Summer is finally here – the sun is warm, and we have gone from worrying about the next snowstorm to enjoying all the fun we can have in the warm weather. Camping, hiking, swimming and more. But with the warm weather, we also need to take precautions against problems like heat stroke, sunburns, or dehydration – adults and children alike. However, there is one important member of the family who may also suffer from these as well – your pet. Below, are few tips and tricks to remember, so your pet has a wonderful summer, too.
One of the first things everyone needs to remember is heat stroke – just like humans, pets can suffer from overheating. This is especially true of pets with flat faces (think Persian cats, bulldogs or pugs) as they are unable to pant as well as other pets, making them more at risk for heat stroke. The warning signs for overheating include:
- excessive panting, difficulty breathing
- increased heart rate
- mild weakness
- stupor, even collapsing
- if severe enough, it can include vomiting, bloody diarrhea and seizures.
So, if you are playing with your pet in the heat, make sure they have an opportunity to rest in the shade. Backyards where pets spend a lot of time in should have a shady area, and outdoor kennels should be well-ventilated, and placed in a shady location. And, NEVER, ever leave a pet in the car in summer weather. Even having the windows down is not enough to keep the car, or your pet, cool.
Along with overheating comes dehydration. To avoid this, make sure that your pet has access to fresh water and be sure to change it regularly. Standing water, like puddles, can sometimes have chemicals such as antifreeze in them, which can make cats and dogs very ill. Wet dog food is one way to increase the amount of fluids your furry friend takes in, as does providing your pet with ice cubes (not good for puppies), or frozen chicken or beef broth, though fresh water is always the best.
Certain types of pets can even suffer from sunburn. Dogs that have light coloured or thin coats can be at risk of sunburns. There is sunscreen available – even for your pet. Just talk to your vet about what would be best. Trimming dog hair is okay to do, but be sure never to shave your dog as the different layers of their coat provide protection from overheating and sunburn. Also, try brushing your cat’s fur a bit more frequently than normal as this can help prevent overheating.
A great way for everyone to cool down is to play in the water. A trip to the beach can be great for the whole family, furry members included, but make sure to keep an eye on your pet, too, since they may get trapped by obstacles or ropes while swimming. Plus, make sure that the area is animal approved by the municipality. Even playing in the swimming pool can cause some issues to your pooch – while the water is cooling, the chlorine used to treat it can make your pet sick. Prevent your pet from drinking as much of the pool water as possible and be sure to rinse your pet with fresh water. Make sure they have fresh drinking water available when the need it.
Foods to Avoid
If your pet is attending any parties, yours or someone else’s, remember that human food and drink are not pet-friendly. Any changes in your pet’s diet can cause them digestive troubles. As well, onions, raisins, grapes, and chocolate should all be avoided. Also, keep alcoholic drinks out of your pet’s reach as they can cause intoxication and comas.
We all love to play outside in lovely warm weather, but beware of hot surfaces that can burn sensitive paws. Maybe walk your pet in the morning or in the evening, when it is a bit cooler outside. Or, if you are unsure if it is too hot, hold your hand on the surface for a short period – if it hurts you, then it will probably hurt your pet’s paws, too. When you do take that walk, or play in the park, beware of bugs. Some bugs, like ticks, can carry serious diseases. Your vet can help you protect your pet from such insects as ticks, fleas, and worms.
Like some of us poor humans, even pets can suffer from seasonal allergies during the summer. It can cause them to itch, cough or sneeze just like us. There are canine antihistamines available, along with other types of medications, to help keep you dog comfortable. Again, just talk to you pet’s vet for more information.
Helpful websites to help keep your pet healthy this summer:
For hot weather tips, visit Hot Tips
Cesar Millan has some useful tips for dogs at Dog Care
For info on bugs and worms, visit Bugs and Worms
This is a link to the AAHA’s pet health library Pet Library
For info on ice cubes for pets, visit Ice Cubes
Have a happy, healthy summer!