Summer can be a lot hotter for those who are born wearing fur coats. That’s why it’s important for pet owners to take extra precautions to protect their animals during warm, sunny weather. Dr. Mickey Painter of the Town and Country Animal Hospital has some suggestions about that.
Summer can be a lot hotter for those who are born wearing fur coats.
That’s why it’s important for pet owners to take extra precautions to protect their animals during warm, sunny weather. Dr. Mickey Painter of the Town and Country Animal Hospital has some suggestions about that.
“We enjoy spending more time outdoors when warm weather comes, and we often take our animal companions out with us,” Painter said. “One good idea is to take your pet for a yearly exam to be sure it’s healthy enough for the increased activities during the summer. You should also be sure all the pet’s immunizations are up to date because it will probably be around other animals more frequently when it’s outdoors a lot.”
If an animal has a heavy, shaggy coat, a summer haircut might be advisable.
“This can reduce heat build-up,” the veterinarian said.
Painter added that flea and tick control is also important and summer mosquitos can transmit heartworm, a parasitic roundworm that can cause serious disease or death for an animal. Dogs are the most common victims of this, but heartworms can also infect other animals, including cats, coyotes and foxes. Preventive medication is available from veterinarians.
It’s easy for pets to become dehydrated in the heat and sun, so Painter recommends that plenty of fresh cool water be available to them at all times.
Plastic bowls, rather than metal ones, should be used for water, and the bowl should be placed out of the sun so the water will stay cooler. Also, sunlight can promote the growth of algae in water bowls, which is not desirable.
Painter cautioned about over-exercising an animal in the heat.
“Don’t let an animal linger long on hot pavement or asphalt,” he said. “The pads on the bottoms of their feet are very sensitive and can burn easily. Walk them in the evening, after the sun has set, if possible.”
Outdoor animals should always have access to shade, Painter said, and some animals are better off indoors.
“Flat-faced animals such as pugs and Persian cats are more vulnerable to the heat because they don’t pant as effectively,” he said. “They, along with elderly or overweight pets, probably should be kept in air conditioned rooms as much as possible.”
Symptoms of heat-related illness include excessive panting, difficulty in breathing, drooling, seizures, bloody diarrhea, stupor and collapse. An animal showing these symptoms should be moved into the shade and cooled down with a garden hose or bucket. Cold compresses can be applied to the animal’s head and it should be encouraged but not forced to drink cool water, and taken to a veterinarian immediately.
Summer festivities and pets aren’t necessarily a good fit, and that includes barbecues and picnics.
Page 2 of 2 - “People like to feed a pet what they’re eating, and if they’re not used to barbecue or foods like that, they can get an upset stomach,” Painter said. “Alcohol should never be left where a pet can get it, because depression and coma has been known to happen if they drink it.”
He added that pets should also not be given grapes, raisins, onions chocolate or the artificial sweetener xylitol, which is toxic to dogs.
There are plenty of other hazardous things around in the summer.
“Citronella candles, insect coils and oil products should be kept away from animals,” Painter said. “If your dog goes into a swimming pool, rinse it off when it gets out to remove the chlorine and other chemicals. Don’t let it drink the pool water.”
One of the biggest hazards of summer, and a leading cause of heat stroke in dogs, is being left in a hot car.
“A car can quickly turn into a furnace, even if you leave the windows down,” Painter said.
The Fourth of July is another hazard.
“Fireworks can cause severe burns to curious pets,” Painter said. “Also, fireworks may contain potassium nitrates, copper, arsenic and other heavy metals and the smoke can be very irritating to pets.”
Mary Kay Caldwell, Southeast Kansas Humane Society board president, noted that many animals are terrified of the loud noise or bursts of light from fireworks. In desperation, they try to escape from the noise.
“According to national statistics, more dogs are lost during the Fourth of July period than any other time of the year,” Caldwell said. “We see that here as well. We always get lots of animals coming in after the holiday, and a lot of people coming in looking for their lost pets.”
She and Painter both warn that animals should not be taken to fireworks displays.
“Don’t leave a pet alone in a backyard, because they’ve been known to break chains loose or climb fences trying to get away from fireworks,” Caldwell said. “Place it inside the house in a secure room. If necessary, ask your vet for medication to calm the pet, or board it at a veterinary clinic.”
She stressed that pets should also wear proper identification tags at all times or have ID chips.
“That way, if they do become lost, they can be reunited with their owners and go home,” Caldwell said.