Keeping Your Dog Healthy This Summer
Dogs relish long summer days, frolicking in fields and streams, running along sandy beaches and swimming just like people do. And since we love our dogs, it's important to know how we can keep them safe from the season's perils.
Before you start a summer break, take your pets to the veterinarian to make sure they're up to date on all their vaccines. That's also the time to test for heartworm and stock up on flea and tick protection that your veterinarian recommends.
If you intend to leave your dog in a kennel or fly with him, request a copy of his medical records in case you are required to produce it later.
When You Board Your Dog
Pet parents who place their dog in a boarding facility when they go on vacation should be aware this has been a challenging year to keep dogs who come in close contact with others healthy.
Boarding facilities typically require that your pets have certain vaccinations in advance of boarding- some vaccines actually need to be given weeks in advance. While most kennels will require basic vaccinations, such as Canine Distemper, Parvovirus, and Rabies, they may also request vaccinations that prevent contagious respiratory diseases such as bordetella, parainfluenza, adenovirus, and Canine Influenza.
Canine Influenza, also known as dog flu, is an important infectious respiratory disease for socially active dogs- including dogs that visit boarding kennels, doggie day cares, and dog parks. The newest form of dog flu, H3N2, was first found in North America in March 2015. H3N2 is considered extremely contagious and has been detected in over 30 US States so far in a little more than one year. Since these are relatively new viruses, virtually all dogs are susceptible to infection. While most dogs that develop CIV infection will have a mild illness, some dogs can become very sick and require veterinary treatment. Vaccinations for dog flu require an initial vaccination and a booster 2-4 weeks later and then continued as an annual vaccination.
When You Travel With Your Dog
This summer the world's attention is focused on the Zika virus, but evidence has not yet shown that dogs or cats can contract it. However, heartworm, also transmitted via mosquitoes, is a threat to dogs year-round. If your dog is not on heartworm preventative, have your veterinarian test him for heartworm and get him started on heartworm preventative medicine.
There are other situations to be concerned with when you take a trip with your dog.
Ticks, which carry Lyme and other diseases, are active in summer. So it's important to put your dog on medication such as Bravecto or Activyl Tick Plus that reduce your dogs exposure to ticks and the diseases they carry. Your dog can also be vaccinated against Lyme Disease. Ask your veterinarian if vaccination is the right choice for your dog.
Bites, including those incurred in confrontations with raccoons, skunks and porcupines, pose a danger that can be mitigated if you vaccinate your dog against rabies.
If you live in or are planning to visit a subtropical, tropical or wet environment, keep your dog away from stagnant water and mud where she may come in contact with bacteria that can cause kidney and liver failure. This bacteria, which can also harm humans, lives in pastures, wooded areas, and even in puddles on city streets as well. To protect your dog, ask your veterinarian how to prevent leptospirosis.
Heat exhaustion and heat stroke can also lead to serious illness and even death. For more information, see the article on "What Happens to a Pet Left in a Car."
Although it may sound as if danger lurks around every corner when you leave home, so do fun and unforgettable experiences. Just remember that old adage: "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."