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Let’s use this weeks’ column as your warm weather reminder and check list for your pets.

The two-week forecast is showing that pretty consistent temperatures around the 80-degree mark are upon us. The summer months can be rough on dogs and cats if we don’t provide them with the proper protections.

Whether they are inside or outside pets, one issue that can have serious consequences is external parasites, like fleas and ticks.

Although we all hate to use chemical preventatives on our pets, it really comes down to a risk verses benefit decision. Ticks can be picked up no matter where your animals roam in their outdoor environment. Whether they walk through the woods or just the grass in yard, the ticks are there.

They carry diseases such as Lyme and Rocky Mountain spotted fever, which left untreated can cause serious health issues in animals.

Fleas are another external parasite that should not be left unchecked. Aside from the general discomfort of being bitten by these pests, they can be the source of skin allergies, anemia and even tapeworms.

It may seem odd that an external parasite can be the cause of an internal parasite but by swallowing a flea infected with tapeworm larvae, the dog or cat may then end up with tapeworms as well. A dog or cat may swallow a flea while self-grooming, once the flea is digested by the pet, the larval tapeworm is able to develop into an adult tapeworm.

Speaking of internal parasites, one of the most dangerous is heartworms, which are spread by the bite of a mosquito; an insect that we are all too familiar with here in South Jersey!

Heartworms are most common in dogs, but cats can suffer from them as well. Heartworm disease is serious and will ultimately lead to death if not treated.

Although veterinarians recommend keeping dogs on heartworm preventative throughout the year, many people just treat during the warm months. If you fall into this category, it’s time to get your dog tested and started again.

On the bright side, there are many types of parasite preventatives available; the key is getting the one that is most appropriate for your individual pet.

You should always consult with your veterinarian before starting any kind of parasite treatment.

Heartworm preventative is by prescription only, so for that, you must see the vet.

Flea and tick preventative can be bought over the counter, but animals can be reactive to these chemicals. Treatment should be discussed with the vet before you start anything

Other warm weather measures include providing shade for outdoor pets, keeping water bowls clean, fresh and out of the sun.

Pets that are suffering from old age or breathing problems should not be left out in excessive heat any longer than necessary to relieve themselves.

As I’ve mentioned in previous columns, many people have taken up walking their dogs during the pandemic. I’ve seen many people out on the trails at Parvin State Park and other walking paths in the area.

If you’re headed out for an extended walk with your dog in warm temperatures, make sure to carry a bottle of water for your walking buddy and one of those handy collapsible dishes so he can stay hydrated. Stay safe!

Shelter needs: Purina Cat Chow (no red dyes please), canned dog food, soft treats for dogs, small dog treats, hot dogs, cat nip, cream cheese, paper towels, and gift cards for pet supply and grocery outlets.

To submit an adoption form for one of the Pets of the Week or another animal at the shelter, visit

Source: South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter: Warm weather requires updates to pet care & routines

Posted in 2021, SJRAS Articles