Five Keys to Summer Health
1. Minimize Health Threats
Increased exposure to the outdoors in warm weather introduces some risk for your pet. Prevent problems by investing in flea & tick and heartworm monthly preventives.
- 'Tis the season for fleas, ticks, and heartworm - get the protection your dog needs.
- Allergens abound in growing seasons; prepare your pet by feeding a premium dog food, supplement fatty acids in the months before allergy season, and promptly treat hot spots.
- Groom your pet frequently to remove burrs, thorns, etc.
- Bring a safe supply of water when outdoors - avoid allowing pets to drink out of lakes/streams to prevent parasitic infections.
- Pets can suffer UV damage, too - many owners use sunscreen, especially on pets with less pigmentation, like white cats. Any pet can benefit from sunscreen on sensitive areas like the nose and ear tips (baby formula sunscreen works best).
- If hiking on rocky terrain, check your pet's paw pads often to make sure they're not getting injured.
2. Stay Cool
Unlike humans, dogs and cats cannot regulate their body temperature by sweating, so they are more prone to heat exhaustion and heatstroke. Signs of heatstroke include rapid panting, weakness, red or pale gums, and thick sticky saliva. Check on your pet often on hot days, and keep her cool by:
- Providing fresh, cool water often, especially after activity; add ice cubes to the bowl.
- Keep her in the shade if he's an outside dog.
- Use a cage fan to provide a breeze.
- Offer cooling surfaces for your pet, such as the TheraCool™ Gel Cell Cooling Pad or Gen7Pets Cool-Air Cot™ Dog Bed; or freeze a dog toy for her to chew.
- Get an inexpensive child pool to let your dog take a refreshing dip.
- Groom to remove loose hair to keep your pet more comfortable.
3. Be Pro-Active
Despite the warm temperatures, your pet still needs exercise. There are many ways you can make the experience more enjoyable for her. Limit walks to early morning or late evening hours when it's cooler. Use reflective leashes and collars for after-dusk walks. If you must walk your pet at midday, prevent prolonged exposure to blacktop surfaces to prevent paw pad burns.
Make sure swimming conditions are safe for your pet (current not too strong, no underwater hazards, no high bacteria counts, etc). After swimming, rinse and dry your pet thoroughly, especially near open wounds to prevent infections. Try a pet dryer switched to a cool setting. Clean ears regularly, especially after swimming.
4. Around the House
If your dog spends more time in your yard in the summer, it's worth taking a good look around to make sure there aren't any hazards right in your backyard.
- Keep electrical cords in good repair and out of reach.
- Replace or repair jagged or torn landscape edging and rusting yard decorations.
- Keep pets off freshly-fertilized lawn for the duration specified on the packaging.
- Avoid the use of cocoa bean mulch, which can be toxic.
- Keep your dog out of your garden if you have poisonous bulbs or plants.
5. On the Road
Warm weather (and summer vacations) are perfect for road trips, and many owners travel with their pets. To ensure your pet's comfort and health, review and refresh your first aid kit and take it with you. Make sure your pet's vaccinations are updated. If your pet is confined to a crate in your vehicle, stop often to allow your pet to stretch and move around. Never leave your pet in your enclosed vehicle for any amount of time. Even with the windows cracked, your pet does not receive adequate ventilation.