Cool pets

Keeping pets comfy during the dog days of summer

During hot summer days, shade and plenty of fresh water are requirements for all Rogue Valley residents, human, winged and quadruped included. While people can (usually) be expected to take care of themselves, pets need attention to stay comfortable.

"Don't take pets to town unless you are walking," says Julie Bohnert, owner of Laurel Acres Boarding Kennel in Central Point. Cars overheat quickly, and while leaving windows down helps with the temperature, it provides a tempting escape route for overheating animals.

Dog houses and kennels might need shading too, especially if they are in the afternoon sun. A simple fix is to mount shade cloth or trellising on the west side to block afternoon sun. Slats can be added to chain-link fencing to provide a border of shade to dog runs.

Bohnert also recommends summer brushing to minimize shedding problems and eliminate the undercoat. Even outdoor farm and cattle dogs can benefit from regular grooming, which thins their hair to keep them cooler.

"Shaving is not always good," says Chris Webber, manager of Crater Pet Grooming in Central Point. "Having hair keeps them cool, too."

Regular grooming can minimize or eliminate the danger from foxtails (named for their fluffy seed heads) and stickers, which can penetrate skin, toe pads or ear cavities and cause big problems. They are painful and extremely hard to find and remove once they enter the skin. Grooming also is an opportunity to check teeth and ears for problems, says Webber.

Shampoos should be mild and made for dogs. Don't use shampoos with additives, such as perfumes, conditioners or lanolin, which increase matting, Webber says. Dog skin is more sensitive than human skin, which is one reason fleas and ticks — which prefer tender skin — like dogs. In addition, the pH of dog skin is not the same as human skin, so don't use your own favorite shampoo or dish soap on them.

Most groomers counsel clients to use a flea and tick repellent.

"Spot repellents can cause rare, contact-allergy reactions," says Webber. "But it's better to keep them protected than to have an infestation."

Dogs can get Lyme disease, and a vaccine is available to prevent a disabling illness, according to Sky Loos, education and outreach manager at Southern Oregon Humane Society.

During mosquito season, dogs — and possibly cats — should be on a heartworm preventative. Certain mosquitoes carry heartworm larvae, which can pass into susceptible animals and mature, causing disease that requires veterinary care. Heartworm has been found in all 50 states, as well as the Rogue Valley, according to the Heartworm Society's Web site, www.heartwormsociety.org. Check with your vet about prevention treatments.

For some pets, summer thunderstorms are another disaster. They cower, they whine, they pant. They paw or claw at you for attention and comfort. Cats seem to fare better than dogs, which should be brought inside during storms, says Humane Society's Loos. "Get them to a place that's safe."

Dogs that are really frantic might benefit from a tranquilizing treatment that your vet can prescribe. But first, try providing a calming atmosphere, and use treats to send the message that all is well.

Some dogs can be calmed with music. An outfit called Through a Dog's Ear offers a number of calming CDs — developed using research in kennels and in canine households — including one that calms dogs that hate those summer road trips. Check out the sound bites offered on their Web site, www.throughadogsear.com.


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