Tips for a Healthy, Safe Summer!
by Jodi Kedzierski
Summer has arrived! After months of wading through snow and hiding under umbrellas, Mother Nature is finally ready to give us back long, sunny days. While it’s easy to get caught up in all of the summertime activities that go on, it’s important to keep in mind some important tips to keep your four-legged family members happy, healthy and safe!
Fireworks: Fun for Us, Scary for Them
Fireworks are the hallmark of summer celebrations. But while you’re oohing and awing at their beauty, your pets may not share your sentiments. So what can you do if your pet is afraid of fireworks?
If your pet’s fear is mild, your presence may be enough to keep them relaxed. Engage your pet in positive activities. A play session or handing out treats will not only distract your pet but this is also a way for your pet to associate the positive things they love with the fireworks booming outside. Other ideas include turning on soothing music and closing the curtains. Remember to behave as you normally would and act as if nothing out of the ordinary is going on.
Some dogs (and cats) might find a safe space in your home to hide out but others may decide that fleeing is the solution. In fact, more pets run away over the July 4th holiday than any other time during the year. Even if your yard is fenced, it’s always best to also leash your dog when letting them outside – this will greatly reduce their chance of escape. Ensure doors and windows are properly closed and latched as well.
You may want to consider a Thundershirt (www.thundershirt.com) to help ease your dog or cat’s anxiety. These vests are designed to apply calming pressure to certain parts of your pet’s body. Some pet parents opt for over the counter calming treats or diffusers. In extreme cases, anti-anxiety medication may need to be prescribed by your veterinarian. Remember to always consult your veterinarian about all options for your pet.
Ensure tags and microchips are up-to-date with your current contact information and that your pet’s collar is properly fitted. This will take only a few moments of your time and can be the link to getting your pet back home with you.
Summer Days: Beat the Heat
Keeping your pet cool on a hot summer day is important. Never walk your dog during peak heat times. If the forecast is calling for a hot day, it’s best to walk during the early morning or late evening hours. If you are outside in the heat with your pet, always be sure to provide plenty of cold, fresh water and seek out shady areas. It’s important to avoid hot asphalt and cement. Test the temperature of the ground with your hand prior to your dog walking on it. If it’s too hot for you, then it is too hot for your dog too!
Some dogs may enjoy time in their very own “kiddie pool” or snacking on a frozen pet-friendly treat. Don’t forget to offer your kitty their own frozen snack too!
You can create a cool space inside of your home even if you do not have air conditioning. Pull blinds closed to keep the sun out. Place a breathable towel down on a cool surface such as tile or hardwood. You can even place a cardboard box in this area to entice your cat to lounge in this cooler spot.
It’s important to note that hot temperatures will affect some pets more than others. Senior, ill or overweight pets may be at a higher risk for heat related issues while certain breeds can be too. Breeds with short noses and flat faces are at greatest risk of suffering from heat exhaustion.
Never leave your pet in a vehicle for any amount of time. It’s easy to think “I’ll only be a minute” or “I’ll leave a window cracked” but heat related deaths or serious injuries can occur in a matter of a few minutes. It’s always best to drop your pet off at home prior to running errands. Studies have shown that temperatures can rise inside of a car as much as 20 degrees in only 10 minutes. So that quick trip into the store can spell disaster for your pet patiently waiting for you to return. Remember, if you aren’t able to take your pet with you wherever you’re headed then the solution is simple: leave your pet at home!
So how will you know if your pet is suffering from heat exhaustion? Look for these signs:
-loss of consciousness
If your pet is presenting with any of these warning signs take immediate action to begin cooling them off. Apply cold compresses and relocate your pet to an area that is air conditioned. It is imperative to seek out veterinary care as soon as possible.
Pest Prevention: Stop Fleas, Ticks and Other Parasites
Summer means more time outdoors but this can also mean an increased risk for coming into contact with common pests. Prevention is the key to keeping fleas and ticks from setting up residence on your pet. Flea, tick and heartworm preventatives can be found in many forms. Some pet parents prefer topical applications while others find chewable tablets to be the easier option. No matter what your preference is, always remember to consult your veterinarian about which option is best for your pet. Never use a product on your pet that is not intended for their specific weight or species and always give the product as directed on the label.
Year-round prevention is key. Although fleas and ticks tend to be a bigger issue during warmer months, it is not uncommon for these pests to continue being a nuisance well into the colder seasons.
Other ways to keep these pesky pests at bay? Mow your lawn as short as possible and avoid grassy, wooded areas. Ticks can easily crawl from tall grass or bushes onto you or your pet when walking by. When returning from time outdoors always check your pet for fleas and ticks. The quicker a tick is removed, the less likely your pet will contract Lyme disease or other tick-borne illnesses.
Don’t forget about prevention for your indoor cat too! Fleas love to hitch rides on humans and it’s not uncommon for them to travel with you back home. So even if your cat has never stepped foot outside of your home, it is still possible for them to become infested with fleas.
Have a fun and safe summer season!