It is important to be conscious of your pet’s health and well-being during the summer months. While summertime is often a time to relax, play sports, enjoy picnics, trips to the beach, BBQ’s and backyard parties, the summer months can also offer some potential hazards to our precious pets.
Here are some simple tips to protect your pet from the dangers of hot weather.
If you leave your dog or cat outside during the day, be sure to that your pet always has shelter available to protect it in the event of extreme temperatures and inclement weather. Provide fresh water that they can easily get at to keep them hydrated.
Asphalt and concrete can get very hot and burn the pads of your pet’s feet. Be very careful about how long your pet may be exposed.
Be aware that older and overweight pets are more likely to overheat in hot weather. Flat-faced breeds such as Persian cats, pugs and bulldogs are particularly at risk. If your pet has a heart condition or lung disease, he should be kept in a cool air-conditoned environment.
Never leave your pet in a parked car, even if the windows are cracked. Your pet is still in danger of overheating or suffering from heat stroke during hot summer days.
Parked cars: Leaving your dog in a parked car in the summer (even with the window left a few inches open), can cause heatstroke within minutes. A parked car, with windows open, can become a furnace on a hot summer day. Even with the windows slightly open, the temperature inside a car can soar to 120 degrees Fahrenheit or more within minutes. These conditions can kill a pet within 10 minutes or less. Leaving your dog in a car parked in the shade does not assure that your dog will not become seriously overheated. Shaded cars may still get very hot and the sun may also move enough to change shaded areas into sunny ones. Dogs left in parked cars also risk being harassed or stolen.
Airplane Travel: To help prevent your dog or cat from overheating when traveling by airplane, avoid transporting your companion animal in the cargo section of the plane during hot weather. Always take into consideration both the departure and arrival temperatures. If your must transport you dog or cat in the cargo section, take a direct, early morning or late evening flight whenever possible, as layovers, delayed take-offs, and mid-day travel (when the temperature is hottest) can all pose an increased risk.
Heat exhaustion is often caused by over-exercising or running with a dog during hot weather. Both heatstroke and heat exhaustion can result in brain damage, heart failure or even death in a short period of time. Always bring cool water along when walking, running or hiking with your dog during hot weather. If you exercise with your dog, go in the early morning or evening hours, instead of during the middle of the day when it is the hottest. To cool off an overheated dog, offer him plenty of water, then wet the dog’s body and paws with cool water, then use a fan. A dog’s normal internal body temperature is between 100.5 degrees F and 02 degrees F. If the dog experiences heatstroke or heat exhaustion, he should receive veterinary attention immediately.
Keep your pet well groomed. Short hair helps your pet stay cool, but don’t shave off all of his hair. A pet’s coat will protect against the sun.
Every summer, puppies, dogs and small children accidentally drown in backyard swimming pools when left unattended. To help prevent such a tragedy, always keep fenced-in pools locked securely when not being used and keep pets and small children away from unenclosed and unoccupied pools.
People treat their lawns with pesticides and fertilizers, which can cause severe intestinal upset in dogs and cats when ingested. Keep your pet away from unfamiliar yards and grassy areas.
Don’t let dogs ride in the back of pickup tricks or open vehicles. Prevent your dog from hanging his head out of a moving car or truck window when taking him for a ride. Bugs, small pebbles and other debri can injure his eyes and he is also at risk of jumping out of the vehicle. Also, closing automatic car windows while your dog is hanging his head out of the car window can cause him or her serious harm. Never allow your dog to ride in the back of an open pickup truck, unless he is safely secured by a padded harness to the center of the pickup “bed” with specially designed tethers. (Also, make sure to provide a thick comfortable padded surface or dog bed to prevent any injury or discomfort to your dog’s joints.)
Avoid exposing your puppy or dog to fireworks noise, as fireworks can result in serious (and often longterm) phobias. Unfortunately, in many communities, firecracker noise often begins weeks before the July 4th holiday. Keep evening walks with your dog very brief, and never leave your dog outdoors in your yard or property if there is any risk of exposure to firecracker noise. When indoors, try to disguise outdoor noises with music, television, radio or air conditioners. (This also works well when there are thunder storms!)
Companion animal theft is unfortunately a serious problem in this country. The number of companion animals that are stolen from backyards and from outside stores and supermarkets increases dramatically throughout Spring, Summer and Fall. Even the “safest” neighborhoods are not immune to this growing problem. The bottom line is: never leave your dog unsupervised if there is any risk that your dog could be harrassed, poisoned or stolen. Be sure to attach your dog’s identification tags (along with his Rabies tag) to his collar. ID tags won’t do any good being left in a desk drawer at home. Special tattoo ID and microchip ID are also recommended.
If taking your pet to the beach, be sure to provide a shaded area and plenty of fresh drinking water. Be sure to thoroughly rinse after bathing in chlorine or salt water.
Be sure to have your pet in for his yearly check up with your vet and include the test for heartworms if he is not on a yearly medication. Your vet can recommend a program to combat flea and tick problems.
WARNING: Signs of heat exhaustion include open mouth breathing and lethargy. If you check your dogs gums, you may find they’re very red and very dry, and the animal may also be non respondent to you. Seek medical attention immediately!