Summertime means active days and warm nights. But this season could also mean potential danger for the furry member of your family. These summer safety tips will keep your pet healthy and content while you relax over a barbecue or by the pool.
Signs of Heatstroke
When the weather becomes hot and humid, dogs and cats are susceptible to heatstroke—especially old, young, and overweight animals. Dogs with short muzzles are also more vulnerable. Signs of heatstroke include excessive panting, glazed eyes, thirst, lethargy, and vomiting—so keep an eye on them whenever the temp rises.
Not all animals act on their discomfort, so if they need cooling down, bring them inside where it’s air conditioned—or move your pet to a shady area. Never leave your pet in a parked car on a hot day, even with the window cracked or the air conditioner on.
You may also consider putting ice packs and cold towels on your pet’s chest, neck, or head—if they let you. When in doubt, however, always bring your pet to the veterinarian.
Chemicals in the Yard
Summer often means treating your lawn with chemicals (the same lawn your pets enjoy). The best way to ensure pet safety and prevent your pal from ingesting poisonous chemicals is to use organic products. Peak soil pH for growing grass is between 6.0 and 6.5, so test your soil and adjust it with the correct additives. Use an organic fertilizer, and keep the lawn mowed to around three inches to help crowd out weeds.
The PAN Pesticide Database gives detailed information on the chemicals in pesticides, and the least toxic substitutes available to homeowners.
Fleas and Ticks
You want to prevent fleas and ticks from clinging to your pet, but you also want to ensure that the repellents aren’t infecting them either. Pets can have severe allergies to certain chemicals in flea and tick products, and some of these chemicals are even carcinogenic to humans.
One ingredient of flea and tick products to avoid is tetrachlorvinphos, according to The Humane Society. Steer clear of the severe substances by using these natural methods to prevent fleas and ticks:
- Bathe your pet regularly
- Vacuum your home at least once a week
- Wash your pet’s bedding at least once a week
- Comb your pet using a flea comb
If you want to use flea and tick treatment, check the active ingredients. Never let your dog and cat share the same flea and tick treatment product—they’re specific to each animal.
Everyone gets excited about a backyard barbecue, including your dog. The smell of meat on the grill is a temptation for most pets. It’s probably okay to give your pup one bite of grilled meat, but don’t overdo it. Your dog can get sick from eating too much people food. Let guests know not to feed your dog—no matter how much he begs for a bite. Some pets specifically need to avoid raisins, onions, grapes, and chocolate.
Many people think it’s a good idea to shave their dog, and sometimes even their cat, to keep them from overheating. They think their pet must be suffering under all that fur, equating what the animal experiences to them wearing a coat on a sweltering day. But rest assured, they’re fine. The fur on dogs and cats works differently than an overdressed human. An animal’s coat is an insulator, preserving pets’ warmth in the winter and regulating their coolness in the summer. When you shave the coat off, you often disrupt that process.
Dogs with thick coats, however, may warrant a mild shave if you live in a consistently hot area. Ask your veterinarian what’s best for your animal.
What do you do to keep your pet cool in the summer? Tweet a picture of your pet, and let us know at #tomspetsafety.
Image source: Laura Agadoni