AC Pup: Mosquitoes more than a nuisance

July 11, 2014 

Summertime in the South is so wonderful. Long, warm days of glorious sunshine, evenings filled with dancing lightning bugs, and the chorus of crickets and frogs make summer one of my favorite seasons.

I also love the ever-predictable afternoon thundershowers that drench thirsty flowers and lawns. Everything is so beautiful after a summer shower.

But summer also brings serious hazards for otherwise healthy pets. Many of these hazards can be fatal, but they are preventable.

Of course, exposure to extreme heat is definitely at the top of the list of dangers for pets. Pets need shelter from Southern summer heat, that’s for sure.

Ideally they should stay inside, but if that’s not possible, dogs need a house located in a shady area and fresh water that’s changed several times a day because their water gets really hot.

And for Pete’s sake, don’t leave any pets in parked cars. Despite my persistent pleas to not leave pets in parked cars, I’ve gotten several reports this summer about dogs left in cars. The latest was just this week. Two little Chihuahuas were sweltering in a car in a parking lot. Thank goodness someone called the police, and the dogs survived.

One of the most serious dangers that’s a hazard all year long in the South but is even worse in the summer is the threat of mosquitoes. While they may seem like a nuisance to people, they can be deadly to unprotected pets.

Mosquitoes transmit deadly heartworms when they bite an infected dog or cat and then spread it to others. Sadly, heartworms are prevalent in the South and may cause a slow, painful death in pets you love.

The symptoms of heartworms in dogs are coughing, tiredness after limited physical activity, difficulty breathing and maybe even vomiting and fainting.

Symptoms in cats may be a little different than in dogs but may also include respiratory problems.

Heartworms are serious in pets and can result in lung damage, heart failure and death. Heartworms are incredibly destructive but they’re also preventable. If your pet is not already on a heartworm preventive, please talk to your veterinarian immediately about it. Please do not delay.

It’s also important to reduce the population of mosquitoes. Those wonderful summer showers I love unfortunately cause puddles of standing water that attract mosquitoes. Please take a few minutes today to look around your house for any potential area where water may collect, even in the smallest container like a bottle top. Mosquitoes don’t need much water, so look around every nook and cranny of your yard to prevent them from multiplying.

There are also fantastic companies that will come to your house on a monthly basis and fog your yard. This helps eliminate mosquitoes, protect your pets and allows you to enjoy being outside without being on the mosquito menu.

Yes, there are serious summer dangers that can be deadly to your pet. But taking the necessary precautions can assure that your furry family member will be safe and enjoy summer, too.

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