Summer has officially begun. As the days grow longer, you may find yourself playing at the beach, swimming, and barbequing outdoors and taking family vacations. Many of these activities can be enjoyed with your pets in tow, but there are precautions that should be taken. Here are some tips on how you can safely participate in summer activities with your pets.
Never leave a pet in a car on a hot day. On an 85-degree day, the temperature inside your car can reach 102 degrees in 10 minutes. According to veterinarians, a pet can only withstand a higher body temperature for a very short time before suffering irreparable brain damage, or even death. Cracking windows on a hot day isn’t enough to keep your pet cool.
Be safe at the beach. Not only can dogs get overheated in hot cars, but also on steamy summer days. Make sure your pet stays cool outside by always providing shade and cool water. The ASPCA says you should be especially careful with dogs that have short, pushed-in faces (e.g., bulldogs, pugs, and Boston terriers), puppies, and elderly pets. Experts warn that you should be cautious of pets with light-colored noses, ears, or fur as they are especially vulnerable to sunburn and skin cancer. Talk to your veterinarian about choosing a sunscreen.
Adjust your pet’s exercise routine. On very hot days, exercise should be limited to early morning or evening hours. Also, be aware that asphalt gets very hot and can burn your pet’s paws.
Watch for heat stroke. According to the American Red Cross, an overheated dog can suffer brain and organ damage after only 15 minutes. Some signs of heatstroke include excessive panting, bright-red tongue and gums, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and body temperature of 105-110 degrees. If your pet gets overheated, you can give immediate first aid by getting him out of the heat, laying him on cool shaded grass, and pouring cool water over him. Call your veterinarian immediately.
Never leave pets unsupervised around a pool. Contrary to popular belief, not all dogs are good swimmers. Make sure to introduce your pet to the water gradually. Keep in mind that supervision is required even for dogs who know how to swim, as they may jump in a pool and not know how to get out. This is especially true if you have a pool cover on. Also, try not to let your dog drink pool water. Chlorine and other chemicals in swimming pools can cause an upset stomach.
Practice safety on boats. Make sure all pets wear flotation devices on boats. Here is just one example ruffwear.com. Additionally, dogs should be rinsed off after swimming in the ocean.
Be cautious of chemicals. People tend to fertilize their lawn during the summer months. Be aware that certain fertilizers can be fatal if ingested by your pet. In addition, plant food and insecticides can be dangerous if your pet consumes them. Citronella candles may keep away pests, but they contain a chemical that could be harmful if swallowed.
Don’t allow your pet to partake in parties. Just because you’re enjoying a backyard barbeque or party, doesn’t mean your pet should. Human food and drink aren’t always fit for pets to consume. Alcoholic beverages can cause depression, comas, or even death. Certain foods such as avocados, chocolate, garlic, and onions can also be poisonous. For a further list of potential poisons, read this previous Pet Chat column, http://independent.com/news/2009/apr/24/pet-poisons/
Make sure your windows are secured. The ASPCA states that there is an increase in injured animals as a result of “high-rise syndrome,” which occurs when pets fall out of windows and are seriously injured. Since people tend to open windows more in warm weather, make sure to check all your window screens to ensure they are properly secured.
Riding in Cars
Secure your pet while traveling by car. Pets should always be placed in a carrier while traveling in a vehicle. If this isn’t possible, harnesses can be purchased to ensure your pet stays safe while you drive.
Don’t allow your dog to ride in the bed of a pickup truck. If you travel with your dog in an open bed of a pickup truck, not only are you putting your dog at risk, but you’re endangering the lives of other motorists. The State of California prohibits unsecured animals from traveling in an open truck. If you must travel with your dog in your pickup truck, you can secure him in a crate in the truck bed or secure him to a cross tie in the open truck bed so that the dog can’t reach the sides of the truck. It is my belief that if a dog doesn’t fit inside your car, he should stay at home.
If you follow these tips, you can enjoy the summer months with family and friends along with your pet by your side.
Dog owners and their dogs are encouraged to come to Santa Barbara County Animal Services’ special Project PetSafe Outreach Clinic on Saturday, July 10, 9-11 a.m., at Manning Park, Area 9, otherwise known as “Lower Manning Park” off Santa Rosa Lane just east of San Ysidro Road.
The following will be available at the Project PetSafe Clinic:
• Free six-month county dog licenses for dogs that have never been licensed
• Dog license renewals—all late fees will be waived
• Affordable vaccinations including rabies, DHPP, and bordatella
• Microchipping $20
• Information about affordable spay and neuter services
All dogs must be on leash. No appointments needed. Cash and checks accepted.
A current rabies certificate and written proof that the dog is spayed or neutered (if applicable) are required to obtain a dog license. Please bring applicable records with you.
Many dog owners do not realize that state and local laws require all dogs over four months to be licensed and wearing the tag. According to Jan Glick, director of Santa Barbara County Animal Services, “A license is your pet’s ticket home. When our Animal Services officers rescue a pet wearing a license we are able to take it directly home to its family. Wearing a license tells everyone that your pet has an owner who wants to keep their pet safe.”
For more information, call Santa Barbara County Animal Services, Project PetSafe Team at 934-6968.