Summer is a time to enjoy being outside. It’s also a time to be aware of the impacts heat, sun, insects, and many other things have on our pets. We have the ability to control some of the environments we are in, but our pets don’t. You know the saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Preventing things from happening is better, safer, and less costly than treating something after it happens. The following are preventive suggestions that can help you and your pets enjoy time outside.
Prevent dehydration and overheating by drinking plenty of water. The best prevention is to drink before you feel thirsty so access to fresh water is vital. Pets who don’t have access to water are more likely to drink whatever they can find, including water from puddles on the street or in a yard, which may be contaminated and contain antifreeze or other toxic chemicals. Have clean water available for your pets at all times, and, if they’re outside, make sure the water is changed frequently and kept in the shade.
Prevent overheating and heat exhaustion. NEVER leave your pet in your car, even for a few minutes, in the summer. Temperatures can reach 120 degrees in minutes, even with the windows down. Plan walks with your pet in the early morning or evening after dark. And don’t forget about their paws. If you can’t walk barefoot on the sidewalk, they shouldn’t be either. Try to find grassy and/or shaded areas to walk, if possible. If your pet is accustomed to being indoors in air conditioning, they are more susceptible to the heat and humidity. And outdoor pets need a safe, dry, and comfortable place to lay down in the shade, as well as plenty of clean, cool water to drink. Heat stroke is a medical emergency—if you suspect it, get your pet to the closest veterinarian immediately.
Prevent accidents from happening in the dark. If you walk your dog after dark, consider using things like a reflective collar and leash, a light on their collar, or a flashlight. There are many products that attach to collars or leashes to help light the way—it’s safer for both you and your dog. Outdoor cats should also have reflective collars, and consider keeping a bell or some kind of noise device on their collars to alert birds of their presence.
Prevent sunburn by applying sunscreen. Pets can get sunburned and develop skin cancer just like people. Pets at higher risk are those with light-colored fur and skin. Protect your pet’s skin by using a sunscreen designed specifically for faces on exposed skin areas, including the tips of the ears, the nose, and around the lips.
Prevent flea and tick bites. Flea bites can cause anemia, and tick bites can cause diseases like Lyme, Ehrlichia, Anaplasmosis, and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Within 5 minutes of getting on an animal, fleas and ticks will start feeding and reproducing. Using a monthly preventive medication for fleas and ticks helps protect your pet and also limits your exposure to these pests and the diseases they carry. Flea and tick products are made specifically for either dogs or cats and are not the same. Talk to your veterinarian about which preventive medications for fleas, ticks, and heartworm are right for your pet.
Prevent heartworm in dogs and cats. Heartworm disease is caused by mosquito bites, and it only takes one bite for a pet to become infected. Heartworm disease can cause permanent damage to the heart and lungs and, in severe cases, it can even cause death. Monthly preventive will help your pet avoid heartworms, and many of these preventives also protect against intestinal parasites and fleas.
Prevent loss by having your pet microchipped. Summer offers more outdoor time and opportunities for pets to become separated from us. Microchips are an inexpensive and easy way to help find your pet in the event you are separated. Be sure to keep your information updated in the registry so that if someone finds your pet they’ll know how to reach you.
Doing a few things to prevent problems, accidents, and injuries is the best way to keep your pet safe during the summer months. But accidents can happen. Be sure to have your veterinarian’s phone number and the phone number and address of the closest emergency veterinarian programmed into your phone.
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