Vail Pets: It’s time to summer-ize your dog |

Vail Pets: It’s time to summer-ize your dog

Stephen Sheldon
Special to the Vail Daily
Vail, CO Colorado

VAIL, Colorado –I would never have to write this article when I was practicing back in Florida because we only had two seasons: hot and hotter. However, there is such a difference between summer and winter activity for our pooches out here that I thought a re-fresher was in order.

The first item is ticks, and let’s get one thing straight right now, ticks are gross, even to us scientists out here. Ticks are seasonal and are more active in late spring and early summer. Our ticks here can transmit ehrlichia and, less frequently, Rocky Mountain spotted fever to our dogs. We do not have to worry about Lyme disease in Colorado. The American Lyme Disease Foundation reported no human cases last year here.

If your pet has a tick, use a pair of tweezers and grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible. Then gently pull it out. Most of the time you will get the head out, sometimes it gets left behind and can get infected. I often tell people to dab the tick with alcohol first and then pluck it out.

To prevent ticks most veterinarians recommend a spot on treatment like Frontline. A small amount applied monthly will do the trick and it kills fleas for a month, too (fleas are a pest but are no where near as gross as ticks). There is also a collar that works well on ticks but not fleas.

The next item is preventing heartworm. Heartworms are transmitted by mosquitoes and are not a huge problem up here but we do see them and they are so difficult and costly to treat that it is not worth taking a risk for your pet. Get your pet tested and placed on the medications – at least during the summer if you live anywhere where there are mosquitoes.

Summer months also mean more activity for your pets and arthritis problems can flare up as activity ramps up. If your dog is older and limps or has difficulty getting up, you should have X-rays taken to assess where and how bad the arthritis is.

There are wonderful new anti-inflammatory drugs for pets. Your veterinarian can also tell you the best way to use them. It has changed over the years. We do not go full dosing right away in most pets but rather adjust and taper the doses to the needs and activity level of your pet. We also strongly recommend glucosamine supplements, proper diets, weight control, fish oils, massage, and even acupuncture for arthritis.

Another seasonal problem is heat stroke. Never leave your pet in a locked car and if you have a dog with a pushed in face be especially careful as they are much more susceptible to heat stroke than “normal” dogs are. (Sorry guys, I like making fun of Bulldogs, Pugs and Pekes … but I only tease those I love.)

The last item has been written about twice in the Daily over the last few months but merits repeating. Make sure your dog is up-to-date on their leptospirosis (lepto) vaccines. We are using a new 4-strain vaccine that has the two newer strains of lepto. If your dog is in anyway ‘outdoorsy’ or spends a lot of time near water, make sure they have been vaccinated within the last year.

Summer is definitely busier at our office. There’s a lot of fun … and trouble out there. Play safe, my friends.

Stephen Sheldon practices at Gypsum Animal Hospital, 970-524-3647. He has written on numerous topics and the articles are archived at

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