If you have made plans this summer to enjoy numerous fun activities, you likely want your pet to come along on the adventure. Our team at Gentle Touch Animal Hospital wants to help you ensure your pet stays safe while frolicking in the sun by offering do’s and don’ts for summer safety.
#1: DO take precautions to ensure your pet is not affected by heatstroke
If your pet becomes overheated, their life could be in danger. Their inability to sweat effectively makes them extremely susceptible to heatstroke. Pets who do not have sufficient access to water are also at higher risk. Other risk factors include older pets, overweight pets, and pets whose heart or lungs are compromised. Brachycephalic breeds, such as bulldogs, boxers, pugs, and Himalayan cats are also more prone to heatstroke, because their facial structure inhibits their ability to breathe and circulate air. Signs indicating heatstroke include reluctance to move, panting or drooling copiously, difficulty breathing, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle tremors, seizures, and collapse. Precautions to take to keep your pet from overheating include:
- Parking — Never leave your pet in a parked vehicle—not for a quick stop, not when you have parked in the shade, and not when you have left the window cracked.
- Adventuring — When you are out adventuring, take enough water to keep you and your pet well hydrated. Ensure you also have a bowl so you can easily offer your pet a drink.
- Exercising — Limit your pet’s exercise on hot, humid days. Your pet takes their cue from you, and will continue to play, hike, or run as long as you set the pace. Since they are not as efficient at cooling themselves as you, they may reach their limit before you on a high temperature day. Take frequent breaks in cool, well-ventilated areas.
- Eliminating — If you have a high risk pet, keep them inside on hot, humid days, and keep their bathroom breaks brief, preferably during the early morning and late evening hours.
DON’T allow your pet’s vaccines or parasite preventatives to lapse
Pets should have year-round protection from diseases and parasites, but the summer months typically bring more contact with other pets, meaning a higher likelihood of infection exposure. Parasites are also more active during the summer months. Mosquitoes can transmit heartworms, which can cause life-threatening damage to your pet’s cardiovascular system. Ticks can transmit numerous tick-borne illnesses, such as Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, and babesiosis. Fleas can transmit tapeworms and trigger flea-bite dermatitis. Scheduling a wellness exam before you head off for any exploit is a good way to ensure your pet is current on their vaccinations, and that they continue to reliably receive recommended preventives.
DO keep a close eye on your pet around water
Your pet may be the best swimmer ever, but they can still be in danger around water sources.
- They may jump in a pool and not realize that they will need to use the stairs to get out over the pool’s ledge. If your pet is going into a pool for the first time, show them where the stairs are before they become tired and panic.
- Always fit your pet with a life-jacket when on a boat. If they fall in, the wake from the boat may be too much for them to handle.
- Certain pets, such as bulldogs, dachshunds, and corgis, are ill equipped to swim, and should be allowed only in shallow water.
- Toxic blue-green algae can be found in some freshwater sources. The algal bloom is actually cyanobacteria, and these toxins can cause significant problems for your pet if they are ingested or contact their skin. Signs include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, weakness, difficulty breathing, and seizures. If your pet contacts blue-green algae, rinse them well, and get them to our team at Gentle Touch Animal Hospital as soon as possible.
- If your pet swims in or drinks from freshwater sources, they could become infected by water contaminants, such as leptospirosis or coccidiosis. Offering them bottled water frequently can help prevent their need to drink from other sources. If you cannot prevent them from diving in, try to lead them toward clear, running water as opposed to still, standing water.
Always rinse your pet thoroughly after they take a dip in a pool, lake, river, or saltwater source.
DON’T let your pet get sunburned
Pets are susceptible to sunburn, especially those who do not have much pigment. Find a pet approved sunscreen that does not contain zinc oxide or para-aminobenzoic acid, and apply the product to their nose, ears, inner thighs, and any other lightly pigmented area. Application should occur at least 20 minutes before sun exposure. You will need to reapply your pet’s sunscreen every four to six hours and after they go swimming.
DO have fun this summer, and DON’T let your pet miss out on all the fun. However, should your pet encounter a summer mishap, do not hesitate to contact our Fear Free team at Gentle Touch Animal Hospital for immediate attention, or to schedule an appointment.