New Mexico's Pet Resource SUMMER 2005


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It’s fun to be outdoors in the summer with your pets, but here are a few things you should think about to keep them healthy and safe.

Remember to never leave your pet in a parked car during the summer. Temperatures inside a car can rise to 120° in minutes. If you see a dog or cat left inside a parked car, alert the management of the shopping mall or grocery store. If no one responds, call the local animal control officer or police.

Don’t drive with your dog in the back of a pick-up truck. It is extremely dangerous for your dog who can be hit by flying debris or fall out of the truck into traffic if you stop suddenly, swerve, or have an accident.

Plant food, fertilizer, and insecticides can be fatal to your pet if they are ingested. (See our Pet Perils article in the Winter 2002 issue or for more on dangerous plants.)

Fluids or coolant that leak from vehicles are poisonous to animals. They have a sweet taste and might attract your pet. If you think your pet has ingested something poisonous, call your veterinarian immediately or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 4ANI-HELP.

More people are bitten by dogs in the summertime because more dogs are running loose. Unneutered dogs are more likely to bite, so be sure to get your dog neutered or spayed.

Make sure your pet is always wearing a collar and identification tags so that your pet can be returned to you if he is lost or you are separated from your animal.

Provide plenty of water and shade for your pets during hot summer months. Keep your cats indoors.

Pools and pets don’t always mix. Be sure your pet doesn’t have direct access to a pool and supervise your pet when he is in a pool.

Pets get sunburned, too. Your pet may require sunscreen on his or her nose and ear tips. Pets with light-colored noses or light-colored fur may be particularly vulnerable.

Don’t take your pets to crowded areas such as concerts or fairs. Crowds, heat, and noise can be stressful to an animal. Also, remember that many pets are frightened by loud noises such as firecrackers at Fourth of July celebrations. Be safe and leave your animal at home.

Limit exercise to early morning and evening when the temperatures are lower. Asphalt gets hot and can burn your pet’s paws.

Make sure your animal is well-groomed to prevent skin problems. Prevent overheating by shaving a heavy-coated dog’s hair to a one-inch length, but not all the way down to the skin, as this risks sun exposure.

Brush your cats often.

If you open your windows to let in fresh air, make sure they have screens.

Summer health problems:

- Potentially fatal heartworm disease is transmitted by mosquitoes active in warm weather.

- West Nile Virus is also carried by mosquitoes. This affects mostly horses and humans.

- Plague is a bacterial disease. Cats are at particular risk for exposure because they hunt and eat infected rodents.

-Tularemia/Rabbit Fever from fleas can infect cats, dogs and humans.

-Ticks carry dangerous parasites and lodge in the ears of animals. Ask your veterinarian about nontoxic flea and tick treatments and a pest control program for your home.

-Rattlesnake and black widow spider bites. See your veterinarian immediately if your pet or horse is bitten. (For more on this topic, check Seasonal Concerns in our Summer 2002 issue or

-Streams, creeks or river water can be contaminated with Giardia organisms which may infect humans and animals.

-Tapeworms are an intestinal parasite that can infect dogs and cats.

-Rabies is a virus that remains in high concentrations in bats and skunks.

-Coccidiomycosis/Valley Fever is a fungus causing serious damage of the lungs, bones and other sites in the body. Hunting dogs and dogs who like to dig are more likely to inhale the spores. It is more prevalent in the southern regions of New Mexico, Arizona and California.

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