Common Summer Dangers To Your Pets
In the good old summertime, my canine and feline friends like to have fun outside but you need to be aware of some of the dangers that we face so you can safeguard us at this time of year.
1. Dehydration & Heatstroke. These dangerous conditions are very real threats in the Florida heat and humidity. Please make sure that your pet always has fresh, clean water available. Carry portable water bowls on walks and bring them on long car rides. Short-nosed (or flat faced dogs) like pugs, bulldogs and Persian cats, pets with dark fur or skin, overweight animals or ones with thick coats are especially prone to heat stress. Ways to cool your dog include fans, ice packs, frozen treats, ice cubes, kiddie pools and sprinklers. Know the signs of overheating: excessive panting or breathing difficulty, increased heart & respiratory rate, drooling, weakness, stupor, sunken eyes, decreased urination, decreased skin elasticity or sunken eyes. For symptoms, cool them with a hose or wet towels & contact your vet.
2. Pools & Water. Not all dogs have mastered the doggie paddle or even like water and certain breeds like pugs and terriers may have trouble swimming. Never force your dog or cat into the water. Using a dog flotation device for pool or beach is a good idea. Always rinse off after a swim to remove chlorine or salt from the fur and have shade as well as fresh water available.
3. Parked Cars. It is a great risk to your pet’s health if you leave the animal in the car to run a quick errand in the summer or when the temperature is above 65 degrees. Heatstrokes can be fatal.
4. Extra Fur. Excess or matted fur can weigh a pet down and contribute to overheating. Brushing your dog or cat more often than usual can help prevent this. However, never shave your dog as the layers of dogs’ coats protect them from overheating and sunburn.
5. Hot Sidewalks. Things like black pavement or asphalt can get very hot and can harm your pet’s paws. If you wouldn’t like walking on it with bare feet, try to limit your dog’s time on it. Also, do not let your dog linger on hot asphalt as their bodies are close to the ground and can heat up quickly.
6. Ticks! This danger actually exists year-round in Florida. When you take your pet hiking, camping or picnicking in wooded areas, check them thoroughly for ticks afterwards. If you find a tick, refer to the ASPCA’s guide “How to Remove a Tick from Your Pet.” Once it’s removed, usually with tweezers, try to save it in an airtight container and ask your vet if you should bring it in for testing as ticks carry a number of diseases. Having your pet on effective tick medication is highly recommended.
Sources: ASPCA.com; Dr. Elizabeth Rozanski, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine