Pet Safety During “The Dog” and “Cat” Days of Summer
One of the greatest pleasures I ever had was watching my city-bound dog dip his front paws in the Delaware River. A look of sheer delight suffused his face!
So what plans do you have for the animal companion in your life this summer? It may not be traveling to any place more exotic than your backyard or your neighborhood park, however, is your buddy prepared for the warmer weather?
Keeping Your Pet Healthy:
“There are many things to consider to keep your pet healthy and happy in the warmer weather,” says New York City veterinarian, Danielle Rutherford, VMD of Westside Veterinary Center. “While there are wondrous things like butterflies and birds to chase, there are also hidden dangers. A lot depends on what part of the country you live in.”
Dr. Rutherford cautions pet owners to make sure their cats and dogs have all their shots. “Rabies is a must for any animal who spends time outdoors, she cautions.
Other considerations to discuss with your vet are whether or not your dog needs a Lyme vaccination. This is especially important if you live in densely wooded areas or parts of the country that have a record of an abundance of Lyme ticks.
These ticks can also travel into your home hitching a ride on your dog or cat and infect other members of the family. Leptospirosis is another shot to consider. It protects from a deadly disease that can be transmitted by rodent urine and available in an innocent-looking puddle.”
The Wilds of Your Backyard
The most exciting place your dog or cat may go to this summer might be your backyard. However, if that’s the case, remember to make sure there is a shady spot to rest in and that your fence has no holes through which he can slip away.
Be sure your pet has some sort of identification either on his collar or in a microchip (this way he can be identified if he gets lost).
Place a bowl of water outdoors as well to keep your pet hydrated and make sure to refill it often. Monitor how long your pet spends outdoors because animals can experience sunstroke just like humans.
Remember the cardinal rule of pet responsibility and never, ever lock your dog in an unattended car when it’s hot outdoors. Even if you crack open the window a little, a car can accumulate heat rapidly and leave your dog in distress or worse.
Pesky Ticks and Fleas:
“One of the questions I am asked about frequently is what kind of flea and tick protection to use,” says Dr. Rutherford. “Consult with your vet to make sure the product you use is right for the size and weight of your dog or cat.
While standard flea and tick repellents are often applied to the animal between the shoulder blades, there are newer forms that are available in chewable tablets.
Keep in mind that a lot of oral medications for flea and tick prevention are much more effective in high tick areas. Be sure that your dog or cat is up to date on his heartworm medication. If you still have some leftover from last year, your dog or cat will need a blood test before you can start giving it to him again.”
Water, Water Everywhere:
A lot of dogs love to romp around in the water. If you have a backyard, providing a shallow wading pool (or a sprinkler) for your best friend will give him hours of fun.
Change the water every day and check the temperature to ensure it’s not too hot.
If you are camping and your dog has come along, think about getting a life preserver vest before he goes jumping into a nearby body of water. The same is true for boating. Many dogs are great swimmers, but not everyone is. An undertow can overtake even a powerful made-for-water dog like a Labrador Retriever.
Editor’s Note: cats like water too, mostly drinking from the sink tap. Few cats really enjoy being dunked in water.
The Dog Days of Summer
No one likes sweltering, humid heat and therefore your dog or cat is no exception.
Animals can overheat when exposed to high temperatures and humidity levels and they only have two options for releasing heat; their tongues and the pads of their feet. Hot sidewalks can burn and feel very uncomfortable. Keep walks, on days like these, short and as much as possible in the shade.
“If you enjoy running with your dog, be extra careful on very hot days,” explains Sandra Landin, Licensed Veterinary Technician (LVT). “The surface that you’re running on may be creating friction on your dog’s paw pads which can lead to blisters or even cracks in the pads. Both can be extremely uncomfortable for your running mate.” If this happens you may notice that your dog is limping or licking his paws or even reluctant to go outdoors with you.
“Make sure there is bowl of cool water waiting upon return to your home or carry a water bottle with you to give to your dog while outdoors.
What about sunscreen for dogs? “It is not a foolish question,” says Dr, Rutherford,. If your dog has very little fur or you’ve given him a very short cut for the summer, you should ask your vet if it may be necessary.”
A Distant Rumble
Not every dog or cat is afraid of thunder, but if yours is then fireworks are probably not a big favorite either.
“Animals hear at a much higher octave than humans and enormous, booming claps of thunder can be amplified in some animals.
The first rule in dealing with this is to never leave your dog or cat outdoors during a storm. The second is to provide a safe place in your home where they can hide.
Some animals run under the bed, others into a closet. “I treated a dog whose owner would create a tent out of a big towel and their dog would lie under there until well after the storm was over. Fortunately, these days there are a lot of other things you can do for a thunderstorm-phobic dog or cat,” says Dr. Rutherford.
“There are Thundershirts that may make your pets feel comforted during a stressful event, but I would also recommend calming agents. There are a few natural remedies that your vet can prescribe which can also help ease anxiety. If the anxiety is severe I recommend that you speak with a veterinarian about the possible need for prescription medication. There are several recommendations for these situations and they can help hugely especially in those pets with other medical conditions, since high stress can be very detrimental to their health.”
Warm weather can be the best time of the year for your dog or cat. Enjoy it with them as they revel in fresh, new grass, Play catch with a Frisbee or a ball. Wade in a lake. It’s a great time for sharing and bonding!
BooK: A Little Sammy Music:
Editor’s Note: A big thanks to author Suzanne Lane for this advicesisters.com feature. Suzanne is the founder and president of The Lane Communications Group and the consummate pet lover. Read the advicesisters.com’s review of her book A Little Sammy Music.