Although the official start of summer is still a few weeks away, the Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start of the summer season for most Americans and many of us want our pets to join us in our holiday and summer activities. As we prepare to celebrate with picnics, fireworks, vacations and sporting events, make sure and remember the special dangers to our pets during the summer months.
The following are a few tips to help keep your pets cool, safe and happy this summer:
- Never leave a pet alone in a vehicle on a warm or sunny day even for a short period of time. Cars can quickly heat even with the window slightly open. On an 85 degree day it takes only 10 minutes for the interior of a vehicle to reach 102 degrees. If you think you will need to leave your pet in the car, even for just a few minutes, it would be bet to leave them safely at home instead.
- Keep your pets properly restrained and inside the vehicle when they travel with you. Special seatbelts and secured carriers can protect pets during accidents and prevent them from distracting the driver. The back of a pick-up truck is never a safe place for a pet to ride unless they are confined in a protective kennel that is properly secured.
- Dogs and cats can become easily dehydrated during hot weather even if they stay inside most of the time. Make sure they have constant access to water both indoors and outdoors and take fresh water with you if you take them with you in the car or on an outing.
- Pets do not sweat the way humans do and they cannot cool their bodies efficiently in hot temperatures. If your pet is outdoors, make sure they have a shady place to rest. Know the symptoms of overheating in pets – excessive panting or difficulty breathing, increased heart and respiratory rate, weakness, seizures and an elevated body temperatures (over 104 degrees). Click here to read more about protecting your pets from the dangers of heat stress.
- Avoid overexerting your dog in hot weather. When walking your dog on a hot day, plan for shorter walks midday, when temperatures peak, and longer walks in the morning and evening when it’s cooler. Hot asphalt and tar can burn a dog’s sensitive paw pads – walk on the grass or dirt when possible.
- Keep pets up-to-date on their vaccinations and preventative medications. Fleas and ticks are very active during the warm summer months. Summer is also the prime time for heartworms and pets should be tested for heartworm every year in the early spring. This deadly parasite is transmitted through mosquito bites. Dogs and cats should be on monthly preventative medications year-round. Click here for more information on protecting your pets from heartworm disease.
For more information on summer pet safety:
Hot Weather Safety Tips from the ASPCA
Summer Dog Care from Weather.com