Summer Pet Care Tips

This post was last updated on 11JUN17.

<To listen to our most recent podcast on this topic, click here>

Summer 1200x797As summer approaches, not only do the temperatures rise, but we also tend to spend more time outside enjoying the beautiful weather.  With the warm weather come some potential dangers and several things that need to be considered if we are to keep our pets safe and healthy. With a few simple precautions, summer can be a time of great fun for both you and your pets. So simply, take the time to plan ahead and have a great summer!

The Heat & Sun

Our pets, especially the young, elderly and overweight, are at increased risk for dehydration and heat stroke as the temperatures increase; both can be life threatening. Signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke include:

  • rapid breathing
  • heavy panting
  • excessive salivation
  • fatigue
  • unsteadiness and staggering
  • muscle tremors
  • glazed eyes
  • a fast pulse

Signs of even more dangerous heat stroke include:

  • high body temperature
  • vomiting & diarrhea
  • a deep red or purple tongue and gums
  • collapse

If you observe these symptoms in your pet you need to immediately get your pet out of the heat and you need to contact a veterinarian. You can use cool water (not cold!) to cool down your pet, as you transport them to your veterinarian. Do NOT place an overheated pet in cold water. Misting them with cool water and placing wet towels on their neck, chest and limbs will aid in cooling during transport. Offer them ice chips but do NOT force them to drink.

If your pet experiences heat related distress, they need to be seen by your veterinarian, even if they seem to be okay, to rule out any unseen damage.

Things you can do to prevent heat related injuries are:

  • If you leave a pet in the car you need to check on them every few minutes – No Exceptions!When the temperature outside is 80 degrees, the temperature inside your car will reach 100 degrees in 15 minutes, and 120 degrees in 30 minutes, even with the windows open half-way. This can be fatal!
  • Once the outside temperature reaches 70, if your pet doesn’t need to go with you, the best place for them is probably at home.
  • Do not rely on the vehicle’s air conditioning, or if you do, you must continue to check on your pet every few minutes to ensure that the vehicle and AC are still running.
  • Make sure your pet always has access to fresh cool water, and if outside, shade. Be aware that not all dogs will move into the shade when they need to, so if they are outside you need to check on them on a regular basis.
  • Keep your pet well groomed, and if they have a long or dense coat and undercoat make sure you keep it mat free. Your pet’s guard hair, or outer coat, actually acts as an insulator which keeps them cool in the summer and warm in the winter. We generally do not recommend shaving down an animal with a double coat unless there is a medical reason or the coat has become too severely matted.
  • If the sun can get to your pet’s skin, you will need to apply sunscreen on a regular basis or keep them out of the sun, to avoid sunburn.
  • Brachycephalic pets (those with short noses like Pugs and Persians) often have a more difficult time breathing in hot, humid weather because of their squashed noses, and are even more susceptible to heat related problems.
  • When you go for walks or enjoy other outdoor activities with your pets, make sure you bring along enough fresh cool water for them. Also, it helps to plan these activities for early morning or late evening when the temperatures are a bit cooler.
  • Make sure you pet does not overly exert themselves. Exercise is important, but too much activity when it’s hot and humid contributes to dehydration and can result in heat stroke. Like some people, not all pets know when to stop and rest.
  • Avoid walking your pet on asphalt. Asphalt absorbs heat and can become hot enough to burn the pads on your pets feet.
  • To keep ourselves cool, we often to keep windows open during the summer months. Make sure screens are secure so that your pet cannot escape or accidentally fall out of a window.

Water Safety

The summer months also bring more opportunities to play in the water for both people and pets. While it brings much joy, water also is a source of concern. Some things to consider:

  • Many dogs enjoy swimming, but some dogs don’t swim well and even the best swimmers can get tired. Life jackets for dogs can save lives.
  • If you have a pool, your dog needs to be supervised whenever they have access to the pool. You should take the time to train them how to safely enter and exit the pool from the shallow end.
  • Salt water can damage a dog’s coat, so after any ocean dips take the time to hose them down with fresh water.
  • Don’t let your pet stay wet! For some dogs, staying wet can lead to skin irritations, otherwise known as “hot spots.” These can be a source of discomfort and infection for your pet.

Bug Bites, Parasites and Pollen

Insects also enjoy the nice weather and if they are a pest to us they may be a pest to your dog and cat as well.

  • Black Flies, Maine’s own special nemesis, seem to love to feast on the tender underbellies of both dogs and cats. While some pets are oblivious, some react the same way we do, itching, scratching, and the equivalent of pet cursing. There are several insect repellents that are safe to use on pets that will help keep black fly and mosquito bites to a minimum. We sell and prefer Cedarcide Original, Cedarcide TickShield Extra Strength, and U-Tick-Me-Off. Before using an insect repellent for humans on your pet, read the label. Many products for humans, even kids, may not be safe for pets.
  • During the summer months our pets are at risk of getting heartworm from a mosquito bite. This parasitic worm is more of a threat to dogs, but even in cats it can be fatal. Discuss heartworm testing and prevention with your pet’s veterinarian at their annual exam.
  • Fleas become more of a problem in the summer months, particularly towards the end of summer. These small insects like to live, feed and breed on our pets. Feeding involves a bite to get a blood meal which causes the classic itch response we see in many pets. Some pets are more allergic to flea bites and just a couple of fleas can make their lives miserable; severe infestations can even cause anemia. The most effective and safest flea preventative products will be available from your veterinarian. These products are safe when used properly. Unfortunately, they are often unintentionally misused causing serious illness and even death in some pets. Talk to your veterinarian so you can make the best choice.
  • Ticks are becoming more and more of a problem in Maine. Because they can carry Lyme disease, as well as other tick-borne diseases, you should talk to your veterinarian about preventative products if your pet is likely to be in areas where they may pick up ticks. Just like with flea products, your veterinarian will be able to help you pick the best option for your pet. If you are looking for a product to use in your home, or yard, or on your dog as a repellent, check out Cedarcide Original and Cedarcide TickShield Extra Strength.
  • While rare, pets can have an allergic reaction to being stung by bees, wasps and the like. This can be more serious for brachycephalic pets because their breathing is already less than optimal. If you suspect such a reaction you need to get your pet to a veterinarian immediately.
  • Tree and grass pollens make my eyes water, nose run, and if the lawn has just been mowed, I itch all over. Some pets can also experience seasonal allergies. In addition to the aforementioned, another common manifestation of seasonal allergies is the continual licking and chewing of feet. If you see these symptoms, talk to your veterinarian and they can assist you in finding relief for your dog.

Outdoor Chemicals

Lawn fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, fungicides, insecticides, rodenticides and all sorts or other “…cides” are used routinely in our environment to kill something we don’t like. These poisons can all be toxic to our pets and since our animals can’t read little lawn signs or product labels, we need to watch out for them. Read product labels and keep your pet away from areas where these products are used. Remember – our pets aren’t wearing gloves or shoes but run around naked and then clean themselves by licking, increasing their exposure to these products.

While we usually think of mulch as pretty innocuous, cocoa mulch can be deadly if ingested and has an appetizing scent to some animals.

Holiday Gatherings

Summer is also a time for family gatherings, celebrations, and vacations. Depending on your pet’s temperament, these can range from good times to scary events. These simple rules will help you keep your pet safe during the festivities.

  • Put your dog in his crate with a bone or favorite chew toy, at least during the most hectic times – when guests are arriving and leaving as well as when meals are being prepared and served. Make sure your guests know that they are to leave your pet alone in this situation.
  • Assign one adult to be in charge of each of the dogs, to watch for signs of stress and to protect the dog from unwanted attention from children. At the same time, assign one adult to supervise each baby or toddler, with no other tasks assigned to them. Make sure that ALL interactions between pets and children are supervised by an adult.
  • Not every dog likes every person – ALWAYS let your dog decide if they want to meet someone new.
  • If you are quite certain your pet will not enjoy the increased activity due to the event, or if you will be more relaxed knowing your pet is in a safe, pleasant environment, consider boarding your pet the day and night of the event.
  • Fireworks, with their loud booms and bright flashes of light can be very frightening to pets. If they’re right in your backyard or your neighbor’s backyard they can be not only be frightening but can pose a danger to our pets. Keep your pets inside during any personal firework activity. If you go someplace to see the fireworks I would advise you to leave your pet at home in a safe quiet location. They’ll be glad you did.

Vacations & Traveling with Your Pet

  • If you travel with your pet, even just to camp, make sure they are wearing ID tags or have been micro-chipped.
  • Take your pet’s shot records with you as well as contact information for your regular veterinarian. If you are more than an hour’s drive from your veterinarian, make sure you have phone numbers of other veterinarians in the area where you are staying.
  • If you go hiking or camping with your pet, plan ahead. Make sure you have sufficient water and snacks for both of you, a first aid kit, as well as poop bags. Have your dog on a leash – it’s the law in Maine and is intended to keep your pet and others safe. If your dog is frightened by something and runs off, you might not get him back. Lastly, have a plan in mind for getting your dog to safety if they become sick or injured on the hike. If you are alone, weigh 115lbs and your dog weighs 120lbs, could you carry them to safety 5 miles away?

Recommended Resources

Articles on Don’s Blog (

Canine Behavior – Dogs, Summer and Behavioral Issues

Traveling – Do you take the dog along or leave him with someone?

Pet Care Services – Please Be Cautious When Choosing Who Cares For Your Pets

Pets, Who Cares for Them When You Are Away?

Ticks! & New Products to Keep Them Away

Podcasts from The Woof Meow Show (

Summer and Hot Weather Pet Care Tips 2017

Summer and Hot Weather Pet Care Tips 2016

Summer and Hot Weather Pet Care Tips 2015

Summer and Hot Weather Pet Care Tips 2014

Summer and Hot Weather Pet Care Tips 2013

Pet Tip – Summer Heat and Pets in Cars

Pet Tip – Pets and Summer Heat, Water, Shade, Asphalt & Exercise

Pet Tip – Summer Heat – Exercise and Windows

Pet Tip – Summer Heat and Grooming

Pet Tip – Summer Water Safety for Pets

Pet Tip – Summer Family Gatherings

Pet Tip – Get Ready for the 4th of July

Pet Tip – Pets and the 4th of July

©2015, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved <Click for Copyright and Use Policy>

PODCAST – Pet Behavior Counseling and Don and Kate – with special guest host Dr. Mark Hanks

10JAN15-Dog Behavior, Don and Kate w-guest host Dr Mark Hanks 400x400Dr. Mark Hanks from Kindred Spirits Veterinary Clinic has been a frequent guest on The Woof Meow Show, giving Kate and I several opportunities to “pick his brain” about a wide variety of topics. For quite some time he’s been asking to “host” the show and to turn the tables so to speak; interviewing Kate and I and asking us questions about animal behavior and training.  In the first of four shows in this series, Dr. Hanks interviews Don and Kate about their experiences as professional animal behavior counselors and dog trainers. Some of the questions Mark asks are: 1) How did you get into helping people with animal behavior problems? and 2) What does the current science say about dominance and alpha dogs?

You can listen to this episode of The Woof Meow Show at:

You can download this episode of The Woof Meow Show at the Apple iTunes store, or you can download it at:

You can listen others episodes in this series at the links below.

Dog Training Questions for Don and Kate, part 1– 12JUL15 –

Dog Training Questions for Don and Kate, part 2– 19JUL15 –

Dog Training Questions for Don and Kate, part 3– 26JUL15 –

For more information on the Woof Meow Show go to:

©2015, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved <Click for Copyright and Use Policy>

Pet Health and Wellness – Internal Parasites – Worms

This page is based on an episode of The Woof Meow Show which aired on April 26th, 2014. Don Hanson and Kate Dutra talk with Dr. Dave Cloutier from the Veazie Veterinary Clinic about hookworms, whipworms, roundworms, tapeworms and the scariest of all the internal parasites; heartworm. We discuss the importance of protecting your pet and your family from these parasites and the safest and most effective means of accomplishing this protection. You can listen to the show by <clicking here>. You can listen to a more recent show on this topic by <clicking here>.

If you are concerned that your pet may have any type of internal parasite, please see your veterinarian rather than trying to treat your pet on your own. Your veterinarian is trained to help choose the safest and most effective treatments for your pet and will take care to consider how the treatment of one pet may affect people in your home as well as other pets and other species. The number one reason the National Animal Poison Control Center receives calls is because people have inappropriately used a product for treating fleas on their pet.

Internal parasites that affect our pets may pose a significant problem for our four legged friends and can also be contagious to humans. There are two main types of parasites; those that live in the GI tract and those that live in other parts of the body. When considering worms in the intestinal tracts of dogs and cats, we are usually referring to the following types; hook worms, round worms, whip worms, and tape worms. The other worm we will be discussing is the heartworm, which migrates through the body and into the heart.

While both dogs and cats may host the whipworm parasite, feline whipworms are uncommon in North America. Whipworms are typically contracted through the ingestion of contaminated matter (soil, food, water, feces and animal flesh) and can survive in the environment from months to years. Whipworms may cause significant damage to the intestinal tract resulting in bowel inflammation and bloody diarrhea, or it can also be asymptomatic. It is often associated with dehydration, anemia and weight loss in dogs.

Hookworms are very small and barely visible to the naked eye. They typically attach to the small intestine and feed on blood and tissue fluids from the host animal. The primary concern for hookworms is the development of anemia and weight loss. As with whipworms, hookworms are more prevalent in our canine companions and often result in more damage to our pet’s GI tract.

More commonly known but less harmful internal parasites are the tapeworms and roundworms. Tapeworms are the size of a grain of rice and are often spotted under our pet’s tail, near the anus or in their fecal matter. Several segments can come out together, in which case they look more like a piece of linguine with horizontal lines running through it. Our pets can get tapeworms two different ways; from ingesting prey that has tapeworms, such as a mouse, or from ingesting fleas, which carry the tapeworm egg. If our pet has fleas and they groom or bite at themselves, they may inadvertently ingest the fleas thus becoming infected with tapeworms. While it is rare for humans to get tapeworms, as it requires the ingestion of a flea, it does sometimes occur, primarily in children.

To continue with the food analogies, roundworms look similar to a piece of spaghetti. Tapeworms and roundworms don’t usually cause a lot of weight loss unless your pet is very infected; butt scooting may be a sign if your pet’s anus is irritated by tapeworms. The primary concern for roundworms is the possibility of stunting growth in puppies as the roundworms eat the partially digested food in the intestinal tract. Humans can contract roundworms if the eggs are inadvertently swallowed. Once an animal has a round worm in their body, some of the worms will move from the intestinal tract into muscle tissue where they remain dormant and inactive until the hormone levels change during pregnancy. The newly awakened worms may then transfer into the offspring through the placenta before they are even born or via the mammary glands during nursing.

All of these worms produce microscopic eggs that are shed in your pet’s feces in the litterbox or in your yard. Even if you cleanup after your pet religiously, there will still be some of these eggs in the environment in incredibly large numbers. Roundworms can shed up to 1,000,000 eggs per gram of feces. The FDA estimates that the average dog excretes 0.75lbs of feces per day. That’s 340 grams which means your dog may shed as many as 340 million roundworm eggs per day!

The fact is, in most cases if you took a shovel full of dirt from anywhere in your yard and analyzed it, you would find eggs for these parasitic worms. In almost all cases puppies and kittens are born with worms, which is why they are routinely wormed when you first get them.

Dr. Cloutier recommends that puppies be wormed at 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12 and 16 weeks of age to make sure that the worms are “wiped out” and so that your yard does not become contaminated with worm eggs. While no one intentionally ingests worm eggs, if you are playing in the yard, pick up a ball that lands in the grass, and then pickup and eat or drink something, there is an excellent chance you will ingest some worm eggs.

Statistics indicate that 1 in 7 people in the US will show an exposure to roundworms if they are tested. In poorer countries it is estimated that 50% of the population would test positive for roundworms.  Since round worms can migrate through the body, they can also cause severe liver damage, blindness and other life threatening problems.

Intestinal worms in our pets are very easy to prevent, if we do it faithfully. A simple once a month treatment can prevent against all types of worms. Why do we need to do this every month? Because our dogs are outside every day, walking barefoot on the ground and picking up things on the ground with their mouth. They’re not only in our backyard, but we take them other places as well; the dog park, Bangor Forest, hiking trails and many other areas where other people take their dogs. All of those places carry parasites in the soil, and more so if some of the dogs that visit there are not on a monthly worm preventative.  If you cat is an indoor only cat and you have no other pets, you may want to talk to your veterinarian and see if they believe a monthly worm preventative is necessary.

Heartworm falls into the category of worms that exist outside of the GI tract and is a scary internal parasite. Heartworm can be transmitted across species, including but not limited to dogs, cats and humans. It is transmitted via a mosquito that has become infected when they bit wildlife or a pet that is already infected. An infected mosquito typically deposits about four microfilariae (worm larva) when they bite. Statistically one of those four worms will make it to the heart of our pet where it will grow to be an adult worm, growing to about a foot long and living in the right side of our pet’s heart. The migration to the heart and development into adult heartworms typically takes about six months.

If your pet’s heart has both male and female worms, they will start to reproduce, which then means they can infect mosquitoes that bite them and then those mosquitoes can go on and infect other animals. As the worm population grows it can cause problems in the heart and pulmonary arteries; killing the worms to get rid of them is not a simple matter because of where they are located. The dead worms will pass into our pet’s lungs where they can cause additional problems. While heartworm is usually treatable, it can take several months.

We are seeing more and more heartworm in Maine. In certain areas of the southern United States it is estimated that fifty percent of all animals not on a preventative have heartworm. We currently don’t have that high of an incidence in Maine because many pet parents do use a preventative but also because our climate limits the amount of time mosquitoes are active.  However, as well-meaning people and rescue groups bring more dogs up from the South, we bring some dogs into Maine with heartworm.

If no dogs in a neighborhood are carrying heartworm, the percentage of mosquitoes in that community carrying heartworm will be less than 1%. However, if there is a dog that is positive for heartworm in your neighbor’s yard, research suggests that 60% of the mosquitoes in that yard will be carrying heartworm and just a couple houses away, 20% to 30% of the mosquitoes will be carrying heartworm. This is very much a community problem.

If you are adopting a pet from the South, you want to make sure that they are tested for heartworm before they are transported to Maine and again after they have been in Maine for 6 months, and then annually. This is necessary, because there is a period of time where a dog can test negative for heartworm but still have it.

Treating heartworm is a serious issue. It requires a very toxic, arsenic type compound, and your pet needs to be in otherwise good health before being treated. It takes a couple of months to treat and then you must keep your dog quiet for a month during the treatment. It is much easier to prevent heartworm than treat it, so why not just use a preventative?

Heartworm can be prevented by a monthly treatment for both dogs and cats, often with the same treatment you give them for intestinal worms. In Maine, it was typically recommended that a heartworm treatment be given monthly for six months. However, some of the heartworms have become resistant to the preventatives, so manufacturers have had to change their labels to read “Use for six months after the last possible exposure” which effectively means, to be most effective we should be using a heartworm preventative 12 months out of the year even in our cold, frigid state. The heartworm preventatives are very safe, very effective and easy to do. One is even listed as safe for pregnant and lactating animals which suggests a very high degree of safety.

Even indoor cats require protection from heartworm. There is a certain species of mosquito that prefers to get into our homes and also tends to bite cats and carry heartworm. There was a year at the Veazie Veterinary Clinic, probably about ten years ago, where they actually saw more indoor cats test positive for heartworm than dogs.

It should be noted that in the South, in the Mississippi River Valley, there is a type of heartworm that is completely resistant to the heartworm preventatives. Fortunately, it has not moved beyond that area yet.

Although not common, heartworm can be transmitted to people. Since humans are not natural hosts for the heartworm, the heartworm do not fully develop to the full size worms as they do in our pets, but they can pass to the lung and are sometimes mistaken for lung cancer.

Recommended Resources

Articles on Don’s Blog (

Pet Health and Wellness – External Parasites – Ticks and Fleas

Podcasts from The Woof Meow Show (

Worms, Fleas,  and Ticks, Oh My!-Parasites & Your Pets with Dr. Dave Cloutier – Veazie Veterinary Clinic

 Ick! A Tick! -with Dr. Dave Cloutier from Veazie Veterinary Clinic

External Parasites – Ticks and Fleas with Dr. Dave Cloutier from the Veazie Veterinary Clinic

Internal Parasites – Worms with Dr. Dave Cloutier from the Veazie Veterinary Clinic

©2014, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved <Click for Copyright and Use Policy>