The Hidden Dangers of Spring and Summer, and How to Keep Your Pet Safe

Summer is soon upon us, and though the summer months are beautiful, there are precautions all pet parents need to heed to ensure the safety of their beloved animal companions.  Listed below are several dangers to your pets, along with important, preventative suggestions.

1. Although most of us fancy a nice barbecue during the summer, the foods we humans grill can be harmful to our pets.  When grilling, prohibit your pet’s access to foods such as onions (which are poisonous to dogs) and meat products with bones (which can get lodged in animals’ esophagi).  Also,  keep your pet away from items such as grapes and alcohol, which are poisonous and debilitating, respectively.

2. Summer is synonymous with road-trips, but when you travel with your canine companion, make sure she or he buckles up!  Animals, just like any item in your car, can become projectiles in the event of an accident or the sudden braking of the vehicle.  Utilizing a specially-made seatbelt, or putting your pet in a crate, will minimize the risk of injury.  Every major pet store or on-line retailer carries varieties of animal seatbelts; allow your pet to “try on” several types to find the best-fitting restraint!

3. The changing of the seasons indicates a change in your area’s flora; certain plants that bloom in the summer, such as hydrangeas and bougainvillea, are dangerous to your pets if ingested.  Inspect your yard or surrounding outdoor areas for plants that could be harmful to your pet, discarding any fallen blossoms or blooms, and, most importantly, monitor what your pet attempts to eat!  Reference the ASPCA for a complete list of plants poisonous to dogs, cats, and horses: http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/poison-control/plants/.

4. Dog owners, make sure your pets are keeping hydrated; you can check for dehydration by pinching gently the skin behind your dog’s neck, measuring the elasticity of the skin (an indication of hydration or the lack-thereof), or press on your dog’s gums, noting the amount of time it takes for the coloration of the area pressed to return to normal (if a few seconds elapse before the color returns, your dog is most likely very thirsty!).  Remember that dogs do not have sweat glands like humans–the act of panting is how your dog “sweats.”  In the summer, a dog can overheat easily; monitor your pet’s activity (e.g. don’t over-exercise your pet), and always keep water and shade within close range!

For more information about how you can protect your pets from concealed dangers of the summer months, please visit the ASPCA’s compilation of pet care tips and advice: http://www.aspca.org/Pet-care/pet-care-tips.aspx.

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