Pet Safety Alert: How to Keep Your Pets Safe in the Summer Heat
The temperature is starting to climb, but it is still gorgeous enough out to spend time on the go and outdoors with your pet. Summer is the perfect time to play, but you do need to be aware of some of the risks that are unique to this time of the year. From the rapidly rising temperature on the inside of a vehicle to interactions with wildlife, here's what you need to know to keep your pet safe this summer.
The most common risk for your pet in the summer is overheating. Your pet needs constant access to clean water and a way to get out of the direct sun. If your cat or dog goes outside, then they need access to a shady area to be able to escape the heat. Your pets don't sweat like you do, so they have fewer ways to cool down. Shade and full time water access will cut their risk of overheating considerably.
Some of the signs of sunstroke or overheating include panting, thick drooling, dry gums, wobbly or unstable posture and vomiting. If you suspect your pet has been exposed to too much heat, bring him into a cool environment, provide plenty of water and contact us right away.
Cars pose a risk to your pet in more ways than one. Pets that are outdoors enjoying the longer days of summer may be tempted to wander; this could mean your cat or dog ventures into the road. Pets that are not spayed or neutered face the greatest risk from cars, but any pet can bolt outdoors and get into trouble.
Your own car poses a risk as well. Pets left inside vehicles can become overheated incredibly swiftly, even if the window are cracked. In just minutes, your car could become hot enough to cause heat exhaustion and put your pup's health at considerable risk. Never leave your pet in a care alone; even for a few minutes.
Asphalt, concrete and even dark colored mulch or sand can be blistering hot, and if you are wearing shoes, you won't be able to tell. Your pet could sustain painful burns on the pads of his feet, simply by accompanying you on a walk. Beware of hot surfaces, particularly in the late afternoon and early evening to prevent this common summer injury.
The 4th of July, summer picnics and family get togethers may be welcome places for your social pet, but not all people food is good for him. Chicken and rib bones, sugary desserts and even some fruits and vegetables could make him sick. Put your pup or cat away while you dine and then make sure all trash and leftovers are secured.
READ MORE: 8 Human Foods That Are Dangerous for Dogs
The fertilizer and weed killer you use to create a stunning garden could pose a hazard to your pet; make sure anything you use in an area that your pets can access is completely safe for them. Pet birds also face a heightened risk in summer if you are using aerosol cleaners for the grill, sprays for pests and related items; opt for small animal friendly methods of pest removal to protect your own pets.
Fireworks are the most common way pets get startled and run from the home. Your indoor pets could easily be lost if they bolt from the house during a loud, scary event. Fireworks aren't the only trigger for bolting; summer thunderstorms can cause significant anxiety for some pets. Even your own family can place your pet at risk; school is out, friends are visiting and doors or gates can easily be left open this time of year. Double check your pet's ID to make sure you can be easily reunited, and schedule a visit for vaccine updates and a microchip if needed.
READ MORE: 4 Things You Can Do if Your Dog Runs Away
You may see more animals outdoors during summer than at any other time of year. Raccoons, foxes, hawks and other animals are training their young to hunt, so cats and small dogs might be at risk outdoors. If you go on a camping vacation, read up on potential wildlife hazards. Snakes and reptiles that are different from the ones you see here at home could be lurking on the trail; this is also the prime time for bears and cubs to wander the forest. Equip your pet with a belled collar, keep him with you and make lots of noise on the trail if you are taking an outdoor vacation, just in case. Any wildlife in the area will likely avoid you, eliminating your risk.
Summer poses a unique set of risks for pets, from predation to heat exhaustion and burns. Being aware of the risks allows you to take steps to ensure your pet stays safe, and allows you to enjoy this beautiful time of year together. Worried about summer hazards? Keep our number handy and don't hesitate to call if you need help; we're here when you need us most.
About Dr. Natalie Waggener
Dr. Natalie Waggener has 17 years of experience in emergency work and general practice in Rhode Island, Florida and Massachusetts. She has a special interest in dentistry, wellness care and rehabilitation therapy. She is currently licensed in both Massachusetts and Rhode Island.