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Summer Pet Care

Summer is a great time to enjoy the outdoors with your pets. Remember though that hot days for your pet feel like it's high noon, you're walking barefoot on asphalt wearing a full-length fur coat. By following some simple guidelines, you and your animals can have a wonderful summer.

  • Never leave your pet in the car unattended. Even with the windows slightly open, the temperature inside the car can reach well over 150 degrees in a matter of minutes. It is an experience that would be similar to you jumping into a 350 degree oven.  If you think it's okay to race into the store and leave the car running with the air conditioning on, there are many dangers in that too. The worst is someone steals your vehicle and your dog. Or your engine could stall, killing the air conditioning and possibly killing your dog. Or, as I saw, the dog jumps around inside, hits the gear shift and your car crashes into the store.
  • Dogs should never ride unprotected in the bed of a pickup truck . They can be thrown out during sudden stops or accidents, or leap out to see something interesting on the side of the road. Riding in the pickup bed is especially dangerous in the summer because the truck bed heats up quickly and can scorch the pads of their feet, and the sun is beating down on them, even if the wind feels cool.
  • Exercise only the cool of the morning or evening. Dog's don't have an efficient cooling system and can suffer heatstroke while walking or jogging with you on a hot day. Remember, temperatures at two to three feet above the ground where your pet stands can be 20 degrees hotter than at five to six feet up. Even going for a walk can be hard on the dog. Asphalt becomes very hot quickly and can burn their paws, so don't make him stand or sit on hot pavement.
  • Water should be plentiful and clean. Make sure that water is available for your pet both inside and outside. If you are walking your animals bring water along for all of you. Hydration is extremely important when it is warm outside.
  • If you pet is left outside, be sure there is always a well shaded area for him to rest. Check at various times of the day since the sun moves significantly. Misting systems and wading pools will also help to keep your pet cool. Place several containers of water in different locations so your pet always has water available. Water that has been heated up by the sun or tipped over does your pet no good. Because dogs cool by panting, they need to have plenty of water available on hot days.
  • Humidity interferes with your pet's ability to get rid of excess body heat. Your dog only perspires from the area around their paws which is not enough to regulate body temperature efficiently. To rid themselves of excess heat, dogs pant. Air moves through their nasal passages, which picks up excess heat from the body that is then expelled through the mouth. This is efficient, but is severely limited in high humidity or when the animal is in close quarters.
  • Heavy coated dogs need to be brushed daily to remove dead hair. If you clip your dog during the summer, don't go to bare skin or you will expose him to sunburn. Pets with light skin and noses can benefit from sun screen. Talk to your veterinarian about options.
  • Pets can benefit from Sunscreen too. Dogs with light skin and hair can burn just like their human companions can, complete with pain, peeling and potential for skin cancer. If your dog is "fair skinned" you should keep them away from prolonged sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. and when you do go out, put some sun screen on the tips of the ears, the skin around the lips and the tip of the nose.
  • Older, ill or overweight dogs cannot deal with the heat. The have a hard time regulating their body temperature so be certain they stay cool. Breeds with short noses like Pugs, Bulldogs, Boston Terriers also need protection from the heat because they can't pant efficiently.
  • Antifreeze can kill your pet. During hot weather (and other time too) keep your animals from drinking out of puddles in the street which can contain antifreeze and other toxic chemicals. Antifreeze has a sweet smell and taste that animals like, but it is extremely toxic so keep your pets from sneaking sips from puddles.
  • Keep your pet on a leash if you are in an unfenced or unfamiliar area. Being on leash will keep them from getting lost, fighting with other animals, eating and drinking things they should avoid and allows you to keep an eye on their condition.
  • If your dog succumbs to heatstroke, you need to act quickly. Symptoms include: vigorous panting, unsteady gait, thick saliva or froth from the mouth, vomiting, pale gums, lethargy or collapsing. You want to cool him down swiftly, but not so abruptly that you shock his system. Cover him with a sheet and apply cool water. (Don't use ice, this cools them too quickly.) You can also put your pet in a tub of cool (not cold) water. Encourage him to drink, but do not offer ice water. If you are going to rinse him with a hose, let the water run for a few minutes to get the hot water out of the line. Finally take him to the veterinarian. Even if they seem all right, you veterinarian will completely check him over for any lingering effects.

Using good judgment and common sense can bring you and your pets through the hot summer in fine shape.



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Disclaimer : This is an educational web site. If you obtain information from this site, ask my opinion or assistance on health related issues, feeding suggestions and training or behavior, understand it should NOT be used "in lieu of" veterinarian's advice, diagnosis or treatment. Permission is granted to use this information for individual educational purposes only. Any other use of these materials for any other purpose violates intellectual property rights.


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