Summer Pet Safety: Let the Fun Begin!
Summertime, and the livin’ is easy… Or, so the old song goes. Summer fun is right around the corner, but along with the good times come things that can hurt your pet and spoil that easy- living feeling. Here’s what you need to know about summer pet safety, so you can both enjoy the good life from Memorial Day to Labor Day, and beyond!
Pets may love basking in the warm sunshine, but sun can cause damage to their skin just as it can to ours. Especially if you have a light colored, thin-skinned, or white dog or cat, take care to protect them from sunburn. You may consider a PABA-free zinc oxide pet sunscreen, and apply it to their ear tips, top of the nose, and their face. Make sure that you don’t get it in their eyes, of course.
Summer pet safety also means considering outside surfaces that your pet might encounter. The sun cooks concrete, metal, and asphalt, and sensitive paws can burn on hot surfaces. Avoid walking over asphalt and always give pets a way to get out of the sun by providing access to shade at all times. Driving with your dog in the bed of a truck is a bad idea.
Lastly, watch for signs of heatstroke. Signs include:
- Excessive panting
- Excessive drooling
- Abnormal tongue and gum color
If you suspect your pet has heatstroke, cool them with lukewarm water and get them to the veterinarian immediately. This is an emergency.
Many of us love swimming in the pool with our dogs and giving them access to this refreshing way to cool off. There are a few things to remember when considering pool safety and your dog:
Make sure your dog can swim – Yes, this bears mentioning. The affinity for swimming is based on personality, not breed. So, make sure your pet knows how before you begin. Go slow and stay positive.
Give them an exit – Dogs need to know how to get out of the pool safety, and so you’ll need to show them the stairs, or better yet, have two exit routes; the stairs and a dog ramp at the opposite end. Dogs can exhaust themselves if they can’t or don’t know how to get out.
Supervise always – Again, it seems obvious, but your dog should not be left unattended near or in the pool, ever.
Consider the poolside temperature – Temperatures near reflective water can be higher than they seem. Always provide access to lots of fresh water and shade when swimming in the pool with your dog.
Summer Parasite Protection
Warm weather heralds the increase in parasites that can wreak havoc on your pet’s health. Fleas, ticks, and heartworm disease can all dampen summer fun, so make sure your pet is protected from these parasites by talking to us at your pet’s next wellness visit.
Travel and Adventures
Summer often means travel, or at least day trips and fun adventures. Make sure your dog and cat are prepared. A few tips:
- Talk to us about summer pet travel safety if flying with your pet
- Never, ever leave your pet in the car, as it can take mere minutes in a parked car to cause heatstroke and even death
- Take walks, hikes, or runs in the cooler hours of the day
- If hiking, keep your dog cool with a water soaked bandana, provide lots of drinking water, and rest more often than usual
- Talk to us about an exercise program for your dog before you begin (short nosed breeds and pets with heart disease are more susceptible to problems when exercising in heat)
Yard and Garden Safety
For many of us, summer means yard work, gardening, and spending time relaxing in our backyards. It’s amazing (and somewhat scary) how many pet safety hazards lurk in these areas. A few things to watch for:
- Make sure fertilizers and yard chemicals are stored safely away from pets
- Don’t use cocoa mulch, which has the same toxic chemical as chocolate
- Follow all safety instructions on lawn products and keep pets off treated lawns
- Make sure your yard has plants that are safe for pets
- If you use a lawn or gardening service, make sure they are aware that you have pets
Fireworks and Barbeques
Ah, the fun stuff! Fireworks can be so much fun for people, but for pets, they are most often just scary. Keep pets indoors long before festivities begin, and consider asking us to prescribe a sedative for any of your pets who may get very stressed.
Barbeques are one of our favorite parts of summer, and it’s fine for pets to enjoy them, too (if they like people and don’t mind being social). But make sure they don’t have access to the rich and often pet toxic food served. Scraps, bones, onions, grapes, alcohol, and chocolate are all potential summer pet safety hazards.
Summer Pet Safety
Your friends at Blue Valley Animal Hospital have had fun compiling these tips for summer pet safety. Do you have questions, or other ways you’ll be spending your summer with your pets? Call us and let us know!