6 Ways to Keep Your Pet Healthy this Summer
Hi Sweet Friends,
One of the many things I love about my readers is your deep dedication to animals. Summer is such a fabulous time to get outdoors with our furry companions. But as temperatures rise, it’s important to keep our pets safe. That’s why I teamed up with Adopt-a-Pet.com to share their amazing tips. You may already know this stuff, but take a moment for a quick refresher anyway. Your fur-kids’ lives could depend on it. And please pass this blog onto a friend who might need a refresher too.
View a printable PDF of the checklist here.
6 must-have pet safety tips for a healthy & happy summer!
1. Don’t leave your pet in the car.
Confinement in a car or any other poorly ventilated enclosure can be fatal to your dog or other pet. One study reports that when the outside temperature is just 78°F, a closed car will reach 90°F in five minutes, and 110°F in 25 minutes. It only takes 15 minutes for an animal to get heat stroke and die in a hot car! Shade and even four cracked open windows don’t make a difference (results of car temperature testing here). When I see this, I leave a note for the owner and call the police if needed. I go into stores and ask the managers to make an announcement over the loudspeaker. Whatever it takes, because it’s that serious. We all love taking our pets with us wherever we go, but unless you’re bringing them with you when you leave your cool car, let them watch cartoons at home.
2. Be smart about exercising with your pup.
Although we look forward to taking a walk, going for a run and hitting the trails with our exercise buddies, it’s best to avoid these activities with your dog during hot days or warm, humid nights. The best time to exercise is either early in the morning before sunrise or late in the evening after the sun goes down. Know your dog’s fitness level, and let them set the pace. If they start panting excessively or suddenly seem drained, it’s time for a break. Cool down in the shade, offer them water to drink, pour tepid (not cold) water on their paws or if possibly have some fun in the sprinkler or with the hose.
3. Understand how to protect your pet from heatstroke.
Heatstroke develops rapidly and is often associated with exposure to high temperatures, humidity and poor ventilation. Symptoms include panting, a staring or anxious expression, failure to respond to commands, warm, dry skin, extremely high temperature, dehydration, rapid heartbeat and collapse. Very young and older pets tend to be more susceptible. Pets more vulnerable to heat stress include those who recently moved from cool to warmer climates, those with cardiovascular or respiratory conditions, or with a history of heat stress. Rabbits are often smart enough to lie next to a frozen water bottle to stay cool, but other pets such as cats and dogs should be kept in as cool an area as possible. With any form of heat stress, prompt veterinary attention is important to deal with potential complications, including death.
4. Sunburn is serious for animals too.
Pets who have recently received short haircuts may become sunburn victims and are as susceptible to heat stress as dogs who haven’t had their fur trimmed. In fact, your pet’s hair has insulating characteristics to help protect him from the heat — that summer trim should be long, not short! Did you know that white coated pets can get sunburned if they have naturally short or thinner coats? And pink nosed pets including dogs, cats, and rabbits, can get badly sunburned on their nose and ears, which can make them more prone to skin cancer. Lastly, don’t forget about those cute bellies! When you’re at the beach or chillin’ poolside with your furry BFF, remember that dogs can get sunburned on their tummies and inside of their hind legs when sunlight reflects off of sand or water. Check with your vet for a pet-safe sunscreen, or keep at-risk pets indoors when the sun is high. I found this out the hard way with Buddy recently. The vet shaved a small section of his back fur in order to do a spinal tap. Guess where he got a sunburn the following week? Duh, ma. Lesson learned.
5. Keep your four-legged friends off hot pavement.
Can you believe that when the air temperature outside is 77 degrees, asphalt in the sun has been measured at 125 degrees? That’s piping hot, my friends! When temperatures outdoors jump up to 86 or 87 degrees outside, asphalt can sizzle your skin (or your pet’s paws) at 135 to 143 degrees (an egg fries in 5 minutes at 131 degrees)! While most of us have witnessed or experienced the driveway dance of a human in bare feet, we don’t often think of the effect that burning hot surface has on the bare four paws of our companion animals. Get more tips for judging how safe the ground temperature is for Fido’s feet here.
6. Pet Pool safety
Never leave a dog unattended with access to a swimming pool. Even a dog who has never shown interest in getting in the water may accidentally slip in, or give it a try on a hot summer day. A dog’s instinct is to turn around and try to get out where they fell in, which may work well in a river or lake, but not in a pool. If possible, teach your dog how to swim safely to the steps and get out. If you don’t have access to a professional dog trainer, check out Barker Busters Pool Training article here. It’s a good idea to do a mini refresher course at the beginning of pool season each year too! Child-proof pool fencing can give your pooch an added layer of protection, but keep in mind your dog’s jumping and burrowing ability if you’re relying on that fencing to keep your pooch pool safe when you’re gone.
Your turn: I hope these tips come in handy and that you’ll spread the word about the importance of animal care! Please add your pet safety tips in the comments below.
Peace & paws,