The dog days are just beginning

By Carey Sharp

Mower County Humane Society

Summer is approaching quickly and dogs and their people are looking forward to long days of fun in the sun. Increased activity outside, however, means increased responsibility for dog owners. Summer is wonderful, but there are hazards that can ruin the fun.

Summer in Minnesota means mosquitoes. Not only are they annoying, but they can carry heartworm disease, which can be transmitted to dogs. After being bitten by an infected mosquito, the larvae hatch inside the dog, eventually growing into worms that surround and infiltrate the heart. If left untreated, it is most likely fatal.

It is preventable. A simple blood test must be done first, to determine if the dog is heartworm negative. Then a veterinarian can suggest the best preventative product. It’s very inexpensive to prevent this illness. If a dog is heartworm positive, the treatment can cost hundreds of dollars.

Ticks can also carry many illnesses detrimental to dogs. Dogs can contract Lyme disease, like humans. The blood test used to check for heartworms can also test for illnesses transmitted by ticks. There is a vaccination that can prevent Lyme disease and many products available to repel ticks. Many of these products repel ticks, fleas and even mosquitoes.

Parades, carnivals, and county fairs are part of summer tradition. Many people like to include their dogs in the fun. Keep in mind, though, that dogs are much more sensitive to sound than people. Sirens, marching bands, and cheering crowds add to the excitement of summer, but can be torture for dogs. Fireworks, too, are extremely hard on a dog’s ears. It’s no coincidence that many dogs are reported missing right after July 4. Play it safe and leave dogs at home, safe and secure.

Keeping dogs safe during hot summer days is very important. Dogs can suffer heat exhaustion and heatstroke, like people. Unfortunately, they can’t tell their people when they’re feeling overheated. Never leave a dog locked in a car in the summer. Even with the windows cracked, a car can heat up incredibly fast.

Pavement can become extremely hot during a summer day and can burn the pads of a dog’s feet. Keep the dogs off the parade routes and away from the carnivals. They’ll be happier and safer.

Some fun things  to do this summer  with your dog:

• Grab the leash and go for a walk around Mill Pond or along the Shooting Star Trail.

• Enjoy the Doggy Dip on Aug. 21.

• Check out Austin’s dog park.

• Have a doggy play date with a friend outside.

• Grab a ball, head to the backyard or the dog park and play fetch.

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