Pet Care and Health Special Section: Keeping your pet healthy this summer

Published on Wed, Jun 13, 2012
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Americans love pets. About 62 percent of all households have at least one pet in residence, according to the Humane Society of the United States. Statistics show 72.9 million homes accommodate approximately 78.2 million dogs and 86.4 million cats.

With so many four-legged friends among us, pet health is a concern from coast to coast. Here are some tips about how to keep animals healthy this summer. Heat stroke is one of the most dangerous summer health risks, said Dr. Paul Dean, a Blaine veterinarian.

People should not leave their dogs in the car for more than a few minutes, even with the windows rolled down, he said. If a pet is left in a car, it should be parked in the shade and there should be proper ventilation.

• Exercise dogs. A study conducted by scientists at the Purina Pet Nutrition Research Department and specialists from universities around the U.S. shows that leaner pets live about two years longer than overweight pets. These eye-opening results prompt many people to take a second look at the food they provide for their pets.

• One important pet safety precaution to keep in mind involves household poisons. Antifreeze and rat poison are two of the most common poisons regularly found in homes.

Dean said one teaspoon of antifreeze is enough to be fatal to a cat. It’s important for pet owners to be cautious about the poison, he said.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) offers an animal poison control hotline for pet owners: 888/426-4435. There is a fee to place the call. In return, you get unlimited consultations with emergency veterinarians, who are on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

• Dean said parasites are a risk year-round in Washington, but can be particularly common in the summer when people and pets may spend more time outside. The best thing to do about parasites is to watch for uncommon itching and scratching and treat them as soon as possible.

• Heat stroke is one of the most dangerous summer health risks, Dean said.

People should not leave their dogs in the car for more than a few minutes, even with the windows rolled down, he said. If a pet is left in a car, it should be parked in the shade and there should be proper ventilation.