(Welcome to the weekly pet column of Pet Connection Programs Inc. of Marilla, N.Y. A new article is posted each week, so be sure to check back on a regular basis!)
There are thousands of reasons to love the summer, and if you’re a pet owner, you love summer more than most.
Summer is the perfect opportunity to get outside and get active with our pets. Between cool swims in the pool and brisk walks in the sunshine, summer is a great bonding time for you and Fluffy or Fido.
However, it’s also important for pet owners to have a proper understanding of factors that can affect their pet’s health and safety during the warmer months. This includes varying weather conditions, maintaining proper nutrition and preparing for other summertime events.
With June being National Pet Preparedness Month, Dr. Kurt Venator, Purina’s Chief Veterinary Officer, suggests four things for pet owners to keep in mind this summer so that we can live safe, healthy and happy lives together with our pets whether at home or on the road.
Beating the heat
Just like the heat can make people feel unwell, the particularly hot days of summer can leave pets dehydrated or ill if not properly attended to. Pet owners should be mindful of a pet’s exercise, outdoor time and hydration to keep them feeling their best.
More specifically, if heading out for a walk, be sure to go outside during cooler parts of the day like early morning or early evening. Also, before you start your walk, use your hand to feel the pavement. If it feels too hot to touch, then it’s way too hot for your pet’s paws. Stay in the grass or possibly try booties so his or her paws don’t burn.
Above all, never leave your pet unattended in the car. Your car acts like a greenhouse on hot days, and overheating can set in quickly, causing permanent damage to your pet, and even death. On hot days, it’s best to just leave your pet at home.
Summer snacks and proper ingredients
With blueberries, strawberries and other yummy treats in season during the summer, you can share these healthy indulgences with pets too. Fruits like peaches, strawberries and mangoes are great treats for pets as long as pits, stems and leaves are removed and fruit is thoroughly washed.
What’s great about these fruits is that they contain vitamins, fiber and antioxidants and tend to be low in sugar, so when fed in moderation, they’re actually quite healthy for dogs in the same ways they’re healthy for humans. That’s why Purina includes fruits, like blueberries, in their Beneful Playful Life and Beneful Grain Free formulas. Made from real protein sources and blended with an optimal amount of fruit and veggies, these foods can give your pet the nutrition they need to play all day.
Did someone say vacay?
Taking to the skies? When flying with a pet, it’s important to understand your pet’s needs. Therefore, you should conduct the appropriate research, plan ahead and understand airline/aircraft policies on the day of departure to ensure the trip is just as safe for your pet as it is for you. For instance, did you know that in order for your pet to fly you should obtain a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection? Most airlines require this document within ten days of travel. This document must be signed by an accredited veterinarian, and should indicate that your pet has been examined and able to fly.
Hitting the road? Buy a travel harness that comes across your pet’s chest and clips onto a safety belt. This keeps your pet secure and prevents him or her from interfering with your driving. To keep your pet feeling comfortable and entertained on the journey, also consider bringing a cozy blanket, spill-proof bowl and time-consuming treats, like the Purina Busy Bone, to pass the hours till you reach your destination.
Be prepared for natural disasters
Although it’s difficult to predict when natural disasters will occur, preparing for the worst for your family and your pet can make the difference when every second counts — especially during hurricanes, tornadoes and wildfires. Understand what weather impacts your area, have resources on hand and have a plan to keep everyone safe.
Just like you, your pet should also have a disaster kit that includes basic pet essentials such as bottled water, cans of wet food, blankets, collapsible bowls, cat litter and pan, and a leash and collar. A one- to two-week supply of food that your pet usually eats is an ideal amount to include in your disaster kit as well; however, be sure to check the expiration dates. Pack the foods your pet eats routinely to ensure complete and balanced nutrition in stressful moments like this.
For more information and tips about keeping your pets safe, healthy and always prepared, please visit www.Purina.com/Summer.
(For more information on pets and animal adoption, please visit www.petconnectionprogramsinc.com. Or, visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/PetConnectionProgramsinc. Located in Marilla, N.Y., Pet Connection Programs Inc. is a nonprofit maternity and special care shelter founded in 1984.)