FORT RUCKER, Ala., June 17, 2011 -- People aren’t the only ones who feel the heat in the summer months and, according to a Fort Rucker veterinarian, it is important be aware of the effects that warmer temperatures may have on people’s four-legged friends.

Capt. Tiffany Riddle, officer-in-charge of the Fort Rucker, Ala., Veterinary clinic, says the warm moist climate of the region makes for perfect breeding grounds for pests who are known to carry diseases that can affect pets. Fleas, ticks and mosquitoes present a problem to animals that spend a lot of time outdoors and she recommends preventative medicine to ensure the health of pets.

“Heartworm and flea prevention are crucial for this area this time of year. Heartworm prevention is a must because they are transmitted by mosquitoes,” Riddle said. “If your animal is going to be outside a lot or in the woods a lot, I would also recommend the Leptospirosis vaccination, which prevents the disease spread by ticks.”

She said pet owners must also be sure to provide animals with some relief from the sun if they are kept outside and provide them with plenty of water to ensure their safety.

“Make sure your animals have some sort of shelter or shade that they can get under to stay out of the sun. I recommend having your animal inside at the hottest time of the day. They need plenty of water, too -- your pets should never be restricted from water, even if they are indoors,” she said.

Riddle said some owners may notice that their pets have less of an appetite in the summer months, but that this is to be expected.

Maj. Jay Massey, Department of Public Safety deputy provost marshal, said neglecting a pet by leaving it chained up or confined in the heat without proper water is a violation of Fort Rucker Regulation 40-16. He encourages anyone who observes a pet that they suspect is being neglected to call the DPS immediately.

Massey also reminds residents who live on post that all animals must be registered, receive proper vaccinations and be microchipped at the veterinary clinic within 72 hours of first arriving at Fort Rucker, or of getting a new pet. Should a resident’s animal escape and it has not been microchipped, the animal will be taken to the Fort Rucker Stray and Adoption Facility.

Animal health aid Kati Brewster said the stray and adoption facility can only house 10 dogs and 11 cats before it reaches maximum capacity. She said after a week, if no one comes to claim an animal, it is put up for adoption.

She said people interested in adopting a pet can come by the facility to meet and play with the different animals until they find one that is a good match for them. The cost of adoption is $81, which includes the animal’s first round of shots, de-worming and de-fleaing, a spaying or neutering procedure and microchipping, said Brewster.

Before adopting, Brewster encourages people to consider all that pet ownership requires and make sure it is a good choice for them.

“People need to remember that they are in the military, they are going to move, and possibly overseas. If someone is not willing to take the animal with them, then they don’t need to adopt,” she said. “People need to understand, animal care can’t be taken lightly.”