(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!)
The dog days of summer are the perfect time to indulge pets in some outdoor fun. Too much time in the heat, sun or water, however, can pose health and safety risks for pets. PetSmart, the largest specialty pet retailer, offers some easy suggestions to help make this a safe and memory-filled season for pet parents and their pets.
“Summertime is the perfect time to head outside and have fun with your pets,” said Jennifer Freeman, DVM, PetSmart’s resident veterinarian and pet care expert. “But when it comes to things like hot temperatures and water activities, it’s worth keeping a few things in mind to keep pets protected.”
As temperatures soar, the risks to animal health increase as well. “Dog owners should call their veterinarian immediately if during or after outdoor activities they notice excessive panting, sluggish or unresponsive behavior, vomiting or bloody diarrhea, or bright red or pale, dry gums as these are all signs of overheating and possible heatstroke,” said Freeman.
Staying indoors during particularly hot days is often the best option. If your dog must be outdoors, ensure they have plenty of shade, ample fresh water and a kiddie pool filled with fresh water for cooling dips. A special elevated bed that gives dogs a ventilated place to rest like the Top Paw Indoor/Outdoor Elevated Pet Bed is also a good option.
To protect sensitive paws from burning pavement, take dogs for walks on grassy areas and during the early morning or late night hours. A range of reflective accessories like leashes and harnesses and booties can help boost their visibility when the sun isn’t shining.
Summertime pet fun also means trips to the beach, pool, lake or favorite swimming spot. Pet parents should also pay careful attention to ensure pets are safe during water playtime, especially around yards and pools that aren’t gated. A snug-fitting life jacket is a helpful addition when pets are taking a dip.
“Dogs may seem like natural born swimmers, but the truth is they need training just like people,” Freeman said. “I also always recommend having a gated pool when there are new puppies or geriatric or blind dogs in the home as they can fall in the pool and not be able to get out.”
Take extra caution at natural bodies of water like oceans, rivers or lakes so pets don’t drink potentially contaminated water by bringing along a portable water bowl and fresh water.
A leash is always a good idea out of the water, along with a collar and proper identification. “It’s important to make sure your pet is microchipped and that it is registered with up-to-date contact information,” said Freeman. “Dogs are especially prone to escaping during the summer months due to fireworks and storm anxiety.”
With rising summer temperatures, pet parents should also take precautions to keep heartworms, fleas and ticks at bay. “Monthly flea and tick preventatives are highly recommended and can prevent the spread of disease,” said Dr. Freeman. “It’s also important to have your pets on heartworm preventatives as that is a disease transmitted by mosquitos which are more active during the hot summer months.” Be sure to keep the grass on your property cut short as ticks like to hide in tall grass and other wooded areas and check pets regularly when they return from being outdoors.
For more ways to keep your pets cool, happy and safe during the hot summer months, visit www.petsmart.com.
(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.)