Summer Pet Smarts

By Laura B. Teter

As we start to spend more time outdoors, our pets do, too.  Given that, we need to bear our pets’ health in mind and take the following into consideration:

According to Dr. David Ferrari, co-owner of Lehigh Valley Animal Hospital, some of the more familiar issues include parasites, heatstroke and injuries related to increased outdoor activity.

Parasites and Insect Bites

Parasites are present in the environment year round, but warmer temperatures and higher humidity, coupled with animals being outdoors more often, create an increase in health-related occurrences.  Fleas can be problematic for dogs, cats and humans; once fleas find their way on to pets, infestation starts and can result in skin and internal disease.  If your pet has fleas, he will demonstrate excessive scratching, chewing and gnawing. “Living with a pet with fleas puts [us] at risk,” states Ferrari.  Fleas breed in trees lines, dense shrubbery and underneath porches so outdoor cats are just as susceptible to them as dogs. Lyme disease is carried by ticks and can be detrimental to humans as well as pets.  In addition to regular protection – usually in a topical form – pet owners should be aware  when travelling into high-risk tick environments such as wooded areas, dense shrubbery and tall grass and routinely check their pets and themselves.

While mosquitoes can be pesky and annoying to humans, a mosquito bite can cause heartworm in your dog or cat. Dogs can develop heart disease, identifiable by lethargy, coughing, loss of appetite and exercise intolerance.  In cats, heartworm is a lung disease with symptoms of coughing and vomiting and can lead to death.  Bee and wasp stings lead to hypersensitivity and swelling of the ears, lips and face.  Flies that bite can leave nasty sores on the ear tips of dogs and can invade damaged or irritated tissues to lay eggs and produce maggots, so debilitated dogs and animals housed outside are mostly at risk.


In addition to parasites, high temperatures pose a serious health risk to our pets. Animals can easily suffer from heatstroke in the warm summer months, especially by spending any time in a car as temperatures in a closed car can climb to very dangerous levels in minutes.  Heatstroke causes brain damage and organ failure and often results in death. Ferrari emphatically urges people to “never, ever leave your pet in the car in warm weather, or even in cool weather when it’s sunny outside.” For those who think it’s okay to leave a pet in the car with the air condition running,  Ferrari urges them to consider the result if the car stalls. Heatstroke can also occur when pets – particularly older dogs with heart, pulmonary or lung disease – are simply outside in warm or humid conditions, or indoors in a hot room.  Brachycephalic, or “short-faced dogs,” such as pugs, boxers and bulldogs are at elevated risk. Ferrari recommends short walks during the cooler morning or evening hours.

His practice sees an increase in orthopedic injuries during the summer months, too so he suggests taking your pet to the veterinarian prior to engaging in new or strenuous activity. “Talk to your vet about the type of activity you plan on doing  and make sure your animal is fit enough to partake.”

Vacation Time –
Board or Bring Along?

Careful consideration should be given when deciding whether or not to take your pet along on vacation.  Be sure  accommodations are pet-friendly and research the rules and regulations and services provided, including available veterinary services.  When driving, allow time to stop so your pet can stretch its legs and get water; always keep your dog  on a leash.  For their safety, Ferrari recommends dogs and cats be kept in containment systems in the car and that a first aid kit, including all of your pet’s medications, be easily accessible. If your pet doesn’t travel well, speak with your veterinarian in advance to obtain remedies that may help with motion sickness or anxiety.

If your pet won’t be travelling with you, boarding is an option. When selecting a kennel for your pet, do your homework. Many boarders, especially during the summertime, are booked weeks or months in advance. Also, know what vaccinations are required. Many boarders are now requiring canine influenza vaccines which need to be done six to eightweeks prior to boarding.

At Cloud Nine Country Kennel, summertime reservations start as early as January. According to co-owner Cyndi Huff-Walters, even with 50 indoor/outdoor suites on the 30-acre country estate, Cloud Nine often has a waiting list during the summer. Extended activity is limited to early morning or evening and avoided during the hottest hours of the day.  A pet favorite is supervised “creek splashing” when dogs cool off by lying in the stream that runs through the property.  Animals stay indoors in the air conditioned facility midday except for short walks. In some cases, short and light-haired dogs receive a sunscreen application on their ears and noses to avoid sunburn.  Cool water is refreshed throughout the day.

If your pet is a first-time boarder, Huff-Walters recommends a free-trial overnight. Your animal will get acclimated to the kennel and you can get a tour of the facility and acquainted with the people who will be caring for your pet.  If you’re considering a “staycation” this summer, or if you have friends or family with pets visiting, the Hotel Bethlehem provides pet-friendly accommodations.  Located on Main Street in Historic Bethlehem, the hotel is centrally located in the heart of a pet-friendly downtown district.  At the time a reservation is made, the hotel requests information about the pet including size of the animal so that the room is fitted with the appropriate amenities. Each room includes a luxurious bed, feeding dish, towel, treats and fire hydrant with doggie bags for clean-up when walking. A walking map of the area is available as well as a pet-friendly room service menu. Unless extremely well-behaved, the hotel requests pets not be left alone in their rooms, but a third-party pet sitting/walking service is available.  In fact, if a guest needs to leave the hotel for an extended period, the service, Paws to Pavement Plus, will watch your pet off-site.  A one-time pet fee is charged to cover the thorough cleaning and disinfection after your stay so no hint of your pet remains for the next guest. The hotel also has partnerships with local veterinarians, animal hospitals and groomers, so your pets every need can be met. According to the Hotel Bethlehem’s Pet Concierge, Denise Rothrock, The Historic Hotel Bethlehem will do all that we can to make you and your pet as comfortable as possible.”


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