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Paul Wellman (file)

The Dog Days of Summer


Now that summer is in full swing, you may find yourself spending more time outdoors and planning 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:

Hot Weather

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. Instead of leaving your pet in the car, leave him at home.

Be safe at the beach. Dogs can not only 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.

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 a body temperature of 105-110 degrees. If your pet gets overheated, you can give immediate first aid by getting her out of the heat, laying her on cool shaded grass, and pouring cool water over her. You can also give small amounts of water or ice cubes. Call your veterinarian immediately.

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.

Talk to your veterinarian before shaving your pet. You might think that you are doing your pet a favor by shaving it, but experts say that fur is actually helpful in the summertime. Not only are light-colored dogs with pink skin vulnerable to getting sunburn, but any dog is at risk when it’s shaved down to the skin. Plus, a dog’s coat can help curb bug bites. If you are considering shaving your pet, talk to your veterinarian first.

Backyard Safety

Be cautious of chemicals in your backyard. People tend to fertilize their lawn during the summer months, and 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.

Have a safe picnic. Accidental poisoning is common during the summer months because people are picnicking and don’t always know what’s safe for pets. Alcoholic beverages can cause depression, comas, or even death. Certain foods such as avocados, chocolate, garlic, grapes, and onions can also be poisonous. Corn on the cob can also be a hazard if your dog tries to eat it and it becomes lodged in her throat. If you are unsure whether your dog has swallowed something toxic, contact the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.

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 covered pool.

Traveling with Your Pet

If you decide to bring your pet with you when you travel, you will need all the necessary supplies, such as food, treats, toys, bed, cold water, and bowls for the road. Make sure to check out hotels ahead of time to see if they allow pets. Here’s a great website to look for listings for pet-friendly hotels: petswelcome.com.

Make sure your pet is healthy. If your pet hasn’t had a health check recently, you may want to make an appointment with your veterinarian before you begin your journey. While you’re there, update your pet on any vaccinations that are needed.

Don’t schedule air flights during peak hours. Peak periods typically mean delays and stopovers, which means your pet will be in a crate for a longer period of time. You should also try to choose early morning or evening flights when the sun isn’t as hot and the temperature in the cargo area will be cooler.

If you follow these tips, you can enjoy the summer months with family and friends along with your pet by your side!



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