It’s Always Sunny In Austin
Summer may be over on the calendar, but we’ve got plenty of high mercury days remaining in Austin. As Austin temperatures remain high until well into the school year, remember to keep your dog safe from common seasonal issues. Here are four to watch out for.
Just like humans, dogs can suffer heat stroke with exposure to high temperatures – something we’re familiar with in Austin. Dogs with a dark or dense hair coat and those with with flat faces (or short muzzles) cannot pant as effectively. Other risk factors include age, obesity and heart and/or lung disease. Remember that your dog has very few sweat glands and can’t naturally cool itself down as easily as you can.
When a dog has a spike in body temperature the extreme heat stress can both impair breathing and injure organs. The condition can be fatal if left untreated.
There are many signs that can point to heat exhaustion or heat stroke in dogs, including excessive panting, difficulty breathing, increased heart and respiratory rate, drooling, mild weakness, stupor or even collapse. Symptoms can also include seizures, bloody diarrhea and vomit, along with an elevated body temperature of over 104°F. If you see these more severe symptoms, especially the high temperature, see your veterinarian right away. If signs of heatstroke are present, your dog should be immediately cooled to a rectal temperature of 103.5°F.
Like many other dangerous pet parasites, heartworm is carried by mosquitos. A single mosquito bite can infect your dog, which makes Austin’s hot, wet climate particularly dangerous for dogs. When a mosquito carrying heartworm bites a pet, miniscule larvae can be deposited into the bloodstream. After six months, these larvae mature into adult heartworms. Adult heartworms can grow up to 12 inches long and usually lodge themselves into your pet’s heart, lungs and blood vessels.
Early heartworm can have no symptoms but as the disease progresses, mild symptoms such as a persistent cough, lethargy, decreased appetite, weight loss and a swollen belly from excess fluid can occur. Because the symptoms can be difficult to detect it is important that you take your dog into your vet for heartworm detection regularly and take the preventative treatment that they recommend.
Fleas and Ticks
Austin’s warm and humid climate also makes it the perfect breeding ground for fleas and ticks, outdoor parasites which can cause a host of problems for our pets, and for us. Ticks can transmit a host of diseases to your dog, including Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Bartonella, and Lyme Disease. Likewise, fleas can cause painful itching and flea-allergy dermatitis. Fleas have also been known to carry tapeworm.
As with most pet health issues, prevention as a part of overall wellness care is far easier and more cost effective than treatment. The best proactive measure you can take to protect your dog from these parasites is keeping them on a year-round parasite preventative that your vet recommends.
Dog Park Hazards
Lawn sprinklers and periods of heavy rain like we had in Austin this past spring can leave lots of puddles and standing water which can be dangerous for thirsty dogs. Street water can mix with dog feces, so when your dog bends down to get a big gulp of water, they may be unknowingly ingesting pathogens like Giardia. If your dog suddenly has a bad case of diarrhea after a rainy day out at the park, they may have contracted Giardia, an intestinal parasite caused by a common protozoan parasite. Dogs become infected with Giardia when they come in contact with infected feces, directly or indirectly. The most common symptoms of Giardia are diarrhea, vomiting, and weight loss. While Giardia can be temporary, if the symptoms are ongoing, call your veterinarian since they can cause dehydration, deteriorating health and potentially death.
Another disease that they should be protected from when they play with other dogs is Canine Distemper, which is caused by a very contagious virus. Puppies and dogs usually become infected through virus particles in the air or in the respiratory secretions of infected dogs. Infected dogs typically develop runny eyes, fever, snotty nose, coughing, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, and paralysis. It is often fatal. See your veterinarian if symptoms persist and get your dog the canine distemper vaccine. It is considered a core vaccine that is recommended for every puppy and as a booster for adult dogs.
Unvaccinated dogs and puppies younger than four months old are the most at risk for Canine Parvovirus-2 or parvo. Parvo is typically spread directly from dog to dog, but contact with contaminated stool, environments, or people can also spread the disease. The virus most often affects the lymph nodes, blood stream and small intestines of dogs. Some also see an affected heart. It can be fatal if not noticed or treated quickly. Once a dog or puppy is infected, there is an incubation period of three to seven days before the onset of first symptoms. Fortunately, there is a vaccine for parvo and it is administered to puppies and adult dogs as as a booster.
No matter the weather, the staff at ZippiVet can keep your dog happy, healthy and ready to play. Call, text, or request an appointment online for your pet at one of ZippiVet’s four Austin area locations today!