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Hot weather can be harmful to pets

July 26, 2012
By MEL TOADVINE ( , Lehigh Acres Citizen

With the dog days of the hot summer being experienced in Southwest Florida, Sabrina Kopfhamer, who helps to operate Petcare of SWFL at 1303 Homestead Road, in Suite 100A, has some good advice about your dogs and cats.

"Hot summer days can be the cruelest time of the year for most of the house pets that people own," she said. "That includes our dogs and cats and other animals with fur. Dogs and cats are unable to sweat and because of that they need to be hydrated with cool water if they are outside."

"A dog can actually have a heat stroke in as little as 15 minutes in the hot open sun and that can lead to the animal's death," she said.

Article Photos

Max Avila, 9, of Lehigh, a nephew of Petcare’s Account Manager Sabrina Kopfhamer, plays with a dog that is being boarded at the vet’s clinic on Homestead Rd.

She is the account manager at the new veterinary business that opened a few months ago in Lehigh.

But Kopfhamer warned that if you leave a dog outside chained in your back yard, it should at least be in the shade with lots of water. And people shouldn't use buckets filled with water because they will be knocked over. Leave several containers of water in the shade.

"But my best advice is to bring your pets inside during the current hot summer we are having here," Kopfhamer said.

Petcare of SWFL is the newest veterinarian establishment to open in Lehigh. There are at least three more veterans in Lehigh, but Kopfhamer said the veterinarian who owns the business, Dr. Fitzgerald Oliver, DMV, has what she calls the "personal touch."

"He loves animals and he is very compassionate with them. We treat all types of pets here you name it, snakes, lizards, spiders and other creatures. Dr. Oliver also has a veterinarian clinic in Naples and he divides his time between Lehigh Acres and Naples, often being in Lehigh several times a week, especially if there is an emergency.

When you enter Petcare of SWFL, you are greeted by Kopfhamer with a big smile. The veterinarian office and clinic smell fresh with no bad smells that greet people often at some other animal care places.

Kopfhamer has lived in Lehigh all of her life and has a passion for pets and especially for animals that have been mistreated.

"I love horses and I am always checking them out when I drive by a place where there horses. If I see a horse that is not being fed properly, with his ribs showing, I offer to buy the horse and take it home. I have to do that. I can't stand for an animal to be put through unnecessary pain," she said.

She is a single mom and she lives off SR82 in Lehigh Acres on seven and one-half acres. At last count, she said she has six horses, four dogs, five cats and two geese, that she thought were duck when they were little. There is a lake on her property.

Veterinarian Dr. Oliver also goes out to rural areas to treat farm livestock.

"But a week or so ago, someone brought in two goats," she laughed. "We doctored them up."

Petcare of SWFL in Lehigh is closed on Tuesdays and Thursdays until the end of summer.

"Right after Labor Day, we will resume our schedule of being open on Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

"Those who want to set up an appointment are urged to call the veterinarian's clinic at 239-303-3000," she said.

"We can set up a convenient time to bring in the pet and make sure the veterinarian is here. We do everything here as in any other veterinarian's office, except we provide love for the animals," Kopfhamer said.

Regarding your pets, Kopfhamer said that ringworms are a problem this year in a lot of locations and your dog should be treated for preventative measures. It is the same for both dogs and cats with the flea problem which gets worse when it is hot. She said ringworms can come about in your pet due to an infected mosquito.

"We have special meds here that are very hard to get now with the problems of ringworms we have to order the medications from Europe and they are trying to do their best to fulfill all the orders they get since it is difficult to get the drugs in the U.S. because of the demand which has caused a shortage," she said.

"But we strongly urge all pet owners to get meds for their pets to prevent problems that can lead to death. We have meds that can be given to a cat or a dog that will kill the fleas on them in a short time.

"And when the animals are outside, the meds will kill fleas that even attempt to jump on them," she said.

The clinic offers spaying of cats and dogs, and special IDs for them in case they are lost.

Kopfhamer has loved animals all of her life, and when a customer comes in with one, she usually will greet the pet to make it feel comfortable.

"I shake the animal's paws to show them I am there for them. I make them feel special," she said.

Every so often, Kopfhamer invites disabled children and others to come to her home just to enjoy the animals.

If you're planning vacation, Petcare of SWFL also will board your pets and take special care of them while you are gone.

"And tell people that if they cannot take care of their pets, they should not just let them go or throw them out. They should try to find someone who will care for them. If they call me, I will talk with them and try to find a good home for them. I am good at matching up pets with the right people, those who love their animals and treat them well," she said.

And if you see someone abusing a pet like not feeding it properly as the case with some horses she has found and with cats and dogs that are too skinny, showing that they are not being properly fed and that means they are not being take care of in the proper way, she said. If you do see abuse, report it to the Sheriff's Office, she said.



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