- Do not leave your pet alone in your car – vehicles heat up quickly in the sun, and animals left in them can succumb to heat stroke within minutes. Heat stroke is life threatening for both dogs and cats. Signs to watch for include heavy, loud breathing; a staggering gait; a bright red tongue or gum tissue; vomiting; diarrhea (sometimes blood); or even seizures. If heat stroke is suspected, bring the animal to a cool place, put cold compresses on its belly, or wet it down. Because this is a medical emergency, take your pet to your veterinarian as quickly as possible.
- Overheating – Short nosed dogs, like Pugs and Bulldogs, are particularly susceptible to overheating during hot, humid days. To prevent your dog from overheating, do not exercise her in very hot weather. If you want to run or walk with your dog, do it in the cool hours of the early morning or late evening. And be careful when walking your dog on hot pavement, as it can sometimes burn the footpads.
- Shade and Water – Dogs and cats need a cool, shady place to sleep during hot weather, as well as plenty of clean, fresh water that is accessible at all times. Feed your dog or cat in the cooler hours of the day. Older animals have a hard time in hot weather, so be extra sensitive to their needs during the hottest hours of the day.
- Risk of Disease – Some diseases may be more prevalent during warmer months. Parvovirus tends to flourish in hotter weather. Also, during the summer months, pets often spend more time outdoors, increasing their chances of encountering wildlife (possible rabies carriers). Your veterinarian can help you decide the best ways to prevent diseases in your area.
- Heartworm, Flea and Tick Prevention – If your dog hasn’t been tested for heartworm this year, you may want to see your veterinarian and discuss prevention. Heartworm is transmitted by mosquitoes, and the best time to attempt prevention is between June and November. Additionally, making sure your pet is free of fleas and ticks reduces the chances of other health problems. Many fleas and ticks carry infectious diseases that can affect your pet (e.g. Lyme Disease).
- Keep your pet well groomed – Daily brushing or combing lets you check for fleas and ticks. Ticks can carry infectious diseases and fleas can cause allergic reactions and “hot spots” in dogs. Hot spots are large, wet lesions that appear suddenly in areas where the dog has scratched. See your veterinarian for flea and tick preventives or if a hot spot appears. I found a tick on my husky right by his ear and I thought he was completely immune to ticks and fleas because his coat is so thick…not so – where there is a will there is a way! Scan your pets daily for fleas and ticks!
- Keep dogs away from picnic garbage – Ingesting corncobs and chicken bones can be life threatening. Keep an eye on your dog!
- Water Safety – Believe it or not, not all dogs can swim (or swim well)! Know your dog’s abilities in water before leaving him or her unattended around a swimming pool or other water. Consider a life vest if your dog is not a strong swimmer.
- Open Window Safety – Use a heavy screen on windows or keep them closed if you have cats. During the summer, the number of cats suffering from “high rise” syndrome, or falling from windows, increases dramatically. Contrary to myth, cats do not always land on their feet when falling from heights. The most severe injuries occur when cats fall from second- or third-floor windows.
And most of all – have fun with your pet companions! Enjoy the sun, flowers, grass, picnics and great exercise the warmer weather affords for everyone – humans and pets alike!