Why Your Pet May Not Be Excited It’s Summer

By: Nancy Turner, DVM

TVMA Member
Dallas, TX

Published July 2015

Summer is one of my favorite times of the year: lots of sun, the pools are open, longer days to enjoy and baseball season. I could go on and on. While I really enjoy the summer, I am not so sure that my pets enjoy it as much as I do. Below is a list of the five biggest reasons our pets may dislike the summer:

1)   Heat: In Texas, this is the biggest problem our pets face. Heatstroke is a very common, often fatal, occurrence in the summer. The worst thing about a pet dying from heatstroke is that it is completely preventable! Take precautions to avoid this serious problem.

  • It is important to consider the temperature of the concrete that your pet is walking on. If it feels too hot for your bare feet, it’s likely too hot for theirs. Remember that our four-legged friends don’t wear shoes! While pets do have thicker pads on their feet, they are still susceptible to burns, so take care.
  • For more information on heatstroke and how to avoid it, check out our heatstroke information page.

2)   Bugs: Fleas, ticks and mosquitos, oh my! Tiny bugs can cause huge problems for pets in the summer. Other than being a nuisance, these bugs can carry harmful diseases and be very troublesome for our pets. The longer days, more activities outside and life cycles of these pests all increase the exposure our pets have during the summer months.

  • Fleas are the No. 1 allergen to our pets. One flea can cause a significant allergic reaction, leading to extreme itching, skin infections and lots of discomfort! Fleas also carry a common intestinal parasite called a tapeworm that your pet may get after ingesting a flea.
  • Ticks harbor many serious illnesses that can affect people as well as pets. In addition to Lyme disease, ticks also carry ehrlichiosis, enaplasmosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and others. All of these diseases can cause serious illness, and there is no easy way to know which tick is carrying which disease. Some ticks can carry multiple diseases!
  • Mosquitos are a year-round problem in Texas, but the increased morning activity that some choose in order to avoid higher temperatures later in the day may actually increase our pet’s exposure to them. Mosquitos carry the immature form of the heartworm in them. When they bite your dog or cat, they inject the heartworm into your pet’s bloodstream. Heartworms cause serious illness in both dogs and cats; however, like many of these conditions, it is a preventable illness! To learn more about heartworm disease and how to protect your pet, visit our heartworm prevention page.

Before you try to put your pet in an oversized hamster ball to enjoy the outdoors, know that your veterinarian has the safest, most effective ways to prevent all of these bugs from ruining your summer fun. Talk to your veterinarian about ways to protect your pet this summer from pesky pests.

3)   Change in routine: Dogs and cats are creatures of habit. They love and thrive on routine. While you may think they enjoy having more people around and more things going on during the day, some pets can struggle with anxiety or fear with all the changes and increases in activity. Also, more people travel during the summer, so a stay at a boarding facility is another change that your pet may be asked to deal with. Talk to your veterinarian about ways to minimize these stressors. Keeping as close to your regular routine as possible, considering a pet sitter instead of a boarding facility and learning to recognize signs of stress, anxiety and fear in your pet can all help decrease the effects significant changes in routine can have on pets.

4)   Cookouts: You might be thinking, “My dog loves cookouts! Greasy cheeseburgers, hot dogs and potato chips all falling on the ground or being fed directly! That sounds like heaven to a dog, right?” Wrong. Those foods, while they may seem harmless, can cause serious gastrointestinal upset and even lead to hospitalization or a serious condition called pancreatitis. Also, alcohol can harm pets if ingested. Keep a very close eye on your pet if you are hosting or taking your pet to a cookout. Remember that it may be safer for your pet if they sat these events out.

5)   Pools: I love pools, but I can swim. Contrary to popular belief, not all dogs are great swimmers! Just like with children, pools can be extremely dangerous for pets if they are not monitored closely. Even dogs that are the best swimmers will need to take breaks to avoid exhaustion and potential drowning. Be honest about assessing your pet’s affinity for and ability to swim in different types of situations. While some pets may do okay in the pool, the waves of the ocean or the running water of a river may be too much. Even dogs that are good swimmers may panic when placed in different situations. Consider life vests whenever you are boating, and if you are unable to keep a close eye on your pet while they are swimming, consider keeping them inside until you can devote more time to supervision.

Summer is here, and it is a great time of year! Just remember that your pet may have a different take on the longer days, pools, new people and places and outdoor activities than you do. Use these tips to keep your pet happy and healthy this summer!

Nancy Turner, DVM, is a graduate of Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine who lives in Dallas, Texas. Dr. Turner practices at ReadiVet Collin County.

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