The Dog (and Cat) Days of Summer.
It’s the season everyone waits for all year long. School’s out, the beach is in. So are barbeques, picnics and road trips. And odds are your furry friends will be right there along with you. And just as you have to take some extra care during the heat and humidity of summer for yourself, the same is true in caring for your pets.
Hydrate when it’s hot.
In addition to eating all natural dog and cat food your pet needs to drink lots and lots of water during these warm months. So make sure your pet’s water bowl is full. And if that water bowl is outside, also make sure it’s anchored somehow so it doesn’t tip over and spill. An empty water bowl isn’t going to be much use for a thirsty dog or cat. And if you and your furry friend do hit the road, bring plenty of water.
Giving your pet a good spray with a garden hose or having them take a dip in your kiddie pool filled with cold water is a great, fun way to help them stay cool. If you’re going to use a kiddie pool, remember to keep it in a shady spot. The water will stay cooler, so will your pet.
Exercise: Don’t overdo it.
While exercise is an important part of keeping your furry friend healthy all year long, pet parents need to be especially watchful in the hot weather. Feeding your dog the best dog food you can and keeping them hydrated can only take them so far. Over-exercising can cause overheating. So walk at a gentle pace and, again, be sure you have some water with you. If your pet is panting a lot or seems sluggish and tired, take a break, then head for home.
Some dogs are particularly susceptible to the heat. For example, snub-nosed breeds including Pugs, Pekingese, and Bulldogs can’t pant as efficiently as longer-nosed breeds. So it’s important to keep them out of the heat. Dogs that are overweight are also more prone to overheating because their extra layers of fat trap heat in their bodies and makes it harder for them to breathe. And more likely to suffer heatstroke.
The signs of heatstroke include:
- Unresponsiveness to commands
- Warm, dry skin
- Very rapid heartbeat
- Physical collapse
A car is not a crate.
It goes without saying to never leave your dog or cat in your car or truck during the summer. In most places it’s against the law, and in all places, it’s very dangerous for your pet.
Think about this: On a "normal" 78 degree summer day, the interior temperature of a car parked in the shade can climb to 90 degrees or higher. And if you happen to park it in the sun, your car’s interior can hit a scorching 160 degrees. It can take as little as 15 minutes for your pet to succumb to this kind of heat and perhaps never recover.
More Americans are traveling with their pets than ever before, and there are plenty of hotels that welcome them. AAA’s Traveling with Your Pet is a yearly directory that lists over 13,000 diamond-rated hotels that are pet-friendly. After you make your hotel reservations or arrange to stay with friends or family, take a few simple measures to ensure that your pet travels healthily and happily.
Going on a road trip? Before you buckle up, put a safety harness on your dog. Most of these connect easily to the seatbelt in your back seat and allow your dog to sit, stand, or lie down. (Never let your dog ride in the front, especially if you have airbags.) The safest place for your cat is a cat carrier. It will help her feel secure and prevent her from blocking the driver’s view or crawling near the pedals. Use a seat belt to keep the carrier in place. To get your cat used to the carrier, leave it around the house for a few days and feed her exclusively in the carrier.
On long trips, give your pet small portions of food and water. Dry food is easier, but if your pet insists on canned, keep leftovers in a cooler or discard them. Always travel with bottled water. You may not have access to water when you need it, and your pet may get an upset stomach from water he or she isn’t used to. Plan to stop every couple of hours to let your pet exercise and relieve himself.
Assemble a first aid kit for your pet that includes:
- Antiseptic cream or spray
- Antidiarrheal and nausea medication (ask your vet)
- Your vet’s phone number
- Phone number for national poison control
The location of the emergency veterinary hospital nearest to where
you’ll be staying
- Any medication your pet may be taking
If you’re traveling by air, book a nonstop flight whenever possible. (Do it early. Many airlines limit the number of pets on each flight.) Plan to obtain a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection from your vet within 10 days prior to departure. This is usually required by the airline. Most airlines won’t take snub-nosed pets as cargo because of their heat sensitivity. Even pets with longer snouts should not be transported in the cargo hold on mid-day flights in summer. Petairways, an airline just for pets, may be an alternative. Whichever way you send your pet, avoid sedatives unless you have your vet’s approval. These can cause heart and breathing problems at high altitudes.
Before you go anywhere, label your pet’s collar with your cell phone number or the number where you’ll be staying.
Keep off: your pet and pesticides.
Applying chemical fertilizers and pesticides to keep your lawn looking green can actually cause damage to your family and your pets. A study revealed that the exposure to lawns treated with herbicides four or more times a year doubled a dog’s risk of canine lymphoma, while the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association reported that, when exposed to chemically treated lawns, some breeds of dogs were four to seven times more likely to suffer from bladder cancer. Additionally, you can track lawn chemicals into the house and onto surfaces where pets and children are closest.
Consider non-toxic alternatives. Organic fertilizers are environmentally safe and provide the nutrients your lawn needs for growth—without the harmful chemicals that can put your pet’s health at risk. You can find organic fertilizers in just about any store that sells chemical fertilizers.
Warmer weather is also flea weather. Unfortunately, many of the flea and tick products on the market contain toxic chemicals that are poisonous to pets. As with organic fertilizers for your lawn, you really want to look into non-toxic flea remedies.
- Natural powders made with herbs such as rosemary, wormwood, eucalyptus or citronella, among others are natural flea repellants.
- Use a fine-toothed flea comb for a daily grooming and wash your dog or cat’s bedding with hot water and soap at least once a week. Why? That’s where you’ll find 90% of the fleas that can affect your pet.
Your pet and rough weather.
One other thing to keep in mind is something that’s in the news with a sad frequency: sudden storms, tornados, floods and other disasters. Just as you would place a window sticker to let emergency workers know a child is in your house, you should also do the same so rescue teams know you have a pet. You can get emergency rescue stickers at various pet websites like aspca.org, and even at your local fire department.
Enjoy your summer, enjoy your pet.
We hope you find this information helpful. Summertime should be a joyous time for you and your furry friends. Just follow common sense and you and your pet will have a safe summer of fun.