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Protect your pets as warm weather arrives

Warmer months bring a few more risks to your pet.

TOLEDO, Ohio (WNWO) - 'Zombie' raccoons have been filling up the internet lately. They look rabid with their teeth showing and the virus they have can be fatal to dogs and cats. While there have been no reported cases in the Toledo area, there are other issues that arise as our days get warmer.

When the temperatures climb many dogs are ready to spend their days at the park.

“The biggest thing in warmer weather are parasites,” said Dr. Anne Bergstrom, a Veterinarian at West Toledo Animal Hospital.

Our four-legged friends aren’t the only ones itching to get outdoors.

“The fleas and ticks will be out quickly once the weather does warm up,” said Dr. Bergstrom.

The pests can cause some pain to your pet. Some reactions are minor, like itchy skin. However, if they go untreated they can become serious.

“They can get severely anemic, fleas are blood sucking parasites," said Dr. Bergstrom. "If you have enough fleas they’ll take all the blood out of your pet.”

This level of severity is often in older, or sickly, dogs. Ones that can't itch themselves and don't move around much. While you can’t keep dogs from roaming the outdoors, you can make yourself aware of tick prone zones.

“You watch if they’re in wooded areas, you’re going to the park, high grassy areas,” said Dr. Bergstrom.

Mike Myers is a long time dog owner. He said his dog loves to go camping with his family and they have found ticks on the pup before.

“I pulled it out, made sure the head didn’t break off the tick and break off inside him,” said Mike Myers.

Dr. Bergstrom said you should always check your pet before coming inside.

“We comb his hair and feel around,” said Myers.

Aside from ticks and fleas, heartworm is a huge problem for dogs. Heartworm is a worm that lives in the dog’s heart and pulmonary arteries. It all starts with a simple mosquito bite.

“The dog is the natural host,” said Dr. Bergstrom. “We don’t see signs of disease till we see signs of heart and lung disease.”

It’s all about acting before your pet is exposed. Dr. Bergstrom suggests a preventative pill each month. You should also see your vet at least once a year.

Another thing to keep in mind is your pets exercise. Like humans, they may have gotten a little sluggish or laid back through the winter months. It’s important to ease them into long summer walks and hours at the park.

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