Companion animals have been bred in ways that have left them susceptible to temperature extremes. Summertime is fun, but hot weather poses some unique pet care challenges. When the temperatures get extremely hot, pet safety should be top of mind.
Respect the heat. Animals can find a hot summer day overwhelming when they have a limited ability to deal with the heat. Dogs release heat only through their paw pads and by panting. Animals with flat faces—like Pugs and Persian cats—cannot pant as effectively as other breeds and are therefore more susceptible to heat stroke. Dehydration can be a big problem for pets during the hot weather, so make sure your pets have access to lots of cool, fresh water. Keep an close eye on elderly or overweight pets or animals with heart and lung disease. Avoid letting all animals run around outside during the hottest parts of the day.
Pavement can become hot enough in the sun to burn paw pads. Exercise your pets early in the morning or at dusk after the pavement has had time to cool. Better yet, go walk or play in the grass under the shade of trees.
Every summer there are always stories of pets dying in cars when they are left by absent-minded owners. Never leave an animal unattended in a car in the summertime. Many states have now passed laws providing for immunity from prosecution for breaking into a car when a pet is inside. Save yourself a lot of grief and just leave your pet at home if you need to run errands on summer days.
Another summer pet safety issue is the presence of ticks and other insects. Not only can bugs carry diseases, but the ways people try to ward them off can also cause problems for your pet’s health. Fertilizers and pesticides may help keep a lawn looking great, but they can be very dangerous for your pet. In the area Take the time to wash off your pets’ paws after walking on lawns that have been fertilized and treated with pesticides. If your pets play outside in your yard, keep the grass short to reduce the presence of ticks and other insects. Talk to your veterinarian about the best ways to protect your pets from fleas, ticks, and other insects that are more prevalent during the summer months.
Talk with your vet about whether your pets need sunscreen. Some pets, particularly those with short fine hair and pink skin, can be susceptible to sunburn. Do not use sunscreen or insect repellents that are not designed specifically for use on animals.
Finally, practice water safety. Although it’s fun to bring your pet to the beach or pool to stay cool together, always keep a close eye on your pets when they’re in or near the water. Even strong swimmers can have trouble getting out of a pool, or get trapped by ropes and other obstacles. When boating with your dogs, always use a doggie life preserver.
Summer pet safety isn’t hard, it just requires some thought and attention. Watch over your pet the way you would a small child—protect them from too much heat, sun, and other summer dangers.