that are now out in our environment in droves. Fleas and Ticks are of primary concern because they transmit infections to our pets and people! Myrtle Beach has one of the highest flea populations in the country, and fleas carry Tapeworms. Tapeworms are not just gross but transmissible to people, especially kids. Ticks carry Lyme disease and other bloodborne diseases that we want to protect ourselves from. This summer, don’t forget to provide your dogs and cats with monthly Flea and Tick protection – these medications come in topical spot-on formulas and in oral treats that are really easy to administer!

Our pets are hunters by nature, and will inevitably hunt, trap and kill the smaller species that share our habitats, like snakes, voles, lizards, frogs, mice, and birds. Your pet might also bring these killed prey into your home and present them to you as a gift. Yuck! These small species carry parasites, and many are even venomous. It’s good to bathe your pet once a month over the summer to help keep parasites and allergens off your pet, and it is very important to provide them with a monthly dewormer; for dogs, this is their heartworm treat, and for cats, these are monthly spot-on treatments.

Heat Stroke is a major concern every summer, and every summer dogs die of this preventable condition. Go out with your dog in the early morning hours to walk and get exercise, or in the late evening when the temperatures are cooler. Do not exercise your dogs in the middle of the day. They are wearing a fur coat and will not be able to regulate their body temperature in hot weather above

70 degrees with humidity. Dogs are better off in our air-conditioned homes than outside on hot days during the summer. If your pet stays outside, be sure they have ample shade and plenty of cool, fresh water.

Dog parks and the beach are great places to take your dogs in the summer to give them play time. Most of our dog parks have water fountains to help keep the dogs well-hydrated while they run and play. Sometimes dogs will get into “disagreements” at the dog park, but not very often if they are well supervised.

The dog parks are open from sunrise to sunset.

Beach hours for dogs are Before 10:00 am, and After 5:00 pm.

Dogs can burn their paw pads on hot sand, and heat stroke is always a concern. Dogs can also ingest so much sand from playing with tennis balls on the beach that it causes significant gastrointestinal problems.

When you take your dogs to the parks or the beach, bring a bowl and drinking water, and follow beach hours to keep you and your pet safe.

Family cookouts are fun for everyone and one of the most enjoyable events of summer. Our pets love these social events as well. One of the most common hazards we see in the veterinary clinic is dogs that have eaten food or non-food items that they shouldn’t have. These include barbequed meat, corn on the cob (especially harmful), fruit pits, charcoal, bones, and food attached to toothpicks or other serving utensils that are swallowed like knives and spoons. Watch your pets closely during events that involve food this summer; let them socialize for a while then put them in a safe spot away from friendly people who may (accidentally) give them something to eat that will turn into a veterinary visit or hospital stay.

People in our community like to take short trips on Golf Carts to the beach, the grocery store or a place to grab a bite to eat. Dogs seem to like going for a ride on the golf cart too, so they often get to tag along. Last summer our vet clinic saw at least 4 dogs that were injured by golf carts because the owner, who is driving, was unable to anticipate that their dog would jump out of the moving vehicle or be run over by it. Exercising your dog by letting him run next to your moving golf cart is a very bad idea. So is tying your dog’s leash to the vehicle, because that ensures that they will be drug when they fall out. If your dog will be riding in a Golf Cart with you this summer, be sure he is held securely by another person and not free on the seat, or tied in. Safe seat belts and harnesses are available for this activity.

And, as I mention every summer, Never Ever Ever leave your pet in your car for any reason, for any amount of time. It is illegal and it kills pets.

Here’s to a great summer season with our families, friends, coworkers and pets! Be safe and have fun!