Summer Safety for Your Pets
Anne K. G. Bazilwich, DVM
Member of the Vermont Veterinary Medical Association, www.vtvets.org.
Summer is here, and with it comes plenty of fun for our pets. They will enjoy frolicking outside with you in the warm weather or passing a lazy day inside with the air conditioner on high. However, tkeep this time of year safe for our animal friends, it is a good idea thave some good old-fashioned common sense coupled with a few important points tremember.
Summer Heat: Though Vermont may not be known for extreme hot temperatures, our thermometers dget high enough tbe a concern for our pets. Following these guidelines will help keep your dog or cat at a temperature they can withstand.
- Dogs and cats dnot sweat like we d. They rely on panting and a small amount of sweating from the pads in their feet tkeep cool. This is not a very efficient way tcool down, swhat feels comfortable tus, may be tohot for our pets.
- If housed outside, or left outside for a prolonged period of time, always offer your pet plenty of shade and fresh water. You may want tconsider filling a shallow baby pool with cool water for your dog tlie in.
- Never leave your pet in a car. Even with the windows open, the temperature inside the car can rise twell over one hundred degrees in a matter of minutes.
- Protect your animals from sunburn, especially those with short or light hair coats, by providing shade and using sunblock on thinly haired areas such as ear tips.
- Try texercise your pet in the cooler mornings or evenings and stay clear of dark asphalt streets or bike paths.
Summer Insects: This is definitely the time of year for pesky bugs. Chances are that your pet thinks they are just as annoying as you d. But, some are more than a little irritating and may carry and transmit serious diseases.
- Fortunately, there are many new flea preventatives available through your veterinarian. These products will help tprevent these parasites from bothering your pet and aid in reducing tapeworm infection that your animal friend can get by swallowing a flea.
- Some of the flea preventatives alshelp tprevent ticks. Ticks can carry Lyme Disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and Ehrlichiosis, each of which can be transmitted tboth animals and humans.
- Nuisance mosquitoes can transmit the deadly heartworm disease. Your pet should be on a heartworm prevention program recommended by your veterinarian.
- Biting flies and other biting insects can leave welts on your pet. Try a pet safe insect repellant and apply tears, groin, and muzzle.
Summer Swimming: Vermont offers beautiful lakes and ponds that may entice your pet tan afternoon swim. Swimming is a wonderful form of exercise and can be encouraged.
- Make sure the area where your pet will be swimming is safe and free of potentially dangerous items that may cut or hurt your pet.
- Never let your pet swim unattended.
- Provide plenty of ways for your animal texit from the water. Some animals dnot know how tuse pool ladders and need a level exit.
- If swimming in a lake, watch tsee that your pet does not swim tofar and become totired tswim tshore.
- Dry your pet thoroughly after swimming thelp prevent skin infections.
- Dispense a pet-safe ear cleaner with a drying agent intyour pet's ears after swimming thelp reduce moisture and thus aid in preventing ear infections.
Summer Freedom: The nice weather may make you inclined tlet your pet run free. This is usually not a good idea for the following reasons.
- Animals can get hurt when they run loose. Veterinarians commonly see animals that have been severely injured by cars, gunshots, or attacks by other animals.
- Some diseases are transmitted tan outdoor animal more frequently than tan indoor pet.
- Roaming animals may come in contact with one of our porcupines and come home with a face full of quills or a skunk may spray them.
- Some pets tend teat just about anything from garbage tgrass that may cause them tbecome sick. By keeping a close eye on your pet, you will reduce the incidence of gastrointestinal upset.
- Toxins are everywhere. A loose animal can easily ingest a fatal substance or poisonous plant.
One final reminder: it is tempting tlet your pet travel in the summer breeze of the open bed of your truck. This practice can be extremely dangerous and should be avoided. Let your pets ride in the cab with you or secure under a truck cap.