Hot Weather Tips – Prepare your pets now for warmer weather
We all love spending the long, sunny days of summer outdoors with our furry companions, but being overeager in hot weather can spell danger, pet experts warn. Most people love to spend the warmer days enjoying the outdoors with friends and family, but it is important to remember that some activities can be dangerous for our pets. By following a few simple rules, it is easy to keep your pet safe while still having fun in the sun.
Take these simple precautions to help prevent your pet from overheating. And if you suspect your pet is suffering from heat stroke, get help from your veterinarian immediately.
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.
Made in the Shade
Animals cannot sweat like humans, and they are vulnerable to overheating quickly, especially when the temperature rises above 70 degrees. Be sure to provide plenty of fresh, cool water to your pets, and shade from the sun. Though pets need exercise during warm weather, take extra care when exercising older dogs, short-nosed dogs, and dogs with thick coats, as they are especially vulnerable to overheating. On hot days, limit exercise to early morning or evening hours. 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, be careful to not over-exercise them, and 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.
Another danger is leaving pets in a vehicle. In sunny weather, the temperature inside a car can quickly rise to 120 degrees or more, even with windows left slightly open. Animals left in a hot car, even for just a few minutes, can suffer from heat stroke, brain damage, or death. In addition, leaving a pet unattended in a hot car can be grounds for animal cruelty charges. In warm weather, leave your pets at home instead of taking them with you on errands. If you see an animal in distress in an unattended vehicle, first try to contact authorities at the location you are visiting. They may be able to help locate the vehicle’s owner to unlock it quickly. If security guards or other authorities are unavailable, call 911 immediately.
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.
During warmer months, there is an increase in injured animals as a result of High-Rise Syndrome, which occurs when pets-mostly cats-fall out of windows or doors and are seriously or fatally injured. Pet owners need to know that this is completely preventable if they take simple precautions. Keep all unscreened windows or doors in your home closed and make sure adjustable screens are tightly secured.
Feel free to trim longer hair on your dog, but never shave your dog: 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 animals.
When the temperature is very high, don’t let your dog linger on hot asphalt. Being so close the ground, your pooch’s body can heat up quickly, and sensitive paw pads can burn. Keep walks during these times to a minimum. Avoid Chemicals This is also the time of year when lawn care and gardening heats up. Plant food, fertilizer, and insecticides can be fatal if your pet ingests them. These chemicals can also cause irritation if they get in contact with paws or skin. When walking your dog, steer clear of areas that you suspect have been sprayed with insecticides or other chemicals. If you suspect your pet has ingested or otherwise come into contact with lawn and garden chemicals, contact your veterinarian immediately. Summer is also flea and tick season, so make sure you use a flea and tick treatment recommended by your veterinarian.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. Keep citronella candles, oil products and insect coils out of pets’ reach as well. Call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 if you suspect your animal has ingested a poisonous substance.
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.
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.
By taking these simple precautions, you and your pets will be able to enjoy the long summer days ahead, and keep yourselves healthy and safe.