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Summer Health Tips from Dr. Santschi

June 29, 2011

Heartworm disease:
Mosquitoes are everywhere! Heartworms are parasites transmitted by mosquitoes that can lead to life threatening complications to your dog or cat. Ask your veterinarian about the various heartworm preventives and have your dog or cat tested for the presence of heartworms. Prevention is easy, unfortunately the treatment for this disease can be expensive and risky for your pet The fact that your dog only goes outside to urinate and defecate, and the fact that your cat does not go outside at all, does not eliminate the risk of disease.

Normally only adult fleas live on pets, the eggs may be laid on the pet, but usually fall off into the environment where conditions are right for them to develop (through a multistage life cycle) into adult fleas. As a result, it is possible to have a substantial flea problem although you have only identified a few or no fleas on your pet. Egg and larval stages can survive in your home and yard all year due to our warm climate. Biting and scratching on the lower back, tail, and abdomen are the most common signs of flea infestation and infections will often flare up in these areas. Flea control involves treatment of the pet and the environment by a variety of means. Your veterinarian can recommend the most appropriate flea prevention/treatment program for your pet. Fleas carry tapeworms, so be sure to have your veterinarian check your pet for these intestinal parasites as well.


This is yet another parasite that is a common problem during the warmer months. Ticks are not only an irritant and nuisance to your pet, but may transmit several debilitating diseases, such as Lyme disease, babesiosis, and ehrlichiosis. Your veterinarian can also recognize ticks and show you the proper way to remove them from your pet (if you simply try to remove the tick by pulling, you may leave its mouth-parts embedded within your pet’s skin). Owners whose dogs have substantial exposure to ticks (e.g., sporting dogs, dogs that go camping, and those spending time in forest preserves or woods) should ask their veterinarian’s advice about tick preventives and the appropriateness of a vaccination for Lyme disease.

Housing and Travel:
Soaring temperatures are no more comfortable for dogs and cats than they are for people. Heat exposure kills many beloved pets each year. If your pet spends a substantial part of its day outside, be sure that you provide a cool, shady spot for it to escape the hot summer sun as well as a sheltered area to escape summer storms. Please provide plenty of cool, clean water. Some of the worst summer tragedies involve pets that are left in vehicles in the sun with the windows partially or completely rolled up. Temperatures inside a car rapidly climb to more than 100 F and can cause death sometimes in as little as 10 minutes! Please do your pet and yourself a favor and leave them at home during the summer months when running errands. When traveling with your pet, call ahead to make sure they will be welcome at any hotels or homes where you intend to stay. Health certificates are required for each pet when traveling across state lines. Travel outside of the country often requires specific restrictions and considerations, so please allow enough time to follow through. Remember that sometimes the best solution for everyone is to make arrangements for someone to watch your pet, or to bring the pet to a boarding facility designed to provide it with the special care it needs.

Pesticides and lawn care products:

Many of these products are potentially toxic to pets. Be sure to store these items where pets don’t have access to them. After treating lawns and outside areas, keep pets away for the designated length of time recommended by the manufacturer. Remember that many types of summer foliage (among them hydrangea, wisteria, delphinium, foxglove, privet hedge, monkshood and oleander) can be toxic to pets as well, so do your best to prevent your pets from ingesting plants.
With the warm weather and sunshine unfortunately come the pests: scorpions, wasps/bees, fire ants, and spiders can sting your pets and cause localized pain and swelling or can cause your pet to break out in hives. Antihistamines are one of several treatment options used to decrease the reactions to these biting insects.

Rattlesnakes are already out and about – This is the time of year to update your pet with the rattlesnake vaccine, which can decrease your pets reaction to the snakebite.

Internal parasites [such as hookworms, roundworms, whipworms and tapeworms] can be prevented by using monthly heartworm preventatives such as Iverhart Max [protects against heartworms and intestinal parasites, including tapeworms] and Advantage Multi [protects against fleas, ear mites, heartworms, and certain intestinal parasites]. Fleas and ticks can be prevented by using your monthly topical or oral preventatives such as Vectra 3D [protects against fleas, ticks, mosquitos, lice, mites and sand flies], Advantage Multi or Comfortis [fleas]. All of these pests can affect your dogs and cats to various degrees, but most are fortunately preventable.

An annual exam is all that is required to fill your pets prescriptions here at Northwest Pet Hospital. For more information, please call us at (512)863-9200 or check out our website:

Guest Post by: Rama Santschi, DVM

Thank you Dr. Santschi for writing this helpful post and sharing it with us!-Laura & Caitlin, Austin Dog Zone

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About Austin Dog Zone

Austin Dog Zone formed in 2011. We offer dog training for all breeds and temperaments. We are committed to staying up-to-date on the most current scientific research available for dogs regarding both behavior and wellness. Our methods are effective, dog-friendly and family friendly.

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