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Mary C. Fondren, DVM


Summer time is vacation and play time. That means more fun time with our beloved four legged pets too. The beaches and dog parks are great ways to exercise your pets, but you should be aware of the hidden summer fun hazards. Examples include heat stroke, parasites and Bufo toads. Other issues for the summer include a higher frequency of thunderstorms and Fourth of July fireworks which are particularly stressful for storm phobic pets.

Heat Stroke: Avoid outdoor play at the hottest times of the day especially between the hours of 10:00 am and 5:00pm. Carry plenty of fresh water and keep your dog’s coat damp for evaporation cooling. Flat faced breeds like Bulldogs and Pugs are particularly prone to heat stroke because of their genetically challenged airways. So, use some common sense-if you are hot, your dog is probably even hotter!

Parasites: In summer we see a greater prevalence of ticks, fleas, and intestinal parasites (we never have a freeze in the winter to kill parasite eggs in the soil). Increased contact with other pets means more “sharing” of parasitic pests between friends. So, use your heartworm, flea, and tick preventions!

Bufo toads: This is a non-native toxic toad. If your pet licks, bites, or gets the toad’s toxin sprayed in his face or mouth, it can cause your pet to stagger, collapse, go into a coma and even die. The toxin burns giving a cheery red appearance to the gums and causes severe hyper salivation. Wipe, NOT water hose, out the mouth and get immediately to your veterinarian.

Storm/Fireworks Phobia: Fear of thunderstorms and loud noises can be very scary to your pet. Signs include panting, trembling, hiding, pacing, vocalization, urinating or defecating in the house or being destructive. My brother had an Irish Setter who would break through the house windows to escape the storms! Some treatments include: having a safe place to go to, using loud distracting background music, storm treat parties, pheromone secreting diffusers of sprays, Thundershirts or Storm Capes, counter conditioning, short term or long term drugs for which you will need to see your veterinarian.

So, keep these safety issues in mind and go out there and have lots of safe FUN.