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Summer Time and the Living is Easy

Preparation for all the adventures summer will bring.

Summer presents us with an opportunity to spend more time outdoors with our pets but at the same time we must always be aware of how to prepare our dogs for a safe time outside. Living in such temperate climates leaves you with a nice window each day to hit some dog parks, take long unadulterated walks, or maybe a full day out at a state park. No matter what you're doing make sure that you are ready for scenarios that could really negatively impact the health of your loved one.

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First things first, does your dog have all their 'core' and 'non- core' vaccines? Not only will you be doing a service for your own dog; you will also be preventing potential infection to all dogs that may come into contact with you two on your outings. 'Core' vaccines are the ones that vets will recommend that your dog get as a puppy and include rabies, distemper, parvovirus, and adenovirus. 'Non- core' vaccines are used for prevention of bordetella, lyme disease, leptospirosis, and canine influenza. Here is a chart to show time frames for vaccines and how long that they last. Always consult your veterinarian with vaccinations as you do not want to over-vaccinate as it can be detrimental to the dogs immediate health and sometimes they may even not recommend some of the 'non-core' vaccines based on your dog's health and activities.

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Summer time is prime to pick up some hitch hikers; especially if you and your dog like to take trips into heavily wooded areas or just places with high dog concentrations. Your veterinarian can help identify potential parasites that are common to your area and help establish a year round program that can minimize to your dog.

Regular flea/tick treatments and an occasional bath after a day out in the sun is enough to avoid such issues as lyme disease or having to watch your dog scratch themselves uncontrollably from a flea infestation. Have a flea comb and a good flea bath at home just in case; as over time certain flea treatments can be a bit ineffective and you may need to consult your vet for other options.

Do not forget about heart worm treatment! This parasite is transmitted exclusively by mosquitos and your best treatment is prevention because these worms can live in your pet for up to seven years and can be fatal.

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Now that your pooch is protected against a slew of bad microbes and parasites, we can finally enjoy the outdoors without as many surprises. Here's a final checklist to make sure we have everything we need:

  • Water: Always bring more than you think you will need because as you may know dogs do not have as good a system for cooling down as humans. If your dog goes hard outdoors they will appreciate the extra hydration.
  • Food: I alway like to bring a bowl of lunch and a half meal just in case we are out longer than expected or if the excursion calls for the extra calories.
  • Waste bags: Just in case they aren't available where you will be.
  • Treats: Treats go a long way when building good habits outdoors!
  • Toys: Do you have a Chuck It or a frisbee? Bring them. It will be fun.

Always remember how hot it can get outside and be aware of your dog's physical state after a long walk or play session in the sun. Heat exhaustion can come very quickly on those hot summer days. No matter where you do end up going with your pup though; have a happy and safe summer this year!