Summertime means you can finally get out of the house on a regular basis to spend some quality time wearing out your pup at the park or venturing out together for a long hike. However, the added freedom that warmer weather brings also comes with a list of potentially dangerous things — like heat stroke, tick bites, and burned paws — that all pet owners should be aware of.
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1. Watch for signs of dehydration
Your pets can get dehydrated pretty quickly in the summer heat, so make sure you always have fresh, cool water and a shaded spot to hang out. Things like excessive panting, drooling, and weakness are all warning signs that your pet may need to take a beverage break. If it is really hot and humid, make sure to avoid strenuous exercise and consider leaving your pup at home until the temperatures cool in the evening.
2. Hot asphalt can burn paws
Check to see how hot the asphalt is before venturing out with your pup for a long afternoon walk. If it's too hot for you to stand on barefoot, chances are it's too hot for your dog's sensitive paws too. Just think, when it is 86 degrees outside, the asphalt on which your dog is walking is as hot as 135 degrees. Keep your dog on the grass or take your walk earlier in the morning before the roads and sidewalks heat up.
3. Pets in a hot car
Never leave your pet in the car. Even with the windows cracked, temperatures can skyrocket in as little as10 minutes. On an 86-degree day, the temperature in your car reaches 102 degrees in just 10 minutes and 120 degrees in 30 minutes. These temperatures can be fatal, and many states and municipalities have laws against leaving pets unattended in cars.
4. Check your window screens
While it's tempting to open the windows and air out your house on a warm day, you should always check that all your window screens are secure and intact. A loose screen is an easy way to lose your cat if she decides the temptation of the birds is too much. Save yourself the worry and do a quick check before you leave the windows open all day.
Your dog might be looking at you with one intense set of puppy dog eyes, but try to resist giving in and offering the leftovers from the day's barbecue. An abrupt change in diet can upset his stomach, and some foods may cause more serious problems. Foods like grapes and raisins may lead to kidney failure, and too many salty snacks may lead to vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, and depression.
Check the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals' list of foods to avoid. Contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Poison Control Center if your dog gets into something she shouldn't or is showing symptoms of poisoning or illness.
6. SPF is a must
You may not think sunburn is a concern for dogs since they are protected by a layer of fur, but many breeds, especially if they are of the light-colored, short-haired variety, may be prone to sun damage, and this can make your pet more prone to skin cancer. Apply a sunscreen designed for pets and follow the instructions on the package.
7. Protect your pet against pests
The warm weather brings out the real pests. Make sure the disease-carrying ticks and fleas stay off your pets by treating them with a dual preventative. Talk to your vet to make sure your pet is protected from common pests in your area. Products that are safe and effective for dogs may be toxic to cats, so be sure to follow all of the instructions and warnings on the product label.
8. Say no to short hairdos
You may think you're doing your Siberian Husky a favor by shaving off all his hair now that the temperature is skyrocketing, but you're actually doing the exact opposite. The many layers of your dog's coat don't just keep him warm in the winter; they help keep him cool in the heat. Plus, the fur offers some protection from the sun.
9. Refrain from fireworks
Many pets are afraid of loud noises and can get lost, scared, or disoriented. Some dogs may think the fireworks are a toy or a threat they need to attack, which may lead to burns and injuries. Be compassionate by making sure your pets have a quiet, escape-proof hideout to which they can retreat if the holiday festivities get too loud.
10. Avoid heatstroke in dogs
Keep your pup-partnered exercises to the early morning or evening hours to avoid a potential heatstroke. Some warning signs of heatstroke include heavy panting, glazed eyes, excessive thirst, lethargy, vomiting, and a deep red or purple tongue. Treat it by moving her to a cool room, applying ice packs or cool running water, and getting her to the vet ASAP.
11. Drive safely with pets
Your dog may love riding with his head out the window on a sunny day, but this is not the safest way to travel. Ideally, transport your dog in a crate, but if you decide to leave him loose in the car, make sure he doesn't crawl in your lap and inhibit your ability to drive. Turn on the window locks. This will keep your dog from accidentally rolling down the window and jumping out or rolling up the window and pinching his head.
It might be way easier to have your dog ride in the bed of your truck after a romp at the park than to dirty your car's interior, but this is never a safe option and can cause your pet to be seriously injured. Dogs may see an irresistible squirrel and try to jump out or can get dirt or gravel in their eyes. They can also be thrown from the truck if you are in an accident.
12. Consider community animals too
Always keep your birdbaths filled with clean water and keep an extra water dish on the ground for any feral or runaway cats in your area. They may have a hard time finding water for themselves in the hot weather.
13. Be careful of critters
Going on more hikes and long walks thanks to the increasingly warm weather means there are more chances to encounter dangerous or unpleasant wildlife, like skunks, scorpions, toads, and porcupines. Just watch your step and don't let your dog chase any wild animals if your dog is off-leash on the trail. Most public places require you to keep your dog on a leash, so make sure you know the rules and have good control of your dog to prevent any unwanted encounters.
14. Keep it cool indoors
The idea of turning off your air conditioning when you're going to be gone all day to try and save money is appealing, but it'll cost your pets their comfort. If it's too warm for you, it's too warm for them.
15. Treat annoying allergies
Just as we may experience allergies from pollen and dust in the air, your pets may also experience uncomfortable allergy symptoms, such as coughing, sneezing, a runny nose, and itchy skin. Your dog may also experience a contact allergy from fertilizers in your lawn.
Consult your veterinarian to determine the cause of the allergy and the best treatment. If possible, remove the allergen or limit exposure. Other treatment options may include prescription medications and baths with hypoallergenic shampoos.
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Hot Weather Safety Tips
- Cat Behavior Associates: Pet Summer Safety
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: People Foods to Avoid Feeding Your Pets
- Cat Time: 6 Summer Safety Tips For Cat Parents From Dr. Ernest Ward, DVM
- The Humane Society of the United States: Keep Pets Safe in the Heat
- American Kennel Club: How to Keep Your Dog Safer in the Car
- VCA Hospitals: Allergies in Dogs