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Dog RunningIt's finally summer!  For many of us, that means outings, camping, and vacations.  For our pets, it can mean added stresses that don't appear for the remaining 9 months of the year.

First, let's just consider the heat.  Our biggest fear is heat stroke or overheating.  This may sound benign, but can actually be fatal.  Even if you take your dog everywhere, consider leaving her home for those short trips to the store.  I know you've heard this before, but even 10 minutes in a hot car can kill a dog.  We see heat strokes every summer, always just from that innocent, I was just going into the store for a minute.  So I will repeat:  Dogs can die from overheating.  If you are traveling with your pet, be sure to leave someone in the car with your pet with the air conditioning on while your travel partner leaves the car.  If you are removing your pet from the car, be sure that the leash is attached or our cat is in a secure carrier BEFORE you open the door.

For many pets, fleas and ticks are an occasional annoyance. They can transmit bacterial and parasitic infections including Lyme disease, Ehrlichia, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and tapeworms. Heavy infestations can cause anemia due to blood loss from feeding.

flea-tick-prevention-petsUntil recently, fleas and ticks were a seasonal concern, first appearing around March or April and gone with the snow in December. As our New England winters become progressively more mild, fleas and ticks are better able to survive and thrive over-winter.

Adult fleas, for example, can remain protected in a cocoon for up to 30 weeks after reaching maturity and will emerge when the temperature rises can survive for up to 10 days at 38°F. Ticks will become active and feed at temperatures above 32°F, regardless of whether or not there is snow on the ground. In addition to less environmental help in controlling fleas and ticks, some of the familiar old products we’ve been using as preventatives don’t seem to be as effective anymore.

Even though recent studies have shown that fleas and ticks have not developed resistance to common preventatives, our pharmaceutical suppliers have produced several new or updated products to help protect our pets from these pests.

dog suitcaseAre you planning to travel with your pet? Whether you are journeying by plane or driving, it is advisable to keep with you a signed copy of your pet's current rabies certificate as well as a signed health certificate issued within 30 days of travel. 

North Windham Animal Hospital is now accredited by the USDA to issue pet health certificates for both for domestic and overseas travel! We also provide Pet ID cards at no cost (the card includes pet information as well as a list of vaccines).

Having your pet microchipped prior to travel is also a good idea (and may be required) should your pet become lost or separated from you en route. Be sure to update your information with the microchip company to ensure your pet finds his or her way home!

US Travel

With a few exceptions, the majority of states require a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection if a pet will be residing in a state for any length of time. If flying, you should check with the airlines as they may have additional requirements for your animal and more stringent time requirements.

If your pet is exhibiting itchiness, allergies could be the cause. Or is it? Here are five questions you should answer:

  1. Dog ScratchingIs My Pet on Flea Control?

    Before pursuing extensive (and expensive) diagnostics, consider if ALL pets in the household are on flea prevention. If not, start there. In many cases, owners don't notice fleas, because they aren't being bitten — that's because they're biting your pet. Flea control should include both pets AND environment.

  2. Is My Pet Wormed Regularly?

    Both internal and external parasites can cause your pet to itch. We may wish to run a fecal exam and/or skin scrapes to look for parasites.

  3. Does My Pet Itch All Year?

    If so, consider home environment and food. Statistically speaking, very few pets have a food allergy — but it's worth ruling out. If a food trial is suggested, remember, NOTHING ELSE goes into the pet's mouth except the recommended diet. Heartworm prevention will need to be topical. Commit to 3 months before calling it quits.

  4. Does My Pet Have an Infection or Underlying Disease?

    Blood tests and/or skin cultures or biopsies may be recommended to rule out an infection or disease.

  5. Is My Pet Allergic to Something?

    Many pets are. Consider allergy testing to identify the source and subsequent immunotherapy to help manage the outbreaks. This doesn't work for everyone, but it does work for the majority of cases.

In the mean time, here's what you can do to sooth your pet's itchy skin: