5 Must-Read Safety Tips for Pets in Hot Weather

5 Must-Read Safety Tips for Pets in Hot Weather

 Earlier this May, a woman in North Carolina was

charged with animal cruelty

after two dogs died after being left in her car for several hours. Even though she left the windows cracked open, and the outside temperature was only 80 degrees, the temperature inside the car grew so hot, that eventually the dogs succumbed to heat stroke.Tragic stories like this are a reminder that itโ€™s incredibly important to be extra careful with our pets during the warmer months. Sweltering weather can be uncomfortable for us, but ultimately, we can generally find refuge in air conditioning, make sure to keep drinking cold water, and strip down to as little clothing as possible. Itโ€™s not so easy for cats and dogs. Follow these tips to ensure your pets have a comfortable, safe, and cool summer.

1. Know Whatโ€™s Normal

The best way for you to recognize heat stroke or heat-related distress in your cat or dog is to be incredibly aware of how they usually behave when the mercury isn't sky high. Does your cat often drape herself along the floor, looking vaguely lethargic? Then itโ€™s likely not a cause for worry, regardless of the temperature. But if your cat doesnโ€™t usually rest that way, or your dog doesnโ€™t typically pant quite so heavily, these could be signs of heat stroke. The more familiar you are with your pet's habits and behavior, the easier it will be for you to know when something just isn't quite right.

RELATED STORY: 7 Unsuspected Pet Dangers of Summer

2. Donโ€™t Leave Dogs in Cars

Just like small children and babies, dogs should not be left alone in the car. If youโ€™re running errands, consider leaving the dog at home. Or, bring the dog into the store with you if itโ€™s pet-friendly. Even cracking the windows isnโ€™t enough to keep your dog cooled off, since the temperature inside an enclosed car rises much faster than the temperature outside.RELATED STORY: 5 Steps to a Safe Drive With Your Dog

3. Be Smart About Exercise

Making sure your pet gets adequate exercise is such an important part of their health, and shouldn't be neglected just because it's hot outside. That said, just like you might avoid a 5K run when it's over 95 degrees, so too should your dog skip strenuous exercise when it's really roasting outside. If you are going to exercise, see the next tip, and schedule wisely.Don't forget, even if your dog or cat isn't going outside, it's important to make sure that your home is cool enough for them to stay comfortable: consider keeping the AC going, or make sure there is a cool area in your home for your pets. For a break, try setting up a kiddie pool or sprinkler in the yard for your dog.RELATED STORY: Which 7 Breeds of Dogs Exercise the Most?

4. Walk in Mornings and Evenings

Schedule your dog walks around the coolest times of day: the early morning and the evening. Keep walks brief if you have to go out during midday, when the sun is at its hottest. Be mindful of the temperature of the surfaces you and your dog are walking on -- even though paws are a bit more sturdy than bare feet, if the sidewalk, sand, or brick pathway feels scorching hot for you, itโ€™ll also be quite painful for your dog's paws.RELATED STORY: Hiking Tips for Pet Parents

5. Make Sure Water Is Always Plentiful and Fresh

Sometimes cats donโ€™t drink enough water -- this is a common problem -- but as temperatures rise, inadequate hydration can cause real health issues. Jazz up your catโ€™s water bowl by putting in a few ice cubes, or, if your cat doesnโ€™t have one already, consider trying out a fountain

. Make sure whether you're inside or outside with your dog, you always have fresh,clean water available.

RELATED STORY: Are Automatic Fountains Good for Cats? Understand the Pros and ConsNeed a new water dish for the warmer weather? Try PetPlus

is a new benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, vet visits, boarding and more.

Tips to Keep Your Dog Safe at the Beach

Keep your Dog Safe at the Beach

The dog days of summer are upon us, and many pet parents are taking their four-legged friends to the beach for some fun in the sun. The beach can be a great place to kick back, relax, cool down, and toss a frisbee with a furry companion, but before heading out to sea, itโ€™s important to be prepared to keep your pal safe on land and in the water. Check out our tips for keeping your dog safe at the beach. 

  • Before taking your dog to the beach, make sure that your dog is allowed to be there! While many beaches are dog-friendly, others are not, and taking your dog to a people-only beach could result in a citation or fine.
  • If you take your dog to a dog-friendly beach, remember that posted beach rules are laws, so follow them carefully. Common beach rules include keeping your dog off of dunes, cleaning up after your dog, and keeping your dog on a leash which is extremely important in keeping your dog safe on the beach.
  • Make sure that your dog is up to date on their vaccinations.
  • Your dog should wear a collar with an ID tag at all times. Your dog should also know the โ€œcomeโ€ command if you plan to let them off leash.
  • Be prepared with a pet first aid kit in the event that your dog steps on a piece of glass or has an unfortunate encounter with a jellyfish.
  • Dogs that should not go to the beach include: puppies under 4 months (for their own safety), aggressive dogs (for their own safety and the safety of others), and female dogs in heat (because they could cause fighting amongst intact male dogs).
  • Be a good citizen. Donโ€™t let your dog bother other dogs, bark excessively, or otherwise disturb other beach-goers who are trying to relax. If your dog is causing a scene or making a mess, it is probably time to head home.

RELATED STORY: The 7 Unsuspected Pet Dangers of Summer

Tips to Keep Your Dog Safe in the Water

  • Donโ€™t assume that your dog can swim. While itโ€™s true that some dogs are natural swimmers, others -- especially those with flat faces (like pugs

    ) -- find it more difficult to take a dip. If youโ€™re not sure about your pupโ€™s water skills, outfit them with a life vest and supervise your dog whenever they get into the water.

    • Even if your dog is an expert swimmer, lead them toward calmer waters and away from dangers like speedboats and riptides, and ask a lifeguard to point out any potential danger spots.
    • Donโ€™t let your dog drink salt water. While you wonโ€™t be able to keep your dog from taking a few gulps here and there, you should discourage them from drinking too much as salt water in excess can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and even salt poisoning. Additionally, some waters may contain dangerous illness-carrying microorganisms. Bring plenty of fresh water along and offer that to your dog instead.
    • Salt water can also irritate a dogโ€™s skin, so rinse your dog with fresh water before leaving the beach or upon returning home.
    RELATED STORY: Pet First Aid: How to Treat Dog Wounds

    Tips to Keep Your Dog Safe in the Sun

    • It can get hot at the beach, so look out for signs of overheating and heatstroke, including rapid panting, drooling, loss of coordination, vomiting, diarrhea, collapse, and loss of consciousness. If your dog exhibits any of these symptoms, get them out of the sun immediately and head to the vetโ€™s office.
    • Hot sand can burn sensitive paws. Bring a blanket or towel for your dog and consider dog booties if itโ€™s a particularly steamy day.
    • Offer a shady place for your dog to take a break, like under an umbrella or a pop-up tent.
    • Dogs with pink noses and light, thin coats are at risk for sunburn and skin cancer. Apply dog sunscreen to your dogโ€™s ears, nose, belly, and any other exposed areas. Some dogs -- like those with hair loss or very thin hair -- may also benefit from wearing a dog t-shirt.

    Now that you're prepared, go have some fun!

    Do you take your dog to the beach? Leave a comment and tell us about it, and to keep your pet safe and healthy all year round, consider signing up for PetPlus! PetPlus is a benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, vet visits, boarding, and more.
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