Summertime calls for more outdoors fun with your pet, but the hot weather must be handled with caution. Take these simple precautions, provided by ASPCA and Animal Care & Control of NYC experts, to have a safe and enjoyable summer for you and your pet.
Visit the Vet. An 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.
Made in the Shade. Pets can get dehydrated quickly, so give them plenty of fresh, clean water when it’s hot outdoors. Make sure your pets have a shady place to get out of the sun. Keep them indoors when it’s extremely hot.
Know the Warning Signs. Symptoms of overheating in pets include excessive panting or difficulty breathing, increased heart and respiratory rate, drooling, mild weakness, stupor or even collapse. They can also include seizures, bloody diarrhea and vomit along with an elevated body temperature of over 104 degrees. Animals with flat faces, like Pugs and Persian cats, are more susceptible to heat stroke since they cannot pant as effectively.
These pets, along with the elderly, the overweight, and those with heart or lung diseases, should be kept cool in air-conditioned rooms as much as possible. If your pet shows signs of heat distress, cool him down slowly with a cool rag. Do not submerge him in water. Take your dog immediately to a veterinarian for follow up care.
No Parking! Never leave your pets alone in a parked vehicle. “On a hot day, a parked car can become a furnace in no time-even with the windows open-which could lead to fatal heat stroke,” says Dr. Louise Murray, Vice President of the ASPCA Animal Hospital. Also, leaving pets unattended in cars in extreme weather is illegal in several states.
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 or salt from his fur, and try to keep your dog from drinking pool water, which contains chlorine and other chemicals that could cause stomach upset.
Screen Test. Keep all unscreened windows or doors in your home closed and make sure adjustable screens are tightly secured. It is possible for pets to fall out of windows or to escape!
Summer Style. Feel free to trim longer hair. The layers of dogs’ coats protect them from overheating and sunburn. Brushing cats more often than usual can prevent problems caused by excessive heat. And be sure that any sunscreen or insect repellent product you use on your pets is labeled specifically for use on dogs or cats. A clean coat can help to prevent summer skin problems, so keep your dog or cat well groomed. Consult with your groomer or veterinarian to determine whether your pet would be more comfortable with a shorter haircut for the summer. If he has a heavy coat, shaving your dog’s hair to a 1-inch length will help prevent overheating.
Street Smarts. When the temperature is very high, don’t let your dog linger on hot asphalt. Being so close to the ground, your pooch’s body can heat up quickly, and sensitive paw pads can burn. Keep walks during these times to a minimum. If you can’t hold your hand long on the surface, it’s probably too hot for your pet as well.
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. Be alert for coolant leaking from your vehicle. Pets are attracted to the sweet taste of coolant and ingesting just a small amount can cause an animal’s death. Consider using animal-friendly products that use propylene glycol rather than those containing ethylene glycol.
Party Animals. Remember that the food and drink offered to party 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.
Fireworks Aren’t Very Pet-riotic. 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.