The season is finally here and it’s about time for some fun in the sun! With the longer days and warmer weather, summer is a great time to get some extra quality play time with your furry, four-legged family members. But whether you’re lounging on the beach, going for a nice drive, or enjoying a fireworks show – it’s always a good idea to keep your pet’s safety in mind.
Fireworks, picnics, and other summer traditions can be great fun for people; but all of the festivities can be frightening or even dangerous for animals. Other summertime concerns may include parasites, hot pavement, extreme heat, unhealthy holiday foods, or travel.
With a bit of preparation and a little extra caution, summer time can be a safe and happy season for all!
Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot
Remember that too much sun, heat and humidity can be dangerous to pets. Keep them inside when it’s extremely hot/humid; make sure they have access to shady spots, and plenty of fresh water at all times.
Avoid going for a walk during the hottest parts of the day –The sun can make the ground surprisingly hot; even sand and dirt can burn delicate paw pads.
Never leave your pet in your car when it’s warm outside. Vehicle interiors heat up much faster than the air around them, and even a short time in a locked car can be dangerous to a pets health.
Don’t leave pets outside for extended periods of time or engage in high intensity play in hot weather; be sure you know the signs that a pet may be overheating.
If you’re travelling out of town for the holiday, consider leaving your pets at home with a pet sitter or boarding them in a kennel. If you need to bring them with you, be sure you know how to keep them safe.
Know the Symptoms of Overheating
Signs of overheating in pets include excessive panting or difficulty breathing, increased heart and respiratory rate, drooling, mild weakness, lethargy, stupor or even collapse. Symptoms can also include seizures, bloody diarrhea and vomit along with an elevated body temperature. If your pet is experiencing any of these symptoms, get them inside to a cool space and call your veterinarian immediately.
Animals with flat faces, like Pugs, bulldogs, and Persian cats, are more susceptible to heat stroke since they cannot pant as effectively. These pets, along with the elderly, the overweight, and those with heart or lung diseases, should be kept cool in air-conditioned rooms as much as possible.
If you do not have air conditioning at home, many neighborhoods have pet friendly cooling centers to which you are welcome to go on hot days; check online for the location closest to you.
Cats CAN Get Ticks Too!
It’s a common myth that cats don’t get ticks and don’t need protection from them. Flea and tick infestations are two of the more common issues facing pets and pet owners in the summertime; flea and tick prevention is an essential part of your cats’ AND dogs’ care routine. Using a monthly flea and tick preventative can ensure your pet stays healthy and pest-free no matter what adventures they get up to.
If you find a tick on your pet and choose to remove it yourself, use fine tipped tweezers or disposable gloves to handle the tick. If you must use your fingers, shield them with a tissue or paper towel; infectious agents may be contracted through mucous membranes or breaks in the skin simply by handling infected ticks. Grasp the tick as close to the skin surface as possible, this reduces the possibility of the head detaching from the body upon removal. Very gently pull the tick straight out with steady, even pressure, it may take a minute or two of constant,slow and gentle pulling to cause the tick to release. We recommend using a tool such as a Tick Twister® or Tick Key® which can be quite useful and very effective in removing ticks in the entirety. Whichever method you use, be sure to remove ticks carefully as twisting or jerking too forcefully may cause the mouth parts to break off and remain in the skin, increasing the chances of infection.
After removing the tick, you may wish to preserve it in rubbing alcohol for identification. Remember to label the container with information about the time and place where the tick bite occurred. This will help you to remember details of the incident, especially if a rash or other symptoms associated with tick bourn diseases begin to appear later. This information will be of help to a veterinarian or physician in diagnosing an illness.
Preparing for Summer in Advance
Lost and Found: Make sure your pets – cats and dogs alike – have identification tags with up-to-date information. If your pets aren’t already microchipped, ask your veterinarian about it! Should your pet ever become lost, this simple procedure can greatly improve your chances of getting them back. If your pets are microchipped, make sure your contact information in the microchip registry is current and up-to-date.
Celebrations and Gatherings: Noisy fireworks and other celebrations startle animals, often causing them to become panicked, disoriented and sometimes lost. These joyful types of events can also often lead to potentially dangerous debris lying on the ground, resulting in ingestion and/ or injury.
Fireworks and Summer storms: If your pet has a history of anxiety surrounding loud noises or thunderstorms, or if you have reason to expect potentially stressful or injurious behaviours as a reaction to stressful situations, please talk to your veterinarian about it. Some pets may need medication to help alleviate the fear associated with stressful situations.
Create a safe space: Have a quiet room or separate space where your pet knows they can go to be safe and/or alone. If your pet is crate trained, consider moving their crate into a quieter space during gatherings or parties.
Prepare for the Unexpected: Make sure the environment is safe and secure. For example, if your neighbors set off fireworks at an unexpected time, is your yard secure enough to keep your pet contained? Evaluate your options and choose the safest area for your animals; and make improvements if needed to make the area more secure.
Safety During Celebrations
Consider leaving your pets at home when you go to parties, fireworks displays, parades and other gatherings. Loud fireworks, unfamiliar places and crowds can all be very frightening to pets, and there’s greater risk of pets becoming spooked and running away.
Consider putting your pets in a safe, escape-proof room or crate during parties, fireworks, storms, or other potentially stress inducing situations.
If you’re hosting guests, ask them to help keep an eye out for your pets when entering or exiting shared spaces to make sure they don’t escape. Placing notes on exit doors and gates can help both you and your guests remain vigilant.
Keep sparklers, glow sticks, fireworks, charcoal and kabob skewers away from curious pets. Ingestion of these items can have severe or even fatal consequences.
Don’t let pets get near your barbecue while it is in use or still hot.
Avoid the urge to feed your pets table scraps or other foods intended for people. Be especially careful to keep them away from these common foods that are actually toxic, like garlic, onions, chocolate, grapes/ raisins, and anything containing xylitol. Be aware that lilies are also toxic to cats and rhubarb is toxic to dogs, and you may want to consider removing them from your garden.
After the Celebrations
Check your yard for fireworks debris before allowing pets outside to play or relax. Even if you didn’t set off fireworks yourself, debris can make its way into your yard, where curious animals may pick it up to play with or eat.
If you hosted guests, check to be sure your gates are secure and that both your yard and home are free from food scraps or other debris that might be dangerous to pets, such as food skewers or corn cobs.
Keeping your pets safe in the summer is a big job but a little extra caution can go a very long way!