Most (maybe All??) Pacific Northwesterners look forward to those fleeting moments of summer we have each year. While the rest of the nation bakes in excessive heat, we sit outside soaking up the sun. We remind ourselves just why we put up with those other 9 months (or is it 10?) of rain, fog and dreary days. In spite of our comfortable temperatures, we still need to take note of the unique issues summer poses to our safety and health. Those issues are also relevant to our pets.
HEAT – We’ve all heard that leaving your pet in a closed up car in the summer is a big no-no. Even with outdoor temperatures at 70 degrees, the temperature inside your car can increase 30 degrees within the first half hour. Never leave your pet in a closed car even for 5 minutes! If it feels hot outside to you, it’s going to feel hot to your pet. Cats can generally find a shady spot, but dogs left outside are at risk for heat stroke in high temperatures.
If you see signs that your pet is disoriented and panting excessively in the heat, you’ll need to cool him/her down. In spite of your first thought to use cold water, don’t – use cool instead. Cold water can cause blood vessels to constrict, make it even harder for your pet to cool down. Be sure your pet has access to water to drink at all times and don’t take your dog on a walk during the hottest parts of the day. Keep time to a minimum if your dog has to be on hot asphalt — their tolerance is about equal to your hand, so if you are unsure whether your dog’s paws might get burned, put your hand on the asphalt and check it out.
SUN – Most of us know we need (or at least should) lather on the sunscreen when we go outside, right? Did you know that some dogs and cats can also get sunburned? Any areas on your pet where there is not a lot of hair and is exposed to the sun for an extended period of time can get burned. If your Fido is going along on the boat or beach picnic, it’s a good preventitive measure to apply sunscreen to those vulnerable areas, i.e., nose, top of head, scarred areas, etc. There is special sunscreen for dogs, but children’s sunscreen works just fine.
OUTDOOR PESTS – Outdoor bugs and other pests can harm your pet just as they can harm you. Dogs like to use their noses to explore areas close to the ground, often the same places you would find bee nests, snakes, fleas, ticks, etc., so make sure you know these areas around your dog are safe. Just like people, a certain percentage of dogs are allergic to bee stings and could go into anaphylactic shock if stung. Talk to your vet about whether it makes sense to take benadryl if you plan to go camping or spend an extended period of time with your dog in suspect areas. And always, take precautions to keep flease off your pets, and ticks, also, if you plan to be in an area where ticks are present.
FOOD – Most of us like to sneak a foodscrap here or there to our pets even though we know it’s not always the best for them. (They do love them!). If you are cooking on the grill take care that Fido does not rob you of your food directly from the grill or table. And DON”T give your pets fatty pieces of meat or bones. Your pet’s digestive system can’t handle a lot of fat, and bones can get stuck in a number of places that could cause you a trip to the vet.
WATER – Last but not least, know if your dog or cat can swim. Believe it or not, many dogs can’t swim and while many cats can swim, there are also some who can’t. If you have a pool or have your pet near someone else’s pool, know that if trapped, your pet could drown. Lots of dogs die in pools every year.
Taken from the article, “Top 5 Summer Pet Hazards”, ABC.com, by Kim Carollo, 7/16/12