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Seasonal Issues

Pets spend a lot more time outside during Spring and Summer months.  Below is a list of more common problems that may occur during the warm seasons.  If you ever have any questions or concerns regarding your pet please contact your veterinarian.

Allergic Reactions

Common causes of allergic reactions include insect bites and/or stings, drugs, such as antibiotics or accidental ingestion of human medications, and rarely vaccines.

Signs of allergic reactions include:

  • Swelling and/or redness around the lips and/or eyes
  • Swelling around the face and/or neck
  • Hives, areas where hair sticks up in a circular pattern
  • Pale gums
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Vomiting
  • Severe itching, staggering, weakness, collapse

All allergic reactions have potential to be life-threatening.  Contact your veterinarian to discuss treatment at home with Benadryl® (diphenhydramine) and using cool compresses to help decrease minor local swellings.  Swellings that involve the face (eyes, ears, nose and/or throat) should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

Heat Stroke

Warm weather may cause pets to overheat.  Pets that are less than 6 months of age and older than 7 years will be more prone to having heat stroke.  Other predispositions to heat stroke include pets that are overweight, brachycephalic breeds (Pugs, Bulldogs, etc.), large breed dogs, and pets that are ill or are recovering from a recent illness.  Pets should not be left unattended in cars, even with the windows cracked, locked in small rooms with poor ventilation, nor should they undergo heavy exercise.

Signs:

  • Excessive panting in dogs, open mouth breathing in cats
  • Bright red gums
  • Weakness, collapse, loss of consciousness
  • Vomiting
  • Hot to the touch, though this is an unreliable indicator

If you think your pet is having heat stroke move them to a cool area, rinse cool water over their paws and contact your veterinarian immediately.  To prevent heat stroke be sure to give your pet plenty of breaks between play, always have an area of shade for them to rest in, offer fresh water at all times, and never leave them unattended in a car. 

Slug Bait (Metaldehyde Toxicity)

Spring and summer months are a common time for gardening.  Slug bait is toxic to both dogs and cats and it’s best to keep pets away from treated areas and/or use slug bait that is labeled as safe for pets. 

Signs of slug bait ingestion include:

  • Exposure to slug bait
  • Panting, fast heart rate, anxiety
  • Muscle tremors, twitching, stumbling when walking
  • Hyperthermia (fever)
  • May result in death if left untreated

Your veterinarian may recommend you induce vomiting if you know your pet has ingested slug bait recently.  There is no home remedy for slug bait toxicity and pets that are suspected of ingesting slug bait and/or are exhibiting any of the above mentioned signs should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

Rat Poison Toxicity (Anti-coagulation form)

 Many rat poisons are designed to reduce and/or eliminate the ability to clot blood.  This means that if an animal has ingested rat poison they are more likely to bleed, which may be visible in the form of bruises but more seriously may cause internal bleeding.

Signs of rat poison (anti-coagulation form) include:

  • Exposure to rat poison
  • Bleeding of the gums, blood in vomit or stool, coughing blood
  • Pale gums, weakness

If left untreated, rat poison may cause severe bleeding leading to death.  Check with your veterinarian prior to inducing vomiting then bring your pet to a veterinarian immediately.

Sunburn

Sunburns are more likely to occur in light and white color breeds and are more common on the ears, above the eyes, and above the nose.

Signs of sunburn include:

  • Redness and tenderness on the ears and nose
  • Ulceration may occur

You may use sunscreen on pets with white on their ears and face.  Avoid getting sunscreen in their eyes and do not apply to areas that they may lick.

Abraded Paws

Pads may become worn and ulcerated if they are not adequately “toughened” up prior to walking and/or running.  Dogs that are going to be running on sand or pavement are more likely to have abraded paws.  You may apply doggy booties to help prevent abrasions.  There are some liquid products as well that may be applied to the paws prior to exercise to help reduce the chance of pad abrasions.

Signs of abraded pads:

  • Red or ulcerated areas on the pads
  • Sore or painful pads
  • Limping
  • Licking paws

Some pad abrasions may need pain medication and antibiotics to help speed the healing process.  Prevent pets from licking at their paws as this may cause secondary infections.

Ticks

Please see www.dogsandticks.com for information regarding tick diseases, how to remove ticks and for statistics of tick-borne disease in Washington State.  Ticks may carry diseases that may require treatment with antibiotics.  Our recommendation at Cherry Valley Veterinary Hospital is to either test the blood for tick-borne diseases and/or treat with antibiotics.

Fleas

Fleas are a commonly known parasite of dogs and cats. 

Not only do fleas cause itching and irritated skin but they can also transmit a type of tapeworm.

If your pet has a tapeworm infection you may see white, rice-shaped structures in the feces or around the anus.  Tapeworms can be diagnosed by looking at a fecal sample under a microscope and is easily treatable with oral dewormer.

Fleas can be treated and prevented using a topical or oral product prescribed by a veterinarian.  Over-the-counter flea products are less effective and some have been shown to be toxic to pets.  Cleaning the environment by vacuuming is helpful in controlling the flea population.  Veterinary products for the house (sprays and foggers) may be needed to stop the flea cycle.  It’s essential that all pets in the household are treated for fleas, even if you only see fleas on one pet.

Fireworks

While some does don’t seem to mind fire-works, there are others that are very fearful. Here are some tips to help ensure that you have a safe Independence Day with your pet:

  • Exercise your pet the morning of a day that will have fireworks.  Take them on a long walk or play fetch.
  • Confine a fearful pet in a place with no windows.  Dogs may try to jump out and cut themselves.
  • Do not tether a fearful dog outside as they may choke themselves or slip their collar and run off.
  • Some dogs may do well with a distraction such as a new toy.
  • If your pet has a history of being fearful of fireworks, sedatives and/or anti-anxiety medications may be prescribed by your veterinarian.  Medications are tailored to each pet and environment.

Diet

BBQ’s are common in the warm season and it’s important to watch your pet’s diet carefully.  Avoid table scraps, especially bones which may cause gastrointestinal upset.  Be sure to keep garbage and compost areas secure as well to prevent pets from ingesting potentially toxic items.  If your pet does ingest something that is not normally part of their diet then contact your veterinarian.  You may also refer to the toxicity section of the website.

Maggots

Flies lay eggs that develop into larvae (maggots) which then mature into flies.  It takes a mere 8-12 hours for maggots to develop once the fly has laid her eggs.  Flies are attracted to feces (especially diarrhea), urine, skin infections, eye drainage, and open wounds. 

Most commonly, maggot infestations occur under mats, in wounds, and around the tail of animals with diarrhea.

Maggot infestations can cause infection and possibly sepsis (infection of the blood), which is life threatening.  Wounds that contain maggots require veterinary care to clean the wound and remove the maggots. It is best that animals with wounds be kept inside and let out early in the morning or later in the evening when there are less flies out.  Routinely bathing and brushing your pet as well as picking up their feces will help to decrease the attraction of flies to your pet.