Most of us love the summer weather – being able to spend more time outdoors, traveling, and celebrating all the warm weather holidays with cookouts and picnics. Your pets love to get into the summertime fun as well, but it’s important to take care to avoid certain hazards lurking outdoors. Here are some things to watch out for while your family is out and about this summer.
These little pests can carry several debilitating diseases, with the most well-known being Lyme disease. If your pets go outside at all, it’s a good idea to do a daily tick check to make sure there aren’t stowaways burrowing into your pet’s coat. Dogs are more likely to have problems with ticks, but cats can carry them as well. If you find a tick, make sure to remove it safely (The ASPCA has a great guide to dealing with ticks) place it in an airtight container and have it tested.
Fleas are also more plentiful during warmer months, so it’s important to keep your pet’s treatment up to date. Their venomous bites not only torture your dogs and cats – fleas love to dine on human family members as well.
Another insect to watch out for is bees. Most pets are curious and are attracted to the sound of bees, which can get them stung. Most of the time, you won’t have to do anything but wait for the pain and swelling of a bee sting to recede. However, if the sting swells excessively, call your vet for advice. There are some over-the-counter medicines you may be able to give your pet. If your pet starts biting or scratching excessively at the area, pulling out patches of fur, visit the vet right away.
Dehydration and Heatstroke
Hot weather poses a dual threat to pets who don’t get enough water and shade. Certain animals are more prone to heat-related illnesses than others. Dogs with short noses and flat faces, such as pugs and bulldogs, pets with dark fur, overweight animals or ones that have thick, heavy fur are at higher risk. Watch carefully for these symptoms:
- Lack of energy
- Reduced urination
- Dry gums
- Decreased appetite
- Loose, non-elastic skin
Dogs will pant more as the temperature rises. Don’t worry…this is how they cool themselves off. You can also use fans, ice packs, frozen treats, ice cubes, wading pools, wet towels, hoses and sprinklers to help keep them cool.
Also beware of hot sidewalks, pavement and parking lots. If you think these heat-seeking surfaces are hot, imagine how they feel to the sensitive pads of your pet’s feet. Try to limit your walks to early mornings, cooler evenings and grassy areas.
While it is tempting to allow a dog to put his head out of the window as you drive, it puts his eyes at risk. Dust, debris and other possible irritants can blow into your dog’s eyes way too easily, possibly causing permanent damage to his vision.
It’s also important to never leave your pet in an enclosed car. Summer heat can build to dangerous levels in a closed car, boosting the temperature to almost 120 degrees. If you have to leave your dog in the car while you run errands, consider leaving him at home. If you can’t, make sure to always crack the windows, park in a shaded area and limit your absence to short windows of time.
Some of your favorite barbeque items are safe for dogs and cats and can be given to them in small quantities. Hot dogs, hamburgers and boneless chicken are fine as long as they aren’t seasoned with onions or garlic, which are dangerous for cats and dogs. Just make sure that overindulging in these treats doesn’t pack on the pounds for your pet over the summer months.
Beware of some of these favorites:
Meat with barbecue sauce: The extra sloppy seasoning can cause diarrhea.
Corn on the cob: Dogs often have difficulty digesting corn cobs, and they’re also a choking hazard.
Bones: Any type of real bone is a disaster for your pet. Real bones splinter and can injure their GI systems, sometimes even piercing their stomachs or intestines. Serious injuries can happen, so keep bones away from your pets.
Foods with toothpicks or skewers: A toothpick or skewer can have the same effect as a splintered bone. Keep kabobs away from your furbabies!
Ice cream: While a little bit may do no harm, many pets are actually lactose intolerant. You also need to be careful of mix-ins…nuts, raisins, chocolate and other enhancements can be dangerous for your pets.
Summer Grooming Mistakes
Although it might seem smart to clip the fur of an animal down to a “puppy crew cut” during the summer, keep in mind that animals with thick fur also gain needed insulation from their coats. If you trim their coats too close to their skin, they have no protection from the sun, leaving them open to sunburn and overheating. Instead, make sure to brush your pet more often during the summer to remove loose hair and matted fur, which can weigh him down and increase his chances of heatstroke.
Your pets are important members of your family, and we know their well-being is one of your top priorities. With our handy tips, a little planning and a sharp eye, you can keep them safe and happy this summer!