Pets and Hot Weather Don't Mix
by Kevin Gibbs, DVM
The hot climate in Texas contributes directly to many problems our pets experience. Young and old animals are especially susceptible extreme heat. Think of people. Aren’t young children and the elderly the ones who need the most protection from the heat and sun?
When it’s really hot, even healthy, mature animals can experience problems if we don’t make sure they have what they need. Even if they are outside for only short periods, animals need access to shade and fresh water. For example, during the summer I keep a shallow wading pool for my dogs to lie in when it’s hot. I change the water daily to prevent mosquitoes.
Dogs like to dig holes to lie in because the ground is cooler while cats will seek out a shrub to crawl under for shade. Be sure your animals have a cool place somewhere in your yard to escape the direct sun.
The climate in Texas also contributes indirectly to other health problems for our pets. The weather here is perfect for the survival of insects all year round. Our winters are not harsh enough to significantly reduce the populations of fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes, and each of these insects can cause serious, even fatal, diseases in both dogs and cats. The high humidity we have from spring to fall allows these pests to thrive.
Mosquitoes Spread Heartworm
Mosquitoes can cause serious harm to pets as well as people. Heartworms are transmitted between dogs by mosquitoes. If heartworms are left untreated they will kill a dog. They can also be found in cats, although not as commonly, and there is no treatment. One heartworm can kill a cat. The best treatment for both dogs and cats is prevention. Put your pet on a monthly heartworm preventative. I recommend that all dogs be on a preventative, no matter how much time they spend inside. Cats that are strictly inside are at very low risk for heartworms, but outdoor cats should be on a preventative. Any veterinarian can prescribe a heartworm preventative for dogs and cats.
Ticks & Fleas
Ticks are actually members of the spider family, but while most spiders are beneficial for the environment, I can’t think of one nice thing to say about ticks.
Both ticks and fleas can cause life-threatening anemia in any dog, cat or other small animals — especially those that are already weak. Ticks can also transmit hemobartonella in cats. In dogs, ticks can spread Erhlichiosis, Lyme disease, and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Lyme disease and RMSF can also be transmitted to people just as easily, so protect yourself as well. Hemobartonellosis is also prevalent in fleas throughout North Texas, along with Cytozoanosis.
Marshall Grain has a variety of safe, organic products for treating your pet and your home — both inside and out. Here are a few examples:
Mosquito Dunks and Bits — contains Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis, a highly selective bacterium that is dangerous only to mosquito larvae. Environmentally safe and organic, Mosquito Dunk and Bits will not harm fish, birds, reptiles or other wildlife.
Diatomaceous Earth (DE) — derived from sediments of microscopic ancient marine life called “diatoms”, DE is a 100% organic, and safe, and is even used as a food product. Deposits of diatoms have been pulverized into a fine powder that can be rubbed into your pet’s fur, or used to dust carpets, floors, pet beds, lawns and flower beds. DE will kill any insect that has an exoskeleton, including fleas and ticks.
Eco-Smart Granules and Liquid — made from a patented blend of organic plant oils it kills and repels crawling insects.
Cedar Warrior — the fresh aroma of cedar repels a variety of insects, including mosquitoes.
Mosquito Beater — a blend of essential oils, including lemongrass, garlic, cedar, geranium and citronella, that repels mosquitoes and other insects.
Pets also need help warding off biting insects. Skeeter Screen Pet Spray is one of several topical products available at Marshall Grain that can be applied directly to your dog. It contains a special blend of oils such as cedar and rosemary help repel mosquitoes.
Hot weather can quickly spell trouble for your pets. Make sure they always have access to shade and clean, fresh water, no matter what the temperature. And because our climate allows disease-transmitting pests to survive all year round, pets need to be protected continuously throughout the year. For dogs, a heartworm preventative is essential. Keep mosquitoes, fleas, ticks and other biting insects away with natural repellents. Your pets will thank you!