Jun 18, 2015

Pet Hazards In Summer

I love summer with my dogs. We go hiking and to the ocean and share quality time around the fire pit. I bet you enjoy doing a lot of the same things with your dogs.

In California, as elsewhere, there are summer hazards for that include bee stings and bug bites, being skunked when on trail, and beach hazards of jellyfish and sunburn — and those are just a few seasonal dangers. Here’s a veterinarian’s-eye view of the things to watch for and how to handle problems, so that summer is fun and not frantic. And keep in mind: If your dog encounters summer hazards, be sure to have him checked out by a vet.

Bees, wasps, fire ants, mosquitoes, fleas and ticks are just a few of the painful pests of summer. Dogs who take a curious or aggressive interest in bees or wasps are likely to receive payback in the form of a painful sting on the nose or head area. Fire ants will march onto your dog without hesitation if he’s in their path and then sting in unison. Ouch! And mosquitoes, ticks and fleas can spread disease and cause other problems for your best friend.

Reactions to insect bites and stings can range from slight swelling and pain to anaphylaxis, a sudden, severe allergic reaction that can be fatal if not treated immediately. Mosquito bites can transmit Heartworm disease so be sure to include the monthly regimen of heartworm preventative. Tick-borne diseases include Lyme and ehrlichiosis, and fleas can pass on tapeworms, which show up looking like a little grains of rice in their feces.

If a bee or wasp stings your dog, look for the stinger and brush it out of the skin using the edge of your fingernail, a credit card or a butter knife. Try to avoid grasping the stinger with tweezers; doing so may release more venom into the wound. A sting on the head or neck, especially one in the mouth, can cause dangerous swelling that affects the dog’s ability to breathe and can be life threatening. That’s an emergency so seek veterinary help.

If the sting is not on your dog's head or neck, treat the painful area with a soothing paste made of baking soda and water, or moisten a washcloth or gauze pad with cold water and apply it to the injury. Depending on the severity of the reaction, an antihistamine, such as Benadryl, can also help. Ask your veterinarian beforehand what the appropriate dose would be for you dog bring it with you go camping, on a trip, or even for a run. I have a car first aid kit for people as well as dogs, and I had to give one 25 mg tablet of Benadryl to my 45 lb dog when he was stung on his back by bees.

If fire ants overrun your dog, get him away from where they are attacking and carefully brush them off (you don't want to make them angrier) If you can, put on gloves before you do so — fire ant stings are extremely painful for you too. I wear a baseball cap, so I was able to use that - or try sock covered hands - to brush off voracious insects.. If there are only a few bites, you can treat them with a baking soda paste, a cold compress or Benadryl. If there are a bunch, you will need to get him to the veterinarian for treatment.

Don't forget that some plants as well as insecticides, and fertilizers are also toxic. The ASPCA has a fabulous website to tell you which plants are safe for dogs to eat. When they're left outdoors for long periods of time, they often eat what's out there. Did you know that bark is toxic? There all materials and chemicals in bark other than the wood that you see.

Finally, plan ahead for encounters with fleas, ticks and mosquitoes with preventives available from your veterinarian. Effective products come in lots of forms, including oral products, and topical. I carry cedar oil with me in a small spray bottle because it absolutely repels insects, is safe for the dogs, in the safe for me. There are other products that you can purchase through Amazon.com and natural dog stores that are quite effective and non-toxic.