Summer Pet Safety

Summer is here! School is out, the days are hot, and along with all the fun, your pet is exposed to all kinds of dangers. Check out our list to be sure you’re minimizing your pet’s exposure to something that might end up in a vet visit.

Never Leave Your Pet in a Car
A car’s temperature can rise 40 degrees in an hour, even on a relatively cool day, and cracking the windows isn’t the answer. On a hot, sunny day, your car can reach 120 degrees inside. Dogs can get heatstroke even when the car is in the shade. Here are a few alternatives to leaving your pet in the car:
– use the drive through
– bring a friend who can play outside with your dog while you do your errand
– shop at pet friendly stores where your pet can go inside with you
– eat at an outdoor café where your dog can hang out under the table
– or just leave your dog at home where it’s cool and safe

Keep Your Pet Cool
Give your pet extra water and watch for signs of heat stress, such as heavy panting, dry or bright red gums, thick drool, vomiting, diarrhea, or wobbly legs.

Be sure to give your pet several ways to cool off, such as a fan running, ice cubes in her water, or wet food or peanut butter frozen in a Kong. Your pets will find cool spots when they’re hot, so let them have access to cooler areas of the house, such as tile floors or rooms that don’t get much sun. If they are outside, make sure there is plenty of shade.

Take your walks in the morning or evening and avoid hot sidewalks that can burn your pet’s feet. Brush your pet regularly to help them stay cool. Brushed hair allows air to circulate, keeping your pet cooler.

Watch the Humidity
It’s not just the heat, it’s the humidity. You hear that often in the summer, and it’s true for pets too. Animals pant to evaporate moisture to cool off, and if the humidity is too high, they are not able to cool themselves.

Coolant Leaks
Dogs are attracted to the sweet taste of coolant, and just a small amount can make your dog sick — or even cause death. If you believe your dog may have ingested coolant, take him to the vet right away.

Make a Safe Splash
Do not leave pets unsupervised around a pool-not all dogs are good swimmers. Introduce your pets to water gradually and make sure they wear flotation devices when on boats. Rinse your dog off after swimming to remove chlorine from his fur, and try to keep your dog from drinking pool water, which contains chlorine and other chemicals that could cause stomach upset.

Visit the Vet
A visit to the veterinarian for a spring or early summer check-up is a must. Make sure your pets get tested for heartworm if they aren’t on year-round preventive medication. Do parasites bug your animal companions? Ask your doctor to recommend a safe flea and tick control program.

Avoid Chemicals
Commonly used flea and tick products, rodenticides (mouse and rat baits), and lawn and garden insecticides can be harmful to cats and dogs if ingested, so keep them out of reach. When walking your dog, steer clear of areas that you suspect have been sprayed with insecticides or other chemicals. Keep citronella candles, oil products and insect coils out of pets’ reach as well. Call us if you suspect your animal has ingested a poisonous substance.

Party Animals
Taking Fido to a backyard barbeque or party? Remember that the food and drink offered to guests may be poisonous to pets. Keep alcoholic beverages away from pets, as they can cause intoxication, depression and comas. Similarly, remember that the snacks enjoyed by your human friends should not be a treat for your pet; any change of diet, even for one meal, may give your dog or cat severe digestive ailments. Avoid raisins, grapes, onions, chocolate and products with the sweetener xylitol.

Avoid Fireworks
Please leave pets at home when you head out to Fourth of July celebrations, and never use fireworks around pets. Exposure to lit fireworks can potentially result in severe burns or trauma to curious pets, and even unused fireworks can be hazardous. Many types of fireworks contain potentially toxic substances such as potassium nitrate, copper, chlorates, arsenic and other heavy metals. If your pet would be able to hear the fireworks inside the house while you’re out enjoying the show, consider a pet sitter or putting him in the basement where it’s not as loud.

Dogs, especially those with short hair, white fur, and pink skin, can sunburn. Limit your dog’s exposure during the day and apply sunblock to his ears and nose 30 minutes before going outside. Be sure that any sunscreen you use on your pet is labeled for such use.

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in dogs and 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; ingredients such as zinc oxide can be toxic to them.

With care and caution, you can keep your pet safe all season long. Now get out there and enjoy your summer!