Practice summer safety for pets

Community Columnist

Ah, sunny summertime. The season of baseball, beaches and boating; picnics, parades and popsicles.

It can also be a season that poses risks for our pets. In this column, I will try to highlight some of the most common concerns.

— Fleas and ticks: By this time they’ve had three to five months to reproduce and their numbers are increasing exponentially. The itching and skin problems as well as systemic diseases transmitted by these bugs, especially Lyme disease, can affect many unprotected animals – and humans too. All pets spending any time outdoors should be treated monthly with an effective product to control external parasites. Starting early in the year or using the products year round can prevent large populations of the bugs from occupying our homes. There is also now a safe and effective vaccine for Lyme disease in dogs.

— Bee stings and fly bites: A single sting can cause everything from local redness and swelling to a body wide allergic reaction. Multiple or many stings, depending on the animal’s size or sensitivity, can cause severe illness or, in rare cases, death. It’s wise to keep an oral antihistamine such as Benedryl (Diphenhydramine) on hand and have an idea of what dose would be appropriate for your pet(s).

— Fly strike (maggots): Open wounds or skin and hair soaked with urine and fecal material can attract flies that find it a good place to lay eggs. In warm weather, eggs can hatch and become hungry maggots in one to three days. Some feed on dead flesh, others on live. Regardless, they make affected animals very sick in a hurry.

Geriatric, arthritic or incontinent animals seem to be the most common victims. If your pet spends much time outdoors, make sure he stays clean and dry, and make fly control a priority.

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