With all the fun and sun, it can be easy to forget the dangers that our pets face in the summers. Prevent these 7 threats, and you'll keep this summer carefree for you and your best friend.
1. Heat and Exercise
Did you know that dogs' bodies are comfortable at a lower temperature than the human body? This means that the summer months feel even hotter for them than they do for us. Veterinarians recommend that you keep your dog inside during the hottest hours of the day. This could mean that you have to adjust you and your dogs' exercise schedule to make sure they can stay active without risking heatstroke.
One of the simplest ways to reduce the heat's stress on your dog's body is to move your walks to the morning when it's cooler outside. If you have access to a dirt path, this is a great way to get your dog active while keeping them relatively cool. After all, dogs' bodies use the pads of their paws to regulate body temperature; when paved roads get hot under the sun, your dog's body will heat up too. Worse, hot asphalt can even burn your pup's paws. So if you have the option to use another surface for walks, your dog will appreciate it.
Shortened noses are adorable, but brachycephalic breeds, like Pugs and Boxers, actually have a harder time breathing in the heat. If your dog has a shorter snout, you might want to keep an extra close eye on them while exercising this summer. If at any point you are concerned that your dog might be suffering from heatstroke, check for the symptoms: excessive panting, disorientation, increased body temperature, blood in stool, and seizures. Heatstroke, unfortunately, can be deadly, so take them to the vet if you see the signs. In the meantime pour cool water over their body, since cold water can actually shock the system.
Looking at your dog in the summer, it can be tempting to shave off all that fur, but did you know that some breeds, like Siberian Huskies, actually have fur that keeps them cool in the summer and warm in the winter? For other dogs, like Pomeranians, the short hair cut can be a cool sigh of relief, so research your breed’s coat before you give your pup a buzz.
Last but not least, think about sunburn. Cats face a lower risk of overheating but can still get sunburn. Shaved or hairless cats and dogs are more prone to sun damage. Some veterinarians recommend that you apply a kids’ or pets’ sunscreen to the ears, nose, and exposed skin on your pet if they’re going to have significant sun exposure that day.
Swimming is a great way to exercise your dog (and some cats) during the summer, but unsupervised access can be dangerous. Dogs and cats can drown in the water, so consider installing a fence or pool alarm to protect your pet. Afterall, animals that learn they can cool off in the water are more likely to take a dip on their own.
While the heat can put a strain on your pets, fleas and ticks thrive during the summer. You can check the flea and tick map to see your area’s threat for fleas, ticks, and the diseases they carry at that time of the year.
Just like humans, your dog or cat can be allergic to spider and insect bites. The best way to make sure pests like fleas, ticks, and spiders aren’t affecting your pet is to simply groom your pet more often in the summer. Regular brushing allows you to check on your pet’s skin, so you can have a close eye on the presence of pests, hot spots, and other skin problems these pesky insects cause.
Since mosquitos transmit the larvae that can infect your dog or cat with heartworm, the summer months pose the greatest threat to your pet. Check your best buddy’s threat level with the heartworm map, but most vets recommend that you protect your pet year-round against this invasive and painful pest.
4. Fireworks and Summer Storms
Fireworks spell good fun for people, but they can spook your pet. Some animals will bolt at loud noises or flashing lights, which means they can get hit by a car or run off into danger. If your dog or cat is spooked by loud noises, consider keeping them inside at night.
If you are planning on having some fireworks around, remember that your pets don’t know the difference between a Roman candle and a chew toy. If you keep your pets on a close leash or inside, you won't have to worry about them eating something toxic while unattended.
5. Roaming Cats
Unneutered male cats are more aggressive and more likely to roam during the summer months. Even if your cats are neutered, keeping them inside will protect them from neighborhood cats that scratch and fight, even infecting your cat with FIV.
Your dog or cat may be just as excited as you are to have guests over for a little gathering, but make sure they don’t get into all the delicious snacks you’ve prepared. Summertime favorites like ribs are too rich for an animal’s digestive system, causing problems like pancreatitis. And while your cat will love to lap up the unattended chicken salad, milk can actually make cats sick. Keep a close eye on hungry-eyed dogs, and wrap the serving area in tin foil (since cats hate the feeling on their paws) to keep kitty from a potentially dangerous pot-luck lunch. Keep a good guard over alcohol, so it’s out of reach of your unsuspecting pet’s grasp. Just a little bit of beer can make pets pretty wobbly.
Think, also, about your pet’s personality before you invite them to the barbeque. If they’re wary of strangers or children, it might be best to keep them inside. Some small dogs will get frightened in big crowds, and they may feel more comfortable in the seclusion of your home than under so many pairs of feet.
7. Your Lawn
Pets love the great outdoors: it’s in their nature, but did you know that common summer fertilizers and insecticides can be dangerous to their health? Be sure to check whether the products in your lawn are toxic to pets, and how long to keep your pet indoors after spraying.
This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian or other qualified professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard or delay seeking professional advice due to what you may have read on our website.