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Pet ailments to watch out for this summer

Summer means that the most common household pets — cats and dogs — are more likely to be out and about than they are at any other point in the year. As such, veterinarians and emergency clinics are on the lookout for pet injuries and ailments that typically only happen during the summer.

Cari Ciancio, executive director of the Butler County Humane Society, looks over numerous cats and dogs who come in with all manner of medical problems. She said some of the most frequent ones she sees for both cats and dogs, especially during the summer months, are upper respiratory infections.

“Dogs and cats get colds like we do, but when they're not vaccinated and in a shelter situation, it causes a problem because it can spread quickly,” Ciancio said.

Ciancio said she also frequently sees dogs come in with flea and tick infestations due to a lack of medication or inadequate treatment. Often, these dogs present with missing hair and rashes.

Dr. Jennifer Kennedy of Butler Veterinary Associates said that at this time of year, her practice sees an increasing number of dogs being treated for lacerations after playing outside with porcupines.

“The dog tries to attack a porcupine, so they come with porcupine quills in their face and in their mouth and in their feet,” Kennedy said. “This is the time that porcupines are moving a lot right now. It's just something that occurs this time of year.”

Kennedy also reports seeing an uptick in cases of anaplasmosis, a tick-borne disease, in dogs. Anaplasmosis symptoms include fever, diarrhea, lack of appetite, vomiting and, at worst, seizures.

“That's one thing that we’ve been seeing an uptick of,” said Kennedy.

As for cats, Kennedy reports seeing numerous cases of cat bite abscesses, where infections form under bites to cats’ bodies — which typically come from other cats. Like dogs encountering porcupines, this injury is more frequent during the summer, when cats are more active and outside more often.

“The skin heals over and leaves bacteria behind, and that bacteria flourishes,” Kennedy said. “It can't drain out because that skin is healed.”

According to Dr. Barb Karner — veterinarian at Muddy Creek Animal Clinic in Clay Township — fleas and ticks are a seasonal danger, and fleas are more active in the spring and fall than in the summer.

“Fleas are active all of the time, but we see more flea issues in the summer months, likely due to pets spending more time outside in warmer months,” Karner said.

Other tick-borne illnesses common to dogs include Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and ehrlichiosis. To prevent fleas and ticks from becoming a problem, Karner recommends year-round treatment with medication.

Regardless of the condition, however, Karner recommends regular veterinary checkups for pets, every six to 12 months to make sure nothing is wrong.

“In my experience, the patients that we most often see for emergencies, are those who do not get regular care, and a chronic condition that has gone unmanaged becomes an emergency,” Karner said.

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