Temperatures are rising and with summer entering full swing you may eagerly look forward to spending more time outside. While taking your pet along on your outdoor adventures can be greatly beneficial for you both, keep in mind that warm weather can be dangerous.
Whether you are hanging around the house this summer, taking small trips locally or preparing for a long road trip on the Coast, keep these safety tips in mind to keep your furry friends safe, healthy and happy under the sun:
Never leave your dog in a hot car
It can take only a few minutes for a pet to develop heat stroke and suffocate in a car. Even with the windows cracked open or the air conditioning running, temperatures can still rise quickly and put pets at risk of serious illness or death. If you’re driving around with your dog, make sure you bring water and a bowl and take your dog with you when you leave the car.
Further reading: Leaving dogs in cars: Avoid heat exhaustion and save lives
Protect your dog from parasites, ticks and fleas
Protect your pet against parasites, ticks and fleas to avoid the risk of contracting hearthworms, Lyme disease and other dangerous conditions. Consult your veterinarian to know the risks in your area, and to get more information on how to prevent those conditions. There are incredibly effective medications that can combat almost all of them.
Don’t assume your dog can swim
Letting your dog swim in the pool or at the beach is a great way for them to cool off, but remember that not all dogs are good swimmers. Introduce your pooch to the water gradually and never let them swim without supervision. Make sure to rinse off your dog to remove chlorine, salt or other chemicals, and try to keep them from drinking pool or ocean water. If your adventures include boats, consider pet flotation devices.
Keep paws cool
Surfaces like concrete can get extremely hot. Your pet’s body heat can increase quickly and paw pads can burn, leading to overheating. To prevent this, walk your dog on the grass to keep his paws cool and avoid walking on hot surfaces. Similarly, metal also gets very hot. It is not recommended to leave your dog in the bed of your truck as it can burn their paws and increase the risk for them of falling or jumping out.
Further reading: Hot paws in the city
Walk or exercise your dog in the morning and evening
On hot days, take your dog for their walk or exercise session during the morning or evening hours, when it’s cooler outside and less humid, or take shorter walks in areas that are heavily shaded. Always watch for signs of overheating.
Look out for signs of heat exhaustion
Signs of overheating could include difficulty breathing, excessive panting, increased heart and respiratory rate, drooling, weakness, stupor, seizures, bloody diarrhea, vomiting or collapsing. If you suspect your pet is suffering from heat exhaustion, apply cool, wet cloths to his pads, belly and head, and contact your veterinarian immediately.
Make sure your dog always has access to shade and water
Pets get dehydrated quickly, especially when they get hot. Make sure they have plenty of fresh, clean water and that they have a shady place to get out of the sun. Be cautious not to over-exercise them, and keep them indoors when it’s extremely hot.
Don’t shave your dog’s coat during the summer
Never shave your dog completely. The layers of a dog’s coat protect them from overheating and sunburn. Feel free to trim longer hair, but remember that your dog’s coat is expected to thin out naturally during the warmer months.
Even though fur provides some protection, dogs can still experience sunburns, especially those with short or light-colored coats. Just like with people, sunburns can be painful for a dog and overexposure to the sun can lead to skin cancer. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in dogs and the second-most common form in cats. Areas such as dog’s bellies and around cat’s ears and eyes are unprotected, so it is recommended to apply sunscreen to those exposed areas. There are sunscreens made specifically for pets, as zinc oxide can be toxic for them. Check with your veterinarian to ensure which brand is safe to use on your furry friends.
Keep it cool indoors
While it’s important to not have pets outside while the sun is cooking, hot weather means indoor temperatures can be more difficult to regulate as well. High temperatures inside can be dangerous to pets. If you don’t have air conditioning, make sure to keep curtains and window shades closed during the hottest part of the day to keep sunrays out and keep your windows shut to lock in the cool air. If necessary, use a fan to move the air around. You can also put ice cubes or a block of ice in a big bowl in front of the fan. This helps cool the air as the fan melts the ice.
Keep unscreened windows shut
Be careful to keep all unscreened windows or doors in your home closed, and make sure that adjustable screens are firmly secured. Open unscreened windows pose a real danger to pets, who often fall out of them.
Be cautious of fireworks and thunder
One in five pet goes missing after being scared by loud noises like fireworks and thunder. To avoid this, keep them in a quiet, secure area at home.
Be careful at BBQs and family cookouts
BBQ foods enjoyed by humans should not be a treat for your pet. Don’t allow your guests to share scraps with your dog. A drastic change of diet may give your pet severe digestive ailments. Fatty leftovers can result in severe abdominal pain. Other foods, such as corn on the cob, also present a danger if they become lodged in the dog’s intestines. Also avoid raisins, grapes, onions, chocolate and products with the sweetener xylitol as they are very dangerous for pets. Be careful to keep alcoholic beverages away from pets, as they can cause intoxication, depression and comas.
Avoid using charcoal briquettes
Drippings from barbecued foods can make briquettes very enticing to dogs. Charcoal briquettes used for grills can be very upsetting to the dog’s stomach. Be sure they are kept away from your pets.
Avoid bacteria from stagnant water puddles
There are potentially deadly diseases that pets can easily contract through contaminated water. Pools of standing water can often harbour many health hazards. Therefore, it is important to maintain awareness of the symptoms of leptospirosis, giardiasis and antifreeze toxicity so that, if observed, you seek veterinary attention right away.
Be careful of the poisonous plants
Common shrubs like azaleas can be toxic for dogs or cats if ingested. Also, certain types of lilies can cause acute kidney failure in cats, and even the ingestion of as little as two to three leaves can be fatal. Be sure to know the poisonous plants in your area, and the risks they can have on your pets.
Further reading: Poisonous Plants
Stay cool and have fun!
Wishing you and your furry friends a cool, happy and safe summer!