Saturday, June 19, 2010

Some like it hot

What better thing to do on a hot summer afternoon than escape the heat outside and do a little writing. Now some may argue that northeast Ohio is never all that hot and for all but a few days of the year, I would agree. Still, upper 80's with dew points in the upper 60's is just downright uncomfortable for this northern girl. For some odd reason I decided to take a quick walk back to the blueberry patch on my farm and waited until the sun was blazing high in the sky. My beagles are lounging in the shade of the big maple in the back yard, but the Brittany decided she needed to see the blueberries too. Fortunately for her (but not for my house) she has access to the creek and a quick dip was definitely in order as we walked back to the house. She really is as dorky as she looks in the picture of her just getting out of the creek.

In honor of the heat, I thought I would list some of the big summertime mishaps I see every year at the clinic.

  • Heat stroke: most commonly seen in animals left in parked cars or dogs that run (or even just walk in some breeds) when temperatures are above 70 degrees. Remember dogs and cats do not get rid of heat from their bodies as well as people do.
  • Insect bites: deer flies, bees, wasps and many more. Be especially careful to watch for the tips of ears on dogs that spend a lot of time outside. There are insect repellents made just for the purpose of applying to dogs so ask your vet. I really hate seeing bit up ear tips.
  • Hives: little welts all over the body, swollen faces. Can be caused by insect bites, but I think more likely from plants that are ingested. Most of the time we never do find out what the trigger is.
  • Maggots: oh yes, a favorite, NOT! Maggots should not happen, but they do every summer. Heavy coated breeds such as Chow Chows and Saint Bernards are especially at risk. Senior pets that aren't as mobile and may soil themselves with feces or urine are especially prone. Check your furry and old dogs that are outside EVERYDAY!!! Don't' forget your rabbits. I see a couple maggot infested rabbits each summer. You may have to lift up the fur and check the skin to even see them. Maggots aren't just a nuisance. Maggots kill.
  • Animal bite wounds: cat fights, dogs cornering groundhogs, raccoons, possums and just about anything else with teeth. Please make sure your pets are vaccinated for Rabies.
  • Skunk spray: this one is oh so fun. From personal experience, the solution made from 1 quart 3% hydrogen peroxide, 1/4 cup baking soda and 1 teaspoon of liquid soap works pretty good. Tomato juice isn't half bad either in a pinch and at least my dog enjoyed licking her fur afterwards even though I rinsed it pretty well. Just be warned that even thought the smell is reduced, your dog will probably give off a faint skunk aroma every time it gets wet for 3-6 months.
  • Poison Ivy: no, dogs and cats do not get a rash (I get asked this all the time), well, I never say never, but it's almost never. But they can pick up the oil on their fur and then share it with their human friends. Again, personal experience here.
  • Hit by car, tractor, brush hog, motorcycle, 4 wheeler, golf cart, etc.: be careful out there and don't let your dogs and cats play in the road. Be careful about senior pets that may be hard of hearing and like to lounge in the driveway.
  • Ticks: I live in an area that is not heavily populated with ticks. Thank goodness, because I really hate ticks. They carry all sorts of bad diseases and they are just gross. At least I don't freak out any more when I see them like I did as a teenager. I guess I'm so used to them now. Still, if your dog and cat picks up a lot of ticks, it is worthwhile to use a product such as Frontline or Preventic collar on them. You do not want to see what happens when an animal gets a full blown tick transmitted disease.
  • Fleas: it's June. Starting to see the first cases of flea bite dermatitis this past week. With most of the dogs and cats I am seeing, I have to search long and hard to find a flea because there just aren't a whole lot of fleas hatching. Yet. Wait 2 months. If your dog or cat is losing fur and scratching, even if you don't see any fleas, it may be flea allergy. Itchy pet = treat for fleas. And please used something that works well and is safe. I get tired of cats coming into the clinic seizuring because someone has used an over the counter flea product on the cat incorrectly (or sometimes not even incorrectly, just a sensitive cat). Ask your vet for recommendations. Many of the good flea products are being sold over the counter now. Just do the research. AND TREAT ALL THE PETS IN THE HOUSEHOLD EVEN THE CATS THAT NEVER GO OUTSIDE!!!!!!!! Did I say that loud enough? Put yourself in your pet's place. Would you like to feel things crawling over you and biting you every day, all day long?
  • Heartworms: should not ever ever ever happen except in some instances in the lower Mississippi River Valley, but that is not here. Should not ever happen in northeastern Ohio. Remember cats can get heartworms too. Ask your vet. And also, for those who say their dog never goes outside, heartworms are spread my mosquitoes and yes, I am sorry, but mosquitoes do find their way into our homes and apartments. Several years back, I had a client with a little toy poodle that lived in a high rise and did its doggy duty on pee pads. This dog never went outside. Guess what? Yep, it got heartworm. ALL DOGS SHOULD BE ON HEARTWORM PREVENTION!!!!! Did I say that loud enough?
  • Gunshot wounds: OK this is directed at the jerks that shoot other people's animals. I am not talking about dogs that kill livestock/other people's pets or aggressive dogs. I am talking dogs and cats that roam the neighborhood. Yeah, well maybe they shouldn't be roaming the neighborhood, but don't shoot them. Sorry, that is just mean and stupid. There are better solutions (and I am not talking poisoning you jerks!). Sorry if I got carried away there, but this subject just makes me mad.
  • Cuts, scrapes, impalement on sticks, etc. OK these sometimes just happen. I guess if we lived in cages they wouldn't. I chalk most of these up to the scars of life. Don't worry so much about these. Living life is a risk. Go have fun!

Guess I'll be having a busy summer as usual.


  1. I had a rabbit years ago that had vertigo and lots of hair loss. I took him to the vet and found that he had mites! They got in his ears as well. The vet said the mites probably came from the straw that I bought at the feed store. He was treated and lived to be eight years old. I hear that was old age for a rabbit in the south. I always used lots of straw in his cage in the winter and I kept it shielded from the wind. In the summer we removed the straw and placed a frozen 2 liter water ball in his cage to lay against every day. Snowball loved it! The frozen water bottle really works to keep them cool. His favorite food was grapes, but he got other veggies too along with his rabbit pellets. His cage was two to three times longer than most rabbit hutches so he actually had more excerise than most rabbits that are pets. He occasionally had an afternoon run around our yard. I brought him indoors during bad weather. It was a lot of responsibility, I also had to young children at the time - the reason we ended up with a rabbit. ;o)

  2. I love rabbits! I wish more people had them as pets and they are really cool animals. The frozen 2 liter bottle is a good tip to keeps rabbits cool. The kids at our local fair use those all the time during fair week as it is usually so hot in the rabbit barn. Sounds like yours lived a life of luxury. Dr.Di.