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Summertime Pet Safety Tips Every New Hampshire Pet Parent Should Know

Warm summer days are officially here! Create a stress-free summer season with your pets using our top five summertime pet safety tips! If you're a pet parent in New Hampshire, these tips are for you!

Keep reading to discover the vaccines and medications especially important during summer months in the New Hampshire area, a health concern to be on look out for and the type of infection your pet is especially prone to in the summer!

Top Five Summer Safety Tips for Pet Parents in New Hampshire

1- Vaccinate for Lyme and Leptospirosis

Here in New Hampshire, there are two diseases pet parents should be especially aware of during the warm summer months: Lyme Disease and Leptospirosis (commonly referred to as 'Lepto').

Lyme Disease is a bacterial infection that can be transmitted to both dogs and cats through the bite of an infected tick. In some cases, Lyme Disease can cause serious kidney damage and can even lead to death. Symptoms of Lyme Disease include lameness/limping, soreness, fatigue, loss of appetite and fever.

Note: Unlike in humans, a bullseye type rash is not a sign of lyme disease in pets! Pets infected with lyme disease do not develop a bullseye. If you see this type of mark on your pet, it's likely the work of a black fly. Visit our social media to see photos of black fly bites, which are harmless and do not require medical attention.

While ticks are an all-year-round concern, they are particularly active during warmer months which increases the risk for Lyme Disease throughout spring and summer. Luckily there is an extremely effective vaccine available for dogs that aids in protecting them from Lyme Disease. The vaccine works by preparing their body to fight off the infection, reducing the chances of contraction and greatly improving the prognosis should they get it. The lyme vaccine begins with a two-dose series administered three weeks apart, and then is boostered once per year moving forward. Unfortunately there is no approved lyme vaccine for cats, so parasite prevention is the best protection for our feline friends.

Leptospirosis, often referred to as 'lepto' for short, is a bacterial infection that is carried by rodents and transmitted through their urine. It's commonly found in water sources such as puddles and streams, which is often how our companion animals come into contact with it. Leptospirosis is mostly a concern for our dogs - while it's possible for cats to contract it, this is rare. It's important to note that Leptospirosis is zoonotic, meaning humans can contract it. If your dog becomes infected with leptospirosis, you can contract the disease by coming into contact with their urine.

Leptospirosis can cause serious complications of the kidneys and liver, and can also cause hemorrhagic complications. Depending on the severity of the infection, Leptospirosis can be fatal. Symptoms of leptospirosis include loss of appetite, fever, vomiting, diarrhea, blood spots on eyes or in mouth, yellowing of the skin and eyes, blood in urine and lethargy.

While leptospirosis is a concern all year long, the risk of infection is most prevalent during the spring and early summer months. Luckily there is a leptospirosis vaccine that is very effective in protecting your dog from contracting the illness. The leptospirosis vaccine begins with a two-dose series administered three weeks apart, and then is boostered once per year moving forward. Currently there is no approved leptospirosis vaccine for cats as the disease is rare in felines.

We recommend that new england pet parents always be mindful to keep their dogs up to date on both the lyme and leptospirosis vaccines, but protection from these illnesses is especially important during the warmer spring and summer months.

2- Give Your Pet Consistent Parasite Prevention!

While parasite prevention is important all year round, it's especially important during the warmer summer months when parasites such as ticks and mosquitos are most active. These parasites transmit dangerous illnesses to our companion animals that can be persistent and challenging to treat, including lyme disease and heartworm disease. Prevention is the best treatment plan! We recommend that both dogs and cats (including those that live indoors only) receive consistent parasite prevention to protect them from contracting parasite-borne diseases. There are several different forms of prevention medication to choose from including oral, topical and injectable!

If you are an existing client of Epping Road Veterinary hospital with an active veterinarian-client-patient relationship (VCPR), visit our online pharmacy to refill your pet's parasite prevention! If you are not yet a client but need parasite prevention for your pet, click here to schedule an appointment!

3- Monitor Closely for Signs of Heat Stroke

The increased temperatures of New Hampshire summers put our companion animals at an increased risk for heat-related illness such as heat stroke. Heat stroke refers to a serious health condition in which a pet's body temperature becomes excessively elevated ( >106 degrees). When internal temperatures reach 107 degrees, internal organs begin to shut down and death is a distinct possibility. This increase in body temperature can happen quickly - in just minutes.

Signs of heat stroke include excessive panting, sticky gums, cognitive abnormalities - may seem disoriented or confused, bruising of the gums, lethargy and seizure activity.

Situations that commonly lead to heat stroke include leaving a pet in a hot car, excessive exercise on a hot day, leaving a dog outside without access to shade or water and prolonged exposure to a hair dryer.

Unlike humans, dogs are unable to sweat and instead regulate their body temperature through panting. Because of this, brachycephalic breeds (breeds with a flat face, such as French Bulldogs) are at a heightened risk for heat stroke due to their restrictive respiratory abnormalities. Additionally, the use of tight-fitting muzzles in high temperatures also increases the risk for heat stroke due to the inherent restriction they put on a dog's ability to pant. Whenever possible we suggest utilizing basket muzzles that allow for plenty of air flow and pant room.

Use caution on hot summer days and be sure to provide your pets plenty of cool, shady areas with plenty of water and rest.

4- Prevent Ear Infections

For most dogs, summertime means water time, and while swimming can provide our dogs with a joyful energy outlet, it also increases their risk for ear infections. When moisture gets trapped down in the ear canal it creates the perfect environment for yeast and bacteria to multiple, ultimately leading a painful infection. Signs of an ear infection include red, inflamed inner ears, dark discharge, odor, itching, head shaking, head tilting and sensitivity to touch. Once an infection develops, prescription medication is required to treat it and your dog will need to stay out of the water for several days until the infection is healed.

To help prevent ear infections, we recommend cleaning your dog's ears after every exposure to water. This will eliminate any infection-causing water and debris. We suggest using only veterinary-approved ear cleaner, as not all ear cleaners are created equal. It's crucial to ensure the ear cleaner contains safe, effective ingredients. If the ear cleaner does not contain an appropriate drying agent for example, you will be adding more and more moisture into your dog's ear canal with every cleaning, which only increases the likelihood of infection. Your veterinarian can help you choose an ear cleaning product that is safe and effective for your dog.

If you are an existing client of Epping Road Veterinary Hospital, visit our online pharmacy to order ear cleaner. We recommend EpiOtic Advanced.

5- Thunderstorm Preparedness

Summers in New Hampshire are especially rainy and often filled with frequent thunderstorms which can be a scary for our pets, especially those who have a history of noise aversion. The components of a thunderstorm - changes in air pressure, loud cracks of thunder that shake the house, bright flashes of lightning - are overwhelming for our pets' highly developed sensory system, creating quite a bit of angst in our furry friends. Providing your pet with a few calming interventions during thunderstorms can make a world of difference for their nervous system. Included below our several ways to increase your pet's comfort during thunderstorms:

Calming Treats: Calming treats use a combination of naturally-occurring, stress-reducing hormones, vitamins and amino acids to promote relaxation! These treats can be given a few hours before a stressful event to help pets remain calm, so these could be given a few hours before a thunderstorm is predicted to begin. Calming treats are sold over the counter and the by-weight dosing is outlined on the product bag. A couple products to consider include Composure Pro Calming Treats and ThunderWunders Calming Chews. Talk with your veterinarian to see which calming chews are right for your pet!

Calming Pheromones: Pheromones are species-specific 'scent messages' used by dogs and cats to communicate with one another. Dogs and cats use different pheromones to communicate a wide range of emotions, and they each have a specific pheromone to communicate positive feelings of safety and contentedness to members of their same species. Calming pheromone products work by mimicking these safety messages in synthetic form. The product is odorless to humans yet powerful for our furry friends! For more information on pheromones, read our blog article Pet Pheromones: A Natural Approach to Promoting Clam Behavior. Included below are two specific pheromone products to consider:

Thunderease is a dog-specific calming pheromone product that is available in several different applications including a collar, diffuser and a spray. For use during thunderstorms, we suggest applying a Thunderease collar as well as having Thunderease diffusing in the room your pet is in.

Feliway is a cat-specific calming pheromone product that is available in spray as well as diffuser form. For use during thunderstorms, we recommend spraying your cats favorite hiding spot with Feliway as well as having Feliway diffusing in their favorite room in the house. Note: Feliway spray needs about 10 minutes to dry before your cat interacts with the area sprayed.

Minimize Noise: For many pets, the main source of stress during thunderstorms is the loud sounds. Reducing a pet's ability to hear the storm can greatly improve their comfort during thunderstorms. A few ways to do this include:

-Keep Pets Inside: even though we humans may enjoy watching the storm from a covered porch, this will likely be uncomfortable for your pet. It's best to keep pets indoors during thunderstorms.

-Close Windows and Doors: this small adjustment can make a big impact on noise reduction!

-Close Blinds: closing curtains and blinds will not only assist in noise reduction, but it will also eliminate your pet's ability to see lightning, which can protect them from an overwhelming visual

Background Sounds: adding in familiar background sounds is a great tool to drown out the sounds of the storm. The TV or calming music are two great options for background noise.

Distraction: providing pets with their most favorite toys or activities that hold their attention is a great way to keep them distracted from the storm. Often food-based enrichment items are most successful in keeping pets engaged. Eating and licking are both activities that create an endorphin release for pets, so these distractions will also help promote relaxation while providing distraction!

Create a Safe Space: offering pets a comforting 'home base' during a storm can help them to decompress and remain calm. This 'home base' should be a particular area outfitted with food, water, bedding, mental enrichment toys, background noise and ideally company from their family. Encouraging your pets to remain in this cozy area using gates or closed doors can prevent them from engaging in stress-based behaviors such as frantic pacing, hiding in unsafe places and even escaping out doors.

Note: These interventions can also be used to support your pets through loud firework displays! 

Helpful Resources:


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