Summer is steadily approaching, and as temperatures rise pet owners must prepare to be extra cautious and conscientious about their furry friends’ health and safety. As uncomfortable as the heat may be for us, it can be much worse for our pets (especially those with dark coats, elderly or out-of-shape pets, and brachycephalic breeds). Whether you’re travelling with your pet or enjoying their company at home, these tips will help you consider the extra precautions that need to be taken during the hot summer months:
- Provide a sufficient amount of water for your pet at all times! This is one of the most important summer safety tips and one you should never forget.
- Do not let your pet drink seawater; the salt and minerals found in ocean water can make them sick and dehydrated.
- Consider your dog’s personal preference before taking them swimming. Some dogs can’t swim and others hate being in water.
- If your dog goes swimming at the beach, make sure to rinse them off afterwards (the seawater can damage their coat) and check with a lifeguard for water conditions.
- Never leave your dog unsupervised in water.
- We humans aren’t the only ones who need sunscreen! Talk to your vet about sunscreen for your pet, and when applying, remember that the ears and nose are in need of the most sun protection.
- Limit your dog’s sun exposure by walking them in the early morning and evening, when temperatures are lower.
- Pet fur acts as a sunscreen in itself so the shorter your pet’s hair, the more susceptible they are to sunburn. Please consider before grooming, and if you must shave your pet try to do it early in the summer giving the hair time to grow out.
- If your pet has short hair, pink skin and/or white fur they will be especially vulnerable to sun damage so make sure you have ample defense against the sun’s rays.
- Pavement and asphalt can get especially hot and burn your pet’s paws, which is why it’s best to walk your dog when it’s cooler out, or keep them on grass and sidewalk.
- Don’t allow your pet onto a freshly fertilized or chemically treated lawn, and watch out for insecticides which can be poisonous.
- Cars are more likely to leak antifreeze in the heat of the summer, which can be deadly to your pet. If you think your pet has ingested antifreeze, immediately contact your vet.
- Be careful about any windows left open, especially those in higher stories. Make sure all open windows have screens!
- If your pet spends most of its time outdoors, look out for flea and tick infestation and make sure there is adequate shade available for your pet to rest in.
- When traveling by car, make sure your pet’s crate is well ventilated and keep an ice pack or two in there to make sure your pet keeps cool.
- Never leave your pet unattended in the car on a hot day! Car temperatures rise rapidly (even with the windows cracked).
- The American Kennel Club states that many airlines will not ship animals during the summer due to weather conditions, so keep this in mind and plan your trips accordingly.
- If your pet is being shipped, pack ice packs in their crate along with fresh water.
- Make sure your pet’s vaccinations are up to date before you travel, and familiarize yourself with vets and animal hospitals in the area.
- Symptoms of heatstroke include but are not limited to: labored breathing, excessive drooling, lethargy, bright red gums, bloody diarrhea and vomiting, and a temperature of 104-110 degrees Fahrenheit.
- If you suspect your pet is having a heatstroke, immediately contact your vet and cool them down by doing the following: apply rubbing alcohol to your pet’s paws, hose them down, apply ice packs to the groin area, and offer them Pedialyte (to restore electrolytes) or ice chips.