Summer is here, and your pet wants to enjoy it with you. With so much focus on coronavirus, let’s not forget some of the basics for Fido and Fluffy. A little planning can help you avoid summer dangers with your pets. Here are some helpful hints to keep your pets happy and safe all summer long.
- Water safety. Whether it’s boating, beaching, or having fun at the lake, water safety is essential for everyone. This includes Fido. A common misperception is that all dogs can swim. In fact, dogs need to learn this skill, and, as with their human counterparts, some learn this better than others. Even experienced canine swimmers can tire in the water. Strong currents, lengthy swim times, and being out-of-shape are all risk factors. If water is part of your summer fun, don a well-fitting lifejacket on Fido and have fun together.
- Traffic dangers. Road traffic is a year-round concern, but accidents seem to increase during warm weather. Maybe Fido saw the irresistible squirrel across the road, or a pooch friend was beckoning him across the street. Whatever the temptation for your dog, help protect him and don’t let him outside without a leash. This simple strap could save his life.
- Encounters with coyotes, fishers, and other wildlife also increase during this season. Protect your pet and make sure his rabies vaccine is up-to-date. Also, consider keeping small pets indoors during dawn and dusk, common meal times for wild animals.
- Window screens. With warm days and cool nights, it’s tempting to open windows when the sun sets to allow fresh air inside. Cats like to perch on open window ledges, but screens cannot be trusted to keep Fluffy safe. Screens can pop out of place, exposing your kitty to dangers of falling, wildlife, traffic, and getting lost. Consider opening your window only a couple of inches and from the top, so that your cat cannot squeeze into the opening.
- Overheating can be life-threatening for pets. Common summer scenarios for this disaster include jogging during hot weather, lack of outdoor shade, insufficient supply of drinking water, and being left in a hot car. Cars overheat quickly and can become deadly chambers for pets. Even cracking the window or parking in the shade do not prevent this tragedy. If you think your pet is experiencing heatstroke, first aid includes soaking his coat with cool (not ice cold) water. Then call your veterinarian because more emergency help may be needed.
- Grilling and summer seem to go hand-in-hand. Fido is often tempted by these tasty treats, too. A few words of warning for your pet. Fatty or spicy meats can cause tummy upset, and bones can crack teeth and get lodged in the gut. Another unsuspecting culprit is corncobs. These veggie chews are dangerous because large pieces can completely obstruct your dog’s intestines, requiring surgery. Use common sense when Fido joins your barbecue, and everyone will have a good time.
- As summer progresses, backyard grapevines become bountiful. Keep Fido away, as grapes are toxic to dogs. This applies to every grape variety, whether organic or not.
- Prevent parasites. All critters are more active during warm weather. That includes fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes that transmit heartworms. These parasites are common and they cause illness. Although outdoor pets are at greater risk, every pet is susceptible, even indoor cats and dogs that rarely step outside. Studies on feline heartworm disease show that approximately one-third of cats that become infected with this parasite are indoors-only. Heartworms are spread by mosquitoes, but everyone knows that mosquitoes get into the house sometimes. Similarly, humans or other visiting pets can bring fleas or ticks indoors, causing concern for pampered Fido or Fluffy. These parasites and the diseases they spread are preventable. Prevention is safer and more cost-effective than treatment of the disease.
- Everyone likes to take off their winter clothes in the summer. Your pet is no different. If Fido or Fluffy has a thick coat, he would appreciate a good grooming. Some long-haired pets become matted, and shaving these mats off will make him feel better. A cute cut for long-haired Fluffy is called a lion cut. Ask your groomer for more details.
- Travel and ID. If travel is part of your summer fun, make sure your pet is prepared. Identification is essential, because Fido and Fluffy cannot talk. All pets should be microchipped. This is a quick, out-patient procedure that provides your pet with permanent identification, even if his collar is lost. However, collars are a good idea too, especially for dogs. Important information on the ID tag is your cell phone number.
With some planning, Fido and Fluffy will enjoy the dog days of summer with you.