Summer is here and while it promises plenty of fun and frolics, there are also some considerations that you will need to make to keep your pet safe and happy. Not all animals enjoy summer as much as we do, and the changes that the season brings are not always ideal for pets. To help you be prepared, here are our top 5 hot tips to keep your pet safe this summer season.
1. Be mindful of the heat
You might not mind roasting temperatures, but not all pets are equipped to deal with the mercury rising. Pets release heat through their paw pads and by panting, so it is normal to see your furry pal panting much more during the summer. Nevertheless, animals can suffer from heatstroke and dehydration just like we can, so it is important to respect the heat and take sufficient steps to keep your pet cool, - particularly if she is of a breed with very thick fur or is a flat-faced breed like a pug or a Persian cat, who cannot pant as efficiently.
Make sure you keep your pet as cool as possible and ensure that they have spaced out of the direct sun. Give constant access to fresh, cool water and if your furbaby doesn’t mind getting wet, consider spraying them with a fine mist of water when it is really hot. You could also consider purchasing a cooling pad for her bed or placing a fan alongside to keep the cooler air circulating. If you take your pet for walks, be mindful that the sidewalks will be very hot so you should only take her out during the very coolest parts of the day, or you could burn her paws.
2. Consider pet sunscreen
It isn’t just for humans. Despite being covered in fur, there are some areas of your pet that are susceptible to damage caused by UV rays. Tips of the ears, the face and belly are all fairly high risk. If your pet has short, fine hair and pink skin she is also at significant risk. Fortunately, there are a variety of different pet sunscreens available to choose from. Just be sure to choose a product designed specifically for animals because human versions can prove toxic to pets.
3. Be prepared for summer food hazards
Summer is a time for lots of fun foods – ice cream, beers and BBQ’s are all regular events when the warmer weather arrives. However, with all the tasty treats comes a degree of risk for our pets. There are some foods and beverages that are more common in summer that are toxic to animals, and several other things to consider too.
Some popular BBQ foods and drinks that are dangerous for pets include:
- Undercooked meat
- Excessive amounts of ice cream
- Nuts and pretzels
- Alcohol or caffeine-based drinks
You should be very careful not to leave plates laying around. Eager pets will grab a leftover piece of chicken or pork chop off your plate before you can blink. Unfortunately, a lot of BBQ meats contain bones, and these present a serious choking risk to your pet. Finally, make sure you keep your pet well away from the BBQ. She won’t understand just how hot it can get nor see the risk posed by an open flame.
4. Don’t leave your pet in a car
While many people understand the dangers of leaving an animal in a hot vehicle, sadly there are still countless animals that become seriously or fatally ill as a result of their owner doing just this. The problem is that people underestimate just how hot it can become inside a vehicle. It is illegal in 16 states to leave your pet unattended in a car and for good reason. It can take less than 10 minutes for a pet to develop heatstroke inside a vehicle. Cracking a window or two isn’t enough so if you can’t take your pet inside wherever you are traveling to, leave her at home.
5. Know the signs of heatstroke
One of the most valuable things that an owner can do is to understand the signs of heatstroke. Our pets cannot tell us how they are feeling and instead rely on us picking up behavior signals and other symptoms to determine that they need help. Some of the signs that indicate that your pet needs veterinary intervention because she is suffering from dehydration and/or heatstroke include the following:
- Failure to urinate for more than 12 hours
- Extremely heavy panting
- Dry or bright red gums
- Thick drool
- Wobbly legs
If your pet shows any of the signs above, you need to get in contact with your vet as soon as possible. Make sure she is in a cool location and place a cool, damp towel over her body while you transport her to your veterinarian. Don’t be tempted to put her in a cold bath or spray her with cold water as this could send her body into shock.
We are committed to helping pet owners be prepared for this summer season. If you would like more advice and support, please contact our veterinary clinic in Richmond, VA at 804-331-2880.