Practice pet safety this summer. It can be a wonderful time to spend with your pet, enjoying the outdoors, going for long evening walks, or playing in and around the water. Summer can also be dangerous for your best friends with an increase in parasites, brutal temperatures, too much exposure to the sun, and dehydration or a lack of sufficient water. Pet safety should be a major concern.
Traveling with your pet can be enjoyable but requires some preparation. First, make sure your pets have a secure and safe place to ride. The Center for Pet Safety recommends keeping cats and small dogs travel best in pet carriers, large dogs do well with a dog bed, large towel, or blanket. It is important that your pet understands where they are to be while in your car. Don’t let them just roam about and possibly interfere with your driving and driving safety. They are much safer in a back seat.
Don’t leave your pets in the car. An automobile on a hot day, even with the windows cracked, can reach 120 degrees. Your dog and cat do not have sweat glands like we humans do, panting is their only way to cool themselves and it can take them longer to cool down. The problem is even more acute in areas of high humidity as panting becomes less effective in cooling your pet down. The heat is not the only danger to leaving your pet in a car, most pets, if they can work out a way to squeeze their heads through a partially rolled down window, can escape. This can be especially troublesome if your pet is in a strange neighborhood or city and is disoriented. They can quickly become lost.
Make sure that wherever you are going, you can take your pet with you. Many hotels, motels, and campgrounds do not allow pets. Don’t assume that friends or relatives that you are staying with will welcome your pets either. Plan ahead and do your research.
Your pet needs sunscreen too, some with light skin or fur need even more. Overexposure to the sun’s rays can cause the same sort of problems we get as humans including sunburn, peeling, and even skin cancer. Try to keep them out of the direct sun during the middle of the day. A great tip is to rub a bit of sunblock on unprotected areas like the tips of their ears, the skin around their lips, and their nose.
On a hot day or during the hottest part of the day, it is good to bring your pet inside. Pets can become ill very quickly when they become overheated. Make sure they have access to plenty of water and check often to make sure their water bowl is not empty. If you must leave your pet outside, make sure they have a shady place and check on them often.
Have you ever walked across a hot, sandy beach? Your pet’s paws feel the same heat extremes. Their paws can become burned or at least irritated. Signs include blisters, loose flaps of skin, and red ulcerated patches. For minor burns, apply the antibacterial wash and cover the paw with a loose bandage. For serious burns, visit your vet immediately. Be careful where you walk your pet on a hot day, especially on asphalt, sidewalks, gravel, and sand. Your dog groomer has services to care for your pet’s paws.
Fleas and ticks can be a problem all year long, but they are more active in hot weather and get worse as summer progresses. Check with your veterinarian for the best defense for your pet against them. Mosquitoes also present many dangers and their presence is increased with heat and humidity. Mosquitoes can carry diseases that are very serious to the health of your pet such as Encephalitis Virus, West Nile Virus, and, particularly threatening to dogs and cats, heartworm.
Heartworms are less common in cats, but both dogs and cats should be on a preventive program. Your West Des Moines veterinarian will be able to help you find the program that is the best fit for your pets. Treatment for heartworm is very expensive and in 25-30% of pets who become afflicted, it is fatal.
When a pet is exposed to higher temperatures hyperthermia or heat stroke can happen. Hyperthermia is an elevation in body temperature usually triggered by an inflammation in the body or a hot environment. Heat stroke is a very serious medical condition needing immediate treatment from your veterinarian. Once the signs of heat stroke are detected, there is precious little time before serious damage, or even death can occur.
Make sure your pets don’t over-exert themselves while playing, exercising or even on long walks. If your pet is panting a lot, wants to be carried, or acts exhausted, it is time to stop. Be especially cognizant of elderly, young, overweight, or sick pets who may not be able to regulate their body temperature as well as stronger, healthier dogs and cats, and make sure they stay out of the sun on hot days. dogs with snub noses such as Pekingese, Pugs and Bulldogs have a hard time staying cool because they can’t pant as efficiently, so they also need to stay out of the heat.
If you suspect your pet has a heat stroke, you must act quickly. Have someone call a West Des Moines veterinarian immediately. In the meantime, lower the animal’s body temperature by applying towels soaked in cool water to the hairless areas of the body, especially around the head and foot pads. DO NOT use ice or very cold water, this can actually have an adverse effect, constricting the blood vessels and actually raising the temperature. Often, the pet will respond after only a few minutes of cooling, only to falter again with his temperature soaring back up or falling to well below what is normal. With this in mind, remember that it is imperative to get the animal to a veterinarian immediately even if your pet seems OK. There could be internal damage not easily noticeable.
Knowing what to look for and how to prevent certain dangers, while practicing pet safety can make summer a special time for you and your pet.