5 Most Common Summertime Pet Ailments

Take Steps to Protect Dogs and Cats

Dog outside

Summertime means more outdoor time for pets, too, as families venture out for playtime and new adventures with dogs and maybe even cats tagging along.

Plan ahead: Protect your pets from some of the most common summertime ailments that lead to unexpected visits with vets. Based on Nationwide pet insurance’s 2015 claims data, these are the five most common summertime ailments for pets, all of which increased the most during the month of July.

1. Insect Bites and Stings on Dogs and Cats

Dog with mosquitoes on face

We aren’t the only ones who need to worry about mosquito bites this summer. While there is no evidence that our pets can contract the Zika virus, the truth is that studies have yet to be conducted. No matter, dogs and cats can suffer from irritation due to mosquito bites — and insects.

In fact, insect bites and stings are the most common summertime ailment for dogs and cats. The average cost to treat an insect bite (not including secondary conditions or additional treatment) is $229.

Don’t take bug bites and stings lightly when it comes to pets: Life-threatening bacteria, viruses and parasites can be transmitted to your pets, causing your pet a great deal of pain and potentially an emergency trip to the pet clinic.

Common bites on pets include:

  • Fleas
  • Ticks
  • Mosquitoes
  • Bees, hornets, wasps
  • Mites
  • Ants
  • Flies

Ask your veterinarian which topical or oral treatment would best protect your pet.

2. Heat Stroke and Pets

Hot bulldog outside

During summer months, it’s recommended you keep pets indoors during peak hours of the day. Take dogs (or cats) for walks during early morning hours or during the evening, when it’s cooler.

A dog can begin to suffer heatstroke once his core body temperature reaches 106 degrees. It doesn’t have to be a particularly hot day for your pet’s internal temperature to climb: a 78 degree day is a considerably warm day to a pet in a fur coat. When temperatures reach 83 degrees outside, heat exhaustion begins. Signs that your pet has had enough: panting and drooling.

Adding humidity to a relatively cool 80 degree summer day increases the heat index exponentially. It’s a deadly combination. Cool down your pets indoors; do not leave pets outdoors or in garages without air conditioning and never leave pets in cars during warm days. To learn more about hot car danger to pets, click here.

3. Burns on Dogs and Cats

Dog on the beach

Your dog and cat can quickly develop burns on the pads of their paws simply by taking a walk outside on a hot day. Concrete and pavement absorb heat and have the potential to cause great harm to your pets. If you need to take your dog outdoors, consider buying him shoes for his paws that will protect his pads.

Pets can also suffer from sunburn. In fact, dogs and cats most commonly get sunburned on the nose, tips of ears and the underbelly. Like humans, pets can develop skin cancer.

Ask your veterinarian which sunscreen is safe for your pet. Pets with light fur and pigmentation are at more risk of sunburn.

4. Near Drowning and Pets

Dog in the pool

Not all dogs are good swimmers. It is possible for your dog or cat to fall into a pool and panic, get tumbled under a wave or inhale water — and drown. It’s estimated that thousands of pets die each year from drowning.

Never leave pets unattended by a pool or at the beach. Consider buying your swim-challenged pup a life jacket and always create a safe exit for pets in a pool: buy a pet-safe ladder.

For more information on preventing a pet from drowning, read here.

5. Snake Bites and Pets

Rattlesnake

According to Red Rock Biologics, the Sacramento, Calif., organization that developed the rattlesnake vaccine, approximately 300,000 dogs and cats are bitten annually in the United States by venomous snakes. Venomous snake bites have the potential to kill pets, and are known to cause serious muscle, liver and neurological damage.

Rattlesnake prevention classes are becoming more common, often sponsored by veterinary clinics or hosted by a private pet organization. These classes teach dogs how to smell and listen for rattlesnakes — and how to avoid them.

If you live in an area that is known to have rattlesnakes and your dog and cat spend time outdoors, ask your veterinarian about the availability of the rattlesnake vaccine in case of an emergency — and if they know where your dog can take a rattlesnake avoidance class.


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