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Protect Your Pets This Summer

May 28, 2013 01:01AM ● By Erin Frisch


Summer days are for lazing around in the sun, tending to gardens, relaxing by the pool or on the beach, and hanging out with our furry friends. Just as we need to protect ourselves from excessive sun exposure and high heat and humidity, our animal companions need protection too. Read on for tips to keep your pets safe and comfortable in the summertime.

In the Car. Never leave your pet in a car in warm weather. Temperatures can reach up to 120 degrees in a short time! If you must leave a pet to run a quick errand, follow these guidelines. Park in a shaded area if possible, and open the windows as wide as you can without giving your pet a way to escape. You can keep your pal in a ventilated cage and open the windows all the way, but if you do, you’ll be allowing passersby access. Provide fresh water, and if your errand runs longer than 10 minutes, check to ensure that your pet has not begun to pant heavily, does not look anxious, and still obeys commands. If your pet is not responding to you or is panting heavily, you should lower his body temperature immediately by submerging him in cool water or gently showering him with a garden hose. Then call your veterinarian.

From the Sun. Pets have sensitive skin, even though their coats offer some protection. If your pet has a very short coat, she is especially susceptible to sun exposure. Sunburn in animals can cause pain, blistering, peeling, and potentially skin cancer, just as in people. To protect your pet, keep her out of the sun between 10am and 4pm as much as possible. If you do take her out, use a bit of sunscreen on unprotected areas like the tips of the ears and around the nose and mouth. Ask your vet about a brand that’s pet safe. Don’t walk your dog on pavement or sand that’s been heated by the sun. Sensitive paw pads can easily burn. Walk in the morning or evening when it’s cooler, or walk on cool grass or shaded paths during the warmer hours of the day.

In the Water. If your pet accompanies you on a boat or canoe, or even hangs around with you by the pool, it’s a good idea to get him a life jacket. No matter how good a swimmer your furry friend may be, pets can tire just like people and struggle to stay afloat. A life jacket provides an additional safety measure so you and your pet can enjoy water sports together.

While Exercising. Overdoing exercise in hot weather can dehydrate your pet. On humid days be especially careful. Many animals regulate their body temperature by panting, which is normally very effective. But when humidity kicks in, this method quickly becomes ineffective. When exercising in summer heat, keep a moderate pace and offer your pet cool water frequently. If she starts panting heavily, hangs back, or looks fatigued, it’s time for a break. Keep an eye out especially for signs that your pet is experiencing heatstroke—unusually heavy panting, anxiety, listlessness, vomiting, refusal to obey commands, and skin that feels warm and dry are all serious signs. If your pet is experiencing any of these symptoms, start cooling him down by placing cold wet towels on hairless areas and call your vet. At the vet’s, your pet may need more intensive cooling measures and intravenous fluids to restore hydration.

From Poisons. When the temperature rises, your pet may be tempted to drink from puddles on the side of the street or in driveways. Antifreeze can drip out of parked cars, and it’s sweet and tempting for a thirsty pet—as well as highly toxic! Keep your pet safe by carrying fresh water with you and offering him drinks frequently. Other summer toxins that pose a danger to pets include a new kind of mulch that came out this summer called cocoa mulch, which contains a chocolate-like substance that can be toxic to dogs. If you use fertilizer, be sure to read the warning label before you buy it and make sure you know how long you need to keep your pets away from treated areas. Inhalation of lighter fluid and kerosene fumes for grills and fire pits can cause lung irritation in animals much the same way it can in us, so keep your pets at a distance when using these liquids. Even tanning and sunblock products can cause stomach upset if pets ingest them. To keep pets safe and avoid expensive vet bills, keep these products where curious pets can’t reach them.

Summer is a wonderful season for playing outdoors with your best friend. Keep your pet safe to make the good times last!

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