Authored By: Sarah Kenne, LVT
Summer is officially here, and many people are spending time in the great outdoors with their pets. Long after winter holiday decorations have been packed away and bright, spring candies have been eaten, warm weather outings bring a new set of safety concerns for pet owners.
One of the biggest dangers for pets in warm weather is confinement in a vehicle. A parked car – even with the windows partially open – heat up very quickly. In only the fifteen or twenty minutes it takes to “just run in” to the store, the glass-enclosed space becomes an oven. While an animal in the bed of an open truck may seem like it would alleviate the problem, remember that an unsecured pet in the back of a truck is both dangerous and illegal. It is always best to take your pet with you when you leave the vehicle or allow him or her to rest comfortably at home.
Long days at the beach or lazy afternoon barbeques can mean lots of playtime for Fido. Constant running in the sunshine can take its toll on an energetic dog. Clean drinking water should be available at all times (this is very important at the beach), and let the dog to rest in a shady place when needed. Dogs with light colored fur may need to have sun block applied to their noses and ears when exposed to bright sun. Don’t forget the family cat! They get sunburns, too. A sunny window during the afternoon can also burn a cat whose ears have little protection from fur; it is a greater risk in white cats. As most cats are fastidious groomers, apply only a thin layer of sun block to the ears to prevent large amounts from being consumed when washing. You can also limit the cat’s exposure by keeping them from the sun filled room in the late afternoon or just closing the shades.
The summer sun also poses a hazard to pets as it heats up pavement and sand. Reduce how much time your pet walks on hot surfaces, take walks in the morning or late evening hours instead of midday, or protect the pads with booties made to fit pets’ paws. Other sources of potential burns are hot grills and open fires. If possible, prevent animals from coming too near your grill or campfire by leashing them or keeping them in a fenced area. It should also be mentioned that many of the foods you enjoy can cause upset stomach, vomiting, or diarrhea for your pet. In fact, some foods that contain chocolate and caffeine are toxic to animals so save the hotdogs, s’mores and soda for the humans!
When the weather is warmer, most of us head to the water. Whether fishing or swimming, watch your pet carefully in areas where salmon carcasses may be on the shore. An animal may become very ill after ingesting raw salmon. Salmon poisoning disease is caused by a parasite found in the fish and can be fatal. Vigilance and prevention are key with this illness.
Heat is not the only safety concern of the season. Many owners spend the increasingly longer days tending their lawns and gardens. Pets should not be exposed to commercial fertilizers, weed killers, or pesticides. Chances are if the product kills insects and slugs, it will be toxic to your pet! If you suspect your pet has been poisoned, call the Poison Control Center immediately.
Close supervision is always in a pet’s best interest, and can be life-saving when it comes to summer’s dangers. Have fun with your furry, feathered, and scaled family members, but keep them safe!