Veterinarian has advice for summer pet care in La Jolla and San Diego

By Marti Gacioch

Pet owners preparing cats and dogs for a safe, healthy summer should focus on three key concerns: parasites, trauma and overheating, said Julie Breher, DVM, MVPM, owner of La Jolla Veterinary Hospital.

1) Parasites

“Fleas are a year-round parasite problem here,” she said. Breher recommends monthly flea preventative treatments, but advises pet owners to discuss their pet’s needs with a veterinarian before selecting a brand because each has its pros and cons.

The heartworm parasite is carried by mosquitoes, which pass it into dogs and cats.

It takes six months for larva to become an adult heartworm in the pet’s heart, where it reproduces. Common in hot, humid areas with lots of mosquitos, like the Southeast, heartworm is not prevalent in San Diego, but is lethal if not treated.

Breher said combination flea/heartworm treatments are a good preventative measure.

Tick control should also be considered. “I’ve seen dogs return with ticks after camping with their owners in wooded areas, like the Cuyamacas, where ticks on bushes attach to a dog when it brushes past. While ticks are generally not a problem here, they can carry diseases like Lyme disease,” Breher said.

She recommends treating dogs with oral or topical options after a vet looks at a dog’s risk and medications. To learn more about parasites, risks and treatment, contact Breher or visit The Companion Animal Parasite Council at

2) Trauma

“We see more trauma injuries during the summertime because there are more dogs at parks and the beach wrestling with other animals more often,” Breher said. “They receive joint trauma while interacting and bite wounds from other dogs or cats and wild animals.” While owners can’t prevent all trauma, Breher advises owners to be alert to a dog that chronically bothers theirs and limit their contact.

3) Overheating

“When it’s hot, an open window is not enough to keep a pet cool. Be sure the dog has access to shade, is not over exercised, and has cool, fresh water,” Breher said. “Never leave a dog in a car! I know too many dogs left in a car where the owner was gone 15 minutes and the dog died.” Short-faced brachycephalic breeds (bull dogs, pugs and Pekinese) have breathing problems and overheat easily.—

La Jolla Veterinary Hospital

is a full-service veterinary medical facility at

7520 Fay Ave., La Jolla


• Hours: 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Friday; 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.

• Phone:

(858) 454-6155


• Website:

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