Summer Advice from Dr.Wise
Dear Dr. Wise,
Our pets keep having fleas, what can we do?
Fleas, particularly their bites, can be very irritating to both animals and humans and they can also transmit diseases and parasites so it is very important to get them under control. The best way to control flea infestations is to break their life-cycle. As soon as a flea jumps on your pet they quickly bite and feed, and then mate as soon as possible. The female fleas then lay their eggs on your pet within 24 hours. Soon after the eggs drop off the pet and into the environment where they hatch and mature into adults, at which time they are ready to jump on your pet to get their first blood meal. Thus, there is a never ending supply of ‘new’ adult fleas provided by your pets’ environment. This is why it is important to not only treat your pet for fleas, but also to treat the environment that they live in.
There are many different products that can be used to treat the adult fleas on your pet, these include both topical and oral products. Many of these products are once monthly treatments that are designed to kill any adult fleas on the pet for 30 days, thus effectively preventing new infestations. Other products that are available are designed to kill flea embryos in the eggs that are on the pet. It is best to ask your veterinarian which veterinary- prescribed product is best for your individual pet and how to use the product.
Since your pets keep having fleas it is very likely that the environment is infected with juvenile fleas that are growing up and re-infecting your animals. A simple, but effective home remedy is the vacuum cleaner. It can work wonders, especially if used on a regular basis and if effort is concentrated on the areas where your pets rest or spend a lot of time as these areas are likely to be highly populated with juvenile fleas. It is very important to remember to seal and dispose of the vacuum bag or empty the canister after use.
Vacuuming combined with premise treatment is the most effective way to rid the environment of fleas. Sprays, aerosols, and flea bombs are available for this purpose. Select a product that kills both adult fleas and contains an IGR (insect growth regulator) that will kill the juvenile fleas in the area and follow the directions on the label. Ask your veterinarian for product recommendations.
Dear Dr. Wise,
I like to run with my dog, but in the summer time he does not like to run on the road with me. Why does he not like to run on the road when it is hot outside?
Pavement can become extremely hot during the summer time because it absorbs and retains heat from the sun. The surface of pavement may stay hot long after the sun has set. It is possible for the temperature of pavement to exceed 145°F on hot summer days! Just like our bare feet will burn and blister on hot pavement, your dog’s paws can burn too.
Before taking your dog on a run, it would be a good idea to check the pavement for heat by placing your hand or bare foot on the surface for about 10 seconds. If the road feels too hot for you to keep your hand or foot there, then it is too hot for your dog to walk or run on it. Another tip would be to take your dog for runs early in the morning or late in the evening after the pavement has cooled down. You could also try taking your dog for runs on the grass, which is typically much cooler than pavement. To help prevent the heat from burning your pet’s paws, you can purchase a pair of dog booties or foot coverings that are designed to guard against the hot pavement.
Some signs of dog paw burns include: limping, refusing to walk, licking or chewing at the feet, a red or pink color change in the paw pads, missing pieces of pads, and blisters. Other types of foot pad injuries may also cause your dog to show these signs. If you observe any of these signs, you should take your dog to see your veterinarian right away.
Dear Dr. Wise,
We want to take our dog to the lake with our family, what precautions should we take for our dog when we go boating?
Most dogs love to swim and enjoy spending time with their family playing in the water.
However, some breeds don’t swim as well or are timid of the water so it’s important to be
aware of your dog’s water preferences. Here are some suggestions and precautions to
mindful of to keep your dog water safe.
- Buy your dog a life jacket. While swimming is a good form of exercise for your
dog, they can develop a cramp in their muscles or become exhausted, just like
people. A properly fitting life jacket should be snug enough so the dog cannot
- Provide a shady spot in the boat or on shore for your dog. Heat and sun
reflect off the water’s surface, making the UV rays more intense. Short haired or
pink skinned dogs can sunburn easily and dark coated dogs are more prone to heat
stroke. Signs of overheating include excessive rapid panting, vomiting, diarrhea
and collapse. Therefore, a shady spot for your dog to seek refuge is important.
- Try to keep your dog from drinking the lake water. Some water borne
parasites that your pet can possibly become infected with from drinking
contaminated water include Giardia, Leptospira, Campylobacter, Coccidia, and
Cryptosporidia. These organisms cause inflammation to your dog’s
gastrointestinal tract, resulting in vomiting, diarrhea and dehydration and will
require a trip to the veterinarian’s office to help treat. To prevent your dog from
drinking lake water, bring along fresh drinking water for your dog and keep his
water bowl filled and in a shady spot.
- Rinse your dog off after playing in the water. Rinsing your dog will help
remove any parasites or bacteria that may linger in water droplets on your dog’s
fur. It will also provide you an opportunity to check your dog for possible
sunburns or minor scratches/injuries that may have been acquired during the
water activities and may require medical treatment.
With some of these simple precautions, boating with your dog can be a fun activity for
the family. Please consult with your veterinarian if you have more concerns or questions
on how to keep your dog water safe.