Essential summer health checks for dogs!
And tips to avoid your pooch getting sick over the warmer months
While it’s arguably never that cold in the UAE, it does certainly get scorching hot over the summer. We’ve spoken to experts to help you keep your dog fit and happy over the warmer months.
General health checks
Dr. Milana Skoric from Blue Oasis Veterinary Clinic in Dubai says that as the weather warms up it’s important for owners to be aware of their pet’s health status.
She suggests that checks you can do at home include tracking your dog’s body temperature (normal temperature for a dog is 37.5°C – 39.0°C), ensuring they are cool and hydrated, and applying alcohol rub to their paws if necessary. It’s also important to keep track of any changes and inform the vet immediately if you notice signs of heat stroke!
For young and healthy pets, a general health check should be given once or twice a year by a vet.
“A veterinarian will check the animal’s body condition: weight, eyes, nose, ears, mouth, skin, extremities, temperature, heart, lungs and the tummy,” Dr. Skoric says.
“A more detailed and thorough examination should be done on geriatric animals or animals with specific health problems. In those cases, your pet’s veterinarian might perform blood tests, a urinary test or an X-ray, ultrasound or further diagnostic tests.”
Skoric adds that for dogs and cats with specific anatomical shape (for example, brachycephalic dogs such as pugs, English and French bulldogs), it’s important to follow your vet’s instructions for any special care they need over the summer months.
Vaccinations and tick, mozzie and flea checks
If your pooch is planning to spend any time in kennels over the summer months, ensuring vaccines are up to date is extremely important.
“Vaccines that your dog should have before going into kennels are Rabies and DHPPi+L (Canine distemper virus, hepatitis, parainfluenza, parvovirus + leptospirosis), and the kennel cough vaccine (which protects against Bordetella).
Besides this, your dog needs to be dewormed and to have protection against ticks and fleas” Dr. Skoric says.
Top Tip! If you are taking your dog abroad with you, make sure you check if they need any additional vaccinations for the country you are traveling to! Keep in mind that vaccinations need to be given well in advance for both kennels and travel!
It’s important to be vigilant with checking for ticks throughout the year. Ticks can transfer infections, including Lyme disease, to dogs, which causes symptoms such as tiredness, swollen joints, rashes, and raised temperatures.
“Ticks and mosquitoes can spread a number of diseases,” Dr. Skoric says “Mosquitoes are carriers for heartworm. Ticks are carriers of Ehrlichia, Babesia, Haemobartonella...”
Dr. Skoric suggests applying protection against the likes of ticks, fleas and mosquitos, brushing your pet after being outside -- so you can notice ticks -- and proper grooming for long-haired pets.
The Al Barsha Veterinary Clinic explains how to identify a tick, and the Blue Cross has great advice on the best ways to remove ticks!
Avoiding summer health hazards
The most common summer hazard is an unwanted increase in body weight due to less physical activity outside., which can be prevented easily enough by simply cutting down on food and watching the number of treats.
Dr. Skoric explains that dehydration and heat stroke are also two of the most dangerous health issues for animals in summer.
“Common symptoms of dehydration are: dry nose and dry gums, dry-looking or sunken eyes, loss of appetite, lethargy, panting and decreased skin elasticity,” she says, adding that heat stroke symptoms include; “restlessness, heavy panting, drooling, lethargy, high body temperature, vomiting and diarrhea, trembling, increased heart rate, bright red tongue, and pale gums. If you notice any of these signs after your dog has been playing or just spending time outside, immediately seek veterinary help!”
In addition, ticks and mosquitoes, sunburn (dogs can get a sunburn, especially on their nose and ears and areas with white fur) and feeding animals summertime ‘human’ food can cause problems
Dr. Skoric shares her easy ways to avoid some hazards during the summer:
- Make sure that your pet has access to fresh, clean water all day.
- Do not go outside during the hottest time of the day. The best part of the day for a walk is early in the morning or late in the evening.
- Always carry a bottle of water with you and before your walk, check if the ground is too warm. Stay off the asphalt and choose green areas to walk. Hot asphalt can cause severe burns on the pads.
- Limit exercise.
- Never leave your dog in a parked car.
- Do not give "people food" and follow your dog's nutrition plan.
- Always ask your vet for additional advice.
“Happy pet. Happy owner,” Dr. Skoric says. We couldn’t agree more!
K9 Friends Dubai's manager Belinda also shares her tips for keeping dogs healthy over summer
“The heat can obviously be an issue in terms of the pavement being too hot so dogs should be walked early in the morning or in the evening and care should always be taken to prevent dogs overheating as they cannot sweat in the same ways humans can. Double coated dogs should not be shaved as this won’t actually keep them any cooler.”