Monday, July 25, 2011

How to Keep Your Dog Healthy During Summer

Temperatures have been so high this summer, the National Weather Service has been issuing heat advisories for several states nearly every day. The warnings usually instruct people to stay indoors to keep cool and avoid heat-related illnesses. You know it's uncomfortable to be outdoors when it's that hot. Now imagine you wore a fur coat—one you couldn't take off. Here are some tips for keeping your dog healthy and safe during the summer.

Keep Your Dog Cool

Dogs don't sweat the way humans do. Their primary method of dissipating heat is panting, but that only goes so far. When your dog is outside, make sure he has a shady area to find relief from the sun. Keep plenty of clean water available to him. If your dog enjoys being in the water, fill a kiddie pool with a few inches of water so he can splash around or lie in it. Keep the pool in a shady spot, if possible, to keep the water from getting too hot. If you don't have a kiddie pool, spray your dog down with the hose if he gets too hot. Just be sure to let the water run for a bit first to make sure it comes out cool. Keep an eye on your dog when he's outside, and if you notice any signs of heat distress, cool him down as soon as possible.

One way to help keep him cool is with a bed made specifically for that purpose. They're great indoors and out, and can usually just be hosed down if they get dirty. Pet supply stores like Petco carry these specialty beds. They may cost more than the regular beds, but try using Petco coupon codes to save money. Also, consider the money you'll be saving on vet bills by keeping your dog from getting heat stroke.

Don't Leave Your Dog in the Car

This tip cannot be stressed enough. Think about how hot your car feels when you first enter it after it's been parked in the sun for a while. Even at just 80 degrees outside, your car's internal temperature can quickly rise to over 100 degrees. Even with windows cracked, a car essentially becomes an oven in hot weather. You wouldn't dream of leaving your child in a hot car. Your dog is no better equipped to handle the heat in a car than a child is.

Every year, hundreds of dogs die in hot cars because their owners simply don't realize how quickly a car heats up. They think they're just running into the store for a few things, but a dog can die in a hot car in as little as 20 minutes. Even if your dog doesn't die, he can sustain organ damage from being unable to cool his body. You obviously love your dog, or you wouldn't want him to accompany you when you run errands. Because you love him, leave him at home where he's cool, comfortable, and safe. And if you see a dog (or any other animal) left in a car on a hot day, contact animal control, or the police immediately.

Use Heartworm Preventatives

There's something else the heat of summer brings—mosquitoes. They're a nuisance to us, flying in our faces, biting us, and leaving us with itchy bumps. But to your dog, a mosquito bite can be fatal. No, mosquitoes aren't poisonous to dogs, but they can carry heartworm and transmit it to your dog through a bite. It goes like this: A mosquito bites an animal that is infected with heartworm. Larvae may be present in that animal's blood, which the mosquito takes in. The mosquito then bites your dog, transferring the larvae into his tissues. The larvae migrate through the body, and take up residence in the heart and lungs where they begin to mature.

As the worms grow, they cause extensive damage to the heart and lungs. If left untreated, heartworm disease is fatal. By giving your dog a heartworm preventative, he will be protected from heartworm disease, even if he's bitten by an infected mosquito. The medication in his system will kill the larvae before they have a chance to mature. Heartworm preventatives are not available over the counter, and require a prescription. Most veterinarians sell heartworm preventatives, but you can save money by buying the medication from an online provider. For example, PetCareRx offers a wide variety of heartworm preventatives, and makes discounts available to customers. Use a PetCareRx coupon code to protect your dog, and save money at the same time.

Above all, your dog needs love, and ensuring he's safe and well cared for is the best way to show your love for him. Take good care of him, and he'll be around to enjoy life with you for many years to come.

- Caroline Ruddy

About the Author:  Caroline Ruddy is a freelance writer finally pursuing her dream of being published. She loves books and movies, especially when they include a furry friend napping on her lap.

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