Cheryl Wicks: Miracles and maladies of summer |

Cheryl Wicks: Miracles and maladies of summer

The weather is getting warm, the sun is shining, the plants are growing, and the evenings are lighter and longer. We start thinking of taking our dogs to the river and going hiking with our pooches and all things outdoor. What fun.

This is a good time to bond with our furry friends by having a lot of fun together. If our dogs are well-behaved, they will most likely be welcome at family and friend barbecues and other outdoor parties.

Well darn! There is always a downside, too. As the weather gets warmer, the fleas come out and can cause an immense amount of misery for our pets.

If you’ve ever been bitten by a flea, you know how miserable that can be. It can itch for days. Imagine being covered with them and itching all over.

One flea can bite 100 times within a day. If too many fleas land on the same animal, they can become anemic and even die in an extreme case. Who knew that one little critter could cause so much havoc in such a short period of time?

There are over the counter products like Frontline and Advantage that can help. There is also a prescription product called Nexgard that is the most helpful.

Tapeworms also come from flea bites. This is a worm that grows in your dog or cat’s intestinal tract, and if left unattended too long, it will rob your pet of nutrition and the animal will become skinny and sickly. A prescribed product called Droncit best treats this condition.

With summer comes the mosquitoes. If your dog is not on heartworm prevention, it will most likely get heartworms.

This condition, left untreated, will cause the death of your dog eventually.

For a relatively inexpensive amount, your dog can take heartworm prevention and remain free from this terribly destructive parasite.

Cats are not a natural host for heartworms, as dogs are, but can get heartworms and/or develop some hypersensitivities requiring cortisone injections to keep the cat from scratching itself to death.

Heartworms behave considerably different in dogs than cats. Both should be on heartworm prevention.

The bane of a dog or cat’s existence during the summer months are foxtails.

These miserable things get caught in your pet’s ears, between their paws and anywhere else they can implant themselves.

They are like a piece of barbed wire. Once they go in, they are very hard to get out without veterinarian intervention.

If your pet is shaking his/her head profusely, it most likely has a foxtail in its ear. Get it removed ASAP.

We must be careful that our dogs, in particular, do not get overheated with all the summertime activities. You need to monitor this and be sure your dog receives plenty of water and takes frequent breaks from running and hiking on hot days.

Some days it’s best not to take your dog on a hike or throw the ball. If your dog does overheat, get it out of the sun and wrapped in a wet towel to help it cool down. Dogs do not have sweat glands over their body as we do.

They only release heat through panting and the bottoms of their feet. Of course, never leave your pet inside your car with no air conditioning.

The temperature on a 90-degree day can rise to over 120 degrees within five minutes. This will kill your pet.

Please, pet owners, heed these things that I have mentioned and have a safe and “oh-so-fun summer” with your pets and your family and friends.

Cheryl Wicks is the co-founder and president of Sammie’s Friends and the Director of Sammie’s Friends @ Nevada County Animal Shelter.

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