By Matthew Kearns, DVM
Here we are, getting ready for another great summer on Long Island. This article will address preventative care and safety issues for the best summer ever!
Fleas and ticks are more and more prevalent every year. Luckily, there are plenty of flea and tick preventatives available including topical medications, collars and oral medications. Some are administered monthly and some last for several months. Preventing fleas will help with skin irritations and allergies. It is best to speak with your veterinarian to discuss which option is best for you. This is based on efficacy (especially when fighting the deer tick), safety, cost and which works best for your pet.
Vaccines are an integral part of maintaining any pet’s health. It is important to make sure your pet is updated on all their vaccines if you want to walk around, visit dog parks, etc. Remember, vaccines are also required by law in Suffolk County at all boarding facilities. Certain groomeries/doggie day care facilities require them as part of their policy. Be sure to check before you arrive or you may be postponing your trip to go to the vet’s office to update vaccines.
Remember to keep ol’ Fluffy and Fido hydrated with cool water throughout the day, and if it is very hot or humid, limit their outside time. Early symptoms of overheating include excessive panting, difficulty breathing, drooling and weakness. If the overheating is not corrected, it will lead to vomiting, bloody diarrhea, stupor, collapse, seizures and possibly death.
Never leave a pet alone in a parked car for any amount of time. A car can reach in excess of 20 degrees from the outside temperature within 20 minutes and the consequences can be deadly.
We are surrounded by the best beaches anywhere! However, be aware of glass, sharp rocks, debris, etc. A good piece of advice is to think of your pet like a 2-year-old: Everything is interesting, and everything seems to go in their mouths. This can lead to inadvertent obstructions.
Signs of a blockage include vomiting, lack of appetite and lethargy. An X-ray will usually confirm the diagnosis. Many times IV fluids and medications to control nausea allow the obstruction to pass on its own. Sometimes, surgery is necessary. If any of the symptoms mentioned are seen, better to see your veterinarian as soon as possible.
When one thinks of summer, delicious barbecue food is the first thing that comes to mind, but just remember many of these foods can be very dangerous to your pet. Keep any kind of bones and/or raw meats (chicken, meat, fish) out of the reach of your pets. Also, make sure your pets stay away from grills, grease and hot surfaces. Avoid leaving around alcohol, raisins, grapes, nuts, chocolate, onions and any artificial sweeteners.
Lastly, remember to be aware of pets around fireworks. It’s best to keep your pet inside or at home if fireworks are going to be part of your summer celebrations to avoid them getting injured or burned. If your pet (usually dogs) suffers from noise phobias, remember to talk to your veterinarian as early as possible. Many anti-anxiety medications take three to four weeks to reach therapeutic levels. I hope everyone has a fun and safe summer!
Dr. Kearns practices veterinary medicine from his Port Jefferson office and is pictured with his son Matthew and his dog Jasmine.