SUMMER BRINGS HOTTER TEMPERATURES AND MORE CONCERNS FOR THE SAFETY OF YOUR PETS.
HERE ARE SOME HELPFUL TIPS TO REMEMBER IN KEEPING YOUR PETS SAFE.
SAFE THIS SUMMER
Higher temperatures may translate into more time spent outdoors, but for pet owners, they can also mean more visits to the veterinarian. Summer seems to bring more skin and ear infections and an increase in injuries overall.
Here are 20 ways to protect your pet during the warmer months.
Shield delicate skin.
Skin cancer is themost common form of cancer in dogsand the second most common in cats. Even though fur provides some protection from the sun, you should apply a pet sunblock every 3 to 4 hours to the least-hair-covered spots: bellies on dogs (especially ones who like to lie on their backs) and ears and around eyes on cats, which are also areas where malignant tumors are likely to show up. (No need to apply sunscreen directly on fur.) Use products made specifically for pets, such as Epi-Pet Sun Protector Sunscreen ($18; epi-pet.com), which is safe for dogs—ingredients such as zinc oxide can be toxic to pets.
Keep coats long.
While it may seem logical to cut your pet’s coat short, resist the urge. “If hair—even long hair—is brushed and not matted, it provides better circulation and helps regulate body temperature,” says Rene Carlson, DVM, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association. (Check out these three tips for grooming pets at home.)
Soothe burns safely.
If your pet does get burned, apply a thin layer of purealoevera twice daily to soothe the irritated area. (Check the brand with your vet first, for pet safety.)
Walk with caution.
Don’t walk your dog during the day’s highest heat and humidity, which is usually between 1 and 4 PM. This is especially important for dogs with short snouts, such as bulldogs, who can’t pant as efficiently in humid weather due to their narrowed nostrils and windpipes. Also be aware that hot pavement WILL severely burn the pads on your pet/s feet. (Follow these tips for safer hiking with your dog.)
MOST IMPORTANTLY – NEVER EVER NEVER LEAVE A PET IN A CAR!
Never leave her in the car. Even if windows are cracked, the interior temp can rise by 19°F in as little as 7 minutes. On a hot day, this can be deadly. (Check out this simple guide to driving with dogs.)
If your dog shows signs of heat stress—heavy panting, dry or bright red gums, thick drool, vomiting, diarrhea, or wobbly legs—don’t place her in ice cold water, which can put her into shock. Instead, move her to a cool place, drape a damp towel over her body, rewet the cloth frequently, and get her to the vet as soon as you possibly can. A dog’s normal temperature is between 100° and 103°F, so once she hits 104°F, she’s in dangerous territory (106°F or higher can be fatal).
Have your dog wear a life vest in a bright color in any body of water to help her stay afloat and ensure that she can be seen by swimmers and boaters. Let her get used to wearing it in your yard first.
If a dog gets in trouble in one of these in the ocean, whether while swimming or fetching a ball, she can be swept out to sea in minutes. The same goes for rivers: You need to watch out for currents, even if they’re not readily visible, as your dog can be easily carried downstream.
If your dog steps in a sinkhole, she may panic and need you to help her swim to where she can touch ground again. And avoid lakes and ponds with blue-green algae, signified by scummy water and a foul odor. Algae can produce a toxin that may cause severe sickness or seizures quickly if your pet ingests the water, by either drinking from the lake or licking tainted fur. (If your dog does get sick, use these 9 natural remedies vets use on their own pets.)
Teach her how to get out of the pool by using the stairs with her 5 to 10 times in a row. This will help her learn where the stairs are, whether she’s swimming or accidentally falls in and needs to climb out. In the deep end, consider putting in a pool ramp, such as the Gamma Skamper Ramp ($60 to $100; amazon.com), to reduce risk of drowning.
Hookworms and heartworms are more prevalent during the summer and can infect your pet through the pads of his feet. Ask your Holistic vet for a holistic alternatives which will help keep parasites at bay. (Keep your pet pest-free with these tips.)
Barbecue scraps and fatty leftovers can give your pup pancreatitis, causing severe abdominal pain or death. Corn on the cob and peach pits are also a huge no-no because they can lodge in a dog’s intestines.
These common backyard shrubs can be toxic for dogs and cats if ingested, resulting in drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, heart arrhythmias, or an abnormal heart rate. (Never ignore these symptoms in your pet.)
Daylilies and Asiatic, Easter, or Stargazer lilies and their pollen can cause acute kidney failure in cats. Ingestion of as little as two to three leaves can be fatal, so remove these plants from your yard if you let your cat out.
Rose and garden plant food containing insecticides can contain potentially fatal compounds. If your dog tries to eat a bag of it (or soil that’s been treated with it), he could suffer diarrhea, profuse vomiting, shock, seizures, and even death. (Try composting, which is better for your plants and your pet.)
A threat to curious dogs that might try to eat them, fireworks are made with chemicals like potassium nitrate and parts (like a fuse) that could get stuck in the stomach. If eaten, fireworks can cause vomiting, bloody diarrhea, seizures, and shallow breathing. Keep yours out of reach, and clear your yard of debris after you set off your display.
MORE TIPS ON SUMMER HEAT RELATED ISSUES IN YOUR PETS AND HOW TO HELP THEM
By Andrew Kaleita
Summer is a terrific time to be a dog owner. It lets you run, swim, and play with your dog in nicer weather than any other time of the year. However, summer also brings unique risks to your dog's health that you should keep in mind throughout the season. These summer dangers include:
1. Heat stroke
Heat stroke occurs when your dog’s body temperature rises dangerously high. It is most common when dogs are left in a car for too long, or when they exercise in the heat. Never leave your dog in the car in hot weather, and always remember that a cracked window is not enough to cool a car. Your dog always needs access to shade outside. Muzzling interferes with a dog's ability to cool itself by panting and should be avoided.
Dogs can burn in the sun just like people can. White, light-colored, and thinly coated dogs have an increased risk of sunburn. Sunburn causes pain, itching, peeling, and other problems. To prevent sunburn, apply a waterproof sunscreen formulated for babies or pets. Be sure to cover the tips of your dog’s ears and nose, the skin around its mouth, and its back.
3. Burned foot pads
Sidewalk, patio, street, sand. and other surfaces can burn your dog’s footpads. Walk your dog in the morning and at night when outdoor surfaces are coolest. Press your hand onto surfaces for 30 seconds to test them before allowing your dog to walk on them. If it is painful for you, it will be painful for your dog.
Prevent dehydration by providing your dog with unrestricted access to fresh and cool water both indoors and outside. Ice cubes and frozen chicken or beef broth encourage your dog to take in more fluids and help keep it cool. You can also feed your dog wet dog food during the summer to increase its fluid intake.
5. Campfires and barbecues
Your dog may try to take burning sticks from the fire, which are hard to retrieve since they think that you are playing when you chase them. Food that is stuck to barbecues after cooking can tempt your dog to lick the barbecue and burn its tongue or mouth. Lighter fluid is a poison and should not be left where your dog can reach it. Keep your dog away from barbecues and campfires unless it is on a very short leash.
Some fireworks look like sticks, which makes your dog think that they are toys. The loud noises and sudden flash of fireworks can disorient and startle your dog, causing it to run wildly. If you cannot avoid being around fireworks, then keep your dog on a very short leash.
Ticks, fleas, mosquitoes, flies, and other insects are at their peak during the summer months. Talk to your veterinarian about appropriate protection such as collars, sprays, shampoos, dips, and other products.
8. Chemicals in the water
It is no secret that most dogs love to swim. Swimming can be fun for you and your dog and helps prevent heat stroke. However, chlorine can irritate a dog's skin and upset its stomach. Rinse your dog with fresh water after swimming in a pool and do not let it drink more than a small amount of pool water. Standing water, such as puddles, can also be dangerous for dogs to drink due to the presence of antifreeze or other chemicals. Provide your dog with fresh water to drink whenever possible.
9. Seasonal allergies
Fleas, mold, flowers, and other potential allergens are common during summer. Allergies cause itching (and with it, excessive scratching), coughing, sneezing, discomfort, and other problems for your dog. Keep your dog away from allergy triggers when possible, especially if you know it has a particular allergy. Ask your veterinarian about whether your pet would benefit from a canine antihistamine or other medication.
10. Getting lost
Take care when traveling with your dog during the summer to prevent it from becoming lost in unfamiliar surroundings. Always have someone watching your dog if it is off its leash. A collar with a contact information tag should be considered the minimum safety precaution. Microchip your dog if you desire more reliable identification.
These summer safety tips apply to dogs in general, but no one knows your dog better than you. If your dog is well behaved around food, for example, then it may be safer to let it be near a barbecue. Do not be afraid to let your dog off its leash to run and enjoy summer, but do be aware of what possible dangers may be nearby before you do so. If you have a fun summer dog story or know a summer danger that we forgot to mention, tell us in the comments.