Keeping Your Pet Safe During the Dog Days of Summer
Summer is just around the corner and my dog, Chilly, and I can’t wait! Every year, we look forward to spending more time outside, whether it’s lounging on the patio or taking a stroll along the beach. My cats, Turtle and Olivia, also love the longer days and stake their claim to the best sun puddles in the house.
Unfortunately, this sunny season also brings potentially serious health hazards for both felines and canines. But by taking just a few simple preventative measures, everyone can safely soak up the dog days of summer. Please note, pet owners should visit or call their veterinarian immediately if they have concerns about a pet’s condition. Additionally, I am not certified as a veterinarian so all of the tips below are based on my personal experience.
Beat the Heat
Imagine wearing a fur coat during the summer, and being unable to perspire! Is it any wonder our fuzzy buddies feel the heat more than we do? That’s why it’s so important to take steps to prevent them from becoming overheated.
Common causes of heatstroke in pets include overexertion in hot, humid weather and being left outside without water on a sunny summer day. Even simple activities such as direct sun exposure or leisurely walking can cause the same medical crisis.
Make sure you limit activity and keep pets inside on hot days. Also, proper grooming will help their fur protect them from the sun. And, of course, NEVER leave your pet in a car, even with the windows down.
If your pet shows signs of heatstroke (rapid panting, bright red or purple tongue, trouble walking, vomiting, diarrhea or collapse), this is a medical emergency. Act quickly and calmly to cool them down and then get them to a veterinarian right away.
Water, Water, Everywhere
Dehydration is a very real danger during the summer months. When a pet becomes dehydrated, the blood thickens, causing slowed circulation and a lack of oxygen. Ultimately, severe dehydration can even lead to organ damage or failure.
Provide fresh, clean water at all times and monitor your pet’s water consumption. Some animals, like some people, need a little encouragement to increase the amount they drink. If this is the case with your pet, try purchasing a pet-specific drinking fountain, adding low-sodium chicken broth to the water or offering ice cubes with frozen treats inside.
We’re not the only ones who enjoy the summer time. Unfortunately, fleas, ticks and mosquitos come out in full force at this time of year, too. These pesky little bloodsuckers carry diseases and can cause uncomfortable allergic reactions.
Try to avoid places where these pests are common, like wooded and grassy areas and dog parks. Also, talk to your vet about prescribing a flea, tick and heartworm preventative that will work best for your area and your pet’s needs.
Lower the Boom
Both fireworks and summer thunderstorms can cause stress and anxiety in pets, especially those with noise sensitivity.
If you know that the afternoon or evening will bring loud pops and bangs, try to exercise your pet earlier in the day. Tiring his mind and body should help him relax more easily. Once the fireworks or storm begins, be sure to keep him inside (pets can flee when frightened), and play soothing music or turn on the TV to drown out the noise. Most important of all, stay calm yourself to let your pet know everything will be just fine.
If your pet’s anxiety advances beyond mild nervousness, see your veterinarian. Moderate anxiety conditions left untreated usually increase over time and can threaten the health and wellbeing of your pet.
Make a Splash…Safely
If you have a dog who loves to splash in the surf, play in the pool or leap into the lake, it’s a smart idea to take some simple steps to ensure their safety.
If your pup isn’t a strong swimmer or you spend a lot of time on a boat, outfit him with an appropriate life vest available from pet supply stores. For those with pools, take time to teach your dog where to exit; untrained animals may head for the nearest edge and panic if they’re unable to get out.
Discourage dogs and cats from drinking from anything other than their water bowls. Pools, lakes and streams can harbor dangerous chemicals and/or microbes that can make them sick. Finally, if you have a light-colored animal or one with a short coat, protect their skin with a specially formulated pet-friendly sunscreen.
For more ways to live happier and healthier with pets, visit my website, Kristen Levine Pet Living, and hop over to the BISSELL Facebook page for more great pet tips and content.