Pet Safety Tips for the Summer
Heat Related Tips
Dog owners, in particular, love to share all of their summer activities with their furry friends. What they don’t realize however, is that by bringing their pets along on all of their excursions, they are putting the lives of their pets at risk. That happy, endearing, tongue-lolling grin spread across the face of the dog may also be a warning of impeding heat stroke. Just as in the case of humans, heat stroke in a pet can cause nausea, loss of consciousness, irreparable brain damage, and possibly even death.
Don’t walk your pet in the middle of a hot summer day. You’ve seen the heat waves shimmering up off of the pavement and have probably even felt the heat rise right through the bottom of your shoes. You wouldn’t want to walk barefoot across the hot black-top and neither does your animal, who wouldn’t only be uncomfortable, but also at risk for burning the pads of his paws. Even if you only walk in the grass, walking at the hottest times of the day (approximately 11a.m.-4p.m.) will cause your dog to tire more easily and become dehydrated from panting. It is best to walk your pet early in the morning or in the late evening when it is cooler.
Don’t leave your pet in a car. Even with the windows open, leaving animals in the car is very dangerous. Think about how hot the vehicle is when you come back to it after shopping or talking for a few minutes. On an 85-degree day, the temperature inside your car, even with the windows open a bit, will climb to 102 degrees in 10 minutes and after a half hour, it will go up to 120 degrees or even higher! On a 90-degree day, the temperature in the car can top 160 degrees before you can even walk around the block. Your animal can’t survive long in conditions like this. The back of a pickup truck is no better even though it is in the “fresh air” because it has no shade and the floor of the truck can become so hot that it burns the pads of the dog’s paws. It is also dangerous to drive your animal around in the back of a pick-up truck because they can jump out of the moving vehicle at any time.
Bring animals indoors on the hottest days. Since dogs can’t cool themselves by sweating as humans do, they cool off by evaporation through panting, which isn’t always as efficient as sweating. That is why the safest place for your animal on a hot summer day is at home with a fan and/or air conditioning. When your dog has to go out, monitor him. Don’t let him play hard or lay on the deck in the sun for too long. The ground heats up fast and the shade offers little protection when the temperature tops 90 and the humidity is high. If your pet is living outdoors in the summer, be certain his home is in the shade. Avoid tying pets where shade and water are not accessible.
How do you recognize heat stroke in your pet? Your animal will pant rapidly, become exhausted or agitated and start vomiting. At this point, you can usually cool him down by giving him ice cubes to lick (cold water will upset his stomach worse and hasten dehydration), sponging him down with a wet towel, and letting him lie in front of a fan. It is important to get his body temperature down first and then call the vet second. Spending precious time on the phone with the vet while the animal is still overheating could prove fatal for the animal.
Other Animal Safety Tips for the Summer
Ticks and fleas are most common during the summer. Do not allow pets to frequent areas with tall grass or thick bushes. Shampoo dogs and cats with flea and tick shampoo, then apply a flea and tick treatment that has been recommended by your veterinarian. Check ears, back legs, armpits and groin areas for ticks, fleas, and other pests. Remove ticks by putting rubbing alcohol or fingernail polish remover directly on them if flea or tick spray is not available. Wait two or three minutes then remove the tick with tweezers. Flea resistance bedding such as cedar chips also controls pests.
Groom your pet daily to keep their coats clean and free of dander, which builds up in hot weather and contributes to heat problems. Brushing also provides the opportunity to inspect your pet’s skin for rashes and insect bites. If your pet develops a rash or patches of raw skin, take him to the vet.
Always keep your pets vaccinations and rabies shots up-to-date. Take your animal to a check-up annually and make sure that your vet provides heartworm medication. Heartworm kills, and unless your pet is tested each year, the disease cannot be detected during the early stages.
Avoid giving dogs medication that was intended for cats and vice versa. Cats are extremely sensitive to ticks, fleas, and treatments.
Keep harmful cleaners, cosmetics and poisonous houseplants out of your pet’s reach. If your pet is a house animal, follow safety procedures that are used for small children. The best advice for pet owners is to keep pets as comfortable as possible during the summer. Always make sure there is shade and ample water available and be attentive to their needs. If you detect any health problems with the animal, always seek help from your veterinarian.